SOUTHERN AFRICAN MIGRATION PROJECT

Migration News - May 2003

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

Region:
African ministers conclude meeting on Diaspora
AU bring Africans in Diaspora on board
New trans-boundary initiative in Southern Africa

Angola:
Tripartite meeting to discuss return of refugees
Fight against illegal immigration to be reinforced
UNHCR to repatriate 20,000 Angolan refugees
Angolan refugees in DRC to be repatriated
About 170,000 refugees return this year
People returning from DRC face hardship

Botswana:
Batswana pose as Tanzanians in South Africa
Trucks marooned at Kazungula border
Batswana urged against assisting illegal immigration
Botswana nursing plan to counteract brain drain
Prostitution on the rise
Botswana wants border closing times extended
Six men in police custody for border theft
Border officials probed

DRC:
Refugees flock to Zaire
More refugees enter Uganda
Uganda hosting 20,000 Congolese refugees from Ituri
Thousands flee north-eastern Congolese town
Clashes in DRC town spark exodus
Rebel offensive drives thousands of refugees into Burundi - UN
DRC civilians flee to Uganda by boat
5,000 Congo refugees arrive in Bundibugyo
US commits US $13 million to help former child soldiers
Uganda appeals for outside help with refugee influx
Thousands of refugees flee killings in eastern DRC

Malawi:
Malawians use their soft visa status in UK
Nurses ask government to arrest brain drain
Seven deported from Malawi for visa scam

Namibia:
Machine set to speed up ID process
Police prepare to take over immigration functions
Namport eyeing Zambian, DRC copper exports
More illegal immigrants to be deported

South Africa:
Border blitz nets goods
Home Affairs Director General meets his new boss
'Citizens only' social grants face challenge by refugees
Refugees challenge citizens' social grants
Home Affairs loses ID books in burglary
Buthelezi voices support for new D-G Gilder
Court gives Buthelezi ultimatum over Rwandan students' documents
Harmony in the air at home affairs
Mozambique, South Africa get new border post
Buthelezi gets new DG
New Home Affairs DG ready to fight corruption
Judge orders Buthelezi to issue IDs
Buthelezi could be jailed for late ID books
Issue IDs, court orders Buthelezi
Cattle rustlers routed
More things change, more they stay the same, opinion piece
Immigration laws
Court ponders best path on immigration controls
Man kills himself rather than be deported
Home Affairs spending under Masetlha not irregular
Judgement reserved on Buthelezi appeal bid
Concourt reserves judgement on Immigration Act case
Immigration rules in top court dispute
Home Affairs to better refugees' conditions
Immigration to South Africa up by 35 percent
Buthelezi asked to withdraw court appeal
Concourt reserves judgement on immigration regulations
Home Affairs before highest court on immigration
Immigration regulations 'only transitional'
No ruling yet on Immigration Act
Home Affairs deals with unethical conduct
Home Affairs budget vote tabled in Parliament 
Home Affairs under fire over poor service delivery
Buthelezi suggests free photos for ID applications
Immigration appeals a waste of money: ANC
New immigration advisory board to be inaugurated
NGOs feel the cash pinch
Stop-plug for brain-drain
Sentencing of dog cops delayed
Police swoop on suspected ID fraud operation
New Home Affairs chief named
South Africa urged to look to foreign educators
Home Affairs gets new director general
Court warned of high cost of welfare bungle
UK closes doors to South African doctors
Ruling on grants for foreigners postponed
 Police warn of Nigerian scam
Health department to provide funds to retain health professionals
Foreigners stand to lose jobs
Foreign tourists flock to South Africa
Cuban engineers for EC hospitals
Plugging brain drain
Brain drain slowing in IT industry
Buthelezi loses battle with Burundi refugee
Committee for refugee affairs is illegal
Mbeki wants African immigration restrictions eased to boost tourism
Gold mining houses may have to cut jobs
Zimbabwe has most football players in South Africa
Striking a balance between granting asylum and expelling illegal migrants
South Africa to think about trafficking, Buthelezi

Swaziland:
Good news for visitors to South Africa

Tanzania:
Immigration officers deport 7 Somali residents
"Limitations" in refugee camps forcing hundreds to leave
Immigration nets eight illegal immigrants in Mtwara
Burundians begin to return home

Zambia:
180 Congolese flee to country
Zambian nabbed for assisting 6 Chinese
Russia deports Zambians over beer, bottom power
Zimbabwe farmers get work permits
Visa cheats on the run, say police
Refugees outnumber locals in Western Province
Six Chinese nationals arrested over fake passports
Indian national expelled for calling Zambians dull
Refugees repatriated from Zambia

Zimbabwe:
Sharp hike in visa fees for Mozambicans
Shortage of nurses hits Masvingo
Seven deported from Malawi for visa scam
Critical shortage of doctors looming
Border officials probed
Zimbabwe loses out on Transfrontier Park
South Africa demands seized farms back

Region

African ministers conclude meeting on Diaspora (Pretoria, Sapa-AFP, 23/05) - African foreign ministers who met for three days in South Africa discussed plans for a common defence policy and efforts to get the African diaspora involved in the continent, a spokesman said Friday. Desmond Orijiako, a spokesman for the African Union (AU), said no details on the defence policy were yet available, but that a report would be presented at an AU summit in Maputo in July. "The ministers discussed a common defence policy for Africa. They decided to seek further input on a common policy from their respective ministers of defence," he told AFP. "The broad agreement on this issue will be reflected at the meeting in Maputo." Orijiako said ministers, who met at the Sun City resort near Pretoria, also discussed the possibility of tracing the African diaspora by asking embassies around the world to draw up lists. "We discussed how this could benefit them and we could benefit by their involvement - in short how to develop a mutually beneficial relationship." Said Orijiako: "There is no way of knowing how many Africans live outside Africa." He said some 37 ministers attended, while the rest of the 53-member organisation was represented by senior officials. Ministers will attend a final briefing of the secretariat of the New Partnership of Africa's Development (NEPAD) for a detailed discussion on Africa's home-grown rescue plan in Johannesburg on Saturday. On Sunday, they will attend celebrations there to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, which was replaced by the AU last year.

AU bring Africans in Diaspora on board (Pretoria, BuaNews, 20/05) - At least 53 African foreign affairs' ministers will tomorrow meet in Sun City to thrash out ways of bringing Africans in the Diaspora on board in line with the sweeping changes in the continent to further strengthen efforts to stimulate the continent's economic and cultural fortunes. The ministers, who sit on the African Union's (AU) second powerful organ - Executive Council - meet at the North West casino resort tomorrow for a four-day gathering, to discuss amongst others, ways and means to establish a working link between the two crucial stakeholders. The move follows a directive by the AU leaders in Durban last July to have Africans in both developed countries such as USA, Germany, France, United Kingdom and developing nations like Brazil playing roles in the continent's socio-economic plan, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad). Speaking to reporters in Pretoria via a video link from the luxurious resort, foreign affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the delegates would not prescribe a uniformed role for the Diaspora . 'The Africans in the Diaspora are in a different situation...some of them may want to utilise their skills in the development of the continent and some may want to contribute to Nepad. 'Some can mobilise in the countries where they are for co-operation...solidarity, support investment,' she explained further, adding that the two needed each other to develop the continent. Arts, culture, science and technology minister Ben Ngubane said co-operation between African eminent scientists and his department had already begun producing results with many of local science students 'We have (already) created an information databank with the linkages with all these people, so the beginning have been made,' he added.

New trans-boundary initiative in Southern Africa (SABC, 07/05) - he Zimbabwe-Mozambique-Zambia (ZIMOZA) trans-boundary natural resources management initiative, the first of its kind in Southern Africa, has been officially launched in Luangwa, Zambia. Cooperation through the ZIMOZA project will secure the long term conservation of the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources in the area. The ZIMOZA initiative, sponsored by USAID, is expected to help curb rampant poaching of wildlife and cross-border trade in the region; reduce deforestation; and reverse the poor state of infrastructure, particularly the roads. It will also focus on conflict prevention and resolution; building trust, confidence and security. Collaboration between the countries should also lead to greater regional stability. This will be beneficial to the establishment of the tourism industry, which will be a step in the right direction for the realisation of the full economic potential of the area. ZIMOZA stands to promote community-based management of the environment and natural resources, and help promote biological and cultural diversity in the area. The region encompasses the biodiversity-rich African Rift Valley and spans the Guruve District in Zimbabwe, the Luangwa District in Zambia, and the Zumbo and Magoe Districts in Mozambique. Transboundary cooperation is one of the leading themes of this year's IUCN World Parks Congress - the world's major forum on protected areas, to be held in Durban, South Africa, from September 8 to 17. It is also the subject of one of IUCN's cutting-edge publications in the Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines series. The guidelines build on some fifteen years of work on transboundary issues by IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, a unique network of 1 300 experts from 139 countries.

Angola

 Tripartite meeting to discuss return of refugees (Luanda, Angop, 28/05) - The tripartite Commission integrating Angola, DRCongo and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is holding its 3rd meeting on Thursday in Luanda, to analyse the operational programme of repatriation of Angolan refugees. The 2-day meeting will address issues linked to the updating of the repatriation plan of Angolan refugees in DRCongo and review the documents on the modalities for the return process of these citizens. The spokesman of the Angolan Ministry of Assistance and Social Reinsertion, Lazaro Dias, said the meeting will focus on two projects: voluntary return of displaceds started with the end of war, and the organised one to be officially opened in June. The Angolan delegation will be led by Nilza Pereira, the National Director of Assistance and Social Promotion, and will include representatives from the ministries of Defence, Interior, and Territory Administration. The Congolese side will be headed by Jacques Bolampeti, a Delegate of that country"s Ministry of Interior, whereas the UNHCR will be represented by Janvier de Riedmatten.

Fight against illegal immigration to be reinforced (Luanda, Angop, 20/05) - Police General Commander, Commissioner José Alfredo Ekuikui, Tuesday in eastern Moxico province voiced the need to intensify protection of the country's borders, in order to halt illegal immigration. As he said, in the last times, illegal immigration into Angola assumes worrying dimensions to the country's security and stability, particularly in Malange, Moxico, Bié, Moxico, Lunda-Norte and Lunda-Sul provinces. He said the influx of foreigners in the country tend to weaken the national economy, since most of foreign citizens who come to Angola move to the mining areas, where they carry out an unleashed diamond mining. The Angolan top police officer said now that the country's conditions started improving, as result of peace, there is need to make a tight control of the national borders to prevent illegal entry of foreign citizens. Angola has 12 million inhabitants, whereas DRCongo, one the border countries, has 50 million inhabitants, a situation that, according to him, is a factor which is creating difficulties in the populational density and diverting habits and customs of the Angolan population. For that reason, he promised, "the National Police will take measures meant to control the border of Angola and ensure national sovereignty". Illegal entry of foreigners with the purpose to make businesses, like unlawful diamond trafficking, gained relevance during the armed conflict, at a time the government did not exert an effective control of the national borders. This way, thousands of citizens from the DRCongo and other west African nations illegally entered the national territory and preferably moved to diamond-rich areas.

UNHCR to repatriate 20,000 Angolan refugees (Lusaka, Reuters, 11/05) - Up to 20,000 Angolan refugees will be sent home from Zambia in 2003 under a voluntary repatriation programme starting in early June, a senior U.N. official said on Sunday. Fisseha Yimer, the U.N High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) executive committee chairman, said a total of 60,000 Angolans would be repatriated from Zambia within two years. "We have a budget of between $30 million to $40 million for the whole repatriation exercise and so far we have received $11 million from donors, which is sufficient to start the programme on 12 June," Yimer said. Yimer, who visited a refugee camp for Angolans in western Zambia on Friday, said preparations had started and 500 refugees would leave the camp on 12 June. Yimer told journalists that Angola authorities had informed the UNHCR that the clearing of landmines in areas where the refugees would be settled had progressed well. Zambia is home to more than 270,000 refugees. Of these, 211,000 are Angolans who fled their homeland during its nearly three decades of civil war which ended in April 2002 after the battlefield death of veteran rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. The rest are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi and Rwanda. Copyright © Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Angolan refugees in DRC to be repatriated (Mbanza-congo, Angop, 10/05) - A total of 56.310 Angolan refugees living in the DR Congo will start being repatriated from June this year, the UNHCR representative in the north region, Asfaha Demnet, said in Mbanza-Congo city. Addressing Angop, Asfaha Demnet said that, out of this number, 22.851 refugees are camped at Kilueka and Mmbete centres, whereas 33. 459 stay at Kinvula, Kindinga, Napasa, Shifameso, Kulindji and Kisenge camps. Mr Demnet said besides these refugees who benefit from shelter, there are others located at urban and suburban areas of that country and will also be repatriated. He also added that the UNHCR in Mbanza Congo, in partnership with the Norwegian Council Of Refugees (NCR) and the Africa Humanitarian Action (AHA) are building and rehabilitating water wells and health posts at Kiowa and Mbanza Magina transit centres, to welcome the refugees. The source said the UNHCR and partners (NRC and AHA) already have water, health and education projects in the resettlement areas. Apart from these projects, they will supply refugees with kits for construction, seeds, farming utensils and food for their reintegration in the social life. More than 148.000 refugees are believed to live in neighbouring countries such as Namibia, Zambia, and DR Congo, being 2.851 from Zaire province and staying put at Kilueka and Mbete camps (DRCongo). Zaire province shares with DRCongo a territory of 330 kms, being 150 kms of fluvial border along Zaire River coast and 180 kms of land border.

About 170,000 refugees return this year (Luanda, Angop, 08/05) - Angola is this year expecting back home about 170,000 refugees from the neighbouring Namibia, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Congo-Brazzaville, according to Social Reinsertion Minister Joao Baptista Kussumua. Studies and contacts developed with the authorities of those countries show that the refugees are well in a position to return home in the stated period, he said. The minister was speaking to journalists at the end of a session of the Standing Commission of the Council of Ministers chaired by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. The Council was informed about the current state of the sheltering sites and their logistical provisions, the situation of repatriation of ex-soldiers from foreign armies and the Angolan refugees abroad, among other issues. But the minister also acknowledged existing some difficulties in the refugees repatriation operations which are to be carried out by land due to a high number of destroyed bridges. Adding to this aspect, he said, is the existence of a large number of landmines still to be cleared and the work needed to avoid accidents. He said the government was predicting that about 10,000 people from areas previously controlled by ex-UNITA rebels might surrender to government authorities because of the security conditions available at present and the openess showed by the authorities.

People returning from DRC face hardship (Uige, Angop, 04/05) - Nine Thousand and 700 people resettled last month at Quimbele locality, 261 kms northeast Uige city, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, are facing humanitarian difficulties. Quimbele Municipal administrator, Paulo Bunga, told Angop Thursday that this people need food, clothing, accomodation, medicines and medical assistance. To change the situation, the municipal responsible urged charity-related NGOs and others to support the needy population.

Botswana

Batswana pose as Tanzanians in South Africa (Bopa, 26/05) - The week-long SADC multi-disciplinary festival culminated with the celebration of Africa Day at the Johannesburg stadium on Friday. However, the event was slightly marred by an incident in which two Batswana dancers posed as a group from Tanzania. Consequently, most people who attended the last concert and gala dinner in Pretoria, left wondering whether Tanzania was out to cheat or it was just a case of entertainment and nothing else. The incident occurred when countries that had been taking part in the festival were to present their best acts before an audience that included, South Africa's Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Ben Ngubane, amongst others. Tanzania had not been featuring in the festival because it had no representatives, but everyone was startled when a band, complete with two female dancers, suddenly appeared. However, some Batswana who were in the audience immediately recognised the dancers as Les Africa Sound's best and long time dancers, Khumo and Tuelo. Khumo admitted that she was indeed from Botswana and that the group was picked up from Botswana to perform at the festival. The event was a success in Pretoria, but its community outreach programme in the townships was a disaster. Poor organisation and lack of advertisement resulted in the participants performing to empty stadiums. The activities were also overshadowed by South Africa's 2010 World Cup bid activities. The outreach programme was organised to promote regional co-operation and to challenge xenophobia in South Africa through arts and culture. Despite the disappointments the artists performed to their level best. The Botswana traditional dance ensemble was a force to reckon with and had everyone eating from their hands. Characteristically, the group stole the limelight at the state theatre on May 23 when the whole audience went crazy and chanted: "Botswana! Botswana!" with delight. It was the best performance by Botswana since the beginning of the festival. Segaetsho traditional orchestra and the traditional ensemble shared the stage and produced a fusion of the diverse traditional songs and dances of Botswana to the delight of the crowd. As usual Batsile Mamo, 66, put the icing on top of the cherry with her electrifying moves, causing the crowd to go wild. While other countries were represented by regional groups, Botswana ensemble was representative of all the regions in the country. What amazed people the most was the way the groups managed to blend to produce a repertoire that represented Botswana. The group rehearsed for two weeks in Gaborone prior to its departure for the festival.

Trucks marooned at Kazungula border (Bopa, 15/03) - Companies conducting their business through the Kazungula border post have been dealt a major blow by the flooding of the Zambezi River which has for the past three weeks brought traffic to a near standstill. The strength of the water has slowed down the movement of the only pantoon operating between Botswana and Zambia. According to border offficials, the pantoon is able to ferry only three trucks in a four-hour period. At least 40 trucks carrying maize-meal, cooking oil, petrol and building materials destined for Zambia, Malawi and the DRC are currently stuck at the border. Truck drivers have been grounded at Kazungula since the end of last month following the breakdown of the second pantoon. The two pantoons are owned by the Zambian government. In an interview Wednesday, a principal technical officer with the Department of Water Affairs in Kasane, Koketso Baeti, said floods of such magnitude were last witnessed in 1958. The Zambezi River is fed from both Zambia and Angola. The river, which meets the Chobe River at Kazungula, has since the beginning of this month been pushing the Chobe River waters back towards the villages of Kavimba up to Satau in Chobe west. The water is likely to fill up the hitherto dry lake of Liambezi along the Botswana/Namibia border.
Baeti said most fields along the Chobe River at Kavimba, Ngoma, Mabele and Mochenje were under water and fishing activities had been affected. He was hopeful that the floods would recede soon and normality restored. The marooned truck drivers have requested the Botswana and Zambian governments to speed up the construction of the proposed bridge across the Zambezi River at the confluence of the Chobe and Zambezi rivers. They said the frequent breakdown of the pantoon interfered with the movement of the trucks destined for Malawi, Zambia and the DRC. They further complained that the breakdowns affected their work as it took days for any repair work to be done. However, they said they preferred to wait for days rather than go through Zimbabwe, alleging they were harassed by the authorities on that route. Meanwhile, officers stationed there at Kazungula have complained about the environmental impact of the fiasco caused by lack of ablution facilities.
Due to lack of wash rooms, people have resorted to using the nearby bush, they lamented. Health officials have also expressed concern about the situation at the border. However, the North West District Council’s Department of Public Health in Kasane is in the process of hiring portable toilets from Maun for use at the border post.

Batswana urged against assisting illegal immigration (Bopa, 12/03) - Batswana have been urged to refrain from harbouring and assisting illegal immigrants to acquire passports and Omang cards. Instead, assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Oliphant Mfa advised locals on Friday to be vigilant and report the presence of any unknown person to authorities. Addressing kgotla meetings at Marapong and Semitwe in the Sebina Gweta constituency, the minister said government needs the support of Batswana to succeed in curbing crime in the country. Mfa told his audience that Batswana were making it difficult for the government to control illegal immigrants by employing them and helping them to acquire citizenship. At least, 100 to 155 Zimbabweans are repatriated to their country everyday, an undertaking which Mfa said is draining the country's coffers. When found out, both illegal immigrants and Batswana who harbour them are fined P1 000 or six months in jail each. Mfa said that crime such as car theft, robbery, house breaking and theft were on the increase in the country. The minister stated that his decision to contest for the new Nata/Gweta constituency was a tough one to make, but promised to assist identify the right candidate for the New Tonota north constituency. Residents had earlier complained about naming the new constituency Tonota North, stating that it should have been Mathangwane/Sebina or something closer. Falling under Tonota North constituency, they feared would mean that they would be served administratively from Tonota instead of getting their services from Tutume. They requested their Mfa to take their complaint to President Festus Mogae, as they do not want to be under Tutume sub district, but to become a sub district. However, Mfa said that the findings of Delimitation Committee's finding were final and binding. Their only options was to take the matter with the High Court or live with the name until another delimitation commission in 10 years time.

Botswana nursing plan to counteract brain drain (Mmegi, 09-15/03) - The World Health Organisation's (WHO) regional director for Africa, Dr. Ebrahim Samba has given his blessings to the planned government programme to "bridge" the resource gap in the nursing profession. The 'auxilliary nursing cadre' - due to start this year- is a programme intended to fill the gap created in the nursing when 'enrolled nurses' were upgraded to registered nurses. Samba said at Wednesday's press conference at the end of his four days visit here that, like any other African country, Botswana was particularly hard hit by shortage of skilled and trained human resource. He accused both Britain and the US of luring away skilled manpower from Africa to cover for their shortages by offering bigger salaries. "We can't stop people from going - it is a complex issue," he admitted. Health Minister Joy Phumaphi said that her ministry was "engaged in an exercise to assess" conditions of service for the nurses. This, presumably, is an attempt to prevent the nurses from leaving. "We are assessing their conditions and recommending to relevant authorities," she said. Phumaphi was also upbeat that, the Ministry has scored a small victory, with the 30 per cent over-time for nurses. "We are aware it is not enough but it is a small victory nevertheless," she said, adding that nurses had contributed to the on-going commission looking into civil service pay structure. "We have improved housing for nurses particularly those in the central government," she said. A collaborative programme with Norway likely to be funded by the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership (ACHAP) is also in the offing. Phumaphi said this initiative would offer consulting services to both local and central government nurses. Deputy director for health services Dr. Themba Moeti explained that the introduction of the 'auxilliary nursing cadre' would ensure that family welfare educators (FEW) would now do more 'community work'. Phumaphi explained that the programme would be open to Form Five school leavers. Recruitment would be done as per civil service regulations. However, Phumaphi said they would not take retired nurses as they did in the community home based care approach. "Yes, if people at 40 or 50 years are old, we will be taking them, but no, we will not take anyone over 60 years," she said. President of the Nurses Association of Botswana, Mable Magowe confirmed they had participated in the making of the auxiliary programme. "The programme is meant to assist all health workers. It will not be limited to nursing," she said. Her association was guarding against any encroachments in the minimum entry requirements for the nursing profession. "We want to maintain the highest level of standards and would never want to compromise the quality of health care by lowering standards," she said in a telephone interview. Government is grappling with keeping nurses happy at home. The exodus of nurses for greener pastures began in earnest in 1999. At present, the Nursing Council says it has 8 790 registered nurses. However, the Council receives applications for verification from many members yearly for various reasons. "Some get verification to do further studies through correspondence with UNISA while others take it for work purposes. We never really know why they want verification," she said, adding it was difficult to establish the exact number of nurses who had left the country for work overseas.

Prostitution on the rise (Mmegi, 09-15/03) - There is every indication that prostitution is on the increase in Botswana's urban centres. The growth of this ungazetted industry is becoming increasingly worrisome especially in the light of national efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. Botswana Police say they are now having to conduct occasional night raids on the 'busy' streets to apprehend prostitutes. Recently Mmegi talked to Superintendent Moitaly Thokweng, the Station Commander for Gaborone Central who revealed that in the last 14 months, they arrested l3l women. Of these women 53 were Batswana, 75 Zimbabwean, a Malawian, a South African and a Zambian. The number is increasing as evidenced by the fact that two days before Mmegi talked to Thokweng, six more women appeared on trial at Bontleng Kgotla on charges of loitering with intent to sell their bodies. Though the police believe they are ridding the society of offensive behaviour Botswana's laws are mute on the subject. The statutes do not specifically proscribe prostitution as a crime. Thokweng says the country's laws deal with prostitution obliquely, through supporting statutes; merely implying that prostitution is a moral offence rather than categorically making it a criminal offence. He said the current statutes have at their core the protection of women against different forms of sexual abuse. The Penal Code defines as an offence, the detention of women for immoral purposes or for purposes of unlawful carnal knowledge. Sections 153 read against 155 of Botswana Penal Code proscribe brothels and make it an offence for males to live on earnings from prostituting women or openly soliciting for such a purpose. Section 156 is directed against women aiding, for financial gain, the prostitution of another woman while section 158 again talks about keeping and maintenance of brothels. Section 178 proscribes circulation of offensive materials of pornographic nature while 179 talks about idleness and disorderly behaviour. The sub-sections of the law under which the street women are being detained and tried seem to be section 179 sub-sections (a) and (e) respectively. Sub-section: (a) says any person who being a common prostitute, behaves in a disorderly or indecent manner in any place; is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P10 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month, or to both and on second conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months and on any subsequent conviction thereof to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year.

