September 2003 - Click on the country title above the headlines for the entire article.
SADC tourism income to double
Abandon visas, says Nepad ambassador
Prime Minister on internal refugees
Commercial licences denied to foreigners
Police repatriate more illegal immigrants
Angolan refugees return home
Concern over spontaneous refugee returns
Migration and foreign office train staff
More than 25,000 Angolan refugees returned home
Angolan peace gives hope on refugees
Police repatriate 44 illegal immigrants
Over three million people return home
Police move against immigrant combi drivers
Botswana, Zimbabwe in showdown over border
Zimbabwe chafes over Botswana's 'Gaza Strip'
Tensions rise over new border fence
Anger towards Zimbabweans understandable, says diplomat
Tensions rise over new border fence
Electric border fence sparks row
Don't blame everything on Zimbabweans
Foreigners crowd out citizen traders?
Zimbabwe protests electric fence
Botswana Zimbabwe relations heat up over electric fence
Botswana to bury unclaimed corpses in mass graves
Steady stream of asylum seekers from Great Lakes
Refugee population on the rise in Malawi
50% of Malawi's professionals may die of AIDS
Mozambique, Zimbabwe re-demarcate border
Delay in pensions prejudices miners
Suspected child traffickers arrested
Armed robbers arrested in Ressano Garcia
Mozambican children used as sex slaves in South Africa
Mozambique and Zimbabwe reduce costs of visas
Angolan nabbed over UNAM scam
Foreign journalists convicted on forgery, immigration charges
Labour court to consider immigration dispute
Rwandan refugees at Osire to be repatriated
Public meeting on SADC immigration protocol
Zimbabwean miners in South Africa
Electoral bill passed in Assembly
'Come home or don't vote,' says ANC
ANC reversal may strip expatriates of vote
Bleak ride home for Zimbabwe deportees
Doctors in revolt
South African citizens abroad can vote next year
Hillbrow target of police, immigration raids
Netcare gives reassurance of brain drain
Bid to woo South Africans abroad
Comment: State must act now to plug brain drain
National ID campaign up and running
Brain drain a key factor in IT labour market
Emigration to SA showing upward trend
Expatriate South Africans to be excluded from the vote
New bill addresses dual citizenship anomaly
Nurses leave for jobs overseas
Government recruiting more doctors
Immigration officials not aware of new EAC passport
476 illegal immigrants arrested
Region undecided on burden sharing
Tanzania's safe havens proposal rejected
Tanzania calls for repeal of UN refugee convention
Home Affairs minister's call to review refugee laws
260 refugees return home through new border crossing
Customs bosses agree to fight smuggling
The Case for dual citizenship
Government expels 910 former refugees
President blames rise in small arms on refugee inflows
Zambia seeks compensation from UK for medics brain-drain
Nine prohibited immigrants arrested
24 Congolese arrested at church
Farmer contests deportation order
Immigration deports 102 illegal immigrants
Zambia's repatriation program reaches halfway mark
Immigration officers hold Gamma CEO
Tourism industry picks up
UK 'asylum seekers' sneak home
SA sticks to visa requirements
Riot police control thousands seeking SA visas
Zimbabweans throng SA visa office
Zimbabwean white farmers relocate to Kwara
More than 200 nurses graduate
Registrar-General's office hikes passport fees
Zimbabweans seek US shelter
Nursing school hit by shortages
SADC tourism income to double (Harare, The Herald, 16/09) - The Southern African Development Community is expected to double its combined tourism income to US$50 billion per year from about US$20 billion by 2010 through tourism preparations from trans-frontier parks being created within the region. An ambitious project, comprising 120 million hectares of conservation areas linked in at least 22 national parks across boundaries of 15 States is expected to create thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly. Although World Conservation Union (ICUN) officials attending the World Parks could not immediately provide statistics on individual countries within the region, South Africa is expected to get over 40 percent of the income from tourism while Zimbabwe will get slightly above 38 percent. "Zambia , Malawi and Mauritius are expected to get 25 percent, 20 percent and 18 percent respectively. Zimbabwe is likely to get more visitors as the situation in the country continues to improve," said the officials. Professor William van Riet of the Peace Parks Foundation, which is a major facilitator of trans-frontier parks projects, said there was no doubt that developments in the region would generate more income that would lead to the creation of more jobs. He said the project would greatly improve the standard of living for most people. The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Mr Francis Nhema said he was optimistic that more tourists would visit Zimbabwe in the coming years as a result of an aggressive marketing policy that has been adopted by the Government. Trans-frontier parks, which are also called peace parks, have become the latest symbol of cooperation among member states within Sadc. Almost all Sadc states share particular conservation areas which will be consolidated through the creation of the parks . Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa are in the process of forming the 35 000square km Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Park which will link up Kruger National Park of South Africa, with Mozambique's Limpopo and Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou national parks. Three years ago, Kgalagadi became Africa's first trans-frontier park comprising South Africa's Kalahari Gemsbok Park with Botswana's Gemsbok Park to form a 38 000 square km park.
Another prospect that is beginning to grip the imagination of Southern Africa involves the so-called Four Corners Heartland which encompasses the Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Botswana's Chobe National Park and Moremi Wildlife Reserve in the Okavango, and a large area in Zambia, reaching right up to and including the Kafue National Park. The Four Corners initiative encourages resource owners, communities, governments and the private sector , to establish sustainable wildlife-friendly business partnerships that foster conservation while improving the livelihoods of poor rural people. South Africa is also pursuing other trans-frontier projects with neighbouring countries which are the Lubombo Transfontier Conservation and Resources Area, with Mozambique and Swaziland, the Maloti Drakensburg Transforntier Conservation and Development Area with Lesotho and the Limpopo Sashe Transforntier Conservation Area with Botswana and Zimbabwe. ICUN official Miss Xenya Cherny said the number of peace parks has grown from a mere 59 in 1988 to 169, involving 113 countries by 2001. Southern Africa is at the forefront , but other notable initiatives , with a view particularly to restore peace, are between the two Koreas in the Balkans, in the Golan Heights between Syria and Israel and on the Siachen Glacier in Ladakh between India and Pakistan. Peace parks are special trans-boundary protected areas formally dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity. They also promote the conservation of natural resources and the promotion of peace and cooperation. There are also defined as an area of wild, beautiful landscape between two or more countries where visitors, local people and wildlife can move in complete freedom, unimpeded by frontiers, border posts and land mines.
Abandon visas, says Nepad ambassador (The Independent, 05/09) - Africa must seriously consider throwing out visa requirements for its nationals to effectively compete with its international counterparts, says the president of the African Business Roundtable Group (ABR) Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. Tukur is a former Nigerian minister and now ambassador for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), the programme trying to attract international investors to Africa. The diplomat was in Harare for a one-day fact-finding mission on Zimbabwe. He is expected to return to Harare next month to present his findings formally to President Robert Mugabe. Tukur said government, civil society, business and other stakeholders should ensure that all barriers that impede the free movement of goods, services and persons were dismantled. He said there were too many economic groupings in Africa which, instead of helping to solve the continent's problems, sometimes worsened them. Africa has various regional economic groupings that include the Southern Africa Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the Economic Community for West African States. "We must just get rid of these silly visa requirements," Tukur said in an interview. "Look at my passport. I have a visa for Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and Mozambique. In fact the list is endless. However I only have one visa for Europe and one for the United States of America, which are far more developed than Africa. Seriously if we are trying to attract investment we should allow our citizens to move freely within the region and tap opportunities." On Zimbabwe Tukur said it was disturbing to see the country go down the drain - economically and socially. "Zimbabwe used to be the jewel of Africa and we had so much hope for you," he said. "It is however disheartening to see the country go down the drain like this. Look at your infrastructure, it's crumbling. Look at the street kids all over the capital. Look at the litter. Where are the businessmen? Are they happy about the way things are going? This is very sad." He said the problem with Africans in general and Zimbabweans in particular, was that there was this sense of "collective responsibility" when dealing with problems even when it did not help improve the situation. "How can you allow a few individuals to drag your country down the drain like this?" he asked. "Do you mean to tell me that there aren't individuals who can keep this country afloat?"
He said Africa had decided that Nepad was its development theme and what remained was a well-focused political will to see it through. "This will depend on the committed leadership of both the public and private sectors in Africa," he said. "If there is any recurring unison lately on Africa's entrepreneurial future, it is on the need to fully engage the private sector in Africa towards continental development". He said from the lips of Africa's leadership, from the huge volumes of research papers and conference resolutions, expert recommendations in the international forum, and policy pronouncements in boardrooms, a consensus had been reached that Africa's economic well-being into the millennium rested essentially with its private sector. "So, if words are to be the day's catch, the private sector in Africa should have long been the visible vanguard of our commercial life," he said. "The truth however is that indigenous African private enterprise is as weak as the African economy itself. It exhibits the same shortfalls - it is weak, fragmented, isolated, peripheral, inadequate, and fragile. In a world of mind boggling advances in technology and economic progress, Africa appears a barely tolerated drop in a vast ocean of global opportunities."
Prime Minister on internal refugees (Luanda, Angop, 29/09) - The Angolan Prime Minister, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, Thursday said in Sal Island, Cape Verde, that social reintegration of about five million war refugees is the country`s "greatest challenge" at this time. The Premier made this remark during a stop over at "Amilcar Cabral" International Airport, on his way to the United Kingdom, for a private visit. The Angolan official, who met his Cape Verdean counterpart, José Maria Neves, said the Angolan State does not have the necessary means to accomplish this objective, judging from its high financial cost, and, therefore, there is need to resort to supports from the international community. However, he assured, despite the little resources, the Angolan Government is doing its utmost to ensure that refugees find the minimum conditions when back to their areas of origin or choice, so that they can have an active life allowing them to produce whatever they need for their survival. On the relations of cooperation between Angola and Cape Verde, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos said "they are going well", once the two governments are betting on concrete actions. As an example, he fingered out the opening of the Luanda/Sal air route on Saturday, which he considered as decisive step for the circulation of people and goods between the two countries. The Angolan Premier also pointed out the arrival to Cape Verde, in the inaugural flight, of an important delegation of government members and businesspeople, who will attend the meeting meant to balance the implementation of action programs outlined during his visit to this archipelago in June this year.
Commercial licences denied to foreigners (Luanda, Angop, 29/09) - Angolan Commerce Ministry has been refusing to pass commercial licences to foreign citizens who are not legally established in the country, so as to protect national interests, said Monday, here, the Commerce minister, Victorino Hossi. Victorino Hossi assured that not one of the provincial commerce boards has passed a commercial licence to a foreign person that is residing in the country illegally. He assured that the licences have definitely been passed to foreigners and even national citizens who are legally established in Angola. However, the minister admitted that some national citizens have handed over their licences to foreigners who are illegal in the country. He made it clear these are cases for the police to act on, and that the Commerce Ministry when confronted with this situation confiscates the licences from the owners of these establishments. Victorino Hossi is of the opinion that it is necessary to take more concrete measures aimed at protecting the national productive sector, pointing out as one of the steps the Country's active participation in multi-lateral negotiations, in the framework of policies established by the Angolan State. The Commerce minister defended that it should be increased the internal productive capacity, the subvention of the national production and consequently the protection of the country's industry.
Police repatriate more illegal immigrants (Je, Angop, 24/09) - At least 271 illegal foreigners, among them 268 from the DR Congo, were repatriated in Angola's Northern Uíje province in an operation carried out by the National Police as from last January to the first half of September this year. According to the head of the Information Section and Analysis of Interior Ministry in Uije, Garcia Bula, the group, which was integrated also by three Liberian nationals, was repatriated in the district of Maquela do Zombo, a region bordering with DR Congo. That official advanced that the entry of seven DRC citizens in the country was refused in the Kimbata border post, whereas another Congolese was sent to the local management of the Investigation Police, due to the alleged possession of fake identity card.
Angolan refugees return home (Johannesburg, UPI, 24/09) - United Nations refugee officials are growing increasingly concerned that the free-flowing return of Angolan refugees from Zambian camps could lead to trouble. The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Zambia confirmed Wednesday Angolan refugees had left the one major camp in the past several days. UNHCR spokesman Kelvin Shimo told the U.N.'s Integrated Regional Information Networks the refugees were currently near the Zambian border, en-route to Angola. Said Shimo: "I also wish to underline that the few hundred Angolan refugees who left (the) settlement spontaneously, did not do so due to hunger or any other reason, except their desire to return to Angola, in view of the peace currently prevailing in that country. "While UNHCR appreciates the strong desire of the refugees to return home, the (repatriation) exercise has to be conducted in a systematic and phased manner to ensure that the refugees return home in dignity and safety, and in accordance with the absorption capacity in Angola."
Concern over spontaneous refugee returns (Johannesburg, Irin, 24/09) - Hundreds of Angolan refugees, eager to return to their home country now that peace prevails, have left a refugee settlement in Zambia to begin the long journey home under their own steam. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Zambia confirmed that Angolan refugees had left the Mayukwayukwa camp in the past several days. UNHCR spokesman Kelvin Shimo told IRIN the refugees were currently in the Lukulu district, near the Zambian border, en-route to Angola. "UNHCR and government have since sent a mission to the district to investigate the matter and take the necessary action. We were told about 500 or so had left the Mayukwayukwa camp," he said. "I also wish to underline that the few hundred Angolan refugees who left Mayukwayukwa settlement spontaneously, did not do so due to hunger or any other reason, except their desire to return to Angola, in view of the peace currently prevailing in that country," Shimo added. He explained that UNHCR had launched a voluntary repatriation programme on 11 July this year, which was being conducted "in a phased manner and would take about three years". "We started with Mahebe in north west Zambia, and the [repatriation] exercise is planned to commence in Mayukwayukwa in October this year," Shimo explained. With regard to the hundreds of refugees who had left Mayukwayukwa spontaneously, Shimo said: "While UNHCR appreciates the strong desire of the refugees to return home, the [repatriation] exercise has to be conducted in a systematic and phased manner to ensure that the refugees return home in dignity and safety, and in accordance with the absorption capacity in Angola." In terms of the norms required for a repatriation exercise, UNHCR had to be assured that returning refugees could be accommodated in minimum conditions in Angola. "We cannot just send one whole wave of refugees at once - we have to liaise with our office on that side regarding the numbers [of refugees] they are ready to receive at the time. As UNHCR, we assist refugees in going to areas which are certified safe to return to, and where minimum requirements for food, security, education, health, water and sanitation are in place, to help the refugees begin a new life," Shimo said. Refugees should therefore "not leave the camps spontaneously - this is our appeal - as this will create unnecessary difficulties in terms of logistics and so on". Since the launch of the voluntary repatriation exercise UNHCR had repatriated 2,056 Angolan refugees and intended repatriating a total of 20,000 from Zambia this year.
Migration and foreign office train staff (Lubango, Angop, 17/09) - Forty three workers of the Migration and Foreign Offices (SME) in Southern Huila province successfully finished this Tuesday, the first 15-day course of standardization of criteria about migration policies in Angola. During the course, issues related to border concept, rules and proceedures of embarking national and foreign citizens, communication and interdiction systems, issuing of passports, illegal emigration and others, were addressed. João da Costa Dias, director of Huila's Migration and Foreign Services, said that the training comes to avoid future massive illegal emigration through air, sea and land borders. In this month of September, migration authorities of Huila province repatriated 46 citizens, including Congolese, Chinese, Portuguese, South Africans and Namibians, who were illegally living in the province.
More than 25,000 Angolan refugees returned home (Johannesburg, Sapa-AP, 12/09) - More than 25,000 Angolan refugees have been returned home under the voluntary repatriation program begun by the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees in June, officials said Friday. Fifty eight convoys from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Namibia have successfully returned thousands of Angolans to their homes, Delphine Marie said at a Geneva U.N. briefing Friday. Almost 14,000 Angolans have returned from the DRC, nearly 10,000 from Zambia and about 2,000 from Namibia. The repatriation program suffered some setbacks as a result of land mines, bad roads and broken bridges, which have resulted in a number of areas being closed. The UNHCR said it will work to increase the pace of repatriation ahead of the rainy season in October, which could also cause some setbacks. The commission plans to begin repatriating Angolans to the northern regions near the Namibian border later this year. In a recent visit to Angola, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers said the Angolan government must do more to improve conditions in rural areas. Until last year, Angola had been wracked by civil war, which followed independence from Portugal in 1975. The conflict left about half a million Angolans in refugee camps across southern Africa. The UNHCR estimates that about 75,000 Angolan refugees will be returned home this year. The budget for the program is US$29.5 million, with the United States, the European Union, Japan and other European countries donating about US$20 million.
Angolan peace gives hope on refugees (Mmegi/The Reporter, 12/09) - Assistant Minister in the Office of the President, Oliphant Mfa has said the return of peace to Angola gives Southern African Development Community (SADC) hope of turning the tide of refugees across the region. Mfa was officiating at the two-day refugees' workshop jointly organised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and SADC, which started on Tuesday this week. "It is clear that the SADC region is fast overcoming the refugee problem. I am confident that I speak for all of you here, when I say that we celebrate the return of peace to Angola. Similarly, we look to the future with optimism as positive steps are taken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The gains of Angola and the DRC are our gains. However our work will not be done until we have repatriated, resettled or reintegrated refugees and other internally displaced persons from these and other countries of our region which are affected. We should also endeavour to assist in contributing material, financial or otherwise to the reconstruction and development programmes of these countries," stated Mfa.
However, he said success in stemming refugee flow in the region would be incomplete if the political stability does not return to most African states, particularly in the Great Lakes region which is ravaged by unending wars. Mfa said that as a result of the political turmoil, women and children are forced to travel long distances over hazardous terrain in search of peace. "It is noticeable for instance, that many of the countries represented here, are hosts to refugees from countries in the Great Lakes region and towards the horn of Africa. Vulnerable people are on daily basis searching for tranquillity in other parts of the continent. Therefore, our work will not be complete until the root causes of forced movement of people are addressed," he said. He warned SADC and UNHCR not to overlook the fact that while seeking asylum is necessary, host countries must sift individual refugees' profiles carefully because some of them are trouble-makers. "Together with genuine refugees are irregular movers who are never satisfied with asylum in one country. In addition there are ex-combatants and economic migrants. All of these groups present different challenges of an economic, social, political and security nature. Sadly, some out-rightly abuse the institution of asylum and spoil relations between nationals and refugees in host countries. It is my hope that you will explore together ways in which the gaps being exploited by the irregular movers may be closed," cautioned Mfa. He credited UNHCR for its sterling record in remedying problems associated with refugees. But he advised that a lot could be done to strengthen refugees' programmes at host country level to avoid unnecessary competition for resources with the citizens. "Nationals should not feel that their entitlements are being re-directed to nationals of other countries," he said. Speaking on the theme of the meeting "strengthening national capacity", Mfa said that each SADC member state attending the workshop could learn from one another's experience in dealing with the refugee problem. "I am saying this because you will recall that as a region, we have for decades been hosts to millions of refugees. This was especially so during the days of occupation and political instability. While individual countries did as best as they could under very difficult circumstances, many decades after, we still do not have capacity to fully deal with the refugee problem when it has arisen. This is not surprising as our countries face serious development challenges, which take a greater share of our resources," he stated.
Police repatriate 44 illegal immigrants (Mbanza-Congo, Angop, 08/09) - At least 44 citizens from DR Congo who were found residing illegally in Angola`s Northern-west Zaire province were last Saturday repatriated by Nzeto`s Police, ANGOP has learnt. The immigrants were arrested in the districts of Soyo and Mbanza Congo, when they were trying to travel to the capital of the country, Luanda. MPs of Angolan Parliament`s Fourth Commission, who supervise the local administrations, recently, have expressed concern with the situation of illegal immigrants in this oil-rich province. The deputies had carried out a working visit to Zaire province, where they got acquainted with the rehabilitation of hospitals, schools and buildings for management.
