Migration News

Archives and Current News

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

Increasing demand for Zimbabwean commercial farmers in SADC
Underpaid African health workers flee the frontline

300,000 migrants deported from Angola
Rainy season halts repatriation
UNHCR to repatriate all camp-based refugees
Angolan refugees return from DR Congo
Border provinces most affected by HIV/Aids
Nearly 268,000 Angolan refugees return home

Border post congested
Local doctors get raw deal
More Angolans want to go home
Fake documents syndicate at large
Clean border posts create good impression
Swoop nets 100 Zimbabwean illegal immigrants
Majority of camps owned by foreigners
Model refugee will be missed
Angolans fly home from Botswana
More Zimbabweans to face caning
Repatriation of Angolan refugees from Botswana

Millions displaced by fighting
Thousands flee clashes in the DRC

Health sector gets funding boost

Overwhelming victory for Frelimo among emigrants
Mozambicans living in South Africa vote
Unregistered Mozambicans demand to vote

Illegal immigrants deported
Bribery rears its head at border

South Africa:
Home Affairs removes sensitive papers
Four murders spark fears of xenophobia
Groups to protest detention of illegal immigrants
Calm returns to Lindela repatriation centre
Moratorium on repatriations
Congestion at SA, Mozambique border
No Christmas ride home for illegal immigrants
Immigrants denied free ride home
SA ready to discuss Swazi land claims
Loophole lets foreigners 'buy' SA children
Bid to lure expats home
Refugee bill tops R21m
Sudanese refugee struggles against xenophobia in South Africa
Free state farmers unhappy about security
Pandor urges nurses to stay in SA
Lack of legislation fuels child trafficking
Refugees escape to a hell of our making
SA, Mozambique visa requirements to be scrapped
Law society calls for better treatment of immigrants
Foreign role in SA property market
More foreigners visit SA
Home Affairs comments on death of Malawian
Solution to SA doctor crisis
Hearings held on foreign ownership of land
New home affairs office for Khayelitsha

Migrants a cash cow for immigration officials
Labour migration invokes controversy
Labour migration project launched
Illegal immigrants 'given a hand'
Asian in citizenship scam
Illegal immigrant workers in tourism sector
Tour companies smuggle in illegal immigrants

Immigration deports prohibited immigrants
Find lasting solution to border disputes

Government moves to stem health sector brain drain
Delays to border post plans
Zimbabwe's ex-farmers turn to region
Diaspora housing scheme
Be wary of UK deportation threats, says Moyo
Deported Zimbabweans welcome
UK to deport 10,000 Zimbabweans
Keep out of domestic affairs, foreigners told
Aids deaths multiply as specialists flee
White Zimbabweans to get farms in Nigeria
Tourists continue to shun Zimbabwe
Professionals in health services sector
Government hospitals suffer acute staff shortages
UK to flush out fake asylum seekers
RBZ to transform Homelink into a Company

Increasing demand for Zimbabwean commercial farmers in SADC (Zimbabwe Standard, 05/12):- There is great demand in the SADC region for former Zimbabwean commercial farmers who lost their land and property during the chaotic fast track land reform exercise, The Standard understands. A number of the farmers have moved to Mozambique and Zambia where they were offered huge tracks of land. Others have travelled North to Nigeria where they have found land in abundance in Kwara state, which has spearheaded a campaign to lure the productive farmers. Acting Malawian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bill Itaye, last week made a passionate appeal, during a meeting, for Zimbabwean farmers to invest in his country.  Itaye, who was in Mutare, said there were vast opportunities for interested Zimbabwean farmers as well as businesspeople.  The meeting, organised by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, (ZNCC) was aimed at highlighting business opportunities between Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique. He said his country needed wheat farmers and those that could rear livestock. "The country does not produce wheat and it is in great demand. We offer duty-free and tax-free for businesses that already pay tax in Zimbabwe when they open branches in Malawi," Itaye said. In the last 10 years, he said, Zimbabwe exported up to US$95 million worth of goods to the country while Malawians exported between US$9-10 million worth of goods.  "Malawi has been largely dependent on Zimbabwe for footwear, cooking oil and margarine and we are happy Cottco (Cotton Company of Zimbabwe) has moved into the country," he said. Speaking at the same occasion, the Mozambican Consul-General, Americo Chicolete, who is based in Mutare told the gathering that his country needed Zimbabwean farmers and business people.  Speaking in Portuguese, he said: "You mean a lot to Mozambique, we have rich soils for agriculture. "There are no land problems in the country as we nationalised it soon after independence and has remained state land. There are no fears of land invasions and there is security in the country. "Chicolete said his country was in dire need of foreign investors, adding international investors would have to have at least US$50 000 while smaller businesses would require US$5 000 to set up businesses in the country.

Underpaid African health workers flee the frontline (Business Day, 01/12):-
As a senior paediatric nurse at Zambia's top hospital, Mutinta Mwale is at the forefront of her country's desperate battle against the AIDS epidemic. She has had enough. Like thousands of other African health professionals, she is preparing to move to Britain -- part of a migration of doctors and nurses that analysts say is crippling Africa's response to its biggest health challenge. "Life has been very tough and I see no benefit in continuing to work here any more," says Mwale, whose pay in Britain will be $3800 a month compared with $147 in Zambia. Small antiretroviral drug programmes are beginning to take shape in some of the worst affected countries in Africa. But as the drugs flow in, the medical personnel needed to administer them are being lured away by the rich countries that talk loudly about finding a solution to Africa's AIDS crisis and whose companies provided the drugs. "We need to work out a system where the countries providing the antiretrovirals either pay salaries to our doctors to retain them or provide their experts to administer the drugs," says Kunyima Banda, programmes officer at the Network of Zambian People Living with HIV and AIDS. "It is morally wrong for developed nations to provide antiretrovirals to Africa and then take away the doctors who should be administering them." The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that only 750000 health workers are available to care for 682-million people in sub-Saharan Africa, which has more than 25-million people infected with HIV, or 60% of the global total. "To get their economies into better shape, governments have committed themselves to a level of fiscal stringency that prevents them from creating large numbers of new health sector posts, or large pay increases," a WHO report says. "It is estimated that 20000 highly qualified Africans are now emigrating every year." Zambia, which is struggling to meet International Monetary Fund-set goals, cut its health budget this year as it declared a national AIDS emergency. One in five of its citizens is estimated to carry the HIV virus and 700000 have died from AIDS in the past two decades. Among sub-Saharan Africa's AIDS victims are health-care workers. WHO estimates HIV/AIDS is responsible for between 19%-53% of deaths among government staff in a typical southern African country. WHO Africa regional adviser Prosper Tumusime says the staffing shortage -- due to death and migration -- has now reached crisis levels across the African continent. "Zimbabwe in particular has had a big problem in this area, and in Botswana one of the major constraints to roll out access to antiretroviral drugs has been human resources," he says. SA, which has also been hit by a medical brain drain, has an agreement with Britain aimed at putting the brakes on emigration of trained medical staff. But the demand remains relentless. The WHO estimates that by 2008 Britain will need 25000 doctors and 250000 nurses more than it did in 1997, while a further 1-million nurses will be needed over the next 10 years to meet the projected shortfall in the US. Many of those posts will be filled by staff from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe. For doctors like Mbita, who did not want his second name used for fear of reprisals at his Lusaka hospital, the lure to move is clear -- not least in a monthly salary that could be expected to jump to as much as £4000 from just $316 now. "If an opportunity comes my way, I will definitely leave this country. We have to work long hours due to shortage of manpower and some equipment is just not available in the hospital," Mbita says. Zambian Health Minister Brian Chituwo says it is difficult to pay competitive salaries, but the government is doing its best to keep its experts at home. "We have introduced furniture and car loans as incentives for our nurses and doctors. Additional incentives include sending nurses and doctors who are working in rural areas for further training, but even this is failing to curtail the brain drain."

300,000 migrants deported from Angola (Sundaytimes, 29/12):- Some 300,000 illegal immigrants dealing in smuggled diamonds were deported this year from the diamond rich Luanda Norte province, the region's governor said over national radio on Wednesday, AFP reported. "If one takes into account that each of these expelled foreigners freely sent out diamonds .... the losses run into millions of dollars, "said Gomes Maiato.
Mining Minister Manuel Africano last month said Angola was losing one million dollars (772,082 euros) daily due to a flourishing illicit trade in diamonds. Angola launched a crackdown on illegal immigrants involved in shady diamond deals in December last year and nearly 500,000 people--mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo--have been deported so far. The expulsions had sparked a wave of accusations that the government was xenophobic but Luanda dismissed the charge saying it was targeting only those who were stealing the country's national resources. A former Portuguese colony, Angola is one of Africa's top oil and diamond producers. Luanda now plans to more than double its annual output to 15,000 carats from the current level of 6,000 carats.

Rainy season halts repatriation (Angola Peace Monitor, 17/12):-
The voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees from neighbouring countries has now wound down for the year with the onset of the rainy season, which makes many roads impassable. However, this year's programme, organised by the United Nations' High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), failed to meet its target of helping 90,000 people to return. In total, UNHCR only managed to transport 51,000 refugees, and help another 12,000 who made their own way home. It leaves an estimated 53,000 people who wish to return to Angola, but who will need to wait until at least the middle of next year. Since the end of the war in April 2002 the UNHCR has helped a total of 172,000 refugees return to Angola, with another 109,000 making their own way home. According to the UNHCR many of those who have returned have faced hostility from the local population in Angola. A large number of refugees have spent decades abroad, and some speak only English or French. There is a perception amongst some Angolans that the refugees are receiving special treatment, compared with the harsh life of those who remained in the country. The UNHCR claims that it has therefore concentrated its repatriation programme on quality rather than quantity, stating that "if post-repatriation assistance was offered only for returning individuals, it would only widen the gap between the two groups". According to Annette Nyekan, Deputy Representative of UNHCR in Angola, while returnees need some individual assistance in the form of food, agricultural tools and seeds to bridge the time until the first harvest, UNHCR also helps to rehabilitate the infrastructure of the receiving communes. Nyekan states that "we are making sure that the impoverished Angolan municipalities are not further burdened by returning refugees but that they all benefit equally from the UNHCR repatriation programme. We are helping with the rehabilitation of schools, hospitals, water wells, and with roads and de-mining, until such time that the government of Angola and development agencies can take full responsibility." Refugees in Zambia face hunger - Most of the returnees have come from Zambia, with 27,579 people taking part in the repatriation programme. This is a big increase on the 18,000 repatriations last year, but the UNHCR still did not reach its own target of 40,000 repatriations. Those remaining in Zambia face an uncertain future. On 13 December the United Nations warned that a poor donor response was forcing a "drastic cut in food rations for refugees in Zambia", and that UN agencies have appealed for immediate help to prevent the situation from deteriorating and threatening the Angolan repatriation operation. Zambia is the host to refugees not only from Angola, but from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. In September the World Food Programme launched an emergency appeal for $3.2 million to cover the food needs of refugees until the end of the year. However, the lack of response to the appeal has resulted in the WFP cutting the rations of refugees, who are now receiving half of their rations of pulses and cereals. A spokesperson for the UNHCR warned that "the refugees have been away from their homes for decades. They can't go back and rebuild their lives if they are malnourished; they won't have the energy for agricultural activities". She continued that "donors have supported us through the darkest moments of the Angolan war. Now we have the solution in sight, and it's working. We need help now". According to the UNHCR, refugees are temporarily coping with the food shortages by eating fruit and wild leaves that are available during the rainy season, and with small stocks that they have built up. But it warns that it expects the situation to deteriorate. The ironic thing is that Zambia produced a bumper harvest this year, with a surplus of over 210,000 tonnes. There are plans to buy more grain from inside Zambia next year if there is another good harvest, rather than shipping European or American surplus grain to landlocked Zambia through countries such as Mozambique. This would not only improve the nutritional situation of the remaining refugees, but would also provide income for Zambian farmers. The issue of western donors "dumping" their subsidised overproduction in Africa, undermining local food production, is not a new problem, but one that is particularly highlighted in Zambia where there is hunger in a land of plenty. UNHCR further off target in DRC - In neighbouring DRC the UNHCR repatriation programme to Angola was even further off target than in Zambia. It had planned to repatriate 43,000 Angolans from DRC but only managed to help 19,082. This was despite an effort to speed up the process by laying on flights to airlift the refugees back to Angola. Part of the delay was caused by roads being closed by heavy rainfall in Uije province. There have also been delays caused by landmines found on the roads earlier in the year. For UNHCR safe road routes are a prerequisite for its convoys. For those left in the DRC things look as gloomy as those stuck in Zambia. Some have already felt the climate growing hostile towards them after the expulsions to DRC from Angola earlier this year of around 100,000 illegal diamond miners. These diamond miners joined an increasing number of people in desperate need of help from the United Nations. In the east of the DRC the humanitarian crisis is increasing with what has been described as an invasion by the Rwandan army. It has been estimated by the International Rescue Committee that more than 31,000 people are continuing to die every month in the conflict. It has calculated that more than 3.8 million people have died since August 1998. On 14 December the WFP warned that unless new funds are received before the end of the month, it would be forced to cut by 30 percent the number of people receiving food aid, and reducing the rations to the others by half. WFP has a huge caseload in DRC, with plans to assist between 650,000 and 750,000 people on a monthly basis. With such a large number of people to assist, any delay in receiving funding could quickly spiral into disaster. Other refugees trickle back - By comparison, the situation for the remaining Angolan refugees in Namibia, Botswana, Republic of Congo and South Africa is less desperate. UNHCR is slowly assisting refugees to return from these countries, and has helped 4,189 refugees return from Namibia, leaving around 8,000 behind. On 3 December 62 refugees left Dukwi refugee camp in Botswana to travel to Francistown airport to be airlifted to Huambo. They were the only ones repatriated this year from Botswana, with an estimated 2,000 refugees remaining. Food shortages may hit returnees - The World Food Programme is also concerned that its programme for returnees in Angola continues to be short of donations. The WFP needs to raise $55 million to purchase 88,000 tonnes of food for its returnee programme throughout 2005. However, it has only so far raised $7.5 million, of which $4 million came from the Angolan government. Very few donations were received over the last month for the United Nations Consolidated Appeal for Angola, with the major boost to funding coming from a re-jigging of UN internal finances, which has found over $5 million to keep the voluntary repatriation and reintegration programme running. Finland has donated a further $381,679 for transport and logistics for the returnees, while Portugal has made its first donations to the Appeal totalling $627,605. A further quarter of a million dollars was donated from a private source to the IOM for help with its return, reinsertion and reintegration programme, while Sweden has donated a further $562,588 for the safe and orderly transportation and logistics assistance to returnees. The United States has also donated a further $600,000 for the voluntary repatriation programme. In total the Consolidated Appeal has received $116.5 million compared with an original requirement of $262.6 million. This total was revised down at its mid-term review to $136 million, which leaves the Appeal receiving almost 86 percent of its requirements. There has been a marked drift away from support for humanitarian work in Angola. In 2002 the international community gave $204 million to the UN appeal, dropping to $164 million in 2003. The drop in funding has had a real effect on the transition from emergency to recovery. Several important projects, such as the expansion of the school system, have been cut back due to a lack of funds. A lack of donations also resulted in the slow distribution of seeds and tools in preparation for the planting season. One of the most serious results was the lack of funding for demining projects, which further impacted on the return of refugees and internally displaced people to their home areas where they should have been planting seeds for next season's harvest.

UNHCR to repatriate all camp-based refugees (IRIN, 14/12):-
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, intends to complete the repatriation of Angolan refugees living in camps in neighbouring countries by next year, and will then help those that have settled in the wider community to return home. UNHCR spokeswoman in Geneva, Jennifer Pagonis, said the agency was going "to try and complete the return" of the 53,000 refugees still in camps in Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia by 2005. "Estimates of Angolan refugees who have settled ... vary widely, ranging from 83,000 to around 200,000. It is planned that once the camp-based refugees are voluntarily repatriated, there will be a window of opportunity in 2006 for settled Angolan refugees to return home with UNHCR assistance, should they wish to do so," she said. This year UNHCR assisted nearly 51,000 Angolans to return home from Zambia (27,579), the DRC (19,082) and Namibia (4,189), with lesser numbers from Botswana, the Republic of Congo and South Africa, according to Pagonis. An additional 12,000 refugees returned on their own, bringing the total number of Angolans repatriated since the end of the civil war in 2002 to more than 281,000.

Angolan refugees return from DR Congo (Angola Press Agency, 13/12):-
About 877 Angolan refugees who were living in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have returned to the country, from 1st to 8th of the current month, through Kimbata border post, Maquela do Zombo municipality, northern Uije province. It was said on Monday by Maquela do Zombo municipal Administrator Manuel João, who added that the majority of the refugees are from Beu commune, and the remaining from Damba. He referred that during the last eight months nearly 2.200 ex-refugees have returned to the country spontaneously and presenting themselves at Maquela do Zombo administration. Mr. Joao stressed that due to the rain and the degraded state of the roads the organised repatriation process will have to be halted. Meanwhile, he revealed that 251 DR Congo citizens who were practicing illegal commercial activity at Maquela do Zombo municipality, 293 kilometers of Uije city, were repatriated to their country in the past six months.

Border provinces most affected by HIV/Aids (Angola Press Agency, 08/12):-
The bordering provinces of Angola are the most affected by the HIV/AIDS, according to a national study carried out from September to November of this year, by the sanitary authorities, in pregnant women attended in birth consultation. According to the results obtained by the Health Ministry (MINSA), the predominance rate is set at 2.8 percent, in a HIV prevalence rate study conducted in 13,000 pregnant women nation-wide, designed to determine with a greater rigour the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and Syphilis rates and estimate the general tendency of transmission of the Infections by Sexual means among the population. By geographical region, the highest numbers were found in the southern border, near Namibia (the provinces of Cunene with 9.12 percent and Kuando-Kubango with 4.03 percent), in the northern with DR Congo (Uige with 4.80, Cabinda with 3.22, Zaire 2.23 and Malanje province with 1.40. In the eastern border, near Zambia (Lunda-Sul with 3.41 and Lunda Norte with 3.34), as well in Luanda, the capital, with 3.18 percent. The lowest rates were registered in Bie and Kwanza-Sul provinces, both with 0.76, Benguela with 0.88, Kwanza-Norte with 1.00 and Bengo with 1.20 percent. This situation is due to the fact that Angola is geographically situated in one of the most hit regions by the HIV/AIDS.

Nearly 268,000 Angolan refugees return home (Reliefweb, 06/12):-
About 267,850 refugees have returned to their homeland with the aid from the Angolan government since the signing of peace agreement in 2002, according to a communique issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday. This figure includes 184,051 who have returned spontaneously, in which at least 75,051 were given food aid and 109,000 others have not benefited from food assistance. The UN agency estimated that about 173,150 registered refugees are still living in neighboring countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Namibia, the republic of the Congo apart from those still residing in South Africa and Botswana. The communique adds that there have been reported some constraints in the return of some refugees to their districts, mainly due to the bad conditions on the roads, bridges and landmines. During 27 years of civil war in the southwest African country, about 4 million Angolans have been displaced and some 500,000 in refugee in neighboring countries.

Border post congested (Daily News, 29/12):-
With the festive season upon us, the influx of shoppers from Zimbabwe into Botswana and the deportation of illegal immigrants has caused congestion at Ramokgwebana border post.  In an interview with BOPA, the senior immigration officer at Ramokgwebana, Mokganedi Botsalano, said since November 26, there had been congestion of people and vehicles.  Botsalano said so far 8 216 people crossed into Botswana while 9 477 left the country to Zimbabwe.  He said that at times they had to close at around two in the morning in order to try and clear travellers between the two countries. They reported back for work at six the same morning.  Botsalano said they are failing to control the situation as they only have 20 staff members and they are waiting for six more officers to help with the heavy workload.  He said they occasionally face problems such as Zimbabweans presenting false passports, over-staying in the country and an influx of illegal immigrants. Over 200 illegal immigrants are caught everyday at the border and some of them are said to be uncooperative while others refuse to pay when charged.  He advised all people crossing the border between the two countries to cooperate so that they can get served on time and to take care of their travelling documents.  Sergeant Detective Tshabadira Seratswe of Francistown Police told BOPA that the traffic congestion is due to the many buses that arrive at the border every day before the border opens.  Seratswe said this had led them to designate commercial gates so that other vehicles can cross through more quickly.  He said their responsibility is to check goods and vehicles. They have not yet come across stolen vehicles whereas they have already confiscated goods they suspect were stolen.  He advised Batswana who are not crossing with their own vehicles to present a certified letter from the owner of the car to the police at the border.  The acting officer-in-charge at Matsiloje border post, Osupile Koontse, said there is no congestion as 84 citizens and 655 non-citizens crossed the border between December 20-21.  "The border is still operating at normal times and we have not encountered any problems except for illegal immigrants," she said. At Maitengwe border post, the officer in charge Grace Motshegwa said there has not been any congestion except for the past weekend. Motshegwa said that between December 19-21, there were 350 arrivals and 969 departures. She said they came across non-citizens who had overstayed, some with fake stamps on passports while. more than 50 illegal immigrants were deported by the police.