The small fine that the Act attracts and also the fact, that the law presumes that a prostitute that does not behave in the manner outlined here has not committed an offence suggests that prostitution is at best tolerated. Sub-section (d) talks about a person publicly conducting himself in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace while sub-section (b) talks about a person wandering or placing himself in any public place for the purpose of begging or gathering alms, or procures or engages any child to do so etc. A lawyer who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity said our laws on prostitution are vague and that any one smart enough to engage the services of a good attorney could sue both the police and the government for unlawful arrest. He said when women are taken in under charges of suspicion or intent to sell their bodies, "there can be no proving of an intention to commit an act before such an act has been carried out". He said that is why the police are not able to bring specific charges against both prostitutes and their clients, because such charges simply do not exist. The police on the other hand, say women apprehended for prostitution normally claim the men to be their boyfriends. It is also difficult to bring charges against the men because it is normally the women who offer their services to them. Besides, there are also no specific laws that are directed against men who use the services of prostitutes. A University of Botswana lecturer and gender activist, Dr. Bontshetse Mazile said that the issue of prostitution is a sad reflection of our patriarchy that designates men as providers. She said Botswana society is still receptive to metaphors that are demeaning to women, even though women constitute more than half of the national population. She said the men who buy the services of prostitutes use their means to destroy and further to dehumanise as prostitution is, it can hardly be regarded as an indictment solely against women but rather it also implicates the men who use the services of such women as well as an indictment against the society that drives people to desperation," Mazile said. She said ours is an uncaring capitalist society that does not provide social safety nets.

"Prostitutes are victims of our uncaring society. No one wants their children to make a living through the sale of their bodies. In normal relationships, people may exchange gifts, but that is quite different from this outright purchase of human bodies; something that must be condemned outrightly," Mazile said. On the question of the legalisation of prostitution, Mazile says that some societies have legalised the practice owing to their own specific historical development. But in Botswana there is absolutely no need for such dispensation and the Government must do all in its power to nip the practice in the bud. She said those prostitutes arguing for legalisation, have lost direction, how can anybody argue for legalisation when our society is so threatened by the advent of HIV/AIDS. She said banning prostitution cannot be regarded as an infringement of people's rights especially since such action would go a long way in assisting in the reduction of AIDS. As things are, the practice threatens every woman as the same men who may interact with prostitutes are likely to relate to normal women. She said in a way prostitutes are double victims of circumstances, unfortunately most of them are not even aware of their conditions. They merely try to survive in a hostile world. Prostitutes are victims of both economic and social regimes. Most women in prostitution are lower class women who have fallen through the economic and social safety net. They are usually school droupouts with no hope of being gainfully employed. Most of them also come from damaged homes where they lacked both the normal guidance and proper moral up bringing. Yet here again it is the general society that makes them; a society that has failed to give them other alternatives in life. It is the same society that makes their services necessary. There would be no prostitutes if there were no men prepared to pay for their services. I am sure there are men who think they need the services of these women, men who need places where they can laugh even at nothing, to release stress without being held accountable for their actions. But such men are morally sick and are therefore a threat to society. It is these same men who tend to violate their victims. Prostitutes are prone to all kinds of violations like rape and assault. When this happens we seem to think that the prostitutes deserve such treatment, people say they asked for it. But it also means that the society is in danger of creating serial murderers and rapists. The society is creating a new type of man who has no respect for other people's lives and is particularly lacking in respect for women and their feelings.

Botswana wants border closing times extended (Daily News, 02/05) - Botswana has appealed to Zimbabwe and South Africa to extend closing times at some border posts to avoid delays suffered at the points of entry. Thebe Mogami, Botswana's Labour and Home Affairs Minister, told Parliament in that country that authorities in Harare and Pretoria were not ready to extend closing hours because of financial constraints.  Your tax-deductible donation to the AllAfrica Foundation, in any amount, supports our reporting on issues like sustainable development, peace building and HIV/Aids. He was quoted in the Botswana Daily News recently saying he will pursue the matter at the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security meeting for the Southern African Development Community, to be held in Botswana this month. The commission deals with immigration issues, among other things. Mogami said hours of operation were extended at Ramokgwebana border post on the Botswana side and Kazungula boarder post in Victoria Falls. Ramokgwebana now operates from 6am to 10pm, while Kazungula starts at 6am to 8pm. Zimbabwe has four border posts with Botswana, which are Kazungula, Mphoegas, Plumtree and Bambadzi.

Six men in police custody for border theft (Bopa, 02/05) - Six Zimbabweans are being questioned by Francistown police in connection with three incidents in which 52 gum poles and fence material used for the construction of the 500km Botswana/Zimbabwean border fence had been stolen.  Of this number, 31 gum poles had been recovered and six Zimbabweans, who were arrested by the Zimbabwean police, are likely to appear in a Plumtree magistrate's court.  The theft of the material is likely to affect the construction of the electrified fence between Botswana and Zimbabwe. The electrified fence is intended to control the movement of livestock between two countries to curb the spread of foot and mouth disease (FMD). Briefing the FMD task force, police Senior Superintendent Boikhutso Dintwa confirmed the arrest of the six Zimbabweans. Dintwa said the Botswana police and their Zimbabwean counterparts were working together to combat cross border crime. Director of Animal Health and Production Micus Chimbombi told BOPA that they could deny that they were facing too many challenges in the construction of the fence. He said the fence was being vandalised and they suspect Zimbabweans who illegally enter Botswana were responsible. He confirmed that material used in the fencing of the border was being stolen and as such that would delay the completion of the project. Department of Wildlife and National Parks officials have reported large numbers of buffaloes from Zimbabwe were crossing into Botswana at Maitengwe. Veterinary officials have been deployed in the area to control the movement of these animals which are the main carriers of the FMD. The migration of these animals is due to shortage of water on the Zimbabwean side. Botswana has constructed watering points to water wild animals.

Border officials probed (Zimbabwe Independent, 02/05) - Botswana's Department of Immigration is investigating some of its officials for allegedly receiving bribes from Zimbabwean immigrants seeking to prolong their stay in that country. Botswana's acting chief immigration officer, Fred Majola, confirmed in reports over the weekend that his department was conducting internal investigations into the bribery cases. The latest investigations will add to already worsening relations between the two countries. The allegations came to light after a tip off to immigration officials that some Zimbabweans were paying as much as 120 pula for extending their stay in that country. "We certainly will follow this one and investigate. we cannot have a department manned by criminals," Majola said. He said the results will be passed to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime before appropriate action is taken. A sizeable number of Zimbabweans arrested in Botswana are finding their way back to the streets after producing travel documents with extended periods of stay. The Batswana accuse Zimbabweans of engaging in criminal activities while in that country while the Zimbabweans accuse the Batswana of ill-treating them. The trading of accusations between the two countries' nationals began immediately after Botswana criticised President Mugabe's land reforms and then demanded payment for a 20-million-litre fuel credit line it extended to the government in March 2000. Two Zimbabweans were killed in a Botswana prison after Batswana inmates teamed up with other African inmates to assault Zimbabweans. Last month a Botswana traditional court summoned Zimbabwe's High Commissioner to Botswana, Phelekezela Mphoko, and several other Zimbabweans to warn them about illegal activities.

DRC

Refugees flock to Zaire (Kinshasa, News24, 25/05) -  Almost 40 000 refugees fleeing fighting in Bunia in the northeast region of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have sought safety in northern Kivu in neighbouring Zaire, the United Nations said on Saturday. Gianfranco Rutigliano, representative of the UN Childrens Fund (Unicef) in DRC, said that two in five of the refugees were aged under 15. Militiamen of the Union of Congolese Patriots, from the Hema ethnic group, retook control of Bunia earlier this month after violent clashes with militias of the rival Lendu group. Rutigliano said the situation in Bunia was tense. "Humanitarian aid workers cannot have any access to local people," he said: "Because it is impossible to make the zone secure our action in displaced persons' camps, where people are packed in, cannot go beyond visits. It is out of the question to organise activities such as supplying food."

More refugees enter Uganda (Kampala, New Vision, 21/05) - A further 5,000 refugees from the troubled Ituri region of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) walked into Uganda's Nebbi District between Sunday night and Monday, government sources and international observers told IRIN. The new arrivals put the number of refugees fleeing weeks of fighting in Bunia, the principal town in Ituri District, at about 20,000, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Uganda reported. Bunia has been the scene of intense fighting between rival ethnic militias since 6 April when the Ugandan army that had been occupying the town began to pull out. The head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Congo, Michel Kassa, told IRIN on Tuesday that "uncontrolled militiamen" where preventing humanitarian aid reaching thousands of displaced people in the north and south of Bunia. About 2,000 Congolese refugees entered Uganda on Monday through the Goli border post - the official crossing point - into Nebbi at the western tip of the Great Rift Valley. They were travelling alongside the last three battalions of withdrawing Ugandan soldiers for their protection. Brig Kale Kayihura, the last commander of the Ugandan forces in Bunia, told reporters at Nebbi that the army's total withdrawal from Ituri was now complete. "There is not a single Ugandan weapon or piece of military equipment in Congo, neither a single soldier," he said. Maj Ezra Byaruhanga, who led the Ugandan troops to the border, said the majority of the refugees accompanying his troops had fled Bunia when the fighting began. In all, their journey took two-and-a-half weeks. Many of the old and infirm refugees reportedly died along the way from diseases and due to the harsh weather conditions. The journey was made tougher by flash floods and landslides following heavy rainfall, which washed away a number of bridge enroute, Byaruhanga said. Meanwhile, the UNHCR reported on Monday that an additional 10,000 Congolese refugees were encamped near Lake Albert in Uganda. The agency reported that two assessment teams comprising Ugandan government officials and staff from the UNHCR and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) visited six subcounties in Nebbi, where local authorities had registered at least 10,000 refugees. Local authorities said that many of the refugees came from Mahagi, Bunia and Beni, less than 300 km across the Ugandan border with the DRC. UNHCR said the Ugandan Red Cross had made a single distribution of domestic supplies including tarpaulins for shelter, kitchen utensils and blankets to the refugee families in Nebbi. UNHCR reported that local authorities had said that while there continued to be goodwill towards the refugees, dwindling resources could raise tensions within the community. The agency called for the transfer of refugees to settlements and advised local officials to resume the registration of those willing to relocate.

Uganda hosting 20,000 Congolese refugees from Ituri (Kampala, Irin, 19/05) - The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has put the number of refugees who have fled into Uganda to escape fighting in the Ituri District of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at between 15,000 and 20,000, the UN agency reported on Monday. Earlier reports had estimated the number of refugees entering Uganda through the border districts of Nebbi and Bundibugyo at 60,000 between them. "The exact number is still hard to determine but the numbers we were hearing in the press are far higher than what we witnessed in both [crossing points]," Bushra Malik, UNHCR spokeswoman in Uganda, told IRIN. She said Nebbi had fewer than 9,000 refugees and Bundibugyo 7,000 or 8,000; according to a fact-finding team, sent to both places by the UNHCR, the UN World Food Progamme and the Ugandan government. However, aid workers said that they and the fact-finding team had seen only some of the arrivals; others had crossed and moved inland well before the team arrived. The conditions in some of the sites that the refugees have settled are grim. Many are camped in flooded fishing villages on the southern shores of Lake Albert, on the border with the DRC and Uganda. Some have erected basic makeshift shelters, others sleep outside. The UNHCR reported that food was scarce and sanitary poor, with reports of cholera in some villages. Malik said that at present, the UNHCR could not help the refugees because they had not yet been moved into refugee camps. "The position of our office is that these people should move to Imvebi camp, further from the border, which is the closest and currently houses around 15,000 Sudanese refugees," she told IRIN. "Only when they agree to be moved to a designated area can we assist them." More refugees are expected on Monday as the Ugandan army withdraws its remaining four battalions of ground troops through the Congolese border town of Mahagi, into Nebbi District. Many of the refugees have been walking for three days in the company of the Ugandan soldiers for their own protection.

Thousands flee north-eastern Congolese town (Kinshasa, Sapa-AP, 15/05) -Fleeing civilians jammed roads out of an eastern Congo city by the thousands Thursday, trying to escape rival ethnic militias battling for control with mortars and machetes. More than 10,000 frightened residents have gathered around a U.N. compound in Bunia and the nearby airport, seeking the protection of 625 Uruguayan troops stationed there. U.N. officials and others have warned of possible genocide in Bunia and elsewhere in the Ituri province, where the rival Hema and Lendu tribes have fought since Uganda pulled out the last of its 6,000 troops on May 7. Congo's president and the factions' leaders began talks Thursday in a bid to ease the violence.
More than 100 people have been confirmed dead in the fighting, including scores slain at a parish church where they had sought refuge. The chaos has made it impossible to determine the overall toll. U.N. workers appealed Thursday to the crowds swarming its compound to move to the U.N.-controlled airport where thousands more have sought safety. They were offered a U.N. escort for the trip. "That would let us have more space, burn the trash, close the latrines and dig new ones," Patricia Tome, a U.N. spokeswoman, said from the overrun city. Aid workers tried to restore water supplies at the compound Thursday, fearing outbreaks of cholera and dysentery. A U.N. commander tried to negotiate a 24-hour cease-fire to allow for the relocations, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York. It was not clear if that accounted for the easing of fighting.  People in Bunia also took advantage of a lull in fighting Thursday to flee homes where many had been trapped for a week.
"It's a rare quiet day and I have been out on the streets where I saw 2,000 people walking on the road to the airport," Tome said. Aid workers flying over Bunia saw "a massive column of people" streaming late Wednesday toward Beni, 160 kilometers (100 miles) to the southwest, said Gemma Swart, a spokeswoman of a British aid group, Oxfam. "They estimated that between 30,000 and 60,000 people are on that road alone," Swart said Thursday by telephone from Goma, 370 kilometers (230 miles) southwest of Bunia. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed for troop contributions for an international security force. Britain and France say they are weighing specific requests.

U.N. officials had received "active expressions of interest" from countries in Europe, Africa and Asia, Eckhard said. "We feel that we're making very good progress" on the force, Eckhard said, saying talks were at "the highest level." On Wednesday, a rocket-propelled grenade hit near the base, killing five people, Eckhard said. U.N. workers initially had put that death toll at 10. In Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania, Congo President Joseph Kabila and leaders of the tribal factions opened urgently convened talks to stem the bloodshed. Nsingi Zi Lubaki, Congo's acting ambassador to Tanzania, said more than 30 people, including U.N. officials and representatives from six or seven groups in Bunia, were attending the talks. "The talks are at an early stage ... but there is optimism," Kabila spokesman Mulegwa Zihindula said. "Immediately after this we
would like to see a cessation of hostilities." "We are ready to negotiate with everybody," said Thomas Lubanga, leader of the key Hema militia, which sees Kabila's government as supporting its rivals. Hemas, traditionally cattle-raisers, and Lendus, predominantly farmers, have grappled for centuries for land and other resources in east Congo. The rivalry intensified in Congo's chaos of the 1990s, when wars, rebel armies and foreign troops swept through Africa's third-largest nation. Neighboring Uganda and Rwanda and their Congo rebel allies held east Congo during a civil war that began in 1998. The armies and those of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia have since withdrawn under a series of peace deals. Uganda had warned that the withdrawal of the last of its 6,000 troops would leave a security vacuum. The troops pulled out last week, shortly before the violence began.

Clashes in DRC town spark exodus (Kigali, The Star, 15/05) - Civilians are fleeing in their thousands from Bunia in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo amid heavy clashes between the majority Lendu and minority Hema ethnic groups. With water supplies cut off, the UN Security Council needed to send in a rapid-reaction peace-enforcement force as soon as possible, humanitarian workers said as the battle raged yesterday. The conflict follows the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the area in March and the related return of a Hema-led group, the Union of Congolese Patriots, who took control of the town on Monday. "For the past 15 minutes there has been very solid fire, only from heavy weapons. It's deafening," Mamadou Bah, a spokesperson for Monuc, the UN military mission in the DRC, said by phone yesterday. Aid workers, meanwhile, were able to reach only those residents gathered at the airport or in Monuc's compound. "The situation is incredibly unstable," Oxfam spokesperson Gemma Swart said from Goma, a DRC town on the Rwandan border. "It is so bad we are only able to work at Monuc-protected sites," she said, explaining that these were limited to 3 000 civilians at Monuc's compound and about 4 000 at the town's nearby airport. Bunia's population is normally about 350 000, but many of the town's inhabitants fled over the past week as the factions clashed repeatedly. Monuc said the town was about 80% empty. There were unconfirmed reports yesterday of a large column of civilians heading south from Bunia to the town of Beni. "We would say civilians are provided no protection by Monuc. Monuc is not in control. The situation is precarious and we have grave concerns about trying to avert a humanitarian crisis," said Swart. On Tuesday, France said it was ready to accept a Security Council request to send troops to Bunia to work alongside Monuc. The Union of Congolese Patriots, which has close links to the larger Rwanda-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy rebel group, responded to this offer by warning it would treat French troops in Bunia as enemies. The fresh bout of fighting yesterday broke out just as DRC Human Rights Minister Ntumba Luaba's plane was about to leave the town.  Observers said they believed the rebels tried to prevent him leaving.

Rebel offensive drives thousands of refugees into Burundi - UN (Relief Web, 12/05) - Nearly 5,000 people from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have taken refuge in neighbouring Burundi after fleeing a large-scale weekend offensive by one of the largest Congolese rebel groups, the United Nations refugee agency said today. As a result of an offensive mounted against other rebel groups in the area, the weekend assault by the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD-Goma) drove more than 4,860 Congolese refugees from their homes in south Kivu, according the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The agency said that the desperate refugees swam across the Ruzizi River - pushing their belongings on rafts and herding their cattle through the crocodile-infested waters - to the village of Nyamintanga in the border commune of Buganda, about 35 kilometres north of the Burundian capital of Bujumbura. Eleven children drowned in the crossing, while a man was badly bitten by a hippopotamus and had to be treated in a Bujumbura hospital. The refugees told UNHCR officials that RCD-Goma had warned the inhabitants of three villages in south Kivu to leave their homes because it planned a large-scale operation against other rebel groups. The refugees said more than 400 of their houses had been burned to the ground, though it is not clear which group set fire to them. They also reported that 21 people were killed in the three Congolese villages - again it is unclear who was responsible. "This influx was not really a surprise," said the agency's representative in Burundi, Stefano Severe. "We are always prepared for more refugees from the DRC. Things have remained quite volatile in eastern DRC, and there had been rumours recently that there would be more of the usual abuse of the civilian population by different groups."

DRC civilians flee to Uganda by boat (Ntoroko, Mail & Guardian, 12/05) -At the Protestant church in Ntoroko, in Uganda's western Bundibugyo district, Hallelulia, resplendent in his Sunday best, strikes up his bass guitar. “The attempt to pacify Ituri was a failure and a waste of money", he comments matter-of-factly before launching into a song to the glory of God. Hallelulia, and the other 29 ethnic Hema who make up the Hosannah Choir last week fled the town of Kasenyi in the strife-torn Ituri district of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), piling their squeaky amplifier, their guitars and their families onto boats to seek refuge on the Ugandan side of the border. “All the refugees in the region are Hema or allies of the Hema", explains Alyegera Bimbona, a 27-year-old secondary school teacher from the Ituri village of Acholi, which lies on the other side of Lake Albert. "The Lendu want to kill us -- they say we occupied their land and they're resentful because we're richer. "They've been raiding the area around my home for the past month now," he said. The Lendu are the majority tribe in the Ituri region -- of which Bunia is the capital -- and have long been engaged in a bitter land feud with the minority Hema, a feud that has been greatly exacerbated by the influx of weapons and emergence of numerous politico-military groups since the wider DRC war began in 1998. More than 50 000 people have been killed and at least half-a-million displaced by the clashes in the last few years, according to several estimates. And more are fleeing by the day. At Ntoroko landing stage, where the air is heavy with the smell of fish, three boats are arriving. One carries a Toyota pickup truck, the other groups of women and children, dazed by three hours on the water in the blinding sun. Marie-Ange staggers ashore, her baby on her back and three small children carrying jerrycans and cooking pots in her wake. "My husband stayed behind", she said. "To fight?" "No", she laughs, "to watch our house". Over the past 12 years, looting has become almost an art form in DRC. All Congolese know that once they leave their personal belongings behind, they will be stolen. Jeff is a Congolese immigration official, who is helping register the refugees. He reckons that there are 45 000 Congolese Hema refugees in the Bundibugyo region alone and that most have arrived since the Ugandan army started withdrawing from Ituri at the end of April. The majority have been taken in by local families. "The number of refugees here will soon outnumber the local population", he said. "There are still 10 000 people camping in Kasenyi waiting for boats to cross the lake," he added. A stone's throw from the church are the barracks housing Ugandan soldiers who have pulled out of the DRC and the Congolese wives they brought back with them. One of the women, Consolata, busies herself next to a pile of rocket-propelled grenades, putting together a meal of beans supplemented with her husband's corned beef rations. Back at the Protestant church women refugees are having their hair plaited."Life goes on", shrugs one of the women.

5,000 Congo refugees arrive in Bundibugyo (Kampala, The Monitor, 11/05) -Over 5,000 Congolese refugees yesterday arrived in Kanara sub-county, Bundibugyo, with their herds of cattle. The refugees, most of them women, children and the elderly, said that fighting has intensified in the Ituri region of the DR. Congo, following the withdrawal of the Uganda People's Defence Forces. They said over 20 people were killed between Wednesday and Friday. "Some of our relatives have been killed, our property has been looted, we don't know what the future holds for us," they said. They said they at times walked under heavy rainfall with their children. "These people are in a sorry state," said the LC3 chairman for Kanara sub-county, Emmanuel Kawoya. "They have no food, shelter or medicine, yet most of them are sick." He appealed to government to respond immediately to the plight of the refugees, warning that more are still coming. Mr Kawoya said this would create trouble even for the natives because as he said people have began scrambling and competing for the little good and medicine available in the area. Meanwhile, plans are underway to rescue over 120 Ugandans who were captured by the Congolese Bangit tribesmen on Lake Albert recently. The RDC, Bundibugyo, Dr Erasto Gubare told Sunday Monitor over the phone on Friday that the security agencies are devising plans to rescue them from captivity in Koga region of the DR. Congo, where they are being exploited as slaves by their captors. "By the end of the day we shall have come up with final plans to have them rescued," said Dr Gubare.

US commits US $13 million to help former child soldiers (Nairobi, Irin, 08/05) - Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda are among several countries that will benefit from a US $13-million global effort announced on Wednesday by the US Department of Labor to help educate, rehabilitate and reintegrate into society former child soldiers, the US government reported. "We can't give child soldiers their childhood back, but we can help them to rebuild their lives," Elaine Chao, the labor secretary, said at the start of a two-day international conference in Washington. A statement by the Department of Labor quoted Chao as saying that the conference on "Children in the Crossfire: Prevention and Rehabilitation of Child Soldiers" would review strategies on solving the problem of children as young as seven or eight being forced to become soldiers, spies, guards, human shields, human minesweepers, servants, decoys, sentries and prostitutes, often after being drugged. She said the strategies included prevention, disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and rehabilitation at the community level. Chao said conservative estimates put the number of child soldiers in the world at 300,000 in more than 30 conflicts worldwide. She said the US initiative included $7 million to develop comprehensive strategies with the UN International Labor Organization to help former child soldiers in Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Colombia. It also included $3 million to help educate former child soldiers in Uganda. Some 500 representatives of governments, NGOs, research groups and the media were expected to attend the conference.

