June 2003 - Click on the country title above the headlines for the entire article.
WFP to feed 6.5 million people in southern Africa
Feature on regional food crisis
Okavango Basin tripartite study continues
Poverty, mobility and HIV
Angolans start long trek home
Angolan refugees start going home
UN agencies assist post-war situation by providing social services
1,200 illegal foreigners expelled
Counsellor to Zambia visits refugee departure centres
First group of Angolan returnees homes
Angolan refugees start journey home
Systems are now underway to repatriate refugees
Two million children get birth certificates
Foreign affairs minister encourages Portuguese entrepreneurs
Home ministry fights illegal immigration
Botswana, Angola, UNHCR sign tripartite pact
Organised repatriation from Zambia starts
Angolan refugees in Botswana to return home
Refugees and UN officials assess conditions for repatriation
President Dos Santos meets Angolans in Botswana
President Dos Santos wants strengthened relations with Botswana
UNHCR to transport 400 refugees
Police reinforce controls at border
Agreement will pave the way for repatriation of Angolans
Angola, Botswana to discuss repatriation of refugees
Minister warms against selling cattle posts to foreigners
MP attacks Zimbabweans
People staying along borders advised to guard against SARS
Batswana students in SA in rent arrears
Zimbabwean army officer detained in Botswana
Botswana/Angola sign repatriation deal
850 Angolan refugees in Botswana prepare to return
Agreement will pave the way for repatriation of Angolans
Angola, Botswana to discuss repatriation of refugees
Widespread poverty exacerbates food crisis
Some Nigerians violate our hospitality, says Minister
Illegal immigration and the sex trade
Growth of garment industry fuels AIDS concerns
Industrial expansion to create 18,000 jobs
Violence in Malawi over deported suspects
US grabs five in Malawi
Al-Qaeda suspects fail to appear in Malawi court
Alleged terrorists sent out of the country
Malawi court no to deportation
Passport syndicates sell passports to migrants
Patrolling of borders ineffective
Chinese building workers fight with police
Zimbabweans flock to Mozambique
Mozambique resumes sending students to Germany
Home Affairs to expand in north
Repatriation of Angolan refugees begins
Police deny harassing asylum seekers
One million tourists visited in 2002
Asylum seekers protest against mistreatment
Angolan cross-border trade hampered by high tariffs
Foreign convicts may serve in own countries
Aid needed for Angolan refugees in Namibia
SA tightens visa controls on neighbours
Quandary over immigration rules ends
Buthelezi vindicated on Immigration Act
Buthelezi wins immigration battle in court
Immigration Act legal - Concourt
SA should stop recruiting health workers from African states
Immigration case had political overtones, says minister
Talks held on Lesotho border taxi problems
Limpopo Home Affairs burdened by immigration
Johannesburg crime blamed on foreigners
Recruits may face prosecution
Red tape slows new immigration policy
Fraud syndicate smashed
Xenophobia, red tape hurt refugees in SA
Home Affairs' service slashed
Police bust illegal traders in Hillbrow
Immigration man held at airport
More South Africans giving up citizenship
4.5% gain in doctors for SA, claims Health Minister
Plight of refugees in the spotlight
Foreign students boost economy
Government seeks to regulate recruitment of health workers abroad
Cuban doctors' problem cured
Lynching victims include foreign migrants
Buthelezi narrowly escapes jail sentence
SA to recruit engineers from Cuba
Government to crack down on offenders of immigration laws
Foreign 'telecrooks' arrested
Immigrant saved from mob
Right of permanent residents to welfare in doubt
Come Home Campaign
Land claim falls on deaf SA ears
Three foreigners arrested for heroin
Big drug bust
Tanzania to stay out of Comesa
Child trafficking significant
Tanzania source and destination of human trafficking
Foreigners get 90 per cent of construction tenders
German, Congolese nationals in trouble over forgery
Rwandan refugees in Zambia reluctant to return home
Zimbabwean farmers off to Zambia
No refugee will be forced out, says minister
Curb brain drain by rewarding doctors, says Parliament
Army reinforces border with DRC
Zambia waives visa fees for tourists
Angolan refugees ready to leave Zambia
Malawians encroach on Zambian land
A nurse's tale
Zimbabwe may return land to SA farmers
ABC joins corporate exodus to SA
3 fake Indian doctors denied work permits
SA visa concessions sought
Foreigners cannot promote local musicians, says Minister
Shortage of nurses cripples health services
State seeking to raise funds from exiles
Land reform displaces thousands
WFP to feed 6.5 million people in southern Africa (Lusaka, Angop, 28/06) -The UN World Food Programme is to provide 750,000 metric tonnes of food aid valued at 300 million US dollars to 6.5 million vulnerable people in southern Africa, according to visiting WFP regional director, Mike Sackett. Sackett, who is based in South Africa, said in Lusaka that an impact assessment done by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the WFP itself estimates food deficits in the southern African region this year would amount to 2.4 million tonnes. The six southern African countries identified as being in dire need of food support are Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. From the food aid due to be distributed in southern Africa, Zimbabwe will get 450,000 tonnes to feed four million starving Zimbabweans, while Zambia will receive 48,000 tonnes targeting 400,000 vulnerable people. "The World Food Programme targets Zimbabwe to be the biggest food aid beneficiary because it was the most hit owing to erratic weather, coupled with economic dislocations and seed shortages," Sackett said. "Zambia is this year expecting a bumper harvest of 1.2 million tonnes compared to last year`s 600,000 tonnes. This situation has prompted WFP to spend only 62 million dollars on Zambia`s food aid," Sackett, who hailed Zambia`s bumper harvest, added. He said that WFP has already provided 16,000 tonnes of food worth 3.8 million dollars to Zambia, from the nine million dollars the programme intends to receive from the donors to benefit the country. "Since we target Zambian farmers to be selling us the maize grain, they will benefit. This will stabilise the hunger situation in the country so that chronic factors such as HIV/AIDS and illiteracy are reduced," Sackett observed. During his visit to Zambia the WFP official was taken to Meheba refugee settlement where Angolan refugees are about to be repatriated to their home country. WFP is to provide the refugees with two months` food their return to their homes in Angola. Commenting on US President George Bush`s demand to southern African countries (specifically Zambia) that they should accept genetically modified foods grown by US farmers, Sackett said governments had the right to decide on which food to feed their people. "World Food Programme respects the rights and sovereignty of all countries," he said. Bush, during a meeting with African leaders in Washington DC on Thursday, attacked African countries, singling out Zambia, for refusing to allow GM maize into the country.
Feature on regional food crisis (Johannesburg, Irin, 17/06) - Southern Africa still requires substantial aid for at least 6.2 million people, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) warned on Thursday. This was despite increased agricultural output, with the region having produced about two-thirds of its basic food requirements this year. Last year aid agencies estimated that more than 15 million people required food aid due to a combination of factors, most notably drought and the impact of HIV/AIDS on food production. At a press conference in Johannesburg on Thursday, WFP and FAO said that while the situation in most countries had improved, Zimbabwe's food production was worse than last year's and regional disparities in food production had created pockets of need. The latest crop and food supply assessments in Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia found that "the general food security situation [was] improving", a joint FAO/WFP statement said. It noted, however, that food production was "uneven, with Zimbabwe producing barely enough to meet 40 percent of its needs". "The region continues to need food assistance in all six countries affected by this [the food shortages] ... we are still in a crisis," said WFP regional representative Judith Lewis. The region's agricultural sector was "still very dependent on rain"; there were also "major macro-economic issues and policy constraints" hampering efforts to get food to everyone needing it in Southern Africa.
ZIMBABWE FACES ACUTE SHORTAGES
This was evident in the situation faced by Zimbabwe. "Zimbabwe faces acute food shortages, with some 5.5 million people in need of food aid. Food production in Zimbabwe has fallen by more than 50 percent, measured against a five-year average, due mostly to the current social, economic and political situation and the effects of drought," the FAO/WFP statement noted.
These conditions were "compounded by the marked reduction of the large-scale farm sector [a consequence of the ongoing land reform programme], which produced only about one-tenth of their 1990s output". "As a result, about half of the regional food deficit of 2.65 million mt is in Zimbabwe. The shortfall means that Zimbabwe will need to import almost 1.3 million mt of food, either commercially or through food aid, to meet the minimum food needs of its people," the agencies explained. FAO official Graham Farmer said there was a deficit of hybrid maize seed in Zimbabwe. This could "partly be made up by additional seed production in South Africa, and maybe Malawi and Zambia as well". He stressed that it was critical to get seed to farmers in Zimbabwe.
IMPACT OF HIV/AIDS
The impact of HIV/AIDS in the region had exacerbated the food security crisis. "We have 4 million orphans in this region and we have noticed an escalation of child-headed households and households headed by grandparents, usually a single grandparent," Lewis noted. "The most productive segment of the population is dying ... people between the ages of 15 and 49," Lewis added. Women, because of their role as primary providers in the majority of households, were doubly affected by the disease. "HIV/AIDS infection rates in Southern Africa are the highest in the world, making those infected all the more vulnerable to health complications and death when food shortages occur, and affecting the lives and livelihoods of communities as a whole," the FAO/WFP statement added.
Lewis noted that while "the needs for food aid were consistently lower than last year [in the six countries] ... Zimbabwe and Mozambique still have large numbers of people that are going to need general food distributions and non-food items such as water and health services". The FAO's Henri Josserand said the "big difference from last year is that some countries have done well - Zambia and Malawi and even Mozambique, have all produced quite a lot of food". "But production at the national level does not mean that everyone will have adequate access to food. In Mozambique, production is higher than the five-year average - the northern part of the country has a lot of food. They don't know what to do with it. However, in southern Mozambique they are facing a major crisis. For Mozambique, this is the third year of food shortages because of drought and floods," he added. The FAO/WFP joint assessment had found that "in Mozambique, food production surged in the north of the country, but parts of the south and central region continue to face serious food shortages, affecting 949,000 people in 40 districts". The reason for the regional disparities within Mozambique was simply that "Mozambique is very large, and the transport infrastructure is very weak [following 20 years of civil war], so it is extremely expensive to move large quantities of food to the south," Josserand explained. Meanwhile, Malawi's crop production had "improved significantly" since the widespread food shortages in 2002. This year it managed to produce, or has in reserve, about 2.3 million mt of cereals, leaving a national shortfall of 90,000 mt, WFP and FAO found. In Zambia, cereal production was estimated at 1.3 million mt, about double the output of 2002. Cereal production in the region increased from 5.4 million mt in 2001/02 to 6.3 million mt this year.
But some areas in Swaziland and Lesotho continued to face shortages, the agencies noted.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) deputy executive secretary, Albert Muchunga, said it was forecast that 6.2 million people would require food aid in 2003/04 - a significant decrease from the more than 15 million people aid agencies said needed food aid to survive at the height of the past year's food security crisis. However, Lewis pointed out that "needs grow between harvests" and the figure of 6.2 million could grow to "7, 8 or 9 million". Lewis also stressed the need for donors and governments to assist with delivering agricultural inputs for the coming cropping season as quickly as possible. "Yes, we made a Herculean effort [in responding to the crisis last year], however, there's still much, much work to be done in the next year. We have to continue our relief efforts and [at the same time] integrate longer-term [developmental] needs," Lewis noted.
AVOIDING CHRONIC FOOD SHORTAGES
The agencies observed that "for the region to resume agricultural growth, increased and carefully targeted support will be needed for the agriculture sectors of the six countries". Josserand explained that this year's production increases were a "partial recovery". "The gains made this year in food production are limited and very fragile - we are very concerned about next year as well. This year there was rain [and the FAO], along with SADC, has made efforts to give inputs to farmers. We are very concerned because the agricultural sectors are weak. Even if we have good rains [over the next cropping season], we have to work very hard to make sure we have enough food to feed people," Josserand added. Lewis noted that the Consolidated Appeal for Southern Africa would be launched in July. This would outline strategies and interventions planned by agencies to meet the need in the region. With regard to preventing food shortages from becoming chronic throughout the region, Lewis said it was clear that "this region does not want to be dependent on foreign assistance". The challenge that lay ahead was integrating emergency relief programming with longer-term developmental goals: "We're in transition, we're [focussing] not just on relief," she said. "That we've been able to avert a major crisis gives us a lot of hope. But there's still millions who need help," Lewis concluded.
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED
Josserand highlighted continued concern over future harvest prospects. "We need to act quickly for the next planting season, which starts in September. If we are to get seeds to farmers in time, we have to act now! We have to get the money to buy the seeds, to transport them and distribute them to the people who need them. Otherwise all the gains of the past year will be reversed," he warned. He described the current gains in production as a "temporary respite". Josserand also noted the impact of the crisis on chronic poverty. "It works in two ways: when the [agricultural] market is very depressed, people have produced little [in terms of crops to sell], so they have little money [to buy essentials]; secondly, chronic poverty is a reason for poor production, because poor people do not have access to inputs [like fertiliser]," he said. Providing people with agricultural inputs was the "number one" concern of the FAO at the moment.
Okavango Basin tripartite study continues (Luanda, Angop, 05/06) - The tripartite commission comprising Angola, Botswana and Namibia for the management of Okavango Basin is still studying the project for the strengthening of cooperation among these countries on this sector. This information was released on Wednesday in Gaberone by the Angolan Energy and Water Minister, Botelho de Vasconcelos, who is under the presidential delegation visiting Botswana. The Angolan Minister said on the occasion that there are various projects under discussion. According to him, the neighbouring Namibia is interested to build a hydroelectric dam on the basin. Botelho de Vasconcelos added that as it is a tripartite management, those countries could have initiatives but it would be useful that there was a coordination among the three countries. He explained that, on that region Angola intends to develop the agricultural zones for its southern-east Kuando-Kubango province, utilising the water for irrigation. The tripartite commission was set up to run the waters shared by the three countries on the basin, constituted by Kubango and Kuito rivers that rise in Angola and flow down into Tswanese territory, where this country develops tourism.
Poverty, mobility and HIV (Johannesburg, Irin, 04/06) - Mobility is often a sign of poverty, with people travelling out of their home areas looking for fresh opportunities. But in the struggle to make ends meet, mobility can also increase vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. A study by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and CARE International has tried to identify the links between mobility and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa by focusing on highly mobile communities in towns along transport corridors in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Truck drivers and commercial sex workers are the most obvious of the vulnerable groups. But the CARE/IOM study also included female informal traders, domestic workers, migrant labourers, farming communities, mine and construction workers, uniformed government officials like customs officers, and school-age children. "The HIV epidemic is so integrated with the [regional] food crisis," project manager Barbara Rijks told IRIN. "We wanted to get an idea of the informal groups that are moving that are never documented, but are quite significant in the Southern Africa context." Truck drivers and commercial sex workers were all identified as high risk groups in the four towns studied in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Condom use by sex workers was found to be "highly sporadic". Even though most of those interviewed knew how HIV is transmitted, the most frequently cited reasons for not using condoms was: the fear the client would go elsewhere or become abusive, and the additional money charged for sex without a condom. "As long as you have poverty you won't have any consistent condom use," Rijks said, adding that at times a fatalism undermined the idea of real choice. She added that the failure to negotiate the use of condoms also often extended to wives, even when they knew their men to be unfaithful. "In the epidemic we have now, [many] infections are taking place within a relationship." Female informal traders are another group seen as particularly vulnerable. In the Zimbabwean border town of Beitbridge, they face high rates of harassment and even rape, particularly by customs and immigration officials, the police and soldiers. The study recommended intervention programmes dealing with gender violence and abuse, providing women with information on legal resources.
In South Africa's northern Limpopo province town of Messina, farm workers are predominantly illegal male migrant labourers from Zimbabwe and Mozambique. "They have multiple partners in South Africa and their home countries, and condom use is irregular." A lot of stigma is associated with condoms, with women who use them regarded as "prostitutes" and men as not "real men", the study found. Out of eight farms visited, three did not have any HIV/AIDS programmes for their workers.
In neighbouring Tzaneen, where the majority of farm workers are women, their knowledge of HIV prevention was also low, and although often monogamous, their partners have multiple sex partners. The study also focused on the youth of sex workers in the town. Frequently of school-going age, they rarely insist on condoms with their clients, who are mainly truck drivers, whose attraction is that they are relatively well off. The study called for youth-orientated prevention activities and the strengthening of peer mediated programmes for farm workers. Malipati is Zimbabwe's gateway to Mozambique, and an area severely hit by drought. Among the high risk groups identified in the study were the spouses of migrant labourers working in South Africa. They hardly ever see their husbands, and when remittances do not arrive, are "forced to exchange money for food". All the wives interviewed said they had never used a condom. Mandimba is a poor Mozambican town on the border with Malawi. It has high commercial sex work activity, limited access to condoms and HIV/AIDS knowledge is low. Similarly, in the port town of Nacala the most vulnerable group are sex workers "who display myths and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS." Construction workers and itinerant traders along the expanding transport corridor to Malawi are among their clients. The study called for technical support to the local health services for HIV counselling and information dissemination. Rijks pointed out that the "socio-economic conditions that lead to vulnerability" are often overlooked. "You have a [migrant] mine worker who does a nasty job and has bad accommodation with no privacy. His only recreation is to visit a sex worker ... He's not interested in safe sex because he doesn't believe he is cared for. [Employers] give little thought to anything beyond the immediate output of his work."
Angolans start long trek home (Windhoek, News24, 27/06) - The first of 18 000 Angolan refugees in Namibia will return home on Monday, says the office of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees. Hesdy Rathling, a representative for the UNHCR in Namibia, said the 150 voluntary refugees would return to southern Angola. "The parties agreed to this pilot movement to fully appreciate the lessons and experiences that will be learnt, before the actual major launch of the voluntary repatriation in a few weeks," he said in a statement. According to the UNHCR, there are 18 000 Angolan refugees in Namibia.
They are among about 440 000 Angolans who fled to nearby states including Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia during Angola's 26 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 and landmines maimed thousands of people. Last Friday, the UNHCR began repatriating about 800 Angolans who had taken refuge in the DRC. An agreement aiming to kick-start the repatriation of the estimated 2 000 Angolan refugees from Botswana was signed at the beginning of June. The UNHCR says only 1 000 Angolans in Namibia have registered for voluntary repatriation.
Angolan refugees start going home (Johannesburg, Irin, 27/06) - Some 150 Angolan refugees in Namibia are expected to return home next week in the first phase of a voluntary repatriation programme, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Friday. "This is just a pilot movement which will be followed by the major launch of the voluntary repatriation," UNHCR protection officer Magda Medina told IRIN. There are an estimated 24,500 Angolan refugees in Namibia. On Monday the refugees will be transported from the Osire camp, about 230 km north of the Namibian capital, Windhoek, to the Kassava Transit Centre in Namibia, where they will remain until 1 July. On the following day they will be taken to Katwitwi border post, where they will be assisted by UNHCR and Angolan authorities to cross into Angola. Most of the refugees in the first wave are expected to return to the southern Kuando Cubango province. However, some have expressed interest in returning to the central Bie province, and Uige province in the north. Medina said concerns over landmines and food insecurity in Angola had been adequately addressed by UNHCR and other humanitarian groups. "Aid agencies have embarked on assistance programmes to ensure the safe passage of returnees. The International Red Cross has conducted mine awareness among refugees. Also, the Angolan authorities have worked hard to rehabilitate basic physical infrastructure in some areas of return. There are already administrative structures in place throughout the country to deal with returnees," Medina confirmed. The World Food Programme will provide returnees with a supply of food rations 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. Last week 500 Angolan refugees living in the Democratic Republic of Congo returned to M'Banza Congo in northwestern Angola and Luau in the eastern reaches of the country. Some 400,000 Angolan refugees are estimated to be in DRC, Zambia and Namibia.
UN agencies assist post-war situation by providing social services (New York, United Nations, 24/06) - Several United Nations agencies are supporting the Angolan Government's efforts to revitalize health, education and social services in the country, 15 months after a ceasefire ended three decades of civil war that destroyed 60 per cent of all hospitals and 5,000 schools. Sixty per cent of Angola's children suffer from chronic malnutrition and 45 per cent do not go to school. UN agencies and development bodies such as the World Bank agree that investment in the country, coupled with effective partnerships, will yield rewards for Angolans. Angola took a significant step on its long road to recovery when it partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) for a national campaign to protect children from measles, a highly contagious disease that kills more young Angolans than any other preventable ailment. Some 7.1 million children - 92 per cent of the population aged 9 months to 15 years - were vaccinated during the National Measles Campaign, which ended on 31 May. UNICEF estimates that 70,000 child lives and $16.8 million in medical costs will now be saved. UNICEF is also supporting the "Back to School" initiative, the country's biggest education campaign to date, which has benefited 500,000 children. In addition, the Government has announced funding for a further 29,000 teachers across the country. "This remains a decisive time in Angola with much to do. Social services were basically wiped out here, hundreds of thousands of Angolans are returning home, and many challenges remain in achieving universal education and routine immunization," UNICEF Representative Mario Ferrari said. Assisting with the repatriation of Angolans abroad, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) last Friday relocated the first group of 543 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The agency is providing food and a package of domestic items, including blankets, kitchen sets and plastic sheeting to the returnees. A second repatriation convoy of Angolan refugees is due to leave Tuesday from Kilueka and Nkondo camps in Bas-Congo Province. UNHCR in Katanga has received 16 additional trucks, which will allow the agency to gradually increase the number of refugees on each convoy.
1,200 illegal foreigners expelled (Cabinda, Angop, 24/06) - At least 1,200 foreign citizens who were living illegally in Angola's northern Cabinda province were repatriated over the last six months of 2002 by the country's Migration Services. The information was released today to Angop by the provincial director of the Migration Services, Henrique Buela, who added that most of those expelled are neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) citizens who fled their country due to hardship. Hardship in DRC, the source said, has also contributed to increase migration into Angola, especially through the Cabinda province. Those that got the boot resided at the Cabinda localities of Necuto and Tando-Zinze. These areas are border regions. In order to control border jumping the authorities are introducing security measures at the border posts at the localities of Necuto, Beira Nova, Panga-Mongo, Yema and Massabi.
Counsellor to Zambia visits refugee departure centres (Luanda, Angop, 23/06) - The Angolan Counsellor to Solwezi (Zambia), Balduino da Silva, on Monday visited the departure and transit centres which will be used by the Angolan refugees during the repatriation process. He also visited the facilities of the future Angolan bordering station, at Luhusa locality, in the Eastern Moxico Province, as well as got acquainted of the state of the road linking Solwezi to Kazombo (Moxico), which will serve as home for the refugees. Balduino da Silva was informed by the Unhcr to Zambia of the repatriation process, as well as the state of the works at the mentioned centres, that are home for 500 people each other. The repatriation process of Angolans in Zambia, initially scheduled for June 12, has been postponed for July 11 or 12. Balduino da Silva was accompanied by diplomats with the consutate, high officials of the Zambian Government and the Unhcr.
First group of Angolan returnees homes (Luau, UNHCR, 23/06) - A first group of 543 Angolan returnees have arrived safely in Angola, paving the way for tens of thousands of others set to follow this year. Two separate convoys, with 306 and 237 refugees respectively, left camps in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Friday morning, in what was described as a "well synchronized and timely commencement of Angolan repatriation" by UNHCR's Acting Representative in the DRC, Alphonse Malanda. From Angolan refugee camps in Kimpese, in the DRC's Bas-Congo province, 306 refugees were voluntarily repatriated in safety and dignity, and received at Luvo border crossing by the Angolan Minister of Reinsertion and Social Affairs, Joao Battista Kussumua, and UNHCR's Regional Coordinator for the Angolan operation, Kallu Kalumiya. A short ceremony marking the official start of the organised repatriation to Angola was held in the presence of the DRC's Ministers of Interior, Defense and Social Affairs; the Governor of Zaïre province in Angola and other officials and aid workers. At the border, UNHCR's Kalumiya and the Angolan Minister of Reinsertion and Social Affaires signed a bilateral agreement establishing the rights of refugees returning to their homeland, be they from the DRC or from another country of asylum. For instance, it sets their right to choose where they want to return, to recover lost property, the right to non-discrimination as well as the right for foreign-born spouses to return to Angola with them. For UNHCR, it facilitates the work of the agency and its partners on the ground, in terms of access to the areas of return and the import of goods needed for the humanitarian assistance operation. The agreement completes the existing legal framework, which was set up in the form of tripartite agreements signed at the end of last year between Angola, UNHCR and the main asylum countries (namely Zambia, the DRC, Namibia and the Republic of Congo). From refugee camps in Kisenge, in DRC's Katanga province, 237 refugees were repatriated to Luau, in the eastern reaches of Angola. The returnees reached the two reception centres in M'Banza Congo and Luau respectively, amid cheers from their compatriots holding banners and welcoming them back home.