Local doctors get raw deal (Mmegi, 28/12):-
There is a lot of speculation why Batswana doctors who complete their studies overseas do not come back home, but instead choose to work overseas. It is always said that Batswana doctors want to be paid as their American, British or Irish counterparts as these countries pay more, which is way above what the Botswana government can afford. This implies lack of patriotism from these former students who were educated at such a great expense to their country. This explains why Botswana has so many expatriate doctors from other African countries and countries like Cuba. Unfortunately, Batswana doctors (both prospective and present) have never put their case forward to explain why they do not come home in great numbers or why if they do come, soon leave - as well as why those who come and stay in Botswana advise those behind them not to come back home. The Botswana Medical Students Association (BOMSA) at their 2nd Annual CME conference held at the University of West Indies in Trinidad tackled this issue. The aim was to put a case forward with the intent of solving this problem and reaching possible compromises that would benefit all those concerned. To better clarify the problem, we will try to make the presentation as practical as possible. Let us start with a common possible story that happens to an average Motswana student going to study medicine. We will call him Student A. He goes with a colleague of his to UB to do BSc. We will call his colleague Student B. They both complete their part 1 of BSc, a requirement for overseas schools to study medicine. A decides to go for medicine, while B decides to complete BSc at UB. B completes his BSc in a further two years and gets hired at as a teacher or joins the police service as a scientist or UB as a Staff Development Fellow (SDF). At this point, A is only doing the second year of a six- year course of medicine. B works and becomes a permanent and pensionable employee, if he was hired by the Botswana government. After completing his second year of employment, he qualifies for further education and leaves the country to study outside. At this juncture, A is doing fourth year of medicine. All along, B has been getting yearly salary increments. When he starts doing his masters degree, he gets his salary at home as an employee of Botswana government in addition to his stipend. A, at this point, only gets his stipend. When B completes his masters in one year, A is in his fifth year of medicine. B goes back home to continue working, and gets promoted after his masters. In B's 2nd year of working as a master's graduate, A finally completes his medical programme. This is one possible scenario, and if B becomes a SDF, he would progress even faster. Now that means B at this point is in a senior position and has had further education while A is at the starting point of his career. When A gets to Botswana and starts as an intern, he starts not with an altered scale to par him with B, who is far ahead of him. This indicates that parallel progression is not considered for the poor self-sacrificing student. What is even more depressing is the fact that it takes two to three months for the Motswana doctor to begin working due to unnecessary bureaucratic delays. This contradicts the dogma that Botswana needs graduates to come back home or that there is an acute shortage of them in Botswana. But when this is all going on, the Motswana medical graduate is broke. He starts asking for money from the very parents he is expected to support. The long time it takes to be finally employed discourages Batswana graduates from coming back home. A further insult to injury is that A will work one month before he gets a salary, making it three to four months that a qualified Motswana doctor arrives in Botswana to getting a first salary. To really appreciate if the government takes care of the Motswana doctor, a good test is to compare how he is treated compared to his expatriate colleague in the same profession. When A eventually gets hired and gets commissioned to a hospital, he arrives at a place with no accommodation. This is directly in contrast to his expatriate colleague (we will call him E for expatriate) who arrives at the same time as A. E gets his house immediately, and what is even more impressive, it is furnished. A, on the other hand, is accommodated in a hotel at government's expense for 14 days. Beyond those 14 days, A has to pay half the hotel bills until he finds accommodation. It is not unusual for A to wait over a year for government accommodation while E is busy amassing wealth as he has fully furnished accommodation. The reason that is sometimes being given for this discrepancy is that Batswana, unlike expatriates, are in Botswana and may know someone like a friend or relative who can provide them with temporary accommodation until they find permanent accommodation. What is not taken into consideration is that A may be from Moshupa and be sent to Nyangabgwe in Francistown and may truthfully not know anybody there to give him accommodation, literally making him an expatriate in Francistown, who deserves to be handled as an accommodation emergency like his expatriate colleague. This time A is expected to be working cheerfully for Batswana in appreciation of being sent to school by the government. When A eventually gets accommodation, he gets an unfurnished house, just a house with floor unlike E. This is unlike teachers who get furnished housing at highly subsidised costs. What is it about doctors that warrants such ill treatment? A has to furnish his house which really takes ages, gets him into debt and he cannot help his parents who made great sacrifices to take him to school. This frustrates A, and he starts considering going back for greener pastures where he will be appreciated and may be able to help at home. If he stays, he may give substandard care out of frustration. A, as an intern (MO), gets a scale C1 (well beaten by B who now has a masters and has been promoted) whereas E gets further incentives like contract allowance etc. E used to even get free education at Botswana government's expense for his children until they completed university education. This went on for years until some wise leaders stopped it. All other benefits advantaging E at the expense of A need revision too. With all due respect to Cuba and the African countries that the Botswana government recruits doctors from, there is no need for the government to go out of its way to attract them to Botswana; even if they get the meagre package that Batswana doctors get, that would still get them to come to Botswana as that still beats packages in their home countries. It is a wrong assumption that without trying to attract them with exorbitant salary and expatriate packages, they will not come to Botswana. The remuneration above that of their Batswana colleagues should not be the attraction to Botswana. Botswana is peaceful and democratic and provides many opportunities for them already without favouring them at the expense of local doctors who get a sense of slavery to foreign doctors in their own country. This does not even help the attitude of the expatriates towards Batswana either. It consciously or subconsciously makes the expatriates look down on Batswana doctors and patients, providing substandard care. What is of note is that not many countries do what Botswana does i.e. giving preferential treatment to expatriates at the expense of locals in order to attract them. This is not just the case for developed countries like the United States and Britain. Even many developing countries do not do that. We are not suggesting that we should be paid as much as the American, British or Irish doctors. We request Batswana doctors to be paid as much as expatriate doctors. There is no need to focus attention on attracting expatriates to Botswana, instead of attracting Batswana to Botswana.

More Angolans want to go home (Dailynews, 23/12):-
Following the repatriation of 62 Angolan refugees early this month, the number of refugees willing to go back home under voluntary repatriation is set to increase with 300 hundred of them ready to leave from April next year. However, not all the refugees want to return home as 400 of them residing at Dukwi refugee camp have applied for Botswana citizenship, according to the Deputy Permanent Secretary for Political Affairs Bergsman Sentle. He told BOPA in an interview that the government is assessing the citizenship applications to determine which applicants are eligible for Botswana citizenship. The deputy permanent secretary explained that the process of repatriating the Angolan refugees is a continuous exercise with no set timetable because the decision to register for repatriation is voluntary. "The only thing that the government can do is to encourage and not force refugees to register for repatriation," he said Sentle said they expect to transport another batch of about 300 hundred people, who have since registered with the refugee authorities, to Angola in the months of April, May and July next year. The repatriation exercise has been halted between now and April, because it is the rainy season in Angola and many places that the refugees originate from are completely inaccessible by any means. Another reason he said was that they are still waiting for the Angolan government authorities to furnish them with proper information and provide some resources in addition. There are many Angolan refugees at Dukwi refugee camp and in the North West district and a significant number of them has not yet decided whether to stay in Botswana or be repatriated to their own country. The refugees fled their country during the anti-colonialism war and subsequently the Angolan civil war that flared up immediately after independence. Stability and good order returned to Angola in 2002 following the death of rebel UNITA leader, Jonas Savimbi, who spearheaded a 30-year war against the MPLA government.

Fake documents syndicate at large (Gazette, (22/12):-
Police say they are still looking for members of the syndicate that specialises in fake official documents and stamps. Speaking to The Gazette, Detective Superintendent Phulweni of Tlokweng Police Station, said they raided a house in the village and confiscated a good number of fake official stamps for Botswana and Zimbabwe. No arrests were made as the occupiers of the building were not present at the time of the raid. Phulweni said for the past three years they have been following leads on a syndicate that offers fake official stamps to illegal immigrants who have overstayed their visitors permits in Botswana. Earlier this year they arrested two Zimbabwean nationals, Farai Jiri {29} and Conrad Chinovaneyi {32}, who were sentenced to six months' imprisonment. They have served their sentences and have been released. He said two weeks ago they were informed that some people in Tlokweng were seen with fake official stamps; they acted quickly and raided the house, where they found immigration stamps for the two countries a good number of Zimbabwean passports, apparently ready to be stamped. None of the passport owners have been traced yet. Phulweni said he could not rule out the possibility that Jiri and Chinovaneyi might be part of the syndicate. He appealed to members of the public to come forward with any information that might lead to the arrest of the offenders.

Clean border posts create good impression (Dailynews, 14/12):-
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC) permanent secretary Ernest Mpofu says border posts as gateways into and out of the country need to be kept clean to create a good impression of Botswana. He was speaking to BOPA during a clean-up campaign at the Tlokweng border post organised by his ministry on Saturday. Mpofu said that the campaign was meant to sensitise the people using the gate about the importance of a clean environment. "As per our task, we are mandated to invite people into the country, and the first impression can always turn away potential investors and tourists, and paint a bad picture about the country, hence the need to have a clean environment to create a welcoming impression to your visitor," he said. He said that Botswana was dirty because people tended to throw litter on the Botswana side before they crossed into South Africa where authorities were strict about litter. "The hope is that people in transit would take notice of what we are doing and start heeding the message to keep Botswana clean and that authorities would collect litter frequently to avoid scattering of litter waiting collection," he said. Mpofu said Batswana had a tendency to throw litter anywhere when in their country but would not do it when in foreign lands like in South Africa. He said that the campaign's objective was therefore to sensitise people that the environment in Botswana like elsewhere needed to be clean.

Swoop nets 100 Zimbabwean illegal immigrants (Zim Online, 11/12):-
Botswana police this week arrested 100 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe who were staying at Tlokweng compound just outside Gaborone. The police also found fake Botswana and Zimbabwe government immigration stamps at the 14-roomed dwelling that is owned by a Motswana national. Tlokweng police commander Robson Maleka said the Zimbabweans were going to be deported. About 1 000 Zimbabweans fleeing home because of hunger and political violence enter Botswana illegally per day. Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana are strained with Harare accusing Gaborone of ill-treating its nationals visiting that country. Gaborone denies the charge saying only Zimbabweans who illegally enter or stay in Botswana are arrested and deported.

Majority of camps owned by foreigners (Mmegi, 10/12):-
Most of the tourist camps that make the Charter Game Reserve in the Tuli Block area, are owned by South Africans. Responding to a question in Parliament from the MP for Bobirwa, Shaw Kgathi, the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila said there are currently seven camps in that area, namely; Shalimpo Main Camp, Megwe Camp, Island Camp, Hatari Camp, Shashe Camp, Limpopo Lodge and Matumbe Camp. He said Charter Reserve Trust manages the camps, which is an association of landowners who own the properties. Mokaila said Shalimpo Main Camp and Island Camp are owned by a South African attorney, W.B. Coetzer, with an 100 percent shareholding. Shashe River Enterprises Ltd trading as Megwe Camp and Shashe Camp is 100 percent owned by Langonda Investments (Pty) Ltd, a South African company, parliament was told. Impala (Pty) Ltd trading as Hatari Camp is owned by Periander (Pty) Ltd, a Botswana company with 80 percent shares, Paul Trust, a South African registered trust with 10 percent and John Louw, a South African with 10 percent. Limpopo Lodge and Matube Camp are 100 percent wholly owned by Gilfillan Trust, a South African registered trust. Mokaila said all these camps were licensed and operate in accordance with the provisions of the Tourism Act. He said the Land Control Act provides that when agricultural land - under which the Tuli Block falls - changes hands, the land should be advertised and the sellers should give citizens first preference. “Should the seller fail to do this, citizens may object and the minister can only approve the transaction after satisfying his/herself that no citizens were in a position to buy the land,” Mokaila responded. The minister’s response that the South Africans own most of the tourist camps at Tuli Block, contradicts recent claims by the Department of Tourism that Batswana investors were making inroads in the tourism industry. Meanwhile, when answering another question from Kgathi, Mokaila said his minister is continuing with efforts to engage communities in the Bobirwa District in Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) initiatives. Kgathi wanted to know what is being done to develop tourism and Community Based Natural Management initiatives in Bobirwa. Mokaila said the process involves the mobilisation of interested communities, undertaking resource inventories to feasible projects and the formation of trusts. According to him, the aim is to promote socio-economic empowerment of the communities through sustainable utilisation and management of natural resources. He said funds were sourced from the Community Conservation Fund for the implementation of some of the tourism projects in the area. Mokaila added that the Tshokwe Community in Bobirwa have been mobilised. A resource inventory will follow to determine the viability of the area to venture into CBNRM. The Lepokole Community have completed a management plan for their area and have formed the Mapanda Community Trust. Their project involves the creation of a wildlife sanctuary. The trust is in the process of acquiring land, Parliament was told. Mokaila said the Molema communities have been granted a lease for a ranch in the Tuli Block. He said a management plan for the ranch has been developed and the communities are in the process of identifying an appropriate joint venture partner for the development and management of the ranch for wildlife tourism. Responding to yet another question from the Bobirwa MP, Mokaila revealed that his ministry has sold 664 hunting licenses for elephants in the last five years and P10,358,000 has been realised from those sales. Export levies for elephant trophies over the same period amounted to P520,712. “Therefore the total direct income to government elephant hunting was just under P11 million,” Mokaila said. He said there are plans to reduce elephants in the Bobirwa sub-district. “The Elephant Management Plan that my ministry is preparing proposes to achieve this through relocation of elephants to other countries that have expressed an interest and issuing permits to hunt in the area,” he said. Kgathi wanted to know how many elephants and trophies have so far been sold in the past five years and how much has been realised from such sales. He also inquired about plans to reduce the number of elephants in Bobirwa, in view of the menace they cause to farmers in the area.

Model refugee will be missed (UNHCR, 09/12):-
It is only 6 a.m. in Botswana's Dukwi refugee camp and already, it promises to be another scorching day. But the 62 Angolan refugees, the first group to be leaving Botswana this year under the organised voluntary repatriation programme currently underway in southern Africa, are too excited to feel its sapping effects. It is December 3. The bus transporting them from the camp to Francistown Airport waits patiently as they scurry about restraining straying children and taking leave of family and friends who will only leave Botswana in 2005. This group of refugees is being airlifted to Huambo, central Angola, from where they will be transported onwards to their areas of origin in the Huambo, Bie and Benguela provinces. Xavier Pio, the camp's Portuguese teacher, is among this group. He has waited a long time for this day. "It's unbelievable to think that today I will be in my motherland!" he enthuses. Not only will he be home by the end of the day, but Pio and his fellow returnees will also be seeing an Angola that is at peace, something that for a long time was very difficult to imagine. Pio arrived in Botswana on December 16, 1998 after fleeing the civil war in Angola. He had already completed his secondary education in 1993, but the political turmoil and danger posed on his life prevented him from furthering his studies there. He had no choice but to redo three years of his secondary education in Dukwi camp's school, the Educational Resource Centre, with the hope that he would qualify to start an undergraduate degree at the University of Botswana. When this failed to materialise, Pio turned his optimism and boundless energy to income-generating initiatives and awareness-raising activities in the camp. "Pio is a very industrious person," smiles Father Benjamin Moleko of the Botswana Council of Churches, UNHCR's implementing partner. "He has worn so many hats in his functions in the camp, sometimes I wonder what we are going to do without him, now that he is leaving." One of these functions involved helping out on the information campaign on repatriation. Pio was employed as the camp's Portuguese teacher in order to provide basic language lessons to many of the potential returnees and their children who have lived in Botswana all their lives. "In this way, we are equipping the returnees with basic Portuguese so that they are able to talk to each other and to avoid being discriminated against for not speaking Angola's national language," adds Moleko. Before he became the Portuguese teacher, Pio ran a small tailoring business in Gaborone, Botswana's capital. An avid songwriter and member of the Dukwi Refugee Band, he has also written the lyrics for many songs with socially conscious messages, ranging from HIV/AIDS awareness to encouraging his fellow Angolans to consider returning home. "Let's go home now, the country has been destroyed. Let's go now and rebuild our country,  We are the youth and it is our responsibility ..." Sung in his native Bukushu, the song really got people thinking, says community services officer Lisa Palmer. "Pio has great expectations of Angola and he sees the youth as instrumental in bringing the future of their country into being," notes Palmer. "His excitement at returning home is very infectious and I would certainly think that his song has contributed towards encouraging the refugees to make their choice." "Pio and the band have done a great job in raising awareness of the social ills of the camp through their music and they have supported UNHCR's public awareness initiatives throughout," she adds. Pio believes that there is much to do in Angola to bring it back to its former glory and make it an even better country than what the old folks remember it to be. "Our elders in the camp have fed us a steady diet of stories about Angola's heyday – what it looked like before the war, the rainfalls they had, the abundant agricultural produce – it sounds like heaven on earth!" he says. The elders' ploy to ensure that their children never forget their motherland, through the age-old tradition of storytelling, has worked on Pio. "Nothing can stop me from returning home!" While happy for Pio and his countrymen, the camp's administrators are quite saddened by his departure. "I truly enjoyed working with him," says Father Moleko. "He is a hardworking fellow, with the interests of his community at heart. He has definitely used his skills towards bettering the lives of his people – the sort of personality who will contribute much to rebuilding his country and immediate community. He'll be very instrumental at this as he has the right attitude towards his people and his work!" Palmer couldn't agree more. "While I am happy for this first group that is leaving, Xavier's departure is indeed a big loss for the school and camp, the youth and our office. He has been so very helpful! You'd knock on his door at all hours of the day and if he could, he'd extend his assistance without a second thought." When Pio hears these remarks, his eyes glisten with unshed tears. He is touched by the high regard in which he is held. "On behalf of Angola's refugees here, I'd like to say to the Botswana government and the people who helped facilitate our protection, we are really grateful. As people who had been traumatised by war, we have lived peacefully here. We are now going home safely. Thank you Botswana and UNHCR," he says. As Pio and his family board the homeward bound aircraft, everyone agrees that his departure will be a definite gain for Angola.