Over three million people return home (Luanda, Angop, 08/09) - At least 3.323.124 people returned to their areas of origin between late April and September this year, of which 200.000 will continue to rely on food aid till the next harvest. Of the total figure, 75.2 percent were resettled in central and southern Angola, while 24,8 percent to the north of Kwanza River. The information was released today in Luanda by Angolan social welfare minister, João Baptista Kussumua, while opening of the humanitarian aid coordination group's quarterly meeting called for the presentation of the report on humanitarian assistance between April and August 2003. To him, the humanitarian situation in the country is gaining a new twist, adding that with the latest demobilisation of ex-Unita soldiers and the consequent closing and extinction of the 35 sheltering camps, 377.511 people have returned to their areas of origin till today. According to the minister, this represents 126 percent, of which 91.693 are ex-soldiers and 285.818 civilians and dependents, that is, 183,3 percent and 114,3 percent respectively. On the other hand, Joao Baptista Kussumua defended that Government actions should be backed by its social partners for the creation of sustainable conditions in the return and resettlement areas. In his turn, humanitarian aid coordinator, Mário Ferrari, said that an effort should be added to that of the Government towards an increased and improved supply of basic social services. The meeting was attended by members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Angola and representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations.
Police move against immigrant combi drivers (Mmegi, 26/09-02/10) - Nineteen Zimbabweans who were arrested in a recent police operation against illegal combi drivers in Gaborone have been released after paying a fine of P200 each. Inspector Member Machola of the Borakanelo police traffic department said the Zimbabweans paid the fine because they were working as combi drivers without the relevant permits. "We could not keep them because they had valid temporary residence permits," said Machola. Their employers were fined as well, though they claimed that they did not know that foreigners were not allowed to drive combis. Machola said that they could not arrest all the foreigners because they had been warned by their compatriots. The operation targeted foreigners who have been given permits for other professions but are working as combi drivers. He said they carried out their operations on Broadhurst Routes One, Two, Three and Five. The police worked with the department of immigration and labour to strengthen the operation. In Broadhurst Route One only two Zimbabwean drivers are left. The rest have been booted. Local drivers have complained that foreigners were taking up jobs that are supposed to be done by them. The dispute has led to frequent fights between Zimbabwean and Batswana drivers.
Botswana, Zimbabwe in showdown over border (Nairobi, African Church Information Service, 22/09) - A diplomatic row is brewing between Zimbabwe and Botswana, following the erection of a 500-kilometre electric fence by the latter on part of their common border, reportedly to stop an influx of Zimbabwean illegal immigrants, and livestock suspected to carry foot-and-mouth disease. Our Correspondent Rodrick Mukumbira outlines the details. A three-metre high electric fence, whose construction began early this year, will snake through scrub-land that acts as a crossing point for refugees and illegal immigrants fleeing economic and political hardships in Zimbabwe. Some 167 kilometres of the fence has been erected so far, with some sections already electrified. When finished, the fence will stretch from Maitengwe, a village north of Botswana's second-largest city, Francistown, to Mabata, a camp next to where the two countries' border meets with that of South Africa in eastern Botswana. Botswana hopes to finish construction of the fence this year, when immigration officers, reinforced by police and army units will patrol the barrier. But Zimbabweans are not amused. To start with, illegal immigrants are already vandalising parts of the fence to continue gaining entrance into Botswana, considered one of Africa's strongest economies. Secondly, Zimbabwean officials in Botswana have lashed out at their neighbour, saying the structure is an insult to human rights. Phelekeza Mphoko, Zimbabwe's high commissioner in Gaborone, claims that the southern African country is building its version of the Israeli security wall, "a new Gaza Strip" to alienate its northern neighbour. "People will continue to destroy the fence because it has divided families on either side of the border," he says. Ties between Botswana and Zimbabwe soured when President Festus Mogae of Botswana criticised Robert Mugabe's controversial land redistribution programme. The fence has now worsened the situation. But Botswana has defended the move as a legitimate response to the threat posed by infected cattle, and unemployed Zimbabweans who have illegally crossed the border in record numbers since 2000. Though occupying a larger area, Botswana's population of 1.7 million feels tiny and vulnerable compared to its neighbour's 11.8 million.
"We are not closing the border with Zimbabwe. There are gazetted points of entry," says Mompati Merafhe, the country's Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. He adds: "I cannot understand people who say we are trying to close the border with Zimbabwe, while we are encouraging Zimbabweans to use the gazetted points of entry. We have more border posts with Zimbabwe than with any other country." "The construction of the fence must continue, and it will continue. We have to go ahead with the fence and when need be, we will open some more border posts," the minister asserts. Merafhe says Botswana has had problems with Zimbabwean illegal immigrants and infected cattle crossing the border to spread contagious livestock diseases. Officially, the fence is to stop cattle infected with foot-and-mouth disease. Two outbreaks in two years, which affected Botswana's lucrative beef exports to the European Union, were blamed on Zimbabwe. Jobs were lost, as thousands of cattle were destroyed to control the disease. In 2001, Botswana exported beef worth more than P350 million (about US$ 72.2 million), according to a latest briefing from the Ministry of Agriculture. But in the past two years, the exports have been declining due to two consecutive foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks, the ministry says. While the government has moved in to restock herds of livestock that were killed following the recent outbreak, cattle farmers say it will be difficult for them to recover, since the latest outbreak was severe. Some are also thinking of diversifying into other agricultural activities in a semi-desert country, noting that livestock rearing has become a risky business in the country. A number of law enforcement officials are sceptical of the effectiveness of the electric fence as a barrier against potential border jumpers escaping Zimbabwe's deepening economic and political crisis. "We have cases of vandalism along the border. Some people cut the fence and we have cases where parts of the fence have been recovered in Zimbabwe," said Solomon Matswe, spokesperson of Botswana Police.
Authorities in the capital, Gaborone, say the current influx of illegal Zimbabweans into the country poses the biggest immigration problem since it's independence from Britain in 1966. About 2,500 people are being repatriated each month. In 2002 alone, Botswana repatriated 26,717 illegal Zimbabweans. The country says it needs over P1.7 million or US$ 314,000 per month to cover expenses related to repatriation, including salaries and allowances for immigration officers. In the latest apparent sign of being "swamped", mass graves were needed for the hordes of unclaimed corpses of illegal immigrants clogging the mortuaries, according to Sylvia Muzila, the district commissioner of Francistown. "We are concerned about what is going on [in Zimbabwe]. 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 that Zimbabweans must go," says Alfred Dube, Botswana's representative at the United Nations. Residents of Tlokweng, a small village outside Gaborone, introduced vigilantes and tried to expel Zimbabweans, referred to as makwerekwere (foreigners) in derogative language, after blaming them for a spate of robberies and burglaries. Accusing their hosts of xenophobia and of having misplaced condemnations, Zimbabweans say they come into Botswana in search of sanctuary and work, not for trouble. "Most Zimbabweans are hard working and law abiding citizens who have been displaced by the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe," says Luxon Mangwiro, a Zimbabwean journalist based in Maun, a resort town in north-western Botswana. "The accusation that most Zimbabweans are thieves or vandals is just stigmatisation being sparked by a few unruly Zimbabwean elements," he adds.
Zimbabwe chafes over Botswana's 'Gaza Strip' (The Independent, 19/09) -The government of Botswana is going ahead with the construction of a 500-km stretch of electric security fence along its border with Zimbabwe despite protests by Harare and fears of a diplomatic backlash. Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana are deteriorating fast with the Botswana government accusing Zimbabweans of illegally entering the country and engaging in illegal activities. Sources said meetings between Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge and his Botswana counterpart Mompathi Merafhe on the matter have failed to prevent Botswana erecting the fence. Zimbabwean High Commissioner to Botswana, Phelekezela Mphoko, was last week quoted in the Botswana media saying Gaborone was "trying to create a Gaza Strip". Botswana said last week it was going ahead with erecting the electric fence to stop the movement of animals into the country to stem the spread of the contagious foot-and- mouth disease (FMD). Sources in Botswana told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that so far over 167 kilometres of game-proof fence had been constructed along its common border with Zimbabwe. They said sections of the fence had already been electrified and were posing a real danger to human life. "The Botswana government says the fence is to prevent foot-and-mouth infected animals crossing the border but what is amazing is the fact that the fence being erected is four metres high," said one source. Botswana has said it deports over 2 500 Zimbabweans a month fleeing President Mugabe's political repression and hunger. Zimbabweans returning from Botswana said there was a heavy army and police presence along the border between Botswana and Zimbabwe. "Ever since Zimbabweans started crossing the border in search of fuel and employment, the number of security details and the harassment of Zimbabweans has increased at the border and it is getting worse with each passing day," said a Zimbabwean trader who visits Botswana frequently.
Tensions rise over new border fence (Gaborone, Mmegi, 12/09) - The government of Botswana says it will complete the erection of a 2.4 metre high electric fence stretching along 500 km of its border with Zimbabwe, despite the objections of its neighbour. Botswana government officials described as malicious comments made by the Zimbabwean high commissioner to Botswana, Phelekeza Mphoko, who said last week that "Botswana is trying to create a Gaza Strip" by putting up the fence. So far, over 167 km of the game-proof fence has been erected along the border. Mompati Merafhe, minister of foreign affairs and international co-operation, explained that Botswana has "had a problem with Zimbabwean illegal immigrants and cattle crossing the border spreading foot-and-mouth disease". "We are not closing borders with Zimbabwe, there are gazetted points of entry. The [construction of the] fence will continue," he added. The latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which authorities believe originated from Zimbabwe, was first detected by officials from the Department of Animal Health in the Matopi area close to the border with Zimbabwe in January 2003. About 3,800 head of cattle were slaughtered in Botswana to contain its spread. However, some law enforcement officials are increasingly sceptical of the effectiveness of the fence as a barrier against potential border jumpers seeking to escape Zimbabwe's deepening economic and political crisis. "We have cases of vandalism along the border. Some people cut the fence, and we have cases where parts of the fence have been recovered from Zimbabwe," said Botswana police spokesman Soloman Mantswe. He said the police had "intensified patrols along the border". Beef exports from Botswana depend on the control of foot-and-mouth disease. In 2001 beef exports were worth over Pula 350 million (about US $72.2 million) to the country. The rising animosity between officials from both countries has not been helped by reports of growing xenophobia among Batswana. Residents of Tlokweng, a small village outside the capital Gaborone, recently decided to expel Zimbabweans, derogatively referred to as 'makwerekwere' (foreigners), after a spate of burglaries and robberies. But Zimbabweans believe the condemnation is unjustified. "Most Zimbabweans are hard-working and law-abiding citizens, who have been displaced by the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe," said Perseviarance Kakwindi, a Zimbabwean journalist now working in Botswana. He believed there was "stigmatisation" of Zimbabweans, "in the sense that every Zimbabwean is now regarded as a thief because of a few unruly people", but also conceded that many Zimbabweans "turned to crime after realising there were so many of them in Botswana" with no job opportunities. Kakwindi suggested that Batswana should take their government to task for not being vocal enough in its criticism of the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe. "Two, three years ago there was no influx of Zimbabweans into Botswana. Batswana should ask themselves why Zimbabweans are coming into Botswana for good," he said. Officials estimated that 26,717 illegal immigrants were repatriated to Zimbabwe last year.
Anger towards Zimbabweans understandable, says diplomat (Botswana Gazette, 10/09) - Botwana's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Alfred Dube, says it is understandable that Batswana have developed resentment towards Zimbabweans, which stems from the crimes committed in this country by illegal immigrants. Dube was in Botswana to attend a conference of Botswana's Heads of Missions, held in Gaborone to discuss matters of mutual interest and topical issues in diplomatic circles. "When you consider that our children are beaten and our houses robbed every day, then Batswana's attitude is understandable," said Dube. Dube's statement is in contrast to government policy of refusing to criticize Zimbabwe openly. On the other hand, Botswana's Ambassador to China, Oteng Tebape, who is also Botswana's longest serving diplomat, said the situation posed by Zimbabwean illegal immigrants is a source for concern, adding that the conference was briefed by the Department of Immigration and the Police on problems associated with handling illegal immigrants. Dube's statement comes a month after the residents of Tlokweng and Masunga ordered all the Zimbabweans out of their villages with immediate effect. The residents attributed growing crime to the increasing number of illegal immigrants. Still on the relations between Botswana and Zimbabwe, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mompati Merafhe, held a meeting in Zimbabwe with his counterpart, Stanley Mudenge, to discuss the deployment of patrols along the border, to minimise the risk of Foot and Mouth disease. A spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Clifford Maribe, said Zimbabwe renewed its commitment to intensify cattle patrols along their side of the border. For its part Botswana has started building an electric fence along the border to stop cattle from crossing back and forth between the two countries.
Tensions rise over new border fence (Gaborone, Irin, 08/09) - The government of Botswana says it will complete the erection of a 2.4 metre high electric fence stretching along 500 km of its border with Zimbabwe, despite the objections of its neighbour. Botswana government officials described as malicious comments made by the Zimbabwean high commissioner to Botswana, Phelekeza Mphoko, who said last week that "Botswana is trying to create a Gaza Strip" by putting up the fence. So far, over 167 km of the game-proof fence has been erected along the border. Mompati Merafhe, minister of foreign affairs and international co-operation, explained that Botswana has "had a problem with Zimbabwean illegal immigrants and cattle crossing the border spreading foot-and-mouth disease". "We are not closing borders with Zimbabwe, there are gazetted points of entry. The [construction of the] fence will continue," he added. The latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which authorities believe originated from Zimbabwe, was first detected by officials from the Department of Animal Health in the Matopi area close to the border with Zimbabwe in January 2003. About 3,800 head of cattle were slaughtered in order to contain its spread. However, some law enforcement officals are increasingly sceptical of the effectiveness of the fence as a barrier against potential border jumpers seeking to escape Zimbabwe's deepening economic and political crisis. "We have cases of vandalism along the border. Some people cut the fence, and we have cases where parts of the fence have been recovered from Zimbabwe," said Botswana police spokesman Soloman Mantswe. He said the police had "intensified patrols along the border". Beef exports from Botswana depend on the control of foot-and-mouth disease. In 2001 beef exports were worth well over Pula 350 million (about US $72.2 million) to the country.
The rising animosity between officials from both countries has not been helped by reports of growing xenophobia among Batswana. Residents of Tlokweng, a small village outside the capital Gaborone, recently decided to expel Zimbabweans, derogatively referred to as 'makwerekwere' (foreigners), after a spate of burglaries and robberies. But Zimabaweans believe the condemnation is unjustified. "Most Zimbabweans are hard-working and law-abiding citizens, who have been displaced by the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe," said Perseviarance Kakwindi, a Zimbabwean journalist now working in Botswana. He believed there was "stigmatisation" of Zimbabweans, "in the sense that every Zimbabwean is now regarded as a thief because of a few unruly people", but also conceded that many Zimbabweans "turned to crime after realising there were so many of them in Botswana" with no job opportunities. Kakwindi suggested that the Batswana should take their government to task for not being vocal enough in its criticism of the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe. "Two, three years ago there was no influx of Zimbabweans into Botswana. Batswana should ask themselves why Zimbabweans are coming into Botswana for good," he said. Officials estimated that 26,717 illegal immigrants were repatriated to Zimbabwe last year.
Electric border fence sparks row (Gaborone, Cape Town, 08/09) - Relations between Botswana and Zimbabwe are deteriorating as Botswana builds an electric fence along the border and accuses illegal Zimbabwean immigrants of robbing houses and harassing children. Botswana says it is experiencing its biggest immigration problem ever as thousands flee economic meltdown in Zimbabwe. The immigration department says it is overwhelmed by the influx and has joined police and army units patrolling the border. The government has built a holding centre in Francistown following concern that illegal Zimbabwean immigrants were swamping Botswana's prisons while awaiting repatriation. The 500km electric fence is purportedly to prevent foot-and-mouth-infested cattle from crossing the border. But the Zimbabwean high commissioner to Gaborone, Phelekeza Mphoko, said "Botswana is trying to create a Gaza Strip" by putting up the fence. Botswanan President Festus Mogae is one of the few African leaders to have spoken out against the policies of his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe. Botswanan Foreign Minister Mompati Merafhe was forced last month to deny reports that the Gaborone government was involved in plans to topple Mugabe. "Botswana would never allow itself to be used for such treacherous activities," Merafhe said. He added, "Anybody who says we are trying to close the border must be malicious. The Zimbabweans are crossing the border illegally." Botswana is repatriating 2 500 Zimbabweans a month. Botswanan authorities are meanwhile planning to bury 12 unclaimed bodies in a mass grave - 11 of them illegal Zimbabwean immigrants. Sylvia Muzila, the district commissioner in Francistown, said "hordes of unclaimed corpses of illegal immigrants are jamming the government mortuaries in the country". She hinted that they had died of Aids. Alfred Dube, Botswana's UN representative at the United Nations, said: "We are concerned about what is going on there (Zimbabwe). 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 that Zimbabweans must go."
Don't blame everything on Zimbabweans (Mmegi, 5-11/09) - I have noted with regret and forgiveness that Botswana's problems of whatever nature are considered and linked to foreigners, most particularly Zimbabweans. However, it's unfortunate that Botswana with her peace-loving people, shares borders with Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa whose citizens are considered to be criminals. What then shall we do? Zimbabweans have been associated with the foot and mouth disease, the muggings and the HIV & AIDS pandemic among others. At this rate, they would soon be associated with the drought, the late coming of the rains, and the current windy weather. By any reasonable standards, what Zimbabwe is facing today could also affect other African nations despite their current socio-economic ad political stability. Like weather, political climates are meant to change. Zimbabwe is not the first to find itself in such a predicament. Remember Somalia, Rwanda, DRC, Sierra Leone and most recently, Liberia. Instead of making unfounded accusations with our neighbours, let us as African brothers and sisters assign ourselves to the worthy cause of finding meaningful solutions to our problems. It is demoralising to note that the Southern African Development Community and the African Union continue to condone what the worst dictator, Robert Mugabe, is doing in Zimbabwe. These two organisations have failed to recognise their legitimate role to resolve issues internally. The tragedy is, they endorse dialogue where there is need for regime change. I therefore, conclude that these organisations are a scapegoat, doing nothing at the expense of the same African political leadership largely responsible for the malaise afflicting the continent today. Is this what you call pan-Africanism? If this not so, then we expect them now to inform us fully, of the political reasons that justify their silence pertaining to the Zimbabwe issue. Obasanjo's initiative on Liberia should be viewed as a gesture of brotherhood. So are Dr. Keitumile Masire's efforts on the DRC issue. But the survival of this continent depends on what happens in other territories. So such gesture should spread to every nation under conflict. Unless something is done now, we will cry until we cry no more. Let us do something. Do it right and do it now.
Arthur Temba Nkomo
Foreigners crowd out citizen traders? (Mmegi/The Reporter, 05/09) - Small and medium citizen companies have expressed concern that foreign petty traders and fly-by-night investors are elbowing them out of business. The citizens claim that the foreigners some of whom are abusing Botswana's hospitality are engaging in businesses traditionally reserved for locals under the Trade and Liqour Act and the Incomes Policy. Mmegi has been flooded with complaints from citizen small and medium business who are worried that the government and civic councils are failing to protect national interests. They claim that the authorities have failed to safeguard them against foreign encroachment in areas where very little capital outlay and skills are required such as hawking and street vending. In most major villages and towns across the country, it is not uncommon to find foreigners operating as street vendors and hawkers. They peddle anything from second hand clothing, sweets, cigarettes and operate hair saloons, lodges, backyard motor garages, butcheries, bars and retail shops. At the BBS flea market in Gaborone, Zambian, Kenyan and Chinese nationals run the show crowding out locals who lack government protection. Zimbabwean nationals openly engage in hawking and street vending at the Gaborone bus rank to the detriment of citizen small businesses, but the authorities appear paralysed to do anything. There is also a dichotomy between government desire to protect local infant industries and entrepreneurs and the flood of foreigners with a carte blanche to venture into any business of their choice with no legal inhibition. Chief Executive of the Citizen Entrepreneural Development Agency (CEDA) Dr Thapelo Matsheka, is sympathetic with the plight of the small business sector in Botswana, but has misgivings about a rigid investment code. This is because it fails to take consideration of difference between an investor and an entrepreneur. He believes those who have the money to invest do not always have the potential for skill transfer to citizens in the event they set up shop in the country. On the other hand the foreign entrepreneur might not have the money to invest but would probably have the necessary skills. He will also have the business acumen to run a viable entity as well as the ability to come up with a convincing business proposal to raise capital in the open market such as the commercial banks. Matsheka said protectionism is out because there is need to keep open minds and promote a climate conducive to investment in manufacturing and the service industry. He said Botswana has a problem because it has an unregulated business environment that protects a few big shots. In addition there is lack of policy co-ordination between various government departments to check out genuine foreign investors. A similar view is shared by BEDIA director Swift Mpoloka. He added that as far as BEDIA is concerned, a genuine investor has sufficient capital outlay and skills to venture into his or her area of interest.