Uganda appeals for outside help with refugee influx (Kampala, DPA, 08/05) - The Ugandan government made an urgent appeal Thursday for international assistance to handle an influx of refugees from the Congo region, warning it was facing a humanitarian crisis. Most refugees were Hema tribe members from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Lieutenant General Moses Ali, a senior official in charge of civil defence. The influx began after Ugandan troops withdrew from the DRC city of Bunia, pursuant to a truce between the two governments. About 60,000 refugees have crossed into Uganda, where about 60,000 Congolese reside, according to the Ugandan government.

Thousands of refugees flee killings in eastern DRC (Kampala, AFP, 02/05) -Thousands of people have fled tribal killings in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the past week and are now camped in the western Ugandan district of Bundibugyo, officials said on Friday. "Many people have come in and they have already exerted pressure on the resources here," Bundibugyo Resident District Commissioner Erasto Gubaare told AFP by telephone. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed the influx of refugees, but said it had not compiled figures for those entering Uganda, mainly through Rwebisengo border areas. WFP Deputy Resident Director Edward Kellon said the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) had not contacted them for any assistance, but pointed out that a WFP team was already in the affected area. Gubaare said most of the refugees were women, children and elderly Hema tribespeople, who have alleged that their long-time rivals the Lendu and their allies the Ngitis were killing them on sight. Appealing for help from the UNHCR and other agencies, Gubaare said 1,750 Congolese had entered Kanara sub-county of Kyenjojo district. Another 7,159 were in Ntoroko sub-county, while figures for Rwebisengo, where 3,300 refugees last week, had not yet been compiled. But the UNHCR maintained that it would only intervene if the refugees moved to facilities set up for them in nearby Kyenjojo district. "We shall not provide them with international protection, unless they move to designated refugee areas," UNHCR spokeswoman Bushila Malik told AFP in Kampala.  The Ugandan army said on Monday that at least 60 people, mostly women and children, were killed in a massacre in eastern DRC last weekend and blamed it on Lendu militia, who are alleged to have ambushed them near River Semliki as they walked towards the Ugandan border. An official in northwest Uganda, Peter Odok W'ocheing, told AFP by telephone from Paidha that over 10,000 people were also camped inside DRC waiting to cross the border. "They are waiting for our troops walking home, but are still deep inside DRC," W'ocheing said, adding: "The refugees fear that they will be massacred after the withdrawal of the Ugandan army, without replacement with another force to protect them." "UN peacekeepers should be sent to these areas to protect these people," he said. The Ugandan army started withdrawing thousands of troops from DRC's volatile Ituri region a week ago and has since flown out over 1,600 soldiers from the main town of Bunia, while the majority are walking back home in an exercise that will take up to three weeks.

Malawi

Malawians use their soft visa status in UK (Blantyre, African Eye News Service, 21/05) - Immigration and security authorities in the United Kingdom are turning back scores of Malawi nationals for breaching entry regulations. Malawians are preferentially permitted with softer visa status because Malawi is a former colony that was governed by Britain for 70 years. Some Malawians are abusing the system, however, by pretending they're students, but then seeking employment. Tom Nevin, political and press public relations officer at the British High Commission in the Malawi capital of Lilongwe, assured that Malawians who complied with the regulations had no reason to worry. "Regardless of whether an entrant needs a visa to the UK or not they should have to satisfy immigration officers that they are entering legitimately," said Nevin. He warned that London might be prompted to review its visa provisions for Malawian visitors if cases of abusing visa privilege continued. Malawi is one of the poorest states in the world with 65 percent of its 10 million population living below the poverty line. Rising unemployment, frequent closure of companies because of the collapse of the manufacturing sector and an uncertain political environment is forcing young university graduates to leave the country en masse. Even the employed are emigrating because of low irregular wages, poor working conditions and unfavourable labour laws. The recent increase in illegal immigrants fleeing political oppression, soaring unemployment and declining living conditions in Africa has prompted the British government to become tougher with foreigners. The number of asylum seakers from another former British colony, Zimbabwe, is said to have risen tenfold since 1998 due to prolonged political and economic uncertainty under president Robert Mugabe's leadership.

Nurses ask government to arrest brain drain (Blantyre, Malawi Standard, 19/05) - The National Association of Nurses in Malawi has urged the government to consider improving nurses' working conditions and perks to check against the brain drain that has hit the public health sector. Making the appeal, the association's president, Dorothy Ngoma, said nurses and other medical practitioners migrate to Europe, the United States of America and South Africa to look for greener pastures. "Nurses work under very difficult circumstances in Malawi, for instance they handle patients without protection. As a result, they end up catching diseases," she explained. Ngoma said the brain drain in the public health sector has created pressure on the few nurses that are practicing in government hospitals. "The brain drain of nurses is a burden to practising nurses. Imagine one nurse attending to 150 patients yet she has only two hands," she noted. She disclosed that about 80 percent of the admitted patients in hospitals suffer from HIV/AIDS related diseases. "We are dying because we operate without adequate resources to protect ourselves when discharging our duties," Ngoma said. Ngoma appealed to the government to consider revisiting nurses working conditions and incentives to check against the brain drain. According to Ngoma, nurses are offered attractive packages in Europe, the USA and South Africa as compared to nurses practicing locally. Nurses commemorated World Nurses Day on May 12, 2003, a day when Florence Nightngale, the first nurse was born in France.

Seven deported from Malawi for visa scam (Daily News, 12/05) - The police in Malawi last week arrested and deported seven Zimbabweans in connection with a scam in which Zimbabweans are allegedly forging Malawian travel documents in order to emigrate to the United Kingdom without visas. Malawian citizens do not require visas when travelling to the UK. A passport officer at the Malawian High Commission in Harare, who refused to give his name, could not be drawn into discussing the circumstances leading to the arrest of the Zimbabwean nationals. "We have a new passport system which we have just completed and it is impossible for one to steal another person's passport," he said. He said the embassy's switchboard was jammed with telephone calls from people concerned about the issue of the new passport system and of Zimbabweans attempting to beat the United Kingdom's stringent visa regulations by travelling on Malawian passports. Embassy sources said Luke Kabwe, Brain Dube and Jonathan Charakupa were allegedly arrested and interrogated by David Kwanjana, an immigration officer in Malawi, after they applied for passports with forged birth certificates. The identities of the other deportees could not be established. During the interrogation, Kwanjana reportedly detected that the trio was not fluent in the Malawian vernacular languages of the districts they had entered in the passport application forms. Zimbabweans allegedly use Malawians to fill in the applications declaring them as their parents in their desperate bid to get passports to travel to Britain.
In an interview with The Daily Times of Malawi, Bryson Bendala, Malawi 's immigration spokesman, said the information that the Zimbabweans entered on their passport application forms was suspect and the police intervened. "Apart from their poor accent, information entered on their application forms, as regards to ages and appearances, raised suspicion and they were eventually arrested," Bendala said. He said the seven were fined and ordered to leave Malawi.

Namibia

Machine set to speed up ID process (The Namibian, 27/05) - The government is to acquire a N$45 million machine to identify fingerprints in a bid to reduce the waiting period for identification documents. Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo told a group of farmers near Okahandja on Friday that a company from Japan will soon install the system which, he says, has the capacity to read around 500 fingerprints per second. At the moment, it takes around 12 minutes to check one fingerprint with a magnifying glass. Ekandjo said the manual reading of fingerprints is the main cause of delays in issuing identity documents.  "We found that the staff read only three fingerprints in half an hour and then they have to have a 30-minute break because their eyes get tired. This will change soon," Ekandjo said. Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Mose Tjitendero called the meeting with farmers in the Swakop Valley (Omatako Constituency) to discuss how they can co-operate.  Both Tjitendero and Ekandjo recently bought farms in the area. Ekandjo said some people applied for IDs in 1992 and were still waiting for their documents.  He said once the new system is introduced the current backlog should be eliminated within six months.  The system is similar to ones used by the French, American and Japanese governments. Under the new system, Windhoek residents will be able to get their IDs on the same day. Ekandjo said the birth certificate department will also be computerised.  "We are thinking of expanding offices. We have 13 offices in the regions with five staff members in each office. We will decentralise some of the staff at the head office in Windhoek. Towards the end of the year, things will be much better," he said. Ekandjo acknowledged that it was "frustrating" for people to queue for at least three to four hours and then wait for up to six years to get identity documents. The new ID system will make it difficult for any one to forge Namibian documents. Last year, Ekandjo took a group of Parliamentarians to the Home Affairs offices to see the circumstances in which employees work. A Civic Affairs Department official told the Parliamentary delegation that 1,2 million more IDs were printed than the Namibian population, which stands at 1,8 million according to the latest census. Home Affairs Deputy Minister Loide Kasingo, motivating the Home Affairs budget last year, also told the National Assembly that 67 579 ID cards were printed during the 2001-2002 financial year but 66 537 were not collected by individuals. Only 1 042 ID cards were collected, she said.

Police prepare to take over immigration functions (The Namibian, 21/05) -About 400 Police officers are to be trained to replace civilian immigration officials as the Ministry of Home Affairs forges ahead with plans to disband its Immigration Division. Staff in the Ministry of Home Affairs said Minister Jerry Ekandjo told them at a meeting last week that the plan for Police to take over key functions of immigration officials has reached an advanced level. Ekandjo confirmed on Monday that he had met with staff in the Department of Civic Affairs in an attempt to allay their fears about the impending changes. He also confirmed 400 Police will be trained. The idea has been unpopular among immigration officials since 2000 when Ekandjo first mooted his desire to pass on some key functions of the Immigration Division to the Police. The move has also been described in some circles as of concern if, for instance, tourists and other travellers are greeted by armed Police officers instead of the familiar uniformed immigration officials. Ekandjo said the border Police will wear the uniform worn by immigration staff - a white and black peaked cap, white shirt, black trousers and black shoes. "It is for security reasons," Ekandjo said, "because the work they do involves life and death situations". He said immigration officials, who are employed as civil servants, have been asking to be armed because of the danger they face when they search for illegal immigrants in "cleaning up operations". But money and ensuring the borders are manned all the time may have been the driving factors. Said Ekandjo: "Police don't have overtime, they don't belong to trade unions and have no right to strike". In December 2001, immigration officers threatened to strike because they had not been paid for overtime work for three months. "Imagine immigration [officials] striking!," remarked Ekandjo. The Minister said he told the officials that their conditions of service will not be affected, but the uniform will be taken away and the borders will be manned solely by Police trained in the immigration function of checking passports. Those who want to join the border Police should apply, but the immigration officials will be "deployed" to other divisions in the Ministry to continue working with visas and identification documents. Ekandjo said he hoped to have a bill drafted to change the Immigration Control Act and hand over some of the functions to the Police. "This is done throughout the world, except in a few Commonwealth countries," where civilians still work at the borders. The idea has so far met with resistance from the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu), which said the changes might breach working conditions. Ekandjo maintains the changes would not affect employment contracts.

Namport eyeing Zambian, DRC copper exports (The Economist, 02/05) - The country's port authority, Namport said this week that the Zambian and Democratic Republic of the Congo markets are part of its marketing drive to secure more cargo from markets outside Namibia. Namport said copper from the two countries form part of a cross border market segment and the authority would continue to explore opportunities. “We have positioned the port of Walvis Bay as the preferred route for these markets and are extremely positive that we will be able to capture the required volumes via the Trans Caprivi Highway,” marketing manager Jerome Mouton told the Economist. Currently, Namport is not exporting any copper from Zambia and the DRC. Mouton attributed this to the changes and the drop in the base metal market which resulted in the routing of the copper to the far east. He said for the two countries, Namibia's main port is a logical choice and through the Walvis Bay Corridor, Namport offers very competitive services. “The time saving aspect has been high lighted on numerous occasions as they will save not only 5 to 7 days sailing time, but also save on their transport costs,” Mouton said. For the financial year 2001/2002 Namport exported 49421 tonnes of copper. He said the mines in the DRC and Zambia normally only import project cargo related to mine development from the north western part of the continent and from South Africa. With the pull-out of Anglo American from the Zambian mines exports from those mines via Walvis Bay were halted, he noted addding that Namibian ports are competing with the ports of Dar Salaam, Maputo, and Durban and has to remain resilient to be competitive. He said Namport's business development drives include attending trade fairs and talking to the mines about the opportunities it has to offer in their export and import supply chain. In 2003 Namport is focusing on mines in Zambia but not in the DRC.

More illegal immigrants to be deported (Oshikati, The Namibian, 02/05) -The Immigration Tribunal in the Ohangwena Region has authorised the deportation of 253 illegal immigrants to their countries of origin. In an interview with Nampa on Tuesday, Chief Immigration Officer for Northern Namibia Hiyavelwa Nambinga said most of the illegal immigrants ordered deported last Friday were Angolans. Others were from Zambia, Jamaica and South Africa. Nambinga said the immigrants had been rounded up in northern Namibia since February. Nambinga said the Angolan nationals had already been deported and arrangements for the deportation of those from other countries were underway. It was the second Immigration Tribunal of the year in northern Namibia. The first sitting in January led to the deportation of 389 illegal immigrants. Angolans were also in the majority during the first tribunal, with a few immigrants from Germany, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.

South Africa

Border blitz nets goods (Kimberley, Sapa, 30/05) - Four people were arrested and goods worth R477 005 were confiscated during a crime prevention operation on the border between South Africa and Namibia, Northern Cape police reported on Friday. Inspector Tony Modise said the operation at Alexander Bay and Nakop started on Wednesday and ended on Thursday. He said a truck carrying food worth R197 838 was confiscated after the driver failed to produce a permit. Steel to the value of R169 167 was seized because the cross border transport permit had expired, while a Ford Bantam Courier to the value R110 000 was confiscated because the owner failed to pay tax. Modise said all the confiscated goods were handed to the SA Revenue Service officials. He said a man was arrested for the possession of 50g of dagga valued at R100. Three drivers were arrested for expired licence disks.

Home Affairs Director General meets his new boss (Pretoria, Mail & Guardian, 30/05) - New home affairs Director General Barry Gilder signed his contract with Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Tuesday. "I had my first face-to-face meeting with the minister today," he said. "It was a very good, amicable meeting." Gilder said both he and Buthelezi had expressed the desire for close co-operation. "I recognise the authority of the minister." Buthelezi was the political head of the department, he said. "I respect that. It is a given, something I cannot challenge. I'll take directions and policy guidelines from the minister." Gilder would not comment on the relationship between his predecessor, Billy Masetlha, and Buthelezi. Masetlha's contract remained unsigned from his appointment in late 1999 until he left the post 11 months ago to become presidential security  adviser. In 2001, Buthelezi submitted a 10-page document to the National Assembly's home affairs committee with the title "Some of the problems I have experienced with my DG [director general]," in which he listed 64 examples of Masetlha's alleged wrongdoing. Cabinet announced Gilder's appointment earlier this month. He said one of his strategic priorities would be to drive the new immigration dispensation. The new Immigration Act and its regulations have been the subject of more than one court challenge. Last week the Constitutional Court reserved judgment on the issue of whether Buthelezi would be granted leave to appeal a decision by the Cape High Court on the constitutionality of new Immigration Act regulations. And last month the Pretoria High Court declared two sections of the legislation unconstitutional and invalid. Another big challenge for Gilder would be to secure more resources and better infrastructure for his department. "The department... is badly understaffed in terms of the services it has to deliver," the director general said. Some of its offices in outlying areas did not even have the basic necessities. There had been no major change in the department's capacity since 1994, although the number of visitors to South Africa had increased dramatically and many more citizens now had access to normal citizen's rights, he said. "The work of the department has multiplied manifold." Gilder said he understood there were many demands on the fiscus, but an adequately resourced home affairs department was of great importance for the transformation of the country. He believed his intelligence background would help him deal with criminals targeting the department, which was very susceptible to corruption due to the nature of its functions. Service delivery was a major priority. "I will be harnessing information technology to ensure efficiency." Gilder said. "Modern technology gives us the opportunity to improve service delivery." Other challenges included ensuring people who were entitled to vote got the necessary documentation to do so in next year's elections, as well as the introduction of the Home Affairs National Identification System [Hanis]. "I'm quite excited about Hanis." Gilder said he entered his new job with "a mixture of excitement and anxiety".The excitement was about the challenges he faced and the anxiety about the huge workload.

'Citizens only' social grants face challenge by refugees (Johannesburg, IOL, 30/05) - The government fears that extending social grants to non-citizens could cause a tidal wave of people streaming into the country. The Constitutional Court will today hear a challenge against the constitutionality of the Social Assistance Act, which only gives welfare grants to citizens.  The class-action was brought by destitute Mozambican refugees, who have been given permanent residence but do not qualify for welfare aid. The department of social development fears that the demand for social assistance, if extended to non-citizens, would far exceed available funding. At present, the government pays monthly welfare grants totalling R2.8 billion to about 5.8 million citizens.  The acting director-general of the department of social development, Vusimuzi Madonsela, said this number was increasing at "a staggering rate" and that by the end of the 2006 financial year 10 million South Africans would qualify for  social grants, which would cost the government R44.6bn. He said South Africa's welfare policy was not over-restrictive. The citizenship requirement was found in almost all developed countries.  His department was trying to help as many people as possible within its budgetary constraints. The citizenship requirement could not be divorced from the overall immigration policy, which required people wishing to acquire permanent residence status to be self-sufficient. He said he had given orders that the destitute Mozambican refugees who brought the application must be helped as urgently as possible, as most of them qualified for citizenship through naturalisation. Finance Minister Trevor Manuel told the court he did not know how many people would have to receive welfare grants if citizenship was removed as a prerequisite.  "Before social grants are extended to non-citizens I would welcome an opportunity of investigating the matter to give an informed response," he said. The chief director of social services in the Treasury, Johannes Jacob Kruger, said: "The South African grant system, in the light of the very high proportion of the population qualifying for income support ... is probably unparalleled in middle-income countries.  "In the context of its neighbours, future implications are huge as eligibility for social grants becomes a major incentive to immigrate/flee to South Africa from other African countries where average incomes (except for Botswana) are much lower and grant systems and other state income support are not generally available." 

Refugees challenge citizens' social grants (IOL, 30/05) - The government fears that extending social grants to non-citizens could cause a tidal wave of people streaming into the country. The Constitutional Court will hear a challenge on Friday against the constitutionality of the Social Assistance Act, which only gives welfare grants to citizens.  The class-action was brought by destitute Mozambican refugees, who have been given permanent residence but do not qualify for welfare aid. The department of social development fears that the demand for social assistance, if extended to non-citizens, would far exceed available funding. At present, the government pays monthly welfare grants totalling R2,8-billion to about 5,8 million citizens.  The acting director-general of the department of social development, Vusimuzi Madonsela, said this number was increasing at "a staggering rate" and that by the end of the 2006 financial year 10 million South Africans would qualify for social grants, which would cost the government R44,6bn. He said South Africa's welfare policy was not over-restrictive. The citizenship requirement was found in almost all developed countries.  His department was trying to help as many people as possible within its budgetary constraints. The citizenship requirement could not be divorced from the overall immigration policy, which required people wishing to acquire permanent residence status to be self-sufficient. He said he had given orders that the destitute Mozambican refugees who brought the application must be helped as urgently as possible, as most of them qualified for citizenship through naturalisation. Finance Minister Trevor Manuel told the court he did not know how many people would have to receive welfare grants if citizenship was removed as a prerequisite.  "Before social grants are extended to non-citizens I would welcome an opportunity of investigating the matter to give an informed response," he said. The chief director of social services in the Treasury, Johannes Jacob Kruger, said: "The South African grant system, in the light of the very high proportion of the population qualifying for income support... is probably unparalleled in middle-income countries. "In the context of its neighbours, future implications are huge as eligibility for social grants becomes a major incentive to immigrate/flee to South Africa from other African countries where average incomes (except for Botswana) are much lower and grant systems and other state income support are not generally available."

Home Affairs loses ID books in burglary (Umtata, Dispatch Online, 29/05) -A resident here was shocked when Department of Home Affairs officials told her her identity document was stolen during a burglary. The document was removed from the building along with a heap of other identity documents. Janet Kalis said she had applied for her document in January and went to the building at the corner of Owen and Leeds streets to fetch it yesterday.  "I was told by a clerk that it had arrived, after he looked through a computer. But when I got to the relevant office to fetch it, another official told me before she even looked through the drawer that I should be aware that it could have been among the stolen IDs."  Kalis said the official explained that several documents had been stolen during a theft on Monday. She was also advised to report the disappearance of her ID at the local police station. "This is a huge inconvenience," said Kalis. "Department officials should have done this earlier. They have not been helpful at all."  Departmental regional director Lutando Myataza confirmed the case but said he has not yet received full details. He said it was standard procedure to report such incidents to the police.  Police spokesperson Superintendent Nondumiso Jafta said she was not aware of the incident.

Buthelezi voices support for new D-G Gilder (IOL, 29/05) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his new director-general Barry Gilder have put forward a united and amiable front after speculation of differences between the two. "I have called for this press conference to plead with the press to allow for the controversy (surrounding Gilder's appointment) to subside," the minister told reporters and members of parliament's home affairs committee on Wednesday. "Mr Gilder and I have met and found a variety of common grounds in respect of the key strategic projects of my department," he said. Gilder, a former secret service official, signed his contract on Tuesday, two weeks after the cabinet had approved the appointment, and after months of wrangling. The home affairs minister, who is also president of the Inkatha Freedom Party, had wanted his close aide Ivan Lambinnon to be appointed to the post, although cabinet colleagues had preferred Gilder. Like his predecessor, Billy Masetlha, Gilder is a member of the ANC. The relationship between Masetlha and Buthelezi was tense, with the former director-general declining to sign a contract to ratify his extended tenure, and the minister listing 64 examples of "wrongdoing" by Masetlha. Masetlha left the department in June last year to join the Presidency. Buthelezi said "a lot of nonsense has been bandied about" that he had objected to Gilder's appointment as director-general because of his ANC credentials, or because he had come from the secret service, like Masetlha. "I have never voiced to anyone that working in intelligence, an organ of state, tarnishes anyone in my esteem. "The problems I had with Mr Gilder's predecessor had nothing to do with his coming from the secret service, but had to do with his personality. "I therefore hope that the ghosts of these allegations that I had objections to working with the so-called spooks, as some of the media people have said, will today be laid to rest for ever. RIP," he said. Gilder said he fully respected the authority and role of the minister, and was looking forward to tackling the challenges of the job. "I plead to the media to allow the past to rest in the past." In reply to a question on a court ultimatum for the department to issue identity documents to two Rwandan refugees or face arrest, he said: "I was quite looking forward to going to jail with the minister, as it would have allowed us the opportunity to really get to know each other." Gilder was appointed on a three-year contract

Court gives Buthelezi ultimatum over Rwandan students' documents (Business Day, 28/05) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi has been given an ultimatum by the Durban High Court to issue identity documents to two Rwandan refugees or face arrest, after his department failed to act on a previous court order. The court ruling is further evidence of the department's administrative shambles, which has seen it involved in a number of court cases at taxpayers' expense, including a Constitutional Court case over welfare grants for refugees.  Sheldon Magardie, of the Legal Resources Centre, who brought the case to court on behalf of the Rwandans, said there was evidence to suggest that the department had lied to them and the court about sending the identity documents. The minister and his directorgeneral have until June 4 to issue the documents or face imprisonment until the order is complied with. "Delays and a lack of action by the department has forced us into a situation where we have a contempt application against a cabinet minister," said Magardie. "We have to get ministers and senior officials to take responsibility for the inaction of their departments or the matter will never be addressed. They do not seem motivated by a court order." The refugees, Leonidas Bakuzakundi and Stanislas Rwandarugali, are students at the science foundation programme at the University of Natal and have been trying since May 2001 to get IDs issued by the department. In April this year they secured a high court order compelling the minister and the director-general to issue their IDs immediately. In spite of the order and repeated calls to the department, one ID was not issued and the other expired two days after it was issued. In court documents, the two said they were concerned about losing their places at the university because requests for financial assistance required an identity number. The minister will have to show on June 2 why the order should not be granted, and if he cannot show just cause then he has until June 4 to issue the documents. According to Magardie, the centre was told before the May 22 court date that the IDs had been sent by courier to their Durban office. "The department then later asked for pictures of the students saying that the documents had been lost, which suggests that they did not send the documents, which means they lied to us and the court, which is a very serious offence."