Angolans fly home from Botswana (UNHCR, 09/12):-
For a change, the searing heat of Botswana's north-eastern region isn't the ice-breaker between refugees in Dukwi camp. The recent buzz has been about the 62 Angolan refugees leaving Botswana for Angola under the UNHCR-organised voluntary repatriation programme. They are the first and only group to be leaving Botswana this year before the heavy seasonal rains make this exercise too hazardous to undertake. On this fine day of December 3, the buoyant mood of the departing adults rubs off on the children who are too young to understand the historic occasion their parents will undoubtedly recount in the years to come. The men, kitted out in shirt and tie, carry impossible weights of luggage on their shoulders. Not to be outdone, the women, most of whom have babies strapped to their backs, carry equally heavy loads on their heads as they make their way to the bus taking them several hundred kilometres to Francistown Airport. Before long, it is time to bid the camp farewell and there is a good turnout of their countrymen to see them off. A few of the remaining Angolans shed tears of excitement as they anticipate the day they, too, will be leaving Dukwi. Others bemoan the fact that they are not part of the repatriating group, unhappy that they are not returning home in time for Christmas. "Because of weather constraints in Angola, we cannot transport the entire caseload of Angolans from the camp, although there is an overwhelming desire on their part to return to Angola," says Alice Ballah-Conteh, UNHCR's Acting Head of Mission in Botswana. This desire was communicated at a meeting held by the Tripartite Commission to respond to the refugees' concerns. The remaining ones were assured of repatriation in 2005 soon after the rains had stopped. After two hours on the road and a hearty breakfast, the 62 wait patiently for the arrival of the aircraft to fly them to Huambo in central Angola's highlands. The government of Botswana has made available a C-130 Hercules military aircraft, which is still on its way to Francistown from Gaborone, Botswana's capital. "The refugees who are returning home are from Huambo, Benguela and Bie provinces," says Galefele Beleme, UNHCR's Assistant Programme Officer. "Most are single men and a few families from a rural agriculture-based background." An agrarian people, the refugees supplemented their food rations and income-generating activities by coaxing the semi-arid soil into yielding whatever vegetables would flourish under the blistering sun. Although UNHCR has provided seeds and tools and sent some of them to attend workshops on improved techniques of farming, their gardens have yielded sparse results. Beleme says that this is one of the reasons the Angolans are keen to return home. "There are few rains in this area, so it has been very frustrating for them to work the reluctant soil. With the start of the rainy season in Angola now, it stands to reason that they would want to return home in time to put the land to good use." As the droning aircraft appears in the sky, the refugees launch into animated conversations to ensure that their luggage hasn't gone astray. Bicycles and ghetto-blasters are handled with the utmost care. A few refugees have bundled up their garden rakes and hoes, which will be crucial to slicing into the pliable soil they have long missed. After everything is loaded onto the aircraft, it really dawns on many of them that this is their final moment in Botswana. It is an emotional scene as refugees, UNHCR and implementing partner staff bid farewell to each other. Some say that while they would like to see the aid workers again, it would not be as refugees. As the aircraft taxis down the runway and picks up speed in preparation for take off, the cabin falls silent. Many are wearing expressions of apprehension, having never been on an aircraft before. Children shut their eyes tightly as it takes off. Mothers make an unnecessary fuss around their children, hiding their own fear. The men stare defiantly at each other, silently daring the other to show their unease. As soon as the flight settles into a smooth pattern, the refugees visibly relax and venture as far as to peer through the plane's windows. It is a three-hour flight and soon enough, the conversations start to flow. One little girl giggles with delight as she and a friend play a game. She hasn't let go of the fistful of her mother's skirt she grabbed when the aircraft took off. She clearly isn't about to do so now. The aircraft flies into pockets of turbulence, which quickly renders the cabin silent. Undoubtedly, everyone is calling on their god in those moments. Soon enough we are flying over Angola. As the aircraft makes its descent, exclamations of excitement and joy fill the cabin. Rivulets and tributaries snake their way through the plains towards Huambo, the sun's reflection making them shimmer with life. The vegetation is lush, with various shades of green fauna swaying in the wind. When the plane eventually touches down on the runway, the returnees break into song, clapping and ululating with joy. They are home at last! An emotional returnee gets down on his hands and knees and kisses the tarmac, so grateful to be back in his motherland. A flurry of activity ensures that they are welcomed home and led to a shelter to have a late lunch. En route to the transit centre where the returnees will stay for a few days, maize fields jostle cheek by jowl with uncleared mine fields. Mango trees in the residential compounds groan under the weight of their juicy fruit, guava trees show their ripening fruit and the avocado pears slowly ripening far up the trees, well out of human reach, promise a delicious condiment to any meal. Huambo Airport and its immediate surroundings bustle with life. There is a determined vigour in the manner in which people go about their business. Some are busy in their fields while others are trading in makeshift markets. I steal a glance at some of the returnees. Though weary from the excitement of the journey, there is unmistakeable joy in their demeanour. While many are still in the process of trying to trace relatives through the Red Cross and other informal means, at least the first hurdle, returning home in safety and dignity, has been overcome. As UNHCR Botswana staff who had accompanied them home prepare to return to the awaiting aircraft, it is an emotional farewell, but one which brings tears of joy to both the returnees and the aid workers.

More Zimbabweans to face caning (Zim Online, 09/12):-
More Zimbabweans are likely to be canned for petty crimes in Botswana if a draft Penal Code Amendment Bill tabled in Parliament this week sails through. The Bill seeks to impose corporal punishment on all male petty offenders up to the age of 40. Public Administration Minister Phandu Skelemani said the punishment was necessary to reduce overcrowding in jails by ensuring petty offenders were not sent to prison. Botswana's prisons have a capacity of 3 876 inmates but were holding 6 180 prisoners, according to Skelemani. Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana are strained with Harare accusing Gaborone of ill-treating its nationals visiting that country particularly by canning them for petty crimes. Harare, which like most countries has banned corporal punishment, says the practice is a violation of people's dignity and rights. Gaborone denies it specifically targets Zimbabweans for canning saying the punishment is administered to all offenders regardless of nationality.

Repatriation of Angolan refugees from Botswana (Reliefweb, 05/12):-
A total of 62 Angolan refugees who registered for repatriation were on Saturday flown back to their country of origin aboard a Botswana Defense Force aircraft, Zimbabwe's official media New Ziana reported Sunday. Alice Ballah-Conte, head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Botswana, was quoted as saying they were happy because they had managed to achieve one of the agency's resolutions - taking the refugees back to their countries of origin. She said most of the 300 Angolan refugees at Dukwi refugee camp had expressed their intention to go back to their country, adding that it was therefore up to the UNHCR office and the Botswana government to make arrangements for their repatriation. Ballah-Conte expressed gratitude to the Botswana government for offering its resources to be used in the repatriation exercise, adding that the agency hoped the refugees would settle down and soon find relatives. She also thanked the government of Angola for showing the desire to accept its people back and hoped they would provide basic necessities for them to adapt to the new changes in their country. The refugees arrived safely at the Huambo airport in Angola where they were immediately handed over to the UNHCR with the assistance of Eston Kapita, UNHCR camp manager. Kapita said the transit camp accommodated about 1,200 refugees for forty-eight hours to allow them to get legal documents such as national identity cards and passports after which they are taken to their families.

Millions displaced by fighting (UN News Service, 17/12):- The number of people displaced by the last six years of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is now estimated at 3 million - 2.5 million in the east alone - and nearly 4 million people have died as a direct or indirect result of the conflict, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said today. In the east, most of the 2.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) were living with host families, in camps, or in the bush, where food, safe water and sometimes even space were in short supply, according to the agency. Children make up 30 per cent to 50 per cent of the fighting forces in eastern Congo, with boys used as soldiers and porters, and girls suffering sexual abuse. Only 4 in 10 children in the region have been enrolled in school, but UNICEF intervention had increased the registration of girls in the first grade this year. "We have to hold responsible the Government and the international communities, all that are involved in the conflict, to live up to their promises - basically to put an end to this conflict that is destroying a country," said Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF representative for the DRC. Meanwhile, the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) provided an airplane for the Government to fly an investigation and conciliation team of senior officials to Goma because combatants believed to be rebel factions of the national army are fighting in the area of Kanyabayonga, North Kivu province, and have displaced 30,000 people. Two assessment missions on 14 and 15 December had evaluated the amount of humanitarian assistance needed, the Mission said. MONUC, saying it believes that Rwanda carried out its threat of 23 November to send troops to the DRC, called on foreign groups to stop lending support to insurgents. MONUC patrols said unidentified soldiers had received weapons and supplies from foreign sources. In response, the Mission said it was sending all its available peacekeeping troops east to Rutshuru, Kanyabonga, Rwindi, Goma, Beni, Lubero, Butembo, Masisi, Walikale and Nyabiondo.

Thousands flee clashes in the DRC (Mail & Guardian, 08/12):-
Thousands of civilians on Thursday fled clashes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, amid Western concern over conflicting claims about whether Rwandan troops are operating in the area. Bernard Le Flaive, of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told AFP by telephone that "several thousand" civilians were fleeing to Kanya, Kanyabayunga and Kirumba. They are settlements about 150km north of Goma, which is on the Rwandan border. There have been reports of Kigali deploying soldiers in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in recent days to take on Hutu rebels who fled to the vast country after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Le Flaive did not identify whom the rebels were fighting, but said that the civilians came from areas north of Rutshuru and Walikale. "They are fleeing fighting, operations against the FDLR," the organisation adopted by the Hutu extremists who fled Rwanda after carrying out much of the killing during the genocide. "Atrocities are also taking place. We expect more displaced in the coming days," he added. The UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, Monuc, said on Thursday it had "a cluster of corroborating clues that seem to prove Rwandan troops are present in DRC," said spokesperson Mamadou Bah. Helicopter patrols in the Rutshuru region "have allowed us to take aerial photographs showing sometimes abandoned bivouacs and sometimes well-equipped soldiers in new uniforms in the camps," Monuc spokesperson Mamadou Bah said. On Wednesday, Monuc said one of its teams had come across a group of about 100 soldiers thought to be Rwandan near Rutshuru. Bah said it was difficult to confirm whether Kigali has in fact redeployed troops in DRC. Kigali has twice -- in 1996 and 1998 -- sent large numbers of troops to DRC, ostensibly to neutralise Hutu rebels.  Rwandan President Paul Kagame suggested on Tuesday that its troops might have returned, but his advisor on the Great Lakes region, Richard Sezibera, denied that on Thursday. "All reported sightings of Rwandan troops in the DRC are false," he told a news conference, although he warned that "if it became necessary in defence of Rwandan territorial integrity... Rwanda would be forced to enter the DRC." He said Rwanda was "not an enemy" of the DRC. However, "Rwanda is a threat to the ex-FAR and the Interahamwe," he added, referring to the former Rwandan soldiers and allied militia who led the 1994 genocide. "Some sections of Congolese forces are in close collaboration with them." Sezibera said any action in DRC would "be limited in time, waiting for a solution from the international community". He added that Rwandan proposals to the international community and Kinshasa government, such as giving Monuc a mandate to disarm Hutu fighters by force or second Rwandan forces to the DRC army to help, had been rejected. Meanwhile Western leaders urged Kigali to show restraint. "Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as for that of all the other states of the Great Lakes region, is fundamental," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in a statement issued in Brussels. The United States said on Wednesday that it was sending a senior diplomat to Rwanda and the DRC this week to urge both countries to resolve their disputes peacefully. "Obviously, we believe that both countries should solve their difference diplomatically and not militarily, through the exchange of gunfire or the movement of troops in the area," said deputy state department spokesperson Adam Ereli. The same day a committee comprised of ambassadors from the five permanent members of the UN Security council in Kinshasa overseeing the transition to peace denounced what it called a new "aggression" against the DRC. Britain has separately warned of the "very serious repercussions" of a fresh Rwandan deployment in DRC.

Health sector gets funding boost (IRIN, 09/12):- Over the next six years Malawi's health service will receive a £100 million (US $193 million) shot in the arm from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID). The aid package "will help provide free antiretroviral treatment for more people living with HIV from next year", DFID said in a statement, as well as fund "measures to reduce mother and child deaths, and invest in better training and higher salaries for doctors, nurses and other health workers". The money would also be used to assist volunteer doctors and nurses, who will start arriving in Malawi in six months to fill critical posts. DFID said the allocation would increase the UK's spending on Malawi by 50 percent, and "result in a 30 percent rise in Malawi's total health budget". "Malawi lacks many of the staff it needs, and life expectancy has declined from 48 years in 1990 to 39 years in 2000. A properly resourced health service is crucial if Malawi is to cut the number of children dying before their fifth birthday, and the number of women dying in childbirth, and to provide treatment for Malawians living with HIV," Hilary Benn, UK Secretary of State for International Development, was quoted as saying. "This is a practical response to a public health emergency and it will help save lives. It also offers an innovative solution to the shortage of health workers by paying volunteer doctors and nurse tutors to fill posts," he added. DFID will pool its contribution with funds from the World Bank and Norway to support Malawi's health budget.

Overwhelming victory for Frelimo among emigrants (Agencia de Informacao de Mozambique News, 04/12):- Mozambican emigrants in South Africa voted overwhelmingly for the ruling Frelimo Party and its presidential candidate, Armando Guebuza, in the general elections held on Wednesday and Thursday. In the 32 polling stations set up for Mozambican voters in the South African provinces of Gauteng, North-West and Limpopo, Guebuza won 10,047 votes, while the votes cast for his four opponents came to less than a thousand between them. 708 voters chose Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the former rebel movement Renamo, 117 voted for Raul Domingos, the former number two in Renamo who now heads the Party for Peace, Democracy and Development (PDD), and 33 opted for Carlos Reis, of the Movement for Change and good governance. Nobody at all voted for the fifth candidate, Yaqub Sibindy, leader of the islamist Independent Party of Mozambique (PIMO). The results from the remaining nine polling stations, in the provinces of Mpumalanga, Kwazulu-Natal, Free State and Western Cape, are not yet available. Nor does AIM yet have the results of the parliamentary election. Renamo has attempted to devalue Guebuza's victory among the emigrants. The Renamo coordinator in South Africa, Marta Matavela, told reporters on Thursday that Frelimo was arranging electoral fraud. She claimed that Frelimo had tried to prevent Renamo polling station agents from monitoring the election. The fact that Matavela bothered to speak to the handful of Mozambican journalists in South Africa marked a change in her attitude. Previously she had refused to speak to the Mozambican media, alleging that it is a tool of Frelimo and the government. In fact, during the election campaign among the emigrants in South Africa, reporters tried to contact Renamo, but without success. Matavela also said the voting in South Africa was "shameful" because of the low turnout. 32,186 Mozambicans registered as voters in South Africa. Once the missing polling stations are included, somewhere between 40 and 50 per cent will have voted - which is much the same as inside Mozambique itself. Emigrants have better excuses for not voting than people resident in Mozambique - the distances between their homes or workplaces and the polling stations may prove insuperable. Matavela was clearly no expert on electoral law. She complained that at the polling stations, staff explained to citizens how to vote - but that is precisely what they are supposed to do, explaining to voters that they can mark the ballot paper with a pen or a thumbprint, telling them how to fold the ballot paper, and that there are two boxes, one for the presidential and one for the parliamentary election. She also alleged that Frelimo had prohibited the electorate from voting for other parties - but did not explain how such a ban could work in an election on foreign soil and with a secret ballot. It was because of this Frelimo "intimidation", she claimed, that so many of the emigrants had opted to abstain. In reality there is no need to evoke phantom bans and intimidation to explain why the vast bulk of Mozambican voters in South Africa voted for Frelimo and Guebuza - they are voting in exactly the same way as they would vote inside Mozambique, since the vast majority of the emigrants come from the southern provinces, and particularly from Gaza, which are Frelimo strongholds. Matavela claimed that, if he is elected President, the first thing Afonso Dhlakama will do is visit the Lindela transit centre in South Africa. This is where Mozambican illegal immigrants are held prior to repatriation. She promised that Dhlakama would legalise the Mozambicans who are currently living clandestinely in South Africa (though whether the Renamo leader really has the power to convince the South African government to stop deporting Mozambicans is open to question). In her slashing attack on the Mozambican government, she lamented that "only now" was the government rebuilding the Sena line between the port of Beira and the Moatize coal mines in Tete province. But the Sena line was destroyed, not by the government, but by Renamo, which systematically sabotaged it in the 1980s, during the war of destabilisation. A Mozambican election observer interviewed by AIM in Johannesburg, Isalina Mahumane, disagreed with Matavela. She thought the election had been transparent in all the polling stations she had visited. "I can't confirm that there were attempts at fraud by any party", she said. Mahumane admitted that turnout was poor, particularly on the second day, and attributed this to the distances the emigrants had to travel to reach the polling stations.

Mozambicans living in South Africa vote (Star, 02/12):-
  The street in suburban Johannesburg could have been mistaken for a taxi rank. Mozambican nationals staying in Gauteng were ferried in minibus taxis to the Mozambique consulate on Hurlingham Road in Illovo on Wednesday to cast votes in their country's general and presidential elections. They started arriving as early as 5am, with the voting stations opening at 8am.By 11am, about 400 voters were queueing in the street to select a president to replace Joaquim Chissano, who has led the impoverished country for the past 18 years. Joana Dlamini, who is a hawker at the Bekkersdal taxi rank on the West Rand, said: "I am very happy that the officials have given us the opportunity to vote in South Africa. "I have been in this country for the past 10 years and never voted in the past elections because our consulate never organised for us to vote here. "Dlamini, who has left her four children with her parents in Mozambique and goes home only in December, said that if her vote would make a difference, she was happy to lose a day's earnings. "I hope my party will make a difference. We need a government that will create jobs and give our children free and good education. I am in South Africa to make money; my heart is at home with my children." First-time voter Felisberto Armando said it was unfortunate that he had to cast his first ballot in a foreign country. "I wish I had voted at home. I want to go back home but there are no jobs there. I want a government that will create jobs. The government must give us a better life and then we will never work in South Africa. I want to go back home," said Armando, who works for a travel agent. Edward Chimela, a party agent for the ruling Frelimo, said about 32 000 Mozambicans had registered in South Africa to cast their votes in the two-day elections. He said the process had been smooth and peaceful, and people had conducted themselves very well. "The party started to campaign in Gauteng as early as August, and we are happy with the turnout. "We encouraged all the Mozambicans here to register to vote. That is why we have such a huge turnout today," Chimela added. Security guards at the entrance to the consulate had to close the gate because about 200 unregistered voters wanted to be allowed to vote. They complained that they had gone to the embassy to register to vote but the embassy had run out of cards provided as proof that they had registered. An electoral official, who refused to reveal his name, said all those who had registered were given cards as proof, and people without the cards could not be allowed to cast ballots. Businessman Armando Guebuza of Frelimo is favoured to see off a stiff challenge from Afonso Dhlakama of Renamo. Voting began calmly across Mozambique, reports Paul Fauvet of the Independent Foreign Service. In Maputo, some people started queueing as early as 4.30am on Wednesday. Perhaps they need not have bothered - in general, polling staff worked efficiently, and what were originally lengthy queues had largely disappeared by midday. Most polling stations opened on time at 7am, but there were reports of delays from parts of northern Mozambique, where heavy rain, or lack of transport, made it impossible to deliver voting materials and election staff to rural polling stations.

Unregistered Mozambicans demand to vote (Agencia de Informacao de Mozambique News, 02/12):-
Voting in Mozambique's general election by citizens resident in South Africa was endangered when a group of over 70 people who are not registered voters seized control of the Mozambican consulate in Johannesburg early on Wednesday morning. The group, mostly men who seemed to be aged between 20 and 30, forced open the gate leading into the consulate, creating tension among the real voters who were already organised in lengthy queues. When journalists and representatives of STAE (Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat) tried to speak with members of the group, to find out the reasons for this agitation, all they received was a shower of insults. The demonstrators seemed to pose as supporters of the ruling Frelimo Party, since they accused anyone trying to vote of having been "bought" by the main opposition party, the former rebel movement, Renamo. The three security guards on duty at the consulate could not control the situation, and so the South African police were called in to restore order. The Mozambican consul-general, Adelino Luis da Silva, told AIM he had felt obliged to resort to the police in order to prevent any damage to the premises. As soon as the police arrived, the 70 or so agitators left - it is thought that they were illegal immigrants who feared that they might be deported via the infamous Lindela transit centre. Da Silva said there could be no exception - only those who had registered as voters, and possessed the appropriate documentation, could cast ballots. Despite this incident, which might have been a planned act of sabotage, or might have arisen out of simple ignorance of the Mozambican electoral legislation, in general there seemed to be a high turnout among the Mozambican emigrant community in South Africa. There are 39 polling stations in South Africa, five of them at the consulate, where 4,000 voters are registered. Many of these people were taking no chances and began to queue up hours before the polls were due to open at 07.00. This is the first Mozambican election at which citizens living abroad have been allowed to register and vote. Towards the end of the day, there was a minor incident at the consulate, when a Renamo polling station monitor appeared, bearing a credential passed in the name of somebody else. The Renamo credential was issued in the name of Daniel Tembe, but the man who appeared was called Obadias Doce. Frelimo polling monitors protested at this swap, and Renamo promised to correct it. But Doce left and did not reappear. Reports from elsewhere in South Africa indicated a good turnout. For instance, AIM ascertained that at polling stations in two mines near the Botswana border, by the end of the day around half the registered voters had cast their ballots. Since voting will go on throughout Thursday, it is reasonable to hope that eventual turnout will be over 70 per cent.


Illegal immigrants deported (The Namibian, 16/12):- The head of immigration in northern Namibia, Nikanor Ekaku, says an Immigration Tribunal held at Ohangwena recently has deported 159 illegal immigrants to their countries of origin. Ekaku disclosed that 144 of the deported immigrants were from Angola, five were Zambians, two Zimbabweans, three South Africans, one each from Mozambique, Nigeria and Rwanda and two Congolese. According to Ekaku, most of the immigrants were rounded up in the North and some at Katima Mulilo in the Caprivi Region during November this year. Some of those arrested in the Caprivi faced charges of dealing in dagga, he said.  The Angolan nationals, according to him, were deported through the Oshikango border post while the Zambians and Zimbabweans were flown from Grootfontein. Immigrants from South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were transferred to Windhoek for their deportation to be arranged there. Labour Commissioner Bro-Mathew Shinguadja chaired the tribunal.

