November 2003 - Click on the country title above the headlines for the entire article.
Botswana, Namibia and SA sign border accord
Over4,00 Angolan refugees repatriated from Namibia
Military chiefs analyse situation along border
Call for major attention to border patrolling
Some 18,000 refugees have returned from Zambia
Meeting on Angola - Zambia border
Angola and Mozambique sign general agreement on police cooperation
Mozambican home minister in Luanda
Illegal entry of foreigners worries authorities
Foreigner land ownership and investment
Immigrants from Zimbabwe and Namibia deported
President to curb influx of Zimbabweans
Botswana minister slams xenophobic citizens
Zimbabwe and Botswana security chiefs hold meeting
Minister acknowledges difficulty of retaining skilled labour
Botswana, Zimbabwe to cooperate on cross-border issues
Rwanda, Congo agree on Hutu repatriation plan
Stock theft on Lesotho border
Refugees flee fighting
Clashes Between Lesotho and SA taxi operations
Mozambique wants focused combat against transnational crime
Tourism expanding, despite constraints
Migrant miners disadvantaged by new SA immigration law
South Africa and Mozambique discuss visas
Foreigners steal natural resources in Tete
Government tightens up on employment of non-citizens
Zambia Namibian to have one stop border post
Sex workers at border town on increase
Council of churches condemns border killing
Namibia deports illegal immigrants
Seychelles helps streamline code of conduct for teacher recruitment
Refugees fall through cracks
Foreign syndicates flourish in SA
Acting immigration advisory board chairman praised by ministers
Brain drain puts pressure on firms
Report on Chinese impact on Johannesburg
Ramphele to head UN global migration commission
Health bill will worsen brain drain, says medical association
Home affairs determined to fight corruption
Congolese work without waiting for jobs
SA vows to crack down on crime syndicates
Four Lindela officials held
Home affairs foul-up gets passenger arrested
New SA-Namibia border post opened
West African drug syndicates in Durban
New approach needed to curb cross-border crimes
Home affairs set for shake-up
The unstoppable tide
Skills shortage, a global phenomenon and SA problem
Nigerian networks rife in SA says ISS
Home affairs offices shut down
Document forgers in court
Editorial: A mess at home affairs -
Three held as 85 passports seized
Plan to turn around "dysfunctional" home affairs
Home affairs DG paints bleak picture of department
Home affairs outlines ambitious turn-around strategy
Immigration service 'a joke' says new DG
SA needs skills for economic development says ministers
Home affairs intensifies national ID campaign
Drug bust nets five Nigerians in Bloemfontein
Mozambican immigrants replace workforce decimated by AIDS
Diaspora Africans donate medical supplies
Asian logging firms threaten Tanzania's forests
650 Rwandan refugees repatriated from Tanzania
Govt expels three Kenyans
Burundi refugees to go home
Tanzania short of doctors
Zimbabwean farmers increases Zambian tobacco production
Experts analyze border issues
Zambia grants 31 licences to white farmers
President critises Zambians who settle in Europe
UNHCR suspends repatriation from Zambia to Angola
Botswana's electrical fence to keep Zimbabweans out
Zimbabwe professionals exodus
Public service commission to address brain drain
No barriers too great for Zimbabwean immigrants
New visas for Zim visitors to SA
Zimbabwean authorities confiscate Zambian travelers' cash
Lifeline offered to Zimbabweans in New Zealand
Cuba expected to send more doctors
Striking doctors quitting country
Instability spreads as thousands flee from Zimbabwe
Botswana, Namibia and SA sign border accord (Windhoek, Business Report, 04/11) - Namibia, Botswana and South Africa have signed an agreement to reduce cross-border red tape to streamline traffic on the Trans-Kalahari Corridor, the highway that links Namibia and South Africa through Botswana. The highway, which connects to the Maputo Corridor and so eventually links the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, has not attracted the expected volume of commercial traffic. Truckers have been reluctant to use it mainly because of tedious customs procedures in Botswana. Transport ministers Dullah Omar of South Africa, Moses Amweelo of Namibia and Tebelelo Seretse of Botswana yesterday signed the Trans-Kalahari Corridor memorandum of understanding in Walvis Bay to remove the hitches. They said the aim was to help the Southern African Development Community (SADC) be globally competitive. The distance from Windhoek to Gauteng along the corridor is 400km shorter than the route through southern Namibia. The corridor reduces shipping times to markets in the US and Europe by 10 days compared with South African ports. Omar said the memorandum of understanding was based on the commitment of the three countries to the common vision of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the development plan for the continent that stresses integrating regional infrastructure. Amweelo urged the elimination of all bottlenecks, which had reduced the corridor to a white elephant in the past. He said transport costs in the SADC averaged 20 percent to 40 percent of the total cost of imported goods, compared with 5 percent globally. Seretse said the corridor represented much more than a transport route. Its advantages included investments in tourism, hotel accommodation and other trade and transport businesses. It would help her country expand its tourism market.
Over 4,000 Angolan refugees repatriated from Namibia (Luanda, ReliefWeb, 27/11) - As many as 4,107 former Angolan refugees were repatriated from Ofire locality in Namibia to Angola's Southern Kuando-Kubango Province since last July, Angolan news agency Angop reported on Thursday quoting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. According to the official, there have been expontaneous repatriation from Namibia and Zambia, being the people distributed in districts of their option, where they are being assisted by non- governmental organizations. There has been entry of new refugees in the transit centers, the official said, adding that the supplying of goods for them has been "abnormal." The official did not reveal the reasons behind this situation. It is necessary to make efforts to help them with essential goods, mainly in the rain session in order to guarantee their self- sustenance, said the official. During 27 year civil war, which ended on April 2002, 4 million Angolan people were displaced and 500,000 were in refugee in neighborly countries.
Military chiefs analyse situation along border (Cabinda, Angop, 25/11) -Matters related to the current situation along the Angola, Congo Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo`s common border will be analysed on Tuesday, in far northern Cabinda province, by the three countries` military delegations. To participate in the meeting, is in Cabinda city the vice Chief of the Angolan Armed Forces, General Geraldo Sachipengo "Nunda", who heads the Angolan team. In oil-rich Cabinda province, the Angolan Armed Forces have been carrying out for several months military operations against some guerilla of FLEC, with a view to guarantee a political and military stability in this region of Angola. Cabinda province is bordered to the West with the Atlantic Ocean, North with Congo Brazzaville and in East and South with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has an area of 7.280 square kilometers and its population is estimated at 170.000 inhabitants. Oil, phosphate, uranium, wood, potassium and gold are its primary natural resources. The local population dedicates mostly in the cultivation of maize, coffee, cocoa, cassava and in the production of palm oil.
Call for major attention to border patrolling (Luanda, Angop, 21/11) - Angola's Interior Minister, Oswaldo de Jesus Serra Van-Dúnem, on Friday, here, called on members of the Angola/Zambia Standing Joint Commission for Defence and Security who are attending the 20th meeeting of this organ to pay greater attention to aspects relating to patrolling in the commom border. Serra Van-Dúnem was speaking at the opening session of the 20th Ministerial Session of the joint commission which started today, being attended by the Zambian Interior Minister, Ronnye Chikapwasha. The Angolan Interior Minister also manifested the need to combat the theft of cattle and vehicles, indiscriminate killing of animals as well as preserve the flora, collect the armament in the possession of civilians and the exchange of intelligence information in various domains. "It is only in this way that we can correspond to the anxieties of our Governments and peoples", said the Angolan minister, adding that the peace in Angola has brought about a visible increment on the movement of people and goods between both countries. He is of the opinion that for this circulation to flow and be constructive "It is necessary to take measures which aim to make the living of the people calm, stable and safe". On his turn, Ronnye Chikapwasha manifested satisfaction at the peace in Angola. He said that the Zambian Government is encouraged by the political development in Angola, eversince it was signed the Understanding Memorandum between the Government and UNITA. He was also optimistic about a positive evolution, in short time, of the overall control at the border, which will put an end to all the illegal activities being practised in several regions of both countries. The 20th Ministerial Meeting was preceded by an experts meeting which was divided in three sub-committees, namely, Defence, Public and State Security. Angola and Zambia meet annually to discuss, among other subjects, matters relating to security and greater control at the commom border
Some 18,000 refugees have returned from Zambia (Luanda, Angop, 20/11) -Some 18,000 Angolan refugees, who were living in the neighbouring Republic of Zambia were already repatriated, on Wednesday here announced the permanent secretary of that country's Home Ministry, Mr Peter Mumba. Mr Mumba, who leads a delegation to the 20th meeting of experts of Angola/Zambia Join Commission for Defense and Security taking place since Wednesday, told Angop that the repatriation process has started last July. "We will postpone the repatriation process due to the rain season and we will resume it in next May", he explained. The official, who acknowledged the difficulties facing the Angolan Government towards the resettlement of the returnees, called on the country's leaders to continue with their aid once the operation resumes. He regarded as "very calm" the current situation across the common border, as according to him, the free flow of people and goods is already a concrete fact. Participants at the gathering will discuss on Thursday matters linked to the improvement of free flow of people and goods, fighting against drugs, illegal commerce, cattle plus vehicles theft, as well as document faking. The experts' meeting is a preparative for the ministerial one expected for Saturday here, under the presidency of the Home Ministers of Angola, Oswaldo da Serra Van-Dunem, and of Zambia, Ronnye Chikapwasha, who arrived in the country on Wednesday.
Meeting on Angola - Zambia border (Luanda, Angop, 19/11) - Angola's Deputy Defence Minister for political affairs, Admiral Gaspar Rufino, on Wednesday, here, acknowledged the existence of good signs across the border with Zambia, following the end of the war countrywide. The Admiral expressed this at the opening of the 20th meeting of experts of the Angola/Zambia standing joint commission for defence and security, which took place on Wednesday in Luanda. "Positive signs across the border have produced good results for both countries, because, despite the (...) difficulties there is already the free flow of people and goods and commercial exchange which always characterized the living in frontiers", he said. The General, who leads the natinal delegation to the meeting, also said that with the end of the war it is possible to see the progressive installation of a mutual confidence, security and tranquility, announcing the setting up of more border posts for a better control across the common border. The meeting, which discusses issues relating to the control situation across the border, the improvement of free people and goods, fighting against drug, illegal commerce and cattle theft, is preparatory for the Ministers meeting expected for Friday in the Angolan capital. All aspects under discussion will be submitted to the assessment of the ministerial meeting which will be chaired by the Home Ministers of Angola, Oswaldo da Serra Van-Dunem, and Zambia, Ronnye S. Chkapwasha, who arrival is expected in this afternoon. In his turn, Peter Mumba, the permanent secretary of Zambia's Home Ministry and head of the delegation at experts level, highlighted the importance of the gathering in terms of security for both countries.
Angola and Mozambique sign general agreement on police cooperation (Luanda, Angop, 14/11) - The Interior Ministers of Angola and Mozambique, respectively Osvaldo Serra Van-Dunem, and Almerino Marcos Manhenje, Thursday in Luanda signed a general agreement on security and public order. According to the document, the two sides agreed to engage themselves on technical cooperation in the fields of security, internal order, technical assistance, supply of equipments and exchange of information and experiences. The area of cadres training includes policing, penitentiary system, fire brigades and immigration. To ensure the fulfilment of these decisions, a bilateral technical commission has been set up to meet once a year and also extraordinarily, whenever necessary. The first Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Aid between Angola and Mozambique was signed in Maputo on September 19, 1978. The two states now intend to establish an arranged cooperation relationship focusing on the fight against crossborder criminality. At today's ceremony that marked the end of the visit of the Mozambican Interior Minister, a final communique was read in which the two sides defended the reinforcement of friendship and cooperation ties between the two countries. During his visit to Angola, held November 8-13 this month, Almerino Manhenje was audienced by Prime Minister Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos "Nando", with whom he addressed the current stage of cooperation. The Mozambican delegation left Luanda for Mozambique on Thursday afternoon.
Mozambican home minister in Luanda (Luanda, Angop, 08/11) - Mozambican home minister Almerino Manhenje arrived today in Luanda for a six-day working visit to Angola at the invitation of his Angolan counterpart Oswaldo de Jesus Serra Van-Dúnem.Speaking to journalists he said that his coming to Luanda is part of the effort to strengthen the ties of cooperation and friendship that have all along characterized the relations between the two countries."We think this to be a great opportunity for the strengthening of our relations, particularly in this moment in which Angola is in an environment of profound peace. We thing that we have a "We think this to be a great opportunity for the strengthening of our relations, particularly in this moment in which Angola is in an environment of profound peace. We thing that we have a lot to exchange (...) from ideas, and information that are of extremely important character for the work that we have been developing within the framework of our region of the CPLP", he said.To the minister, this an occasions are appropriate for the two countries to analyze aspects related "We will discuss aspects of formation and training our personnel and exchange views on what is the experience that Angola has in terms of its own borders, as well as aspects related to the area of fire services, demining, social resettlements and reconstruction of the country," he said. During his stay in Luanda, the Mozambican home minister will be received by the Angolan prime minister, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos "Nandó".Almerimo Manhenje and his delegation will also visit the provinces of Huambo and Bengo to learn about Angola’s action in the field of social resettlement.He will also visit Angola’s migration services, the fire services, the Luanda São Paulo penitentiary, a riot police headquarters and a police station.On his last working day the two delegations will sign a general security and internal order cooperation accord
Illegal entry of foreigners worries authorities (Benguela, Angop, 01/11) -The illegal entry of foreign citizens into Bocoio district, 110 km of Benguela city, dominated the Fourth ordinary meeting of the municipal administration, held on Friday, which was presided by the local administrator, Mr. Antonio Saraiva. Visibly concerned with the issue, the official urged the organs within the municipal command of the National Police to redouble the efforts in order to overcome the situation.``Most of those foreigners aim to carry out political and economic activities, with out bearing in mind the Laws in force in the country``, he said. On the other hand, the ordinary meeting discussed issues concerning with the district's life, with highlights to the indiscriminate tree felling taking place in the Passe commune, 31 km of the district.
Foreigner land ownership and investment (Mmegi, 28/11) - Swartz said he was shocked by the utterances of both members of the public and fellow MPs who wanted to exclude expatriates from acquiring land in Botswana. Equally surprising to Swartz was a government advert on the purchase of farmland at Glen Valley, in Gaborone, which specifically stated that only citizens were invited to apply. The Minister suggested that such attitude would drive away investors, especially those interested in agriculture. He said recently he met with a team of Australian businessmen who would require about 80 000 hectares of land to invest in the country. He said he was in negotiations with them but he felt that his job was difficult because of the talk against foreigners. Therefore he challenged Parliament to come out clearly on the land question. “Now I would like to challenge you to be clear on this matter. I am scared by your comments because as a Minister I should be able to speak authoritatively when I meet potential investors,” said Swartz. The Minister added that he had met another group of businessmen who wanted to invest 12 million Euros in Botswana. He suggested that if he took long to decide their fate, they could move on to Lesotho, which was also interested in them. Swartz challenged BEDIA to woo investors to the agricultural sector. He wondered about the position of BEDIA on agricultural investment. The Minister expressed concern about the absenteeism of MPs from Parliament. He suggested that the matter be discussed at the all-party caucus. The problem of absenteeism has become worse in the past two years, with both ruling party and opposition legislators guilty of missing parliamentary proceedings. As Swartz was speaking, only the minimum number required to make the quorum was present in the chamber. Meanwhile specially elected MP Shirley Segokgo supported the opposition’s call for proportional representation. She said the present “winner takes it all” system was inadequate. She called for more women seats in Parliament and said that disadvantaged groups like the disabled must also be represented in the National Assembly.
Immigrants from Zimbabwe and Namibia deported (BOPA, 21/11) - Some 593 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe and two from Namibia were expected to be repatriated to their countries this week after their arrests during an operation by Francistown police on November 12 and 13. Seven Batswana were fined P1 000 each for employing illegal immigrants after the operation. Senior Superintendent Boikhutso Dintwa of Kutlwano police thanked the public for their help, but lashed out at Batswana who are still employing illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, a 29-year-old man, who died when a vehicle he was travelling in overturned near Kalakamati village in the North East District on November 4, has been identified as Thuso Peter. Assistant Superintendent Alfred Ntile of Masunga police said the deceased was a nurse at Gweta Primary Hospital and was scheduled to be buried last week.
President to curb influx of Zimbabweans (Business Day, 12/11) - Botswana's President Festus Mogae vowed yesterday to crack down on illegal Zimbabweans and "homegrown hooligans" he blamed for the rapid rise in the country's crime rate. In his state of the nation address, he said: "To combat (crime), our security services are adopting proactive strategies of intervention." His comments come at a time when Botswana is facing one of its biggest illegal immigration problems yet, as a direct result of the political and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe. Immigration officials have said the country is being overwhelmed by Zimbabwean illegal immigrants. According to the immigration department, 125000 Zimbabweans cross into Botswana every month, mostly through the Ramokgwebana border post, while every month another 60000 to 100000 illegals enter by jumping over the fence separating the two countries. The government has made a link between the upswing in the number of illegals entering the country and a rise in crime, including robberies, murders, rapes and petty theft. "We are seriously losing out on our battle to deal with this (Zimbabwean ) problem," chief immigration officer Roy Sekgororwane has said. "Immigration and the government cannot afford to deal with this problem alone. We need some support to deal with the situation. "We are now repatriating two truckloads of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe every day, and this costs government a lot of money," Sekgororwane said. The government was not specifically targeting Zimbabweans, it was just that there were so many of them compared with illegal aliens of other nationalities, he said. Mogae said that Batswana committing crimes would also be punished heavily. He expressed concern at the constant outbreaks of footand-mouth disease, which has been traced back to Zimbabwe. Mogae also spoke on AIDS: "We have spoken on the HIV/AIDS pandemic as a war that needs to be won. "Yet, in this war we remain our worst enemy. The continued generosity of international firms such as the Gates Foundation may assist us. But it is we who must achieve our victory."
Botswana minister slams xenophobic citizens (The Herald, 08/11) -The Botswana government has distanced itself from the parliamentary delegation from that country which abstained from voting when Britain moved a motion to exclude Zimbabwe from attending next year’s International Parliamentary Union meeting. Botswana Foreign Minister retired Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe also criticised his fellow countrymen’s xenophobia towards Zimbabweans. "The delegation decided to abstain in a matter they should have countered in support of their brothers," Lt Gen Merafhe said in Harare on Thursday evening. "They went there without consulting the government. Our Parliament is always eager to demonstrate its independence so there was absolutely no consultation. "But I feel that we should not allow our detractors to determine our agenda." Lt Gen Merafhe was speaking at a reception hosted by Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Stan Mudenge for delegates to the two-day session of the Zimbabwe-Botswana Joint Commission for Economic, Scientific and Cultural Co-operation. He said the reality of the matter was that his Government supported Zimbabwe in all its endeavours to ensure there was social justice. At the IPU governing council meeting in Switzerland last month, Britain lost in its bid to bar Zimbabwe from attending next year’s IPU assembly which it will host. The Botswana delegation decided to break ranks with the African group and abstained from voting despite having raised no objections during the group’s caucus meeting. The Botswana delegation was reportedly jeered by fellow African countries and had to leave the assembly building in a huff, embarrassed by the outcome of the vote.
At least 132 countries voted for the inclusion of Zimbabwe while 87 supported Britain’s proposal to host the meeting. On the harassment of Zimbabweans in Botswana, Mr Merafhe said: "I am aware there is widespread belief in Zimbabwe that Batswana do not like Zimbabweans. I am aware there is a feeling of some xenophobic behaviour among Batswana. "But I am on record for having pleaded that we should be tolerant to our brothers from Zimbabwe. There are some headman who have gone against Zimbabweans, but we have gone against them." Lt Gen Merafhe said the Botswana government was in sympathy with Zimbabwe because of the problems the country was facing. He said the fence they were erecting along the border with Zimbabwe was meant to control animal diseases and not to exclude locals from entering Botswana. "As a matter of fact, Botswana has been zoned for stock disease control. There are several fences to control animal diseases and these are not only along the Zimbabwean border. "We can never build a fence to stop Zimbabweans from crossing into Botswana. We have actually opened two borders to facilitate the crossing of Zimbabweans into Botswana." Lt Gen Merafhe said his country was not in a hurry to make Zimbabwe pay for the line of credit extended to buy fuel. He said this after Cde Mudenge promised him that Zimbabwe was willing to fulfil its obligation. Cde Mudenge said Zimbabwe was committed to building the Kazungula Bridge in a joint venture with Botswana, contrary to reports the country was not committed to the project. "We wanted to build it yesterday. If it can be built today then it's alright. This bridge is important to the southern Africa region and let those who plan in Botswana not hesitate. Please carry this message to ministries that are planning the project in Botswana." Cde Mudenge said Zimbabwe and Botswana should continue to maintain their relationship that was strengthened during the liberation struggle.
Lt Gen Merafhe yesterday paid a courtesy call on President Mugabe at Zimbabwe House. He told reporters after meeting the President that he did not expect Zimbabwe to dominate the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, next month. He said the Commonwealth should not be the only platform where Zimbabwe could be discussed. "I hope Zimbabwe will not dominate the meeting. CHOGM meets every two years and I don't think it is just CHOGM which should discuss Zimbabwe," he said. On the continued suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, Lt Gen Merafhe said the long and short of the issue was that the troika comprising Nigeria, South Africa and Australia had disagreed on the matter. He said only the host country Nigeria had the prerogative of inviting individual countries although his country was not opposed to Zimbabwe’s attendance. Lt Gen Merafhe, who was in the country to attend the Zimbabwe-Botswana Joint Commission, expressed satisfaction with the progress being made in implementing some of the agreed areas of co-operation. He accused the media of creating scenarios meant to create discontent and sour the good relations that exist between Zimbabwe and Botswana. Most of the Press reports did not necessarily reflect the views of the Botswana government and people should not read too much of what the media said.