Harmony in the air at home affairs (Business Day, 27/05) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his recently appointed director-general, Barry Gilder, appear to be laying the foundations of a sound working relationship. This comes after a long period of chronic instability in the home affairs department caused by friction between Buthelezi and former director-general Billy Masetlha, an African National Congress (ANC) stalwart. Appointed by President Thabo Mbeki, Masetlha did not enjoy the confidence of Buthelezi, who found him obstructionist. Yet he remained in office for many years, despite Buthelezi's appeals to Mbeki to remove him. The conflict between the two proved destabilising and counterproductive for the department, a huge bureaucracy at the coal-face of government's service delivery to the people. The relationship between a director-general and the political head of a department is an important one, especially in the field of policy development and implementation. Buthelezi's own choice to fill the position vacated by Masetlha would have been his acting director-general, Ivan Lambinon, who is competent, knows the ropes and would have been able to steer the department through a difficult transitional phase. Furthermore, Buthelezi finds objectionable the fact that he cannot choose his own directorgeneral. However, he has nothing personal against Gilder, although he believes it will take Gilder about a year to fully get to grips with his new job. The first indication that they were laying a solid foundation to their relationship is the anticipated signing of Gilder's contract this week by Buthelezi, in sharp contrast to Masetlha's contract, which remained unsigned by both parties until he left. Gilder, whose political credentials within the ANC are as impeccable as those of his predecessor, says he wants to ensure he has a good working relationship with the minister. Political affiliation should have no part in the relationship. "I am a public servant and recognise the authority of the minister," Gilder says. He says both he and Buthelezi have expressed their intention to work profitably together. Buthelezi's advisor, Mario Ambrosini, says Buthelezi has indicated his willingness to work "enthusiastically with anyone who is loyal to him".

Still new in the post, Gilder has yet to be briefed on the minutiae of the department's operations and to visit its regional and district offices. But he has already identified the major challenges on the road ahead. The obvious and immediate challenge is the successful implementation of the controversial immigration legislation, which has been a subject of several court challenges, as well as the huge home affairs national identification system (Hanis) project. The Hanis project is designed to replace traditional identity books with cards containing personal data and linked to a national database storing the fingerprints of all citizens. Other challenges involve improving the quality and spread of service delivery to make access to the department's services as hassle-free and inexpensive as possible, and ensuring that all voters have their ID books before next year's general election. Gilder will also be devoting a lot of energy to fighting corruption, a problem he sees as being peculiar to home affairs departments around the world as they are charged with the critical task of dispensing identity, residence and travel documents. "These departments tend to be a rather well-known target for criminal syndicates," Gilder says. Coming from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), where he was deputy director-general in charge of operations, Gilder already has experience in dealing with the problem. He also intends to set a high priority on filling vacant posts at senior level in the department and feels passionate about harnessing information technology to make home affairs more effective and efficient. A great challenge will be to achieve these ambitions within the existing resource constraints. Gilder sees the department's activities as being at the heart of service delivery, and a key instrument in achieving the ANC's promise of "a better life for all" as it is the one that provides citizens with the necessary means of access to other services such as social grants and pensions. Before the NIA, Gilder worked as deputy director-general of the SA Security Services. A Bachelor of Arts graduate from the University of the Witwatersrand, he spent 15 years in exile in London, Angola, Zimbabwe and Botswana, working for the ANC's military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. He headed the ANC's intelligence and security department in Botswana and was a member of the regional political and military committee there between 1985 and 1989. There is not much time before the next election less than a year probably and the future of Buthelezi as a cabinet member lies in the hands of Mbeki. Until then though, there is a glimmer of hope that at last the home affairs department may function more smoothly.

Mozambique, South Africa get new border post (Maputo, Sapa, 27/05) - Mozambique and South Africa have agreed to set up a tourist-only border post to ease movement to a recently established Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a cabinet minister said on Tuesday. "All agreements have been reached between our states and the border opening process is at its final stage," Mozambican tourism minister Fernando Sumbana told AFP. The new border crossing point will be situated north of the existing Ressano Garcia border, which is perennially jammed because of excessive customs and immigration bureaucracy and the growing trade between the two neighbours. The Great Limpopo Transfontier 95&nbpsp;000 sq km park joins together South Africa's Kruger National Park, the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou National Park. The Great Limpopo Park and the world's largest game park, is said to have the potential to become one of Africa's top eco-tourism destinations. It was established in December last year.

Buthelezi gets new DG (Cape Town, Mail & Guardian, 27/05) - No contract has been signed with Barry Gilder more than a week after the Cabinet announced he would be the new home affairs director general "with immediate effect" and doubts have been cast over the supposedly unanimous Cabinet decision. Cabinet representative Joel Netshitenzhe announced Gilder's appointment last Wednesday, saying "what was brought to Cabinet was a consensus view of the [interviewing] panel, including the minister". But it is understood that Minister of Home Affairs Mangosuthu Buthelezi had continued to oppose the National Intelligence Agency deputy director general until the last moment. Buthelezi preferred deputy director general Ivan Lambinon, a long-time civil servant who had acted as director general for almost 11 months. Buthelezi was overruled. In an attempt to end the long dispute, he found that a contract for Gilder — the preference of African National Congress Cabinet members — was not a choice, but a requirement. Government circles believe an agreement with Gilder will be signed by the end of Friday. "I will formally take up office in the next few days," Gilder told Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) at a Wednesday meeting on the contractual dispute between his predecessor, former South African Secret Service boss Billy Masetlha, and the minister. Buthelezi did not formally welcome the new incumbent in his budget speech on Monday. Instead the minister said that he "never allowed political considerations to distract" him. "I have not given jobs and positions to my friends, nor have I prevented my foes from achieving them when they were qualified for them," he said. But Buthelezi also told Parliament: "This might be my last budget speech as minister of home affairs", provoking suggestions that the Inkatha Freedom Party leader may be on his way out. Relations between the ruling ANC and the IFP are frosty, with the IFP in an unofficial electoral front with the opposition Democratic Alliance. In the past year the IFP has grown increasingly close to the DA, with leaders of both parties putting in symbolic appearances at the other's congresses. In KwaZulu-Natal, relations reached an all-time low when the ANC challenged the IFP's rule of the province when provincial legislators were allowed to switch parties without losing their seats. UmAfrika editor Cyril Madlala said tensions at provincial level had filtered into the national sphere. Many IFP members in KwaZulu-Natal also feel that Buthelezi does not receive sufficient respect as a senior Cabinet member and an inkosi. "There is the view that no ANC minister would have been so roughly treated over the appointment of his director general," Madlala said. The Department of Home Affairs has regularly been used as a political football. The publicly acrimonious relations with Masetlha undermined the department's effective functioning. Tensions also bedevil the parliamentary home affairs committee. Last year it split along party-political lines over the controversial immigration law. The ministry's appeal to the Constitutional Court to set aside an earlier ruling declaring the immigration regulations unconstitutional is regarded as unnecessary by the ANC, which was made clear during the budget debate.Netshitenzhe blamed the delay in signing the contract on paperwork. At Wednesday's Scopa hearing Gilder took notes alongside Lambinon. His contract would be signed in the next few days, Gilder told the committee — twice.

New Home Affairs DG ready to fight corruption (City Press, 25/05) - Newly appointed Home Affairs director-general Barry Gilder has made rooting out "organised corruption" in the department his main aim during his tenure in office - which officially started on Thursday. Gilder, whose appointment was delayed following apparent disagreements between Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and ANC ministers, said he could not wait to take over the reins. "The department has a reputation for corruption. Coming from intelligence, I did know that organised corruption and crime are the biggest challenges for the country, especially at home affairs," he said. Gilder is a former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) deputy director. He spent three years at the SA Secret Service before joining the NIA in 2000. He told City Press he would work on strategies to root out corruption, improve service delivery, put up mechanisms to deal with crime syndicates and enhance the image of the department. Gilder was speaking for the first time after his appointment in which he beat Buthelezi's preferred candidate, Ivan Lambinon. His other priorities include fast-tracking the completion of the electronic Home Affairs national identification system (Hanis) and the introduction of smart ID cards. He would also fix the flaws in the new immigration regulations, for which the department has been taken to court several times. "It's an advantage to have worked in intelligence. When you are there, you are privy to a range of information about issues that relate to home affairs," he said. One of the challenges SA has faced since 1994 has been to balance the free movement of people, and provide adequate security at borders. "The problem is that we had to move from a controlling regime to an open one, so we had to open fast ­and we relaxed (the borders) too much and too fast. "We became attractive to a lot of criminal activities." He said the challenge was to curb drug-trafficking, the smuggling of small weapons and money­laundering and to prevent terrorists from using the country as base to support terrorist networks. "We have a hell of a long way to go. It does not take a year or two to get a balance in place," said Gilder, who sounded confident. Gilder said he did not have a problem working with Buthelezi, the leader of the IFP, as he believes their political background was "irrelevant" for the work they both have to do in the department.

"As a civil servant I will be serving the government of the day. Cabinet, which the minister (Buthelezi) is part of, decides policy. "I don't think my ANC background would have an impact in our relationship." Gilder treats the controversy that surrounded his appointment as speculation. "There may have been politics, but I am not part of that." He said his background would help him devise strategies to deal with organised crime and the use of SA identity documents by foreign criminals. Having been part of the team that transformed NIA from being an apartheid agency to serve the new order, Gilder said his aim was to "fine-tune" home affairs to be in line with government policies. He refused to be drawn to comment about Buthelezi' s alleged reservations about his appointment. "I don't want to comment about what has been going on. "I will not have an opportunity to meet him (Buthelezi) face to face until next week," he said. "I intend to have a very constructive relationship with him." Gilder stressed that his employment at home affairs should not be viewed with suspicion as he was not deployed by NIA to do intelligence, but rather was joining the department as a civil servant. Gilder's appointment gives him an opportunity to be at the face of direct service delivery — something which he has cherished for a long time. "My contribution in intelligence was indirect, but now 1 have an opportunity to interact with the public," he said.

Judge orders Buthelezi to issue IDs (Sunday Times, 25/05) - The Durban High Court has ordered Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his director-general, Ivan Lambinon, to supply two Rwandan refugees with their identity cards within 10 days or face arrest. This week Judge Greg Kruger found Buthelezi and Lambinon in contempt of court after they failed to comply with a High Court order, granted last month, in which they were instructed to issue identity documents to Leonidas Bakuzakundi and Stanislas Rwandarugali within five weeks. The two refugees took the ministry to court, with the assistance of attorneys from the Legal Resources Centre, after waiting for their identity documents for two years. They risked being barred from the University of Natal as they did not have valid ID documents to secure financial assistance for their studies.

Buthelezi could be jailed for late ID books (IOL, 23/05) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his director-general have 10 days to provide two Rwandan refugees with identity documents, or they will go to jail. That is the effect of a Durban High Court judgment delivered by Judge Greg Kruger on Thursday, in which he found the two men in contempt of court for failing to act on a previous court order. The refugees, Leonidas Bakuzakundi and Stanislas Rwandarugali, are students in the Science Foundation programme at the University of Natal. After initially applying for identity documents in May 2001, they went to the high court in April this year and secured an order compelling the minister and the director-general to issue them with IDs immediately. 'We have been advised that further delays will seriously prejudice our applications'
However, in spite of the order being served on the appropriate people, and repeated telephone calls to the state attorney, one was never issued at all, while the other expired two days after it was issued. On Thursday, with the assistance of attorneys JP Purshotam and Sheldon Magardie from Durban's legal resources centre, the refugees went back to court. In an affidavit, the pair said while the university had allowed them to attend lectures, it had been made clear that their applications for financial assistance could not be processed without identity documents. "We have been advised that further delays will seriously prejudice our applications. We are concerned about losing our places at the university through no fault of our own. "Neither ourselves nor our attorney can fathom whether the failure or refusal is due to negligence, dilatoriness or indifference. Whatever the reason, it has the potential to bring the administration of justice into disrepute, undermine the authority of the court and impact negatively on the efficacy of its orders," they said. While lawyers acting for the minister and director-general on Thursday attempted to adjourn the hearing for a month, undertaking that within that time, the books would be issued, the legal resources centre attorneys argued that they had had enough time already. The judge gave the minister and director-general until June 4 to issue the identity documents, failing which they would be imprisoned until they had complied with the order.

Issue IDs, court orders Buthelezi (IOL, 23/05) - Home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his director-general have 10 days to provide two Rwandan refugees with identity documents, or they will go to jail. That is the effect of a Durban High Court judgment delivered by Judge Greg Kruger yesterday, in which he found the two men in contempt of court for failing to act on a previous court order.The refugees, Leonidas Bakuzakundi and Stanislas Rwandarugali, are students in the Science Foundation programme at the University of Natal. After initially applying for identity documents in May 2001, they went to the high court in April this year and secured an order compelling the minister and the director-general to issue them with IDs immediately. However, in spite of the order being served on the appropriate people, and repeated telephone calls to the state attorney, one was never issued at all, while the other expired two days after it was issued. Yesterday, with the assistance of attorneys J P Purshotam and Sheldon Magardie from Durban's legal resources centre, the refugees went back to court. In an affidavit, the pair said while the university had allowed them to attend lectures, it had been made clear that their applications for financial assistance could not be processed without identity documents. "We have been advised that further delays will seriously prejudice our applications ... we are concerned about losing our places at the university through no fault of our own.
"Neither ourselves nor our attorney can fathom whether the failure or refusal is due to negligence, dilatoriness or indifference. Whatever the reason, it has the potential to bring the administration of justice into disrepute, undermine the authority of the court and impact negatively on the efficacy of its orders," they said. While lawyers acting for the minister and director-general yesterday attempted to adjourn the hearing for a month undertaking that within that time, the books would be issued, the legal resources centre attorneys argued that they had had enough time already. The judge gave the minister and director-general until June 4 to issue the identity documents, failing which they would be imprisoned until they had complied with the order.

Cattle rustlers routed (Nelspruit, News24, 22/05) - Some 400 head of cattle worth about R1m, which were about to smuggled from South African to Mozambique, have been intercepted by the South African National Defence Force, a Mpumalanga government official said on Thursday. Mpumalanga safety and security department spokesperson Ntimi Skhosana said although the cattle were found on May 12, it had not been possible to reveal details until Thursday because a full investigation was required. The provincial government announced the details of the incident at a media briefing in Middelburg on Thursday. Skhosana said an alarm sounded about 22:00 on May 12, alerting authorities to the fact that someone had cut the fence separating the two countries. Members of the army's 33 Battalion, deployed on the border at the time, went to the scene and discovered 400 head of cattle about to be smuggled into Mozambique. The cattle rustlers fled the scene as the soldiers approached so no arrests were made. It was also difficult to trace the owners of the cattle because they were not properly branded. However, Skhosana described the operation as "a groundbreaking success". He said it was part of an ongoing strategy to deal with crime in Mpumalanga and specifically stock theft, which government had identified as a priority area. "Stock theft and farm attacks, regardless of who the perpetrators are, will not be tolerated by government, farmers or the community," he warned, while advising emerging farmers to take stringent measures to protect their valuable stock. Suggestions included using trustworthy people known to the farmer to herd the animals; branding all stock; reporting missing cattle promptly and reporting all unlicensed butcheries to the authorities. He asked the farming community to work closely with the police to prevent criminal activity. He said a task team comprising representatives from KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Swaziland and Mozambique had been established to tackle cross-border crime. It was headed by Deputy Provincial Commissioner Veli Dube.

More things change, more they stay the same, opinion piece (IOL, 22/05) -It has taken the government almost a decade to replace one of apartheid's last statutes, the Aliens Control Act, with new immigration legislation. The drafting process was clouded with controversy and frustration. Despite extensive consultations, little consideration seems to have been given to the recommendations of human rights organisations in preparing the act.  Criticism falls largely into two areas: those relating to the act's ability to facilitate skilled immigration and those relating to the government's commitments to protect the human rights of non-citizens. The Immigration Act is an instrument designed to assist government to facilitate the movement of skilled migrants and immigrants. Disappointingly, it introduces a new and more complicated set of mechanisms for issuing work permits than the Aliens Control Act.  It relies heavily on chartered accountants as part of the process, ironically an area of skills shortage. With the exception of some large corporations, the new mechanisms are likely to make it harder for most employers to import skilled workers. And, despite the creation of multiple permits,  the act still does not deal adequately with certain categories of migrants, including: migrant workers, mineworkers and small entrepreneurs and traders.  The introduction of "corporate permits" allows certain companies to grant work permits at their discretion with little government accountability. It favours large corporations over smaller businesses and NGOs that may also need to import skilled workers. The permits also suggest a privatisation of immigrant selection, a perpetuation of apartheid-era policies, and the abdication of the responsibility of the state to control who enters its borders. An alternative would be a single, straightforward, transparent mechanism that any employer could access equally and which would be determined by the department.  Instead of replacing some of the most offensive aspects of the Aliens Control Act, the act perpetuates some of the discriminatory immigration practices of the past. So, the department of home affairs intends to continue its wearisome efforts to apprehend, detain and deport migrants.  Various human rights organisations have raised concerns about the inadequate procedures for the apprehension of illegal foreigners and inhumane treatment of people held in detention under current legislation. The act will continue to allow law enforcement agencies to arbitrarily arrest non-nationals without the necessary procedural safeguards. It is often police practice to arrest and detain people simply because of their physical features and appearance.

Not surprisingly, so far there have already been two legal challenges brought before the courts questioning the constitutionality of the act's regulations, as well as certain provisions in the act related to the state's unfettered discretion to arrest and detain illegal foreigners. The ongoing complaints of human rights abuses and corruption at the Lindela Repatriation Centre emphasise the need for minimal standards of detention and independent monitoring of the facility. A recent report by the South African Human Rights Commission comments on the inhumane treatment of detainees at Lindela, in particular the length of detention, poor conditions at the centre, regular physical abuse of detainees, corruption and the lack of special facilities for children.  The act fails to give clear guidelines to the private contractor of the detention facility, though it should prescribe specifications for the design, financing, management, operation and governing of these facilities. Thus, Lindela operates without any statutory limitations, oversight or formal procedures for supervision of the facility. The act also raises other questions around the relationship between the act and government policy. Firstly, it does not seem to address (or meet) government commitments to Nepad, the SADC and the SADC Free Trade Protocol. Secondly, it does little to promote the government's commitments to gender equity nor does it meet the government's commitments to openness, transparency and accountability in public service as expressed in Batho Pele. The importance of immigration legislation that promotes economic growth and attracts skills to the country should not be underestimated. However, the act still does not provide straightforward manageable mechanisms to meet this objective. Furthermore, the act's importance extends beyond the attraction of foreign investment and skills, and should include the protection of marginalised categories of migrants, whose basic human rights are currently challenged by the act.
- Jacob Van Garderen, Sally Peberdy and Emma Algotsson

Immigration laws (IOL, 22/05) - It is easy to feel sorry for the family of Eyob Worku, who apparently chose death over being forced to return to Ethiopia, his country of birth. It would also not be difficult to say that our immigration officials should be more sensitive to the plight of refugees such as Worku. On a daily basis, immigration officials find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Aliens who present themselves at checkpoints have heartbreaking stories to tell. Each story represents a refugee's desire to be granted access to South Africa. It is the duty of immigration officials to ensure that each foreigner allowed to come into our country has the correct documents. If there are problems with the documents, as was the case with Worku, officials would then investigate and take a decision. According to the department of home affairs, whose line function it is to process foreign arrivals, Worku was refused access to SA because he had presented forged documents.
It is sad that strict implementation of the law has resulted in a death. However, laws are there for a specific reason. But those hired to enforce them must make sure that they always act judiciously.

Court ponders best path on immigration controls (Business Day, 22/05) -The Constitutional Court grappled with the problem yesterday of what should replace the disputed Immigration Act regulations should it agree with the Cape Town High Court ruling that the regulations are invalid and unlawful. Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson questioned legal counsel for Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg about whether they had considered possible alternatives to fill the vacuum that would be created, given that the prior act, the constitutionally challenged Aliens Control Act, has been repealed. David Unterhalter, for Buthelezi, told the bench that there would be "chaotic consequences" with regard to immigration controls if the act were to be left in force without the regulations. Buthelezi has requested that if the Constitutional Court finds in favour of the previous ruling, it could suspend the order of invalidity for a year to allow for the correction of the regulations and to avoid disrupting the immigration process. The high court has already turned down this request from Buthelezi. Eisenberg is requesting that the provisions of the Immigration Act be suspended for a period until the new regulations have been promulgated. The regulations were meant to come into effect on March 11, but Eisenberg secured a second high court ruling that they were unlawful. Buthelezi contends that the high court erred in holding that he was required to notify the public and give them time to comment before making the regulations. He holds that the Immigration Act provides for two regulation-making mechanisms, one that requires public notice after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board. However, since the board had not yet been constituted, the second mechanism came into effect, which gave him power to make regulations without consultation. Anton Katz, for Eisenberg, said that Buthelezi's interpretation of the act in this regard constituted a violation of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act. The court postponed judgment yesterday.

Man kills himself rather than be deported (IOL, 21/05) - "They want to send me back to Ethiopia. I can't go back. I'd rather kill myself." This is what Eyob Worku told his cousin, Alem Abay, at about 7am on Tuesday. Five hours later he was found dead inside a transit cell at Johannesburg International airport. Abay said she had been told that Worku took his life by taking an overdose of tablets. Abay said Worku's ordeal began on Sunday after his plane landed at the airport. According to Abay, Worku was coming to South Africa to seek asylum. He was fleeing political persecution, but he was detained shortly after his arrival. "I spoke to him on the phone on Monday and also on Tuesday morning. He was extremely depressed about being sent to Ethiopia. "He told me that if they insisted on sending him back, he would kill himself," said Abay, adding that her cousin was a member of an opposition party in that country. Abay claimed Worku was not given food during his stay in detention. Wikus Kriel, a lawyer helping the family, said he had been told that Worku might have taken an overdose of tablets to kill himself.  "This is a very sad case. The authorities are denying people their rights. Their main concern is to put people on the flights back to wherever they came from. They should have allowed this man to apply for asylum," said Kriel, adding that he was waiting for an instruction from the family on whether to pursue any action. But home affairs spokesperson Leslie Mashokwe has rejected the family's version of what happened. Mashokwe said Worku was not allowed into the country because he had tried to use forged documents. He said that in terms of his documents, he claimed to be married to a South African, and when he was exposed, he had to be detained in order to be sent back to Ethiopia. "It is unfortunate that he died. But we acted within the law. We could not have allowed him into the country without proper documents," said Mashokwe. Asked to explain the process of seeking asylum without proper documents, Mashokwe said the applicant should give correct details so that they could be verified before he or she was granted refugee status. Worku's body was taken to the Germiston mortuary on Tuesday. Abay said the family did not have money to transport the body to Ethiopia. She added that Worku might have to be buried in South Africa. "But I also do not have the money to bury him. It is painful to lose a family member but my biggest problem is how to raise the money to bury him." She decried the "failure" of the South African authorities to help a refugee. She said she did not know anything about the claim that Worku had forged documents.

Home Affairs spending under Masetlha not irregular (Parliament, Sapa, 21/05) - The National Treasury has denied that spending by the Department of Home Affairs under its former director-general, Billy Masetlha, was irregular. This contradicts a finding by the Auditor-General indicating the extension of Masetlha's contract for a year to June 2002 was invalid, and the department's spending, therefore, irregular. The AG's finding - after Masetlha failed to sign a new contract for the period - could have laid actions taken by the department during that period open to court challenge. David Mmakola, a director in the treasury, told Parliament's public accounts committee (Scopa) on Wednesday the definition of irregular expenditure made no reference to the status of an accounting officer. Where there was no contract signed between a DG and the state, different procedures would have to be followed other than labelling expenditure as irregular. "But, clearly it does not fall within the definition of irregular expenditure," he said. The committee was holding a public hearing on the home affairs
auditor-general report for 2001/02. Mmakola, however, acknowledged that the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) could be misinterpreted, and indicated the law would be amended to clear up possible confusion. Public service and administration deputy director-general Alvin Phumudzo Rapea said the former DG had written to the department stating he accepted the Cabinet-approved contract, and that the conditions of his appointment were the same as during his previous
tenure. The fact that he had not signed a written contract was an administrative issue and did not affect his status. "The spending was not irregular, he was the head of the department. Even if he refused to sign a contract, there is a disciplinary process that is followed (when a contract is not signed)," he told Sapa after the hearing. Masetlha had fulfilled the role of director-general in line with a Cabinet decision. "The only thing that was not done was to sign the contract," Rapea said. The former DG took up a new post as a presidential adviser in June last year after a stormy relationship with home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi. In October 2001, Buthelezi presented the parliamentary home affairs portfolio committee with a list of 64 complaints about his director-general, whom he accused of insubordination.