Bribery rears its head at border (New Era, 07/12):- Bribery at the Ariamsvlei Border Post has reached alarming proportions, with the latest incident a N$10-scandal involving a customs and excise official. Namibia’s south-eastern border post is filled with intrigue in which allegations of cover-ups and scams involving cross-border charge operators are flying, with the police being implicated. It appears as if greed has superseded integrity, professionalism as well as the Namibian Public Service Charter, as incidents of bribery have become a daily phenomenon. The latest incident occurred yesterday, which involved a truck driver of Forecourt Transporters and an official of FHD Enterprises operating as Cross Border Charges (CBC). A female customs clearing official of CBC (name with New Era) has been reported as having defrauded a driver of Forecourt Transporters of N$370. Administering road fund charges, she reportedly correctly charged Type 9 charges for a horse, and Type 12 charges for the trailer. But her greed allegedly took charge of her and she processed a lesser Type 2 charge for the horse and trailer, which amounted to N$220 instead of the required N$550. In the drama that unfolded around midday yesterday, it is reported that were it not for the vigilance of Namibian Police officers at the border post, the crime would have gone unnoticed as usual, said the source. Police officers detected the low charges for the truck, which brings in brand-new vehicles to Namibia. It was when he was confronted about why he paid such a low levy that the unsuspecting driver referred them to the CBC official. New Era established that the officer had pocketed the N$370 difference and issued a permit of N$220. Surprisingly, police have unofficially postponed the opening of an official case until today. Sources at the border post questioned the practice of not opening a case docket and pointed fingers at a possible cover-up to allow the officer to escape the repercussions of her crime. “This is to open the way for her not to face the music,” said a well-placed source. Once the driver is gone police will not be in a position to obtain a statement from him, the source protested. In another scandalous bribery case, a man whose name is in possession of New Era has been charged with accepting a N$10 bribe. Employed at the border post as a customs and excise officer, the man reportedly pocketed the bribe after having allegedly coerced a long-distance truck driver into paying. In the incident, which took place on November 24, the officer who is out on N$800 bail, allegedly told a driver of Goichanaxab Boerdery that he must pay something to have his Agra VAT number corrected. A source in the industry said the VAT number could have been obtained with a mere pounce on a computer key. “Your Agra VAT number is incorrect, but I can correct it for you if you give me something,” the officer reportedly said. At this point, said sources at the border post, the chief of Meat Board inspectors at the border post, a certain Jacques Rossouw who was within earshot, stepped forward wanting to know from the driver why he should pay for the information. “You don’t have to pay,” Rossouw reportedly said. Rossouw was reportedly waiting for the driver to finish with his customs and excise duties before she could inspect the consignment of sheep and goats on the truck. Charges were laid against the officer, said the sources, only to be withdrawn. Sources alleged that a certain female warrant-officer was involved when the charges had been withdrawn against the officer at a restaurant at the border post. The sources alleged that the female warrant-officer arrived with him at the border post wanting to know when the driver would return from South Africa. “She was at the border post with him (the suspect) about four times,” the sources fumed. Despite being charged for bribery, he never landed behind bars, sources said. It is alleged that the same female warrant-officer was arranging bail for him. “His bail was collecting long before she could make telephone contact with the public prosecutor in Karasburg,” the sources said. This is in clear contrast to the case of a certain Andy Snewe who is out on N$1 500 bail. About three moths ago Snewe was charged for having accepted a N$100 bribe. Sources claim that Snewe spent four nights behind bars before he could be granted bail by the court. He was arraigned before a disciplinary enquiry, found guilty and dismissed from the Public Service. Now, it is claimed that the acting chief customs and excise officer, Julius Mungoba has not reported the incident involving the other officer to higher authorities. “This is clear racial discrimination and criminal cover-up from Customs and Namibian Police authorities at the border post,” protested one informant. “What is good for the goose should be good for the gander,” said another.

South Africa
Home Affairs removes sensitive papers (Sunday Times, 30/12):- Department of Home Affairs management removed documents containing sensitive and confidential information from the desks of staff dealing with ID and passport applications at the department's Pretoria central offices on Thursday. "During a normal management operation this morning, it came to management's attention that face value documents, which are normally kept locked away, were lying around on some of the staff's desks," departmental spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said. Mashokwe said face value documents contained sensitive and confidential information which could be used fraudulently and for financial gain if lost, stolen or fell into the wrong hands. He said the "clean-up operation" took less than an hour to be completed, and denied claims that public service delivery had been disrupted. "Staff found with the documents on their desks were called to order by management. No arrests were made and no charges were laid," said Mashokwe. Mashokwe said the Pretoria office opened on time at 8am, and the public was being served as usual. Tshepo Mashiane, a freelance photographer based outside the department's offices, said he did not notice any disruptions. "At around 8am I saw some officials inside the office who looked like they were having a meeting. There were very few people here at the time. There were no long queues or people complaining, it was business as usual," said Mashiane.

Four murders spark fears of xenophobia (Cape Argus, 27/12):- Terror has gripped the Western Cape's burgeoning Somalian refugee population after four Somali nationals were killed in apparently xenophobic attacks at the weekend. One of the attacks, in Khayelitsha, was carried out by a masked assailant and three Somalians were stabbed to death in their shop in Tembalethu, near George. Police have been reticent about attributing motives to the murders, saying that they would have to complete their investigations before drawing any conclusions. According to members of the Somalian community, they had also received information that three Somalians were killed - in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth - on Saturday. Salah abdi Keysane, 25, was shot dead by a masked gunman while overseeing his tuckshop in Ekuphumleni in Khayelitsha, shortly after noon on Saturday. The man walked up to the tuckshop and shot Keysane in the upper body, fatally wounding him, before running away. It is not clear whether anyone else was in the tuckshop at the time. Police spokesman Inspector Elliot Sinyangana said the motive for the murder was unknown as nothing had been stolen from the tuckshop. The man's next of kin, relatives and friends visited the crime scene. "We also established that the deceased came to South Africa as a refugee and was here merely five months," Sinyangana said. Keysane, a Muslim, was buried in Cape Town at the weekend, after the family had requested his body be released to them as soon as possible. The Somalian population in the Western Cape has mushroomed over the past few years, with many of them setting up tuckshops in busy city centres. Asked whether police were investigating the possibility that the murder was the result of xenophobia, Sinyangana said: "We are investigating a murder. We don't really look at it in terms of the victim being from another country. "Once we have more information about the incident, we will communicate with the authorities in the country where the person came from." And in George, police found three Somalians dead in their Tembalethu shop on Saturday. Southern Cape police spokesman Captain Eddie Cronje said police had made the gruesome discovery at about 9am on Saturday. "The three victims were male and at this stage it seems as if they died from stab wounds." The men, who arrived in George only three months ago, were Adikari Mahed, Moosa Piiriye and Hassin Ahmed Abdulllahi. A George resident, who was at their funeral on Saturday evening, said one or two of them had been leasing the property, which they had been using as a tuckshop. He said one's throat had been slit and the other two had been stabbed repeatedly in the chest. They were aged between 21 and 28 years. "The community believes that the three of them could have been killed on Friday night. "They are still young. The community is very concerned at this stage. I was at the janaazah (Muslim funeral) and they said they had got calls from family in Johannesburg and PE saying that three Somalians were killed there (on Saturday). "So, all in all, it looks like seven of them were killed almost on the same day. It is strange."

Groups to protest detention of illegal immigrants (IRIN News, 26/12):- Zimbabwean exile groups are planning to protest against the South African government's decision to suspend the deportation of illegal immigrants until 15 January 2005. Of the 1,500 illegal immigrants held at the Lindela repatriation centre outside Johannesburg, it is estimated that 900 are Zimbabweans. In an interview with IRIN, Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer and head of the Pretoria-based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, said the suspension of deportation represented refugee persecution and was a violation of South Africa's Refugee Act of 1998; his organisation would visit Lindela and press for meetings with the government. According to the Refugee Act, no immigrant can be held without trial for more than 30 days without the consent of a court, he said. Shumba pointed out that the last deportations took place on 10 December 2004 and the next would be on 15 January - 36 days later - and the South African government could be taken to court for violating the rights of immigrants, as spelt out in the Refugee Act. The government's statement that the immigrants had handed themselves over to police in order to get free transport back home was an assumption which had no legal basis, he alleged. Daniel Molokela, coordinator of the Johannesburg-based Zimbabwe Democracy Project, agreed that the suspension of deportations was a violation of the immigrants' rights and amounted to a jail sentence. "It appears the South African government took an administrative decision, maybe based on indications that the immigrants actually made an effort to get themselves arrested in order to get free transport back home ... we have always condemned the ill-treatment of immigrants, most of whom are genuine asylum-seekers. The South Africa government must realise the political realities in the immigrants' countries of origin before making any judgments," said Molokela. Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe-Mapisa Nqakula announced the suspension of repatriations when she toured Lindela after a riot by immigrants who were allegedly demanding to be deported. "There will be no free rides home - you jumped the fence; you will have to suffer the consequences. I will decide who leaves Lindela," the minister was quoted as saying.

Calm returns to Lindela repatriation centre (SABC News, 25/12):- Calm has returned to Lindela repatriation centre after several illegal immigrants went on rampage following news that they will only be deported next year. Most illegal immigrants voluntarily handed themselves to the centre last week in the hope of catching a free ride home in time for Christmas. Inside the centre the men danced their problems away knowing there was nowhere to go. Others opted for playing games on the soccer field, while a few chose to prepare for the day they will be going home. But all of them are unhappy because their deportation has been delayed. The ladies section was more laid back ... a little exercise on the net ball field or a lazy day soaking up the sun. Angelica Alba was arrested in 1997 for drug trafficking; she was convicted and served a seven year sentence. Last month she was brought to Lindela to be deported. "I was hoping I would be home for Christmas but I'm still here. I've served my sentence and don't know why I'm still here." The illegal immigrants may have been expecting to spend Christmas at home, but the closest they came was a phone call to their loved ones.

Moratorium on repatriations (Business Day, 24/12):- The Human Rights Commission of SA has cautioned against the deliberate detention of illegal immigrants at Lindela repatriation centre, urging Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to act within the law. Mapisa-Nqakula's decision not to repatriate any illegal immigrants during the festive season, on grounds that thousands turn themselves in in the hope of a free ride home only to return later, has raised eyebrows among human rights groups. Commissioner Leon Wessels said the constitution stood for respect for every person's rights and dignity irrespective of whether they were locals or foreigners. However, the commission understood that every right had its limitations, provided the state used appropriate legal channels to argue otherwise.  "On the face of it, it seems the minister's reasons and actions may seem reasonable. However, this warrants close scrutiny to ensure that some people are not unfairly treated due to the habits of others," he said. Wessels also said the department's position posed a serious challenge because it had to strike a balance between stopping abuse of state resources and enforcing a law. Mapisa-Nqakula's spokesman, Nkosana Sibuyi, said the department would not be breaking the law in deciding to extend the detention of some 1500 illegal immigrants at Lindela. "The ministry often uses the option of applying in courts for the extension of the detention period particularly when illegal immigrants are found to have lied about their countries of origin," he said. Sibuyi said in the 2002-03 financial year the department spent R95m on repatriations due to an influx of people who had come under the pretext that they were attending the World Summit on Sustainable Development. This was up from R45m the previous financial year.

Congestion at SA, Mozambique border (SABC News, 24/12):- Hundreds of motorists going through the Lebombo Border Post between South Africa and Mozambique have been lining for several hours to go through since this morning. The department of home affairs has now requested motorist's enroute to Mozambique to use an alternative border post to ease the congestion. Since the beginning of this week the volume of traffic and people crossing through the Lebombo Border post to Mozambique has tremendously increased. The department of home affairs has confirmed that it has thus far cleared more than 70 000 people through to Mozambique. Despite the 24-hour service which has been implemented there is still congestion. Other motorists had to wait for more than two hours to go through. Meanwhile, the department home affairs, Customs, together with their Mozambican counterparts, have arranged that taxis, loaded and heavy vehicles are cleared at the old Komatipoort Airport. They say it is another way to ease congestion at the border. The department has also suggested that motorist's enroute to Mozambique also use the Mananga border post into Swaziland, and exit through Lomahasha border post, to ease pressure and delays.

No Christmas ride home for illegal immigrants (Mail&Guardian, 22/12):- Minister of Home Affairs Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Tuesday postponed the deportation of about 2 000 illegal immigrants over the festive period. Mapisa-Nqakula made the announcement during a visit to the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp on the West Rand. Departmental spokesperson Nkosana Sibuyi said the minister made the observation that there is a "tendency by some foreign nationals who are illegally in South Africa to hand themselves over voluntarily so that can get free ride back home", which is a festive phenomenon. "The minister reiterated the department's position that all illegal immigrants would only be deported after the festive season." Sibuyi said Mapisa-Nqakula also observed that some illegal immigrants detained at the centre "deliberately hid their nationalities and identities and pretended to be from war-torn countries so they could acquire refugee status". He said this will delay the immigrants’ deportation as they will have to go through the channels of applying for a refugee permit. Sibuyi said on Monday that Mapisa-Nqakula received a report that illegal immigrants had rioted at the centre. "Six illegal immigrants rebelled and broke some doors and windows -- as they were aware the department had taken a decision not to deport them." On Tuesday, during her visit, the minister ordered the arrest of the six people. "The minister ordered the six be arrested and jailed so they would not influence the rest of the people. They will go through the normal court processes of this country." Sibuyi said Mapisa-Nqakula indicated to the immigrants that "those who violated South Africa's laws would be detained and deported on our time". Most of the illegal immigrants are from Zimbabwe or Mozambique, while the rest are from Nigeria, Malawi, Swaziland and Lesotho.

Immigrants denied free ride home (Mercury, 22/12):-
Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will be remembered as a scrooge by illegal immigrants attempting to hitch a free ride home to spend the festive season with their families.  According to the minister, the immigrants had wrapped their presents, packed their bags and wandered around areas where they knew they would be arrested so that they could be home for Christmas, courtesy of the South African taxpayer.  "Some even come with bicycles they want us to transport home with them," she said.  The immigrants then smuggle themselves back into the country in the new year.  But Mapisa-Nqakula has had other ideas. This month she issued a directive to suspend deportations and the hapless immigrants wanting a free ride will now be spending Christmas under lock and key instead.  Yesterday, Mapisa-Nqakula went to the Lindela Repatriation Centre on the West Rand to break the news to the immigrants.  "There will be no free rides home today - tough luck," she told the 1 500 inmates, whom she had gone to address after a riot broke out on Monday.  The fast round of deportations took place on December 10 and, according to Mapisa-Nqakula, deportations will resume only on January 15, 36 days later.  The Refugees Act provides that a high court judge must review any detention longer than 30 days.  Mapisa-Nqakula said that the inmates who had incited the riot on Monday had been handed over to police.  According to a guard, who asked not to be named, inmates had demanded to be deported and when they were told that deportations had been put on hold, seven had gone on the rampage, breaking windows and doors and trying to scale fences while fellow inmates cheered.  "The instruction came for us to get our batons and donner them. All hell broke loose and the immigrants were beaten badly. After 30 minutes we had the situation under control," the guard said.  Mapisa-Nqakula insisted the guards had handled the matter properly.  "The ringleaders will face charges of malicious damage to property."  However, in a bungle, one of the ringleaders - a man from Nigeria - was released with a group of legitimate asylum-seekers. An investigation into the incident has been ordered.  While Bosasa, the firm contracted to run Lindela, will benefit from the decision to suspend deportations as taxpayers fork over R59 per immigrant per day, there is concern that the move could lead to overcrowding.  The facility, which has 1 500 immigrants at present, can accommodate 6 500 and the numbers will swell as more illegal immigrants are rounded up.  Mapisa-Nqakula left to more boos and jeers, and one inmate shouted sarcastically: "Merry Christmas, minister."

SA ready to discuss Swazi land claims ( Cape Times, 21/12):- South Africa and Swaziland are to establish a joint committee to investigate Swaziland's claim to SA land along its borders. This was agreed during Foreign Minister Nkosazana-Dlamini-Zuma's visit to Swaziland at the weekend when she and her counterpart, Mabili Dlamini, signed an agreement to establish a Joint Bilateral Commission (BLC) for Co-operation. Swaziland has for years agitated for parts of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal to be transferred to it, claiming they are historically part of Swaziland. Dlamini-Zuma told a press conference that SA based its claim to the land on the African Union's policy of respecting the borders inherited from the colonial era. But, she said, SA was ready to discuss Swaziland's claim. The BLC will regulate political, economic, social and cultural relations between both countries. Dlamini-Zuma emphasised that a framework of operation will have to be agreed upon to ensure that both nations were able to "speedily meet the challenges of dealing with poverty, unemployment and diseases such as HIV and Aids". Mabili Dlamini briefed Dlamini-Zuma on Swaziland's constitutional review process, but the SA Foreign Minister did not respond with any concerns from the SA government about the draft constitution which was recently published, department of foreign affairs spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota said. Multiparty democracy has been banned in Swaziland and activists have been agitating for its reinstatement. The draft constitution written by a constitutional review commission appointed by King Mswati III is ambiguous on this point, upholding the right of political assembly but also asserting that ultimate power lies with the king. On Tuesday Dlamini-Zuma will host and chair the meeting of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Pretoria.

Loophole lets foreigners 'buy' SA children (Sunday Independent, 18/12):- Foreigners are using a loophole in the adoption law to take children out of South Africa - sometimes without their parents' approval. There are even Internet websites advising foreigners on how to make use of the loophole to adopt South African children. This emerged in the course of a last-minute application by a mother to the Witwatersrand high court this week to prevent an American couple from taking her children to the United States. The children had been living in a children's home. Alarm bells rang in legal and government circles after the case. "One would have to question the integrity of homes that allow this, because the law is very clear," said Joyce Siwane, acting director of the National Children's Rights Committee. "It is like stealing children." Tovhowani Tshivhase, the chairperson of parliament's committee on social development, said MPs would ask for a thorough investigation into the practice next year. "We will demand action and monitoring, otherwise people are really commercialising this," Tshivhase said. She added that the committee had heard of children ostensibly adopted by foreigners but "treated elsewhere like slaves". In the urgent application to the court this week, an earlier decision to grant guardianship of two children to an American couple was overturned because their mother had never been notified or consulted, a prime requirement in any adoption. Lawyers from the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) who brought the application on behalf of the mother said the case showed how easy it was for wealthy foreigners to adopt South African children, and how flawed the process was. Parliament and the department of social development have since told The Sunday Independent they were extremely concerned about such adoptions through "temporary loopholes", and would soon take action. South Africa has acceded to the convention but has not yet enacted it The applications for guardianship were brought on an urgent basis and one professional involved said it was "almost as though they wanted the children for Christmas". The court, however, upheld a December 7 court order for the US couple to become guardians to two other children, one a baby, and they are already on their way to Virginia in the United States. Achmet Mayet, a lawyer at the LRC's constitutional litigation unit in Johannesburg, said the US couple were sponsors of a children's shelter in Johannesburg where the two children involved in this week's court case, aged four and eight, had stayed for two years. He said the couple claimed to have bonded with the children and paid professionals for favourable reports to ensure guardianship, while the normal system would have required "impartial investigations". The US couple's lawyer tried to assure the court she had done numerous such applications on behalf of foreign couples. The mother, who phoned the home in late November, was informed of the case, four days after an urgent application for guardianship had been granted, when she arrived at the shelter to tell staff she had found steady employment and could make a new home for her children. "I felt betrayed by the children's home," the mother said in an affidavit. "It has always been my intention to be reunited with my children. I was merely waiting until I was back on my feet so that I could adequately care for them. I have been told the effect of the guardianship application will be so drastic as to result in complete and permanent severance of the bonds that tie me and the rest of our family in KwaZulu-Natal to my children." The mother found herself destitute when her husband died in 2000 and her parents-in-law blocked her inheritance. The US couple had followed a route well advertised on websites such as African Angels to bypass the Child Care Act through guardian applications to the high court. Adoption is finalised when the children are already abroad. The only drawback, as set out on the website in a section called "Money, money, money", is that social workers, lawyers and pediatricians must be paid to write reports on suitability. The conventional children's court procedure would deny adoption by foreigners from countries such as the US, which have not acceded to the Hague Convention on adoption which stipulates that all efforts must be made to adopt children in their countries of birth. South Africa has acceded to the convention but has not yet enacted it, because it would have to be in line with the comprehensive children's bill before parliament. Anne Skelton, of the University of Pretoria Centre for Child Law, said inter-country adoptions were illegal in South Africa until 2000, when a constitutional test case found this to be "unfair and unequal". "But the court said there would be protection in terms of the Child Care Act, which stipulated that adoptions are supposed to go through family or children's courts," Skelton said. "But these adoptions are not done under the auspices of the act or the family court, so that protection is not there. "She was also concerned that the US couple already had five children, including two adopted minors with special needs, and wanted four more children. Maria Mabetoa, the chief director for children and families in the department of social welfare, said that in line with accession to the Hague Convention, South Africa was in the process of establishing a national body to authorise and monitor all inter-country adoptions.

Bid to lure expats home (Cape Argus, 17/12):- A concerted bid to lure South Africans living abroad back home will get into full swing this week. The Homecoming Revolution - an independent non-profit organisation that encourages and helps expats return - launches a national advertising campaign this week. Angel Jones, founder of the organisation, said: "Building this nation is everyone's responsibility and that is why this campaign features lots of different South Africans doing their bit." The TV adverts feature several interesting characters, including a farmer shaving the Homecoming Revolution message onto a sheep, a beautician waxing the message onto a man's hairy back, a group of students shaving it onto a friend's head and an expat "peeing" the message onto the snow. They will be aired from December to January on TV, outdoor advertising, press, radio and cinema. Spokesman Martine Schaffer said the adverts would refer to the Home-coming Revolution website, which provides details on "all the information they need to assist them in making up their minds about coming home and helping them with everything from bank accounts, vehicle finance, medical aid to tax advice, property, moving, schools and pets". A competition for expats to win trips back to South Africa will coincide with the advertising campaign. "SA is in the midst of an economic revival, consumer confidence is at an all-time high and the opportunities for South Africans back home have never been better," said Schaffer.

