Court tells Buthelezi to get house in order (IOL, 28/03) - After twice declaring his controversial immigration regulations unconstitutional, the Cape High Court has now ordered Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi to table them for public comment. In a scathing judgment delivered on Thursday, Judge Deon van Zyl told the embattled Buthelezi that it was time to get his department in order. Both times that the immigration regulations were declared unconstitutional, Buthelezi was also ordered to foot the bill for some of the legal costs. "While the conception of the (Immigration) Act was relatively easy, its birth as a fully-fledged statute... has been fraught with difficulties. This may be attributed to over-hastiness to get the act on track and, perhaps, to old-fashioned bureaucratic bungling. "One may only hope that, after having suffered two unsuccessful attempts at publishing immigration regulations, which have been decisively struck down by this court, Buthelezi will insist that his department be brought in order to prevent a repetition," said Van Zyl. Both applications against the immigration regulations were brought by leading immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, of Eisenberg & Associates. An order suspending the coming into operation of the act has been extended to April 7, when an application for leave to appeal will be heard. "The public must undoubtedly have the right to comment on intended and draft regulations before they are brought into force," said Van Zyl. "If this were not so, the minister would have the unfettered right to make interim regulations of whatever nature... regardless of the democratic right of people to give their input. It would be in conflict with the most basic, fundamental and eternal values underlying our constitution and required by the rule of law and the precepts of legality," he said.
Another blow to Buthelezi's immigration rules (The Star, 28/03) - After twice declaring his controversial immigration regulations unconstitutional, the Cape High Court has now ordered Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi to table them for public comment. In a scathing judgment delivered yesterday, Mr Justice Deon van Zyl told the embattled Buthelezi that it was time to get his department in order. Both times when the immigration regulations were declared unconstitutional, Buthelezi was also ordered to foot the bill for some of the legal costs. "One may only hope that, after having suffered two unsuccessful attempts at publishing immigration regulations, which have been decisively struck down by this court, Buthelezi will insist that his department be brought in order to prevent a repetition," Judge Van Zyl said. Both applications against the immigration regulations were brought by leading immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg, of Eisenberg & Associates. In Eisenberg's first application, brought last month, the court declared the regulations unconstitutional because the President's Office forgot to publish a notice to have parts of the Immigration Act, which would allow Buthelezi to make the regulations, come into operation. After this court case, the notice was published and Buthelezi reissued the regulations. He insisted that he did not need to table the regulations for public comment because they were "provisional". Eisenberg disagreed, and about two weeks ago, on the day before the new Immigration Act was to come into operation, he again asked the court to declare the regulations unconstitutional. Judge Van Zyl, sitting with Cape Judge President John Hlophe, allowed this application. In his judgment, he described some of the drama that followed this decision. "During the late afternoon ... I was approached in chambers by counsel for Buthelezi with an urgent application for leave to appeal. They wanted direct access to the Constitutional Court and alternatively to the Supreme Court of Appeal ..."
The judge said he suggested Buthelezi suspend the operation of the Immigration Act for a period of six months. The minister instructed his lawyer to continue with the application for leave to appeal. Buthelezi insisted that he be allowed to present evidence relating to the chaos that would ensue if the operation of the act was suspended. The judge refused to allow any further evidence and made an order for the suspension. This order has now been extended to April 7, when the application for leave to appeal will be heard. Judge Van Zyl said the public must have the right to comment on regulations before they are brought into force. "If this were not so, the minister would have the unfettered right to make interim regulations of whatever nature ... regardless of the democratic right of people to give their input. By the time the interim regulations have been replaced by new regulations, untold damage might have been caused and suffered. "It would be in conflict with the most basic ... values underlying our constitution and, indeed, required by the rule of law and the precepts of legality," the judge said.
Corruption allegations in Home Affairs (Parliament, Sapa, 25/03) - Home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Tuesday for the first time lifted the lid on allegations of irregular expenditure, totalling millions of rands, in a written reply to the portfolio committee on home affairs. Buthelezi, who could not attend the meeting because of a prior engagement, was responding to three questions from the committee, one of which related to a container project to help access the activities of the department in rural communities. "The container project was never discussed with me by my former director-general, neither was it forwarded as a written submission seeking approval. When it became public...I enquired about the situation and found a host of problems, including irregular actions," wrote Buthelezi. Detailing his findings in point form, Buthelezi said the
problems started with the termination of a "competent" acting chief financial officer. "The person appointed from 1 June 2002 was inexperienced to perform such an important function. The serious nature of the situation became apparent when on 3 June 2002 she was instructed to place an order for an amount of R12435507 for the conversion of 148 container offices. This amounted to more than R85000 per office without water, power or washroom facilities." Buthelezi said no prescripts were followed and state tender board instructions were ignored. "Within three days of the order having been placed, a claim was already received for R1865326 for payment. There was no contract, no departmental standing committee approval and no Treasury approval. Notwithstanding this, the then acting chief financial officer instructed to pay, which was fortunately reversed before payment. Funds for the containers had at this stage not even been required, and how payment was supposed to be effected is unknown." Buthelezi said the Department of Public Works had also advised them that among the various options available to ensure service delivery in rural areas, the use of containers was the least desirable. Home affairs acting director-general Ivan Lambinon told Sapa on Tuesday that he did not know of "this particular document". "But there are concerns that things must be done properly and by the rules of the game. As public servants things must be done honestly," he said.
Lambinon identified the then acting chief financial officer as a Mrs M Shemmans, who was now employed as a director of provision administration in the department. Earlier this month, it was Lambinon who told MPs that he had uncovered a host of problems involving millions of rands in unauthorised expenditure and alleged graft in his department. The former director-general was Billy Masetlha - now in the presidency - and who had a stormy relationship with Buthelezi. Last year, Buthelezi told the committee he would be forced to table a damage-control bill to protect the state from being sued because the extension, against his wishes, of Masetlha's contract was invalid. Auditor-General Shauket Fakie subsequently agreed that
Masetlha's contract was invalid and further noted that expenditure incurred by Masetlha while his appointment "was not in accordance with...legislative requirements" amounted to about R839-million for the period June 21, 2001 to March 31, 2002. A further R332-million was spent in the period from April 1, 2002 to June 20, 2002. Lambinon has been acting director-general since June last year, because of a deadlock between Buthelezi and his Cabinet colleagues over who should succeed Masetlha. On Tuesday, chairman of the home affairs committee Patrick Chauke said Buthelezi's absence from the meeting should "not be politicised". "Our role in the committee is play an oversight role over ministers...but we must set up a meeting urgently to discuss matters which are of critical importance and which the minister must brief us on".
Big increase in trafficking of people for sex (Cape Argus, 25/03) - Human trafficking for the sex trade is ballooning in South Africa, claims a study by the International Organisation for Migration. The executive summary of the research study detailing the horrifying incidents of human trafficking in southern Africa was released in Pretoria yesterday. It says South Africa is the main destination for the sex trade in the region with local and international organised crime groups involved. Those trafficked to South Africa are mainly from Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, Thailand, China and eastern Europe, especially Russia. Superintendent Martin Aylward said human trafficking was not considered a crime and people could only be prosecuted in terms of the Aliens Control Act. They could also be charged with kidnapping and child pornography. The study calls for the ratification of international conventions that mandate governments to take steps to curb the trade. According to the report, in South Africa trafficking is mainly organised by refugee syndicates. Male refugees, who struggle to survive unemployment and xenophobia, recruit female relations from their country of origin to South Africa. They are assisted by ethnically based refugee syndicates in delivering the recruiting letter to the victim in her country of origin, escorting her to South Africa and sexually assaulting her as an initiation to sex work should she resist upon arrival. Refugee traffickers take all earnings from the victims and to protect their "investments", they assist the victims in applying for refugee status to prevent deportation if arrested. "In Lesotho, street children in the capital, Maseru, are coerced or forcibly abducted by white Afrikaans-speaking men. They are taken across the border with the consent of border officials to border towns and farms in the eastern Free State," the report reads. "They are held captive in private houses and sexually assaulted in a sadistic manner over several days by small groups of white men in a feeding frenzy for fantasies of hatred, humiliation and revenge," according to a pathologist at the University of the Western Cape. "Victims are then returned to Maseru and deposited on the street," the report says. Street children in Maseru are also trafficked by long-distance truck drivers who keep them as sex slaves on their routes.
Mozambican victims, usually aged between 14 and 24, are offered jobs as waitresses and sex workers in Johannesburg. "They pay traffickers R500 to smuggle them across the border in minibus taxis. While staying in transit houses along South Africa's border with Mozambique and Swaziland for one night, the victims are sexually assaulted as an initiation for the sex work that awaits them." Some are sold to brothels in central Johannesburg for R1 000. Others are sold as slaves on private order, or shopped around to miners on the West Rand, outside Johannesburg, as "wives" for R850. Malawian women and girls are recruited along major transport routes in Malawi by long distance truck drivers who promise marriage, work or education in South Africa. Once in South Africa, the victim is held as the trafficker's sex slave in a flat in central Johannesburg. He will bring clients to the flat who pay to have sex with the girl. Girls and boys are recruited at holiday resorts along Lake Malawi by European sex tourists who pay parents with promises of educational opportunities for their children in Europe. "The victims are featured in pornographic videos that are transmitted over the internet with the victims' names and contact details included. In Europe, the children are sexually exploited in private homes, and are sold to paedophile rings." In Thailand, Thai victims recruited by local agents are usually unwitting young women from rural areas or ageing sex workers from Bangkok. The young women are promised restaurant jobs in South Africa, while the prostitutes are told of the money to be earned in sex work. A Thai or South African agent sells them to brothels throughout the country. The report says victims are told they must earn R60 000 for their freedom and are forced to work 12 to 16 hours a day, even when sick, until the debt is paid off.
South Africa home to victims of sex-slave trade (IOL, 24/03) - South Africa is the main destination for the trafficking of people for the sex trade in southern Africa, a report has found. Victims are from most countries in the region as well as from Thailand, China and eastern Europe. The report, undertaken by the International Organisation for Migration from August 2002 to February 2003, says international syndicates also buy and sell people in South Africa. Regional victims of trafficking are recruited by deception, coercion and force. Those victims from outside the region are recruited by deception. Trafficking in the country is mainly organised by refugee syndicates. "Refugees are both victims and perpetrators of trafficking to South Africa."
Male refugees struggle to survive unemployment and xenophobia in the country, and therefore many choose to recruit female relations from their country of origin to South Africa. The woman are 25 or older, married and have children. Individual traffickers are assisted by ethnically-based refugee syndicates in delivering the recruiting letter to the victim in her country of origin. They also escort her to South Africa and sexually assault her as an initiation to sex work should she resist upon arrival.
"The refugee traffickers will take all earnings she receives as a sex worker and, to protect his investment, he will assist the victim in applying for refugee status to prevent her deportation should she be detained by the police," the study says. These traffickers all have refugee status in South Africa and have been in the country for more than a year. Victims come primarily from countries in Africa which are experiencing turmoil. They are required to earn R250 or more each night. Exploitation occurs in private accommodation or on the streets. The report says the absence of specific legislation criminalising trafficking in southern Africa is a main obstacle preventing the police and prosecutors from investigating these crimes and charging perpetrators. When identified by police in South Africa, victims of trafficking are deported as illegal immigrants without being questioned about their experiences, it says. Victims are afraid of law enforcement and do not trust police to assist them. South Africa also has no public service specifically designed to assist women and children being traded. The exploitation suffered by Africans in the country ranges from exploitation for the personal sexual gratification of the trafficker, sexual exploitation for the financial benefit of the traffickers, and forced "marriage" for sexual and labour exploitation. The exploitation of those from eastern Europe and the Far East is primarily for the financial benefit of the trafficker, and occurs at brothels throughout the country.
Zimbabweans protest on Johannesburg streets (Johannesburg, News24, 21/03) - Over 500 Zimbabweans took to the streets in Johannesburg on Friday, demonstrating against president Robert Mugabe and human rights violations perpetrated by his government against its citizens. The group gathered in central Johannesburg before embarking on a 20 kilometre demonstration to Sandton. They carried placards and chanted slogans denouncing South Africa's policy of quiet diplomacy towards its northern neighbour. The placards read "Zimbabwe is dying", "Quiet diplomacy failed", "Away with Mugabe" and "Bush, give Mugabe 48-hours". "More than 200 people have died at the hand of the police, army and militia groups sponsored by ruling party Zanu-PF ever since Mugabe stole the election early last year," said Jairos Tama of Concerned Zimbabweans Abroad, which organised the protest. "Millions of Zimbabweans are starving and most of them have a friend or family member who has been beaten up or tortured." Zimbabwe has been in turmoil since the government began a land reform programme in 2000. The government has been accused of cracking down on the judiciary, human-rights groups, opposition members and the media. Friday's march coincided with South Africa's commemoration of Human Rights Day. Tama said South Africa was celebrating its liberation from dictatorship by remembering the people who had died at the hands of the apartheid-era police. "On this day we salute all aspects of human rights making it one of South Africa's important public holidays," he said. "But does the present South African government believe that human rights should only be enjoyed as far as the country's borders?" Tama blamed the Southern Africa Development Community for letting Mugabe off the hook for human rights violations. "The SADC must push for free elections before thousands more people die of famine and state-sponsored violence," he said.
Zimbabwe, South Africa agree to relax travel regulations (Harare, The Herald, 20/03) - Zimbabwe and South Africa have agreed to relax regulations on the movement of people between the countries. The two neighbours' Home Affairs Ministers, Cde Kembo Mohadi and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, reached the agreement at a meeting held recently in Cape Town. The two ministers agreed to establish more border posts to improve the flow of people. They tasked their officials to look into the possibility of establishing one-stop border posts. Cde Mohadi and Chief Buthelezi also discussed the need to facilitate the movement of people who have family ties on either side of the common border. They also discussed the repatriation of Zimbabweans who are living illegally in South Africa and agreed that this should be done with due recognition of human rights requirements. On the issue of visa requirements, the ministers agreed that it was necessary to maintain a progressively more relaxed regime whereby holders of, for example, diplomatic or official passports should be exempted from getting visas. In a statement to The Herald, the Zimba- bwean Home Affairs Ministry said South Africa had already relaxed requirements for study permits. According to the statement, study permits could now be issued for up to three years with payment for a visa being done upon the issuing of the permit. Previously, one was required to renew the study permit and pay for the visa on an annual basis.The discussions also focussed on the new Immigration Act, which is to be introduced in South Africa. South African officials briefed their Zimbabwean counterparts on the Act. The electoral task team's report was also made available for possible further discussion. The two parties agreed that detailed discussions should take place between heads of ministries who will b required to report back.
Buthelezi comments on Immigration Act court case (Business Day, 19/03) -Your coverage of the Cape Town High Court litigation about the immigration regulations is inaccurate. Your editorial (Time for Mbeki to act, March 13) recognises that the issue was not the contents of the regulations, but the procedure by which they were adopted. Your article (New setback for Buthelezi's migrant rules, March 12) states that we "received a warning from the state law adviser" of the portfolio committee that the regulations could be challenged in court. Moreover, the editorial states that there is little argument about the correctness of the court decision. I never criticise court decisions and do not intend to do so now. I acted not only on the basis of my department's advice but I also instructed that such advice be independently verified by senior counsel opinion, as I wished to be sure on how to proceed. Moreover, the portfolio committee's legal adviser's written opinion reached the same conclusion and he too independently held that I made the regulations in terms of the correct procedure. Furthermore, in their affidavit in the case, both the speaker and chairperson of the National Council of Provinces testified that their understanding of the parliamentary intention was that the procedure I used was the correct one. It is not true, as reported in some newspapers, that a court has previously ruled on the validity of the regulations. Therefore, with the exception of the applicant's view on the matter, I never had any legal opinion before me to suggest that the several legal opinions authoritatively expressed on the matter were incorrect. In the end it is the court system which must determine the correct interpretation of the law.
My legal representatives appealed the decision of the Cape Town High Court. Yet, I have begun complying with it and I commenced the process to adopt the regulations in terms of the procedure indicated by such court. It was always my intention that eventually this procedure should be utilised for the final regulations. The procedure I used was meant only to apply to regulations made during the transition. The only purpose of adopting such procedure was that of implementing the Immigration Act as soon as possible to respond to public concerns and customers' expectations. Your editorial incorrectly says that the regionalisation of immigration control has been "sneaked" into the regulations, or that it has anything to do with the possible difference of "political philosophy" between centralisation ascribed to the African National Congress and federalism ascribed to the Inkatha Freedom Party. This element has been a constant throughout the policy formulation in this field. It has got nothing to do with federalism but is pure administrative decentralisation of the same type which characterise the labour, safety and security and welfare departments, and other organs of state in co-ordination with which migration control needs to be performed on the ground. This type of decentralisation was spelled out in the cabinet-approved White Paper and in the cabinet-approved Immigration Bill. The matter has got nothing to do with politics. Moreover, when the bill was brought to Parliament, the portfolio committee noticed that the relevant provisions did not belong in the bill but had to be placed in regulations, which is exactly what I did, not for the sake of politics but for good administration.
Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP
Home Affairs Minister
Suspension of immigration law extended (IOL, 18/03) - A Cape High Court judge on Monday extended the suspension of the new Immigration Act and its regulations to April 7. The regulations, which were supposed to have come into force last Wednesday, were put on hold by an 11th-hour ruling on Tuesday night, following a finding by the court that they were unconstitutional. Monday's extension was by agreement between the legal teams acting for Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg. Judge Deon van Zyl said the court would sit on April 7 to hear argument in Buthelezi's application for leave to appeal. The present Aliens Control Act, supposed to have been replaced by the new law, would continue till then. Van Zyl and Cape Judge President John Hlophe expect to deliver their written judgment in two weeks. Buthelezi's adviser Mario Ambrosini said Home Affairs had already begun the process of bringing the regulations in line with the court's ruling. However, the minister would still appeal. "The minister's intention is just to bring the new system of immigration control into force and effect as soon as possible, and will pursue all avenues to that end," he said. Eisenberg said the two parties could never have come to any agreement other than an extension of the suspension. "What else could we do? This is the only way of preserving order. There's no alternative." There had been fears of chaos at ports of entry if the judges' original ruling - which would have meant a new immigration act operating with old regulations - had stood unqualified.
Problem of falsified marriages (Parliament, Sapa, 18/03) - Falsified marriages were a problem in South Africa, although
innocent victims of this scam could apply to the home affairs department to have their records expunged without resorting to costly legal action, Deputy Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Tuesday. She and senior officials were briefing the National Assembly's home affairs committee on the department's budget. Committee chairman Patrick Chauke expressed concern that some people when applying for identity documents discovered that they were "married" to foreigners whom they had never heard of. Mapisa-Nqakula said there was a system within the department to asist such victims to expunge these marriages from their records. "Then people do not have to go through the painful process of going to court to get a divorce, when they were not married in the first place. "The biggest problem is the lack of support and co-operation from department officials. They do not explain things to members of the public," Mapisa-Nqakula said. A minstry official told Sapa the falsified marriages problem was part of "people exploiting loopholes in the system to get into the country by marrying South Africans". Referring to next year's election, Mapisa-Nqakula said the department would reach out to more South Africans, who still did not possess the correct identity documents. "A greater focus of this programme will be the rural parts of our country, first time voters, as well as a considerable number of people in the former homeland territories." Mapisa-Nqakula also said she was discussing whether MPs' constituency offices could be by home affairs officials to bring the department's services closer to the public. On Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi's controversial proposal to devolve the delivery of "civic services" to municipalities, Mapisa-Nqakula said the matter was being discussed by Cabinet. MPs expressed concern about the department's litigation costs, although the department's Rufus Malatji, denied that private lawyers were being used by the department instead of state attorneys. Asked to quantify the cost of the latest legal action relating to the immigration regulations challenge in the Cape High Court, Malatji said he was not privvy to such information as the case was being handled by the ministry.
Immigration Bill still on ice (Cape Town, Mail & Guardian, 18/03) - A Cape High Court judge on Monday extended the suspension of the new Immigration Act and its regulations, which were supposed to have come into force last Wednesday, to April 7. They were put on hold by an eleventh-hour ruling on Tuesday night, following a finding by the court that the regulations were invalid and unconstitutional. Monday's extension was by agreement between the legal teams acting for Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the man who brought the challenge, immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg. Judge Deon van Zyl said the court would sit at 9am on April 7 to hear argument in Buthelezi's application for leave to appeal against the original finding. The status quo -- the Aliens Control Act, supposed to have been replaced by the new law -- would continue till then. Van Zyl and Cape Judge President John Hlophe, who sat together to hear Eisenberg's application, expect to deliver their written judgment in two weeks. Buthelezi's adviser Mario Ambrosini said home affairs had already begun the process of bringing the regulations in line with the court's ruling. However the minister still intended to pursue the appeal. "The minister's intention is just to bring the new system of immigration control into force and effect as soon as possible, and will pursue all avenues to that end," he said. Eisenberg said the two parties could never have come to any agreement other than an extension of the suspension. "What else could we do? This is the only way of preserving order. There's no alternative."There had been fears of chaos at ports of entry if the judges' original ruling -- which would have meant a new immigration act operating with old regulations -- had stood unqualified.