Zimbabwe and Botswana security chiefs hold meeting (Harare, The Herald, 05/11) - Defence and security arms of Zimbabwe and Botswana have met to review the security situation between the two countries in the wake of incessant attacks and brutalisation of Zimbabweans in Botswana. The Minister of Defence, Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, said the Botswana/Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security held its 21st Session in Kasane last week and discussed issues of mutual interest. "Nothing was swept under the carpet. All issues pertaining to the security of our people were discussed. "We are brothers and good neighbours and we discuss everything that is of common interest to the security and defence of our nations," he said. The annual meeting of the defence and security chiefs from the two countries came against the background of increased hostilities on Zimbabwean nationals by the Batswana in that country. A Zimbabwean national was shot and killed by a joint patrol team of the Botswana Defence Forces and police in Gaborone last month. Scores of Zimbabweans have also been killed in xenophobic attacks and their bodies buried in mass graves in Botswana.A statement released by the Ministry of Defence yesterday said the three-day meeting of the Botswana/Zimbabwe Joint Com-mission on Defence and Security held from Wednesday to Friday "reviewed co-operation relating to customs and immigration, wildlife management, illicit drug trafficking, illegal immigrants and cross-border crime". The commission committed itself to strengthening co-operation in all areas and resolving outstanding issues to facilitate co-operation between the two countries. The Zimbabwean delegation was led by the Minister of State for National Security, Cde Nicholas Goche; and comprised Dr Sekeramayi; the deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Cde Rugare Gumbo; and other senior Government officials. The Botswana delegation was led by the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mr Daniel Kwelagobe, and comprised the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Mr Thebe Mogami, and senior government officials."The commission deliberated on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest and concern in the areas of defence, public and state security."It noted with satisfaction the growing level of co-operation that continues to characterise the relations between the two countries and committed itself to enhancing this co-operation," read the statement. The commission also noted that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces had withdrawn from the Democratic Republic of Congo and hailed the peace process in that country. The Zimbabwe delegation presented a report outlining the successful implementation and completion of the fast-track land reform programme. The two countries resolved to share information on the activities of terrorist organisations, which could be a source of instability for the region. Cde Goche and Mr Kwelagobe laid wreaths at the Lesoma Monument in memory of 15 BDF soldiers, a civilian and a Zimbabwean freedom fighter who fell victim to enemy fire during Zimbabwe's liberation struggle. The two heads of delegation also expressed their condolences to the Zambian government following a boat accident at Kazungula, which resulted in the loss of many lives.
Minister acknowledges difficulty of retaining skilled labour (BOPA, 05/11) - Lands and housing minister Margaret Nasha has acknowledged the difficulty of retaining skilled labour in today’s competitive labour market. “Employee mobility has dramatically increased globally and quest to retain skilled staff is a difficult task in today’s world,” she said when officiating at Jwaneng Technical Education College (JTEC) open day on Friday. She stated that Botswana is exporting the equivalent number of professionals it is losing to some countries. However, Nasha decried the high costs of foreign labour and their unreliability to understand the developmental and national context that locals had grasped and had first hand experience of. “Government has to seek ways of ensuring that there is sufficient synergy between the skills needed in Botswana and the education and training outcomes of the technical colleges.” She said the country’s human resources development strategy is part of achieving the goal. Nasha said technical colleges should have bilateral relations with industry for attaching students/lecturers, touring industries/companies and seeking assistance in the form of exchange programmes, cross fertilisation of ideas and industrial placement. The minister encouraged young Batswana to strive to benefit from the quality training provided by government so they are able to compete favourably in the global economy and to meet the objectives of Vision 2016 of a “productive, innovative and informed nation”. Nasha further appealed to construction companies that are refusing to employ graduates on the basis of lack of experience to rethink their policies. She promised to meet the relevant authorities concerning the delays in sending graduates of technical colleges for further education. This was after head co-ordinator of JTEC, Norbet Kisenga’s complaint about the difficulties that National Craft Certificate holders experience when trying to enrol at the University of Botswana (UB) or abroad.
Botswana, Zimbabwe to cooperate on cross-border issues (BOPA, 03/11) - Botswana and Zimbabwe have committed themselves to enhance co-operation on customs and immigration, wildlife management, illicit drug trafficking, illegal immigrants and cross border crime. A press release issued at the end of a three-day meeting of the Botswana/Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security says representatives of the two countries deliberated on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest and concern. The release says the deliberations were also on areas of defence, public and state security. The delegations noted with satisfaction the growing level of co-operation that continues to characterise the relations between Botswana and Zimbabwe. The meeting that ended on Friday also expressed the need for the two countries to share information on activities of terrorist organisations, which could be a source of instability for the region and beyond. Botswana and Zimbabwe also committed themselves to reviewing their co-operation on customs and immigration issues; and to facilitate outstanding issues to facilitate further co-operation. The commission noted the withdrawal of the Zimbabwean armed forces from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and hailed the peace process in that country. Botswana and Zimbabwe hope that peace in the DRC would contribute to regional peace and stability. Furthermore, the commission appreciated the consolidation of peace and stability in Angola. The commission appealed to the developed world to make available, affordable anti-retroviral drugs and other interventions for Batswana and Zimbabweans who are afflicted by the AIDS pandemic. Daniel Kwelagobe, the minister for presidential affairs and public administration, led the Botswana delegation that included labour and home affairs minister Thebe Mogami to the Kasane meeting. The Zimbabwean delegated was led by that country’s defence minister Sidney Sekeremayi, and it included state security minister Nicholas Goche and deputy home affairs minister Rugare Gumbo. On Friday, Kwelagobe and Sekeremayi laid wreaths at the Lesoma Memorial Monument in memory of 15 Botswana Defence Force soldiers, a civilian and a Zimbabwean freedom fighter who fell victim to the enemy fire during the Zimbabwean liberation war in 1978. The next meeting of the commission will take place in Zimbabwe next year.
Rwanda, Congo agree on Hutu repatriation plan (Pretoria, Business Day, 28/11) -Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo agreed at a minisummit yesterday to work together to repatriate Rwandan Hutus from the east of Congo within a year, a communiqué said. The Rwandans are former soldiers and militiamen who fled over the border after the 1994 genocide in which up to a million Tutsis and Hutu sympathisers were slaughtered in the tiny central African country. The subsequent government in Kigali said it feared they would invade Rwanda from Congo and cited their presence as a reason for sending troops into the former Zaire to support Congolese rebels fighting to topple the Kinshasa government. In a landmark agreement signed on July 30 2002, Rwanda agreed to withdraw its 20000 troops from Congo, and Kinshasa was given 90 days to round up, disarm and repatriate Rwandan Hutu fighters still on its soil. That 90-day deadline proved illusory, and yesterday's communiqué said the disarmament and repatriation should be completed within 12 months. "Participants in the summit agreed that much work still needed to be done," it said. "In the discussions it was agreed that these members of ex-FAR (the former Rwandan army) and Interahamwe armed groups in the eastern parts of Congo must be persuaded to depart from the territory of Congo. "These armed groups constitute a threat to peace and stability to both Congo and Rwanda." The one-day summit called to assess progress in implementing the 2002 agreement grouped Congolese President Joseph Kabila, his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, host President Thabo Mbeki and Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, the current chairman of the African Union (AU). William Swing, the head of Monuc, the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission to Congo, also attended. "Both the UN and the AU are also committed to continue their political, material and logistical support to the process," the communiqué noted. Kabila said after the summit ended: "If we were able to reunify Congo, we would be able to do anything else related to Congo. After what we have already achieved, nothing is impossible." Kagame said his government would have no problem receiving the former soldiers and militiamen. "We have been receiving people from Congo and other countries and we are comfortable that those who come back are treated properly and rehabilitated into society," he said. Mbeki said successful peace initiatives in Congo and Burundi had radically altered the political situation in the Great Lakes region. "There is no prospect of any resurgence of fighting in Congo," he said. "In Burundi people are now saying, We will go back to negotiate'. The whole climate around the Great Lakes has changed." Mbeki said : "Rebel groups now returning from Congo to Rwanda have obviously seen what happened to other groups that went back before them and saw that nothing terrible occurred." Swing said the UN was well placed to assist the efforts of Kagame and Kabila. "Monuc is currently the largest peacekeeping operation in the world. "We have processes in place to make us more effective to assist what Congo and Rwanda are trying to do together." The civil war was launched in Congo in 1998. At its peak it drew in troops from Angola, Chad, Namibia and Zimbabwe on the government side, as Rwanda and Uganda supported different rebel groups, making it one of Africa's most complex conflicts. Estimates of the death toll including people who died in fighting or massacres, as well as indirect casualties of the war through disease and starvation range from 2,5-million to 4-million. A transitional government set up under a peace accord signed at Sun City on April 2 is designed to pave the way for the first democratic elections in the huge central African country since its independence from Belgium in 1960
Stock theft on Lesotho border (Bisho, East Cape Town News, 21/11) - Stock theft on the borders between Lesotho and the Eastern Cape is "leading to the loss of life" said NNP MPL Ann Nash in the legislature on Thursday. Nash was introducing a motion to consider erecting stock-proof fencing along the borders in order to deal with the problem. Political parties agreed that the matter needed action and urged MEC for safety and security Dennis Neer and MEC for agriculture Max Mamase to take steps to reduce the rampant stock theft. Nash said that stock theft could lead to the spread of animal diseases that could "cripple" the provincial economy. "Stock-proof fences need to be erected without delay," said Nash. "We have legislation in place regarding the control of animal diseases but our boundary between the province and Lesotho is open to all and sundry". UDM MPL Silulami Sobuwa agreed that there was a problem on the borders. Sobuwa said the UDM sympathised with those who had lost family members during clashes over stolen stock. He pleaded with Neer to stress to the provincial police commissioner the importance of fighting violence in the border areas. He assured Nash that the department of agriculture was in control of the spread of diseases and said that a departmental official had recently told the standing committee that stock diseases "cannot reach" South Africa from Lesotho. DA MPL Eddie Trent said that stock theft was a big business opportunity, especially in theTranskei. Trent said that stock theft had become a "serious problem" in the Umtata and Queenstown regions. He said the anger and frustration of farmers might lead to the loss of lives and he appealed to government to clamp down on stock theft in the whole province. Speaking at a workshop for police and traditional leaders at Mngqesha in King William's Town on Thursday, chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima said stock theft was the major cause of clan conflict and violence in Transkei. Matanzima called on the police to "do their best to curb" stock theft. He said that traditional authorities should also play a bigger role in combatting stock theft and the violence associated with it. ANC MPL Mlungisi Ndamase said stock theft was a major concern in the province and called for cooperation between stakeholders to fight it. Representing the provincial government, education MEC Nomsa Jajula said the government was taking the problem of stock theft "seriously". Jajula said the problem on the Lesotho border was being "handled" by a special patrol team. She said that a partnership between the community and government was of "critical importance" in the matter and people should consider the negative impact made by stock theft on the economy. The house agreed that Neer and Mamase should report back on progress made in combatting stock theft to the standing committees on safety and security and agriculture. These committees should then report to the house.
Refugees flee fighting (Lusaka, Irin, 07/11) - Fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is forcing a "steady flow" of refugees into Zambia, a spokesman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) told IRIN on Friday. "The refugees have told us that the reason they are fleeing into Zambia is because there has been a number of militia actions and skirmishes, mostly in the eastern part of Congo near the border with Zambia, that they are running away from," Kelvin Shimo said in the Zambian capital, Lusaka. According to him, a total of 787 DRC refugees entered Zambia in October through Kaputa, situated more than 1,000 km north of Lusaka, in Zambia's northen Luapula province. Previously around 100 refugees a month were crossing the border. The newly arrived refugees have been given temporary shelter at Chiengi, Mpulungu and Kaputa, while they wait to be transferred to Kaala refugee camp, said Shimo. UNHCR said it was not yet concerned with the situation. "We can manage the numbers ... those that have come in are within the number we can easily handle, in fact I can safely say they are a trickle, but it is something to watch," Shimo said. Zambia is home to some 55,000 DRC refugees, who have been fleeing internal disputes since the early 1960's, according to UN figures.
Clashes Between Lesotho and SA taxi operations (Maseru, Mopheme/The Survivor, 20/11) - Clashes between the Lesotho Cross Border Taxi Association and some taxi operators in the Free State province, South Africa have once again resurfaced and many Basotho passengers and taxi drivers going to different parts of South Africa are fearing for their lives. The Executive Committee of the Lesotho Cross Border Taxi Association told Mopheme - The Survivor on Monday, this week that South African taxi operators working at the three border posts of Maseru, Fouriesburg and Ficksburg were not allowing taxis from Lesotho to ferry passengers from Lesotho to different parts of South Africa such as Durban and Johannesburg. They indicated that taxis from Lesotho were being stopped at the three border posts by South African taxi operators demanding that they transfer their passengers to South African taxis headed for places like Johannesburg and Durban, the major centres visited by many passengers from Lesotho for business and holiday purposes. "There is an agreement that was implemented by all member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) some years ago that allows free movement of public transport within the SADC region, of which South Africa is part. But, instead of that agreement, most of our passengers from Lesotho are humiliated and abused at the three border posts by South African taxi operators. Some of our vehicles have been smashed and stolen by some unscrupulous taxi operators from the Free State province of South Africa. This has resulted in serious injuries to passengers and damage to our vehicles," the Chairman of Lesotho Cross-Border Taxi Operators Association, Motlatsi Makhele said. Lesotho's Minister of Home Affairs and Public Safety, Motsoahae Thabane who is also a member of the tripartite inter-ministerial committee dealing with the taxi violence between Lesotho and South African taxi operators said: "We are aware of this unfortunate taxi violence taking place between Lesotho and some Free State taxi operators. Ministers of Transport, Foreign Affairs and Public Safety from Lesotho were supposed to meet their three counterparts from South Africa in Bloemfontein two weeks ago, then the meeting was postponed to Monday, last week. We were supposed to meet Thursday this week, but I have learned that the South Africans are thinking of postponing the meeting to Monday, next week. I have appealed to our Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make sure that our South African counterparts do meet us on Monday next week. We are ready to meet them because this issue is very serious," he said. Thabane indicated that the SADC agreement of free movement of public transport was working well in other SADC member state and stated he could not understand why it was not working in South Africa, especially in the Free State province.
Mozambique wants focused combat against transnational crime (Luanda, Angop, 18/11) - Mozambique intends to establish with Angola a relationship of cooperation arranged and focused to combat transborder criminality, this country's Interior Minister, Almerindo Mahenje, said in Luanda on Wednesday. The visiting Mozambican Minister, who made this statement at the end of an audience with Prime Minister, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, stressed the importance of this cooperation in the current peace environment in Angola, to ensure stability of security in the two countries and others in the region. "Criminality is transnational today and, with peace in Angola, we believe the ills we live with in Mozambique and in other SADC countries will also spread through Angola, that's why we feel important to seal cooperation accords in this domain, in an harmonized way", he underlined. Mr Manhenje said to believe that Angola can seize the opportunity to learn the "little experience" of Mozambique with regard to the process of collecting weapons from civilians, and his country can also get the experience of the Angolan authorities in other domains. On Thursday the two countries will sign a General Agreement of Cooperation On Security and Public Order, that entails exchange of information on penitentiary services, immigration, border, fire brigade and civil protection, well as police experience sharing. The agreement also includes aspects related to the training of Mozambican police officers in Angola, whose details about dates and numbers beneficiaries will be dealt with later on. Minister Mahenje Tuesday attended in Huambo city the central act of festivities that signaled the 28th anniversary of the national independence day. "In Huambo, we enjoyed an environment of much happiness and peace, that effectively translates what always was the Angolan people's hope, when they proclaimed the independence", the Minister emphasized.
Tourism expanding, despite constraints (Maputo, Aim, 12/11) - The number of tourists visiting Mozambique has risen from about 150,000 a year in 1995 to 450,000 a year now, Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbana told a Maputo press briefing on Thursday. This number, he explained, covers all types of short term foreign visitors, including both business and leisure travellers. Despite this increase in numbers, the Mozambican hotel industry is struggling. Sumbana put the room occupancy rate at an average of 30 per cent. He thought a healthy figure would be at least 55 per cent. So are there simply too many hotels, particularly in Maputo? "It's a chicken and egg situation", replied Sumbana. "If we don't have the hotels, the tourists won't come. And we have the hotels first, then the operators will have to wait for their profits". He admitted that access to Mozambique is a major bottleneck to expanding the country's tourism industry. Currently the only place in the entire northern hemisphere that has direct flights to Maputo is Lisbon. None of the other European countries that might generate substantial tourist flows, let alone the United States or Japan, has any direct links with Mozambique. "Tourists don't like to keep changing flights", said Sumbana. He thought the solution was to encourage charter flights. He saw no reason why the civil aviation authorities should not authorise a charter flight full of tourists from, for example, Rome to the northern Mozambican city of Nacala. "This is the way to increase quality tourism", Sumbana stressed. As for what was once the country's flagship game reserve, the Gorongosa National Park in the central province of Sofala, Sumbana said it was difficult to interest private operators in managing lodges here when there were so few animals in the park. Gorongosa suffered devastating poaching during the war of destabilisation, as the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels shot their way through the once plentiful herds. Sumbana said negotiations are under way with those countries that have surplus wild life. Thus Botswana has offered 500 elephants. The restocking, however, could only take place in the cool season, to reduce the stress on the animals in transporting them for long distances. The plans for Gorongosa involve the training of game wardens, and the installation of support infrastructures for tourists and wardens. The boundaries of the park would be changed "to try to contain as much biodiversity as possible", Sumbana said. Local people also had to benefit from game parks. "We have to involve communities in the management of natural resources, and guarantee that they share in the revenue", said the Minister. As for the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, linking the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, the Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the Gonorezhou Park in Zimbabwe, Sumbana was confident that proper tourist infrastructures would exist on the Mozambican side within two years. The first tenders would be launched in 2004. He added that already some of the more adventurous tourists are already visiting the Limpopo Park, despite the lack of lodges and other infrastructures.
Migrant miners disadvantaged by news SA immigration law (Johannesburg, Irin, 12/11) - The Mozambican embassy in South Africa confirmed on Wednesday that it was trying to renegotiate a recently passed immigration law with authorities in Pretoria, claiming that the legislation discriminated against migrant mine workers. "We have raised our concerns with the relevant authorities, and they have assured us that they will take some of the issues seriously. Our main objection is that many of the Mozambican migrant workers have worked in South Africa for 20 years. Their contribution to the development of South Africa needs to be recognised," Petro Taimo of the labour department in the Mozambican embassy told IRIN. According to Taimo, the new legislation introduces a 2.5 percent tax on foreign miners' wages to fund training courses for South African workers. "This 2 percent tax means that it is not worthwhile for the migrants to continue working in the country. South Africa might as well send them back home," he commented. The law also reduces contract periods to a six-month maximum and the workers, mainly from Mozambique, Botswana and Swaziland, are expected to leave South Africa within 72 hours of their contracts expiring. Thereafter they may reapply for another contract. Taimo noted a 1964 bilateral agreement between South Africa and Mozambique that was "far more beneficial for migrant workers". Under the 1964 accord, Mozambicans working in South Africa's mines received 40 percent of their salaries in South Africa and the remainder in Mozambique. The agreement also stipulated one-year minimum contracts that were automatically renewable for six months. "We are not saying that South Africa must necessarily revert to the 1964 agreement. But it would be beneficial to all concerned if we continue to discuss how the positive aspects of that earlier agreement can be blended into the new law," Taimo said. According to the Johannesburg office of the Mozambican Labour Department, there are 52,918 Mozambican workers employed in the South African mining industry, 29,020 in the agricultural sector, and 5,007 in the service sector.
Jonathan Crush of the Southern African Migration Project said it would be in the best interests of both governments and the mining sector to review the existing law. "South Africa depends heavily on the Mozambican workers, especially in the gold mining industry, and if companies feel it is more expensive to hire foreign workers, this could hurt the mineral sector. Many of the migrant workers are career miners, who have, over the years, developed the necessary skills," he told IRIN. Crush added that there was no reason why the 1964 bilateral agreement between the two countries could not run concurrently with the new immigration law. However, according to research conducted by International Labour Organisation (ILO), although bilateral agreements between the migrant's home country and the South African government in some cases provided social protection to migrant workers, loopholes remained. ILO pointed out that often the employer had broad latitude as to what benefits to provide to the migrant worker. Moreover employers make no provision for retirement pensions for rank and file workers, providing only lump-sum payments from provident funds. Also private benefits are optional on the part of the employer and generally do not extend beyond the worker's period of employment. ILO concluded that as a result, these benefits might become unavailable just when the worker is most in need of protection.
South Africa and Mozambique discuss visas (Maputo, Aim, 04/11) - The Mozambican and South African governments are committed to reaching an agreement on suppressing entry visas, according to Mozambique's Deputy Foreign Minister Frances Rodrigues. So far only holders of diplomatic passports can pass from one country to another without an entry visa. But speaking to reporters during an interval in a session of the Mozambique/South Africa Joint Cooperation Commission on Tuesday, Rodrigues stressed that the decision to remove all entry visas has been taken in principle by the two presidents, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. "At this meeting experts from the two countries are looking at this dossier", said Rodrigues. "We are waiting for technical data in order to take the final decision. But that final decision will not come from this meeting". As for the balance sheet of bilateral cooperation, Rodrigues claimed there was "satisfactory compliance" with most of the decision from the previous meeting of the joint commission. The draft minutes of the meeting to which AIM has had access make clear that some serious problems remain - notably over the treatment of illegal Mozambican migrants in South Africa, and the conditions in the Lindela repatriation centre, "While recognising that some action has been undertaken to improve the conditions in Lindela, the Mozambican delegation expressed concern over the existence in Lindela of many Mozambicans who have fallen sick or died while awaiting repatriation", the minutes said. "The Mozambican delegation further indicated that the practice of repatriating Mozambicans at an advanced stage of their sickness and without prior notification to the Mozambican authorities still persists". The South Africans pledged to improve coordination with the Mozambican authorities over repatriation, and the two countries pledged to work together to "mitigate the problems causing illegal migration". On trade matters, the Mozambicans object to government subsidies to South African exporters. Mozambican exports to South Africa, under the SADC trade protocol, particularly in the area of clothing, have declined. South Africa should be gradually reducing tariffs, under the SADC agreement. But the Mozambicans noted that the South Africans have not published any tariff reductions in 2003. One area where things clearly are going well is the gas pipeline from the natural gas fields in the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane to Secunda in South Africa. The meeting heard that 90 percent of pipeline construction on the Mozambican side has been completed. Agreements have been reached between the South African petrochemical giant SASOL, and the Mozambican state hydrocarbon company, ENH, on operational matters, and on the transport and sale of the gas As for further financing of the gas project, agreement has been reached with the World Bank on partial bank risk guarantee, and negotiations with other financial institutions are at an advanced stage.
