Migration News

Archives and Current News

August 2004  - Click on the country title above the headlines for the entire article.

SADC to strengthen co-operation in fight against cross border crime
Southern Africa to get fourth transfrontier park
Zimbabwe Secretariat for transfrontier park

Border Police arrest 163 illegal foreigners
Refugees return home from Namibia
Refugees arrive in Luanda
Angola to expel 400 illegal workers to DR Congo
Angolan refugees return from Zambia
Lack of funds undermines resettlement process
Angolan refugees return home
Angolan refugees return home from DRC
UNHCR begins airlifting Angolans Home
Food Aid dries up for refugees
Donor funds shortage hampers return of Angolan refugees
Expulsion of illegal miners resumes
Angolan resumes crackdown on diamond smugglers

Water project delayed because of illegal workforce
No greener pastures on Botswana farms
Zimbabweans face deportation
Botswana extends corporal punishment
Zimbabweans protest over delayed pay
Botswana Ex-miners wait two years for compensation
Crackdown on fake documents' syndicate
Botash reduces expatriate staff
Botswana-Zimbabwe: Tensions continue to simmer
Botswana defends flogging of Zimbabwe migrants
Xenophobia Persists in Botswana
Casual employment of Zimbabweans
Botswana, Zim discuss security issues

Malawi struggles to woo tourists
Clampdown on illegal cross-border Maize trade
Brain Drain on Nurses

Renamo appeals against voter registration of Emigrants

Shortage of Doctors takes centre stage
Shocked Bangladeshi workers reject reinstatement
Angolan refugees may be airlifted home
Union takes issue with Ramatex
Court Curbs Ramatex (
Governor urges border awareness
New Citizenship rules gazetted

South Africa:
Fraudulent marriage now stand at 779
SA varsities cash in on foreign students
Didiza clarifies foreign property stance
SA, UK tighten recruitment rules
UK to curb poaching of SA health professionals
Proposals to curb poaching of doctors and nurses
East Cape, Limpopo retain their medical professionals
Exodus of health staff on SA-UK talks agenda
Steps being taken to address health workers migration
Another marriage syndicate smashed
Home Affairs records more fraudulent marriages
Minister not happy with treatment of foreigners
Panel appointed to probe foreign land ownership
Human trafficking: SA has no legislation
UK undertakes to stop poaching local nurses
Step to cure SA's health staff crisis (Business Day, 20/08)-
New law monitors Asylum seekers
Immigration amendment bill a milestone, says Mapisa-Nqakila
Report on Zimbabweans in SA
National Assembly approves immigration bill
An engine of trade too big to ignore
Fraudulent marriages now stand at 200
101 Fraudulent marriages discovered to date
Illegal cross border gun smuggling rife in Limpopo
Soldiers held for robbing, ambushing Zimbabweans
Changes to Immigration bill 'positive'
New ID cards on the Cards
Children's bill should recognize child refugees
Committee approves immigration bill
Cross-border traders no longer shall fry
Bishops want government action on refugees
SA acts on bogus marriages
Dozens of women discover unknown husbands
Redrafting of immigration rules welcomed
Audio cassettes warns truckers about HIV
Buthelezi on his own record
SA immigration officers in court for passport scam
Business, labour want immigration Act overhauled
Jostling for voice on immigration
New row as Buthelezi's adviser gets citizenship
Immigration reform bill under fire
Immigration bill a step back claims business
SA medical students return from Cuba
Buthelezi should support successor at Home Affairs
Business objects to immigration law amendment
Immigration Law talks
Home Affairs committee to call minister on Immigration Board
Key immigration provision to go
Home affairs moves to attract foreign investors
Buthelezi's adviser quits SA
Mozambicans in South African farms to be legalized
Skills shortage could affect development projects 
Flow of Teachers under spotlight
Changing immigration act only way to attract skills
Overhaul for immigration laws
Home Affairs deports Pakistanis for marriage scams
UNHCR ready to help Angolan return home
Government needs to review immigration policy
Review marks end of Buthelezi era
Skills shortage means foreigners will get jobs

No more jobs for nurses in the UK
Rural health professional shortage

Tanzanians faced with deportation
Aliens trigger security alarm
Tanzania, Malawi move to settle border dispute

Zambian illegal entry into Namibia reduces
Nurses exodus haunts Africa's health system
Govt, DRC hold talks over cross border trade
Angolan refugees return home from Zambia
Suspected human traffickers arrested
Zambia accuses Malawians of encroaching
Prolonged refugee situations hinder Development
Zambia commended for its refugee policies
Exodus of trained Zambians

Cross border traders introduce duty payment system
Economic recovery hindered by brain drain
Deal with illegal immigrants
Rape, Abuse of Zimbabweans in SA inexcusable
Government committed to retaining health workers
Exiled Zimbabweans celebrate national holidays
Brain drain at University of Zimbabwe
Police smash currency smuggling racket
Analysis of the situation of Displaced farm workers in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe accuses Botswana of flogging illegal migrants
800 Auditors Flee Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe and Botswana talk border problems
New law to control influx of DRC and Nigerian nationals
Govt gazettes new citizenship regulations

SADC to strengthen co-operation in fight against cross border crime (The Herald, 31/08)- Home affairs ministers and police chiefs from the Southern African Development Community have resolved to strengthen co-operation in the fight against cross-border crimes. The resolution was made at the just-ended annual Southern African Regional Police Co-operation Organisation and Council of Ministers meeting in Tanzania. Ministers and representatives from Sadc countries, including Zimbabwean Home Affairs Minister Cde Kembo Mohadi and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, attended the Council of Ministers and police chiefs meetings which ended last Friday. The meetings urged Zimbabwean police to ensure that next year's parliamentary elections are held in a peaceful environment. South Africa's police chief, Mr. Jackie Sello Selebi, had his post as president of Interpol, solemnised in the presence of President Benjamin Mkapa. During the ministers' meeting, Mr. Mkapa said there were serious problems bedevilling the Sadc region, which called for increased co-operation among neighbouring countries. "Now more than ever before, the imperative of forging stronger regional law enforcement links has become perceptively acknowledged. The increasing incidents of cross-border and transnational crime underscore our interdependence," President Mkapa said in his statement. He said the Agreement on Co-operation and Mutual Assistance signed in Zimbabwe in 1997 by Sarpcco members was a reaffirmation of the belief that crime prevention requires wider co-operation and co-ordinated strategies. Police chiefs who presented their deliberations to the ministers noted with concern the prevalence of cross-border crimes such as illicit drug trafficking, car thefts, trafficking of firearms and stocktheft. They said new international laws needed to be put in place to help in the extradition of criminals and the return of stolen property to its rightful owners. Police Commissioner Chihuri said participants commended efforts by countries like Zimbabwe to combat acts of terrorism. A group of 70 suspected mercenaries were arrested in Harare in March this year on charges of plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea. "The representatives expressed their appreciation that the Sadc Protocol on the Firearms, Ammunition and other related materials has now entered into force. They mandated the Council of Police Chiefs to implement the action plan aimed at combating the proliferation of illicit firearms in the region to curb acts of terrorism," Commissioner Chihuri said. Interpol secretary-general Mr. Ronald Noble commended Sadc police chiefs for the continued fight against transnational crime. Mr. Noble said all Sarpcco countries should make it one of their priorities to send police officers to Interpol's Sub-Regional Bureau in Harare. "Zimbabwe has built an extraordinary facility for the Harare Sub-Regional Bureau to house your best officers, so please send Interpol your best," Mr. Noble said in his statement. He said Sarpcco needs to remain strong and effective to overcome challenges faced by the region's law enforcement agents, which include the need to develop a universal firearms tracing and tracking system.

Southern Africa to get fourth transfrontier park (Sapa, 19/08)- Malawi and Zambia have concluded an agreement for the creation of a new 33,000 square kilometre cross border conservation area, according to an announcement in South Africa Thursday. The new park will consolidate the Nyika National Park, Vwaza
Marsh Wildlife Reserve and the Kasungu National Park in Malawi and the Nyika National Park, Lunazi Forest Reserve and Lukusuzi National Park in Zambia, the Peace Parks Foundation, the body supervising its establishment, said. It will bring to four the number of cross border peace parks in southern Africa. The Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park between Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park between Botswana and South Africa and the Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park between Namibia and South Africa are already in existence. A conclusive treaty for the Malawi-Zambia transfrontier park that covers a large diversity of habitats and ecosystems will be signed by heads of state from the two countries in December 2005, the foundation said.

Zimbabwe Secretariat for transfrontier park (New Era, 16/08)- Zimbabwe has been appointed secretariat for the Zambezi-Okavango Trans-frontier Park which encompasses Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema said. The appointment was made at a meeting of ministers responsible for environment and tourism from the five countries held in Livingstone, Zambia recently. "We held the meeting to update ourselves on projects in the Transfrontier Park. We are also looking at the promotion of the Zambezi-Okavango River Basin, which is known as the Zambezi-Okavango Trans-frontier Conservation Area," Nhema said. "We plan to take advantage of the Zambezi and Okavango River and the spectacular Victoria Falls and jointly market the area for sustainable use. We agreed to have a full secretariat to run with the programme and Zimbabwe was appointed to that position." The minister said each country was tasked to ensure certain standards of tourist facilities were maintained and that improvements were environmentally friendly to maintain the area as a conservancy. The ministers discussed marketing, visa regimes, access to areas through neighbouring countries, prohibitive fees and licences and improvement of facilities like airports and accommodation. The Livingstone meeting was a follow-up to one held in Namibia's Katima Mulilo last year. Nhema said the ministers were scheduled to meet again in November, in Botswana, to check on progress. "We need to secure and improve management of our natural resource base. I believe we will collaborate in management planning towards harmonised land use, including joint inventory of resources, monitoring and research and in actively supporting sustain-able tourism development," he said.

Border Police arrest 163 illegal foreigners (Angola Press Agency, 30/08)- The National Border Protection Police, in Angola's Eastern Lunda-Sul province, have arrested and repatriated, in 12 months, about 163 citizens from the Democratic Republic of Congo who entered into the Angolan territory illegally, through Sacambundji border post, in Muconda district, some 195 kilometres of Saurimo. The information was disclosed by the provincial commander of the Border Police, Domingos Manuel, while assessing the activities carried out by his corporation from August, 2003 up to this month. "The foreigners who tried to enter illegally were arrested and repatriated through the Services for Foreign Migration (SME)", he explained. Mr Manuel said that due to the availability of technical means such as motor-boats, vehicles and motor-bicycles, backed up by air transports, it was possible to detain the foreigners who were trying to enter into Angola without the established norms of migration. The unit of Lunda-Sul Police for Border Protection, protects a fluvial bordering zone with a 282.5-km extension from Lucosso-cassai and Luau rivers. Lunda-Sul province borders to the north with Lunda-Norte province, south Moxico province, east with the Democratic Republic of Congo and west with Malanje province.

Refugees return home from Namibia (Angola Press Agency, 30/08)- About 1,201 Angolan refugees who were exiled in the Republic of Namibia were repatriated, from July 16 to August 26 of the current year, by the Social Welfare Ministry (Minars), with the support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). According to the coordinator of the technical commission for repatriation, Sungo Matumona Pedro, since the beginning of the process the Kuando-Kubango province has accommodated in average around 200 people by each road convoy (at a total of seven), coming from Osire camp, neighbouring Namibia. Mr. Pedro added that the process enabled equally the transportation of 111 heads of cattle, 18 goats, seven donkeys and other animals belonging to the Angolan returnees.

Refugees arrive in Luanda (Angola Press Agency, 23/08)- A total of 217 Angolan refugees arrived Sunday in Luanda from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under the Government's organised and volunteer repatriation programme supported by the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The newly arrived Angolan will later be directed to relatives living in Luanda, after all required assistance is provided to them, it has been said. According to the UNHCR information officer, Fernando Mendes, the returnees will first be accommodated at the Luanda's Beiral elderly home where they will be supplied with assistance kits and information on Hiv/Aids and landmines danger. "They will also get assistance packages they will take along with them to their final destination and that will be useful in the coming months of social reintegration," the officer said. The source said as well this group is the first of a series of others who decide to return home voluntarily. "This repatriation has volunteer character and as the refugees get registered, expressing their wish to return home, the UNHCR will secure the flights," he stated. The refugees are being welcomed at the Luanda "4 de Fevereiro" International Airport, by officials of the Social Welfare Ministry, HCR and relatives. The second phase of the organised and volunteer repatriation of refugees restarted on 2 July this year, expecting to return home 39.000 Angolans living in the DRC. Official data supplied to the press indicate the existence of about 500.000 Angolan refugees in neighbouring countries. Since May this year, 5.396 have returned home. 625 came from Namibia into Cazombo (eastern Moxico province), of the 120.000 planned for this year. More than 130.000 Angolan refugees returned to their areas of origin in 2003.

Angola to expel 400 illegal workers to DR Congo (Sapa, 20/08)- Angolan police have rounded up some 400 illegal workers, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in northern Zaire province and plan to deport them, an official has said. The province on Thursday joined Operation Diamond, a nationwide
crackdown on foreigners who are in the country illegally and involved in diamond trafficking. "We have received the order to round up foreigners who are here illegally, mostly in the border provinces, and who managed to evade arrest during the first phase of our operations against illegal migration in the country," deputy police commissioner Tito Monana was quoted as saying on national radio. Angola announced earlier this month that it planned to resume a crackdown on suspected diamond and other traffickers that led to the expulsion of some 120,000 Congolese and 35,000 west Africans. But UN agencies and human rights groups have said the anti-foreigner campaign launched in December has been carried out brutally, with women and children raped and forced to walk long distances without food or water. The deputy police commissioner said that a consular official
from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a Congolese immigration official would be on hand in the northern coastal town of Soyo to oversee the repatriation. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' government has defended the operation by calling it an "act of sovereignty in defence of the economy" of Angola, which depends on its diamond exports and oil for hard currency. A former Portuguese colony, Angola is one of Africa's top oil and diamond producers.

Angolan refugees return from Zambia (Angola Press Agency, 18/08)- About 530 Angolan refugees in the Republic of Zambia have returned to the country from 15 to 17 of the current month, in an operation organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). According to the UNHCR information Officer, Fernando Mendes, the process comprised five airlifts destined to Bunda locality (Lumbala-Nguimbo). The UNHCR officer said that his agency is doing its utmost in order to bring safely to Angola a greater number of people before the starting of the rainy season. Mr. Mendes informed that the ex-refugees once resettled in their areas of origin they are given one packet of food for two months, due to the lack of finance facing the World Food Programme, taking into account that they previously were benefiting nourishment for six months.

Lack of funds undermines resettlement process (Irin News, 17/08)- Insufficient funds, poor infrastructure and widespread landmines continue to blight efforts to resettle tens of thousands of Angolans who fled their homes during the civil conflict. Last week the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that unless new donations were received, in September no cereals would be distributed to resettled returnees or those scheduled to be repatriated from neighbouring countries. The UN agency has already slashed cereal rations by 50 percent due to the lack of funds. WFP Deputy Country Director Sonsoles Ruedas said the funding shortage had "undermined the resettlement process" and "reduced the incentive for people to return to their areas of origin". Aid groups have also been alerted to the deteriorating nutritional status of the local population in the southern part of the country as a result of drought conditions. Since the April 2002 ceasefire, an estimated 70 percent of the 1.9 million internally displaced persons who returned to their homes have done so without any assistance. Even minimum conditions for their resettlement are often not in place. "If you were a head of a family in Angola, would you want to resettle your family in a village where you couldn't educate your children? Where there is no market to sell your produce? Or if you were sick, there was no medicine to be had at the health post, or staff to administer it? These are the challenges that returnees are facing and the choices that they are having to make," information officer for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Dawn Blalock told IRIN on Tuesday. However, in some places like Luau in the eastern province of Moxico, a major area of return, there were signs of increased economic activity. "The market place was deserted one year ago. Now farmers are bringing their products to market and we are seeing the rebirth of local commercial activity. Road and bridge repairs are allowing access," Blalock said. But still, the pressure on returnees to re-establish their livelihoods was immense, she added. "We've seen a disturbing trend in which people knowingly venture into mined areas to collect firewood or cultivate land. These people are literally risking life and limb - and oftentimes losing one or both - to do the most simple chores needed to survive," she noted. Angola remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world: estimates for the number of landmines range from six to 20 million, causing one of the highest rates of landmine injuries per capita in the world. Humanitarian agencies have also routinely complained that landmines and the poor condition of roads continue to hamper relief efforts.

Angolan refugees return home (International Organization for Migration, 17/08)- About 530 Angolan refugees in the Republic of Zambia have returned to the country from 15 to 17 of the current month, in an operation organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). According to the UNHCR information Officer, Fernando Mendes, the process comprised five airlifts destined to Bunda locality (Lumbala-Nguimbo). The UNHCR officer said that his agency is doing its utmost in order to bring safely to Angola a greater number of people before the starting of the rainy season. Mr Mendes informed that the ex-refugees once resettled in their areas of origin they are given one packet of food for two months, due to the lack of finance facing the World Food Programme, taking into account that they previously were benefiting nourishment for six months.

Angolan refugees return home from DRC (Angola Press Agency, 17/08)- Angolan police have rounded up some 400 illegal workers, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in northern Zaire province and plan to deport them, an official has said. The province on Thursday joined Operation Diamond, a nationwide
crackdown on foreigners who are in the country illegally and involved in diamond trafficking. "We have received the order to round up foreigners who are here illegally, mostly in the border provinces, and who managed to evade arrest during the first phase of our operations against illegal migration in the country," deputy police commissioner Tito Monana was quoted as saying on national radio. Angola announced earlier this month that it planned to resume a crackdown on suspected diamond and other traffickers that led to the expulsion of some 120,000 Congolese and 35,000 west Africans. But UN agencies and human rights groups have said the anti-foreigner campaign launched in December has been carried out brutally, with women and children raped and forced to walk long distances without food or water. The deputy police commissioner said that a consular official
from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a Congolese immigration official would be on hand in the northern coastal town of Soyo to oversee the repatriation. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' government has defended the operation by calling it an "act of sovereignty in defence of the economy" of Angola, which depends on its diamond exports and oil for hard currency. A former Portuguese colony, Angola is one of Africa's top oil and diamond producers.

UNHCR begins airlifting Angolans Home (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (16/08)- The UN agency for refugees (UNHCR) has begun airlifting Angolans home, with the first group of 318 leaving western Zambia at the weekend for Leuna in Angola's eastern province of Moxico, a UN official said. "We will conduct the airlifting operations twice a week, while our weekly convoys of refugees will continue to leave for eastern Angola by road," said Kelvin Shimo, a spokesperson for the UNHCR. More than 4,000 refugees have returned home through Cazombo and various other points of entry since the resumption of the operation in June, after the rains ended. Of the 40,000 Angolans to be repatriated by the end of this year, about 18,000 are from the Meheba camp in Zambia's North-Western province, 12,000 from Mayukwayukwa camp in Western province, 8,000 from Nangweshi camp, also in the Western province, and 2,000 from Ukwimi camp in the east of the country, Shimo said. The returnees are being provided with food rations to last them until the next harvest season. Tens of thousands of refugees have also returned from Zambia under their own steam since the end of the Angolan civil war in April 2002. Transportation for repatriating the refugees has been provided by the International Organisation for Migration, Shimo said. Programmes for repatriation of the 440,000 Angolan refugees, who fled mainly to Zambia, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo during the country's 27-year-long civil war, have been underway since 2003.

Food Aid dries up for refugees (New Era, 11/08)- The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday that a huge shortfall in food aid for Angola was threatening attempts to bring hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced Angolans back to their homes. WFP spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume said the agency had only received 45 million of the US$253 million it had appealed for operations in Angola this year. "The lack of funds is posing a serious threat to the process of reinstalling these people," she told journalists. "Unless new contributions are made swiftly, the situation will be so serious that there will be no more cereals to distribute in September," Berthiaume added. Food rations handed out by WFP have already been cut by half. Half a million Angolans fled the country during the 27-year civil war that ended with a peace pact in 2002, while hundreds of thousands more people were displaced within Angola. About 220 000 Angolan refugees have returned from neighbouring countries so far. UN agencies have stepped up repatriation efforts this year in an attempt to cut the long-term aid burden for the international community. They have repeatedly warned about the country's dilapidated infrastructure, health and education services, as well as the lack of support for the returnees in Angola.

Donor funds shortage hampers return of Angolan refugees (Sapa, 10/08)- An acute shortage of funds was seriously hampering efforts to resettle tens of thousands of Angolan refugees, some of whom fled their homes decades ago, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said in a statement Tuesday. The agency said it had received only 45 million dollars from international donors that amounted to about 18 per cent of the 253 million dollars it had appealed for to feed returning refugees and displaced people until the end of 2005. "The funding shortage is seriously undermining the resettlement process and reducing the incentive for people to return to their areas of origin,'' said Sonsoles Ruedas, the WFP deputy country director for Angola. Cereal rations had already been slashed by 50 per cent, the WFP said adding that "unless there are immediate new donations, no cereals at all will be distributed in September, which is when the lean season starts''. U.N. agencies are undertaking a programme to repatriate and assist the refugees who fled during three decades of civil war in the former Portuguese colony in south west Africa. Around 1.4 million Angolans have already returned while an estimated 166,000 others remain in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. "Many face unimaginable misery when they return home. Clean drinking water from protected sources is rare, there are very few schools or health clinics and electricity remains only a dream in vast areas of the country,'' Ruedas explained.

Expulsion of illegal miners resumes (UN intergrated Regional Information Networks, 06/08)- Angolan security forces are again arresting and expelling illegal Congolese and West African diamond traffickers but there have been few signs of a repeat of the violence seen earlier this year, according to aid and humanitarian workers. Sources said Angolan authorities had begun repatriating illegal workers in three diamond-rich northern provinces following the end of a 45-day moratorium last month and that, so far, the process seemed to be orderly and without the abuse that characterised a previous crackdown. "It is clear the operations started again on 16 July in Uige, Malanje and Lunda-Norte. At the moment we have not received any allegations of human rights violations," one senior humanitarian officer told IRIN. The Angolan authorities are believed to have expelled around 120,000 Congolese and 3,500 West Africans in a clampdown on illegal diamond traffickers that began in December. At the end of May they agreed to the moratorium after the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) complained it was unable to cope with the influx. UN agencies estimated that 2,500 people a day were arriving in the DRC, mostly in areas where there was no food, water or shelter for them. Angolan security officials had reportedly sexually abused women and girls on the pretext of searching for hidden diamonds, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said at the time. Information on the latest operation was scarce, but sources said it seemed to involve "hundreds rather than thousands" of people, and was being conducted at a slower pace and in a more organised fashion. But without a strong presence on the ground, it was difficult to gauge the situation across the three provinces. "We really have very little data and we are waiting for more concrete information from people in the field," the senior humanitarian officer said. Reports of a new detention of up to 500 diamond traffickers in Uige province appeared "overblown", according to another humanitarian worker. He said around 100 people had been arrested, but many of them were Angolans who were later released after confirming their identity. "We did ask the authorities to keep us informed, and we have asked staff to keep a close eye on the people still detained. We were told by the authorities that they are Congolese traders and merchants who are there without documentation," he said. Earlier this week a senior Angolan policeman said the detention and expulsion operation, known as 'Operation Diamond', would enter its second phase. " ... In the coming weeks, the results will be even better," local media reported deputy police commander Paulo Gaspar de Almeida as saying on Angolan public television on Sunday. "The moratorium applied only to the DRC and, once it is expired, all of the Congolese diamond traffickers will be expelled from Angola," he added.

Angolan resumes crackdown on diamond smugglers (Mail & Guardian, 04/08)- Angolan police plan to resume a crackdown on suspected diamond and other traffickers that has led to the expulsion of about 120 000 Congolese and 35 000 West Africans, a senior police official said. "I am satisfied with the results of the first stage of Operation Diamond and in the coming weeks, the results will be even better," Deputy Police Commander Paulo Gaspar de Almeida said late on Sunday on Angolan public television. Angola agreed to a 45-day moratorium on the expulsions at the end of May after the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) complained that it was unable to cope with the influx that peaked in April. "The moratorium applied only to the DRC and once it is expired, all of the Congolese diamond traffickers will be expelled from Angola," said the police commander. The expulsions peaked in early April with a daily influx of about 2 500 people into regions of the DRC where water, food and housing are scarce, according to United Nations relief officials. The UN humanitarian affairs bureau said that women and young girls were raped during the crackdown that the Angolan government said was to put an end to diamond trafficking and other "activities deemed harmful to the Angolan economy". Angolan police and the army have expelled Congolese and West Africans since December in the operation that focused on the provinces of Bie, northern and southern Lunda, Malange and southern Kuanza.A former Portuguese colony, Angola is one of Africa's top oil and diamond producers.

Water project delayed because of illegal workforce (Mmegi, 26/08)- A P33 million water reticulation project in Ramotswa that was due for completion in April, is still incomplete, because the bulk of the workforce are illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe. The main contractor, C.G.C. Botswana - a Chinese owned company - employs the Zimbabweans, who don't have work permits and are often deported, forfeiting their wages. This has been happening since the project began in December 2002. The officer-in-charge of the department of water affairs, Kenna Sebina, revealed that C.G.C's completion date was extended by three months from April to July. Sebina explained that this was necessitated after C.G.C. advanced reasons such as unavailability of materials like P.V.C. pipes - which are ordered from South Africa - the rains and inadequate machinery as the cause for the delay. Sebina also added that the other reason behind the delay is C.G.C.'s employment of illegal immigrants. "C.G.C. employs a majority of illegal immigrants who when rounded up for deportation leave a skeletal workforce that cannot cope with the labour intensive project," Sebina said. Last week C.G.C.'s project manager, Zhao Chuxiong, declared the same reasons given by Sebina as reasons for the project's delay, but when asked about the issue of illegal immigrants he became evasive. "I have no idea that there are still illegal immigrants working at the site. We only employ Zimbabweans because they tell us they have work permits," he said. He did not comment when it was pointed out to him that it is his responsibility as an employer to obtain work permits for his work force. The delay of the project has far reaching implications for residents of Ramotswa and Taung who expected it to end their water woes. Coupled with this delay, the open trenches left by the deported staff becomes a safety hazard as they are sometimes left unattended for weeks as a result of clean-up operations.

No greener pastures on Botswana farms (Zim Online, 24/08)- The clear silhouette of distant mountains stretches behind the crumbling hut, situated somewhat forlornly in a corner of a Botswana farm. Hundreds of miles from their homes in neighbouring Zimbabwe four workers sit in front of the dwelling, gazing into a fire. They are satisfied the isolated position of their current home, in a sparsely populated region known as Ghantsi, is temporarily protecting them from the searching eyes of local law enforcers. It's easy to see why the area, part of Botswana's farming belt, is a drawing card for thousands of labourers who used to work on Zimbabwe's formerly white-owned commercial farms. Some, like these four, have left their homeland to avoid repercussions of the government's controversial land reform program. Refugees International says economic disruption in Zimbabwe, coupled with political intimidation and harassment, has led to the displacement of at least 150,000 farm workers. The men talk about their shared past at Greendale Farm in Nyamandlovu, near Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo. The workers left the property when it changed hands. "The new owner is a war veteran. He arrived one day, with all his relatives. We were called sell-outs because we were working for a white man," says Dumisani Magwe (not his real name). The four say they cannot remember where the white farmer, whom they only identify as Mr. Jones, went when his farm was seized. They think he must have sought refuge in neighbouring South Africa. Magwe says he has not had a steady job since that incident in early 2001. The others all worked at various farms in the Nyamandlovu area but each time ended up being sent off for the same reason: because they had worked for white farmers before. Tired of hopping from one job to another, the four joined the trek west to Botswana which, they now admit, has not altogether been the greener pasture they had expected to find. Foreign labourers do not get paid a lot to begin with. "We have to accept the low salaries because we have no alternative," Thulani Nleya, one of the four farm hands says. But he is quick to add: "One cannot think of going home under the present circumstances." The P200 (about ZD 250 000 ­ about half the average worker's pay in Zimbabwe) which they earn a month is carefully tucked under the mattress. The four say the only time they can think of going home is in December, before Christmas. While the pay is not much it enables the four to survive and save a little. "We keep our money because the farm owner brings us everything. Food and accommodation are provided, so we do not have to spend much of what we earn," explains Nleya. The hut, home to the four while they are in Botswana, speaks volumes about their situation. The single-room structure is their kitchen, bedroom and lounge all in one. Their day begins at 5 a.m, when they feed ostriches, followed by an array of tasks in the fields including irrigation and digging furrows. They seldom return to the fire, in front of the hut, before 7pm. Magwe and his co-workers have no protection or legal recourse, partly because Botswana authorities say government will not review farm workers' conditions of employment. Also, the country's Employment Act does not prescribe either minimum working hours or wages in the agricultural sector. Nleya says he feels, in his words, "left at the mercy" of employers. Botswana's minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Thebe Mogami, told parliament in early August that the sector¹s working hours and wages are subject to individual parties discussing, and then agreeing to, specific terms.