"There was quite a good feeling at the reception centre," said Matthew Brook, UNHCR's press officer who was present for the M'Banza Congo leg of the operation. "The line of 15 trucks came in, people waited patiently for the registration process and the distribution of relief material to take place." Over the weekend, the returnees received food and a package of domestic items that had been agreed for the repatriation - including blankets, kitchen sets and plastic sheeting. They were also given training in HIV/AIDS and mine-awareness. Returnees from camps tend to be better informed on HIV/AIDS, and the additional training should help them educate their fellow Angolans on the disease. Mine-awareness training is also crucial as Angola is one of the most heavily-mined countries in the world, with estimates sometimes reaching 12 million mines, or one mine per Angolan. Construction sets for shelter or to rebuild their homes will also be distributed later. Some of the refugees who live in the towns will be able to head out of the reception centres and back to their home areas in the next couple of days. Others who live outside the towns in rural areas will have to wait for transport arrangements. Two more convoys are planned for this week from the DRC - one on Tuesday to M'Banza Congo and one on Thursday to Luau. UNHCR is hoping to run twice-weekly convoys once the dust has settled after the first day's excitement and the convoys are able to run smoothly. Repatriation from Namibia is set to start on July 2 to Caiundo in Angola's Cuando Cubango province. From Meheba camp in western Zambia, the first convoy is scheduled for July 11, to Cazombo in Angola's eastern Moxico province. UNHCR is also working with the Angolan government on improving the road from M'Banza Congo to Cuimba, in Zaïre province, home to thousands of refugees hoping to return from the DRC.
Angolan refugees start journey home (Kinshasa, UNHCR, 20/06) - Hundreds of Angolan refugees marked World Refugee Day today by heading home from their camps in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), kicking off a major repatriation operation organised by the UN refugee agency. On Friday, two convoys carrying an estimated 500 Angolan refugees left three camps in the DRC, the first of an estimated 220,000 Angolans expected to return to Angola from the region over the next two years. This is more than one-third of the Angolan refugee population who had fled nearly three decades of civil war for surrounding countries. The first convoy picked up 250-300 refugees from Kilueka and Nkondo camps in south-western DRC's Bas Congo province and started a three- to four-hour drive towards the northern Angola town of Mbanza Congo. At the border crossing, they were welcomed in a ceremony by government officials, donors and UN representatives. The second convoy departed from Tshimbumbulu camp near Kisenge in southern DRC's Katanga province and proceeded to Luau in the eastern Angolan province of Moxico. To receive the returnees in Angola, transit centres with a combined capacity for up to 2,000 people have been established in Mbanza Congo and Luau. Returnees will spend the first few days at these centres before proceeding to their areas of origin. They will be given mine-awareness training and information on HIV/AIDS. They will also receive reintegration packages consisting of basic domestic supplies such as blankets, jerry cans, mats and kitchen sets, and a three-month food supply. The voluntary repatriation will take place in several phases over the next two years initially, helping Angolan refugees return to areas identified as having basic facilities like water, sanitation, schools and health centres. These areas include Cazombo commune in Moxico province in eastern Angola and Mbanza Congo in the north. In early July, repatriation is planned to begin from Namibia to the towns of Caiundo and Menongue in the southern province of Cuando Cubango, and from Zambia to Cazombo in Moxico province. More than 8,000 Angolans in Zambia's Meheba camp have already registered for return, but a test convoy on June 12 was aborted when a mine was found on the road from the Zambian border to Cazombo. The Angolan government estimates that since May 2002, 130,000 Angolan refugees have already returned home on their own, mainly to the provinces of Uige, Zaire, Moxico and Cuando Cubango. UNHCR has appealed for $29 million for the 2003 phase of the repatriation operation, but has so far received only $9 million, less than a third of the total needed. There are indications that a further $12 million may be coming.
Systems now underway to repatriate refugees (Gaborone, African Church Information Service, 17/06) - A tripartite accord for setting up of a commission for the repatriation of Angolan refugees was signed here June 4, by the governments of Angola and Botswana, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The document foresees repatriation of some 2,400 Angolans resident in Botswana, taking place from June 20 to July 20 this year. Angola's Deputy Foreign Minister, George Chicoty, Botswana's Minister for Labour and Home Affairs, Daniel Kwelagobe, and the UNHCR Regional Co-ordinator for repatriation of Angolan citizens, Kallu Kalumiya, signed the accord. This followed a three-day State visit to Botswana by Angolan President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Officially, about 850 Angolans are classified as refugees living in Botswana, according to UNHCR's Botswana Representative, Benny Otim. "But there is indeed a larger number of Angolans in Botswana. Some have been here for more than 20 years, and a large number of them have already been naturalised, while others are in the process of [becoming citizens]," Otim noted. After the signing of the repatriation agreement, representatives of UNHCR, Angola and Botswana formed a commission to look at the logistics of taking people back to Angola. Otim said that ensuring people were returned in "safety and dignity" was of paramount concern. Said he: "As you know, some of these areas [in Angola] are heavily mined. We will have to focus on ensuring that when they (the refugees) get back, they will not be hurt. The moment conditions on the ground are acceptable, we will take them back into Angola". UNHCR is also expected to repatriate another 450,000 Angolan refugees living in several countries in southern Africa, the biggest concentration being in Zambia. Further repatriation agreements are expected to be signed between UNHCR and Angola's neighbours still sheltering refugees. "For example, we hope to sign one with South Africa in the next few weeks," revealed Otim. Many Angolans were displaced as a result of the country's 30-year civil war that only came to an end last year, after Unita rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was killed.
Two million children get birth certificates (Luanda, Angop, 14/06) - Two million Angolan children were registered from 1998 to May this year under the ongoing National Birth Registration process of the Angolan Ministry of Justice and partners, including the UNICEF. A UNICEF press note made available to Angop on Thursday says the registration took place in Luanda and other provincial capitals, in the municipalities formerly inaccessible, due to the war, and in the areas where former UNITA soldiers and their relatives were confined. The campaign, which could go on until the end of the year, foresees to register three million still with the support of non-governmental organizations and churches. Partners’ actions are directed to the strengthening of registration capacity building at municipal level, and some critical places like the sites of repatriation. In the note, sent on the occasion of June 16, 2003, African Children’s Day, the UNICEF says the major difficulty of this campaign lies in the access to the most remote and war-affected municipalities. It says families and communities should take knowledge of the importance of children’s birth registration, which is a compulsory act, for it ensures one’s fundamental rights, such as nationality, protection, medical assistance, schooling, employment, free flow of people and goods, voting and banking transactions. The celebrations of this date happens for the 13th time all over the continent, under the motto, "The Birth Registration". The 7th article of the Child Rights Convention establishes that he/she will be immediately registered after his birth and will have the right to a name, a nationality and know his parents and be educated by them, the note concluded.
Foreign affairs minister encourages Portuguese entrepreneurs (Lisbon, Angop, 13/06) - Angolan Foreign Affairs minister, João Miranda, on Thursday, in Lisbon (Portugal), encouraged Portuguese entrepreneurs to invest in Angola. The minister who was speaking during a meeting with banking officials, representatives of business associations and entrepreneurs, appealed for assistance in the reconstruction of Angola. "Finally the country is in peace and this process has to be consolidated through concrete actions that make people believe in it, which is something the Angolan government cannot do alone", he said. The Angolan Foreign minister also appealed to Portuguese businesspeople to join Angolans in this great challenge and help the country become economically strong and stable, adding that the recovery of the country has necessarily to count on everyone's solidarity, so that the wounds caused by war can be healed definitively and give the Angolan people a dignified and happy life. "We need those people who really want to invest and get profit, but also, taking with them solidarity towards the Angolan cause", said the minister. During the meeting, the Angolan Foreign minister clarified some points that have been raised, concerning legal aspects related to private investiment in Angola as well as the improvement of road conditions in the whole country. On Wednesday the Angolan Foreign Affairs minister signed with his Portuguese counterpart an Action Plan of Cooperation for the year 2003. On Friday, last day of the official visit, João Miranda will meet the Portuguese Parliament Speaker, Freitas Do Amaral, and with the Portuguese Prime-Minister, Durão Barroso.
Home ministry fights illegal immigration (Malanje, Angop, 08/06) - Angolan home ministry is engaged in fighting illegal immigration and diamond trafficking in the country which is favoured by the vulnerability at the borders. The government has designed a programme that comprises the setting up of border posts and investigation of foreigners border jumping into the Angolan territory. This was said on Saturday in Malanje by Angolan home ministry, Osvaldo Serra Van-Dunem. According to him, local authorities will tighten actions against illegal diamond mining. Osvaldo Serra Van-Dúnem expressed satisfaction at the accomplishment of the programmes designed, the perspectives and needs of the Malanje government which performance has been improving. In his trip to Malanje, the minister was at the head of an inter-sectoral delegation that comprised the ministers of Public Works, Finance and Transports, Higino Carneiro, José Pedro de Morais and André Luís Brandão, respectively.
Botswana, Angola, UNHCR sign tripartite pact (Bopa, 06/06) - Botswana, Angola and the UNHCR on Wednesday singned a tripartite agreement that will facilitate voluntary repatriation of refugees from Botswana. Presidential Affairs and Public Administration minister Daniel Kwelagobe and acting Angolan foreign affairs minister George Chikoty signed for their respective governments while UNHCR regional co-ordinator of the repatriation of Angolan refugees Kallu Kalumiya represented the UN agency. The accord will pave the way not only for the repatriation of the Angolan refugees from Botswana but also the ones other countries neighbouring Angola under UNHCR supervision. The repatriation exercise is expected to last two years. Its estimated to cost P250 million to which Botswana has contributed P1 000 000. Two-thirds of the money will be spent in Angola to help resettle the returnees. Kalumiya told journalists after the signing ceremony that majority of the refugees in Botswana and other countries such as Namibia and South Africa wanted to return home. Priority will be given to the ones staying at Dukwi Refugee Camp. He said a few who had not yet expressed their willingness to go home were probably held back by fear of land mines. One hundred and thirty-seven Angolans have applied for naturalisation and the processing of their applications is at an advanced stage. Earlier, Kwelagobe expressed delight that after several decades of war, which has claimed a lot of lives and property, Angola has returned to a state of peace and stability. "The people of Angola deserve to join the community of nations in enjoying all the benefits that accrue to humanity," he said. "The children of Angola have a right to look to the future filled with hope and prosperity." Kwelagobe reiterated that no one was forced to go and that concerned individuals were provided with information and options to assist them in making decisions. He said Angolans who chose to remain in Botswana were welcome to do so, especially that some had contributed skills and knowledge to Botswana's economic and social development. Already, there are a number of Angolans who have been granted Botswana citizenship.
Kwelagobe appealed to the international community to assist Angola by contributing generously towards its reconstruction and development programme, which will, among others, ensure the reintegration of thousands of ex-combatants as well as internally displaced persons. "We all owe it to ourselves and to humanity to give the people of Angola a chance and hope for a bright future," he added. Chikoty of Angola said the agreement showed his government commitment to assist people who wished to return and thanked the UNHCR for having handled the refugees for more than 40 years, especially Angolans. He assured the ones willing to go back of a conducive environment at home, created by the signing of a peace agreement in April last year between the government and UNITA. To Botswana he said, the country "has always been one of the closest partners to Angola in finding solutions to conflicts afflicting the region as it worked with the UN to implement sanctions (against UNITA) aimed to bring about peace. "The signing of the agreement is a sign that the peace process in Angola is irreversible. "As a result, Angolans can go back to their homes and start working towards the reconstruction of their country's economy. "The government and people of Angola have worked together to achieve peace."
Organised repatriation from Zambia starts (Luanda, Angop, 06/06) - The first group of 400 Angolan refugees in neighbouring Zambia will arrive in the country in June 12, as part of the voluntary organised repatriation process. According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the returned refugees will spend the first days in sheltering centres where they will receive training about mines danger awareness, information on HIV-AIDS and get some necessary medical assistance. Before they leave the centres, the returned refugges will be be given a food allowance, a construction instruments kit, blankets, soap and kitchen utensils. Afterwards, they will be distributed to the five areas of the country that have been prepared for this effect, namely, in Mbanza Congo (northern Zaire province), Cazombo and Luau (eastern Moxico province) plus Menongue and Kuando (southern Kuando-Kubango province). The process also involves the distribution of seeds and agricultural instruments in these communities to help them become self-reliant in terms of food. According to the UNHCR, these communities have the appropriate pre-conditions for this operation and the danger of mines is considered to be reduced, moreover, basic services such as education, health and water distribution have been secured. The UNHCR has been registering Angolan refugees in Zambia, Namibia and the DR Congo as part of the repatriation process which is to start this month.
Angolan refugees in Botswana to return home (Luanda, Angop, 05/06) - The tripartite agreement on voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees living in Botswana signed Wednesday in Gaborone will enable their gradual transfer to the country. The agreement was signed by the Governments of Angola, Botswana, as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Angolan Foreign deputy minister George Chicoty told press ``the agreement shows that there is no war in the country, there is a peace process, national reconciliation, national reintegration and accommodation of Angolans for refunification of families aiming at the country`s development``. The minister explained that Angolan Government has completed similar accords with other neighbouring countries, where there are an estimated 400.000 refugees. They are such countries like Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and DR Congo. He underlined that UN is part of this process and has about USD 50 million to be used in voluntary repatriation and reintegration which will last for ten years. Concerning the initial process, he mentioned that it will start once each case meets the reintegration conditions, adding however that some cases have already started. ``It is a voluntary process, none will go against one`s willing and the respect for citizens` rights will be born in mind``, he said.
Refugees and UN officials assess conditions for repatriation (Windhoek, The Namibian, 05/06) - A team of refugees and UN officials are in southern Angola to assess conditions as part of the final phase in the planned repatriation of over 20 000 people who fled one of Africa's most brutal conflicts. Among the refugees expected to be repatriated back to Angola from Namibia are at least 15 000 from the Osire Refugee Camp, about 230 km north-east of Windhoek, 400 refugees and some 300 livestock at the Kassava Refugee Camp in the Kavango Region. A recent spot survey by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at Osire indicated an overwhelming majority, in excess of 95 per cent, expressing their willingness to return to their motherland. A team of eight refugees, seven of them from Osire and one from Kassava Refugee Camp, are visiting a number of centres in the Cuando-Cubango Province where the refugees are expected to be repatriated when the exercise, which is expected to start before the end of June, takes off. In an interview this week, David Nthengwe, an Assistant Field Officer responsible for information at the UNHCR, said the eight refugees and UN officials will spend a week in Angola. Officials from the UNHCR are facilitating and driving this week's exercise though the eight refugees will determine which areas they want to visit to enable them to make sound judgments on the dignified return of thousands of their compatriots. According to Nthengwe: "It is a very transparent process that will enable refugees to make a very informed decision about their desire to return". "It is a one-off visit and then we will later expect people to come forward for registration. It is an important aspect of the whole repatriation process because it informs refugees about the situation where they are going," said the UN official. At present, UNHCR and officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs are finalising a draft repatriation document whose content will be disseminated to refugees. "Refugees have to know the different procedures to be taken, refugees have to know their entitlements as they return, they have to know the border crossings to Angola and the implications of their return to Angola," Nthengwe said. One of the implications of going back to their motherland is that the refugees will lose their refugee status and will be expected to reintegrate with other communities. "The Angolan government feels very strongly that nobody can rebuild that country but Angolans themselves," said Nthengwe. Antonio Borges P Pimenta, the Press Attache at the Angolan Embassy in Windhoek also confirmed the planned repatriation. "The (Angolan) government is preparing conditions to receive refugees. They will give them assistance in terms of food and temporary residence (shelter)," he said. Pimenta said the Angolan government, with the assistance of donors, has embarked on a massive mine clearance exercise in preparation for the return of over 500 000 refugees from Namibia, Zambia, DRC and Congo Brazzaville.
President Dos Santos meets Angolans in Botswana (Gaborone, Angop, 04/06) -Angolan head of State, José Eduardo dos Santos is meeting today here with representatives of the Angolan community in Botswana as part of the agenda for the second of his three-day official visit to this southern Africa country. José Eduardo dos Santos is also meeting with the heads of the African diplomatic missions accredited to Botswana, before visiting the Cattle Vaccination Institute in Gaborone. On Tuesday, Angolan head of State, at the head of a delegation, held official talks with the Tswanese Government and met privately with his host counterpart, Festus Mogae. On the same day, Eduardo dos Santos in his current capacity as president of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), visited the ~headquaters of the regional organisation's executive secretariat in the Botswana capital. He on the occasion he recommended the SADC executive secretariat for a correct interpretation of the guidelines and firmly engage in the implementation of decisions, especially those concerning the community's restructuring. At night, he attended a dinner host by his local counterpart.
President Dos Santos wants strengthened relations with Botswana (Gaborone, Angop, 04/06) - Angolan head of State, José Eduardo dos Santos, Tuesday in Gaborone expressed the country's wish to strengthen existing bilateral cooperation with Botswana in all fields of common interest. The head of State said so during an official dinner host by his local counterpart, Festus Mogae, as part of his first official visit to Botswana. He added on the occasion that his country is ready to also cooperate in the search for equivalent solutions to problems it may come across and which Botswana has successfully dealt with. "We also have at the same time areas in which we can benefit from reciprocal experience and areas where our economies can join common effort in a satisfactory way, always to the benefit of out populations, of the development of our countries and of the region", he stated. As he said, now that Angola has achieved a definite peace the necessary and sufficient conditions are in place for the foment and expansion of cooperation. Angola can benefit much from the experience achieved by the republic of Botswana that has often been mentioned as an example of stability and good governance at the level of our continent, for the results reached in the running of its internal political affairs and of its resources, the president stressed. To José Eduardo dos Santos, Botswana has demonstrated not only the viability of the national economies within SADC, but constitutes as well an incentive to the cooperation and regional integration. "We continue joining effort to rise our potential and optimise the capacity of each one of our countries towards an integrated development of the sub-region with a view to providing for more felicity and wellbeing to our peoples", Eduardo dos Santos said. He also expressed the wish to jointly fight huge common challenges of this era of globalisation and concert positions on matters that concern the Southern Africa, the continent and the rest of the planet, either at the level of regional and continental organisations or at others of world dimension.
He thus mentioned matters related to the peaceful solution of the conflicts still raging on, through the creation of real democratic and lawful states, through peace, stability and good governance so that a single language can be used and common positions arranged. In visiting Botswana, Jose Eduardo dos Santos said, he has a feeling of the coming true of a dream he has for long postponed and, in a way restoring to its just terms, a relationship always desired. Commenting on the Twanese business mission that was recently in Angola, Dos Santos stressed that both himself and his delegation, are open to all suggestions and proposals contributing to elevate the level of existing bilaterla cooperation. "There are no reasons, even involuntarily, for us to remain relatively apart, at a time everything seams to point out the advantages of a more profound approximation between our two peoples at all levels", he said. José Eduardo dos Santos thanked the move from the Botswana Government in assisting Angola restore its wildlife, partly destroyed by war, through supplying some of its specimens to revive the national parks and thereby contribute for the future of the Angolan tourism.
UNHCR to transport 400 refugees (Luanda, Angop, 04/06) - The Un High Commissioner for Refugees (Hcr) and the Angolan Government start on June 12, 2003, the transport of 400 Angolan refugees to their origins, a note from that organisation says. This operation is part of a campaign starting on June 20, during which some 440,000 Angolan refugees, settled in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Namibia will be voluntarily transported to their origins. The first one will go to Mbanza Congo (Zaire), Cazombo and Luau (Moxico), Menongue and Caiundo (Kuando-Kubango), as these are have conditions for this operation. Un hcr proceeds the registration of Angolans settled in camps in Drc, Zambia and Namibia for their returning, announced the source adding that in Angola they will be lodged at sheltering camps, where will receive informations on hiv/aids, warning on mines and some necessary medical aid. They will also get seeds and agricultural tools for their self maintenance.
Police reinforce controls at border (Cabinda, Angop, 04/06) - Angolan National Police will reinforce the control on the influx of people and goods, with the intention of guaranteeing security in the national borders, said Tuesday, in the northern Cabinda province, the Police Commander, commissioner-general, José Alfredo Ekuikui. The top police officer said that the control will be made both on national citizens and foreigners, adding that some operations are already being carried out in those provinces next to the neighbouring countries, mainly, DR Congo and Congo Brazzaville, which are the two neighbouring countries where most illegal people who enter through the border come from. According to the Commander these operations will ensure a new dynamics in control activities in the country, to put an end to the frequent violations observed at the borders and stop illegal practices by national and foreign citizens. The police operation in Cabinda is called "Maiombe-2003".
Agreement will pave the way for repatriation of Angolans (Johannesburg, Irin, 03/06) - The process of repatriating Angolan refugees living in Botswana is to move forward with the signing of an agreement on the issue this week. Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos began a visit to Botswana on Tuesday, where "the relevant Botswanan and Angolan ministers will sign a repatriation agreement with UNHCR [the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees]", said UNHCR Botswana Representative Benny Otim. Officially, Otim told IRIN, about 850 Angolans classified as refugees are living in Botswana. "But there is indeed a larger number of Angolans in Botswana - some have been here for more than 20 years and a large number of them have already been naturalised [as citizens], while others are in the process of being naturalised. They will not want to go home," Otim noted. Once the repatriation agreement was signed, representatives of UNHCR, Angola and Botswana would form a commission to look at the logistics of taking people back to Angola. Otim said ensuring that people were returned in "safety and dignity" was of paramount concern. "As you know, some of these areas [in Angola] are heavily mined. We will have to focus on ensuring that when they (the refugees) get back they will not be hurt. The moment conditions on the ground are acceptable we will take them back into Angola." Otim noted that there were 450,000 refugees throughout the region, with the biggest concentration in Zambia. "So for us, returning the 800 or so refugees here is not going to be problematic". Further tripartite repatriation agreements need to be signed by UNHCR and those of Angola's neighbours still sheltering refugees. "For example, we hope to sign one with South Africa in the next few weeks," Otim added.
Angola, Botswana to discuss repatriation of refugees (Gaborone, Sapa-AFP, 02/06) - Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos was set to pay a three-day state visit to Botswana starting Tuesday to discuss the repatriation of Angolan refugees, an official said Monday. Botswana's High Commissioner to Angola, Gaothetse Matlhabapri, said the two countries and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would sign an agreement to facilitate the repatriation process. "There are 850 Angolans in the country classified as refugees," Matlhabapri told reporters in Gaborone. "The UNHCR, Angola and Botswana governments will sign a tripartite agreement which is to facilitate the repatriation process. After the signing of the agreement, Angolans would be encouraged to begin to register for the repatriation process," he said. Although the official count of Angolan refugees in Botswana is about 850, it is believed that the actual figure is around 2,000. The United Nations estimated in February that about half a million Angolans had been driven from their country by 27 years of civil war. The conflict ended in April 2002, when the army of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, long a Marxist movement, signed a peace pact with rebel officers of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. The war claimed an estimated 500,000 lives and maimed thousands of landmine victims.
Minister warms against selling cattle posts to foreigners (Bopa, 24/06) -The agriculture minister Johnnie Swartz has warned Batswana who sell their cattle posts to foreigners. Speaking in a kgotla meeting at Shakawe the minister complained that some Batswana especially farmers in the Okavango area were selling their cattle and water points to foreigners. Swartz said the issue was disappointing because the farmers were said to be selling their cattle posts at prices as low as P50 000. He was responding to a complaint raised by a resident at Gumare that some farmers were involved in the trade. Swartz who is MP for Ghanzi said government was much concerned about the issue adding that in some cases both residential and business plots end up in the hands of foreigners. Further he complained about some people who do not respect the national anthem especially our youth. He noted that all people should respect the anthem regardless of their age. On the issue of escalating crime along the Botswana/Namibia border he said government alone would not achieve its goals in curbing criminal activities in the country if members of the public did not help. Swartz observed that for crime to be curbed in the country members of the public should work cooperatively with government and police. On the issue of re-opening the Maun abattoir, the minister told the residents that the government was still looking into the issue of either selling the abattoir or re-opening it.
MP attacks Zimbabweans (Francistown, Mmegi, 20/06) - Ever since he lost his cabinet post, North-East MP, Chapson Butale has become an interesting debater in parliament. To some, the MP is just a "loose cannon". Whatever the case, Butale was at his element last Monday in Matshelagabedi village at the start of the cattle restocking exercise in the North-East. He threw diplomatic caution to the wind and accused Zimbabweans of cutting and stealing materials used in the electrification of the border fence. The fence is meant to block the movement of cattle and wild animals between Botswana and Zimbabwe to control the spread of animal diseases. According to Butale, the problem at the border does not need the intervention of Foreign Affairs Minister, Mompati Merafhe. He said President Festus Mogae should meet Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe over the issue. He insisted that the police, the army and other government officials have played their role without success. "For us to be happy again, something needs to be done about the situation in the border villages. The government of Botswana once gave the Zimbabweans a consignment of tones of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccines but this is not appreciated," he said to thunderous applause from the people. He argued that if Mogae could talk face to face with Mugabe, border jumping and theft of fencing material would subside. No one expected the MP to advocate for such a strong position. There was complete silence in the meeting as Butale attacked the Zimbabweans. He said that Botswana was failing to control the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) because of the wayward attitude of the Zimbabwean illegal immigrants who jumped the border on a daily basis. The MP urged villagers to desist from the habit of harbouring the illegal immigrants. In the past, a number of Zimbabweans were caught illegally importing live animals at ungazetted points.