Foreigners steal natural resources in tete (Maputo, Aim, 03/11) - The Mozambican authorities in the districts of Chifunde and Zumbo, in the western province of Tete, have complained of illegal exploitation of hardwoods and precious stones by Zambian citizens, reports Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias". They say that Zambians also cross the border to steal cattle, poach wildlife, and encroach on agricultural land. In these illegal activities, they often rely on Mozambican accomplices. Chifunde district administrator David Marizane said that six Mozambicans have been arrested accused of illegally felling logs and exploiting precious stones, that are later sold on to Zambians. "The district authorities, in coordination with the local residents, have been carrying out stricter forestry inspections, since the first half of this year and, thanks to local denunciations, they have been neutralising some people illegally felling hardwoods", he said. He added that "most of the timber is taken by Zambian citizens to their country and, in the bilateral meetings between the governments of the neighbouring districts of both countries, these cases, and those of cattle theft have been discussed. It is hoped that measures will be taken, in a near future, to solve the situation". He also claimed that Zambians are crossing the border in large numbers and occupying agricultural land. Meanwhile, the governors of the districts of Macanga, Angonia, Maravia, and Zumbo, are complaining of increasing crime rates along the borders with Zambia and Malawi, particularly cattle theft. "It is usual to see in our territory cattle stolen from Zambia or Malawi, while cattle stolen on our territory is sold in those two countries", said Herculano Conde, Zumbo district administrator. He added that "besides cattle, the Zambians are most interested in timber, and in poaching". He said that local community committees for the preservation of wildlife "are working well, but don't have enough transport to carry out inspection in the bush. This makes it difficult to detect some of the crimes, particularly illegal logging and poaching". The Tete provincial government has confirmed the reports from the district administrators. It has expressed great concern, saying that it is striving, in coordination with the private sector, to find ways to put an end to such practices, that are depriving the province of its resources. "The province possesses some forest species of great economic value and wildlife resources in sufficient quantities to bring it to a prominent position in the country", said Firmino Augusto, the Tete provincial head of the Forestry and Wildlife Services. He expressed concern that uncontrolled logging, particularly in the northern districts of Tete, will lead to deforestation.
Government tightens up on employment of non-citizens (The Namibian, 25/11) - The Permanent Secretary in charge of immigration issues says there is some truth in the view that Government is purging the job market of expatriates. But Niilo Taapopi, the PS in the Home Affairs Ministry, said the same view also contained an element of exaggeration.Foreigners who have spoken to The Namibian say Government is tightening its policy on employing non-Namibians, with more and more applications to renew work permits being rejected.In several other cases, the contracts of foreigners in Government service have been cancelled or not extended.Statistics about how many foreigners have been turned away are hard to come by.Asked directly whether Government was purging itself of foreign employees, Taapopi replied: "It's a mixture of truth and exaggeration.Of course, some of the expatriates' applications were rejected because some of the jobs they were applying for can be done by Namibians.But it is not true that Government is at work to make sure that all the expatriates are refused work in Namibia".Government officials involved in regulating the work contracts of foreign nationals have denied there was a policy to get rid of non-Namibians.Taapopi also stressed: "There is no orchestrated effort not to renew [work] visas of the expatriates".Permits were readily issued to people with skills considered rare in the country, he added.In fact, he said, foreigners' interest in working in Namibia has increased.The Immigration Selection Board, which he chairs, deals with more than 100 requests a month for work permits.Taapopi said more than 90 per cent of these applications were approved.But a man who was booted out of Namibia three weeks ago, David Nthengwe, said Government had written to him saying a Namibian should be recruited for his post.Nthengwe, who was a media liaison officer for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Windhoek, was ordered to leave the country within 21 days after his boss, Hesdy Rathling, failed to convince the Immigration Selection Board of the need to keep him.Taapopi said Nthengwe, a Malawian, was recruited in Namibia, unlike other expatriates working for the international agencies.He said that, when Nthengwe was appointed, the UNHCR had undertaken to train a Namibian to replace him."His work permit has been renewed time and again.There is nothing extraordinary to perform better than any Namibian," said Taapopi.Rathling did not return calls left at his office seeking comment.One expatriate employed in the civil service said it seemed Government was "deliberately" getting rid of foreigners, pointing to the departure of Captain Ken Mukuka of the presidential flying team."I was shocked to hear that his contract has just been ended without any explanation.He is not the only one," said the immigrant.Mukuka confirmed from Zambia that his 13-year career as a pilot in Namibia ended in July.He was among the people who founded the Presidential wing of the Government Air Transport Services, flying VIPs.He worked there for 11 years and was a permanent resident in Namibia.Mukuka did not need a work permit.For the past 12 years, the Government kept extending his two-years-at-a-time contract.Joseph Ithana, Chairman of the Public Service Commission which approves Government jobs, said that, although he did not know about contracts not being renewed by various ministries, they were employing more immigrants."All I know is that we are taking more foreigners, especially in medicine.Doctors and even nurses have come on board," he said.The Employment Equity Commissioner, Vilbard Usiku, said Namibia needed to strike a balance between employing citizens, to reduce high unemployment, and immigrants "to improve a skills deficit"."Even Germany and the United States employ non-citizens.Ours is a typical Third World country, we cannot now just get rid of them.Non-Namibians should not be regarded as a nuisance," said Usiku.
Zambia Namibian to have one stop border post (Namibian Economist, 21/11) - Contrary to popular belief, the bridge linking Zambia and Namibia across the Zambezi river is entirely situated on Zambian territory. The border between Namibia and Zambia is a cutline which runs between the Kwando river in the east and the Zambezi in the west. North of this cutline it is Zambian territory on both sides of the Zambezi. The bridge structure is close to completion with only the embankments and access roads on both ends still to be finished over the next six months. Officials explained to the Economist this week that the plan is to have a one stop border post serving travellers from both countries as they move between Namibia and Zambia. This implies that the Namibian border post will host both Namibian and Zambian customs and immigration officials in the same building. A similar arrangement will prevail on the Zambian side of the border post which will also host Namibian officials. Both sides will be in the same building. Nick Hibbert, project coordinator, told the Economist this week that the idea to have one stop border posts is to ensure that immigration and customs procedures are dealt with in one go. Hibbert said both pedestrians and drivers will be issued with passes to pass over the bridge. The bridge is expected to be opened in June next year and the construction of the new border post on the Namibian side is expected to be finished by May next year. Hibbert said the bridge is likely to lead to an increase in the traffic using the Trans Caprivi Highway. The Roads Authority is reported to be conducting a study to determine the effects the increase in traffic loads will bring to Namibian roads. According to Marley Tjitjo, an architect working on the project, a feasibility study is being undertaken at the moment on the construction of immigration and customs offices on the Namibian side of the border. Money for the project is expected to be allocated in the next budget for 2003/2004. Tjitjo said the one border post will result in a much quicker service. The arrangement with Zambia will be the only of its kind between Namibia and any of its neighbours. Hibbert said the business community favours the idea of a one stop border post.
The bridge will shorten the distance covered by transporters when carrying goods to Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At present transporters have to pass through Botswana before crossing into Zambia via a pontoon at the Kazungula border post which links Zambia and Botswana. It takes up to two days extra for trucks to cross the Zambezi using the Kazungula route. The only other route is via the north eastern corner of Zimbabwe, crossing into Zambia just below the Victoria Falls. It is expected that large volumes of Zambian copper will be exported via Walvis Bay once the bridge is complete. Zambian authorities have already completed the road leading to the Namibian border from the small town of Livingstone. The construction of the Katima Mulilo/Wenela bridge is being funded by the German government. The overall objective of the Trans Caprivi Highway is to provide Namibia will an all weather transport route eastwards to connect with the road network of the landlocked countries of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The route is the SADC regional trunk road and has an overall length of 580 km. On the Namibian side, it starts at Rundu and runs via Divundu and Kongola to Katima Mulilo. At Katima Mulilo travellers can either turn left to Wenela, about 5km further and cross into Zambia, or turn right and drive to Ngoma which is the border post between Namibia and Botswana.
Sex workers at border town on increase (The Namibian, 18/11) - Magdalena Kandjabanga, co-ordinator of the Social Marketing Association in the town, told Nampa in an interview that several commercial sex workers visiting the SMA HIV-AIDS information centre at Oshikango said they had been forced into the trade in order to earn a living.According to Kandjabanga, the sex workers say they are from poor families and have failed to get formal employment in the border town."We are making them aware of the danger of HIV-AIDS and encourage them to use condoms in their business," Kandjabanga said.Ohangwena AIDS Co-ordinator Josephine Hamutwe says the region's AIDS Co-ordination Committee regarded Oshikango as a core HIV-infection zone because of the increase in young people engaging in prostitution.Hamutwe said young women had resorted to selling sex to truck drivers passing through the border.An HIV-AIDS information centre, supported by IBIS-Wus Denmark and the Ministry of Health, was opened at Oshikango last week to provide information on HIV-AIDS.
Council of churches condemns border killing (Windhoek, The Namibian, 12/11) - The Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) has condemned last month's killing of the leader of a group of Namibians campaigning for the Namibia-Angola border to be moved. CCN Vice President Dr Zephania Kameeta said the church body was mourning the precious life of Bernard Nakale Shevanyenga (33), gunned down on October 11 at his residence about two kilometres south of Oshikuku. "The manner in which his life was taken deserves condemnation and retribution by every peace-loving Namibian. May God bless his soul and grant him peace," Kameeta said. He called on law enforcement agencies and the justice system to ensure the culprits were brought to justice. Three well-dressed suspects arrived at Shevanyenga's residence at about 22h00 and asked him to open his cuca shop and serve them drinks. Four shots were later fired at Shevanyenga at close range, and the suspected assassins fled the scene in a white light pick-up. A Police spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner Hophni Hamufungu, said the motive for the killing was unclear but the National Society for Human Rights did not rule out a political motive. No one has been arrested over the killing. The late Shevanyenga was Chairman of The Age of March (Tagoma), an organisation campaigning for the Namibian-Angolan border to be shifted from north of the Kwanyama tribe's communal areas to a line inside Angola. In a statement he released on March 22 this year, Shevanyenga said the Tagoma leaders were "told that they are going to be killed, especially at Oshikuku". Tagoma followers were also warned they would face consequences for supporting the group. Members of the Kwanyama tribe live either side of the artificial border designated in 1884. The Kwanyama are the largest of the Owambo groups straddling the border.
Namibia deports illegal immigrants (Oshakati, The Namibian, 06/11) - Namibia deports illegal immigrants (Oshakati, The Namibian, 06/11) - Immigration officials at Ondangwa told Nampa this week that the vast majority of the immigrants (109 men and three women) were from neighbouring Angola, while two of the others - a man and a woman - were Zimbabweans.The immigrants, according to the officials, were rounded up in northern Namibia during the past two months for having entered into the country illegally, overstayed their visas or committed offences while in Namibia.The Angolan nationals have already been repatriated through the border posts of Oshikango, in the Ohangwena Region, and Mahenene, in the Omusati Region.Arrangements related to the deportation of the two Zimbabweans were still under way, said the immigration officials.
Seychelles helps streamline code of conduct for teacher recruitment (Seychelles Nation, 13/11) - Seychelles has been chosen as one out of nine countries charged with the responsibility to develop a code of conduct to be followed by other nations wishing to recruit teachers from Commonwealth countries. Education Ministers from the 54 countries of the Commonwealth included Seychelles in a working group of senior officials formed to draw up the code, which is meant to curb "disruptive poaching of teachers." Education Minister Danny Faure said this Wednesday November 13 when briefing Seychelles Nation on what transpired during the 15th Conference of Commonwealth Education which took place in Edinburgh, Scotland between October 27 and 30. "Seychelles follows the necessary procedures when recruiting teachers from other countries and this must be one of the criteria the ministers used when choosing Seychelles among the nine countries," Minister Faure said, adding that the working group is expected to conclude its findings by September 2004. It will be chaired by the deputy secretary general of the Commonwealth, Mr Winston Cox, and is expected to present its preliminary findings by April 2004. The issue of "unregulated poaching" of teachers was hotly debated by education ministers from small Commonwealth states during a meeting held here in March this year. The ministers said that some small countries like Jamaica had lost up to 500 teachers to developed countries who lured the teachers with better pay. "South Africa has lost 4,700 teachers," Minister Faure said. He also said that ministers at the Edinburgh conference agreed on the setting up of a virtual university which he said would require $20 million. "The secretary general of the Commonwealth, Mr Don Mackinon, has been asked to lead a fund raising drive," Minister Faure said, adding that the money would be required at the rate of $4 million over a period of five years. Seychelles School Improvement Programme (SIP) also attracted the attention of the delegates after the minister and his principal secretary, Mrs Macsuzie Mondon, who accompanied him to the conference, made presentations on SIP. He said several ministers and other officials present became interested and wanted to learn more from the Seychelles experience. "The Commonwealth countries have earmarked Seychelles as a model of SIP," the minister said, explaining that they found Seychelles' programme to be particularly good because the programmes are designed by the schools themselves and have an external quality assurance aspect. "They are now asking the Commonwealth to finance their visits to Seychelles so that they may come and witness how we carry out the programme," the minister said.
Refugees fall through cracks (Sunday times, 30/11) - Refugees are among the most forgotten people when it comes to integration in HIV/Aids initiatives - and South Africa hosts close to 100 000 refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 96 000 asylum-seekers and refugees live in South Africa. Most originate from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Angola and Somalia. South Africa has granted refugee status to about 25 000 people, while others are awaiting decisions on their asylum claims. Unlike economic refugees who seek jobs in South Africa. These political refugees are seeking protection from persecution and civil war in their countries of origin, says Laurie Bruns, the HIV/Aids programme technical officer at the UNHCR in Pretoria. "There has been an entire breakdown in refugees' home countries," she says, "which means traditional pathways of information have broken down too. They have piecemeal information about HIV/Aids. The gaps in knowledge are very real." Refugees are often regarded with suspicion - as stealers of jobs. As a result, they are discriminated against and barely integrated into society, let alone into HIV/Aids programmes. But Bruns points out: "Many refugees in South Africa are in fact creating employment for South Africans through small business ventures. "In addition, refugees are bringing much-needed skills and experience, including skills in the medical sector which, if utilised, would not only help fill the gaps in professional services created by the 'brain drain', but would also contribute to the fight against HIV/Aids." The UNHCR works closely with the Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa to introduce life skills and HIV/Aids education programmes into refugee communities, and also to promote voluntary counselling and testing. "Refugees are very dispersed in South Africa, so it's actually quite difficult to find them," Bruns adds. "But we've had very good responses from provincial authorities in the major urban areas." A positive factor is the South African government's stated intention of including refugees in the planned public-sector antiretroviral drug programme. "This step will undoubtedly help open access for refugees to other existing HIV/Aids-related services, as the government treatment and care programme will not be limited to the provision of antiretroviral medication alone," Bruns says. It's critical, in fact, that interventions reach refugees. "While data on HIV prevalence in refugee situations is scarce, it is believed that refugees and other displaced populations are at increased risk of contracting the virus during and after displacement," Bruns says. "This is due to poverty, disruption of family and social structures and health services, increased exposure to sexual violence, and an increase in socio-economic vulnerability, particularly of women and youth." The UNHCR's first objective is to ensure that refugees live with dignity, free from discrimination, and that their human rights are respected. Working to ensure economic security, as well as physical safety, helps to reduce the risks of exposure to HIV among refugees. Second, Bruns says, the UNHCR and its partners work to ensure that refugees have access to appropriate information and local services related to HIV/Aids. She adds: "Refugees and their host communities interact. Therefore, national HIV/Aids programmes must target both groups. "Unfortunately, this is not the case in most countries, including South Africa."
Foreign syndicates flourish in SA (The Star, 28/11) - 'It costs R400 to obtain a 'genuine' South African identity document."Neville Hudson, of Cuenticide, formerly known as Business Against Crime, made this statement at the White Collar Crime Summit held at the Gallagher Estate in Midrand this week.He added that the going rate for a driver's licence is about the same.Hudson said many international syndicates have penetrated the local economy and the survival of these syndicates shows that some of those entrusted with protecting legitimate business are colluding with them.According to police statistics, more than 230 syndicates have been operating in South Africa since 1994, including Nigerian rings, Pakistanis, Russian and Israeli mafia organisations, East Europeans, Chinese triads and many others.Hudson referred to them as "crime business syndicates", saying that they were well-organised, well-run, and tightly disciplined business entities."They have mission statements, targets, turnover and leadership structures - and they do not bother too much with the Labour Relations Act when it comes to disciplining staff," Hudson said.He said the crime bosses accrue their wealth from drugs and prostitution, scrap metal and electrical cabling, cellphones, TVs, video recorders, credit cards, financial fraud (such as the so-called 419 scams), kidnapping and motor-vehicle theft.Hudson said cars are hijacked or stolen and shipped out of the country to meet foreign orders."In the crime economy, labour and life are cheap and anything is available at a price."The low-level criminal activity that we see on the streets - bag snatching, muggings, cellphone thefts from cars - are all part of the major crime economy."The syndicates in this economy are run by top players - who operate within the ranks of white-collar business," he warned.Hudson did, however, say that similar crimes had been dramatically reduced after the implementation of surveillance cameras in Johannesburg's central business district.
Acting immigration advisory board chairman praised by ministers (Pretoria, Sapa, 28/11) - A former senior home affairs department official has been appointed as the chairman of the Immigration Advisory Board, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Friday. The minister said the former deputy director general in the department, Ivan Lambinon, accepted an invitation from him to act as the pro tempore chairman of the Immigration Advisory Board. The Immigration Advisory Board is one of the statutory bodies within the line function responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs. Said Buthelezi: "In my life, I follow the events surrounding many statutory bodies, commissions and boards, but I have never witnessed what I have seen Mr Lambinon doing with the Immigration Advisory Board. "The board has been in existence for seven months and has produced more work and activities than many others boards do in years. "It is no surprise that a professional runner like Mr Lambinon has made his board run at the pace which has no equal, and has trained it to do so in a sustainable and viable manner, in the same way as he has trained so many people to run marathons." He said the presence of Lambinon on the Immigration Advisory Board should not give rise to conflicts nor suspicion. "It is important that everyone understands clearly the relationship between our department and the Immigration Advisory Board. "Because this is a new institution it is incumbent upon me, as the minister, to make it clear what this relationship is and what it entails ..." The minister said the Immigration Advisory Board comprised several government departments, civil society members and experts. "The composition of this body has been tailored to dealing with policy matters," he said. Buthelezi was speaking at the farewell party for Lambinon at the Civitas Building in Pretoria on Friday.
Brain drain puts pressure on firms (Durban, Business Report, 25/11) - The costs of running a local information and communications technology (ICT) company were much higher than those of global competitors because of non-converged infrastructure, Thorsten Freitag, the managing director of Cisco Systems, said yesterday. The observation comes as South Africa hosts the annual Networkers Conference, the biggest customer education event in the world, to address the shortcomings in the sector. Freitag lamented the lack of information technology (IT) skills, saying South Africa needed more people to run infrastructure such as voice, video and data storage because it had not yet been converged. "If there aren't sufficient skills, then companies cannot implement applications that will help them to be more competitive," he said. South Africa's need for talented IT professionals was even more pressing because of the brain drain phenomenon, which, although declining, was still having an impact, he added. Cisco Systems, the host of the Networkers Conference, has brought its technical development team from the US and consultants from Europe to share their expertise in the ICT sector. The three-day event, which began yesterday, is being attended by 1 800 delegates from countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Cisco Systems, the New-York listed private company, has established itself in the southern African market as a sales and marketing group, selling its products through partners like Telkom and Dimension Data. Freitag said yesterday's power session had provided intensive education on specific subjects like internet protocol telephony, security and other advanced technology subjects. "The next two days will have shorter classroom sessions with a much broader technical education," he said. George Astrash, the channel regional sales manager of Cisco Systems, said there was a special need for skills in advanced technologies like voice and security applications, adding that a huge drive was expected in these technologies for local businesses. "Cisco Systems has invested $3.5 billion globally on research and development on advanced technologies and this equates to about 17 percent of the company's revenues invested in advanced technology," he said.