Zimbabwe protests electric fence (Mmegi/The Reporter, 05/09) - Botswana government remained defiant Tuesday saying that it is going ahead with the construction of an electric fence along the border with Zimbabwe despite looming diplomatic frictions. "The construction works for the fence started in October last year and the intention is to complete it by June next year," acting Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Musa Fanakiso said. The planned fence will cover a distance of 500 kilometres and will be 2.4 metres high. It is meant to control the spread of Food and Mouth Disease (FMD) from Zimbabwe to Botswana. In the last two years, Botswana has had two FMD outbreaks originating from Zimbabwe, which has been undergoing an economic and political crisis. The outbreaks have seen the Botswana beef industry losing millions in terms of lost exports and destroyed cattle. "The fence would be cutting across the livestock areas and it starts from Tuli Circle up to Zibanana. The intention of the fence is to control animal health diseases," Fanakiso added. However, Zimbabwe has claimed that "Botswana is trying to create another Gaza Strip" by constructing an electric fence which will kill illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe. Botswana is faced with a major immigration problem because of the Zimbabwean crisis. "We have recently stepped up border patrols in a bid to contain the problem," Immigration Officer responsible for the north, Oliver Toteng told Mmegi. "We are repatriating at least 2,500 illegal Zimbabweans a month," Toteng said but added: "The people that we are send back home come back immediately after repatriation." Government has expressed concern that the repatriation exercise is likely to cost more than a million pula this year.
Botswana Zimbabwe relations heat up over electric fence (Gaborone, Sapa-AP, 05/09) - The Botswana government on Friday said they would continue with plans to erect an electric fence more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) long to keep out sick cattle and illegal immigrants from economically embattled neighbor Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe High Commissioner has criticized Botswana saying the fence would act as a "Gaza strip," separating the two nations. "We have had a problem with Zimbabwean illegal immigrants and cattle crossing the border spreading foot and mouth disease," Botswana's Mompati Merafhe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said. "We are not closing borders with Zimbabwe, there are gazetted points of entry. The fence will continue." The latest outbreak of foot and mouth disease which officials believe originated from Zimbabwe was first detected in January and 3,864 cattle and 58 pigs were killed to contain it. Beef exports to the European Union were stopped until March. Beef is the main agricultural export from Botswana, one of the most stable economies in Africa. The nation exports more than US$300 million a year in meat, the vast majority of it beef, making it one of the country's largest exports after diamonds.
Botswana to bury unclaimed corpses in mass graves (Daily News, 04/09) -Botswana's government is to bury 12 unclaimed corpses of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants in a mass grave as tension between the two neighbouring countries mounts. Francistown district commissioner Sylvia Muzila said this week that "hordes of unclaimed corpses of illegal immigrants are jamming the government mortuaries in the country and they will be buried in a mass grave". She said some of the corpses had not been claimed for more than a year. The number of bodies was later found to be 12, 11 of which were Zimbabweans. "The costs for dignified burial are too high and the best thing that we can do is to have a mass burial." Muzila said she had appealed to the Zimbabwean authorities to get relatives to come and claim the corpses, but the process was hampered by the fact that the illegal immigrants had not been identified. "Most of the illegal immigrants were admitted into the hospitals through different ailments and they are largely of sexually active age," she said, suggesting that some might have died of HIV/AIDS. This comes at a time when diplomatic temperatures between the two countries have risen following Botswana's move to erect a 500 km electric fence along their border. The Zimbabwean government claims Botswana is trying to erect a fence along "Gaza Strip" lines, targeted at Zimbabweans. However, Botswana's agriculture ministry was defiant yesterday, saying it was going ahead with the fence despite objections from its northern neighbours. "It is 500 km and 2.4 m high, starting from Tuli Circle to Zibanana and designed to control animal diseases," the acting director of veterinary services, Musa Fanakiso, said. "We are going ahead with the construction as planned." Botswana has had two foot and-mouth outbreaks in less than two years in the northeastern part of the country and their source was traced to Zimbabwe. The outbreak led to the closure of the northern abattoir, temporary lay-offs and the suspension of beef exports to European Union markets. Botswana says it is experiencing its biggest immigration problem since independence in 1966 as thousands enter the country, fleeing economic meltdown in Zimbabwe. The immigration department said it been overwhelmed by the problem and had joined police and army patrols enlisted to fend off the influx. "We have recently started joint border patrols," said the immigration officer responsible for the northern region, Oliver Toteng. "We are repatriating at least 2 500 illegal Zimbabweans a month." The government has expressed concern that the repatriation exercise is likely to cost more than $1 m (Z$824 million) this year.
Steady stream of asylum seekers from Great Lakes (Johannesburg, Irin, 25/09) - Malawi is still experiencing a constant stream of people seeking refuge from the strife-torn Great Lakes region, Disaster Relief and Preparedness Commissioner Lucius Chikuni told IRIN. However, he said the country was well prepared for the steady stream of people seeking asylum in Malawi. "Between 1994 and 1997 we had 5,000 refugees, and it has just been a steady increase over the years - and the main reason for that is the fact that the strife in the Great lakes region has not subsided," Chikuni said. He explained that there were two groups of people seeking refuge in Malawi. "Firstly, we have the [officially registered] refugees - right now there are 4,000 of them. And then there are 6,000 asylum seekers who have not yet been granted refugee status - they are going through the determination process, and that involves interviewing each individual separately to establish whether indeed that person is running away [with a] founded fear of persecution," he said. "There's still a lot of fighting there in the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo]. Then, of course, we are also looking at the countries like Burundi - there may be peace, but today or tomorrow, something erupts again. So it's basically ... that people still feel insecure," Chikuni said. Malawi itself has just come out of a food security crisis which saw millions of its citizens dependent on international food aid to survive. The country staged a remarkable recovery this year, thanks largely to good rains during the planting season, and government and aid agency interventions in the form of inputs provision. But the influx of refugees and asylum seekers has "not been a problem at all", Chikuni said. "The refugees are taken care of [by the] international community through UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees], so the presence of refugees in a country does not affect the economy of a country at all - so the impact is not felt internally by the rest of the community in Malawi," he noted. The only negative was that "the environment tends to suffer, as they have to cut down trees for firewood and other uses. But what we have done with UNHCR is introduce afforestation programmes around the camp". Chikuni said about "100 to 200 [asylum seekers] come in every month" from the Great Lakes region.
Refugee population on the rise in Malawi (Blantyre, Sapa-AP, 24/09) - Malawi's refugee population is on the rise as conflicts in neighboring countries rumble on, a senior United Nations official said Wednesday. Michael Owor, representative for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Malawi, said the poor southern African country is currently hosting some 10,000 refugees. Most of the refugees have fled in recent years from Burundi, Rwanda and Congo. Owor said the UNHCR has been monitoring several border crossings into Malawi. "The situation shows a continued influx of refugees from the Great Lakes area," Owor said. Most recently some 69 refugees, mostly women and children, crossed the border from Congo. The northeastern and eastern parts of Congo remain highly unstable despite peace accords signed among Congo's government, four rebel groups and the political opposition - and a power-sharing government formed on June 30th. The refugee population here has risen from about 900 in June 1998 to current levels of some 10,000 said Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Rehabilitation Lucius Chikuni. Owor ruled out the possibility of repatriating the refugees to their countries of origin in the short term. "As long as the current situation prevails in those countries we cannot talk of repatriation now," he said.
50% of Malawi's professionals may die of AIDS (Blantyre, Cape Times, 22/09) - Up to half of Malawi's professional workforce could die of HIV/Aids by 2005, the World Bank has said in a report timed to coincide with the opening of a major conference in Kenya on the pandemic in Africa. Professionals in the education and health sectors are particulary affected in the impoverished Southern African country, as are members of the army and the police, the study says. Malawi's National Statistical Office estimates that 139 Malawians die of HIV/Aids every day, mostly in the economically productive 15 to 49 age group. An estimated one million Malawians are living with HIV, out of a total population of 11-million. About 250 are infected each day. At least 70% of Malawi's hospital beds are occupied by HIV/Aids patients. HIV/Aids has cut Malawi's life expectancy to just 36, according to the United Nations Development Programme. In the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the 13th International Conference on Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa opened, gathering about 8 000 doctors, researchers, policy-makers and grassroots activists to look at the impact of and find ways to tackle the pandemic on the continent.
Mozambique, Zimbabwe re-demarcate border (Maputo, News24, 30/09) - Mozambique and Zimbabwe have agreed to re-demarcate their border in the wake of reports of illegal land occupations on both sides, a senior Mozambique official said Tuesday. "We have agreed to re-demarcate the entire border in order to end border violations, mostly by farmers and prevent any major land conflicts," said Elias Mucombo, head of Mozambique's land management directorate DINAGECA. Mucombo said technical teams from both countries would start "reconnaissance missions" in early October so that work can begin in November on the 1,134-kilometre-long (roughly 700-mile-long) border. Land disputes have been reported in parts of central Manica province which borders Zimbabwe's eastern Manicaland province. Zimbabweans, whose government has in recent years embarked on a massive and controversial land reform, are reported to be farming or raising cattle on the Mozambican side of the border. The Zimbabwe land reform exercise involves forcibly taking land from a minority population of whites and giving it to the majority blacks.
Delay in pensions prejudices miners (Maputo, AIM, 18/09) - The Mozambican National Social Security Institute (INSS) has denounced delays in the forwarding of pensions by the South African Rand Mutual insurance company, to Mozambicans who once worked on the South African gold mines, reports Thursday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias". The delays are damaging the interests of the former miners and their families. The INSS said that, for instance, Rand Mutual only sent payment for 80 of the about 500 pensions due in August. Meanwhile, the delegate of the Mozambican Labour ministry in South Africa, Pedro Taimo, said that more than 1,000 cases are pending the location of their beneficiaries in Mozambique. He noted, however, that the problem of failing to locate the former miners or their relatives is being gradually overcome, after a series of seminars conducted by the Labour Ministry, involving district administrators and other officials who are dealing with issues related to migrant workers. Those meetings took place in the southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza, and Inhambane, where most of the miners are recruited. "Our efforts are to locate all the beneficiaries, because when this fails, the money is returned, while the legitimate beneficiaries are still in need of the funds", said Taimo. He explained that in the past, Rand Mutual experienced difficulties in locating the beneficiaries and, because of that, an amendment to the protocol signed between the Mozambican and the South African governments was adopted in 1997, establishing that the pensions be channeled through the INSS. Further delays occur when, because of some mistake in writing the name of the beneficiary, the Rand Mutual cheques have to be returned for corrections. "For its part, the INSS complains of losing lots of money in the process of returning the cheques. Now Rand Mutual wants the pensions to be channeled through "Teba" (The Employment Bureau of Africa), specialised in contracting the mine labour force. For us this is not the most correct solution, because the Mozambican state will remain a mere spectator", said Taimo. He added "No decision has yet been taken on this matter, but as soon as INSS notified us of the delays in receiving the cheques we scheduled a meeting with the Rand Mutual management to find out what was happening". Rand Mutual should send the Mozambican Labour delegation in South Africa a list of all the pension cheques forwarded to the INSS every month, and this institution, for its part, sends Rand Mutual, via the Labour delegation, the list of the cheques paid to beneficiaries.
Suspected child traffickers arrested (Maputo, AIM, 17/09) - The Mozambican police have arrested two street vendors accused of trying to sell two children to a witch- doctor in the Maputo suburb of Magoanine on Friday, reports Wednesday's issue of the daily paper "Noticias". A police source said that the two accused, Domingos Chemundza, 18, and Jaime Alfazema, 21, were caught red handed at the residence of a witch-doctor, only named as Kupula. However, the police added that Kupula is still at liberty pending investigations. The alleged victims, O.D. Matavele, 13, and E. Francisco, 16, were to be sold for the price of 30 million meticais (about 1,250 US dollars) each. The police said that the suspects were arrested thanks to a denunciation made, strangely enough, by the witch-doctor's wife. Strangely because she was involved in the illicit negotiations herself, and the police think she made the denunciation only to clear her name and that of her husband, since the business had come to the knowledge of the entire neighbourhood, after the failure to purchase another two children on the previous day. The accused confessed to the police that the whole thing started on Thursday, when Alfazema was approached by a young girl, who identified herself as Kupula's niece and asked him to find children to sell to the witch-doctor. Alfazema further confessed that it was he who recruited Chemundza, a friend and fellow street vendor, to help him find victims. They managed to convince two children to accompany them to Kupula's residence, on the pretext of finding them a job. "We took the first two children to the witch-doctor's home at 16:00 hours on Thursday. Because he (Kupula) was not there, his wife spoke to us. After we had explained our purpose, she said that she knew about it, and it was one of the businesses of the couple, who have a client who transports the children for sale in South Africa", he said. He added that "she put us at ease saying that some Mozambican and South African police officers are involved, facilitating her husband's travel to South Africa, accompanied by the victims". "She told us to put the children in one of the houses, while we were taken to another, where we signed a declaration of sale-and-purchase. The thing went wrong because those children were clever, and ran away when their suspicions were aroused because of the delay and the woman's strange movements from one house to another", added Alfazema.
He further explained that the issue was brought to the attention of the entire neighbourhood because she then asked those present at the witch-doctor's house to chase the two children. The attempt at recapture had to be interrupted because of the attention it attracted. Alfazema said that the woman asked them to go back and bring more "merchandise". They came back on Friday, with another two victims, and it was when the woman went for the money, in one of the houses, that plain clothes police officers intervened, arresting the two suspects. As for the Kupula couple, the Maputo police command press attache, Armando Classe, said "investigations will determine the truth of the facts. At the moment, the police are analysing all available information, and we will publish the results in due course". Meanwhile, a Burundian citizen has been arrested in Cuamba, in the northern province of Niassa, accused of abducting four young girls. The man, whose identity was not revealed, was preparing to leave the country, accompanied by the four children and a Mozambican woman, with whom he had been staying for the last two months. The chief of the Nampula Police Command Public Relations office, Olivia Meque, said the suspect claimed that three of the girls were his daughters, from a first marriage, and whose mother had died, in circumstances he did not reveal, and that the fourth was his niece, who had come from Burundi. Meque said that the man was arrested thanks to denunciation by a relative, who suspected the way the man was preparing the travel documents. The suspect had been expelled from the Marratane refugee camp for bad behaviour. The police said that they are investigating this and other suspected cases of child trafficking, since this situation is causing serious concern among Nampula residents.
Armed robbers arrested in Ressano Garcia (Maputo, AIM, 15/09) - The Mozambican police arrested five members of a gang of armed robbers at the town of Ressano Garcia, on the border with South Africa, over the weekend, reports Monday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias". This gang had been operating along the Maputo-South Africa motorway, particularly at the entry of Ressano Garcia, on a stretch where at least once a week vehicles are attacked and passengers are robbed at gun or knife point. The five detainees, who are now in custody at a police station in the city of Matola, were found in possession of one toy pistol, three knives, five mobile phones, believed to have been stolen, plus unspecified amounts in cash and other valuables. Maputo province police spokesperson Joao Machava told reporters that armed robberies at that particular spot on the road had become a serious concern to the authorities, who are striving to dismantle the entire network. "It is believed that the group is even larger, and is extended between Maputo and the border with South Africa. It involves not only those operating on that spot, but also recruiters of people who want to cross the border fence illegally and others based at Ressano Garcia town", he said. He explained that the criminals recruit, in Maputo, those who are trying to cross the border illegally, and help them find transport. Once they approach Ressano Garcia, they threaten both the crew of the vehicle, and the passengers and rob them all. "The criminals were among the passengers who boarded the vehicle in Maputo. Once near Ressano Garcia, they pointed a toy gun at the driver and threatened the passengers with knives and stole all their belongings", Machava said, speaking of the latest incident, after which the five were arrested. Machava said that, besides this trick, criminals also throw up barricades in the road to stop the vehicles, and rob their passengers.
Mozambican children used as sex slaves in South Africa (Maputo, Mail & Guardian, 03/09) - Mozambican children are being smuggled across the border and forced to work as sex slaves in neighbouring South Africa, a spokesperson for police chiefs told state television Wednesday. "We have had some confirmed cases of children, especially teenage girls, who have been press-ganged to work as sex slaves in South Africa," said Joaquim Bule, spokesperson for the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) which ended a two-day meeting here late Tuesday. Bule said that combating the trafficking of children through criminal networks operating in Mozambique and South Africa should be included in the police organisation's list of priorities. He said other cross-border crimes of concern to the organisation included arms and drugs trafficking, motor vehicle and cattle theft. There have been numerous media reports in Mozambique of children going missing from the country's southern province of Maputo, which borders South Africa. Unconfirmed reports suggest the children might have been murdered in ritual killings. The use of children's body parts in witchcraft is widespread in Africa, including South Africa.Members of SARPCCO include Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Mozambique and Zimbabwe reduce costs of visas (Maputo, AIM, 01/09) - The Mozambican and Zimbabwean immigration authorities have agreed to reduce the cost of entry visas between the two countries as from 1 September, reports Monday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias". Under the agreement, applications for simple, double, and multiple visas to Zimbabwe will now cost 20, 35, and 45 US dollars respectively, rather than the 50, 70, and 200 dollars that were being charged previously. For urgent applications, the charges will be 30, 45 and 55 US dollars, instead of the extortionate rates of 105, 185, and 460 US dollars. The two parties also agreed that these figures are not be altered unilaterally, as had been practiced by the Zimbabwean authorities, which justified its behaviour by citing the hyper- inflation gripping Zimbabwe. "Persistent problems with diplomatic and work passports, for which there had been an agreement signed before, were also solved in this recent meeting", according to a source in the Mozambican immigration authorities. The meeting also discussed the issue of illegal immigrants in both countries, and have reiterated the terms of the "Harare agreement", signed in 1999. According to this document, repatriations should be coordinated between the authorities of both countries, and representatives of each country in the other should be allowed into the prisons to assist their detained citizens and contact the relatives of the detainee. "So far, there have been no violations of this agreement", said the source. The agreement also states that any illegal immigrant should be allowed to take his family and his belongings back to his or her home country. The meeting also decided that border posts between Mozambique and Zimbabwe will, as from November, be open between 06:00. and 20:00 hours, rather than the current opening hours of 07:00 to 18:00.
Angolan nabbed over UNAM scam (The Namibian, 29/09) - The Namibian Police have arrested a man alleged to be one of the masterminds behind a scam which enabled Angolan students to enter the University of Namibia (Unam) with fake Grade 12 qualifications. Police investigating officer, Chief Inspector Oscar Sheehama, on Friday confirmed the arrest and said the suspect was picked up in Windhoek last Wednesday. Sheehama declined to release details, claiming it would "jeopardise" the Police investigation. But The Namibian has since established that the suspect is Angolan national, Adriano Manuel Jose (28). He made a brief appearance in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on Friday on charges of fraud, forgery and uttering. The case was postponed to October 10 for further investigation. Jose remains in Police custody. Sources confided to The Namibian that the Police originally picked up two Angolan men in connection with the fraud scandal, but Sheehama insisted that only one person was arrested. The investigating officer did not rule out the possibility of more arrests. "Although it is very ... early for me to comment on whether more people will be arrested, that possibility cannot be ruled out," Sheehama said. At the beginning of this month The Namibian disclosed that for years many Angolan students had used fake Grade 12 qualifications to study at Unam. Some are believed to have already obtained degrees without first completing high school. Dozens of others are still studying at the tertiary institution. At the time, sources pointed to the existence of a shady syndicate, allegedly comprised of Angolan nationals and some Unam staff, who allegedly sell fake Angolan 'matric' certificates with inflated pass marks to facilitate access to Namibia's premier tertiary institution. The university management later conceded that some of its staff had probably colluded with outsiders and immediately launched its own internal investigation.