Judgement reserved on Buthelezi appeal bid (Johannesburg, Dispatch Online, 21/05) - The Constitutional Court yesterday reserved judgment on whether Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi will be granted leave to appeal against a decision by the Cape High Court on the constitutionality of new Immigration Act regulations. The Cape High Court decided that Buthelezi had acted unconstitutionally when he adopted the regulations pertaining to the new Immigration Act without public notice and comment.  The legal team for the minister argued that the regulations were only transitional and therefore did not require public notice and comment. Advocate David Unterhalter, SC, submitted that Section 52 of the Act only required him to adopt regulations and publish them in the Government Gazette. Only after the Immigration Advisory Board had been convened would permanent regulations be drafted. These regulations would be subject to Section 7 of the new Act that provided for a procedure of notice and comment from the public.  However, several of the nine judges questioned this, pointing out that no provision was made for a deadline or expiry date.  Unterhalter said the new regulations were vital to the implementation of the new Immigration Act as it differed vastly from the old Aliens Control Act.  "The architecture of the new Act is so different from the old act that the old regulations cannot be conjoined to it in any way," he said.  Advocate Andrew Tuchten, SC, also for Home Affairs, said the new regulations did not adversely effect public rights. He said the founding affidavit, lodged by Cape Town immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg against Buthelezi, assumed the minister was obliged to entertain public comment on the regulations.

The minister, however, had the right to follow a fair, but different, procedure, which he did.  Tuchten also said that the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) did not apply to the adopting of the regulations.  He said the Act was promulgated to protect the public's direct rights "on the ground", for example in a case where a dam is built in a certain area.  When delegated legislation is made, the PAJA did not apply. He said drawing up and adopting regulations was not an administrative function. Imposing them was administrative.  He said that once the new immigration regime was up and running the public would have the right to comment. Counsel for Eisenberg, Anthony Katz, argued that the regulations were not meant to be transitional only, but were actually permanent.  He said if regulations were adopted, procedures set out in Section 7 (a)(b) and (c) of the Immigration Act had to be followed, even if it took a year.  According to Katz, Section 52 of the Act meant that the Minister could make regulations without consulting the Immigration Advisory Board if the Board had not yet been convened, constituted and put into operation.  It did not relieve him, however from other obligations, such as public comment and notice. The Constitutional Judges put it to Katz that his client had no greater interest than any other member of the public in contesting the constitutionality of the regulations.  Katz contended that his client had the right to act in the interest of the public if it was believed that the general public's rights were being invaded.  Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson posed the question whether the new Act could function without the disputed regulations, since the old Act had been repealed.  He also pointed out that the old Act had caused several problems and that the Constitutional Court had on several occasions pointed out that the old Act was unconstitutional in several aspects.

Concourt reserves judgement on Immigration Act case (SABC, 21/05) - The Constitutional Court has reserved judgement in the application by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Home Affairs Minister, for leave to appeal against a High Court ruling that declared sections of the Immigration Act invalid. Last month the Cape High Court found that the minister had failed to invite public comment as required by law. The legal team for the minister argued that the regulations were only transitional and therefore did not require public notice and comment. Arthur Chaskalson, the Chief Justice, pointed out that the old Act had caused several problems and that the Constitutional Court had on several occasions pointed out it was unconstitutional in several aspects.

Immigration rules in top court dispute (IOL, 21/05) - The Constitutional Court is grappling with the legitimacy of new immigration regulations.Yesterday the court was asked to establish if the minister of home affairs was entitled to introduce the controversial regulations without calling for public comment.About a year ago the Immigration Act was hastened through parliament to meet a Constitutional Court deadline after several sections of the Aliens Control Act were declared unconstitutional. While it was a bill before parliament, there were several complaints about it being confusing.In one of the judgments striking down immigration regulations introduced to make the act operational, Cape High Court Judge Deon van Zyl commented: "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."The regulations were declared unconstitutional twice this year. The Department of Home Affairs appealed against the last judgment against it in the Constitutional Court. The appeal was heard yesterday.The court was also asked to develop common law to give individuals the right to query the constitutionality of a law and challenge it on behalf of the public, without proving that it is contravening a specific human right.Gary Eisenberg, a leading South African immigration lawyer, claimed that he could ask the court to sort out the issue on behalf of the public.The main issue before court was whether the minister of home affairs could make regulations without tabling them for public comment.The minister's legal team said he could. They said the law made provision for two types of regulations - final and interim - and gave the minister power to make both.David Unterhalter SC, for the minister, said that the regulations issued in February were interim in nature and did not require public comment. He said the minister had changed some of the regulations and had tabled a draft of final regulations for comment recently.

He said that the purpose of interim regulations would be to get the new immigration dispensation up and running and to keep it going while final regulations are taken through the comment process.Advocate Anton Katz, for Eisenberg, did not agree the minister could do this. He agreed with Unterhalter that there were two types of regulations. He said, however, that the distinction must be drawn between regulations made before the Immigration Advisory Board is established and after the board has been set up.This is because the law requires the minister to be in close consultation with the board when he makes regulations, he said.Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson asked Unterhalter why the minister had then made comprehensive regulations and not only issued a skeleton set to get things going.Unterhalter answered that the previous immigration regime was irreconcilable with the present one and a whole new set of working rules were needed.After a long debate about what the law meant when it stated that the board must be convened and where that fell in the regulation-making process, Justice Richard Goldstone asked: "So what must they do after they convened? Have tea?""They would probably need a regulation to do that, too," Justice Zac Yacoob observed drily.The court reserved judgment on the matter.

Home Affairs to better refugees' conditions (Pretoria, BuaNews, 20/05) -Home Affairs deputy minister Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula says her department is looking at ways of improving the conditions of refugees in the country. Speaking in Parliament yesterday during the home affairs budget vote, the deputy minister said she had already requested an investigation into the possibility of establishing a refugee center for women and children. 'The Centers will be able to look at issues such as skills training, health, counseling and the general development of women and children refugees,' the minister said. On the issue of birth registration, deputy minister Mapisa Nqakula said the department had made a huge dent in the backlog to register children, but the problem was still far from being resolved. 'Not only is our challenge that of addressing the current backlog of unregistered children, but we should also put in place the best system that ensures that every child is registered at birth without exception whether they are born at home, or at a health facility, whether in a marriage or through teenage pregnancy and whether their parents are homeless, rich or poor,' she said. The deputy minister said birth registration would be the focus of the forthcoming Day of the African Child celebrated in 16 June, as declared by the African Union. 'We have taken this declaration very seriously and are currently joining hands in partnership with the United Nations Children Fund for the implementation plans aimed at making this a reality', she added.

Immigration to South Africa up by 35 percent (IOL, 20/05) - Immigration increased by 35 percent in 2002, with other Africans being the largest group to come into South Africa, according to a Statistics SA report. Last year, 6 454 foreigners chose to make South Africa their new home, compared with 4 832 in 2001. Among last year's new arrivals, 2 472 hailed from Africa, 1 847 came from Europe and 1 738 were from Asia. The number of immigrants from African countries increased by 74.2 percent last year, from 1 419 in 2001, with the majority of them arriving from Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Three times as many Nigerians moved to South Africa last year (631) than in 2001 (198). This should come as no surprise according to social anthropology lecturer at the University of Cape Town, Owen Sichone. "The figures reflect the traditional economic links and the level of integration between the markets of Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa. It also indicates the strong ties which the immigrants feel exist between these countries. "There is a continuous movement of people throughout the African continent and worldwide. "Immigrants form global networks of travel and trade, staying in a country for no more than a year or two before returning or moving to another. Many of them are women who trade goods informally," he said. According to Sichone the way in which migration data is collected by government agencies does not always do justice to the complexities of the movements of people in response to the constant global economic changes. Said Sichone: "The global economy is in constant flux and the rules of the game have not yet been fully finalised." Ties between South Africa and Britain since colonial times also seem to be a deciding factor, with 10.2 percent of all immigrants last year coming from the United Kingdom. Cultural ties also play a significant role. Sichone cited the example of Indian immigrants who represent the third largest group to move to South Africa. "People favour relocating to a country where they feel their cultural heritage and sense of community is well established," he said.

Buthelezi asked to withdraw court appeal (Sunday Times, 20/05) - The African National Congress urged Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi to withdraw an appeal by his department against a court ruling striking down new immigration regulations. In the National Assembly during debate on the minister's budget vote, the ANC chairman of Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee, Patrick Chauke, said the appeal was a waste of money. "I appeal to (the minister) to instruct the department to withdraw the appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court because the department is now complying with the act and there is no need to continue with the appeal as this will be a waste of time and government resources." This was particularly the case with the inauguration of the immigration advisory board, a key principle in the Immigration Act, he said. The department is appealing against a ruling of the full bench of the Cape Town High Court that the new immigration regulations are invalid and unconstitutional. In his speech earlier in the debate, Buthelezi said the board was fully operational. "With this step having been taken, the new system of migration control has now been launched. It will take time before the new system will reach full maturity in what remains an always fluid field of policy formulation, inherently characterised by tensions and informal conflicts," he said. Buthelezi warned that the cost of the mooted national identification system was set to skyrocket after an analysis of the project showed some of the technological solutions and project features being pursued were not correct. He said that addressing this problem would have "massive repercussions for the finances of the state". The project Home Affairs National Identification System was initially expected to cost the state R1,5-billion. ANC MPs attacked the department for slow implementation of the project that was first approved by the cabinet in 1996, and criticised it on almost every front for its lack of achievement. Buthelezi said the project's costs would be higher to cater for unanticipated problems. "New technology has emerged which will enable us to reduce the costs for identity cards and employ microchips only in respect of certain segments of the population which may need them or wish to have them. In other respects, high-density bar codes can achieve all the intended goals of a secure identity card," he said. Chauke criticised the project's long delays and asked Buthelezi and Deputy Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula "to whip their staff in the department to speed up the implementation". Only 700,000 identity applications had been captured on the system so far with an average of 6,000 intakes of application records received daily.

Concourt reserves judgement on immigration regulations (Johannesburg, Sapa, 20/05) - The Constitutional Court on Tuesday reserved judgment on the issue whether Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi will be granted leave to appeal a decision by the Cape High Court on the constitutionality of new Immigration Act regulations. This follows a decision by the Cape High Court that Buthelezi had acted unconstitutionally when he adopted the regulations pertaining to the new Immigration Act without public notice and comment. The legal team for the minister argued that the regulations were only transitional and therefore did not require public notice and comment. Advocate David Unterhalter, SC, submitted that Section 52 of the
act only required him to adopt regulations and publish them in the Government Gazette. Only after the Immigration Advisory Board had been convened would permanent regulations be drafted. These regulations would be subject to Section 7 of the new act that provided for a procedure of notice and comment from the public. However, several of the nine judges questioned this, pointing out that no provision was made for a deadline or expiry date. Unterhalter said the new regulations were vital to the implementation of the new Immigration Act as it differed vastly from the old Aliens Control Act. "The architecture of the new act is so different from the old act that the old regulations cannot be conjoined to it in any way," he said. Advocate Andrew Tuchten, SC, also for Home Affairs, said the new regulations did not adversely effect public rights. He said the founding affidavit, lodged by Cape Town immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg against Buthelezi, assumed the minister was
obliged to entertain public comment on the regulations. The minister, however, had the right to follow a fair, but different, procedure, which he did. Tuchten also said that the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) did not apply to the adopting of the regulations. He said the Act was promulgated to protect the public's direct rights "on the ground", for example in a case where a dam is built in a certain area.

When delegated legislation is made, the PAJA did not apply. He said drawing up and adopting regulations was not an administrative function. Imposing them was administrative. He said that once the new immigration regime was up and running,
the public would have the right to comment. Counsel for Eisenberg, Anthony Katz, argued that the regulations were not meant to be transitional only, but were actually permanent. He said if regulations were adopted, procedures set out in Section 7 (a)(b) and (c) of the Immigration Act had to be followed, even if it took a year. According to Katz, Section 52 of the Act meant that the Minister could make regulations without consulting the Immigration Advisory Board if the Board had not yet been convened, constituted and put into operation. It did not relieve him, however from other obligations, such as public comment and notice. The Constitutional Judges put it to Katz that his client had no greater interest than any other member of the public in contesting the constitutionality of the regulations. Katz contended that his client had the right to act in the interest of the public if it was believed that the general public's rights were being invaded. Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson posed the question whether the new Act could function without the disputed regulations, since the old Act had been repealed. He also pointed out that the old Act had caused several problems and that the Constitutional Court had on several occasions pointed out that the old Act was unconstitutional in several aspects. On the issue of the costs of the case, Katz argued that it would be fair to award costs against his client if it was found that the case was frivolous and vexatious. He said however that two actions in the Cape High Court had been successful and that proved that the case was not frivolous. He also said if costs were awarded against his client it would discourage similar legal actions which were in the general public's interest.

Home Affairs before highest court on immigration (SABC, 20/05) - The Constitutional Court is hearing an application by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Home Affairs Minister, for leave to appeal against a high court ruling striking down sections of the Immigration Act. The Cape High Court last month found that when the act was formulated, the minister failed to notify and invite public comment as required by law. Buthelezi's lawyers argue that regulations under the act are only temporary, because the Immigration Advisory Board has not yet been set up. The board was inaugurated yesterday. The ANC has urged Buthelezi to withdraw the appeal, saying it was a waste of money.

Immigration regulations 'only transitional' (SABC, 20/05) - The Constitutional Court heard today that the regulations pertaining to the new Immigration Act was only transitional and therefore did not require public notice and comment. The legal team representing Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Home Affairs Minister, submitted that Section 52 of the act only required him to adopt regulations and publish them in the Government Gazette. Only after the Immigration Advisory Board had been convened would permanent regulations be drafted. However, several of the nine judges questioned this, pointing out that no provision was made for a deadline or expiry date. David Unterholter, Buthelezi's advocate, said the new regulations were vital to the implementation of the new Immigration Act as it differed vastly from the old Aliens Control Act. "The architecture of the new act is so different from the old act that the old regulations cannot be conjoined to it in any way," he said. Advocate Andrew Tochten, also for Home Affairs, said the new regulations did not adversely effect public rights. He said the founding affidavit lodged by Gary Eisenberg, the Cape Town immigration lawyer against Buthelezi, assumed the minister was obliged to entertain public comment on the regulations. The minister, however, had the right to follow a fair, but different, procedure, which he did. He said once the new immigration regime was up and running, the public would have the right to comment.

No ruling yet on Immigration Act (Johannesburg, News24, 20/05) - The Constitutional Court on Tuesday reserved judgment on the issue whether Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi will be granted leave to appeal a decision by the Cape High Court on the constitutionality of new Immigration Act regulations. This follows a decision by the Cape High Court that Buthelezi had acted unconstitutionally when he adopted the regulations pertaining to the new Immigration Act without public notice and comment. The legal team for the minister argued that the regulations were only transitional and therefore did not require public notice and comment. Advocate David Unterhalter, SC, submitted that Section 52 of the act only required him to adopt regulations and publish them in the Government Gazette. Only after the Immigration Advisory Board had been convened would permanent regulations be drafted. These regulations would be subject to Section 7 of the new act that provided for a procedure of notice and comment from the public. However, several of the nine judges questioned this, pointing out that no provision was made for a deadline or expiry date. Unterhalter said the new regulations were vital to the implementation of the new Immigration Act as it differed vastly from the old Aliens Control Act. "The architecture of the new act is so different from the old act that the old regulations cannot be conjoined to it in any way," he said. Advocate Andrew Tuchten, SC, also for home affairs, said the new regulations did not adversely effect public rights. He said the founding affidavit, lodged by Cape Town immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg against Buthelezi, assumed the minister was obliged to entertain public comment on the regulations. The minister, however, had the right to follow a fair, but different, procedure, which he did. Tuchten also said that the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (Paja) did not apply to the adopting of the regulations. He said the Act was promulgated to protect the public's direct rights "on the ground", for example in a case where a dam is built in a certain area. When delegated legislation is made, the Paja did not apply. He said drawing up and adopting regulations was not an administrative function. Imposing them was administrative.

He said that once the new immigration regime was up and running, the public would have the right to comment. Counsel for Eisenberg, Anthony Katz, argued that the regulations were not meant to be transitional only, but were actually permanent. He said if regulations were adopted, procedures set out in Section 7 (a)(b) and (c) of the Immigration Act had to be followed, even if it took a year. According to Katz, Section 52 of the Act meant that the minister could make regulations without consulting the Immigration Advisory Board if the board had not yet been convened, constituted and put into operation. It did not relieve him, however from other obligations, such as public comment and notice. The constitutional judges put it to Katz that his client had no greater interest than any other member of the public in contesting the constitutionality of the regulations. Katz contended that his client had the right to act in the interest of the public if it was believed that the general public's rights were being invaded. Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson posed the question whether the new Act could function without the disputed regulations, since the old Act had been repealed. He also pointed out that the old Act had caused several problems and that the Constitutional Court had on several occasions pointed out that the old Act was unconstitutional in several aspects. On the issue of the costs of the case, Katz argued that it would be fair to award costs against his client if it was found that the case was frivolous and vexatious. He said however that two actions in the Cape High Court had been successful and that proved that the case was not frivolous. He also said if costs were awarded against his client it would discourage similar legal actions which were in the general public's interest.

Home Affairs deals with unethical conduct (Pretoria, BuaNews, 19/05) - Home Affairs minister, Mangosuthu Buthelezi says his department has stepped up its investigation and prosecution capacities to deal with unethical and corrupt conduct. Delivering his budget vote in Parliament today, the minister said his administration was instilling and nurturing a mind set among staff that reflect the highest levels of integrity and honesty. 'However, the observation in the recently released United Nations sponsored Country Corruption Assessment Report that about 30% of our officials have been approached by members of the public and their agents to perform unlawful activities is disturbing', the minister said. The minister praised the conduct and performance of thousands of Home Affairs officials across the country, who were executing their duties with precision. 'Taking into account the tradability of the documents we issue and the high monetary value derived from the intrinsic benefits they bear, it is obvious that staff will be subjected to temptations', minister Buthelezi said. The minister said they are engaged in efforts to improve service delivery, adding that a comprehensive scientific investigation into the required personnel establishment and organizational structure of the department is currently underway. 'Final proposals regarding these matters will be submitted to me by the end of June 2003', the minister added.

Home Affairs budget vote tabled in Parliament (Pretoria, BuaNews, 19/05) -The Minister of Home Affairs, Mangosuthu Buthelezi says his department has embarked on an identity document campaign that will carry on until the close of voter registration for the 2004 general elections. Minister Buthelezi was speaking in Parliament, Cape Town, this afternoon when he tabled his departments' budget vote in the National Assembly. The minister said the department of home affairs had the capacity to deal with about 8 000 ID applications per day, with a turnaround time of two months. 'It is estimated that applications will escalate to around 20 000 a day as the elections draw closer', the minister said. He said contingency plans included close cooperation with other role-players, particularly the Independent Electoral Commission and provincial and local authorities. Mr Buthelezi said the human resources needs of his department would be addressed largely through the appointment of volunteers and casual workers. 'Priority target groups such as youth, rural areas, farms, prisons and informal settlements will be identified', the minister said. Minister Buthelezi said a public awareness campaign would also be launched soon. '[The] National Treasury has been approached for permission to waive fees pertaining to [the re-issuing of] IDs as well as for the department to supply free photographs to applicants', minister Buthelezi said.

Home Affairs under fire over poor service delivery (SABC, 19/05) - The Home Affairs Department is again under criticism for poor service delivery in rural areas. Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Home Affairs Minister, tabled his department's annual budget to Parliament today. Acknowledging the department's financial constraint the ANC lambasted the ministry for poor service delivery and the delay in finalising the electoral law for next year's general elections. Fraudulent IDs, corruption and illegal immigrants also hung over the debate. A parliamentary study group went to see for itself in the Transkei. "In Umtata a population of 1,5 million people are only served by two people. There is a high level of corruption and we ask the minister to crack the whip on officials," said Patrick Chauke, of the ANC.Buthelezi said everything was being done to sort out social grant beneficiaries and IDs ahead of next year's general elections. He said, however, stakeholders should lend a hand. "Third tier government's and public service administration and traditional leaders will have to come to the assistance of my department," he said. All parties supported the budget.

Buthelezi suggests free photos for ID applications (Parliament, Sapa, 19/05) - The department of home affairs has asked National Treasury to agree to waive charges for identity documents, and allow free photographs to ID book applicants, ahead of next year's national election. Opening debate on his Budget vote in the National Assembly, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said applications for IDs were expected to rise to 20,000 a day as the election drew nearer. "A public awareness campaign will be launched and National Treasury has been approached for permission to waive fees pertaining to ID re-issues, as well as for the department to supply free photographs to applicants. "The outcome of this request is still awaited." Currently, however, the department had a capacity to deal with only 8,000 ID applications a day, with a turnaround of two months, he said. Concerns have been raised that scores of particularly rural South Africans cannot afford the fees for ID books, or the relatively expensive photographs required for the document. The country is likely to go to the polls during the first half of 2004. Buthelezi said the department would work closely with other role-players, such as the Independent Electoral Commission and provincial and local authorities, in the run-up to the election. "Priority target groups such as youth, rural areas, farms, prisons and informal settlements will be identified. Additional mobile units will be required," he said. The minister said escalating security considerations could add to the cost of the multi-million rand Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis). The department had formulated a Hanis Disaster Recovery Plan, the cost of which was not included in the project's original tender. "The total expenditure on the project until February 2003 was R812-million, and it is estimated that an amount of R438,5-million, excluding the yet unknown cost of the identity card component, as well as the aforesaid disaster recovery plan, will still be required." Since August last year, when the Hanis basic system commissioning become operational, about 700,000 ID applications records had been captured, he said. Regarding refugees, Buthelezi said the current system was not
efficient and needed to be completely replaced. 

"The department is making great strides in rendering service to the refugee community. "However, it is clear that the management of refugee affairs in this country is becoming exceedingly challenged with the ever-increasing influx of persons fleeing their country of birth and seeking surrogate protection from our state. "With its porous borders and increasing involvement of human trafficking cartels, the number of asylum applications are set to increase, and the abuse of it by economic migrants is a matter of serious concern for my department." Extensive training was essential to perform proper initial status determinations, to avert the ever-growing backlogs experienced in processing asylum applications. A review of policies and procedures also needed urgent attention. "The current refugee system is not efficient and needs to be replaced as it cannot be overhauled," he said.

Immigration appeals a waste of money: ANC (SABC, 19/05) - The ANC has urged Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Home Affairs Minister, to withdraw an appeal by his department against a court ruling striking down new immigration regulations. Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on the minister's budget vote, Patrick Chauke, the ANC chairperson of Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee, aid the appeal was a waste of money. "I appeal to (the minister)...to instruct the department to withdraw the appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court, because the department is now complying with the act, and there is no need to continue with the appeal as this will be a waste of time and government resources." This was particularly the case with the inauguration earlier today of the immigration advisory board, a key principle in the Immigration Act, he said. The department of home affairs is appealing against a ruling of a full bench of the Cape High Court that the new immigration regulations are invalid and unconstitutional. In his speech earlier in the debate, Buthelezi said the immigration advisory board was fully operational. "With this step having been taken the new system of migration control has now been launched. "It will take time before the new system will reach its full maturity in what remains an always fluid field of policy formulation, inherently characterised by tensions and informal conflicts," he said.