Zimbabweans face deportation (The Chronicle, 21/08)- A total of 140 Zimbabweans who worked for a garment factory in Botswana for the past five months without any pay are facing deportation before they get their wages, Chronicle learnt yesterday. According to a leading Botswana daily paper, Mmegi, the Zimbabweans, who constitute the majority of the workforce at White Dove Garment Industries, are now idle because the factory has stopped production due to insufficient work. The workers have approached the Botswana labour department to look into their grievances after it emerged that there were prospects that they could be deported by next Friday, the day they were promised their wages. The district immigration officer in Ramotswa was scheduled to meet the Zimbabweans today to look into the possibility of extending their stay to enable them to get their wages. A spokesman for the Zimbabwean workers, Mr Muzingi Dhobha, said the company owed them salaries from April this year. The workers also alleged that the company was not paying them terminal benefits and all workers were being paid a flat 540 pula per month, regardless of trade and experience. All the affected workers are artisans but none of them have contracts. White Dove management refuted allegations that they owed the workers wages from April and insisted that they only owe the workers their August wages. A member of management Maria Kereng, said the wages would be paid on 27 August following an agreement between the company and the employees. She said production at the company was halted because the shipping of fabric from Taiwan was delayed. "We lost one client recently because our business is seasonal. We export our fabric to the United States so if we miss a season, we have to wait for the next one," she said. A large number of Zimbabweans have in the past been dumped by their Botswana employers without being paid for their labour. Some employers are also in the habit of making illegal immigrants work for many months without pay before alerting immigration officers so that they are deported without receiving their dues.

Botswana extends corporal punishment (Zim Online, 20/08)- Law enforcers in Botswana will in future cane or flog more offenders despite protests from Zimbabwe. A draft Penal Code Amendment Bill expected to be tabled in Parliament before October will extend the use of corporal punishment for males up to the age of 40, ZimOnline has learnt. In Botswana, males aged between 14 and 30 who have been convicted of minor crimes by the country's customary courts are caned or flogged. The proposed law will see corporal punishment extended as an alternative sentence for all jailable offences except murder, rape and robbery. Women will be exempt from this form of punishment. The Zimbabwean government has in the past protested that corporal punishment is being used to humiliate Zimbabweans. Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana have soured with Harare accusing Gaborone of ill treating Zimbabweans visiting that country. Gaborone says caning offenders, long stopped in other countries in the region, is a traditional punishment administered by customary courts and is applicable to all regardless of nationality. A local human rights organisation, Ditshwanelo, condemned the proposed bill saying corporal punishment was a form of torture and that Botswana should discontinue the practice. "Ditshwanelo believes that corporal punishment is neither appropriate nor remedial. It seeks to humiliate and denigrate," the group said in a statement released earlier this week

Zimbabweans protest over delayed pay (Mmegi, 19/08)- One hundred and forty Zimbabweans employed by a citizen-owned garment factory yesterday protested over unpaid wages as they waited for the immigration office to extend their stay in Botswana. The Zimbabweans, who constitute a majority of the work force at White Dove Garment Industries, are now idle because the factory has stopped production, due to insufficient work. The workers say they have to extend their stay in Botswana to get their wages on August 27 after the intervention of the labour department. Their spokesman, Muzingi Dhobha claimed that the company owed them unpaid wages from April. They complain that the company does not offer them terminal benefits. They claim to be paid a standard P540 per month, regardless of trade and experience. All the workers are artisans. Between now and October, the workers will know whether they still have jobs at the factory when production is expected to resume. But they do not have written contracts. White Dove management has admitted that they owe the workers wages for August, but refuted claims that this dates back further. A member of management, Maria Kereng told Mmegi that the wages would be paid on August 27 following an agreement between the company and the employees. She explained that production was halted at the company because the shipping of fabric from Taiwan was delayed. "We lost one client recently because our business is seasonal. We export our fabric to the United States so if we miss a season, we have to wait for the next one," she said. Kedumetse Lepang, the District Immigration Officer in Ramotswa, asked the Zimbabweans to report to his office tomorrow to look into extending their stay. He advised them to sign written contracts with prospective employers in future. White Dove Garment Industries is one of the companies that benefit from the African Growth Opportunity Act. The company's managing director, Joel Kereng, earlier this year bemoaned the lack of funding from commercial banks even with letters of credit when the Minister of Trade and Industry, Jacob Nkate visited the firm.

Botswana Ex-miners wait two years for compensation (Daily News, 13/08)- It takes over two years for Batswana, who suffered occupational lung disease while working in South African mines, to be compensated. The minister of Health, Lesego Motsumi, told Parliament that the ex miners are first examined for occupational lung disease locally then their X-rays, finger prints and medical reports are sent to the Medical Bureau of Occupational Disease in South Africa for further diagnosis. She said the ex-miners who are identified to have lung diseases are then asked to fill compensation forms, which are then sent to the Commissioner for Workers Compensation in South Africa for consideration and settlement. Since 1999, she said 2 000 forms have been submitted and 62 have been certified as qualifying but only 52 have received compensation. The MP for Kgalagadi, Lesedi Mothibamele had raised concern about delays in compensating the ex miners. The House also heard that the ministry of Local Government is to look at the grade of senior sub tribal authorities to reflect their workload and responsibilities. The assistant minister of Local Government, Gladys Kokorwe was answering a question from Tonota MP, Pono Moatlhodi who had wanted to know why urban court presidents are paid more than senior sub tribal authorities and chief representatives. Kokorwe also said there are no plans to install air conditioners at Tonota Tribal offices. Moatlhodi has asked if and when air conditioners would be installed at the offices.

Crackdown on fake documents' syndicate (Gazette, 11/08)- Police believe that they have cracked down on a syndicate that was dealing in fake and illegal immigration stamps, drivers licenses, residential and work permits and other official documents. The station commander of Kazungula Police Station, Superintendent Frankel Mohutsiwa, told The Gazette that through the help of the Serious Crime Unit, they arrested a 27-year-old Kenyan man, Moses Mwaurai, in Gaborone recently in connection will the sale of fake immigration stamps, permits and drivers licenses. Mwaurai was apprehended following the arrest of a Kenyan woman, Sarah Wairimu Gitau, who was found with a forged residence permit, he said. When questioned, the woman allegedly revealed that she had bought the permit from a fellow Kenyan. The permits were being sold for between P2 000 and P3 000, Mohutsiwa said. The Kazungula police handed over the suspect to Gaborone West police, and because of the complexity of the case it was referred to the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime {DCEC}. The Serious Crime Unit is said to be looking for four more suspected syndicate members. Speaking to The Gazette about the growing problem of forged documents, the Deputy Chief Immigration Officer, Mr Abram Mmosetsi, said as soon funds are available the department will introduce more sophisticated official stamps that will be difficult to forge. "There are a good number of such cases throughout the country which the police are investigating," he said. He also revealed that some officials stamps were stolen from their offices. One factor that contributes to the problem is the large number of uncontrollable "consultants who flock our offices - mainly in Gaborone," he said. "I have personally tried on several occasions to persuade these consultants to behave professionally, but the exercise has been futile," he said.

Botash reduces expatriate staff (Mmegi, 10/08)- Botswana Ash (Botash) has reduced the number of its expatriate workers by more than 54 percent. The expatriates now form six percent of the company's 478 workforce. Botash Managing Director Derek Cochrane said that 29 of the expatriates are employed at the plant while another 15 are at the school. He was unable to disclose their range of expertise and qualifications adding that Botash follows its own internal policy of always advertising positions internally first and then in the press before an expatriate employee is appointed or re-appointed. He said applications from citizens are screened through a scientifically developed interview process called Target Selection. This ensures that appointees are capable of fulfilling their employment obligations to the company as well as fitting in with its the ethos and culture. Where no suitable citizens candidates are found, advertisements are placed in the international press. He refused to state the wage bill accruing to expatriate personnel saying "remuneration is a confidential matter.....and Botash does not have a separate pay scale for expatriates and citizens". He said remuneration packages are tailored to attract the right candidate, be they citizen or expatriate. Cochrane said the timing of the localisation of positions is as per the localisation plan, which is continuously reviewed and updated as events unfold. He said it was frustrating and unfortunate that citizens sometimes leave the employ of Botash just as senior positions are about to be localised and when considerable time and resources have been spent in training them. Citizens, he said, generally leave the company because of the location and remoteness of Sowa Town and quite often for personal and family reasons. "It is also a fact that the high quality of training given by Botash makes those citizens who are seeking employment in more hospitable places highly sought after". The major problem in localising positions is that very few citizens are willing to live and work in Sowa Town long term. Quite often, they will become employed by Botash to bolster certain weak areas of skills and as soon as these are addressed, they seek employment in areas which offer more than Sowa does. In any case, Cochrane maintains, the largest concern to Botash is not the lack of graduates but lack of suitably qualified citizens across all strata of employment. He maintained that there might be suitable citizens to be employed instead of expatriates only that they never respond to adverts, generally because they have no urge to live and work in a place as remote as Sowa Town. Moreover, Cochrane said the system of understudying does have its deficiencies and strengths.

Botswana-Zimbabwe: Tensions continue to simmer ( UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 10/08)- Botswana has defended the practice of caning people, including illegal immigrants, convicted of petty offences, despite protests from neighbouring Zimbabwe over the "primitive" punishment handed out to some of its citizens. Tension between the two countries has been simmering in recent years as increasing numbers of Zimbabweans enter Botswana, both legally and illegally, in a bid to escape the economic crisis at home. On Monday Zimbabwe's official Herald newspaper quoted Junior Security Minister Nicholas Goche as saying: "The act of flogging law-breakers in public is primitive and unruly. We have even stopped flogging our children in schools here in Zimbabwe, and feel Botswana should move with the times." The practice of caning had to be "aborted", he said. Zimbabwean officials have previously objected to Botswana court decisions sentencing Zimbabwean immigrants to corporal punishment, but Botswana has reiterated that its laws are applied universally within its borders and are not targeted at Zimbabweans. Presidential spokesman Jeff Ramsay told IRIN that "flogging under certain circumstances is allowed and it would apply to anybody, it is not targeted to any one group of people". However, "certain categories of people, such as the youth, women, the elderly ... are excluded" from the sentencing option of corporal punishment. There were "two parallel legal systems" in Botswana, and "most of the floggings have been in the context of customary courts run by traditional authorities [deliberating] on minor cases", he explained. "In the original case that caused something of a stir, the people who had been caned happened to be Zimbabwean and admitted their guilt and opted for caning. Some of the Zimbabweans [familiar with Botswana's customs] ... frequently take the option of customary courts because they are quicker, and people don't want to go to jail for petty theft," Ramsay said.

Botswana defends flogging of Zimbabwe migrants (Sapa, 10/08)- Botswana has defended its practice of flogging people who cross its borders illegally, rejecting criticism by neighbouring Zimbabwe that the punishment is primitive. "We do not discriminate and we are not going to give Zimbabweans any preferential treatment," Botswana's assistant minister for presidential affairs, Oliphant Mfa, told AFP late Monday. "If they break the law in our country, they are going to be punished," he said, adding that in his view corporal punishment was not as harsh as a prison sentence. "Take something like pick-pocketing and petty theft, you don't take someone to prison for such crimes. You give them two or three lashes, and tell them to go home and never repeat that again," he said. An estimated 125,000 Zimbabweans enter Botswana each month and tensions have risen between the two countries with Botswanans blaming immigrants for an increase in crime. On Monday, Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper quoted junior national security minister Nicholas Goche as saying that four days of talks with Botswana's home affairs minister had failed to yield an agreement to halt the floggings. Goche described flogging as "primitive and unruly" and said "Botswana should move with the times" and abolish it.

Xenophobia Persists in Botswana (The Herald, 09/08)- The alleged ill-treatment of Zimbabweans in neighbouring Botswana has remained unresolved after the Botswana-Zimbabwe joint commission on defence and security failed to reach a consensus on the issue at the recently held 22nd session of the commission.
The Minister of State for National Security, Cde Nicholas Goche, made the revelation shortly after the close of the three-day session that ran from July 27 to 30 in Vumba. Cde Goche, who was heading the Zimbabwe delegation together with Minister of Home Affairs, Cde Kembo Mohadi, said the two parties had had a lengthy and heated debate on reports of alleged dehumanising treatment Zimbabweans were being subjected to at the hands of Botswana officials. He said the two delegations failed to agree on the matter, but agreed to continue discussing. The minister and his delegation complained to their Botswana counterparts that the flogging of law-breakers in public by chiefs and other officials was a dehumanising act consistent with colonial practices and should not be practised in the modern world setting. "We complained that such a practice was not in our code and we highlighted that we strongly associated it with colonialism and feel it should be aborted," said Cde Goche. "The act of flogging law-breakers in public is primitive and unruly for an adult to be humiliated in that fashion. "We have even stopped flogging our children in schools here in Zimbabwe and feel Botswana should move with the times." Cde Goche said Zimbabwe highlighted its concerns over other acts of dehumanising treatment that Zimbabweans were being subjected to in Botswana. It was raised that Zimbabweans were being ill-treated by Botswana police and the general public. It was also alleged that Zimbabweans were not being given fair trial when implicated in crime, which resulted in unfair sentencing, which normally entailed public flogging. The Botswana delegation, led by the country's Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Mr Thebe Mogami, highlighted that flogging law-breakers was part of the country's penal code and that it did not affect Zimbabweans only, but Botswana citizens as well. They said because the flogging of law-breakers in public was constitutional, it was not possible to change is overnight or to exempt Zimbabweans from the practice. The delegation said the country was comfortable with the legislation and was not in a position to change it, but did not rule out further discussion between the two countries on the issue. Many Zimbabweans have raised serious concern over the alleged inhuman treatment of the country's nationals in Botswana, with cross-border traders being the hardest hit as they were publicly flogged for overstaying before being deported.

Casual employment of Zimbabweans (Sun, 06/08)- Zimbabweans' keenness to undertake any assignment for a small fee has endeared them to many Botswana households, but police say it is an offence to employ people without proper documentation. An employer could be found guilty of a criminal offence if they engage someone who does not have permission to be in, or work in Botswana, Assistant Superintendent Motshidisi Boranabi of the Public Relations Unit said in an interview on Monday. Boranabi said no one was allowed to employ an expatriate who did not have a work permit regardless of the time frame. He said an employer who commits such an offence was liable to a fine of not more than Pi ODD, a jail term not exceeding one year or both. "It is employment regardless of whether it's a one-day job because the person will be paid for it," he said. Nevertheless, some locals have revealed that they prefer employing Zimbabwean nationals to do "piece jobs" for them as they are hard working and willing to undertake any assignment as long as they get paid for it. Matshediso Gosiame said she preferred employing Zimbabwean nationals to clean her house once a week and wash her laundry because they are hard working and never make a fuss. "I have a regular Zimbabwean who does my laundry and cleans my house thoroughly every Sunday. She is a hard worker. 1 pay her whatever 1 feel she deserves. Local women are not interested in doing odd jobs so 1 get a Zimbabwean who is always eager to make money," she said. Keiteretse Gaobakwe said she never plait her hair in hair salons because she can get it done cheaply by Zimbabweans because she can negotiate prices. "Zimbabweans do a good job because they want to create regular customers. If you are not satisfied with the hairstyle you do not pay. You can get a hair style that costs Pl50 in the salon for half that amount," she said. She said she had a regular Zimbabwean who did her hair every month depending on the hairstyle. "It doesn't bother me that this person doesn't have a passport as long as she plaits me nicely. 1 didn't know that for someone to plait me they had to have a work permit," she said. She said she was once plaited by a local who did not do a satisfactory job and when she went back she was told to pay again for her hair to be fixed. Still on the same subject, Gosego Kewagamang said he preferred to employ a Zimbabwean national to work in his garden than a local because Zimbabweans never drink on the job. "1 prefer a Zimbabwean gardener because he doesn't take all day on the job. He never rests until the job is done while a local man takes a lot of breaks drinking Chibuku and then tells me he will continue the next day," he said. Kesaobaka Mokgweetsi a local who plaits under the tree said she charges PlOD for fish tail plaits, p9O for millennium plaits and PlO for plain. A Zimbabwean national Tendai Zimbanete said she plaits fish tail for P80, plain for P50 and new millennium for P80. On the other hand, Ebony Hair Salon charges P200 for fish tail, PllO for plain and P130 for millennium. Zimbanete said she charges P50 for cleaning, P30 for ironing and P50 per laundry basket

Botswana, Zim discuss security issues (Mmegi/The Reporter, 04/08)- The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Thebe Mogami and his Zimbabwe counterpart, Kembo Mohadi began bilateral discussions this week on security issues in Vumba, a resort area in eastern Zimbabwe. The meeting between the two ministers comes after preliminary discussions between officials of defence and security from both countries who have been meeting since Tuesday in the resort town, some 200km from Harare. Last Wednesday, Mogami was the guest of honour at a reception held for him in Harare by Mohadi. A number of issues would be discussed during the two-day conference, including illegal immigration of Zimbabweans into Botswana and criminal activities that they allegedly engage in while in the country. Mohadi and his team were expected to raise the issue of alleged ill-treatment of Zimbabwean immigrants by law enforcement agents in Botswana. The meeting is being held under the auspices of the permanent joint commission on security issues affecting the two countries and other matters of concern. Mohadi and Mogami are expected to be presented with a draft of the discussions, recommendations and agreements. The ministers would discuss the draft and make amendments where necessary. They would issue a joint communique after the meeting on Friday. The Vumba conference comes about a month after information ministers from both countries met in Harare to discuss matters pertaining to information exchange. Other meetings have already been held over the past few months on bi-lateral matters.


Malawi struggles to woo tourists (Sapa, 25/08)- Government has said to curb brain drain among nurses it will start producing less trained workers who are not marketable overseas but the Malawi Law Society (MLS) and a health body have described the plan as wrong and unethical. Health Minister Or Hetherwick Ntaba told BBC Wednesday that government will train more nurse technicians and auxiliary nurses than State Registered Nurses who go up to degree level at Kamuzu College of Nursing to reduce brain drain hitting his Ministry which, as of last year, had 72 percent nursing vacancies, up from 53 percent in 1998. But MLS has described the move as unconstitutional because Section 13 (c) of the country's Constitution requires government to "provide adequate health care, commensurate with health needs of Malawian society and international standards of health care". "It's not like a Malawian citizen is entitled to some standard level of care but it should also be linked to international standards," said MLS treasurer Alick Msowoya, adding: "What the minister said tends to compromise the Constitution." Msowoya added that Section 25 of the Constitution entitles all Malawians to education and limiting the level of nurses training is a breach of the right to education and economic development.
"The solution is not to frustrate people's education," said Msowoya, adding that as a country we have to be proud that our nurses are of international standards and that what the country needs is to pay them handsomely. Reacting to Ntaba's statement, the Malawi Healthy Equity Network (MHEN) said the tactic is both unethical and wrong. "Ethically we believe it is wrong to deliberately put unqualified and under-trained health personnel to handle patients at any level," said MHEN programme manager Paul Msoma in a written interview. "Again we believe the minister is quite aware that quality in health service delivery can and will never be compromised for anything," added Msoma, cautioning that this option "will negatively affect our public health sector".
The NGO, which works towards health for all, said the bulk of clinical services in Malawi are provided by medical assistants and clinical officers. "How much lower do we want to goT asked Msoma, adding that this will affect the delivery of health services including the fight against HIV and Aids. He said it is better to find solutions to the causes of brain drain which have less to do with the British market than working conditions here. Msoma said MHEN is concerned with the government's lack of commitment to solving the human resource problem, noting that the Health Services Commission isn't doing much to address the problems faced by health workers. But in an interview on Thursday Ntaba defended the move, saying Malawi needs enrolled and auxiliary nurses a lot more than registered nurses. "UK is poaching degree and enrolled [certificate] nurses. We will do better to train more nurse technicians and auxiliary nurses," said Ntaba in a telephone interview adding: "We want to train more of a cadre that we need." Ntaba said there is need for poor Malawians, whose taxes fund nursing school, to benefit from the nurses services, a situation which isn't happening now because upon completion the nurses fly to UK. Nurse technicians study basics of caring for the sick in two years at health schools while auxiliary nurses, whose credibility is doubted by senior health workers, are trained on the job. The first group is yet to graduate from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. Research carried out on Thursday that nurse technicians and auxiliary nurses cannot competently handle maternity issues. Training more of them means that clinical officers will have unreasonable workloads in labour wards.

Clampdown on illegal cross-border Maize trade (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 24/08)- An estimated one in eight Malawians are facing food shortages this year, causing the government to suspend maize exports to neighbouring countries, a senior official confirmed on Tuesday. The principal secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Charles Msosa, told IRIN the main concern was that "tonnes of maize" were being illegally transported across the country's borders. "We cannot have truckloads of maize leaving Malawi when the country is experiencing a deficit and would have to import stocks," Msosa said. He said the authorities had already put in place stiffer control measures to monitor traffic heading into Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. "Should the custom officials discover maize leaving the country they will impound the maize and arrest the individuals on site. We suspect that the bulk is leaving from the north of country [into Tanzania]," he added. It remained unclear just how much maize was leaving Malawi illegally, but authorities said cross-border trade had "worsened" the current food shortages, which are expected to affect 1.4 million Malawians. "One of the reasons why maize sellers try to reach markets across the border is because of proximity - some maize producing areas are a lot closer to border towns than to local markets. Roads leading to our own markets are poor, which encourages these farmers to sell to neighbouring countries," Msosa explained.  He downplayed suggestions that farmers were pursuing better prices in markets across the border. "If farmers were mainly seeking better prices they would spend more time getting to our local markets because there are shortages within the country. These shortages, like anywhere else, have led to an increase in maize prices," he told IRIN. Malawi requires 2.2 million mt of the staple maize annually, but crop assessments by the National Statistics Office have put the anticipated harvest at 1.73 million mt - 13 percent less than last year's 1.98 million mt. In parts of southern Malawi, where there has been a sharp drop in crop production is being sold at twice its normal price. Preliminary findings from a newly instituted system monitoring informal cross-border trading, which became effective at the beginning of this month, showed that the country has been informally importing about 1,500 mt to 2,500 mt of maize every week, mostly from Mozambique, but this would not be enough to make up the shortfall. "Even though we do have maize coming in informally we still are experiencing a deficit. But there are opportunists among the maize producers who will take maize across borders only to [import] the same maize to Malawi at a higher price during November [lean season]," Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Andrew Daudi said.

Brain Drain on Nurses (Nation Online, 20/08)- Although blessed with natural wonders, Malawi is struggling to woo visitors and fulfill the poor southern African country's ambition of turning tourism into a strong generator of foreign currency. Malawi, which dubs itself the "Warm Heart of Africa," boasts a slew of national parks, game reserves and mountains, not to mention Lake Malawi — Africa's third-largest freshwater lake. But despite all these, and an attempt to pitch eco-tourism, foreign travellers are not arriving in droves. Privatisation needed
"Do tourists know our country? We need to market our country effectively to triple tourist numbers," Charles Merrick, who runs Malawi's only hotel training school in the commercial capital Blantyre, told AFP. Merrick said Malawi was undersold abroad because "marketing is still in the hands of government, and not the private sector and stakeholders involved in the industry," adding that the country, reeling under a domestic debt of $600-million, lacked funds to promote the sector. "Basics such as brochures and information are hard to find." Malawi is trying to pitch green tourism to win the much-needed tourist dollar. "We are repositioning ourselves as a leading eco-tourism destination in this part of Africa," said Patricia Liabuba, publicist for the tourism ministry. It has partially paid off. About 383 000 tourists — mainly from South Africa and Europe — visited the country in 2002, according to official statistics, a 3.5 percent increase over the figure in 1993. Tourists shunned Malawi until 1993 due to the strict dress code imposed during three decades of dictatorial rule by Kamuzu Banda. Female visitors were banned from wearing trousers or miniskirts, except at beach resorts, while men with long hair, whom Banda constantly called "hippies", were not allowed to enter the country. Men were not allowed to wear bell-bottom pants. Borders and international airports — closely monitored by Banda's notorious secret service — had strict instructions to deport tourists flouting the dress code. Casinos, outlawed for many years, only started operating two years ago in the main cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre under government licence. But since the country's first democratic elections in 1994, the government has been pushing tourism as one of the possible industries to replace tobacco as the main foreign exchange currency earner and employer. Kayak Africa's stunning tented camp on Lake Malawi. The tourism industry currently only contributes four percent to the Gross Domestic Product, although government officials say this can rise to 10 percent if properly developed. Tobacco alone, despite being hit hard by the international anti-smoking lobby and low prices, generates up to 70 percent of the country's forex. But a new plan adopted three years ago to develop tourism has not been successful because of a number of constraints, including poor roads and telecommunications and few direct flights from Europe into the country. Tourists fly into Malawi after stop-overs at regional hubs and then embark on long road trips to reach prime tourist destinations, scattered throughout the country, which is wedged between Mozambique and Zambia. During the rainy season, from October to April, access by road to national parks and game reserves is virtually impossible. "The other problem is that of high tariff structures of existing hotels and poor value for money offered in comparison to hotels in competing regional destinations," Liabuba said. "This is compounded by high taxation imposed by the government." Hotels charge exorbitant prices, with an average of $150 for one night's stay and breakfast at a three-star hotel. Up to 17 percent of the charges are subject to surtax. "We are overpricing ourselves. Tourism is being stifled by surtax," Herbert Chihana, a senior tourism official told AFP. "We need zero surtax charge on tourism for five years if we are to develop the industry and promote the country as an eco-tourism destination," the official said.

Renamo appeals against voter registration of Emigrants (Agencia De Informancao de Mocambique, 06/08)- Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, has lodged a formal appeal against the decision of the National Elections Commission (CNE) to register Mozambicans living abroad as voters. According to a report in Friday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", Renamo has requested that the Constitutional Council annul the CNE decision. The seven member Constitutional Council is the body that validates election results and has the final say in electoral complaints. The Renamo complaint claims that the CNE has given no grounds for its decision to register the Mozambican emigrants, and that the decision is not valid because it has not been published in the official gazette, the "Boletim da Republica". Furthermore, Renamo adds, the CNE's executive body, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), published the dates for registering the emigrants before this timetable had been approved by the government. (This is true, but immaterial, since the government approved the STAE proposal the following day.) A CNE source told "Noticias" that he was surprised by the Renamo appeal, since it seemed to contradict statements made by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama. Thus earlier this week Dhlakama said he was "unequivocally" in favour of emigrants having the right to vote. "But we were deceived", said the CNE source. "That was just a diversion to pull the wool over the public's eyes - the following day, the same Renamo, through its national election agent (Francisco Machambisse) made the appeal to annul the CNE decision". The grounds for annulment are feeble. The CNE source pointed out that the law on voter registration gives a list of electoral offences, and nothing cited in the Renamo appeal falls within this legal definition. The CNE is not one of those bodies obliged to publish all its decisions in the official gazette. As for the reasons behind the decision, these are very simple, and were explained by CNE spokesman Filipe Mandlate the day the CNE voted to register the emigrants - namely that all citizens, regardless of where they are living, "have a right and a duty to participate in the nation's political life", and registration is a necessary condition before anyone, inside or outside the country, can vote. The emigrants are to be registered, at Mozambican embassies and consulates, from 6-25 September. This registration will cover the nine countries with the largest numbers of Mozambicans emigrants - seven in Africa (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Zambia. Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya), and two in Europe (Portugal and Germany).


Shortage of Doctors takes centre stage (The Namibian, 31/08)- There is a severe shortage of qualified medical doctors in Namibia, says the Director of Medical Services in the Erongo Region, Lizzy Lottering. Speaking at the opening of the 26th Namibian Medical Congress at Swakopmund last week, Lottering said 167 foreign doctors were in place because of the shortage. The director said the lack of a medical school in the country contributed to the shortage. According to her, Government started addressing the situation in 2002 by choosing 35 students a year to send for 12 months of pre-medical training before they go to the universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch to complete their studies. "These students have to come back to Namibia to work in our hospitals," Lottering added. For Dr Estie Maritz, Chairperson of the Medical Association of Namibia, the start of the congress on Heroes Day held particular significance. "There are many heroes in Namibia in whose footsteps we can follow," she said. She said the conference would also give participants time to contemplate being medical heroes. Maritz said the 26th congress was unique as it was the first one to be organised outside the capital. She paid tribute to one of Namibia's "medical heroes", the 93-year-old Dr Elmuo who is still practising in Windhoek. "He is a man of passion who has inspired all of us." Delegates came from all over southern Africa to attend the congress. A medical trade exhibition with 53 stalls formed part of the two-day congress.

Shocked Bangladeshi workers reject reinstatement (The Namibian, 24/08)- Bangladeshi workers who were sacked on the spot by the Ramatex Textile Factory three weeks ago have rejected an offer to be re-employed at a lower salary. Last week, the Malaysian-run concern said it was prepared to reinstate the 66 workers who sought High Court action to challenge their dismissal. But the group told The Namibian that they were not prepared to accept the offer of US$120 because they previously earned US$200. The factory alleges that the men are unskilled workers and therefore cannot be reinstated and be paid their former salaries. Ramatex has also alleged that they performed below the expected standard - the purported reason given by the factory for dismissing them. The Bangladeshi workers said they were willing to continue discussions on a settlement arrangement ahead of a court date set for September 6 to iron out the dispute. However, they said, they feared returning to the factory only to be sacked again in a few months. Some members of the disgruntled group say they are prepared to travel home should the factory agree to pay them out for the remaining two years of their three-year contract. The dispute follows the arrival of more than 300 new Bangladeshi workers over the past month who, in their short time in the country, are already up in arms over their poor working and living arrangements. The entire group is being housed in a six-roomed house with only one bathroom. They have no mattresses or bedding. On Friday they complained to The Namibian of suffering from diarrhoea and other stomach complaints because of their living conditions. They alleged that despite US$45 being deducted from their monthly wage of US$120 for food, they were not being fed well. Some have paid as much as US$3 500 - by selling property, valuables and lending money at high interest rates - to secure a working contract in Namibia.