Refugee bill tops R21m (Cape Argus, 16/12):- There are more than 27 000 official refugees living in South Africa and their documentation bill for the Department of Home Affairs tops R21 million a year. Home Affairs minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said in a written reply to a parliamentary question yesterday that 27 046 people - most of whom were Angolan - currently had official refugee status. The minister said that in the past year more than 15 000 refugees had applied for asylum, 4 000 of whom had been turned down. She said an agreement signed last year between Angola, South Africa and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would facilitate the eventual repatriation of most refugees. The R21.8m spent annually was for administration to determine eligibility, said Mapisa-Nqakula. She added that taxpayers' money was not used for housing as the UNHCR provided shelter for refugees.

Sudanese refugee struggles against xenophobia in South Africa (UNHCR, 15/12):- Godwin Ale Willow, a soft-spoken Sudanese refugee, tries to keep up with the thread of our conversation while casting a wary eye on the television camera that is focused on him. Hurriedly, he turns away, telling me that being on television has landed him in trouble on several occasions. Willow stands head and shoulders above most people, and by his own admission, is as dark as midnight. These physical attributes have often put him on the receiving end of xenophobia-related discrimination, which after almost eight years in South Africa, have left him discouraged and disillusioned. We are at the first-ever public hearings on xenophobia held in early November. Jointly chaired by the Government's Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and the South African Human Rights Commission in Johannesburg, the outcome of the hearings will lead to a report that will be tabled before Parliament with the ultimate aim of realising some of the most pertinent recommendations made towards addressing xenophobia. Before the hearings, Willow had been a vocal member of the studio audience of a locally-produced TV talk show on xenophobia. After the programme was aired, he has been shot at and physically harassed by unknown assailants. The police told him to run for his life and to keep a low profile. So he abandoned everything he had painstakingly accumulated over years of doing "piece jobs" as an artist in Johannesburg, and moved to one of the smaller surrounding towns. This is just one of the many close calls he has faced amid an unfriendly climate for refugees and migrants in South Africa. Readily acknowledged as a global phenomenon, the public hearings on xenophobia gave the civil society, government agencies and communities affected by this scourge, the opportunity to voice their concerns – an opportunity Willow used to full advantage. "I have always had the misfortune of being picked up and locked away by the police during their anti-crime raids, on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant or a criminal," says Willow, who lives in the populous suburbs of Yeoville and Berea. This place is unofficially called Little Lagos, a reflection on the number of foreign Africans who have taken up residence in this part of Johannesburg. It is also a favourite hunting ground for the police. "They really have it in for me. One look at me and I'm tried and convicted on the spot! That I have my refugee identity document makes no difference!" The South African Police Service has been accused of discharging its responsibilities with xenophobic zeal. They have been known to demand bribes and tear up refugee identity documents without batting an eye. The official methods they use to verify an individual's status in the country is through language, certain numbers on their identity documents and their geographical knowledge of South Africa. Unofficially, it is most likely to be the colour of one's skin. Their methods of migration control have also netted dark-skinned South Africans who had the misfortune of not having their green identity documents or who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The police have been lambasted through the media for their racially-biased methods which have, among other things, landed Willow at the Lindela Deportation Centre. "I have been there for four times and with each visit, I have struggled to prove my identity. I spent Christmas there last year and was only released on January 15 this year," he recalls. Lindela, like many deportation centres around the world, has an unsavoury reputation. UNHCR's non-governmental legal service provider, Lawyers for Human Rights, alleges that people can be detained at the centre for up to 39 days before deportation. As many as 16 deaths were investigated last year, which the centre attributed to HIV/AIDS. Lawyers for Human Rights found that many of the deaths were due to meningitis and pneumonia. Myth and rumour abound in Lindela, with claims that people disappear or never return from the sick bay. "That may be an exaggeration, but the living conditions aren't suited to the number of people detained there at a given time," says Willow. When he eventually left Lindela in January, thanks to a persistent clergyman, Willow fell ill. Besides the cough he had inevitably picked up at the centre, he became quite depressed. "My time in South Africa has been very difficult and I'm getting old now. Whenever I get in touch with my mother, she cries over the fact that I'm 40 years old and still not married. I ask her how she can think of sending somebody's daughter here when I don't even have a job. When the security officials see me, they see a potential criminal. What life would that be for any wife? I can't have somebody suffer because my height, build and colouring are different," he mumbles. In the recent past, Willow has used his physical make-up to help influence change in the mindset and attitude of xenophobic South Africans. He has participated very actively in the Roll Back Xenophobia campaign, a UNHCR-sponsored public awareness project, speaking openly about how he became a refugee and how difficult it is to find acceptance in the country. He has attended community meetings where he was told to go home. He has braved the hostility of hawkers competing for customers and has been put on display as an "oddity" from beyond the Limpompo, the river separating South Africa from the rest of the continent. "I remember painting a mural of the Last Supper in a church in Soweto, South Africa's largest township," recalls Willow. "Before I knew it, word had got out that a kwerekwere [foreigner] was in the church. Apparently people had been asked if they'd ever seen a foreigner. Those who responded 'no' were pointed in my direction. It was as if they'd come to the zoo. I don't know how much more of this I can take," he confides wearily. "South Africa must be looked at within the context of its history," counters Dumisani Sithole, chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs. He says that considering the country's 300 years of colonialism and half century of apartheid, the racially-biased mindset that was ingrained in people throughout this time cannot be eradicated after only 10 years of democracy. He continues, "This attitude of racial discrimination also exists among South Africa's own ethnic groups! A lot still has to be done in this country for South Africans to accept others for who they are. That is why it has been so important to hold the first of these public hearings." In its attempts to continuously address the ills of xenophobia, the Roll Back Xenophobia campaign will implement some of the recommendations proposed by UNHCR at the November hearing. This includes promoting the education of personnel of all sectors of the civil service, including the police, health and education officials, on refugees and their rights. Such information will be included in syllabi for the induction and continuing training of such civil service personnel. The campaign will also encourage the discussion of human rights and its relevance to the treatment of refugees and migrants, as well as to violations and abuse on the African continent as root causes of forced migration. This should be made mandatory in the syllabus of South African educational institutions, with an emphasis on conveying the common values and cultures shared with other African peoples and promoting knowledge about institutions and processes like the African Union and NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development), that are engaged in the promotion of regional integration and development. South African Human Rights Commission chairperson Jody Kollapen couldn't agree more. In closing the public hearings on xenophobia, he called for an integrated regional approach to dealing with the issues giving rise to xenophobia and the issues that continue to feed it in South Africa. For Willow, however, the disillusionment runs deep. He has resigned himself to the fact that his physical make-up will continue to determine how he will be treated for the foreseeable future, and aspires to leave South Africa for Europe or America, where he believes he will be better tolerated.

Free state farmers unhappy about security (Sapa, 15/12):- Farmers in the Free State were prepared to take government to court for failing to protect its citizens along the Lesotho border, Free State Agriculture said on Wednesday. The union’s chief executive officer, Pieter Moller, said the union already discussed the possibility with its lawyers. “It’s the government's duty to protect its citizens against threats along its borders,” Moller told journalists in Bloemfontein. He said the law and order situation along the Lesotho border would be discussed along with other urgent matters at a union executive meeting in January next year. Other matters that would be on the agenda were the drought situation and Agri-BEE issues. Moller said South African farmers in some areas along the Lesotho border could not make a living anymore. He said various farmers had left their farms along the border due to intimidation and fear of cross-border criminal elements. “This leaves huge areas open for various irregularities,” Moller said. He said the possibility of taking the government to court for failing in its duty would be discussed at a meeting on January 18, 2005. Moller said the union would appoint consultants next year to investigate the effect of land tax on rural areas of the province. “They would work together with agricultural economists in compiling a report in all the different agricultural districts of the Free State,” Moller said. He said this would help municipalities in setting viable land tax targets.

Pandor urges nurses to stay in SA (BuaNews, 15/12):- Education Minister Naledi Pandor yesterday pleaded with nurses not to leave South Africa but to stay in the country and serve needy communities. She was speaking during a graduation ceremony at the Western Cape College of Nursing, in Cape Town, where she told graduates that South Africa would by 2011 have an estimated shortfall of 19 000 nurses. "Why will we be short [of key personnel in the primary health care system]? Because doctors and nurses are emigrating to Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia," she said. Minister Pandor blamed the first world countries for paying salaries that were unattractive to local nurses because these countries knew they could recruit cheap labour from the Caribbean, the Philippines, India and African countries. She said because most of these regions comprised impoverished and developing countries, it was therefore "understandable why oversees work was attractive" to the poor citizens. Ms Pandor said government could only plead with the nurses to come back because it could not stop people from choosing to work abroad as "travelling and living abroad is always good for young people". The minister pleaded with young nurses to remain in the country because South Africa, like other developing countries, faced a daunting challenge to deal with diseases such as HIV and AIDS as well as tuberculosis. Ms Pandor said South Africa needed the expertise of qualified health personnel because "the one quality that nurses can never renounce is compassion." "As nurses, you cannot care for patients without compassion," she said.

Lack of legislation fuels child trafficking (SABC News, 12/12):- Children's rights organisations say the difficulties in curbing child trafficking are the lack of legislation to deal with this trend as a cross border crime. Statistics shows that more than one and half million children are being trafficked every year. Recent findings revealed that children are increasingly being trafficked to be used as cheap labourers, sexual exploitation and even for criminal activities. To curb the trend, the Mozambique, Limpopo and Mpumalanga Task Team against child trafficking launched the child trafficking campaign at the Lebombo border gate between South Africa and Mozambique. Child and human trafficking is sometimes cited to the fastest growing business of organised crime. Most children from underdeveloped countries are alleged to be lured to economically advanced countries to live a better life. Thabile Mkhabela (15) arrived in South Africa about a year ago from Mozambique. Mkhabela says she was enticed by unknown people who promised her a luxurious life in South Africa. On arrival, she alleges that she became a domestic worker. But the Amazing Grace Children's Centre at Malelane about 30 kilometres away from the Lebombo Border post came to her rescue. Mkhabela and other 10 trafficked children have now found refuge at this centre. The picket at the Lebombo Border post indicates that both countries, South Africa and Mozambique are committed to end this trend. Non-governmental organisations believe that African states should focus on poverty reduction programmes. They say such initiative could stop poor communities from becoming vulnerable to child and human trafficking.

Refugees escape to a hell of our making (ZWNews, 11/12):- Too often the survivors of war, rape, brutal beating and all the other infamies our hard-as-nails continent can throw at them discover that in the 'land of opportunity' their time of persecution is not over. The grievous torture scars twisting up the desiccated leg muscles of the young Zimbabwean man who told me of his sufferings as a refugee in South Africa reminded me of another compatriot forced to flee his country because he had fallen foul of a group of Zanu- F bigwigs. Smartly dressed and articulate, but desperate, he had come to me - a total stranger - for help. He had worked as a magazine writer in Zimbabwe and was totally uninterested in politics. But, despite his mild personal manner and the breezy and uncritical content of his publication, fear of thuggery had reduced him to a nervous wreck of a refugee, pleading his case before a total stranger. Politics in the proper sense of the word had not deprived him of home, profession and country. No, his dispute with the ruling party had arisen because his father's employer, a state corporation, had evicted the family from their home after his father suffered a mental breakdown. Objecting politely, but publicly, to this inhumane eviction led to his being hounded out of the country. But his travails were far from over. In South Africa, after obtaining his asylum-seeker's permit, he discovered that the country was anything but a land of opportunity. With unemployment hovering near 40%, he soon wore his shoes bald in the fruitless search for a job, made bread money selling cheap trinkets and slept wherever he could find shelter. But bigger threats lurked in the long shadows of Hillbrow: faceless Zanu PF agents prowled the Zimbabwean refugee communities, sniffing out suspected political dissidents, like wolves assigned to a particularly prominent sheep kraal. As a journalist who had dared to speak his mind on a housing dispute, the young man in front of me was singled out for sudden, and repeated, attacks by suspected agents, sometimes working in cahoots with corrupt South African police members in uniform. The thugs - for they never robbed him - would calmly stroll into a refugee shelter, identify him and give him a thrashing, in full view of anyone present, without a word being said, and then leave as silently as they had come. This combination of physical and psychological terror naturally took its toll on the young man's self-confidence. A friend and I gave him a plausible false name and nationality, and a ticket to a safer place where Zanu PF agents were unlikely to lurk and where other friends were willing to help him. But on the very night of his departure I received a frantic SMS from him: "I'm at Park Station. I've been attacked again and am bleeding all over. Please help me." I called back. No reply. Try as I might, I was unable to trace him and never heard from him again. I don't know if he bled to death where he stood, or whether some kind soul took him to hospital. I fervently hope he has safely gone to ground somewhere and is managing to rebuild his dislocated and bruised life. But, despite the presumed bloody end of a bright young talent, he was still numbered among the "lucky" few: according to a study by the Solidarity Peace Trust, released last month, fewer than 20 out of more than 5 000 Zimbabweans who have applied for political asylum in South Africa to date have been granted that status. The vast majority languish in a twilight world of what the Wits Law Clinic's refugee unit alleges is corruption of jaw-dropping proportions by Home Affairs refugee officers and the extortionist "interpreters" who fiendishly fleece refugees of their last few rands. Processing asylum-seeker applications within the statutory 180 days appears to be only for the favoured few and those who are able to cross palms with silver. The remainder of the more than 84 000 asylum-seekers in South Africa are kept in limbo, all the better to feed off them, forced to walk a treadmill of bribery for as long as eight years. Then we have all heard the tales of heartbreak, of cops illegally applying arbitrary and racist skin-colour decisions to ship refugees off to the notorious Lindela detention camp on the West Rand, the latest example to grab headlines being that of a young South African woman who sobbed in terror at the threat of being deported to Zimbabwe, a country to which she had no links, "because she was too dark". We have all read the accounts of refugee communities of so-called Amakwerekwere attacked by xenophobic South Africans pumped up with an ugly and distorted sense of national pride. What this means in practice is that tens of thousands of refugees who have escaped the most atrocious conditions this tough-as-nails continent can serve up - war, famine, torture and genocide - more often than not walk barefoot for hundreds of kilometres, their only belongings the clothes on their backs, to reach the supposed sanctuary of South Africa. Once here they find themselves beaten and robbed again, this time by the very official guardians of this country's proud traditions. The refugee unit tells of one Congolese man, in training for the priesthood, who saw his own father and the village elders forced into a mass grave and shot. Shanghaied by his father's killers to slave as a human ammunition mule, he survived route marches through the jungle only to be thrown into a dungeon in Kinshasa as a suspected spy after a daring escape. As the unit's director, Abeda Bhamjee, says, only the tough make it as far as South Africa, only to be broken on the wheel, like this man, by indifferent, greedy and amoral police and refugee officers. This week, another in a long string of refugees drags her battered body to the unit's door. Denied an asylum-seeker document by refugee officers demanding a bribe as high as R700 for a piece of paper that is, according to an international human-rights convention, supposed to be issued free, she comes with an allegation of having been mugged by police. Without papers, or another extortionate fee of R1 500 - this time demanded by the hospital - she cannot now get medical treatment for her wounds. The unit says scores of unaccompanied minors found have been found abandoned at Lindela camp. Meanwhile a refugee officer is chanced upon at work, dripping with "nearly R20 000 in gold jewellery", trying on shoes and eating vetkoek with an unlicensed "interpreter", as a storeroom overflows with asylum applications and pitiful asylum-seekers defecate where they stand in the alley outside, so fearful are they of losing their place in the queue. Quizzed about this, the officer complains that her workload is "unacceptable": her busy workday has consisted of filling in eight brief asylum application forms. The ugly underbelly of "quiet diplomacy" on the Zimbabwean crisis or similar overly polite engagement is only part of the problem. Human Rights Watch says that, while the 1998 Refugees Act has established an acceptable mechanism for processing asylum-seekers, its implementation is sadly deficient. More important, the 2002 Immigration Act is "widely recognised" as being in violation of international human rights law by permitting the forced repatriation of refugees. The South African government uses this licence to deport some 5 000 refugees a month. Given our overweening pride in South Africa's constitutional democracy, and the sanctuary offered by other African nations when so many of our compatriots fled abroad to escape the murderous ravages of apartheid, it is deeply shaming that we do not reciprocate with open arms and welcome these tenacious survivors as our own.

SA, Mozambique visa requirements to be scrapped (SABC Newa, 10/12):- Mozambique and South Africa are set to scrap visa requirements between the two countries. After a church service in the Mozambican capital of Maputo, Alfredo Namitete, the Maputo province governor, spoke to the media on the visa problems between the two countries. Namitete and Thabang Makwetla, his South African counterpart in the Mpumalanga province, agree that the scraping of visa requirements between their two countries is long overdue. Namitete says we are one and the same people and the most important thing for us to do is to remove the remaining barriers, some from the colonial times. Makwetla adds that in principle there is an agreement that as closely-knit neighbours, South Africa and Mozambique should have the kind of intense procedures for people to move. South Africans pay about R116 for a single entry visa to Mozambique, while their counterparts pay over three times that much to enter South Africa. Expected decongestion - The visa procedure has caused Thandi Lujabe-Rankwe, the South African high commissioner in Mozambique, a few problems. She says that some months back there were problems of people having to pay a certain deposit, but we have dealt with that. After the scrapping of visas it is expected that congestion at the Ressanio Garcia - Lebombo border, especially during the festive season, will be a thing of the past. The two countries are planning to open a one stop border post at Lebombo. It is hoped that processing of immigration documents will be quicker once it is up and running.

Law society calls for better treatment of immigrants (SABC News, 10/12):-
The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) says it is concerned about how illegal immigrants are treated once they are caught. The organisation today visited the Lindela Repatriation Centre where illegal immigrants are kept before they are deported. The visit was part of the International Human Rights Day celebration.  "It is important that we ensure that they are treated fairly, they are treated lawfully, so that when they are deported they accept that there has been a fair and a proper process," said Vincent Saldanha of the Law Society of South Africa.  The comment came after immigrants told them of alleged maltreatment by the police. Some even alleged that police tore up their documents.  The Grootvlei Prison in Bloemfontein also came under scrutiny today. The prison's Medium A section is 209% overcrowded. The lawyers' association says it will hand over a report on their findings on the matter to government next year.

Foreign role in SA property market (Business Day, 08/12):- Government's audit of foreign property ownership in SA will show it to be "completely insignificant" , Pam Golding Properties CE Andrew Golding predicted on Tuesday. Golding's remarks came as hearings on the possible restriction of foreign land ownership were being held as part of a debate in Parliament , a process that could lead to legislation. SA has become an attractive option for foreign property investors, particularly in Western Cape, and this has led to perceptions that overseas buyers are driving up prices, making it difficult for ordinary South Africans to own property. Golding said at a news briefing that the notion of foreigners buying up all the land in SA was "completely untrue". He said that in the case of Pam Golding Properties, foreigners represented 10% of sales, which was less than 1% of the total number of properties sold. Also the economy was, to "some extent", influenced by sentiment, and restrictions on foreign ownership would send out a "negative signal to the outside world", he said. Golding said the group, which had sales of R12,6-billion last year , would make a submission to the land affairs department on the issue of foreign ownership. "We believe the potential restrictions on foreign ownership are misguided because the country is looking to promote foreign direct investment," he said. Golding said his company sold properties worth R1-billion last year which was 10% of sales and represented about 1 000 home-owners to foreigners. This money had a multiplier effect on job creation, as well as the promotion of tourism when the foreigners returned to their home countries. This established a significant case for such sales, Golding said. He said the notion that foreigners caused prices to increase was "fallacious 99% of property prices are determined by the local market and not" foreigners. Golding said government was looking to link the notion of land reform to foreign ownership, but these were two "completely separate issues". "There is no question that land reform and a satisfactory solution to land reform is necessary but it is unrelated to whether foreign buy more or less property," he said. "We support the notion of land reform, but what we don't support is the notion that the restriction on foreign ownership is going to assist in land reform."