People staying along borders advised to guard against SARS (Bopa, 19/06) -District Health Team authorities in Gumare say the people along the borders should guard against the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) to ensure that it does not spread to Botswana. Speaking in a meeting for heads of department, health officials said Batswana should be careful when interacting with external travellers. However, they said they were in the process of establishing a unit at Shakawe where people suspected to have contracted SARS would be kept in isolation for 10 days. Public health specialist John Makuke said even though there were no reports of SARS outbreaks in Botswana it was important that people should guard against the disease because "prevention is better than cure". He said health authorities would hold workshops to educate health workers as well as Immigration and Custom officers at Mohembo border post on SARS. Dr Makuke said SARS symptoms included high fever of 38 degrees, cough and difficulty in breathing. It starts as a flue-like illness with high fever, muscle aches, headache and sore throat. The incubation period between exposure to injection and development of symptoms ranged from three to six days, he said. Makuka said some borders and airports, including Tlokweng, Martinsdrift, Ramokgwebana borders, Maun, Sir Seretse Khama and Francistown airports also check visitors for SARS.
Batswana students in SA in rent arrears (Bopa, 18/06) - A South African property owner has appealed to the Botswana Consulate General in Johannesburg to assist in recovering close to P55 000 owed by some Botswana students studying at South African tertiary institutions. Jacqui Deoliveira of Sun Apartments, which houses 240 Batswana students, sought the intervention of Botswana Consulate General following students' failure to pay rent. Deoliveira told BOPA in telephone from Midrand near Johannesburg that almost half of the students she was accommodating have fallen into arrears to the tune of P55 000. She said some tenants were two to three months behind in their payments, while most left for the June vacation without paying rent for the month. Students have signed leases, which run from February to December this year under which each pays R1 500 (South African rands). According to Deoliveira, three students share a two-bed roomed apartment. Since each student pay their rent, some have defaulted getting themselves and their roommates on the wrong side of the landlord, who threatens to cut utilities such as electricity from the apartments. Assistant education attaché Gloria Chebanne confirmed receipt of a complaint from the Sun Apartments as well as the Student Village in Johannesburg where some of the students lodge. She, however, said there was little the government could do since the obligation was on the students to ensure payment as they were given the money to secure and pay accommodation for themselves. Chebanne said students were regularly addressed on their conduct, with issues such as rent defaulting on the agenda. Assistant Minister of Education Duke Lefhoko during his recent visit to 17 South African universities and technikons, where Batswana are admitted, reminded them of their obligations.
Zimbabwean army officer detained in Botswana (The Daily News, 18/06) - A Zimbabwe National Army captain who has been missing from duty for the past 15 months is being held at a centre for illegal immigrants in Botswana, an official with that country's prison services said this seek. Anthony Mokento of Botswana State Prisons said Ernest Moyowangu Chuma, who fled Zimbabwe after the presidential election in March, was being detained at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants. Responding to written questions from The Daily News, Mokento said: "Ernest Moyowangu Chuma is being held as an immigrant at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants." He would not indicate whether the Botswana authorities were intending to deport Chuma, but said the army officer was not being charged for any criminal activities. Chuma fled the country last March after he was allegedly tortured by state security agents who accused him of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the run-up to the disputed 2002 presidential poll. He is said to have escaped to Dukwe Refugee Camp in Botswana, where he met two Zimbabwean army corporals from Bulawayo's Llewelyn Barracks. The two are reported to have escaped to the United Nations-run Dukwe Refugee Camp after allegedly being interrogated by the Zimbabwean army's counter-intelligence branch, whose officials also accused them of being MDC members. A source close to the matter told The Daily News this week that former Zimbabwean army corporals Irvine Ntini and Peter Kwanele had since left the Botswana refugee camp and were now in Australia. "The two corporals were granted asylum in Australia. That is where they are living now. They are safe," said the source. Ntini and Ndou were students on an environmental health course at the Medical Training School at Llewelyn Barracks. They were on field attachment in rural Matabeleland after the presidential election and were allegedly visited by members of the military intelligence, who accused them of being MDC members. The Zimbabwe National Army has in the past said Chuma was a deserter and that it did not retain records of soldiers who had fled Zimbabwe to seek political asylum. A member of Chuma's family, who refused to be identified, yesterday said that the former army captain's family had no information about his situation and was worried about his absence from home. "We are not aware of his situation. We do not know whether he is well or not. We only heard that he fled to Botswana," said the family member.
Botswana/Angola sign repatriation deal (Mmegi, 6-12/06) - Angolan Foreign Affairs Minister, George Chikoty signed a tripartite agreement with Botswana and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees aimed at paving the way for voluntary repatriations. The move was part of the key issues that formed a three-day state visit by Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos aimed at strengthening relations between Botswana and his country. "After the peace establishment we started the process of repatriation. People are going to their homeland which they left long time ago," Angolan diplomat Jose Agostino Neto said. Botswana's High Commissioner to Luanda, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri said earlier in the week that there are 850 classified Angolan refugees in Botswana. Most of them have applied for naturalisation. The United Nations estimated in February that about half a million Angolans had been driven from their country by the 27 years of civil war. The conflict ended in April 2002, after government forces killed rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. The war claimed an estimated 500,000 lives and maimed thousands. Meanwhile, Botswana Foreign Affairs Minister Mompati Merafhe said the two countries were itching to "strengthen their bonds of co-operation". He added that they wished Angolans well in their attempts to establish democracy in their country. "The key area of this visit is trade and they are part of SADC. We have so many areas such Okacom - a joint commission between Angola, Botswana and Namibia - over the shared water of the Okavango River. The Okavango River is filling up our swamps which makes it quite important to us to have the Angolan President here," Merafhe said. The Angolan president whose country has just started to buy Botswana beef also toured the Botswana Vaccine Institute with to expand their order of vaccines. Angola which has got more cattle than Botswana is faced with a problem of pandemic animal diseases including cattle lung and foot and mouth disease.
850 Angolan refugees in Botswana prepare to return (Gaborone, Pana, 05/06) - As 850 Angolan refugees here prepare to return home, the Botswana government Thursday donated $250,000 toward their repatriation. The government announced the donation, which would be given to the UNHCR, as Angolan president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos ended three-day state visit here. Authorities of both countries and the UNHCR signed an agreement on Wednesday allowing for the voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees in Botswana. Meanwhile, Dos Santos told journalists shortly before departure that nearly three decades of civil war displaced some 4 million Angolans, and about 2 million of them have not yet been resettled. He pleaded with the media to highlight the problems faced by the Angolan people to attract donor aid, which he said was slow in coming.
Agreement will pave the way for repatriation of Angolans (Johannesburg, Irin, 03/06) - The process of repatriating Angolan refugees living in Botswana is to move forward with the signing of an agreement on the issue this week. Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos began a visit to Botswana on Tuesday, where "the relevant Botswanan and Angolan ministers will sign a repatriation agreement with UNHCR [the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees]", said UNHCR Botswana Representative Benny Otim. Officially, Otim told IRIN, about 850 Angolans classified as refugees are living in Botswana. "But there is indeed a larger number of Angolans in Botswana - some have been here for more than 20 years and a large number of them have already been naturalised [as citizens], while others are in the process of being naturalised. They will not want to go home," Otim noted. Once the repatriation agreement was signed, representatives of UNHCR, Angola and Botswana would form a commission to look at the logistics of taking people back to Angola. Otim said ensuring that people were returned in "safety and dignity" was of paramount concern. "As you know, some of these areas [in Angola] are heavily mined. We will have to focus on ensuring that when they (the refugees) get back they will not be hurt. The moment conditions on the ground are acceptable we will take them back into Angola." Otim noted that there were 450,000 refugees throughout the region, with the biggest concentration in Zambia. "So for us, returning the 800 or so refugees here is not going to be problematic". Further tripartite repatriation agreements need to be signed by UNHCR and those of Angola's neighbours still sheltering refugees. "For example, we hope to sign one with South Africa in the next few weeks," Otim added.
Angola, Botswana to discuss repatriation of refugees (Gaborone, AFP, 02/06) - Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos was set to pay a three-day state visit to Botswana starting Tuesday to discuss the repatriation of Angolan refugees, an official said Monday. Botswana's High Commissioner to Angola, Gaothetse Matlhabapri, said the two countries and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would sign an agreement to facilitate the repatriation process. "There are 850 Angolans in the country classified as refugees," Matlhabapri told reporters in Gaberone. "The UNHCR, Angola and Botswana governments will sign a tripartite agreement which is to facilitate the repatriation process. After the signing of the agreement, Angolans would be encouraged to begin to register for the repatriation process," he said. Although the official count of Angolan refugees in Botswana is about 850, it is believed that the actual figure is around 2,000. The United Nations estimated in February that about half a million Angolans had been driven from their country by 27 years of civil war. The conflict ended in April 2002, when the army of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, long a Marxist movement, signed a peace pact with rebel officers of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. The war claimed an estimated 500,000 lives and maimed thousands of landmine victims.
Widespread poverty exacerbates food crisis (Johannesburg, Irin, 26/06) -The declining capacity of agriculture to provide adequate food for Lesotho's 2.2 million people lay at the heart of the country's food crisis, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) said in a recent report. The British-based think-tank noted that while in several southern African countries drought was seen as a trigger for the current food crisis, Lesotho had experienced completely different weather conditions. According to the government's Declaration of the State of Famine in April 2002, excessive rains and hailstorms were the main reasons for the crisis. The report also noted that the landlocked country did not produce a surplus of cereals and was dependent on maize imports from neighbouring South Africa. While cereal production had increased in recent years, the rate of increase has been outstripped by population, ODI said. "Though dependence on agriculture is high, agriculture is not an adequate and reliable source of income. For instance, in the most recent agricultural census, 46 percent of households reported subsistence farming as their main source of income," the report said. Moreover, agriculture and livestock farming activities accounted for nearly 60 percent of household income. But more than 95 percent of these households could not adequately produce their own food requirements. Even for those who had adequate land, home grown food often provided for less than five months of the year, the report pointed out. The privatisation of many agricultural support services had also significantly increased the prices of services, placing them beyond the reach of many rural households. NGOs have argued that the main cause of the crisis in Lesotho is HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS estimated in 2002 that around 31 percent of the adult population (15-49 years) of Lesotho was currently living with HIV. Recent studies have shown that HIV/AIDS reduces the labour potential of rural households because those responsible for tending farms are either sick, looking after the sick or looking after orphans. "It is important to note, though, that it is not just agricultural labour that is affected by HIV/AIDS. Workers in other sectors are retrenched when they become ill, and many of these workers are returning to rural areas in Lesotho," the report said.
While the impact of HIV/AIDS and a decline in agricultural production were seen as contributors to the current food shortages, the underlying reason for the crisis was widespread poverty. There were a growing number of landless households in rural areas - rising from 12.7 percent of rural households in 1970 to 36.6 percent in 1994. The purchasing power of many rural and urban households in Lesotho fell sharply during the 1990s as migrant labourers were retrenched from South African mines. Rural households that had remittances as their main source of income became increasingly dependent on agriculture on marginal land. The study found that although industry in the capital, Maseru, had supported urban households, the employment opportunities had done little to support rural households containing retrenched miners "since most jobs in Maseru's industries are [held by] women, and pay so little that remittances are rarely sent back to rural areas". According to the Bureau of Statistics, the inflation rate between December 2001 and December 2002 was 11.2 percent. In particular, the price of maize meal rose from an average of M20.00 (about US $2) for 12.5 kg in December 2001 to M40.00 (about US $4) in December 2002. "Thus, low purchasing power, high levels of unemployment (30 percent) and the high level of poverty (50 percent) aggravate the food access problem," the report said. It also highlighted that the removal of government subsidies to basic foodstuffs and services had further weakened rural household food security.
Some Nigerians violate our hospitality, says Minister (Maseru, Mopheme/The Survivor, 26/06) - The Minister of Home Affairs and Public Safety Tom Thabane says the government of Lesotho is greatly concerned about the growing number of some Nigerians who enter the country illegally, violate its laws, abuse young Basotho girls and turn them into sex slaves. Speaking in the National Assembly last week, Thabane indicated that some of the Nigerians came to Lesotho as teachers and consultants in different fields only to violate and misuse the traditional hospitality of the Basotho nation. "We are disappointed with some of them who have violated our traditional African hospitality by abusing our young girls and getting them pregnant, especially at some schools where these Nigerians teach. Some of these children were found in England where they were sent and promised employment by the Nigerian teachers only to be turned into sex slaves," Minister Thabane added. He pointed out that some of the Nigerians have opened many illegal schools in Lesotho which charged exorbitant school fees and examination fees and then disappear. "Some of them deal in illegal drug-trafficking, fake money and forge our old passports using some kind of soap whose origins are unknown to us . We are in the process of looking for them and dealing with them according to the laws of this country. We are a small country that is easily accessible since we are surrounded by one big country which attracts a lot of people because of its lucrative economy. So many dangerous people who are being hunted and suspected of terrorism elsewhere may take the advantage of using Lesotho as a safe haven. This leads to confrontation and conflict between us and stronger countries like the United States of America. Therefore, we need to guard ourselves. This task is difficult and needs the concerted effort of all including members of Parliament, chiefs, organizations, churches and the public in general," Thabane spared no words in lambasting the Ministries of Trade, Employment and Home Affairs for their part in increasing the influx of illegal immigrants into Lesotho. " Negligence and misconduct on the part of three government Ministries of Trade which issues trading licences, Labour and Employment which gives work permits and on top of all my Ministry of Home Affairs and Public Safety that issues residence permits have plunged this country into the problem of the increasing number of illegal immigrants. Some of them even secured Lesotho passport illegally. Any alien who seeks to reside in Lesotho must make the necessary arrangements before coming to Lesotho. It is not proper in terms of the law for such an alien to apply for necessary documents whilst already in the country," Thabane said.
Thabane indicated that some Basotho traders also contributed to the problem of immigrants by illegally lending their trading licences to aliens. "This situation is very discouraging and disappointing so much that many people are turning to government to expel these people from Lesotho. As government elected by the people, we will expedite our operation in this regard and we will hunt illegal aliens in every corner. Basotho traders who illegally lend their trading licences to aliens will be prosecuted, and civil servants who have enriched and continue to enrich themselves by undermining the laws governing aliens will also face the wrath of the law," the Minister of Home Affairs and Public Safety said. Thabane further called upon the courts of law to take necessary steps to reduce the growing number of illegal aliens in the country. "We are not instructing the courts of law but we are simply appealing to them to seriously look at this problem. This country cannot afford another "Manthabiseng" [he was referring to the riots that were directed at aliens following the death of a Mosotho woman called 'Mathabiseng after she was allegedly beaten to death in one of the foreign-owned clothing stores in Maseru a few years ago]." Thabane also expressed concern over the growing number of Chinese, Pakistanis and Indians in Lesotho. " Following the restoration of diplomatic ties between Lesotho and People's Republic of China in 1993, Taiwanese industries were already too many in Lesotho and employed Chinese workers mostly in supervisory positions and in other positions that needed expertise. Government accepted this situation and owners of the industries were given quotas of Chinese workers they can employ in Lesotho. But, later government decided that those quotas should be at par with the training of Basotho workers who will take over from the Chinese after a period of two years. There were no arrangements made as to how these Chinese would return to their homelands after the expiry of their contracts in Lesotho and this has greatly contributed to increased numbers of Chinese who opened businesses in the country. In business, we encourage Basotho to be self-reliant but there are some businesses which Basotho cannot afford to run since they need special skills. So government has specified businesses that can be run only by Basotho. But, unfortunately, it seems Basotho have given these businesses to foreigners which is against the laws of this country," he said. Thabane disclosed that government had information that some Basotho were planning to take law into their own hands and expel undesirable foreigners from the country. "I wholeheartedly request them not to do that. They should cooperate with different government ministries who will visit their villages looking for illegal aliens. We do this knowing fully well that we have strong relations with countries whose nationals will be affected. However, we are not going to deal with them according to their nationality but according to crimes and transgressions they have committed," he concluded.
Illegal immigration and the sex trade (Maseru, News24, 20/06) - The Lesotho government on Friday accused Nigerian citizens of taking young Basotho girls to Britain with the promise of getting them jobs but then forcing them into lives as sex slaves. Home Affairs Minister Tom Thabane told Lesotho's parliament that these Nigerians entered the country illegally and worked with a Lesotho teacher who helped them to get the girls. Thabane said the girls were taught how to drive and promised good jobs in London. He said one of the girls who had been lured to London had sought protection at the South African agency and she was later handed over to Lesotho High Commissioner in London. "These Nigerians are involved in international drug trafficking and money laundering. Now they take young girls and sell them for sex." Thabane said the influx of illegal immigrants into Lesotho was caused by mismanagement at the departments of trade and industry, employment and labour and home affairs. "The government should be strict when they hand out trading licences, work permits and residence permits. "We need to fight illegal immigrants coming into our country, they will end up out numbering Basotho," he said.
Growth of garment industry fuels AIDS concerns (Johannesburg, Irin, 16/06) - Lesotho's expanding garment industry is driving economic growth, but also raising concern over the impact of HIV/AIDS on job-hungry rural people arriving in the cities looking for work. Formal employment in the garment sector grew by 50 percent in 2001 alone. Tariff- and duty-free export to US markets under the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) has seen growth "transformed into a boom", a study funded by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) found in 2002. Lesotho is a small mountainous kingdom of two million people, completely surrounded by its larger and more developed neighbour, South Africa. Jobs are hard to come by, with an employment rate of around 49 percent. Most of the unemployed are school leavers and retrenched miners who lost their jobs in the restructuring of the South African mining industry. The garment industry has provided some welcome relief, despite allegations of labour explotation by anti-sweat shop campaigners. More than 38 factories are operating in the country, and the sector continues to expand, with investment mainly from Taiwanese companies looking to take advantage of preferential access to the US market. "There is a huge rural-urban migration of young people looking for jobs. Some villages in the rural areas comprise only the young and the old because of [the impact of] HIV/AIDS and rapid migration," said Gillian Forrest, Lesotho project manager of the development agency CARE International. She explained that young women are particularly vulnerable. They arrive "from rural areas where there is some social protection from exploitation", but in the cities "there are so many transactions around sex", from securing a room from the landlord, to earning money while waiting for a job. "There are huge queues for jobs each day [outside the factory gates]. Women are very vulnerable and can get sucked into the commercial sex trade," Forrest told IRIN. "There is information and access to condoms, but when a guy says he will pay more money for sex without a condom, they say 'yes', because they need money to survive." The HIV prevalence rate among adults aged between 15 and 49 is estimated at 31 percent. According to a CARE briefing paper, multiple sexual partners, known as 'Bonyatsi', is a common practice. By age 19 or below, 52 percent of women are pregnant and over 50 percent of first pregnancies are teenagers. "Facing a devastating STD/HIV epidemic, Lesotho has exceptionally limited government and civil society capacity to respond. The government's AIDS programme is critically understaffed and underfunded," the CARE report said.
However, a Private Sector Coalition against HIV/AIDS (PSCAAL) was launched last year. It involves the Association of Lesotho Employers, CARE and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in an initiative to develop workplace HIV/AIDS policies, information resources and voluntary counselling and testing facilities. Prevention, rather than treatment, is the goal. Given the importance of the garment industry to the Lesotho economy, as well as the vulnerability of factory workers, the DFID report recommended aggressive and comprehensive workplace policies and programmes. "Factories should implement HIV/AIDS policies. These must recognise the existence of the disease and identify how the factories intend to respond to the disease. They must go beyond simply stating that the factory will not discriminate, and should lay out some proactive steps that the factory will take to strengthen its prevention and mitigation activities," the study said. However, according to Forrest, persuading the factory owners has been a challenge. "There's a huge cultural thing about why they should be responsible. If somebody is sick, there is always somebody waiting at the door for their job. But we're trying to suggest that training people, who then become ill, is a waste of an investment." Forrest explained that PSCAAL is the first programme of its kind in Lesotho. "One of the challenges is not being able to do things fast enough," she added.
Industrial expansion to create 18,000 jobs (Mopheme/The Survivor, 01-06/06) - Employment rate in the textile and clothing industry has risen by 36 percent from 29,000 to 45,000. The Lesotho Fancy Garments Group's new factory at the new Mohale's Hoek Industrial Estate will generate 18,000 new jobs when completed. While Foreign direct investment flow into the African continent is declining, Lesotho has emerged as one of the top four in sub-regional group of countries that have experienced heightened levels of inward investment flows. Investors are reported to be coming into Lesotho not only from the traditional target areas of the Far East and South Africa, but also from the United States of America, India, Australia and Pakistan. "All these potential investors intend to manufacture apparel for export to the United states of America, mainly due to Lesotho's widely publicized reputation as Africa's leading garment exporter to the United States of America," said the Chief Executive of the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), Sophia Mohapi at the sod-turning ceremony for the Mohale's Hoek Industrial estate and the construction of the Lesotho Fancy Garments Project on May 23, 2003. Mohapi said Lesotho's success in attracting investments was further demonstrated by the growing of the portfolio of operating countries. Over 60 active companies in the manufacturing sector with a workforce of close 45,000 are in operation in the country. "Manufacturing activities are concentrated mainly in the clothing, textiles and footwear sectors. Due to their labour intensive nature, these sectors absorb a larger percentage of the labour force than any others. This constitutes a significant reduction in the growing unemployment situation. Eighty (80) percent of the industrial labour force comprises female employees, indicating a clear emergence of women bread winners," the Chief Executive of the LNDC stated. The high productivity levels of Lesotho's labour force, according to Mohapi, contributed to the unprecedented growth performance registered by the clothing sector since the advent of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which afforded Lesotho-made products duty and quota-free access into the United States market. "However competition is very high and in order to retain the top position, further improvements in the overall investment incentive regime are necessary to enhanceLesotho's competitiveness. The high demand for factory buildings to accommodate expansions and new projects is a requirement that needs to be afforded the highest priority to ensure successful implementation of those projects," she stated.
Lesotho's Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili echoed the sentiments of the LNDC Chief Executive by stating that, since the certification of AGOA, thirteen new companies have established operations in Lesotho, "resulting in a 36 percent employment growth from 29,000 to approximately 45, 000." "The demand for Lesotho's garment products survived the recessionary conditions in the United States as consequence of the September 11 events. Currently, Lesotho ranks among the top ten exporters of garments into the United States through AGOA, outranking Madagascar, Mauritius and South Africa," Mosisili added. The Prime Minister indicated that Lesotho's continuous prominence as one of Africa's leading garment exporters to the United States was receiving world-wide recognition and the publicity has generated renewed focus on Lesotho as a "fertile ground for investment, especially those in the textile and clothing sector." However, Mosisili indicated that while the textile and clothing sectors were the best export performer and largest contributor to employment, diversification into other more value-added sectors such as assembly and manufacture of electronics, as well as other labour intensive industries, would also continue to be of paramount importance. Lesotho Fancy Garments Project has the potential of creating 8,000 new jobs and additional investment flow of about M264 million. The 8,000 square metres of factory space was financed entirely by LNDC's internal resources to the tune of about M15.60 million. The Lesotho Fancy Garments Group intends to expand the current 8,000 square metres building to 40, 000 square metres using their own financial resources. Since Lesotho's textile and clothing industry was certified by AGOA in the last two years by the United States government, statistics issued by the United States Customs authorities during the first half of 2002 placed Lesotho as the leading garment exporter in sub-Saharan Africa at US$143 million worth of apparel products compared to US$86 million for the first six months of 2001.
Violence in Malawi over deported suspects (Blantyre, Sapa-AP, 27/06) - Police fired tear gas Friday to disperse a violent crowd protesting the secret removal from Malawi of 5 Muslim foreign nationals suspected of being al-Qaida agents. About 200 Muslims demonstrating the arrest of the men in the commercial capital, Blantyre were dispersed by several rounds of tear gas. The protesters chanted slogans against Malawi's government and the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) which they claimed had not done enough to protect Muslims. They said the government of President Bakili Muluzi had succumbed to pressure from the American government by secretly handing over the suspects to CIA agents despite a court order restraining deportations of the five. The men were accused of funneling money to Osama bin Laden's terror group, and were arrested Sunday night in a joint operation involving the CIA and Malawi's National Intelligence Bureau. Malawi authorities handed them over to U.S. officials Monday night, said Fahad Assani, Malawi's director of public prosecutions. They were immediately flown to nearby Botswana on a chartered Air Malawi flight, Malawi intelligence officials said on condition of anonymity. Officials in Malawi said the men were on the CIA's "watch list" since the nearly simultaneous 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. U.S. authorities blame al-Qaida for the attacks, which killed 231 people, including 12 Americans. The protesters claimed the MAM had failed to protect the men although Muluzi and two high ranking government officials were Muslim. After police dispersed the protesters they went to the MAM offices where they smashed windows and burnt furniture and computers. Vehicles parked outside were burnt. The demonstrators damaged a small mosque within the office building, used by workers who cannot find time to attend prayers. "We are shattered at what's happening," said MAM's secretary general, Ronald Mangani. Earlier High Court Judge Frank Kapanda, discharged an injunction that lawyers for the five suspects had earlier won preventing their deportation. The current whereabouts of the five is not known but lawyer Shabir Latif, who is leading a five-man team to defending the suspects, told the court the U.S. wanted to take them to Guantanamo Bay where other suspected al-Qaida suspects are held. Authorities said the five included Mahmud Sardar Issa, a Sudanese who heads a charitable organization called the Islamic Zakat Fund Trust in Blantyre. Another was identified as Fahad Ral Bahli, of Saudi Arabia, the director of the Malawi branch of Registered Trustees of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Special Committee on Relief. Arif Ulusam, another Turkish man and an Islamic scholar from Kenya were also among those flown out, authorities said.
US grabs five in Malawi (Daily News, 26/06) - A Malawi official admitted yesterday that US pressure forced the Malawi government's hand as agents whisked five suspected al-Qaida operatives out of the country before court action could block them. The five were arrested in a joint operation by America's CIA and Malawi's National intelligence Bureau at the weekend.