Angolan refugees may be airlifted home (The Namibian, 17/08)- The repatriation of Angolan refugees from Namibia is likely to speed up in the coming weeks with authorities considering flying people back to their homeland. In anticipation of the heavy October rains in Angola, the governments of the two countries and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), yesterday opened discussions on the possibility of airlifting refugees who come from provinces that do not border Namibia. Air travel is also being considered for refugees from areas in Angola where travel by road is not possible. To date, Angolan refugees who have opted for voluntary repatriation have been travelling by road - mostly to the Cuando-Cubango and Cunene provinces. Transporting people by air would be made possible through the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which has also secured funding for this exercise. An IOM representative observed discussions at the fourth Tripartite Commission Meeting held in Windhoek yesterday aimed at reviewing the voluntary repatriation process which began last year. So far, 7 035 Angolans who sought refuge in Namibia during the civil war in their country have returned home. Of this number, 5 567 returned home through the UNHCR-Government voluntary repatriation programme. These figures do not include at least 180 Angolans who have died during the repatriation programme. Officials hope to repatriate another 6 946 people before the end of this year. In total, the governments of Angola and Namibia, along with the UNHCR, would have repatriated nearly 14 000 people by the end of the exercise. Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Peter Mwatile, described the repatriation process as having progressed well so far and attributed much of the success to information campaigns which encourage repatriation. Mwatile said these campaigns had to be extended to include Rwandan refugees in Namibia none of whom have, to date, registered to return home. This is despite the fact that a tripartite agreement was signed last November already to facilitate their repatriation. Director for Assistance and Social Promotion in the Angolan Ministry of Assistance and Social Reintegration, Nilsa Pereira Batalha, said her government was eager to have Angolan refugees return to their homeland, but stressed that it was important that the process considered their security and dignity. She said the repatriation process was being hampered by poor physical conditions in Angola and the ongoing infrastructural development which was taking place. Last year some 4 905 Angolan refugees returned home from Namibia through various means while another 2130 left this year.

Union takes issue with Ramatex (The Namibian, 11/08)- The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) has lashed out at the Ramatex Textile Factory, accusing it of treating both its local and foreign workforce unfairly. The labour movement urged Government to compel the company to respect Namibian laws. "As a labour movement that believes in international workers' solidarity, we have to strongly condemn Ramatex's behaviour," NUNW Secretary General Peter Naholo said in a statement yesterday. Naholo alleged the Malaysian-run company was employing a strategy of "divide and rule" among its workers. The union charged that Government was being duped into believing that the thousands of foreign Asian workers employed at the factory were training Namibians. However, the NUNW claimed, the Malaysian, Chinese, Filipino and Bangladeshi nationals were in fact production workers, used by the company to pressurise Namibian workers to meet their demands. Attempts by The Namibian yesterday to obtain comment from factory management on the allegations proved futile. The NUNW termed the company's on-the-spot dismissal of 66 of its Bangladeshi workforce last week as "ruthless". Naholo accused the garment factory of "intimidating" and "scaring" its foreign workers from joining a Namibian trade union. The umbrella union body said it was unacceptable that the company was not stopped from deporting Asian workers who complained about their working conditions. The NUNW has recommended that its affiliate, the Namibian Food and Allied Workers' Union (Nafau), recruit Asian workers to the body to ensure that their rights were respected. "We cannot allow Ramatex to play the divide-and-rule game with [its] workers and we have to show them that workers' unity is strength," said Naholo. In the past, union representatives have been refused entry to the factory premises. The NUNW said it was unhappy that negotiations for improved salaries and benefits for Namibian workers had stalled on a technicality. Despite a dispute being declared at the beginning of the year, and the matter being referred to the Labour Commissioner, the matter remains unresolved to date. "As a result, Ramatex workers still experience extremely low wages and poor working conditions," Naholo said. The factory only agreed to enter into a recognition agreement on their conditions of employment with Nafau after two strikes by Namibian workers in as many years. The NUNW yesterday also took issue with "the outrageous" privileges enjoyed by Ramatex, such as subsidised electricity rates, while Namibians were being cut off from utility supplies. In June, the Windhoek City Council agreed that Ramatex should begin paying the full price for its massive water supply, after having enjoyed reduced rates for over two years. The NUNW also said that the factory was not being transparent about the disposal of toxic wastes it produced. "We find it unacceptable that Ramatex continues to receive special treatment over and above the usual EPZ incentives," the union said.

Court Curbs Ramatex (The Namibian, 05/08)- A bid by the Ramatex Textile Factory in Windhoek to have most of its Bangladeshi workforce booted out of the country was foiled by the High Court yesterday. In a last-minute reprieve, the court ruled that they should be allowed to stay in Namibia for now. Ramatex had already booked the workers' tickets home and by nine o'clock yesterday morning, buses were waiting to transport them to the airport. The employees won the right to stay and fight a case of alleged unfair dismissal in a battle which started unfolding on Monday when they were summarily told to pack up and leave. In a dramatic 36 hours they were threatened with forced removal from their accommodation, sought protection from Government and, as a last resort, threw themselves at the mercy of the country's courts. The men who are seamsters in Factory C, were sacked on the spot because they were allegedly failing to meet production demands. The workers claimed they never received warning letters informing them of their alleged poor performance. Yesterday, Andrew Corbett, acting on instruction from Olivier's Law Office, succeeded in averting their forced deportation until at least September 6, when they are scheduled to return to court. The factory has been ordered to facilitate their stay until then. The Bangladeshi workers arrived in Namibia a year ago on a three-year work contract for a monthly salary of US$200 and an additional food allowance. "Some of us sold all our property just to pay the agent to send us to work here," said one. The disgruntled workers say the factory pays them their salary in the Namibian equivalent and has to date not paid them the promised allowance to buy food. The factory's other foreign workers eat at the canteen. Others receive a food allowance. More than 30 of the Bangladeshi workers live in squalid conditions in three small houses across the road from the factory in Otjomuise.
The others are housed at the Farida Hill Crest Hotel near the city centre. "We are like prisoners for them. They keep our passports so we can't open bank accounts in order to send a little money to our families who are starving in the remote villages of Bangladesh," a group of them wrote in a letter to The Namibian. The Bangladeshis claim to have been subjected to dawn raids by the Police who demand to see documentation permitting them to stay in the country. After several meetings at the Labour Ministry on Tuesday, the group were told that there was little that could be done to help them. Director of Labour Valentina Mulongeni said yesterday that because they were foreign workers and had entered into contracts outside Namibia, the Ministry could not intervene in the dispute. "We can't compel them [the factory] but can only advise them," she said. Mulongeni said the factory's management had been advised to pay out the workers for the remaining two years of their contracts. By nine o'clock yesterday, two minibus combis were parked outside the Otjomuise houses to transport the workers to the airport. A small bus waited at the Farida Hotel until nearly lunch time to transport the others. The factory had booked flights out of Namibia for the shunned workers. But the men refused to budge demanding that the factory pay them compensation for terminating their contracts. The group also claimed that some Chinese and Filipino workers owed them money which they had given them for safekeeping because their houses were broken into often and they could not open bank accounts. "We are not criminals," said one man living at the Otjomuise compound, "we have come here to work very hard". They were closely guarded by security, who demanded that men produce identification and sign out, if they left the compound. Shortly after midday, a source indicated to The Namibian that the factory planned to enlist the aid of the Police to forcefully remove the workers from their accommodation. Attempts to involve the immigration department in deporting the workers appeared unfruitful, as the workers have valid work permits. But barely an hour later, the mission was called off and the factory's management promised to hold a meeting with the disgruntled workers today. Messages left at the factory for comment on the situation went unanswered. In the late afternoon, senior managers were said to be locked in meetings with officials from the immigration department. But, upon enquiry from The Namibian, an official from the immigration department denied any involvement in the dispute. Last month the factory employed about 30 more Bangladeshi workers at a rate of US$120 per month and allegedly earlier also tried to reduce the wage of the other Bangladeshi workers to this amount. TIMELINE Wednesday August 4 2004 - * 09h00 The Namibian receives a call that minibuses arrive at the Bangladeshi workers compound to transport them to the airport. Workers refuse to comply. * 09h30 A group of workers set an urgent High Court application in motion to fight against their forced deportation. * 11h00 Workers are expected to board buses. * 12h00 The factory plans to forcefully remove workers from their accommodation. High Court rules in favour of workers to stay until September. * 12h30 Forced removal is called off. Minibuses leave the Otjomuise compound and return to the factory.

Governor urges border awareness (The Namibian, 04/08)- Kavango Regional Governor Sebastian Karupu has appealed to residents of the region, mainly those who live along the Kavango River, not to cross into Angola at undesignated points. Karupu was reacting on an incident at Nzinze village, some 100 kilometres west of Rundu in Kahenge Constituency, where some Angolans on the Angolan side reportedly mistreated a group of Namibian women on Saturday. The Governor encouraged Namibians who wanted to cross into Angola to use designated points to avoid any misunderstandings. "It is very difficult to follow up issues if people are crossing the river at any points," said Karupu. He also warned that some people on the Angolan side might pretend to be officials and punish Namibians unnecessary. Karupu told residents to keep in mind that anyone entering another country should ensure that they had valid documents. At the same time, the Governor encouraged Angolans to handle matters in a way that would not result in Namibians wanting to take revenge on Angolans, especially those who came to Namibia to shop and for health matters. A caller from Nzinze village to the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation's Rukavango Radio Services claimed that a Headman on the Angolan side opposite that village, together with Angolan Police, mistreated a group of women who went to fish on the Angolan side.

New Citizenship rules gazetted (New Era, 03/08)- The Government has gazetted new regulations that will require those born in the country but whose parents and ancestors originated from countries within the region to fill in special renunciation forms to restore their Zimbabwean citizenship. According to the gazette released last Friday, any citizen from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who wishes to restore his or her Zimbabwean citizenship will now have to fill in forms for special renunciation which are being issued by the Registrar General's Office. The new changes follow the amendment of Section 9 of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act by the Government early in May. Once completed, the renunciation forms would be taken by the RG's office to the appropriate embassy for endorsement. The changes would help the RG's office to deal effectively with problems arising from dual citizenship within the southern African region. Forms were being distributed countrywide for easy access by those who need to renounce or restore their citizenship. When the Citizenship Act was amended many people living in the country but whose ancestors were originally from within the region complained that the regulations were too rigid and did not take their plight into account.

South Africa
Fraudulent marriage now stand at 779 (Sapa, 30/08)- The number of people who discovered they were fraudulently married has risen to 779, the Department of Home Affairs said on Monday. Another 348 individuals discovered they were fraudulently married during the fourth week of the Check Your Marital Status Campaign (CYMS), launched at the beginning of August, said department spokesman Leslie Mashokwe in a statement.
"At the third week of the campaign, 431 people discovered that they were fraudulently married. To date 17,000 people have personally approached Home Affairs offices to check their marital status. "Since the introduction of the website as another means of verifying the marital status a total of 70,000 people visited the Department's website to check if they were single or married, bringing the total to 87,000." People wishing to check their marital status can do so by visiting the Home Affairs website at or calling the toll-free number 0800-10-1994 between 7.15am and 3.45pm.

SA varsities cash in on foreign students (Sunday Times, 29/08)- Education is a big, global business - and local institutions are bidding - Tertiary education is becoming an export commodity - a trend that holds lucrative potential for higher education institutions and the country as a whole. "Trade in higher education services is a huge industry globally. South Africa's institutions of learning are tapping into that market and are beginning to reap the benefits," says Professor Saleem Badat, CEO of the SA Council of Higher Education. The council estimates there are 47 000 international students studying in South Africa. They come mostly from other African states as well as Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. The number of foreign students enrolling at SA institutions has increased steadily from 34 770 in 1999 to 47 000 in 2003. While this represents only a tiny slice of the total student body (717 836 last year), international students are making a hefty contribution to the SA economy. Total revenue generated from higher education in 2003 amounted to R21.5-billion. According to the Council on Higher Education and the International Education Association of South Africa, R1.4-billion of this was generated by international students. Dr Nico Jooste, director of the University of Port Elizabeth's international office, who is researching the impact of international student mobility, says the retail and tourism sectors are also benefiting from growing numbers of students. Jooste says international students spend between R2 500 and R4 000 month in the local economy by visiting tourist sites or buying clothing and food. This translates into R140-million a month and about R1.2 -billion annually. Foreign students are boosting domestic tourism in two ways: by visiting tourist sites themselves and by encouraging their families to visit them here. Jooste's research indicates that when relatives visit, they spend between R5 000 and R12 000 a week. When they return home, they serve as "tourism ambassadors" for South Africa - and some even return to look into investment prospects, says Jooste. South Africa's main "education export markets" are Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia. These three countries account for 58% of all foreign students. Apart from proximity, there are two main reasons for this: Botswana provides its students with funding that covers their tuition, textbooks, accommodation and pocket money if they work for the government upon completion of their studies; and the SA government has agreed to charge students from Southern Africa the same fees as local students. Dr Pamela Dube, director of Higher Education Policy and Development Support at the Department of Education, says this deal was negotiated as part of an education protocol for the Southern African Development Community region (SADC). Dr Roshen Kishun, president of the International Education Association of South Africa, says several factors affect the numbers of foreign students attending SA universities. "The country's rich natural and ecological resources, its multi-cultural population, its inspiring history and dynamic political milieu, and the vigour with which South African academics are approaching the world's most pressing problems, are some of the reasons why international students come and study in our country," he says. "At the postgraduate level, many international students are here simply because the most exciting research in their particular fields is being done in South Africa." Kishun says 50% of international students registered in South Africa have chosen distance education courses offered by Unisa. Other institutions popular with foreign students are the universities of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Wits and Rhodes. The most popular fields of study for SADC students are pharmacy (38%), engineering (25%) and information technology/computer sciences (13%). Badat says that economic spin-offs of a growing international student market are complemented by a sociological benefit for the country and academia. "Trade in higher education has brought a vibrant cosmopolitan feel which combats xenophobia, helping professional mobility and multilateral networks." SA tertiary institutions are positioning themselves to increase their numbers of international students. Many have set up international offices tasked with marketing, lobbying and promoting their institutions internationally. In addition, they are actively assisting foreign students with the paperwork necessary to meet legal requirements. Another inducement for foreign students is an introductory or "foundation" course in English language usage, which is particularly popular among Asian students. At the end of the foundation course, foreign students register for one of the mainstream degree courses. The International Education Association of South Africa will explore ways of tapping into this market at a conference on "Facilitating Internationalisation" in Cape Town this week.

Didiza clarifies foreign property stance (Sunday Times, 29/08)- Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza says she has no interest in unravelling patterns of foreign land ownership that have developed since 1994. But South Africa might need rules for the future, she said in an interview. Didiza last week appointed a 10-member panel to look into foreign land ownership and, if necessary, recommend legislation or regulations to ensure that foreign buyers do not make it harder for South Africans to get into the property market. Didiza and panel chairman Shadrack Gutto, a legal scholar who has worked on land rights and policy, said the group was unlikely to make recommendations before next August. "The process is not in any way retributive or about a retrospective penalty for those already owning land in SA. It is about helping us to chart a way forward," Didiza said. "Whatever option we come up with should not have a negative impact on our foreign direct investment," she said. There are no formal statistics on the extent of foreign property purchases since 1994. Estate agents told the Sunday Times there was a flicker of foreign interest in inner-city buildings in Johannesburg. British investors have bought up parts of the old financial district and investors from Ghana and Nigeria have bought at least three blocks of flats in Hillbrow and Berea. Democratic Alliance finance spokeswoman Raenette Taljaard said her research indicated that foreign buyers accounted for about 80 000 of 4.5 million property transactions since 1997, or 0.5% of the R25-billion turnover in the period. Pam Golding Properties recently reported first-quarter sales of R390-million to foreign buyers, out of total sales of R3.25-billion. Property analyst Erwin Rode estimated foreigners accounted for less than 1% of the total value of property transactions over the past five years, though they could amount to 20% in small niche markets such as Cape Town. South Africa recorded the world's highest property price rise in the year to April with an average increase of 22.7%, but Rode said the South African boom was running 12 to 24 months behind the global surge. "We have absolutely no idea of the extent of foreign activity. That will be our first task - to find out what the current situation is," Gutto told the Sunday Times. Agents and analysts in the real estate sector played down the scale and extent of foreign ownership, but Cosatu is convinced there is a problem. General secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said that while he had no precise figures, he was convinced that foreigners owned "thousands upon thousands of hectares" and were keeping black South Africans off the land. Cosatu economist Neva Makgetla said foreign interest in prime land and property was pushing up prices, albeit to an undetermined extent, which had an indirect impact on the poor and landless. "Foreign purchases certainly are distorting the price chain. It's not something that our members would experience directly, but they are at the end of the chain," she said. Rode disagreed. He says foreign interest is confined mainly to the Atlantic seaboard, the Western Cape winelands and northern territories suitable for game farming. "There is no price chain from Camps Bay to Khayelitsha," he said. Analysts have conceded that initial concern probably was based on reports about a few spectacular deals in the Western Cape and in northern areas suitable for game farming. AgriSA Deputy President Lourie Bosman said foreign buyers were affecting land-use patterns and prices in a few traditional farming areas. Land in parts of Limpopo has risen over 20 years from around R300 a hectare to more than R4 000 a hectare. "Farming cattle is not viable at these prices. Only game farming can sustain these levels," he said. Gutto's panel will examine the impact of this sort of change on land access and economic growth. They will have to show whether the loss of potentially communal grazing is outweighed by the investment and the jobs that game farming generates. Many analysts were concerned about the make-up of the panel, which Didiza said was by her personal invitation. She has defended her choices, saying she has included lawyers, economists and political analysts with an established record of independence. National treasury official Cecil Morden is on the panel, as is lawyer and columnist Christine Qunta.

SA, UK tighten recruitment rules (BuaNews, 26/08)- Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and her British counterpart, John Hutton, are set to tighten the screws on the recruitment of health professionals from this country. The two ministers addressed media in Parliament yesterday, after holding daylong discussions on this matter within the SA/UK Bilateral Forum. Discussions focused on the international recruitment of health workers, a challenge for many developing countries. Mr Hutton explained that the National Health System (NHS) in his country was expanding, but would not be done at the expense of developing nations. "The Minister and I looked at how we can strengthen the International Code of Practice on Ethical Recruitment of Health Workers," Mr Hutton said. In October last year the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding to give effect to the Code. The MoU encourages the creation of education and practice opportunities for local health workers for specific periods within the NHS. Today, they are to announce the full details regarding the "ethical" recruitment of health professionals. The British Minister said the code would also be extended to the recruitment of all health workers, and not only to those employed on a full time basis. Mr Hutton acknowledged that areas existed where the code was not "tight" enough. It for instance did not cover temporary doctors or nurses who went to Britain for a year of two. Britain would also not do business with recruitment agencies that did not adhere to the code, saying ties in this regard would be cut if agencies violated the code. This applies especially to the agencies targeting healthcare workers for the private healthcare sector in Britain. The two Ministers also discussed a possible repatriation strategy, to get South Africans in the UK to be part of a programme to place health professionals here. Dr Tshabalala-Msimang said there was a perception that nurses in this country left in droves, explaining that between January and July 2003, 1 600 nurses had applied to the Nursing Council to have their qualifications verified. In the same period this year, 1 100 nurses had applied, which showed a "decrease of 500". A study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) had also shown that in six countries, including South Africa, a large number of health professionals migrated because they needed international exposure and experience. "By providing this opportunity, South Africans can get this exposure and return to the country with newly acquired skills and experience," she asserted. To this end, the Minister said there had been a large number of radiographers with interest to be placed in the UK, while some provinces had submitted nurses for the exchange programme. A draft policy guideline and contract had been developed in this regard.

UK to curb poaching of SA health professionals (Business Day, 26/08)- British Health Secretary John Hutton yesterday announced new measures to curb the poaching of South African doctors and nurses. SA's public hospitals and clinics are struggling with an estimated 31% vacancy rate as personnel migrate to better-paid jobs in the local private sector and overseas. The UK is a key destination, with about 6% of its health-care workers drawn from SA, according to research by the Health Systems Trust. South African government officials have expressed concern at the brain drain. Britain's National Health Service (NHS) had already stopped using agencies that actively recruited staff in SA, said Hutton, but the UK would now close loopholes in its code of practice on international recruitment that had allowed health-care providers to bring in staff from developing countries. "The NHS is expanding rapidly, recruiting more doctors and nurses, but we are absolutely determined that this isn't done at the expense of health-care systems in developing countries, including SA," he said.
The British government also planned to bring the private sector into line and reduce "back door" recruitment into the NHS. It planned to give private sector employers agreeing to the code access to NHS international recruitment programmes, and would no longer do business with private sector providers that do not comply with the code. Hutton is part of the delegation led by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw visiting SA for the annual SA-UK bilateral forum.

Proposals to curb poaching of doctors and nurses (Sapa, 25/08)- British Health Minister John Hutton announced new proposals Wednesday to help curb the poaching of doctors, nurses and other health professionals from developing countries. Hutton, who was in Cape Town for the annual meeting of the South Africa-United Kingdom Bilateral Forum, said the proposals are designed strengthen the code of practice on international recruitment. He said the code prevents agencies from targeting developing nations and stripping them of health professionals.  South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said the migration of health professions was a serious problem for developing countries, particularly in Africa. She said steps are being taken to slow the migration from South Africa to Britain and to encourage South Africans working in that sector in Britain to return home. The announcement followed one-to-one talks on Wednesday between the two health ministers are part of the agenda for the forum. The British Embassy said the talks, which end on Thursday, also will include discussions on regional affairs, regional conflicts, peace and security, development and sports. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw heads the British delegation that the British Embassy called the largest in the six-year history of the forum. Besides Hutton and Straw, the group includes two other Cabinet Ministers - Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Tessa Jowell and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Paul Boateng. Straw, in his remarks before the forum began its meetings, congratulated South Africa on 10 years of democracy and said Britain looks forward to an even closer partnership with South Africa. "We look forward to continuing our very close partnership with South Africa in the coming years, a partnership which of course takes account of our past, but which is a partnership of equals, of equal members of the international community, members of the United Nations sharing a great deal in common," said Straw. South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana lamini-Zuma said in doing its work, it was important that the forum look at the priorities of the two governments. "At the core of all South African policies and programs is the fundamental challenge of ending poverty and underdevelopment and of creating a better life for all our people. She noted that Britain as chair of both the G8 and the expanded European Union next year would be in a "unique position" to help, especially in meeting the challenges of the Millennium Development Goals.

East Cape, Limpopo retain their medical professionals (Daily Despatch, 25/08)- The Eastern Cape and Limpopo have managed to retain pharmacists and doctors even though many of these professionals emigrate, national Health Department officials said yesterday. The two provinces retained the two categories of skills by coming up with "creative ways to retain them", including forcing them to "pay up or come back", said percy Mahlathi, the deputy director-general for human resources. "But (the provinces) said they don't want the money. Instead, come work for us," he told Parliament's health committee. Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have been leaving the profession en masse to work in other countries, especially in the United Kingdom and the Middle East. The training of those who have been enticed back was paid for by the government. Mahlathi said it was cheaper for foreign countries to import ready-made skills rather than invest in the training of their own people."The production of pharmacists in the country is declining and it is worrying," he said. Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance rejected a Health Department report which seeks to address departmental staff shortages, presented to the health committee yesterday. DA MP Ryan Coetzee said the report, The Human Resources Strategy, was "most unsatisfactory" because 31 percent or 52574 posts in the department were vacant. "It is clear that in fact there is as yet no comprehensive plan to deal with the staffing crisis," he said in a statement. The report, which was drafted in 2001, seeks to address all the challenges of human resources facing the national Health Department. Immediately after the presentation of the report, Coetzee said the "situation is not just a little bit bad... in fact there is a massive problem" and that there were parts of the country where basic health services were not delivered. "What we have here is a massive disaster. I can't understand how on earth it got to this situation. Clearly, the problem has existed for a long time and is getting worse." Responding to Coetzee, committee chairperson Lincoln Ngculu said: "One of the things we need to avoid as we approach this particular challenge is to avoid creating an ... apocalyptic situation. "... there might be problems, but I don't think that the situation is a massive disaster." He urged Coetzee not to use "very populist statements. Let's avoid this populist thing which appeals somewhere. It is not going to take us anywhere". Mahlathi said the plan "is looking at revitalising health facilities in this country. "It is not only looking at bricks and mortar: it's looking at technologies, provision of adequate human resources, medical equipment and ensuring that… we have artisans and technicians. "Unless you have those people, you will have problems when the X-ray machines break down and there is nobody to repair them. So, it's a comprehensive plan." Mahlathi told members of the committee that it was difficult to quantify how much it would cost the department to address the staff shortage. Coetzee issued a statement after the meeting of the committee, accusing the department and the ANC of denying that there was a crisis. "Neither the department nor the ANC accept that there is a staffing crisis in the public health sector." Coetzee said the existing strategy was to be supplemented by a "national plan", which was described as an "absolute necessity", to be finalised only by April 2005. "In its presentation, the department provided no measurable targets and no time frames in which to reduce the number of vacancies in the public health sector. "These mayor may not be contained in the national plan next year."

Exodus of health staff on SA-UK talks agenda (Business Day, 25/08)- Government has moved to halt the mass exodus of skilled health-care professionals, with the framework for a national strategy to tackle the dire shortage of doctors and nurses in SA expected to be ready by next April. The exodus of health-care workers to the UK will be on the agenda when Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang meets her British counterpart, John Hutton, today. They are expected to discuss the possibility of the UK introducing measures to combat British hospitals' poaching of staff from developing countries, including SA. A recent study by the Health Systems Trust found that 31% (52574 jobs) of all posts in the public health-care sector were vacant last year. Although there was a lack of data monitoring personnel flow, the trust noted that an increasing number of skilled personnel were migrating overseas, particularly to the UK. Significant numbers of health-care workers were also leaving the South African public sector to work in private hospitals and clinics. The health department's deputy director-general for human resources, Percy Mahlathi, told Parliament yesterday that it was cheaper for foreign countries to import skilled healthcare workers than invest in training their own people. Mahlahti said a long-term human resources plan was essential if SA was to meet its health-care goals, but he did not provide specific targets or timeframes for filling the vacant public sector posts. He said the situation had improved in some provinces since the Health Systems Trust research, as more funds were made available in the current financial year to fill posts. The department's own policies contradicted some of the objectives of the envisaged human resources plan, which aimed to improve the working environment, remuneration and morale of health staff, the Democratic Alliance's health spokesman, Ryan Coetzee, said. "The rushed and disorganised implementation of community service for nurses and the certificate of need simply add to the reasons that our doctors and nurses already have to leave," he said yesterday. The department's recently launched incentives rural and scarce skills allowances were insufficient, he said. "It is impossible to maintain morale when vital equipment is missing, buildings are disintegrating and when the lives of staff are at risk from criminals."

Steps being taken to address health workers migration (Sapa, 25/08)- Steps are being taken to slow down the migration of health professionals from South Africa to the United Kingdom, and to encourage South Africans working in this sector abroad to return home, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said on Wednesday. Briefing the media after discussions with her UK counterpart, John Hutton, she said international migration of health professionals was a challenge facing many developing countries, particularly the African continent. The Commonwealth had accepted an International Code of Practice on Ethical Recruitment of Health Workers. "As South Africa, we note that the UK was the first country to produce guidelines on international recruitment based on ethical principles, and the first to develop a Code of Practice for Employers," she said. Hutton said his country's National Health Service (NHS) was expanding rapidly and would need extra doctors and nurses. However, this would not be done at the expense of developing countries, including South Africa. The UK had strict guidelines on the fair and ethical recruitment of health professionals, and remained committed to this. This included the recruitment of locums and temporary staff, he said. Tshabalala-Msimang said a World Health Organisation (WHO) study in six countries, including South Africa, showed most health professionals migrated because they wanted international exposure and experience. The Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and South Africa - signed in October last year - encouraged the creation of education and practice opportunities that should allow South African health professionals to work for a specified period in organisations providing NHS services. By providing such an opportunity, South Africans could get this exposure and return to the country with newly acquired skills and experience. South Africa was also keen to attract back South Africans living in various parts of the world to help rebuild the country, she said. "Working with the International Organisation on Migration, we are exploring the development of a repatriation strategy. The possibility of encouraging South Africans living in the UK to be part of a programme of placing health professionals in South Africa had been discussed with Hutton. "We have agreed to explore the possibility of employing a project manager for this programme. We will raise awareness about the available opportunities in South Africa to encourage placements," Tshabalala-Msimang said.

Another marriage syndicate smashed (Buanews, 25/08)- The Department of Home Affairs says yet another marriage fraud syndicate has been smashed, this time in Limpopo's northern most town of Musina. Assisted by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and South African National Defence Force (SANDF), 15 people, including Pakistani, Bangledeshi and Zimbabwean citizens, were arrested during a raid of a number of shops and homes in the town. "Initial investigations pointed to a thriving trade in fraudulent identity documents, passports and marriage certificates, as well as the alleged bribing of a few immigration officials," Home Affairs spokesperson Lesley Mashokwe told BuaNews in Polokwane yesterday. He said a task team from the department recently decided to switch their attention to Limpopo, after receiving a tip-off regarding alleged irregularities. Explaining the methods used by the fraudsters, Mr Mashokwe pointed out that unsuspecting South African women and teenage girls were often trapped into relationships with smooth-talking strangers, and later found they were "married" to these men. In many cases, documents issued by marriage officers could be produced to prove the validity of such marriages. He added that criminals had effectively exploited the fact that thousands of marriages in the so-called homelands of the apartheid era were never properly registered or captured on data systems. In many cases, documents issued by marriage officers could be produced to prove the validity of the present wave of fraudulent marriages. Amounts of up to R3 000 were being paid to arrange such marriages. "Some marriages are registered in Zimbabwe and such couples even pass the scrutiny of border post officials, because their travel and marriage documents appear to be in order," Mr Mashokwe said. According to a statement issued by the department, 431 fraudulent marriages had already been exposed, since the launch of the current "Check your marital status" campaign. So far, 6 169 women had approached the department to verify their marital status. A senior Home Affairs investigator in Limpopo said a certain Pakistani citizen known as Yussuf Ali registered business enterprises in the province in his wife's name, yet the young woman concerned never even knew she was married to him, Mashokwe added. Ali and several others would be summarily deported, in terms of legislation in South Africa prohibiting anyone found in possession of false identity and other documents from ever entering the country again. The department has discovered that many marriages under apartheid homelands were never properly registered or captured on data systems. 'We hope these facts will serve as a wake-up call to all citizens to check the documented status of their marriages with the department," Mr Mashokwe said.