More foreigners visit SA (Finance24, 08/12):-
The number of foreign visitors to South Africa has increased by almost 6% on a year-on-year basis in September. Statistics South Africa said on Wednesday there has been a 5.9% year-on-year increase in the number of foreign visitors to South Africa, with the total number of foreign travelers to the country increasing from 561 142, compared with 530 094 in September last year. This include the total number of visitors from mainland Africa, overseas and unspecified countries, arriving through all ports of entry into South Africa. The most common mode of travel used by foreign travelers arriving in South Africa was road, involving 388 135 (69.2%) travelers, followed by air (158 134 : 28.2%). Of the total number of foreign travelers arriving by air, 128419 (81.2%) arrived through Johannesburg International Airport while 28 550 (18.1%) arrived through Cape Town International Airport, 355 (0.2%) arrived through Durban International Airport and the rest, 810 (0.5%), arrived through other airports. A total of 150 923 overseas travelers visited South Africa in September ­representing an increase of 0.2% over the September 2003 figure of 150 572. The figures show that for September 2004, there were 127 252 air arrivals from overseas, which accounts for 84.3% of all overseas arrivals. Of these overseas air arrivals, 99 727 (78.4%) arrived through Johannesburg International Airport; 26818 (21.1%) arrived through Cape Town International Airport; 197 (0.2%) arrived through Durban International Airport and the rest, 510 (0.4%), arrived through other airports. The number of overseas travelers arriving by road during September 2004 was 22964 (15.2%), while the number of travelers arriving by rail, sea and unspecified mode of travel was 707 (0.5%). The total number of travelers who arrived in South Africa from mainland Africa during September 2004 was 394 889, compared with 364 703 in September 2003 ­an increase of 8.3%.  Of these travelers 364 042 (92.2%) traveled by road, 29993 (7.6%) by air and 854 (0.2%) by rail, sea and unspecified mode of travel.  Of the 150 923 overseas travelers visiting South Africa during September, 136757 (90.6%) did so for holiday, while the rest came for business.

Home Affairs comments on death of Malawian (The Witness, 07/12):- The Home Affairs Department has officially commented on the death of foreigner Joseph Pencil (61), who died in a Mountain Rise police holding cell recently. The Witness reported last Monday that Pencil, a Malawian, died after he was arrested at the Home Affairs office while trying to sort out his papers. Home Affairs spokesman Nkosana Sibuyi confirmed that Pencil died two and a half days after he was detained. Pencil was referred to immigration officials by the ID section after he attempted to apply for a South African identity document. "He was told that he did not qualify and that he had been residing illegally in the country since November 20, 1993, when his temporary residence permit expired. "As he was in the country illegally, the immigration officer informed him that he was to be deported, to which he replied he had no objection. He was detained at Mountain Rise Police Station pending deportation and died two and a half days later," said Sibuyi. A postmortem revealed that Pencil died of natural causes. His friends believe his death was caused by an asthma attack brought on by fear and exacerbated by poor ventilation in the cell. Sibuyi apologised for the delay in responding to a fax sent to him by the Witness and said he had been away in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was asked if arrests at the Home Affairs office, a place where foreigners should be helped, would discourage others from coming forward, but said he does not think so. "Each and every case is dealt with on its own merits and foreigners have a duty to keep themselves legal in this country. "He added that Pencil's death was reported to the Malawian High Commission, which will inform his next of kin. "As a department we find the death of Mr. Pencil regrettable and take this opportunity to pass our condolences to his family, friends and the people of Malawi. "Sibuyi said Pencil was kept at Mountain Rise while awaiting transportation to the Lindela Deportation Centre near Krugersdorp. He would have waited there with fellow Malawians until there was a big enough group to transport to their home country cost-effectively. Lindela was criticised by Lawyers For Human Rights (LHR) last month for the poor conditions in which detainees are kept. LHR criticised the centre during a hearing on xenophobia hosted by the Human Rights Commission and Parliament's portfolio committee on foreign affairs. The organisation also said that police stations are ill.; equipped for detaining foreigners not having adequate staff, physical facilities or access to medical services. Sibuyi dismissed negative reports on Lindela. "People should see for themselves rather than rely on second-hand reports. I'm not saying it is perfect but it complies with international standards."

Solution to SA doctor crisis (Sapa, 03/12):- South Africa should follow the Australian model in recruiting foreign doctors to rural areas, the Health Summit 2004, heard on Friday. Timothy Msiza, chairman of the Health Professions Council of South Africa, said doctors were recruited to specific areas of Australia where it was difficult to fill posts and required to stay there for five years before becoming naturalised. "We need to find a more user-friendly method (such as this for South Africa)," he said in Johannesburg. Speaking from the audience, Msiza also said that in KwaZulu-Natal, where he is a district manager for Thekwini Municipality, there were worryingly few responses to advertisements for nursing posts. "The problem is we recruit them at entry-level without giving enough attention to their previous experience," he said. Friday morning's session focused on human resources and also heard that the Department of Health's national human resources database was in need of improvement. Another delegate proposed that the Department of Health challenge universities to establish rural campuses to train rural health workers. "That will pull together a number of strands, enriching the lives of those working in rural areas and doing community service," she said.

Hearings held on foreign ownership of land (Cape Times, 01/12):- Public hearings on foreign ownership of South African land, initiated by Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza, are taking place around the country in preparation for the possible drawing up of legislation. Advertised in Afrikaans in a daily newspaper on Wednesday, two Western Cape hearings are to take place today. One is in the Belmont Square Conference Hall in Rondebosch and the other in the George Museum. Both are scheduled to take place from 9am until 1pm. Neo Masithela, chairman of parliament's portfolio committee on land affairs, said on Wednesday foreign ownership of land could hamper South African land reform. Claimants might ask for land that had become too expensive, because foreigners were driving up prices, he said. Other problems were that when foreigners sold land, the money was more likely to leave the country, and foreign ownership could drive land prices past what South Africans could afford. Andrew Golding of Pam Golding Properties said foreigners owned only 10 percent of Cape Town properties, and that the 90 percent local ownership had a greater impact on how prices rose. "It is our view that we need to be promoting, rather than inhibiting foreign direct investment," he said. "The notion that foreign ownership is inhibiting land reform is incorrect." Masithela said it was impossible to put a figure to foreign ownership as overseas firms often bought land in the name of the South African companies they owned. The United States and other countries had laws limiting foreign ownership of land, Masithela said.

New home affairs office for Khayelitsha (BuaNews Online, 01/12):-
New, classy offices for the Department of Home Affairs were officially opened in Khayelitsha today and the offices will help fulfill government's mission to bring essential administrative services closer to the people. The new offices are fully resourced and will render all services provided by home affairs such as the processing of applications and issuing of birth and death certificates, identity documents, passports and related official documents necessary for use by people when. dealing with internal or foreign authorities. Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told residents at Khayelitsha today that her department had decided to bring this facility to the doorstep of people because it played an imperative role in terms of service delivery. "In order to address the real challenge that our Department faces in improving service delivery levels, what we need to do is to ensure that our services are conveniently accessible to all South Africans, particularly those who still have to travel long distances to cities and towns in order to access these services," said minister Mapisa-Nqakula. She said the department of home affairs had over the past years encountered a number of serious challenges obstructive to effective service delivery. "We have identified some of these problems as capacity related, some have to do with infrastructure, some, such as corruption are people related and others pointed to a lack of work ethic," added the minister. "We are currently working on a strategy to ensure that these problems are addressed as a matter of urgency in order to free up the energies of all our staff to focus on the delivery of an effective and efficient service for our clients," she said. Ms Mapisa-Nqakula said she was saddened by reports of some poor people failing to access government's social service grants because it took a long time for the department to issue them with relevant documents. "We have heard of young people who have lost opportunities because they could not get a loan or a bursary to advance their studies without an ID or children who are malnourished when they could qualify for child support grants if they were registered at birth," noted the minister. She said her department would soon conduct a survey to identify the extent of the problem regarding citizens who have no success to Home Affairs services and determine the number of those who qualify for the ID but have never applied. She also urged the community to look after the building and protect it from vandalism. "These things belong to us and we need to guard them with pride," she said. Khayelitsha resident Baba Mboyiya said the new offices were a true reflection of how committed government was in fulfilling the needs of the people. ""We are glad about this because now we can easily access Home Affairs services. It's just a walking distance from home," she said.

Migrants a cash cow for immigration officials (Ippmedia, 17/12):- Illegal aliens, including those with ‘illegal’ citizenship, are a source of regular income to some corrupt elements in the Immigration Department, The Guardian can reveal. In its investigation, The Guardian has established that some corrupt immigration officials demand regular payments, from illegal immigrants, threatening to disclose the status of their ‘prey’ if they would not do ‘the needful.’ To conceal their true identity, the immigrants surrender to the bullying officials for fear of being exposed. A source (name withheld) whose relatives were ‘granted’ with citizenship, spoke to The Guardian in Dar es Salaam earlier this week. He spoke of the bother and psychological harassment by the ‘ever demanding’ Immigration officials, who had assisted his relatives. “They usually use agents, especially during festivals like Eid, Christmas or long weekends, insisting that the stay of our relatives was a kind of unfinished business that needed to be paid for regularly,” complained the source who lives in Dar es Salaam. He was extremely happy though, boasting that nothing was impossible in Tanzania, as long as money was available. He also explained on how quick his relatives were ‘served’ by Immigration officials after greasing their palms. Through such procedure, the source made it possible for some of his relatives from Pakistan to settle comfortably in the country. “What bothers us is how they keep pestering us. No matter how long it takes, the officials would not stop pursuing the immigrants,” said another source whose relative (illegal immigrant) is currently running a shop in Mwanza. Further investigation by The Guardian discovered the existence of volumes of documents purportedly issued by the authorities as work or residence permits. Scanning through the documents, The Guardian learnt that they were hurriedly filled in. As such, they are full of mistakes and factual errors. For example, the file of a foreigner (name and DN no withheld) whose photo appeared on one of English dailies, (not The Guardian) in December 2004 seeking citizenship, was already in possession of a passport no. A 5841573 purportedly issued on December 15, 1998. The applicant is impersonating a Marketing Consultant but The Guardian has established that he is totally illiterate, and knows absolutely nothing about the marketing profession. It came to light that some of the headed papers “signed” by the chairman of the Work Permit Committee in the ministry of Labour Youth Development and Sports had been phony. The compulsory fee of 680US dollars was paid and the applicant was granted “Class B” permit, allowing him to work solely as Marketing Consultant in Dar es Salaam. One of the regulations in issuing Special Pass to a foreigner states: “The holder shall not engage in any employment, business profession other than Marketing Consultant…” This was issued in August 2003. On the other hand, the residence permit allegedly issued by the immigration office allowed this alien to work outside Dar es Salaam. Currently he is working in the Lake Zone regions. The revelation substantiates this paper’s previous illegal immigrants exposure which pointed an accusing finger at unscrupulous immigration officials. The border area of Namanga in Arusha Region serves as an important checkpoint where transactions of illegal immigrants are conducted.

Labour migration invokes controversy (The Express, 16-22/12):- The workforce in Tanzanian will not be affected by free movement of labours through East Africa. Assuring this at the launching ceremony of the ILO-EU/EAC Labour Migration Project for East Africa, the Minister for Labour, Youth Development and Sports Professor Juma Kapuya claimed that it also opens new opportunities for the Tanzanian workers to explore other markets. The main objective of the project is to help East African countries to develop appropriate policy framework for ensuring access to the labour markets and supply of labour force. Other factors include the availability of employment and imperatives of regional economic cooperation and development. Kapuya told members of the press in Arusha on Monday that as regards the project, “The free movement of persons, labour and services would not pose a threat to Tanzanians,” he said. "On the contrary, the EA Labour Migration will create a legitimate way of enabling EA residents to work in the three EA member states legitimately and without fear of being intimidated,” he added. “Most Tanzanians are not aware that a huge number of Tanzanians work in various sectors in Kenya and Uganda but the number of Kenyans and Ugandans working in Tanzania is not that high,” he pointed out. He however, agreed that in the past, the Tanzanians have suffered in the competition due to poor knowledge of English language. “But still there is need to open up the borders so that Tanzanians can move freely,” he said. “Migratory activities particularly labour are increasing but the destinations are changing due to the developments that are taking place in each respective country,” he clarified. Within the EAC, there are a number of committees working on a number of issues. One of such committees established under Article 104 of the EAC Treaty is on the facilitation of the movement of Persons, Immigration, Labour /Employment and Refugee management.

Labour migration project launched (Ippmedia, 15/12):- Management of labour migration in East Africa and other parts of the world is poor, according to a senior International Labour Organisation (ILO) official. ILO Executive Director of Social Protection Sector Assane Diop said at the launch of the ILO/EAC (East African Community) Labour Migration Project in Arusha on Monday that there was a major gap in the global governance arising from absence of a multilateral system for regulating labour migration. “In the case of trade, we have the World Trade Organisation. In the case of finance, we have the International Monetary Fund. But in the case of movement of people across borders, there is no multilaterally accepted set of principles on how states must manage migration, let alone a multilateral institution,” he said. He added: “The consequences are already clear. There are some 38 million or so people in an irregular situation and their numbers are rising. They are everywhere, vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.” The ILO became aware of the gap and adopted a resolution calling for a multilateral framework for managing labour migration when the organization met last June. Diop said labour migration was an important contributor to development in terms of creation of investment and wealth.
“According to the World Bank, in 2001 workers’ remittances to developing countries stood at US$72.3bn, considerably higher than the amount of Official Development Assistance for that or any other recent year,” he said. He said the EAC Labour Migration project was part of the ILO Labour Migration for Development and Integration in Africa, covering 22 countries in north, west and east Africa. EAC Secretary-General Ambassador Amanya Mushega said colonial boundaries barring free labour movement in East Africa were “imprisoning” East Africans. “Colonial boundaries are a huge prison as far as Africans are concerned. They were never made to benefit us. They are milestones around the necks of the African people…they are sinking us, not protecting us.” Mushega said the project would guarantee free movement of labour as envisaged under Article 104 of the EAC Treaty on free movement of persons, labour and services.

Illegal immigrants 'given a hand' (Ippmedia, 13/12):- Cross-border visits among the Maasai are one of the easiest ways for illegal immigrants from the Horn of Africa to enter Tanzania. Underground agents then make millions of shillings in return, The Guardian special investigation can reveal. Last week, The Guardian exposed a scam involving illegal immigrants of Asians believed to be forging certificates to secure Tanzanian passports. In this latest revelation, the ‘business’ is peddled by Maasai speakers, entering Tanzania in the name of normal family or clan visits. A source ( name withheld) told The Guardian that the 'human trafficking’ gained momentum in the recent past, following a dramatic increase of the number of people on the other side of the border, in dire need of the service. “Illegal immigrants from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea have managed to cross the border into Tanzania with assistance of Maasai young men, "the source said, adding that the price was 30 US dollars per head last year. "The charge has been raised to 50 US dollars, or an equivalent of 50,000/- usually paid after crossing the border,” explained the source. The first and foremost qualification for a local agent to operate successfully was fluency in the Maasai language, and a bit of English would be an advantage to communicate with the immigrants, the source said. In a separate interview, a retired Maasai elderly ( from the Police Force) said the number of new comers in villages like Mushono, Longido and Kiseriani was surprisingly increasing. He said an average of 30 new faces enter the villages in a month. They are dressed in the traditional Maasai attire, have shaven heads, but are unable to speak the local vernacular. “These people are Somalis and Ethiopians. They do not understand even a single Maasai word. Some of them speak English but within no time, they disappear from the villages,” he said. The former police officer who opted for anonymity named Ngaramtoni and Losalio villages in Arusha as ‘on-transit hubs,’ for illegal immigrants. On whether the Maasai agents also help the immigrants acquire forged birth certificates, the source said to the best of his knowledge, the dealers were not bothered with such documents. ‘They seem satisfied with money they get from helping the immigrants enter Tanzania,” he said. Commenting on the possible driving force behind the influx of illegal immigrants who would not settle in neighbouring Kenya for example , the ex-policeman pointed a finger at ‘laxity in Immigration procedures.’ “I have been to Kenya several times. Everyone carries a kipande ( ID card). The immigrants admit things are easier in Tanzania than Kenya. They say there are a lot of opportunities for them to become rich here,” said the source. He said the Maasai of both Tanzania and Kenya have a tradition of visiting each other without going through rigorous checks at the border. “Besides, the extensive border allows them to move freely to and fro. A few individuals cash in on the porous border. I suspect this would lead to serious consequences,” he cautioned. Many Maasai families in Arusha and Manyara regions have relatives in Narok (Kenya). Expressing disappointment on the turn of events, another source from the Immigration Department, a junior staff in Arusha who preferred anonymity, said it was absurd the traditional visits have exceeded the anticipated normal family acquaintances. Commenting on the problem of illegal immigrants, the Director of Criminal Investigations, Adadi Rajabu, told The Guardian at the weekend that the police were on the alert. “The police are working closely with the Immigration Department, especially at the borders where reports of entry of illegal immigrants have been registered,” said the DCI. The DCI had a suggestion on the best way to overcome the problem of porous borders. “The issue of national security involves all citizens. Those hosting illegal immigrants make matters worse. I appeal for co-operation from the public,” the DCI said. He said the frequent arrests of illegal immigrants in different parts of the country did not just end up there. The police also investigated into how the aliens managed to evade Immigration procedures.

Asian in citizenship scam (Ippmedia, 07/12):- Forged birth certificates issued to illegal immigrants are a lucrative business in Arusha and a fastest way for aliens to acquire genuine Tanzanian passports. At the center of this illicit business are well informed local agents who have been colluding with Immigration officials for years to ‘smuggle’ foreigners into the country, The Guardian can reveal. In a week-long investigation conducted in Arusha recently, The Guardian discovered that a clandestine syndicate is reaping millions at the expense of the country’s security, through this human trafficking of its kind. The ‘strategic’ position of Arusha, with its famous border area of Namanga, makes it ideal for the entry of illegal immigrants, purporting to be on transit to neighbouring Mozambique, Zambia or Malawi through Dar es Salaam. A source close to the business ( name withheld) told The Guardian that on average, the forgers issue 20 birth certificates per week. The fee ranges between 80,000/- and 150,000/- depending on the financial muscle of the host(s). The Guardian discovered that there are two types of local hosts, those who have settled in Tanzania but would like to bring in their relatives too, and those whose participation is purely “business’. If the host happens to be of Asian origin, the costs are inflated, but are nonetheless not below 80,000/- per person, even if the organizer is a Mswahili, as the source put it. To keep the business safe from the authorities, the source said the process has a far reaching end. He said local agents who have been in the business for more than six years have won the hearts of some officials in the Immigration Department with whom they share their ‘loot’. “The locals usually communicate with their accomplices abroad, mostly of Asian origin, informing them about the number of immigrants expected in the country in a particular month through Namanga border. This simplifies the ground work ,” the source said. He named Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and the Kashmir region as the major countries of origin of immigrants being assisted to enter the country illegally. On why Namanga features prominently in the scam than any other border, the source said “On-transit” immigrants arrive in neighbouring Kenya by air, with fake documents which indicate that they are on their way to Mozambique via Tanzania. “They (illegal immigrants) are quickly whisked to Namanga where they undergo superficial immigration formalities, having their faked documents hurriedly stamped by officials already informed of their arrival,” explained the source. The source further alleged that it was not by mistake that no one cares to make a follow up on whether the new comers made an exit or not because a few unscrupulous Immigration officials are aware of the deal. In its investigation, The Guardian was shown two houses in Arusha Municipality that serve as rest houses for new arrivals, as they wait to complete necessary procedures, such as photograph taking before being handed over with birth certificates. ‘’One of the houses is located in Kijenge area and is heavily fortified, with security guards on alert 24 hours a day, ‘’ said the source, adding: “The house belongs to one of the officials in the Immigration Department. He makes a lot of money for working with the syndicate facilitating entry of illegal immigrants. He has another house in ( name withheld). As a matter of fact it is also meant for this business,” the source said. Before completing the ‘necessary procedures,’ the immigrants are not allowed to meet their hosts or relatives in those houses, for fear that the secret locations might attract public attention. “I once worked as a food supply employee in those houses but I decided to quit after realizing that I was ‘playing with the long arm of the law’. As we talk about it, I believe there are new comers in those houses,” the source said. The Guardian also established that well-paid computer experts are employed to ensure regular production of counterfeit birth certificates. “They have taken oath of allegiance not to reveal the secret as that would be detrimental to their job and the whole big business,” the source said. Production of the counterfeits was carefully planned to match the number of immigrants. No production was done in excess for any one reason. “Controlled production of the documents is a strategy to avoid any evidence in case of police raid. No documents would be confiscated unless a timely invasion was carried out,” suggested the source. In an interview, an Immigration official who preferred anonymity said a birth certificate facilitates the entire process for securing a Tanzanian passport. “According to the law, the affidavit forms would not be filled in by a person without a birth certificate or elder relatives to verify the nationality of the applicant. Once you have a passport you are a citizen of that country,” explained the official. Efforts to contact officials from the Immigration Department Headquarters in Dar es Salaam for comments proved futile.