Report on Chinese impact on Johannesburg (Mail & Guardian, 25/11) - Take the M2 east in Johannesburg and down the Fu Jin off-ramp near what used to be Doornfontein. For the area as we knew it is no more — the Ellis Park shopping centre behind the Johannesburg sports stadium has been rechristened China City. The hustle and bustle of traders unpacking mountains of goods, and of porters pushing trolleys chock-a-block with bulging bags, is an inkling of what life in the furiously industrialising Chinese cities of Fu Jin, Guang Dong, Harbin and Beijing is like. It’s a fast and buccaneering brand of retail capitalism that has made China the world’s factory — and also its shopping basket. From those cities, the Chinese entrepreneurs, who must have Mao turning in his grave, fan out over the globe — some have come to the tip of Africa and taken over the east of Jo’burg. Quite distinct from South Africa’s first wave of Chinese immigrants who came at the beginning of the 20th century, the second generation has boosted the complement to between 200 00 and 300 000 traders, who use the city as a launching pad into Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana. Ellis Park is now China City, half of the old Game store on Bruma Lake has been transmogrified into Oriental City and all of what used to be Anglo American’s avant-garde Bruma Lake shopping centre is now called Asia City. Look at that end of the city from a hilly vantage point and the neon-red signs in Mandarin that dot the skyline are a striking symbol of a new community. All of Cyrildene, much of Edenvale, swathes of Bedfordview and also of Kempton Park are home to the second generation. Outside Asia City, a container-load of soy sauce and canned mushrooms is being unloaded by a team of young, black truck-hands supervised by Calvin Ye, a recent computer science graduate fresh from Beijing. His family has opened a spanking-new Chinese supermarket at Bruma, where his younger brother David carefully arranges noodles for Africa — in an array of sizes, shapes and flavours that Pick ’n Pay can only dream about. “The one thing,” he says, explaining Jo’burg’s eastern explosion, “is that Chinese things are cheap. Labour is cheap — about R500 a month and that’s a good price because our goods can compete. With 1,4-billion people, our society forces you to be like that. You have to fight for your work.” The abiding image of the city’s eastern retail business is of boxes. Boxes being decanted from a traffic nightmare of trucks, containers and bakkies, checked by Chinese and South African shop assistants who sit on the floor counting and unpacking shirts, dresses, tracksuits and such a profusion of plastic platform-heeled shoes it seems that if you put them in a line, they would make the distance to the Great Wall of China.
The hands of eager traders grab as much as they can. The teeming and constant mass of shoppers making their way through the gates of China City is a kiss goodbye to the local rag- trade, which has steadily been going to its own wall through the Nineties with what the unions call the “flood of cheap Asian imports”. These Asian imports are so gob-smackingly cheap that the Proudly South African campaign — its “buy local” component, at least — seems consigned to the heap of “nice ideas that never happened”. Nothing more than R100, most items under R50. Sunglasses, perfected by master counterfeiters, sell for R3 a pair. For Christmas the Chinese traders have stocked up on a selection of kitsch that will dent the profits of local tills: who can resist a baby Karate King paperweight, a silk-flower pot-plant you can turn on and off, or the singing rabbi doll, each for less than R20 — even less if you take several at a time? We meet hawkers and shop owners from four African countries — Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Malawi — stocking up. The retail hub is supplying not only South Africa’s informal sector, but also that of neighbouring countries and those further north. It is a growing node on an ever-expanding continental trade route. In the Bruma Lake parking basement, Zhengen Shi is hoping for bumper Christmas sales of smiling Buddha statues. The parking lot is a riot of vases, room dividers, Buddhas and towering vases he brought over for the Rand Easter Show. As Shi takes payment from a customer for one of the faux Ming vases, he peels change from a sheaf of notes, mostly blue. He smiles a lopsided smile and pronounces business as “OK! OK!” Up the road from Bruma on a rainy afternoon, the sense of being transported to a city within a city is even more pronounced. Jo’burg’s historic Chinatown is in the west of the city and grew cheek by jowl with the city’s old business district. Now its sands have shifted, too, as Cyrildene has stolen the crown for the place where the new community and the city’s other residents choose to shop, eat and play when their tastes turn to a touch of the Orient. Young women chatting in Mandarin skip across the main drag in Cyrildene, carrying the latest DVDs and chewing chicken satays you can buy for R2 a stick from a street chef.
King Li crouches in a doorway, shovelling fresh clams into packets and weighing live crabs he imports from Mozambique. The newspapers on sale are locally published but written in Mandarin; keyboards at a local Internet café are bilingual; nobody speaks English or any other official South African language. This is globalisation at home in Jo’burg and, like any tale of migration and integration, it is not just about a glorious, prosperous melting pot. At China City a seething conflict has ended in court. Owner Peter Li’s swashbuckling methods have got up the noses of local businesses, which had hoped to turn Apple Place — China City’s previous incarnation — into a media-techno hub in line with Gauteng’s ambitions to encourage high-end manufacturing and services. Tenants include STE Publishers, the Picturenet photographic agency and B1 Bureau, a high-tech lithography and production house. Together they employ at least 50 people and are the hope of South Africa’s industrial strategy that is centred on small and medium-sized enterprises. Each is growing and all have smartened up their offices as their client base grows in sophistication and size. ‘This is no longer a decent office block — it looks like a fleamarket,” says Reedwaan Vally, CEO of STE. “They’ve compromised our right to free trade and have treated us shabbily. We definitely feel squeezed.” Literally squeezed. A thousand planning and building by-laws seem to have been ignored as Li built an adjoining structure, sans plans, council approval or rezoning applications, to accommodate the owners of Feilima Shoes Wholesalers, Yanuoshi Bedding Company and Lang Feng Shoe Company, among many others accommodated in the brick building. This is capitalism Chinese-style: not rules-based or planned. Builders weld and bang more businesses into shape every day despite a court order granted in June to the council to demolish China City. Li’s appealed the decision, but he’s ignored so many by-laws that the council says a demolition derby is likely — by the end of the year, if they have their way. Workers quietly whisper that they’re paid R21 a day or R500 a month — way less than even the regulated minimum wage for domestic workers. The council’s subtext is that free trade is fine, but not this free, and besides, it’s not the trade that was planned. The city’s planners, with the smartening up of Newtown now put to bed, want to move on to the east, where the city “renaissance” has not yet reached. What they would prefer (or would have, depending on an ability to turn the Chinese tide) is for Ellis Park to become a national sports academy, which would attract international athletes and where all the sports federations would be based. At the other end of the city, in the old Chinatown, a decrepit air hangs about. “To Let” signs fill windows; “Closing-down sale” stickers are all that’s left in others. “I’ve been here for 42 years,” says Yvonne Ho, the legendary owner of Chon Hing, a restaurant, gift and Chinese grocery shop all rolled into a space so charming you could sit and drink green tea there all day. It’s slow, with the dust of age about its goods — the antithesis of the new Chinatown, where the pace is so fast there’s no time for tea and certainly no time for the dust to settle on anything.“We started in 1961 — those days were much better than now,” she says wistfully in an accent that is quintessentially South African.
Ramphele to head UN global migration commission (BuaNews, Pretoria, 23/11) - World Bank Managing Director Mamphele Ramphele will co-chair the newly established Global Commission on International Migration with former Swedish Minister for Development Cooperation, Migration and Asylum Policy, Jan Karlsson. The independent Commission aims to provide a comprehensive response to migration issues. It is backed by about a dozen governments, and jointly headed by Sweden and Switzerland. Dr Ramphele said the Commission was important because migration was a key development issue. She said migration was a critical concern to the World Bank and member countries as it also impacted on efforts to fight global poverty. "All of us at the Bank are very pleased to be part of this new partnership...today, around 175 million people are international migrants. "The Commission hopes to reinforce the importance of migration on the international agenda and advance the interests of migrants and countries of origin, transit, and destination, she said." The independent commission's tasks include analysing shortcomings in current approaches to migration and examining inter-linkages with other issues and presenting recommendations to stakeholders. The Commission will begin its work in January next year, and issue a final report to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in mid-2005. In a speech on Friday at Columbia University in New York, Mr Annan supported the initiative. "It has my full backing, and I hope it will receive support from states in all parts of the world," said Mr Annan that "most of all, I hope it will help us approach this issue creatively and cooperatively."
Home affairs to set up new offices in townships (Pretoria, BuaNews, 21/11) - The Department of Home Affairs says it will build several new offices in the country's townships in a bid to further improve its service delivery to the public. The new offices will help cut down the distances people travel from townships to towns to apply for Identity Documents, birth certificates and other services. Most home affairs offices are currently in towns whereas a few offices found in remote rural areas and townships are not in a satisfactory state. The department said it was currently conducting a study on the geographic location of its regional offices to determine how to revamp and build new offices depending on their proximity to each other and accessibility to the public. Revamping of the department's regional offices is part of its cross cutting changes also aimed at turning around the department's work, including immigration and refugee services. Director-General in the department of home affairs Barry Gilder told foreign correspondents in Johannesburg yesterday that his department sought to transform its operations, resources, service delivery as well as its relations with the public. In this regard, the department is in the process of establishing a Home Affairs Academy which will serve as a point of entry for officials, where they will undergo a "six months" training on a wide range of knowledge and skills necessary to deliver services effectively. The move will also see the filling of vacant posts, particularly management posts, which Mr Gilder says will deal with the chronic staff shortage that has hampered the department's ability to deliver services effectively. There are currently about 1 557 posts with only 370 funded - but after taking office in May this year, Mr Gilder has promised far reaching change. The department would hold a workshop for immigration officers next week to sensitise and equip them on viable and acceptable practices to deliver the immigration services, said Mr Gilder. He said the department aimed to record some quick wins in the immediate future, which includes acquiring 67 new, computerised mobile units and the strengthening of refugee centres. Mr Gilder said the department was joining forces with law enforcement agencies such as the South African Police Services to build a wall of steel around its staff and services to further prevent syndicates from putting officials under "constant corrupt pressure." The department, he hinted, was a prime target of corruption as it provided an essential service, documentation that allowed syndicates to carry out criminal acts in and outside the country. Though he could not quantify the extent of corruption in the department, the DG said with this new plan, the department would be changing past negative perceptions about it. "We have agreed on the need to implement a holistic approach to countering corruption. This includes developing a plan with our colleagues to tackle the syndicates that are perpetually corrupting our officials."
SANDF winning crime battle at Lesotho border (SABC, 21/11) - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) patrols in the eastern Free State along the Lesotho border are said to be dealing crime statistics in the area a heavy blow. Today soldiers who will be patrolling the eastern Free State side of the Lesotho border were introduced to the community at Ladybrand. This is the second group since the reintroduction of border patrols a few months ago.Since the reintroduction of the SANDF patrols, incidents of crime in the eastern Free State have decreased significantly. Since September this year, dagga with a street value of R12 million, 12kg of gold bearing dust and five uncut diamonds were confiscated during operations. Illegal immigrants arrested in this period stood at close to 1000 and up to 40 stolen vehicles were retrieved.Dirk Liebenberg, a major at the 1 Special Service Batallion, says most of the arrests take place at night and the crimes involved include dealing in dagga and motor vehicles theft.Meanwhile, it was a spectacular event when the group of 168 soldiers was introduced to the Ladybrand community. These soldiers will do patrols from now till March next year. They will replace the first group that was deployed in the area in September. The soldiers depend on information from the commandos, but it is as far as the cooperation goes.Spook le Roux, a Lietenant Colonel of the 1 Special Service Batallion in Bloemfontein, says the commandos and the patrols are resorting to different units and have different tasks. He says they have no idea as to when the commandos will be phased out.Other parts of the Lesotho border with South Africa are being patrolled by different SANDF units.
Health bill will worsen brain drain, says medical association (The Witness, 20/11) - The South African Medical Association (Sama) has strongly criticised Parliament's adoption of the controversial National Health Bill. In a statement on Wednesday, Sama - which represents more than 16 000 doctors in South Africa - said it is extremely disappointed at the easy acceptance and approval of the bill by the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday. The bill was earlier, in September, approved by the National Assembly, and all that remains now is for President Thabo Mbeki to sign it into law. "The disastrous implications of this bill on the future of thousands of practising medical doctors are too horrific to contemplate," Sama chairman Or Kgosi Letlape said. Newly-qualified doctors will just move out of the country, he predicted. "Forcing doctors from private practice through unfavourable legislation is not what a democratic government should be doing," Letlape said.
Home affairs determined to fight corruption (Pretoria, BuaNews, 18/11) -The Department of Home Affairs and the South African Police Services (SAPS) have reiterated their commitment to uprooting corruption within government. This follows the arrest of four immigration officers at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp yesterday, after they allegedly released 16 illegal immigrants, for a fee. One of the four was arrested for obstructing a senior police officer in the execution of his duties. The centre is used to hold illegal immigrants before they are deported back to their countries. The arrests followed a tip-off by a member of the public on possible irregularities taking place at the centre, to which the West Rand Crime Intelligence Unit reacted. The police then monitored Lindela and noticed a group of people leaving the centre and then approached and questioned them. "The enquiry revealed that the documentation in their possession was not in order and then suspected elements of possible corruption were eminent," said a joint statement by the department and the SAPS. It said the group was rearrested outside the centre and that statements obtained from them revealed that they had to pay an amount in excess of R500 each. The group is being detained at a nearby police station while the officers are being held at various police stations. The accused are expected to appear in the Krugersdorp Magistrate Court tomorrow and the possibility of more arrests has not been ruled out. "Owing to our commitment to clean governance, we would like to reassure the public that our commitment to eliminate corruption remains unshaken and on course," said the statement.
Congolese work without waiting for jobs (Business report, 17/11) - Bongani Mokoena (not his real name) is a 23-year-old unemployed computer science graduate living in Soweto. He believes his chances of finding a job are slim. He complains that the government is not doing enough to address spiralling unemployment among South Africa's youth. He believes the government is failing him and other graduates, and he does not intend to vote in next year's national elections. This sort of disillusionment has become a feature of the youth of this country. Young people who fail to secure jobs in the private or public sector blame the state. President Thabo Mbeki has just promised 1 million jobs over the next five years, through an expanded public works programme. Will the government deliver on this, or is it just a promise made in an election year to entice voters? It is anyone's guess. The point is that we as South Africans have become used to waiting for the government to deliver life's necessities, such as jobs, better public services and the protection of our property. While visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa last week, I was bowled over by the resilience and survival tactics of the Congolese. Only about 20 percent of the Congo's 60 million people earn a regular salary from formal employment. The rest fend for themselves under difficult conditions. But the Congolese are not pointing fingers at the government. They cannot afford to wait for the government to be their saviour. In Kinshasa there is a boulevard that runs for about 15km, lined with traders. You can buy anything from couches, kitchen furniture, bottled petrol and bricks to jewellery, vegetables and monkey meat. One man I saw was building a cane couch which would not have looked out of place at a smart furniture store in Sandton City. The whole of the Congo seemed to be in that street, haggling to survive. The Congolese are making things happen for themselves. They are committed to an ethos of working hard and are not turning to crime for survival. Kinshasa buzzes with life at night. Walking through the city is safer and easier than in many South African towns. In South Africa, our government has created an enabling environment for us to build our own businesses. But we are still waiting to see a new crop of entrepreneurs following in the footsteps of the Patrice Motsepes of this world. What are we doing as South Africans to create jobs for ourselves, rather than waiting for the state to be a big brother? Hats off to those who have managed to create something out of nothing. Is it not time that fault-finders like Bongani Mokoena learn from the Congolese, who are not relying on the state to survive? Most importantly, the hawking in South Africa is dominated by brothers and sisters from other African countries, who survive from it without complaint. Some will say it is easy for me to say this, because I am lucky - I have a job; I am an empowered young man. But the question is: for how long will the youth wait for the state to help them? The slogan should be "vukuzenzele" - before you become a slave to government promises, wake up and do something for yourself. The Congolese have.
SA vows to crack down on crime syndicates ( The Star, 17/11) - South Africa is crawling with international underworld criminals - but authorities have vowed to crush them.National police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Martin Aylward said yesterday that the "war on organised crime" was being fought vigorously - and was being won. "We've developed an integrated approach; we're infiltrating networks, identifying leaders and gathering intelligence, and if you look at the drugs we are seizing - which is one of the chief businesses of these syndicates - there is no question that we're being successful."Aylward's comments come following last week's assassination of Joburg socialite Hazel Crane, allegedly by members of an underworld gang with links to a jailed crime boss in Israel'We have developed an integrated approach ' .However, in the grip of a bloody power struggle, South Africa's so-called Israeli mafia appeared to be decimating itself without any help from the authorities, he added.Peter Gastrow, Cape Town director of the Institute for Security Studies, said yesterday that because this syndicate was fairly small and appeared to be limited to Johannesburg, it was unlikely to have topped the authorities' threat list.He explained that police and the elite crime-busting unit, the Scorpions, had undertaken a threat analysis of each international crime group in order to decide where to target their resources."Since 1994 there has been an incursion of internationally linked crime groups, such as the Chinese, Pakistanis, Lebanese, Nigerians, Russians, British, as well as criminals from South Africa's neighbouring countries."These groups have their own products, markets and strategies and are run just like any other business - except that they are illicit. But the authorities are jacked up enough to deal with them."They decide which group to investigate extensively, and the Israeli mafia does not seem to have featured high on that list," Gastrow said.He warned that these underworld groups posed a serious threat, not only in terms of the crimes they committed but also because of their ability to corrupt senior officials."They have large sums of money, which they use to buy their way past obstacles and take hold of top government circles," Gastrow said. Once a government had a reputation of being corrupt, investors pulled out and the country was in danger of slipping into poverty.He explained that developing countries were most at risk and that South Africa had taken steps to crush these international criminal groups.These steps included legislative measures to target the proceeds of crime, and operational innovations, like providing local law-enforcement agencies with training from Britain's Scotland Yard and the US's FBI."Since 1994 there has been a giant learning curve for law-enforcement officers in stamping out organised crime - and they've been effective. It is only a lack of resources that is preventing even more effective measures in cracking down on crime syndicates," Gastrow added. However, Mark Welman, an investigative psychologist at Rhodes University, warned yesterday that the police should not be too confident in their ability to crush organised crime."While it's true that the police are having some success in terms of smashing these syndicates, it's important not to underestimate the ruthlessness, determination and resources of the organised underworld."Welman added that the police had the capacity to investigate and make arrests, but to put away the leaders of these groups would take a lot more work."You can arrest the lieutenants, but there is a steady stream of people waiting to fill their shoes. Organised crime is a reality of modern life. Traditionally, these crime networks rely on two methods to escape justice - bribery and intimidation. Any police force that thinks it's immune is not in touch with reality." A report by the World Geopolitics of Drugs in 2000 confirmed that numerous international criminal groups operate in South Africa - one being an Israeli mafia organisation, particularly active in illicit diamond trading, and cocaine and Ecstasy trafficking.It is this syndicate that has been linked to the killing of Crane. The head of this group, Shai Avissar, Crane's estranged husband, was killed in 1999 - and his alleged deputy Lior Saat is on trial for the murder. In 2001, Saat escaped death when gunmen fired into a police van transporting him to court.
Four Lindela officials held (Krugersdorp, News24, 17/11) - Four immigration officials from the Lindela repatriation centre in Krugersdorp were arrested on Monday. Police spokesperson Melissa Bezuidenhout said following a tip-off that illegal immigrants at the centre would be released as South African citizens, police staked it out. When a group of 16 people left the centre, police questioned them. They discovered the people did not have the correct documents and there were "elements of possible corruption present", said Bezuidenhout. They were immediately arrested and detained at nearby police holding cells. The immigrants said they each had to pay at least R500 to secure their release from the centre. Police then obtained a search warrant for the centre. There they arrested three immigration officials for corruption. Another official was arrested for obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duties. As the 16 immigrants are potential witnesses against the immigration officials, they cannot be returned to Lindela for fear they may be deported before they can testify, said Bezuidenhout. There may be more arrests.
Home affairs foul-up gets passenger arrested (Sunday's paper, 16/11) - A mother from Polokwane was hauled off to jail after trying to board a flight to London this week - because her surname was misspelt in her passport. Magdeline Mantjiu, 35, was arrested at Johannesburg International Airport on Thursday evening on the instruction of Home Affairs officials who discovered the information in her passport did not correspond with that on her air ticket. She was with her five-year-old niece, Monamodi Mantjiu. In Mantjiu's passport her surname was spelt incorrectly - the "j" replaced with an "s" - and the last seven digits of her identity number were incorrect. Home Affairs yesterday blamed Mantjiu for the trouble - even though it admitted having issued her with the faulty passport. "We do make mistakes sometimes, but if you are a responsible citizen you have the responsibility to check that your identity document has no mistakes," said Nkosana Sibuyi, a spokesman for the Department of Home Affairs. But mother-of-one Mantjiu, who now faces fraud charges, said she had not expected to be made to pay for a mistake by Home Affairs. She said her nightmare began in 1988 when she applied for an identity document and it was issued with her surname misspelt and her identity number incorrect. She applied for a passport at the same time. Mantjiu said she had applied for a replacement identity document, but not for another passport because she had picked up only the mistake in the spelling of her surname. She had used the passport when driving to Botswana and Zimbabwe and had not had any problems. But her oversight had far-reaching consequences. On Thursday night customs officials stopped her after she checked in for her flight. "I didn't think that my passport would also be wrong and it was my first time flying to another country. So I didn't really bother to check everything and grabbed my passport just before I left for the airport," she said. Mantjiu said she was informed her passport photograph had been "tampered with", the surname was spelt differently from on her ticket and the passport number belonged to a man. Mantjiu said she was arrested and taken to Kempton Park police station, where she was locked in a cell overnight. Her sister collected the "traumatised" Monamodi from the airport. "Monamodi was very afraid of the policeman and did not know what was going on . . . She kept repeating that she wanted to go to her father," said Mantjiu. Mantjiu appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court on Friday on fraud charges. The case was postponed for further investigation and she was released on bail. But Mantjiu, who works as a secretary for a law firm in Polokwane, said she was furious because the incompetence of Home Affairs had left her looking like a criminal. "I had to spend the night in a dirty cell without anything to eat and then appear in court like a common criminal for the department's mistakes," she said . But Sibuyi said Mantjiu's case was a "clear expression of negligence on her part". He admitted the department made mistakes but said the onus was on the individual to check his or her documents . "If there are discrepancies in someone's identity document or passport and their boarding pass, it is incumbent upon us as a department to verify the correctness of the document. "If the information does not correlate, we will then alert the SAPS about our suspicions. "This is because we are committed as a department to national security and the prevention and combating of crime," he said.