The distraught wife of one of the suspects described how he was hooded and handcuffed during his arrest. Protesters gathered outside the high court in Blantyre yesterday when the Malawi government failed to carry out a court order to produce the five.
A group of about 100, some of them clad in Islamic dress, shouted "Allahou Akbar!" (God is Great!). They turned their anger on Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) officials who had come to court hoping to take home the five, a Sudanese, two Turks, a Saudi Arabian and a Kenyan. Malawi authorities have confirmed that the suspects were handed over to US agents and are out of the country. Lawyers fear they are being taken to the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba. A senior Malawi immigration official, who said he was with the group, said by mobile phone: "I'm not in Malawi at the moment. They are not in the custody of Malawi; they are in American custody." A spokesman for Air Malawi said the US embassy had chartered one of its planes on Tuesday afternoon. "The destination was Harare, from Blantyre," he said. Muslim leader and MAM chairman Sheik Omar Wochi and the association's secretary general, Ronald Mangani, had a tough time explaining to the group of protesters that circumstances were beyond them. "You haven't done anything to save our brothers!" one shouted. "You have failed us!" Mangani, an Islamic scholar and lecturer at the University of Malawi, said he had hired a team of experienced lawyers. "They started by torching our mosque and you did nothing!" one of them shouted, referring to an incident when a Christian sect vandalised a mosque after a group of Muslims assaulted a pastor who they accused of preaching ill of Islam. Ella, wife of one of the arrested Turkish nationals, restaurant owner Arif Ulusam, broke down in tears in front of journalists, protesting her husband's innocence. She said the security authorities forced their way into their house and handcuffed and hooded Arif. "I don't know what's happening to him! I don't know where he is! I don't know whether he is alive or dead," she cried. In a session in the judge's chambers earlier in the day, attended by the defence lawyers and a suspects' family members, Judge Frank Kapanda said since the statutory 48 hours for which the state could detain suspects had elapsed the suspects should be released on bail immediately. Director of public prosecutions Fahad Assani, said: "Who can I produce in court now? Their ghosts? These people are out of reach for us; it's the Americans who know where they are." Asked whether he felt the government had violated its own constitution, Assani admitted pressure from Washington had forced the government's hand.
Al-Qaeda suspects fail to appear in Malawi court (SABC, 25/06) - Malawi would not produce five suspected Al- Qaeda members in court yesterday despite a ruling ordering the state to charge or free them, prosecutors said, fuelling speculation that the men had already been deported. State prosecutors say the five foreign men were arrested in a joint operation with US officials at the weekend, only two weeks before US President George W. Bush is scheduled to visit Africa. However, since news of the swoop broke on Monday, the affair has been shrouded in confusion. The US embassy in Malawi denied involvement, and Malawian prosecutors said they do not know the suspects whereabouts. In the High Court yesterday, Judge Healey Potani upheld his own order issued on Sunday that the government could not summarily deport the suspects. He ordered state lawyers to charge them with an offence in court or release them on bail by 1930 GMT yesterday, within the 48-hour limit of Sunday's ruling. Officials at the court said no hearing was scheduled for last night. "The men will not be brought to court by tonight's deadline," added Fahad Assani, director of public prosecutions, who has said he did not know where the suspects were being held. Immigration sources and one high court judge said the men had already left Malawi, but added that they had no idea who flew them out or where they went.
Alleged terrorists sent out of the country (Johannesburg, Irin, 25/06) -Five men who were arrested in Malawi for alleged links to global terrorism have left the country, in spite of a court order barring their deportation. "They are already out of the country," Fahad Assani, Malawi's director of public prosecutions told IRIN on Wednesday. "They are in US custody." He said the five were "neither deported nor extradited". The five were arrested on Sunday in the southern city of Blantyre on the grounds of being an alleged threat to national security and were initially taken to the Blantyre police station, their lawyer Shabir Latif said. On Tuesday a Blantyre High Court judge ordered that they either be charged or released on bail by 10:00 pm that evening. By Wednesday afernoon, Latif said he did not know where his clients were, and if they had left the country, the court had not been informed. "We have not spoken to them and we have not been given access. We don't know where they are." He was speaking after a court hearing where the state was attempting to overturn the deportation ban and release order. "If they have left the country then someone needs to explain to the court why its order has not been complied with," he said. "If somebody is detained they are entitled to certain rights." Two of the five men headed charitable organisations and a third was a teacher at a Muslim school. According to the Central Intelligence Agency's website, the US government has included an investigation of charitable organisations as part of its campaign against global terror.
Malawi court no to deportation (Blantyre, Dispatch Online, 25/06) - Malawi's high court yesterday rejected an application by the government to deport five persons suspected of belonging to the Islamic extremist al-Qaeda network. Judge Healey Potani said the government should first comply with an earlier order granted on Sunday that stops the deportation of the five suspects. That order required the five, arrested in Blantyre on Saturday in a joint operation by Malawi's National Intelligence Bureau and the US Central Intelligence Agency, to be brought before a court within 24 hours or be released on bail. The five -- who include a Kenyan, a Sudanese, a Saudi and two Turkish nationals -- were all legally resident in Malawi and engaged in businesses here, as well as teaching at Islamic schools. Fahad Assani, Malawi's director of prosecutions, said on Sunday the US government had requested their deportation but did not specify why.
Passport syndicates sell passports to migrants (Malawi Nation, 02/06) -The Immigration Department is investigating two major syndicates in Mangochi and Mzimba which are suspected to be forging passports and distributing them to Malawian job seekers in South Africa. Immigrations spokesman Bryson Bendala said his department is yet to uncover the syndicates but that it is “well aware” that the two syndicates exist in the two districts. “There is a very big problem in these two districts because most of the people we arrest after finding them with forged passports tell us they obtained them from dealers in either of the two districts,” said Bendala. He said just last weekend, the department arrested five men at Mwanza Border who, he said, were had passports with the bearers’ photographs but were under other peoples’ names. Bendala said the five who were travelling in trucks admitted that they got the passports from “private dealers” in Mangochi and Mzimba. “It’s the truck drivers that take these people with forged passport to South Africa,” said Bendala. He, however, said that the syndicates will not be able to tamper with the newly-introduced passports because they are “foolproof”. “The passports that are being abused are those that we are currently phasing out. Fortunately, the new passports cannot be tampered with,” said Bendala. He said the department has intensified investigations in the two districts to solve the crime. “We’re rounding them up and this issue will be brought to an end once and for all soon,” said Bendala. Former Deputy home affairs minister Lyana Tambala said in February, 2002 that the introduction of the new computerised passport system is so far the closest solution to most of the problems the Immigration Department has been facing in processing and issuing of passports. Security features on the new passport include a digital image photograph with a ghost feature. The passport is valid for 10 years and is not renewable.
Patrolling of borders ineffective (Maputo, Aim, 17/06) - Police patrols cover only 716 of the 4,212 kilometres of Mozambique's borders, which represents just 17 per cent, while the remainder is left unguarded, reports Tuesday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias". A police source told reporters that a more efficient frontier patrol service calls for more human and material resources. The source added that the government is planning to train more staff, and acquire more equipment in order to cover at least 30 per cent of the border by 2005. The poor patrolling allows increased clandestine immigration, and the smuggling of firearms, vehicles, drugs and other goods. The police commanders of Mozambique and the neighbouring countries have been meeting regularly to try and find solutions to the problem, which is now described as having reached alarming levels. "It is in this context that Mozambique and South Africa have reached an understanding on the need to strengthen security along the common border, with more men and vehicles", said the source. With Zimbabwe, Mozambique has agreed to open new border posts along the frontier in order to facilitate those who want to cross the border legally, so that they will not have to travel long distances to find a border post.
Chinese building workers fight with police (Maputo, Aim, 16/06) - About a dozen Chinese workers of the AFECC building company were involved in clashes with the Mozambican police in Maputo on Sunday, reports Monday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias". The police were called to the site where AFECC is building the new premises of the Mozambican Foreign Ministry by Mozambican workers who alleged that they were viciously beaten by their Chinese colleagues. The fight broke out when the group of Chinese workers went to the rescue of Tandi Hou, the man accused of responsibility for the beatings. Hou, who is known among the workers as "the dragon", because of his violent character, was successfully defended by his colleagues. The police were unable to arrest him, but another Chinese, whose name was not revealed, was taken to a nearby police station. The arrested worker was the man who started the fight, and even spat in the face of one of the police officers. He later attacked a "Noticias" photographer, trying to destroy his equipment. Inexplicably, he was released after a short detention. He later went to "Noticias" to apologise. The attack on the reporter occurred after the police failed to arrest Hou, and it took another reporter to request the intervention of the police, who were watching the scene and doing nothing to stop it. It was then that one of the police officers fired a shot into the air and the struggle between the Chinese worker and the photographer stopped. The reporter was slightly injured in one leg and is receiving treatment. The incident started when one of the Mozambican workers, 21 year old Augusto Jose Fumo, employed on the site for the past six months, contacted the police to complain of beatings by Hou. This was not the first complaint against Hou's violent behaviour. The Mozambican workers said this violence has been part of their daily life under the Chinese contractor. Apart from the beatings, they complain of other forms of ill-treatment. "No one can stop, even to drink water, and it's worse if one has to go to the toilet. We are tired of this situation, typical of slavery. We have no right to speak and we cannot complain", said the workers. They say that they are working over nine hours a day, with no pay for overtime, no weekends or holidays off, and the company provides them with no transport or food. The workers say that in one instance they requested a meeting with the AFECC management to regularise their contracts and, as a result, a number of workers, who had written the letter, were sacked without any compensation. The workers also said that in the event of accidents at work, the company will not give any assistance. A few days ago, one of the workers was injured in a serious fall. The management refused to take him to hospital, and he was eventually transported by the police. The workers also say that they were prevented from talking to President Joaquim Chissano or to Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao, on the two instances when they visited the site.
Zimbabweans flock to Mozambique (Maputo, News24, 11/06) - Scores of Zimbabweans facing serious commodity shortages at home have been streaming into neighbouring Mozambique to buy fuel and other provisions, a provincial governor said on Wednesday. Zimbabwe, a landlocked southern African country, has been experiencing severe economic hardships and political tensions. There are shortages of fuel and basic commodities, as well as foreign currency. "We have seen many Zimbabweans coming to buy fuel and other supplies in our province in recent weeks given the deteriorating situation in that neighbouring state," the governor of Mozambique's Manica province, Soares Nhaca said. He said the extra demand for fuel by Zimbabweans had caused a shortage locally in Manica province, but the problem would be resolved. Mozambique, which is a coastal country, imports its fuel supplies from the Middle East. Unlike Zimbabwe it has the hard cash to pay its bills. Mozambique's state daily Noticias last week quoted a local government official as saying Zimbabweans were looting fuel in Manica province, but this was dismissed by Nhaca. "The Zimbabweans have made normal purchases that any driver would make and there has not been anything extraordinary," he said. The economic situation in Zimbabwe has worsened in recent months, with the annual rate of inflation now officially reported to be at 269%.
Mozambique resumes sending students to Germany (Maputo, Aim, 09/06) - Mozambique is soon to resume sending students for teacher training in Germany, which had been interrupted following the fall of the Berlin Wall, reports Monday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias". The announcement was made by Mozambican Education Minister Alcido Nguenha, on his return from a seven day visit to Germany for the strengthening of cooperation ties between the two countries. "Germany is greatly open to cooperation", said Nguenha, adding that a number of higher education technicians have recently returned from training in Germany. Cooperation with that country in the area of education, through the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ), dates back to 1995, when both countries launched a project for the improvement of primary education in the central Mozambican province of Sofala, which was later extended to Inhambane and Manica provinces. Nguenha said that Germany is also to assist Mozambique in the drafting of a national teacher training system. He explained that a new system is necessary in the technical-professional area, in order to coordinate the different interests of the various cooperation partners. "It is necessary to integrate all those actors in a single system, and Germany is to assist Mozambique in drafting it", he said. Last Year, Mozambique signed with KW, a German financial institution, an agreement to support the building of education infrastructures in rural areas in Inhambane, Sofala and Manica.
Home Affairs to expand in north (Oshakati, The Namibian, 30/06) - The Ministry of Home Affairs plans to open new birth registry offices at Omungwelume, Ohangwena and Okongo in the Ohangwena Region in the near future. Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo said this at Okambebe and Omungwelume village in the Ohangwena Region on Thursday. Ekandjo said the new offices will issue birth certificates to communities living in the western and far-eastern parts of Ohangwena.
He said once these offices are operational, the problem of people travelling long distances for birth certificates will be something of the past.
Repatriation of Angolan refugees begins (The Economist, 27/06) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) starts its repatriation of an estimated 500 000 Angolan refuges in all parts of Africa at the end of this month when the first group of 150 Angolans in Namibia return home. The news on repatriation has been greeted with mixed reactions from Angolans across the age divide The older women seemed to rejoice to seeing their homeland which they have missed for years as they happily sang and danced to celebrate World Refugee Day at Osire last Friday. The prospect of going back home is exciting to some, mostly adults, who had long waited for the moment to arrive. However, the young ones, teenagers especially, to whom the day in Osire was dedicated, received the news about repatriation with uncertainty and sadness. As a group of small children of about 8 to 12 years sang,"Good-bye, and thank you. We are going back to Angola". their joy hardly matched the theme of the day, "Refugee Youth, Building the Future". To them Namibia has become their country and Osire is the only home they know", they said. Maurice Olomo, a 12 year old is worried about his education, and so is 15 year old Dias Pedro a grade 6 learner as well as the 18-year old Henriqueta Mateus. She wants to be a nurse while Pedro wants to be a mechanic. They said they are scared because they are not sure they will receive the same quality of education in Angola. Mr David Nthengwe UNHCR assistant field officer however, allayed fears and said the children will be allowed to complete their education in Namibia before they are repatriated. "There is an agreement with the Namibian government on that," he said. Pedro Saint Maria (not his real name), a 40-year old father of three is equally worried by the repatriation. He received some education when he was in Angola at Saint Maria and now works for the UNHCR in the camp. His shack is relatively better-equipped than the others and he is able to feed his children, aged between 2 and 17 years. He fears that he will not be able to do the same if he is repatriated now. " There is nothing in Angola, the roads are bad, there is no work, no good schools for my children, the repatriation comes a bit early", he said. He said the UNHCR should have waited until the elections are off the ground although he concedes that people like him are needed for the restructuring of the country. He is very uncertain of the future. Nthengwe, on his part reassured the refugees that a delegation was sent to Angola to assess the situation. It returned with positive news which is now being disseminated to fellow refugees preparing them for home. The information further tells of the role they will play in the reconstruction of their country, destituted and depilated by 30 years of civil war. He said repatriation is on a voluntary basis and already a large number has indicated their willingness to go back home and started to register. It is from these that the first group will be taken at the end of June. UNHCR Namibia will put them in cars and
transport them to Menongue, where UNHCR Angola will arrange to reunite them with their families.
Police deny harassing asylum seekers (The Namibian, 24/06) - The Police have denied harassing asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the Osire refugee camp. Spokesperson Sergeant James Matengu also dismissed claims that the asylum seekers' homes have been searched by Police officers. On Friday the Association for the Defence of Refugee Rights (ADR) disrupted World Refugee Day celebrations by staging a protest against alleged mistreatment. ADR leader MacGoddins Lushimba told The Namibian yesterday that after Friday's demonstration at the camp and after all visitors had departed, Police once again searched the homes of several ADR members. Fearing Police intimidation some of them spent the night in the bush and only returned to the camp on Saturday, he said. But the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says no such reports have reached its offices. UNHCR Senior Protection Officer Magda Medina said should they learn of such harassment claims, they will most certainly investigate them. Representing about 500 asylum seekers from the DRC, the ADR further claim that some of them have been waiting for years to obtain refugee status. Home Affairs Spokesperson Mikka Asino neither denied nor confirmed that some asylum seekers have been waiting for a long time to receive refugee status. He told The Namibian that a committee has been set up to process the applications but in the meantime the needs of all asylum seekers at the camp have been provided for. Asino explained that the application process is an ongoing one, as each applicant's case has to be assessed individually. He said in some cases the background of an individual has to be "investigated" and this could take several months - even more than a year. "They should just wait, they can't just demand. I think this whole matter has been misconstrued". He denied that nationals from certain countries receive preferential treatment in this regard, saying that 60 applicants were recently granted refugee status, including Congolese nationals. Asino added that not being in possession of this status should however not be a reason to deny them travel away from the camp. "If they have a justifiable reason, they can leave the camp. Of course they cannot be allowed to live outside". The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) says the matter has been brought to its attention and that the organisation is in contact with asylum seekers at the camp. NSHR executive director Phil ya Nangoloh said he has been assured by the Police that they will not harass refugees at the camp.
One million tourists visited in 2002 (Windhoek, The Namibian, 24/06) - The number of tourists arriving in Namibia topped one million in 2002, says Tourism Minister Philemon Malima. "At Independence the tourist arrivals were just 250 000, but today the figure (stands at) just around one million, according to 2002 statistics," he said in his address to the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday. Another success cited by Malima was the Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme (CBNRM), through which rural communities are given the opportunity to form conservancies. So far 29 community conservancies have been registered. They have 39 000 members who benefit financially from tourism to their areas, Malima said. More conservancies are "emerging", he added. This also resulted in an increase in tourists visiting the communal areas. The formal tourism sector received some bad news yesterday, however. The Bank of Namibia reported the value added to the economy by hotels and restaurants fell by 23 per cent in the first quarter of 2003 compared to the first quarter of 2002. It blamed this on global worries about terrorism, the Iraq war and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Asylum seekers protest against mistreatment (Osire, The Namibian, 23/06) -The commemoration of World Refugee Day on Friday was disrupted by a demonstration of asylum seekers who claim they are being denied the rights of refugees. The group of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) nationals, who call themselves the Association for the Defence of Refugee Rights (ADR), also charged that Angolan refugees receive preferential treatment in Namibia. Some ADR members say they have been at the camp for more than two years now, and are yet to receive "refugee status" from the Home Affairs Ministry. The association is said to represent about 500 asylum seekers at the camp. ADR Chairperson MacGoddins Lushimba claimed that asylum seekers from the DRC are harassed by the Osire Police and treated harshly by the camp administrators. According to him, DRC asylum seekers are viewed as politicians or criminals. He told The Namibian that those from eastern DRC are automatically viewed as "rebels" and "trouble-makers", and have been threatened with deportation. "We are told to shut up - this is Namibia. Is there a future for a refugee in Namibia? We are not free in this country," Lushimba told the media on Friday.
Lushimba said many refugees from countries other than Angola have made several attempts to enquire why the Home Affairs Ministry will not grant them refugee status, but these have come to naught. Because they are without this official documentation, they say they are not allowed to leave the camp and cannot air their grievances to outsiders. Last week eight ADR members were allegedly held in custody at the Osire Police Station for over an hour, while their homes were searched at the camp. Lushimba alleges they were threatened with iron bars, sjamboks and fire-arms. He says the searches were carried out without a warrant and the intentions were unknown. "We were only asked: do you know the law?" An emotional group told The Namibian that they do not want to resort to violent means to make their position known, but that if they are not wanted in Namibia, they must be told so. The group has begun publishing a monthly newsletter "Voice of Refugees" to inform its members about their human rights and is hoping that their plight will be brought to the attention of the international community.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and camp administrators were not available to comment on the allegations. Of the more than 20 000 refugees at the camp, 95 per cent of them are Angolan nationals. They do not have to apply for refugee status, as this is granted to them automatically on a prima facie basis. However, the law dictates that asylum seekers from countries beyond Namibia's immediate neighbours have to apply for refugee status. They are then permitted travel within the country. At present those not in possession of such documentation are permitted to travel as far as Okahandja and Otjiwarongo only. Osire is home to asylum seekers from the DRC, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Cameroon. Meanwhile, the first repatriation of about 150 Angolan refugees is scheduled for June 30. Repatriation is done on a voluntary basis, and the UNHCR's David Nthengwe told The Namibian that quite a large number have indicated their willingness to return and began registering themselves last week already. This is expected to be an arduous task, with UNHCR officials estimating travel to Menongue to take about 12 days.
From there the UNHCR in Angola will be responsible for re-uniting them with their families. Friday's celebrations, under the theme "Refugee Youth: Building the future", were dedicated to those who have been robbed of a happy childhood. On the day pre-schoolers sang about their return to Angola, although many of them were born at Osire and know no other home. Youngsters showed their visitors that they have not let the situation get them down, through song, dance and sport.
Angolan cross-border trade hampered by high tariffs (The Economist, 20/06) - Namibia has again expressed concern about the deployment of Crown Agency officials at border posts with Angola to collect revenues on behalf of the Angolan government. Crown Agency is a British company which has been hired by the Angolan government to collect import levies at that country's entry points. Describing the situation after a succesful private sector delegation visited Lubango last week, Namibia's business community says this has resulted in high tariffs being charged on Namibian exports to Angola, which in turn have made most products uncompetitive in the Angolan market. “ We just hope that the Angolan government will resolve the issue. It has affected business with Namibia in a big way,” said Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) chief executive officer Tarah Shaanika. Shaanika told the Economist that matters are further complicated by the fact that Angola uses outdated laws which are not in line with the SADC protocol on trade. Angola has not signed the protocol. “I think they listened very carefully,” he said. He said the tariffs have made Namibian products much more expensive compared to those from Brazil, Portugal and South Africa. During a meeting last week between the Namibian and Angolan business and government delegations, the Angolan government was urged to look into the matter with a view to reduce or remove tariffs for Namibian exports.
Trade between the two countries is however expected to boom following a trade mission to Lubango in the south of that country. The mission attracted participation from over 60 business representatives, cabinet ministers, regional governors and government officials. Minister of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development, Hon Helmut Angula and the Angolan Minister of Agriculture, Gilberto Lutukuta, discussed the ‘thorny’ issues and made concrete proposals aimed at improving business between the two neighbouring countries. Corruption was also discussed during the meeting between Angula and Lutukuta. The NNCI said in a statement that the meeting took note of allegations of corrupt practices perpetuated by some government officials on both sides of the border. The most serious allegation is ongoing bribery. Officials from both countries suggested that the two governments clamp down on corrupt officials as this increases the cost of doing business. “This will in turn lead to the creation of a favorable environment for trade and investment to prosper in the two countries,” the statement said. The Namibian delegation also urged the Angolan government to abolish visa requirements for Namibian nationals when entering that country. “For the speedy reconstruction of the Angolan economy, it was emphasized that the development and rehabilitation of infrastructure is an urgent requirement,” the business delegation said. The road between Namibe and Lubango, two towns in Angola, is about to be completed while plans are under way to rehabilitate the road connecting Lubango to Santa Clara on the Namibian border. The Business representatives also called for a flexible and reciprocal agreement on air transport that will allow both Air Namibia and TAAG Airlines to increase their flight frequency on that route, as and when the demand increases.
Foreign convicts may serve in own countries (The Namibian, 05/06) - Foreign convicts in Namibian prisons who prefer to serve their sentences in their countries of origin will soon get their wish. Cabinet has approved a draft Transfer of Convicted Prisoners Bill and instructed Prisons Minister Andimba Toivo ya Toivo to table the Bill before Parliament. If approved, Namibia will join a host of other countries which transfer convicts under several international instruments for criminals. The Bill will provide for the mutual transfer of sentenced prisoners between Namibia and foreign states for the purpose of serving their sentences of imprisonment in their countries of origin. In his submission to Cabinet, Toivo said the transfer will not only ease overcrowding in Namibian prisons, but will also provide an opportunity to the transferred prisoner's family to play a role in the convicts' rehabilitation process. Of the various instruments available under the international criminal law, the repatriation of foreign prisoners so that they may serve out the prison sentence at home soil is regarded as the most humanitarian.
Aid needed for Angolan refugees in Namibia (Johannesburg, Irin, 02/06) -The World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that it is running "dangerously low" on rations for Angolan refugees in Namibia. "A corn-soya blend pipeline break [is] expected in June and breaks for virtually all other commodities in the food basket, including the staple maize meal, in July. Donations are urgently needed for the WFP emergency refugee operation, which is expected to feed about 16,000 refugees in Osire camp and support the planned repatriation [programme] over the next 12 months," WFP said in its latest situation report. WFP Namibia head, Abdirahman Meygag, told IRIN on Monday that the aid pipeline was threatened "basically due to a lack of food available in the country". "We've just finalised our new programme, which will take care of 16,000 refugees who are living in Namibia. It will run from June  to May 2004. We are now appealing to donors - it's an early warning to donors that we need funding," he said. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was organising the repatriation of refugees from July onwards, Meygag added. A select group of refugees, UNHCR staff, NGOs and government representatives crossed the Angola border on Monday on a "go-and-see" mission, during which "refugees themselves will assess the situation [in areas of return] and share the information with those in Namibia", he said. However, the situation in Osire refugee camp was worrying. "It's very urgent that funding is received for the feeding of refugees until these people go back [to Angola]. These people are confined to the camp, they cannot access land to cultivate food, they cannot seek employment ... they're entirely dependent on food aid, so if there's no food aid the malnutrition situation will deteriorate," Meygag warned.