Home Affairs records more fraudulent marriages (Buanews, 25/08)- In the third week of the Check your Marital Status Campaign, 235 more women have discovered that they are fraudulently married to spouses they don't know, bringing the total number of reported fraudulent marriages to 431. The Department of Home Affairs has reported that Gauteng East, which includes Pretoria, has recorded 89 fraudulent marriages while Gauteng West, which includes Soweto and Veereniging has recorded 59 fraudulent marriages. Gauteng is leading with the highest number of recorded fraudulent marriages at 148, followed by Kwa-Zulu Natal with 29 and Mpumalanga with 23. Since the beginning of the campaign 6169 women have verified their marital status. The campaign, which was launched earlier this month to survey the extent of illegal marriages of South African women mostly by Pakistanis, Nigerians and Chinese, forms part of Women's month. The Minister of Home Affairs Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula tabled the Immigration Amendment Bill in parliament last week, which is hoped would assist in curbing the increasing rate of illegal marriages. The Bill proposes that foreign nationals be married to their South African partners for five years instead of the present three years before they could gain citizenship. The department has also promised to expunge all illegal marriages. South Africans who wish to check their marital status can do so by logging onto the Home Affairs website at or by calling the toll free number 0800 10 1994 during office hours.

Minister not happy with treatment of foreigners (SABC News, 25/08)- Nkisazana Dlamini-Zuma, the foreign affairs minister, says the stopping of people in the streets by police to question them about their nationalities is wrong and demeaning to all. Dlamini-Zuma says the time has come for a debate on how South Africa deals with immigration. She says as long as there is a mindset that wants to keep people out, incidents like the accosting of an international model in Cape Town will continue. Kenyan model Ajuma Nasenyana has been accredited with saving the Cape Town Fashion Week. But this counted for nothing when Cape Town police stopped her in the street to ask about her status in the country as she is too dark. The minister says this is wrong and should be stopped. She says South Africans need to make a paradigm shift from the mentality that says the rest of the continent is bent on leaving their countries to come and live in South Africa. She says of the 6 million tourists who visited the country last year, 4 million were from Africa and that they had left when they no longer had business here. She said a debate was needed on how South Africa deals with immigration issues.

Panel appointed to probe foreign land ownership (Sapa, 24/08)- Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza has appointed a panel of ten to investigate the ownership and use of South African land by foreign citizens. The panel would consider the "nature, extent, trends and impact of the use and acquisition" of South African land by foreign nationals, Didiza told journalists at Parliament. "If you look at the scope of what they are going to do, really it is an enormous task which cannot be finished in a month or two," she said. Members of the panel are Mandla Mabuza, Christine Qunta, Cecil Morden, Dirk Kotze, Danisa Baloyi, Leah Gcabashe, Prof Fred Hendricks, Bonile Jack, Prof Shadrack Gutto, and Joe Matthews. Gutto was appointed as the chairman of the committee while Matthews would be his deputy, Didiza said. She said the panel would be supported by a technical committee of about six people - some from National Treasury with others coming from the Provincial and Local Government. "The committee will undertake its work and report to the minister (of land and agricultural affairs) in January 2005 to assess how far we have gone," Didiza said, adding that the second meeting would be in March. The panel was created following concerns from the public and the government about the need for a policy to regulate ownership of South African land by foreigners. After the development of such policy, the government could monitor and, if necessary, intervene in ensuring equitable access to land by citizens, Didiza said.

Human trafficking: SA has no legislation ( Pretoria News, 23/08)- Human traffickers were benefiting from the fact that South Africa did not have legislation preventing the crime, according to a sociologist. It was because of this that the country had apparently become a major receiving and transit destination for traffickers, said Dr Carol Allais of Unisa's Department of Sociology. Allais conservatively estimated that between 700 000 and 2-million people, most of them women and children, were trafficked each year across international borders for the purposes of prostitution, other forms of sexual exploitation, slavery and the removal of organs. Quoting a 2003 International Organisation for Migration report, she said South Africa was not immune from this international phenomenon. South Africa had become a key slavery hub in Africa, she said. Allais said people trafficking and smuggling syndicates were benefiting from the fact that South Africa had no legislation directly outlawing trafficking. She also cited porous borders as a reason why South Africa was seen as an ideal country for traffickers. "Trafficked persons are usually exploited by their recruiters for financial profit, and are sold or leased to others." "Such persons usually hold their victims under conditions of physical captivity, and use of force, threats, debt bondage and coercion to subject them to different forms of exploitation," said Allais. Human trafficking was defined by the United Nations as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of the threat or the use of force or other forms of coercion, or abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. Allais said human trafficking and smuggling had not only become the third-largest source of profits for organised crime after drugs and arms, but was generating billions of dollars each year and was described as the 21st century form of slavery.It was estimated that sex trafficking would most likely overtake drug trafficking in the next couple of years as the second largest criminal industry. Allais said a growing number of criminal networks worldwide were showing an increased sophistication with regard to moving large numbers of people at higher profits than ever. "In fact, these have become the most profitable crimes in the world today estimated at a value of over $12-billion according to Unicef," said Allais. There were reports of girls as young as 12 being sold to traffickers. Newcomers were repeatedly raped. She said while human trafficking had a devastating impact on individual victims, its impact also undermined the safety and security of all the nations it affected. It also fuelled the growth of organised crime. "While poverty may be a principal catalyst, it cannot adequately explain the commercial sexual exploitation of children, addiction to drugs, discrimination against girl children and simple materialistic greed are others. The armed conflict which is taking place in parts of the world also contributes largely. "Traffickers were easily able to take advantage of war, endemic poverty, minimal education, unemployment and a general lack of opportunity for the majority of the population. "At its worst, the trafficking system takes innocent girls, imprisons them in brothels to be raped repeatedly and leaves them dead of Aids by their early 20s - and yet there is far less international effort to save these children than to save the Brazilian rainforest," said Allais. Children, she said, were also trafficked for many other kinds of exploitation, including working in slave-like conditions. They could also be kidnapped and killed for the removal of organs for transplant or for sacrifice in traditional rituals "Organ trafficking has become an international trade," she said. Allais said that some body parts sold for as much as $125 000 on the Internet. Allais said despite the number of anti-trafficking organisations, progress in dealing with trafficking worldwide was painfully slow. "There is little awareness. Several intervention campaigns are needed and the community needs to take responsibility," said Allais.

UK undertakes to stop poaching local nurses (City Press, 21/08)- The United Kingdom, which has allowed thousands of South African nurses to work in its public health sector, is expected to sign an undertaking with Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, committing itself to end the poaching of local nurses. The expected breakthrough comes amid concerns, raised by Tshabalala-Msimang, about the brain drain in SA's nursing sector. John Hutton, the British minister of health, is expected in the country this week. It is understood he will discuss measures his government plans to put in place to curb the poaching of medical staff from developing countries such as South Africa by UK hospitals. The British High Commission in Pretoria said the talks between Hutton and Tshabalala-Msimang "will provide an opportunity for the ministers to take stock of progress towards implementing the SAjUK memorandum of understanding on healthcare co-operation, which was signed by the ministers in London last year". Although the British government committed itself to stop the poaching of nurses when Tshabalala-Msimang first raised the issue last year, there continues to be concern that public hospitals in the UK still recruit nurses from South Africa. Hundreds of qualified South African nurses, whose training has been subsidised by taxpayers, continue to be lured to countries such as Britain and Saudi Arabia, where they enjoy better salaries and working conditions. It is understood that South Africa has become the second highest source of nurses for Britain, with 1 068 nurses taken in over the past year. The high commission said Hutton would also take the opportunity to raise the possibility of the UK strengthening its code of conduct on the international recruitment of healthcare staff. "The code currently applies to 178 agencies that recruit medical staff for National Health Service (NHS) hospitals and restricts recruitment from over 150 developing countries, including South Africa." The NHS is said to have ordered the blacklisting of unscrupulous commercial recruitment agencies, which supply it with temporary staff, if they persist in recruiting medical staff from developing countries. But there is also concern that the ban would only affect state hospitals and not be applicable to private hospitals, which also recruit nurses from developing countries. It is understood that private hospitals will not be bound to the agreement. Tshabalala-Msimang has long expressed concern about the British health system's recruitment of health professionals. Earlier this year, Tshabalala-Msimang said her department "believes that if there is a major - and insidious - threat to our overall health effort, it is the continued outward migration of key health professionals, particularly professional nurses, with a consequent deskilling of the professional base in both the public and private sector". She said the code of conduct for recruitment of health professionals for the Commonwealth of Nations should at least address the challenge of the movement of personnel among member states of the Commonwealth.

Step to cure SA's health staff crisis (Business Day, 20/08)- The flight of doctors and nurses from public hospitals is without doubt the largest crisis in health care today. The scale of the problem is staggering. According to the Health Systems Trust, 52574 posts were vacant in the public health sector last year, or 31% of all posts and that was after the number of posts was reduced by almost 100000. The South African Health Review reveals 10% of physicians in Canadian hospitals are South African, as is "6% of the total health workforce in the UK", while there are 600 South African doctors practising in New Zealand. Many other health workers have opted to work in other countries, or in SA's growing private sector. The reasons our health professionals are leaving the public service include low pay relative to the private sector and developed countries; poor working conditions in dirty and dilapidated hospitals; incompetent and unsupportive management; a lack of personal safety, particularly in rural areas; and a dysfunctional relationship with government. Sound policies, access to medicines and functioning equipment are all necessary, but by themselves are not sufficient elements of a successful health system. Without skilled and motivated health-care professionals, our health system will never deliver. That is why a solution to the staff- ing crisis should be government's number one health-care priority. The health minister should convene a conference to which all relevant parties are invited, the purpose of which would be to identify a package of practical solutions to the crisis. Government has to act in partnership with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. More attention needs to be given to the remuneration of health-care professionals in the public sector. It is imperative to find ways to compensate for higher pay in the private sector and developed countries by, for example, reintroducing the scheme which allowed public sector doctors to treat some patients privately. Working conditions need to be improved dramatically. Health staff working in rural areas or in seriously under-resourced institutions should get a range of special benefits that could increase their levels of job satisfaction. These might include work assistance for spouses and schools for children, provision for longer leave and more training opportunities. Foreign health-care professionals need better assistance from government. SA will long remain reliant on the services of foreign-qualified doctors to staff rural areas. Government needs to ensure we have the training capacity to fill public health service posts. At present we are not training enough nurses, for instance, and there seems to be no effort to determine a training target based on a rational projection of future needs. The recent decision to close down certain training facilities also needs to be revisited. A forum providing for constructive dialogue between health-care professionals and government is needed. Health workers may be less likely to emigrate if they feel they have the capacity to alter their environment, and experience a government really committed to improving it. These and other proposed solutions need to be debated as a matter of extreme urgency. Then decisive action must be taken. If not, every health-care initiative of this government is in danger of failing.

New law monitors Asylum seekers ( UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 20/08)- New legislation will help the South African government to monitor the entry of asylum seekers into the country, an official told IRIN on Friday. The Immigration Amendment Bill, approved by parliament on Thursday, requires all asylum seekers to report to a refugee reception centre within 14 days of entry, said Mike Ramagoma, a spokesman for the ministry of home affairs. Ramagoma noted that the existing law allowed asylum seekers "as soon as they have received their asylum transit permit at the port of entry to travel anywhere in the country and stay for whatever length of time". Under the new legislation, an asylum seeker will have to qualify for refugee status, which includes being interviewed at a reception centre within two weeks of arrival, he explained. However, human rights advocates, like Chris Watters who serves on the Immigration Law Committee of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, have pointed out that the 14-day period was an unreasonable time frame. "There could be any number of reasons why an asylum seeker cannot make it to a refugee reception centre within 14 days - there are only five such centres in the country. What about AIDS orphans or women asylum seekers from war-torn countries, who lack resources to make it to the centres? I know that the centre in Pretoria is open only once a week," Watters said. He noted that there were tensions between some provisions of the new bill and the Refugee Act, which allowed asylum seekers entry into the country without any impediments. "If an asylum seeker, in terms of the new immigration bill, fails to make it to the centre, he or she is liable to legal action," Watters added. Ramagoma said the government was simultaneously attempting to capacitate the department of home affairs by increasing the number of immigration officers assigned to determine refugee status and increasing the number of reception centres to speed up the screening process. The new immigration legislation has also removed the requirement of a training levy imposed on foreigners who want to start a business in South Africa. "This is indicative of our attempts to open up and attract more skills and investment to the country," Ramagoma said.

Immigration amendment bill a milestone, says Mapisa-Nqakila (BuaNews, 20/08)- Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says South Africa has recorded a milestone towards a new immigration policy. Ms Mapisa-Nqakula was addressing the National Assembly yesterday on the introduction of the Immigration Amendment Bill. The Amendment Bill contains a number of drafting and technical amendments aimed at correcting flaws in the principal Act. The Minister added that a sound immigration policy was vital to the country for reasons such as economic development, attracting foreign skills and investment as well as reflecting the country's commitment to human rights and the security of those living within the country's borders. "In the medium term, government intends developing and refining its immigration policies. This Amendment Bill and the regulations which will follow, represent a short term intervention," the minister said. The preamble has been amended to properly reflect the purpose of the Act and to emphasize the need to attract scarce skills and the role of government in the development and growth of the region and continent. A definition of "spouse" would be brought in line with a Constitutional Court judgment on this issue and would include permanent heterosexual and homosexual relationships as prescribed. The Amendment Bill would also bring the definition of "marriage" and "customary marriage" in line with existing legislation. It would also provide for the representation of the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on the Immigration Advisory Board as well as changing the name of the Department of Finance to National Treasury. "Amendments to the principal Act reflect the advisory nature of the Board, and emphasizes the role of the Board in facilitating interdepartmental co-operation on immigration matters," the minister said. The Amendment Bill also makes provision for the Director-General of the department to have more powers and functions and not the department, as is currently the case with the principal Act. The Immigration Act prohibited the recording of entry into and departure from the Republic of citizens. "In response to concerns of Statistics South Africa, the Reserve Bank and the South African Police Services, amongst others, an amendment will provide for such recording and two new sections will be inserted in the principal Act that deals with visas and transit visas," she said. She added that these would set out circumstances under which a foreigner was required to have either a visa or a transit visa. Another amendment makes provision for the Director-General to withdraw a permanent residence permit the first time a holder was convicted of a serious offence. "Amendments to the principal Act will require a foreigner married to a South African citizen or permanent resident to wait for a period of five years before being able to apply for permanent residence on the basis of marriage. 'Foreign spouses will be entitled to a temporary residence permit which will allow them to work and study," she said. Home affairs portfolio committee chairperson Patrick Chauke said the public would be included in the regulation making process. Minister Mapisa-Nqakula assured that the new regulations on immigration would be published as soon as possible after the bill had been through the National Council of Provinces process. "We hope that by the 30th [August] the regulation will be out in the public for public comment," the minister said.

Report on Zimbabweans in SA (ZWNEWS, 19/08)- Zimbabweans who illegally entered South Africa (SA) are finding it difficult to make a living. There are reports that the majority live under squalid conditions and are being ill-treated by their employers, according to a snap survey conducted by the Daily News Online in Johannesburg. In separate interviews in the past three days, the illegal immigrants narrated different stories of their crisis-ridden experiences in South Africa as migrant workers. The snap survey follows the reports that the South African Home Affairs Ministry would be introducing computerized national identity cards and new passports as President Thabo Mbeki's government clamps down on illegal immigrants. Jane Ndebele, 30, from Plumtree in the south-western part of Zimbabwe said she came to South Africa in 1991 after illegally crossing the border together with her two brothers. She said they were looking for jobs, hoping they would be able to help develop their rural home. She is living in Sandton, an exclusive low density suburb of Johannesburg where she works for a white couple. Ndebele says life in Sandton has been entertaining, frustrating and at times threatening as she has met with mixed fortunes in her search for the more powerful South African rand. Ndebele works for three other employers on a part-time basis during her free time. “When I came, everything looked set to be right without any problems,” she said. “As soon as I got my first job, my employer, a white couple from Randburg started coming up with stringent working conditions that I ended up being dismissed.” She said: “When my second child turned two and half last year, my employer asked me to choose between my child and my job because they could not retain me if I stayed with my son. I had to send my son home to save my job otherwise I would have been fired. The poverty back home forces me to prioritise my job ahead of my family.” Ndebele said she was not allowed to use the hot water from the geyser or to have any visitor. She said if found with a visitor, her employer deducts R100 (Z$100 000) from her wage of R1 200 (Z$1, 2 million). Elliot Makona, 56, from Bikita in Masvingo, also resident in Sandton, said although he has found the going tough working in SA, he felt it was better than to return to Zimbabwe where poverty levels were deepening without any political or economic solution in sight. Makona said: “I am working in town as a salesman where I am earning about R2 000 (Z$2 million) pr month. My wife works as a domestic worker in Parkmore, Johanesburg where she has a room and we stay together. She earns about R1 400 (Z$1, 4 million). We are not allowed visitors.” But Emma Museka, 29 from Buhera was not fortunate to have her own private room because her employer has only one room for her and four other male workers employed as gardeners. Museka said she could not sleep well because she was afraid the four men might rape her or sexually abuse her since she would be alone with them overnight. “I sleep in my own bed but the four guys also sleep in the same room,” she said. “I have become used to their presence but still I remain on guard because you can’t trust men with your body. If things were better back, I wouldn’t mind returning but as it is I would better suffer and earn something at the end of the month. I send some money to Zimbabwe to my family and it has helped a lot.” Other Zimbabweans interviewed at some horse-stables outside Sandton where they work told the Daily News Online that they lived in crowded wooden rooms with their wives and friends. They said they maintain a low profile as they live in constant fear of being arrested and subsequently deported by the South African authorities. The majority are illegal immigrants. Some of them have corruptly obtained South African documents but police would still deport them. Zimbabweans escaping the economic and political hardships have also sought refuge illegally in the United Kingdom, Botswana, Australia, and New Zealand where the majority do menial jobs to earn a living. Most of them do three or four jobs everyday to supplement their income. There are at least 2, 5 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa alone, 5000 of them with valid documents. It is not clear what will happen to these Zimbabweans living illegally in South Africa when the Home Affairs Ministry moves in. But what is certain is that most of them will be sent packing back to their troubled Zimbabwe.

National Assembly approves immigration bill (Sapa, 19/08)- The long-awaited Immigration Amendment Bill was unanimously approved in the National Assembly on Thursday. Introducing the measure, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said it aimed to remove provisions in existing legislation - the 2002 Immigration Act - for immigration courts, and a levy on foreigners who wanted to start a business in South Africa It also aimed to curtail the powers of the Immigration Advisory Board. "This amendment bill, and the regulations which will follow, represent a short-term intervention," she said. In the medium term, government intended developing and refining its immigration policies. "A sound immigration policy is vital to the country for a number of reasons." It should be in line with the country's foreign policy, especially with regards to the Southern African Development Community and Africa, she said. Democratic Alliance MP Sandy Kalyan said the DA was concerned about the bill's aim to cut the number of civil society members on the Immigration Advisory Board from nine to seven. The amendment bill calls for 13 government officials on the board. Kalyan said this was "a huge imbalance favouring government". "Civil society plays an important role in the checks and balance," she said. Responding, Mapisa-Nqakula said: "Representation of civil society has been reduced from nine to seven; that is not a huge... reduction." The board should not be seen as a platform "for contest of opinions and views between NGOs and the government". It should exist to advise the minister, she said. "Today we have moved a milestone toward immigration policy in this country," Mapisa-Nqakula said. Regulations would be released for public comment by the end August - the day on which the bill is expected to be signed into law. The measure will now be sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

An engine of trade too big to ignore (Business Report, 18/08)- Stand at any border post in southern Africa and watch who goes through: women with heads and arms laden, people on bicycles and in cars piled with goods, minibus taxis with stacked roofs dragging trailers. Many of these vehicles are carrying informal vendors, who make their living by cross-border trade. Previously disregarded, they're increasingly seen as a source of development and poverty alleviation - as part of the solution to the region's economic problems. Informal cross-border trade came under the spotlight last week at a three-day workshop held in Pretoria by Action Aid, an international charity. Sally Peberdy, a delegate from the Johannesburg-based Southern African Migration Project, has been monitoring cross-border traders in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). She believes more attention needs to be paid to the sector. "Unfortunately, the activities of people involved in informal cross-border trade appear to have been overlooked," she notes. This is despite the fact that national and regional policy initiatives, particularly the SADC free trade protocol, portray regional trade as an important way of encouraging growth and reducing poverty. Moono Mupotola of Action Aid's Southern African Partnership Programme says: "It is estimated that 40 percent of the SADC's 200 million people live in poverty. These figures are alarming. The regional growth in 2002 was 3.2 percent, which fell short of the 7 percent required to halve the level of poverty by 2015." The UN has set 2015 as the date by which eight key targets known as the millennium development goals should be met. The goals include halving the number of people who live on less than a dollar a day, reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters and ensuring universal primary education. The goals were agreed on by UN member states at a summit held in New York in 2000.
Most of southern Africa's poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. "More than 70 percent of the people in southern Africa rely on agriculture," says Rangarirai Machenedze of Seatini, a Harare-based organisation that campaigns for fair global trade. Increasingly, however, poverty is taking hold in towns and cities. Studies show that in some border regions, small-scale trade contributes up to 50 percent of overall trade in the area. "Clearly then there is a need for the policy concerns of this sector to be recognised," says Helena McLeod, a trade expert based in South Africa. Chris Landsberg of the Centre for Policy Studies says the SADC's failure to take small traders into account derives from its focus on developing larger industries in member states that will make the region more immediately attractive to foreign investors. He accuses the SADC of being too bureaucratic and of disregarding the needs of the poor. "I don't think the poor have a voice in the SADC," Landsberg observes. "They hardly engage civil society seeking to alleviate poverty." But John Mwaniki of the Irish Economic Development organisation believes those who feel sidelined by the SADC need to take the initiative in reforming the organisation. Quoting former SADC secretary-general Simba Makoni, he says: "Don't wait to be invited by the SADC. Contact them."  Landsberg says informal cross-border trade is further undermined by immigration laws that hamper the free movement of people. "South Africa, Botswana and Namibia recruit skilled workers from the region, yet they are the ones who are reluctant to open up and allow free movements of people." The poor also face difficulties when seeking loans to start cross-border concerns, and banks are reluctant to lend to individuals with little, if any, collateral. According to Peberdy, the lack of attention paid by policy makers to cross-border traders reflects a paucity of information about their activities, and who they are. No one knows the exact number of informal traders who traverse frontiers in the region. Landsberg believes they account for a large portion of SADC trade. "I reckon it's between 30 percent and 4 0 percent, but the bottom line is we don't know," he says.

Fraudulent marriages now stand at 200 (Sapa, 18/08)- The number of women who have discovered they are fraudulently married has climbed to 200, the Department of Home Affairs announced on Wednesday. This is up from 46 recorded during the first week of the Check Your Marital Status Campaign (CYMS) launched at the beginning of August in Mpumalanga. According to the department, 68 fake marriages were uncovered in Gauteng on Wednesday, compared to none on Tuesday. The Western Cape recorded ten fake marriages. In order to curb the rate of fraudulent marriages, the department has vowed to nullify residence and work permits as well as citizenship gained by the "husbands" as a result of their marriages. The tally of fake marriages on Tuesday stood at: Eastern Cape 27, Free State 20, North West 17, Mpumalanga 15, Kwazulu-Natal 12, Limpopo nine, and Northern Cape, one. The CYMS campaign stands to receive a major boost on Thursday when the Immigration Amendment Bill is tabled in Parliament. The Bill proposes, in part, that foreign nationals be married to their South African partners for five instead of three years before gaining citizenship. People wishing to check their marital status can do so by visiting the Home Affairs website at or calling the toll-free number 0800 10 1994 between 7.15am and 3.45pm.

101 Fraudulent marriages discovered to date (Sapa, 18/08)- A total of 101 people have discovered that they were fraudulently married to husbands they did not know, the Department of Home Affairs announced on Tuesday. This is the tally since the launch of Check Your Marital Status Week at the beginning of August in Mpumalanga by Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. The Eastern Cape recorded 27 fraudulent marriages. The Free State came in second with 20 while the North West province came in a close third with 17. In Mpumalanga 15 women learned that they were married without their knowledge. Kwazulu-Natal notched up 12 fake marriages and Limpopo nine. The Northern Cape recorded only one fake marriage while none were discovered in Gauteng. According to the department about 5000 women have checked their marital status since the start of the campaign. Ina van der Merwe, CEO of South Africa's largest credentials verification company, Kroll MIE, said last week that the marriage scam had allowed substantial numbers of foreign men to obtain South African citizenship by fraudulently marrying women whose identity documents had been stolen and divorcing them before they found out. A task team that met at the beginning of August to thrash out the scope of the investigation into bogus marriages has already found that of 800,000 civil and customary marriages registered since 2001: * At least 3387 were fraudulently recorded; * At least 2009 have since been expunged by Home Affairs; and * Around 3000 young women were found to have been illegally married in KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga.

Illegal cross border gun smuggling rife in Limpopo (SABC News, 17/08)- Illegal guns are entering South Africa as Zimbabwe slides into turmoil and refugees from that country stream across our northern border, more and more. This follows an SABC investigation into illegal gun running in the Limpopo province during which the team tried to determine how easy it is to buy an illegal fire-arm. Tens of thousand of illegal immigrants are entering South Africa. Most of them desperate. Others are believed to be bringing guns into the country to sell for food. Stan Joubert of the police serious and violent crime unit, says many of the culprits are former soldiers and now unemployed and in order to support their families the sell guns.Three weeks ago, the SABC team was offered about 15 guns for sale from gun runners and syndicates from both Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Prices ranged from R 500 to R 1 500. Police says the arms are trickling in, because people are moving in and South Africa appears to be a place of hope.Several chiefs in the area have reportedly come across Zimbabwean refugees with AK-47 assault rifles that they are trying to sell in South Africa. The SABC team also travelled to Mozambique where an AK-47 assault rifle with a full magazine costs a mere R500. It's been more than 12 years since the civil war ended and guns are still freely available and transported by gun smugglers to South Africa. Watch Special Assignment tonight on SABC3 at 21:30 for the full story on gun running in the Limpopo Province.

Soldiers held for robbing, ambushing Zimbabweans ( Star, 17/08)- Undercover investigators have arrested an army captain and four soldiers for allegedly systematically ambushing, stripping, and robbing illegal Zimbabwean immigrants. The SA National Defence Force soldiers also allegedly raped a number of Zimbabwean women before making them swim the crocodile-infested Limpopo River back to Zimbabwe."The claims are shocking, especially because the people involved are supposed to be protecting the public,," said police task team leader Captain Fanie Molapo yesterday. "We conducted a three-month undercover investigation and have arrested the first five soldiers on theft-related charges after finding a container full of loot that they'd allegedly stolen from Zimbabweans. "Additional charges and arrests might follow as we collect further evidence." The soldiers and their commanding officer were all arrested at the Madimbo military base on the Zimbabwean border on Sunday. The men cannot be named until they appear in court later this week. "The soldiers stripped the Zimbabweans of all their valuables and then handed them over to police to be deported. They failed, however, to hand over any of the confiscated goods," said Molapo. "Undercover investigators recovered some of the contraband from a storage container in the Madimbo camp, including five new bicycles and 60 cartons of cigarettes. "The Zimbabweans who complained to us mentioned both bicycles and cigarettes, so it appears that we have pretty strong evidence to back up the theft charges. We are still probing claims by some Zimbabweans that they were raped by soldiers," he said. The river is notorious for crocodile attacks, with bodies of suspected "fence jumpers" routinely recovered from the South African side of the river. "We will not hesitate to arrest anyone implicated in rapes or any other kind of human rights abuse in this matter," said Molapo. SANDF spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi confirmed yesterday that the military was aware of the arrests and was monitoring the case closely.

Changes to Immigration bill 'positive' (Business Day, 16/08)- The passing of the Immigration Amendment Bill by Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee has been welcomed, paving the way for the drafting on new immigration regulations that have been signalled as an urgent priority by President Thabo Mbeki. A number of changes were made to the bill during the committee stage that will see a more moderate line on public participation during the regulationmaking process. The urgency to pass the bill, to be debated in Parliament on August 19, follows a three-month deadline set by Mbeki for the new regulations to be drafted by the end of this month. The final draft of the bill was passed on Friday, with only two objections, from the Democratic Alliance (DA). These related to the issue of Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula retaining the right to appoint her own civil society representatives to the Immigration Advisory Board and that all reference to the use of chartered accountants has been removed from the Immigration Act. But the department has undertaken to define in new regulations the role chartered accountants in the assessment of business permits. Committee chairman Patrick Chauke said he hoped the debate on the bill would reflect the problems SA faced on immigration and would demonstrate the committee's commitment to correct mistakes of the past. He said the next challenge for the committee would be to look into "all aspects" of immigration policy, which all political parties agreed existed and which were also highlighted during the public submissions on the bill. Linda Lamprecht, an immigration expert at PricewaterhouseCoopers, welcomed the changes drafted in the portfolio committee stage. One of the changes she highlighted was that multinational companies that make use of intercompany transfers would be able to obtain visas for these employees for up to four years. She said although the DA had objected to the excision of reference to chartered accountants in the bill, the fact that certification by chartered accountants in the business permit category was to be retained was "positive". Lamprecht said the changes to the definition of work in the bill, reverting to a similar definition in the Immigration Act that provides for film crews, models and visiting consultants to work while on a visitor's permit after gaining permission to do so, was positive. This meant that visitors falling in this category would not have to go through a process of obtaining work permits. "This is good news, as the original definition (of work) in the Bill was one of our big concerns," she said. Lamprecht said that public participation in the making of the new rules would enable interested parties to make suggestions on practical aspects of the regulations to ensure uniformity with the legislation. Another probusiness decision was that a training levy would not be applied to the visas conditions of foreigners coming to work in this country. The new bill also makes it easier for foreign pensioners, who must have an income of R20000 a month, or assets valued at R12m that generates an income of R15000, to stay in SA.