Home Affairs head admits to problems (IOL, 17/03) - The acting director general of the embattled home affairs department, Ivan Lambinon, has openly admitted that his department is beset with teething problems and that its service is less than satisfactory. Lambinon, who is at the centre of a row over the appointment of the head of the department, made the admission in an interview after it received a flood of letters lamenting shoddy service by the department. "We are currently not serving the public at the level we would like to. A customer should not wait for 15 minutes at the most without being served," he said at the weekend. Delays in the processing of identity documents, snaking queues outside the offices of the department, shoddy treatment of customers by "haughty and cheeky" staff members, corrupt officials who marry "couples" over the computer without their knowledge, are some of bureaucratic inefficiencies and administrative bungles which have been cited by Mercury readers. In one of the many cases, one reader, DD Bhikha, told how he endured a 30-minute wait at one of the department's offices when he went to collect forms, only to be told to "go to hell" on reaching the counter because the forms were not available. Lambinon has apologised profusely to Bhikha and said he had instructed senior regional managers to investigate. He said the department was doing a comprehensive staff check to ensure that staffing levels were acceptable. Lambinon said that after 1994 the department's work had increased vastly. "Our doors were opened and suddenly we had more than 100 airlines arriving in the country." He said the staffing survey should have been conducted two years ago. He did not know why it had not been done. "When I took over, the matter was raised again, and we are busy conducting it." He said the department would appoint volunteers in the short term as it did not have enough staff members. The treasury had allocated money for this. "Other short-term changes we would like to see in the immediate future is the change in the attitude of staff members. As long as some of our staff members are dishonest we won't be able to serve the public to the best of our ability. We will also be putting up numbers in all our offices which our customers can phone to report shoddy service."
Immigration Bill suspension prolonged (Cape Town, Sapa, 17/03) - Cape High Court judge on Monday extended the suspension of the new Immigration Act and its regulations, which were supposed to have come into force last Wednesday, to April 7. They were put on hold by an eleventh-hour ruling on Tuesday night, following a finding by the court that the regulations were invalid and unconstitutional. Monday's extension was by agreement between the legal teams acting for Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the man who brought the challenge, immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg. Judge Deon van Zyl said the court would sit at 9am on April 7 to hear argument in Buthelezi's application for leave to appeal against the original finding. The status quo - the Aliens Control Act, supposed to have been replaced by the new law - would continue till then. Van Zyl and Cape Judge President John Hlophe, who sat together to hear Eisenberg's application, expect to deliver their written judgment in two weeks. Buthelezi's adviser Mario Ambrosini said home affairs had already begun the process of bringing the regulations in line with the court's ruling. However the minister still intended to pursue the appeal. "The minister's intention is just to bring the new system of immigration control into force and effect as soon as possible, and will pursue all avenues to that end," he said. Eisenberg said the two parties could never have come to any agreement other than an extension of the suspension. "What else could we do? This is the only way of preserving order. There's no alternative." There had been fears of chaos at ports of entry if the judges' original ruling - which would have meant a new immigration act operating with old regulations - had stood unqualified.
Court rules foreigners eligible for welfare (IOL, 14/03) - The Social Assistance Act, which excludes poor foreigners with permanent residence from receiving welfare grants, has been declared unconstitutional and invalid. In a case that was unopposed, Pretoria High Court Acting Judge RD Claassen on Thursday granted an order to a group of destitute Mozambicans. The social welfare department was ordered to pay grants to five Mozambicans and their children within the next three months - in some cases retrospectively and with interest. The department was also ordered to receive and process the claims of almost 700 other foreigners and to pay their welfare grants within the next three months or to give them written reasons for refusal. The ruling must still be confirmed by the Constitutional Court. The five applicants fled Mozambique during the 1980s civil war. They were granted permanent residence status in South Africa, and some of their children were born here. They all qualified for welfare grants, except for the fact that they were not South African citizens. Paul Kennedy SC, who appeared on their behalf, argued that their exclusion was arbitrary and irrational, and could not be justified.The constitution granted the right of access to social security and social welfare assistance to everyone, not just South African citizens. The families depended on the state to meet its obligations to support them, he said.
Immigration Act on backburner (The Star, 14/03) - The government has agreed to postpone the implementation of the controversial Immigration Act until a host of technical difficulties with the law have been sorted out. The decision follows the Cape High Court ruling on Monday that the new law's regulations were unconstitutional. The government's legal team reached this agreement with leading immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg on Wednesday and made it public yesterday. The Cape High Court rulings came after Eisenberg challenged their constitutionality. The main thrust of his challenge is that Minister of Home Affairs Mangosuthu Buthelezi is refusing to table the immigration regulations for public comment. Lawyers for Human Rights has challenged the constitutionality of some of the provisions of this act. Judgment on the issue has been reserved.
Deadline to act on Immigration Act (Business Day, 14/03) - Government has until 6pm on Monday to find a solution to the legal conundrum over implementation of the new Immigration Act after the Cape Town High Court this week declared the immigration regulations invalid and unconstitutional. Monday is the expiry date of a subsequent interim court order that had the effect of reinstating the old Aliens Control Act and its regulations while the home affairs department decided what to do. Unless the court extends this order there will be a legal vacuum, and the country will have no valid immigration legislation or regulations in place. Home affairs acting director-general Ivan Lambinon said consultations were taking place with the department's lawyers. One option would be to continue with the old Aliens Control Act and regulations until either the department's appeal against the court judgment was heard or the regulations were processed as laid down in the Immigration Act. The court ruled that the immigration regulations were invalid because the department had failed to allow the public to comment on them before they were gazetted.
Foreigners also entitled to welfare, court finds (The Star, 14/03) - The Social Assistance Act, which excludes poor foreigners with permanent residence from receiving welfare grants, has been declared unconstitutional and invalid. In a case that was unopposed, Pretoria High Court Acting Judge RD Claassen on Thursday granted an order to a group of destitute Mozambicans. The social welfare department was ordered to pay grants to five Mozambicans and their children within the next three months - in some cases retrospectively and with interest. The department was also ordered to receive and process the claims of almost 700 other foreigners and to pay their welfare grants within the next three months or to give them written reasons for refusal. The ruling must still be confirmed by the Constitutional Court. The five applicants fled Mozambique during the 1980s civil war. They were granted permanent residence status in South Africa, and some of their children were born here. They all qualified for welfare grants, except for the fact that they were not South African citizens. Paul Kennedy SC, who appeared on their behalf, argued that their exclusion was arbitrary and irrational, and could not be justified. The constitution granted the right of access to social security and social welfare assistance to everyone, not just South African citizens. The families depended on the state to meet its obligations to support them, he said.
Buthelezi warns of Zimbabwean refugee influx (SABC, 13/03) - Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Home Affairs Minister, has taken his Zimbabwean counterpart to task for what he calls the "rapidly degenerating" political situation in that country. Buthelezi said the situation could lead to a flood of refugees. He made the comment yesterday, while meeting with Kembo Mohadi, the Zimbabwean Home Affairs Minister, in Cape Town. Mohadi dismissed the claims of a deterioration in Zimbabwe as a "figment of the imagination". He said what prevailed was a situation created between Zimbabwe and Britain. Mohadi said there was no disorder in Zimbabwe, and he did not believe any Zimbabweans were coming to South Africa on the pretext of seeking political asylum.
Government explores option on immigration law (Cape Town, Sapa, 12/03) -Lawyers acting for the Department of Home Affairs met President Thabo Mbeki's legal advisers on Wednesday to discuss their next move on the suspended Immigration Act and regulations, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said. He confirmed to journalists at his office in Cape Town that his lawyers had noted an appeal against Tuesday's Cape High Court ruling that the regulations, due to come into force at Tuesday midnight, were invalid. Late on Tuesday night a judge issued a second order, suspending the act itself until 6pm next Monday. Buthelezi said that on Wednesday morning he met senior counsel "also suggesting another route". "But the president was involved - they still had to discuss with the legal advisers of the president and they're going to report back to me," he said. He said the discussion between the two sets of lawyers had in fact taken place, and he was waiting to hear the outcome. The procedure that would be followed depended on how the presidency reacted. The Home Affairs department had been turned into a political football between the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party, the United Democratic Movement said on Wednesday.
Setback for Buthelezi's immigration legislation (The Star, 12/03) - The controversial new Immigration Act has been stopped in its tracks, only hours before it was supposed to come into effect. The Cape High Court ruled yesterday afternoon that the new law's regulations were unconstitutional - the second time such a ruling has been made. The court ruled that the regulations of the old Aliens Control Act would have to be used in conjunction with the new law - a situation that commentators said could trip up the functioning of the Department of Home Affairs. However, at 9pm, only three hours before the Immigration Act was to take effect, counsel for Home Affairs appealed against the judgment. The court ruled that its earlier judgment not be automatically suspended pending the appeal, and also ordered that the Immigration Act be stopped from coming into operation before Monday at the earliest, allowing time for the matter to be resolved. Had it not been for the Home Affairs appeal, from today the department would have had to implement the Immigration Act using the old Aliens Control Act regulations - regulations that very often contradict or don't cover parts of the new act. Chris Watters, an attorney involved in immigration cases, said Aliens Control Act regulations do not make provision for the Department of Home Affairs to issue permits in terms of several international treaties. And there is a problem with the new forms needed to process applications under the new Immigration Act because the Aliens Control Act regulations make no mention of them. There are also two different definitions of business permits under the two acts. Lawyers predicted that this could create a situation where no applications could be submitted to Home Affairs until the chaos has been sorted out. They feared it might cause the Department of Home Affairs to shut down its services to foreigners. Yesterday's court battle followed a challenge against the regulations by leading immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg. The main reason for the court's ruling was that Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi has refused to table the regulations for public comment. Advocates Anton Katz and Johan de Waal, for Eisenberg, argued that the regulations could not come into operation before they had been tabled for public comment. Buthelezi opposed the application on the basis that he was allowed under the law to make "interim immigration regulations" until he had constituted an immigration advisory board. He said he did not have to get public comment on these interim regulations.
Acting DG alleges corruption worth millions in Home Affairs (Cape Town, Sapa, 12/03) - Home affairs acting director-general Ivan Lambinon has told MPs that he has uncovered a host of problems involving millions of rands in unauthorised expenditure and alleged graft in the department. The allegations are contained in a brief letter tabled at yesterday's meeting of the National Assembly's home affairs committee and will be discussed at its meeting next week. "I also wish regrettably to share that in the number of months that I have been acting I have uncovered a host of problems ranging from unauthorised expenditure to deliberate efforts toward hiding claims, ex contractu. I simply cannot, nor wish to, inform on these matters at a meeting open to the media, it involves millions of rands," the letter to Parliament says. United Democratic Movement's MP Annelize van Wyk took exception, saying the Parliament was transparent and open and that Lambinon should brief MPs in public. It was not clear whether Lambinon would point fingers at former director-general Billy Masetlha, now in the presidency. Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi had a stormy relationship with Masetlha. Last year, Buthelezi told the committee he would be forced to table a damagecontrol bill to protect the state from being sued because the extension against his wishes of Masetlha's contract was invalid. Buthelezi took the unprecedented step in October 2001 of presenting a list of 64 complaints about Masetlha to the committee, including one of insubordination. Auditor-General Shauket Fakie has since found that the extension of Masetlha's contract for a year to June 20 was in fact invalid, as was originally claimed by Buthelezi.
Fakie's report noted that the expenditure incurred by Masetlha while his appointment "was not in accordance with legislative requirements" amounted to about R839m for the period June 21 2001 to March 31 last year, and a further R332m for the period April 1 last year to June 20 last year. Buthelezi previously warned that because Masetlha was not legally appointed, this would raise questions about the legality of actions taken by the department over that period, including deportation notices. This would result in a major liability for the state and would have to be addressed by an ad hoc law, Buthelezi said at the time. Lambinon has been acting director-general since June last year, because of the deadlock between Buthelezi and his cabinet colleagues over who should succeed Billy Masetlha. In a separate incident, irate MPs ordered the department to get its act together and to start treating a parliamentary committee which has oversight over its affairs with respect. Yesterday's scheduled meeting of the National Assembly's home affairs committee was cancelled after MPs complained that the department had submitted documentation late and appeared ill-prepared for a hearing on its budget. The department was ordered to appoint an official to liaise with the committee.
South Africa is world's fastest growing tourist destination (Cape Town, Mail & Guardian, 12/03) - South Africa's tourism boom is official following the release on Sunday by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mohammed Valli Moosa, of the 2002 tourist arrival statistics confirming that South Africa is the fastest growing tourist destination in the world, having attracted over 6,4-million tourists last year. South Africa had by far exceeded its projected tourism growth numbers in 2002, Moosa said, with overseas arrivals up by a massive 20,1% (just over 1,8-million) and a healthy 11,1% increase in total foreign arrivals (including those from the African continent) over 2001 levels. "This is amazing news for South African tourism," commented an upbeat Minister Moosa. "We have continued to defy gravity throughout the year, confounding the global industry trend of 'flat' or decreased growth in a way that has proved that this is not just a 'flash in the pan' phenomena for us. "In an industry that has become fiercely competitive, we have proved in no uncertain way that, as an established preferred tourist destination, our strategies have allowed us to weather the ravages felt by many tourism authorities throughout the world during continued economic turndowns and political storms." The Minister further said that the record-breaking statistics confirmed that the South African tourism industry had more than earned its position as one of the country's leading economic growth sectors and as one of the leading contributors towards the country's GDP, transformation and the creation of sustainable jobs. All of South Africa's key tourism markets had posted double digit growth for the year, with Europe up 24,2% (to 1 252 million from 710 million); North America up 9,2%, despite an overall general reluctance of its citizens to travel long haul; an increase of 20,7% from Asia and 14,5% from Australasia. Arrivals from Africa were up by 7,7% to almost 4,5-million, despite the significant 9,7% decrease from Lesotho, though this was offset by significant increases from Zimbabwe (+22,1%) and Botswana (+21,6%). The UK and Germany again proved leading source markets in the European portfolio -- 442 910 and 248 990 arrivals respectively -- with China leading the pack out of Asia & Australasia with close to 37 000 arrivals, an increase of 24,5% over 2001, and Australia enjoying a 24,5% increase. The 7% increase in arrivals from the US was especially welcomed given the tough conditions affecting travel from that market.South African Tourism CEO Cheryl Carolus said: "We are out of the woods, we have finally turned the corner! At long last, tourism is working, and can be seen to be working for our country. Team South Africa has worked hard for this moment of glory, a moment we fully intend to maintain. We will jealously defend our position as the fastest growing tourism destination in the world and maintain the amazing momentum that everyone has contributed toward."
New scandal rocks Home Affairs (Cape Town, News24, 11/03) - Home affairs acting director-general Ivan Lambinon has told MPs he has uncovered a host of problems involving millions of rands in unauthorised expenditure and alleged graft in his department. The allegations are contained in a brief letter tabled at Tuesday's meeting of the national assembly's home affairs committee and will be discussed at its meeting next week. The letter says: "I also wish regrettably to share ...that in the number of months that I have been acting I have uncovered a host of problems ranging from unauthorised expenditure to deliberate efforts toward hiding claims, ex contractu. "I simply cannot, nor wish to, inform on these matters at a meeting open to the media, it involves millions of rands." The United Democratic Movement's Annelize van Wyk took exception, saying South Africa's parliament's was transparent and open and that the acting director-general should brief MPs in public. It was not clear whether Lambinon would point fingers at former director-general Billy Masetlha - now in the presidency - and with whom Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi had a stormy relationship. Last year, Buthelezi told the committee he would be forced to table a damage-control bill to protect the state from being sued because the extension - against his wishes - of Masetlha's contract was invalid. Buthelezi took the unprecedented step in October 2001 of presenting a list of 64 complaints about Masetlha to the committee, including one of insubordination. Auditor-general Shauket Fakie has since found that the extension of Masetlha's contract for a year to June 20 was, in fact, invalid, as was originally claimed by Buthelezi. Fakie's report noted that the expenditure incurred by Masetlha while his appointment "was not in accordance with ... legislative requirements" amounted to about R839m for the period June 21, 2001 to March 31, 2002 and a further R332m for the period April 1, 2002 to June 20, 2002. Buthelezi previously warned that, because Masetlha was not legally appointed, this would raise questions about the legality of thousands of actions taken by the home affairs department in that period, including deportation notices. This would result in a major liability for the state and would have to be addressed by an ad hoc law, Buthelezi said at the time. Lambinon has been acting director-general since June last year, because of the deadlock between Buthelezi and his cabinet colleagues over who should succeed Masetlha.
Bid to resolve immigration law dispute (Johannesburg, Sapa, 11/03) - An eleventh-hour bid was underway on Tuesday night to resolve a legal stand-off over the controversial immigration regulations due to come into force at midnight. A full bench of the Cape High Court ruled on Tuesday that the regulations were invalid because Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi had not followed notice and comment procedures. Buthelezi was now desperately seeking leave to appeal the ruling, which when suspended will allow the regulations to at least provisionally come into force on Wednesday along with a new Immigration Act. However on Tuesday evening, one half of the two-judge full bench, Judge-President John Hlophe, was said to be unavailable to hear Buthelezi's application. Buthelezi has reportedly said that having the law coming into force without the new regulations would be "catastrophic". The legal teams of the State and of Eisenberg and Associates - the immigration lawyers who brought the challenge - met Hlophe's colleague Judge Deon van Zyl in chambers for about an hour on Tuesday evening. They were expected to see him again on Tuesday night. The application followed a recent caution by the State Law
Advisor to the National Assembly's home affairs committee, that the regulations could be successfully challenged in court. The regulations were gazetted last month, and are essential for the enforcement of the new Immigration Act.
Immigration Act suspended at last minute (Cape Town, Sapa, 11/03) - A Cape High Court judge late on Tuesday night ordered that the new Immigration Act, the bulk of which was supposed to come into force at midnight, should be put on hold. The ruling by judge Deon van Zyl followed a day of drama in which he and Cape Judge President John Hlophe earlier declared that the regulations which accompany the act were invalid and unconstitutional. Ruling in favour of an urgent application by immigration lawyers Eisenberg and Associates, they found Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi had not followed essential notice and comment procedures before gazetting the regulations. The ruling created what Buthelezi's ministry described as a "legal and factual impossibility", in which officials would have to apply the regulations of the old Aliens Control Act to the new legislation. Buthelezi's legal team then lodged notice of his intention to appeal the ruling, which would have had the effect of automatically suspending the judges' earlier ruling on the new regulations. However, late on Tuesday night, as Eisenberg's lawyers threatened to seek an order effectively suspending the automatic suspension, Judge Van Zyl issued another order, this time that the old act and its regulations remain in force until 6pm on March 17. He said this was an interim arrangement intended to give both parties the opportunity to approach the court for any further relief they required and "sort things out".
South Africa deports Congolese man to Turkey (IOL, 11/03) - A Congolese refugee living in South Africa was mistakenly deported to Turkey by immigration officials and left to languish there, without papers or money. The department of home affairs admitted to Cape Town resident Jean Pierre Vila's lawyers that they had made a mistake, but would not pay for the man to come back home. Eventually Turkish Airlines flew Vila back, five days after he had been deported, but only after making him sign an acknowledgement of debt. Home affairs has not commented on the incident yet or offered to pay for the air fare. Vila has legal refugee status in South Africa. He is originally from Congo and his wife is Ukrainian. A few months ago, Vila went to the Ukraine. While he was there his refugee status was about to expire and he asked his wife, who was in South Africa, to renew his documents. She went to Refugee Affairs, had their status renewed and faxed him the renewed document. Last Wednesday Vila returned to South Africa but upon arrival at Cape Town International Airport an immigration official, Mark William, refused him entry into South Africa. William claimed that Vila's status document was fraudulent and confiscated the document, before mysteriously sending Vila to Turkey with Turkish Airlines. In desperation his wife went to the Legal Resources Centre for help. Attorney William Kerfoot contacted home affairs in Pretoria, who said they would investigate. Home affairs later admitted to Kerfoot that there had been a mistake and that Vila could return to South Africa, giving instructions that Vila be placed on a flight. Turkish Airlines were happy to help, but they wanted to know who was going to pay the R10 500 for the ticket. And from Wednesday to Sunday, Vila was stuck in Istanbul as lawyers tried to sort out who would pay for him to come back. Home affairs said they could not pay until an internal investigation had been done to determine if there was any misconduct on the part of the department. After he spent five days at Istanbul airport, Turkish Airlines eventually brought Vila back on Monday - but first made him sign an acknowledgment of debt. Special arrangements for his entry into the country had to be made as immigration officials had confiscated his papers. Neither he nor his wife would comment on the matter. Attorneys said they feared retribution from the department of home affairs.
Lindela chief keeps job due to tardy officialdom (The Star, 10/03) - A senior official at the Lindela repatriation centre is still at his post - despite being convicted two years ago of unlawfully releasing two illegal immigrants from the transit facility. Lindela chief immigration officer Charles Buti Mogale, convicted in March 2001 of contravening the Aliens Control Act, was issued only with a warning because the Department of Home Affairs took more than the stipulated year to take disciplinary steps against him. In January this year, his regional director, Lorraine Makola, sent him a warning letter regarding the alleged misconduct. It stated that he had allegedly released two illegal immigrants, Mustufa Kanymia and Ahmed Mahmood, without the necessary authority on March 21 2000. She asked for reasons why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. Mogale then responded to the letter through his lawyers, stating that he was not obliged to offer any explanation. "We advise that the provisions of section 39 of the Public Service Act states limitation of action - that no legal proceedings may be instituted against any person after 12 months after the date of the incident; therefore no disciplinary hearing may be instituted against our client." Mogale refused to comment on why he was still employed despite being convicted of a crime. "It is my life and you are disturbing me," said Mogale, who told The Star to contact his lawyers. His lawyer, Shadrack Saale Nkamela, declined to comment, saying the matter deals with confidential information between himself and his client. In February 2002, staff drew up a petition demanding to know why Mogale was still employed after he had been found guilty. Home Affairs spokesperson Leslie Mashokwe said the department had done its best to take disciplinary steps, but it was hindered by the fact that the two witnesses had since been deported. Other factors had delayed the internal disciplinary hearing beyond the 12-month period stipulated by the law.