Sources recently informed The Namibian that Unam's internal investigation has since been extended to students from other countries. Dozens of Zambian students who completed Grade 12 in 2000 and whose certificates had not yet been released by the Examination Council of Zambia have been sent back home to get them. Grade 12 certificates in Zambia reportedly take at least two years to be issued, hence students from that country use 'Statements of Results', issued two to three months after the examinations, to register at tertiary institutions. Unam spokesperson, Edwin Tjiramba, remained tightlipped on the matter, only saying: "The University of Namibia will only be able to comment on any students admission queries once it has completed its internal investigations". Approached for comment on Zambian students allegedly sent home to fetch their certificates, Zambian High Commissioner to Namibia, Lt General Mumbi, said that Unam had yet to inform him officially that this was the case. "We know that certificates take long to be processed (in Zambia), normally our students use statements of their results... if there is such a development we will surely follow it up with the university," the diplomat said.
Foreign journalists convicted on forgery, immigration charges (Windhoek, Sapa-AFP, 10/09) - Two foreign journalists working for a European newspaper were convicted and fined by a Namibian court Wednesday for contravening immigration laws and, in the case of one of the reporters, on a forgery charge. US national Shilah Jeanette Overmyer, 22, and her British colleague Manjinder Sohal, 24, were preparing an economic and investment supplement on Namibia for European Business Report when they were arrested last Wednesday. The prosecution charged that the duo received an introductory letter from Namibian Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amathila to the NamibRe company, but altered the letter for use as an introduction to other Namibian companies. Overmyer pleaded guilty to forgery and to entering Namibia on a tourism visa instead of a business visa. Sohal was convicted only of entering Namibia on a tourism visa. Both, who have been in police custody since their arrest last Wednesday, were denied bail by Windhoek Magistrate's Court. Overmyer was fined 3,000 Namibian dollars (411 dollars / 369 euros) on each charge. Sohal was fined 3,000 Namibian dollars on the visa charge. Their lawyers have arranged for them to leave Namibia later Wednesday. Defence lawyer Richard Metcalfe told magistrate Sarel Jacobs that Overmyer had started to work for Austrian-based European Business Report on June 1, two weeks after gaining her Bachelor of Arts degree. She was sent to Namibia on June 24. "It was naivete, lack of experience and a stupid mistake on her part. She was over-eager", Jacobs said. Overmyer cried with joy and embraced her female police wardens after the court gave its decision. Thieu Cuypers, director of European Business Report, who had flown in from Austria for the trial, said he was relieved the case was over. "Our company has done business supplements on Namibia before and we will continue to do so", he told AFP.
Labour court to consider immigration dispute (The Namibian, 02/09) - Government has agreed to halt any moves that will lead to the transfer of immigration functions to the Police until a dispute on the issue is heard before the Labour Court on October 22. On Friday the Labour Court in Windhoek heard that the Home Affairs Ministry has also agreed to negotiate on the matter in good faith with the Namibian Public Workers Union (Napwu). The union took Government, the Home Affairs Ministry, the Inspector General of the Namibian Police and the Public Service Commission to court over the planned transfer of certain functions of immigration officials to the Police. Following the undertaking between the two parties, it was not necessary for Dave Smuts, acting on behalf of the union, to request a court interdict to put a stop to the process. Judge Mavis Gibson expressed her surprise that the two parties had come to the interim arrangement. "I am really surprised at the concessions and that the undertakings are being made at all," she told legal counsel. Government Attorney Harald Geier, representing all four respondents in the case, assured her that the undertaking was made with the full consultation and consent of his clients. The case was then postponed to October 22. Smuts would not speculate on what prompted Government to agree to delay its plan, but told The Namibian after the proceedings that "the undertakings are helpful to the process". Napwu Secretary General Petrus Nevonga was also pleased with their first step in trying to prevent Home Affairs Minister, Jerry Ekandjo, from taking what it claims is "a unilateral decision". "We [immigration officials] were not certain until now what is going on," said Nevonga of how far the committee overseeing the transfer had progressed in fulfilling their mandate. In his affidavit on behalf of all the respondents, Ekandjo said there would be no "urgency or threat" to the officials' conditions of employment until draft legislation being prepared by his Ministry became law. The Minister denied that "any unilateral change of conditions of employment of immigration officers is being implemented" and maintained that the decision followed a Cabinet resolution on the issue.
Rwandan refugees at Osire to be repatriated (Windhoek, The Namibian, 01/09) - With the repatriation of Angolan refugees at Namibia's Osire Refugee Camp fully underway, officials are now discussing the return of Rwandan asylum seekers. Last week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Home Affairs Ministry met to pave the way for the repatriation of about 700 Rwandans at the camp. Following a visit to Osire, the UNHCR's Regional Co-ordinator of the Great Lakes Operations, Wairimu Karago, initiated the possibility of a tripartite repatriation agreement with Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo for the return of Rwandan refugees to their homeland. A statement from the UNHCR in Namibia says the Minister has pledged Government's full support in facilitating the return of Rwandan asylum seekers. The conclusion of elections in Rwanda last week is expected to expedite the repatriation of Rwandans around the world. Concerned parties in Namibia are now working on a finalising a plan of action for this process, but the UNHCR here says it is too soon to tell what this is likely to entail at this stage. In July an agreement was reached between Rwanda and Uganda for the voluntary repatriation of Rwandan refugees living there. So far this year, about 8 000 Rwandan refugees who were living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia and Congo Republic and elsewhere, have returned home. Before the repatriation of Angolans in Namibia started in July, about 20 000 refugees were living at Osire. The sixth group returned home last week, bringing the total number of repatriated Angolans to 1 557. Another 16 000 have indicated their willingness to go home.
Public meeting on SADC immigration protocol (SABC, 30/09) - The Immigration Advisory Board (IAB) is to host a public meeting in Cape Town on Thursday on the Southern African Development Community's (SADC) Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons. In a statement today, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the meeting would focus on "migration issues, crime combating considerations, labour concerns, as well as the implications on tourism in the region. Further, it will "deliberate on the implications for South Africa as a SADC member". South Africa is not yet a signatory to the protocol, which, among other things, seeks to allow citizens of SADC states to visit member countries for up to 90 days without needing a visa. The IAB is a statutory body that advises the Minister of Home Affairs on regulations and policies pertaining to immigration matters. It is chaired by Professor Wilmot James. Thursday's public meeting is set to take place at 2pm at the Wesgro building, 2 Long Street.
Zimbabwean miners in South Africa (Johannesburg, The Standard, 28/09) -For more than three decades, thousands of people from Southern Africa, mostly Zimbabweans, have trekked down to South Africa in search of a dream. That dream was to work in a gold mine where the pay was said to be lucrative, despite the tough physical conditions of working underground. Joshua Chauke is among 18 other Zimbabweans from Malipati village in Sengwe communal lands who were some of the dreamers. In Johannesburg, they say they found their dream: good pay, a glamorous city with fast cars, fly-overs, high-rise buildings and extremely beautiful women. Talk of their riches soon spread to Malipati, Beitbridge and Chikombedzi like a bush fire, and many more men were lured by this success story and followed Chauke and his group to find and live their dream of being the gold miners of Johannesburg. But 30 years down the line that dream has long faded. The number of expatriate gold miners has drastically come down from 48 000 at its peak to 10 000, most of whom have now acquired South African citizenships to become “matchonas” – the missing ones – leaving their families in the cold back home in Zimbabwe and other southern African countries. “Look, when we came here in 1968 to work at the Anglo gold mines underground, we were the pioneers who lived a fantastic life; drinking the beer of our choice and choosing beautiful ladies. “We never regretted everything that we did. But for those who wish to come here today, I feel sorry for them because things have completely changed because of harsh South African laws and the declining world economy,” said Chauke now of Orlando West in South Africa’s sprawling group of suburbs known as Soweto. Lisimati Livombo, another Zimbabwean, now aged 87 but a permanent resident at Cullinan in Mamelodi, immediately joined in to bemoan the state of affairs today. “Yah man, things are always changing for the worst. During our time, working in gold mines was something one could boast about but as for today, it is history. Instead of boasting about working underground, you are shy to announce that you work in mines due to the low rewards that go with the jobs,” said Livombo. Confirming the deteriorating standards in South African gold mines was Nigel Unwin, executive officer of Anglogold, who attributed the situation to a slow down in gold revenues, which has led to massive retrenchments in recent years.
Unwin says Anglogold, the world’s second largest gold producer accounting for 395 million kgs annually, has been forced to cut its workforce from 300 000 to barely 44 000 workers due to the current problems facing the gold market. He cites the strengthening of the South African rand against the much-traded US dollar and security concerns in the wake of global terrorism threats, as the key factors impacting on the price of gold. But Unwin has painted an even darker picture. He reveals that with effect from October 2003, the government will introduce a tough law requiring Anglogold and others that employ expatriates, to pay a 2 per cent levy as cover for their immigrant workers. He sees the move by government as a ploy to clamp down on expatriates, saying once passed into law, Anglogold would be forced to stop recruiting expatriates. He fears that the situation smacks of hypocrisy and xenophobia as expatriates have worked in the key industries since time immemorial and have built South Africa’s wealth to what it is now, Africa’s economic giant and a stop-over of major business operations in the world. Anglogold, he says, was not taking the impending measure lying down and contemplates applying for a waiver. “We’re seriously considering to apply for an exemption from the levy on the basis that the history of mine industries is built on expatriates from SADC,” he says. The executive officer, who has been with Anglo for 29 years, also blames government for not leading by example and being hostile to expatriates despite their immense contributions to South Africa’s economy. Says Unwin: “Because the unemployment rate here is around 40 per cent, there’s a lot of resentment.” But not only have Anglogold’s recruitment structures been affected by external factors. Steve Lenahan, the company’s executive officer in charge of corporate affairs, admits that the overall gold mining industry globally is in distress due to stiff competition from other minerals such as platinum, price fluctuations and generally tough economic conditions in all markets. He says gold prices have declined from R90 000 to R70 000 per kg due to the strengthening of the rand and consequently, Anglogold’s operating profit declined by 4 per cent or US$140 million last year.
“The stark reality, and everybody knows it, is that the gold industry is perhaps in the last 10 per cent of its life,” says Lenahan. The situation last year forced Anglogold to retrench part of its workforce. While Lenahan plays down the retrenchments as being a result of the recession gold is undergoing, the company’s results published in July this year indicate that it paid R1 million as retrenchment costs. As South Africa ranks tops in HIV/Aids infections in the world, Anglogold has not been spared the task of spending its hard-earned income on caring for infected employees. Approximately 30 per cent of Anglo’s employees are HIV positive, according to its social report for 2001/2. The report says Anglo spends about R50 million for health and education, the bulk of which goes towards HIV/AIDS prevention programmes and anti-retroviral drugs for workers voluntarily tested. Most of the infected workers come from KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces, where general HIV infection prevalence is the highest in South Africa. But despite a tough market environment and HIV/AIDS, Anglo is trying its best to reward its workers and South African communities, says the company. The gold company pays an average of R2 500 per month for the lowest earning worker, in addition to a performance bonus and medical cover. That, says Lenahan, is reasonable. He says under its “rural schools scheme”, Anglogold has approved R8 million for building eight schools in the Eastern Cape province and others. South Africa’s department of education promises to match up the building costs. Numerous incentives exist for Anglo’s employees. These include training and an employee share ownership scheme. Lenahan says the company operates a R40 million budget for training its staff annually in South Africa, where 60 per cent of its production takes place. The majority of Anglogold’s employees, or 25 000 people, work underground in the mines where one is required to be brave and physically fit in light of accidents. Blacks constitute the majority of those underground workers, but Lenahan says many whites have been sent down the tunnels in recent years. If you thought all that glitters was gold, think again. The glamour seems to be gradually fading down here.
Electoral bill passed in Assembly (Parliament, Sapa, 26/09) - Controversial legislation which provides the framework for next year's general elections, but effectively disenfranchising ordinary South Africans temporarily abroad, was adopted by the National Assembly on Friday. During a sometimes acrimonious debate on the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, Sakkie Pretorius of the Democratic Alliance criticised the ANC for making an about turn on the issue after the home affairs portfolio committee unanimously agreed last week to allow certain categories of South African citizens temporarily abroad to vote. The ANC brought a last minute amendment this week allowing only state employees and their households abroad to vote. Pretorius said this was the "arrogant way in which the ANC treats the constitutional rights of South Africans". If the ANC was serious in encouraging young people abroad to return to South Africa, it should give them the opportunity to vote abroad, he said. "There is no logical reason why the ANC and the government should in any way limit a person who is abroad temporarily in regard to his or her right to vote." The only people who should not have the right to vote were South Africans who had emigrated or had taken up permanent residence abroad, Pretorius said. The DA tabled a formal amendment proposing South Africans temporarily working and studying abroad should be entitled to vote. Nhlahla Zulu of the Inkatha Freedom Party said his party "suffered from political hyper-tension" on hearing of the ANC's decision. However, the IFP would still support the bill. The New National Party also moved a formal amendment in terms of which all South Africans abroad, who had been abroad for a period of no more than five years and held a valid South African passport, should be allowed to vote. Nevertheless, the party's Richard Pillay said the NNP would vote in favour of the bill even if its amendment was defeated. A third amendment was proposed by Dr Corné Mulder of the Freedom Front. It would have allowed citizens normally resident in South Africa, but temporarily abroad, to vote.
"The right to vote is the most basic and fundamental right that lies at the heart of any democracy. We claim to be a democracy. The ANC even go as far as to boast that we have the most modern democracy in the world. Is this really true or not?" he said. "We are not talking about people who have emigrated, but about law-abiding citizens, from all communities, who are temporarily abroad." Mulder warned the FF was considering taking the issue to the Constitutional Court. "Don’t you dare to ever again call this the most modern democracy in the world because it is not. We have warned you - we will see you in court," he said. The African Christian Democratic Party's Steve Swart also threatened court action, asking why special provision should be made only for government officials and their households to vote overseas, while many students, employees and businessmen could not. The infrastructure would be in place for those government officials to vote and foreign diplomatic missions could, as in 1994 and 1999, quite easily be used for voting on a broader scale. The ACDP believed the exclusion of overseas voters would be unconstitutional, and was obtaining counsel's opinion as to whether it should proceed with litigation in the Constitutional Court, Swart said. The opposition amendments were rejected after a division and the bill adopted. It will now go to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.
'Come home or don't vote,' says ANC (Mail & Guardian, 26/09) - The African National Congress will use its majority in Parliament to ensure that the only South Africans overseas who can vote in next year’s general election are government officials and their families. The organisation is insisting that priority should be given to ensuring that South Africans living in the country get to vote. On Thursday in Parliament, ANC home affairs chairperson Patrick Chauke called on all political parties to “take up the challenge to register” South Africans in the country. He added that overseas South Africans themselves had not shown interest in voting. ANC MP Kgoloko Morwamoche said: “Nobody is prevented to vote [sic]. They [those overseas] can make arrangements. Nobody is preventing them from coming down here.” Earlier this week Chauke dismissed claims of gerrymandering, pointing out that more than 300 000 ID documents remained uncollected at home affairs offices. In contrast only a handful of a thousand South Africans abroad had voted in June 1999. Ilona Tip of the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa points out that the exclusion of expatriates will in all likelihood not affect who governs the country because the ANC will most likely easily win the election. “But it will definitely affect the number of seats each party will receive in Parliament and various parties will argue that they would have received additional seats if South Africans who are overseas were allowed to vote,” she adds. But it is difficult to say which parties will be most affected. Presently home affairs officials do not even have figures for the number of South Africans who are overseas. However, the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill — before the National Assembly this Friday — may yet land in the Constitutional Court. The Freedom Front and the African Christian Democratic Party have renewed threats of legal action if the legislation is adopted. The dispute comes as MPs break for a six-week recess ahead of the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) first voter registration weekend, which starts on November 8. Without the new election legislation the IEC cannot register new voters, including awaiting-trial prisoners.The poll is widely expected in April 2004 to coincide with the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the first democratic election. Already MPs are spending increasing periods in their constituencies.
ANC reversal may strip expatriates of vote (Cape Town, Business Day, 25/09) - It is unlikely that South Africans living and working abroad will be able to vote in next year's general election after all, following an eleventh-hour reversal by African National Congress (ANC) members of Parliament's home affairs committee . Last week the ANC contingent, led by committee chairman Patrick Chauke, agreed to amend the draft Electoral Laws Amendment Bill to allow registered South African voters temporarily living, studying, working or travelling abroad at the time of the election to vote. The bill was voted on and adopted by the committee in this form. This week, an ANC MP, with the endorsement of the party, proposed an amendment to undo this amendment. This will be voted on today so the bill can be ready for debate in the National Assembly tomorrow. With ANC members being the majority on the committee, it is unlikely to uphold the amendment. Chauke said the first amendment strongly supported by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) was made before the ANC MPs had consulted with their party about it. Chauke said that of far greater concern than potential overseas voters were the 270000 people inside SA who had not collected their ID books and millions who had not yet registered to vote. DA home affairs spokesman Sakkie Pretorius warned that the party would oppose the bill if it was not changed. ACDP home affairs spokesman Steve Swart warned that the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of South Africans abroad could result in the bill being unconstitutional and open to challenge.
Bleak ride home for Zimbabwe deportees (The New York Times, 23/09) - Every time this clanking 14- car train slows to a crawl - which is often - the policeman in Car 6 barks an order and 50 men bend over in their seats, heads between knees, until the pace picks up again. Back in Car 10, the luggage racks are festooned with the occupants' belts, dangling above them like snakes. "Their trousers are too big," one officer said. "They won't try to escape without their belts." The police say they have any number of ways to keep the 952 passengers on the train to Zimbabwe in their seats. But as the engine lumbers out of one station at 9:15 p.m., two shadows tumble from a window near the center of the train, then sprint into the inky bush. A half-hour later, at another stop, 10 more plunge onto the rocky railbed, then another 5, then 4 or 5 more. A few cars away, a policeman cranes his neck out the window and guffaws. "They'd rather die than go home," he said. Indeed, one of the train's coughing passengers did just that, not an hour before.This is the overnight train from Johannesburg to Messina, which twice a month hauls about 1,000 illegal migrants from South Africa's Lindela detention camp back to the Zimbabwe border - or tries to. What the policeman says is very nearly true: life in Zimbabwe these days is so hard, and sometimes so terrifying, that the passengers say death is almost preferable to returning to hunger, oppression, disease and hopelessness. "It's like to die," a despairing Xolani Masuko, 18, being deported for the second time in less than a year, said of his homeland. "I don't have money. I don't have food. I don't have everything. The whole family died of H.I.V." South African officials say that the country deports at least 2,500 Zimbabweans each month, on the train and in trucks. But the true number of illegal immigrants is far higher, experts say. They work in menial jobs, as street vendors, in tenement-style sewing factories and elsewhere, sending their paychecks back to destitute relatives. Zimbabwe has been plummeting into economic and political purgatory for at least three years, since its president, Robert Mugabe, now 79, started a nationalistic, race-driven campaign to purge the country of white influence and black political opposition. Both targets have been gravely wounded.
But in a night of conversations with Zimbabweans loaded onto the train back home, the recurring theme was that ordinary people have been hit hardest. Mr. Masuko said he vastly preferred sharing a plastic-and-mud shack in the Diepsloot squatter's camp north of Johannesburg to subsisting in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city and once a major economic center. In Johannesburg, he earned about $30 a week working as a security guard in a well-heeled suburb. Life in Bulawayo consisted of cleaning auto windshields, collecting less than a dollar a day in the country's wildly inflated currency. Some days, he said, there was not enough even to buy mealie-meal, the ground-up corn that, boiled into a paste, feeds much of that malnourished country. The first time he was deported, Mr. Masuko was back inside South Africa within a day, so determined to return that he missed his mother's funeral. This time, he said, he will return too. Everyone interviewed during the train's 15-hour trek to the border had the same intention. "Tomorrow, we are in Zimbabwe," Bitwe Sikhola, 24, a delivery boy until Johannesburg police caught him, said as he slouched late Wednesday on the train's bench seat. "Friday, we are back here." Mr. Mugabe won global fame 20 years ago by freeing Zimbabwe from oppressive white-minority rule. Since 2000, his government has seized and redistributed to landless peasants - sometimes violently - most of the remaining white-owned farms. But the fallout has been grievous. By United Nations estimates, production on large-scale commercial farms has shrivelled to 10 percent of its 1990's level, and as many as 900,000 of the nation's 15 million people have lost their jobs or homes. Unemployment now exceeds 70 percent. Production of tobacco, the major cash crop, has collapsed. Foreign investment has dried up. Shortages of food and imported goods like medicine have fed hyperinflation, now 500 to 700 percent a year. In the capital, Harare, residents say, a liter of gasoline costs 2,000 Zimbabwe dollars - 40 cents on the black market - and is so scarce that some people literally play dead to get the fuel allowance granted funeral processions. Human rights groups accuse Mr. Mugabe's government of condoning torture, killings and rape to drive out white farmers and subdue rivals, mostly in the rival Movement for Democratic Change. The groups say the army and a youth militia terrorize political opponents and that the government has withheld food aid from critics of the governing party, known as ZANU-PF.