New SA-Namibia border post opened (SABC, 14/11) - A new R36 million South African-Namibian border post situated in the Northern Cape was opened by Jackie Selebi, the National Police Commissioner today. The Nakop border post on the N10 highway boasts new immigration, police and customs offices with advanced technology. It also has roadways, inspection facilities and flats for employees who work at the establishment.Addressing delegates at the unveiling ceremony, Selebi said South Africa had 53 border posts, 19 of which were known as commercial posts including Nakop. The Nakop post has replaced the Naroegas border post, which was situated about 120km from Upington and a further 20km away from the border line with Namibia.The distance between Naroegas and the border line posed a problem in that people living in the uncontrolled area could cross the border line without having going through proper procedures. The Naroegas border post had old dilapidated prefabricated buildings and mobile homes. Personnel were sleeping in the mobile homes, which were four metres from the highway. Water was trucked in and electricity was supplied from an old and small generator. The sewerage system was antiquated and most of the time not operational.Selebi said the construction of the Nakop border post, which is about 30km from Naroegas and is situated on the Namibian border, was started in 2001 by the department of public works. The SA police services, the SA revenue services and the department of home affairs also provided funds for the project.Future developments in planning were permanent power and water supplies. These would be completed by December and would cost about R12 million, he said. Selebi said the new border post would help reduce crime. During the 2002/2003 financial year, 699 people were arrested for 1326 stolen and hijacked vehicles at Nakop. About 605 were apprehended for narcotics and 93 nabbed for attempting to smuggle firearms and ammunition into South Africa.Barry Gilder, the Home Affairs director general, said the new establishment was a sign that government was serious about service delivery and security of the country. Pravin Gordhan, a commissioner at Sars, also participated at the function.
West African drug syndicates in Durban (The Mercury, 14/11) - West African drug syndicates are running amok in Durban's Point area and last year alone the area saw an estimated R1,4-billion change hands in narcotics deals, according to a senior criminal investigator. Detective Inspector Barney Dreyer, addressing a seminar Turning the Tide on Crime, hosted by the Independent Projects Trust on Thursday, said: "If we don't do something about the West African threat, we won't have a country left and (Nigerian President Olusegun) Obasanjo will be our president." Dreyer quoted British police who have remarked that Durban will become the next and main global drug distribution point in the world. Dreyer said the figure netted in the Point excluded compressed dagga exported from Durban and the activities of street peddlers. Since 1990 the drug trade in South African had escalated by 70 percent. West Africans are allegedly responsible for 80 percent of all drug trafficking in Durban. Said Dreyer: "One hundred percent of the drug trade in the Point area is controlled by West African nationals." "The illicit West African drug trafficking trade within Durban and surrounding areas has reached saturation proportions, to such an extent that suppliers are broadcasting the availability of stock and are openly selling their goods at street level." According to research carried out by the National Drug Desk, KwaZulu-Natal has the second highest level of drug related cases. The seminar was also told that the country's elite crime-busting unit, the Scorpions, credited with lifting the lid on government corruption, drug trafficking and crushing several crime syndicates, was losing several of its top-notch detectives to the private sector and other government departments. The highly skilled crime-busters were being poached by major firms involved in forensic investigation, said the Scorpions' chief investigator for the KwaZulu-Natal region, Clifford Marion. The situation was so bad that the unit expected to lose at least 20 percent of its staff every year. Marion said that throughout South Africa there were private sector requests for the highly skilled staff and these companies were offering lucrative salaries. Scorpions spokesperson Sipho Ngwema confirmed this, saying, however, that the situation had not reached crisis proportions because they had been able to substitute the loss by continuously recruiting. Marion said the unit had made strides in racketeering, money laundering and asset forfeiture which were offences in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act of 1998. The Scorpions were responsible for 107 prosecutions, the finalisation of 109 pending probes and more than a 90 percent conviction rate nation wide between April and October this year. Since the Scorpions' inception in January 2001, they have completed 653 cases and 380 finalised prosecutions which resulted in 349 convictions.
New approach needed to curb cross-border crimes (Pretoria, BuNews, 14/11) - An integrated inter-departmental strategy to control the 78 ports of entry into the country is needed to ensure the police win the fight against human trafficking, drugs, and other illegal cross border trades. This according to Director of Border Police Zirk Gous and Researcher Anthony Minnaar, who were speaking at the Institute for Security Studies seminar on Policing the Ports: Border Control in South Africa, in Pretoria today. Director Gous said due to low levels of skills, inadequate funding and lack of human resources, border police officials were unable to carry out their duties with aplomb. "Our officials only go for two weeks training course and there are a lot of vacant posts. We don't have adequate budget to deal with such issues. I might say, though that in context of rest of Africa, we are doing very well," said Director Gous. However, Researcher Minnaar said to turn the tide, there should be a multi-stakeholder approach where border officials worked closely with customs, narcotics, tax officials, immigration control, and other security apparatus to curb cross-border crimes. He said, because of some lax security measures at ports of entry, syndicates operated all willy-nilly in human trafficking, drugs, vehicle and firearms smuggling. "You must remember that skills level of border police officials should be very high. You need multi-skilled personnel and specialists who would counter false documents, drugs and human trafficking. However, you need an integrated approach where all other stakeholders, tax officials, customs control, and immigration control work together and report to each other." Overall, he said the system remained fragmented, with the problem exacerbated by the fact that passenger assessment teams of Customs were separate from the anti-smuggling teams. They report separately to different Customs managers, said Mr Minnaar. The Researcher added that some of the successes of the stringent measures put in place were at the City Deep Internal Port and Durban Harbour where syndicates had diverted their activities at smaller ports with lax security. The two ports have introduced CCTV cameras to monitor movement of all personnel, and they inspect goods, search passengers, detect smuggling activities and monitor exit and departure flows. Within this policing function falls the inspection of all firearms and ammunition consignment, and operation on an information and profiling system.
Home affairs set for shake-up (Mail&Guardian, 13/11) - “In the private sector they have a slogan: ‘The customer is always right.’ In home affairs we have an unwritten slogan that the customer is always wrong.”This was the observation of the new Director General of the Department of Home Affairs, Barry Gilder, who this week ignored the common practice among senior government managers of hiding problems. At a press briefing on Wednesday he detailed the inefficiency and corruption that is rife in his department.Elaborating on the incompetence and lackadaisical attitude of home affairs employees, Gilder said: “We tend to interact with our clients on the presumption that they are not entitled to the service they are asking for until they have proved conclusively that they are. Changing this culture is a major challenge.”Speaking about the corruption that afflicts his department, Gilder differentiated between convenience and syndicated corruption.“Convenience corruption arises simply because our clients — citizens and foreigners — get a better service out of the department by greasing our officials’ palms than they would otherwise.“Then, there is no doubt that the department is a prime target of organised crime syndicates and other criminals because we provide them with an essential service — the enabling documents that allow them to carry out their criminal acts inside the country and across our borders.”Gilder emphasised that corruption in the department was widespread and not limited to a few rotten apples.He said the government was trying to facilitate cross-border movements in Southern Africa as a way of dealing with the “revolving door” — the phenomenon of illegal migrants repeatedly repatriated and repeatedly returning, almost immediately.“We are very sensitive to that and therefore looking at scrapping visa requirements in the region to facilitate as much cross-border movement as possible.”He said on average the department repatriated about 150 000 illegal foreigners a year.Gilder is planning a thorough shake-up of the department to get it into proper working order in the coming months.
The unstoppable tide (Mail&Guardian, 13/11) - ‘I’m tired of this,” remarked a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldier offloading a small group of glum-looking immigrants at the Musina police station, a ramshackle collection of squat buildings in South Africa’s most northerly outpost.It was not yet mid-morning and the soldier’s company had arrested yet another batch of desperate Zimbabweans illegally crossing the nearby Limpopo river. “Night and day, all the time, every day the same,” he sighed, leading the men to the station’s cells.“I haven’t eaten for two days,” said 24-year-old Phillip Chikumbo, his dark eyes bloodshot with fatigue. There was no hint of outrage or bitterness in his comment; he was simply hungry. “They do not have food for us here because we are unexpected visitors.”Dressed in a blue-and-white check shirt, his hair closely cropped, Chikumbo is one of about 20 young men — all Zimbabwean — patiently awaiting deportation to a place he no longer wants to call home.“My father is not very happy,” he said, squatting on his haunches among a tangle of roots belonging to a wild fig that prospered in the middle of the prison courtyard. “He is angry that I left; he says it’s running away. But there is nothing to do [in Zimbabwe] as far as a job. It’s hard to raise money.”A qualified mechanic, Chikumbo was born and raised in Chiredzi, in Zimbabwe’s central Mashonaland district. Long disheartened by the lack of opportunity in the country, he is an old hand at crossing the border illegally.Chikumbo works as a junior mechanic at a private trucking company on the road to Thohoyandou. It is not an uncommon story told in the prison courtyard. Maxwell (33), “caught in an ambush along the river”, has been a mall security guard in Johannesburg for nine years. Morris (18), from Masvingo, earns R750 as a tractor driver on a Mpumalanga farm.“I get paid R600 a month,” said Chikumbo. Exploitation wages to be sure, but he is happy with the opportunity to work. The income allows him to visit his girlfriend Sara every three to four months in Chiredzi.Chikumbo said his arrest is a minor inconvenience, his words echoing the sentiments of many of the detainees. Take, for example, Freedom Kulalelo (23). Arrested two weeks ago in the Johannesburg suburb of Berea, he spent 10 days at Lindela repatriation centre near Krugersdorp. After his return to Zimbabwe he headed straight back to South Africa.It used to be, a policeman told us, that Zimbabweans detained illegally crossing into South Africa were fined upon repatriation. They were even sent away to Harare. But occurrences of illegal crossings are so frequent along this border (26 742 in 2000, 19 932 in 2001, and 18 033 recorded last year) that the Zimbabwean authorities have stopped imposing punitive sanctions. At worst, one border-jumper told us, they might be told to clean the Beit Bridge police station before being released.“I have been disturbed from my programme,” commented Maxwell, who had been following our conversation intently. Tinged with a suggestion of humour, Maxwell’s comment nonetheless articulated the thoughts of many of those in the Musina prison. “I am late for work now,” he quipped, adding: “It’s very obvious. I can’t live in that place of [President Robert] Mugabe anymore. I’m coming back — today.” Chikumbo smiled: “Me too.”We arranged to meet Chikumbo in Beit Bridge with the aim of accompanying him on his illegal border crossing. Having previously visited this Zimbabwean town perched on the periphery of Mugabe’s politically besieged country, we knew it to be relatively docile, which is not to say it is a benign, sleepy hollow. Stern Zanu-PF banners in the town’s centre offered a reminder of the larger context: “Land Reform for Economic Empowerment,” one of them read.A necessary pit stop for migrants travelling south, the town of Beit Bridge presents many obstacles. Aside from the obdurate plainclothes policeman from the criminal investigations department, there are also exploitative taxi drivers, dissolute gangs of robbers (otherwise known as the guma guma), rapacious crocodiles and the SANDF.“You have to be clever,” Kulalelo told us, particularly when it comes to the guma guma. “They don’t have guns, but they carry spears, screwdrivers, axes, knives.” While crossing the Limpopo, Kulalelo saw a woman being raped by eight of them, an allegation later confirmed by a SANDF patrol.
By all accounts the guma guma are motivated by economic expediency alone, a fact emphasised by the Shona meaning of the word. Loosely translated, guma guma means to get something by no effort. One migrant we spoke to said the word was actually onomatopoeic, deriving from the sound of pigs eating. This aptly pegs the guma guma for what they are, scavengers who prey on naive, often cash-rich border-jumpers.Operating in banded groups along the Beit Bridge border area, the guma guma ostensibly offer guided walks and/or taxi journeys to various points along the South Africa/Zimbabwe border. They charge a minimum of R50 for leading migrants to purpose-cut holes in the South African border fence, a 180km tangle of electric wires delineating the political boundary between the two countries.Chikumbo’s protracted ritual breaching of this patchwork fence, a toothless beast that is a throwback to apartheid times, merely highlights the ease with which border-jumpers cross the border with impunity. With the cost of processing undocumented migrants said to be R16 000 a person, the implications of these crossings are by no means inconsequential. Last year the SANDF arrested 50 852 immigrants along South Africa’s borders with Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Botswana.After being offloaded by a Department of Home Affairs truck at the Beit Bridge police station Chikumbo immediately headed for the township of Dulibadzimo, on the outskirts of town. At the central market he chartered a sky-blue Datsun taxi, at a cost of Z$35 000 (R90). “It’s not a good business,” the lanky taxi-driver confided as he drove us an hour or so east of Beit Bridge. “Fuel is too expensive.”The scenery on our drive was revealing. Drought and profligate overgrazing have destroyed the landscape. Only the baobabs prosper. We passed four men walking. Chikumbo waved. “They were with me in prison this morning,” he chuckled. “They’re also going back.”The taxi ride came to an end at a dusty soccer field 20km east of Beit Bridge. From there we had to walk, the mass of small rural paths finally congre- gating into one well-worn (smuggler’s) path that led us to the river. I asked Chikumbo about the crocodiles, which have been known to take migrants. “It’s a matter of starvation,” he said. “You can’t worry about those things.”We eventually forded the Limpopo by moonlight, darting around slimy pools of stagnant water. When there was no way around these, we waded knee-deep through the river. On the South African side a bedraggled series of farm fences hinted that we were not the first visitors to crawl under the first, then hop over the second.It is really that simple gaining entry into South Africa, though the reality for many border-jumpers is that they will be detained by the SANDF in Musina. But this is nothing compared with the disastrous situation in Zimbabwe. “It’s true! It’s real!” said Chikumbo. “People from the opposition are being killed; even job applications are turned down. People are angry.”As long as this anger is unattended to, it seems that Musina’s prison courtyard will continue to be a congregation point for the youths who gather there like the collected flotsam of some invisible shipwreck: Zimbabwe.
Skills shortage, a global phenomenon and SA problem (Johannesburg, ITWeb, 12/11) - The impact of the skills shortage in the local ICT industry is increasing daily as skilled technicians, programmers, systems analysts and other specialists leave the country. Mike Leeuwen, a director of PM Tech, the IT consulting, software development, systems implementation and support services group, looks at the problem and suggests appropriate solutions. The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), one of the leading associations of IT managers in the US, reports that more than 500 000 available jobs will not be filled this year (2003) because of a shortage of IT workers. The skills shortage in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry is a worldwide phenomenon. However, its impact on South African businesses is that much greater as we have the added problem of the "brain drain" with which to contend. Even in an economic climate that has seen many thousands of layoffs and the down-sizing of IT companies, there are still shortages. Central to the problem is the fact that, in SA, the available workforce is under-skilled. Even trained ICT workers lack appropriate skills sets. This is true of many of the so-called Oracle, SQL, Java and Windows NT experts in our market. As a result, while there may be "bodies" available, IT managers cannot find enough "talent" to complete all of the projects scheduled by their companies. There is a general slow down in implementations and the efficiency of 'big business' in this country is being negatively influenced.
As long as there remains a significant gap between the available pool of skills and the needs of IT departments, outsourcing may be the best alternative for companies that want to ramp up the delivery of new IT solutions to their end-users. Many organisations - particularly non-technology companies seeking to expand their IT capabilities - should be looking to outsource at least some of their project load. In particular, the outsourcing of niche skills, leading-edge technology and resources is often the only route companies can take to meet their business goals. This may mean bringing in systems integrators and third-party services that can write applications and code on an outsourced basis. Outsourcing also represents a very real opportunity for the application service provider (ASP) market. ASPs offer the ability to deliver tailored applications as subscription services, eliminating the need for highly skilled internal programming staff. With the proper services to back it up, an ASP today might rightly claim that its services are more advantageous than ever. However, companies should not view outsourcing as a business process that has been forced upon them, but should consider outsourcing as a business philosophy.
It is argued that if a company wants to save money through the adoption of an outsourcing model, it should begin by treating its internal organisational divisions as outsource groups. Internal divisions will then compete with outside firms for projects. The heat of competition will produce increased efficiencies in areas such as design, cost control, implementation time and technological innovation - from both camps. An internal group, focused on such competition would, no doubt, highly resent it at first, but the outcome of the process would be a more focused and effective organisation.A key milestone in the local outsourcing market will come with the arrival of the second fixed-line telephone operator. At this time South African businesses will get a wider variety of options when looking to outsource their IT infrastructures, and communications bandwidth is bound to become more affordable. Then organisations will be able to take a serious look at their IT infrastructures and outsource those aspects of the business that can benefit from off-site professional management. For example, companies will use data management services in the same way they would use telephone services. The computer would become a device within the organisation and the data centre - the equivalent of a telephone exchange - would reside elsewhere. The off-site data centre environment would be larger, more secure, and companies would not need to even own the software systems that run their business. Just as telephone users pay only for the number of calls they make, and a fixed monthly rental, a similar model could evolve for data management.
Systems integrators are also set to benefit. In the last few years, many of the largest integrators have become so enamoured with 'big bang' projects, such as business process re-engineering, that they have neglected basic services, such as helping a company with a single programming project. As many companies shy away from huge, enterprise-wide IT efforts, outsourcing companies should look to provide smaller, quicker assistance with projects that can deliver a fast return on investment.The key factor to consider when weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the "do-it-yourself" route is cost. For example, many companies look at the fee structure of an outsourcing vendor and come to the conclusion that they will save money by providing their own labour. This may be true in IT departments that already have the skills to undertake a particular project - but many projects require new skills. Training staff to acceptable levels will be costly and time-consuming and will often work out to be more expensive than the outsourced option. In addition, many first-time projects result in errors and on-going administrative issues that might not occur if the project was implemented by an experienced team. Some companies highlight only the cost of installation when evaluating an outsourcing project, but the highest costs are often associated with change management and troubleshooting that must take place after the new systems are in place. These administrative costs may eventually exceed the cost savings achieved by using in-house staff during the implementation phase. With this in mind, it is safe to say that only the very time- and business-critical elements of IT should stay in-house. These include applications that are custom-developed to service very specific business needs.
Nigerian networks rife in SA says ISS (Cape Town, News24, 12/11) - There are between 40 000 and 100 000 Nigerians in South Africa of whom only about 4 000 are in the country legally. A "significant number" are involved in crime and organised crime networks, according to recent research on organised crime by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). The study showed some Nigerian crime networks took over geographical areas such as blocks of flats and hotels in cities and controlled these buildings through committees. Everyone who made use of these buildings paid a weekly sum and this money was used, among other things, to post bail for those who had been arrested, said the study. The Nigerian networks often made use of South African criminals as "foot soldiers" to do the work, but the Nigerians managed them. In the Western Cape, there often were clashes with local gangs, especially in Sea Point, about territory. Researchers Jenni Irish and Kevin Qhobosheane found that South Africans or gangs were employed to take revenge on those who crossed the networks or to use violence when necessary. Contrary to other networks, Nigerians did not try to influence senior government officials, but rather focussed on officials in the department of foreign affairs to get false documents, and on the lower ranks in the police. The Nigerian networks were dominated by men between 20 and 50, but South African women often were involved as sex workers. The research showed that illegal Nigerians were especially involved in 419 fraud schemes, money laundering, trade in stolen goods, cheque and credit-card fraud, illegal telephone connections and falsified documentation. One of the areas in which they played a key role was drug trafficking. The Nigerian networks brought cocaine and heroine into the country through drug mules and via Mozambique. The organised networks were renowned for abducting those who deceived or betrayed them and then demanded ransoms. They often abducted people, such as businessmen, who were lured in through fraudulent schemes, and then demanded ransoms from their families.
Home affairs offices shut down ( Pretoria, BuaNews, 11/11) - The Department of Labour has shut down home affairs offices in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, following the latter's contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Labour departmental spokesperson Snuki Zikalala said an inspection at the offices recently revealed a lack of marked emergency exits, First Aid equipment and proper ventilation, with stairs in the building made of a highly flammable material. Mr Zikalala said the offices also did not have a safety representative, First Aid certificate of competence, inspection reports, certificate of compliance for electrical installation and proper lighting in the premises. He said a prohibition notice had been issued regarding the violations, granting authorities there a short reprieve to rectify the situation in order to allow the smooth running of operations. The department's Deputy Director-General Vanguard Mkosana said the situation in Ermelo was very critical in the sense that it inconvenienced people who intended to register for identity documents for the purposes of voting. "The Department of Labour has the obligation of ensuring the safety of employees at any workplace including government departments," Mkosana said. He added the prohibition served on the Department of Home Affairs would not be withdrawn until the situation had been corrected. He said employers from both the private and public sector should comply with labour legislation. "Department of Labour would at all times ensure that all South African citizens live and work in a safe environment," he said.
Document forgers in court ( Johannesburg, News24, 10/11) - Two men and a woman appeared in Johannesburg commercial crimes court on Monday for allegedly selling hundreds of fake passports of several southern African countries, police said. Victor Oats, 45, Margaret Armstrong, 50, and George Gordon, 30, are facing charges of fraud, contravening the Identity Document Act and possession of forged documentation. Captain Ronnie Naidoo said Oats employed Armstrong and Gordon to sell and manufacture passports. He ran the business from Selby, south of Johannesburg. All three were arrested on Friday. Naidoo said police seized 515 Namibian passports, 667 Swaziland passports, eight Zambian passports, nine South African passports - a total of 1 199 - and plastic used to produce passports at the business premises. They also took printing plates for Namibian and Swaziland passports, a number-embossing machine to punch numbers onto passports, wrapping documents used for transporting and unverified travel documents. Oats was released on R50 000 bail and Armstrong was released on R10 000 bail. Gordon, a Ghanaian national, was remanded. The case was postponed to January 30 for further investigation.