New immigration advisory board to be inaugurated (Pretoria, BuaNews, 18/05) - Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi will hold an inaugural meeting for the new immigration advisory board in Cape Town on Monday. The Immigration Act of 2002 mandated the board to give advices to the minister of home affairs on policy formulation and the drafting of the department regulations. Dr Buthelezi said the board's inauguration would offer an opportunity to address crucial issues of immigration and the manner in which those issues were related to national interest. A statement issued by the minister this week said: 'It's a pleasure to inaugurate this important institution, which engages both organs of civil society and the government to guide the process of migration reform into the future.' The minister said the inauguration of the board meant there was a broadly representative South African perspective that would 'guide us in the future of migration control'. 'Our next steps in migration reform will determine many aspects of the success of South Africa's vision for prosperity and social justice,' said minister Buthelezi. 'I trust that the immigration advisory board will provide its collegial wisdom as we 'open the land to the people,' the Minister added.

NGOs feel the cash pinch (Natal Witness, 16/05) - A massive brain drain in the provincial private welfare system could result in the total collapse of the system, various welfare organisations warned yesterday following a picket at the Pietermaritzburg legislature by staff of welfare NGOs. This is despite an expected R34 million budget increase, tentatively agreed upon by members of the finance portfolio committee yesterday but not yet approved. Some irate protesters carried placards that read "away with the department of peanuts", while others demanded salary levels in line with state welfare organisations. Although the protest was timed to coincide with the welfare budget debate, the debate was postponed until May 28 because the necessary budget documents were not ready, ACDP MPL Jo-Ann Downs said. Among the grievances expressed are the gaps between state welfare salaries - which start at R5 200 per month, including perks, and will rise to R5 900 p/m by July in line with inflation - and the private sector salary of R3 200 p/m, without perks.  Private welfare organisations have had one salary increase in the last decade, and their salary packages have steadily declined since 1994, when salary levels were equal to those of state welfare employees. The controversy surrounds the announcement by Welfare MEC Prince Gideon Zulu last month that there will be no increases to private welfare agencies, while state welfare services will receive a 4,5% increase. Out of the total R8 billion Welfare Department budget for 2003/2004, four percent, or R328 million, is earmarked for social services. In the last year, the child welfare system alone has lost 150 staff from a total of 245. Only nine people graduated from the University of Natal this year with degrees in social work. These nine will be expected to replace people who left and took with them an average of 10 years' experience each. Pinetown Child Welfare's Priscilla McKay warned that unless the playing fields are levelled, the brain drain, mainly to the UK, will continue until "no one is left to do the job. This is happening at a time when welfare services are needed more than ever, at a time when private welfare organisations are shrivelling up." Downs pointed out that under Zulu's budget only 500 Aids orphans will be cared for. However, in the Durban and Pietermaritzburg metropoles alone, there are over 15 000 Aids orphans. The Witness reported last month that 90% of the Pietermaritzburg Child Welfare staff recently moved straight into the government sector, where their salaries doubled. During Wednesday's finance portfolio committee meeting, R34 million was earmarked for the private welfare system. In addition, consensus was reached on a 10% pay rise each year for the next three years for private welfare staff. However, this has yet to be passed through the legislature, said acting committee chairman Yusuf Bhamjee. Although private welfare organisations' management advised staff of the expected R3 million windfall, staff decided to picket the legislature anyway.

Stop-plug for brain-drain (Cape Town, News24, 16/05) - The government is aiming to introduce new measures to stop the medical brain-drain within the next two months, the Minister of Health, Dr Manto Tsbalala Msimang, said in parliament. She said during the health budget debate in parliament on Friday that R500m would be made available this year to bring the "critical situation" under control. South African medical personnel are being recruited with huge salary packages by industrialised and oil-rich countries. An additional R750m has been budgeted for this project for next year and R1bn for the 2005/06 financial year. Thsabalala-Msimang says the number of doctors and nurses leaving the country is fewer than media reports allege. "It doesn't change the situation, though. The impact could be critical, especially taking into consideration the shortage over the years and the growing need for medical services." She says the problem is not so much the number of medical experts leaving the country, "but it is the sudden and unplanned nature of their decision to leave that's causing the disruption". The government will implement the special fund in two ways: A special allowance is to be paid to medical personnel who work in far-off rural areas, or to those with special skills. The salary structure of a "small number of professions" will be adjusted where the State pays much lower salaries than the private sector. She didn't stipulate which professions she had in mind. Thsabalala-Msimang indicated that the ideas would be implemented from July 1. She says the unethical recruitment of health workers is being investigated by countries worldwide. A national code will be signed by Commonwealth countries in Geneva on Sunday. It will also be discussed by the World Health Organisation.

Sentencing of dog cops delayed (Pretoria, Sapa, 15/05) - The sentencing of two former police dog handlers who set their animals on three illegal immigrants was postponed on Thursday until next month. In March this year, Pretoria High Court Judge Dion Basson convicted Nicolaas Kenneth Loubser and Dino Guiotto on three charges of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and one of attempting to defeat the ends of justice for trying to cover up their involvement. They had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and their trial was separated from that of four other former colleagues who pleaded guilty. Of the four, Kobus Smith got an effective five-year prison sentence, while Christo Koch, Robert Henzen and Eugene Truter were each jailed for an effective three years. Smith's appeal against his sentence is to be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein next Wednesday. On Thursday, Andr Fourie, for the State, asked Basson to postpone Loubser and Guiotto's case until June 24, pending the outcome of Smith's appeal. The judge granted the request. The six men were arrested in 2000 shortly before the SABC screened a video showing some of them inciting their dogs to bite three illegal Mozambican immigrants near Benoni in January 1998. At the time they were all members of the police's North East Rand dog unit. The victims were Gabriel Pedro Timane, Alexandre Pedro Timane and Sylvester Cose.

Police swoop on suspected ID fraud operation (SABC, 15/05) - Four women were arrested in Umtata in the Eastern Cape yesterday for being in possesion of a large quantity of ID documentation, various government forms and bank cards. The premises, just across Botha Sigcau government building, were disguised as a photo-copy business. However a special police anti-corruption team uncovered fingerprinted ID application forms, IDs, birth certificates and health cards used in social grant applications. An amount of almost R4000 suspected to have been used to obtain illegal documents was also confiscated. On further investigation police were shocked to find one woman with five ATM cards as well five ID's which she claimed belong to her mother-in law. The suspects will appear in court soon.

New Home Affairs chief named (Johannesburg, Business Day, 15/05) - The battle between cabinet and Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi over the appointment of a home affairs director-general is over following the announcement yesterday that Barry Gilder had been given the nod. The department has been without a director-general since June, following the resignation of Billy Masetlha. This affected normal operations of the department. Gilder, a National Intelligence Agency deputy director-general, was appointed over Ivan Lambinon Buthelezi's close aide and choice. Buthelezi has said he preferred Lambinon for his administrative ability and not for any political considerations. He said that he did not object to Gilder merely on account of his intelligence background. Government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe said a panel of ministers, including Buthelezi, had agreed on the appointment. "By the time it came to cabinet there was consensus among the panelists." Netshitenzhe said he was not sure whether the impasse between Buthelezi and his cabinet colleagues had been settled through a dispute resolution mechanism, as had been speculated. Cabinet also announced the appointment of Vusimuzi Madonsela as director general in the department of social development for a three-year period.

South Africa urged to look to foreign educators (Business Day, 14/05) -SA is drafting regulations following demands from foreign countries to open up the higher education industry to satisfy the conditions of the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) general agreement on trade in services (Gats). With each round of WTO talks, there is increasing pressure on SA to allow market access to foreign higher education providers.  The country has Gats commitments in seven sectors business services; communication services; construction and related engineering services; distribution services; environmental services, financial services; and tourism and travel related services. The US, Norway, Kenya and New Zealand have approached SA with a list of demands. SA is using the intervening period to establish a regulatory framework and strategy which could protect the national interests of different stakeholders, especially students. Education Minister Kader Asmal's message is clear: he will not entertain the proliferation of higher education programmes if it compromises quality and does not meet the national minimum standards criteria. Still, the question that needs to be raised is whether he is protecting SA public institutions. Asmal has asked the Council on Higher Education to draw up a policy document on the implications of Gats on SA's system. He hopes to use the document as a bargaining tool to set out the conditions under which SA will accept institutions from the four countries. Education expert Pundy Pillay, in the council's autumn publication, Kagisano, says a strong case can be made to the WTO at this stage for not committing SA's higher education sector to Gats.

It could result in an unequal distribution of benefits and could derail the transformation process under way in higher education, says Pillay, who also believes it could also undermine efforts to improve quality. "Opening up the system at this stage to an array of private and foreign providers can only add to the complications of an already delicate process. It is also likely to exacerbate regional and racial inequalities." Pillay recommends that SA not commit its higher education to Gats for a period of at least three years. This should constitute the basis of Asmal's response to the requests of the US, New Zealand and Norway, he says. In the Kenyan case, Pillay suggests Asmal meet some demands, particularly by removing specific barriers to immigration requirements, visas and work permits. This should be done without committing the sector to Gats and through consultations with the home affairs department and the trade and industry department.  Pillay says before SA commits itself to Gats, it should develop national mechanisms for addressing accreditation and quality assessment procedures for academic programmes of new private and foreign providers. The country should also set up "safeguards" with the trade and industry department to prevent replicating inequitable outcomes in higher education trade, especially with industrialised nations. While the debate around Gats gains momentum, SA sits with the problem of an unregulated higher education industry, which officials feel has been saturated by "fly-by-night" institutions offering sub-standard services. A national probe into the quality of MBA degrees, which begins in July, will sort out the best from the mediocre through a re-accreditation process, to preserve the quality of SA's MBAs. It will also eliminate poor quality franchise institutions. SA's 24 registered public and private tertiary institutions offer 54 MBA programmes, varying in structure and costs.

Home Affairs gets new director general (SABC, 14/05) - Cabinet has approved the appointment of Barry Gilder, former deputy director of Intelligence, as the director general of the Department of Home Affairs. Joel Netshitenzhe, government spokesperson, says Gilder has been appointed with immediate effect for a period of three years. Netshitenzhe says Gilder's appointment was accepted by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Home Affairs Minister, without any reservations. He says the delay on the appointment of Home Affairs DG was due to technicalities, rather than disputes between the ANC and Buthelezi. Gilder's appointment ends a long-standing feud between Buthelezi and the ANC. Buthelezi's department has had an acting DG since the acrimonious departure of Billy Masethla, who also came from the intelligence ranks.

Court warned of high cost of welfare bungle (Business Day, 14/05) - A bungle by government, in which it failed to oppose a court application for welfare grants by a group of Mozambicans, could have huge financial implications for the country, the Constitutional Court heard yesterday. Until a Pretoria High Court ruling on March 13 this year declaring sections of the Social Assistance Act unconstitutional, only people with SA citizenship could apply for grants. The high court ruling made it possible for poor foreigners with temporary or permanent SA residence to apply for welfare grants alongside about 5,5-million South Africans. The case was not opposed at the time by Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya, the director-general of social development or the Limpopo health and welfare MEC, who had been advised that sections of the act were unconstitutional.

UK closes doors to South African doctors (Pretoria, News24, 13/05) - South African doctors who wish to work in Britain face a further hurdle when the General Medical Council (GMS) institutes more stringent registration requirements at the end of the year. Doctors not registered before December 31 will only be eligible for "limited registration" once they have passed two profession and language tests.  The second test must be done in Britain, which means doctors will have to fork out thousands for plane tickets and accommodation. They will also need written job offers to register. Registration will allow doctors to work in the public health sector only, and not in private practice. The GMS says the registration requirements are aimed at maintaining standards. Doctors from Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies, Hong Kong and Malaysia must also register. The South African government has for some time called on Britain and other overseas countries to restrict recruitment among South African doctors. Cape Medical Services (CMS), a British employment agency for doctors, warned doctors in the April edition of the South African Medical Journal of the urgent need to register with the GMC, or to renew lapsed registrations. Dr Stephen Agoston of the CMS said on Tuesday the council will only allow doctors who qualify before 31 October to register this year. Sixth-year medical students in South Africa will miss the cut-off date. Agoston said the new requirements became part of legislation at the end of last year.

Ruling on grants for foreigners postponed (Johannesburg, Sapa, 13/05) -The Constitutional Court has postponed a ruling on whether non-citizens can benefit from government's social grant system, the SABC reported on Tuesday. This followed an application by two permanent residents in South Africa who fled Mozambique's civil war. In an earlier ruling, the Pretoria High Court did not oppose their application to be given the same rights as South African citizens in respect of social grants. The state today argued that to provide such benefits for non citizens would further stretch the country's Exchequer.

Police warn of Nigerian scam (IOL, 12/05) - As warnings against the notorious Nigerian 419 scam circulate around the world, perpetrators are resorting to more sophisticated approaches. They now use the names of government ministers and other officials. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's wife Grace, SA Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni and Energy Affairs Minister Susan Shabangu have all been touted as writers of the advance-fee fraud. Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht, police spokesperson for Interpol, said the new use of politicians' identities in the scam was becoming more common in order to create credibility. The 419 scam, got its name as it is outlined in Section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code. According to Martins-Engelbrecht, the scheme operates on the basis of a company being contacted by fax or e-mail. A business proposal is made in the letter, usually by a Nigerian syndicate posing as senior government officials claiming they are in possession of a large amount of over-budgeted money. The proposal entails the transfer of the money to a bank account outside of the country from which the letter was sent. Although a fairly plausible explanation is given for the transaction, the deal appeals to the intended victim's greed as they are promised a sizeable percentage of the money as a commission for the use of their bank account. Victims are asked to forward blank letterheads which are duly signed, blank invoices and bank account details. Once this has been done they are asked to pay a deposit to cover expenses for the deal, or to pay bribes to have the money released. The syndicate then empties the victim's account. Another piece of false information currently spreading by e-mail is a warning about a new hijack method. According to the e-mail, hijackers overtake your car and squirt a silicon adhesive onto your windscreen. "You instinctively switch on your wipers and voila!, you spread the adhesive all over your windscreen and can't see through it. You stop, and the rest is history." No such hijacking method has been reported.  "Does the hijacker then drive off with his head stuck out the window so that he can see?" a detective asked.

Health department to provide funds to retain health professionals (Pretoria, BuaNews, 12/05) - The health department will from July this year provide financial incentives to various professional categories in the country for the recruitment and retention of scarce skills in the public health sector. This decision came out of last week's Minister and MECs (Minmec) meeting between health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and the nine health MECs in Johannesburg. The meeting is used to discuss various issues relating to the health sector. The financial incentives would come out of the R500-million announced by finance minister Trevor Manuel in his Budget Speech in February, to attract health workers to rural and other inhospitable areas in the country. A statement issued after the meeting said these financial incentives would be incrementally spread among the various professional categories due to the scarcity of resources. The meeting also urged medical schools to adjust their learning programmes in line with the newly approved duration for medical training in the country.  The meeting approved five years of medical training, followed by two years of internship and one year of community service. 'Minmec considered that students currently doing a six-year medical course should do a one-year internship until 2006.' From 2007, all students will move to a two-year internship and one-year community service programme. The Minmec said it would meet with the deans of medical schools to discuss this matter and other issues of mutual interest. The meeting also noted the progress being made in formulating a nutrition strategy for the health sector. This includes the strengthening of the Nutritional Guidelines for People Living with AIDS, TB and other debilitating conditions in line with the manual on nutrition developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The statement said Minmec strongly believed that nutrition was critical in improving the overall health status of our population. 'It emphasised that nutrition should also be an integral part of patient management. Minmec resolved that treatment protocols for various diseases should be revisited to include nutrition aspects; health providers should be trained on nutrition and hospital diets should be in line with treatment requirements.' The Protein Energy and Malnutrition programme, which currently provides nutritional support to children under the age of five, will be evaluated in line with government's broader food security and nutrition initiative. Minmec also supported the joint initiative of the Health Department and Medical Research Council (MRC) to evaluate the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of traditional medicine and herbal remedies. Launched in March, the MRC is conducting tests and evaluating such medicines in the research programme. It expects to then develop the substances to be used in chronic conditions - including immune boosters and to provide information on these medicines for the general public 'This is an important initiative in line of the fact that 2001-2010 has been declared a Decade for African Traditional Medicine,' said the Minmec. For this reason, the health department said it was intensifying its activities in this field in the run up to the African Traditional Medicine Day on 31 August. The Traditional Healers Bill published for public comment last month is one of the Department's efforts to formalise this field of practice. Meanwhile, Dr Tshabalala-Msimang awarded bursaries to 12 students from historically disadvantaged communities on Saturday. Her department said 11 of the students were studying medicine while one was studying occupational therapy. They were now among 39 students studying through the Manto Tshabalala-Msimang Bursary Fund that is supported by various partners from the private sector.

Foreigners stand to lose jobs (Mail & Guardian, 09/05) - The laws requiring that domestic workers be registered could eventually clear the South African job market of unskilled foreign workers, lawyers predict and unionists fear. Department of Labour representative Snuki Zikalala says that — as is practice throughout the world — the government owes its citizens priority in the jobs queue, unless it is clear that no South African has the requisite skills for the job. “We want to create employment and that employment should go to South Africans first. We would not like to see South Africans living unemployed and living in squalor and perpetual poverty. Our first responsibility is to South Africans,” Zikalala says. He says any employer who hires aliens, even if they are legally in the country but do not have a work permit, is committing an offence. “There are thousands of South African women roaming the streets who could do that job. You must prove to the government that there is no one else in the country who can do that job [before hiring an alien],” says Zikalala. The Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act, which came into operation this month, compels employers of domestic workers to register their staff and contribute a percentage of their salary to the unemployment benefit fund. The Act, however, only applies to employees who carry a valid South African identity document or have been granted work permits. When applying for a work permit, the employer must prove that the recruit possesses a skill so rare that the post could not be filled by any South African. On why the mining sector is able to hire mostly foreigners, Zikalala says the industry’s recruitment agency has shown that local workers are reluctant to work underground, hence the need to import services from across the border. “In KwaZulu-Natal, for example, the people will tell you that they are not prepared to work where their grandfathers lie,” he says. However, South African Domestic and Allied Workers’ Union general secretary Myrtle Witbooi says members have started alleging cases of victimisation. “We are unhappy with the law as it stands now and would like it to include all domestic workers as long as they are legally in the country. “Just last week a member told me that her boss had told her that she could fire her and replace her with an Angolan because there was no need to register foreigner domestics.” Witbooi says her organisation will meet with other women’s organisations next week to formalise their displeasure with the law.

“We don’t want unemployment. Bosses can dismiss workers and replace them with foreigners. We want something that will cover both [foreign and local domestics],” she says. Labour analyst Gavin Brown says the problems encountered by domestic workers reflect an international dilemma where unskilled workers from developing countries arrive in First World countries looking for better opportunities. Brown says it also highlights some of the difficulties with the “controversial” Immigrations Bill that Parliament has tried to amend since 1994. He says the law as it stands at present in effect means that the South African workplace could be purged of foreigners without “rare” skills. The gap in the law means foreign workers could remain outside the scope of the Act, especially because it is unlikely that domestic workers will be able to convince the Department of Home Affairs that theirs is a rare skill. “Currently those employees don’t have rights. It leads to an unhappy situation where foreign employees are often exploited. “There are no quick solutions to the problem and it is going to take a long time to sort it out. It is the case of workers’ economic necessity being in collision with government policy,” says Brown. The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) says a blanket ban on registering foreign domestic workers is likely to fail constitutional scrutiny. The centre says the Act could defeat its purpose if it excludes foreigners. LRC director Charles Pillai says it is well known that many workers on farms, in shops and on construction sites are foreigners, and leaving them “on the outer edges not only of society, but of the law” would not benefit anyone. Pillai says a recent Pretoria High Court decision extending social welfare rights to residents who are not South African citizens but are in the country legally has set a precedent for government bodies dealing with foreigners’ needs. Pillai says the court held that the Constitution provides that everyone, not only citizens, is entitled to social welfare rights. These, say Pillai, would include fair labour practices. “We are saying that once anyone is in the country lawfully or the lawfulness of their arrival is being investigated, they are entitled to certain rights.“The government should bring foreign domestic workers within the ambit of the Unemployment Insurance Fund regulations,” says Pillai.

Foreign tourists flock to South Africa (Cape Town, Zambezi Times, 08/05) -South Africa has emerged as the world's fastest-growing tourism destination, with 6,4-million tourists visiting last year. This is an increase of 11,1% from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Over the same period, long-haul destination rival Australia saw a 0,3% drop. Figures for the first two months of this year are up 8,1% from 2002, with overseas arrivals up 17%, according to the ministry. The cricket World Cup contributed to the rise. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates tourism accounts for 7,1% of South Africa's gross domestic product, contributing about R72,5-billion in 2002 and providing 1,5-million jobs. It is expected to grow by an average of 5,2% a year between 2002 and 2012. "We feel quite good about the growth last year," said South African Tourism CEO Cheryl Carolus on Wednesday. She said it was not just a matter of South Africa gaining from the international reluctance to fly in the aftermath of September 11. The country had vigorously pursued a new growth strategy. This had meant accessing new markets like Asia, specifically India and China, and diversifying in traditional markets like Europe with a move away from those visiting families and friends towards young professionals. Three main areas of caution remained, Carolus said: the war in Iraq and related international insecurities, severe acute respiratory syndrome and the weak global economy. A focus on tourists from Africa, particularly Kenya, Tanzania and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, was also under way. Some complacency had allowed Mauritius to make inroads into the SADC tourism market. In addition to overseas tourists, there were 4,6-million visitors from Africa - most from Lesotho, followed by Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. While overseas tourists visited South Africa mainly for holidays, African tourists came to visit friends and family and to shop. But there was also a very strong business segment (25%), with another 10% arriving for conferences, according to a trends analysis by leisure and hospitality specialists Grant Thornton Kessel Feinstein.

Carolus said the domestic tourism market was often taken for granted. Because of apartheid, 80% of the population had little money and no culture of travelling. Now with an emerging young generation of blacks, tourism had new growth potential. The old product-based approach - "take it or leave it" - had to shift towards marketing South Africa's diversity. Grant Thornton Kessel Feinstein's analysis shows a major tourism increase in the Western Cape. About 1,4-million tourists visited the province last year, including 976 000 overseas tourists - just more than half of the 1,8-million overseas visitors who came to South Africa. The remainder came from Africa. Foreign visitors spent R17,3-billion in the Western Cape, where tourism accounts for 9,8% of the gross regional product and 9,6% of jobs. Overseas visitors accounted for R12,7-billion, visitors from Africa R4,6-billion, with domestic visitors spending R3-billion. The report confirms that Germany and the United Kingdom account for the majority of overseas tourists: 23% and 14% respectively. But even from these traditionally strong markets the number of tourists has grown. Visitors from the UK increased by 24%, Germany 22%, France 36%, Italy 30% and the United States 8%. Kessel Feinstein's Pierre Voges said this presented a challenge to the province, where the overwhelming majority of tourists had traditionally been white, affluent and looking for sun, sand and sea. He said there was a strong emerging white-collar market, including black professionals, which was interested mainly in hotel and resort-based tourism. There has also been an increase in blue-collar tourism via packaged tours. But hotel rates in greater Cape Town are the highest in the country at an average of well more than R400 a day, against Johannesburg's R350 and the national average of just less than R350. Of the 12-million bed nights sold in 2002, 8,9-million were taken up by overseas tourists, who spent on average 9,1 nights in the Western Cape, the most of all the provinces. Only Gauteng comes close, and there African visitors account for a substantial number of bed nights.

Cuban engineers for EC hospitals (East London, Dispatch Online, 07/05) -About five Cuban engineers and technicians will be jetting into the Eastern Cape next week to assist the provincial Health Department with the maintenance of medical equipment in provincial hospitals. They will be based in Umtata and will serve the OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo district municipal areas. They form part of a group of about 50 Cubans who are expected to arrive in the country shortly. They will be deployed countrywide, department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said. "As the province is crippled by a shortage of engineers and technicians, these will help build capacity and help to train students in some tertiary institutions here," said Kupelo. He said their secondment was in terms of the overall co-operative agreement signed by the Cuban and South African governments in 1995. The Cuban government had also agreed to send 58 doctors to the Eastern Cape. They would arrive early next month. Also arising from this partnership, the department was offering 15 medical bursaries as part of a six-year programme to start next October in Cuba. "Only those from a disadvantaged background will be considered, and they must be committed to work in the most under-served areas of our province after completing the course," said Kupelo. Applicants are required to have a matric exemption in English, physics or biology and mathematics, and they must be from rural communities. Applicants can apply at their nearest health district offices. The closing date is May 23.