Predictably, Zimbabweans are fleeing, and South Africa, the continent's economic magnet, attracts many of them. On this week's journey, there were 885 men and 67 women, 14 carloads of dishevelled and filthy refugees wracked by a respiratory virus that pervaded the overcrowded camp and its 4,000-plus prisoners. Most had spent at least two weeks there. The trip to the border, five hours by car, takes three times as long by rail, with stops to give way to more important trains. This time, there was an extra delay: not far out of Johannesburg, the train stopped. Doctors were summoned to administer oxygen to three men who were having trouble breathing. A fourth, thought to be sleeping, was dead. Doctors are supposed to examine deportees before they board the train, but "he didn't show any signs of sickness," Lindela's chief immigration officer, Solly Semona, said in a telephone interview. Among the living, there was Joy Watch, 27, who says she fled her hometown of Masvingo with her husband after paramilitaries broke into her home and beat her to force her to join a government youth militia. "You can't say no," she said. "I pretended to join, and then I left." Wilfred Phiri, a muscular 22-year-old from outside Bulawayo, had been a youth organizer for the opposition party. "If you aren't ZANU, you don't have access to anything," he said. "There's no food." He quit the opposition in 2000, fearing for his life, after government supporters beat a fellow worker. Since fleeing to Johannesburg in 2001, he said, he had worked odd jobs, sending about $45 back to his jobless family in a good month. "Obviously, I have to come back to South Africa again," he said. "There's nothing I can do in Zimbabwe. Nobody is working." Hilda, 21, another Bulawayo expatriate, left an infant daughter and her dreams of a real career with her parents 31 months ago to sneak into Johannesburg and work as a maid. Her husband, 27, drives a truck in Botswana. They see each other, and their daughter, perhaps once a year. She is bitter, speaking of her high school grades and hopes, now ended. "We were suffering" in Zimbabwe, she said. "I didn't come to South Africa from Zimbabwe to play. I work hard." The threadbare young woman, sitting on a hard bench, said that if Zimbabwe changed, "I would go back in a rush." As matters stand, she plans to see her husband and child, and then head back to South Africa. "Better to go there than to sit here," said Ms. Watch, sitting a few seats away with a clutch of women friends. "I will come back again." Her friends took up a chant: "Come back again, and again, and again and again!"
Doctors in revolt (Cape Argus, 22/09) - Furious doctors are planning to march on parliament, and may even go on strike, over what they say is a crisis in South African medicine. They have:
- Hit out at chronic under-funding by the government and the halving of budgets.
- Claimed that the department of health is spending more on bureaucracy than patients.
- Complained of "appalling" pay and working conditions.
- Threatened to emigrate in their hundreds.
The doctors' dissatisfaction has grown to such a degree that the SA Medical Association has become an affiliate of Cosatu. A weekend conference in Johannesburg to discuss strategies for doctors' survival was peppered with war talk. Dr Kgosi Letlape, head of the Medical Association, said although doctors were "essential personnel" and may not strike, this drastic action was still a possibility. "But first we need to raise public awareness about our plight." Letlape said it was time for doctors to join forces and stand up and fight. "We have been at the bottom of the food chain for too long. We are not going back. We will negotiate with the government. But if deafness ensues, we will resort to sign language," he warned. The doctors' anger was fuelled by the last-minute pull-out from the conference by the minister of public service and administration, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi. She said she wasn't able to address the pay and working conditions of public sector doctors. Letlape said the association had tried desperately to "create dialogue" with the government but doors had been slammed in its face. "If there is anyone out there with other remedies, herbal or otherwise, please try to help us," he said.
Dr Mark Sonderup, chairman of the SA Registrars' Association, who works at Groote Schuur Hospital, said a sore point was the "chasm" between administrators and clinicians, as well as expensive "top-heavy" administrations. Groote Schuur, for example, had appointed a new chief executive officer and seven or eight medical superintendents since 1996, along with health care and nursing managers. "There is a huge bureaucracy running a hospital that has lost half its beds in the past seven years. They seem to be spending less money on care and more money on administration systems," he said. The joint budget for Groote Schuur and Red Cross Children's hospitals was R1,1 billion in 1996. That had been halved to R525 million this year, but hospitals in the area were seeing one million more patients a year. "Money is falling down the pyramid, allegedly to primary health care, but it's definitely not reaching those people who really need it. Is it going into administration and bloating the bureaucracy?" Sonderup asked. Dr Timothy Berlyn, of the Junior Doctors' Association, said : "As many as 60% to 70% of my friends in the medical sector plan to emigrate. Another 20% will stay to specialise and then they will leave. The majority of the rest of them will migrate internally - to the private sector." He said the migration was having an "avalanche effect". As doctors left, those left behind picked up a bigger burden and became stressed. Then they left. "It's a never-ending cycle." Professor Denise White, chair of the Medical Association's committee on public sector doctors, said she wasn't working in the public health sector for the money. We just want a fair deal to serve the people of this nation." White said the association had made many submissions to the department, but was "stonewalled" - something it would "no longer tolerate". White said problems with working conditions included:
- Understaffing, lack of essential medicine and equipment.
- Inadequate support and supervision of junior doctors in rural areas.
- Declining capacity for supervision and training of registrars.
- Poor living conditions for community service doctors.
- Lack of security at work.
- Burgeoning patient loads.
- Burden of diseases like HIV/Aids and TB.
South African citizens abroad can vote next year (Johannesburg, Angop, 21/09) - South Africans living abroad temporarily during next year`s general elections will be allowed to vote, local newspaper Citizen reported Saturday. Following an amendment to Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, passed by the Home Affairs Portfolio Company in Parliament Friday, students, citizens temporarily out of the country, such as holiday makers, and people abroad for business reasons will be able to vote. According to the bill, which is to go before the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces for approval, the right to vote while abroad will be limited to those who have registered to vote in South Africa and have a residential address and an identity document. South Africa`s Independent Electoral Commission has set aside the weekend of Nov. 8-9 for voters to register for the 2004 elections. Voters who had not previously registered, or who had changed their address since the last election, should register. Voters could also take advantage of the registration weekend to make sure their details on the roll were correct. The date of the 2004 elections had not yet been set. South African President Thabo Mbeki would fix the date in consultation with the IEC. However, the commission was preparing for an April election. There were 18.1 million voters on the roll in 1999, and the number rose to 18.4 million in 2000. The figure has since fallen to its present 17.9 million.
Hillbrow target of police, immigration raids (Mail & Guardian, 18/09) -It was like a scene from the apartheid era’s liquor and pass raids. Government officials swooped down on Hillbrow in Johannesburg, sending many a grown man running into the night, as street vendors hastily packed up their wares and fled the scene. Those too slow to get away were nabbed by the soldiers, their modest merchandise — boiled eggs, chips, sweets — scattered and kicked aside. Some were dragged back as they tried to flee. Street corners that had been hives of activity minutes before were suddenly deserted. This was Hillbrow two weeks ago. It is an area seen as one of South Africa’s hottest dens of sleaze, where police and criminals face off daily. As one policeman put it: “This is where Armageddon will start.” And this is Operation Kick-Off, a joint initiative by the police, immigrations officials, the army and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department. They intend to save Hillbrow from itself. Metro Police spokesperson Wayne Miennaar told the Mail & Guardian the raid was part of a massive new effort to rid the area of criminals and illegal foreigners. That night, the authorities were armed with at least three Morpho Touch devices. These are gadgets not unlike the swipe-card machine used in shops. Each is able to store and recall up to 30 000 fingerprints of wanted criminals and to check, on the spot, the fingerprints of anyone arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime. Hillbrow inhabitants are of the view that foreigners, especially Nigerians, now rule the roost. They do not see any xenophobia in the jackboot treatment meted out to those being pounced upon. “You could feel pity for them, but these guys are wreaking havoc here,” said an onlooker, who asked not to be named. “Each corner has its own trade. On one you have guys who specialise in Mandrax, on the other people who buy stolen cellphones, on the other people buy stolen computers and such things.” One onlooker pointed out a poor woman who was packing up her tray with the sweets she had been selling. The hardened officers were not moved: “Let’s be realistic,” said one. “Who goes out to buy 20c sweets at 10 or 11 at night? These people are up to something. The sweets are just a front.”
A shebeen on the Hillbrow/Berea border was next. There the security officers became party-poopers. The music died as they demanded to see passports and identity documents. Revellers were ordered to stand in a queue: “South Africans first!” barked an immigration official. Foreigners followed, those living close by were escorted home to fetch their papers. And then the girls; to judge by their clothing they were unaware of how much temperatures had dropped since they had entered the shebeen. The officer with the Morpho Touch was disappointed that only three of the more than 100 people packed into the shebeen were linked to crimes. Two of them, Nigerians, admitted they had had trouble with the law in the past, but swore that their cases had since been finalised. By the end of that night’s series of raids in Hillbrow, 30 people were behind bars for offences such as illegal possession of firearms, public drinking, assault or malicious damage to property. Nineteen were illegal immigrants. The next stop was a grocery store doubling as a drinking hole. Inside, two Metro Police officers heard movement from the ceiling of the shop. Each with a gun in one hand, a torch in the other, they yelled at the unseen enemy: “Come out of there now! Come here!” Down came a young man of 17 or so. “I go to school! I sell sweets! I am not a criminal!” he cried. But he would have to wait his turn in the long Morpho Touch queue. Not everybody was keen on the crime crackdown. An attendant at the drinking hole pointed out, “As you can see, people are leaving and they are not going to come back, at least not tonight. The owner of the business will be angry.” She shrugged her shoulders resignedly.Two hours after the authorities had departed, Esselen Street was back to what it was before they had arrived. But one policeman at least hopes that such anti-crime efforts will bear fruit. “It is hard,” he said, “but we will get there.”
Netcare gives reassurance of brain drain (Business Day, 15/09) - Network Healthcare (Netcare) says that a R1,4bn contract to operate health-care facilities in the UK that the group is likely to land, will not significantly affect healthcare resources in SA. There is concern about the shrinking pool of health-care professionals in SA with doctors and nurses taking up lucrative jobs abroad. Netcare said on Friday that it was named "likely preferred bidder" for the contract to operate several new UK health-care facilities. This meant that if all requirements were met, the group could be the winning bidder. Afrox Healthcare was also preferred bidder for three health-care centres. Afrox Healthcare MD Michael Flemming said his group was now in the final stages of negotiation. Netcare COO Richard Friedland expected the British national health-care authority, the NHS, to conclude this process within weeks. Should the company win the contract, Friedland said Netcare would deploy 85 to 100 of its doctors, nurses and management in SA to the UK. He suggested this was insignificant, considering the South African group employed about 18000 people. Netcare's staff would enter the UK on fixed, short-term contracts. "Given the short-term nature of these contracts and the fact that staff may not subsequently work for the NHS for a period of two years, these projects help stem the brain drain and play a major role in keeping skills in the country," he said.
Bid to woo South Africans abroad (The Mercury, 11/09) - South Africa's embassies abroad bad been told to spend "a lot of time" mobilising South African expatriates who could assist with the nation-building effort, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad disclosed yesterday. "They can be our ambassadors over and above our diplomatic missions in the countries in which they are," he said. Too many human resources as well as financial capital had left the country. He said there had been a tendency in the past to write off the thousands of South Africans who had left. "All African countries have accepted that too much of the continent's human resources have gone abroad and we have neglected them and too much of our capital has flown out of our continent...There's billions of dollars, it seems, that are in banks outside," said Pahad. It was a challenge to attract the capital back to assist in the development of Africa. "But it's the human resources that we are very keen on. Even if they do not come back they can help contribute with the expertise -- especially South Africa," he said. South Africans were making a major contribution to many states abroad including countries in the Gulf. "Wherever you go in the world now, South Africans are running the hospitals, South Africans are running the service industries like tourism, South African nurses are out there in their thousands, teachers are out there in their thousands, architects, engineers, our construction companies are sweeping through the Middle East and the Gulf states," Pahad said. It was estimated that there were 10 000 South Africans deployed in the United Arab Emirates alone. "So clearly, we have a lot of South Africans who accept the notion of a new South African patriotism who can be our ambassadors," he said. The country's diplomatic missions were already engaged in exploring the formation of South African societies, The University of Cape Town had started a database of South African professionals abroad and Liberty Life had a similar programme regarding medical doctors abroad to link them up with doctors inside the country. Pahad said there had already been a conference held under the auspices of the African Union in the United States on Africans in the Diaspora which should assist in the strategy of harnessing their potential for development of the continent. "Our missions now have to go and meet with South Africans abroad and explain our policies," he said.
Unfortunately, some South Africans abroad were the worst purveyors of doom and gloom stories about South Africa. "But that's probably because we don't have interaction with them," said Pahad. "Our missions have been instructed to spend a lot of their time mobilising South Africans abroad," he said. Pahad dodged questions about the legislation now before parliament which prevents South Africans abroad - except those in the embassies - to vote in next year's general election. Pahad suggested that there was still time for the matter to be resolved at ministerial level. Pahad also said that questions regarding the limitations placed on medical doctors coming back to the country should be directed to the minister of health.
Comment: State must act now to plug brain drain (Business Day, 11/09) -Returning from a recent trip overseas, I sat next to a young coloured man who was on his way to Cape Town from London. Looking very much like one of us I asked him whether he was coming home to SA from a holiday. He said that he was on his way to visit his family in Grabouw. "If you are coming home for a holiday to your family, then where do you live?" I asked. I probed curiously. "I teech mats to Britiss kids," he said very proudly in his unmistakeably plattelandse accent. And where did you study? "At the Pentechnikon in Bellville and then on to Cape Tech and now I am doing postgraduate studies part-time at UCT." "And why are you not teaching in Grabouw where people like you are needed?" "Because the education department treated me like a child, disrespectful of my career ambitions, blocking my access to promotions not because they were mean but simply because they were slapgat. "All I wanted to do was to teach and give back some of the skills I acquired through hard work to my community but I was tired of being shoved around. When I saw an advertisement for a maths teacher in the UK I applied, doubtful that I might even be considered. I have been there now for almost two years and I've already had one promotion and have gained a lot of experience at the two British schools I have taught already." He also said , with some sense of achievement, that it was great being part of the global community of educators and that in his short space of time in the UK, he had travelled to Paris and Amsterdam. "If I had submitted to (department) tyranny I would have rotted in Grabouw, only dreamt of Paris and Amsterdam as vague possibilities." Surely this is not the kind of teacher SA, let alone the platteland, can afford to lose? That he was Afrikaans-speaking with a smattering of English did not deter the British from employing him. They recognised his abilities as a good maths teacher, first and foremost, and knew that after a year he would make a great maths teacher his Grabouw accent notwithstanding! I have no doubt this young man will be followed by his peers and relatives to the UK where the fruits of knowledge, international travel, information technology and future career prospects seem extremely tantalising. And so, when I read in the Cape Times ( August 18), that almost 31000 nursing posts are vacant, not to speak of the doctors and, allegedly, 8000 teachers leaving in droves, then surely government ought to take stock of the situation and not blame the British and Canadians for "raiding our talent".
The department needs to take steps, not punitive, to lure these people back and keep them here where they can make enormous contributions. What incentives are in place to keep our professionals here? Incentives are not the only thing. Government needs to develop a deep respect for what doctors, nurses and teachers do they often work at the coalface of extreme levels of poverty and underdevelopment. More importantly, conditions conducive to those who long only for a satisfying career are perhaps the best incentives to entice them to stay. As long as salaries are not market- related, let alone having to vie with dollars and pounds, the brain drain will continue unabated until drastic measures are taken. Gauteng has 7976 nursing vacancies, KwaZulu-Natal is short of 6098 nurses, the Free State of 4234 and Western Cape of 2533. Blaming the British, Canadians and Australians for "raiding"our talent is futile. The lack of resources and inhumane conditions should be addressed with some urgency. Coercive tactics such as compulsory medical service and imposing certificate of need provisions on doctors wanting to set up a hospital, clinics or surgeries are counterproductive. Unless we seize the day, it will soon be too late to attract brains to the drain! Kadalie is a Cape Town-based human rights activist.
National ID campaign up and running (Pretoria, Bua News, 08/09) - The Department of Home Affairs has received over two million applications for Identity Documents since the start of the national ID campaign in June. At a media briefing in Parliament this morning, Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi said nearly one-and-a-half-million identity documents had been issued since the campaign kicked off. The home affairs department launched the campaign in preparation for next year's elections. 'This is being done in partnership with national government departments, with provincial governments, with local government and traditional authorities, with political parties and with the IEC,' said Dr Buthelezi. To encourage people to apply for their IDs, the department has undertaken to shoulder the cost of the documents, and it is also bearing the cost of the photographs up to the closure of voter registration for the elections. Dr Buthelezi said special attention had been given to rural areas, informal settlements, farms and traditional authorities with the help of mobile units. 'Often due to unemployment and poverty, members of communities were not able to reach home affairs offices in the department,' the minister explained.
He said the department would continue to increase its capacity to make this campaign effective. The minister raised his concerns about voter registration ahead of next year's elections, saying the time for registration was limited. 'Therefore, I must urge the private sector and NGOs to take up this responsibility,' he said. The Independent Electoral Commission has set aside the weekend of November 8-9, for voter registration for the 2004 elections.
Brain drain a key factor in IT labour market (Business Day, 04/09) -Outsourcing is growing faster in Europe than in the US where there is a general market slowdown, says Andrew Holden, director of outsourcing at CS Holdings. He says this is largely influenced by the European Union, which is providing significant cross-border opportunities, because with today's advanced fibre backbone networks it does not matter where the data centre is located. SA is following Europe, but is on a par with the US, says Holden. He says in SA the outsourcing market is being driven by different influences, such as the brain drain, which has resulted in a shortage of IT management skills. "Good senior people are more attracted to IT companies, where the horizons are wider, than to organisations where IT is not their core business." It is therefore difficult for small and medium companies to attract and retain senior people, although larger companies, such as mining and financial services organisations that have major IT departments, can offer career paths, he says. Many senior people have started their own outsourcing services companies, resulting in an explosion of small niche players coming into the market, says Holden. "The barrier to outsourcing is not that great, because all it takes is good staff, management and methodologies." However, in order to grow, these newcomers will need to build credibility and infrastructure. He says with the mergers going on in the market among major software suppliers such as Oracle, Peoplesoft and JD Edwards, it will become easier to outsource application management. "There will be fewer players in the market and product offerings will be consolidated and streamlined." With fewer product options, the software itself will no longer provide any competitive advantage and will therefore not be core to the business. CS recently took over First National Bank's IT computer services division. About 24 CS staff will be located at FNB branches and there will be a central helpdesk in Midrand.
Emigration to SA showing upward trend (The Star, 04/09) - South Africa is among the top 10 migration destinations in the world, INitt1 Cape Town the fifth most desirable city in the world to visit. According to South African Migration Services chairperson David Dorfman, it is becoming easier for foreigners to get temporary or permanent residency, "What we have noticed was that the market turned around about a year ago. "That was when the government began encouraging skilled people to come here to start their own businesses," he said. "We have about 280 people a month visiting our website to inquire about migration. "It's good for the country. We must try to reverse the brain drain and encourage brain gain," Dorfrnan added.