Illegal immigrant workers in tourism sector (06/12):- Immigration authorities in northern Tanzania are investigating reports that over 200 foreigners have been working illegally in the tourism sector in Arusha. The foreigners under probe are from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia and Zimbabwe, who have been working in the country without valid working permits. These foreigners are reportedly employed by tour agencies as guides and drivers for the advantage of their second languages. Justin Kabigumira, principal immigration officer in Arusha, confirmed having received reports about the illegal immigrant workers and said his department is investigating the matter. "I don`t have the exact number of illegals working in Arusha," said the immigration officer, "but we have information that there are agents who smuggle foreigners at a fee through Namanga and other border points." Arusha is an important gateway to Africa`s highest mountain of Kilimanjaro, to the continent`s biggest wildlife reserve of Serengeti and to the excavation site of the world`s most ancient human beings. Foreign tourists to Arusha is on a steady rise in recent years.

Tour companies smuggle in illegal immigrants (Arusha Times, 04-10/12):-
Many Tour companies operating in the Arusha are said to be involved in smuggling in a number of illegal immigrants from foreign countries, to come and assist them in their businesses, The Arusha Times has learned. This was revealed by the Principle Immigration Officer (PIO), Justin Kabigumira in his office early this week, as he was explaining to journalists, the current influx of alien workers, who keep flocking into Arusha at an alarming rate. According the Immigration officer, many local tour operators have been importing workforce from other countries as strategy to equip their companies with members of staff who are fluent in foreign languages especially French. The operators thus would bring in Congolese immigrants, who are conversant in French, to work for their companies so as to handle Francophone tourists. Others however, dubbed as AEconomic refugees@ infiltrate into the country through the infamous APanya routes@ dotting the local borderlines. In Arusha they fill the vacuum of AForeign tongue experts@ in tour companies and the mushrooming English medium schools, where they would serve as ATeachers.@ The immigration department has so far uncovered six such cases, where four of the suspected illegal immigrants were found to have crossed in at Kigoma and one was in fact a refugee. Operation to smoke out illegal immigrants has however just begun and a long list of the suspected culprits has been submitted to the concerned authorities for thorough check up. This paper has discovered. On the other hand, Kabigumira has cautioned residents who are living near the borders to keep watch and report immediately, if they see suspect foreigners in their communities. Addressing the issue of alleged foreign AExperts@ the Officer pointed out that, an expert should only do the work that no local person is qualified enough to handle and argued that, most people who claim to be foreign experts usually do normal jobs here. He also warned that foreigners were not supposed to own and operate either businesses or companies without official permits and should any of such cases exist, then they should be reported immediately. Weapons currently being used to commit murder or armed robberies in the country, especially in Arusha, have been found to have been smuggled into the country by illegal immigrants, he said.

Immigration deports prohibited immigrants (Times of Zambia, 20/12):-The immigration department in Lusaka has released about 30 prohibited immigrants (PIs) from the prison and immediately sent them to their countries of origin. Immigration department public relations officer, Mulako Mbangweta, said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the prohibited immigrants were released from Central and Lusaka remand prisons over the weekend. Ms Mbangweta said of the 30 PI's who included women, 14 were from Ethiopia, 12 from Burundi while Tanzania and Rwanda had two each. "We have removed from the country, particularly from Lusaka remand and Central prisons, 30 PIs and have immediately been sent to their countries of origin for flouting immigration laws," Ms Mbangweta said. She said some of the immigrants had been in prison for up to three months and that the operation was an on-going exercise. Meanwhile, the immigration department in Kitwe has arrested a Chinese national for working in the country without a permit. Ms Mbangweta said the Chinese national was found working at Zamchin Company without proper documentation. She said his permit was stating that he was working for New Century Steal in Lusaka but was found working for Zamchin in Kitwe. Ms Mbangweta said the man was detained at Kamfinsa State prison and would appear in court soon while Zamchin would also be charged with employing a person without a proper work permit.

Find lasting solution to border disputes (Times of Zambia, 02/12):-
Today we report yet again about Zambians being held by Angolan security forces for violating that country's immigration laws. Another batch of Zambians, also held by Angolan authorities, were recently released after transgressing entry procedures. Interesting in this sad episode of the Zambia-Angola relationships is that Zambians being cornered for various infringements reside in the border area. They are people who probably have relatives on the Angolan side, and the Angolans also have some of their kith and kin on Zambian soil. As observed, in such situations, it is very difficult to permanently block people from free interaction. Detention in whatever form is not only inhuman but also uncalled for especially if the circumstances leading to incarceration could easily be addressed without undue torture on anyone. Coming at a time when Angola is now enjoying peace after years of instability in the region, it is imperative for people of the two countries to enhance their historic bonds through aspiration for peaceful co-existence. When the world is slowly becoming one it is only logical for Zambia and Angola to find a way out of the continued detention of the people in border areas. If anything, a system should be put in place that would allow free movement of people without compromising security of the two countries. Admittedly security in border areas require regular monitoring to curtail criminal elements from taking advantage of the situation but this should not derail the two countries' ambition of cementing social and cultural ties. The vast frontier should be ably manned to create a tranquil environment for free movement that would eventually open up the region to trade and other economic ventures that would benefit the two countries. Worldwide, frontiers are exciting zones that are being properly managed to create worthwhile human activity. It therefore goes without saying that once the Zambia-Angola border is strictly policed to curb illegal activities, and opened up to clean business activity, the people of the two countries stand to benefit greatly. Unlike now when a series of illegalities and violations are straining this desire, it would be wise to seek a progressive way out of this problem. Authorities should seriously look into securing the people and the border almost immediately and come out with a solution. With globalisation firmly taking root, it goes without saying that the world is getting smaller by the day and the frontiers are not able to deter people from associating at all levels. It is imperative therefore for stakeholders to convene a meeting to find a lasting solution to unfamiliar occurrences in the border area. Calm should be speedily restored for the people living in the border area to lead lives free of unwarranted detentions.

Government moves to stem health sector brain drain (Irin News, 28/12):- The government of Zimbabwe hopes to stem the tide of medical professionals leaving the country through a new bill that allows for public sector health workers' salaries to be set separately from other civil servants. The Health Services Bill, which passed through parliament last week, effectively removed all health service personnel from the employ of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and placed them under a yet to be appointed Health Services Board. However, the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) has warned that the newly gazetted bill may not be enough to improve conditions of service in the health sector, as long as the ministry of health does not control its own budget. Government has hailed the bill as a breakthrough in its bid to improve conditions of service and remuneration in the health sector and stop the exodus of qualified health personnel from the country. Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa told IRIN that the Health Services Board, once established, will oversee the improvement of conditions of service of health care workers. "We expect the board to improve conditions of service and remuneration for all health staff, professional and non-professional. The problem we had with the PSC is that they employ all civil servants and as such cannot attend to the special needs that have developed in the health sector over the years," he said. "There was trouble, as all civil servants would demand inclusion each time the ministry called for salary hikes and other improvements [for health sector staff]. It was even impossible to reward staff by way of promotions as that decision lay with the PSC as their employer," Parirenyatwa noted. "The new board shall be directly responsible for all staffing and service matters in the health sector. We aim for an overall improvement of the sector so that we can be able to attract and retain professional staff. Judging by the improvements we are planning on, brain drain will soon be a thing of the past," Parirenyatwa added. Billy Rigava, the president of ZIMA told IRIN he was unconvinced that the Health Services Board would be able to improve conditions of service for workers. "I do not think it is correct to say the mere creation of a board will improve conditions. People are leaving because of poor remuneration and conditions of service. The new board may make recommendations for improvements but, like the PSC, they will still have to beg the ministry of finance for money," Rigava said. "That alone clearly [implies] that it will not have the power to implement its own decisions. It is common knowledge that government rarely has money. So the creation of the board is a non-starter because there will still be the usual delays that will inevitably lead to dissatisfaction, strikes and professionals will continue to leave the country," Rigava added. He said an ideal situation would be the incorporation of a representative of the finance ministry to advise the new board and ensure that any budgetary needs are speedily attended to. The new bill also classifies the health sector as an essential service, meaning employees cannot strike. The ministry proposed the bill in December last year at the height of a two-month strike by hospital doctors and nurses. The proposal drew heavy criticism at the time from bodies representing health professionals as they feared that it would deny them the right to protest poor remuneration and conditions of service. Efforts to get a comment from the Hospital Doctors Association of Zimbabwe were unsuccessful.

Delays to border post plans (The Herald, 22/12):-
A shortage of manpower is delaying plans to have Plumtree Border Post operate for 24 hours throughout the year to ease congestion especially during holidays, an officer said yesterday. The Principal Immigration Officer at the border post, Mr. Boniface Lunga, said although officers were able to handle scores of people passing through, there were times when there was congestion. "The problem is that at times people come in large numbers at once and you have long queues. "On the immigration side of things, we are able to deal with each client in less than three minutes," he said. However, Mr. Lunga pointed out that towards holidays especially during Christmas there was an unusually large number of people using the border post. "As you know during the festive period we have a lot of Zimbabweans working in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana coming home for the holidays and during such periods we experience congestion," he said. Mr. Lunga said although the border post is supposed to open from six in the morning to 10 pm, they have been closing at midnight in some instances in the past few days to cater for the increased number of travellers. "The ideal situation would be to have the border operating 24 hours throughout the year. "In fact, the Zimbabwe-Botswana Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security agreed last year that both the Botswana and Zimbabwe posts should be open 24 hours a day. "On our part what has delayed the implementation of the resolution is the shortage of manpower as well as accommodation for staff," he said. Mr Lunga said his department has 14 officers out of a staff complement of 23 officers. "If we were to have a staff of 27 we would able to run a three shift system the whole day. This is something, which is being looked into," he said. However, sources at the border said most of the delays in clearing travellers were on the Customs section, which is being handled by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) as people had to go through at least three queues to have their cars and other goods cleared. They said a solution should be found to harmonise the customs clearing procedures so that the travellers get a "one stop service". The head of Zimra at the border post, identified only as Mr. Majokojoko, refused to comment on the issue. Sources said of late there have also been reports of "massive smuggling" of goods through the border post prompting the Government to put a heavy security presence. The police officer commanding Plumtree and other surrounding districts, Chief Superintendent Never Maya, confirmed that police were on the alert following recent cases of smuggling reported. He cited recent cases in which police nabbed people who had gone through the border without declaring goods worth millions of dollars at road blocks mounted on the high way to Bulawayo, as part of Government's "Zero Tolerance to Corruption". Some of the culprits have since appeared in court and have been convicted of smuggling. "We are on the alert and ready to deal with such cases. "During the beginning of the year, one of our officers was actually arrested for being part of such activities," Chief Supt Maya said. He said police strongly suspect that some clearing agents at the border post have a hand in some of the corrupt activities at the border post.

Zimbabwe's ex-farmers turn to region (SAPA, 21/12):-
Scores of white Zimbabwean farmers dispossessed of their farms under the government's controversial land reforms have turned to countries in the region and beyond for sustenance, their union told AFP. Dozens have invested in farming in neighboring Zambia and Mozambique, while others are preparing to settle in Nigeria. Others have been invited to grow food for workers at some mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). "These are business decisions relating to being able to economically sustain their lives," said Doug Taylor-Freeme, president of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU). "Obviously the first choice for the farmers is that they would like to continue farming in Zimbabwe, but as time goes past they have to look after their families and educate their children. "That is why they tend to drift into other countries," Taylor-Freeme said in an interview with AFP. Thousands of white Zimbabweans have been driven from their farms since 2000 when President Mugabe instituted a policy of seizing and redistributing prime agricultural land to black people. Taylor-Freeme said a number of countries are interested in Zimbabwean farmers investing in their countries. "There are a number of countries that have contacted us to say they would like our expertise to help develop their agriculture," he said. "The farmers are creating branches of their businesses throughout Africa with the hope that one day they will be able to invest back home," he said. "The sad thing is that these are countries that used to be worried about the competition that Zimbabwe used to provide," he added. Taylor-Freeme, who was recently elected co-vice president of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions said among other countries that have expressed interest in Zimbabwean farmers are Ethiopia, Angola, Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania. Authorities in Nigeria's central Kwara State have allocated 1,000-hectare (about 2,500 acres) of farmland to each of some 15 Zimbabwean farmers on 25-year leases. The farmers will move in as soon as the infrastructure is in place. A Nigerian government official said early this month that the Zimbabweans will carry out "irrigation farming and not conventional farming. This allows them to begin their farming anytime they are ready." Of some 4,500 large scale commercial farmers operating in Zimbabwe four years ago, about 600 white farmers now remain in Zimbabwe and own just three percent of the country's land. The 4,500 white farmers used to own a third of the country's land including 70 percent of prime farmland before the government launched the reform program in February 2000.

Diaspora housing scheme (The Zimbabwe Independent, 17/12):-
The recently launched Homelink Housing Development Scheme (HHDS), which enables non-resident Zimbabweans in the diaspora to purchase or construct houses, purchase stands or improve residential properties, is a most welcome development.
Eligible non-resident Zimbabweans will be advanced a loan in Zimbabwean dollars equal to the value for which the funds are required. This amount will be converted into foreign currency using the currency where the Zimbabwean is domiciled, at the ruling auction rate on the day the funds are disbursed. Interest will be charged at a rate not more than 10% on the foreign currency amount of the loan. Repayments of the loan will be strictly in foreign currency on a monthly basis for sixty months (five years). This is an opportunity not to be missed because it is a cheap source of financing for fellow Zimbabweans in the diaspora. For a property which costs $500 million, a loan of a similar amount will be disbursed and will be converted into pounds, for example, the pound amount which will then be the amount on which interest is calculated. Amortising the loan over 60 months will result in a fixed monthly payment of £1 175. This monthly payment converted at an auction rate of $11 000/GBP will amount to $12 914 000 and an annual payment of $155 million. The £1 175 per month will just be about half or a quarter of what they earn in the UK. This is certainly a better option than having to be sending money home saving up to buy a house whose price will be rising due to the acute shortage of houses. Property prices are actually at a low so it will be to their advantage to lock in these low prices at a low and fixed interest rate. To get a mortgage loan to purchase a house in Zimbabwe is not anything individual prospective house owners would even consider because of the high interest rates which result in high monthly installments which are several times their net salaries. Applying for a loan for $500 million, an individual will be required to make a down payment of 35% ($175 million) then the remaining $325 million will be amortized over 25 years at a market rate of 97,5% to come up with 300 monthly payments of about $26,5 million. Resident Zimbabweans might as well encourage their loved ones in the diaspora to take part in the HHDS. RBZ must be excited about this scheme mainly because the much-needed scarce foreign currency will now be flowing onto the official market rather than into the property market through the parallel market as has always been happening. This scheme will thus help in curtailing the parallel market and channelling the much-needed foreign currency onto the official market, which can then be utilised to boost production and slow down inflation. In the event that the loan holder cannot continue to participate in the scheme, Homelink (Pvt) Ltd will purchase the property from the owner. The borrower will be reimbursed in foreign currency up to the maximum amount he will have contributed. To qualify for this guarantee the bondholder should have made regular payments to the scheme for at least 12 months but failure to continue making payments should not be self-inflicted. Lets look at a scenario where the Zimbabwean dollar significantly depreciates by end of year 2005. The auction rate is forecast to be at $28 500/GBP and the fair market value at $44 840/GBP by end of year 2005. If these rates turn into reality, then if a borrower after 12 months stops making payments, he will be reimbursed $14 100 (£1 175) which he can convert at the parallel rate and amass about $632 244 000. Whether or not the forecasts are unrealistic, a significant depreciation of the Zim dollar against the pound will create a profit opportunity for the diasporas. It will be very difficult for the RBZ to ascertain whether failure to continue monthly repayments was self-inflicted or not. Rather the RBZ should not promise to reimburse the forex contributed, but each case of failure to continue with repayments should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Another cause for concern is the effect of this scheme on the money supply. The Zimbabwean dollars disbursed will all be passed onto the sellers of the property which effectively means that there are more Zimbabwean dollars in the system not backed by any increase in production. The expected monthly foreign currency receipts are only going to have an impact on supply after a long time lag to match the initial disbursements. The opinions presented are subject to change without notice. Neither Sagit Financial Holdings nor its subsidiaries/affiliates accept any responsibility for liabilities arising from use of this article or its contents.

Be wary of UK deportation threats, says Moyo (The Herald, 17/12):-
Threats by the United Kingdom to deport about 10 000 Zimbabweans could be a cover to deploy elements trained in sabotage, intimidation and violence to destabilise the country before and during next March's parliamentary elections, a Cabinet minister said yesterday. The Minister of Information and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Professor Jonathan Moyo, said there was need for the country to be vigilant following the threats by the Tony Blair government to deport the Zimbabweans. Britain, which has over the past four years encouraged Zimbabweans to migrate to its territory on false claims of political persecution in the country, has reportedly set in motion a process to deport at least 10 000 locals within the next few months. Prof Moyo said Britain has been luring young Zimbabweans to train some in all kinds of sabotage, intimidation and violence to be deployed in Zimbabwe for political purposes when convenient to do so. "So Blair's threatened deportation of 10 000 Zimbabweans might very well be a cover for the deployment of such elements. "It is for this reason that there is need for vigilance. Zimbabweans, Africans and other progressive people in the international community will watch the saga of Blair's threatened deportation of such a large number of Zimbabweans to see whether it's not a cover to deploy trained and bribed malcontents to cause mayhem during and after the March 2005 elections," said Prof Moyo. He said while Zimbabweans have always enjoyed the freedom of travel whether leaving the country or returning, the figure of 10 000 was staggering to the point of inviting reasonable suspicion. "The suspicion is made more critical by the curious timing of Blair's deportation of such a large number of Zimbabweans. "Why now only some 90 or so days before the March 2005 elections, which are an anti-Blair election? "It seems Blair wants to stop the impending final and decisive defeat at the polls when he has employed all tricks to no avail to effect illegal regime change. Now he wants to use all possible foul means available to him," said Prof Moyo. He said there had been, for some time, a number of media reports that as part of Britain's illegal regime change agenda, it had been training some Zimbabweans in acts of sabotage and violence. "Tony Blair and his local cronies must not be allowed to abuse the right to freedom of travel enjoyed by Zimbabweans to derail the democratic process and Blair's inevitable defeat in March." Prof Moyo said MDC MP Mr Job Sikhala's question to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, in Parliament on Wednesday seeking to know whether Zimbabweans returning home would be safe, betrayed the sinister motive behind the deportations. He said this was so because the safety of Zimbabweans had never been an issue unless those Zimbabweans had something to hide upon their return. "Sikhala might know something more than meets the eye. This is more so considering that just in June, Blair said he has been working closely with the MDC to effect regime change in Zimbabwe. "So we have a right to ask whether these would be deportees or Blair's mercenaries of regime change or plain law-abiding Zimbabweans returning home after having been abused and dehumanised in Britain. "Their treatment will depend on which is which," Prof Moyo.

Deported Zimbabweans welcome (The Herald, 16/12):-
Government will unconditionally accept Zimbabweans deported from the United Kingdom, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, has said. Cde Chinamasa announced this yesterday in Parliament in reply to St Mary's MP Mr Job Sikhala (MDC), who had asked the minister to give assurances that those who were going to be deported would be safe when they arrive home. "The chickens are coming home to roost. It's wrong to suggest that they went there as victims of torture, but the truth is that they were economic refugees. "We accept all our citizens; they are still Zimbabweans," said Cde Chinamasa. He said the British incited the Zimbabweans to leave their country but they were now no longer prepared to keep them after the British government realised that Zimbabwe was indeed peaceful contrary to what those who claimed to be political refugees from the country were saying. "The British now know these people were running away from nothing; they were just economic refugees," he said. Britain, which has over the past four years actively encouraged Zimbabweans to migrate to its territory on false claims that they faced political persecution in the country, has reportedly set in motion a process to deport at least 10 000 locals within the next few months. The UK, which has imposed economic sanctions against Zimbabwe claiming that there was no rule of law in the country, announced last month that it was lifting a two-year suspension of the forced repatriation of Zimbabweans whose asylum applications had been turned down. About one million Zimbabweans flocked to the UK before the British government introduced strict visa requirements for locals after realising that the majority of the Zimbabweans were nothing more than economic refugees and not political exiles.