Buthelezi's secretary appears in court (SABC, 10/03) - Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Home Affairs Minister's administrative secretary appeared briefly in Pretoria's Specialised Commercial Crimes Court this morning. Sonja Beukes (46) was arrested on Friday, on charges relating to the Contravention of the Aliens Control Act. Police claim she unlawfully intervened in the extradition of an American national, James Dann, who was arrested in May 2001. It is alleged Dann's passport disappeared out of a steel cabinet at the Home Affairs Department, after Beukes allegedly ordered that the passport be returned to him. Beukes was not asked to plead and no formal charges were put to her. She was granted bail of R8 000 and the case was postponed till April 17 for further investigation. According to her bail conditions, Beukes has to forfeit her passport. She may not contact any of the state witnesses, and she may not leave Gauteng without prior permission. According to the chief of staff in the Minister's office, Beukes will either be put on forced leave or placed in a different section of the Department where she will have no contact with any potential state witnesses.
South African emigration to Australia declines (Business Report, 09/03) -A dramatic decline in the number of South Africans with business and other skills applying to migrate to Australia is continuing, according to new Australian government figures.For a number of years, Australia has been trying to increase the proportion of migrants with business or other skills, and South Africa has been one of the biggest source countries. But the new figures show applications from South Africans applying to migrate under various categories of business visas dropped to just 192 during 2002, after numbering several thousand in previous years. A total of 257 South Africans were granted business visas during the year, reflecting a delay in the processing of applications. There are mixed predictions about whether major changes to Australia's business migration programme, which came into effect on March 1, may accelerate or reverse the trend. "It is far too early to say how the changes might affect numbers from South Africa or any other country," said a spokesperson for Australia's immigration minister, Philip Ruddock. "Our intention is to improve the integrity of the business visa system," he said, acknowledging a high number of business visa cancellations in recent years. "Basically, we are aiming to ensure that people who apply for business visas end up delivering what they promise to deliver, with a net benefit to Australia." Under the changes, people accepted as business migrants are no longer being given immediate permanent residency in Australia, and most are being given only temporary visas. Before they can apply for permanent residency, they will have to show Australian authorities evidence of a specified level of business activity for two years, or a designated investment for four years. Many business migrants will only be allowed in under the sponsorship of one of the six Australian state governments - and strict conditions apply. For example, a state can sponsor a senior executive currently employed in a business with a turnover of at least R50 million, or a business person willing to invest at least R7.5 million in a government-approved fund. One Sydney-based migration agent, Ivan Chait, said he was expecting the new business migration system to dissuade many potential South African applicants.
"The well established South African business community is going to be wary about not being able to obtain permanent residency in Australia up-front." But John Young, Victorian president of the Migration Institute of Australia, representing migration agents, was more positive about the changes. "The Australian system has been too complex, and some of my associates who deal with South Africa in a big way have been saying they're finding it difficult to encourage people to come to Australia rather than Canada," Young said. "I think some of the new criteria for applications is a lot easier than the old regime, and it may well reverse the downward trend in applications from South Africa." Under the previous points-based system, Young pointed out, many potential business migrants were unable to qualify. "Now, there is no points test, and many people will find it more attractive, even if they don't qualify for immediate permanent residency." One Perth-based migration agent, Jenny White, said turmoil in Zimbabwe, rather than the new migration system, could encourage more South African business people to try to migrate. "Our tip is that we'll see more people coming from South Africa because of what is happening in Zimbabwe," White said. "There is a fear among some people that something similar could happen in South Africa and they should get away. But there are mixed reports, and it depends on people's experiences, whether they have children, and what opportunities they believe they have, that sort of thing."
However, the Perth-based president of the West Australian branch of the Migration Institute, Lance Fee, said some South African business migrants were returning from Australia. "It has been quite a surprising thing, even though it has only occurred in a handful of cases that I am aware of so far," said Fee. "Most of those who wanted to emigrate to Australia because of apartheid would have done so in the early years after apartheid was abolished," he said. "I find myself now talking to clients from South Africa who are saying that things are not so bad that they are ready to make the jump and migrate. "Some of them are still doing fairly well in business, and so they are prepared to hang on to see if things improve." The new Australian government figures also show a big decline in the number of South Africans trying to use Australian immigration programme allocations for people with various skills, other than business skills, deemed to be in short supply. During 2002, a total of 1 134 South Africans applied for visas to be "skilled migrants" - compared with more than 15 000 in the 2000-01 financial year. A total of 2 252 South African citizens were granted skilled visas during the year, again reflecting a delay in processing of applications. One major reason for the drop in skilled visa applications was a big drop in job vacancies in the Australian information technology industry, a senior immigration official said. "Overall, we've had a drop in the number of information technology (IT) graduate applicants of between 30 percent and 50 percent, and South Africa was quite a major source for them. The second-biggest occupational group in terms of skilled applications are nurses, and overall these have risen significantly over the past 12 or 18 months," he said. "South Africa continues to be one of our biggest sources for nurses, and applications from them are continuing, but not enough to offset the drop on the IT side."
Buses and taxis halted at Mozambique border (The Sunday Times, 09/03) -All border crossings between South Africa and Mozambique were closed to buses and taxis this week in a tit-for-tat row between the two countries. Cars were able to cross - but hundreds of buses and taxis have been halted. South Africa's Cross-Border Road Agency turned back Mozambican passenger operators from midnight on Thursday in response to a ban from the Mozambique side. The move forced operators to off-load their passengers at the Komatipoort-Lebombo, Golela, Moamba, Mananga, Jeppe's Reef and Ponta Do Ouro border crossings. Despite the mutual ban, South African border officials at Komatipoort, the main border crossing, said the situation was calm and the flow of traffic had not been affected. George Negota, chairman of the cross-border agency, said on Friday that tensions had been simmering since June. South Africa eventually decided to ban Mozambican buses and taxis because Mozambican border officials were turning away South African taxis and operators such as Greyhound, Translux and City to City coaches, he said. Negota insisted that South Africa had tried to resolve the problem through negotiations but said that Mozambican transport authorities had ignored its requests. But Mozambique's Acting High Commissioner, Maria Gustava, denied her country was to blame for the row. She said operators had been prevented from entering Mozambique because they were not licensed there or they were causing accidents. Legal and licensed operators are still allowed into Mozambique, according to Calvin Mulaudzi, Komatipoort border manager for the South African Revenue Service, which runs the customs post.
Official in Buthelezi's office busted (City Press, 09/03) - A 51-year-old employee in the office of the minister of home affairs Mangosuthu Buthelezi was on Friday busted by the police for contravening the Aliens Control Act. This occurred two years after City Press revealed the existence of individuals in the minister's office who were involved in awarding fraudulent working permits and South African citizenship. The arrest of the official was carried out by a special unit of the police, which had been tasked to probe claims about the fraudulent conduct of certain employees in the minister's office. The woman, expected to appear at the Pretoria Magistrate Court tomorrow, was arrested exactly two years after former home affairs director-general Billy Masetlha told City Press about individuals in the minister's office who could be involved in the illegal trade of citizenship. At the time, officials in Buthelezi's office dismissed Masetlha's allegations. Police spokesperson Captain Piletji Sebola in a statement said the ministerial official would also face a charge of contravening the Aliens Control Act. The charges relate to her alleged assistance of a United States citizen who was in South Africa illegally. The American was arrested on May 8, 2001 after his visitor's permit expired. A repatriation order was issued and his passport confiscated. The man, apparently a multi-millionaire businessman, paid a R10 000 surety, which was to be returned to him with his passport as soon as he had produced an air ticket for his return to his home country, Sebola said. Following the arrest on Friday, Buthelezi committed his office to rooting out corruption but said he was shocked at the arrest of the official for misconduct. Buthelezi told Sapa he had no information about the matter and was therefore unable to comment on the arrest. "No one informed me of such an arrest, nor of the relevant charges. If the charges relate to such a person's duties of office, an internal investigation could have taken place." Buthelezi conceded that two years ago City Press wrote a story suggesting that certain officials in his office could be involved in corrupt activities. However, he said the story published was "an isolated article alleging the existence of a permit scam in his office". He said efforts to get to the root of the claims were halted after "those who made the statement (failed) to provide information so that the matter could be investigated" . "Nonetheless, I took the extraordinary measure of requesting each and every one of my staff members to execute a sworn affidavit stating that they were not involved in any permit scam nor did they have any information relating thereto," the minister said.
Commentary on appointment of Home Affairs DG (Sunday Times, 09/03) - In December last year, an alleged international terrorist was arrested in New Zealand. The man was in possession of a South African passport and identity document. Investigations and record checks between New Zealand and South African security services revealed that both documents were fake and that the identity number belonged to a deceased South African woman. The terrorist was not South African but had somehow managed to acquire the documents. In another incident, a Gauteng businessman bought 50 blank identity documents from a Home Affairs official in Garankuwa in order to sell them to two international crime syndicates. Incidents such as these occur with alarming regularity. If reported, they rarely hold the public's attention as they do not rate as priority crimes. But they expose the vulnerabilities in South Africa's regulatory system and weaknesses in the management of the Department of Home Affairs. They chip away at South Africa's international security standing by falsely portraying it as a haven for terrorists and organised criminals. Issues of international terrorism and national security have become conflated since September 11 2001. The global environment demands that countries and multilateral organisations close legal and operational loopholes to reduce the chance of security breaches. Effective intelligence is pivotal to the maintenance of global security. But Home Affairs has inadequate policies to regulate internal security systems, and seemingly a poor managerial understanding of what is going wrong and where. Limited co-ordination between the Department of Home Affairs and the intelligence community impairs the state's ability to nab corrupt officials in the act and prosecute them. Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi is uneasy about the deployment of former ANC intelligence operatives and officials - former director-general Billy Masethla, his former deputies, Lindiwe Sisulu and Charles Nqakula, and his current deputy, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula - into key positions around him. He is convinced there are ideological reasons behind their appointment, that the ANC wants a spook close by to spy on him.
Recently an interview panel - selected by Buthelezi and comprising Transport Minister Dullah Omar, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Ronnie Kasrils and Mapisa-Nqakula - chose Barry Gilder, a deputy director-general in the National Intelligence Agency, as its preferred candidate for the position of department head. He worked for ANC intelligence from 1980 and is one of the party's most trusted officials in the public service. Buthelezi feels that the management team in his department, led by acting director-general Ivan Lambinon, is competent to do the job. Lambinon's major weakness is that he is an "old-guard" civil servant. But the ANC's security barons are also of the view that he has an inadequate understanding of what is required to prevent systematic and procedural vulnerabilities. If he did understand them he would know how to shake up the department. He has been the acting head since June last year but, like Buthelezi, he has a civilian understanding of the underworld, they say. The intelligence agencies, for example, have identified that the biggest area of corrupt activity is ports of entry, where immigration officials are issuing fraudulent documentation to illegal immigrants and crime syndicates. Manipulation of the system and a litany of cases of corruption by Home Affairs and Immigration officials, such as the production of fake passports, residence permits, marriage licences and work permits, are eroding public confidence in the civil service. Putting a stop to these crimes requires more than just plugging holes. The inefficiencies of the Department of Home Affairs pose a threat to domestic and international security as, among other things, it allows foreign nationals and South Africans involved in criminal activities to move across the country's borders. Security officials argue that such flaws in the system can be addressed only through intelligence-driven intervention - accurate and timely intelligence to prevent dubious characters from entering or leaving the country; watertight security systems to snare corrupt officials and stringent measures to prevent the production of fraudulent documents. But although Gilder may be competent to set up these safeguards, he, like Masethla, could end up handicapped by constant battles with Buthelezi. Buthelezi and President Thabo Mbeki have an unwritten non-aggression pact, and usually the President backs away from confrontation with him. With the perpetual turbulence between the ANC and IFP in KwaZulu-Natal providing leverage, Buthelezi is convinced he can stare down Mbeki and his security and intelligence ancillaries on the issue of who should head the Home Affairs Department. But the mounting evidence of disorder supports the argument that the department should be led by someone with a security and intelligence consciousness. And when it comes to a choice between political expediency and upholding national integrity, there should be no dilemma.
Tourism figures buck world trend (IOL, 08/03) - South Africa has become an increasingly popular destination for holidaymakers, with tourism having generated an estimated R1,23-billion last year. Mohammed Valli Moosa, the minister of environmental affairs and tourism, said on Saturday that there had been a whopping 20 percent increase in the number of holidaymakers coming to South Africa. "I am ecstatic, it is a dream come true and credit for this growth must go to every South African for being so warm and hospitable to tourists." The minister said the figures confirmed that South Africa was the fastest-growing tourist destination in the world, having attracted more than 6,4 million visitors last year. Tourism grew by 11 percent in 2001. "This is amazing news for South African tourism," said Moosa. "We have continued to defy gravity throughout the year, confounding the global industry trend of 'flat' growth in a way that has proved that this is not just a 'flash in the pan'. "Our strategies have allowed us to weather the ravages felt by many tourism authorities," Moosa said. British and German tourists have been leading the way, with American visits increasing by 7 percent. Arrivals from other countries in Africa were up by almost 8 percent. "In today's conflict-ridden world, South Africa is viewed as a kind of sanctuary, a place where people can live in harmony," Moosa said. Moeketsi Mosolo, the acting chief executive of SA Tourism, attributed the growth to the country's status as a safe destination, the relatively weak rand, an aggressive marketing campaign and considerable financial help and expertise from the private sector.
1915 vacancies in Home Affairs (Parliament, Sapa, 07/03) - The home affairs department has 1915 vacant posts of which 349 will be filled as soon as possible after the start of the 2003/04 financial year, according to Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi. It was hoped other critical posts would be filled as soon as possible after the restructuring of the public service was completed, he said in written reply to Sakkie Pretorius (NNP) There were 374 vacancies at head office and 358 at the government printing works in Pretoria. Of the provinces, Gauteng and Mpumalanga had the highest number of vacancies with 97 each, Buthelezi said. In written reply to Annelize van Wyk earlier this week, Buthelezi said 11 of the department's top management posts, including director-general, were filled in acting capacities.
Home Affairs official arrested for corruption (SABC, 07/03) - An official in the office of Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Home Affairs Minister, was arrested in Pretoria today on a fraud charge related to the alleged aiding and abetting of a fugitive. The 51-year-old woman was arrested at her office during the lunch hour. Piletji Sebola, a police spokesperson, said the woman would also face a charge of contravening the Aliens Control Act. The charges relate to her alleged assistance of a United States citizen who was in South Africa illegally. The American was arrested on May 8, 2001 after his visitor's permit expired. A repatriation order was issued, and his passport was confiscated. The man, apparently a multi-millionaire businessman, paid R10 000, which was to be returned to him with his passport as soon as he produced an air ticket for his return to his home country, Sebola said. However, the passport was stolen from a locked steel cabinet at the Home Affairs head office in Pretoria on May 21, 2001. Departmental staff were interviewed, "which indicated that the suspect issued instructions for the passport to be taken", Sebola said. The passport has not yet been retrieved, and the whereabouts of the American is unknown. He is not believed to have left the country. The woman is to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Monday.
Please come home, pleads Buthelezi (IOL, 07/03) - Home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi has made an impassioned plea for skilled South Africans who had emigrated to return home, urging objective research into reasons for their departure. Giving a keynote address at the launch of the Come Home Campaign in Pretoria on Thursday, he said there was a need to research reasons for skilled people’s leaving South Africa and devise means of making it easier for them to return. “Those who have left are South Africans, our countrymen and countrywomen and our brothers and sisters. We are impoverished in more ways than one by their departure. “Our national strength is diminished and our collective consciousness is weakened because of this loss,” Buthelezi said. The right-wing union Solidarity, which is launching the campaign together with the Company for Immigration, says about 400 000 skilled South Africans left the country since the democratic changes began in 1990. The top destination was Britain, followed by Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Israel and the Netherlands. Solidarity spokesperson Kallie Kriel said the union was pleased with Buthelezi’s pledge to support the campaign. He said the pillar of the Come Home Campaign was to set up a bureau to help those South Africans who had left to come back. There would be research into the reasons why people left. The campaign would also seek to discourage South Africans from leaving by showing them that while offered salaries might look great, the accommodation and food in other countries cost more and the general living standards were not the same as in South Africa. Buthelezi said it was “painful” that the majority of those who left were white. Submissions made during the drafting of the new immigration laws showed that they felt there was no longer a future for them or their children in South Africa. He said elements of “collective psychology and cultural discomfort” rather than economic considerations were the compelling reasons for people to emigrate.
“We must look very hard, honestly and objectively at the perception that ethnicity and skin colour may reduce employment opportunities. If there is truth to this perception, we must take corrective measures with courage and determination. If this perception is erroneous and overstated, we must dispel it, because it is part of the creation of despair. In any case we must have this debate and we can no longer avoid it,” Buthelezi said. He said while there were things that worried him about South Africa he was confident that collectively they could be addressed. He said South Africa had not applied its mind enough to creating conditions to bring South Africans back. The government understood that selected immigrants were not a liability to the country that received them but were actually an asset. South Africa was willing to offer incentives to attract foreign investment and should also go the extra mile to attract South African investment in South Africa. The long-term plan of his department was to promote relocation programmes and assistance to immigrants such as those of other countries like Canada.
Call to emigrants to return (The Mercury, 07/03) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi has made an impassioned plea for skilled South Africans who had emigrated to return home, urging objective research into reasons for their departure. Giving a keynote address at the launch of the “Come Home Campaign” in Pretoria yesterday, he said there was a need to research reasons for skilled people’s leaving South Africa and devise means of making it easier for them to return. “Those who have left are South Africans, our countrymen and countrywomen and our brothers and sisters. We are impoverished in more ways than one by their departure. “Our national strength is diminished and our collective consciousness is weakened because of this loss,” Buthelezi said. The right-wing union Solidarity, which is launching the campaign together with the Company for Immigration, says about 400 000 skilled South Africans left the country since the democratic changes began in 1990. The top destination was Britain, followed by Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Israel and the Netherlands. Solidarity spokesman Kallie Kriel said the union was pleased with Buthelezi’s pledge to support the campaign. He said the pillar of the “Come Home” campaign was to set up a bureau to help those South Africans who had left to come back. There would be research into the reasons why people left. The campaign would also seek to discourage South Africans from leaving by showing them that while offered salaries might look great, the accommodation and food in other countries cost more and the general living standards were not the same as in South Africa. Buthelezi said it was “painful” that the majority of those who left were white. Submissions made during the drafting of the new immigration laws showed that they felt there was no longer a future for them or their children in South Africa.
He said elements of “collective psychology and cultural discomfort” rather than economic considerations were the compelling reasons for people to emigrate. “We must look very hard, honestly and objectively at the perception that ethnicity and skin colour may reduce employment opportunities. If there is truth to this perception, we must take corrective measures with courage and determination. If this perception is erroneous and overstated, we must dispel it, because it is part of the creation of despair. In any case we must have this debate and we can no longer avoid it,” Buthelezi said. He said while there were things that worried him about South Africa he was confident that collectively they could be addressed. He said South Africa had not applied its mind enough to creating conditions to bring South Africans back. The government understood that selected immigrants were not a liability to the country that received them but were actually an asset. South Africa was willing to offer incentives to attract foreign investment and should also go the extra mile to attract South African investment in South Africa. The long-term plan of his department was to promote relocation programmes and assistance to immigrants such as those of other countries like Canada.
Call for incentives to lure South African citizens back (Pretoria, Dispatch Online, 07/03) - The government has not applied its mind enough to creating incentives to promote the repatriation of South African nationals abroad, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said yesterday. Speaking at the launch of a "Come Home" campaign in Pretoria, he said: "We need to reach a better understanding of what can be done to encourage South Africans to come back home." South Africa found itself in the peculiar situation of being both a country of immigration and emigration. "In the past six years we have extensively dealt with the immigration aspect of this phenomenon, and perhaps the time has now come to renew our government's attention to the emigration of our own nationals," Buthelezi said. Among other things, it was necessary to conduct more in-depth research to understand the reasons underlying emigration. "Given the profound social and political changes which have accompanied the flourishing of democracy in our country in the past 15 years, a certain amount of emigration can be expected, as emigration always accompanies profound social and political changes. "However, given the nature of such changes which have been about bringing freedom, democracy and the features of an open society to South Africa, one would have expected a much slower degree of emigration than that which actually took place on many accounts. "We need to understand why people believe that South Africa cannot offer the opportunities they seek," he said. Research focusing on the true factors which prompted people to emigrate had to be conducted. "Some preliminary indications which we received from academic contributions, submitted during the process of policy formulation of our Immigration Act, suggest that elements of collective psychology and cultural discomfort at times may be a more compelling cause of emigration than purely economic considerations. "I suspect that many of those who left did so because, for whatever reason, they did not have sufficient hope that South Africa could meet their needs and aspirations and those of their children and grandchildren. "We need to correct that fundamental problem and give hope not only to them, but first and foremost to all of us," Buthelezi said.
Call for hard look at immigration (Cape Argus, 07/03) - People who left South Africa to settle in other countries did so because they did not have sufficient hope that the country could meet their needs and aspirations, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said yesterday. Buthelezi, who officially opened the "Come Home" campaign conference in Garsfontein, Pretoria, said many left as they felt that because of their ethnic origin, they did not have a future in South Africa. The "Come Home" campaign is looking at ways of making South Africans living abroad return to their country and help build a better future using their skills. "This cannot be a land in which young people feel that they will not find a job merely because of their ethnicity or skin colour. "We must look very hard, honestly and objectively at the perception that ethnicity and skin colour may reduce employment opportunities. "If there is truth to this perception, we must take corrective measures with courage and determination," said Buthelezi. Buthelezi said given the profound social and political changes which had accompanied the advent of democracy in South Africa, a certain amount of emigration could be expected. "However, given the nature of such changes, one would have expected a much slower degree of emigration than that which actually took place," he said. Professor Lawrence Schlemmer said for emigrants to return the economy had to be strengthened with less taxation on the middle class. Schlemmer said people who worked hard to own property were unreasonably taxed. He said affirmative action should not be racism in reverse and there had to be job security for all, irrespective of their skin colour or ethnicity.