Expatriate South Africans to be excluded from the vote (Cape Town, Business Day, 03/09) - The exclusion of South Africans living abroad from voting in next year's general election is likely to spark debate during planned public hearings on the Electoral Amendment Bill. Political parties, mainly those in the opposition, are concerned that this legislation may rob them of critical votes from their supporters outside the country. A final draft of the bill was presented to Parliament's home affairs committee yesterday, and it was due to be gazetted yesterday or today. It has been certified constitutional by the state's law advisers. The bill has to be processed urgently as the Independent Electoral Commission needs to prepare for the elections. Parliament goes into a month-long recess at the end of the month. But no decision has been taken to fasttrack the bill through Parliament. The Democratic Alliance (DA) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) believe South Africans living abroad should vote. They voted in 1994 and were barred from the 1999 election. But DA home affairs spokesman Sakkie Pretorius welcomed the bill's provision that only awaiting-trial prisoners would be allowed to vote. Home Affairs director of legal services Sam Mogotsi said careful consideration should be given to extending special votes as they were costly, potentially disruptive and could affect the credibility of the election. The amendment bill entails the deletion of a clause allowing the Independent Electoral Commission to identify categories that may qualify for special votes. Mogotsi said this was a political decision that should be left to Parliament to make. Many of the provisions of the original Electoral Act have been retained in the draft bill. Proposed changes include a provision that people will apply for registration and the commission will allocate applicants to the correct voting district. The voters roll to be used in the election will be the one that exists on the day of the election being proclaimed. Voting hours will be from 7am to 9pm unless the commission determines otherwise. The use of mobile voting stations will be limited. Other clauses strengthen the prohibition of parties promoting violence or hatred. The draft bill will specifically provide that parties that discriminate on the grounds of race, ethnicity or colour will be automatically disqualified from registration. Pretorius said he would like another amendment that attached addresses of registered voters to the voters' list it would make party canvassing easier. ACDP home affairs spokesman Steve Swart said his party was taking legal advice on the exclusion of South Africans abroad "as it is unacceptable that awaiting-trial prisoners will be permitted to vote while law-abiding citizens, who find themselves overseas for a variety of reasons, are disqualified from voting".
New bill addresses dual citizenship anomaly (Parliament, Sapa, 03/09) -Legislation correcting an anomaly regarding dual citizenship was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. The draft South African Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to bring the Act in line with Section 20 of the Constitution as far as dual citizenship is concerned. This section states that no citizen may be deprived of citizenship. The bill repeals a provision allowing the minister of home affairs to deprive a citizen of his or her citizenship for having used the citizenship of another country to enter or leave South Africa, or the country which issued the passport, or any other third country. The bill replaces the provision with another, which imposes penalties on a citizen for using a foreign passport to enter or leave South Africa. In terms of the bill, the same penalties - a fine or imprisonment of up to 12 months - can also be imposed on a citizen who uses foreign citizenship while in South Africa to "gain an advantage or avoid a responsibility or duty".
Nurses leave for jobs overseas (Mbabane, Times of Swaziland, 28/09) -The Swaziland Nursing Association ( SNA) is likely to crumble as a result of the exodus of nurses to the United Kingdom. Many members of the executive have already left the country for greener pastures in England. This has left the association almost in despair over its future status. According to the association's secretary, Masitsela Mhlanga, three executive members have resigned and the latest resignee is leaving this morning. The Lubombo regional secretary, chairperson and Hhohho branch chairperson have all recently left. He said the exodus of nurses has been so frequent that there has not been a weekend where nobody left since the June weekend when civil servants rejected the controversial amended circular No. 8. "We had banked on the politicians to calm down the exodus from their constituencies," he said. Mhlanga said both shop stewards from the Hlathikhulu branch have left. He said it was dispiriting to see people who hold key positions within the association leaving, as these are the people who had been used to make its policies work. "Ifthe leadership leaves, this shakes the entire membership," he said. The SNA said they are currently not sure of the status of the association at the moment. He said government was approached a long time ago on the issue of the nurses' exodus but nothing has been done to stop it. "We made our presentations to government and we used South Africa as our benchmark thinking this would control migration to South Africa," he said. Mhlanga said packages for South African nurses are three times above those of locals. He said the nurses also have problems with regard to living and working conditions. "We thought we would be able to convince all nurses through the circular but this was not the case," he said. He said they tried to engage government in follow up talks but they have died a natural death and this might have motivated the nurses to leave in such numbers. Mhlanga did not want to reveal the number of nurses who have left, but commented that there is a department in one of the government hospitals from which all the staff is leaving. "Ethical guidelines are not being followed in the recruitment as it is unreasonable to recruit a whole special department," he said. The principal secretary in the ministry of health and social welfare Dr John Kunene stated that government is also concerned about the brain drain. He said he is a member of the government team meeting staff associations to look into conditions of service for civil servants. "We are doing a follow up on the submissions made by nurses, doctors and other health workers and there is a document spelling out how they can be retained," he said. He said if the document can be adopted, the brain drain problem can be solved. Kunene said however there are financial implications relating to the brain drain. He said government will soon be meeting the British High Commission to discuss the matter further to try and stop the brain drain.
Government recruiting more doctors (Mbabane, Times of Swaziland, 04/09) -Government is working around the clock to ensure that the prevailing shortage of doctors in hospitals and clinics is addressed as it is continuing to recruit more professionals to come and work in the country. Already seven doctors have been hired and posted to the most affected hospitals and clinics in the kingdom. Five of these doctors have been attached to the Mbabane Government hospital while two others have been posted to Mkhuzweni Health Centre and Pigg' s Peak Government hospital respectively. According to the principal secretary in the ministry of health and social welfare Dr John Kunene the recruitment exercise is yet to be completed as another group of doctors are expected in the country. The doctors have been recruited from a number of African countries including Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. "We are expecting a group of eight doctors to arrive in the next week or so but we are still finalising their arrangement," said Kunene. He said that the issue of accommodation that has always proved problematic for doctors working in the country's health institutions has been sorted out especially with the Hlathikhulu Government hospital. Kunene said that his ministry has arranged five houses at Hlathikhulu that will accommodate five new doctors that will be posted to the hospital. "We also have to fill five more posts at the Mbabane Government hospital and also have two doctors each for the Mankayane and Piggs Peak hospitals respectively. We then have a post to fill at Mkhuzweni as well," he said. Earlier the principal secretary said that government was going to hire 15 doctors to fill posts that have been vacated in the country's health institutions. A majority of the country's hospitals have been faced with a shortage of doctors such that in some instances, patients were turned back especially in Hlathikhulu as there were no doctors to attend to them. It has been said that the shortage was caused by some doctors who did not renew their contracts, as they wanted to leave. Others took long to indicate that they would not renew them and government had little time to recruit others on time. Some doctors ended up leaving due to government's failure to pay them their overtime allowances. Nurses were also not paid hence they have taken government to court, which has ruled in their favour.
Immigration officials not aware of new EAC passport (Arusha, Business Times, 26/09) - Immigration officials at border posts within the East African Community (EAC) are ignorant of the new EAC regional passport. This startling revelation has been made by the Community secretary-general, Amanya Mushega, at an East African Rural Broadcasters Workshop held in Arusha here recently. "With the EAC passport, you can now easily cross the regional borders," Mushega said. "Yet, some immigration officials don't know that the passport is in use." Briefing journalists from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda on the Community's progress, the secretary-general said benefits of the EAC were hardly known among ordinary people. "The former Community collapsed in 1977 simply because it didn't involve civil society and the business community; you are the ones vested with the responsibility of reaching these stakeholders," Mushega told participants at the Workshop. "People should be told about the EAC Treaty every now and then to allay the fear that Kenya would dominate regional integration," he said, adding that the demand for sovereignty was immaterial, especially when national budgets heavily depend on foreign sources. "We must pool our resources to create a more vigorous regional sovereignty than the weaker national ones. Think of where we would be today had the former Community not collapsed," he said. For East Africans to reap the fruits of regional integration, he said, the partner states should sacrifice their sovereignty. He implored East Africans to be more worried of goods dumped into their region from abroad than of goods produced within the EAC. For their part, Workshop participants urged the Governments of the three partner States to devise income-generating projects that would enable the Community to stand on its own feet. The Community could not take care of 100 million people - with coming in of Rwanda and Burundi - unless the Governments gave the regional integration its due priority. That would relieve the Community from donor dependence. The participants suggested that a club for cultural programmes should be formed to forge unity among East Africans.
Such programmes could be in the form of village-to-village relationships, or an EAC cultural festival incorporating a hive of activities. These could include exhibitions of agricultural produce, art works, handicrafts, poetry and music completions. Where municipal laws supersede the Community laws, a balance of the two should be stricken, they said. They, however, decried the procedure used for electing members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), suggesting that the members should be elected at the same time with members of the national Parliaments during general elections. The existing procedure, they said, denied ordinary people of the opportunity to stand for election, or elect competent members who would properly serve in the Assembly. They observed that qualifications for EALA membership were different from those for national parliaments, which were vested with the responsibility of 'electing' members to the regional Assembly. Responding on behalf of the EALA Clerk, the Assembly's Hansard reporter, Sammy Chesire, said the Community did not vest national parliaments with the responsibility of electing the EALA members; and that there was still enough room to suggest a better way of electing the members.
476 illegal immigrants arrested (The Guardian, 26/09) - The Immigration Department has netted 476 illegal immigrants between January and August this year in an on-going campaign to deport all noncitizens living in the country illegally. In a press statement issued on Wednesday, the Oar es Salaam Regional Immigration Officer, who identified himself as Kibula, declared that all illegal immigrants should surrender themselves in the District Immigration offices. "Failure to abide by this directive means that all non-citizens found to be staying in the country without permits, will be arrested and taken to court," Kibula said. According to figures released by the Immigration Department, the DRC was leading in producing illegal immigrants, followed by Burundi, Kenya, Somalia and Malawi. Kibula listed down the arrested people with their countries of origin and dates of arrest in brackets as 30 from Burundi, India, Kenya, Somalia and Liberia (January) and 41 from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia, Ethiopia and Burundi (February). Others on the list were 63 from Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC (March), 26 from Kenya, the DRC, Burundi and Malawi (April), 41 from the DRC, Malawi, Kenya and Burundi (May) and 165 from Burundi, the DRC, Zambia, Rwanda, Germany, China and Burkinafaso (June). Also on the list were 38 from India, Uganda, the DRC, Malawi and Burundi arrested in July and 72 from Burundi, Kenya, the DRC, Somalia and Pakistan, netted last month. Kibula said the exercise had been successful following collaboration between the Immigration Department and the Police Force. He said all arrested immigrants were taken to court where they were sentenced. After serving their sentences they were supposed to return to their countries of origin. The Regional Immigration Officer said since there had been a massive wave of illegal immigrants in Oar es Salaam, the government decided to mount a nation-wide campaign to arrest all non citizens staying in the country without permits. He said as for the case of refugees who have stayed in the country for several years, the government had waived down their fees for obtaining permits from USD 1,620 to 10,000/- to enable them become legal immigrants. He also reminded nationals who are either employing or harbouring illegal immigrants that it was a criminal offence for them to do so. He said any national found to be employing or harbouring illegal immigrants would be arrested and taken to court for legal action. According to him, a national who is found guilty of employing or harbouring illegal immigrants shall either be fined 300,000/- or face a three-year jail sentence or both. Kibula further called upon Tanzanians to support the Immigration Department in its campaign against illegal immigrants.
Region undecided on burden sharing (Dar es Salaam, Irin, 19/09) - A regional conference on refugees ended on Wednesday, with governments recommitting themselves to refugee protection, but failing to adopt the principle of "safe havens" and agree on a solution to burden sharing in protracted refugee situations. In a statement issued at the end of the meeting, held in the Tanzanian commercial city of Dar es Salaam, the region reconfirmed its commitment to preserving the safety and security of refugees, while providing adequate protection and aid. However, sources close to the talks said that there was a divergence of views over the Tanzanian-proposed policy of introducing safe havens in conflict-ridden countries as a way of averting large-scale refugee movements. In their statement, the states agreed to "keep open the debate" on safe havens as a possible means of protecting civilians in situations of armed conflict "in accordance with the norms of humanitarian law". Tanzanian Minister for Home Affairs Omar Ramadhani Mapuri told IRIN on Thursday that it was the first time the concept had been introduced formally, so "other states needed more time to analyse the idea". But the concept received a lukewarm reception from many participants. "Most of the states, including the African Union, spoke against the idea," Dr Bonaventura Rutinwa, a law lecturer and an expert in forced migration who presided over some of the discussions, told IRIN. "I pointed out that legally it can be done, but practically, in terms of protecting the refugees, it has never really worked," he added. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that the "door should not be shut on the debate" but also expressed caution over the practicalities of implementing such a policy. "Many people, including UNHCR, sympathise with Tanzania because being a host for over seven years becomes a problem and a lack of meaningful progress in regional peace processes exacerbates the problem," Chrysantus Ache, UNHCR's representative in Tanzania, said. "But, without guarantees of safety in the countries of conflict, safe havens are difficult to manage," he said. "Where there is the political will, it can work, but we cannot, in all honesty, support them because we cannot guarantee people's safety."
The conference also recommended that states "should engage in developing special multilateral agreements that would strengthen solidarity and burden sharing agreements, thereby ensuring that resources for refugee protection and solutions are available on a more equitable, reliable and predictable basis". Sources at the conference said that one scheme that was considered a viable solution was the Zambian initiative, whereby refugees are encouraged to become economic players in the host country, therefore reducing the burden on the host. The region recommended that "serious consideration be given to developing comprehensive and integrated strategies that encourage the attainment of refugee self sufficiency pending the identification of the appropriate durable solution." Leading up to the meeting, Tanzania had also called for a review of the existing refugee conventions, which it said were "outdated". But, in their recommendations, the states declared that they "should enhance the existing process of strengthening the implementation of the 1951 UN Convention, the 1967 Protocol and the 1969 OAU Convention" in order to "address the contemporary challenges of refugee protection in an effective, equitable and acceptable manner". During the three-day meeting, representatives from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, UNHCR and the AU debated the challenges of refugee protection in Africa. In particular, they discussed the Agenda for Protection, causes of refugee movements, preserving safety and security of refugees and host communities, protracted refugees situations and encouraging self-sufficiency pending durable solutions and international solidarity and burden sharing mechanisms. Despite the differences, Ache said that meeting had served as useful mechanism for promoting more of an understanding between governments and their positions on the protection of refugees. "The conclusion and the recommendations show the governments' determination to continue to protect refugees. The challenge is now to put these recommendations into action," he said.
Tanzania's safe havens proposal rejected (The Guardian, 19/09) - The Regional Conference on the Challenges for Refugees Protection in Africa, has rejected Tanzania's proposal for creation of refugees' safe havens in their own countries. The Minister for Home Affairs, Ramadhan Omar Mapuri, while opening the conference on Monday said it was high time refugees were kept in their own countries by creating special camps rather than being accommodated in neighbouring countries. He had argued that refugees, regardless of being an unbearable burden to the countries that accommodate them, such countries had to put up with other problems including increasing rate of crime and environmental degradation. However, in a joint communique released at the end of the conference, the eight states and participating UN agencies did not agree to revise the current legislations governing refugees, rather, they upheld the existing conventions and other global rules on protection of refugees in the host countries. "States and other stakeholders should ensure that the agenda for protection is fully implemented so as to broaden the scope of international protection regime, to deal with issues not adequately covered by the existing refugee instruments," the communique reads in part. All the recommendations embodied in the communique do not support the position of the Tanzania government that the UN system has to introduce 'safe havens' for protecting refugees in their countries of origin. The participants also resolved that states were supposed to ensure that, in the situations where repatriation was not possible, serious consideration should be given to developing comprehensive refugee integration strategy. The communique also says: "All states must respect human rights, the rule of law and sound principles of good governance that will prevent the flow of refugees and promote sustainable voluntary repatriation." Meanwhile, in his closing speech, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Jakaya Kikwete, reiterated the government's stand, saying the 1951 International Convention on Refugees should be reviewed to cope with the current global refugee situations. Kikwete said the government had initiated an open global debate on testing the relevance of the international laws to cope with the proposals for amending them. He said: "There is also the issue of safe havens which Tanzania believes that time was ripe to give this concept due attention. I am aware of the discomfort within AU and the UNHCR regarding creating safe havens (zones) in the refugee generating countries." "I also know that the concern is shared by some delegations here. But, we are of the view that, we should not close the door to discuss this issue. There is no basis for fear. It is possible as was the case in BosniaHerzgovina," he added. He said most advantageous issue arising from adopting such a view was that the refugee generating countries would be forced to be more careful and the burden would be shared equitably within the international community. When opening the conference on Monday this week, the Minister for Home Affairs, Omar Ramadhan Mapuri, called upon the conference delegates to adopt the Tanzania's proposal for introducing the new concept of refugee protection, "the safe havens." The conference delegates included the ministers and senior government officers from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and the African Union. The UN agencies which participated in the conference include the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
Tanzania calls for repeal of UN refugee convention (Dar es Salaam, PANA, 16/09) - Seven African nations including are pushing for a review of the 1951 UN convention on refugees, arguing the blueprint was incapable of catering for a "humanitarian crisis requiring urgent attention." Tanzania, which tabled the proposal at a regional conference ending here Wednesday, argues that existing international refugee laws were not designed to meet the requirements of large flows of today's refugees uprooted by ethnic hatred or political mismanagement. Senior government officials from Burundi, the DR Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda are attending the regional meeting expected to adopt a resolution on the challenges of refugee protection in Africa. The resolution would be handed to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for action. According to the proposals, the rights accorded to refugees under the 1951 UN convention far outweighed the financial resources and integration capacities receiving countries such as Tanzania. Tanzania, which hosts an estimated one million refugees, the largest number of asylum seekers in Africa, also urged the international community to work out a strategy through which "safe havens" will be created for the displaced people within the borders of their own countries. Tanzania's Home Affairs Minister Omar Ramadhan Mapuri told the conference Monday by creating such "safe havens", it could be possible to confine the impending effects of refugees, including the proliferation of small arms in a small area than is the case today. "We are hence calling for a convention that will address the refugee problems of today, and not those of 1951," Mapuri said. "The possibility of establishing "safe havens" under international supervision within refugee generating countries needs to be explored seriously and urgently and not to be discouraged as unworkable," the Tanzanian minister added. "The collective will of the international community is quite capable of turning the seemingly unworkable solution if there is the necessary political will." Meanwhile a Deputy Director at the UNHCR, Ngonlarbje Mbaidjol told the conference that prospects for durable solutions were emerging in a number of refugee situations, especially through voluntary repatriation. He mentioned developments in the peace processes of Burundi and the DR Congo, saying they were encouraging refugees to leave Tanzania for their countries of origin. The repatriation of Angolan and Rwandan refugees was also progressing steadily, Mbaidjol explained, saying the UNHCR had so far assisted 20,000 Angolan and almost 13,000 Rwandans refugees to return home this year. Last year, over 25,000 Rwandan and 53,000 Burundian refugees returned home voluntarily from Tanzania, Mbaidjol added.
Home Affairs minister's call to review refugee laws (Dar es Salaam, Irin, 15/09) - Existing refugee protection laws and conventions are outdated and the international community should urgently explore the possibility of setting up "safe havens" within countries in conflict, a Tanzanian minister said on Monday. Calling for a new approach to the refugee phenomenon, which Home Affairs Minister Omar Ramadhan Mapuri labelled "a potential threat to international peace and security", the Tanzanian government said refugees were a heavy burden on African countries, most of whom were very poor. "Tanzania is of the opinion that the international community should work out a strategy through which safe havens will be created for refugees within the borders of a country in civil strife," Mapuri said. "In so doing, refugees with their impending affects will be confined in a small area rather than allowing them to spread to other countries as is the case today," he added. The minister said that experiences in Bosnia during the 1990s and presently in the eastern district of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), showed that it is possible to protect people within the borders of their own country under an international administration and protection. Mapuri was speaking during the opening of a three-day regional conference on the challenges of refugee protection in Africa. Tanzania is host to hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Great Lakes region. "The rights accorded to refugees under the UN 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to Refugees, far exceed the financial resources and integration capacities of host countries such as Tanzania, and indeed many developing countries," he said. Citing the example of Tanzania, he listed environmental degradation, retarded socioeconomic development, insecurity and, mistrust and strained relations with neighbouring countries as some of the costs of hosting refugees. He added that Tanzania was in a predicament over how to solve problems related to the refugee crisis - including the flow of small arms from the conflict spilling into the country while, at the same time, maintaining its responsibilities towards the refugees.