SA tightens visa controls on neighbours (Business Day, 30/06) - The fact that SA and its two biggest trading partners on the continent, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, still have visas in place at all is one thing. That SA 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 2-million Zimbabweans have left their country in the past few years, and many of them have come to SA. Hundreds of people are queuing every day outside the SA high commission in Harare. There have been many predictions that SA 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 SA 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% on the price of the same goods on sale inside Mozambique that are inflated by high duties and VAT levied on imports. Local authorities in Nelspruit estimated that R30m was being spent in the town each month by visitors from across the eastern border. Two shopping centres said 75% 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 SA goods in the region. SA'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 SA 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. SA 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.
Quandary over immigration rules ends (Business Day, 30/06) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi did not exceed his powers when he made regulations for the Immigration Act without providing an opportunity for public comment, the Constitutional Court has ruled. The ruling ended months of uncertainty after the Cape Town High Court found on March 11 that regulations for the Immigration Act were ultra vires and unconstitutional shortly before they were to come into effect. That decision led to concern among immigration officials that there would be chaos. Buthelezi said in a statement on Friday that he had been vindicated by the ruling, which had served to create certainty and stability in the new immigration control system.
The Immigration Bill has been eight years in the making, and has had a long and bumpy history. The ruling was not a complete victory for government, however, Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson held that issues that were raised by immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, who took the matter to court, were "not lacking in substance", and consequently he ruled that each side had to pay its own costs. The problem facing the Constitutional Court was that the new act was unworkable without its regulations, and they were not compatible with the regulations from the old Aliens Control Act. Government's appeal application to the Constitutional Court immediately after the ruling had the effect of freezing the high court decision, making it possible for the Immigration Act and its regulations to come into effect on March 12 as intended. Before the Constitutional Court gave its ruling the Immigration Advisory Board was constituted and the regulations were submitted for public comment. On Friday the Constitutional Court granted Buthelezi leave to appeal against the high court decision, and upheld the appeal. Chaskalson agreed with the argument by Buthelezi's legal team consisting of David Unterhalter SC and Andrew Tuchten SC that the regulations were only transitional, and therefore did not require public notice and comment. The act distinguishes between two regulation-making mechanisms one to be used before the establishment of the Immigration Advisory Board, and the other to be used after the Board has been established. The public notice requirement was found by Chaskalson to apply only after the board had been constituted. Chaskalson said the notice and comment procedure was a time-consuming process that could not possibly have been completed prior to the provisions of the act coming into force. Eisenberg said he felt the Constitutional Court ruling was "fair and well considered". He said that he had achieved what he set out to achieve to be given an opportunity to comment on the regulations.
Buthelezi vindicated on Immigration Act (The Star, 30/06) - After months of late-night court battles and chaos in immigration circles, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi has won a decisive battle over his controversial new immigration regulations. In a unanimous judgment written by Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson, the court ruled on Friday that the law did make provision for Buthelezi to make interim regulations, without calling for public comment, to get the new immigration regime up and running. The judgment was, however, slightly academic as Buthelezi had already started the public-comment procedures for the final immigration regulations after an earlier judgment ordering him to do so was given in the Cape High Court. Buthelezi considered it as proof that he was right about more than just the law. Leading immigration attorney Gary Eisenberg, who brought the latest case against Buthelezi, said he may have lost his appeal, but he did win the battle. "When the minister tabled his regulations for public comment, I had won the battle," he said. "I only wanted to comment, this was all that this was about. If we had not gone to court, we would never have been certain that the minister would have called for comment," Eisenberg said. Buthelezi said the decision "vindicated the strength of my convictions and concerns about how matters relating to immigration reform have over and again been used for political manoeuvring, to the detriment of South Africa". He added that it was "remarkably peculiar" that Eisenberg's firm, which originally brought the case, had not commented on the final regulations. "One will keep wondering what this litigation was really all about," Buthelezi said. But Eisenberg made it clear that he had commented on the regulations about a month ago. "On June 2, I sent my comments by fax with a covering letter. I thanked the minister for the opportunity to comment. My secretary called his office and confirmed that they did receive the fax." In his judgment, Justice Chaskalson was critical of the messy way in which the new Immigration Act was brought into operation. He said the act empowered the minister of home affairs to make regulations after following a consultative process involving the public and the Immigration Board. It also provided for regulations to be made before the board was constituted. The court made no order regarding costs.
Buthelezi wins immigration battle in court (The Mercury, 30/06) - Home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi has won a decisive battle over his new immigration regulations. In a unanimous judgment written by chief justice Arthur Chaskalson, the court ruled on Friday that the law did make provision for Buthelezi to make interim regulations, without calling for public comment. The judgment was, however, academic as Buthelezi had already started the public comment procedures for the final immigration regulations, after an earlier judgment ordering him to do so was given in the Cape High Court. The principal dispute between immigration attorney Gary Eisenberg and Buthelezi was whether the minister had to call for public comment on these regulations. Eisenberg said yes. The court found that the consultation processes referred to by the law were aimed at regulations made after the immigration board was constituted. Chaskalson said that another part of the Act dealt with transitional provisions which involve another procedure for making regulations. These could be made without first calling for public comment. Chaskalson also rapped the Cape High Court judges over the knuckles for interfering with the work of the legislature.
Immigration Act legal - Concourt (Cape Town, Dispatch Online, 28/06) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi yesterday welcomed the Constitutional Court's decision to uphold the legality of the new Immigration Act regulations, and criticised "ill-advised politicians" for misusing the issue. "This decision vindicates the strength of my convictions and concerns (about) how matters relating to immigration reform have over and again been used for political manoeuvring to the detriment of South Africa," he said. "Newspapers ran front-page articles echoing this statement by ill-advised politicians who saw this litigation as a convenient opportunity for further bashing. "It is remarkably peculiar that the law firm which originally brought forward this case, pushed it through the entire court system and complained that its right to comment had been violated -- made no comment whatsoever when I began a new process of regulating. "One will keep wondering what this litigation was really all about." However, the court's decision created certainty and stability in the new system of immigration control. Buthelezi said it was important now for all stakeholders to work together to ensure its success, and promote serene debates to fine-tune migration policies in the country's interests without political overtone. The court ruled in Buthelezi's favour in his case against Cape Town immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, who challenged the constitutionality of the new regulations. It granted Buthelezi's application for leave to appeal against a decision by the Cape High Court declaring the regulations invalid, and upheld the appeal. The high court earlier this year ruled that Buthelezi had acted unconstitutionally when he adopted the regulations without public notice and comment. Buthelezi's legal team argued that the regulations were only transitional and therefore did not require public notice and comment. The order by the Cape High Court was set aside and Eisenberg's application dismissed. Regarding costs, Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson said "in the circumstances, I consider that it would be appropriate for each party to pay its own costs in the high court and in this court". Eight other Constitutional Court judges concurred with Chaskalson's judgment.
Immigration Act (Cape Town, Dispatch Online, 28/06) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi yesterday welcomed the Constitutional Court's decision to uphold the legality of the new Immigration Act regulations, and criticised "ill-advised politicians" for misusing the issue. "This decision vindicates the strength of my convictions and concerns (about) how matters relating to immigration reform have over and again been used for political manoeuvring to the detriment of South Africa," he said. "Newspapers ran front-page articles echoing this statement by ill-advised politicians who saw this litigation as a convenient opportunity for further bashing. "It is remarkably peculiar that the law firm which originally brought forward this case, pushed it through the entire court system and complained that its right to comment had been violated -- made no comment whatsoever when I began a new process of regulating. "One will keep wondering what this litigation was really all about." However, the court's decision created certainty and stability in the new system of immigration control. Buthelezi said it was important now for all stakeholders to work together to ensure its success, and promote serene debates to fine-tune migration policies in the country's interests without political overtone. The court ruled in Buthelezi's favour in his case against Cape Town immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, who challenged the constitutionality of the new regulations. It granted Buthelezi's application for leave to appeal against a decision by the Cape High Court declaring the regulations invalid, and upheld the appeal. The high court earlier this year ruled that Buthelezi had acted unconstitutionally when he adopted the regulations without public notice and comment. Buthelezi's legal team argued that the regulations were only transitional and therefore did not require public notice and comment. The order by the Cape High Court was set aside and Eisenberg's application dismissed. Regarding costs, Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson said "in the circumstances, I consider that it would be appropriate for each party to pay its own costs in the high court and in this court". Eight other Constitutional Court judges concurred with Chaskalson's judgment.
SA should stop recruiting health workers from African states (Pretoria, BuaNews, 29/06) - Health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has urged the South African Nursing Council (SANC) to support government's efforts to stop the recruitment of health workers from other African countries into South Africa. This to avoid further weakening health systems in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The minister made the call when she was addressing the first meeting of the second democratically elected council in Pretoria on Friday. 'We agreed that we would not recruit from other developing countries, particularly in Africa. It is our responsibility as part of (New Partnership for Africa's Development) Nepad to ensure that South Africa, including the private health sector, does not actively recruit outside of a government-to-government agreement with a fellow African country,' said Dr Tshabalala-Msimang. The minister said one of the strategies to stop recruitment of health practitioners was to create opportunities for nurses to get exposure within an agreed upon exchange programme. 'The SADC Health Ministers are pursuing this kind of an exchange programme and I am sure I can count on the nursing council for support,' said Dr Tshabalala-Msimang. The health department said South Africa fully supported the adoption of a Code of Practice for International Recruitment of Health Workers at the meeting of Commonwealth Health Ministers in Geneva last month. The code specifies that cross-border recruitment must take cognizance of the impact such migration might have on a source country. Dr Tshabalala-Msimang said South Africa was aware of challenges caused by migration of health workers in the SADC region and the country would not re-enforce its health staffing levels by recruiting from neighbouring states thus further weaken health systems in the region. The Minister also urged members of the Nursing Council and other health statutory councils to act solely in the interest of the public and vowed to act decisively against corrupt councilors who may use their positions for self-enrichment. 'I have been saddened to learn that in the past, some councilors have abused their positions to further their own interests. Let me state that I will not tolerate a situation where councilors defraud the council by demanding payment for the work that is not done. I will take decisive action against this and ensure that the funds are used for the benefit of the public.' She said the key role of councils was to protect and promote public interest including ensuring the delivery of quality health care. 'It is important to separate the role of a councilors from that of an employee representative, board member of a specific health entity. In some cases you might be called upon to apply sanctions to your own comrades or colleagues. We must not shy away or be apologetic in carrying out our duties as councilors.'
Immigration case had political overtones, says minister (Cape Town, Sapa, 27/06) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Friday welcomed the Constitutional Court's decision to uphold the legality of the new Immigration Act regulations, and criticised "ill advised politicians" for misusing the issue. The decision to uphold the regulations, made in February, vindicated much more than his having been right on a matter of law, Buthelezi said in a statement. "This decision vindicates the strength of my convictions and concerns (about) how matters relating to immigration reform have over and again been used for political manoeuvring to the detriment of South Africa. "Newspapers ran front page articles echoing this statement by ill-advised politicians who saw this litigation as a convenient opportunity for further bashing," he said. "It is remarkably peculiar that the law firm which originally brought forward this case pushed it through the entire court system and complained that its right to comment had been violated, made no comment whatsoever when I began a new process of regulating. "One will keep wondering what this litigation was really all about." However, the Court's decision created certainty and stability in the new system of immigration control. It was important now for all stakeholders to work together to ensure its success, and promote serene debates to fine tune migration policies in the country's interests without political overtones, Buthelezi said. Earlier on Friday, the Court ruled in Buthelezi's favour in his case against Cape Town immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, who challenged the constitutionality of the new regulations. The Court granted Buthelezi's application for leave to appeal against a decision by the Cape High Court declaring the regulations invalid, and upheld the appeal. The High Court earlier this year ruled that Buthelezi had acted unconstitutionally when he adopted the regulations without public notice and comment. Buthelezi's legal team argued before the Constitutional Court that the regulations were only transitional and therefore did not require public notice and comment. Advocate David Unterhalter, SC, submitted that Section 52 of the Act only required him to adopt regulations and publish them in the Government Gazette. Only after the Immigration Advisory Board had been convened would permanent regulations be drafted.
These regulations would be subject to Section 7 of the new Act that provided for a procedure of notice and comment from the public. Advocate Andrew Tuchten, SC, also for Home Affairs, said the new regulations did not adversely effect public rights. He said the founding affidavit, lodged by Eisenberg against Buthelezi, assumed the minister was obliged to entertain public comment on the regulations. The minister, however, had the right to follow a fair but different procedure, which he did. In his written judgement, Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson said the High Court erred in construing the Act as it did. Among other things, it ought to have held that the notice and comment provisions of section 7 were not applicable to regulations made under section 52. "The application for leave to appeal must therefore be granted, and the appeal must be upheld," he said. Thus, the order by the Cape High Court was set aside and Eisenberg's application dismissed. Regarding costs, Chaskalson said "in the circumstances, I consider that it would be appropriate for each party to pay its own costs in the High Court and in this Court". Therefore, no order was made as to costs, including the appeal. Eight other Constitutional Court judges concurred with Chaskalson's judgement.
Talks held on Lesotho border taxi problems (Pretoria, Sapa, 25/06) - The South African and Lesotho transport ministers on Tuesday called on taxi operators in both countries to end their "violent activities" on the border between the countries and not to take the law into their own hands. The Lesotho's Minister of Public Works and Transport, M Moerane, and South Africa's acting Transport Minister Jeff Radebe, issued a joint statement after a meeting to address problems around taxi operations across the South Africa-Lesotho border. The National Department of Transport, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Cross-Border Road Transport Agency and Lesotho's Ministry of Public Works and Transport were represented at the talks. The ministers said they noted with concern that there had been incidents of violence on the border which prevented normal taxi operations. They reconfirmed their commitment to normalising the situation on the border in line with an agreement reached on March 14 at earlier talks, and to ensure that taxi operators were not subjected to harassment or ill-treatment. They also emphasised the need for law enforcement officials of both countries to ensure the security and safety of passengers.
Limpopo Home Affairs burdened by immigration (Pretoria, BuaNews, 25/06) -The National Assembly's Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs has identified the unrestricted influx of illegal immigrants into South Africa through the country's northern borders as one of the major challenges facing the department of home affairs in Limpopo. Members of the National Assembly's portfolio committee on home affairs are currently on a visit to Limpopo and have since identified a handful of challenges facing the department. Portfolio Committee Chairperson Patrick Chauke said he was however satisfied about the work done by the department of home affairs in Limpopo to improve service delivery to the people. Mr Chauke said he had also noted priority issues such as that of illegal immigrants flocking into South Africa through Limpopo and has had fruitful meetings with stakeholders including provincial political parties on how to tackle some of the challenges. 'We had frank and constructive talks, which helped us to understand some of the problems which are unique to this province,' Mr Chauke said. Mr Chauke said his committee would look into repatriation procedures as well as ways of ensuring effective border control, which the committee would discuss with relevant authorities such as the South African National Defence Force. Mr Chauke said the committee had also identified congestion at the department's offices in Polokwane as another area that should be given special attention. He said the committee had noted that as part of efforts to improve service delivery, it was important that the department of home affairs assisted Limpopo people in their own languages since a majority of them were unable to speak English or Afrikaans. The portfolio committee's visit to the province ends on Friday.
Johannesburg crime blamed on foreigners (Pretoria, News24, 24/06) - Nearly two-thirds of respondents in a survey done in central Johannesburg and Hillbrow believed foreigners were to blame for crime. Four out of every 10 of the foreigners participating in the study had the same opinion, Institute for Security Studies researcher Ted Leggett said on Tuesday. The blame should partly be placed on immigration legislation that forbade asylum seekers to work while they were awaiting the finalisation of their applications - which could take up to two years, he said at a seminar in Pretoria. There was no control over what happened to such people in the meantime. There were no refugee camps where they could go. Leggett suggested that, perhaps, there should be some form of geographical segregation, such as limiting them to certain areas. He also suggested a "white list" - a list of countries considered safe democracies and whose nationals should be excluded from asylum seeker status in South Africa. A quarter of the 1 300 respondents in the study were from abroad. The survey showed foreigners were more likely to be victims in each category of crime.
Of the foreign respondents, 42% - and 77% of the Nigerians - said they had been robbed. Some 62% claimed they were victims of xenophobic attacks, and 43% said a public official had asked them for a bribe. So-called "victimless" crimes - where a victim like an illegal alien did not want to come forward - bred corruption, Leggett said. Their status also prevented illegal immigrants from opening bank accounts, which made them easy prey for robbers. According to Leggett, the significant shift from burglary to robbery in central Johannesburg and Hillbrow could be related to drug dependence. A drug like crack cocaine created a strong urgency with users, who did not have time to break in to get hold of money for more. Drugs also created a market for stolen property, fraudulent documents and corruption. Thirty percent of all the respondents said they had been robbed in the preceding year. However, only a third had reported the crimes to the police. "Of those who did not report robbery or burglary, 25% said they did not trust the police." Over 60% of all those surveyed thought the police did a good or fair job.
Three-quarters said they would be willing to have their homes searched once a month if it could help to curb crime.
One of the area's problems was its transient population, with no sense of community, Leggett said. He suggested measures to reduce population density and stabilise the community, creating a core of long-term residents. Another measure to reduce crime was to clamp down on guns and alcohol. "Liquor licences are handed out like candy." A by-law could be introduced to prevent people from carrying firearms on their person, like in the United States, he said. Johannesburg area commissioner Oswald Reddy said that despite many interventions, including the deployment of the metro police and the installation of closed-circuit television cameras, crime had not decreased as significantly as expected. "If these interventions had been made in any other area, one would have seen a difference overnight." He said the community was important in the fight against crime, however their apathy was a matter of grave concern. Another worry was the lack of trust in the police. Often people gave information to journalists and researchers which they did not give to the police, the commissioner said. Reddy welcomed the research and said he would consider some of the proposals. He also hoped a similar survey would be done in a year's time.
Recruits may face prosecution (Pretoria, News24, 23/06) - Up to 800 young South Africans would like to join the British defence force this year despite the fact that the government may act against them. This number excludes the more than 350 South Africans currently serving in the British forces. A private recruitment agency, with no ties to the British government, is helping South Africans to complete their applications. Candidates must be in possession of a matric certificate and must meet strict medical requirements, such as not being HIV positive and not having tuberculosis. Earlier this year, the government launched an investigation into the legality of this practise after two South Africans died in the Iraqi war. Foreign Affairs said it was still not clear whether government should act against these young people. An Act was promulgated to discourage mercenaries and not necessarily to curb military co-operation between "friendly" countries. Nick Sheppard, spokesperson for the British High Commission in Pretoria, said any citizen of a Commonwealth country could apply to serve in the British defence force. "If South Africa starts seeing this as contravening the law, we will obviously have to reconsider out position."
Red tape slows new immigration policy (Financial Mail, 20/06) - It's early days to assess the efficacy of the Immigration Act, says new home affairs director-general Barry Gilder. Gilder has been in the job less than a month. The act itself has been in operation for just over three. But, says Gilder, the idea is to open up SA to a greater inflow of foreign skills. "The philosophy is to open the front door more widely to genuine immigrants and to close the back door more tightly," he says. Gilder's first task relating to immigration is to oversee the drafting of final regulations, which will give substance to the act. Draft regulations already in force give some indication that immigration policy in the future is to be more flexible, says immigration practitioner and Business SA representative Julian Pokroy. The act, passed a year ago, caused dismay in business circles when instead of introducing a modern system that would encourage the immigration of skilled foreigners, it did the opposite and set a system of rigid quotas. As the bill went through the final stages of its passage through parliament, the ANC, which had strenuously pushed for a restrictive approach, realised its mistake and tried to backtrack. But it was too late. Now, home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi has gone some way to reinstating the kind of legislation he wanted in the first place through quite liberal (draft) regulations. In the new system, skilled foreigners, unless they fall into the exceptional skills category, will have to apply for a quota permit. These permits are broad and generous. For instance, in the highest category - a postgraduate degree with five years' experience - the quota sets a limit of 90 000 immigrants a year. Other categories, with slightly lower qualifications, have a quota of between 70 000 and 90 000. In total, the regulations allow for the entry of 610 000 people of varying skill levels. Though there are no official statistics to measure this against, Pokroy says "it is generous. If we were to attract that many skilled people we would be doing well as an immigration destination." The quota permit is a kind of "ready-made" permit, says Pokroy. Three requirements must be met: the person must have been offered a job; he or she must apply from outside the country; and the employer must show that it has paid a levy of 2% of the applicant's annual salary, which is due quarterly.
The idea, says Gilder, is to cut the processing of applications to a minimum. Once the quotas are full or if an applicant does not have the requisite skills or experience, getting a work permit is onerous, requiring a whole range of tests by employers. The drawing up of the final regulations is being done in consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board, made up of government and civil society representatives. Pokroy, who represents organised business on the board, says representations on the final regulations have been "voluminous". At issue is the 2% levy, which business is opposing. The importation of foreign skills has long been a source of frustration to business. Though the quotas are liberal, requirements such as applying from outside the country are still onerous and the bureaucracy is slow. A positive attempt to overcome this has been made by the Durban Chamber of Commerce, which for two years has been running a pilot project with home affairs to expedite business applications. Chamber CE Jeya Wilson says the chamber has been vetting the applicants and making sure they are genuine. "The arrangement is that once we bring an application, officials don't circumvent it, they fast-track it." The Immigration Act of 2002 is a "vast improvement" on its predecessor, says Standard Bank economist Iraj Abedian, but still not open enough. Based on a survey of newspaper advertisements, Abedian estimates the shortage of professionals is between 300 000 and 500 000, a figure government doubts. " You can walk into any institution and what jumps out at you is the lack of professional expertise," says Abedian, who adds that the surest sign of a skills shortage is falling standards. It's a trend picked up by the National Advisory Council for Innovation (Naci). "There is an alarming rejection rate on work performed on site," says Naci chairman Roy Marcus. "This has cost implications because of project overruns. Aligned with this is the lack of productivity because people have not been trained properly."
Fraud syndicate smashed (The Mercury, 20/06) - A major fraud syndicate involving hundreds of thousands of rands, and which includes medical doctors, department of home affairs officials and insurance companies, may have been finally smashed following the arrest of eight people by the Scorpions yesterday. During a pre-dawn raid the eight-hour sting operation, which started at 4.30am, was conducted simultaneously in Ntuzuma, KwaMashu, Phoenix and the Durban city centre. It followed an ongoing investigation involving fraud of more than R800 000. The Scorpions said the arrested people had been working hand in hand to produce bogus death certificates. The head of the operation, Scorpions chief investigator Clifford Marion, said the false death certificates were used to claim payments from various insurance companies in and around Durban. "The certificates were forged using department of home affairs computers and then printed out before submission to the insurance company," explained Marion. Some suspects are believed to have completed notification-of-death forms required for death certificates to be issued. Two people were arrested two months ago and have appeared in the Durban Magistrate's Court. Those arrested yesterday will appear in court today. The operation came after the Scorpions had received "abundant information" about the syndicate. Marion said they were confident the arrests signalled a breakthrough which would lead to the arrest of other suspects employed by a number of funeral parlours in and around Durban. More arrests are expected to be made soon.
Xenophobia, red tape hurt refugees in SA (IOL, 20/06) - Even though refugees are entitled to the same constitutional rights as South Africans, they often end-up competing with the locals for access to essential social services provided by the government... and losing. "Often they run into anti-foreign sentiments at clinics or other places where they should receive services. Also, they often do not have the papers they need to access services to which they are entitled,i explains Vincent Williams of the South African Migration Project (SAMP). South Africa has about 40 000 refugees, according to research published in 2001. The number could be more now. The South African Constitution guarantees its citizens a range of social rights, including education, health and social security like the R120 monthly child support grant. Refugees are also entitled to these rights. But South Africa does not have the resources to provide these services to its own poor who make up 45 percent of the country's population. The government is also concerned that it may be forced to extend social security rights to permanent residents from other countries, who are living in South Africa. Presently, the government is fighting a case in the Constitutional Court, in which human rights lawyers are trying to get it to extend social security grants to permanent residents, mainly from neighbouring countries. The South African Department of Social Welfare estimates that 120 000 permanent residents - from Mozambique - have been exempted and are receiving assistance. Some illegal immigrants are also believed to be abusing the system. There is no figure available for illegal migrants. But there were between 2,5 and five million of them in South Africa in 1998, according to the Department of Home Affairs. Commenting on the Constitutional Court case in the daily newspaper, The Sowetan, the chief director of communications in the Department of Social Development, Mbulelo Musi, said South Africa was not in a position to extend assistance to all the poor from the continent who had reached South Africa. "South Africa's commitment to political stability, peace, security and the economic reconstruction of the continent and its people remains unquestionable. Yet there is the reality of having to deal with limited and finite resources. This reality would of necessity make it impossible for South Africa to shoulder all the challenges of the continent's recovery," Musi said.