New ID cards on the Cards (Sapa, 15/08)- South Africans could be issued with new smart ID cards by the end of next year replacing the easily forged green book, Home Affairs director general Barry Gilder said on Sunday. The new cards - which would be nearly impossible to duplicate - would contain a microchip holding a person's photograph, identity number, fingerprints and address. Gilder told Sapa the introduction of the system was part of the bigger Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) which aimed to electronically capture the fingerprints of all South Africans. He denied media reports that the introduction of the card system
would cost R1,5 billion or that citizens would have to cough up R120 to purchase the new document. "I don't know where those figures come from... they don't come from me. We don't know yet what the cost is going to be. We are still going to tender for the cards but we won't charge South Africans R120... that is a ridiculous figure." He said the department would go to tender for a service provider within the next six months. "We expect that South Africans will be issued with the new style ID cards towards the end of next year but it's difficult to be precise. It will depend on the timeframes the successful bidder can offer us." He said the new card would be phased in over the next five years making the green ID book obsolete. "We are estimating at this moment to distribute six million ID cards a year." "This has been, excuse the pun, on the cards for sometime. Certainly a lot has been in the media recently about fraudulent SA passports but we have had this in the pipeline for some time." The Home Affairs Department was consulting the Transport Ministry about whether the driver's licence card and ID card could be incorporated into one card. "We are considering that and we are talking to a number of departments on a number of issues." Gilder said that not only would the new system make identifying people faster and more accurate, but it would speed up the process of actually obtaining an ID document. Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance welcomed the announcement but warned that the Home Affairs Department should not proceed until it was ready and had sufficient resources to ensure an effective conversion process. DA home affairs spokeswoman Sandy Kaylan said the department already struggled to keep up with the demand for its services. "The minister of home affairs must demonstrate that she has the necessary resources before giving the go-ahead."

Children's bill should recognize child refugees (BuaNews, 13/08)- A human rights body and a consortium for refugees have recommended that the proposed Children's Bill recognise the needs of child refugees and children from foreign countries. The Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and the National Consortium for Refugee Affairs (NCRA) recommended this yesterday, during hearings on the draft law set to replace the Child Care Act of 1974. Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Social Development is currently conducting public hearings on the proposed Children's Bill, and NGOs and children's groups have been making submissions since Wednesday. The Children's Bill would alter the Child Care Act, in order to protect children from social ills. These include maltreatment, abuse, neglect, degradation, discrimination, exploitation and any other physical and moral harm or hazards. Public hearings follow last week's briefing to the Portfolio Committee by the Department of Social Development on its proposals for the Bill. At yesterday's session, Fritz Gaerdes of the LHR recommended that a section dealing with the specific rights of unaccompanied refugee and foreign children be added to the Bill. He said the Children's Court should also play a crucial role in ensuring access to justice for foreign children. The LHR also recommended that the High Court should not have exclusive jurisdiction on matters relating to the departure and removal of a child from South Africa as stated in section 45(3)(d) of the bill. Mr Gaerdes explained that foreign children were detained on a regular basis and that the Child Care Act, which provided for the protection of children in need of care was ignored in the case of foreign children. "LHR therefore recommends that the Children's Court may make an order instructing the circumstances when and the manner in which children, who had been declared to be illegal foreigners in terms of the Immigration Act are detained and removed from the Republic," he said.

Committee approves immigration bill (Sapa, 13/08)- Members of Parliament's home affairs committee have unanimously approved the Immigration Amendment Bill with one objection from the Democratic Alliance. The DA objected to the composition of the Immigration Advisory Board, saying the board was not representative of civil society organisations. "It's unacceptable that there are so many departmental officials," DA MP Sandy Kalyan said during a vote on the bill on Friday. Committee chairman Patrick Chauke accepted her objection, and moved on with the voting process. He said the manner in which members of the committee had handled the bill would allow officials from the Home Affairs Department to properly regulate immigration. After the elections in April, President Thabo Mbeki said the Immigration Amendment Bill would be finalised within three months - ending on August 31. The bill will be debated in the National Assembly on August 19. "We have done what is necessary for us...," Chauke said after the bill was approved. However, he expressed concern about the "people who are affected much by the laws that we pass who still have a problem of getting to Parliament" to make submissions. Most of the organisations which managed to make presentations before the committee had the resources to do research, he said. The bill seeks to make changes to certain sections of the 2002 Immigration Act which was hurriedly passed through Parliament in 2003. In terms of the bill, the Immigration Advisory Board will no longer be in a position to review the decision of the minister of home affairs. It will comprise 13 government officials, one person from labour, one from business and up to five persons appointed by the minister on the basis of their expertise on immigration. The 2002 Immigration Act states that 10 government officials will be on the board, up to five persons from civil society - including labour and business - and four others appointed on the basis of their expertise.

Cross-border traders no longer shall fry (Sapa, 12/08)- Stand at any border post in Southern Africa and watch who goes through it: women with heads and arms laden, people on bicycles and cars that have teetering piles of goods, mini-bus taxis with stacked roofs, dragging trailers. Many of these vehicles are carrying informal vendors who make their living through cross-border trade. Previously disregarded, they're increasingly seen as a source of development and poverty alleviation: part of the solution, in other words, to the region's many economic problems. Informal cross-border trade is coming under the spotlight this week at a workshop held in the South African capital, Pretoria, by Action Aid - an international charity. The three-day meeting began Wednesday. Sally Peberdy, a delegate from the Johannesburg-based Southern African Migration Project who has been monitoring cross-border traders in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for years, believes more attention needs to be paid to the sector. "Unfortunately, the activities of people involved in informal cross-border trade appear to have been overlooked," she noted. This was despite the fact that national and regional policy initiatives, particularly the SADC Free Trade Protocol, portray regional trade as an important way of encouraging growth - and reducing poverty. "It is estimated that 40 percent of SADC's 200 million people live in poverty. These figures are alarming...The regional growth in 2002 was 3.2 percent, which fell short of the seven percent required to halve the level of poverty by 2015," said Moono Mupotola of Action Aid's Southern African Partnership Programme. The United Nations has set 2015 as the date by which eight key targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) should be met. The goals include halving the number of people who live on less than a dollar a day, reducing maternal mortality by three quarters and ensuring universal primary education. The MDGs were agreed on by UN member states at a millennium summit held in New York, in 2000. Most of the Southern African region's poor live in rural areas, and are highly dependent on the agricultural sector for their livelihoods. "More than 70 percent of the people in Southern Africa rely on agriculture," said Rangarirai Machenedze of Seatini, a Harare-based organisation that campaigns for fair global trade. Increasingly, however, poverty is also taking hold in towns and cities=2E A number of studies have shown that in some border regions, small-scale trade contributes up to 50 percent of overall trade in the area. "Clearly then there is a need for the policy concerns of this sector to be recognised," said Helena McLeod, a trade expert based in South Africa. Chris Landsberg of the Centre for Policy Studies in Johannesburg said SADC's failure to take small traders into account derived from its focus on developing larger industries in member states that
would make the region more immediately attractive to foreign investors. He also accused SADC of being too bureaucratic, and disregarding the needs of the poor. "I don't think the poor have a voice in SADC," observed Landsberg. "They hardly engage civil society seeking to alleviate poverty." But, John Mwaniki of the Irish Economic Development organisation believes those who feel sidelined by SADC need to take the initiative with reforming the organisation. Quoting former SADC Secretary General Simba Makoni, he said: "Don't wait to be invited by SADC. Contact them." Landsberg says informal cross-border trade is further undermined by immigration laws that hamper the free movement of people: "South Africa, Botswana and Namibia recruit
skilled workers from the region, yet they are the ones who are reluctant to open up and allow free movements of people." The poor also faced difficulties when seeking loans to start cross-border concerns, banks being reluctant to doll out funds to individuals with little - if any - collateral. According to Peberdy, the lack of attention paid by policy-makers to the activities of cross-border traders reflects, in part, a paucity of information about their activities - and who they are. No-one knows the exact number of informal traders that traverse frontiers in the region Landsberg believes they account for a large portion of SADC trade. "I reckon it's between 30 and 40 percent...(but) the bottom line is we don't know."

Bishops want government action on refugees (IOL, 12/08)- The Roman Catholic bishops of Southern Africa have called on the South African government to intervene urgently in the refugee crisis facing South Africa. The bishops said after their conference at Mariannhill near Durban on Wednesday that the Zimbabwean situation of "starvation and malnutrition, wilful political violence and intimidation", and the "immoral" use of food aid by the Zimbabwean government demanded stronger and transparent intervention by African governments through the African Union. "With more than three million people displaced as a result of the crisis in Zimbabwe, a generation of exiles and refugees has been created," they said. The bishops, who represent five million Catholics in the region, said the international community should take strong measures to ensure a "meaningful and honest" election in Zimbabwe in 2005. 'A generation of exiles and refugees has been created' It was essential that there should be sustained, independent, international and regional monitoring of the pre-election process as a prerequisite for validating the election itself. Archbishop Buti Tihagale, the Archbishop of Johannesburg, said the South African government was not helping the churches and the non-governmental organisations to care for refugees. He estimated that 75 percent of the population of Joubert Park, Hillbrow and Berea in Johannesburg were immigrants from neighbouring countries. The archbishop said the churches could offer spiritual support, but did not have the resources for material assistance. The bishops called on the Southern African Development Community governments, the African Union and the United Nations to consider "targeted sanctions" in both Zimbabwe and the Sudan, to prevent further suffering. They said they had personally witnessed atrocities during recent visits to Sudan. Tihagale said all Catholic medical staff should insist on their constitutional rights respecting their freedom of conscience, and refuse to co-operate in abortions in South Africa. He said the bishops were "deeply disturbed" by the proposal that the new Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill sought to extend to nurses the right to destroy "innocent life through even more freely available abortions". "We note with great sadness that 330 000 innocent human lives have been destroyed since the Abortion Act came into operation in 1997," the bishops said. "How can the country possibly regenerate its moral fibre if it continues to widen and facilitate the destruction of unborn life?" they asked.

SA acts on bogus marriages ( New Era, 12/08)- The South African permanent residence permit should be issued to foreigners who have been married to locals for at least five years, parliament's home affairs portfolio committee heard yesterday. Committee chairman Patrick Chauke said the move was to prevent the high levels of fraudulent marriages by foreigners who simply wanted to stay in the country, as well as the high divorce rate. Out of 50 000 newly married couples, more than 75 percent of them got divorced within a period of one year, he told Sapa after the committee meeting. "With the new legislation, we are beginning to try to prevent that." Chauke said the committee would review the Marriages Act for it to be in line with the proposal in the Immigration Amendment Bill. As the act currently stands, a foreigner can get a permanent residence permit immediately after marrying a South African citizen. This has led to the massive abuse of the system, with some foreigners fraudulently getting married to South Africans simply to get the permit. The government has now embarked on a process of checking the marriage status of South Africans to identify and correct false marriages. The 2002 Immigration Act states that "the holder of a permanent residence permit has all the rights, privileges, duties and obligations of a citizen".

Dozens of women discover unknown husbands (Sapa, 12/08)- The number of false identity documents (IDs) and bogus marriage licences are on the increase, a documentation verification company said on Thursday. This announcement was made shortly after the discovery that more than 40 South African women had discovered that they had been married without their knowledge to men using their IDs to gain South African citizenship. Ina van der Merwe, chief executive of the company Kroll MIE, said fake IDs and fraudulent marriage certificates used to obtain false citizenship papers were also becoming a headache for business. Over 20 percent of documents tendered to the company for verification were false, she said. These included IDs, passports, marriage certificates, qualifications, drivers' licences and criminal record checks. The Department of Home Affairs said on Thursday the 40 women were among some 2000 checking their marital status on the department's records, as part of a campaign to curb the problem of women being unknowingly married to foreigners. The department said it was concerned about "the spate of fraudulent marriages or marriages of convenience" around the country, particularly in Mpumalanga. While applauding measures taken by the department to weed out corrupt officials, Van der Merwe said much more needed to be done. She warned that South African passports were increasingly being linked to crime syndicates and terrorists. She believed there was a risk that South Africans would be subjected to more stringent immigration procedures to weed out fake passport holders. Van der Merwe said it had already been discovered that of 800,000 civil and customary marriages registered since 2001, at least 3387 were fraudulently recorded. Two thousand and nine marriages had already been expunged by Home Affairs and around 3000 young women were found to have been illegally married in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga. The department said in a statement that it would continue to assist victims of such unions to expunge their marriages at no cost. "We have already made arrangements with the Department of Justice where we are able to de-register or expunge a marriage without the long process of having to go to court, as long as the people concerned satisfy the requirements set out."

Redrafting of immigration rules welcomed (Business Report, 12/08)- Immigration lawyers yesterday generally welcomed the response of the department of home affairs to recent public hearings on new immigration laws, especially the continued use of chartered accountants to verify work permit applications and allowing artists or professionals paid abroad to work in South Africa on a visitor's permit. They were commenting on the department's official response to the hearings presented to the national assembly's home affairs committee yesterday, which were to be written into the draft law overnight and presented to the committee today for further discussion and finalisation. The committee will vote on the bill tomorrow. The lawyers said they were particularly pleased that chartered accountants could still be used to verify claims by foreigners that they had the skills needed and had been offered a job in South Africa before they were granted work permits. Because of objections raised by some lobbyists, however, this requirement will be waived if a foreigner cannot afford to pay for a chartered accountant, with the department then doing the verification itself. The lawyers also welcomed the fact that foreigners who wanted to come to South Africa for less than three months to do work for which they would be paid abroad would be allowed to do this on a visitor's permit rather than having to get a work permit. It had been feared that many professionals, actors, film crews, photographers and artists could have been discouraged from visiting the country. It had been particularly feared that the film industry, which has been growing and creating jobs while earning foreign exchange, could be badly affected if the original aim of making film crews get work permits was retained.

Audio cassettes warns truckers about HIV (BuaNews, 10/08)- Tape-recorded messages on avoiding HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are being distributed free of charge in an effort to educate truck drivers about the diseases. Thanks to the Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa (PPASA), the 24-minute Zulu play titled "It's Hard To Be On The Road" is aimed at also decreasing the spread of the virus among truck drivers. The play was produced and acted by commercial radio and television drama actors. Scriptwriter and producer Mandla Nkuna said he chose a storyline that drivers and commercial sex workers could relate to in the play. The PPASA is expecting to distribute about 2000 of such tapes. Spokesperson Martha Molete said the cassette project was one of the many ways her organisation was educating especially men about safer sex and ending the abuse of women and children. "Men get infected with HIV and then pass the virus on to their partners. In addition men often abuse women close to them by insisting on unsafe sex. The problems that begin on the road are transported into the home as well. She explained the PPASA was encourages men to respect the rights of women and children, to say no to violence and to protect themselves and the ones they love by practising safer sex and reducing the number of sexual partners. First taker for the truckers' cassettes was the Full Truck Load Division of Crossroads Distribution who trade as Stuarts Transport and Jowells Transport. Human Resources Manager Bryan Selvan said the company always explored new ideas that supported the ongoing fight against the pandemic. "The tapes tie in well with the group's HIV and AIDS awareness and education programme," he said. For its part this company will distribute their 400 cassettes to its branches countrywide. During the month of August, which is Women's Month, PPASA has also urged men to show their support for women and children. This by sending an SMS with the word "support" to this number 35477 to help raise funds to help end the abuse of women and children. PPASA offers a range of community-based and workplace programmes that aim to inform and educate youth, men and women about sexual and reproductive health.

Buthelezi on his own record (Sunday Times, 08/08)- The present Buthelezi-bashing campaign, like previous others, is based on the systematic distortion of facts. The editorial, "A wasted decade" (August 1), questions my leaderships of the Department of Home Affairs over the past decade. South Africa would be better served by a more balanced assessment of my administration of Home Affairs, which is a microcosm of lost and seized opportunities faced in the first crucial 10 years of our new republic. I believe that most of what we did was right and, where not enough was done, it was due to the constant suspicion with which my initiatives were met. I have been frustrated, opposed and undermined each step of the way. We received the Batho-Pele award for outstanding achievement in the transformation process under President Nelson Mandela. We brought about the reform of all the legislation we were called upon to administer. Your editorial falsely claims that we passed a law enabling a commission appointed by Public Administration Minister Zola Skweyiya to withdraw citizenship. This is nonsense. The law I steered through Parliament did exactly the opposite and removed the unconstitutional power of the minister to deprive people of their citizenship. The editorial also suggested that I wasted the government's resources in defending Albert Mokoena, my former director-general. All I did was to ensure that the charges brought against him were handled in accordance with the law and the prescripts of the Public Service and Administration Department. When the history of South Africa is correctly rewritten, perhaps it will be realised that the reasons which led to Mokoena's dismissal had more to do with the effectiveness with which he was serving me, than what he was accused of having done. I conducted processes openly and transparently. I set up a commission to determine what the country wanted in respect of electoral law. However, the report of the Electoral Task Team, chaired by Dr Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, was disregarded with a cavalier attitude. The electoral system proposed to enhance accountability, was not put in place. I also developed a process to ensure that the procurement of the Smart Card components of the HANIS project - the computerised identification system - would take place expeditiously, without corruption and with the best possible available technology. To achieve this, I appointed the Haysom Commission and sought the involvement of the Centre for Innovative Technology. I had committed myself to finalising this process before my departure, but my efforts were halted to enable a reconsideration of the matter by the new Minister. The saga of the Immigration Bill could be the object of a dedicated book of horrors. I conducted a 1 a-year process of reform of migration control, driven by the most extensive public inputs and the greatest Cabinet and parliamentary scrutiny every dedicated to any matter in the history of South Africa. Its outcome was based on opening the front door to beneficial immigration by making all the permit requirements objective and shifting the burden of processing applications away from the department to employers and other entities, so that the department could shift administrative capacity from issuing permits to dealing with those who are illegal in the country. The reality is that the department has been impotent in pursuing programmes capable of dealing effectively with illegal foreigners. The amendment which has been piloted through Parliament within two months of my departure, and without any public discussion, is aimed at undoing everything in this respect. Obtaining permits will become more difficult as it will be based on complex evaluations conducted by the departments of Home Affairs and Labour. I noticed that in the portfolio committees in parliament last week, there was an outcry against the proposed amendments by immigration lawyers. For one year before I left. I requested an assessment of the implementation of the Immigration Act. This was never performed, possibly to avoid highlighting the fact that the problems experienced by our customers were not the consequences of the application of the Act, but rather of the failure of the department to embrace its new philosophy and apply its provisions. More fundamentally, I introduced the concept that Home Affairs is a delivery department which needs to be customer-friendly. Those who opposed me have sought to transform it into a security department. It is not just a matter of defending my record, but rather highlighting a problem in the governance of our country. Our democracy needs more accountability in its electoral laws. We need to prevent HANIS from becoming one of the greatest sources of government waste and possible corruption. We must avoid closing the country to positive immigration, as the recent amendment of the Immigration Act will do. We need to devolve, rather than centralise, powers and functions to increase efficiency. We should not fall prey to the security paranoia which shifts resources and attention away from delivery. . Buthelezi is the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party and former minister of Home Affairs.

SA immigration officers in court for passport scam (AngolaPress, 11/08)- Five immigration officers who allegedly inserted stamps in the passports of illegal Lesotho nationals to legalise or extend their stay in South Africa have been arrested and sent to court. The officers, who are stationed at the Ficksburg Border Post, appeared briefly before the Ficksburg Magistrate Court on charges of corruption and perjury on Thursday. They were granted 1,000 rand bail each, on condition that they do not leave South Africa before the case is concluded. During the arrest, state agents in Ficksburg discovered and confiscated 150 Lesotho passports with illegally obtained Temporary Resident stamps in the lockers of the arrested persons.

Business, labour want immigration Act overhauled (Business Report, 06/08)- Business and labour yesterday emerged divided on key issues in the Immigration Amendment Bill, but united in the view that the "seriously flawed" Immigration Act needed a total overhaul as soon as possible. They told the national assembly's portfolio committee on labour that the act had been passed "with extreme haste" in 2002 by the department of home affairs under former minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, with the department playing an "obstructive role" that ignored all civil society inputs. They welcomed the commitment by new minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to a total review of all immigration rules, but stressed the need for extensive consultation with all sectors of civil society before the review was finalised. They agreed that the new bill had flaws of its own that needed to be dealt with by the committee. They objected to both the planned reduced representation of civil society on the immigration advisory board and the fact that the regulations on how the new amendments would be implemented would not be published for public comment. But private sector representatives were themselves at odds over sections of the proposed amendments dealing with the most immediate problems. For example, the film industry protested against the fact that "foreign actors can come into this country on a holiday visa and work on films, television and in theatre without applying for a work permit. This does not happen anywhere else in the world." It said that foreign actors, and not necessarily big stars, were allowed into the country to play parts, often those of South African characters, at the expense of capable local actors who ended up playing bit parts. "We realise that often 'stars' are required to head films for financial reasons," it said. "It is the 'no-name brands' to whom we object." George van Niekerk of legal firm Sonnenberg Hoffman Galombik objected to this view, saying any restrictions on foreign actors or film crews operating in this country could "kill off a burgeoning film industry" that was creating local jobs. But Van Niekerk and other private sector lobbyists were also at odds with Cosatu, the labour federation, and the National Union of Mineworkers over other aspects of the bill. Chief among these was the plan to do away with the need to have work permit terms and conditions certified by chartered accountants, which the department had called cumbersome, while business groups doubted the ability of the department to do the necessary checks. Cosatu said the use of chartered accountants had been an effective "privatisation of government responsibilities" but it also doubted the ability of the department of home affairs to deal with this, or the assessment of the skills of foreigners, on its own. It queried the fact that the bill left the department of labour, which had experience in assessing skills levels, out of the decision making process. But Cosatu's main concern was about how the current law and the proposed amendments would affect migrant labourers from neighbouring countries. These workers, they said, were often exploited by the mining, construction, agricultural and private security industries, which both departments only seemed to be able to deal with on an ad hoc basis. Cosatu was also concerned about the reduction in the time allowed to appeal against revoked work permits - in effect from 70 days to three days, which would not give workers enough time to appeal against decisions, let alone put their personal affairs in order before being deported.

Jostling for voice on immigration ( Mercury, 06/08)- Civil society continued to jostle with the government over amendments to the Immigration Act yesterday, with labour and academics joining the fray in parliament. Labour federation Cosatu and the Southern African Migration Project (Samp) welcomed the government's attempts to redraft the "seriously flawed" Act, but raised several objections to the cabinet's apparent attempt to scale down civil society participation. On the second day of public hearings on the Immigration Amendment Bill, Cosatu and Samp slammed the government's proposals to reduce the number of civil society representatives on the Immigration Advisory Board. Cosatu objected to the government's move to increase its representation while business and labour would have one representative each. "Immigration has serious implications for human rights. Accordingly, we are calling for the retention of general civil society representatives, who we believe should have relevant knowledge and experience, including in relation to human rights, administrative justice and refugee matters," Cosatu representative, Prakashnee Govender said.

New row as Buthelezi's adviser gets citizenship ( Mercury, 05/08)- The architect of South Africa's immigration law, Mario Ambrosini, is at the centre of a row about his newly acquired South African citizenship. The National Assembly's home affairs committee plans to ask Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to explain how Ambrosini, her predecessor's ministerial adviser, acquired citizenship two months before the April election. ANC MP and committee chairman Patrick Chauke told The Mercury the issue would be raised once the new Immigration Amendment Bill was finalised by his committee. Permanent residents of five years or more qualify for South African citizenship, although the home affairs minister has a discretion to waive the period for good reason. It is understood Ambrosini became a naturalised citizen after being a permanent resident for four years and 10 months. He had hoped to become an IFP MP and would have had to be a South African citizen to qualify. The issue pitted IFP President Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who was the home affairs minister then, against President Thabo Mbeki. Ambrosini, an Italian-American constitutional lawyer, was Buthelezi's ministerial adviser for 10 years and was widely regarded as the ANC's bete noir. With relations already soured over the immigration regulations which saw the president taking his own minister to court, it is understood that Ambrosini's citizenship was the last straw. Cabinet ministers hinted to Buthelezi that he would be welcomed back into Mbeki's next cabinet if he dumped Ambro-sini, but the IFP leader, whose professional relationship with Ambrosini dates back 13 years, remained loyal to his aide. During the IFP's national conference in Ulundi last month, Buthelezi told delegates that on the day of the April 14 election, he had received a "cantankerous, vituperative and abusive letter" about Ambrosini from the president. Ambrosini - who was in Frankfurt en route to the United States for a business trip - said yesterday: "I did acquire citizenship. I felt it might be conducive to my post-election employment to eliminate the controversy that my lack of citizenship created for the past 13 years, since I was first expelled from Codesa on that ground. "I acquired citizenship in accordance with all relevant regulations." Ambrosini said he had not received communication from the Home Affairs Department "that there is anything controversial or irregular about it". Ambrosini left for a business trip to the United States yesterday and said he would return to South Africa next month. He still advises Buthelezi. Ambrosini was also employed as a legal adviser for the then IFP-led KwaZulu-Natal government just ahead of the elections. The one-year, R65 000-a-month contract between Ambrosini and then KwaZulu-Natal premier Lionel Mtshali was terminated after the IFP was routed at the polls. Ambrosini has been dogged by controversy ever since he arrived in South Africa and became the legal brains behind the IFP at Codesa. He had to account in 1996 to parliament's home affairs committee about his expenses, after a newspaper described him as "Buthelezi's Italian spending machine". More recently his links to South African-based Israeli businessman Cyril Kern, whose $1.5 million loan to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was the subject of an investigation by Israeli authorities, was highlighted by the South African media.

Immigration reform bill under fire (Business Day, 05/08)- Organised business tells parliamentary committee that provisions would fail constitutional test Business Unity SA (Busa) criticised the new Immigration Amendment Bill yesterday, saying some provisions were poorly drafted and merely rewritten from apartheid legislation, and would not pass the test of the constitution if enacted. Busa was one of several organisations to address Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee on the bill. Others were the Institute for Democracy in SA (Idasa), the Association of Immigration Practitioners of SA, the National Economic Development and Labour Council and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Most of the bodies want the home affairs department, which they charge is riddled by corrupt and inept officials, to be subject to independent oversight of its decisions and given capacity for fair administrative processes. Busa said the complete overhaul of a section dealing with appeals was an example of legislation that went beyond "poor drafting", and would lead to "perpetual litigation". Most of the groups conceded there were positive aspects to the bill, but criticised the proposed internal appeal system. Certain provisions in this section were taken directly from the Aliens Control Act of the previous government, they said. Idasa submitted that decisions made under the proposed new appeal system could be vulnerable to constitutional challenge. It warned that the exposure of the department to test cases and individual litigation would increase if the amendments were implemented. PricewaterhouseCoopers said the appeal provision represented the "erosion of the democratic principles and fair administrative processes" in the act. Vick Esselaar, who presented Busa's case, said arguments by the home affairs department that legal scrutiny was inconvenient and time-consuming, were "selfdestructive". Esselaar asked whether the removal of the judicial oversight role of a court should happen when the department was "under-resourced, often underqualified, overworked, with poor training processes and a history of ill-discipline and poor morale". Dikeledi Tlhagale, legal adviser to home affairs department director-general Barry Gilder, took exception to the fact that the department's views, expressed in other forums, were being used by business representatives to argue against the draft legislation. Sandy Kalyan of the Democratic Alliance was quick to object to Tlhagale using the public hearing to argue with Esselaar. Portfolio committee chairman Patrick Chauke intervened to defuse the situation. He said the policy of the committee was to allow the public to present "whatever points of view they want". He appealed to participants to "try as much as possible to minimise attacks which could lead to the process becoming flawed, (causing the) work of the committee to be done over again".

Immigration bill a step back claims business (Business Report, 05/08)- Business representatives and lawyers yesterday lambasted the proposed revamping of the Immigration Amendment Bill, saying that any attempt to remove an independent chartered accountant completely from the process of verifying the credentials of foreign business people intending to invest in South Africa would be a "step back" that could negatively affect business. Although these attempts by the department of home affairs to deal with deeply flawed immigration policies were welcome, they did not go far enough to turn around an organisation that had been "going in the wrong direction for a long time", business representatives and lawyers said yesterday. In separate presentations to the national assembly's portfolio committee on home affairs, they said the bill could in some ways also prove to be a step back with many unintended consequences, which would negatively affect business, investment and tourism. Of particular concern was an attempt to centralise decision making by, for example, taking away the need for chartered accountants to certify the skills and worth of people or businesses applying for certain permits, which the department had described as being "too cumbersome". This was described as a "step back" from the outsourcing of some of its functions, which would now revert to an understaffed and overworked department that might not have the necessary skills to evaluate all business or work applications fairly or ensure that adequate proof of the financial means of applicants was provided. Business Unity SA's immigration adviser, Vic Esselaar, and several legal and accountancy firms warned that the new definition of "work" in the bill could force lawyers, models, entertainers, film crews, photographers, actors, information technology and other specialists to apply for work permits to do a few days' work in South Africa. At present they can enter the country on ordinary visitors' permits. The fact that most of these people would not have any "employer" in South Africa meant that, as the bill was now worded, their applications for work permits would be turned down, with considerable financial implications for the country. They also expressed concern that the bill's preamble would limit public input on how the bill would be regulated in a fast-changing globalised world economy. The deletion of the obligation to prevent xenophobia also sent "mixed and unhappy messages" to investors and visitors. Other concerns included the reduction of the role of civil society on the immigration advisory board, the limitation of the renewal of visitors' permits for a further single period of three months and the fact that competence and ability would not be considered alongside qualifications and experience when issuing work permits. Esselaar said the restriction of intercompany work permits to two years with no provision for renewal "does not take into account international companies that may require special expertise for particular positions for a lengthier, but not permanent, period, especially at high executive level". PricewaterhouseCoopers said the new bill was a step back in that, from having a "supermarket" of permits to choose from, employers would be forced to stick to quotas, which involved a training levy of 2 percent despite the fact that employers already contributed to a skills development levy.