Buthelezi aims to stem white flight (Pretoria, The Natal Witness, 07/03) -The government has to create more incentives to encourage expatriates abroad to return to South Africa, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Thursday. Speaking at the launch of a "Come Home" campaign in Pretoria, he said a better understanding of what can be done to encourage South Africans to return is needed. South Africa finds itself in the situation of being both a country of immigration and emigration. "In the past six years we have extensively dealt with the immigration aspect of this phenomenon and perhaps the time has now come to renew our government's attention to the emigration of our own nationals," Buthelezi said. It is necessary to conduct research into the reasons underlying emigration, he said. "We need to understand why people believe that South Africa cannot offer the opportunities they seek," he said. Buthelezi said it is particularly painful that prevailing indications show a racial pattern to emigration. "It is very painful to me that the overwhelming majority of emigrants may belong to specific ethnicity and they emigrate because they feel that their ethnicity does not have a future in South Africa, or that their children will be less well-off in terms of opportunities than children of other ethnic backgrounds. "This must be a land which belongs equally to all," he said. It cannot be a country in which young people feel they will not find a job because of their ethnicity or skin colour. "We must look very hard at the perception that ethnicity and skin colour may reduce employment opportunities," he said.
Campaign set to bring back emigrated South Africans (Pretoria, BuaNews, 06/03) - Home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi says his department is prepared to assist in any way possible in the drive to bring back home emigrated South Africans who wish to return to the country as well as retaining those considering moving abroad. The minister was pledging his support to the 'Come Home Campaign' a joint initiative by trade union Solidarity and the Company for Emigration (CFI), to encourage emigrated South Africans to come back home. Addressing the launch of the campaign in Garsfontein, Pretoria today, the minister indicated that the country needed all of its citizens and could not afford to lose its experts. It is estimated that there are approximately 400 000 South African living abroad and the number is increasing rapidly. 'The fact that more of South African citizens are now living abroad - most of whom are highly trained people - is making it difficult for this country to compete in the new knowledge-driven economy.' The minister indicated the department had a new system of migration control, which was receptive to positive migratory influxes. 'Our new system of migration control aims to redress 'brain drain' with both 'brain gain' and 'brain train' as this enables the country to acquire foreign skills while promoting the training of its own human resources. 'As the minister of home affairs, I feel a special responsibility to do whatever I can to encourage South Africans to come back home.' Minister Buthelezi said his department and the parties involved would conduct more in-depth research to understand the reasons underlying migration. Solidarity has established an assistance and advice bureau to assist skilled individuals who wish to return home through helping them get employment and assisting them in obtaining all documents needed during their return. The bureau would also assist in pointing out misconceptions about life abroad and creating favourable conditions within the country to ensure that those returned would prefer to stay. Solidarity chairperson Kallie kriel said individuals who needed such assistance could visit the website of the campaign at www.comehome.co.za <http://www.comehome.co.za/> . According to Mr Kriel, the campaign could only succeed if government departments, NGOs and the business community worked together to make it possible for the professionals to return or remain in the country. He stressed that the department's support to the campaign was a great step forward in making it a success.
Incentives needed to bring South African expatriates home (Pretoria, Sapa, 06/03) - The government has to create more incentives to encourage expatriates abroad to return to South Africa, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Thursday. Speaking at the launch of a "Come Home" campaign in Pretoria, he said a better understanding of what could be done to encourage South Africans to return was needed. South Africa found itself in the peculiar situation of being both a country of immigration and emigration. "In the past six years we have extensively dealt with the immigration aspect of this phenomenon, and perhaps the time has now come to renew our government's attention to the emigration of our own nationals," Buthelezi said. Among other things, it was necessary to conduct more in-depth research to understand the reasons underlying emigration. "Given the profound social and political changes which have accompanied the flourishing of democracy in our country in the past 15 years, a certain amount of emigration can be expected, as emigration always accompanies profound social and political changes. "However, given the nature of such changes which have been about bringing freedom, democracy and the features of an open society to South Africa, one would have expected a much slower degree of emigration than that which actually took place on many accounts. "Some preliminary indications which we received from academic contributions, submitted during the process of policy formulation of our Immigration Act, suggest that elements of collective psychology and cultural discomfort at times may be a more compelling cause of emigration than purely economic considerations. "I suspect that many of those who left did so because, for whatever reason, they did not have sufficient hope that South Africa could meet their needs and aspirations and those of their children and grandchildren. "We need to correct that fundamental problem and give hope not only to them, but first and foremost to all of us." Buthelezi said, as one who had dedicated his life to the cause
of racial harmony, it was particularly painful that prevailing indications showed a racial pattern to emigration. "It is very painful to me that the overwhelming majority of emigrants may belong to specific ethnicity and they emigrate because, rightly or wrongly, they feel that their ethnicity does not have a future in South Africa, or that their children will be less well-off in terms of opportunities than children of other ethnic backgrounds."
South Africa's greatest promise was that of a racially harmonious society, drawing from the strength and potential contribution of its diverse peoples. "This must be a land which belongs equally to all," he said. It could not be a country in which young people felt they would not find a job because of their ethnicity or skin colour. "If that happens, we will have failed our most fundamental dreams and we will have killed the very spirit which made our South Africa possible. "We must look very hard, honestly and objectively at the perception that ethnicity and skin colour may reduce employment opportunities. "If there is truth to this perception, we must take corrective measures with courage and determination. If this perception is erroneous and overstated, we must dispel it, because it is part of the creation of despair," Buthelezi said. The "Come Home campaign" was launched on Thursday by the trade union Solidarity and the Company for Immigration (CFI) at a conference of the Afrikaans cultural organisation, the FAK (the Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Societies).
Minister Asmal wary of foreign educators (Cape Town, Dispatch Online, 05/03) - The outcome of the current World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks could negatively impact on the transformation of South Africa's education system, according to Education Minister Kader Asmal. In an address to Parliament's trade and industry portfolio committee yesterday, the minister said the designation of education as a service by the WTO was, in itself, problematic. "Education is surely not a commodity to be bought and sold." The General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) required equal and consistent treatment of foreign trading partners, and was premised on the so-called progressive liberalisation of trade in services. This meant that with each round of negotiations, countries were expected to add sectors to their schedules of commitment to open markets. "Thus, the pressure to allow market access to foreign (education) providers is likely to increase," he said. Asmal said the impact of private foreign colleges or universities on African higher education had been devastating. His department was not seeking to exclude foreign institutions from operating in South Africa, but wanted to make sure they did so with due regard to the country's policy goals and priorities. "It is important that we remain vigilant to ensure that increased trade in education does not undermine our national efforts to transform higher education." One example of this was a foreign institution that had "unashamedly" targeted the recruitment of students from high-income groups, and particularly white students, who would have travelled overseas to study. "As you can imagine, the impact of such an agenda on our efforts to build non-racial South African higher education institutions can be quite profound," he said. "The unintended consequences and costs of trade liberalisation in education cannot be underestimated," he said.
Brain drain to Australia drops (Cape Argus, 05/03) - A sharp decline in the number of South Africans applying to migrate to Australia is continuing, according to new Australian government figures. For a number of years, Australia has been trying to increase the proportion of migrants with business or other skills, and South Africa has been one of the biggest source countries.
But the new figures show applications from South Africans applying to migrate under various categories of business visas dropped to just 192 in 2002, after numbering several thousand previously. A total of 257 South Africans were granted business visas during the year. There are mixed predictions about whether major changes to Australia's business migration programme, in effect since March 1, may accelerate or reverse the trend. "It is far too early to say how the changes might affect numbers from South Africa or any other country," said a spokesman for Australia's immigration minister, Philip Ruddock.
"Our intention is to improve the integrity of the business visa system," he said. "We are aiming to ensure that people who apply for business visas end up delivering what they promise to deliver, with a net benefit to Australia." Under the changes, people accepted as business migrants are no longer being given immediate permanent residence in Australia, and most get only temporary visas. Before they can apply for permanent residence, they will have to show authorities evidence of a specified level of business activity for two years, or a designated investment for four years. As well, many business migrants will only be allowed in under the sponsorship of one of the six Australian state governments - and strict conditions apply. For example, a state can sponsor a senior executive currently employed in a business with a turnover of at least R50 million, or a business person willing to invest at least R7.5m in a government-approved fund. Sponsoring states will be able to specify regions in which the migrant's business activity or investment must take place. This new requirement is designed to ensure a more equitable spread of business migration throughout Australia, notably away from the favoured destination of Sydney.
Sydney migration agent Ivan Chait said he was expecting the new business migration system to dissuade many potential SA applicants. "The well-established South African business community are going to be wary about not being able to obtain permanent residency in Australia up-front," Chait said. "They'll be concerned that they'll be giving up an established environment, then coming with the uncertainty of first having to establish business in Australia before getting permanent residency." But John Young, Victorian president of the Migration Institute of Australia, representing migration agents, was more positive about the changes. "The Australian system has been too complex, and some of my associates who deal with South Africa in a big way have been saying they're finding it difficult to encourage people to come to Australia rather than Canada," Young said. "I think some of the new criteria for applications is a lot easier than the old regime, and it may well reverse the downward trend in applications from South Africa," he said.
Dog attack video cops found guilty (The Natal Witness, 05/03) - Two more former police dog handlers were found guilty on charges of assault and attempting to defeat the ends of justice in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday. The charges relate to an incident in 1998 when three illegal immigrants were attacked by police dogs during a "training" exercise. Four other former police dog handlers were previously found guilty on similar charges related to the same incident. On Tuesday, Judge Dion Basson rejected claims by Nicolaas Kenneth Loubser and Dino Guiotto, both 27, that they were "forced" by the more experienced policemen to participate. He found them guilty on three charges of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by attempting to cover up their involvement. Their four former colleagues - Kobus Smith, Christo Koch, Robbie Henzen and Eugene Truter - were earlier sentenced to between four and five years' imprisonment for their role. Smith is currently awaiting the outcome of an appeal against his sentence. Basson said video footage of the incident, which was shown to the court, contained no indications that Loubser and Guiotto were threatened and clearly showed that they participated willingly. It is unlikely that policemen would threaten their own colleagues and both knew about the type of exercise. The video kicked off with a statement that it was a training exercise to teach Guiotto's dog, Jerry-Lee, to do a "live tackle". The judge said it is also unlikely that the video would have been made to "intimidate" the two men. Racism also played a role in the assault on the illegal immigrants, Judge Basson added. The video showed Loubser urging his dog and another police dog to bite the victims and depicted Guiotto as one of the main participants. Guiotto repeatedly urged his dog to bite the victims. He was also seen assaulting one of the Mozambicans. Guiotto's claim that he was trying to protect the man did not hold water. The judge criticised the two men for adapting their evidence. It was also clear that both did not hesitate to make false entries into a pocket book and the dog register about the incident and had also did not hesitate to put a false version before the court. The two men showed no emotion when the judge handed down his ruling. Sentencing was postponed to May 15 to await the outcome of Smith's appeal against his sentence. Their bail was extended.
High Court reserves judgement on Aliens Control Act (Johannesburg, Sapa, 04/03) - The Pretoria High Court reserved judgment on Tuesday in the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) application to have certain sections of the Aliens Control Act declared unconstitutional, SABC radio reported. The LHR has said the act, which allows immigration officials to
detain foreigners pending their removal from South Africa without a warrant, violates fundamental rights to a trial for any person detained under the law. Home affairs argued that if people entering the country are not arrested and detained pending an investigation, there is a real risk they could disappear.
Presiding officers file affidavit in immigration case (Parliament, Sapa, 04/03) - Parliament's presiding officers have filed an answering affidavit in the Cape High Court to explain the legislature's intention concerning the making of regulations in terms of the new Immigration Act. A local immigration attorney, Gary Eisenberg, is challenging the validity of the regulations gazetted by Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and which are necessary for the new law to come into force on March 12. Cited as co-respondents are President Thabo Mbeki, his deputy Jacob Zuma, National Assembly Speaker Dr Frene Ginwala and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Naledi Pandor. On Tuesday, Ginwala told the rules committee she and Pandor had filed an affidavit on Monday, but they were not "supporting either side of the action". "It is simply a brief affidavit stating the intention of Parliament to create two regimes, one governed by section 52, the other by section seven (of the Immigration Act). "It is up to the courts to decide what is section 7 or 52. It has nothing to do with presiding officers." She and Pandor had taken the action "after a lot of thought", because it was important to defend Parliament's rights, Ginwala said. In the affidavit, they state that Parliament's intention was to empower Buthelezi to promulgate specific and limited regulations for a transitional period and until the Immigration Advisory Board was constituted. The legislation provide for two distinct regimes of regulation,
one in terms of section seven and a transitional one in terms of section 52. The procedure followed by the department in drafting the regulations has also been at the centre of a row between MPs and officials. The state law adviser cautioned the National Assembly's home affairs committee last week that the new regulations might be open to a successful court challenge, as they did not appear to be transitional.
In a legal opinion, Mr OB Kellner, the principal state law adviser, said he was concerned that "there does not seem to be any indication that the regulations are meant to be of a transitory nature". The department has insisted the regulations are a transitional mechanism, and will be replaced in terms of Section 7 of the Act, which requires an advisory immigration board be set up within 90 days of the legislation coming into force. A public consultation process will then kick in, including a role for Parliament in drafting new regulations. Kellner said regulation 1(2) and the comprehensive nature of the rest of the regulations tended to indicate the opposite of a transitional arrangement. "If this is so, one wonders what is left to regulate in terms of the procedure established by section seven once the board is in place.
"It seems to me that the legislature would not have established the elaborate and transparent procedure for making regulations in terms of section 7 if meant to allow the department to make the bulk of the regulations envisaged in section 51 and 52.
"I fear that a court would come to the same conclusion if the regulations were to be challenged," Kellner said. Kellner suggested a technical amendment to the regulations to avoid a successful court challenge.
Court challenge to Immigration Act (Pretoria, Dispatch Online, 04/03) -The provisions of the Aliens Control Act and the new Immigration Act, which is to replace it later this month, are inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore invalid, the high court here heard yesterday. Advocate Anton Katz, appearing for Lawyers for Human Rights and land activist Ann Eveleth, argued before Judge Ben du Plessis that the court should set aside sections 34(1), 24(2), 34(8) and 34(9) of the Immigration Act. Katz said the provisions of the Immigration Act relating to the detention of foreign nationals provided no guidance of whatever nature to immigration officials or for that matter to other persons authorised to arrest and detain foreign nationals. The provisions of the Act were unreasonably broad, he said. LHR national director Vinodh Jaichand said in court papers Home Affairs officials used the Aliens Control Act daily to secure the arrest and indefinite detention without a warrant and without a trial of persons they sought to remove from South Africa. He said the Act and the new legislation passed by Parliament in May 2002 gave no guidelines about when, why and for how long a foreign national could be detained. The legislation violated fundamental rights such as the right not to be detained without a trial and access to courts. There was no reasonable justification offered for the deprivation or limitation of these rights, he said. Home Affairs assistant director Willem Voster in answering papers stressed that the state had an obligation, in the interests of its citizens, to control entry into the country by foreign nationals. A number of factors, such as poverty, political instability and wars, caused countless foreign nationals to descend on South Africa without first obtaining the necessary permits. A vast majority of these people did not enter the country through ports of entry. This made detection by the state extremely difficult. He said there were an estimated 4,2 million illegal foreign nationals in South Africa, but only 300 immigration officers. It was extremely expensive to remove a foreign national. The removal of 126 Nigerian nationals cost the state R1,2 million in 2000. Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the new Immigration Act was passed by Parliament to bring the field of international migration control into compliance with the Constitution and to reflect the highest international standards of human rights protection. The application continues.
Judgement reserved in Aliens Control Act case (SABC, 04/03) - Judgement has been reserved in the case in which Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) have asked the Pretoria High Court to declare certain sections of the Aliens Control Act unconstitutional. According to the Act, immigration officials can detain foreign nationals pending their removal from South Africa without a warrant. The act also allows detention of up to 30 days without trial or appearing in court. The human rights lawyers argue that the provisions of the act violate foreign national's fundamental right not to be detained without a trial. They say the act also infringes on their rights to equality, dignity and freedom. The lawyers are basing their case on alleged abuses at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp. They argue that Home Affairs officials use the act on a daily basis to secure the arrest and indefinite detention without a warrant and without a trial of persons they sought to remove from South Africa. The Department of Home Affairs in turn says it has an obligation in the interest of its citizens to control entry into the country. The department says there is a real risk that person's entering the country may disappear if not arrested and detained pending an investigation. The removal of 126 Nigerian nationals, the Home Affairs department says, costs the state R1,2 million in 2000 and it cost about R10 000 to remove a prohibited person to China, with the costs of escorting the person doubling or tripling the amount.
Upgrade to Lindela record system (Daily News, 04/03) - A new high-tech identification system will be installed at Lindela to properly keep records of immigrants who pass through the centre. Lindela is a transitory home to 4000 illegal immigrants who await repatriation. Deportations take place every Thursday. Depending on the destination of the individual, trucks, trains and flights are used. Currently, the centre has no means of determining which individuals have been through the system and which are abusing it to get home. It is suspected that some illegal immigrants return to the country after being repatriated and get themselves re-arrested when they want to go back to their home countries. Lindela Repatriation Centre spokesperson Papa Leshabane, said they were upgrading their current thumb identification system (TIS). Fingerprints of individuals processed are stored on computer. However, the in-formation is not retained after aliens are repatriated. Although the TIS is a temp-orary measure, an eye recog-nition system (ERS) is to be used in future, Leshabane said. Repatriates are supposed to stay at the centre for 30 days, and the Human Rights Commission monitors their duration weekly.
Child sex trade flourishes (Daily News, 04/03) - South Africa has become a transit country for girls as young as 10 from other African countries who are being sold for sex to international syndicates, research has revealed. The non-governmental organisation Molo Songololo, which presented research to members of the provincial parliament in the Pietermaritzburg legislature yesterday, said the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation involved both in-country and cross-border trafficking, with South Africa having been turned into a transit point for girls who were being transported from African countries en route to Europe. While the survey also notes that the cross-border trafficking involving South Africa is not new and dates back to the late 19th century, it reveals that the global trafficking industry is one of the fastest growing and most lucrative criminal enterprises in the world and generates billions of rands in profits. It also found that trafficking in children for sexual exploitation was the third largest source of profits for organised crime after drugs and guns. "Children from rural areas are offered a job and the offer is made to a parent. "The child is transported to South Africa and when she arrives the language factor and fact that she does not have money will force her to sell her body." The research says the traffickers were Angolan and Bulgarian ex-military personnel, individual agents, Chinese Triads, Congolese, Nigerian and Russian mafia. The countries of origin were Ethopia, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia and the children were being transported via air and sea routes.. They are then placed into any of the legal or illegal sectors of the sex industry such as on the street, escort agencies, brothels, hotel brothels, massage parlours, clubs, on trucking routes, in harbours and in the private homes of traffickers. "The children who fall victim to this scourge are children who come from rural areas, who leave home because of poverty, have been sexually abused, run away from places of safety, have limited schooling and employment skills, live in homes where sexual exploitation is regarded as normal and children who live in areas where gangs operate and engage in prostitution," the survey said.
Buthelezi breaks silence on DG deadlock (Parliament, Sapa, 04/03) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Tuesday broke his silence on the impasse over the appointment of his new director-general, saying the issue was not political, but purely administrative. Buthelezi wants his close aide, Ivan Lambinon, to be appointed to the post, while National Intelligence Agency deputy director-general Barry Gilder is favoured by some of his Cabinet colleagues. Buthelezi said it was false that the interviewing panel of Cabinet ministers had suggested one name. "In fact it suggested two, leaving it to me to choose the one to be appointed." Referring to a weekend news report, Buthelezi denied that a meeting over the impasse had been scheduled for last week with President Thabo Mbeki. Nor had any meeting been cancelled or ever scheduled. He described as pure fabrication that Cabinet ministers had expressed any view on the matter "which has not yet served before Cabinet". It was also not true as reported that Cabinet mandated a group of ministers to discuss the issue with him and that he refused to do so, Buthelezi said. "It is not true that I would object to anyone merely on account of an intelligence background. "The Department of Intelligence is just another organ of State which I fully respect, and I have no qualms with anyone working there." Buthelezi accused unnamed individuals of feeding the "press inflammatory, divisive and utterly false information to further his or her own agenda or feather his or her own nest". "I urge the press not to become an instrument of such operation. This is not a political matter, but purely an administrative one." Buthelezi said he had acted in what was the best interests of the State and the country. "I did not let any of my political views cloud my judgement, but I have acted as the law and the Constitution expect of me, and with the sole intention of serving the public interest." Last month, Buthelezi told reporters he had hoped the matter would have been resolved by November last year, but that there had been some glitches. He had met his Cabinet colleagues on the interviewing panel, Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Ronnie Kasrils. "There are some problems... I think the minister (public service and administration) is still going to engage the president on the matter. It isn't right for me to give details," he then said. Speaking at the same briefing, Fraser-Moleketi told reporters that appointments were made according to a particular framework. "We are working on that, and as Minister Buthelezi said, we are indeed intent to resolve the issue and will try to ensure that it happens as speedily as possible." She told Sapa: "We need to ensure procedural fairness." The home affairs department has been without a director-general since June, after Billy Masetlha resigned after months of tension with the minister.
Mpumalanga, Swazi police work jointly to ensure tourists safety (Pretoria, BuaNews, 04/03) - A special crime prevention task team, comprising members of the Swaziland police and their counterparts in South Africa, has been established to protect tourists from that country visiting SA. Reports over the past few weeks said a number of tourists from Swaziland were robbed and sometimes attacked by unknown suspects in Mpumalanga. In some cases, the attackers were posing as police officers. Most attacks are said to have taken place on the roads between Oshoek border post, Carolina, Chrissiesmeer and Badplaas. According to Mpumalanga police commissioner Eric Nkabinde, a meeting was held with the Swazi police, where it was agreed that a task team would be established, led by Superintendent Hendrik van Schalkwyk of the Hendrina police station. Commissioner Nkabinde said the task team would patrol routes where the attacks were most common. The patrols will continue until there was a decline in the crimes. 'We want to make our country a safe place for everybody, including foreign tourists. We will do everything in our power to ensure their safety,' commissioner Nkabinde said. As part of the safety strategy for tourists, both Mpumalanga Swazi police will develop pamphlets carrying safety hints for tourists. These will be placed at border posts, the most common routes where the crimes occur and at the various police stations in the province. In his state-of-the-province address two weeks ago, Mpumalanga Premier Ndaweni Mahlangu said there was an urgent need to accelerate the pace of regaining the province's profile as a top tourist destination in the country.