As the most economically developed country on the continent, he said, South Africa has a special role in efforts to tackle poverty in Africa Nalong with international agencies and donor nations. More than 350 million people - over 50 percent of Africa's population - live below the poverty line of one US dollar a day, according to the World Bank. Musi said South Africa's commitment to resolving conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi, among others, and its leading role in New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) - a programme to kickstart the social and economic development of the continent - was an indication of the country's commitment to alleviating poverty on the continent. The debate about how much social assistance South Africa can extend to refugees and migrants from the continent was taking place just before the World Refugee Day, on June 20. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are about 4,17 million refugees on the continent. In a statement, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Rudd Lubbers, said: "This year's World Refugee Day is dedicated to millions of young people whose futures have been jeopardised by war, persecution and exile. If refugee situations drag on for years with no political solution in sight, the enormous potential of whole generations can be lost in the dust of a forgotten camp. This is a real tragedy." He pointed out that of the nearly 20 million refugees in the world, about 35 percent of them youngsters between the ages of 12 and 24. "If young refugees are not properly protected and denied opportunities to learn the skills they need to live productive, independent lives, they are likely to contribute to the next round of conflict," he warned. In his message to mark the day, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said: "In some parts of the world, boys as young as 15 are forcibly recruited to fight somebody's conflict, often for reasons they cannot comprehend. They are among the more than 300 000 young people between 15 and 17 fighting in some of the world's most violent wars". "Even if they escape death or injury, they are traumatised for life by the brutality of the experience," he added.
Home Affairs' service slashed (Cape Town, News24, 18/06) - Two parliamentary committees on Wednesday issued a scathing indictment against the department of home affairs regarding service delivery in the Transkei area. In a joint report, following on-site inspections by a delegation of MPs, the home affairs and social development portfolio committee said the Umtata home affairs office was unhygienic and understaffed and that there were "chronic delays" in serving the people. "There is no sense of urgency on the side of the officials in serving the public. Not even the presence of the delegation could spark a sense of urgency." Similar problems had been encountered at rural centres elsewhere in the Transkei. The home affairs office at Mqanduli was "a small, unhygienic link structure without ventilation". "It is a health hazard," says the report. The MPs also said the cost of ID photos made it impossible for many of the most vulnerable and desperate to acquire the documentation they needed for access to social grants and benefits.
Police bust illegal traders in Hillbrow (SABC, 14/06) - Police working through the night in Hillbrow confiscated five truckloads of equipment belonging to illegal traders, police said today. The raids conducted in the Hillbrow and Berea last night followed a similar blitz in Fordsburg, Mayfair, Ophirton, Vrededorp and Booysens the night before. Some 200 municipal "Red Ants" operatives helped with the operation. Wayne Minnaar, a metro police spokesperson, said the city was determined to get rid of "crime and grime" and that they were working towards Mayor Amos Masondo's vision of Johannesburg as a world class African city. He said confiscating trader's illegal equipment in Hillbrow was only part of an on-going determination to put an end to illegal businesses and general lawlessness in the metropole, adding that the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department was about to start training 100 additional officers, bringing their current numbers to 1 600. Eventually that number will be more than doubled when the force reaches its ideal complement of 4 000 members. "We believe that many officers would allow us to be efficient," said Minnaar. Referring to the recent raids he said there were risks involved in carrying out the actions but it was the responsibility of the police to ensure people complied with the law.
Immigration man held at airport (Pretoria, News24, 13/06) - A 29-year-old immigration officer was arrested at Johannesburg International Airport on Thursday night in connection with the alleged theft of blank visa papers, Pretoria police reported on Friday. Police arrested the man at work about 21:00. He was to appear in Pretoria magistrate's court on theft charges on Friday. Captain Piletji Sebola said the charges related to the theft of about 200 blank visa labels from the Government Printer in Pretoria in December. The documents were allegedly sold for R4 000 each to people not legally qualified to enter the country. "We are looking at the possibility of pressing more charges against him," Sebola said. Police expect to make more arrests soon.
More South Africans giving up citizenship (Parliament, Sapa, 12/06) - A growing number of South Africans are giving up their citizenship to adopt those of other countries. In a written reply to a parliamentary question on Thursday, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said 2892 South Africans gave up their citizenship last year. The figures for 2000 and 2001 were 232 and 1536 respectively. Buthelezi said the reason most commonly given was "acquisition of foreign citizenship in respect of countries that do not allow dual citizenship". Replying to a separate question, he said 10,890 South Africans had officially emigrated last year. The figures for 2000 and 2001 were 10,262 and 12,260 respectively. Replying to a further question on the number of "scam" marriages in South Africa last year, he said his department had received 596 complaints. These were from "persons who found themselves married to foreigners without their knowledge". "According to the information on the marriage registers concerned, the foreigners appear to be mainly Pakistanis and Nigerians," he said.
4.5% gain in doctors for SA, claims Health Minister (Cape Argus, 11/06) -South Africa had a gain of 4.5% in medical doctors in the last two years and in the same time lost only 0.5% of its professional nurses, despite the intense public debate on the brain drain of health professionals. Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said the statistics were recorded in the recent Intergovernmental Fiscal Review. "This might come as a surprise to many," she said in her budget vote speech in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) yesterday, adding, however, that it might not provide the full picture. "Of course the Review merely records the bottom line and does not tell us much about the turnover that might be happening under the surface," she added. Her remarks come hot on the heels of the adoption last month of a Code of Ethics on international recruitment of health workers, signed between Commonwealth health ministers at the World Health Assembly in Geneva. South Africa also signed the code which is binding on all members and makes provision for bilateral agreements between countries on recruitment. "South Africa intends to build on this foundation by seeking bilateral agreements with Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand," Tshabalala-Msimang said yesterday. "We have already had extremely fruitful talks with Britain's minister of health and a team, led by the director-general, will visit the United Kingdom this month to pursue discussions on this subject." She said the government had consistently taken the view that "we would have no wish to restrict the freedom of health workers to work abroad". "We are more concerned, however, about the exploitative recruiting tactics of certain international operators. We also believe that the international movement of health workers can, to some extent, be managed to the mutual benefit of the countries and individuals involved." She stressed that while many people were leaving South Africa's public health service, "we are also gaining some health professionals who used to work in the private sector". The health budget this year includes a special allocation of R500 million to help provinces recruit and retain health professionals to serve in rural areas and to boost the levels of scarce professionals. Tshabalala-Msimang said the R500m would introduce a system of allowances and - in a few categories - pay increases. "We expect that the new allowances will have a real impact in retaining skilled health workers especially in rural areas, as well as attracting additional professionals to fill vacancies. Special attention will be paid to sweetening the package in the most remote areas," she said. The minister said one out of seven doctors in the public sector, about one out of four pharmacists and one out of two physiotherapists were now doing community service.
Plight of refugees in the spotlight (Cape Argus (11/06) - If peace is defined as freedom from strife and freedom from war, does one only find peace in death? This was the question posed by Professor Ikey van de Rheede, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of the Western Cape, when he welcomed participants to the African Refugees Peace Conference yesterday. The conference is being hosted jointly by the Western Cape-based Desmond Tutu Educational Trust and the Nigerian-based African Refugees Forum. It brings together a host of speakers from Nigeria and South Africa to discuss the question of whether it is possible to teach people to live in peace. Van de Rheede expressed the hope that the five-day conference would contribute "to the building of an Africa which we all can be proud of". Chief Segun Olusola, chairman and founder of the African Refugees Forum, told the conference that peace education could come through the telling of traditional stories, modern education methods and dance, all of which were firmly rooted in the African experience. There will also be a special dance production of a play written by Stellenbosch University professor Kole Omotoso. The play, Exclusion Minus Inclusion Without Conclusion, is a mimed history of South Africa, directed by Sam Pienaar. Former Western Cape deputy police commissioner Zelda Holtzman urged delegates to help government departments become more sensitive to the plight of refugees. The police particularly needed a sensitivity programme, because harassment of refugees needed to be monitored and dealt with. She said government budgets should reflect a commitment to the provision of safe refuge for displaced people so that they could be treated with dignity.
Foreign students boost economy (The Mercury, 11/06) - Foreign students are contributing millions to the South African economy by studying at the country's tertiary institutions. More than 2000 foreign students are studying at the University of Natal alone and bring an estimated R50 million into the local economy. Although foreign visitors to our shores are usually associated with South Africa's burgeoning tourism industry, the country's world class tertiary institutions (universities, technikons and colleges) attract students from as far afield as Asia, the former Soviet Republics, Scandinavia, South America and, of course, elsewhere in Africa. The University of Cape Town, one of the country's oldest and most prestigious universities, has 2 800 international students who are studying full time for degrees. Those are besides the average of 260 students who come to the country for one semester on exchange programmes. The University of South Africa, as the world's largest correspondence university, has a foreign enrolment numbering tens of thousands. "The more students they get, the better the tourism," said spokesman for environment and tourism affairs Mava Scott. Scott said the students contributed "quite a significant amount" to tourism. He said international students were attracted to the country after having heard about what South Africa had to offer. Scott added that the bait was the beauty and the rich history of South Africa. "South Africa is a beautiful country. If you go to other countries, you will find that the weather is too cold or too hot or they don't have a rich natural heritage. We have a lot going for us, we have no conflict in this country, we have a good history. "And when it comes to education, we are making great strides." He said international students visited the same spots and did the same activities as other tourists who visited the country. The general secretary of the International Student Association and also an international student at the University of Natal, Sibongile Metsing, said international students travelled a lot. "During holidays they go around the country, they would take off from Durban to Cape Town during summer holidays. They would take to the Drakensberg - their favourite spot."
Government seeks to regulate recruitment of health workers abroad (Pretoria, BuaNews, 10/06) - Health minister Mantu Tshabalala-Msimang says government has no wish to restrict the freedom of health workers who want to work abroad. Addressing the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in Cape Town today, Dr Tshabalala-Msimang said, however, their concern was about the 'exploitative recruiting tactics' of certain international operators. She said government believed that the international movement of health workers could, to some extent, be managed to the mutual benefit of the countries and individuals abroad. She said following her attendance a week ago of the World Health Assembly in Geneva where Commonwealth Health Ministers adopted a Code of Ethics on the international recruitment of health workers, South Africa intended to build on this foundation. In this regard, she said the country intended to seek bilateral agreements with Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand in line with the Code of Ethics that binds all Commonwealth member states. 'We have already had extremely fruitful talks with Britain's Minister of Health and a team led by the Director-General (Ayanda Ntsaluba) will visit the United Kingdom this month, to pursue discussion on this subject,' said Dr Tshabalala-Msimang. Touching on other issues on human resources in the public health sector, she said a special allocation of R500-million to assist provinces to recruit and retain health workers would introduce a system of allowances and - in a few categories - pay increases. 'These will 'top up' the salaries already covered in provincial budgets for the year, but will not fund additional posts.' She said it was expected that the new allowances would have a real impact in retaining skilled health workers especially in rural areas, as well as attracting additional professionals to fill vacancies. She added that special attention would be paid to 'sweetening' the package in the most remote areas. Presently, she said there were at least 2 662 young professionals doing community services - contributing critically needed services in the public health sector.
For instance, she said one out of seven doctors in the sector was doing community service, and so were about one out of four pharmacists and one out of two physiotherapists. 'These figures confirm the incredible values of community service to our nation. However, it is not satisfactory for us to depend so heavily on inexperienced personnel.' She said for this reason, it would be worthwhile for community service professionals to spend a few more years in the sector. The minister also cited the recent Intergovernmental Fiscal Review which revealed that between the end of 2001 and early 2003, provincial health departments actually recorded a 4.5 percent gain in doctors while the loss of professional nurses amounted to a mere 0.5 percent. She said the Review merely recorded the bottom line and did not say much about the turnover that might be happening 'under the surface'. According to her, it was known that people were not only leaving the service but government was also gaining some health professionals who used to work in the private sector. On HIV/AIDS, she said government was committed to continually reviewing and evaluating its five-year Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS. She said further expansion of the HIV/AIDS programme within the strategic plan should be expected in the year ahead.
Cuban doctors' problem cured (Mail & Guardian, 06/06) - Locally deployed Cuban doctors who refuse to pay the compulsory 57% of their salaries to their government or send their 15-year-old children back to their motherland, can do so without fear of being fired from South African hospitals. This was the interpretation of Ishana Hassim, the attorney for some of the seven Cuban doctors who won a Labour Court application reversing a Limpopo health department decision to fire them from various provincial hospitals earlier this year. The court ruled that the doctors could be refused the right to practice only if they had been deregistered by the Health Professions Council. The Limpopo Health Department fired the doctors, saying they had violated the terms of a government-to-government agreement between South Africa and Cuba by either seeking permanent residence status, marrying South Africans or refusing to send back to Cuba their children who had turned 15. The agreement also provided that the doctors would pay their government 57% of their earnings in South Africa. In February the Limpopo health department's senior general manager Dr Morwamphaga Nkadimeng sent letters to the seven doctors terminating their employment. "Having opted out of the agreement it follows that he can no longer be treated under the conditions of the said agreement. This equally implies that the condition of his registration with the Health Pro- fessions Council of South Africa has also lapsed," Nkadimeng wrote in one letter to a hospital superintendent. The hospital was also ordered to inform the doctors to produce proof of registration with the Health Professions Council within 48 hours or leave the hospitals and the accommodation provided for them. Department spokesperson Alu-wani Netsianda said they were still studying the judgement and waiting for the Health Professions Council's discussion on the matter before deciding on the next step. One of the doctors, Jorge Luis Perez-Donato, said he was relieved to see the back of the case. "I did not believe that after seven years of serving in South Africa we would have to fight so hard to demonstrate our loyalty. It is very difficult to understand why we had to spend so much money going to the high courts when we could have used our mental energies to treat our patients," said Dr Perez-Donato. Hassim accused Nkadimeng of refusing to sign the work permit application of some of the doctors. "Now we are forced to ask for an order that a warrant of arrest to jail Nkadimeng is issued or that he sign the application," said Hassim.
Lynching victims include foreign migrants (The Star, 06/06) - Two of five men killed in lynchings by mobs in the past few days have been identified. One of two men burnt to death last week in Bramfischerville, west of Johannesburg, has been identified as Mozambican national Jaime Masie. West Rand police said his brother, Augusto Macuven, who lives in Bramfischerville, had identified him at the police mortuary. But Macuven failed to identify the other man who was burnt with Masie because, contrary to earlier reports, the two were not related. The Vosloorus, East Rand, man who was burnt to death by a mob last Friday was this week identified as Sibusiso Khanyile. The mob had accused him of raping two girls in the township. The bodies of two men who were burnt to death and dumped in the veld near the N3 highway between Vosloorus and Mapleton this week had still not been identified. Meanwhile North Rand police would not identify the illegal immigrant who was rescued by two policemen from a possible mob-lynching in Thembisa. The police cited security concerns. Not even the two policemen who rescued him would be identified. The police said the man was still in detention, adding that a Thembisa resident had given information about burglaries that the man is alleged to have committed. Because no dockets had been opened at the time of the alleged crimes, it was difficult for police to investigate and build up a case against the man, a police spokesperson said.
Buthelezi narrowly escapes jail sentence (The Mercury, 05/06) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his director-general, Barry Gilder, narrowly avoided jail for contempt of court this week by issuing, at the last minute, identity documents to two Durban-based Rwandan refugees. Last month, Durban High Court judge Greg Kruger found the two men guilty of contempt for failing to act on a previous court order that ID books be issued immediately to Leonidas Bakuzakundi and Stanislas Rwandarugali. But the judge gave the men until Monday June 2 to comply with the order, failing which they would be arrested and held in prison until they did. Legal Resources Centre attorney JP Purshotam said the home affairs department had contacted the centre on Friday, saying the ID books were ready for collection. The centre was preparing further contempt proceedings against the home affairs department "We went there with our clients and got them," he said.
The two refugees, both students at the University of Natal, had initially applied for their identity documents in May 2001.
With their places at the university under threat and their chances of financial assistance in jeopardy, they finally went to court in April this year and got an order against the minister and the director-general compelling them to issue the ID books immediately. But this did not happen, and last month Kruger found the minister and director-general to be in contempt of court. Purshotam said the centre was preparing further contempt proceedings against the home affairs department in other matters.
SA to recruit engineers from Cuba (SABC, 04/06) - The health department is among a number of government departments that are set to engage services of engineers from Cuba. The government is negotiating with the Cuban government to recruit engineers and technicians, much to the anger of many unemployed South African engineers and opposition parties. They say they find it hard to believe that government could recruit engineers from Cuba while qualified engineers sit at home. The government says it does not have enough skilled engineers and the Cubans are meant to provide training for South Africans. The Freedom Front says some engineers have been left jobless because of affirmative action and others had to look for work overseas. One engineer and two technicians are already here, working in the North West province. The agreement with Cuba will see as many as 50 engineers arriving in the country.
Government to crack down on offenders of immigration laws (Pretoria, BuaNews, 03/06) - Government has vowed to crack down on offenders of immigration laws by unleashing blitzes at workplaces and education institutions to check for compliance with legislation. The blitzes are likely to see immigration officers from the Department of Home Affairs arriving at these premises unannounced. Addressing the media in Benoni, on the East Rand today, the newly appointed home affairs director-general Barry Gilder said authorities would establish an immigration inspectorate to ensure that all immigrants working or studying in the country had appropriate documents to be in the country. Also in the pipeline is the posting of airline liaison officers at the country's airports to process the entrance and departure of immigrants, tourists, business people and the public. The move is part of the authorities' efforts to tighten their grip at the country's 53 border posts, 12 international airports and seven harbours, added Mr Gilder. He said he would take a personal interest in the upgrading of border control posts and security. 'This is a matter close to my heart. I am also keenly aware of the vulnerability of our borders to abuse by criminals and other elements,' he said. The department is also in the process of reviewing its border structures, including capacity at the border posts, which will be sorted out when officials from the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster meet later this week to plot out government's approach to border control. Mr Gilder said the department would also look at using Information Technology to enhance the management of immigration and border control as well as the department's efficiency and effectiveness in speeding up service delivery. 'I will be seeking a close working relation with the intelligence community, law enforcement agencies as well as the research community in order to ensure that our resources and efforts in border control are properly focused, based on reliable information.'
Foreign 'telecrooks' arrested (City Press, 03/06) - AT least 10 foreign nationals from African countries allegedly involved in phone networl scams were arrested in North West in the past two weeks, Telkom said on Friday. It said the 10 were apprehended during ajoint operation with the police between May 25 and June 1. They were from Senegal, Burundi and Tanzania. The latest swoop brought to 37 the number of foreigners apprehended since mid-May for taking part in the scam, which involved the running of illegal telephone exchanges by tapping into private and public phone lines and selling the calls at cheaper rates. At least 15 scams were identified during the first operation in which 27 foreigners were nabbed. Telkom security and investigations head Peter Ross expressed delight at the rate network fraudsters were being arrested. He assured customers who might have been affected that T elkom was tackling the problem. "The message coming out of the recent operations is very clear and loud: Stop illegal activity on the Telkom network or risk facing the strong arm of the law," he said. "Our investigators are working flat-out to ensure that customers have peace of mind."
Immigrant saved from mob (Johannesburg, News24, 03/06) - A foreign national had a narrow escape when he was rescued from an angry Tembisa mob attempting to beat him senseless, police said on Tuesday. Eugene Opperman, spokesperson for the North Rand policing area, said a routine patrol had come across the drama by chance on Tuesday when they found about 100 people baying for the man's life. "The mob was viciously beating him and said he deserved to die," said Opperman. He said they accused the man of being responsible for a number of burglaries in the area and that he was an illegal immigrant. Attempts by police to rescue the immigrant were met with stones, sticks and various other objects and, fearing for his life, police fired warning shots. The mob dispersed temporarily. The police grabbed the opportunity to bustle the man into the van. They sped away with members of the public continuing to lob stones at the vehicle. The man was taken to hospital for treatment and since no one had come forward to lay charges for the alleged burglaries Opperman said it is likely the man would be deported. Assistant commissioner Joel Mokwena condemned the behaviour of the mob and said they had had more than enough time to hand the man over to the police for further investigations. "They chose to ignore police instructions and will eventually have to face the consequences of their illegal actions in court." The assistant commissioner lashed out at those residents involved in the fracas. "Fighting crime by becoming a criminal oneself is absurd. We will not tolerate mobs going around in some kind of frenzy baying for the blood of those they suspect of having committed a crime. "To take the law into one's own hands is to make a mockery of our country's constitution and the Bill of Rights."
Right of permanent residents to welfare in doubt (Business Day, 02/06) -In A landmark case, the Constitutional Court is to decide whether the state will be required to award social grants to permanent SA residents. Government argues that its primary responsibility is to its citizens. The court heard on Friday that government could not afford to extend social grants to all permanent residents requiring aid because it was already paying grants to almost 6-million SA citizens each month at a cost of R2,8bn. The state's legal counsel, Boyce Moerane, said a judgment in favour of welfare grants would encourage a flood of immigrants. A Pretoria High Court ruling on March 13 this year declared sections of the Social Assistance Act unconstitutional after a case was taken to the court by two main applicants. The case was not opposed by government at the time. The state believed it was required to assist the refugees because they had been given permanent residence in the knowledge that they could not support themselves. Unbeknown to government, the high court application was extended to include all permanent residents requiring aid, which could include about 260000 Mozambicans, among others. The department was ordered to pay grants to five Mozambicans and to process the claims of about 700 others. Paul Kennedy, counsel for the refugees argued the constitution defines access to social assistance to those unable to support themselves as a fundamental right. He said it was unreasonable of government to apply some rights and not others. For example, the applicants' children were able to get an education, but had to go to school hungry. The bench questioned the state's argument on the number of permanent residents requiring aid. It said people had to fulfil certain requirements before getting permanent residence. These included providing evidence that they were self sufficient.
Come Home Campaign (City Press, 01/06) - No place like home in a sunny SA. Many white expatriates, who left the country after South Africa's first democratically elected government took over, have discovered the grass on the other side is unpalatable. They are homesick and they want to return. Mariechen Waldner investigated: ADVOCATE Danie Bisschoff, former legal representative of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader Eugene Terre'Blanche, was one of the discontented who joined the white exodus two years ago. He went to New Zealand to investigate opportunities. What he discovered, he says, filled him with horror. He immediately packed his bags and returned home. Back in SA, Bisschoff, who is also the former leader of the Vryheidsfront in the Gauteng legislature, promptly joined the ANC. During the 23 hours on his flight home, he says, he had time to reflect properly. He concluded South Africa is home, that he needed to become involved where his contribution "really makes a difference". He decided to become "part ofthe solution to South Africa's problems". What he saw in New Zealand, Bisschoff says, was "unemployed South Africans living like beggars under bridges". The only job he could find was one as a security guard. The pay was so poor he would not have been able to take his family to New Zealand. He now practises his profession in the courts of Johannesburg, where endemic problems in the legal system irritate him, Bisschoff says. But he's glad to be home. Nanni Visser, a chemist, and her husband Dennis, an engineer, spent eight years in New Zealand and Australia before returning to South Africa two years ago. They had no money or employment problems.
"We returned for emotional reasons," says Visser. She and her husband were homesick, they discovered the hard way that they couldn't do without their family and their country. Many South African expatriates they had contact with experienced the same feelings, according to Visser. Some of them have also returned, among them the parents of a child who committed suicide because he wanted to return to South Africa against the wishes of his parents. She and her husband also wanted to give their children, one born in Australia and the other in New Zealand, a future in the country and the culture of their hearts, Visser says.
"We are Afrikaners, born and bred in South Africa," she says. "We were outsiders and aliens during our years overseas. Our children started to adopt the alien culture we lived in." The children are now learners in Afrikaans schools, Visser says, and that makes her happy. Although she still worries about violence and crime, her journey has taught her that South Africa is the only place she wants to be. "Since our return we go out of our way to contribute and make a difference in this country, which offers so many opportunities. We are positive about this country." It takes more guts to return than to go, says Visser, because its takes guts to admit a mistake. But the Visser family does not regret the fact they had to travel thousands of kilometres to a new home in order to discover their true home. "We want to be here," Visser declares, "because it's lekker to be here." The plight of white South Africans such as the Vissers, people who want to come home but do not have the courage, means or the know-how to do so, is at the root of the" Come Home Campaign", organised by the Company for Immigration (CFI) and trade union movement Solidarity. when the organisers of the campaign started a web page recently, they were astonished by the fact that it registered 28 000 hits during its first week on the Internet, says Solidarity spokesperson and their representative on the committee running the campaign, Kallie Kriel. , 'We discovered homesick expatriates who wanted to return often face practical obstacles with regard to employment, documents, possessions and emotional issues, such as fears that people would laugh at them or call them failures." The campaign was designed to assist them. To date, 130 people have indicated they want to return and asked for assistance, particularly for employment, Kriel says. "We will welcome the first of the returnees at the airport within a month," he predicts. And he promised it will be done with ceremony. They'll be greeted with South African flowers and champagne. A threefold plan has been formulated to achieve the aims of the Come Home Campaign, according to Kriel. The plan entails the establishment of an assistance and advice bureau to support those who left the country and wish to return, the creation of more favourable conditions within South Africa to ensure that its citizens would prefer to live in the country, and communication pointing out the misconceptions of life abroad. The assistance and advice bureau, established at the CFI office on Church Square in Pretoria, is operational and offers a wide range of services to "remigrants". The services include help in obtaining employment, registration of children born abroad, immigration documents for foreign spouses, conversion of foreign driver's licences and South African evaluation of qualifications gained abroad. The bureau also offers advice on the importation of household goods, vehicles and pets as well as advice on school placement, medical funds and church integration. It even offers counselling on adjustment problems after "remigration". Every South African citizen, Kriel says, can play a part in bringing these skilled people back to SA. It is important to refrain from reproaching or criticising people who left the country such actions will merely lead to "greater alienation". "The willingness to show understanding for people's decisions is of immense importance to re-establishing the ties between those who have left the country and those who have remained. "
Land claim falls on deaf SA ears (Mbabane, Irin, 16/06) - Swaziland is growing impatient with the non-response of South Africa to a long-standing Swazi claim to territory confiscated during the colonial era and now incorporated into its modern-day neighbour. "This is Swazi land, historically and culturally. We have had commitments in the past from South African governments, most notably Nelson Mandela, that the matter will be resolved. But since [President] Thabo Mbeki took office, there has been silence from Pretoria," Prince Khuzulwandle, brother to King Mswati III, told IRIN. Mswati appointed Prince Khuzulwandle as chairman of the government's Border Adjustment Committee in 1994. The committee meets infrequently, but its mandate is a serious one. Opening parliament this year, Mswati, in his annual State of the Kingdom speech, reiterated his desire to see all Swazis reunited. "We have waited over a century to bring our brothers and sisters back into the fold under their king," said Prince Khuzulwandle. "We are getting the impression that Mbeki's administration is trying to avoid meeting with us," he told the local press. The territory Swaziland wants back is divided into three sections. KaNgwane extends up to 40 km from Swaziland's west to northeast border, fitting like a cap over the country's northern area. Ngavuma, if reacquired by Swaziland, would return the kingdom to its original location on the Indian Ocean. Swaziland would no longer be a landlocked country, but would encompass what is now South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal Province south from the Mozambique border to Lake Sibaya. A 65 km by 30 km banana-shaped strip, the Nsikazi Area, is not contiguous with Swaziland or the other disputed lands, and extends north from the White River in South Africa's northern Mpumalanga Province. "This land rightfully belongs to Swazis, and most of the Swazis on that land long to be reunited with the rest of the Swazi population," Prince Khuzulwandle said. British miners and Boer farmers laid claim to Swazi territory in the late 19th century. By 1902, Britain had portioned off large sections of land previously ruled by Swazi kings into the Boer Republic of Transvaal (today's Mpumalanga Province) and Britain's Natal Province, leaving the landlocked rump that today remains as Swaziland. About twice as many Swazis live in these areas of South Africa as in Swaziland itself, whose current population is under one million.