Mapuri told the conference - attended by representatives from Burundi, the DRC, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia - that the 1951 Refugee Convention had been based on a less complex situation, more manageable number of refugees and victims of war between nations. "But today, we are dealing with refugees who are victims of war, internal hatred and gross political mismanagement," he said. A representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) acknowledged the issues of burden and responsibility, and said that through "special agreements," the UN agency was examining the matter. "This conference could, therefore, make a constructive contribution to furthering the objectives of Convention-Plus, while stimulating discussion on the very real and genuine concerns of refugee-hosting countries in Africa," Ngonlarbje Mbaidal, deputy director of UNHCR's Department of International Protection, said. Convention-Plus is a new proposal to help governments tackle current migration problems. However, Mbaidal reminded the conference delegates of the responsibilities that the international community had towards refugees. "Respect for refugees' fundamental rights as human beings is the first principle of human protection," he said. "These must be secured both in a legal sense [through legal protection] and a physical sense [covering the physical well being of refugees]," he said.
260 refugees return home through new border crossing (Nairobi, 11/09) -Some 260 refugees from camps in Tanzania have returned to Burundi via the northeastern border point at Gahumo, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported on Wednesday. It said this was the first convoy it had organised to enter the country through this newly opened border crossing in Cankuzo Province. The agency reported that the eight-truck convoy rolled across the border on Monday escorted by a Tanzanian delegation headed by the Kibondo District Commissioner. The governor of Burundi’s Cankuzo Province, Rubuka Aloys, met them at Gahumo. UNHCR reported that 161 of the refugees came from camps in Kibondo, western Tanzania, and 99 others from Ngara to the northwest. It said some 1,500 Burundian refugees in Kibondo District had signed up for voluntary repatriation via Gahumo. The agency said the Gahumo/Murusagamba crossing was now the second official entry point for UNHCR-assisted returns from Tanzania. Since March 2002, UNHCR has used the Kobero border crossing in northeast Burundi, through which it has assisted the return of nearly 50,000 Burundian refugees.
Customs bosses agree to fight smuggling (The Guardian, 10/09) - Heads of Customs Departments from Burundi and Tanzania on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on mutual cooperation, gearing up to fight increasing tax evasion, smuggling and drug trafficking in the East African countries. The document was signed in Dar es Salaam by Bunjumbura's Public Tax Director General, Issac Muyakana, and Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA)'s Commissioner for Customs and Excise, George Lauwo. "Bujumbura is ready to cooperate with Tanzania to fight these problems facing our customs departments...and will do all her best to honour and implement this agreement," said Muyakana, who concluded his week-long tour of TRA's customs points yesterday. Muyakana urged customs officials to seriously fight tax evasion, and possibly launch a war against tax evaders in the two countries. He also asked TRA to assist Bujumbura with technical expertise on the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT), announcing his country' plans to introduce the system soon. The TRA Commissioner for Customs and Excise said Muyakana's visit was aimed at reaching a mutual agreement with Tanzania on areas of cooperation between the authorities. This includes strengthening the common war against tax evasion, facilitate legal trade, and transportation between the two nations for their countries benefit. During the tour Muyakana, accompanied by Burundian Commissioner for Customs and Excise, Boaz Nimpe, visited a number of TRA's customs points in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Bagamoyo, with a view to getting first hand information on experiences in customs administration. "The Burundian delegates realised that trafficking in illegal drugs constitute a danger to public health and our societies," he said. Among other issues, he said, the two customs administrations agreed on sharing and exchange of information on tax drug trafficking, smuggling and related issues. They also agreed on technical assistance, and conformity with Kyoto Convention on Transit. In this area, the parties agreed to prohibit declaration for destination of the other party transit goods loaded into open trucks instead of containers as provided for in the Kyoto convention. The two nations, agreed on surveillance of persons, goods, places and means of transport. Agreement was reached on experts and witness whereby either administration may authorise its officials to appear before the court or tribunal in matters related to customs offences. Additionally, the two administrations reacnea an agreemem on m U IIV IY of documents relating to proceedings and decisions in the application of customs laws. A statement issued yesterday said TRA had already signed similar MOU with Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia. In an interview with The Guardian, Laumo said the revenue authority also plans to sign a joint memorandum with Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda in few days to come.
The Case for dual citizenship (Business Times, 05/09) - At the stroke of midnight on December 9, 1961, what is Mainland Tanzania today became independent from British Rule as Tanganyika. On April 26, 1964, the Republic of Tanganyika joined the island Republic of Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania, a lopsided arrangement that has left an 'awkward' taste in the mouth ever since. Zanzibar had been wrenched from a virtual neo-colonial State under a Sultanate via the Zanzibar Revolution of January 12, 1964. That revolution was one of its kind. It was characterised by a rag-tag rabble that - armed with machetes, knobkerries and rocks - raided a couple of sleepy police stations here and there, sending bewildered cops scurrying for cover in palm fronds and clove bushes. In the event, the jokers succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, 'persuading' the Sultan by dint of riotous skullduggery to scramble into exile aboard a British frigate that was for some reason or other lying offshore! Ere to that, the Isles had been granted what amounted to sham independence from British Administration on December 10, 1963. This gave the new State a nervous, uneasy existence, with dubious elections and a dubious regime - all of which eventually led to the Revolution. Following the Revolution, Zanzibar - with its agglomerate population of about 300,000 souls at the time - found itself in a precarious situation. Admittedly, it knew where it came from. But, for all practical purposes, it did not know where exactly it was going. It must be remembered that this was at the time of the height of the Cold War, the West and East pseudo-confrontation, the World of Communism versus the so-called Free (read Western) World! Following the merging (?) of Zanzibar and Tanganyika in 1964, the former country retained internal self-government and its name, while the latter lost both. Hence the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, and the Union Government of Tanzania. The merit or otherwise of this arrangement has been the subject of debate and a groundswell of controversy for years now. And it remains on the backburner, forced there by legislation and subterfuge, strategy and stratagem. How or when it will end is also a matter for much debate. But, that is another story.
What is of interest to this causerie is the subject matter of citizenship, both native (indigenous) and naturalised. More often than not, 'citizenship' is lumped together with 'nationality,' with both terms being used interchangeably. While the former is the position or status of being a member of a usually specified State or Commonwealth, nationality is the status of belonging to a particular nation. That being the case, what is the status - clinically speaking - of dual citizenship, or dual nationality? At the outset, it must be said that Tanzania does not provide for this. In fact, the first Government went out of its way in the wake of independence to proscribe dual nationality in its legislation, making it illegal for one to be a Tanzanian citizen and the citizen of another State at one and the same time. The reasons for this have never been made clear. But, they cannot go beyond the speculation that they are unreasonable today as they were unreasonable then! They may have simply been political. But then, politics is the art of the possible; and what may have been impossible forty-odd years ago will not necessarily be so today. In other words, there is a strong case for dual citizenship in modern-day Tanzania. Indeed, there are many countries in the world that entertain dual citizenship as a matter of routine. And, remarkably enough, none of them is as poor or as heavily indebted as is Tanzania! Two of this country's staunchest allies, friends and supporters - the United States and South Africa - are cases in point. The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time, although each of the countries may have its own citizenship laws based on its own policies. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws, rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to parents who are US citizens may be both a US citizen and a citizen of the country of birth. But then, some people may by their own volition acquire dual citizenship where the laws of the two countries permit. This can be via marriage or naturalisation whereby one is by deliberate procedure admitted to the citizenship of the country concerned, without necessarily renouncing or otherwise losing one's other citizenship. In the case of Tanzania, all this is of course out of the question!
While countries like the US and South Africa recognise and accept dual nationality, they nevertheless do not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems this may cause. For one, if a dual citizen gets into trouble in one of the two countries, the other country may find it difficult to come to the help of its 'citizen.' Besides, the laws and interests of the one country may conflict with those of the second country which itself may not recognise dual citizenship. This notwithstanding, it is generally accepted that, for example, dual nationals owe allegiance to both the US (or RSA, for that matter) and the other (foreign) country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries; and either country has the right to enforce its laws on the person - particularly if he is within its jurisdiction at any given time. It all is really a matter of giving to Caesar what is Caesar's, and giving to the other country what is the other country's 'just desserts!' Rarely, if ever, does a country indulging in dual citizenship lose. What, and how, could it ever lose by simply allowing its citizens to become citizens of another country at the same time - or accepting citizens of other countries to become its citizens without necessarily requiring them to renounce their other citizenship? On the other hand, the benefits of providing for dual citizenship can be immense - especially for third rate economies like Tanzania. This country lost many of its illustrious sons and daughters to other more liberal countries beginning in the 1960s. This was partly prompted by the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964, and partly by the austere policies and programmes that were put in place by the Nyerere regime beginning with the Arusha Declaration on February 5, 1967. The Revolution and the Declaration brought with them - each in its own way - a disastrous experiment in socialism, mono-party hegemonism and utopian self-reliance. In the aftermath, businesses, properties and 'thinking aloud' were 'nationalised' as if there were no tomorrow. Compensation was either inadequate, non-existence or inordinately delayed as to lose all meaning. With the passage of time and events, the situation changed. It had to change. Today, Tanzania is neither particularly socialist, nor exactly self-reliant. It is as if the seeds that we sown under the Revolution and the Declaration all fell by the wayside - and were gobbled up by the birds! What a loss of time, energy, human and other resources.
Today, the Tanzanians that we inadvertently sent into exile are invariably in a much better position to help their country make the strides in socio-economic development that it could not make in the past. There is one hitch, however. Practically all of them had acquired new citizenship in their countries of forced adoption; and most of them proceeded to prosper beyond compare. While many of their new home countries - the US, Canada, Japan, the Nordic countries, the EU countries, etc, etc - allow for dual citizenship, Tanzania still does not. This makes it imprudent for the ex-Tanzanians to come and invest in their land of birth if, to do so, they must first renounce citizenship of the countries that took them in at a time of great need - and nurtured them into prosperity. At the end of the day, it is really a matter of prudent choice between two alternatives. Either to continue with the one-track minded denial of dual citizenship, or to embrace the changes that time and increasing globalisation are forcing upon us, including acceptance of the concept of dual citizenship/nationality. In my view - for what it is worth - there is a pretty strong case for dual citizenship in modern-day Tanzania. And, the earlier the issue is given serious thought, the better it will be for all.
Government expels 910 former refugees (Dar es Salaam, Irin, 03/09) - Tanzanian authorities expelled on Tuesday 910 Rwandans who had been living in the northwestern region of Kagera, humanitarian workers and government officials told IRIN. The government said on Wednesday that the Rwandans had been screened and refused refugee status, and were therefore in the country illegally. The government said 708 of them had been living in the Lukole refugee camp and 202 in Tanzanian villages. "They had been refugees, but their appeal for asylum was rejected and the time came for then to go home," John Chiligati, Tanzania’s deputy home affairs minister, told IRIN. He said Tanzania transported the Rwandans to the border where their own officials received them. "There was no resistance to the operation," he said. The spokeswoman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ivana Unluova, said on Wednesday that the Rwandans were "no longer of concern to UNHCR as they had applied for asylum and were rejected". She added: "Last month, UNHCR had offered these people voluntary repatriation, which would have included transportation and a repatriation package, but none of these people accepted this. "The Tanzanian government had asked UNHCR, in advance, to transport the refugees, but we refused because we do not assist in the forced repatriation of people." Unluova said that since the repatriation of most of the 20,000 Rwandan refugees at the beginning of the year, UNHCR had screened the entire remaining caseload and found that 100 merited international refugee status. The majority of these are in the Mkugwa protection camp, Kigoma Region, awaiting resettlement in a third country. However, Unluova added, those who remained in Lukole were unaffected by Tuesday's repatriation.
President blames rise in small arms on refugee inflows (Dar es Salaam, Irin, 01/09) - Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa repeated on Friday his accusations that refugees were to blame for the increase in small arms in the country and said the problem could be solved by creating safe havens for civilians within their own country. Mkapa said that although the problem of guns had not yet reached "crisis level", refugees were to blame for an increase in armed crime and trafficking of weapons in western Tanzania. "The truth is that the proliferation of small arms is a result of refugees entering our country, a problem which is beyond our capacity to solve," he said. In his speech before destroying over 1,000 small arms in the Tanzanian commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, Mkapa said that he was pushing for the international community to adopt a system of creation of safe havens in conflict-torn countries, with a view to preventing internal strife from spilling into neighbouring countries, who must then bear the burden of refugee influxes. "Efforts of the government to promote this policy are going on at this moment and it is for all citizens - and especially the civil society - to help popularise this policy," he said. Tanzania has hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees following a decade of conflict in the Great Lakes region. Some 500,000 Congolese and Burundians are living in refugee camps in Kagera and Kigoma regions, and the government estimates that there are another 300,000 Burundians who have fled the war but are living in Tanzanian villages, rather than registering as refugees. Observers said on Monday that the president's calls reflected the government's frustration over the refugee situation.
"There is a need for engagement on these issues," an analyst, who wished to remain anonymous, told IRIN. "The president has repeatedly called for this, but the international community does not seem to support such an idea."
"With regard to arms, the refugees themselves might not be to blame, but the refugee situation in western Tanzania is being exploited in order to facilitate the movement of weapons," the analyst added. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Monday that it took Mkapa's concerns "very seriously" and was collaborating with his government on various law enforcement and development initiatives. UNHCR's spokesperson in Tanzania, Ivana Unluova, said her agency was funding a US $1-million annual security package, which included paying for all policing in areas where refugee camps had been set up. "We are also funding a separation facility in Kagera region, where refugees are screened and combatants are separated in order to preserve the civilian nature of the camps," she said. She added that there was another new initiative among the UN, Tanzanian authorities and the army to look into security and allegations of the proliferation of small arms in Kigoma, the other refugee-affected area in western Tanzania. Unluova said that later in September, Dar es Salaam would host an international conference where representatives from 11 countries in Southern Africa and the Great Lakes region would discuss the protection challenges faced by refugees on the continent. During the meeting, Mkapa is expected to present his "safe-haven concept", while the UN will push for other possible solutions, such as burden sharing and ways of helping use refugees to encourage development.
Zambia seeks compensation from UK for medics brain-drain (Times of Zambia, 25/09) - The Zambian Government intends to seek compensation from the United Kingdom following the mass migration of the country’s nurses and other medical staff. Health Minister Brian Chituwo said the brain-drain had deprived Zambia of a vital resource. Dr Chituwo said in an interview that Zambia wanted the UK government to help keep the medical staff in Zambia. “We need the help of the UK government, probably to compensate us for our staff who we trained,” he said. He said there were other donors offering to train nurses in various nursing schools but that was only when they committed themselves to working a minimum of two years in the country. Meanwhile, the minister has said malaria remains the number one killer disease in Zambia. “I acknowledge HIV/AIDS is a big social economic problem but malaria remains number one killer,” Dr Chituwo said. He said Zambia was trying to employ new methods that would help fight malaria.
Nine prohibited immigrants arrested (Times of Zambia, 24/09) - A combined team of the Zambia Police and Immigration officers on Sunday arrested 24 illegal immigrants including the pastor's wife from Church of God in Kaunda Square stage two,
The arrest of the 24 illegal immigrants was made during a church service after a tip from reliable sources, Immigrations Public Relations Officer Jones Mwewa revealed that illegal immigrants from Congo had continued flocking into the country under the pretext of pastoring and other Christian related functions. "These people have married and settled in the country without proper documents," he said, The department has since launched investigations in all church organisations to screen all foreign nationals whether they had resident permits, Mr Mwewa urged church organisations to ensure that they followed the law when inviting foreigners into the country, In continued operations by the immigration department, a total of 41 prohibited immigrants were arrested during the week. The department deported 29 foreigners to their respective countries mostly Tanzanians,Congolese and Malawians. Mr Mwewa said a total of 231 prohibited immigrants were still detained by the department at different remand prisons in the country pending deportation. Immigrations officers arrested a total number of 21 suspected prohibited immigrants in Lusaka.
24 Congolese arrested at church (Zambia Daily Mail, 16/09) - Farmer contests deportation order (Times of Zambia, 15/09) - The Immigration Department yesterday nabbed nine prohibited immigrants including a West African who was picked up just as he was about to board a British Airways plane to London at Lusaka International airport. The man who arrived in the country from South Africa was found in possession of a Namibian passport when he was intercepted. Immigration public relations officer Jones Mwelwa who confirmed the arrest in an interview said it was suspected the passport was obtained under false pretences. Two Kenyan nationals, five Congolese and an Indian were arrested in similar operations country-wide over the weekend. Mr Mwelwa said the Kenyan nationals were working illegally while the Indian and five Congolese were arrested for staying in the country without proper documentation. He said the three had since paid admission-of-guilt fines of K1 million each while the Congolese had been detained awaiting prosecution. The seven are in detention in Livingstone awaiting prosecution.
Immigration deports 102 illegal immigrants (The Post of Zambia, 13/09) -The Immigration Department last week deported 102 prohibited immigrants and ordered 126 others to leave the country. Immigration Department public relations officer lones Mwelwa said a total of 196 prohibited immigrants were still in detention in various places round the country. He said in Kitwe, immigration officers arrested two Zimbabwean nationals for illegally working at Frank African Company. He said the duo and the company were charged accordingly and that they paid the admission of guilt fine ofKI080000 respectively. Mwelwa said the Zimbabweans have since been ordered to leave the country. He also said two Congolese nationals were removed from Zambia under escort through Mukambo Border control. In Serenje, Mwelwa said immigration officers detained two Congolese nationals for illegal entry, one Senegalese and three Tanzanians for illegal stay. "All are detained at Serenje Prison pending prosecution. They were nabbed during operations at Ndabala Road block on September 4, 2003," Mwelwa said. In Lusaka, Mwelwa said Immigration officers arrested seven Malian, five Congolese and one Ethiopian nationals for contravening immigration and deportation Act. He said all the 13 prohibited immigrants were in detention pending further investigations and prosecution. And in Mkushi, Mwelwa said officers arrested a Tanzanian and one prohibited immigrant from Burkina Faso. He said they were found to have been staying in the country illegally.Mwela said the Tanzanian was transferred to Lusaka for further investigations while the other was in detention in Mkushi pending prosecution.
Zambia's repatriation program reaches halfway mark (Lusaka, Sapa-AP, 11/09) - Zambia has repatriated almost 10,000 Angolan refugees since July, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees said Thursday. The UNHCR aims to repatriate 20,000 refugees by the end of the year, but is concerned that if the rains come early, this figure will not be met, said Kyikyi Myint, a Zambian-based UNHCR field officer. "The voluntary repatriation is going on well and we hope by December this year we will reach the targeted number of 20,000 refugees," Myint said. Until last year, Angola had been wracked by civil war, which followed independence from Portugal in 1975. The conflict left about half a million Angolans in refugee camps across southern Africa. Zambia's repatriation program, which was begun in July, focussed on moving the refugees from the Meheba refugee settlement, about 600 kilometers (370 miles) northwest of Lusaka, to the Angolan border town of Cazombo. The UNHCR has committed US$200 million and eventually hopes to repatriate 450,000 Angolan refugees.
Immigration officers hold Gamma CEO (Zambia Daily Mail, 05/09) - Gamma Pharmaceuticals newly appointed Chief Executive, Elisha Tsindikiso has been arrested for allegedly working in Zambia illegally. Immigration officers in Ndola arrested Mr Tsindikiso, a Zimbabwean national for allegedly working in the country without a valid permit. In his current permit, Mr Tsindikiso had been working at Mpongwe Development Company as the Finance director and found alternative employment as Chief executive Officer at Gamma Pharmaceuticals in Ndola where he has been since April under the previous permit Immigration spokesperson, Jones Mwelwa confirmed the development in an interview yesterday. Mr Mwelwa said by law, Mr Tsindikiso was supposed to re-apply for a new permit before assuming responsibility of his new job. He said Gamma Pharmaceuticals was charged for employing someone without right immigration papers and accepted the charge. Both the company and Mr Tsindikiso paid admission of guilt fines in the sum of K1.8 million each. Mr Mwelwa said Mr Tsindikiso had since been allowed to re-apply for a new permit. The immigration spokesperson said it was a serious violation of the Immigration and Deportation Act to switch jobs which are not prescribed on the permit.