Editorial: A mess at home affairs (The star, 07/11) - There's consensus that our economy is in dire need of foreign skills to get it going. But there is a problem: How does a skilled foreigner get into the country when the immigration services are in such a mess?Alternatively, one could be grateful that a senior government official has done his job and is honest enough to spell out the true state of affairs. These mixed emotions are prompted by the assessment made by the new Home Affairs director-general, Barry Gilder. He has stated that corruption in the department is both widespread and endemic.In a nutshell, there have been huge political problems in the department; there are chronic staff shortages; basic equipment is lacking; and budgetary restraints are debilitating.All those factors have combined to make the department a fertile ground for the operation of crime syndicates that are into people- and drug-smuggling. Gilder has also concluded that "compared to the immigration services of other countries, ours is a joke". But the department is not some vague entity. It is a vital cog in the machine of good governance. We are, therefore, entitled to ask why the governing party allowed this to happen. We are not particularly interested to hear about the mess they inherited from the Nats, nor about the growing trend for crooks to operate internationally.Gilder quite openly talks about what was in fact no secret: the tension between the previous director-general and Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi. This "had in many respects paralysed the department". So we have a mess, and it resulted from the fact that the governing party - the ANC - was playing games with Buthelezi. Or was Buthelezi playing games of his own?Whatever the answer is, efforts are now being made to rectify the situation. We are pleased that Gilder has spoken out. But it would be nice if Thabo Mbeki - head of the ANC and head of the government - were to offer the nation some kind of lucid explanation.
Three held as 85 passports seized (Johannesburg, News24, 07/11) - Three people, one a woman, were arrested here on Friday on a charge of being involved in a passport scam, said the national police. Captain Ronnie Naidoo said three people aged 39, 45 and 50 were arrested in Spritz Avenue, Selby, about 11:00 during a police operation. Nine South African passports, 76 Namibian and Swaziland passports, templates as well as various equipment used to manufacture passports were seized, he said. He said they had reasonable suspicion the premises were also used to manufacture fraudulent passports of other countries. The three would be charged with fraud, contravening the identity document act and possession of forged documents, said Naidoo.
Plan to turn around "dysfunctional" home affairs ( Business day, 06/11) - Home affairs director-general Barry Gilder has painted a picture of a dysfunctional and paralysed department which will only get the necessary attention almost 10 years into a democratic SA through a turnaround strategy unveiled yesterday. At a briefing, Gilder acknowledged that the tension between Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his previous directors-general had paralysed the department, which is central to service delivery, national security and the prevention and combating of crime. Gilder refused to be drawn on the question of what had been going on in the department in the past nine years if it was only now that its chronic problems were being addressed. He said he was the wrong person to ask. The department is reportedly "chronically" under-resourced. It has just 6000 employees out of a possible 7500. To be able to function at its capacity it would need 12000 employees. Other problems include a lack of equipment in almost all its offices; the crisis over the Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) which was at one stage near collapse; the fact the immigration service in SA "is a joke" compared to other countries; that the refugee management IT system has collapsed; and that there is endemic corruption and lack of government funding for the department. Gilder said the department would need R3,1bn in the next financial year to address the resource challenges. In the current financial year it received R1,9bn. The turnaround strategy unveiled yesterday would allow it to tackle these challenges, develop critical interventions in the short term and lay the basis for its effective transformation in the medium to long term. Chief among these is to develop a short-, medium- and longterm recruitment strategy. Also needed is a revamp of information technology systems, the relaunching of Hanis to allow the cross-referencing of fingerprints and identification information. The system will enable South Africans anywhere in the country to have their identity document applications done electronically and their fingerprints, photographs and signatures recorded digitally. The information will be checked immediately against a database and, 48 hours later, a person will have their ID. Gilder said the system would prevent potential fraud that characterised the department in the issuing of IDs and related documents. "Many of the interventions envisaged in our turnaround strategy will contribute towards improving service delivery," he said. The National Intelligence Agency and other law enforcement agencies would work together to tackle syndicates that were corrupting officials.
Home affairs DG paints bleak picture of department (The Star, 06/11) - Corruption in the Department of Home Affairs was widespread - even endemic.This was the brutally honest assessment yesterday of Barry Gilder, the department's new director-general. "Corruption is widespread and endemic in the sense that the department offers a service which the crooks need," Gilder said at a media briefing in Johannesburg on a far-reaching turnaround strategy for the department. He said senior Home Affairs officials were in the frontline of those targeted by crime syndicates for recruitment. "The National Intelligence Agency found that crime syndicates are targeting cleaners, baggage handlers, security guards and immigration officials at Johannesburg International Airport in their strategy of people smuggling," Gilder said.According to Gilder, the smuggling of people was now second only to drug smuggling on the list of crime syndicates in the country.In his assessment of the department's inherited problems, Gilder, who was appointed five months ago, said the tension between the previous director-general and Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi "had in many respects paralysed the department". He said the delay in appointing a new director-general had also "aggravated the paralysis and added to the uncertainty and insecurity". In reply to a question, Gilder indicated that Buthelezi was in broad agreement with his assessment of the department's problems. He also painted a bleak picture of the department in relation to chronic staff shortages, widespread theft of equipment and severe shortages of transport, furniture and technology."Some offices don't even have telephones or electricity, and some are even without toilets and water," he said.Gilder said only 5 948 of its 7 499 posts were filled and a recent internal study showed that the department needed 12 000 posts. "My visit to the offices of the department around the country gave me the impression of being thrust back into the dark ages of apartheid. Compared to the immigration services of other countries, ours, to put it bluntly, is a joke," he said.Gilder said that while the Treasury was sympathetic to the department's plight, there was no hope of receiving over the next few years the kind of funding that they "believe is crucial to being able to effectively and decisively address the challenges we face".On the vital issue of corruption, Gilder said the department was developing a plan to create an integrated counter-corruption directorate. - Group Political Editor
Home affairs outlines ambitious turn-around strategy (Pretoria, BuaNews, 05/11) - The Department of Home Affairs has outlined an ambitious plan to enable it to provide services to the country's citizens more efficiently. Seen as most crucial is the filling of vacant posts, particularly management posts. This to deal with the chronic staff shortage that has hampered the department's ability to deliver services effectively. In 1995, the department established 7 499 posts, of which 5 958 have been filled, leaving 1 557 vacant posts. And of the 1 557 posts, only 370 are funded. Presenting the department's Turn Around Strategy in Sandton, Johannesburg, today, Director-General Barry Gilder, who took office in May, said some of the management posts that were advertised were moving into the interview stages. He said during his "crash course" visits to home affairs offices around the country, "everywhere I have been in the department I have been confronted with one cry: we have no staff!" However, things are about to change, said Mr Gilder. "We established a project to develop a short-medium-and long-term personnel recruitment and replenishment strategy. We resolved to speed up the process of filling our vacant management posts," said Mr Gilder. He added that measures would be put in place to provide thorough training to all officials in a wide range of knowledge and skills necessary to deliver services effectively. However, the challenges facing such a wide-range recruitment of personnel was funding, and Mr Gilder said the National Treasury had indicated the department would receive R500 million to add to its R1.9 billion budget. For the department to effectively address the resource challenges it faces, it needs a R3.1 billion budget, said Mr Gilder. "This is obviously not nearly enough, but it's a start and will enable us at least to begin to put the capacity in place to absorb more resources in the years ahead, as well as to tackle the most urgent challenges facing us," he said. Mr Gilder added that a task team was presently making an audit of the department's infrastructure needs so that a long-term intervention could ensue at under-resourced offices in order to reflect a "new service-delivery oriented face to the public". On the issue of corruption, Mr Gilder said the department was developing a plan with members of intelligence and the police to tackle syndicates that corrupted operations there. He said the department was a prime target of corruption as it provided an essential service, documentation that allowed syndicates to carry out criminal acts in and outside the country. Though he could not quantify the extent of corruption in the department, the DG said with this new plan, the department would be changing past negative perceptions about it. "We have agreed on the need to implement a holistic approach to countering corruption. This includes developing a plan with our colleagues in the intelligence and law enforcement community to tackle the syndicates that are perpetually corrupting our officials. "NIA (The National Intelligence Agency) is currently leading a process to develop a fundamental assessment of the problem of corruption in home affairs." The Immigration Control Offices, which monitor the movement of people in and out of South Africa, will also undergo transformation into an effective, properly structured, trained and equipped immigration law enforcement agency. Immigration is one of the most severely challenged services of the home affairs department, with serious shortages in staff, with some ill trained and ill-equipped to implement immigration control measures. According to Statistics SA, in 1994 the country received 3.8 million visitors, and in 2002 the number doubled to 6.5 million. However, of the 5 948 filled posts in home affairs, only 979 are for immigration control, while of the 370 funded vacancies, just 68 are for immigration officers. This leaves the branch ineffective to adequately monitor the influx of visitors into the country. The problem is exacerbated by the branch's inadequate information technology system - the Movement Control System - that has to be updated manually once a day at bigger posts to record incoming and outgoing visitors. However, Mr Gilder said a plan would be designed later this month to overhaul the immigration services. "We will soon be evaluating our experience to date with the implementation of the new Immigration Act to ensure that in practice we realise the intention of opening the front door to our country more widely and closing the back door more tightly," said Mr Gilder.
Immigration service 'a joke' says new DG (Johannesburg, News24, 05/11) - The new director-general of home affairs has said the country's immigration service is a joke. Barry Gilder, who was appointed to the post in May, said this at a function on Wednesday in Johannesburg where he unveiled his plans for the department. This followed a five-month investigation into the department's affairs. Gilder said South Africa repatriated about 150 000 illegal immigrants each year. He said a lack of funds was the biggest of all the department's problems. This year, the budget was R1.9bn, he said, adding that a minimum of R3.1bn was needed for next year. Only 5 948 posts out of a total of 7 499 were filled. Only 370 of the remaining 1 557 have been budgeted for, he said. According to Gilder, the department needed a staff of at least 12 000. He also said the infrastructure needed to be upgraded. Gilder said urgent action was needed: "I have seen offices that don't have phones, fax machines, furniture or even electricity." He said he planned a mammoth operation to improve conditions in the department.
SA needs skills for economic development says ministers (Cape Town, Sapa, 04/11) - South Africa would achieve an economic miracle only by developing its human skills, Deputy Science and Technology Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said on Tuesday. She was speaking in Cape Town at the second provincial technology imbizo organised by her department, an event which drew some 250 industrialists, academics and representatives of the Western Cape government. One imbizo has already been held in KwaZulu-Natal, one is planned for the Eastern Cape on November 18, and the remaining provinces will follow in 2004. Sonjica said South Africa needed 40,000 engineers a year for the foreseeable future to replace lost skills and provide the core disciplines that would drive the economy from a position of strength. "I cannot emphasise enough that South Africa can only pull off the economic miracle if it can develop the human skills and a culture in which maths and science disciplines are automatic and natural. "We need industry to play a role in this by generating more career spaces for those who chose the sciences as a learning area." The department's executive in charge of technology for development, Lerato Thahane, told the imbizo that the Western Cape and South Africa as a whole were a "technology colony", in that they relied heavily on imports for nearly all technology needs and means of production. This was something that needed to be addressed. General manager for research and technology transfer in the department Marjorie Pyoos told Sapa that she was very pleased that the imbizo had attracted a high level of industry participation. She said her visits to industries in the runup to the imbizo had given "wonderful insights" into what was happening in the province. "We actually got a better picture, and exciting picture, of what's happening here in the Western Cape," she said. "There's a lot that government doesn't know about what industry and business is doing here. "We find that industry itself, from one to the other, they don't know the wonderful role models that could share insights on tackling sector problems, regulatory problems, quality problems, productivity problems." She said the reason for calling the imbizos was that overseas experience showed that strongest growth was focused on cities or regions that followed a "team approach" to dealing with economic challenges and opportunities.
Home affairs intensifies national ID campaign (SABC, 03/11) - Home Affairs intensifies national ID campaign November 03, 2003, 06:42 AM The department of home affairs is intensifying the national ID campaign ahead of the first round of voter registration over the weekend. The department is trying to register as many people as possible for the 2004 elections and 90 000 processed ID documents are waiting to be collected. The department launched its campaign in April, hoping to process 2,5 million people. Barry Gilder, the departmental director-general, is confident that they will meet this target, as they have already issued over 1,7 million ID's nationally. Another 500 000 documents are being processed.Gilder says the campaign targeted rural areas, where a huge backlog existed. The department will be extending its office hours and will be open throughout the registration weekend to ensure that everybody has a bar-coded ID document or a temporary ID certificate that would enable them to register for next year's elections.
Drug bust nets five Nigerians in Bloemfontein (Bloemfontein, News24, 01/11) - Five men including four Nigerians were arrested and a quantity of drugs worth R100 000 confiscated in the Bloemfontein area since Friday night, Free State police said on Saturday. Inspector Loraine Kalp said the men between the ages of 29 and 35 were arrested at their respective homes in Bloemfontein. Kalp said the sting followed months of investigations concerning drug dealing in the town. "The arrests emanated from an intensive undercover operation between the crime Intelligence Gathering and Organised Crime units in the area. The investigation spread over a period of 15 months following the identification of drug dealing in night-clubs in Bloemfontein." She said controlled purchases were arranged in the course of the investigations to ensure successful convictions. During this weekend's operation police confiscated 808 Ecstasy tablets, 86 grams of cocaine, 18-and-a-half grams of Thai whites, and six microdots (LSD). In a follow-up operation in the early hours of Saturday morning another 16 people were arrested in raids on various night-clubs in the area. Kalp said the police were heartened by the outcome of the lengthy investigation. "The operation is seen as a success regarding the fact that a syndicate leader with his runners are being taken out of the drug scene." All those arrested will appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrates' Court on Monday.
Mozambican immigrants replace workforce decimated by AIDS (Manzini, Sapa-IPS, 06/11) - Samito is a short, good-natured 15 year-old who seeks to support his girlfriend and their eight month-old baby by holding down two jobs. He is a garden boy, and he sells sweets at the busy central bus rank where thousands of people converge, giving Manzini, Swaziland's most populous urban centre, the nickname "the Hub". Samito has no problems tending garden for an upper-middle class family on top of a suburban hill, but his second job causes problems. This week, as he was carrying a tray of sweets between the large, long-distance buses, some young men pounced on him. "They took about three rand (around 40 U.S. cents) worth of sweets, and wouldn't pay me. I told them to pay. One of them hit me on the head with an iron. I started bleeding. I ran away," he related. No one in the dense crowd offered any assistance. On the contrary, as he ran, Samito stumbled, and spilled some sweets. This motivated the crowd into action, as they swarmed in to grab the young man's meagre inventory. For a nation that prides itself in civil behaviour and good manners, the display seemed terribly "unSwazi", as the locals say. But Samito is not a Swazi. He is Mozambican, one of tens of thousands of mostly-illegal immigrants who have turned Manzini into "a landlocked Maputo", to use the phrase of one bemused Swazi businessman. Swazi authorities are tolerant toward the influx of undocumented Mozambican workers. There are fewer sweeps of the cardboard and mud shanty dwellings clustered together on the outskirts of town, part of festering informal settlements, as there were ten years ago, even as the population of poor newcomers swells. There are two reasons for this: AIDS, and Swazis' reluctance to do some types of work. AIDS is decimating the workforce. Up to 40 percent of the adult population is HIV positive. An official with the Swaziland Chamber of Commerce and Industry sums up the situation: "Where are the factories going to get labourers? Where are businesses going to find staff? Unemployment is high, and opportunities are limited, so the young educated class of Swazis goes to South Africa across the border, where there is better pay and opportunity. The less educated are being decimated by AIDS. Are workers going to be strangers like Nigerians or people from Central Africa, or are they going to be people we know, like the Shangaans?" Swazis migrated south from what today is the Maputo area, some 500 years ago. Many of the original tribe people remained, and intermarriage between Swazis and some Mozambican tribes, like the Shangaans, is not uncommon. Mozambique, on Swaziland's northeast border, is the only African country besides South Africa (which surrounds the country on its three other sides) to have a permanent High Commissioner in the kingdom.
A Mozambican restaurant owner told IPS, "Swazis are most comfortable on their family farms, and those who want jobs want better paying, prestigious work. They don't want to be garden boys. They don't want to sell combs at the bus rank. As poor as Swaziland is, Mozambique is even poorer, and there are lots of Mozambican boys willing to come here to do jobs that pay little, as opposed to no jobs with no pay at home". If officials are unconcerned by the influx of Mozambicans, many Swazis are upset, judging by letters that appear in the two national daily newspapers. "These Mozambicans are turning Manzini into a dangerous place. They steal. They rob you," one letter writer complained. The Manzini branch of the Royal Swaziland Police Force reports that Mozambicans are regularly arrested for crimes, but they are not responsible for a preponderance of crimes committed in the city. An ugly indication of dissatisfaction some Manzini residents feel toward the Mozambique influx is a rise in vigilante activity, centred on the bus rank. In an environment where strangers are in flux, and people are burdened with personal belongings in transit, pick pocketing occurs. People suspected of stealing are set upon by an instant mob, which materialises brandishing axe handles. The accused is pummelled until he or she is bloody, and then marched by the mob to the police station. Unless there is actual evidence of a crime, rather than someone's suspicion that a theft was being attempted, the police hold the suspect until the matter cools. After a few hours, the suspect is released to go find medical attention. Because vigilantism is on the rise, police are patrolling the bus rank in greater numbers. They intervene when a mob finds a suspected criminal, and remove the suspect before the crowd's blood lust can be satisfied. The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse, a non-governmental organisation headquartered in Manzini that provides counselling and medical and legal assistance to abuse survivors, says Mozambicans make up a small minority of reported abusers. "Most Mozambicans are lovely, gentle people who are happy to have a chance to earn a living," said Thab'sile Dlamini, a social worker. Mozambique may have one of the continent's highest economic growth rates, but it is starting from a low point. Following two decades of internecine civil war and post-war instability, the country of 11 million people was listed as the world's poorest. Continuous foreign investment, business-friendly government policies, and rapidly developing road and utilities infrastructures are laying the foundation for rapid economic growth. "Indicators show that Mozambique will be creating jobs in significant numbers in the years ahead," said one World Bank report on the country. If so, Samito need no longer endure the bullies at Manzini's bus rank. He may soon return home for a career. It may be that Swazi youth will begin a reverse trek northward, when the jobs of the future come, possibly turning Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, into "Manzini by the Sea".
Diaspora Africans donate medical supplies (Arusha Times, 29/11) - The Old Arusha Clinic was recently the venue for a brief ceremony to turn over a shipment of medical supplies intended for the people of Arusha that consisted of various medicines, vitamin supplements and medical equipment. Mr. Pete O’Neal, founder and Managing Director of the United African Alliance Community Center UAACC explained that "this donation was made possible by the Oklahoma Healthcare Project which is based in Oklahoma, U.S.A. and the Kuji Foundation, a community service NGO founded in 1999 by Mr. Geronimo ji Jaga. It was facilitated to reach Tanzania by UAACC." Mr. O’Neal noted "this has been a collective endeavor, a successful collaboration that should be emulated and repeated over and over." The ceremony was attended by several senior doctors in Arusha including Dr. J.M. Urasa, head surgeon and founder of the Old Arusha Clinic; Dr. Mhando, a well known cardiologist; Dr. Lyimo, a radiologist. Also attending were Mrs. Joju ji Jaga of the Kuji Foundation, Mrs. Charlotte Hill O’Neal of UAACC and several nurses and medical officers. Mr. O’Neal pointed out how all of the principal organizers for the medical supplies shipment are from the vast community of Africans of the Diaspora (ie. Africans born outside of the continent). "These people are setting a grand example for others in the African American community to follow regardless of their political or religious affiliations. "Even though it is true that many in America are poor, the collective wealth of African Americans is immense almost beyond calculation. I have read statistics that report that Africans in America alone spend countless millions of dollars on hair products and cosmetics and entertainment. "Surely, African Americans must be encouraged to take some of that money and spend it on the development of our Motherland! I feel that Africans of the Diaspora have a moral obligation to do this. Collaborative projects like this one (bringing medical supplies to Arusha) and others that have occurred over the years, are only a start." UAACC has facilitated several other medical supplies and equipment shipments for the Arusha community over the past several years through assistance from the people of Kansas City, (one of Arusha’s Sister City associations) with generous donations from Childrens’ International; the Heart to Heart organization, and the Kuji Foundation. "Our aim is to assist the people of Arusha municipality whether through public hospitals or private medical organizations," Mr. O’Neal said.
Asian logging firms threaten Tanzania's forests (Business news, 19/11) -The Tanzania Exporters Association (TANEXA) has urged the government not to allow foreign traders in logs to harvest trees without a permit from the district authorities. Speaking in Oar es Salaam recently, the TANEXA chairman, Simon Mutabuzi, said the export of logs by foreign traders has been cited asa key factor which would put Tanzanian industries out of busines, and also have a negative affect on the work force. "Although there are so many logs being exported, we request the government to make sure that the harvesting of these logs from natural forests is conducted on a sustainable basis by planting new trees and managing the harvesting by means of rotation," he said. Mutabuzi added that foreign firms export raw logs, eliminating the need for exports of Tanzania's processed wood products. "This affects business by selling to processing industries in foreign countries which make the processed products, thus eliminating the need for importing such goods from us," he said. He said the policy which he recommends would assist Tanzania to have more forest wood, food, conserve soils, protect crops, and reduce environmental destruction. Some areas which leads in cutting and exporting logs are Kilwa, Mtwara, Tabora, Kilimanjaro and Handeni. Foreign companies have resorted to exportation of pangapanga afrormosia, mpingo, muhama, mtundu, mpera mwitu, mkorati, ebony and sandalwood types, he said. According to Mutabuzi , there are only two types of logs which traders were allowed to harvest-Teak and Paurosa, but foreigners had been illegally harvesting restricted types of logs such as Pangapanga, Afrormosia, Mpingo Muhama, Mtundu and Mperwa. After exporting the logs, the foreign firms having obtained their products at very cheap prices, interfere with the foreign market by selling the final products at very Iow prices, he said. As a result the price for one cubic meter of a Paumosa type has declined from 350,000/= previously to 200,000/=, he asserted. This makes it practically impossible for Tanzanian exporters to compete in this business, he said, urging the government to make sure that illegal exportation of unauthorized logs is halted forthwith. Log dealers come mostly from South East Asia and Asia in general, and were conducting a type of business which will soon see Tanzania's natural forests completely wiped out, he warned. These companies which originate from China, Korea, Taiwan and India have undertaken to do this business and to sabotage Tanzanian exporters of both wood and processed wooden products, he asserted. However these companies have invaded all sorts of places in the country and go into the villages, where they offer Iow prices to village authorities and the carry start their logging activities, the official elaborated.