During his 60-year reign, Mswati's father, King Sobhuza, continuously sought territorial reunification. South Africa's apartheid regime cooperated in the 1980s, in an attempt to prove to the world it had an ally in a black African state. Pretoria wanted to use Swaziland as a "Bantustan" homeland of which all South African Swazis would become citizens, wherever they lived, thus making them legal aliens in the country of their birth. A government-to-government agreement was nearly concluded in 1982, but the KwaZulu legislature successfully sued to block the land transfer. King Mswati sought to revive border adjustment talks upon South Africa's democratisation in 1994. Both countries formed border adjustment committees. Swaziland's committee still exists under Prince Khuzulwandle. "In South Africa, we have had talks with all the chiefs, and many community meetings. We listen to concerns, and also to the people's hope to be part of Swaziland again," Khuzulwandle said. The charter of the Organisation of African Unity, which has become the African Union, committed its members to respect national borders as established during colonial times. But Swazi officials say the condition does not apply to its territories because Swazi kings have continuously protested the removal of the lands, and have never forsaken ownership. Many South Africans, however, dismiss Swaziland's claim. "I can see how a black South African during the apartheid era might find life better under the Swazi king, but now we've got democracy, and it is not possible to live again in a non-democratic state," said Nelspruit resident Mandla Nxumalo, whose family homestead in Ermelo would revert to Swazi rule. Another obstacle to reunification is the expensive development underway in the disputed Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal areas. The regions straddle the Lubombo Mountain Range, which has been targeted for economic revival under the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative agreed upon by Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland (LSDI). South Africa has already spent R73 million (US $7.3 million) on hospitals, clinics, schools and crèches, and R20 million (US $2.7 million) on new roads in KwaZulu-Natal. Under LSDI, R80 million (US $11 million) in private investment has gone into the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, South Africa's first World Heritage site. Two new highways connecting South Africa and Mozambique pass through the disputed land, which would all become Swazi territory if Mbabane gets its way.
Three foreigners arrested for heroin (Manzini, Times of Swaziland, 06/06) - Two Zambian men and a Tanzanian have been arrested and charged for being found in possession of heroin. The drug has a street value of E850. The three were arrested by the serious crimes' unit detectives at Coates Valley near Moneni. It could not be gathered how the detectives trapped the three foreigners who were described by their neighbours, who have thanked the police for arresting the culprits, as a terror gang. The neighbours said the three culprits arrived in the location three months ago and they were very busy. One of the residents at the location stated that he was not clear what the three foreigners were busy operating in the hub city as they were never found in their house. When the Times arrived at the rented house in the location many people stated that more foreigners were involved in the deal and they said they have told the police to trace the others. Police PRO Vusi Masuku confirmed the breakthrough of the detectives from the police station here and stated that the culprits could appear before the magistrate court this morning.
Big drug bust (Swazi Observer, 01/06) - Police anti-drug squad made a break-through in drug trafficking this week when they arrested two alleged 'rastafarians' from Jamaica and South Africa for being found in possession of dagga in the country.
The two, Extol Brown(44) and Isaac Rakgoale(29) respectively were arrested by the police on Tuesday at the Mbabane hospital bus stop for being found in possession of dagga weighing 110 kg. When they first appeared in court on Wednesday the two pleaded with the court to release them because they were not aware that dagga was illegal in the country. The two claimed that the herb was legalised by God and is part of their rastafarism religion. However, magistrate Lucky Groaning refused to release them on grounds that the two had contravened Section 7 as read with Section 8 (1) of the Opium and Habit Forming Drugs Act No. 37 of 1922 as amended. Their arrest has brought tension in the country as the two are protesting that their arrest is against their spiritual beliefs. They say dagga was legalised by God and therefore should be used freely. Yesterday when they re-appeared in court they were represented by Mduduzi Mabila and the case was postponed by Principal Magistrate Sabelo Mgomezulu to next week Friday. Representing the crown was Sabelo Dlamini. Meanwhile, it has been gathered that since their arrest on Monday the two had not been taking food, normally served to inmates. They claim they are vegetarians and their meals are provided by their relatives and friends. Correctional Service PRO Norma Sibandze confirmed this when approached for comment. She said the two were at liberty to choose what to eat because they were still suspects. "It is true they don't eat our food, they are provided special meals by their relatives," she said.
Tanzania to stay out of Comesa (Business Times, 20/06) - Tanzania will continue to stay out of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) despite calls from various parts that it still has a chance to rejoin the bloc. Foreign affairs and international co-operation minister Jakaya Kikwete said last week Tanzania had no reason of rejoining COMESA since reasons that led to its pullout were still valid. To create a single powerful economic body, he noted, a committee that was formed to study the possibility of a merger between Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) and the COMESA concluded there was no need of Tanzania to rejoin COMESA. "At first there was an agreement to merge SADC and COMESA by heads of the bodies' member states, but then it was dropped," he said in Dar es Salaam. "The issue is still negotiable, but for the to time being we have no reason to reverse the decision." However, Tanzania will continue to trade with countries which are neither in the East African Community (EAC) nor in SADC bodies. Tanzania realises the advantage of being an EAC member because of the EAC's unique and its merger is historical since the 1900s. Tanzania's pullout of COMESA in October 2000, citing high costs of maintaining its memberships to both COMESA and SADC, which have similar functions. It further cited the disadvantage of COMESA of its preference to abolish customs tariffs. The withdrawal raised outcry, with the business community saying the isolation would impose major setbacks to goods from Tanzania to COMESA member states.
Child trafficking significant (The Express, 19-25/06) - The United States has commended the Tanzanian government for its efforts to tackle human trafficking, but warned that the extent of the problem was just beginning to be established and that experts believed the number of victims in the country was "significant". Most at risk were children trafficked to work as domestic labourers in commercial agriculture, fishing, mining and prostitution, according to the US State Department's 2003 "Trafficking in Persons Report", released last week."This year, Tanzania has been designated a Tier 2 country, which means that the government is making some effort in the areas of prevention, protection and prosecution, but much more needs to be done," Robert V. Royall, the US ambassador to Tanzania, said on Thursday.The new report ranked governments according to their efforts in tackling child labour. "Tier 1" countries were those that complied fully with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. "Tier 2" countries were those that made efforts to bring themselves into compliance, while "Tier 3" countries were those not deemed to have made sufficient efforts and, for the first time, could face economic sanctions. "The biggest obstacle to combating trafficking in Tanzania is not lack of will by the Tanzanian government, but lack of understanding of this crime by police, local authorities, and even parents who are lured by traffickers to send their children off to uncertain and dangerous destinies," Royall said. The Tanzanian government acknowledged that trafficking existed in the country, but highlighted that it was "complicated and not quantifiable" as no research had been carried out in the area. "Child trafficking is attached to traditional practices where some low-income parents can entrust a child to a wealthier relative to care for him or her as one of his/her own," Wilson Ngowi, the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Youth Development and Sports, said.
"Some people take advantage of this traditional practice to recruit children, promising them a chance of employment or education, but instead place the child in a situation where he or she is exploited and or abused," he added. One such child is Elizabeth Joseph, 17, who was marking the 2003 World Day Against Child Labour in Dar es Salaam. "At the age of six, I was disowned by my father and left to try and survive with my mother in her village," she said. "My mother was married to another man, but life was difficult, I didn't go to school and there was nothing to do. Then a woman came and took me away, saying that I would be able to make a life for myself and earn a living. "She took me from Iringa and we travelled to Dar es Salaam with another girl of my age. As soon as we got to town, she sold us to another woman. I don't know how much for. It was then that life became difficult," she said. Joseph said that her new "owner" made her cook, clean and perform sexual favours for male friends. Her recollection of how long the ordeal lasted was not clear. She escaped and worked as a prostitute before being picked up by the Kiota Women's Health and Development Organisation in Dar es Salaam. She recently found out that she was HIV positive, but said that at least now she can learn new skills and enjoy some of her childhood. The Tanzanian government, in partnership with bilateral partners such as the US, the International Labour Organisation and other institutions in the country, is tackling child labour through the promotion of universal primary education and the "Time Bound Programme" for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour. However, the US report suggested that the government "should provide more training to law enforcement on trafficking issues, develop child-friendly witness protection mechanisms, and undertake more systematic public awareness campaigns."
Tanzania source and destination of human trafficking (The Guardian, 12/06) - Tanzania is a source and destination country for trafficked persons and children, according to the 2002 Trafficking in Persons Report. Individual persons are trafficked internally from rural to urban areas for domestic work, commercial, agriculture, fishing, mining, and child prostitution, the report adds. The report issued by the United States Department of State says children Tanzania’s large refugee population is especially vulnerable to the trade where they are trafficked to work on farms within the country. Excerpt of the report whose full text can be found at http://www.state.gov/g/tip/ says some refugees in camps in the country are recruited as child soldiers for participation in conflicts in neighbouring countries. The report notes also that to a lesser degree, Tanzania is a destination country for trafficked persons from India and Kenya. It reveals further that some sources also suggest that Tanzanian women and girls may be trafficked to South Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the United States for commercial sexual exploitation. "The Government of Tanzania does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so despite severe resource constraints,” the report asserts. It adds that the government should provide more training to law enforcement on trafficking issues, develop child-friendly witness protection mechanisms, and undertake more systematic public awareness campaigns. According to the report, Tanzania is one of the three countries participating in a pilot programme to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. The programme brings together government agencies, trade unions, and legal and social welfare organisations to combat child labour, including trafficking. It adds that the government has begun to provide free education to primary school children, and has expanded the proportion of its budget dedicated to education, a key strategy to prevent child labour and prostitution. On the other hand, the report says the law enforcement agencies traditionally investigate cases of migrant smuggling, and it is unclear how many of these cases are related to trafficking. “There are laws related to sexual offences and trafficking for sexual purposes. A section of the penal code was enacted in 2001 to criminalise trafficking within or outside of Tanzania. However the penalty is relatively light,” the report notes, It adds that during the year, nightclubs were raided and 23 girls were repatriated to India for not having valid working permits and the owners were fined. In August 2002, 12 individuals were arrested for operating a brothel in Dar es Salaam, where several underage girls were found working. This case is still pending, the report says. The report also cites problems faced by the government in fighting the trafficking of children. It says that the cash-strapped government does not provide victims of trafficking with assistance, but supports NGOs that are involved with anti-child labour and education efforts by providing public buildings for classrooms and community renters. The government, in conjunction with international organisations, is removing children from hazardous work and prostitution and providing education and vocational training and foreign victims are routinely repatriated, it concludes.
Foreigners get 90 per cent of construction tenders (The Guardian, 06/06) -About 90 per cent of road construction tenders are awarded to foreign contractors, the Minister for Works, John Magufuli, has said. Opening a two-day consultative meeting and construction exhibition organized by the Contractors Registration Board (CRB) in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Magufuli urged local contractors to team up in order to get a lion’s share in construction works. The theme of the meeting is “CRB’s Five Year Corporate Plan: Goals and Strategies,”. Magufuli also cautioned that no bogus contractor would be allowed to operate in the East African Community member countries from now onwards. “Records on performance and experience together with equipment of all contractors will be available in all three countries which are members of the East African Community so as to get rid of bogus contractors,” Magufuli stated. He called on the CRB to deregister all bogus contractors countrywide. The two- day consultative meeting and exhibition was also attended by members of the Parliamentary Committee on Infrastructure. The meeting and exhibition involve contractors and other stakeholders from the South-Eastern Zone of Africa.
German, Congolese nationals in trouble over forgery (The Guardian, 03/06) - A German and four Congolese nationals yesterday appeared before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court charged with four counts of forgery and obtaining money by false pretence. Inspector of Police Camilius Wambura mentioned the German national as Peter Steinhoels (56). The other suspects, Frank Kateti (32), Christian Bakwa (32), Nkiambi Yavange (34), Dennis Makuni (45) are Congolese nationals.
It was alleged before Magistrate Samwel Karua that between January and May 2003 the accused conspired to steal 75,000 US dollars from a Dutch company, Eutrack Netherlands. In second count, the prosecutor alleged that on May 14, 2003, Frank, with intent to defraud, forged a transport bill of lading number DARZ 02888 dated 14/05/03. It was also claimed in the court that on May 14, Peter Steinhoels, by false pretence, uttered a false document to one Jan Sed Nijboer. In the fourth count, the court was told that the accused persons obtained 75,000 US dollars from Euttrack Netherlandsof Rotterdam on the same day. The accused were required to bring three sureties each with a 5m/- bond and that they would have to report to the police every Friday, as conditions for bail. The suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges and were remanded in custody after failing to fulfill bail conditions. They will appear in court again on June 17 when the case comes up for another mention.
Rwandan refugees in Zambia reluctant to return home (Lusaka, Sapa-DPA, 24/06) - Rwandan refugees in Zambia are reluctant to return to their home country, fearing persecution, human rights violations and other security concerns, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Tuesday. Despite peace returning to Rwanda, the repatriation of the refugees had been slow because it had been difficult to convince them to return home, Kelvin Shimo of the UNHCR said. Since April this year, the UNHCR has only been able to repatriate 52 Rwandan refugees, of which 15 were repatriated on Tuesday. "This is an on-going exercise, they're slowly opening up for voluntary repatriation, but it's been difficult" said Shimo. The Zambian government said it was aware of the response the voluntary repatriation could have on some refugees and would continue protecting those unwilling to return home in line with international laws. Shimo said once the Rwandan refugees returned to their country, they were re-settled by the local UNHCR in that country. Meanwhile, the repatriation of Angolan refugees has now been set for July 11, after it was put off following the discovery of anti-tank landmines on routes leading to designated areas of re-settlement. Angolan refugees have been registering for voluntary
repatriation with the UNHCR since May. Zambia is host to over 20,000 Angolan refugees.
Zimbabwean farmers off to Zambia (Lusaka, News24, 23/06) - Thirty white farmers who've fled Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's aggressive land reform programme have secured lease agreements to settle in southern Zambia. The farmers have secured 10-year leases, along with an initial 10 farmers who recently secured work permits to settle in northern Zambia. Agriculture co-ordinator for the Choma district, Namu Musulwe, said the 30 maize, tobacco and rice farmers would be settled in the south. Musulwe said 13 of the farmers had been allocated land in Choma while another 14 would settle in Kalomo. "They will start farming soon," he said.
No refugee will be forced out, says minister (Lusaka, The Post, 21/06) -No refugee will be forced out of Zambia, home affairs minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha has assured. Officiating at the World Refugee Day in Lusaka yesterday, Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha said no particular family of refugees would be forced out of Zambia. He said refugees would go back to their countries voluntarily. "Those that remain shall abide by the laws that pertain to Zambia," Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha said. He said repatriation was a destination of a long journey in search of peace. Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha said the granting of refugee status was a temporal one while durable solutions were being sought. He said that as the world commemorated the refugee day with focus on refugee youths, people should pause and think about the plight of the displaced people. "A refugee youth is in transit all the time. We must play a role to allow the transition to come to pass," he said. Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha said a refugee youth was not a static person but was one that had a vision and a destiny to be fulfilled. He said most young people faced great risks by being forced into sexual activities while some were forced to carry guns for a cause they did not understand. And United Nations High Commission for Refuges (UNHCR) resident representative Ahmed Gubartalla said the first convoy of refugees under the organised repatriation exercise would leave in July this year. "Following the peace in Angola, we are all working closely on all practical aspects of this repatriation," he said. Gubartalla said UNHCR attached great importance to the repatriation exercise so that Angolan refugees returned home in safety and dignity to help in the reconstruction of their country. "A refugee's life is never an easy one, but it's especially tough on young people who are robbed of what should be the most formative, promising and exciting years of their lives," said Gubartalla. He said that during 2002, there were about 290,000 refugees in Zambia of when about 40,000 were repatriated to Angola.
Curb brain drain by rewarding doctors, says Parliament (Times of Zambia, 11/06) - The parliamentary committee on health, community development and social welfare says there is need for Government to consider giving good incentives to doctors to curb the brain drain. Committee chairman Sakwiba Sikota said the brain drain being experienced in the health sector, would not stop if the sector was not regarded as a priority. Mr Sikota who is also Livingstone United Party for National Development (UPND) member of Parliament was speaking on care reforms in developing countries in Siavonga. He said the committee would soon embark on a programme to lobby Government to increase the health budget to meet some of the challenges in the sector. Mr Sikota said the health sector had in the past failed to perform better due to inadequate funding. He noted that there was need to prioritise the sector to benefit the general populace in the nation. He observed that society was dynamic and called for change in the health sector so that it could keep pace. And a visiting professor from the department of population and international public health at Harvard University in the United States, has observed that health policies in many developing countries had failed because of imposed health reforms by funding agencies. Professor Norman Daniels said conditions given by funding agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank had adversely affected the equal distribution of health services and care in many Third World countries. He said developing countries needed to have their health systems well equipped to enable them provide equal and quality health care to all their people. Professor Daniels also bemoaned the Iow levels of education among women in most developing countries. He said this had widened the gap in achieving equity in terms of access to health facilities with their male counterparts. Professor Daniels also observed that the Iow levels of education among women had contributed to poor health among children. The workshop has attracted participants from South Africa, Malawi, Cameroun and Zambia.
Army reinforces border with DRC - (Times of Zambia, 09/06) - Government says it has reinforced its joint defence and security troops on the border with war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following recent incursions by combatants into Zambia. Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba said in an interview that Government had sent more troops to man the border near Kaputa in Luapula Province where Zambian troops recently engaged Congolese combatants. Mr Mumba said the team which had been sent to area comprised officers from the Zambia Police, the Zambia Army and the immigration department. He said the joint security and defence team in Kaputa had increased its patrols to ensure that Zambians living on the border were not harmed. "There is no need for people living on the border areas to live in fear because measures have already been put in place to protect every life," he said. Mr Mumba said the monitoring of the border areas would continue until the situation stabilised and appealed to members of the public to report any suspicious looking people to the defence and security staff in the area. He said the troops currently patrolling the area were part of the joint provincial operation committee (JPOC) which was established to look at border area security. He said that it was the duty of Government to ensure all citizens were protected and that it would not allow intruders to take advantage of the peace Zambia was enjoying.
Zambia waives visa fees for tourists (Bulawayo, The Financial Gazette, 12/06) - Zambia has waivered visa fees for tourists who come through its tour operators, a move seen as another blow to Zimbabwe’ tottering tourism industry. Local tourism players are concerned that Zambia had become more attractive to tourists, while Zimbabwe was fast losing its glitter. International tourists, who are made to pay visa fees locally, would rather view the Victoria Falls from Livingstone, Zambia than from Zimbabwe, which has received bad publicity over the past three years. Zimbabwe charges international tourists US$20 to view the falls. The country also introduced visa fees for British passport holders in November last year after fallout between London and Harare. Cletus Chanda, an official with the Zambia National Tourist Board said visa fees were waived to boost tourism. He said: "The local tour operators will notify immigration department of the planned visit so that the tourists are exempted from paying visa fees." Tom Chuma, vice-president of the Zimbabwe Council of Tourism, downplayed the impact of the latest development on the country, saying Zimbabwe had more to offer than Zambia. The falls are a mile long in Zimbabwe and one has the opportunity to see the whole chasm, including a large portion of the Zambia Falls. "Naturally, the (Zimbabwean tourism) industry would prefer a situation where there are no visa requirements for our key markets. We hope that at a more opportune time we will be able to approach the relevant authorities for a review of the requirements. "We also hope that in thew context of SADC (Southern African Development Community), we will also see a relaxation of the visa regime to encourage the free movement of people," said Chuma. Chuma said the National Parks and Wildlife Authority to grant marketing discounts to tour operators to encourage them to market tourist facilities in Zimbabwe.
Angolan refugees ready to leave Zambia (Lusaka, IOL, 06/06) - More than six thousand Angolan refugees in Zambia have registered since last month for voluntary repatriation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Friday. Refugees at the Maheba settlement camp in north-western Zambia were enthusiastic to return to their homeland, which they left nearly 30 years ago, UNHCR regional representative Ahmed Gubartalla said. Zambia hosts over 200 000 Angolan refugees out of the 440 000 Angolan refugees currently in asylum in Angola's neighbouring countries. Gubartalla said the first batch of 500 refugees will leave next Thursday in a pilot convoy from Maheba for their resettlement camps in Mbanza Congo Zaire province, Luau in Moxico province and Calundo and Menogue in Kuando Kubango province on the Angolan side of the border. He said the UN agency had a conducted a test drive from Maheba to Cazombo to ascertain the road conditions, but added that the situation in many other areas in the war-ravaged Angola were still too dangerous for repatriation. The returning refugees will spend the first days in reception centres where they will receive basic training on land mines and HIV and Aids. They will also receive essential supplies such as food rations, blankets and construction kits. The registration of Angolan refugees comes after the signing of a $36-million voluntary repatriation agreement between Zambia, Angola and the UNHCR last December. The UNHCR is seeking to repatriate all the 440 000 Angolan refugees in the southern African region.
Malawians encroach on Zambian land (Times of Zambia, 02/06) - Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Peter Tembo has described the encroachment by Malawians on Zambian land on the common border in Chama district as a serious matter. Brigadier General Tembo at the weekend appealed to members of Parliament, councillors and local people to find ways of ensuring that no more land was taken by Malawians. He was speaking at the provincial development coordinating committee meeting held at Luangwa Lodge in Chipata. Gen Tembo, who promised to take up the matter with higher authorities in Lusaka, was reacting to a report from Chama district administrator Boniface Nkhata who said Malawians were allegedly opening more land on Zambian soil for tobacco estates. Mr Nkhata said a Malawian company, General Farming Limited, had continued using 131 hectares of Zambian land in Kalovya area of Chama district even after the matter was brought to its attention. He said apart from illegally establishing the tobacco estates in Zambia, the company was also indiscriminately cutting down trees for curing the tobacco. Chipata district administrator Clemens Mwanza called for amicable means of resolving the issue before it degenerated into a bigger problem. Mr Mwanza said Malawians were slowly grabbing Zambian land along the border from Chadiza to Kanyelele near Isoka. He warned that the matter should not be taken lightly because countries had fought wars because of land disputes. In September last year, then Eastern Province Minister Nason Sambwa and Malawian high commissioner to Zambia Friday Makuta visited the area to see for themselves the levels of encroachment. Both officials promised to report the matter to their foreign affairs ministries in their respective countries to find a peaceful solution to the problem, but since then nothing has been done. Just last week, Eastern Province Minister Clever Silavwe was shocked to find that Malawians were farming on the Zambian land without any hindrance. Mr Silavwe promised to make the issue his priority to protect the land of the country from foreign settlement. He urged the local people to be patriotic by ensuring that all people with suspicious nationality farming on the country's land were reported to immigration officers.