Child trafficking 'rife' in South Africa (The Natal Witness, 04/03) - Pietermartizburg and Durban are two of the worst cities in South Africa for the trafficking in children for prostitution, according to a report delivered to the provincial legislature on Monday. Cape Town based humanitarian welfare organisation Molo Songololo (hello millipede) project co-ordinator Debora Mobilyn delivered a harrowing account of how international crime syndicates use local couriers to target children as young as four from indigent families, promise them meaningful work overseas and then force them into a debt-bound, inescapable life of prostitution and drugs. A young girl could be bought for as little as £800 and earn her pimp many times that each week, the legislature heard. According to SAPS statistics, it is estimiated that there are over 28 000 child prostitutes in South Africa. The SAPS dealt with 38 000 cases of child prostitution in 1998, while 500 of Cape Town's 2 000 street sex workers are believed to be children. Mobilyn warned that child trafficking has become the third-largest profit-making criminal enterprise after drug and gun running, earning billions of U.S. dollars every year. According to the organisation's research, South Africa's 17 million children make up 44% of the population, and over 60% of these live in poverty. Poverty among black children is the worst at over 70% and it is estimated that, despite child labour being illegal, over 400 000 children work in South Africa, half of them under the age of 14. Factors contributing to children's vulnerability include economic migration, family disintegration, sexual abuse and an increased demand for sex with children. Children are targeted by various methods, including abduction, threats and deception, and are destined primarily for countries in Eastern Europe, south-east Asia and other African countries, especially Nigeria, Uganda, Angola and Mozambique. Mobilyn said Molo Songololo has worked closely with the government to ratify the United Nations optional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography, while the SA Law Commission is drafting a bill on sexual offences that includes trafficking. She urged government to create specialised police and prosecutorial units to increase detection and prosecution for such offences, as well as a registry of known sex offenders.
Algeria, South Africa can forge fruitful partnership (Johannesburg, Business Day, 03/03) - On the face of it, African economic recovery requires different solutions for different states. For one, the gap between those five countries (Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt) north and the other 48 south of the Sahara is large in cultural, religious, historical and, especially, economic terms. That these five are not included in World Bank data for Africa is one expression of their geographic and economic distinction from the rest of the continent. The per capita income of the five is estimated to be at least three times greater than sub-Saharan Africa's average of $470. Surprisingly, then, the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) proposes essentially a continental formula for regeneration. Nepad thus runs the risk of reducing problems and solutions to the lowest common denominator it is invariably political rather than economic. More surprising, perhaps, then that Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was one of the three principals behind Nepad's original incarnation, the Millennium Partnership for African Recovery Plan (Map). Yet this should not obscure the shared interests straddling the Sahara, which have taken on new dimensions since September 11. Algeria has been at the centre of a war against terrorism, going back to tactics used in the independence war against the French between 1954 and 1962 a war that cost more than 1million lives and later after aborted elections won by the now banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in 1991. More than 100000 civilians including 70 journalists have been killed in a campaign of terror following the banning of the FIS the following year. One result is that SA's biggest arms client worldwide is Algeria, with reported purchases of about R676m during 2000-01. However, it raises more profound questions about the causes of terrorism and what can be done in partnership to address the roots of political and societal alienation that lie behind this contemporary scourge. This consideration is, in turn, related to the current imbroglio over Iraq, and the role that African states could and should play to enhance global governance, both multilaterally in the United Nations (UN) and in terms of narrower, bilateral contacts.
Sympathy for the challenge that Algiers has faced in this regard were highlighted by the arrest of a number of terror suspects belonging to the most prominent and radical Algerian militant grouping, the Groupe Islamique Armée in Paris after 9/11, and a recognition of the difficulty in conducting a "war" against terror and the danger terrorist organisations pose. French intelligence is clear that not since the Algerian war 40 years ago has France "been under such an immediate threat". Algeria moved quickly to condemn the attacks of 9/11, and immediately handed US authorities a list of 350 suspected Islamic militants linked to Al-Qaeda. But Algerian officials are quick to criticise the path the US is taking, with US-led action against Iraq, and distinguish it from a war on terror. They fear not only that military action would weaken the UN and divide the Arab world, but would prove to be "the best support for terrorism" by lending support for and uniting radical Islamic movements. While Algeria's internal politics remain relatively unsettled, the economic position is healthier. An average annual per capita economic decline by 0,2% in the 1990s, high oil and gas prices along with new investment from Europe and the US outside of the energy sector and improved relations with the International Monetary Fund due to economic reforms, all contribute to a more positive outlook. However, considerable challenges remain. Algerian officials complain SA businesses have not investigated investment opportunities provided by this turnaround, thus giving substance to the framework provided by Nepad and the rhetorical goodwill generated at the political level.
While SA businesses are interested in trade, they argue that opportunities for investment in mining, for example, have been overlooked. This may reflect, they have observed, a lack of involvement of SA business in government initiatives. Clearly realising and fleshing out a vision of African economic integration as provided by Nepad remains some way off. Algeria's economy, as with those of its North African neighbours, is heavily dependent on trade and investment ties with Europe and North America. Economic ties with its near and sub-Saharan African neighbourhood are minimal, with Arab countries accounting for just 1% of Algeria's trade. Nonetheless, Nepad is still a crucial item on the Algerian agenda. This reflects Algeria's leadership role in the African Union and among the south, where Algeria's African orientation has been backed by its support for African liberation movements and consistent siding with African rather than Arab countries in the UN. Ultimately the nature of the partnerships Africa and its states will enjoy be determined by their trajectory. African states' ability to straddle the Sahara will reflect the trajectory provided by a combination of leadership vision, congruence towards reforms leading to stability and growth, and the reality of economic opportunity. Nepad offers a useful path for such policy congruence. Dr Mills is National Director of the SA Institute of International Affairs, and he visited Algeria as a guest of the Institute for Diplomacy and International Relations.
Buthelezi's candidate for DG denies wrongdoing (IOL, 03/03) - Ivan Lambinon, the acting director-general of home affairs, has rejected suggestions he shortlisted himself to be interviewed for the post of director-general in the department. Lambinon said on Sunday that he was never involved in the process of appointing a director-general. Asked if he did not shortlist himself as suggested in newspaper reports, Lambinon said: "Anybody who wishes to make a suggestion of this nature has nothing other than evil intent." President Thabo Mbeki and Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi appear headed for another turbulent period over the appointment of a director-general. A selection panel of four cabinet ministers recommended the appointment of Barry Gilder, a deputy director-general in the National Intelligence Agency. But Buthelezi, who was also part of the panel, recommended Lambinon. The process of recommendation was completed in October last year, but Buthelezi's opposition has delayed the appointment. Buthelezi complained bitterly about his former director-general Billy Masetlha, whom he accused of "insubordination". Masetlha was also from the intelligence community, something which did not please Buthelezi. Masetlha's contract was controversially extended by Mbeki for a year, resulting in tensions in the department. Mbeki has the power to appoint directors-general. The IFP's Lionel Mtshali, the then arts, culture, science and technology minister, fired his director-general, an African National Congress member. Since then Mbeki has allowed selection panels to recommend directors-general. Mannetjies Grobler of the Democratic Alliance said he had raised the issue of an appointment of a director-general. He said Lambinon was an "excellent" man. He did not know anything about Gilder and noted that Buthelezi had in the past expressed concern about being surrounded by people from the intelligence community.
But Grobler said he was also concerned that there were at least 20 positions in the department that were in an acting capacity.
Aliens Control Act under the spotlight (IOL, 03/03) - The government and the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) are squaring it up in the Pretoria High Court over the rights and the treatment of illegal aliens. The Aliens Act, according to the LHR, is inconsistent with the country's constitution. It gives government absolute powers to detain illegal immigrants indefinitely.
The Home Affairs Department is defending the matter. It accuses some countries of colluding with the immigrants to prevent what it terms large-scale repatriations. The LHR's application was sparked by the detention of Ann Francis Eveleth, a land activist, in Kempton Park last year. She was detained as a prohibited person for a week because her papers were not in order. Her detention was, however, later declared null and void by the Pretoria High Court. The Human Rights lawyers say foreign nationals are vulnerable to unfair legal procedures, as they do not have a right of access to political power. Jacob van Garderen, of the Lawyers for Human Rights, says nothing can justify what he terms the grand scale infringement of human rights that is happening at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp. In court papers lawyers for human rights say the Aliens Act is draconian. Van Garderen dismisses the fact that if their application is successful, it may render the State useless in terms of controlling illegal immigrants in the country. The government, in its defence, accuses countries like Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries of scheming with illegal immigrants to prevent large-scale return of foreign nationals to their countries. Leslie Mashokwe, the Home Affairs spokesperson, says foreign missions here take long to identify their nationals facing repatriation. Mashokwe denies that there are human rights abuses at Lindela. He says they will state their case before the court and wait for the outcome.
Immigration Act provisions invalid, Pretoria High Court hears (Pretoria, Sapa, 03/03) - The provisions of the Aliens Control Act and the new Immigration Act, which is to replace it later this month, are inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore invalid, the Pretoria High Court heard on Monday. Advocate Anton Katz, appearing for Lawyers for Human Rights and land activist Ann Eveleth, argued before judge Ben du Plessis that the court should set aside sections 34(1), 24(2), 34(8) and 34(9) of the Immigration Act. He said the provisions of the Immigration Act relating to the detention of foreign nationals provided no guidance of whatever nature to immigration officials or for that matter to other persons authorized to arrest and detain foreign nationals. The provisions of the Act were unreasonably broad, he said. LHR national director Dr Vinodh Jaichand said in court papers Home Affairs officials used the Aliens Control Act on a daily basis to secure the arrest and indefinite detention without a warrant and without a trial of persons they sought to remove from South Africa. He said the Act and the new legislation passed by Parliament in May 2002 gave no guidelines about when, why and for how long a foreign national could be detained. The legislation violated fundamental rights such as the right not to be detained without a trial and access to courts. There was no reasonable justification offered for the deprivation or limitation of these rights, he said.
Home Affairs assistant director Willem Voster in answering papers stressed that the State had an obligation, in the interests of its citizens, to control entry into the country by foreign nationals. A number of factors, like poverty, political instability and wars caused countless foreign nationals to descend on South Africa without first obtaining the necessary permits. A vast majority of these people did not enter the Republic through ports of entry. This made detection by the state extremely difficult. He said there were an estimated 4,2 million illegal foreign nationals in South Africa, but only 300 immigration officers. It was extremely expensive to remove a foreign national. The removal of 126 Nigerian nationals cost the state R1,2 million in 2000 and it cost about R10 000 to remove a prohibited person to China, with the costs of escorting the person doubling or tripling the amount. The last five years about 170 000 to 180 000 prohibited persons had been removed, but the number remained stable because of a lack of human and financial resources, Voster added. Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the new Immigration Act was passed by Parliament to bring the field of international migration control into compliance with the Constitution and to reflect the highest international standards of human rights protection. The application continues.
Enforcement procedures challenged in court (The Star, 03/03) - Home affairs officials have accused four countries of colluding with illegal immigrants to prevent the large-scale return of foreign nationals to their countries. Willem Voster, an assistant director in the department, said Pakistan, Nigeria, China, and Bulgaria and other eastern European countries were especially guilty of the practice. This forces South Africa to incur great cost when repatriating these people. Voster's assertion appears in an affidavit defending the Aliens Control Act. Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) was due to challenge the act in the Pretoria High Court on Monday. LHR is basing its case on alleged abuses at the Lindela repatriation centre in Krugersdorp, saying that nothing can justify the large-scale infringement of human rights that is allegedly happening there. Some of the inmates at Lindela have been detained for months without a court order. In its court papers, the LHR says the act is "draconian legislation reminiscent of Victorian England". "It is both the liberty and the fundamental rights of literally hundreds of persons, if not many more, which is at stake in this matter," Dr Vinodh Jaichand says in an affidavit that was drawn up while he still worked for LHR. The application was sparked off by the detention of land activist Ann Francis Eveleth in Kempton Park last year. She was detained as a "prohibited person" at Kempton Park police station for seven days because her papers were not in order. Her detention was later declared unlawful by the Pretoria High Court. LHR's main problem with the act is that it allows for detention without a warrant for up to 30 days without a court appearance. It is also taking issue with provisions allowing officials to decide for themselves whether to extend detention for "as long as may be reasonable and necessary". An official at the Bulgarian embassy in Pretoria, Konstantin Tsenov, said the embassy could not comment on the allegations because staff there did "not know anything about this. This is the first time we are hearing about this". Attempts to reach officials at the other embassies on Sunday night were unsuccessful.
11 to be deported over immigration scam (IOL, 02/03) - Eleven foreigners, who were arrested at Cape Town International Airport after police bust a huge immigration scam on Friday, are to be deported, Western Cape police said on Sunday. Superintendent Riaan Pool said the scam was uncovered when border unit members based at the airport arrested two Albanian citizens, aged 26 and 32, for allegedly aiding and abetting Albanian citizens to travel from their country via Istanbul to South Africa using fraudulent European passports. This was after police, acting on a tip-off a day earlier, apprehended an Albanian family of four as they were boarding an SA Airways flight destined for Atlanta, United States, allegedly using fraudulent Danish passports. According to the police, documents discovered in their luggage proved the four were of Albanian origin. The family were handed over to immigration officials. Police then established that a two-man syndicate operating from the Road Lodge next to the airport was responsible for bringing Albanian asylum seekers to South Africa via Istanbul. Poole said that from South Africa asylum seekers would have travelled to Canada via Atlanta, where they would then apply for political asylum. While police were monitoring the movements of the two men, they saw them buying another four tickets for an SAA flight destined for Atlanta and gave them to four people waiting in the airport's parking area. Four Albanian citizens allegedly with fraudulent Italian and Danish passports were caught as they tried to board the Atlanta-bound flight and were also handed over to immigration officials. Simultaneously, police and immigration officials arrested the two-man syndicate allegedly operating the scam and searched their Road Lodge rooms where another Albanian was found allegedly with a fraudulent Italian passport and several Albanian passports and documents. Pool said the 11, who have all been handed over to immigration officials, would be charged with contravening the Aliens Control Act.
Immigration scam: 11 arrested (Cape Town, News24, 02/03) - Eleven foreigners, who were arrested at Cape Town International Airport after police bust a huge immigration scam on Friday, are to be deported, Western Cape police said on Sunday. Superintendent Riaan Pool said the scam was uncovered when border unit members based at the airport arrested two Albanian citizens, aged 26 and 32, for allegedly aiding and abetting Albanian citizens to travel from their country via Istanbul to South Africa using fraudulent European passports. This was after police, acting on a tip-off a day earlier, apprehended an Albanian family of four as they were boarding flight destined for Atlanta, United States, allegedly using fraudulent Danish passports. According to the police, documents discovered in their luggage proved the four were of Albanian origin. The family were handed over to immigration officials. Police then established that a two-man syndicate operating from the Road Lodge next to the airport was responsible for bringing Albanian asylum seekers to South Africa via Istanbul. Poole said that from South Africa asylum seekers would have travelled to Canada via Atlanta, where they would then apply for political asylum. While police were monitoring the movements of the two men, they saw them buying another four tickets for a flight destined for Atlanta and gave them to four people waiting in the airport's parking area. Four Albanian citizens allegedly with fraudulent Italian and Danish passports were caught as they tried to board the Atlanta-bound flight and were also handed over to immigration officials. Simultaneously, police and immigration officials arrested the two-man syndicate allegedly operating the scam and searched their Road Lodge rooms where another Albanian was found allegedly with a fraudulent Italian passport and several Albanian passports and documents. Pool said the 11, who have all been handed over to immigration officials, would be charged with contravening the Aliens Control Act.
Buthelezi blocks appointment of new department DG (Johannesburg, Sunday Times, 02/03) - A battle royal is raging between Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his Cabinet colleagues over the appointment of a new director-general for the Department of Home Affairs. Buthelezi is demanding a candidate whom President Thabo Mbeki and other members of the Cabinet are refusing to consider. And the candidate favoured by an interview panel has been rejected by Buthelezi. The process of appointing a new director-general is also marred by allegations of irregularities when candidates were shortlisted. Two candidates, acting director-general Ivan Lambinon and Barry Gilder, a deputy director-general in the National Intelligence Agency, were shortlisted . Claims have emerged that Lambinon himself was responsible for the shortlisting process. The men were interviewed by a four-member panel - Buthelezi, Transport Minister Dullah Omar, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Ronnie Kasrils and Home Affairs Deputy Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. The panel apparently chose Gilder by a "wide margin". But Buthelezi is refusing to accept the recommendation of the panel and wants Lambinon to be appointed. He is apparently furious that the Cabinet is trying to push another intelligence officer into the director-general position. Buthelezi was involved in running battles with the former incumbent, Billy Masethla, a former intelligence operative. Lambinon is viewed as an "old guard" civil servant by senior members of the government. The dispute was referred to the Cabinet, which mandated a group of ministers to discuss the issue with Buthelezi. He has refused to have the meeting. Mbeki is now being drawn in to settle the matter with Buthelezi. Home Affairs spokesman Leslie Mashokwe referred queries to Lambinon, who did not respond to messages left on his cellphone.
South Africa to deploy army at Lesotho border (City Press, 02/03) - South African troops will be redeployed along the country's border with Lesotho from 1 April, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota confirmed on Friday. Lekota said the redeployment decision came after a request by the SA Police Services for help in the combat of cross-border crime. "To arrest criminals, you need police. However, it is quite evident that the police now needs ongoing and sustained support until they are capable of doing it by themselves," Lekota said. He said the redeployment of troops on the border had nothing to do with the recent announcement that commandos in South Africa would be phased out over the next six years. He told journalists that the phasing out of the commandos would be done carefully and over time so that proper structures could first be established in their place. When asked about the number of soldiers to be redeployed, Lekota said it would never be constant as it would always depend on how much help the police requested at a certain point in time. It would not be a permanent arrangement and was only meant to assist the police service until it could effectively implement proper border control on its own, Lekota said. He said he had already ordered that troops be made available should the police request their help. SA National Defence Force troops were withdrawn from the Lesotho border during 2002 after the defence force's operational budget was cut substantially. The government has been promising for months now to redeploy soldiers to the border to assist farmers weary of cross-border crime, especially stock-theft. The cross-border crime rate rose significantly after the troops were withdrawn. Lekota said the number of people crossing the Lesotho border had increased from around 10 000 to 800 000 per month since the democratisation of the two countries. Cross-border crime did not increase in the same measure, but it nevertheless intensified.
Efforts to reverse brain drain of doctors (Mbabane, Times of Swaziland, 30/03) - Health and social welfare minister Dr Phetsile Dlamini has acknowledged that there is a shortage of doctors in the country. She said the shortage, however, is not as much as it is made to seem and the ministry is doing its best to ensure that all doctors' posts are filled as soon as possible. Speaking together with health PS Dr John Kunene at her offices on Thursday, Dr Dlamini said the problem is that there are not enough posts for the doctors in terms of what is allowed by the establishment register. "You find that we need, say, 30 doctors for a hospital, but if the establishment register only allows us 15, then only 15 will be employed," Dr Dlamini said. "If we were to go ahead and employ the 30 doctors, there would be a problem of payment because government would not agree to pay doctors for posts that are not there," she said. Dr Dlamini said they have since found an eye specialist hailing from Malawi to replace the late Dr Maswazi Dlamini as an eye specialist at the Mbabane Government Hospital. Dr Kunene said the ministry is addressing the issue of the shortage and has applied for more doctors to be employed by the Civil Service Board but in his opinion the main problem is that even those doctors who are employed are not putting in their best effort. Dr Kunene said already in Hlathikhulu government hospital, where patients were reportedly turned away because there was no doctor, they have employed a local doctor. "The exercise by the minister to invite Swazis in training outside for 'tea' is paying off now as more Swazis are interested in returning home," Dr Kunene said. "We are trying our level best to get all the Swazi doctors currently employed outside the country to come back. "Those who are willing will find that there are posts for them in the local institutions," he said. He made an example of a pharmacy department where a number of Swazis have since been employed after completing their studies. Asked about the case of a S wazi female doctor, Velephi, who was trained in Uganda and returned home married to a Ugandan doctor who was allegedly not offered employment locally, Dr Dlamini said the couple wanted everything to be done in one day. "I remember the case ofVelephi and her husband Dr Okele (if I remember correctly) who subsequently left the country," she said. "We offered her employment but the couple wanted the husband to be also employed at that instant. There are procedures that had to be followed to employ the husband and as we were working on those, the couple decided to leave claiming that they were going to pursue their post-graduate studies. "Both could have been employed but they rushed matters hence they decided to leave," she said.