Plugging brain drain (IOL, 07/05) - The trend which sees hundreds of professionals - educators and healthcare workers, for instance - continuing to depart these shores for greener pastures abroad, though understandable, remains a source for concern.  Figures released by the Gauteng Department of Health indicate that between 800 and 850 nurses leave the province annually for countries such as Saudi Arabia and Britain. This sector, which is overburdened, can least afford this serious drain of employees. While the health department cannot match the huge salaries offered to South African nurses abroad - up to R34 000 a month compared to a paltry R8 500 in the public sector in this country - it is heartening that the issue of nurses leaving Gauteng hospitals is being taken seriously. The province has embarked on an exchange programme with a hospital group in the UK, whereby South African nurses can spend two years there before returning to their posts in Gauteng. This way they won't lose pension and other benefits, and the department retains their expertise. This is a pioneering move that should be welcomed. The public healthcare service in this country will increasingly come under strain due to factors such as HIV/Aids. Our hospitals will need more professionals, not fewer.

Brain drain slowing in IT industry (SABC, 07/05) - The brain drain in the IT sector - with its highly portable skills - is slowing down, with only 5% of respondents in ITWeb's fifth annual salary survey in the IT industry saying they had plans to leave South Africa - as opposed to 26% two years ago. Another key finding of the survey, which drew on a sample of 2 977 responses and was released today, are that IT salaries are not keeping up with inflation - with overall average increases in the sector coming in at 9%, and the latest inflation figure at 11,8%. The days of "exorbitant" IT salaries are over, says Ranka Jovanovic, editorial director at ITWeb, who presented the findings today.

Buthelezi loses battle with Burundi refugee (IOL, 07/05) - All decisions made since 1998 by the committee regulating South Africa's refugee affairs are invalid - because the committee itself was illegally constituted. This is the legal consequence of a judgment delivered yesterday by the Cape High Court, say immigration lawyers. The judgment followed what was described by the court as a lack of "common courtesy" on behalf of the standing committee on refugee affairs. The committee was taken to court after ignoring for several months an electrical engineer from Burundi who wished to make South Africa his new home. It even accused him of "expecting the impossible" when he demanded some action from it. The case was brought by Barimwotubiri Ruyobeza and the Cape Town Refugee Centre. The main reason for yesterday's decision by Cape High Court judges Wilfred Thring and Siraj Desai was that Minister of Home Affairs Mangosuthu Buthelezi had appointed employees of his department to the committee even though the law requires appointees to be independent. The judges said the appointment of the committee was unlawful and unconstitutional. Ruyobeza fled escalating ethnic conflict in Burundi and came to South Africa, where he was granted asylum. After living in South Africa for five years, he decided to make the country his new home. To get permanent residence, the standing committee on refugee affairs had to certify that he would remain a refugee "indefinitely". He applied for this certificate in September last year, but received no response. After he instituted urgent legal action, Home Affairs said he was "expecting the impossible". But the judges were not convinced. "We would have thought that, if nothing else, a simple acknowledgment of receipt of the request, coupled, perhaps, with an indication of the time which would probably be required to process the request, would not have been beyond the call of common courtesy ..." they found. The judges said the illegal appointees were all salaried, full-time employees in the department, who depended on Home Affairs for employment and promotion. They could not be described as independent or capable of acting without bias, as required. They said Buthelezi could not argue that members of his own department were eligible because they are not expressly disqualified from such appointment by the Refugees Act. The committee contravened the Refugees Act and the constitution, and their appointments were unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid. The judges went further. They decided to settle Ruyobeza's dilemma themselves and ordered that he be given the necessary permits that would enable him to get permanent residence. The Department of Home Affairs was ordered to pay the trial costs.

Committee for refugee affairs is illegal (IOL, 07/05) - Years of decisions by the committee that regulated refugee affairs in South Africa are invalid - because the committee was illegally constituted. This is the legal consequence of a judgement delivered by the Cape High Court on Tuesday, say immigration lawyers. The judgement was sparked by what was described by the court as a lack of common courtesy by the standing committee on refugee affairs. The committee was taken to court after ignoring for several months an electrical engineer from Burundi, who wished to make South Africa his new home, and then accusing him of "expecting the impossible" when he demanded some action. Lawyers now say the decisions taken by the standing committee on refugee affairs since 1998 will be invalid after the judgement. The main reason for their decision, Judges Wilfred Thring and Siraj Desai said in their judgement, was that the minister of home affairs, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, appointed employees of his department to the committee although the law made it clear that the appointees should be independent. The case was brought by Barimwotubiri Ruyobeza and the Cape Town Refugee Centre against Buthelezi, the director-general of the department of home affairs, standing committee members Moleboge Machele, JE Leshabane and P Lechaba, and Machele in her capacity as committee chairwoman. In their judgement, the judges said the appointment of the committee was unconstitutional and unlawful.  Ruyobeza, 30, is an electrical engineer from Burundi.  Six years ago he fled increasing ethnic conflict in his country and came to South Africa, where he was granted asylum. After living in South Africa for five years, Ruyobeza decided to make the country his new home. To get permanent residence, the standing committee on refugee affairs had to certify that he would remain a refugee "indefinitely". He applied for this certificate in September last year, but received no response from the committee. After Ruyobeza instituted urgent legal action against home affairs and the committee, the department said he was "expecting the impossible".  The judges, however, were not convinced.  "We would have thought that, if nothing else, a simple acknowledgement of receipt of the request coupled, perhaps, with an indication of the time which would probably be required to process the request would not have been beyond the call of common courtesy, and would certainly have been within the bounds of possibility," they found.

The judges noted that Machele, Leshabane and Lechaba were salaried, full-time servants of the state, employed by the department of home affairs. "They can be transferred, demoted or dismissed from office by departmental action. Conversely, they depend for promotion on departmental action and, in particular, on the views of their superiors in the department as to their eligibility and suitability for such promotion."  This did not correlate with the requirement in the Refugees Act that the standing committee "must function without any bias and must be independent", said the judges. "To suggest that employees of the department ... who have been appointed to the committee could, with the best will in the world, ever be expected to perform their functions under the act without any bias or to be independent would, in our judgement, be little short of fanciful."  The judges said it was not for Buthelezi to argue that members of his department were eligible for appointment to the standing committee because the act did not expressly disqualify them.  The appointments contravened the Refugees Act and the Constitution and should be declared unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid. In a step that is taken only in exceptional cases, the court also decided the matter for the department of home affairs and ordered that Ruyobeza be given the permits he needed for permanent residence. The department was ordered to pay costs.

Mbeki wants African immigration restrictions eased to boost tourism (Daily Trust, 06/05) - South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has urged African countries to ease immigration restrictions to boost tourism on the continent. Opening a four-day international tourism fair tagged in Durban, Mbeki who highlighted the diverse tourism potential across the African continent, said that he was ready to market the industry to the entire world at any given opportunity. "I will tell the whole world - please come to Africa. I will tell my fellow Africans, make sure you discover Africa," Mbeki said amid standing ovation, after which he outlined his vision to travel round the continent on a dream sabbatical. "I would like to wander around in the great street markets of the pulsating African city of Lagos, and bargain with the street traders as millions of Nigerians do.  "From there, I would visit the museums, to contemplate the Benin bronzes and the masks that speak of ancient African skills in the plastic arts, and marvelous craftsmanship," said Mbeki as he outlined his dream tourist adventure pictorially. The South African president said that the hectic nature of the contemporary world "makes it imperative that occasionally we break lose, to live outside the alienating regimentation of the workplace where we are merely surviving to make money and make more money."  "Rest and recreation is not a luxury. It is a human necessity, without which we cease to be human," the Southern Africa correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Mbeki as saying at the opening of the fair.  Mbeki said that South Africa's celebration of the first decade of democracy next year would be a "great moment of joy"', adding that millions of people in other countries who played critical roles in efforts to dismantle apartheid in the country will also join in the celebrations. "These celebrations will salute the capacity of human beings to find negotiated solutions to their problems and to live peacefully together regardless of racial, ethnic and other differences," said Mbeki.  The CEO of South African Tourism, Cheryl Carolus, said that the "Indaba" provided world-class experience on tourism business, thus making South Africa a destination of choice for tourists. NAN reports that "Indaba 2003" showcases over 1300 tourism products in a 13,800-square-metre exhibition area at Durban's International Convention Centre. It has so far attracted about 1268 delegates and 1500 exhibitors.

Gold mining houses may have to cut jobs (Johannesburg, Dispatch Online, 06/05) - South Africa's gold mining houses, straining from a recent rand rally and the prospect of a royalties tax, reported sharp drops in quarterly earnings last week and warned of thousands of job losses. Harmony Gold Mining, listed both on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) and the New York Stock Exchange, said last week it would have to shed more than 10000 jobs if the rand did not weaken from its current level of 7,25 to the dollar and the Mining Royalties Bill, which proposes royalties of between 2% and 8% on mines, was introduced in its current form. Last Tuesday the company reported a 49% drop in net profit to R235 million for the three months to March 31. "If the rand does not improve to between R8,50 and R9 to the dollar for a significant period and the Royalties Bill is promulgated in its current form, Harmony is likely to shed 10000 jobs," Harmony's commercial director, Ferdi Dippenaar, said. Gold producer Durban Roodepoort Deep (DRD) said it would cut 1000 jobs after net profit crashed to R10,5m in the quarter from R21m. "We are having to rightsize our South African operations to remain competitive," DRD chairperson Mark Wellesley Wood said at the company's results presentation last week. In rand terms, the price of gold has plummeted, slumping from an average of R95000 per kilogram received by most gold companies in the quarter to March to a spot price on Friday of R75000/kg. The rand strengthened to an average of 8,37 to the dollar in the three months to March 31, from the previous quarter's average of 9,61. South Africa's largest gold producer, AngloGold, which reported an 18% drop in headline earnings to $74m for the three months to March 31, said it expected its earnings for the June quarter to remain under pressure as a result of the exchange rate, together with lower grades and mining volume. However, it anticipated a gradual recovery in the South African gold industry by the fourth quarter. The draft version of the Royalties Bill was published in March and aims "to impose a royalty on the extraction and transfer of South Africa's mineral resources, while acknowledging that mineral resources belonged to the nation and that the state was the custodian thereof".

It comes as South African mining companies are having to cope with a Mining Charter which calls for the transfer of 15% of the sector to black ownership within five years, rising to 26% after 10 years.  Mining shares slumped after the charter was leaked last July, wiping R70 billion off the combined market capitalisation of the sector, which accounts for between 4% and 5% of the country's gross domestic product and employs 500000 people.  Under a sliding scale of mineral levies to be phased in over four years, the Royalties Bill will tax revenue on coal sales by 2%, platinum at 4%, diamonds at 8% and gold at 3%.  Mining companies say they would prefer a profit-based system of calculating royalties, rather than the currently proposed revenue-based approach.  AngloGold's chief executive Bobby Godsell said at the company's results presentation last week that the Bill needed to be introduced in a way that kept South African mining companies globally competitive.  "While we accept the general proposition of a charge for the extraction of the country's non-renewable mineral resources, we believe that this should be done in a way that does not cause the already high mining tax burden in South Africa to make mining companies here internationally uncompetitive," he said. After initially saying that the Bill was not negotiable, the government has indicated that it might soften its stance, saying it is willing to make "technical changes".

Zimbabwe has most football players in South Africa (Zimbabwe Standard, 04/05) - Zimbabwe has the highest number of footballers plying their trade in South Africa compared to other countries, a list released by the South African Premier League has revealed. While South Africans are leaving their country for highly-competitive leagues in Europe, Zimbabwe has 23 footballers playing in both the premier league and the lower divisions. Your tax-deductible donation to the AllAfrica Foundation, in any amount, supports our reporting on issues like sustainable development, peace building and HIV/Aids. This is in comparison to Zambia who have nine, followed by Mozambique who have five. Nigeria has only one in the form of veteran goalkeeper William Okpara. However, most of the Zimbabweans playing in South Africa have failed to get first team jerseys in the national team. Only Kaitano Tembo, Adam Ndlovu and Charles Yohane have managed to form part of Sunday Marimo's trailblazing Warriors, a clear sign of the low standard of South African football. Others like Alois Bunjira, Yohane, Rabson Muchichwa and Tauya Murewa have been given their chance in the Warriors' set-up but failed to make the grade.  In contrast to the Zimbabwean situation, South Africa has players like Quinton Fortune, Sibusiso Zuma, Benni McCathey, Siyabonga Nomvete, among others who have left South African football for more glamorous leagues in England, Italy, Denmark and Spain. At the moment, Zimbabwe has only two internationally-recognised football stars in the form of Peter Ndlovu and Benjani Mwaruwaru.

Striking a balance between granting asylum and expelling illegal migrants (City Press, 04/05) - South Africa is experiencing both the phenomenon of people-smuggling as well as the scourge of trafficking in humans. Because of our greater development and position in our continent and region, we have many of the problems experienced by developed countries, which are the targets of illegal migratory fluxes. However, as a developing country, we do not have the necessary resources to attend to these problems in the full measure required. A few weeks ago, we launched a new system of migration control centred around our recently enacted Immigration Act. This new statute has the specific purpose of facilitating and simplifying permit procedures so we can move our scarce administrative resources towards the enforcement of our immigration laws. We felt it was counterproductive to have stringent measures for legal immigration when the majority of immigrants stayed illegally outside the system. In fact, I think one of preconditions in our collegial fight against people smuggling is the state's political will and capacity to effectively enforce immigration laws within its territories, both to detect illegal immigration as well as to deter crimes associated with it. For as long as large pockets of illegal immigrants remain untouched by law-enforcement efforts, a fertile ground will continue to enable trafficking in people. Unfortunately, our police forces are occupied by dealing with the full range of crimes experienced in our country. Even in this respect we remain under-resourced, and our fight against crime in general is testing the limited capacity of our security services. For this reason, our new legislation has transferred the competence of deterring, detecting and redressing illegal immigration and phenomena associated therewith to a dedicated inspectorate, which the law has established within my department.  We will need to develop techniques to Inspect workplaces and communities to detect illegal immigrant without creating associated and undesirable perceptions of xenophobia on the side of our government or mobilising xenophobic sentiments which may exist within communities. We will need to balance effective law enforcement and the promotion of higher standards of human rights protection, which my country is unqualifiedly committed to. We feel that in a country such as ours, with about 7000km of very porous borders, law enforcement at community level is as important as border control as it addresses the so-called pull forces.

However, in the context of my ministerial responsibilities, I know I must be a pragmatist, as indeed I have done throughout my long political life. We cannot jump a flight of stairs or make a step longer than our legs allow. We are committed to ratifying the Convention on Trans-national Organised Crime, the Protocol to Prevent Trafficking in Persons and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. However, in respect of certain portions of the protocol dealing with the trafficking in persons, we will need to apply a restrictive interpretation of some provisions. In fact, we cannot construe the language of such a protocol as requiring us to extend permanent residence or stable immigration status to victims of trafficking merely on that account. South Africa has experienced an inordinate abuse of the asylum process, even though the number of asylum applications remain low as compared to other receiving countries. However, the fact remains that we employ the bulk of the resources destined for refugees' protection towards dealing with asylum applications, many of which prove to be illegitimate. We fear certain provisions in the protocol on trafficking in people may give rise to similar problems if anyone subject to a deportation procedure raises the defence or exception that he or she has been a victim of trafficking, which, as we know, may be the case when one is brought into South Africa not necessarily under duress but merely under false pretences. Under our law we would need to adjudicate such a claim and investigate the underlying relevant facts before we can proceed with deportation. If the claim of being a victim of trafficking leads to a temporary or permanent immigration status, such claim is likely to be abused, as much as the asylum claims are, with the added disadvantage that we cannot summarily eliminate claims from citizens of certain democratic countries, as we do in respect of asylum; for a citizen of any country could be a victim of trafficking. Nonetheless, we are in an advanced process of the ratification of the convention and its protocols, which have already been approved by cabinet and are in the process of being tabled by Parliament. We feel that most of our existing legislation has already given municipal implementation to the provisions of the convention and its protocols. The smuggling of persons is regarded as a criminal offence. However, we will need to investigate the extent to which it may be necessary to create a new, specifically defined crime category dealing exclusively with trafficking in people, rather than relying on the existing crime definition typology.

In this respect we would like to receive the guidance of comparative experience and learn what our colleagues 10 other countries are thinking or doing. In our context, additional specificity could give greater impetus to law enforcement, for instance creating dedicated law enforcement and prosecuting units, but could make actual prosecution more difficult. One needs to decide whether the fight against trafficking in people would not be equally promoted under the application of existing provisions of the criminal code, but with separate and dedicated policy emphasis and administrative capacity. We are also concerned about related trans-national crimes, on which the theme of this conference is also rightly focused. Both people smuggling and trafficking in people are often associated with bribery and corruption of officials, forged or fraudulently acquired documentation, illegal smuggling of vehicles, and a much broader range of crimes, ranging from drug trafficking to prostitution and child abuse rackets. We have recently-enacted legislation in place to deal with these types of crimes, but we will need to assess the extent to which our existing legislation deals with the trans-national dimension. We are very committed to dealing effectively with the problem of people smuggling and the scourge of trafficking in people. We are delighted to do so in partnership with our friends and look forward to the dialogue among the people of our region in solving such a common problem. This is an edited version of an address given by Minister of Home Affairs Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the second Bali Conference on People Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Organised Crimes in Nusa Dua, Bali, this past week.

South Africa to think about trafficking, Buthelezi (Business Day, 01/05) -South Africa would need to "investigate" before defining a specific crime dealing with trafficking in people, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said.
Speaking in Bali on the second day of an international conference on human smuggling and trafficking, he said this could give greater impetus to law enforcement.  However it could also make actual prosecution more difficult. "One needs to decide whether the fight against trafficking in people would not be equally promoted under the application of existing provisions of the criminal code, but with separate and dedicated policy emphasis and administrative capacity," he said. South Africa was committed to ratifying the United Nations Convention on Trans-National Organized Crime and its protocols. "However, in respect of certain portions of the protocol dealing with the trafficking in persons, we will need to read down or apply a restrictive interpretation of some provisions. "In fact, we cannot construe the language of such protocol as requiring us to extend permanent residence or a stable immigration status to victims of trafficking merely on that account." South Africa had experienced an "inordinate" abuse of the asylum process, even though the number of asylum applications remained low compared to other countries. It feared that some provisions of the trafficking protocol could give rise to problems if anyone subject to deportation could raise the objection that he or she had been a victim of trafficking. Trafficking covered people brought into South Africa not only under duress but also merely under false pretences. "If the claim of being a victim of trafficking may lead to a temporary or permanent immigration status, such claim is likely to be abused, as much as the asylum claims are," he said.

Swaziland

Good news for visitors to South Africa (Swazi Observer, 25/05) - Swazis visiting South Africa will now have more visiting days after the new Immigration Act of 2002 extended the temporary residence permit to 90 days. Before foreigners, including Swazis, were allowed to visit the neighbouring country for only 14 days. The First Secretary to the South African High Commission, Thando Dalamba, said the immigration officials would, however, use their discretion in allowing visitors to stay for more than 14 days. "Another thing, according to the Act is that people intending to visit SA should make sure that their passports have more than 30 days before their documents expire. This is to make sure that the passports do not expire while they are in South Africa," he said. The Act also provides that foreigners, who intend to study in South Africa, would be required to submit proof that they have adequate funds not only for tuition, but for allowance too. The Act also states that the SA government police would do a routine check on all schools, universities and technikons to ascertain that foreign students have valid study permits. Those who intend to operate businesses in South Africa will have to invest the required money to qualify as an investor. The amount is stipulated by the Department of Enterprise. They will also have to be certified by chartered accountants of that country for eligibility to invest. On work permits, the employer in South Africa has to convince the South African Government that there is no other South African who can do the same job for which a foreigner is sought. Another condition for foreigners is that they should possess exceptional skills, which are not found in South Africa.

Tanzania

Immigration officers deport 7 Somali residents (The Arusha Times, 17-23/05) - Seven persons of Somali origin accused of living in the country illegally since April 28, have been declared prohibited immigrants and six of them sent back to their country of origin. The Somalis were arrested during a surprise inspection in the night of Friday May the 2nd, at Majengo Guest House in the Arusha municipality. Regional Immigration officer, Method Rwekeza, named the six deported Somalis as Shahid Mohammed (28), Abdallah Mohammed Hussein (21) and Khadar Abdullah Hassan (20). Others are Ally Yussuf Omari (19) who is reported to have been a student, Sabeh Sheikh Hassan (25) said to have been a teacher, and the oldest member in their group, Abdallah Mohammed Ally (65). The other suspected illegal immigrant Abdulkadir Mohammed Mussa (22) is however still being held by the police as the Immigration officers continue to investigate his case. As from January this year, the Regional Immigration office had embarked on a special exercise to track down foreigners living and working in the region without the relevant permits. The on-going operation has so far dealt with local barber shops and beauty parlors, private schools and guest houses, areas believed to be breeding nests and hideouts for illegal immigrants.

"Limitations" in refugee camps forcing hundreds to leave (Dar es Salaam, Irin, 15/05) - Hundreds of Burundian refugees reported to be voluntarily repatriating from two camps in western Tanzania are doing so because of "the reduction in food rations and the restrictions on economic activities outside the camps," a humanitarian organisation has said. In a statement, the Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service (TCRS), an organisation that manages Karago and Mtendeli camps, said that while some refugees cited increased hopes for peace because of the 30 April change of presidency in Burundi, most put their inability to supplement the shortfall in rations as their reason for leaving. "The large majority of refugees now repatriating have only recently arrived in Tanzania," TCRS Director Duane Poppe said. "Among the reasons for departure mentioned by the refugees were bad conditions in the refugee camps in western Tanzania, where food rations had been cut by 50 percent since February and only recently increased to 72 percent." "These cuts primarily impact the latest of the refugee arrivals, since they have not established any supplementary livelihood activities," Poppe said. In early 2003, refugee rations were cut to 50 percent of the recommended daily minimum, following what the UN World Food Programme (WFP) called "supply pipeline problems". By mid-April, WFP told IRIN that cereal rations were back to 72 percent, and that it hoped that refugees would be receiving full rations by July. By 10 May, TCRS said, nearly 2,000 Burundians, mostly women with their children destined for Gisuru, in Ruyigi province, had left the refugee camps and walked the 65 km to the border. TCRS predicted that a total of 10,000 to 15,000 "might eventually be part of this spontaneous repatriation movement". As many refugees still maintained land under cultivation at home, the agency suggested that strong economic interests were also contributing to their return.

On Wednesday, Radio Burundi quoted Ruyigi governor Isaac Bujaba as saying that 2,000 people had returned since 4 May and that they were received at the Nyabitare camp, Gisuru commune in eastern Burundi, where they were awaiting vehicles to take them to their places of origin. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told IRIN on Tuesday that it was not facilitating the return of Burundians to the provinces of Ruyigi, Rutana and Makamba because of insecurity in those regions, but stressed that those who opted to return "should be supported" and to that end, there would be coordination between humanitarian organisations in Burundi and Tanzania. While in Tanzania on an official visit on Monday, Burundi's new president Domitien Ndayizeye joined his Tanzanian counterpart, President Benjamin Mkapa, in calling for the repatriation of Burundian refugees so that "they could participate in the new political dispensation" in Burundi. However, TCRS believed that a total voluntary repatriation remained unlikely. "As they walk away from deteriorating conditions in the camps and towards an uncertain future in Burundi, the refugees are caught in a continuing dilemma between insecurity and unmet basic needs," Poppe said.