Tourism industry picks up (Harare, Chronicle, 01/09) - Tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe have grown by 47 percent in the first six months of this year earning the country US$37 million, as efforts by the Government and the tourism industry to revive the sector begin to payoff. The earnings rose from US$24 million in 2002. The growth was in spite of the major challenges that the sector continues to experience mainly as a result of adverse publicity in major source markets. At least 1 089 256 tourists visited the country during the first half of this year compared to 739 284 tourists previously. Visitors from Africa accounted for 84 percent of the arrivals while eight percent came from Europe and four percent from America. Asia, one of the new markets the sector is cultivating, accounted for about two percent of the figure. This region saw the highest jump in tourist arrivals which rose by 80 percent from 20 983 tourists this year compared to 11 663 tourist who visited the country last year. A total of 909 604 from Africa visited the country during the period under review compared to 619357 who visited the country in the corresponding period in 2002. Tourist arrivals from southern Africa were mainly from South Africa and Botswana, which accounted for 43,7 percent of the market share. Other significant arrivals were from Zambia and Mozambique. The only negative growth in arrivals was from the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Ireland. Tourist arrivals from the UK and Ireland declined by 12 percent to 35 765 during the period under review while those from the Netherlands declined by 26 percent to 9 297. The slump in arrivals from the three countries was attributed to the negative publicity that the country was still receiving in those countries.
The tourism sector IS still recovering from a two year lapse in which tourist arrivals declined by 12 percent while domestic visits rose by five percent within the last two years. Domestic tourism, previously considered insignificant, has emerged as a major pillar for local operators as more local travellers visit attractions dotted around the country. Although figures on domestic tourism were not available, most operations countrywide have reported brisk business from locals, particularly during public holidays. A number of promotional activities both locally and abroad have been launched to revive the sector, identified as one of the country's vital sectors under the National Economic Revival Programme. The sector has a quick turnaround potential and has strong linkages with other key sectors of the economy. At its peak in 1998, tourism accounted for eight percent of the Gross Domestic Product, 13 percent of formal employment and about 11 percent of foreign exchange earnings. The tourism sector is expected to generate about US$549 million worth of business this year alone, growing to US$1 ,3 billion by 2013.The sector is also expected to contribute the Gross Domestic Product this year.
UK 'asylum seekers' sneak home (The Herald, 20/09) - Some Zimbabweans granted political asylum in Britain on the grounds that they were being persecuted by the Government have been sneaking back into the country using unorthodox means to either see their relatives or invest in property. When granted political asylum in any country, a person is not allowed to go back to their native country until there is change of government in his country. A person is given either a United Nations passport or a passport of the country granting asylum and is allowed to work and enjoy all the benefits enjoyed by citizens of that country except voting. Zimbabweans in the UK who gave false accounts of alleged persecution and were granted asylum, are now coming back home in large numbers using unorthodox means so that they don’t fall foul of immigration requirements in Britain. They fly from Britain on the pretext that they are visiting Zambia, Botswana or South Africa. On arrival in these countries, the refugees proceed to Plumtree, Victoria Falls, Chirundu or Beitbridge and are helped by corrupt immigration officials to jump the border back home. Apart from border jumping, immigration and Zimra officials, the Zimbabweans also use self-styled travel agents that are found at the Beitbridge and Kazungula border posts. Although exact figures could not be readily established, the Zimbabweans pay between $200 000 and $1 million to be smuggled into the country. "It is big business for border officials. They are making a killing from these people," a source at the Beitbridge Border Post confirmed this week. They use a similar method on their way out to catch flights back to Britain. It means that their passports will only bear immigration stamps of South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. There is no evidence, on their passports, that they would have visited Zimbabwe. A number of Zimbabweans have been granted asylum on the back of false accounts that they were being persecuted by the Government. Zimbabwean women applying for asylum often tell tales of multiple rape at the hands of Zanu-PF supporters or Government officials. "We tell the British the stories they want to hear, we are in that country for the money and if they want to hear lies about our country that’s what we give them," said one Zimbabwean granted asylum who is here on holiday. The British Government has come under pressure at home for its asylum policy with the public growing restive over the growing number of those who have been granted asylum. This has resulted in the formation of white supremacist parties such as the British National Party which recently won local elections in the town of Burnley. Experts believe that Labour could lose a number of votes because of its skewed asylum policies. A BBC special documentary on the topic of asylum last month showed that the majority of people in the UK believe that many asylum seekers are not genuine.
SA sticks to visa requirements (Zimbabwe Independent, 12/09) - South Africa has not changed entry requirements for Zimbabweans wishing to travel there as widely speculated, a high commission official in Harare said this week. The official told Zimbabweans who besieged their premises this week to secure visas that conditions of entry remained unchanged despite rumours that South Africa had relaxed entry conditions for Zimbabweans. Political counsellor at the high commission, Kingsley Sithole, on Wednesday told a restless crowd of over 3 000 people who had spent three days camped outside their offices along Second Street Extension to follow laid-down conditions of entry. The Zimbabweans had swamped high commission premises amid speculation that Pretoria had relaxed its visa conditions with a view to scrapping them altogether. Sithole told the visa applicants that South Africa would maintain its regulations on conditions for entry, dispelling rumours swirling that conditions had been relaxed. With armed riot police controlling the crowd, Sithole went through the stipulated visa requirements. A police officer assisted him by translating his remarks into Shona for the benefit of the crowd. Sithole said according to regulations, people travelling on holiday or personal visits to South Africa have to provide evidence of $102 000 or R1 000 as a guarantee. This has to be supported by a stamped and signed bank statement or a salary slip plus a letter of proof of employment and leave. Those travelling on business have to attach to their applications letters of invitation from their hosts and letters from their local companies confirming the trip. They also need two passport-size photos which are now an essential requirement.
Riot police control thousands seeking SA visas (The Herald, 10/09) -Riot police had to be summoned yesterday at the South African High Commission to control thousands of people who thronged the mission to apply for visas. There was commotion at the gates of the High Commission as people jostled to gain entry. The crowd overpowered two policemen who usually man the gates, leading to the riot police being called in. Most of the applicants were cross-border traders who travel to South Africa regularly to do business. "I make doilies and crochet work which I sell in South Africa. I use the money to buy groceries because the prices are reasonable there and the rest I keep for school fees," said one woman. Many slept at the High Commission offices in order to be first in the queue. "It seems we now have to queue for more than a day for any service that we require. I came here yesterday (Monday) around 6pm and had to sleep in the open so that I could get a number to mark my position in the queue. "I will waste my hard-earned cash on transport if I’m to return home everyday I fail to get a number," said Miss Elizabeth Tigere. The process of giving numbers starts at about 8pm up to the following day. "If you do not get a number, you don’t get the application form," she said. Some killed time crocheting and knitting while others sat in groups chatting. "I am actually surprised at the increase of applications since the so-called ‘relaxation’ of requirements. To me there is no way that we have relaxed the visa requirements because the Immigration Act is still the same," said the South African High Commissioner Mr Jeremiah Ndou. "The situation varies with individuals. If the visa officers are not convinced with the information given on the application form, it calls for further requirements like that of a bank statement or an invitation letter from a relative in South Africa," he said. He said there were some people who had gone to the extent of selling fake documents to those who were not well-informed about the requirements. "People are robbed of their money by these criminals and some become angry at us when they are denied the visas after using the fraudulent documents," Mr Ndou said. Another official at the High Commission said most people are seen lying on the streets and at railway stations when they go to South Africa. "We want to make sure that everybody who applies for a visa will be able to support him/herself when they get there. That’s why we sometimes require one’s bank statement," said the official. It now takes seven working days for one to get a South African visa. Before, the process would take two to three weeks.
Zimbabweans throng SA visa office (Harare, Sapa-AP, 09/09) - Thousands of Zimbabweans jostled in line outside the South African visa office Tuesday to apply for travel permits in hopes of some relief from their homeland's crushing political and economic crisis. Many slept outside the building after South African authorities relaxed visa restrictions. Riot police were called to quell pushing in the line before nightfall Monday. Hundreds of people routinely spend nights outside the British visa office in downtown Harare. An estimated 500,000 Zimbabweans are living and working in Britain, the former colonial power in the country. London is known colloquially here as "Harare North." Customers also sleep on the sidewalk outside banks with no end in sight to an acute shortage of local cash in this crumbling economy. Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980, with record inflation of 400 percent, one of the highest rates in the world. Soaring unemployment and acute shortages of hard currency, local money, food, gasoline, medicine and other imports have crippled the economy. Waiting in line for food and gas have become routine in past months. Even the dead wait to be buried or cremated. Impoverished relatives often can't afford burial fees and Harare's crematorium has run short of the inflammable gases used in its furnace for cremations. In the South African visa line Tuesday, Priscilla Tapa, 24, said she was planning to take handcrafted baskets and cuts of ethnic cloth to sell in the markets of Johannesburg. She hoped to bring back mobile phones and small, high value electronics components for resale. She said she would probably have to bribe border officials if she was caught with the goods or hard currency destined for exchange on Zimbabwe's thriving black market. She said she knew of unemployed friends who had resorted prostitution in this country with an HIV infection rate of 25 percent. An estimated 70 percent of Zimba!bwe's 12 million people live in poverty. Nearly half will need emergency food aid by the end of the year to avert famine, according to the U.N. food agency. Prices of food, gasoline and transportation have increased sharply. In the past month, the black market exchange rate for the U.S. dollar has doubled to more than Zimbabwe dollars 5,000-1. The official exchange rate is 824-1.
The economic crisis is partly blamed on the seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms for handing over to black settlers. Farming production has dwindled, with many of the settlers facing acute shortages of seeds and fertilizers. On Monday, the two top officials of the Commercial Farmers Union in western Zimbabwe resigned from the embattled farmers' organization after criticizing its leaders for not resisting new farm seizures. The union represented about 4,500 farmers before the often violent land seizures began in 2000. Only about 400 white farmers are still on their land. Newly displaced farmers have reported being told by district government officials a new phase of seizures, known as "Operation Clean Sweep," is to oust most remaining white farmers. In other developments, Martin Mukaro was the most recent person to be charged under draconian security laws aimed at stifling dissent. The Zimbabwean man is accused of sending a fax to a friend in Britain describing allegations of political violence by ruling party militants during district elections earlier this month. While he was faxing the letter from a public phone store, "a certain concerned person" called police, court officials said. Mukaro, 35, was freed on bail by a Harare court on Monday to reappear Oct. 8 on charges carrying a maximum penalty of up to five years in jail.
Zimbabwean white farmers relocate to Kwara (Ilorin, This Day, 09/09) - Embattled Zimbabwean White farmers who had been at loggerheads with the government of President Robert Mugabe for years may have found a new haven in Kwara State where they may have concluded plans to relocate to as they arrive Ilorin, the state capital, today. The Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Raheem Adedoyin, who disclosed this yesterday said, "during the weeklong visit to Kwara, the farmers would hold bi-lateral talks with senior government officials and also undertake an inspection tour of potential farm sites in the three senatorial districts of the state". Governor Bukola Saraki was delighted about the farmers' visit, stressing that the state stood to benefit from the huge resources, international finance and hi-tech equipment available to the displaced farmers. Adedoyin argued further that "the Zimbabwean project will also complement the government's 'Bask-To-Land' programme which is designed to provide food security, employment opportunities while feeding the agro-allied industries". Earlier on, a South African firm, Hakiri Pty, had visited the state to undertake a survey of the poultry and livestock farm in Oke-Oyi and Ilorin for which they were satisfied to upgrade and use as a basis of feeding the nation's requirement from the state. The project is expected to provide jobs for about 350 persons at the first instance. Meanwhile, the Dangote Flour Mills Industry will today have the foundation laying ceremony performed at their site on Asa-Dam road, Ilorin. According to Governor Bukola Saraki's report to the House of Assembly on his 100 days in office, "the company is expected to create 800 jobs in the fist instance and another 1,200 subsidiary jobs". The Dangote Flour Industry is expected to commence production by next February. A visit to the site witnessed heavy lorries working and moving construction materials. Efforts to speak to them yielded no result. Saraki is, however, expected to mid-wife the foundation laying ceremony of the multi-million industry.
More than 200 nurses graduate (The Herald, 09/09) - More than 200 nurses from Parirenya-twa Group of Hospitals graduated in Harare at the weekend. Of the 200, 178 were basic graduate nurses and 40 post-basic graduates. Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the acting Vice Chancellor of the Women’s University in Africa, Dr Hope Sadza, urged the graduates to be patriotic. She said leaving the country was no solution to the problems that were facing the country. "I urge the nursing profession to continue its societal mandate to enhance development of Zimbabwe, despite the constraints nursing is facing like financial, manpower, other material resources and gender insensitivity," said Dr Sadza. Zimbabwe is one of the countries in Africa affected by the brain drain, with health professionals topping the list of those leaving the country. The chief executive officer of Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Mr Thomas Zigora, said there was need to invest more in training programmes for nurses if the constraints of deteriorating nurse-patient ratio and manpower shortages were to be solved. "What is even more disheartening is the rate at which the so-called developed countries, with seemingly unlimited resources at their disposal, continue to deplete the manning levels in public sector hospitals," he said. Dr Sadza said the nursing profession was more important these days than ever before because of the ravaging HIV/Aids that has taken its toll on the population. "The importance of the nursing profession is more appreciated now with the HIV/Aids pandemic in our midst, which has brought the concept of home-based care a reality to most of us," said Dr Sadza. In addition to producing the registered general nurse, the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals’ School of Nursing also offers post-basic courses in diploma in community nursing, diploma in nursing administration, the nurse anaesthetist diploma and the theatre nursing diploma.
Registrar-General's office hikes passport fees (The Daily News, 08/09) -The Registrar-General (RG)'s Office has increased passport fees by more than 200 percent with effect from today. According to a notice issued by the RG's Office, adults applying for ordinary passports will be required to pay $5 000, up from $1 500. An ordinary passport for a child under 12 years now costs $2 500, up from $700. An adult's executive passport - processed within 24 hours - now costs $110 000, and a child's 24-hour passport will incur a cost of $40 000. The fee for an urgent passport processed in three working days has been pegged at $80 000 for an adult and $30 000 for a child under 12. The new fee for an urgent passport processed in seven days is $60 000 for an adult and $20 000 for a child under 12. The new fee for an adult's urgent passport processed in two weeks is $40 000, while a similar passport for a child under 12 now costs $10 000. The hike in passport fees comes at a time Zimbabwe's passport office is battling a huge backlog because of an increase in the number of people applying for passports so that they can leave the country. A large number of Zimbabweans have already left the country for South Africa, the United Kingdom and other destinations, fleeing a worsening economic crisis and political uncertainty. But commentators yesterday said the new fees were unlikely to discourage people from applying for passports. They said most Zimbabweans were now so desperate to leave the country that they were willing to raise whatever money was needed to pay passport and visa fees. A British High Commission spokesperson last week said the high commission had received 17 078 visa applications since the beginning of the year. This is despite an increase in visa fees and the stringent visa requirements set by the British government. Tough visa requirements introduced by South Africa have also not deterred Zimbabweans anxious to try their luck in that country. Meanwhile, according to the directive from the RG's Office the penalty for a lost passport is now $5 000, while a defaced or soiled passport now attracts a $10 000 penalty. Adding a child's name to an old passport now costs $2 500, according to the new fee structure, while the new fee for extending the validity of a passport is also $2 500. The new fee for an emergency travel document is now $2 000 from $500.
Zimbabweans seek US shelter (The Daily News, 08/09) - The United States' State Department is considering an application by Zimbabweans living in the US for Temporary Protection Status, which would grant illegal immigrants immunity from deportation until Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis is resolved, the Daily News has established. The Association of Zimbabweans Based Abroad (AZBA), which was formed last month, wrote to the US State Department in August, indicating that it had become unsafe for Zimbabweans living abroad to return home. US Senator Raphael Feingold has also written to the US State Department endorsing AZBA's request. "The association is requesting the US government to grant Temporary Protection Status to Zimbabweans who are at risk of experiencing severe hardship if forcibly returned to their country," a document sent to the State Department reads in part. "It is no secret that the current political climate is unsafe for many Zimbabweans living abroad," the document adds. In his letter to US Secretary for Homeland Security Tom Ridge, Feingold said the political and economic conditions in Zimbabwe made it imperative for the US to grant the temporary protection status. The US senator said: "Presently, extraordinary conditions exist that prevent Zimbabweans from returning home in safety as required by the Temporary Protection Status statute. "In addition, Zimbabwe cannot feed its population. Many of the Zimbabweans that have resisted Mugabe's tyranny now reside in the United States and we should consider providing protection status for them." Feingold successfully campaigned in 2000 for the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, under which President Robert Mugabe and his government were slapped with travel and economic sanctions.
In response to AZBA's appeal, Scott Busby, the director of policy and resource planning in the State Department, last month assured AZBA that the US government was considering the petition. "The Department of State continues to monitor the conditions in Zimbabwe to determine whether they meet the specific statutory requirements for Temporary Protection Status. I can assure you that we will take your concerns into consideration," he wrote in a letter addressed to AZBA president Dumaphi Mema.
Temporary Protection Status may be granted if the US Attorney General finds that a foreign state is in the grip of ongoing armed conflict and that due to such conflict, "the return of aliens who are nationals of that state to that state, or part of that state, would pose a serious threat to their personal safety". While noting that no armed conflict exists in Zimbabwe, AZBA, however, noted that there exists a "prolonged state of open and hostile disharmony". The group said this "clash or conflict is characterised by the use of brutal, violent force by the government of Zimbabwe against the civilian population and opponents of the Mugabe regime". The government has denied such charges in the past. Temporary Protection Status can also be granted to a country that has experienced earthquakes, floods, drought, epidemics or other environmental disasters, resulting in the disruption of living conditions. AZBA notes that Zimbabwe has experienced floods and drought in the past five years and is in the grip of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Countries that have been granted Temporary Protection Status (TPS) in the past include Angola, Mozambique, Kosovo, Serbia and Liberia. AZBA executive director Ralph Black told the Daily News yesterday that granting of the TPS would provide relief to many Zimbabwean illegal immigrants residing in the US. About 45 000 Zimbabweans are estimated to be living in the US. He said: "Many Zimbabweans here are desperate because if they are caught by the State Department, they will be deported. But if this status is granted, then it will take away the anxiety of being caught and they will also be authorised to work and complete their studies while fending for their families back home.
"We have also not been able to adequately lobby the US government on Zimbabwe because most people are afraid of coming out in the open because their papers are not in order."
Nursing school hit by shortages (Chronicle, 01/09) - Kwekwe General Hospital's School of Nursing is faced with an acute shortage of facilities after increasing its enrolment fivefold, the acting medical superintendent, Dr Edmore Munongo, said yesterday. Speaking at a graduation ceremony of 87 student nurses, he said the school had increased its intake to 150 student nurses a year without a corresponding expansion of facilities. "From the beginning of the training six years ago, we started with a compliment of 30 students. These were later increased to 120 and now we are taking 150 students a year. However, this increase has not been matched by an expansion of facilities. The same classroom block, which was meant for 30 students, is supposed to cater for 150 students," he said. He said despite the resource shortage, the graduates were trained by a team of highly qualified and intelligent tutors that they could work in any hospital under any circumstances. Dr Munongo appealed to the new nurses to serve Zimbabwe and not join the trek to other countries where they will be treated as secondclass citizens. "Zimbabwe has become a training ground for countries like the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and our neighbours. Please give some service to Zimbabwe before you go to the UK to become 2nd class citizens. Zimbabwe is the only country where you can become a 1 st class citizen. It is the only country you can call yours," he said. The Midlands provincial governor, Cde Cephas Msipa, who said a nurse should not be motivated by the desire to make money alone, echoed his sentiments. He said Zimbabwe needed the services of nurses more than the United Kingdom. "It is true that you do not live on bread alone but there are other things to consider. There is something known as national service and that is more than money," he said. Cde Msipa said the new nurses should be bound by their international nurses pledge to alleviate the suffering of people in Zimbabwe. He said the government was committed to improving the health sector because it was crucial to the overall development of the country. The guest of honour at the graduation, Dr Kudakwashe Mapanga, the acting chairman of the Department of Nursing Science at the College of Health Sciences, said the nursing profession was developing In me country. He said the profession was now autonomous and had the ability to discipline and control activities of its members. Or Mapanga said choosing a career, as a nurse should be motivated by the desire to serve the public and reflect a longterm commitment. "An individual professional nurse is accountable to himself or herself, the public and the profession for the nursing practice he or she provides," he said. The tutorincharge at the school, Mrs Annah Mnkandla said the school needed at least one more classroom block. She said that due to a shortage of hostel accommodation, most student nurses were living outside the campus where they had to pay high rentals and transport fees.
This page last updated 06 February 2004.