A nurse's tale (Johannesburg, Irin, 30/06) - Anna Matema (not her real name) is a 45-year-old senior nurse at Harare Central Hospital, a public referral hospital catering mainly for the poor living in the city's high-density areas. Matema is a widow and mother of five, and has been a nurse for 20 years. She says she is dismayed by spiralling inflation which makes it difficult for her to budget for groceries, transport and her children's school fees. "Other departments in the civil service - teachers, soldiers and policemen, for example - think that nurses are given preferential treatment by the government when it comes to salaries. Even though we are [paid] slightly better than them, life is equally tough for us," she explains. Matema's gross monthly salary, pegged at Zim $84,000 (US $102), is set to rise to Zim $150,000 (US $182) as a result of a recent job evaluation exercise. Nevertheless, she does not forsee being able to make any savings. Last year she was forced to pull her two children out of boarding school following sharp increases in boarding fees. They are now enrolled in less well equipped government schools. "Before withdrawing them from boarding school, a big chunk of my salary went towards debts I was incurring every month. I discovered that I was being swallowed by borrowing, particularly from money-lending businesses that have sprouted in town. These sharks charge you extremely high interests, and the loans are deducted from your payslip." Matema was forced to sell her husband's car to offset her debts. After working as a nurse for two decades, she says she feels she has virtually nothing to show for it. Her 23-year-old eldest daughter recently took up cross-border trading to help support the family. She travels to South Africa and Botswana selling local craft and boutique products. Matema does not like the business since she thinks it exposes her daughter to the risk of muggings and HIV/AIDS, but feels she has no choice but to accept it, because it goes a long way to supplementing the family income. She complains of low morale among her colleagues at work. Zimbabwe has lost a large crop of its most experienced nurses to better paid jobs overseas, particularly the UK. "Those who remain do not give their job maximum attention. The sick are therefore caught in the vicious cycle, hence high mortality rates at public hospitals." But despite the difficulties, Matema remains optimistic about the country's future. "Zimbabwe is a great country. We can still reclaim our status as Southern Africa's breadbasket and one of the strongest economies. What we need to do is to persuade all political parties to sit down together so as to establish an acceptable government. "We would only be fooling ourselves if we thought that we could go it alone. We need a lot of friends from outside. They will bring back investment and create jobs for our children. In addition, Zimbabweans should see themselves as part of the same family and march into the future together," she says.
Zimbabwe may return land to SA farmers (Sunday Independent, 21/06) - South African farmers who lost land under Zimbabwe's controversial land acquisition policy could get some of their land back as soon as President Robert Mugabe's government has finished a land audit of the land redistribution exercise. Gadzira Chirumhanzu, the Zanu-PF spokesperson for South Africa, confirmed this week that some seized farms, or at least part of them, would be returned to affected farmers as soon as the audit was completed. Last month Mugabe ordered an audit of the land reform programme to assess progress in Zimbabwe's controversial land redistribution exercise. Preliminary results for the audit are expected by the end of next month. "Our government is applying the one man, one farm policy. Those farmers who had very large farms will get portions of their land back, or compensation for their improvements. The rest of the land will be shared out among landless peasants," Chirumhanzu said. All farmers whose land had been expropriated were free to contact government officials in the affected regions to discuss permissible farm sizes per person, and how they could go about resuming their operations, he said. Last year the Democratic Alliance compiled a list of 75 South African farmers in Zimbabwe whose land was overrun by settlers led by veterans from Zimbabwe's liberation war. Many of them were still South African citizens, but some had renounced their South African citizenship in an attempt to protect their farms, and to be allowed to remain in Zimbabwe. A Zimbabwean weekly newspaper, the Financial Gazette, published excerpts from a letter that Aziz Pahad, the deputy minister of foreign affairs had written to affected farmers saying Harare had agreed to return land seized from South African citizens. According to the letter, the concession was made in terms of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (Bippa) signed by the two neighbours. Pahad's letter, dated March 10 2003, reads in part: "The listed farms under the land reform programme owned by nationals from SADC member states and countries with the Bippa agreement would be delisted in accordance with laws and regulations of Zimbabwe." Andries Botha, the DA's spokesperson on rural safety, said a DA delegation to Harare had recently received an undertaking from Jerry Ndou, the South African high commissioner in Zimbabwe, that the South African government had secured an agreement with Zimbabwe to enable South African farmers who had been driven from their properties to go back to their land and resume farming.
Andries Botha, the DA's spokesperson for agriculture, expressed doubts last week that the government of Zimbabwe would stick to the Bippa accord. During a DA fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe recently, the delegation discovered that the bilateral agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa that Pahad spoke about had not been signed and was therefore not yet in force. "The Zimbabwe Vice-President Joseph Msika told us that all those South African farmers willing to come back and farm in Zimbabwe would be allowed to do so. Afterwards, Zimbabwe's minister of agriculture said the issue of 11 000 hectares that the South African farmers had lost was not negotiable," the delegation said. One of the affected South African farmers, rancher and tobacco farmer Crawford von Abbo, told The Sunday Independent that unless the rule of law was re-established in Zimbabwe, it would be difficult to believe statements coming from Harare. "We have all maintained that land reform is necessary, as long it is done in a transparent, legal manner. It is one thing to read stories in the media, but the situation on the ground in the farming districts is very different," he said. Von Abbo said the South African government had done very little to protect its citizens who lost land and property in Zimbabwe. His former neighbours from Germany, Britain and Portugal had all got their properties back after their governments had made representations to the government of Zimbabwe, he said.
ABC joins corporate exodus to SA (The Financial Gazette, 19/06) - Regional financial services giant, African Banking Corporation (ABC), has joined the growing band of companies relocating critical operations due to the deteriorating local economic environment after it recently shuttled its group management team to Johannesburg, South Africa. ABC managing director Francis Dzanya confirmed the development this week but hastened to say that this did not mean the institution was abandoning its Zimbabwean business. "Yes, our group management has since moved to our Johannesburg offices in line with the strategic initiatives announced by the board to our shareholders when we released our results. "This does not mean ABC is leaving, because we still run operations here," Dzanya said. Dzanya now heads a new management team selected to run the local operations, whose importance within the group will no doubt be attenuated by the relocation as well as the diminishing contributions to total earnings. The Zimbabwean operation’s contribution to group net profit has plummeted from 82 percent in 2001 to 50 percent in 2002, with projections of a further decline this year due to the worsening domestic economy. The relocation of ABC’s group management comes hot on the heels of a similar move by the Anglo American Corporation of Zimbabwe, which has drastically cut fat and redeployed chief executive officer Godfrey Gomwe across the Limpopo from where he is running the local operations as chief strategy officer. Privatisation success story Cotton Company of Zimbabwe was reported to have been considering relocating to Mauritius, although company directors strenuously denied the move following reservations expressed by the government, the erstwhile controlling shareholder. Dzanya said there was nothing sinister about moves by ABC to shift its critical staff to South Africa, saying this was in keeping with the banking behemoth’s vision and expansion into a truly pan African institution. He said the group sought to coordinate its expansion programme in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia from the South African office. "There is also the logistical factor and Johannesburg offers the best location to manage challenges associated with running a group of ABC’s size. "We are also gearing at servicing the South African corporates engaged in cross-border trade."
Dzanya said it had always been realised from the group’s inception that all the group’s operations could not be co-ordinated from Botswana, where ABC is incorporated. The firm is dual-listed on the Botswana and Zimbabwe stock exchanges and apart from these countries, has operations in Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia. Plans are also underway to break into the Angolan, Ugandan and Kenyan markets. Zimbabwe still maintains a strong presence on the cosmopolitan ABC board chaired by Swiss Rudolph Hug, through deputy chairman Oliver Chidawu and group chief executive Douglas Munatsi. Meanwhile, ABC has sealed the part acquisition of a United Kingdom-based financial services firm for a cash consideration of about US$2 million ($1.648 billion). Managing director Dzanya, told The Financial Gazette that the rapidly expanding banking institution now had a controlling 63 percent stake in the UK entity. "We have acquired a debt capital market boutique in the United Kingdom. The deal has been finalised and ABC has a 63 percent shareholding in the firm. "It has since been renamed Iroko Securities," Dzanya revealed. The firm is expected to enhance ABC’s ability to issue and trade debt instruments across the African continent. Since inception, ABC has gone on an aggressive expansion programme punctuated by strategic acquisitions, the most recent being in Botswana and Mozambique, where the group took total control of BNP Nedbank SARL, which has since been rebranded as African Banking Corporation SARL. The deal was pegged at US$4.5 million. An analyst with a local stockbroking firm said the conclusion of the deal, which ABC directors had hinted would be concluded in the first quarter, further enhances the counter’s lure as a foreign currency earner. "Although we do not know the market share the new entity commands in the UK, it is a fair assumption that it is likely to make significant contributions to earnings in the current financial year, as the group’s earnings from outside operations continue to grow towards critical mass and provide a hedge against the uncertainty in the Zimbabwe operating environment," the analyst said.
3 fake Indian doctors denied work permits (The Herald, 18/06) - The Department of Immigration last week turned down work permit applications by three Indians purporting to be medical doctors after it suspected their certificates to be fake. Chief immigration officer Mr Elasto Mugwadi said the department had tightened up its checks following reports of some unqualified foreign nationals operating in the country as medical specialists. "The Indians could not pass our industrial tests and after they found out we had discovered they were bogus, they disclosed that they made treatments through dreams," Mr Mugwadi said. He said his office was informed that the Indians were now seeking work permits in South Africa. Mr Mugwadi said the immigration department was also looking for another Indian who came into the country in 1997 claiming to be a doctor. "His employers who ran a surgery had expressed dissatisfaction over his performance and approached us to check if his medical certificates were authentic. "He had his papers in order but was not registered to operate in the country." He said there was a possibility that the Indian could have forged the certificates. "Owing to the complaints we received, the department had ordered that he be deported." A Mr Vanbeek Angus of Arcadia alleged his wife developed medical complications after she was treated by the same doctor. "My wife was suffering from hypertension when we visited this doctor. She subsequently became seriously ill and was transferred to South Africa where she is now receiving treatment," Mr Angus said. He said the doctor sold them medicine worth over $500 000 but it turned out that the medicine was just antibiotics which dissolved in water during laboratory tests. The "doctor" disappeared from behind a shop along Mbuya Nehanda Street from where he is believed to have operated after Mr Angus confronted him demanding his money back. He said his wife has since written a letter of complaint to the immigration department. Mr Mugwadi said the matter was a police case. "We urge those who were duped by this Indian to make a police report. This man was never registered to practice in the country," he said.
SA visa concessions sought (Harare, The Herald, 13/06) - The local business community is lobbying the South African government to reduce the size of visas and relax conditions of entry for businessmen who regularly visit Zimbabwe's southern neighbour on official business. South Africa is Zimbabwe's largest trading partner. The latest development comes at a time when the South African government has reportedly enforced stringent measures aimed at preventing scores of "unwelcome" Zimbabweans who contravene conditions of entry once granted permission to enter the country. Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce national co-ordinator, Mr Luckmore Zinyama said initial engagement has already been made with the South African High Commission. "Initial talks have already been held with the South African officials. We have proposed to the embassy officials to provide multiple entry visas for bona fide businesspeople. "The duration for the visa should initially be for one year. The South African authorities have been very supportive and indications are that we may get a positive result," he said. Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe president Mr Mike Bimha said although his organisation had not made any representations to the South African authorities, it supported any moves aimed at enhancing business activities between the two countries. "There are still a lot of outstanding measures that have to be taken in order to enhance trade between Zimbabwe and South Africa. "The size of the South African visa and the duration given to many businessmen has been of major concern to us. "Ideally, a business visa, offered for multiple entries to regular travellers, should be valid for at least one year," he said. The president of the African Business Network, Mr Peter Metcalfe said Zimbabwe and South Africa should remove all restrictions that curtailed the movement of people between the two countries. "Barriers restricting movement of businesspeople between Zimbabwe and South Africa should be removed completely. "When a visa takes a full page of one's passport, obviously something is very wrong. "Very few countries are still issuing visas as large as those being issued by the South African government. It should consider introducing a new visa that does not take up much space," said Mr Metcalfe who is based in Johannesburg. An official from the South African embassy confirmed that meetings were being held with some local business organisations regarding various issues. He, however, defended the size of the South African visa arguing that it matched international standards. "The size is definitely not an issue because the visas issued by most countries take up a full page. Good examples are France and the United States. "What may be of concern is the period that is given to an individual who regularly enters South Africa. We are still holding discussions with relevant organisations," said the official. With the establishment of the African Union, most businessmen are hoping that the need for one to acquire a visa when travelling between member states, should be scrapped. In the European Union, member countries do not need visas to travel within the grouping.
Foreigners cannot promote local musicians, says Minister (Harare, The Herald, 12/06) - It is unacceptable for a company that produces local music artists to be foreign-owned, the Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo told Parliament yesterday. He said there was no precedent anywhere in the world that foreign interests could promote local interests. "The artists cannot benefit from their profits when they are produced by a foreign company. We would like the entertainment industry to be owned by Zimbabweans and promote Zimbabwean interests." He was responding to a question by Makoni West MP Cde Gibson Munyoro on details regarding the ownership of Gramma Records. "We are looking into it and once we have completed we will make it public," said Prof Moyo. "We heard that some of the shareholders want to sell the company in foreign currency. "If it is a Zimbabwean company as it purports to be then, it should be sold in Zimbabwean currency." The minister added: "One of the questions is why is it that for all these years we had all these talented musicians but they remain poor?" Harare East MP Mr Tendai Biti (MDC) wanted to know the status of artists under other recording companies such as the Zimbabwe Music Corporation. But Prof Moyo said Gramma Records had established the ZMC as its subsidiary in Zimbabwe in order to exploit Zimbabwean artists. Upon learning of the discrepancies, most MPs urged the minister to speed up investigations into the company's shareholding structure. Prof Moyo's statement to Parliament comes at a time Government has taken steps to empower artists and make the industry more viable under the National Economic Revival Programme. The Government last week gazetted the removal of duty on recording and broadcasting equipment, musical instruments and public address systems to ensure the development of the arts industry. Prof Moyo urged artists to register with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe for them to benefit from the duty rebate. He said Government was working to ensure duty was also removed on spare parts and consumables such as tapes.
Shortage of nurses cripples health services (Harare, The Herald, 09/06) -A group of women with children strapped on their backs with fallen faces exuding profound weariness and abject demoralisation sit under a tree outside Majada Clinic in Gutu South. They have walked long distances of up to 10 kilometres to the clinic but the will power to return home has evaporated after being told the vaccination of babies has been postponed to another date to be announced. Elsewhere, at Mashenjere clinic in Murinye communal lands, Masvingo District, a woman who has failed to give birth has been writhing in agony for several hours as there is no ambulance to ferry her to Masvingo for an operation. Neither does the salvation lie in the benevolence of a local businessman who after a spate of non-committal gestures, concurs to sacrifice his business to save life by taking the woman to Masvingo. Health delivery in the country's most populous province has been severely affected by the acute shortage of nurses coupled with the crippling shortage of ambulances and delivery vehicles. Most clinics in the province are now being manned by inexperienced nurse-aides who cannot administer certain drugs to patients. The fuel crisis currently plaguing the country has fuelled the transport woes as most ambulances and service vehicles are grounded. Some are constantly on and off the road resulting in crippling inconsistencies. The service vehicles, crucial in the transportation of drugs and food to various hospitals and clinics dotted around the province, are hardly available. It is believed most of them are grounded and require mechanical attention. "There are hardly any service vehicles to transport drugs and food to all parts of the province as most of them are down at the moment," said Masvingo provincial medical director Dr Tapiwa Magure. Caught in a web of acute shortage of delivery vehicles by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, the immunisation of babies, an important project on the health calendar every year, has been postponed on numerous occasions. In Gutu district, nervous mothers narrated ordeals where they have been walking repeatedly to the clinics to have their children immunised, only to be told to return on another date.
"I have been taking my two little children to Majada clinic for vaccination only to be told to go back home and wait for another date to be announced," said a demoralised Mrs Leona Dzingirai, from Chiwara communal lands, seemingly pondering on the fate of her two little children. Dr Magure, however, defused the growing anxiety among worried mothers saying his office had already deployed a vehicle to Gutu to assist in the immunisation outreach programme. "The provincial medical director's office had to deploy bone of its vehicles to Gutu last week to assist in such critical areas like the immunisation outreach programme," he said. Shortage of proficient health personnel, long the Achilles' heel of the country's health sector, has not helped matters in the province where most health centres are now run by nurse-aides whose main bane is inability to administer certain drugs. Skilled health professionals have been leaving the country en masse to neighbouring countries where their excellent skills are in high demand and are well remunerated. Others have ventured into private practice where they have the unlimited potential to accumulate wealth faster. However, a vibrant private health system is not a panacea to a dilapidated public health system of the country because it excludes the majority of the people who are living in rural areas or do not have the financial muscle to afford it. Masvingo needs at least 276 qualified nurses to fill the vacant posts in the province which requires about 1 104 nurses to operate normally. This, according to health officials, translates into a 25 percent vacancy ratio in the province leaving some health institutions especially those in rural areas being the worst affected. The situation is said to be more desperate in those rural health centres that are run by rural district councils and those that do not have incentives like electricity and proximity to busy roads. "We are working with a skeletal staff of nurses resulting in some health centres being run by nurse-aides. "The situation is better in health centres run by Government as compared to those run by rural district councils because the latter does not have fixed pay days thereby alienating itself from qualified personnel," Dr Magure said. He said the province has embarked on a primary care nurse course almost similar to the state certified nurse at Silveira Mission for a start, to expedite the training of nurses in the province. Most qualified personnel shun rural areas that do not have electricity and access to clean water. Dr Magure, however, said the ongoing rural electrification programme was going to prioritise health centres so that they can attract qualified workers. He added the ongoing rural electrification programme was going to improve storage of drugs that had been hampered by the erratic supply of gas for use on refrigerators.
State seeking to raise funds from exiles (The Daily News, 07/06) - The government is considering an ambitious plan to tap more than US$1 million ($824 million) every week from Zimbabweans living outside the country, a move immediately dismissed by analysts yesterday as another futile exercise to boost hard cash inflows. In a paper presented on his behalf at a National Economic Consultative Forum meeting in Harare on Thursday, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa said the government had begun discussions with interested parties to bring the grand plan into life. "Government is holding discussions with interested parties for purposes of mobilising foreign currency from Zimbabweans in the diaspora," Murerwa said. "Indications are that a minimum of US$1 million can be collected on a weekly basis," he added. In his 2003 National Budget statement in November, Murerwa said the government was targeting Zimbabweans abroad to help ease the country's four-year hard cash squeeze. Lovemore Kadenge, president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society (ZES), dismissed the government's plan, saying Zimbabwean economic refugees were unlikely to be interested in bailing out President Robert Mugabe's regime. Most Zimbabweans who have left the country because of security fears or in search of better employment opportunities abroad hold the government responsible for the crises that have forced them to leave Zimbabwe. Kadenge said: "The desperate bid will not take us anywhere unless government is prepared to sort out the current political crisis in the country." The ZES president said Zimbabweans abroad needed to have confidence in the political and economic situation at home before sending their money into the country. He said it was necessary for the government to uphold the rule of law and for the main political parties to engage in dialogue to resolve the country's crisis.
Land reform displaces thousands (The Sunday Mirror, 07/06) - No place to call home, no job and staring starvation in the face, is how former farm workers can be described today. The fast track land reform programme disadvantaged thousands of people working on Zimbabwe’s former large-scale commercial farms. About 75 percent of the estimated 400 000 farm workers were rendered jobless and homeless by the land redistribution exercise undertaken between 2000 and last year. Realising the magnitude of a possible humanitarian crisis, of displaced and destitute former farmhands, the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ) and the Child Protection Society of Zimbabwe made representations to the parliamentary portfolio committee on public service, labour and social welfare on the plight of farm workers. In February this year the committee, on the invitation of the FCTZ, conducted a tour of 11 farms in all three Mashonaland provinces and interviewed farming communities. Chegutu Member of Parliament and chairperson of the committee, Webster Shamu on May 20 moved a motion on the plight of farm workers and presented his committee’s findings and its 15 recommendations in the august House. Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, July Moyo, welcomed the committee’s presentation saying it was government’s duty to correct the anomalies. He urged the committee to call relevant organisations that impact on farm workers to proper hearings so that they could come up with definitive answers on the plight of farming communities. “Farm workers have been given land in their own right, we know for sure that this is true poverty alleviation as compared to what they were doing before. We have looked at farm workers who have remained on large commercial farms, which are owned by whites. We know that they still have a long way to go in terms of malnutrition and other fields,” Moyo told parliament. “We are now looking at the new farmer who has been given land and we are saying, we must go out there in a tripartite position with a tripartite team. We have agreed as business, government and labour to educate the new farmers not to deny him. To go and educate the new farmer that your worker is your worker for good, treat him well.” Going province by province, the committee highlighted the position of farm workers and former farmhands with regard to land reform, food aid distribution, health, education and other infrastructure needs, working conditions as well as birth registration.
“Ex-farm workers should also be resettled under the land reform programme. Giving the ex-farm workers land would alleviate their plight as they have lost employment and have no other source of livelihood. Furthermore, these people have the much needed skills and experience in farming and are crucial for the success of the land reform programme,” the committee recommended. Other recommendations included payment of full compensation for the number of years farm workers toiled, with the General Agriculture and Plantation Worker’s Union of Zimbabwe tasked to carry out an audit of affected farm workers. Government was asked to make sure former farm workers were not evicted from their farm villages. Local authorities, inconjunction with the Grain Marketing Board and non-governmental organisations were urged to work together in distributing relief food, and ex-farm workers were to be included in the food for work programmes, the committee said. “There is need to improve the working conditions of farm workers. This includes reviewing hours of work, provision of protective clothing with women being allowed to go on leave. The ministry should increase salaries of farm workers to levels that allow them to survive in the current economic difficulties,” the committee said. The minimum wage for farm workers is presently pegged at $11 500 per month. Negotiations to increase the wages have reached a deadlock, with the farmers’ representatives and the agriculture workers’ union failing to reach agreement on enforcing the minimum wage of $23 000 recommended by the Tripartite Negotiating Forum. An arbitrator is expected to give a decision on the matter soon. The committee said farming areas lacked schools, clinics, roads, bridges and houses for teachers. Government was to ensure that farm workers’ children benefit from educational support programmes such as the Basic Education Assistance Module. Shamu said many children on the farms had since dropped out of school because their parents could no longer afford to pay school fees after losing employment. The committee also demanded the recognition and support by government of farm play-centres (crèches), the setting up of satellite police stations and the provision of mobile registration points to enable farming communities to acquire birth certificates and national identity documents. Legislators from both sides of the House, Zanu PF and Movement for Democratic Change, took turns to commend the committee on its findings. However, the legislators also seized the opportunity to scrutinize the land reform programme in general. Contributions to the motion reflected some degree of agreement on the plight of farm workers, with most speakers pledging their support for remedial measures to improve the livelihoods of farming communities.
Kambuzuma MP, Willias Madzimure said: “Questions have been asked as to how government was going to take care of farm workers. A number of statistics have been produced. Some may argue that it was not correct but the truth is that it seems almost 75 percent of the farm workers were left out during the land redistribution programme.” Harare East MP, Tendai Biti concurred with Madzimure saying the “chaotic” land reform programme had created a serious number of internal refugees. He emphasised the need for both traditional and newly resettled farmers to pay their workers government stipulated minimum wages. MDC spokesperson and Gwanda North MP, Paul Themba Nyathi suggested that an inventory of farm workers be carried out urgently to find out where the former agricultural workers were, and what could be done in response to their plight. “What can be done to employ their skills? By the way, those skills were not obtained overnight. These are skills that take time to obtain. This country cannot succeed without them,” he said. Shadreck Chipanga, the Makoni East MP reminded other legislators not to abuse the motion to vent their anger on how the land reform programme was conducted. He also challenged the committee to visit other farming areas outside Mashonaland to get a national perspective. MDC vice-president and Nkulumane MP, Gibson Sibanda, Mberengwa West MP, Joram Gumbo, Mhondoro MP, Hilda Mafudze, and Umzingwane MP, Nomalanga Khumalo also contributed to the plight of farm workers’ debate. Minister Moyo, underlining that the land reform programme had been undertaken to also help in poverty alleviation, said the agrarian reform had created more employment due to the increased number of farmers. He blamed some NGOs for refusing to go into farming areas to distribute food because of the land reform programme. “There were shortages both in commercial farming areas and communal areas. But it cannot be taken that there was a deliberate decision by government not to give food in the farming areas. Let alone to ex-farm workers,” he said. “We have always said to these NGOs, you cannot and will not and I want to repeat this. We will not allow any NGO to go and operate and divide our people because how do you go into a community and say, this is one ex-commercial farm worker and therefore you must get food, this one is an ex-mine worker, he does not get food when they are both vulnerable. We refuse that and because we have been refusing that there are people who have been complaining.” FCTZ is presently distributing food to former farm workers only, raising complaints from newly resettled farmers who are also in need of food aid. The GMB on the other hand was distributing food strictly to resettled farmers, leaving out farm workers and ex-farm workers. On working conditions Moyo said government was equally worried on the situation farm workers find themselves in. He said government was tightening the legislation so that new and old farmers practise good practices for the worker saying government had increased inspection of working conditions on farms. “I will be coming before this august House with another amendment (to the Labour Relations Act) to further tighten the issue of occupational health and safety so that in the farming areas, remember the old Act did not cover the commercial farming areas in occupational health and safety,” Moyo said. “We want to bring in a Bill before this august House to change the factories and wages Act so that it can cover commercial farming areas so that we can do good for our own farm workers. We are aware that we have a duty to our farmers.” FCTZ communications officer, Sophie Hamandishe said her organisation was going to continue to engage legislators as the NGO advocates a better life for farming communities. Meanwhile, debate on the motion is set to continue when parliament resumes sitting on Tuesday.
This page last updated 25 July 2003.