Immigration nets eight illegal immigrants in Mtwara (The Guardian, 07/05) - In seeking an urgent end to acute shortage of graduate teachers in Tanzania, the government is consulting experts so as to convert the Chang’ombe Teachers College into the University of Dar es Salaam School of Education (UDSM-SoE) or Constituent College of Education of the UDSM effective this July, the Minister for Education and Culture, Joseph Mungai has said. He said in case that fails for various reasons, the government wants experts to study and make recommendations on the possibility of converting Kleruu, Mtwara and Marangu Teachers Colleges in Iringa, Mtwara and Kilimanjaro regions respectively into UDSM-SoE or Constituent Colleges for UDSM effective September next year. “If Kleruu, Mtwara and Marangu are converted into SoE for UDSM they should offer undergraduate and postgraduate programmes preferably by September 2004,” the Minister said. The Minister was officiating at a day long forum to brainstorm on solutions to the acute shortage of graduate teachers in the country’s secondary schools. Education experts from the UDSM and other institutions participated. "I am asking you to consider very carefully my proposal. That Chang’ombe TTC becomes either a mere Constituent College of UDSM or a SoE for UDSM, as I believe there is a difference in the degree of autonomy,” observed the Minister. The Minister linked the shortage of graduate teachers to poor performance of secondary school students saying over 60 per cent of students sitting for O’level examinations in most schools score division four and zero. “It is time we decide, we decide now and take a prompt action to end the problem before its becomes too costly to the country’s economic and social development. We can no longer afford to continue to wallow in the valley of indecision as time is definitely not on our side,” Mungai cautioned. The Minister also asked the forum to give proposals on how the government can streamline the education system which costs a Tanzanian daughter seven years in primary school, four in secondary education and two years to complete high school. Besides she has to wait before she joins the University where she must spend for year more or less. He told them to consider the possibility of adopting a 8+4+4 system under which a pupil spends eight years in primary school, four years in secondary education and spends the last four years at a university.

Burundians begin to return home (Bujumbura, Irin, 06/05) - A week after the transfer of the presidency from a Tutsi to a Hutu, the first wave of Burundian refugees arrived in Burundi, aid agencies said on Tuesday. They reported that 500 Burundians had walked into Burundi from the camps in Kibondo District in Western Tanzania, and were gathering in Gisuru, a village in Burundi’s Ruyigi Province. Although medical staff who visited the refugees said that their medical state was "not alarming", they called on aid agencies to supply food and blankets immediately as the returnees were sleeping out in the open.  Staff from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, arrived in Ruyigi on Tuesday to conduct a preliminary assessment of the situation. 
Leading up to the change in presidents, which saw Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, cede power to his Hutu vice president Domitien Ndayizeye, there had been much speculation as to whether the refugees would return home.

Zambia

180 Congolese flee to country (Times of Zambia, 30/05) - About 183 Congolese fleeing renewed fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo have entered Zambia through the border town of Mpulungu over the past one week. Officially opening the regional refugee warehouse in Lusaka yesterday, Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba said the tribal clashes in eastern DRC were a source of concern. Mr Mumba said it was sad that while efforts were being made to repatriate Angolan and Rwandese refugees to their home countries, more Congolese refugees were streaming in. The permanent secretary said United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)'s decision to set up a regional warehouse in Zambia was a demonstration of appreciation to the country's contribution to refugee management in the region. Mr Mumba said Zambia was the leading refugee host in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region. And UNHCR regional representative Ahmed Gubartalla said the establishment of the warehouse had come at an opportune time when there was an influx of refugees which demanded an improvement in the emergency response capacity. Mr Gubartalla noted that the warehouse would be used not only for storage of the items but also as a centre for the repatriation of Angolan and Rwandese refugees, which starts on June 12, 2003. The regional stockpiles centre will store essential domestic non-food relief items which would be pre-positioned before being distributed to refugees. Currently in stock are 34,000 kitchen ware sets, 18,000 plastic sheets, 60,000 blankets, 102 tonnes of bathsoap, 40,000 sleeping mats and 30,000 metres of sanitary cloth. Meanwhile, Government says the security situation on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where armed raiders from that country entered into Zambia, is under control.  Home Affairs Minister Lieutenant-General Ronnie Shikapwasha said yesterday that there was no need to send security re-enforcements as the security personnel at the border was sufficient. "There is no need for us to send re-enforcements to the area. Our security forces who are already there are enough," Gen Shikapwasha said. The suspected DRC gunmen at the weekend reportedly attacked villagers in Kaputa district in Northern Province and moved the border beacon, by pushing it five kilometres into the Zambian territory. Zambian soldiers captured one of the armed intruders, who wanted to lead them to the hideout where his colleagues were, when his accomplices laid an ambush and opened fire on the Zambians.

Zambian nabbed for assisting 6 Chinese (Times of Zambia, 24/05) - The immigration department in Lusaka has arrested a Zambian who, together with a Briton tried to assist six Chinese and one Japanese. The two were believed to be working with a group of forgery experts in one of the townships in Lusaka. Immigration department spokesperson Jones Mwelwa confirmed the arrest of the man during the week. He said the man, in his mid-20s, was spotted in the company of the Briton at the airport before an escape bid by the six Chinese and one Japanese was botched. Mr Mwelwa said the Briton disappeared after sensing that the escape bid had failed. "Up to now this man is still at large but his friend is still being held to help with investigations," Mr Mwelwa said. And Mr Mwelwa has said cases of illegal immigrants have become prevalent with those from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and West Africa leading. He said last week alone, over 30 illegal immigrants were arrested in Luanshya, Kasama, Chipata and Livingstone.

Russia deports Zambians over beer, bottom power (Lusaka, Zambezi Times, 23/05) - Zambian students were deported from Russia on grounds of excessive beer drinking and 'bottom-power', disclosed education minister Andrew Mulenga yesterday. Speaking at the Second Russian Education Exhibition in Lusaka yesterday, Mulenga expressed disappointment at the behaviour of some students who were studying in Russia. "You can't obtain a degree in beer drinking and too much bottom power," he said. However, Mulenga encouraged parents to send their children outside the country so that they could finish their programmes on time. "Our universities are unreliable and have a lot of instabilities," he said. Mulenga said programmes that are supposed to take four years took eight to ten years to complete. He said Zambia had not changed its policy on education for 36 years now and hence the constant closures that the two highest learning institutions in Zambia are facing. Mulenga said the instabilities are as a result of government taking the full responsibility of funding the institutions which he said does not happen in other counties. He said it was difficult to bear the cost in education because it was very expensive. Mulenga called upon those in learning institutions to regard education as an investment. He expressed disappointment that some people who were sponsored by the government to go and study outside the country have gone to invest in other countries and not their own country. On the unceremonious closures in the highest institutions of learning, Mulenga said the closures were due to students complaining about little allowances and workers not happy about their salaries. He cited the demand for the teaching staff comparing their salaries to other institutions in the region as one of the contributing factors. Mulenga said the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University could not manage to accommodate the student population of Zambia. He said government should however invest a lot in education for the country not to remain underdeveloped. "If we neglect education we will remain underdeveloped and we will forever be slaves to developed countries," he said. Asked to comment on the pending strike by teachers, Mulenga said he would call for a press briefing to explain the situation. And Russian Ambassador to Zambia Vladimir Dorokhin said Zambia was the highest recipient in Africa of Russian education schemes. Dorokhin said his country has increased the number of Zambian students going to Russia from 60 to more than 80. He said those wishing to go on self sponsorship could now do so. In an interview Dorokhin said one of the pre-requisites to go to Russia was to have an HIV/AIDS test which he said was happening in other countries as well.

Zimbabwe farmers get work permits (Times of Zambia, 19/05) - The immigration department has granted self-employment work permits to 11 white commercial farmers from Zimbabwe who are presently settled in Mkushi. Immigration public relations officer Jones Mwewa said in an interview yesterday that the department gave new permits to the farmers who came into the country as investors in agriculture. He said it was not true that Government had given out land but that these farmers bought land from farmers in Mkushi Farming Block. The white farmers indicated that they would be growing maize, tobacco and other commercial crops. Meanwhile Mr Mwewa has said the five Chinese and one Japanese nationals who were quarantined for coming from a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) infected area were still in detention awaiting deportation. The Chinese were arrested at the Lusaka International Airport for trying to enter the country using forged documents but because they came from a SARS infected area, they were quarantined for screening.

Visa cheats on the run, say police (Zambia Daily Mail, 16/05) - A group of foreigners is on the run after allegedly swindling residents by getting down payment for British and United States visas. Police have also warned members of the public to desist from taking shortcuts instead of using the right channels to procure visas. The group has been collecting money and promising some travellers that they would get the visas. Police spokesperson Brenda Muntemba said there had been several reports and cautioned travellers to use existing channels to obtain travel documents. The reports on the activities by some foreigners had now become routine in various police stations. No arrests had been effected. She wondered why people continued using agents to access visas and complain to the police after being swindled. Sources said police had launched a hunt for the group which had collected millions of dollars. Ms Muntemba also said there were people complaining of unscrupulous estate agents and urged residents to stop short cuts because such criminals were difficult to catch.

Refugees outnumber locals in Western Province (Times of Zambia, 14/05) -Mangango member of Parliament Chrispin Shumina (FDD) has said the refugee situation in Western Province is serious and urged Government to quickly investigate the matter. Mr Shumina said it was wrong for Energy Deputy Minister and Luampa MP Steven Manjata and United Party for National Development (UPND) Kaoma MP Austin Liato to try to trivialise the threatening refugee situation. He reiterated that the number of refugees in Kaoma district out numbered that of locals and feared it could create a problem because the majority of them were lost in the community. Mr Shumina who produced statistics from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said there were about 121,064 refugees who settled among the community in the villages in Kaoma. He said only 21,582 refugees were in Mayukwayukwa camp. He said the refugee population was almost equal that of Zambians in Kaoma who numbered 150,000. He said in Western Province alone the Angolan population was 168, 898 out of the 212,458 who were currently in Zambia. "It has become clear that Kaoma has 121,064 refugees hiding in our villages," he said. He said it was not correct for Mr Manjata and Mr Liato to refer to him as an alarmist and appealed to the two MPs to clearly state their position on the refugee situation in the district. Mr Shumina charged that the issue of refugees bordered on national security and that it could spark tribal conflicts if not well handled. He said he was not against refugees but wanted them to follow procedure so that they could be settled in camps because most of them were not living in designated locations. The two MPs alleged the statement on refugees by Mr Shumina had created tension among the people in Kaoma who wanted him to explain his statement.

Six Chinese nationals arrested over fake passports (Zambia Daily Mail, 03/05) - The Immigration Department arrested six Chinese nationals on Thursday at the Lusaka International Airport when they attempted to escape via British Airways using forged Japanese passports. The six entered Zambia on April 28 using forged Japanese passports. Immigration department spokesperson Jones Mwelwa said in a statement yesterday that the six were allegedly assisted by a British National, James Rutherford who is on the run. The suspects are in detention pending investigations. In a related development, three prohibited immigrants were arrested as they tried to apply for new immigration permits. The three are British, Canadian and Chinese nationals who had also been arrested for illegal stay in Zambia. The trio stayed in Zambia for a long time on expired permits and would soon appear in court. "They were discovered to have been staying in Zambia on expired permits," Mr Mwelwa said. The Immigration Department further revealed that 29 prohibited immigrants were arrested in seven weeks in Lusaka and 22 in Kabwe. Majority of the arrested were from Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr Mwelwa said the Immigration Department would intensify its operations in all provinces to facilitate the movement of people entering the country illegally. His department would ensure that peace and internal security are maintained. A Kenyan and Congolese national were prosecuted and fined K500,OOO in default to serve three months in Kabwe for illegal stay in Zambia.

Indian national expelled for calling Zambians dull (Lusaka, Zambezi Times, 02/05) - An Indian national has been given 48 hours to leave Zambia for calling Zambians dull and without brains in an e-mail to his friends in India, the official Times of Zambia reported Friday. The Indian national, who works in the production department of a firm in Ndola, capital of Copperbelt Province in northern Zambia, said in the e-mail he was "supervising dull Zambians who had no brains," the report said. A copy of the e-mail on his computer was found by his workmates, who then reported the matter to the Zambian authorities, the report said. Peter Mumba, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs, confirmed the issuance of the deportation order in Lusaka Thursday. He was quoted as saying that Zambia despite having her own problems would not allow any person to insult her people. The Zambian government would deal with any one found involving him or herself in such activities, he was quoted as saying. M. Subashiai, the counselor at the Indian High Commission in Lusaka, said she is not aware of the development but will look into it.

Refugees repatriated from Zambia (Nairobi, Irin, 02/05) - The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has begun repatriating more than 5,000 Rwandans living in Zambia as refugees, the UN agency reported on Thursday. The first 16 of the refugees arrived in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, aboard a Kenya Airways flight. The repatriation follows a tripartite agreement signed in January in Kigali between the UNHCR and the governments of Zambia and Rwanda. The UNHCR said more flights were expected to transport the refugees from Zambia to Kigali. According to the agency, arrangements are being made by the International Organisation for Migration, to fly the refugees on commercial airlines from the Zambian capital, Lusaka, through Nairobi, Kenya, on to Kigali. Thousands of Rwandans fled the country in 1994 during and after the genocide, which claimed the lives of more than 800,000 people. "It is bad to be called a foreigner all the time. I have wanted to return for a long time," Isaac Ndayisabye, 22, one of the 16 returning refugees, said when he arrived in Kigali.  It was his first time in the capital as he had left his rural Cyangugu home in 1994 without ever having visited Kigali.

Zimbabwe

Sharp hike in visa fees for Mozambicans (Daily News, 22/05) - Zimbabwe has raised visa fees for Mozambicans by more than 250 percent, resulting in protests from Mozambican nationals who view the move as an attempt to bar them from entering the country, it was learnt this week. Local immigration officials said with effect from 13 May, Mozambicans were required to pay up to US$460 for a multiple visa to enter Zimbabwe. This is about $349 000 at the official exchange rate and $1 280 000 on the thriving black market. The visa fees are payable only in United States dollars, pounds, pula, rands or the euro, the immigration officials said. “We do not accept Mozambican currency,” an official from the Department of Immigration told The Daily News. To obtain a single entry visa to travel to Zimbabwe, Mozambicans are now required to pay US$105, while a double entry visa costs US$185. Before the new visa fees came into effect, Mozambicans were required to pay US$30, US$45 and US$55 for a single, double and entry visa respectively. An official from the Mozambican Embassy in Harare, who identified herself only as Mrs Musandu, declined to comment on the new fees. She said: “Talk to the Zimbabwe government because they are the ones who are charging the figures you are talking about.” It was not possible to secure comment from Elasto Mugwadi, the chief immigration officer. Kembo Mohadi, the Minister of Home Affairs, was said to be out of the office, while the permanent secretary in the ministry, Melusi Mashiya, was said to be in a meeting. Mozambicans interviewed yesterday said it was now almost impossible for them to visit Zimbabwe. Most Mozambicans travel to Zimbabwe to visit their relatives or to buy basic commodities that are not available in their country. Others rely on Zimbabwean companies to service their vehicles and to sell them spare parts. Jao Sando from Manica town, about 40 kilometres east of Mutare, said: “We will have to approach our government so that they can talk to the Zimbabwe government to reduce the visa fees.” Petros Candiero, another Mozambican also from Manica town, added: “The new fees are too high. No one will afford them.” Isabel Mhlanga from Chimoio said the new visa requirements would only help strain relations between Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Annamaria Marjata from Beira added: “They must just say it openly that Mozambicans are no longer allowed to visit Zimbabwe.” Costa Kashitigu, who has several relatives in Mozambique, said the new fees would make it impossible for his relatives to visit his family. “Besides, this will promote border jumping,” he added.

Shortage of nurses hits Masvingo (The Herald, 13/05) - At least 276 qualified nurses are needed in Masvingo province to fill in vacant posts that have been left by those who have gone into private practice. The number of qualified nurses needed represents a 25 percent vacancy ratio in the province that requires about 1 104 qualified nurses. In an interview, the Masvingo provincial medical director, Dr Tapiwa Magure, said the shortage was more pronounced in rural areas and in health centres run by rural district councils. "We are having an acute shortage of qualified nurses but the situation is worse in rural health centres, which most qualified medical personnel shun because of poor working and living conditions. "However, health centres run by rural district councils, are more severely affected than Government-run centres because the former have an inconsistent paying policy unlike the later that has fixed pay days," said Dr Magure. He called on rural district councils to offer incentives like having fixed pay days to attract qualified health personnel. The shortage of qualified nurses has seen some crucial health services like immunisation of babies being postponed or delayed in the province as most health centres are manned by nurse aids who cannot administer injectable vaccines. Dr Magure said the province would launch the primary care nurse course , which would see nurses being trained for one-and-half years. "We are going to introduce the primary care nurse course which is almost like the State certified nurse course at Silveira Mission hospital to ease the shortage of nurses," he said. Health professionals have been leaving the country for greener pastures abroad.

Seven deported from Malawi for visa scam (Daily News, 12/05) - The police in Malawi last week arrested and deported seven Zimbabweans in connection with a scam in which Zimbabweans are allegedly forging Malawian travel documents in order to emigrate to the United Kingdom without visas. Malawian citizens do not require visas when travelling to the UK. A passport officer at the Malawian High Commission in Harare, who refused to give his name, could not be drawn into discussing the circumstances leading to the arrest of the Zimbabwean nationals. "We have a new passport system which we have just completed and it is impossible for one to steal another person's passport," he said. He said the embassy's switchboard was jammed with telephone calls from people concerned about the issue of the new passport system and of Zimbabweans attempting to beat the United Kingdom's stringent visa regulations by travelling on Malawian passports. Embassy sources said Luke Kabwe, Brain Dube and Jonathan Charakupa were allegedly arrested and interrogated by David Kwanjana, an immigration officer in Malawi, after they applied for passports with forged birth certificates. The identities of the other deportees could not be established. During the interrogation, Kwanjana reportedly detected that the trio was not fluent in the Malawian vernacular languages of the districts they had entered in the passport application forms. Zimbabweans allegedly use Malawians to fill in the applications declaring them as their parents in their desperate bid to get passports to travel to Britain.
In an interview with The Daily Times of Malawi, Bryson Bendala, Malawi 's immigration spokesman, said the information that the Zimbabweans entered on their passport application forms was suspect and the police intervened. "Apart from their poor accent, information entered on their application forms, as regards to ages and appearances, raised suspicion and they were eventually arrested," Bendala said. He said the seven were fined and ordered to leave Malawi.

Critical shortage of doctors looming (The Herald, 07/05) - The strike by hospital doctors last year is now being felt in hospitals as student doctors who should have completed their two-year training in November and joined the hospitals to ease the shortage of doctors did not do so.  A critical shortage in the departments of surgery and medicine is looming and only senior doctors are attending to patients from the departments.  The president of the Hospital Doctors Association, Dr Howard Mutsando, said the students who were supposed to have completed two years of in-house training after having completed their initial five years did not graduate in November. "I only know that the student doctors who were expected to have completed their final year of practical training and supposed to be assisting in the critical departments have gone back to school as their lessons were hampered by last year’s strikes by doctors," he said. Student doctors are supposed to undergo a two-year housemanship in the departments of medicine, surgery, obstetrics and paediatrics before they start working full time. Dr Mutsando said during last year’s strikes, the students were not attending lessons as very few patients were being attended to. He said although the Government has improved doctors’ salaries, about 16 doctors left the country over the last two months. He said it was not certain whether the student doctors would work in the country after completing their housemanship. "Since last year, 48 doctors have left the country," Dr Mutsando said. "At the moment we are operating under very difficult conditions. We spend most of our time queuing for fuel as there is no provision that we can easily access it. "We would have expected that as doctors who are expected to be called to work even when we are off duty we need not worry about fuel." He said some doctors came to work late while others have to abandon work in order to look for fuel. However, sources at Parirenyatwa Hospital said an agreement with the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe was made early this year to ensure that doctors get 15 000 litres of fuel each month. It is believed that two deliveries were made to Parirenyatwa Hospital and a few senior doctors benefited. Parirenyatwa Hospital authorities could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Border officials probed (Zimbabwe Independent, 02/05) - Botwana's Department of Immigration is investigating some of its officials for allegedly receiving bribes from Zimbabwean immigrants seeking to prolong their stay in that country. Botswana's acting chief immigration officer, Fred Majola, confirmed in reports over the weekend that his department was conducting internal investigations into the bribery cases. The latest investigations will add to already worsening relations between the two countries. The allegations came to light after a tip off to immigration officials that some Zimbabweans were paying as much as 120 pula for extending their stay in that country. "We certainly will follow this one and investigate. we cannot have a department manned by criminals," Majola said. He said the results will be passed to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime before appropriate action is taken. A sizeable number of Zimbabweans arrested in Botswana are finding their way back to the streets after producing travel documents with extended periods of stay. The Batswana accuse Zimbabweans of engaging in criminal activities while in that country while the Zimbabweans accuse the Batswana of ill-treating them. The trading of accusations between the two countries' nationals began immediately after Botswana criticised President Mugabe's land reforms and then demanded payment for a 20-million-litre fuel credit line it extended to the government in March 2000. Two Zimbabweans were killed in a Botswana prison after Batswana inmates teamed up with other African inmates to assault Zimbabweans. Last month a Botswana traditional court summoned Zimbabwe's High Commissioner to Botswana, Phelekezela Mphoko, and several other Zimbabweans to warn them about illegal activities.

Zimbabwe loses out on Transfrontier Park (Zimbabwe Independent, 02/05) -Zimbabwe is losing millions of dollars in revenue that could have been earned from the ambitious Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt. The GLTF includes the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Limpopo Park in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. The failure to take advantage of the money-spinning GLTP project adds to a growing list of the country's failure to fully utilise economic opportunities. Zimbabwe has failed to capitalise on investments in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo after committing its troops to civil wars and sinking billions of dollars in those states. Zimbabwe Council of Tourism president Shingi Munyeza said the government was losing out due to its failure to build infrastructure in Gonarezhou. "Zimbabwe is still lagging behind other countries in terms of infrastructure development," said Munyeza. "The government has not even constructed a viable road network in the park. There is also need to construct facilities such as lodges and chalets for the tourists." Munyeza said there were great opportunities for the country and business was willing to invest once the infrastructure is in place. "The area has still not been declared a tourism development zone and investors are still not aware of the benefits they will derive from investing in the park." The Independent revealed last month that highly placed sources involved in the Transfrontier park development had said donors were withholding funding until the government removed people who had invaded Gonarezhou. Munyeza confirmed that the government is still to resettle people who are in the park. "The Chitsa people have not been resettled by the government and they are still in the Transfrontier park," said Munyeza. In September last year Germany donated five million Euros to both South Africa and Mozambique for infrastructure developments. Many other donors are reported to have responded positively to the two countries but Zimbabwe has been left out. Zimbabwe fell out with the donor community when war veterans and Zanu PF supporters launched the often violent and chaotic farm invasions in 2000. The impasse worsened when the invaders occupied national parks, conservancies and Campfire projects with government endorsing the invasions.

South Africa demands seized farms back (Harare, Financial Gazette, 01/05) - The Zimbabwean government has bowed to pressure by regional powerhouse South Africa to return land it seized from South African citizens under its controversial land reform programme, it emerged this week. Zimbabwe undertook to give back land it grabbed from white South Africans at the height of the resettlement exercise, at a meeting held in Harare in February between senior South African and Zimbabwean foreign affairs officials, sources close to the matter said. Neither Agriculture Minister Joseph Made nor his Foreign Affairs counterpart Stan Mudenge could be reached yesterday for comment on the matter. South Africa's High Commissioner in Harare, Jeremiah Ndou, was also not available for comment yesterday. But in a letter to one of the affected farmers, Crawford von Abbo, South Africa's deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad indicates that Harare had agreed to return land seized from South Africa citizens. According to the letter, the concession was made in terms of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) signed by the two neighbours. Pahad's letter, dated March 10 2003, reads in part: "The latest bilateral discussions on this issue (return of land) took place in Harare from 17 to 18 February 2003. "The South African delegation was advised that the Zimbabwean government 's policy is "that listed farms under the land reform programme owned by nationals from SADC member states and/or countries with Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements would be delisted in accordance with the Laws and regulations of Zimbabwe." Under the BIPPA between Zimbabwe and South Africa, neither can seize the other's investments or those of the other's nationals without paying full compensation. But under its Land Acquisition Act, the government is not required to pay for land seized under its resettlement programme, but for farm improvements only. However, the state has indicated in the past that land protected under government-to-government investment protection agreements will be spared. Pretoria demanded that Harare release South African-owned farms after several of its nationals complained that their land had been seized without compensation, despite the provisions of the BIPPA between the two states. But it could not be immediately established whether Harare would also now keep its hands off the large tracts of land owned by the South African-based Oppenheimer family, which it has long targeted for acquisition.

This page last updated 22 July 2003.