SA medical students return from Cuba (BuaNews, 04/08)- Thirty-three historically disadvantaged South African students returned from Cuba today where they underwent a five-year training to become medical doctors. The student doctors were welcomed back in Johannesburg at a special luncheon attended by various government officials within the provincial and national departments of health. The medical training programme forms part of a bilateral agreement signed between the South African and Cuban Governments in 1997. The two governments agreed to assist each other in the fields of medicine and science including the recruitment of Cuban doctors, training of South African students free of charge and an exchange of scientists and technology for research purposes. The agreement caters specifically for students from previously disadvantaged communities for undergraduate and postgraduate studies in medicine. In welcoming back the group, Acting Director-General (DG) in the national Department of Health Nthari Matsau said young doctors were now expected to play a role in the upliftment of poor communities and enhance government's programme to increase access to quality health services. Ms Matsau was speaking on behalf of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, "The time has come for all South Africans, young and old, black and white to recognize that to achieve a better life for all we need to practically and selflessly contribute to the development of our communities. "We need to strike a balance between our personal achievements and our participation in the upliftment of our communities through service delivery," she said. She added that the objective of the skills development programme was to send students to Cuba to provide them with the opportunity, means and an enabling environment to acquire skills in order to improve health service delivery in South Africa. "Human resources are a critical and significant component of any health system. Without skills and committed human resources, our health care system cannot function adequately," she said. Student Kholekile Shasha said the training was an equally challenging and educational experience. "At first we had major challenges regarding language and general communication but we managed to overcome this. I want to thank both governments for giving us all something that we would otherwise have been deprived of," he said. The students, who hail from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West provinces, will now return home to complete a sixth year of internship, following which they will write both the South African and Cuban clinical exams. Fifty-nine South Africans have to date completed the Cuban Medical Education Programme.

Buthelezi should support successor at Home Affairs (Business Day, 04/08)- As a seasoned politician and former KwaZulu-Natal government administrator, former home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi should be the last to complain about the plan of his successor, Nosiwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to review immigration and administrative policies. During his term in office, his battles with African National Congress MPs and cabinet ministers crippled attempts to draft policies compatible with business, the treasury and the trade and industry department. He failed to root out corruption by officials who aided international syndicates in smuggling drugs and trafficking humans. Yet he can be credited for merging the administrative systems and cultures of the former homelands, self- governing states and the race-based administration of the former apart- heid regime. The department is of strategic importance because it is at the centre of SA's security plans. It is the first line of defence in the fight against terrorism and in monitoring the influx of foreigners tourist visitors or those seeking political asylum. It also reflects the nation's hospitality to those visiting for business purposes. Mapisa-Nqakula plans to establish a commission of independent legal experts to review the department's policies and allow the state to respond appropriately to these challenges. She said the commission would identify loopholes in SA's immigration and customs policies that criminals have been able to exploit. Based on team recommendations, the department would then amend sections of law or produce guidelines to make it easier to implement legislation. A current example is that home affairs officials have been unable to expunge illegal marriages. It appears hundreds, maybe thousands, of South African women have been "married" without their knowledge to foreigners seeking residence in the country. Again, this is a result of corruption in the department's offices. Unmarried women across SA have now been advised to check their marital status at a home affairs office (at their own cost) and seek legal redress if they are married without their consent (again at their own cost). Mapisa-Nqakula is launching a campaign in KwaMhlanga in KwaZulu-Natal aimed at encouraging women to check their marital status. In this rural town, one home affairs official was found to have authorised more than 3000 illegal marriages. The department has committed itself to facilitating the process of expunging all questionable marriages. Buthelezi sees this as an attempt to wipe out his legacy at home affairs. He has described these efforts as "absurd", saying the policies up for review would indicate government wanting to change what he did, merely because it came from him. If it is any consolation, Buthelezi's tenure will be remembered for a number of initiatives that have changed SA's lifestyle. Even the way crime is fought in the country has been completely modernised. Police no longer wait for weeks to get records of criminals' fingerprints since he introduced an electronic fingerprinting system. He has made it difficult to forge South African passports and IDs, even though the continued ease with which syndicates gain access to these documents shows that the rot is among department staff, not the policies. Mapisa-Nqakula is therefore correct in saying her predecessor laid a solid foundation. It is understandable he could not have changed everything, considering the chaotic state of record-keeping, corruption and nepotism he inherited. The new minister is also facing an uphill battle, starting with getting her public servants to arrive at work on time, to provide services without expecting bribes, and tightening procedures to curb the spate of fraudulently obtained documentation. Officials have served under different ministers and seen all sorts of administrative changes and policy proposals introduced. Even a work ethic during a specific minister's tenure can change when a new boss arrives. As an opposition leader who has served in government, Buthelezi stands a unique chance to point out the loopholes and inefficiencies that he, for whatever reasons, could not address during his tenure. He can safely challenge government to increase capacity and resources to help boost Mapisa-Nqakula's efforts to reduce bureaucratic red tape that has bedevilled the ministry. This would be in line with his concept of a constructive and "moral" opposition he spoke about in Parliament.

Business objects to immigration law amendment (SABC News, 04/08)- Proposed changes to immigration laws have run into opposition from organised business during hearings at Parliament. The constitutionality of some of the amendments has been questioned by Business Unity South Africa (Busa), the business component of the Nedlac negotiating forum. It has been a long and rocky road for South Africa's immigration law. After a hurried passage through Parliament last year, it has run into court challenges and criticism from various stakeholders, including government departments and the Cabinet. Now new amendments have been proposed to make the Immigration Act implementable, while a longer-term review of the legislation takes place. However, the home affairs committee will have to consider a number of concerns raised by business, labour and civil society. One of the major issues is a proposal to amend a section of the current Act, which allows for court appeals against decisions by immigration officers, to declare people seeking entry to the country as illegal foreigners. Section 8 allows for a lengthy review period in which an official's decision can be challenged, first by appealing to the home affairs department's director general, then to the minister and ultimately to the courts. The department says the current law is cumbersome and makes effective immigration control impossible. A new section proposes that appeals be dealt with administratively within the department and provides very limited time for that process to take place. Organised business says that amendment will not pass constitutional muster and Vic Esselaar of Busa says he expects wide support for their stance. "As we understand the position, labour objects to the appeal and review process being truncated the way it has. Business objects, the law societies will object, the immigration practitioners object, the refugees associations object - I think this is a large diverse body of voices who are saying this is not an appropriate process in the present situation of the department," Esselaar said. Esselaar says part of the problem is that people are expected to accept assurances of prompt, efficient service from a department that, by its own acknowledgement, is experiencing serious problems. "It's common knowledge, it has been conceded by the director general in the turnaround strategy, that the department is under-resourced, often under-qualified, over-worked, it has poor training processes and a history of ill-discipline and poor morale. Only half the vacant positions can be filled," he said. Another problem has been raised by the Association of Immigration Practitioners. The association says foreign film crews can currently come to the country on three-month visitors' permits. If the amendments are accepted by Parliament the crews will have to get work permits before entering the country. Given that members of film crews are drawn from many different countries, the association says, the bureaucratic burden is likely to drive them to other countries hungry for a slice of the lucrative film industry.

Immigration Law talks (Business Day, 04/08)- The home affairs department said yesterday that it would undertake a wide consultation process in the formulation of new immigration laws "to avoid the controversies of the past". Department director-general Barry Gilder told the home affairs portfolio committee that this was an attempt to avoid "another situation where the president and his cabinet fight again over the regulations". This was in reference to the court battle launched by President Thabo Mbeki against former minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi earlier this year to have the controversial immigration regulations declared illegal. Mbeki wants new regulations to be in place by the end of the month. Gilder said business, labour, civic society representatives and other experts would be consulted in the process. The department has agreed with the National Economic, Development and Labour Council that the regulations would be circulated for comment before being promulgated. Gilder said the department's intention, in the light of previous controversies, was that it did not want to rush regulations through "which have not been thoroughly consulted at all levels, including the (portfolio) committee". The Democratic Alliance has called for a complete review of SA's immigration policy as the only approach that will attract skills, tourism and foreign direct investment to the country in the long term.

Home Affairs committee to call minister on Immigration Board (Sapa, 04/08)- Members of Parliament's home affairs committee plan to call Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the minister responsible for the portfolio, to address them on the Immigration Advisory Committee. "At some point, we are going to invite the minister and the DG (director-general of home affairs, Barry Gilder) to come and address us," committee chairman Patrick Chauke said on Wednesday. "I think the board is quite a key board," Chauke said, adding that members currently serving on the board would be invited as well to speak about their experiences. "At some point, we are definitely going to ask them just to take us through the previous experiences ... of this board." The board featured in the submissions of most of the public bodies which came to Parliament on Wednesday to address MPs on the Immigration Amendment Bill. Officials from the law fraternity, an auditing firm and the business community addressed MPs on changes on the Bill. Other bodies are expected to make their submissions on Thursday. Most of the organisations who were represented on Wednesday expressed concern about the manner in which the new legislation proposed to deal with the Immigration Advisory Board. The Bill seeks to change the structure and composition of the 2002 Immigration Act to include more government representatives, and to set the level of representation of departments at deputy director-general (DDG). The Bill further seeks to amend the Act to reduce the powers of the board to purely become advisory, not to have the power to review the decisions of either the department or the director-general of the Department of Home Affairs. Vic Esselaar of Business Unity South Africa said his organisation was concerned about the level of representation of the government on the board. "We are a little concerned at the capacity of high level people (who need) to be there," Esselaar said. "In fact we happy with the board, there is no reason to change it. We are a little flabbergasted as to why... it is necessary to be changed." (Busa) is currently represented on the board.

Key immigration provision to go (Mail & Guardian, 04/08)- A key provision in the current Immigration Act, which has led to much confusion over the recording of travel by South African citizens abroad, is to be dumped. Prior to the coming into force of the Act -- which was passed by Parliament in 2002 -- the movement control system recorded the entry and exit of everyone who left or entered the country, said Director General of Home Affairs Barry Gilder. "The current Act prohibits the such recording for [South African] citizens," Gilder said. The offending provision has caused confusion for the South African Reserve Bank, Statistics South Africa, the security industry and the tourism sector, Gilder told MPs on Monday. Gilder said the Immigration Amendment Bill -- tabled in Parliament recently but which was put to the National Assembly home affairs portfolio committee on Monday -- will remove a section in the offending provision in the Act. In terms of the Immigration Act of 2002 the recording of the movements of entry or departure of South African citizens is prohibited, Gilder said. The Act was passed during the tenure of Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi -- who was axed from the Cabinet by President Thabo Mbeki -- in April, not long after a court battle ensued between them over immigration regulations. Referring to the current Act, Gilder said the movement control system provision "has caused a lot of consternation for the security community who used this information in criminal investigations". Confusion had also been created for the tourism industry and for Statistics South Africa "who used information to prepare statistical data for the South Africa Reserve Bank who [in turn] use this information to calculate the balance of payments", said Gilder. The Bill aims to revert to the position that existed before the 2002 Act, "where we record the entry and exit of all persons who depart of enter the republic", he said. The Bill is expected to be passed during the current session of Parliament, which kicks off with the first plenary on August 17. Gilder said the Bill also deletes references to a work-permit holder's fund -- a training levy -- which was to be paid by certain categories of foreigners living in South Africa for training of South African nationals as a condition of their entry. "The reality is that the legal mandate to levy such fees falls under the Department of Labour and the Skills Development Act. In effect this fee was not applied since the Act was implemented ... it caused a lot of consternation and we have in fact waived it." The Bill also does away with immigration courts as it is believed that magistrates' courts are adequate in dealing with immigration matters.

Home affairs moves to attract foreign investors (Business Report, 03/08)- The department of home affairs had moved to make it easier for bona fide investors to enter South Africa and for businesses to recruit skilled foreigners by proposing to reduce the paperwork involved in getting the necessary permits, Barry Gilder, the director-general, said yesterday. In both cases, it was proposed that a chartered accountant no longer had to certify the entry applications for foreign investors or foreign professionals, he told the portfolio committee on home affairs. According to the Immigration Amendment Bill put before the committee, Gilder could issue a business permit to a foreigner who had invested in, or intended to invest in, South Africa as well as his or her immediate family members, provided the foreigner invested a prescribed amount, which could be reduced or waived, and registered with the tax authorities. The need to get a chartered accountant to certify compliance would fall away. Similarly, in the case of work permits for foreigners that did not fall into a specific category for which there were quotas, but had skills and experience unattainable locally, employers would no longer have to get a chartered accountant to certify that the terms and conditions of employment were "not inferior" to those prevailing for citizens or residents. Gilder and his officials would go through the detailed implications of the proposed changes with the committee today.

Buthelezi's adviser quits SA (The Witness, 03/08)- Dr Mario Ambrosini, the controversial adviser to IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, is leaving the country in order to reconsider his future. Ambrosini, who has been advising Buthelezi since the Codesa negotiations in the early 1990s, confirmed yesterday that he is on his way to the U.S. "to find himself'. "The past two months were very difficult for me. I need to check in in America and see what my position is," he said. He didn't want to reveal how long he will be away but underlined the fact that he is still loyal to Buthelezi. "We have become very close friends through our jobs. I can truly say that I haven't met Or Buthelezi's equal in a political leader," Ambrosini said on Monday afternoon. His contract with the government as special adviser to the minister of Home Affairs expired at the end of May - six weeks after Buthelezi was omitted from the cabinet. After this, there were very strong indications that it would be difficult for the IFP or Buthelezi in his personal capacity to afford Ambrosini's services. All indications are that money was found to keep him in service until this past weekend, but no longer than that. Ambrosini yesterday did not want to expand on his contract. The Italian political scientist was introduced to Buthelezi in the early 1990s and it soon became clear Come, tell. us how that the streams of political thought of the two men converged so strongly that they were virtually you live indistinguishable from one another. The I FP's decision to enter the election race only a week before the 1994 elections was partially attributed to Ambrosini's influence and he played a big part in the controversial new immigration regulations. Buthelezi himself recently told the party's national conference in Ulundi that President Thabo Mbeki made requests concerning Ambrosini before he dropped him from the cabinet. This fuelled rumours that Ambrosini's dismissal was one of three conditions Buthelezi had to meet if he wanted to serve in the cabinet. Buthelezi, however, refused to comply and so gave up his position.

Mozambicans in South African farms to be legalized (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 03/08)- About 2,000 Mozambicans who are working illegally on farms in South Africa's Limpopo province will have their situation legalised by the end of this week, thus completing a process that started late last year, involving the authorities of both countries, reports Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias". This will allow the legal and coordinated recruitment of Mozambican labour for the South African farms, for which the two countries have agreed to facilitate the necessary procedures. Mozambican Labour Minister Mario Sevene believes that the new arrangements will finally allow the Mozambicans to work on the farms without the risk of being arrested and deported as illegal immigrants. He said that the two governments have already established the mechanisms to legalise those Mozambicans and to facilitate the recruitment of workers under conditions that will benefit both parties and will not violate human rights. The problem of Mozambicans working clandestinely on South African farms goes back decades. While the recruitment of Mozambican labour for the South African gold mines has always been highly organised, the same is not true of farm labour A first group of more than 2,000 illegal Mozambicans were legalised in 1990, before the dismantling of apartheid, in a process that took place on the employing farms, where the Mozambicans received passports and signed work contracts. During a working visit to Limpopo province last year, Sevene learnt that another group of about 1,500 Mozambicans, working illegally on local farms, were asking to be legalised. He assured them that this would be done before the end of 2003 but it proved impossible to complete the procedures within that self-imposed deadline. According to South African law, a foreigner who works illegally for a period of five years or more, qualifies for a residence permit, and after five consecutive years of legal residence he is entitled to apply for South African citizenship. It was to prevent granting citizenship to large numbers of foreigners that the South African authorities determined that all foreigners working there legally should return to their countries of origin every year, after the end of a work contract. Statistics show that about 72,000 Mozambicans are working legally in South Africa in mining, farming, and services, but the number of illegals is believed to be much higher.

Skills shortage could affect development projects (Un Integrated Regional Information Networks, 03/08)- The current shortage of skilled labour in South Africa may affect the country's ability to implement long-term development projects, human resource experts warned on Tuesday. Dr Simon McGrath of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) cautioned that unless the labour authorities sought ways to improve skills development programmes and stem the exodus of professionals, implementing large-scale projects could require the "import of foreign workers to meet the demand". After its successful bid for the soccer World Cup, a number of large construction projects are expected to roll out and be completed before 2010. "One of the biggest challenges for the government is to find ways of keeping skilled South Africans at home. Undertaking this, coupled with increasing workplace learnerships, will likely improve the current skills shortages but, clearly, what is needed now is a comprehensive strategy that deals with ongoing unemployment, at the same time increasing efforts to improve skills," McGrath told IRIN. He added the current lack of skilled workers could be attributed to the decline in apprenticeships and the "poor quality" of technical training at colleges. Research has shown a decline in apprenticeships from 29,800 in 1986 to 16,500 in 1998. Last year the HSRC estimated that current skills shortages in most South African professions were in the region of 3 percent to 4 percent. Although the figure was not "significant", McGrath said, a broad range of skills was still needed across all sectors. "There is much talk of a skills crisis in South Africa, but the research indicates that the shortages are not as dramatic as is made out to be. It is fairly easy to generate skills, for example, in the small business environment and call centres, but the difficulty is enhancing skills needed at a higher level," he noted. Official statistics indicate that over the past decade the greatest mobility of highly skilled people, both in to and out of South Africa, has been among those in education, followed by engineers and architects. The National Skills Authority (NSA) has said the shortage of engineers and artisans was being addressed by government and private initiatives. The NSA was established in 1998 and comprises representatives from organised business, labour and the government, for the purpose of formulating and implementing a national strategy to develop workplace skills. NSA chairperson Danisa Baloyi told IRIN: "In some sectors we do have an over-capacity, but there are programmes in place to address the skills shortages in those areas which are lacking. Presently, all of the parastatals and some companies have in place workplace training programmes to address these shortages. The lack of industrial engineers is not particular to South Africa but a worldwide problem, that is why Britain and the United States has poached our local talent." She highlighted that South African construction companies were "more than equipped" to handle preparations for the World Cup in 2010, and that "because of the huge number of building companies, many had decided to merge to deal with the demand". "One of the areas which we need to focus on now is the service industry, in view of the number of visitors we can expect in 2010," Baloyi said. "However, we have partnered with international skills development agencies to ensure that, by the time the World Cup happens, we have the necessary skills in South Africa to do the job ourselves."

Flow of Teachers under spotlight (Business Day, 03/08)- Education Minister Naledi Pandor will this month lead a South African delegation to a Commonwealth meeting in Britain, where a set of protocols to guide the process of recruiting teachers is to be finalised. The meeting would focus on ways of stemming the flow of teachers from poorer to richer nations, said Pandor after her second Council of Education Minister's meeting in Pretoria. The discussions come in the wake of many developing Commonwealth nations raising concerns that they are losing their teachers in droves to countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK. She said yesterday that the delegation would study and discuss a draft set of protocols designed to guide the teacher recruitment process. "It is a very important subject," she said. The protocols were developed by the Commonwealth's working group on teacher recruitment, set up at the end of a Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers in October last year. Cross-border teacher recruitment was discussed as one of the most urgent issues to be addressed in "closing the gap" between rich and poor states. Terms of reference and an initial draft protocol were drawn up at the group's first meeting in Maseru, Lesotho, in February. The protocol has to be finalised by September. A report disseminated after the Maseru meeting states that the protocol aims to balance the rights of teachers to migrate internationally on a permanent or temporary basis in pursuit of "a range" of career opportunities, against the need to protect the integrity of national education systems. It also aims to prevent the exploitation of scarce human resources in poor countries. The UK already has a bilateral agreement with SA through which this country is "compensated" in various ways for the unequal flow of teachers between the countries. There is a similar protocol governing the recruitment of health workers in Commonwealth countries. Yesterday the council also discussed a proposed performance reward system for teachers. While some rewards would be monetary, the system should not exclude further training opportunities, such as sabbaticals. Pandor said it was deemed imperative that rewards be linked to pupils' success. A task team was set up to determine ways of assessing the skills children gained in the classroom.

Changing immigration act only way to attract skills (Sapa, 03/08)- A complete review of South Africa's immigration policy is the only approach that will attract skills, tourism and foreign direct investment into the country in the long term, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday. This follows Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula telling Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee on Monday there was a need for government to review its immigration policy. "She must now reassure the country that she has a solid plan to initiate such a review," DA home affairs spokeswoman Sandy Kalyan said in a statement. "We believe that this measure will assist in reversing the negative trend in foreign direct investment, and will help to fill the skills shortage estimated at 300,000 to 500,000 skilled workers." Kalyan said the DA hoped Mapisa-Nqakula would provide clarity on her plan to review, and possibly rewrite, the Immigration Act of 2002. The Immigration Amendment Bill was tabled in Parliament on Monday. It seeks to amend the Immigration Act of 2002, which was hurriedly passed through Parliament by Mapisa-Nqakula's predecessor, Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Kalyan said: "Until such a review takes place, the amendments to the Immigration Act proposed in the Immigration Amendment Bill will need to provide solutions to encourage skills and foreign direct investment in the short term. "In support of these amendments, we would like to see proposed regulations presented to Parliament as soon as possible... ."

Overhaul for immigration laws (Mercury, 03/08)- The government has made proposals to parliament to significantly trim the role of the Immigration Advisory Board - brainchild of axed home affairs minister and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi. In a draft Immigration Amendment Bill tabled before parliament's home affairs committee yesterday, President Thabo Mbeki's cabinet proposed numerous changes to the Immigration Act passed in 2002 amid clashes between ANC MPs and Buthelezi. The proposed amendments set out to cut the powers given to the Immigration Board by Buthelezi and to restrict its role to one of advising the minister and director-general. The amendments also scrap Buthelezi's special immigration courts, which have not yet been established. Present Home Affairs Minister Nosoviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the committee yesterday that law would be amended only to finalise the immigration regulations - Mbeki has set a deadline at the end of August for the regulations to be published. The amendments were "short-term", however, and only the first step in a major overhaul. "There will be a need in the long term for government to look at a more holistic review of our immigration policy and for a possible rewrite of the Act as proposed by the state law advisers," Mapisa-Nqakula said. There was significant public interest in the amendments, but some changes proposed by stakeholders were held over for inclusion in the long-term process. "In the long term, what is really important is to put in place a process that can effectively facilitate the immigration and emigration of people through our borders, encourage the attraction of foreign skills, boost tourism and stimulate foreign direct investment," the minister said. According to Home Affairs Director-General Barry Gilder, there were "fundamental flaws" in the Immigration Act which would create further problems if the proposed regulations were published without amending the law. Regarding the Immigration Advisory Board, Gilder told The Mercury the law needed to be amended to ensure that the board played an advisory role instead of exercising powers which it was not meant to have in the first place. One example of such powers was the requirement in the Act that the minister and/or DG consult the board before
granting exemptions from the requirements of the law. Although the Act made provision for consultation to take place later where exemptions had to be granted in emergencies, the power to grant exemptions was a practical issue, said Gilder. "To make it a statutory requirement creates a huge bureaucracy and a huge administrative burden and a huge delay for the applicants."

Home Affairs deports Pakistanis for marriage scams (SABC News, 03/08)-
The home affairs department in Mpumalanga has deported more than 10 Pakistan nationals who were involved in a marriage scam involving about 500 women in the former KwaNdebele area. Robert Zitha, the regional director in the department, says the suspects have colluded with an official from the department to sell them information about women. Zitha says the foreigners used the information to obtain South African citizenship. He says that there are women who accept the R500 payment in the hope of later claiming more money from the foreigners, not knowing the kind of danger and trouble involved in the scams. He says that there are women who intentionally get into these marriages and later claim that they had no knowledge of them, but he was also quick to point out that there are those who are married without their knowledge or permission.

UNHCR ready to help Angolan return home (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 02/08)- Angolan refugees living in South Africa can now return home with the assistance of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, an official said on Monday. "There are currently 13,000 Angolan refugees in South Africa. In the next few weeks we will have an estimate of the people who want to go back," UNHCR spokesperson Melita Sunjic told IRIN. Until 2002, when a peace accord between government and UNITA rebels was signed, there were around 441,000 Angolan refugees living in neighbouring countries. Since then 218,000 Angolan refugees have returned home, either on their own or with assistance from UNHCR repatriation operations, the agency said. UNHCR estimates that some 223,000 Angolan refugees currently remain in the major asylum countries - the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zambia, Namibia and the Republic of Congo - as well as about 14,000 in South Africa and Botswana. All Angolan asylum seekers in South Africa who held refugee identification papers and were granted asylum-seeker status either on or before 20 June 2003 are eligible for UNHCR's assistance. After refugees register for repatriation, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will organise air transport to Luanda, from where UNHCR will assist them with onward transport to their home provinces. According to Sunjic, many Angolan refugees in South Africa have professional backgrounds. "They are concerned whether they will find jobs when they go back home. However, Angola currently needs skilled professionals who speak English, so they have a better chance of getting well-paid jobs back home," she said. In a resumption of the repatriation programme following the rainy season, over 300 Angolan refugees who had been living in DRC's southwestern province of Katanga for more than 20 years, returned home to Moxico province in eastern Angola in July. The World Food Programme is providing the returnees with a two-month supply of food, while Medicine Sans Frontiers-Belgium is looking after their medical needs. About 145,000 Angolan refugees are expected to return from neighbouring countries this year, with UNHCR assisting some 90,000. Angolans will receive repatriation assistance from the UNHCR until October 2005.

Government needs to review immigration policy (Sapa, 02/08)- Government needs to review its immigration policy, including possibly rewriting the Immigration Act, says Home Affairs Minister
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. "There will be a need in the long term for government to look at a more holistic review of our immigration policy," she told Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee on Monday. Such a review would possibly result in a rewrite of the Immigration Act "as proposed by State law advisers", Mapisa-Nqakula said, speaking at the start of a briefing by officials from her department on the Immigration Amendment Bill. The draft legislation seeks to amend the Immigration Act of 2002, which was hurriedly passed through Parliament by Mapisa-Nqakula's predecessor, Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Earlier this year, President Thabo Mbeki said the amendment bill should be finalised by the end of August. Mapisa-Nqakula said it was important South Africa developed long-term policies to "effectively facilitate" the movement of people in and out of the country.
Committee chairman Patrick Chauke said the start of any review of the existing Act "will depend on the minister". "The global competitiveness of our immigration policy makes it quite difficult for us to attract foreign skill (and) foreign investment. "To come into the country, you must go through a number of processes," he said. Chauke said the committee would hold public hearings later this week -on Wednesday and Thursday - on the Immigration Amendment Bill. Business Unity South Africa (Busa), the Law Society of Northern Provinces (LSNP) and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) are some of the bodies expected to make submissions. Others are auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Association of Immigration Practitioners (AIP) and the Western Cape Immigration Practitioners Forum.

Review marks end of Buthelezi era (Sunday Times, 01/08)- Government needs to review its immigration policy, including possibly rewriting the Immigration Act, says Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. "There will be a need in the long term for government to look at a more holistic review of our immigration policy," she told Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee on Monday. Such a review would possibly result in a rewrite of the Immigration Act "as proposed by State law advisers", Mapisa-Nqakula said, speaking at the start of a briefing by officials from her department on the Immigration Amendment Bill. The draft legislation seeks to amend the Immigration Act of 2002, which was hurriedly passed through Parliament by Mapisa-Nqakula's predecessor, Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Earlier this year, President Thabo Mbeki said the amendment bill should be finalised by the end of August. Mapisa-Nqakula said it was important South Africa developed long-term policies to "effectively facilitate" the movement of people in and out of the country. Committee chairman Patrick Chauke said the start of any review of the existing Act "will depend on the minister". "The global competitiveness of our immigration policy makes it quite difficult for us to attract foreign skill (and) foreign investment. "To come into the country, you must go through a number of processes," he said. Chauke said the committee would hold public hearings later this week -on Wednesday and Thursday - on the Immigration Amendment Bill. Business Unity South Africa (Busa), the Law Society of Northern Provinces (LSNP) and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) are some of the bodies expected to make submissions. Others are auditing firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the Association of Immigration Practitioners (AIP) and the Western Cape Immigration Practitioners Forum.