650 Rwandan refugees repatriated from Tanzania (Dar es Salaam, Xinhua, 16/11) - A total of 650 Rwandans have been repatriated to their home from Oct. 15, according to the information from local authority on Sunday in Kagera Region in northwest of Tanzania near Rwanda border. These people are part of Rwandan refugees in Tanzania, who had registered to be repatriated to their original country by their own will. Speaking of the repatriation, Kagera Regional Commissioner Kimaineru Kiwelu agreed that the Rwandans who are prepared to go back home should be allowed without restrictions. He said that for the sake of helping the elderly and children to reach their homes, these people should communicate with United Nations Children's Fund for transportation support. On Oct. 13 this year, Kagera regional commissioner had held talk with his counterpart from neighboring district in Burundi, and both sides agreed that Rwandan refugees in Tanzania illegally should be returned to their home without limitation. It is estimated that about 20,000 illegal immigrants from Rwanda will be repatriated back home from Tanzania, and the 650 people was part of them. Some of these refugees had applied Tanzanian citizenship.
Govt expels three Kenyans (The Guardian, 13/11) - The Immigration Department has arrested and expelled three Kenyans for working in the country without having permit. A Senior Public Relations Officer in the Department, Herbert Chilambo, said yesterday in his office that the three men were arrested last Friday and deported under escort yesterday morning aboard a Nairobi-bound bus, Tawfiq. He said the three Kenyans, Samuel Njeru Munene, Benedict Ochoro and Horace Ochieng, entered the country as visitors, but started working with an advertising firm, the Impact Communications Limited (Tanzania) branch. Chilambo thanked the individual who informed them of the illegal actions of the three foreigners. "Immigration officers who posed as customers in need of advertising services in the company proved that the three were working in the country illegally," he said. He added that they were free to stay in the country as visitors, but not as workers. He thanked all nationals who cooperate with his department to uncover people who stay and/or work in the country illegally. "Citizens know foreigners staying or working in the country illegally, because they reside with them. Expose them. Doing so is beneficial to the nation and to you," Chilambo said. He said if exposed it would be beneficial to Tanzanians because some of the jobs currently in the illegal hands of foreigners could go to locals. The Immigration officer said the government would like all employers to follow the laid down laws and regulations on how to employ foreigners. He said the government would take action to all defaulters. Non-Tanzanians could not work in the country unless they had residence and working permits, he observed. The government encouraged employers, including foreign investors, to recruit as many locals as possible and only resort to foreigners where such expertise was missing in the country, he concluded.
Burundi refugees to go home (The Guardian, 11/11) - Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Burundi could begin returning home from Tanzania within weeks following a government-rebel agreement to end a decade of civil war, a top U.N. official said yesterday. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers said the repatriation could proceed despite continued attacks on Burundi's capital by a small rebel group opposed to the deal. "I think the political agreement gives the possibility of the repatriation of Burundians to the whole of Burundi," Lubbers told Reuters in an interview in Dar es Salaam. "The small incidents which are sometimes provoked by the small rebel force not participating have a limited nuisance value around (the capital) Bujumbura, but we cannot wait" Burundi's government and the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) signed a peace accord last month to end a civil war that has killed 300,000 people in the central African country and sent thousands more across borders to escape the bloodshed. Burundi's decade-long war has seen rebels from the Hutu majority fighting to end the traditional political and military dominance of minority Tutsis. Burundi's smaller Forces for National Liberation (FNL) denounced the agreement to end the fighting and launched fresh assaults. On Sunday night, FNL rebels fired mortars and grenades into the northern and eastern suburbs of Bujumbura, killing at least three people, army and rebel officials said. Tanzania hosts some 350,000 refugees, the vast majority from Burundi, in camps under the care of the UNHCR. The refugees have been a source of friction with neighbouring countries and Tanzania's government is keen to see them go home. Lubbers said their repatriation could begin in just over a month. "In terms of assisted returns, if peace holds and our monitoring teams are able to move into place, we could start in a month or six weeks from now," Lubbers said. "We will try to do half of the job in a year, and hopefully the remainder the year after. Then we have the time frame of a maximum of two years, but it might go faster." Lubbers also reiterated a UNHCR appeal made five months ago for millions of dollars to help displaced people in parts of Africa the agency says are largely forgotten by donors. "We are still struggling," he said. "We need to get a couple of dozens of millions of dollars to conclude our programmes in Africa for this year." He said there were also several crucial UNHCR operations due to take place in the continent in 2004. "We have repatriation in Sierra Leone and Angola, we will also start in Liberia, we have Eritrea, we have Burundi.
Tanzania short of doctors (Business Times, 07/11) - A doctor serves an average of 26,000 patients in Tanzania while the World Health Organisation (WHO) requires such an expert serve 10,000 people. Professor Joseph Shija, principal of the Bugando University College of Health Sciences (BUCHS), says Tanzania has fewer doctors than Uganda and Kenya. In Kenya the ratio of a doctor to patients is 1:7,000, in Uganda it is 1:6,000 while in South Africa is 1:1,600 patients. "Tanzania needs to train at least 290 doctors every year to cope with the growing population of 2.8 per cent per year," he said in Dar es Salaam recently. Tanzania previously had only one training college, the government-owned Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences (MUCHS), that enrolls few students. Now four other universities, mainly private, teach health sciences. They are BUCHS, Hubert Kairuki Memorial University, the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College and the International Medicine and Technology University. Moreover, MUCHS has embarked on an expansion programme. According to MUCHS principal Professor Kisali Pallangyo, the college has increased the number of enrolments to 200. Tanzania is able to train 278 doctors from all those institutions. The target of training 290 doctors a year is not yet achieved. Professor Shija said to solve the problem, the government should sponsor medical students even in private universities. Doctors, he noted, should also be given better remunerations. He noted that health facilities should be made available in hospitals. Having a population of about 35 million, Tanzania has five specialist hospitals- Muhimbili, Mbeya, Mirembe, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, Bugando and Ocean Road Cancer Institute. Inadequate resources constrain Tanzania's provision of health services. This means that diseases increase poverty. According to economists, about 51 per cent of Tanzania people live below the poverty line, spending about $0.5 a day. HIV/AIDS is a major problem) .
Zimbabwean farmers increases Zambian tobacco production (Johannesburg, Irin, 21/11) - The fast-track land redistribution programme in Zimbabwe has forced many commercial farmers to seek greener pastures elsewhere, and Zambia is one of the neighbouring countries that has opened its arms to them. However, fewer Zimbabwean farmers than was previously reported have been granted permission to farm in Zambia. The Zambia Investment Centre (ZIC) told IRIN this week that since the beginning of Zimbabwe's land reform programme in 2002, a total of 41 Zimbabwean farmers had registered with the centre. ZIC issued investment certificates to just 31, allowing them to begin commercial farming. "All the Zimbabwean farmers granted investment certificates to set up farming operations in Zambia are farming. They are engaged in [farming] tobacco, maize, wheat, etc," the ZIC said. Despite their limited numbers, there had already been "an appreciable increase in the quantity of tobacco production this year", the agency noted. "They have what it takes to undertake their various farming enterprises - there is in place an internationally backed financing arrangement, involving international banks and tobacco dealers," a ZIC spokesman told IRIN. ZIC was expecting to receive many more applications from Zimbabwean farmers. "Zambia has the potential to accommodate a lot more farmers, due to her abundant land and water resources, than we currently have," the organisation said. Forty-seven percent of Zambian land is arable and "suitable for various types of crops". "We therefore anticipate that more farmers will come and invest in Zambian agriculture, given the profile the sector has attained and [the] enabling environment being created by government," the ZIC said. Agriculture has been designated a priority area by the Zambian government. "The Zambia Investment Centre would therefore like more farmers of the calibre of Zimbabwean farmers to invest in Zambian agriculture," the organisation said. The ZIC plays a facilitation role for potential investors, providing assistance to those issued with investment certificates in obtaining immigration permits and other necessary documents.
Experts analyze border issues (Luanda, Angop, 18/11) - Experts of the Joint Permanent Commission of Angola and Zambia, for defense and security, will meet on Wednesday, in the Angolan capital (Luanda), to analyze the general situation of control along the common border. Participants will also examine the implementation pace of the program of the 20th meeting of the Joint Permanent Commission, held in 2002, in Zambia, and they will also study the project of the agenda for the next ministerial session. Subdivided into three committees, the issues to be revised are linked to Defense, Public and State Security. The meeting, which is to happen in the conference room of the Interior Ministry, will be attended by senior officers of the army and National Police of both countries.
Zambia grants 31 licences to white farmers (The Herald, 10/11) - Out of over 200 white farmers who trekked to Zambia from Zimbabwe during the land redistribution exercise, only 31 have been granted farming licences after successfully meeting all requirements. Zambia Investment Centre (ZIC) director-general Mr Jacob Lushinga said in a telephone interview here that only 31 farmers had been granted farming licenses out of 1 500 applications that the centre had received since late 1999. Mr Lushinga said most of the farmers who had been granted farming licenses were into tobacco farming and have since settled in northern and southern provinces of Zambia. "We have received a lot of applications from Zimbabweans but only 31 have met Zambian requirements and we have given them farming licenses. They are mostly settled in Mazabuka, Mkushi and Mpika where there are few settlers," he said. Mr Lushinga went on to state that the investment centre, in liaison with the immigration department, had only managed to clear 31 farmers and added that they were still handling more applications. He urged all farmers who had not been granted farming licenses to be patient as Government was doing everything possible to help them acquire licenses and other necessary permits. Mr Lushinga was, however, quick to note that "they need to have all immigration documents in place before they apply for the farming licenses". He said most of the farmers were failing to obtain clearance from immigration department and opted to apply for farming licenses without realising that the ZIC only granted licenses to organisations and individuals who are cleared by the immigration department.
President criticises Zambians who settle in Europe (Post of Zambia, 07/11) -President Levy Mwanawasa yesterday took a swipe at Zambians who decide to settle in Europe after being trained at great expense to the country. President Mwanawasa said such acts of unpatriotism bordered on treason and should be condemned in the strongest terms. He said this when he addressed Zambians on training in China at the Zambian Comission here. He said Zambia as a country sacrificed her meagre resources to train some of her citizens abroad who afterwards refused to return home and decided to settle in Europe to serve their own personal economic interests. He said such Zambians were pleasing nobody but themselves, by deciding to stay after their training. President Mwanawasa said those that were thankful returned home to contribute to the development of the country which helped to train them. China offers training mostly to the railway industry and at least 19 Zambians and 20 Tanzanians from T AZARA are currently undergoing training here. President Mwanawasa said the task of improving Zambia's economic, social and political status was a daunting one and needed sacrifice from all. He said, however, that if Zambians worked hard together, progress could begin to show in the next one to two years, because technically Zambia was not a poor country. President Mwanawasa who is in China on a five- day state visit said Zambia was endowed with a lot of natural resources which could be exploited for the betterment of Zambians. He said the success story in agriculture scored by his administration in just under one and a half years was testimony of what determination and hardwork could achieve. He said under this period maize production improved from 630,000 metric tonnes to 1.4 million metric tonnes and indicators are that the situation would get better. President Mwanawasa pledged government's commitment in the improvement of marketing of the ever-growing agricultural produce and promised that development would continue not only in agriculture but mining and further exploitation of the country's energy sector.
He said Zambia had two thirds of the water resources in the Sub Saharan region and had the potential to produce more hydro power and be able to export it to countries in the region including Kenya. He said the copper mining industry was further being exploited with the development of the Kansanshi and Lumwano Mines which should open up the North-Western Province for even further development. President Mwanawasa hoped the training of the rail workers in China would contribute to the growth of the rail industry in Zambia. He urged the railway trainees to return home and contribute to the development of the Chipata/Mchinji and another connector to link Chipata and T AZARA. He said he had a lot of confidence that with its potential, Zambia had the ability to move forward. Earlier, Zambia's Ambassador to China David Saviye said Zambians resident in China were committed to duty and willing to work in the service of mother Zambia. He said there were about 80 Zambians in Beijing who had suggested that the President meets them during his visit. He said the majority of Zambian students in China were from the railway industry and were patriotic Zambians. In a vote of thanks, one of the students Cuthbert Lungu said Zambians in China were very happy with the Mwanawasa government's agricultural policy because of the fruits it had began to bear. He said the railway industry would for instance benefit from boosted agriculture due to haulage of agricultural produce. He said many Zambians training in China were geared to return home after completion of their studies and some of them had even bought hammer-mills. Meanwhile, President Mwanawasa's planned visit to the Great Chinese wall at Badaling earlier, was cancelled due to bad weather. President Mwanawasa, however, is still scheduled to meet African heads of missions based here at the Diaouyutal Hotel before attending a state function to officially welcome him by his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao. President Mwanawasa is accompanied by his wife Maureen, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Peng Keyu, foreign affairs minister Kalombo Mwansa, finance minister Peter Magande and commerce minister Dipak Patel, among others.
UNHCR suspends repatriation from Zambia to Angola (UNHCR, 04/11) -Organised returns from Zambia to Angola will be suspended next week as the onset of the rainy season renders roads impassable, said the UN refugee agency today. The last return convoy of Angolan refugees in Zambia will leave on November 11 for Cazombo in Angola’s western province of Moxico, the main destination of Angolan refugees in Zambia. UNHCR will resume repatriation at the end of the rainy season in May next year. However, organised convoys from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Namibia will continue to parts of Angola that are still accessible – in the latter case as rains arrive later in southern Angola bordering Namibia. Since the start of the voluntary repatriation programme in June this year, more than 41,000 Angolan refugees have gone home with UNHCR from the DRC (20,000), Zambia (17,600) and Namibia (3,500). The refugee agency has also provided assistance to some 20,000 spontaneous returnees going home on their own, giving them relief and food aid to help them get started back home. ”UNHCR is assisting Angolans to go back only to areas that have the basic infrastructure to allow them to begin a new life,” said the agency’s spokesman Ron Redmond at a news briefing in Geneva Tuesday. “However, we believe repatriation will be very difficult in 40 percent of the primary areas of returns because of the lack of water and sanitation, medical and other social services. Wide areas of Angola are also heavily mined.” Three decades of civil war in Angola had driven hundreds of thousands of Angolans into neighbouring countries, and displaced many others within the country. But the signing of a peace agreement last year has paved the way for large numbers of refugees and internally displaced people to return home. There were an estimated 440,000 Angolans in neighbouring countries before UNHCR launched its repatriation programme. The refugee agency plans to help some 75,000 Angolan refugees return home this year, with another 145,000 next year.
Botswana's electrical fence to keep Zimbabweans out ( Zimbabwean Standard, 30/11) - Residents of this village along the border with Zimbabwe were quite pleased when Botswana's government began erecting a 10-foot-high (more than three metres) electrified fence to separate the two countries. Officially, the fence is to keep out livestock from Zimbabwe suspected of carrying foot-and-mouth disease. But the villagers are hoping the fence, which will snake across 300 miles of desert scrub, will do more: block the path of thousands of illegal immigrants who are fleeing the political and economic turmoil in Zimbabwe. Now that the electric fence is nearly complete, villagers wonder whether it will deliver a shock powerful enough to stop the Zimbabweans, whom they blame for Botswana's rising number of thefts, rapes and other crimes. "We still don't know whether it will work. The generator is very weak," said Simon Lephalo, a member of the local council in this acacia-shaded village of 1200 people. In the shimmering desert heat, Zimbabweans plod from house to house in border towns begging to wash cars, mow lawns, weed gardens and perform odd jobs, anything for a hot meal or a handful of change. At night they disappear, sleeping in the dry reeds along the banks of the Tati River, bedding down in the desert, taking refuge in bus stops or crowding into tiny rented shelters. No fence may be high enough or threatening enough to hold back the rising tide of illegal immigrants, authorities in Botswana say. There are too many reasons for Zimbabweans to leave. Nearly half of Zimbabwe's population of 12,5 million people is facing starvation this year, and 80 percent of the population is without work and living in poverty. There are shortages of fuel, bread, and cooking oil and other staples. Zimbabwe's hardships are the legacy of President Robert Mugabe, the former guerrilla fighter who brought an end to white minority rule in 1980. Twenty years later, facing mounting opposition to his poor management of the economy, Mugabe launched a racially charged, chaotic and often-violent programme of seizing white-owned farms for landless black peasants, crippling the country's agriculture-based economy.
Like the echoes from a distant explosion, the political and economic upheavals of Zimbabwe are being felt across the region, especially in Botswana and South Africa. South Africa remains the top destination for Zimbabweans, but the immigrants' impact is greater in Botswana, a sparsely populated country of 1,7 million people. Each new economic or humanitarian disaster in Zimbabwe triggers a fresh wave of human misery spilling into Botswana. Flooding the country are Zimbabweans such as 22-year-old Themma Tlou. A mother of two, Tlou lived on a white-owned commercial farm where her father worked until government-backed militias seized the land and forced them to flee in 2000. Out of work and out of food, Tlou left her children with her parents and paid a guide $5 to escort her across the border into Botswana. Under the cover of night she slipped through a tear in the fence and started walking to Francistown, an industrial centre of 100 000 less than an hour's drive from the border. She had no money, just a jacket and a hat to wear at night and a modest dream of earning the equivalent of $50 to take home. But her dreams were short-lived. Early the next morning, Botswana police patrol-ling the border arrested her. She was brought to the Centre for Illegal Immigrants, a sprawling brick complex outside Francistown that houses hundreds of immigrants awaiting deportation. They are given three meals a day, a blanket to sleep on and a ride to the Zimbabwe border. Some Zimbabweans are so flattered by the treatment they beg to stay at the compound. In Zimbabwe, they say, they will only suffer. "All of the industries have closed. We don't have work," says Tlou, waiting to be deported. Edmore Banda, a surprisingly cheerful 20-year-old who is well-known among immigration officials, was also waiting to be deported - for the eighth time. On his most recent stay, he found a job at a brick-making factory in Francistown, earning 20 pula, about $5 a day, a fraction of what a Botswana citizen would demand but a fortune in Zimbabwe, where he earned US$10 a month as a gardener. He has sent his savings back home to support his parents, two brothers and three sisters. When authorities deport him again to Zimbabwe, he'll do just as he has done in the past. "By tomorrow afternoon, I will be back," he promises. From the Zimbabwe side of the fence, Botswana beckons like a promised land. As the world's largest producer of gem diamonds, Botswana has one of the fastest-growing economies. Combined with a government that embraces multiparty democracy, exercises prudent fiscal policies and polices corruption, Botswana has become a darling of the West, a model for other African nations to follow.
No one knows how many illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe live here, but authorities estimate at least one million. So far this year, more than 36 000 Zimbabweans have been deported. Those who elude authorities perform the backbreaking jobs that the Batswana, as the people of Botswana are known, consider beneath them. If the immigrants die, their deaths often go unnoticed. Earlier this year, the Francistown government buried the unclaimed bodies of a dozen Zimbabwean illegal immigrants. By September, the mortuaries were again clogged with Zimbabwean bodies. Although Botswana's economy has come to depend on them for cheap labour, Zimbabweans are largely viewed here as a nuisance, responsible for the sharp rise in prostitution, theft, rape and murder. "Zimbabweans are hated so much. It's as if you are something stinking," says Nomsa Mdlozu, a reporter who covers immigration issues for Francistown's newspaper, The Voice. "Zimbabweans are hard workers especially when it comes to construction. But the Batswana ignore their existence." Batswana forget, she says, that just 20 years ago when their country was still very poor, thousands of Batswana sought work in Zimbabwe, once considered the breadbasket of Africa. Police say there is no evidence that Zimbabweans are any more responsible for crime than Batswana. Yet police have won support for stepped-up raids on Zimbabweans, rounding them up by the hundreds at village taxi stands, at factories and in their hideouts in the desert. Zimbabweans are also the target of a growing vigilante movement in Botswana. In Francistown, police recently rushed to rescue a Zimbabwean from an angry mob that had accused him of stealing a purse. In Tlokweng near Botswana's capital, Gaborone, the chief called for the expulsion of Zimbabweans from his village, arguing that they were responsible for escalating crime rates. This year, Botswana's government amended its laws so foreigners could be tried in tribal courts, where chiefs may mete out humiliating sentences such as public lashings. In Matsiloje, Chief Seleka Paul Moipolai has no doubt that Zimbabweans are guilty of stealing food, cattle, clothing and other items from his village, but he adds that he is sympathetic to the Zimbabweans' suffering. "When we ask them why they come here, they say they are starving," he says. A survey by the Southern African Migration Project found that a majority of Batswana support having an electrified border fence to control illegal immigrants. In the eyes of many Batswana, the animal control fence is a convenient obstacle for humans as well as cattle. To the Zimbabwean government, it is an insult. Zimbabwe's High Commissioner to Botswana balked at the project, comparing it to the security wall that Israel is building in the West Bank to control the movements of Palestinians. Botswana has been one of the few African nations to openly criticise Mugabe's land reform, and the fence has further cooled relations. Zimbabwean officials, meanwhile, say they are baffled by the numbers fleeing their country. "I don't know why anyone from one country would go to another country," George Charamba, a spokesman for the Zimbabwe President's Office, says in a telephone interview from Harare. From: Baltmore Sun.