Dr Dlamini was visibly shocked when asked about Industrial court registrar Shiyumhlaba Dlamini's daughter who had to leave for the United Kingdom after she failed, for over a year, to get employment locally. This was after Dr Kunene said he had carried out his own investigations and was aware of the case that each time the lady went to seek employment she was asked if she had seen an advertisement seeking doctors. "What is that? This is news. How can someone ask a Swazi doctor for an advert seeking doctors?" a surprised Dr Dlamini asked. "This is just one of the things done to frustrate me so that it would seem I am doing nothing at this ministry. "We are all out to ask for incentives to entice all the Swazis who have left and I am surprised this was done to a Swazi doctor," the minister said. In an earlier interview Dlamini (father) had said it was true that his fully qualified daughter had sought employment for over a year to no avail until she left the country. "It is true that my daughter is now working in London after she failed to get employment locally," Dlamini said. "She was trained in Cape Town and did her internship in Harrismith and she was fully funded by the Swazi government. "She qualified to be a general practitioner but when she returned to the country she was not offered employment despite repeatedly pestering the ministry of health to employ her. "She stayed at home for over a year where she was not different from a housemaid as she went about doing the family chores with her qualifications right in the house. "It was a pathetic situation and she was rescued by her friends from school who gave her London connections and she got employed there," the father said.
Crime is repelling investors (Mbabane, Times of Swaziland, 20/03) - Almost every day, a robbery, murder and a theft case is reported in Swaziland and this situation is detrimental to courting investors. Crime in the country has reached levels that have started to concern investors, not those already operating here but those that have been courted by the king and the Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority (SIP A). According to a prominent business figure, who has traveled abroad with authorities to court investors and seek partnerships on a number of occasions, foreign investors have started being inquisitive about the country's judicial standing and crime statistics. The figure highlighted that some investors have been encountered who required they produce the country's crime statistics and when they attempt to convince the investors that crime incidents in the country are normal, they were asked to substantiate such claims with official statistics. "Even if we can be able to produce the statistics, the country could be embarrassed because in prior trips, it (country) has been portrayed as a peaceful nation without the mentioning of crime incidents" the business figure said. On the issue of crime statistics, it could safely be said this is a closely guarded concern as this issue is hardly raised in police annual reports except for a few isolated incidents like this week when it was disclosed that rape statistics have increased by 20% from last year. The business figure added that Swaziland must for now forget about luring foreign direct investors (FDIs) because the current situation does not warranty investor rights. This is because government does not consider investors' concerns that revolve around their well being in terms of the law. The figure stated that the country has to fix the 'mess' caused by country's judiciary players who have been accused of only abiding by the law when it suits them. 'Two foreign investors were recently very disappointed to find that the country is far from what it is portrayed as abroad and as result, the investors settled in a neighboring state" the figure disclosed. No comment could be obtained from the Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority (SIP A) as the relevant authorities were reported to be not available.
Foreign hijacking syndicate in Swaziland (Mbabane, Times of Swaziland, 15/03) - A foreign car hijacking syndicate targeting luxury vehicles could be operating in the country, police believe. A local police officer investigating one of a series ofhijackings committed on local motorists in recent times indicated that the hijackings seemed to be the work of a foreign syndicate. The involvement of locals is also suspected. The manner in which the hijackings are staged is similar to those that have been staged on Swazi motorists driving in South Africa especially along the Carolina-Johannesburg route and recently the Oshoek-Badplaas route. Over five hijackings were staged in the past two weeks alone. All bear a similarity in their staging. In all instances, the vehicles were taken from their owners at gunpoint. In one instance, the hijackers posed as police officers dressed in police garb. The attempt failed. Also striking about the hijackings is that they are mostly staged during the day. Last week at around 10; 00 o'clock in the morning there was a failed hijacking of a Mercedes Benz sedan (belonging to a senior manager of a Matsapha major factory) in the Lugaganeni area in Manzini near the Imphilo Clinic. The car which had two occupants, was driving along a farm road when the criminals attacked. The hijackers pounced on the car when it slowed down to negotiate a hump in the road. According to one of the survivors ofthe hijack, when the car slowed down, two men, one on either side of the road, emerged from the long grass pointing firearms at them. Realising what was happening, the driver (wife to the manager) accelerated away from the ambush and managed to escape but not before one of the gunmen shot through the windscreen badly wounding her (driver). The matter was reported to the police but to date, the criminals have not been apprehended. A police docket of attempted murder has also been opened up with the Manzini police. "Meantime the residents of Lugaganeni area have responded to the criminals threat by introducing security patrols and will shortly be installing a 24 hour security controlled boom on the road," said the shocked manager who cannot be named for security reasons. He advised other motorists, especially owners of luxury cars to exercise vigilance at all times. He said; "It is absolutely imperative to be vigilant at all times. Don't stop for anybody and certainly don't start dialling your cell phone or looking at your lists until you are safely on proper main roads. Always be careful when driving a luxury car," he warned. He said the investigating officer told them that there is a foreign syndicate working in Swaziland targeting luxury vehicles at the moment. On Wednesday last week, a horse and trailer was hijacked along the Simunye-Manzini public road by men believed to be from Gauteng, South Africa. The incident happened at around 9:00 in the morning. The driver of the truck, Themba Xorile, said he was on his way back home to Durban, South Africa from delivering supplies in Mozambique when three armed men near Simunye stopped him. The men are said to have pretended to be police officers with one of them dressed in a police uniform. "After stopping me, they first ordered me to show them my driver's licence. When I produced it, they produced pistols and told, me not to offer any resistance if I did not want to get killed," said Xolile in an earlier interview with the Swazi News. He said the robbers ordered him to surrender the Mercedes Benz truck before bundling him in the boot of their South African registered sedan where he spent over 20 hours before he was dumped in the middle of nowhere.
This attack is similar to many committed on Swazi motorists on South African roads where the hijackers posed as police officers. One notable similar incident was the hijacking of a group of Chinese businessmen who were heading for the Oshoek border post for a business meeting in the country. The hijackers posed as police officers when stopping the bus in which the businessmen travelled. They made off with over El million and valuables. A day after the hijacking of the truck at Simunye, On Thursday, two vehicles were taken from their owners at gunpoint. One of the cars, a white Toyota Corolla was taken from its owner at Lwandle area at 11:30 in the morning. Later in the day, at about 11 ;50 at Thembelihle in Mbabane, a metallic green Toyota Tazz was taken from its owner also at gunpoint. On Monday this week, Senator Chief Bhejisa Lushaba lost his vehicle, a Toyota Hilux bakkie to gun wielding robbers. The incident happened at Hluti. So far the police have not made a breakthrough to these hijackings which appear closely related. The Senate has voiced its concerns on the failure of the police to apprehend the criminals. On Thursday, Senator Rowan Howe implored the police to establish a Car Hijacking Unit to deal with the ever-increasing rate of attacks on luxurious vehicles. Meanwhile, South African police last week arrested three men in connection with the attacks on Swazi motorists driving in South Africa via Carolina. One of the three arrested is said to be a high-ranking government official in the Mpumalanga legislature. Provincial Commissioner SAPS, Eric Nkabinde promised that they will leave no stone untumed to bring the perpetrators to justice. Recently, ajoint task force was formed between the SAPS and their local counterparts to deal with the spate of hijacks in South African roads. Observers have highlighted the possibility that the hijackers could be from South Africa. One observer said now that the heat was up that side, the criminals could have shifted their operations to Swazi shores, with the help of unscrupulous locals. Police PRO, Vusi Masuku could not readily commit himself into drawing a connection or a comment. He promised to look into the issue for a comment later.
Mozambicans employed illegally in Swaziland (Matsapha, Times of Swaziland, 09/03) - The re-employment of Mozambican nationals to Alpha Cement yet they were recently found by the Immigrations Department to without permits to work in the country has sparked the fury of even some managers in this company. A source within the company's management, which is the largest cement seller in the country, said it was during the beginning of last month when officials from the immigrations department arrived at the company to check if the employees had the required documents. "They found that two employees who are Mozambicans did not have work permits and two of them had forged them," said the source who preferred anonymity. The source said the Mozambicans were then arrested and later released after paying an admission of a guilt fee. The source said the matter was also reported to the company's managers based in South Africa who came to the country to attend to it. The two employees, a Messrs Carlos Mathombe and Americo Nkomo, had been working for Matola cement five years ago when Alpha cement took over. "What is surprising is that these people are also not qualified to work in the workshop yet there are many qualified Swazis out there who are qualified for the job and can work legally," said the source. They are also said to demand preferential treatment as they used to get from their former employer. Meanwhile the company's head ofthe engineering and production department, Sydney Nxumalo, declined to comment on the matter stating that further information can be obtained from the company's human resource manager based at their Headquarters in South Africa. An accountant from the company, Bheki Dlamini, would neither confirm nor deny the story. "I was there when the immigration officials came but there are other people who might be in a position to give details," he said. Meanwhile an official from the immigrations office in Mbabane confirmed the arrest of the Mozambicans. "We are not allowed to talk to the press but I can confirm that they were arrested and paid an admission of guilt fee before they were released," said the official. The official said as far as they know the Mozambicans are not at work and if they are there, they have to be brought back to face further charges. The company's Managing Director Karl Meissner Rolloff confirmed that these employees do not have proper work permits. He said the two, who were arrested during the inspection by officers from the immigration department, were employed in 1992 and 1989 respectively before Alpha Cement assumed full ownership of the cement organisation in the country. "Upon their release, we together with them embarked on a process of applying for the necessary work'permits on February 12,2003," he said. He said they have received acknowledgement of receipt of the applications by the Immigration Office and are currently awaiting the outcome ofthe application.
South African criminals in Swaziland (Simunye, Times of Swaziland, 08/03) - The arrest of three people suspected to be behind the sporadic attacks on Swazis along South African roads may have come as a relief to many but more shocking revelations have emerged. Some South African thugs are believed to be in the kingdom where they are continuing with their criminal activities. It is suspected that they enjoy support from local ruffians. This Wednesday, they hijacked the driver of a horse-and-trailer truck and stuffed him in the boot of their smaller car where he spent close to 20 hours. If a declaration by the hijacked driver Themba Xorile is anything to go by, the robbers are from the Gauteng region in South Africa. Themba said they spoke in an unmistakable Zulu accent. He was on his way from Mozambique to Durban, SA and had to go via Swaziland when he was stopped near Simunye by three armed men. "They pretended to be police officers and one of them was actually dressed like a policeman," said the shaken Themba. "They first ordered me to show them my driver's licence. When I produced it, they produced pistols and told me not to offer any resistance if I did not want to get killed. They wanted me to surrender the Mercedes truck to them and I did as they ordered. They bundled me into the boot of a smaller car they were driving." The car is a white Toyota Corolla registered SD 960 LL. Themba swears that the SD registration plates were placed on top of foreign numbers. He was able to see everything because the daring criminals stopped him in broad daylight. In fact, it was around 9 am when they stopped him in the false roadblock. He claims to have been stuffed into the boot of the Toyota where he started counting minutes, which turned to hours. He could feel that the car was moving but could not tell the direction it was taking. Even though he was tired after driving for hundreds of kilometres, sleep would not come easy. He only realised after what seemed to be a very long time, that he had spent the whole day and a better part of the night inside the car boot. This is when he was ordered to get out. He though he would be killed but the criminals simply ordered him to get out and find his way home - wherever home was. It was just before 4 am and he was not sure where he was, especially because he is not so familiar with the local geography. As it turned out later, he was near Mafutseni, about 50 kilometres from Simunye. He eventually found his way to the local police post where he reported the crime. Themba said when he was eventually dumped, the truck he had been driving was nowhere in sight. He usually travels between Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa and this was the first time he was hijacked. He was lucky that when he was stopped at the illegal roadblock, he had separated his money and placed it in different pockets. The thugs left some of it when they took the truck, which had all his possessions like his clothes, cell phone and wallet. Police PRO Vusie Masuku confirmed the robbery, saying investigations were already underway. This means that Themba, who was still trying to find his way to Durban, will await word from the local police. The stolen truck belongs to Cross-moor Transport, the company that Themba works for.
Government not ready for personal ID registration (Siteki, Times of Swaziland, 01/03) - Musa Mdluli (32) has spent hundreds of Emalangeni and several weeks waiting in line to register for his personal identity number (PIN), which government has made compulsory for every citizen. Two months down the line, he still has not reached the official who will register his name in the population register. During this period, he has been leaving his home in Ngwazini, more than 60 kilometres away, to join the queue at the Siteki regional administration offices. "Each time 1 get here, 1 find that 1 am already late," he said. "I leave home very early in the morning but 1 return each day without having registered for the PIN. 1 have spent a lot of money in bus fares and food. 1 cannot even talk about the time because 1 spend the whole day waiting here, to no avail." Musa's home area, Ngwazini, is in the Manzini region but he has to travel all the way to Siteki, in the Lubombo everyday. Government has failed to provide centres where registration for the PIN can be done in Manzini, Pigg's Peak and other major areas. Presently, the only places offering this service are Mbabane, Siteki and Nhlangano. Musa is only one of thousands of citizens who have responded to government's call for registration in the population register, without success. Everyone resident in the country is now expected to carry an identity card that has his or her personal identity number. The card will also have a picture of the bearer and will include particulars like his chief and date of birth. Musa was found at Siteki early this week, still doing what he has been doing for the last two months - waiting in line. He is unemployed and thought this was an 'advantage' as he would have enough time to go through the tedious process involved in registering for the PIN. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Also with him in Siteki was Zanele Maziya of Maphungwane. "I am not in good health but have to push and shove in the queue from morning until sunset," she told the Swazi News. She has also spent days still trying to register for the ID. The 52-year-old has condemned government for failing to provide registration facilities for this project at Tinkhundla centres. Mabutfo Dlamini from Shewula says the process of registering for the PIN is more of a financial drain than anything else. His view is that government did not plan properly for this project but decided to announce it in haste. He also complained that people from areas within the Manzini region were taking up a lot of space in the Lubombo, to the detriment of those from the region. The Swazi News established that in Mbabane, only the ministry of justice headquarters and the births, marriages and deaths department were offering the PIN registration service. Queues are the order of the day, as people from all corners of the country converge here for registration. On arrival, one is given a form to fill. This form requires one to state his particulars like name, date of birth and marital status. The form is then submitted to another office. Attached to it are the bearer's birth certificate and graded tax certificate. The two certificates have to be signed by a commissioner of oaths. After this process, the applicant has to join yet another queue where he will have his photograph taken. This process could sound simple but on arrival at the registration centre, one realises how tedious it is. People stand hours or days in each line. Only those who have relatives and friends are said to receive expedient assistance.
Government launches campaign against illegal immigration (The Arusha Times, 29/03-05/04) - A Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) citizen who used to work as a hair dresser at one of the beauty salons in town, has been apprehended by the Immigration Department in Arusha. Wasonga Musagi (32) was an employee of a beauty parlour known as Vogue Beautiful Salon located along Goliondoi road in the municipality. Regional Immigration Officer, Method Rwekeza said Musagi was arrested after being discovered to have been working in the country contrary to migration regulations. This, according to Rwekeza, was one of the series of arrests that his department is about to make, following a special exercise to smoke out illegal immigrants in Arusha. The Immigration Officer revealed that, of late there has been a wave of Congolese hair dressers being imported from DRC to run local beauty parlours in Arusha. He explained that normally their employers keep the immigrants in their own residential houses thus making it difficult to arrest them or even trace their whereabouts. Recent investigations conducted by these reporters have also revealed that, a number of beauty parlours and barber shops in town operate as late as midnight thus paving way for the illegal immigrant hair "experts" to work as night dressers to avoid being seen by the relevant authorities. Rwekeza also pointed out that, most salon owners are influential rich people capable of pulling the right strings in order to protect their illegal workers. Beauty parlours are among the most lucrative businesses because of Arusha’s many ceremonies such as weddings, confirmations, Holy communions, graduation parties, send off and marriage consecrations, all of which require beauty touches. Three years ago, another anti-crime campaign led by the then District Commissioner for Arusha, Aggrey Mwanri revealed that, some beauty parlours in town were being used to peddle illegal drugs.
Operation against illegal immigrants in Tabora region (The Guardian, 25/03) - Police Force in Tabora Region plan a massive operation to search for illegal immigrants. Speaking on telephone to The Guardian from Tabora yesterday, the Regional Police Commander, Placid Chaka, said the operation would start anytime. ACP Chaka stated that the exercise would involve illegal immigrants and refugees who are staying in the region. “We intend to launch the operation in order to net illegal immigrants, including refugees who have been entering Tabora Region through Urambo District from time to time,” he said. According to Chaka, the operation to be led by police would also involve local residents and villagers in Urambo. “Without close cooperation from local communities, our operation against illegal immigrants is unlikely to succeed,” ACP Chaka said. In a similar exercise in the past, police in Tabora arrested over 50 illegal immigrants, including Burundian refugees who had escaped from refugee camps in Kigoma and Rukwa regions.
Editor critical of government stripped of citizenship (Dar es Salaam, Sapa-AFP, 24/03) - The Tanzanian government has stripped of citizenship an editor of a news magazine that frequently criticizes authorities in the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, according to a document seen by AFP. Ali Nabwa, the editor of news weekly Dira, has been given until June 18 to surrender his Tanzanian passport to the immigration department, according to a letter from an assistant director of the country's Immigration Services in Zanzibar. In the letter, dated March 19, Ali Khamis Ali says that Nabwa has lived in Tanzania illegally since 1964, when he acquired the citizenship of the Indian Ocean island state of Comoros. Dual citizenship is not allowed under Tanzanian law.
Hundreds protest against visit of gay tourists (The Guardian, 15/03) - Hundreds of Muslims in Dar es Salaam yesterday participated in a peaceful demonstration organised to protest the visit of gay tourists from the United States of America which has, however, been cancelled. The Muslim believers, who carried placards with messages condemning the tour, marched all the way from Mnazi Mmoja grounds in the city centre to Kigogo area. From the city centre, the march, which was organised by the Council of Muslim Clerics in the city, passed through Morogoro, Kawawa and Kigogo roads, to Masjid Islah where it ended. On the way demonstrators burnt US flags as a sign of their grievances and protest against homosexuality. Speaking at the end of the demonstration, Sheikh Mussa Kileo, attacked all those who engaged in homosexuality and said their fair judgment according to sharia, was the death sentence. Sheikh Kileo said that people who supported and those who planned the tour were also subject to a similar judgment. He urged Muslims to join hands in condemning obnoxious habit from entering the country. The cleric noted that allowing gay tourists to visit the country would have an adverse impact on the culture and people in the country, especially the youth. Last weekend, a group, identifying itself as the committee to curb immorality in Muslim organisations, pinned notices in various areas of the city centre, instructing its members to picket and harass the visiting gay tourists. The Archbishop of the Full Gospel Bible Fellowship, Zakaria Kakobe, had also threatened to lead a demonstration last week, to protest the visit. He said the coming of the gay tourists to Tanzania would damage the reputation of this country. It was reported earlier that the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Zakia Meghji, had stated that, in principle, the government had no objection to the visit of the gay tourists. At least 100 gay tourists from America planned to visit the country this year for a one-month tour, starting from last Monday. However, the tour has been cancelled. Press reports said the tour has been re-scheduled to next January.
Over 50 illegal immigrants from Burundi arrested (The Guardian, 04/03) -Over 50 illegal immigrants from the neighbouring Burundi have been arrested in Tabora Region, police have said. Speaking to The Guardian from Tabora by telephone yesterday, the Tabora Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Placid Chaka, said the majority of illegal immigrants of Burundi origin were arrested in Lumbe and Usimbe villages. ACP Chaka said deportation procedures were underway for sending the refugees back home soon. He added that after being interrogated by law enforcers, all the illegal immigrants admitted that they were Burundian nationals who were previously staying at refugee camps of Katumba and Mishamo, both camps are located in Mpanda District, Rukwa Region. According to Chaka, his region has been carrying out regular and special operations to net illegal immigrants. “There is a possibility of Burundian nationals, including refugees to pose like Ha people of Kigoma. Most of such refugees and illegal immigrants are sometimes engaging themselves in petty trade at different local markets in regions like Kigoma, Tabora and Rukwa,” ACP Chaka said. Special operations to arrest illegal immigrants in Tabora were introduced since last November, he said. Tabora has an over 30-year-old refugee camp at Ulyankulu in Urambo District. The camp has been sheltering Burundian refugees who had crossed the Burundi-Tanzania border in 1970s, after fleeing incessant clashes between the Bujumbura government forces and rebel armed groups.
In the meantime, police in Urambo District, on Sunday arrested four suspects, including a teacher of Chekeleni Primary School, Hamisi John (39), in connection with drinking one litre of an illicit local spirit (gongo), corruption, and illegal possession of the illicit spirit. Chaka named other suspects as Mohamed Mashaka (27), Paulo Julius (29), and Hamisi Issa (40).
All the suspects were arrested by a group of four law enforcers, led by a Woman Police, Police Constable Zena, Detective Police Constable Oworo, Police Constable Lusajo and Police Constable Patrick. The arrest was done, around 9pm, when law enforcers were on their night patrol duty, Chaka said. ACP Chaka said that on arriving at a police station, 50 kilometres from the area where the incident occurred, one of the suspects, a teacher, Hamis John, offered 4,000/- as bribe to PC Zena, asking her not to arrest him. Last Sunday’s corruption case was a third one recorded by police in Tabora since February this year. On February 9 this year, Corporal Mathew arrested one Mohamed Kaombwe, a driver, in connection with offering a 3,000/- bribe. Kaombwe, however, was earlier caught by a law enforcer for overloading a passengers’ vehicle. The case is currently before the court of law. Late last month, policemen netted two suspects, Sifa Ramadhan and Maulid Ramadhan, in connection with offering 3,000/- and 1,000/- as bribe to law enforcers respectively. The suspects were arrested at Kaloleni, in Tabora town, according to Chaka.