Skills shortage means foreigners will get jobs (Sunday Times, 01/08)- South Africa stands to lose out on thousands of jobs because it hasn't trained enough people to build the large projects planned for the next few years. Next year, a single Sasol project will gobble up 50% of the country's entire stock of skilled artisans - including specialist welders, instrument technicians and electricians - as the country rolls out more than a dozen other large projects due for completion before 2010. Recruitment agents said this week that thousands of foreign contract workers would instead have to be brought in for a construction boom that includes Gautrain, Coega, a new De Beers mining project at Cullinan, Eskom's power station "de-mothballing" process, airport and freeway extensions, and the infrastructure for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Professor Roy Marcus, last year's chairman of the National Advisory Council on Innovation, said the skills crisis "could even pose a threat to the viability of some projects, which total over R100-billion in cost". A 2003 report by the council warned that the crisis would hit this month - with at least 14 000 foreigners required to meet the demand - but factors such as the rand's strength and the recent shelving of huge platinum mining projects have given the industry a reprieve. One report by the Human Sciences Research Council, using figures from 2000, showed technical skills to be the country's greatest labour scarcity, with 88 firms reporting difficulty in recruiting technicians, versus 35 who struggled to fill professional posts. Meanwhile, a much broader HSRC report on human resources submitted to the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology blames a chronic decline in apprenticeships - including a slide from 29 800 in 1986 to 16 500 in 1998 - little vocational guidance at schools, and "ineffective" technical colleges. Herman van Heerden, project consultant for Sasol Technology, said 8 200 skilled and semi-skilled artisans would be required for Sasol's "Turbo" clean fuels project next year - and that 600 to 700 highly skilled foreign artisans would need to be imported. "Should a number of planned projects in minerals processing and further clean-fuels projects be implemented in a similar time period later in this decade, we could face a serious skills shortage," said Van Heerden. Already, the shortage has forced the country's major refineries to plan their annual shutdowns for different times of the year so that there are enough artisans to go round. Allan Wilton, managing director of a major artisan recruitment agency, said the "big crunch" would come in 2005 - but he had already had to import 200 Indian and 187 Argentine artisans for the recent Mozal aluminium smelter project in Mozambique. "We're just not training artisans any more, at the time when we need them most," said Wilton. Doug Fieldgate, operations director for another major labour provider, MECS Africa, said: "It is a major concern for our industry and country that the skilled labour pool will be unable to support all these projects." However, Wilbert Boon, a contract researcher for the engineering giant Fluor, said a special programme run by the company would ensure that at least 600 artisans would be trained in petrochemical skills annually. Danisa Baloyi, chairman of the National Skills Authority, said the shortage of both engineers and artisans was being addressed by various government and private initiatives, but added: "It is not just a South African challenge; it's a global challenge."


No more jobs for nurses in the UK (Times of Swaziland, 28/08)- Proposals aimed at stopping private agencies recruiting nurses and doctors, from developing countries has been published by the British Government. This recruitment has cost the Swazi Government about 160 nurses. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) news, there is an existing code in England - but it only covers National Health Service (NHS) recruitment of permanent staff. Proposals - Ministers say the extra proposals would also prevent the NHS or private healthcare providers from recruiting temporary staff from these countries. The Department of Health is hoping to encourage private companies to sign up by offering them access to NHS international recruitment programmes. It hopes this will stop the process where the staff recruited from private companies then end up working in the NHS - so-called "back door' recruitment from countries which cannot afford to lose nurses and doctors to the OK. Extend - It also wants to extend the code to around 200 more agencies that work with the NHS on domestic recruitment - currently only agencies supplying overseas healthcare staff have to comply with the code. The code currently applies to 178 agencies and restricts recruitment from over 150 developing countries, including South Africa, other African nations and Asian countries. Launching the proposals, Health Minister John Hutton said: "The UK already leads the way in terms of ethical recruitment practices. "We were the first country to produce guidance on international recruitment based on ethical principles, the first to develop a robust code of practice for employers and the only country to publish an approved list of agencies. "We are determined not to destabilise the healthcare system of developing countries. The NHS is expanding, but we're not going to do that at the expense of other countries." He added: "We are working with the private sector to ensure it follows the NHS' example. Comment - "These proposals will strengthen the code even further, bring the private sector into line with the NHS and will ensure that, as with Independent Treatment Centres, NHS contracts go to those signed up to the code. "We're also proposing closing the loophole that allows trusts to recruit temporary staff from developing countries and extending the code to cover even more recruitment agencies. "The revised code will ensure the NHS recruits staff ethically and fairly." Meanwhile the President of the Swaziland Nurses Association Masitsela Mhlanga said he was not aware of the proposal but all he knew was that most African States had been insisting on these measures to be taken.

Rural health professional shortage (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 03/08)- A critical shortage of health professionals in Swaziland is undermining the public health system's capacity to expand its national antiretroviral (ARV) programme, health officials have warned. A recent situation analysis carried out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed the extent of the problem in a country with one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. The WHO study noted there was an overall lack of staff in key areas of the health sector resulting in services either being stopped or quality of care being compromised. Huge imbalances in the distribution of available staff had seen rural health facilities losing out to private urban hospitals and clinics, while the migration of health personnel to developed countries had placed additional pressure on the health sector. According to WHO's Swaziland Representative, Dr David Okello, the "single most important" obstacle to reaching the target of 6,000 people on treatment by the end of 2004 was "the human factor". "The health system seems to be in place, the facilities are well spread throughout Swaziland and there is a drug supply system. But there are too few people to run the programme," said Okello. The WHO report noted that there was one doctor per 5,953 people and one professional nurse per 356. There were even fewer pharmacists and laboratory technicians. Okello pointed out that Swaziland had no medical schools or training facilities for laboratory technicians. "This means the public health system depends on nurses and midwives. Sadly, they are becoming a commodity which is selling like hot cakes, because they are being pulled across the border to South Africa and beyond. So the people we depend on are now being taken away," he added. The report called for the recruitment of health professionals from other countries - medical doctors were usually recruited from overseas, but the government employed only Swazi nurses and this "outdated policy" should be revoked. "We are not asking for manna from heaven, just simple readjustments," Okello said. But there were glimmers of hope: the report identified rural health motivators as a potential source of support for communities as the country rolled out antiretrovirals. Swaziland has about 4,000 rural health motivators, selected by the chief in the area to assist local communities by promoting health care and managing health problems. Motivators, usually older women, have to undergo a 10-week training programme where they are taught to recognise common conditions and administer home-based care. "We need to demystify treatment - we can't wait for there to be enough doctors," Okello said. "This is where rural health motivators come in, if we re-orient them and use the skills they have."


Tanzanians faced with deportation (The Monitor, 14/08)- An estimated 80 Tanzanian nationals are facing deportation unless they regularise their immigration status within a month. The Tanzanians were paraded at the Masaka Regional Immigration Office on Tuesday and interrogated for over two hours in the presence of Masaka District CID officer, Mr James Bangirana, and Kingo sub-county chairman, Mr Ben Bukenya. They are currently residing at Nabyewanga and Kawoko villages in Kingo sub-county. A security committee at Kingo resolved that the Tanzanians be presented to the Immigration Department for verification. They allegedly had no identification papers, and indulged in traditional healing. Some were suspected to engage in illegal activities and were feared to be a security threat in the area. One of them, Mr Batesita Rwakatore, told The Monitor they had lived for a long time in Kimaanya, Masaka Municipality till 1978 when they tried to return to Kigoma, Tanzania. "We found that all our land had been taken by other people. So we came back here and decided to settle at Nabyewanga where we are now. We know Uganda to be our country now," he said. The Masaka Regional Immigration Officer refused to talk to The Monitor. "Go and talk to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Internal Affairs, instead. "For us we are only going about our daily work and there is no story here," he said.

Aliens trigger security alarm (Express Online, 12/08)- The unabated influx of illegal immigrants from strife-torn countries into Tanzania is becoming a security nightmare for the authorities, as disenchanted by the ground realities some of these turn to criminal activities. Despite government efforts, an unprecedented number of foreigners, mostly Somalis, have continued to flood major cities, especially Dar es Salaam. A huge number of Somalis, who fled their country for several reasons, including economic hardship and future uncertainty, managed to penetrate and sneak in through the porous borders. Impeccable sources in Dar es Salaam told The Express that some of these aliens are sheltered by Tanzanians of Somali origin dwelling in the vicinity of the city soon after they arrive from Somalia. Noticeably, most of them hail from Hargeysa and Mogadishu in Somalia. The sources further disclosed that the illegal immigrants, mostly youths in their early twenties, come with a little knowledge of English language. Upon arrival, they undergo intensive crash courses to get an insight into Kiswahili in order to ward off any suspicion. According to the sources, the young Somalis are reported to be getting jobs in private companies as watchmen and mechanics. But some of them and those unemployed resort to criminal activities such as drug trafficking and banditry. This reporter spoke to two Somali boys, alleged to have contravened immigration formalities, who are currently in Dar es Salaam sheltered by a Tanzanian family in the Kariakoo area. The boys identified themselves by single names as Abdulkadir and Mahmood and admitted that they travelled from Hargeysa in Somalia. The boys said they had resolved to travel to Tanzania, believing they could secure educational opportunities and thereafter get jobs here. They were unhappy with the socio-political situation in their country. “It is true that we came all the way from Somalia, through Kenya, but we are very optimistic about settling down here… we are more comfortable here,” said Abulkadir. The boys blamed the interim government of Somalia for not doing enough to lift the country’s economy, following decades of wars and civil unrest, and are determined to succeed in Tanzania “by hook or crook”. It seems the police depend on tips from Good Samaritans to curb the massive entry of the Somalis, Eritreans and Ethiopians at the borders. As one of our reporters witnessed at the Himo junction in Kilimanjaro, where six people of Somali citizenship were easily nabbed following a tip from unknown sources. The Express reporter aboard Dar Express plying between Dar es Salaam and Moshi saw a lone young Somali seated at the back before other passengers boarded it at Majengo, Kiborloni and Himo (Junction) in Moshi. Soon after it departed from the stand, two traffic police officers stopped the bus and asked the conductor how many Somali were in the bus. “I have taken only two at the junction,” he responded. The police officer boarded the bus himself and fished out four more to the astonishment of the passengers. No one noticed them that they were together since they sat at a distance. Ever since the arrest of Somalis destined for South Africa acquiring Tanzanian passports in Dar es Salaam, no searches were made by the police, which suggests that they act only on tip-offs. The Somalis have adopted ingenious ways to ward the police. They prefer to buy local Swahili newspapers, mainly those loved by lay people, and the that the police normally use Kiswahili as a major criterion to net non-Tanzanians. As witnessed in another episode in Dar Express, the police pointed to some elderly women gesturing them to climb down after noticing some Ethiopian features in their faces. “We babu wee tukome unatuona wakuja nini (Literally you guy leave us alone, we are not strangers here)?” screamed the women. The police left them apologising profusely. Another detainee was a white-skinned man of Chagga tribe, who was told to stand up and come down for questioning. “Oh baba’ angu tunatafutana siyo (please stay out of this).” The police quickly beckoned him to stay in his seat. The search though is not common at most border posts at Holili, Tanzania-Kenya border at Kilimanjaro and Hororohoro, which connects Tanga and Mombasa in Kenya. Once they arrive in Dar es Salaam, most of the Somali have been undertaking evening Swahili courses and you may see a lot of them with exercise books in Kariakoo, Mtoni and Ilala areas in Dar es Salaam. As revealed by Hussein Bille, a Somali who was born at Kiwira and lived in Tanzania for about five decades, most of them come to Tanzania based on stories they get from their relatives that Tanzania is peaceful country with remarkable hospitality to the aliens. “Most of them believe that you can become rich easily in Tanzania.” Added Mohamed Shiri, some of them find difficult to live in Tanzania as they are not skilled enough to qualify for the white-collar jobs, which they prefer. According to Shiri, living in Tanzania is now difficult for the Somali compared to the past. “I think the strong anti-poaching policies of the Tanzanian government made things difficult for the Somalis. Most of them had to flee the country to evade the long arm of the government as they were in the past alleged to be illegal business dealers,” he reasoned. Police in Dar es Salaam said they are deeply committed to bring to justice all offenders including those who contravened immigration procedures, adding that they are yet to receive any information in relation to Somalis allegedly involved in criminal activities in the country. The Ministry of Home Affairs, however, has endeavoured to combat illegal immigration. Apparently, the situation still proves to be a thorn in the Immigration Department’s side as more illegal immigrants enter the country. In 2003/4 for instance, about 1,339 immigrants were arrested for violation of immigration regularities compared to 555 foreigners arrested in 2002/3. Presenting his ministry’s budget to the Parliament, Minister for Home Affairs Omar Ramadhani Mapuri admitted to the increase in illegal immigration and that some local people use illegal methods to help these entering the country. “Illegal immigration activities have increased and this is due to some local people inviting and protecting these people in their homes,” the minister said. Apart from local people inviting illegal immigrants to their homes, the Minister stressed, business people use illegal immigrants who possess false documents in their business, hence violating the Immigration Act (1995). Tanzania is one of the countries that have received a lot of refugees as a result of civil wars in the neighbouring countries such as Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The political turmoil has resulted in some refugees fleeing their camps to other parts of the country. Although the situation looks grave, the Ministry is working hard to rectify it by increasing patrols and searching border and crowded areas. “The government has issued a special book for registering foreigners in the villages, wards, districts and regions so that people from other countries are here with legal documents,” said Mapuri. The government will also continue with its plan of collaborating and educating the public to impress upon them the importance of reporting to the authorities about illegal foreigners in their neighbourhood. Sources told The Express that cross border commuter bus operators are often behind the problem as those who penetrate from one East African country to another seem to use them for their familiarly with immigration officials at borders. A conductor of Falcon bus plying between Dar es Salaam, Nairobi Kampala and Mwanza, Hamisi Ally, admitted that his company couldn’t afford to leave out a passenger, who does not have travel documents. “Whenever the passengers do not have passports, we normally maneuver with immigration officers at entry border on behalf of the passengers,” he said. He added: “Most of our customers, especially those from Mwanza, do not have passports but because they want to travel, they are forced to pay a quid pro quo to cross the border safely.”  He said often about a quarter of the passengers travel without passports between Nairobi and Mwanza. Other immigrants flooding to the country are from war-torn neighbouring countries, such as Rwanda and Burundi. A Rwandan immigrant said, “We have been in this country for the past ten years with our family as we wanted to escape the war in our own country.” She said, “My parents died in the Rwanda genocide and my uncle brought me to Tanzania for studies. I am now married to a Tanzanian.” She added that she had once been in trouble with the immigration officials for she did not have birth certificate or affidavit, although her husband who is a Tanzanian easily liased with immigration officials and secured a passport for her. “I don’t think it is hard to get a Tanzanian passport. It took me only two days and 50,000 shillings to get one,” she boasted..

Tanzania, Malawi move to settle border dispute (The East African, 02/08)- Tanzania and Malawi are to meet this week in the Malawi capital, Lilongwe, to discuss the implementation of a joint project aimed at taming the perennially shifting Songwe river border. Tanzania's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Human Settlements, Salome Sijaona, told The East African in Dar es Salaam last week that a Tanzanian delegation travelled to Lilongwe "to discuss the way forward." She said: "There has been a slight delay in the implementation of the programme to create 10 dams along Songwe river that will help to stop the border between Tanzania and Malawi from shifting or alternating its course." Ms Sijaona attributed the delay to the recent Malawi general election, and the swearing in of a new government. In the election, former president Bakili Muluzi, whose second and last term ended, was replaced by Bingu wa Mutharika as that country's third president. The border dispute has been a thorny issue since the 1970s, when some Tanzanians and Malawians living on the river banks found themselves alternatingly belonging to the "wrong" country because of changed river course after flooding. Internationally, when a river forms the boundary between two countries, the boundary is demarcated along the deepest end of the river. Floods have always forced new water flows in the lowlands of Kyela district on the Tanzania side. The problem was heightened in the 1970s when the late President Kamuzu Banda made territorial claims on Rungwe district - north of Lake Nyasa, or Lake Malawi as it is known in Malawi. Skirmishes erupted on Lake Nyasa nearby and one Malawi gunboat was sunk by Tanzania border guards. However, Ms Sijaona in February said the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding, as the first step towards finding a lasting solution. "The elections in Malawi meant things had to stop for a while. "What we expect after the [Lilongwe] meeting is for the two countries to decide how much funds will be needed to carry out the construction of the 10 dams. The meeting will also set about to find ways of sourcing the required funds, locally or overseas. After the consultations, each country will set about to find the funds to implement the project.' However, she said, the actual cost of construction of the dams would depend on the design details. "The designs would help us know how much we need and how to go about implementing the project," she said. Already each country has allocated a vehicle towards finding a lasting solution to the shifting river border problem. Cases of Tanzanian villagers finding themselves in Malawi, and vice versa, happens mostly after the frequent heavy downpours in the mountainous Rungwe district to the north. Officials in Kyela District told The East African that under the boundary project, the river dams would be used for irrigation and fishing, apart from controlling floods. The dams would stretch along the river that traverses two districts of Ileje and Kyela - both on the border to Malawi, and Karonga district in Malawi. In the process, it will assure increased food production through irrigation. The two Tanzania districts grow mostly rice, beans, maize, bananas, coffee and tea

Zambian illegal entry into Namibia reduces (The Post, 27/08)- Sesheke district commissioner Mubita Mwangala has said the number of Zambians arrested for illegally crossing into Namibia has drastically reduced. Mwangala said yesterday that the new measures had also reduced incidences of Zambians dying while illegally crossing into Namibia using canoes. Mwangala said most Zambians were now using the gazetted border post to get into Namibia. "We have been encouraging our people to get border passes," he said. Mwangala revealed that in May, 64 Zambians were arrested as prohibited immigrants and handed back to authorities in Sesheke. He said in the past, the number of Zambians dying while illegally crossing into that country using canoes was a source of worry. He said the deaths occurred either by drowning after the canoes were hit by hippos or shot at by security forces of that country. Mwangala said the illegal crossings were so high that at one moment it threatened peace in Namibia. He said witchfinders who were going into Namibia to conduct divine ceremonies were also causing problems. "These ng'angas go there for witchfinding activities and end up causing confusion," he said. Mwangala said the trafficking of human beings from Shang'ombo into Namibia via Sesheke had also been tackled.

Nurses exodus haunts Africa's health system (The Times of Zambia, 25/08)-
A frail, ashen-faced figure lies hopeless on a thin hospital bed, draped in sheets that were once white but are now brown. You need no second glance to know that its a matter of time before that final exhalation of breath which marks a full stop to the lease of life. Even the sombre-looking relatives that have swarmed the bedside seem to have lost any hope of recovery. Their eyes tell it all, teary and distant as they stare at the opposite wall as though trying to avoid seeing their beloved take the last breath. Yet in a moment, the inevitable happens and the whole ward erupts in deafening wails of sorrow. Their loved one is gone. Could there have been hope had there been a nurse nearby to either extend this life or save it altogether? Maybe. But the one clear fact is that the shortage of manpower to effectively attend to the huge number of patients could not have allowed this. The shortage of nurses in question is as a direct result of the whopping number of them leaving countries like Zambia in search of greener pastures. Being a crucial bone in the medical skeleton, the departure of these professionals has had adverse effects resulting in gloomy scenarios like the one above. Despite repeated pleas from Government for our dear nurses to follow the way of Florence Nightingale and "die a little" for the sick, the wind of economic empowerment has swept them away by the thousands in recent years. By December last year, a whopping 2000 Zambian nurses were reportedly working in the United Kingdom according to Health Minister Brian Chituwo. And only a few days ago, Vice-President Nevers Mumba disclosed that Zambia is losing 25 nurses per month to the brain drain. Dr Mumba attributed this to some existing company apparently acting as agents on behalf of nurses prefer working abroad. A serious thought to ponder. But just when you thought that this prevailing brain-drain was exclusive to Zambia, here comes the broader picture, one which captures the entire African continent. The World Bank recently voiced out its concern over the mass exodus of nurses warning that the continent's health system was on the verge of collapse. Regional Vice-President Callisto Madavo said the migration of professional medical personnel to developed countries posed a great danger to Africa's health care system. Dr Madavo singled out the negative impact that the brain-drain would have on the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic which has left an approximated 40 million African children orphaned. He challenged African Governments to halt this mass exodus or face the consequences. In the same vein, the Norwegian Nurses Association International (NNAI) has in recent past described as unethical, the existing trend of rich nations robbing poor nations of health personnel. NNAI Secretary Per Godtland Kristensen suggested instead that rich nations must contribute to the training of nurses from poor countries so that they could serve in their respective countries. "If a country is to recruit nurses from a poor country, it should be reasonable to contribute to the improvement of training needs, " Mr Kristensen said. But as there exists no legal framework to penalise countries which recruit nurses en-masse, more and more nurses from countries like Zambia continue to pour out. While they have been criticised on one hand as being "unpatriotic", they have received sympathy from some members of the public. Kitwe resident Kasoka Kasoka, for one, emphatically defends the exodus of nurses purely for economic reasons. "How can a nurse hope to take care of his or her family with a meager K400,000 take-home pay?" he contends. But what about those nurses who jump on the brain-drain train and then alight to do other odd jobs? Kasoka agrees that a number of nurses working abroad have ended up as "maids" taking care of aged people in home care centers abroad but at the same time says that is the same status they have been accorded here. "These nurses are getting paltry salaries, lower than some maids employed by caring bosses in our country." The question that rings therefore is: Has Africa heeded to these stern warnings concerning the consequences of mass nurse exodus? Here in Zambia, Government says it has already instituted a retention scheme that will persuade medical personnel to stay in Zambia. According to Health Minister Chituwo, this would be done with the help of the Royal Netherlands embassy. Among the incentives that would boost the morale of medical personnel would be to provide them with vehicles, education allowances as well as rural hardship allowances. A step worth commending. Much more - and it must be emphasised - there is a nagging need to look at other factors affecting nurses such the improvement of medical facilities, expand their limited career prospects, accommodation and of course, mitigate the impact of the HIV/AIDS from which they are not insulated. Other than that, they will definitely be among the masses of frustrated professionals leaving their countries for foreign bread and butter.

Govt, DRC hold talks over cross border trade (The Post, 24/08)-
Government is holding discussions with the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to legalise trade on some border places in Luapula Province. In an interview, Luapula Province permanent secretary Joel Ngo said people between the two countries had continued to trade illegally and that the government felt it necessary to legalise the trade in order to identify unscrupulous traders. Ngo said the DRC was a good potential market for many Zambian products and that government had made contact with authorities in that country. He, however, said this potential could only be fully realised if there was peace in the DRC. "We hope that the Congo (DRC) can stabilise instead of being looked at as just causing confusion," he said. "Congo is a potential big market for Zambia, and Luapula can benefit if the country is at peace." Ngo said a lot of illegal trade was going on between the two countries and the government wanted people to trade freely. "We are looking at the possibility of legalising trade on certain border areas, of course not on all places," he sad. "This will create an atmosphere where people can be free to trade, that way we can identify the real traders and those who are crooks." And Ngo said the government was concerned about the high unemployment levels in the Province. He cited the defunct Mansa Batteries as one of the potential large employers for Mansa district and said the only solution was to find an investor to revive operations at the company. Ngo said the private firm that had bought the company had failed to run it making it difficult for the government to intervene in the plight of workers who had not received their benefits. "Government realises the problem with former Mansa Batteries employees and have to find a way to solve it," he said. "The best would be to find an investor who can revive operations at the company."

Angolan refugees return home from Zambia (Sapa, 18/08)-
Some 8,000 Angolan refugees have returned home from Zambia over the past six months, including 6,600 who went back last month, a report by UN humanitarian officials said Wednesday. Zambia is home to 200,000 Angolan refugees, the largest number of displaced from the southern African country which was wracked by 27 years of war until a peace accord was reached in 2002. The UN coordinator for humanitarian aid said the refugees who returned by their own means or with UN assistance entered through Cazombo in the eastern province of Moxico, which borders Zambia. The UN agency for refugees began airlifting refugees from western Zambia at the weekend as part of efforts to speed up the return of some 40,000 Angolans by the end of this year. The Angolan government estimates that about 220,000 refugees have returned to Angola in the past year either with UN assistance or on their own.

Suspected human traffickers arrested (The Times of Zambia, 17/08)-
Twelve Asians, suspected to be involved in human trafficking have been arrested and detained in Lusaka. Immigration assistant public relations officer Mulako Mbangweta yesterday disclosed that the Asians were arrested at a guest house in Helen Kaunda township in an operation conducted by a combined team of security wings at the weekend. They are currently detained at Chimbokaila Central prison in Lusaka. The department suspects the 12 are engaged in human trafficking in collaboration with an international syndicate. Ms Mbangweta said the suspects were allegedly enticing Zambians by promising them lucrative employment and businesses in various parts of the world. She said the group had entered the country two weeks ago as tourists and stayed at the guest house where suspicious residents reported them to authorities because they had never seen tourists lodge in the area. Ms Mbangweta said the suspects were recruited by a fellow Asian, who had earlier entered Zambia as an investor and had stayed on for three months. She said the group was also believed to be part of a big syndicate involved in other criminal activities in which some Zambians were also involved. The immigration department had recently extended the temporary permit of the suspected mastermind after his initial permit had expired recently, but it had been revoked with the man facing deportation. Ms Mbangweta also said each of the suspects had already paid a K1 million admission-of-guilt fine pending deportation. She said the group had also used fake passports and the department was making arrangements for one-way travel documents to send them back. She said the ring had set up several command posts where agents were being paid handsomely for facilitating the exit from Zambia of people to go and offer cheap labour and engage in other dubious acts in other parts of the world. Ms Mbangweta also said more information had revealed that some more suspected human traffickers were still coming into the country, while others left the country recently. Ms Mbangweta said the department, in collaboration with other security wings, had launched vigorous investigations to cast the net wide due to the complexity of the matter. And 13 Rwandese pretending to be refugees were recently cornered in Katima Mulilo for illegal entry in Zambia. Ms Mbangweta said the Rwandese were arrested at the border with Namibia and K1 million each for admission of guilt. Ms Mbangweta said the suspects had been sent back. The department has also increased border patrols.

Zambia accuses Malawians of encroaching (Sapa, 14/08)-
Zambia's Vice President Nevers Mumba on Saturday ordered police to step up security as Malawians farmers are believed to have crossed the border and begun to cultivate Zambian soil, state radio said. Mumba ordered his interior minister to send paramilitary police officers to make sure that Malawians are stopped from crossing into the Zambian side where they have engaged in farming activities, state-run Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) said. The vice president was quoted as saying Malawians have also been cutting down trees in the border areas, the state radio report said. The two east African states have a long history of disputes over their border as it is not well demarcated. But Mumba said the border disputes between the two countries had been solved when government officials met during a session of the joint permanent commission of Zambia and Malawi, ZNBC news report said. Mumba was speaking during a meeting with residents of Chama, a tiny eastern town situated on about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the border with Malawi, ZNBC said.

Prolonged refugee situations hinder Development (The Post, 13/08)-
Home affairs permanent secretary Peter Mumba has said prolonged refugee situations hinder development and are a recipe for conflict and insecurity. Opening the United Nations High Commission for Refugees UNHCR workshop on guidelines for Development Assistance for Refugees (DAR) and Development through Local Integration (DLI) at Hotel Intercontinental yesterday, Mumba said protracted refugee situations hinder development both in countries of asylum and origin. He said such situations pose a challenge for developing countries hosting refugees as resources were limited. "Protracted refugees' situations are also a strain on limited humanitarian assistance," he said. Protracted refugees are those that have lived for more than five years in refugee status. And UNHCR regional representative Ahmed Gubartalla said the government's favourable policies had moved efforts in finding solutions to problems facing refugees. He commended the Zambian government for its contribution to creating an enabling environment for interventions such as the Zambia Initiative that assists refugees and their host communities. "We are fortunate that the Zambian government has played a strong leadership role and created the conditions for the initiative to take root and get this far," he said. Gubartalla said the enabling environment demonstrated the policy of government to create opportunity for refugees to lead meaningful and dignified lives while contributing to economic development of the country. "The empowerment and capacity building of refugees and host communities is central and fundamental to the success of this durable solution," he said.
He revealed that the UNHCR had also identified areas of collaboration with the World Food programme, and the Food and Agricultural Organisation in the initiative. "The search for durable solutions for millions of refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR is a daunting global challenge which has both humanitarian and development dimensions," he said. "Tireless efforts have been made to make refugees self-reliant whenever possible." Gubartalla said refugees in protracted situations, had in most cases remained dependant on humanitarian assistance alone, which was retrogressive to economic development. "One essential key to solving such problems is political will, yet we all understand that the prerequisite for such situations is development," he said. And UNHCR senior rural development officer Sajjad Malik said Zambia was one of the few countries that allow refugees to have access to land and education opportunities. He also thanked the government for its commitment to assisting refugees.