Zimbabwe professionals exodus (Harare, Angop, 28/11) - Zimbabwe is one of Africa`s hardest hit nations by an exodus of skilled professionals to other countries, particularly Europe, where better salaries and living conditions are presumed to be in abundance. A four-year consecutive economic slump, which continues to gather momentum, has been the catalyst for the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans in virtually every profession. This has prompted every Zimbabwean with a marketable skill outside the nation`s borders, to contemplate leaving, to escape the unfolding poverty trap at home. The result has been the departure, in the last three years, of an estimated three million Zimbabweans to countries in the region, and others further afield, such as former colonial power Britain. Neighbouring South Africa, Africa`s foremost economic powerhouse, is thought to be home to at least two million Zimbabweans, made up of professionals and unskilled workers alike. These are attracted by a stable life, and a chance to earn a currency which, when converted on a thriving black market back home, brings an instant fortune. Botswana and Namibia have also been major destinations for Zimbabwean professionals, but are by far dwarfed by South Africa, which has taken in even hundreds of thousands border jumpers from its northern neighbour. Outside South Africa, Britain is the second biggest destination for Zimbabweans, and an estimated 300 000 to 500 000 are thought to have emigrated to the country in the last three years. Smaller numbers of professionals have gone to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, but the figures keep growing. Zimbabwe, with the highest literacy rate in Africa, has some of the best trained professionals on the continent, which has caught the attention of even employment recruitment agencies overseas. Worst hit by the exodus has been the health sector, which experts say had lost upto 10 000 doctors, nurses, pharmacists etc in the last three years. This has left Zimbabwe`s health delivery system, once one of Africa`s best, on its knees - rocked by under-funding and staffing, and now depended on imported labour from Cuba and DR Congo, among others, for survival. Short of bringing back the economy on its knees again, there appears to be no end in sight for the brain drain in Zimbabwe. The lure of instant riches, when convertible currencies are changed at the parallel market back home, have only added to the attraction of emigrating, making the phenomenal even harder to tackle. Statistics vary, but Zimbabweans in Britain alone are estimated to be remitting about 15 million Sterling Pounds are month, enough to fund the country`s entire annual health budget if the money is converted on the black market. That is the sort of buying power few, if any, of the emigrants would want to relinquish, at least as long as Zimbabwe is caught up in its present shaky economic web.
Public service commission to address brain drain (Zimbabwe Independent, 21/11) - Finance minister Herbert Murerwa yesterday said he was dishing out $3,18 trillion to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to appease disgruntled civil servants who are leaving the country in search of greener pastures overseas. In his 2004 budget presentation, Murerwa said government was worried about the current "brain drain". More than a million Zimbabweans have left the country for South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and other destinations where the economic situation is better. Professionals such as doctors and nurses, teachers, and pilots have left in search of foreign currency paying jobs in the diaspora. "The brain drain is worrying and skilled workers are leaving the country because of our high inflation," Murerwa said. "This has dislocated most of our services. I am therefore setting aside $3,18 trillion for wages and salaries." The country's hyperinflationary environment has resulted in skyrocketing prices for goods and services resulting in suffering for the population. Inflation has shot to 525,8% for October, up from 455,6% in September. Murerwa blamed inflation for virtually everything he touched on in his budget statement. "Mr Speaker Sir, the brain drain has become an important policy challenge both in government and the private sector," he said. "It is also pertinent to note that the country is not reaping dividends from the massive investment in human capital which the government made since Independence, as professionals and skilled workers emigrate to other countries in search of greener pastures. In addition, the high levels of inflation have seriously eroded civil service wages and frequent strikes, particularly in the health sector, have dislocated service delivery." He said he hoped the $3,18 trillion for the civil service would go a long way in alleviating the plight of the civil servants who have been accustomed to engaging in regular industrial action countrywide.
No barriers too great for Zimbabwean immigrants (Mail&Guardian, 18/11) -It is the middle of the month and the buses headed from Zimbabwe's Bulawayo to Francistown, the border town in neighbouring Botswana, 160km away, are leaving half full. But vehicles driving in the opposite direction, back to Zimbabwe, are overcrowded. That is because traders, mostly women, are returning home. They cross the border at the end of each month to sell an assortment of items including cigarettes, spirits and wood carvings. What drives them is the desire to earn the pula, the stable Botswana currency that fetches a good rate on Zimbabwe's thriving parallel market for foreign currency. For those enterprising enough to get hold of it, the pula -- like other hard currencies -- is making the difference between sustaining a family and sinking into poverty. As Zimbabwe's political impasse worsens the humanitarian and economic crises, runaway inflation of 500% has rendered the local currency literally worthless. However, not everyone going to Botswana has items to sell. Some go in search of part-time employment as domestic helpers, construction hands and even cattle herders. Up to 20% of Zimbabwe's population is estimated to have sought sanctuary and a living wage in neighbouring countries. Even struggling Mozambique now has an estimated 400 000 Zimbabweans. Botswana is one of the popular destinations for the very desperate who use any of the various footpaths mainly along the 100km-stretch between the smaller border posts at Mphoengs and Maitengwe. One such border jumper is Morris, who lived about 200km from the main border post, Plumtree. Since August last year the 23-year-old had sneaked into Botswana three times. Save for his last trip last month when he secured a job on a construction site, he had been nabbed and deported before securing employment. Botswana's immigration authorities say they cannot cope with illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe who are arriving in ever-higher numbers. Estimated at more than 60 000, the flood of illegal immigrants threatens to overwhelm the country's population of 1,7-million. Recently, the state built a new detention centre for illegal immigrants near the border with Zimbabwe. However, the government is also thinking long-term.
In October last year, the authorities began erecting an electric fence meant to protect Botswana's key livestock industry, recently hit by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease traced to Zimbabwe. The 500km-long fence is also aimed at keeping out border jumpers. Although Zimbabwe voiced its disquiet over the fence, accusing Botswana of seeking to create a Gaza Strip, authorities in Botswana hope it will keep out border jumpers. For now, however, Morris says slipping into Botswana is still possible. "They haven't switched on the power so people are still crossing illegally," he said. Police in Plumtree said on each week day Botswana prison trucks spew a minimum of 80 Zimbabwean deportees at the border post. The figure is expected to swell threefold because during the festive season the Botswana government will step up patrols. In the past, deportees were fined or detained on both sides of the border. But now they are seldom charged in Zimbabwe. Officers say this is because the Plumtree courts and police lack the necessary stationery. But this is unlikely to elicit sympathy from Botswana and has undoubtedly further strained relations between the two neighbours. "Do you need stationery to charge someone?" said Moshe Setimela of the Botswana Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs. "They won't charge them because it's their own people and they understand the situation that they are running away from." Among those classified as border jumpers are traders who have involuntarily over-stayed in Botswana while awaiting payment for items sold. Tafadzwa, a bus conductor who travels to Francistown daily, said many passengers successfully jump the border back into Zimbabwe to avoid paying a fine of 10 pula (about R14) for each day overstayed. Although Botswana is a close enough destination for daring Zimbabweans intent on escaping growing poverty, 22-year-old Eriphas says he would rather go to South Africa where, he said, there are better prospects and less xenophobia. In Botswana, the deluge of Zimbabweans has caused tension, with the Tswanas blaming the "Makwerekwere" -- as Zimbabweans are derogatively known -- for the upsurge in crime. In Zimbabwe the press regularly highlights the misfortunes of fellow nationals in Botswana. A local man was recently reported to have died in a prison fight. Another was shot by the police while three others were said to have been poisoned.
A month before, authorities in Botswana buried 12 unclaimed Zimbabwean bodies who had died in unexplained circumstances. to Eriphas, Botswana is an unwelcoming place with relatively few opportunities. As a member of the Johane Masowe Apostolic Church whose female flock is identifiable by flowing white robes, Eriphas says fellow sect members will help him pass through the South African border post. "We have been trading for a long time, We know the techniques of crossing into South Africa without a passport," he said. To curb the influx of Zimbabweans, South Africa -- host to about three million Zimbabweans -- has just announced more stringent visa requirements. Locals are required to pay a surety cash guarantee of R1 000 or the Zimbabwe dollar equivalent. Previously, Zimbabweans were only required to deposit the equivalent of about R350 before travelling to South Africa. The South African High Commission says Zimbabweans willing to pay in foreign currency must show proof that the money was sourced from a local bank -- a tall order in a country where most foreign currency transactions take place on the parallel market.For the growing numbers of hungry Zimbabweans, however, the desire to cross the border is often so compelling that no risk seems too great and few barriers impenetrable.
New visas for Zim visitors to SA (Zimbabwe Standard, 17/11) - Desperate Zimbabweans seeking to trade in South Africa or visit relatives are now being forced to produce traveller's cheques or bank statements in that country's currency following recent surprise changes in the visa requirements imposed by Pretoria. Zimbabwean business people and travellers are complaining that they now have to show the South African High Commission proof that they have R1000 in traveller's cheques or in their own bank accounts before they can be issued with visas. The new visa requirements state that Zimbabwean visitors to South Africa have to produce proof of a bank statement or traveller's cheques of at least R1000 at the immigration offices before they can be accorded a visa. The new developments have reportedly resulted in the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) accusing the South African High Commission of trying to mop up the troubled central bank's last reserves of foreign currency. The South African government has however refuted the charges insisting that the new visa requirements were universal and did not affect Zimbabweans only. Jeremiah Ndou, the South African High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, said the new visa requirements were in line with new South African legislation that was enacted early this year. "The RBZ has already approached us seeking a meeting to iron out the misunderstandings which we are unaware of. All that has happened is that we have enforced the new visa requirements in accordance with the South African Immigration Act of April 2003," said Ndou. Prior to new regulations, Zimbabwean travellers only needed to show local bank statements proving that they had a bank balance of at least $102 000 with a local bank to apply for a South African visa. "We previously only asked for the equivalent of 1 000 rands but the problem is that one can no longer use the Zimbabwean currency for any financial transaction in South Africa," said Ndou. "It (the R1000) is not a visa charge or fee, neither is it an attempt to prohibit people from travelling to South Africa but a means to ensure that Zimbabweans can sustain themselves when they get there," he added. However, officials at the RBZ and members of the public say the new requirements are deliberately meant to curb the influx of impoverished Zimbabweans, seeking to flee the country, into South Africa. Immigration experts say between 10 to 20 per cent of the Zimbabwean population, currently estimated at 12 million people, have left their homes to seek jobs in neighbouring countries, most of them in South Africa. About two million Zimbabweans are reportedly in South Africa which is also grappling with the massive unemployment of its own citizens. Besides the minimum R1 000 in cash or as traveller's cheques, Zimbabweans are also required to disclose the location of their residence while in South Africa. "All we need to know is where the holiday-makers, visitors or business people visiting South Africa would be putting up to make it easier for us to locate them while in South Africa," said Ndou. An estimated 1 500 Zimbabweans travel to South Africa officially every week while thousands more risk their lives swimming across the crocodile-infested Limpopo River or jump the border. Ndou said South Africa had now devised special permits for Zimbabweans living on the border to allow them to visit friends and relatives on the other side.
Zimbabwean authorities confiscate Zambian travelers' cash (16/11) - Zimbabwean border police have started confiscating foreign currency from Zambians passing through the country, a Zambian newspaper reported Sunday. In the latest incident, a bus traveling through Zimbabwe en route to South Africa was stopped near Bulawayo, the Sunday Post reported. Border police searched passengers on the bus and confiscated large sums of South African rands, U.S dollars, Botswana pula and Namibian dollars. One Zambian passenger who rides the bus regularly told the Post that the bags were searched and items inside were thrown out on the ground. Some students were left stranded at the border after having all their cash confiscated. The report said police explained they were acting under instruction from the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank. People received receipts with a serial number and a Zimbabwe government stamp if their money was confiscated. Zimbabwe's high commissioner to Zambia, Cain Mathema, said he had not heard of any such reports. Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980. The deepening crisis is blamed partly on the state program that seized thousands of commercial farms from white farmers for redistribution to black Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe is also suffering shortages of local currency - blamed on runaway inflation, the central bank's inability to print conventional notes quickly enough and people hoarding of money.
Lifeline offered to Zimbabweans in New Zealand (New Zealand Herald, 15/11) - About 2500 Zimbabweans who have fled to New Zealand face an uncertain future as their permits near expiry. Many have 11 weeks left. But yesterday, Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel hinted that they may be allowed to stay permanently. "If I was to give an indication, I would like to propose a work-to-residency solution," she said. Since February, the Immigration Service has given out hundreds of one-year work permits or student visas to Zimbabweans. Many were forced from their farms by President Robert Mugabe's land reforms, through which white farmers have lost property to landless blacks. Many either became illegal overstayers here or tried to stay on visitors' or temporary work permits before getting the one-year reprieve. Yesterday, Ms Dalziel said officials were working on the problem, but no proposals had yet been taken to the Cabinet. She pledged, however, that no one would be kicked out when hisor her one-year permit expired. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the fact that the Zimbabweans were here at all showed immigration policies were too lax. "We've got to be the world's softest touch if 2500 people just come steaming in and can stay here. Why didn't they go to Australia? Why didn't they go to Canada or the UK?" But Ms Dalziel said giving them work permits meant few claims for refugee status. Many qualified to enter under existing work-permit rules and had links to New Zealand. Allowing them to stay permanently would mean Zimbabweans could qualify to live here under the general skills category. Automatic residency could not be granted because of security concerns. Last year, the Government investigated claims that three black supporters of President Mugabe threatened an exiled white farmer in a queue at an Auckland Immigration Service office. Fear of Mr Mugabe's spies in New Zealand is keeping many silent. A black Zimbabwean who agreed to tell his story, on condition he was not named, spoke of his fears for family left at home. In March, he fled what he claimed was a future of torture and fear. Fellow pro-democracy activists told him New Zealand was the last country in the world that would let him in without a visa, he said. Another man, tobacco farmer Allan Bradley, arrived in Hawkes Bay with his family, and a bullet in his lung. He got out after the leader of a gang of "settlers" shot him and authorities forced him off his farm. He said the gunman then moved into his house. He said Ms Dalziel told the family in a letter that she did not normally interfere in work-permit or residency applications. "But in our case she made an exception and will instruct the immigration department to give us a two-year work permit." The letter said that if the family supported themselves, stayed out of trouble and integrated into the community, they could apply for residency. Mr Bradley is now a factory night-shift supervisor.
Cuba expected to send more doctors ( Harare, The Herald, 13/11) - Cuba is expected to send more health professionals in the country next year in addition to the 187 who have already been deployed at various hospitals. This is expected to ease the shortage of health professionals, especially in district hospitals in the country. In an interview, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr David Parirenyatwa said the health professionals were expected in the country early next year. He said a meeting aimed at strengthening Zimbabwe-Cuba relations in the medical services was held on Monday with a Cuban delegation that is in the country. "The meeting was an assurance of the continuation of collaboration between Cuba and Zimbabwe," said Dr Parirenyatwa. During the meeting, an agreement was reached to send more health professionals to Zimbabwe. The first batch of health professionals from Cuba arrived in February last year while more arrived in the country early this year. The Cuban health professionals include urologists, dentists, gynaecologists and paediatricians, pharmacists and radiographers. In June, the Democratic Republic of Congo sent 77 medical specialists to Zimbabwe and these were deployed to various hospitals in the country.
Striking doctors quitting country (The Standard, 09/11) - Twelve junior and middle-level doctors from the major referral hospitals have resigned to protest against a Labour Court decision that ruled the doctors' strike illegal, as it emerged that scores of their defiant colleagues were now contemplating quitting the country altogether. Phibion Manyanga, the President of the Hospital Doctors Association confirmed to The Standard yesterday that the doctors, unhappy with the court's decision, had decided to leave public service and seek greener pastures elsewhere. Labour Court Judge Lilian Hove on Wednesday ordered the striking doctors back to work saying they ignored established procedures to have their issues solved before resorting to the work stoppage. Under Zimbabwean law, it is illegal for doctors to go on strike because they are considered providers of an essential service. "What they are simply doing is postponing the problem. Some of the doctors have since resigned after the court ruling and we are expecting to have the number increasing by the end of this week," Manyanga said. "They are going where they think their services are appreciated," he said. What the doctors wanted, Manyanga said, was for their problems to be discussed at a negotiating table that would have all parties represented and not to have the matter taken to court. "It is disappointing that after two weeks of striking, no figure has been offered and my colleagues are saying that we can only go back to work after something tangible has been agreed. The court order only worsened the problem," he added. Manyanga said there was a possibility that the doctors could up their demands, considering the rising rate of inflation. "When we started this job action bread was costing $1 000 but now it's well above $2 500 ... we were also buying fuel at $2 000 and now its over $5 000 per litre," he said. "This only serves to show how inflation is rising and on that basis we can only bid upwards," said Manyanga. A visit by The Standard to Parirenyatwa Hospital over the weekend found only nurses attending to patients. Zimbabwean doctors, who claim that they are the least paid in southern Africa, earn between $380 000 and $540 000 a month.
Instability spreads as thousands flee from Zimbabwe ( The Telegrapher, 08/11) - The effects of Robert Mugabe's regime are forcing thousands of people to seek sanctuary in neighbouring countries - a situation that is threatening to destabalise the whole region, writes Tim Butcher in Gabrone. Less than a mile from the mirror-panelled banks and high-rise offices of Botswana's richest firms, penniless Zimbabweans gather on dusty street corners begging for work. Unregistered, unkempt and unlawful in a foreign land, the desperate men whisper "Piece work, piece work" sotto voce, meaning "odd job" to any passer-by. If you are brave enough to stop your car at what appears to be an empty junction, a mini-stampede erupts as Zimbabweans surge towards the vehicle, hands flapping for car door handles in an unseemly scrum to be first in line. Malnourished and haggard, the men try anything to convince would-be employers. Some brandish O-level certificates as proof that they passed through Zimbabwe's once respected but now barely functioning education system. Others show references from employers back in Zimbabwe long closed down or even character references from the country's opposition Movement for Democratic Change, to indicate that they are not tainted by association with President Robert Mugabe's regime. All the documents have to be retrieved from a carefully secreted position - tucked in a sock or hidden behind a belt. To be found with such paperwork by the police is grounds for the bearer to be kicked out of Botswana as an illegal. "I have been coming across the border regularly for two years now," said 24-year-old Mqondisi from Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo. "We get a few days' permission to be here, but we all stay to look for work because a little bit of money here in Botswana is more than we can hope for in Zimbabwe. The police catch us and stick us in the trucks that take us back over the border, but after a few days we come back." The problems caused to southern Africa by the Mugabe regime's systematic destruction of the economy and the democratic system are causing worsening trouble. An estimated three million Zimbabweans are seeking sanctuary in neighbouring South Africa, while 400,000 have gone to Mozambique. Anything from 10 to 20 per cent of the Zimbabwean population have left their homes to seek job security and wages in neighbouring lands.
Trains, buses and lorries have been used by the South African authorities to deport 498,321 since the crisis began in 2000, according to official figures, although it is believed that only one in six illegal immigrants is caught. Even desperately poor Mozambique is now attracting Zimbabweans. Thousands have streamed over the mountainous eastern border into Manica province, hoping to be paid in any currency other than the Zimbabwean dollar. Ironically, many black Zimbabweans are leaving for Mozambique to work on farms being run by the same white farmers kicked off their land by Mr Mugabe. Zimbabwe may hate the white farmer, but scores have been welcomed into Mozambique by the authorities keen to lure agricultural specialists, especially in the tobacco sector. Botswana, too, has also been inundated. A rare African economic success story, it is now under threat from hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants. It is dramatic proof of the regional chaos caused by Mr Mugabe's chaotic rule. With a tiny population of only 1.7 million, Botswana faces being overwhelmed by those fleeing the economic chaos, political violence and spiralling lawlessness of Zimbabwe, which has a population more than eight times greater. The flood has led inexorably to tension, with Botswanans blaming the arrivals for a surge in petty crime and for stealing jobs. Local police have been accused of beating the arrivals and other human rights abuses. Spencer Mogapi, editor of the independent Botswana Gazette, said: "If we had 10,000 illegal Zimbabweans here we would not be able to cope because we are so small. "But our government says officially that there are 60,000 here already and most people believe the real number to be much more than that." The suburb of White City in the Botswanan capital, Gaborone, offers clear proof of the scale of the problem. As the crisis in Zimbabwe has worsened, the illegal immigrant situation in Botswana has become steadily worse, although the secretive government of President Festus Mogae rarely speaks publicly about the problem. He is understood to be concerned about the influx, which threatens the economic and social stability of his small country, and as a result he is believed to be one of Mr Mugabe's fiercest regional critics.
A new detention centre for illegal immigrants has recently been built near Botswana's border with Zimbabwe, and Botswana is erecting an electrified fence along the border to stop illegal immigrants and diseased cattle. There was no response from the president's spokesman after an approach by The Telegraph, and a western television crew was asked to leave the country recently after attempting to film a report on the issue. Don McKinnon, secretary general of the Commonwealth, discussed the regional fall-out from Mr Mugabe's economic mismanagement recently and let slip that Botswana might have as many as 200,000 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe. Alfred Dube, Botswana's ambassador at the United Nations, hinted at the threat of vigilantism against illegal Zimbabwean immigrants who are blamed for everything from petty crime to spreading Aids. "We are concerned about what is going on," said the ambassador. "It is very unfortunate that we have our houses being burgled every day and our children being harassed. We understand why our people are saying Zimbabweans must go." Back in Gaborone, Mr Mogapi said death provided the starkest proof of the scale of the problem. "There are so many of them that when they die they are filling up our mortuaries for days as their families do not have the means to come to collect them," he said. "The authorities here have to bury them in unmarked graves. It is a very sad situation."
This page last updated 23 February 2004.