Boundary dispute with Kenya (Kampala, The Monitor, 04/03) - The recent arrest and subsequent jailing of 85 Kenyan fishermen by Tanzanian authorities threw the Lake Victoria fisheries into fresh controversy. It was the culmination of a worsening tension over the boundaries of Lake Victoria and amorphous fishing legislation that has haunted the three East African countries over the years. The dramatic arrest of 85 Kenyan fishermen by Tanzanian police over alleged trespass on the Lake waters and their imprisonment jolted the diplomatic community. It was a signal of an impending battle over the control of Lake Victoria resources - thanks to the high demand of the Nile Perch, the lake's most valued fish. The fishermen were arrested by Tanzanian police after they allegedly crossed the borders to try their luck on the Tanzanian side of the lake. Their fishing equipment worth Tshs 5.5 million was also confiscated. They were nabbed after a dramatic boat chase on the waters and hounded to Tarime and Musoma prisons where they were speedily charged with trespass and fined Tshs 100,000 (Kshs 10,000) each. The helpless fishermen could not immediately raise the fines and were sent in for three-year jail terms. A Kenyan delegation led by Migori District Commissioner Ukur Yatani to negotiate the release of the fishermen failed after their counterparts in Tarime snubbed them. Foreign Affairs Minister Kalonzo Musyoka vowed to have the Kenyans released. Tanzania, on its part remained unapologetic and vowed never to release the Kenyan fishermen unless the fines were paid in full. Mara regional Commissioner, Nimrod Lugoye was quoted in the regional weekly The East African accusing Kenyan fishermen of smuggling fresh Nile Perch from its territorial waters. In the past three years, many Kenyan fishermen, especially from Busia, Suba and Siaya districts have been arrested and their fishing equipment confiscated. Worst hit have been those living on the Islands of Wayasi, Hema, Sumba, Sigulu, Sakiti and Siro, where Ugandan authorities swoop on them at will over alleged trespass.
Last week, Kenya sought explanation on the death of her two fishermen and the earlier arrests and prosecutions, as debate raged over the future of the lake and its resources. Coming at a time when the three East African countries were working towards harmonised fisheries regulations and joint policing of the lake, the arrests fuelled fresh tensions and threw the budding East African Community into panic. To the 24.1m East Africans eking out a living from the Africa's largest fresh water lake, the arrests never came as a surprise. Kenyan fishermen have been roundly accused by Uganda and Tanzania over their aggressive fishing activities in the lake. With a growing number of fish processing firms in the three countries, the demand for the Nile Perch has fuelled hostilities as fishermen plunge deeper into the lake to fill their baskets. Kenya is disadvantaged because it has only six per cent of the lake while Tanzania and Uganda control 49 and 45 per cent respectively. Because of her smaller fishing portion, many Kenyan fishermen have been accused of crossing the boundaries in search of fish. But the Kenyan fishermen complain that they had never been shown the borders. To them the lake is one big mass of water with no visible boundaries. Many Kenyan fishermen have in the past been arrested in the Ugandan waters over illegal fishing. Each time, the Kenyan High Commission in Uganda had to intervene to have them released. The cross border fishing conflicts have persisted over the years because of the different marketing conditions in the three countries and the over capacity of the fish processing factories. In a recent study, funded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Jinja based Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO) found out that the unpredictable movement of Nile perch in the lake water contributed to the cross border fishing habits.
"The Nile Perch stocks move seasonally in the lake. Many fishers follow this movement, thereby crossing international borders from time to time", the LVFO says in a report, the "Cross-border Fisheries Management on Lake Victoria". The report says the mushrooming of many fish processing factories and lack of a joint lake patrol security team was also responsible for the conflicts. Is it a case of too many fishermen chasing limited stocks of fish? Tanzania has 56,000 fishermen and women, 15,000 boats, 1500 outboard engines and 600 fish landing sites while Uganda has 35,000 fishers, the same number of boats and same number of landing beaches. Kenya, despite owning a smaller portion of the lake has 33,000 fishermen, 10,000 boats with 500 outboard engines and 300 fish landing beaches. In January, Tanzanian officials claimed that between 25 and 40 per cent of the annual catch in Tanzanian waters ended up illegally in Kenya and Uganda. A survey by the Lake Victoria Fish Processors Association of Tanzania claims that up to 36,000 tonnes of fresh Nile Perch caught in Tanzania is smuggled into Kenya annually. But this report, published in the press, has been disputed by Kenyan fishermen who describe it as alarming. Tanzania and Uganda had more larger fish processing capacities (49 and 35 per cent) respectively while Kenya has 16 per cent processing capacity. However, Kenya's 11 fish processors offer better prices compared to the neighbours. "As a result, many fishers in border areas still prefer to land their catch at Kenyan landing sites or sell to commercial purchases operating across the borders", said the LVFO report. Other reports published in the media in the recent past also claimed that rich individuals were slowly "privatising" parts of the lake. "Apart from staking claims to vast fishing areas, they have also grabbed some uninhabited islands and are reported to be threatening artisan fisher-folks who trespass", said the report published in The East African.
Fishing communities at international borders have ironically enjoyed close social and commercial relations for generations. "More recently, they have experienced stricter control of their movements on the lake. While they are willing to follow rules and regulations and pay cross border fees and taxes, they wish to be better informed of pertinent regulations", says the LVFO report. Experts agree that only a harmonised fisheries regulations and joint patrols would solve problems facing the Lake Victoria fisheries. Fisher-people interviewed by Nation say they want flexible and practical licensing procedures. They deplored the rising insecurity and violence on the lake by pirates and hired gangs. They also complained of abusive and corrupt fisheries officials. But the three governments have been struggling to end the hostilities threatening the regional fisheries. Last August, the region's Fisheries Management Committee meeting under the aegis of the LVFO adopted a number of recommendations to streamline the industry.The committee that brings together directors and commissioners of fisheries in the three countries recommended:
* Regular cross border meetings involving fishermen, law enforcing agencies, and local authorities from the countries.
* Harmonise fisheries regulations and enforcing agencies in the three countries.
* Strengthened monitoring, control and surveillance on the lake.
* Exchange of information on fisheries regulations.
* Relevant government authorities establish border points on key islands on the lake to ease transactions.
Fishers should have easy access to licences that regulate access to cross-border fishing grounds.
Fewer than 1,000 Rwandan refugees remain (Nairobi, Irin, 04/03) - Fewer than 1,000 Rwandan refugees remain in Tanzania - roughly 700 in Ngara and 300 in Kibondo - with returns continuing, according to Ivana Unluova, the spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She told IRIN on Monday that of these remaining refugees, almost 40 had been identified for possible resettlement in third countries and, under the UNHCR's agreement with the government of Tanzania, they should be allowed to stay in the country until the resettlement procedure was finalised. A 2 March deadline had been set for the repatriation of all remaining Rwandan refugees. However, UNHCR said that collaboration with Tanzanian authorities was good, and the additional time necessary was not presenting any problems. The deadline was fixed during a tripartite meeting between UNHCR and the governments of Rwanda and Tanzania held on 13 February in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's commercial capital. The meeting was followed by a two sensitisation campaign led by a Rwandan government delegation to brief Rwandans living in refugee camps on voluntary repatriation. UNHCR had previously reported that the voluntary repatriation of Rwandan refugees from camps in northwestern Tanzania had been completed on 27 December 2002, with the remaining caseload to be resolved by a future tripartite meeting in 2003.
Repatriations of Burundians from Tanzania (The Sunday Mirror, 02/03) - Efforts to repatriate Burundians living in Tanzania are to be stepped up to include refugees who have been in the country for the last 30 years and those living in villages near the shared border, as well as those in the refugee camps. The decision was announced in a joint communiqué, issued on Wednesday after a meeting of the Tripartite Commission on the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees. The commission is made up of representatives the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the governments of Tanzania and Burundi.According to the communiqué, the commission recommended that the Tanzanian government carry out a census of all Burundian refugees living outside the camps. "Once identified, it is recommended that UNHCR assistance be sought for voluntary repatriation within the framework of the ongoing repatriation operation," it reads. The commission had adopted the "general concept of the consolidated plan" for the repatriation of the "old Burundi caseload" - the term used to describe the long-term refugees - and a plan as well as a budget would be finalised within the first two weeks of March, the communique added. UNHCR estimates there are 170,000 Burundians who fled their country in the 1970s and have been living in settlements in Tanzania ever since. Added to these are the Burundians living in Tanzanian villages near the border and in refugee camps and, according to Tanzanian government estimates, these number at least 300,000. "There are Burundians that have been in Tanzania for over 30 years, but they are still refugees," John Chiligati, Tanzania's deputy minister for home affairs, told IRIN. "They have been fearing the situation at home, but we are hoping that the situation in Burundi will improve and they can be convinced to go back." He said while both "the old Burundi caseload" and those living in Tanzanian villages were producing food for themselves, the government hoped that once the refugees from the camps had been repatriated, these two groups would follow.
Citing considerable improvements in the security situation in Burundi's southeastern provinces of Makamba, Rutana and Bururi, the commission also agreed to activate three more exit/entry points to help facilitate repatriation. The commission also said a sensitisation campaign in the camps would be undertaken to encourage the refugees to go home. The respective delegations to the commission were led by Tanzanian Minister of Home Affairs Omar Mapuri, the Burundi minister of reintegration and resettlement of displaced persons and returnees, Francoise Ngendahayo, and the UNHCR resident representative, Chrysanthus Ache. UNHCR has said the implementation of the commission's decisions would depend on the outcome of the planned transition of presidential power in Burundi on 1 May. "We will have to wait and see what the situation is like on the ground," Ivana Unluova, UNCHR's spokeswoman in Tanzania, said. "But after the census, and once the numbers are known, we will have to study how and when we will be involved in this repatriation." She said that, with the exception of a few Bantu Somalis who had been allowed to remain in Tanga because of their ancestral links with Tanzania, the government did not condone the local integration of refugees.
4 Zambians shot dead in Zimbabwe (Zambia Daily Mail, 25/03) - Zimbabwean wildlife authorities have shot dead four Zambians while one is battling for his life at Kariba Hospital. And a 34-year-old Zambian peasant farmer in Mkushi has hacked to death a Zambian farmer of British origin, Erick Cleyson, 80, after a tiff. The four Zambians were found in Tashinga Game Park with firearms and elephant tusks before they were shot dead. Another Zambian and a Zimbabwean were wounded. Acting Police Service spokesperson, Bonny Kapeso, confirmed in Lusaka yesterday that the six were shot in the Game Park where they were found allegedly poaching. Zimbabwean police and wildlife officials recovered three AK47 assault rifles and 56 live rounds of ammunition. They also recovered two elephant tusks. The dead have been identified as Henry Kandundu of Siavonga while Justine Matiba, Fred Mulenga and David Chishinga could not be traced. Mr Kapeso said the Zambian who sustained gunshot injuries has been identified as Atton Mubanga, aged 30 of House number 151, Old Kanyama township in Lusaka. The injured Zimbabwean is Ambros Gondwe. "The four bodies are at Kariba Hospital mortuary while the injured are hospitalised at the same place," Mr Kapeso said. He said people who may have missed their relatives should contact authorities for arrangements to retrieve the bodies. On the Mkushi farmer who was killed over the weekend, Mr Kapeso said the peasant farmer used a knife to hack Mr Cleyson to death. Police are holding the suspect. Mr Kapeso said the incident happened at Whispering Farm and added that the suspect is expected to be taken to court soon for murder. The cause of the tiff was not established but Mr Kapeso said the Briton was found with head injuries.
West Africans in cross-border cattle raiding (Times of Zambia, 18-26/03) -Aliens believed to be West Africans are terrorising villagers in Mapatizya area in Kalomo where they are using illegally acquired fire arms to steal cattle. District administrator Oliver Pelete yesterday said the aliens were in the area searching for precious stones but had acquired fire arms left behind by freedom fighters of the then Rhodesia war. He said the aliens, who usually raided villages to steal cattle at night, had even married Zambian women who were keeping them. The district administrator said what was worrying was that the armed aliens were now crossing into neighbouring Zimbabwe to steal cattle and then crossing back into Zambia. He added that immigration department and other security wings lacked the capacity to mount a joint operation because of logistical problems. Mr Pelete who personally visited Mapatizya area recently said the situation was out of control and that Government needed to intervene urgently to protect lives and property. He said a meeting recently held between chiefs along the border in Kalomo and their Zimbabweans counterparts in the Victoria Falls, took particular concern to the increased cross border banditry. He said he had appealed to the office of the provincial permanent secretary Darius Hakayobe to provide necessary logistics to the immigration department, police and other security wings to carry an effective operation in Mapatizya--Zana.
Angolan refugees reluctant to return home (Times of Zambia, 18-26/03) -Home is home, even though it may never be so homely, goes the old adage. But not so true for 21,000 Angolan refugees that are camped at Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlement in Kaoma district of Western Province. Most refugees from the former Portuguese colony are reluctant to go back to the land of their forefathers unless they are assured of a durable cease-fire between Unita and the MPLA government. Even the news that former Unita rebel leader Jonas Savimbi is dead and buried and the country is on a re-construction course is not good enough to convince them. But you would not blame them entirely for dragging their feet over their return to their homeland. Their fears may be well-founded. Most of the refugees have lived at Mayukwayukwa, opened in 1966 and the oldest refugee settlement in Africa for more than four decades while others have no idea of what Angola looks like, for they have never been there. Still, others are jittery although someone told them in 1994, shortly after the Lusaka Peace Protocol was signed between Unita and the MPLA government that there was peace in Angola and they, therefore, could return to their country. They are fearful because most of those, if not all, who returned received a rude shock when they were greeted with barrels of guns. This was after Unita leader Jonas Savimbi lost the elections and took up the arms again. The Angolan refugees want to know what will happen to their property which they have managed to acquire while in Zambia. How about the question of landmines and transport? Most of these fears by refugees were expressed at a recent meeting at Mayukwayukwa refugee settlement involving delegations from the Angolan and Zambian governments, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and section leaders at the camp. At the rather heated meeting, although it was showering outside, the refugees made it clear to Angolan and Zambian delegations led by Dr Nilsa Defatima Batalha and Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba respectively that they will only return home after sending their own representatives to assess the peace situation. One of the refugees Lumbala Chitende, who came to the settlement in 1967, said they should do what the Israelis did when they were in exile in Babylon by sending representatives to assess the peace process in Jerusalem. "We are requesting the Angolan government to first send representatives to assess the peace process. I can sacrifice myself to go, even today if possible," he said.
Another refugee Bernard Chiwale said they did not come to Zambia to stay forever but would not risk to go back without any assurance of durable peace in their country which has never known peace since gaining independence from Portugal in 1975. Chiwale told the head of the Angolan delegation that if she was lying about the peace situation in Angola, then God would send her to hell, preferably go to the hottest part. "We have been separated from our families for too long. We hope the country is truly at peace, otherwise if you are lying, then God will punish you by sending you to hell. "Although we miss Angola so much, we don't know how true it is that there is peace. If there is no peace, then leave us in Zambia," Chiwale said in a rather militant fashion amid shouts of approval from the crowd. Ireen Mlembi, who was speaking on behalf of the women also said although they came to Zambia a long time ago, they still have the will and desire to go back. "We want our children to go and settle where we come from, but these are in school, we want to know whether we will continue. "There are also rumours of landmines which are bringing fear to us...the Angolan government should deal with this issue as well as provide us with transport," she said. And Mary Chindumba who arrived in Zambia at the age of six and did her primary education at the settlement and has several grandchildren said she could only go back after being certain that there is peace. "Some elders from Angola came in 1994 to tell us about peace. We sold our possessions thinking there is peace only to find there was war ...we almost died from hunger until the Zambian Government brought relief food," the emotional and dark complexioned Chindumba said. She said although Angola is their country, they would not want to spend another considerable amount of time running up and down. "We have a lot of possessions here like vehicles, oxen, fields, hammer mills and ox carts...what will happen to all those goods," she wondered. But the Angolan delegation leader emphasised the need for them to return home and contribute towards the re-construction process of the country. She told them that there was no way their government could lie to them about the situation in Angola. "No one can come all the way from Angola to come and cheat about peace... I am also a mother and want my children to live in a peaceful country that we can all be proud of.
"It is rare to find someone in Angola who has not lost a loved one. It is we Angolans who have destroyed the country, although there was some foreign influence. It will, therefore, be us to rebuild our country. "We should start living as brothers and sisters, whether Unita or MPLA. I, myself, am even planning to marry someone from Unita," Dr Batalha said. She said the Angolan government had already started re-building roads and bridges, hospitals and schools, although it would take time to finish the process. Dr Batalha said it is not possible for the government to do the re-construction process rapidly. "We are poor. That is why we are asking foreign governments like the United States, Japan and others to assist us in the re-building process. "But you people have been contributing to the Zambian economy, you can do the same to the Angolan economy. Why would you want to die in Zambia instead of your own country? "You can have your own fields growing maize, potatoes and any crops of your choice. We are not forcing anyone to go back, it is voluntary," she told the refugees. She promised to take some people from the settlement to go and see the peace situation for themselves in Angola so that they did not feel cheated. "But I must remind you that you won't find better structures like those in Zambia, we are just coming out of war, but it will be us to rebuild the country," she said. Dr Batalha, however, said government is putting in place basic necessities within its means to ensure that they did not suffer. She was hopeful that everything going according to plan, the repatriation involving refugees in Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Namibia should be starting in June. And Mr Mumba said although the reactions from the refugees has been mixed, the Zambian Government would help with the repatriation. With that, therefore, the hope is that should the Angolan refugees decide to go back, they should find a safe sanctuary in the potentially rich country. But even if they find their home country not to be so homely, they should try to create a peaceful environment, both for Angola's and Africa's sake. It is a message worth heeding. Failure to do that may result in posterity judging the Angolan refugees harshly. Who knows? Maybe the solution to the on-going conflicts in the diamond rich country lies in one of the refugees who are not keen to return to their home, sweet home. Providence has many surprises. A future president of Angola may be among those refugees at Mayukwayukwa.
Government officials re-sold land to foreigners (Times of Zambia, 7-15/03) - Lands Minister Judith Kapijimpanga yesterday admitted in Parliament that some senior Government officials who owned land in Kamwala re-sold it to foreigners at colossal amounts of money. Winding up debate on the estimates of her ministry, Ms Kapijimpanga said she would institute investigations to establish who owned what in Kamwala. Ms Kapijimpanga called on former Lusaka town clerk Jack Mwiimbu, now Monze MP (UPND) to furnish her with records to establish who truly owned land in Lusaka's Kamwala area. Earlier some members of Parliament expressed concerns at how foreigners owned big tracks of land at the expense of Zambians while Government remained quiet about the issue. Moomba MP Vitalis Mooya (UPND) accused some Government officials at the Ministry of Lands of giving priority to foreigners at the expense of locals when allocating land. Muchinga MP Oliver Kalunga (MMD) called on Government to institute policies that safeguarded the allocation of land if Zambians were to benefit. "It is not in order for foreigners who come here on business to acquire large tracks of land at our expense when we have a Government in place," he said. Chipangali MP Lucas Phiri (UNIP) warned that in less than five years from now what obtained in Zimbabwe regarding land would also take root in Zambia if Government did not take remedial measures. He said it was not fair for one person to occupy large tracks of land when ordinary Zambians had little portions. Mr Mwiimbu said land in Zambia had been abused by some people who purportedly complied with the laws of the country in acquiring it. He said dubious investors acquired land especially in the Mkushi farming block and later resold it to South African investors.
"The ministry of Lands should address this issue of land being given to investors in South Africa which is not in compliance with our existing laws in the country," he said. He said Zambians were being used as fronts in acquiring land to be owned by foreigners. "If a diligent search is conducted at that land in Kamwala, you will establish that it was given to senior Government officials who have resold it to foreigners. I have been town clerk for Lusaka and I know what I am talking about," he told Parliament. Kalomo MP Request Muntanga (UPND) said it was saddening to note how title deeds at the Ministry of Lands were being dubiously approved. Deputy Minister in the President's Office Kapembwa Simbao assured the House that Government would investigate all the corrupt practices at the ministry of Lands as earlier indicated by President Mwanawasa. He said the President was aware of the corruption and directed the minister to work towards eradicating the scourge. Mr Simbao said the K3 billion allocated for land in this year's Budget demonstrated the seriousness Government attached to the issue.
Foreigners may apply for citizenship (Times of Zambia, 06/03) - Government has reminded foreigners who have lived in the country for more than 10 years that they are free to apply for citizenship. Home Affairs Deputy Minister Kennedy Sakeni said it was better for foreigners who were born in Zambia and lived for more than 10 years to apply for citizenship than continue registering for resident permits. Mr Sakeni said in Lusaka yesterday that foreigners should take advantage of the Zambian Constitution if they were not aware that there was such a provision. Mr Sakeni wondered why some foreigners were not applying for citizenship despite having lived in Zambia for more than 10 years and contributed to the development of the country. "I am wondering why people are not ready to apply for citizenship having lived in Zambia for years. The only people who are applying for citizenship are those of Asian origin," he said. He said the Zambian Constitution was clear and that it did not discriminate against anyone and those with records which were valid could not be denied citizenship. Meanwhile, the immigration department says it has so far recorded 1,144 applications for citizenship. Immigrations public relations officer Jones Mwelwa said in Lusaka that the response was overwhelming. And the department at Chirundu border post on Friday last week arrested a Kenyan woman for travelling on an expired passport. In another incident two Congolese and a Uganda national in Kabwe have been picked up for living in Zambia illegally.
Abducted girls to be brought back from Ireland (Times of Zambia, 05/03) -Government is making arrangements to bring back two Zambians girls who were allegedly abducted to Ireland by two Congolese nationals for sex purposes. Foreign Affairs Minister Kalombo Mwansa said Government was saddened by the whole affair and would do everything possible to bring the two girls back to Zambia. "As Government, we will do everything possible to ensure the girls are brought back home because these are Zambians who were taken to Ireland not at freewill," he said. The two Congolese nations are appearing before a Lusaka magistrates court. In another related development, investigations into the allegedly plot to poison former Zambia Security Intelligence Services (ZSIS) director Xavier Chungu have reached an advanced stage. Acting police spokesperson Bonny Kapeso said that after the investigations were concluded, the report would be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecution for approval before it was made public.