Zambia commended for its refugee policies (ReliefWeb, 12/08)-
The policies and practices of the Zambian government have provided an enabling environment for the refugees to lead a meaningful and dignified life, while contributing to the economic development of the country, a United Nations official said Thursday. Speaking at the opening session of the Workshop on Guidelines for Development Assistance for Refugees and Development Through Local Integration, Ahmed Gubartalla, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regional representative said the search for durable solutions for millions of refugees is a daunting global challenge. He said durable solutions for refugees cannot be attained by the UNHCR alone. This requires donors, governments of countries of origin and asylum, non-governmental organizations and UN system- wide consideration and systematic inclusion of this group into relevant planning and programming instruments. "In Zambia, however, with the leadership of the government and its exemplary policies and practices towards refugees we are moving towards durable solutions," he said. Gubartalla said he found the refugees were well received by the local communities, while visiting the refugee camp in Western province of Zambia last week. Gubartalla said the Zambian government has empowered the refugees and the lost communities to define their own needs and priorities, to implement activities, to monitor these activities, and to manage the resources at their disposal. Zambia is hosting about 200,000 refugees, most of them from Angola, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Copyright © Xinhua News Agency. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Exodus of trained Zambians (The Post, 12/08)-
Dr. Kaunda yesterday said he felt sad that Zambians trained at the country's great cost were serving foreign countries. Speaking after Zambia India Friendship Association (ZIFA) handed over the school building to Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation (KKCAF) along Lusaka's Mumbwa road, Dr. Kaunda said the exodus of trained Zambians had left the country's schools, hospitals and other strategic institutions helpless. "It is sad that we lose out on our own citizens' expertise...We don't know how we will get out of it," Dr. Kaunda said. Dr. Kaunda said lack of trained manpower had been worsened by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He said it was sad that teachings of human centre society had failed to take roots in the country. "I am a lover of Mahatma Gandhi. All what he did was my prayer," Dr. Kaunda said. On government's failure to recruit trained teachers, Dr. Kaunda promised to seek education minister Andrew Mulenga's explanation over the matter. Earlier Dr. Kaunda commended ZIFA and Ndola Hindu Samaj for contributing towards the construction of the school block. "This is an example of love for fellow man. I am proud of you," Dr. Kaunda told ZIFA and Hindu Samaj officials who attended the handover ceremony. "Don't give up because this is just the beginning of saving humanity." ZIFA chairman Rajiv Dewan said the project of constructing the school block received K77 million from Ndola Hindu Samaj while the Oza family of Livingstone contributed K20 million. Ndola Hindu Samaj past chairman, Kaushik Desai, disclosed that some of the sports loving members of their community residing in the Unites States of America were annually organising a golf tournament to raise funds for charitable cause. He disclosed that members of his community organised a gold tournament last year in Austin, Texas, where they raised US $ 30,000 and channelled it to Ndola Hindu Samaj for charitable institutions engaged in HIV/AIDS mitigation. Desai named KKCAF, Natwange Centre and Sekela Centre run by Ndola Catholic Diocese and Sisters of Sacred Hearts respectively as some of the beneficiaries of the funds. KKCAF acting board chairperson Lucy Muyoyeta commended Sunday Chongo, an architect, who provided his free architectural services for the project. "We are grateful for your contribution," Muyoyeta said. Chongo explained that he offered his free services because he admired Dr. Kaunda's efforts towards serving humanity.


Cross border traders introduce duty payment system (The Herald, 23/08)-
The Cross Border Traders Association (CBT A) has introduced an innovative duty payment system which will use automated pre-paid duty cards in a move meant to counter the externalisation of Zimbabwe dollars. The chip on the duty cards reflects the amount the account holder has in the association's account when swiped on a machine by the clearing agent at the border post.  Unlike the Automated Teller Machines (A TMs) cards which use a personal identification number one of its most effective security features is its capability to detect holders' fingerprints and therefore cannot be used by any other person. It is the first of its kind in the country and in the region and has been in use! in countries like Russia and the United States of America. A member credits his card with money, at least what they expect to pay in duty at the border post to avoid delays which have characterised A TM cards since the duty card swipe machine works offline. Zimbabweans are allowed to take only $100 000 in notes across a border and traders have been facing problems in accessing large amounts to pay duty. ­ President of the association Mr Killer Zivhu said the stipulation has been hindering their activities to fully expose their potential because they lost their imported goods due to lack of enough duty. Cross border traders have a potential to contribute immensely to the country's foreign currency reserves if their funds are remitted through the proper channels.  "With the introduction of the "smartcard", one can leave the country with a $30 million prepaid card. The charging of duty well above $100 000 was forcing the traders to change the on the parallel market.  "There are fewer banks in Beitbridge and if the machines are down, a trader in a desperate situation would look for forex dealers who charge them higher rates," Mr Zivhu said.  This would also help reduce congestion at the border since the swipe machine can serve at least 100 people in 30 minutes.  At the moment, the project has only been implemented at the Beitbridge border post where a clearing agent would write a cheque to Zimra on behalf of the trader after checking what the trader has in their account.  The association has gone a step further by offering incentives to its members like what the RBZ is offering to non-resident Zimbabweans.  'Cross border traders contribute more than those in the working abroad and we will thus credit to their duty cards $300 000 if they change more than RI 000 through Homelink or through any formal means.  By the end of the year the organisation says it will be able to give figures of how much would have been channeled to the economy through the system.

Economic recovery hindered by brain drain (The Zimbabwe Independent, 23/08)- Amongst the achievements in the Zimbabwean post-Independence era was the outstanding growth in levels of literacy, which in a period of less than 10 years rose from approximately 38% to approximately 88%. This was attained by the determination of government to enable all to receive a good and sound education. The upward surge in literacy, with concomitant growth in overall educational standards reached by most Zimbabwean youth, opened the doors to tens of thousands per annum into tertiary educational institutions. Very commendably, government worked vigorously to maximise access to such institutions, expanding very considerably the polytechs and technical colleges and the then only local university, the University of Zimbabwe. It also actively enabled the establishment of other universities and tertiary educational institutions. Zimbabwe developed a wealth of highly educated and skilled persons as required by all sectors of the economy — industry, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism, finance and services — and required to sustain and develop all of Zimbabwean society, including doctors, nurses, others with medical and related skills, teachers, public servants and many others. Education and skills are amongst the greatest assets any country can possess, and a conduit to economic advancement and well-being. After the first 15 years of Independence, Zimbabwe appeared to be well-placed for major economic growth, the combination of its agricultural resources, mineral wealth, unique and abundant tourist attractions, technological infrastructure and much else being the catalysts which, fuelled by the educational and skills resources, would bring about that economic growth. Unfortunately, the economy, which began to blossom between 1994 and 1997, began to wither in late 1997, when government allowed political ideologies and objectives, hunger for retention of power, and contempt for fundamental principles of democracy, justice, law and order, to override the needs of the populace for a stable and growing economy. It stubbornly rejected any and all well-founded and well-intentioned advice from the international community and from the captains of the economic sectors, wheresoever such advice was in conflict with its dogmas. Steadily over the years 1998 to 2004 the economy shrivelled, bringing closure to many business, contractions of operations by most other enterprises, decimation of the tourism industry, almost total agricultural collapse and, as a result, a markedly lesser need for educated and skilled, let alone the unskilled. Some decided to embark on self-imposed exile, because of their pronounced abhorrence for government’s policies and its authoritarian control of Zimbabwe. They found it intolerable and untenable to reside in a state which had no respect for the fundamentals of human rights (as recently evidenced by a report by the African Union which government strenuously tried to suppress at the recent AU meeting in Addis Ababa. With over 80% of Zimbabwe’s employable population unemployed, nearly half the population barely surviving below the Poverty Datum Line, hundreds of thousands of Aids orphans, and many others debilitated and unable to sustain themselves, those who were fit and able departed Zimbabwe in order to gain employment elsewhere, yielding valuable foreign exchange which could provide financial support for dependants. In addition, others, such as white commercial farmers, also departed for pastures further afield, for they were viciously deprived of their livelihoods, vilified and mentally and physically abused. Increasingly, the Zimbabwean economy declined, primarily as a direct consequence of government ‘s actions of economic destruction, alienation of international goodwill and support, fiscal mismanagement, and intentionally myopic oblivion to corruption. But the decline was exacerbated by the mass exodus by the majority of Zimbabwe’s skilled. Productivity diminished, technological awareness and ability decreased, investment became the exception instead of the rule, and economic viability was markedly destroyed. However, this tragic circumstance has continued to worsen. Admittedly, the rate of economic decline was curtailed by the dynamic and resolute stance of the governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono. He determinedly applied constructive monetary policies (although some have been muted to accommodate political circumstance) with a result that the possibility of the contraction of the economy being halted was considered by some to exist. That was more recently reinforced by a belated implementation of long required fiscal policies and disciplines. As pleasing as these changes are, as possible indicators of positive further changes in the future, they did not suffice to stem the flow of the skilled from Zimbabwe. The brain drain has continued apace, for economic needs still motivate the exodus of many. That brain drain is a further and intensifying economic constraint, greatly hindering the valiant attempts of the few (and, in particular, of Gono and of the acting Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Herbert Murerwa) to bring about an economic metamorphosis. Zimbabwe has developed a critical lack of accountants, engineers, architects, trained industrialists, and many other vitally needed skills.And that lack is becoming greater. Remarks by the president that continued possession of some farms by whites is an anomaly and irregularity to be corrected, spurs fears of intensifying racism. So too do many of the diatribes by many of his ministers and especially by the Minister of Fiction, Fable and Myth, being targeted against minority racial groups. Recurrent modifications of the Citizenship Act underscore the contempt for those minorities, and for justice and equity. Recently, more and more of the remaining skilled in Zimbabwe have been motivated to leave Zimbabwe. They do so out of fear of total collapse of the health services due to the very pronounced numbers of doctors, nurses, radiologists and radiographers, physiotherapists, anaesthetists, surgeons and others of the medical professions as they have taken up employment in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. That fear is experienced by whites, Asians and blacks alike, resulting in mass departures by people of all races. In the last few months, the fears of the collapse of health services have been compounded by fears of sharply declining educational resources. Tertiary institutions have been struggling for some time to obtain a sufficiency of professors, lecturers and other academics with requisite knowledge and skills. And now the Minister of Education, Sport and Culture is determinedly destroying primary and secondary schools. He has a shrinking pool of capable teachers to staff fully the government schools and his stance against independent schools is clearly driven by a wish to destroy their independence and subject them to his total control. Not only has he prevented them from raising essential revenues, necessary if standards are to be maintained, but he has insinuated racial discrimination, devoid of foundation, and has unhesitatingly assured the schools’ representatives of his increasing interference and control, until the schools are wholly subjugated to him. As a result parents of thousands of pupils are, irrespective of their race, leaving Zimbabwe or intend to do so, so as to assure their children’s education. The Zimbabwean economy is the victim, and the minister can justifiably be identified as yet another major contributor to economic collapse, and increased poverty and misery. Unless the brain drain is reversed, the Zimbabwean economy cannot recover.

Deal with illegal immigrants (The Herald, 20/08)- The loopholes in our laws allowing foreigners to attain residence permits through marriages of convenience should be done away with if Zimbabwean women's rights are to be properly protected. Yesterday we carried a story that some Nigerian nationals are now paying millions of dollars to Zimbabwean women as an inducement into marriages of convenience with them. These foreigners are taking full advantage of some loopholes in our laws to exploit and abuse Zimbabwean women to their advantage, primarily to attain legal permanent residence status instead of qualifying for it through the normal channels. During the whirlwind relationship, the spouses in many cases hardly see each other; the families are deserted and ditched as the man would have acquired what he solely and ultimately wanted - a permanent residence permit. The nation has to guard its womenfolk jealously as in most cases they would be left with children to look after when the so-called husbands are declared illegal immigrants and deported. To prove that these are just marriages of convenience, women should ask themselves: Why are they left behind when their so-called husbands are deported? Women should know that several foreigners who were deported and kept slipping back into the country were found to have committed a series of crimes back in their countries of origin. We share the authorities' concern about illegal immigrants who lure Zimbabwean women into these marriages as they also fuel cases of human trafficking. The Ministry of Home Affairs, through the Department of Immigration, should clamp down on these dubious immigrants who want to remain in the country through deceitful means. That the Immigration Department is now arresting local women who are part of the ploy and fining them up to $20 million is a measure long overdue. The clampdown should also be extended to those other Zimbabweans who are used as fronts in establishing businesses. Members of the public should assist Immigration by coming forward with information about any illegal immigrants that they know. There are also some Zimbabweans who hide illegal and prohibited foreigners because they derive monetary benefits from doing so. Most of these foreigners are involved in drug and human trafficking as well. It's an open secret that Zimbabwe - despite the West's destabilisation machinations - remains a politically stable, peaceful and well-run country within the Southern Africa context, and it is for this reason that so many foreign nationals, some from even as far as Asia, want to settle here, whether legally or not. While the interest confirms the attractiveness of Zimbabwe to outsiders, there is need to proceed with caution, by balancing the desire of those seeking to settle here as genuine investors and immigrants or just mere criminals. The impact of allowing new immigrants and investors from dubious quarters should be viewed critically to avoid a potentially ugly scenario that would reverse even the attraction this country has to outsiders. The authorities should also put in place severe restrictions and mechanisms on foreigners who want to come to work or reside in Zimbabwe so that this is not done at the expense of Zimbabweans. The argument being made here is not that those wishing to live here be barred altogether; rather, it is that they should apply and follow the country's established channels and regulations. In other words, the immigrant has to be able to show they can benefit Zimbabwe by living here.

Rape, Abuse of Zimbabweans in SA inexcusable (The Daily News, 19/08)- Zimbabweans fleeing the economic squalor into which their country has been plunged by an insensitive and corrupt government have been raped and abused by South African soldiers and policemen. Statistics on the prevalence of HIV-Aids among the uniformed forces in South Africa are alarming - 23 percent in the defence forces. Zimbabwean women are thus particularly at risk. Regardless of the root cause of their illegal entry into South Africa, their abuse is inexcusable and must be brought to a halt immediately. The SA police have arrested some of the culprits and brought them to court. But there must be action taken immediately to ensure that there is no repeat of this hideous abuse of fellow Africans trying to make up for the deficiencies of their own government. The government of President Thabo Mbeki is fully aware of the reasons for the disastrous state of the Zimbabwean economy. Unemployment is high because there is little foreign direct investment flowing into the country. That is because the government of President Robert Mugabe, which Mbeki's government has supported to then hilt, refuses to recognise that political and economic conditions must be created which can make Zimbabwe an attractive prospect for foreign and local investors. The political climate in Zimbabwe, as Mbeki must know, is tense. Political activity, especially as it relates to dissent, is not entirely free. Opposition parties are constantly being harassed under the Public Order and Security Act, which must be one of the most draconian laws in any democracy. The freedom of the press, enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, is circumscribed through the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which has effectively criminalised journalism. Mbeki has no such problems; his country's press remains dynamic, vibrant, unfettered by laws such as AIPPA; foreign investment flows in without too many restrictions. But above all, there are no South Africans fleeing their own country to seek economic refuge in neighbouring countries. Even if there are, their numbers are negligible compared with Zimbabweans trekking illegally into South Africa. for all these reasons, Mbeki must no allow the plight of the hapless Zimbabweans to be worsened by their abuse at the hands of the well-paid, but perhaps HIV - Aids-infected soldiers and policemen. Moreover, there is already far too much black-on-black violence on the continent. The recent massacre of women and children of Tutsi origin by Hutu murderers in Burundi was a reminder of how Africans, having cast off the yoke of colonialism, cannot seem to adjust to living peacefully with each other. Some African historians may blame colonialism even for that; but only the Africans can halt this murderous xenophobia. Mbeki should start by ordering a swift and decisive halt to the persecution of Zimbabweans in his country.

Government committed to retaining health workers (Chronicle Online, 19/08)- The Government is recommitting itself to improving the conditions of service for nurses and other health professionals in the wake of thousands of workers leaving the country to go and work in countries such as the United Kingdom. This migration is threatening to paralyise the country's health delivery system. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Elizabeth Xaba, confirmed that the Government was losing nurses and other professionals thereby creating a problem that needed to be addressed with urgency. "The problem has to be addressed as a matter of urgency," she said. Dr Xaba said although the Government was doing its best to retain nurses by improving conditions of service in some of the country's health institutions, there was still need for improvement. She said the Government was also trying to source specialist equipment as a way of addressing the problem of patients going outside the country to seek specialist treatment. "We are looking at a variety of issues, we have tried some of them before but we will keep on trying to bring normalcy in the health sector," she said. In another bid to curb the brain drain the Minister of Health and Child Welfare Or David Parirenyatwa last month said health practitioners who attain qualifications at public health training institutions, will only be awarded their certificates and transcripts after they serve their respective bonds. The Government was bonding the nurses for up to three years, during which period they are required to work in a Government health Institution before they are free to leave for greener pastures. But this had not stemmed the tide as most of them leave without their certificates to look for jobs outside the country. Dr Parirenyatwa said the Government was spending billions of dollars of taxpayers' money to train thousands of health workers who ended up migrating to neighbouring and overseas countries. He pointed out that the measure, though it may appear punitive, was aimed at ensuring that the country did not remain a training ground for health workers for other countries. However, nurses whose transcripts and certificates had been withheld by the Government said they decided not to practice citing poor conditions of service and remuneration. "I have a sister who is overseas and she knows I was doing nursing here, so I have no problems securing a job," said a nurse who recently graduated from one Government institution. Others said it was easier for them to secure jobs as they are recruited through 'agents' in London. Sources at the ministry's head office in Harare said out of the more than 600 nurses who graduated in the past three months only 200 have remained in the country, while the rest have left or are yet to leave the country. Thousands of health workers, mainly nurses have left the country over the years to seek related and unrelated jobs in other countries, mainly in the United Kingdom where most are doing menial jobs. Bulawayo United Hospitals' Superintendent, Dr Godwin Gwisai said the problem of nurses leaving the public health institutions was not only confined to Bulawayo but was a countrywide problem that needed to be looked into. The problem is also threatening efforts to train quality health personnel as the country will be forced to churn out more nurses and other health personnel to fill in the empty gaps left by those leaving. Recently Dr Xaba announced that health institutions that offer nurse training are now expected to demand a minimum of five subjects passed at Ordinary level in a single sitting to ensure that they recruit the best students for their professional training programmes.

Exiled Zimbabweans celebrate national holidays (Zim Online, 18/08)- Zimbabweans living in South Africa have started an initiative to hold parallel celebrations of Zimbabwean national holidays in exile, saying the ruling ZANU PF party is politicising and abusing national events for its own partisan agenda. Under the banner of the Peace and Democrary Project (PDP), about 3 000 exiled Zimbabweans gathered in Johannesburg on Sunday to begin a series of activities to be staged this week to celebrate the National Heroes day, albeit one week late. Journalist Andrew Meldrum and Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition representative in South Africa Elinor Sisulu addressed the gathering. A soccer tournament of Zimbabwean youths based in South Africa was staged to commemorate the Heroes Holiday. Zimbabwean soccer star Adam Ndlovu was guest of honour at the tournament. PDP chairman Lusinga Matula said the initiative was "part of an exercise to reclaim our national holidays for the good of the country." The PDP would also mobilise exiled Zimbabweans to celebrate other national holidays like Independence Day and use the occasions to highlight the suffering of Zimbabwean people. "The mistake we make as Zimbabweans is to regard important events like Independence Day and Heroes Day as Mugabe's holidays. That is not the case. These are our national holidays as Zimbabweans and we should celebrate them," said Lusinga. Celebrating national holidays in exile would also unite Zimbabweans in the diaspora and keep them focused on the need to change the situation back home, he said. The PDP was initially started earlier this year as an interaction forum for exiled Zimbabwean youths.

Brain drain at University of Zimbabwe (Zim Online, 17/08)- More than twenty lecturers have in the last two months left the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) for better paid posts in Europe, United States of America and neighbouring South Africa, according to the Association of University Teachers. Chairman of the association's UZ branch Arnold Mashingaidze said the country's oldest and biggest institution was already severely understaffed. 60 percent of teaching posts were vacant even before the latest departure of lecturers. Mashingaidze said poor salaries and plummeting working conditions were driving qualified staff away from the UZ, which at its peak a decade ago was one of Africa's best universities. "The university should have between 980 to 1 200 lecturers but we are less than 460, making us overworked. The government has been opening these so-called universities across the country saying they want to improve education standards but at the same time they have neglected the UZ." The government has in the last 14 years opened four more universities. With the exception of the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo, they all seriously lack equipment and facilities including lecture halls. UZ vice-chancellor Levy Nyagura could not be reached for comment. Faculties worst affected by the teacher exodus are those of engineering, medicine and agriculture.

Police smash currency smuggling racket (Zimbabwe Standard, 15/08)- Police and officials of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) have cracked a major foreign currency smuggling ring based in the UK which was offering Zimbabweans in the Diaspora higher exchange rates on the local black market, The Standard has established. Sources close to the investigations told The Standard that a number of Zimbabweans, including senior members of a registered money transfer agency - Montreax Money Transfer - have been arrested. The joint swoop has also netted officials of unregistered money transfer agencies, which the police say have been fuelling the recent fall of the Zimbabwean dollar against major currencies on the parallel market. On Montreax - a money transfer agency registered with the RBZ - official sources said the company was caught exchanging foreign currency employing exchange rates that are above the stipulated auction or "Diaspora" rates. "The company was compiling two reports, one for the use in their accounts and another one for presentation to Reserve Bank staff if the staff wanted to make a check," said the source. Police spokesperson assistant commissioner, Wayne Bvudzijena, confirmed that so far 13 illegal foreign currency dealers had been arrested and more could be picked up soon."Yes, we arrested 13 dealers and this include directors of companies and other individual dealers," said Bvudzijena. One of those being investigated, according to police sources, is David Kamunhu, the managing director of Davecorn Motors. Also arrested was Ivennie Matika, who was operating in Zimbabwe as Unilink Money Transfer while his brother sourced money in the UK under the trade name Worldlink.

Analysis of the situation of Displaced farm workers in Zimbabwe (Refugees International, 13/08)- Zimbabwe's Fast Track Land Reform Program and politically-motivated intimidation and harassment have created an internally displaced population of more than 150,000 former farm workers and have also caused thousands of Zimbabweans to flee their country. The Government of Zimbabwe refuses to acknowledge that their implementation of the land redistribution program has caused forced displacement. To further compound the issue, governmental authorities have increasingly restricted access to farming areas for humanitarian agencies and independent analysts making it difficult for the displaced and other vulnerable groups to access humanitarian assistance. During an assessment mission to Zimbabwe conducted in June 2004, Refugees International was able to document incidents of targeted violence against former workers, such as the destruction of homes and wells, the latter resulting in the deaths of children due to diarrheal diseases contracted from drinking unclean water. RI also found displaced populations effectively abandoned due to Government of Zimbabwe prevention of assistance efforts by international agencies and local non-governmental organizations. Many of the commercial farms that were marked for acquisition under the Fast Track Land reform were seized violently. However, not all of the former farm workers have been displaced due to violent eviction. Displacement is also due to economic conditions on the former commercial farms. Within the former farm workers, there are five groups: -
. People internally "trapped," who are unable to leave their farms;
. People displaced temporarily to forested or uncultivated areas;
. Returnees to communal areas;
. Peri-urban squatters;
. Refugees and economic migrants.

Within these groups, foreign workers are particularly at risk. not specifically former farm workers, but who are also being denied services and are in need of assistance. These include some new settlers, orphan-headed households and households without an able-bodied adult. A considerable portion of the former farm worker population is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Many have little or no access to food, shelter, medical care, clean water, sanitation services, and education. While international and national humanitarian agencies are willing and able to provide assistance, national and local authorities are actively closing down any avenues of access to this vulnerable population. The best way to rebuild trust between the government of Zimbabwe and the humanitarian community is for all actors involved to focus and adhere to humanitarian principles such as neutrality, impartiality, and non-discrimination while working in coordination to provide assistance on the basis of need. Recommendations: - Refugees International recommends that: - The Government of Zimbabwe: - Acknowledge that former farm workers are increasingly vulnerable and take steps to meet their basic needs, including allowing humanitarian agencies to provide direct assistance to them. Form mixed needs assessment teams with local NGOs to conduct visits and ascertain the exact levels of vulnerability of groups living in the former commercial farming areas. Provide access to land to those former farm workers that, due to unemployment and increasing destitution, are unable to meet their subsistence needs. Invest in skills training and education for those farm workers who have not been retained in the commercial agriculture sector in order to allow redeployment to other economic sectors. Improve living conditions in squatter camps and informal settlements that host considerable numbers of former farm workers. When available, land should be allocated to them and basic community services should be upgraded. The Government of Zimbabwe and the United Nations: Jointly undertake a comprehensive vulnerability assessment in the commercial farming areas, rural communal lands and informal settlement. Due to the distrust between the Government of Zimbabwe and the United Nations, it is also recommended that a neutral party agreed upon by both should be included in the process of forming the assessment teams. Devise and implement a plan of action to strengthen vital community services, such as health clinics, water points and primary education facilities in areas affected by incominlI QroUDS of former farm workers. The Donor Community: Devote greater financial resources to the former commercial farm areas to address humanitarian needs. These resources should be allocated based exclusively on degree of vulnerability of beneficiaries.

Zimbabwe accuses Botswana of flogging illegal migrants (Sapa, 09/08)- Zimbabwe accused Botswana on Monday of continuing to flog illegal migrants after inconclusive talks between senior government ministers last month. The state-run Herald daily quoted Zimbabwe's junior national security minister, Nicholas Goche, as saying: "The act of flogging law-breakers in public is primitive and unruly. We have even stopped flogging our children in schools here in Zimbabwe and feel Botswana should move with the times." Goche said a four-day meeting between Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister, Kembo Mohadi, and his Botswanan counterpart, Thebe Mogami, had failed to reach agreement to halt floggings meted out to some of the 125,000 Zimbabweans estimated to cross the border each month. Zimbabwe associated flogging with colonialism and "we feel it should be aborted," Goche said. But the Herald quoted Botswanan officials as saying that flogging was part of their country's penal code. Earlier reports said Botswanans blamed Zimbabwean immigrants for an increase in crime

800 Auditors Flee Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe Independent, 06/08)- About 800 auditors have emigrated in the past year for various reasons as the profession suffers a severe brain drain, the incoming president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ), Eric Bloch, has said. "The emigration of the skilled workforce in the accounting profession is appalling and a major constraint upon the economy. There is need to intensify training and enhance professional education," said Bloch. "About 60% of the 1 400 members of ICAZ have left the country for various reasons. The profession has lost irreparable skills to the brain drain due to the unfavourable operating environment," Bloch said. The economist said the brain drain was so serious that filling the gap in the foreseeable future would be difficult as only about 50 members qualify to join the profession each year. ICAZ is currently training 1 100 students. "We hope to increase the number of qualifying auditors each year to about a 100 but not at the expense of standards as set out in the statutes," he said. Bloch said problems facing the profession included negative perception, which has led to skepticism on auditors, especially after the collapse of WorldCom and Enron and the turbulence that rocked the local financial sector after the monetary policy announcement on December 18 last year. The collapse of Enron, and the conviction of its former auditor Arthur Andersen for obstruction of justice, allegations of massive fraud at global telecom giant WorldCom and the turmoil that hit the local financial sector have exacerbated the skepticism towards auditors, according to Bloch. Out of the 41 local banking institutions, five are under curatorship, two under liquidation and three under the Troubled Bank Fund. But Bloch said inadequacies of "one or two accounting professionals should not be taken as the character of the whole profession". Bloch emphasised the need for chartered accountants to interact with various arms of government more vigorously. "There is need to continue to work with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Investment Centre, parliament and various government ministries and bodies in order to contribute to economic recovery and to greater compliance by all economic sectors with principles of good governance," Bloch said. Bloch was speaking at an event marking his appointment as new ICAZ president

Zimbabwe and Botswana talk border problems (Zim Online, 03/08)- Senior Zimbabwe and Botswana government officials met last week to discuss security and immigration problems between the two neighbours. Relations between the two southern African nations have soured over Gaborone's decision to construct an electric fence along the Botswana/Zimbabwe border which it says is meant to restrict the movement of cattle and wild animals across the frontier. The Zimbabwe government believes the fence is aimed to keep out its citizens, many of whom illegally cross into Botswana to seek jobs. Harare is also unhappy about what it says is the inhuman treatment of its citizens visiting Botswana. Botswana Presidential spokesman Jeff Ramsay said the officials, who met under the auspices of the Zimbabwe/Botswana joint permanent commission on defence and security, "discussed a number of issues relating to police, customs, immigration and wildlife management. "These included illicit trafficking in drugs, diamonds and firearms and the containment of crime along the common border."

New law to control influx of DRC and Nigerian nationals (Zim Online, 03/08)- The Zimbabwe government is drafting legislation to curb the large influx of Nigerians and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) nationals in the country, ZimOnline has established. Harare enjoys warm relations with both Abuja and Kinshasa. But the sources said the Zimbabwean authorities were worried by the increase in criminal activities including drug peddling allegedly committed by the Nigerians and Congolese. Hundreds of Nigerian and DRC nationals have flocked into Zimbabwe in the last three years setting up several street corner businesses mostly in Harare's Avenues residential area. Both Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge and his spokeswoman, Pavelyn Musakwa, could not be reached for comment. Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, in charge of immigration policy, refused to speak on the matter when contacted by ZimOnline. "I don't talk to South African journalists. You are persecuting us," said Mohadi, clearly in the mistaken belief that ZimOnline is run by South African journalists. Sources in the Home Affairs Ministry's Immigration Department said what had prompted the legislation was the perception within government that most nationals from the two countries were engaged in illegal activities. The Immigration Department's investigations branch was probing numerous cases involving Nigerians and DRC nationals, who had either come into the country illegally or were using fake travel documents. Some were also being investigated for allegedly illegally dealing in foreign currency and gold, the sources said. "Yes, I can confirm that something is being done but I can't say more because these people come from two friendly nations," said a senior immigration official, who spoke on condition he was not named. According to the sources, the authorities are also investigating several marriages between Zimbabwean citizens and Nigerian and DRC nationals which they suspect to be unions of covenience only meant to secure citizenship and residence permits for the west and central Africans. The Zimbabwe government has deported scores of Nigerians and Congolese since the beginning of this year for prostitution, money laundering and foreign currency deals.

Govt gazettes new citizenship regulations (Chronicle, 02/08)- The Government has gazetted new regulations that will require people born in the country but whose parents originated from countries within the region to fill In special renunciation forms to restore their Zimbabwean citizenship. According to the gazette released last Friday, any citizen from the Southern African Development Community who wishes to restore the Zimbabwean citizenship will now have to fill in forms for special renunciation which are being issued by the Registrar General's Office. The new changes follow the amendment of section 9 of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act by the Government early in May. Once completed the renunciation forms would be taken by the RG's Office to the appropriate embassy for endorsement. The changes would help the RG's Office to deal effectively with problems arising from dual citizenship within the southern African region. Forms were being distributed countrywide for easy access by those who need to renounce or restore their citizenship. When the Citizenship Act was amended many people living in the country but who were original from within the region complained that the regulations were too stiff and did not take their plight into account. There are thousands of people who came from Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to work in the country in the last five to seven decades and Zimbabwe had become their home.

Updated 5 November 2004