Angolan refugees leave for home in May (Times of Zambia, 5-13/03) - Government has said repatriation of Angolan refugees from Zambia will finally start in May, under an agreement between the Zambian and Angolan governments and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (UNHCR). Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba said this yesterday at the official opening of the second tripartite commission for the repatriation of Angolan refugees held in Lusaka. Mr Mumba said the current peace in Angola would enable Zambia to enjoy easy road and railway communication network and trade as well as build on the already existing ethnic links. He said the international community, more specifically the Southern African region had a lot to gain from the current peace in Angola. Other than freeing the resources tied up in emergency humanitarian crisis, the region would enjoy peace and stability which was key to sustainable socio-economic development. Mr Mumba noted out that Zambia played host to over 140,000 Angolan refugees some of whom had been in the country for over 30 years .
Repatriation of Rwanda refugees voluntary (Times of Zambia, 04/03) - The Government has said it is not in a hurry to repatriate the more than 5,000 Rwandan refugees currently in the country until the United Nations signs a cessation clause to strip them of their status. Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba said in an interview in Ndola yesterday the repatriation at the moment was voluntary and the asylum seekers would leave at their own pace. He said the repatriation procedures and endorsement were done by the international community and the host nation only gave a helping hand to the UNHCR. Mr Mumba, who refuted claims that the Government was rushing out the refugees from Rwanda, said although the UNHCR had recommended the repatriation of the Rwandese, the refugees were free to leave now or later. On the Congolese refugees, Mr Mumba said the Zambian Government had not received any report of repatriation with the UNHCR. He said the country had already signed a tripartite agreement with Angola and UNHCR on November 28, last year while the one with Rwanda was signed on January 15 this year. " So what we have done is that we are sending a group of Rwandan refugees to their country to assess whether it is conducive for them to return home or not, although other people came and reported that it was safe to return. "Those will come and tell their colleagues how the situation is and they will decide whether to leave or to stay," Mr Mumba said.
Hundreds of Zimbabweans drop out of South African university (The Chronicle, 25/03) - Hundreds of Zimbabwean students studying with the University of South Africa through correspondence have abandoned their courses after fees for the second semester shot up by more than I 000 percent, following the adjustment in the exchange rate last month, Chronicle learnt yesterday. The Government gazetted the foreign exchange rate last month under its new uniform export incentive scheme that gave exporters a new package. The adjustment saw the Zimbabwe dollar exchanging on the interbank market rate at $106 to one South African rand. In interviews, several former UNISA students said they abandoned their studies as they could no longer afford the exorbitant fees. The institute has two semesters of six months each a year. Those registered for the first semester will write exams in May/June and then face a bleak future. Prior to the fee hikes, UNISA was one of the most affordable international institutions offering degree programmes. "Last year, I paid $72 000 for my BCompt degree but with the fee hikes I am now expected to pay $972 000 a year. "The rise was so sudden and took everyone by surprise. The majority of the students pulled out and helplessly watched as their dreams were shattered," said Mr Noel Mugiyo, a second year student in Bachelor of Computer Accounting. An official at a study centre that offers UNISA degrees said the institution had not hiked its fees but they shot up following the adjustment of the local currency. He said UNISA had made arrangements with certain banks to ensure that students paid their fees in local currencies before the banks transferred the money to UNISA in rands. "All along Zimbabwean students were paying fees calculated at about Z$8 to a rand but now Z$I 06 is required for every Rand at interbank rate. The new fees are now calculated at that rate, hence the sharp rise," he said. Another UNISA student said on average, UNISA degrees have about 30 modules and the average fee was now $80 000 per module. "This means that on average, Zimbabwean students are now required to pay about $2,4 million for a degree programme," he said. The adjustment in fees has seen many students dropping out of UNISA courses, with a huge number of them contemplating joining local universities such as Great Zimbabwe University and Solusi. These two institutions were considered to be more expensive than UNISA before the adjustment in the fees. Local universities also have the advantage that they offer facetoface lectures, accommodation and books.
Comment: Immigrants deserve better treatment (The Herald, 24/03) - Reports that Zimbabwe and South Africa have agreed to relax regulations on the movement of people between the two countries reflect genuine desire to further cement relations. That the two countries have also agreed to establish more border posts to improve the flow of people is indeed good news, especially to cross-border traders. A number of Zimbabweans who travel to South Africa do so illegally — crossing the border through unauthorised entry points. It is disturbing to note that as of December last year more than 55 000 Zimbabweans were deported from South Africa and Botswana for entering the countries illegally. It is a fact that people near borders like Beitbridge, Chirundu and Plumtree, among others, have family ties on either side of the common border hence the need that the authorities should facilitate easy movement. A meeting held in Cape Town, South Africa last week attended by Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and his South African counterpart Chief Mangusuthu Buthelezi agreed, among other issues, to relax requirements for study permits and visas. The meeting focussed on the new Immigration Act, which is to be introduced in South Africa. Most Zimbabweans who visit South Africa are cross-border traders. The majority of them apply for visas, which enable them to enter that country. The problem comes in with border jumpers who evade the designated entry points. If caught, these illegal immigrants should be arrested, charged and deported. We hasten to add that this should be done with due recognition of human rights requirements. Of late there have been an outcry from Zimbabweans deported from Botswana, most of whom have complained of inhuman treatment after being arrested by the authorities in spite of having valid passports and permits. It is unfortunate that the xenophobia against Zimbabweans by the Batswana authorities is growing and the lawlessness displayed by so many Botswana nationals, when they express their hatred of outsiders, is appalling. More worrying is denying some Zimbabweans, those with good claim to legal residence, their basic rights.
We do not, and cannot, condone illegal actions by Zimbabweans. If some Zimbabweans have committed a crime, or if it is suspected that he or she has, then that person must be arrested, charged and brought to court. Among the illegal actions many Zimbabweans commit, is entering Botswana without permission. But illegal entry is not some crime of violence that requires action by citizens of a country. There are many jobs in both South Africa and Botswana which citizens will not touch and surely some sort of proper semi-migrant labour scheme can be put in place. South Africa should be commended for easing ways on the status of the immigrants and we appeal to the Batswana to treat immigrants with some respect and to at least obey their own laws. Regional co-operation and integration will not be strengthened by continuous deportations. There are far much better ways to deal with the problem and these have to be explored by the affected governments in the region.
Zimbabwe, South Africa to facilitate cross-border movement (The Herald, 20/03) - Zimbabwe and South Africa have agreed to relax regulations on the movement of people between the countries. The two neighbours’ Home Affairs Ministers, Cde Kembo Mohadi and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, reached the agreement at a meeting held recently in Cape Town. The two ministers agreed to establish more border posts to improve the flow of people. They tasked their officials to look into the possibility of establishing one-stop border posts. Cde Mohadi and Chief Buthelezi also discussed the need to facilitate the movement of people who have family ties on either side of the common border. They also discussed the repatriation of Zimbabweans who are living illegally in South Africa and agreed that this should be done with due recognition of human rights requirements. On the issue of visa requirements, the ministers agreed that it was necessary to maintain a progressively more relaxed regime whereby holders of, for example, diplomatic or official passports should be exempted from getting visas. In a statement to The Herald, the Zimba- bwean Home Affairs Ministry said South Africa had already relaxed requirements for study permits. According to the statement, study permits could now be issued for up to three years with payment for a visa being done upon the issuing of the permit. Previously, one was required to renew the study permit and pay for the visa on an annual basis. The discussions also focussed on the new Immigration Act, which is to be introduced in South Africa. South African officials briefed their Zimbabwean counterparts on the Act. The electoral task team’s report was also made available for possible further discussion. The two parties agreed that detailed discussions should take place between heads of ministries who will b required to report back.
Zimbabweans seeking UK asylum (Irin, 17/03) - Zimbabweans topped the number of Africans seeking asylum in Great Britain last year, the second highest group of people in the world next to Iraqis in the last quarter of 2002. According to the latest statistics released by Britain's Home Office, applications from Zimbabweans increased by almost a third from October, but fell sharply in December, partly due to the introduction of visa regimes introduced in December. When explaining the introduction of the visas last year, Home Secretary David Blunkett said Britain had experienced increasingly large numbers of "unfounded" asylum claims from Zimbabwean nationals and the move would make it much easier for genuine Zimbabwean visitors to travel to the United Kingdom. From October to December, 2,750 Zimbabweans applied for asylum, bringing the total for the year to 7,695. In December 2001, the final figure was 2,115 and in 2000 it was 1,010. Of the 6,225 requests processed last year, 2,245 applicants were granted asylum. Since 2000, Zimbabwe, a former British colony, has been troubled by a controversial land reform programme, which stripped many white farmers of their land. A political crisis has left the opposition challenging last year's presidential election in court, while the country's economy is burdened by an inflation rate of over 200 percent. In addition, more than half of the total population of 11.6 million is in need of food aid. Local and international human rights groups have also repeatedly condemned the government's civil liberties record. John Makumbe, chairman of the rights group Transparency International in Zimbabwe, told IRIN: "The number of people who are skilled, who are educated professionals, but can't get a job, is escalating every month. A number of companies closed for Christmas but didn't reopen in the new year, and if they did, they are operating at between 30 to 40 percent capacity. "Semi-skilled and skilled workers are travelling to the UK, South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland to look for work. The currency is stronger than the Zimbabwe dollar so they are able to repatriate the funds so that their families can buy food, property, cars and send their children to school," said Mukumbe.
Soldiers arrest Rwandan asylum seekers (The Daily News, 17/03) - Soldiers deployed along the border with Mozambique last Wednesday arrested 29 nationals from Rwanda who had entered Zimbabwe through an illegal entry point. The Rwandans were handed to the Department of Immigration after they indicated they were seeking asylum. The Rwandans, who included men, women and children, are believed to be coming from Tanzania where they were expelled. The Rwandans were taken to Grand Reef, an army barrack, 20 kilometres north of Mutare where they were reportedly interrogated before being handed over to the Department of Immigration. They are all of Hutu origin. "There are 29 of them," said one source, "we took them to Grand Reef but we now want to hand them over to the Department of Immigration." Zimbabwe has experienced an influx of Rwandan refugees into the country since January this year. The Rwandan refugees, who were expelled by the Tanzanian government, are trekking down to Zimbabwe, a country seen as a safe haven for refugees from the Great Lakes Region. They were expelled on the grounds they should return to their country because there is now "peace and stability". However, the Rwandans are reluctant to go back home, fearing retribution from the Tutsi - led government of President Paul Kagame. Tapiwa Huye, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, assistant programme officer in Harare, on Thursday said: "They (Rwandans) are coming in numbers." He said Zimbabwe was receiving an average of 300 new arrivals a month since January from a monthly average of 50 before the latest developments in Tanzania. Huye said: "The problem we have now is that our accommodation is saturated." Zimbabwe is home to about 10 000 refugees.
Youth militia flee to South Africa (The Daily News, 12/03) - Hundreds of youth militia, nicknamed the "green bombers", are fleeing to South Africa because they say they too are being beaten and starved, and are tired of "killing for nothing", Charlene Smith wrote in South Africa's Sunday Independent this week. She said she interviewed 14 "green bombers" aged from 15 to 28, "giving the first insight into the terror organisation". One youth said he fled after being forced to take part in the murder of his uncle, an MDC supporter. Another said he was involved in the murder of an MDC chairperson and claimed that within hours of that killing, Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of State for Information and Publicity, visited the area, followed by President Mugabe. A large consignment of food was moved in while 'Green Bombers' exhorted villagers to chant Zanu PF slogans. Yet another said he fled after being instructed to murder his father, an MDC supporter. Hundreds of youths have fled to South Africa, according to human rights organisations, churches and law offices. The stories of the youths interviewed who come from different areas of Zimbabwe and who did not previously know each other provide chilling details of the Green Bombers, their training and methods, reported Charlene Smith. "They come from the hundreds of youth militia training camps which have sprung up in Zimbabwe, many at secondary schools where pupils are forced to take part in the activities or risk death. "Most of those interviewed fled in December and January, some swimming the Limpopo and risking crocodiles to get to South Africa. Their real names are being withheld to protect them and their families in Zimbabwe. Camps that the boys were trained at include the infamous Border Gezi in the north of the country and Tsholotsho Training Centre, a former training centre for nurses and police officers. At Tsholotsho, the green bombers claim, there are 2 000 trainees. According to the journalist, the youths said they "were taught how to kill people in 'ways that would be quick and silent and leave no evidence'".
She said the youths told her they went on killing missions after drinking alcohol and smoking mbanje provided by their instructors and Zanu PF political commissars, because then "you feel nothing for anyone". In March last year, one 22-year-old Green Bomber claims, a woman instructor at Border Gezi and a Zanu PF political commissar instructed 13 youth militia that the MDC chairperson of the Siphepa branch, a Mr Sibindi, was to be killed. "She said it would need a strong person to kill him. We went to his house at 1am. His wife and seven children ran away. We beat him and broke his neck. It was so bad. They told us to burn him. We refused. We laid him next to the railway line. Later that morning we prepared for a rally at Siphepa for Jonathan Moyo everyone had to come, if we found someone in their house, we beat them. The Tsholotsho police tried to investigate but no one told them the truth." A 19-year-old former operative told Charlene Smith: "We were not paid. They gave us sadza only. We sold mealie-meal in the shops to those with Zanu PF cards. If MDC people came we chased them away. We were very rough."
Foreign visitors to buy fuel in hard cash (Harare, Financial Gazette, 06/03) - The Ministry of Energy and Power Development has proposed that foreign motorists travelling through Zimbabwe should pay for fuel in hard cash, as part of short-term measures - including fuel rationing and decontrolling the price of blend petrol and Jet A1 fuel - to alleviate the country's liquid energy crisis. The proposals are contained in a document entitled Position paper by the Ministry of Energy and Power Development on the short-term proposals to improve the fuel situation in the country, which was submitted to the government-business-labour Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) last week. TNF sources said the document was debated last Tuesday and would be the subject of further discussion next week. They said at next week's meeting, the three partners could either fully endorse the document or suggest further adjustments before the proposals were considered by the government. In the document, a copy of which is in the possession of the Financial Gazette, the Ministry of Energy says that Zimbabwe has to stop subsiding foreigners and curb the illegal cross border trade of fuel. It says: "Foreigners have taken advantage of the existence of the foreign currency parallel market, which has made Zimbabwe's fuel cheaper for them. Foreign motorists therefore drive into the country with empty tanks for them to fuel in Zimbabwe. "By ensuring that foreigners pay in hard currency, this will make them pay a reasonable price for the fuel and it will also go a long way in channelling foreign currency into the formal market. The ministry is therefore recommending that foreigners should pay in hard currency." It was not possible to ascertain from Energy Minister Amos Midzi how this system, if it was implemented, would operate. But sources within the TNF said foreign motorists might be asked to pay forex at points of entry, where they would be given coupons that they could redeem at chosen service stations around Zimbabwe. They said the ministry was considering involving the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, which would collect forex from motorists at entry points and which would also station officials at service stations participating in the scheme.
The sources said the modalities of the scheme would, if the Energy Ministry's proposals was adopted, also be worked out in conjunction with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. In its proposals, the Ministry of Energy pointed out that a system in which foreigners paid in forex for goods and services in Zimbabwe was not new and was already operational in the tourism industry. Foreign tourists in Zimbabwe usually have to pay hotel bills in hard currency. But analysts this week warned that foreigners might be unwilling to part with their money at entry points since holding coupons would not guarantee them that they would be able to secure fuel once in Zimbabwe. Witness Chinyama, the chief economist of Kingdom Financial Holdings, said the foreigners might be forced to queue for petrol and diesel like local motorists, even though they had already paid for fuel. "This scheme has to be worked out properly otherwise it could create trade division instead of trade promotion," he said. Other proposals by the Ministry of Energy include a sustainable pricing structure that would contribute towards increased fuel inflows. The government last week almost doubled the price of fuel but some oil industry executives believe this is inadequate to encourage companies to begin procuring fuel now that they have been given permission by the government to do so. In the past, only the state-controlled National Oil Company of Zimbabwe has been allowed to purchase fuel, but the company has no foreign currency, leading to stock outs. The Ministry of Energy is also proposing "price cross subsidisation" and the de-regulation of the prices of unleaded petrol and Jet A1 fuel. According to the ministry's document, product cross subsidisation is a pricing system that would take into account the economic value of each product. "Considering that diesel is mainly used by the productive sector, any upward price adjustment would lead to price increases across the board," the document said. "Any price review should therefore take product cross subsidisation into consideration. "Paraffin is a product used mostly by the poor who need protection from huge price hikes. The use of blend is two-dimensional. It is used significantly in supporting the business sector and also for luxury purposes. In our price proposals, upward price adjustments are heavier on blend than on diesel and paraffin."
The ministry said by decontrolling the prices of unleaded petrol and Jet A1, the government could encourage companies to import the products. It said it was also proposing price trigger mechanism, fuel rationing and price discrimination for the near future. A price trigger mechanism would result in pricing that was responsive to both international and local market forces, the ministry said, adding that price discrimination would allow fuel price differences based on engine capacity. "Consumers driving non-commercial vehicles with large engine capacities should pay relatively higher prices," the ministry said. "In any case, such people, who can afford these luxury vehicles, should be able to pay such prices. "In the face of continuing difficulties associated with shortages of foreign currency to purchase fuel, the ministry is actively considering fuel rationing so that everyone gets something from the available fuel stock." The rationing would involve allocating agreed quantities of fuel to "specific organisations, companies and individuals".
Hard times for Zimbabwean job-seekers in Botswana (Gaborone, Irin, 04/03) - White City bus stop in Gaborone, across the road from the Ministry of Finance, is the informal job centre for Zimbabweans looking to scrape a living in Botswana. From first thing in the morning until dusk, groups of young men and women wait patiently by the roadside hoping to be picked up as casual labour. It's usually a long and frustrating wait, punctuated by the occasional sarcastic comment from passing Batswana motorists, or attempts by the police to enforce anti-loitering laws and move them on. Among the Zimbabweans IRIN talked to were printers, carpenters, bricklayers and a former salesman. They all spoke of the difficulty of trying to make ends meet in Botswana - pointing to a growing antagonism from Batswana, alleged police harassment, the risks of exploitation by employees, and overcrowded living conditions among similarly disadvantaged friends or relatives. But they were unanimous in stressing that prospects were even worse back home in Zimbabwe. "It's stressful, it's very difficult to survive in this town, but in Zimbabwe jobs are hard to come by," said one man, who asked not to be named. Trained as a printer, he had been in Gaborone for two weeks trying to find "any kind of work". "We are being killed that side, we're coming here to survive. The war there is not political violence, the war is hunger," another young man explained. The lack of employment prospects at home, shortages of basic commodities and the strength of the Pula against Zimbabwe's devalued currency have attracted the more enterprising - or desperate - to Botswana, which alongside South Africa ranks as the region's most prosperous and stable economy. A senior immigration official at the Ministry of Home Affairs, two blocks away from White City, said the influx of Zimbabweans was "alarming". While those looking for work at the bus stop told IRIN they all had passports and entry permits, the official said the bulk of Zimbabweans crossing into the country were illegal "border jumpers". In the run-up to Zimbabwe's controversial presidential election in March 2002, Botswana introduced a contingency plan to cope with a potential influx of refugees fleeing political unrest. The preparations proved unnecessary. Only 25 asylum seekers have so far been received.
Far more serious for the authorities has been the numbers of illegal immigrants. According to the authorities, 200 Zimbabweans are arrested each day, and transferred to a detention facility in Francistown, 500 km northeast of Gaborone, before being taken to the border. "It's an economic drain for Botswana to continue to receive and return illegals," an official in the Office of the President told IRIN. "Our asylum landscape does not entertain economic migrants." Zimbabweans are willing to take on the jobs most Batswana shun as too lowly paid, such as farm labourers and maids. But as their numbers increase, so reportedly has public complaints over their presence. The government-produced newspaper Dikgang on Thursday reported that during a series of parliamentary debates last week, the issue of the influx of Zimbabweans was raised repeatedly. While Member of Parliament (MP) Ambrose Masalila reportedly said "such people are an asset that can solve the problem of lack of farm labourers in the country", Gaborone Central MP Margaret Nasha suggested that residents of White City regarded the "presence of such people as a nuisance". "Every other person you see at White City is a Zimbabwean," she claimed. She accused the job-seekers of vagrancy and harassing residents. White City has a growing reputation for crime. But a Zimbabwean, who had recently arrived in Gaborone, told IRIN: "We don't want to harm anyone, we just want to work." One young woman, with two children back in Zimbabwe and looking for a job as a maid, complained that the police have cracked down in Gaborone. "Even if you have a passport the police chase you away, they say they don't want to see us here," she said.
Commercial sex workers flock to Mozambique (Mutare, The Daily News, 03/03) - Commercial sex workers from Mutare have flooded the Mozambican town of Chimoio, where they are earning huge amounts in foreign currency. Chimoio is 100 kilometres east of Mutare. Women interviewed by The Daily News said commercial sex workers have decided to take their trade across the border because of the harsh economic climate in Zimbabwe. Serena Mangere, 32, said: "Women are engaging in prostitution because they want money, they bring as much as $70 000 a week from Mozambique." "Starvation is what is driving these women to engage in these activities," said another Mutare resident, Everjoice Kudzinetsa, 40. "Their husbands won't dare say anything because of the money the wife brings home." Sibongile Tshoba, 22, said: "Women are prostituting in Mozambique because there is money there. Mozambican men are willing to spend a lot on these women". A commercial sex worker, who declined to be named said: "We have no choice but to go where the money is. It's all about survival." Cross-border traders on Friday confirmed that hordes of commercial sex workers have flooded Chimoio. Lloyd Bvute, 25, a cross-border trader, said: "The fall of our currency is the one factor which is causing these women to flock to Mozambique." Another cross-border trader, Simba Mashingaidze, 34, said: "These commercial sex workers are being paid in foreign currency when they are in Mozambique, which they change at black market rates back home. It's a lot of money."
This page last updated 11 June 2003.