UK to deport 10,000 Zimbabweans (The Herald, 15/12):-
Britain, which has over the past four years actively encouraged young Zimbabweans to migrate to its territory on false claims that they face political persecution in the country, has reportedly set in motion a process to deport at least 10 000 locals within the next few months. In response, Zimbabweans on self-imposed exile in that country are today expected to demonstrate outside 10 Downing Street, British Prime Minister Mr. Tony Blair's offices, to protest the impending deportation of their fellow "asylum seekers". Britain, which has imposed economic sanctions against Zimbabwe claiming that its leaders were not observing the rule of law, announced last month that it was lifting a two year suspension of the forced removal of Zimbabweans whose asylum applications have failed. Figures published last month, indicated that from January to November this year 1 825 of the 2 025 people who applied for asylum from Zimbabwe had their claims rejected by the Home Office. Announcing the decision, the British Immigration Minister, Mr. Des Browne said the statistics were an indication that the suspension of the deportations was acting as a "pull factor" for others posing as Zimbabweans to apply for asylum in Britain. Human rights activists that include those in the British Refugee Council and Zimbabwe Support Development Association, which is based in the UK, are providing lawyers to the so-called political refugees in a bid to fight the deportations. Mr. Arthur Molife, one of the organisers of today's protest said demonstrators would converge at the Zimbabwe Embassy in London before heading for 10 Downing Street and the Foreign Office where a petition will be handed over to the Prime Minister's representatives. "We want to tell the government of Mr. Tony Blair that these deportations are immoral," he said without elaborating. According to the British media, an unknown number of Zimbabweans are being held at detention centres, including Yarleswood Detention Center in Bedfordshire, where they are awaiting deportation. Some Zimbabweans based in Britain painted a grim picture of the deportations saying the victims, were given 30 minutes to pack their belongings before they were forcibly taken to detention centres. "Zimbabweans who were denied asylum have been reporting to the home office regularly for the past two years but some have since stopped doing so since the government launched what looks like a blitz on those failed asylum seekers," said a Zimbabwean who has been working in that country for the past two years. "The asylum seekers are being fetched out of their lodgings by plain clothes policemen who give them 30 minutes to pack their belongings before they are forcibly led to the detention centres. "The majority of them can not afford the more than 3 000 pounds demanded by lawyers to block their deportations in the courts." The majority of Zimbabweans in Britain resort to doing menial jobs, as they are not guaranteed of employment in the professional fields they were trained in back home. It is estimated that close to one million Zimbabweans flocked to the United Kingdom before the British government introduced strict visa requirements for locals after realising that the majority of these Zimbabweans were economic refugees not political ones as it had earlier been fooled into believing. Opposition parties such as the obscure Liberty Party and the MDC made millions of dollars from these economic refugees who needed supporting documents to prove that they were indeed political activists.

Keep out of domestic affairs, foreigners told (The Herald, 14/12):-
Government will not tolerate foreign organisations using their financial muscle to sway the people and thereby reduce the gains of independence, the Minister of Home Affairs, Cde Kembo Mohadi, has said. He said the road to independence was long and arduous and none of today's "so-called paragons of democracy" dared raise a finger nor cast a stone at the colonialist forces in solidarity with the cause for independence. "This tomfoolery of inviting foreign organisations who wish to use their financial muscle to sway our people can never be tolerated. "Such interference in our domestic affairs by conduits of imperialist interests is a direct insult to our independence and sovereignty and as Government we take a dim view on such acts of mischief," said Cde Mohadi. Cde Mohadi was speaking at the 2004 Commissioner's Sundowner in Harare last weekend. The minister said the same forces who remained "mum" during the struggle against colonialism had suddenly become the lecturers, using the language and vocabulary of democracy, rule of law and human rights to "duck" colonial responsibilities and obligations. "The Government of Zimbabwe will therefore not allow its people to become gullible victims of hybrid, genetically modified propaganda, affectionately fanned, doctored and synthesised by reactionary forces to discredit our election process," said Cde Mohadi. "Let me warn such forces of negation and people of like-minded disposition that we are in control of our own destiny and as such our people should be allowed to make their choices in the March 2005 parliamentary elections in peace." Zimbabwe goes into its sixth parliamentary elections in March next year and President Mugabe has said the elections should be held in a violence-free atmosphere. Cde Mohadi, under whose ministry the police force falls, said the consensus in Government was that next year's elections be held in a peaceful manner to avoid playing into the hands of its detractors. "The sick habit of scavenging for cheap political support to spruce up their fading political fortunes through threats of election boycotts will never deliver food on the tables of our citizens," said Cde Mohadi. He said the much-hyped Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Principles and Guidelines on the Conduct of Democratic Elections that had been at the epicentre of debate by members of the civil society had been adopted into law by Parliament and would form the basis of the country's electoral system. "In this regard, the stance by the MDC to boycott elections on their failure to interpret this law is a fallacious move by a scared opposition whose momentum has fizzled out in the wake of the waning star of their British masters," said Cde Mohadi. "Those 'political cry-babies' who wish to cheapen our electoral processes by making incessant and frivolous accusations on us must come to terms with the reality that we are in Government to rule and make provisions that safeguard our national sovereignty and independence," said Cde Mohadi

Aids deaths multiply as specialists flee (The Standard, 12/12):-
A critical shortage of specialist physicians in the country has significantly contributed to the current high Aids-related deaths as people living with the disease are failing to access regular expert medical help and treatment, doctors and Aids activists have said.
They said some of the people who died from the pandemic could have survived longer if they had access to expert medical care, drugs as well as proper dietary nutrition. Presently it takes between one and two months for a patient to access a specialist doctor in a government hospital, they said. Susan Mbiriyakura, an official with The Centre, an Aids advocacy organisation, said some people who succumbed to Aids/HIV might not have died if Zimbabwe had enough specialist doctors and drugs. She said that there were cases where Aids patients received "wrong medication" from inexperienced doctors, thereby endangering one's life. Good medical care prolonged one's life, she said. "Some of our members live up to 20 years after being diagnosed HIV positive because we give them 'positive living lectures' and we also facilitate that they access a specialist doctor," said Mbiriyakura, a counsellor with The Centre. At least 3 800 people are dying from Aids related illness every week in Zimbabwe, one of the countries in southern Africa with the highest number of deaths due to the disease. The other countries are neighbouring Botswana and South Africa. Latest statistics from the Health Professional Council (HPC) indicate that there are 369 specialist doctors in the country. Out of these, there are only eight pathologists, five neurologist surgeons and one clinical immunologist. An official with the council said the number of specialist doctors could be much lower because some of them had left the country. "Most of those on council's register are no longer in the country because they don't notify anybody when they leave," said the source. Christopher Mushonga, an orthopaedic surgeon, said it took at least one month before a patient saw a specialist doctor because of the current shortage. He said the scenario was bad to any patient but worse for Aids victims. "Their immune system will be down and so they suffer from a host of problems such as appendicitis, pneumonia or broken bones which take long to heal, so they need specialist attention. The current situation is really bad for people living with the disease," said Mushonga, who runs private surgeries in addition to working in government hospitals. President of the Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) Billy Rigava, also conceded that shortage of specialist doctors had a negative bearing on the people living with Aids. He was, however, quick to point out that the foundation of the health sector was based on primary health care since, in most countries, doctors were concentrated in urban centres. "Certainly, the shortage of specialist doctors is a worrying issue, especially with high incidents of Aids but strengthening our primary health care is equally necessary and important," said Rigava, who estimated there were 200 doctors remaining in the country. There is not single doctor in some districts. For example, said Rigava, Kariba district had no doctor and relied mainly on nurses in government hospitals. Mushonga estimated that of the 200 doctors, 75 percent of them could have left the country for greener pastures. Most of the doctors seek better working conditions and salaries in countries such as Botswana, South Africa, United Kingdom, Canada and the USA. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)'s Human Development Report for 2004 Zimbabwe has about six ordinary doctors for 10 000 patients.  The University of Zimbabwe trains an average of 80 doctors a year, a number too small to satisfy local demand because as soon as they gain some experience they leave the country. Zimbabwe is not committing enough financial resources to the crucial health sector. The UN Report says on average the country is committing less than 3 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to the health sector.

White Zimbabweans to get farms in Nigeria (SAPA, 08/12):-
White Zimbabwean farmers fleeing President Robert Mugabe's controversial programme of land reform will this month formally take over farmland allocated to them in central Nigeria, an official said Wednesday. Tajudeen Kareem, spokesman for the state of Kwara, said that 15 Zimbabweans who visited the region earlier this year and struck property leasing deals were expected back with the next few weeks. "We are currently doing a survey of their plots of land. We expect them back before the end of the year and once we have finished the survey, we will hand their farmland over to them," Kareem said from Ilorin, the state capital. The Kwara State government has allocated 1,000 hectares of farmland to each of the "pioneer farmers," he said. The Zimbabweans will carry out "irrigation farming and not conventional farming. This allows them to begin their farming anytime they are ready," he added. In July, a spokesman for the farmers, Alan Jack, said that they had each reached a deal with the government to take separate 25-year leases on thousand-hectare parcels of fertile land. "We are very excited about Nigeria and about being granted a pioneer status. The people are very friendly," he said. "Nigeria is very good for farming, compared to Zimbabwe where land is forcefully taken from the whites and given to the blacks. I am a victim of President Mugabe's policy," he said. The 15 will farm maize, rice, cassava, dairy cattle, poultry and vegetables. Thousands of white Zimbabweans, the descendants of colonial-era European settlers, have been driven from their farms since 2000 when Mugabe instituted a policy of seizing and redistributing prime agricultural land to poor black people. Nigerian leaders have promised that their new guests will be able to make a good living and that the development that their large-scale farms will bring to rural Nigeria's peasant economy will help the population as a whole.

Tourists continue to shun Zimbabwe (Zim Online, 08/12):-
International tourists continued to shun Zimbabwe because of the country's negative image with 29 percent less arrivals between January and September this year compared to the same period last year, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. In its latest report released this week, the ZTA said efforts by the government to shift focus from traditional markets in the West to China and the Far East did not pay off with 1 271 904 people visiting Zimbabwe in the first nine months of the year compared to 1 793 128 visitors between January and September 2003. The ZTA is a quasi-government institution and is regarded as the voice of the country's ailing tourism sector. The authority said: "Causes of the decline (include) continued negative publicity (and the) lack of resources to counter negative publicity in source markets." A drop in the number of major airlines landing at Harare international airport as well as the impact of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States were also cited as some of the reasons for the decline. Only British Airways and South African Airways still land at Harare international airport after more than a dozen international airlines that used to land there stopped owing to fuel shortages gripping Zimbabwe for the last four years. Tourism was the country's fastest growing economic sector four years ago but is crumbling - just like everything else in Zimbabwe - as visitors shun the country because of lawlessness, political violence and its poor human rights record. The ZTA said major source markets that experienced decline over the period under review include the United Kingdom and Ireland which recorded a 33 percent drop from 47 667 visitors in 2003 to 31 710 in 2004. Visitors from Germany dropped by 64 percent from 8 087 during the first nine months of the year compared to the same period last year. There were 2 916 visitors from Switzerland between January to September 2004 compared to 7 906 arrivals from Zurich during the same period last year. Australian visitors plummeted by 38 percent from 23 478 to 14 437 and South Africa had a 33 percent decline from 713 866 visitors last year to 369 066.

Professionals in health services sector (The Sunday Mail, 05/12):-
Professionals in the health services sector should be well remunerated while nurses should be bonded for a specific period of time after training in order to help ease the brain drain which is affecting service delivery in this sector, delegates to the Zanu-PF Fourth National People's Congress resolved yesterday.  The delegates were reaffirming a compilation of committee resolutions on the state of Zimbabwe's social services that was presented before congress.  Presenting the agreed principles, the party's Deputy Secretary for Health, Cde David Parirenyatwa, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, said the health sector should be granted loans as part of efforts to attract local professionals.  Among other resolutions by congress was the need to review the remuneration of village health workers, who are currently earning $2 500 per month. Congress also resolved that doctors and nurses should not go on strike since they constituted part of the country's essential services.  The resolution follows a spate of strikes by doctors and nurses over salary grievances in the past despite being essential service providers. The situation has often seen patients bearing the brunt of the industrial actions as they are usually denied treatment.  In the field of education, delegates expressed concern over the problems plaguing the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec). They said it was imperative that Government implements corrective measures to urgently address the situation.  In view of repeated threats of strike action by teachers over low salaries, delegates concurred that their remuneration should be reviewed.  They pointed out that teachers' salaries should be commensurate with their qualifications. Teachers in rural areas should also have access to electricity and telephone services, among other benefits, recommended congress. 

Government hospitals suffer acute staff shortages (SAPA, 03/12):- The shortage of health workers in Zimbabwe's government hospitals has reached alarming levels, the ruling ZANU-PF party heard Friday. According to a report presented to a party congress, vacancies for all professional health workers had increased drastically over the last five years impacting "negatively on the health of the population and the functioning of the health system".  Only 27.1 percent of the dentists required in public hospitals were in place and only 45 percent of medical doctors. There were also only nine percent of the pharmacists needed. At least 1,530 doctors are needed but only 687 are working at state institutions, while 6,940 nurses are in place out of a required 11,640. Zimbabwe's health sector has seen a mass exodus of workers in recent years due to poor working conditions in hospitals and low salaries. Many have sought greener pastures in neighbouring countries or overseas, escaping the deteriorating systems back home, or have gone into private practice. The AIDS pandemic which has led to a hospital bed occupancy rate of 70 percent, has stretched the workload and led to overcrowded facilities. Lack of drugs and poorly maintained equipment have added to the frustration of the workers. The report said there had been a rapid decline in life expectancy in Zimbabwe from 62 years in 1988 to about 40 years. An estimated 25 percent of Zimbabwe's sexually active population is infected by HIV and AIDS. Around 3,000 people die every week from AIDS-related illnesses. HIV and AIDs coupled with an economic crisis and drought, have resulted in increasing levels of malnutrition. "The 2003 nutrition survey revealed severe acute malnutrition in 15 districts or 25 percent of the districts," said the report read to thousands of delegates by Defence Minister Sidney Sekeramayi. Deaths among pregnant women have risen over the last five years from 283 per 100,000 to 697 per 100,000. The incidence of malaria has nearly doubled in the 10 years between 1990 and 2000.

UK to flush out fake asylum seekers (The Herald, 03/12):-
The honeymoon has finally come to an end for hundreds of Zimbabweans who had flocked to Britain masquerading as asylum seekers following the decision by the Labour government to resume forced deportation of Zimbabweans. The British government last month lifted its 2002 suspension on the deportations, stating that there was clear evidence of exploitation of the policy. In lifting the suspension, the British immigration minister Des Browne said Zimbabweans who did not need "international protection" had been making false claims, knowing that even if the claims were rejected, they would not be forced back to Zimbabwe to face "intimidation or torture." To support Britain's decision, Browne gave out asylum statistics which clearly indicate that hundreds of Zimbabweans who were applying for asylum status, were not bona fide. According to the statistics, in the first nine months of 2004, of the 2 025 applications, the British government granted asylum to 195 Zimbabweans and some form of protection to more than 25 others. With a 90 percent denial rate and the dismissal of 82 percent of the subsequent appeals to the independent adjudicators, Browne said the clear message was that "the majority of Zimbabweans asylum applicants are able to safely return to Zimbabwe". The decision by Britain is a smack in the face of unpatriotic Zimbabweans who had shamefully regarded Britain as a haven where they could coin lies against the Government of Zimbabwe in return for pounds. It had even become a haven for criminal fugitives running away from prosecution for having committed several economic crimes in the country, some of which almost brought the country's economy down on its knees. Efforts by the Zimbabwean authorities to have the fugitives repatriated back home for trial proved futile. For years, Zimbabweans were leaving the country in droves for the United Kingdom, where they would reportedly come up with concoctions of lies alleging that they were being tortured for supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). After being granted asylum status, the majority would continue peddling falsehoods about Zimbabwe on anyone who cared to listen in an effort to portray Zimbabwe as an inhabitable place. Because Britain had made a resolution that it would not deport failed asylum seekers, more Zimbabweans then decided to take up the opportunity and went to United Kingdom where the majority got employed doing menial jobs and would please their bosses by disgracefully lying about the situation home. In granting asylum status to Zimbabweans, the British intended to indoctrinate them to develop an anti-Zimbabwe attitude by drumming up a host of allegations against the country, among them the issue of rule of law. The anti-Zimbabwe lobby group was also going to provide primary witnesses who would be used to fabricate lies on allegations of human rights abuse in Zimbabwe. It was such kinds of allegations that resulted in an unfair treatment of Zimbabwe by the Commonwealth. "Britain was doing all this hoping for a regime change. It was a way of pushing the sitting Government out of power," said one analyst. By encouraging Zimbabweans to visit Britain under the guise of political asylum, the British government decided the move would ostensibly be seen as a humble response to a nation in need. However, the pretext on which Zimbabweans were taking political asylum is no longer valid, because Britain has since realised that the stories on alleged torture and human rights abuse flaunted by the Western media were nothing more than mere lies orchestrated by such opportunists. The truth has now been exposed for everyone to see. Even the Britons cannot be fooled. Analysts interviewed said it would be highly malicious and somehow bordering on insanity for someone today to go and seek asylum status in Britain on the pretext that they were facing political persecution from the Government. At this point for one to vilify Zimbabwe and expect to gain mileage over it would certainly be suicidal and shooting oneself in the foot, because no amount of negative publicity can overshadow the country's shifting fortunes that have been witnessed in recent months. For starters, significant strides have been noted in the Zimbabwean economy whose growth has been on an upward trend. This is even evidenced by a drop in inflation rate to 209 percent from a whopping 609 percent in the last half of last year. The monetary policy implemented by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has indeed put the economy back on track, while Government has declared war on economic saboteurs and some have since been hauled before the courts to answer to various economic crimes. The Government is currently tying up all loose ends in the land reform exercise, an issue which caused a lot of acrimony between Zimbabwe and its former colonisers, Britain. The later was accusing the Government of land grabbing. On the political front, events have also increased tempo on a positive note. Instead of focusing on history and what the Government has been moving forward and contributing positively to the well being of the country. On one of the current major achievements on the country's political landscape, both Zanu-PF and MDC lawmakers last week agreed on several amendments to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Bill. The Bill passed the committee stage and is now close to sailing through Parliament. The amended Bill, which seeks to establish an independent authority to administer all elections and referendums in the country, was referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for scrutiny on whether the amendments were permitted by the Constitution. The MDC proposed several amendments, some of which were adopted but others rejected by Government. Amendments by the opposition that were adopted included the provision to ensure that at least two women sit on the envisaged Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. "No amount of lies can overshadow achievements that the country has achieved in a short time. "Even the imperialists themselves are overwhelmed," said a Politic Science student at the University of Zimbabwe, Maxwell Marimira.

RBZ to transform Homelink into a Company (Financial Gazette, 02/12):-
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has decided to give Homelink a corporate identity by creating a Homelink company to deal with the many inquiries being received and to market, facilitate and administer Homelink investment products and services. Zimbabweans living and working abroad will be able to apply for Homelink Housing Development Scheme (HHDS) loans directly to Homelink or through a Homelink-licensed HHDS project promoter. There are at present two licensed Homelink Housing Development Scheme project promoters with representatives abroad. These are Patriot Properties, which is represented in the United Kingdom and United States by Angwa Associates, and First Remit, which has offices in Zimbabwe and Britain. Angwa Associates can be contacted by e-mail at infor@angwa-associates, by fax on +44 (0)154 337 9056 or by telephone on +44 (0)154 337 9054 or +44 (0)208 699 4681. They have offices in Birmingham, London and the United States. First Remit can be contacted by telephone on +44 (0)113 240 0354 or fax on +44 (0)113 249 8062. It is represented in several parts of the United Kingdom. Other companies wanting to become HHDS project promoters can approach the Reserve Bank, which recently published its licensing criteria for HHDS project promoters and the operational modalities that it has drawn up for the scheme. The operational modalities, which are available from the Reserve Bank and on the Homelink website (, were recently published as an advertisement in the local Press. So too were the licensing criteria and application form for project promoters, which are also available from the Reserve Bank and on the Homelink website. In terms of the operational modalities, the Homelink company will administer the housing scheme, which allows Zimbabweans living and working abroad to obtain low interest mortgage loans to purchase or build a residential property in Zimbabwe. The loans are disbursed in Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe dollars for the purchase of a stand, house or flat or for the construction of a house. The loan repayments are made in foreign currency over a period of five years, in the case of a house or flat, or one year in the case of a stand. If the loan is for purchasing a stand and building on it, then the loan would be repayable over five years. These time periods are maximum repayment periods. The loan can be repaid early without attracting any penalties. Interest rates are determined by interest rates in the borrower's country of residence and by the assessed risk in relation to the particular borrower. The interest rates are expected to be close to market rates in individual countries. Those who are eligible for the loan can either approach the new Homelink company directly, once it is operational, or approach a licensed HHDS project promoter or the project promoter's international partner. Real estate agencies, building societies and licensed money transfer agencies twinned with real estate agents are all eligible to apply for registration as HHDS project promoters. To be registered they would be expected to enter into agreements with international partners. Only non-resident Zimbabwean citizens are eligible to apply for the housing loans. They are required to provide a copy of a valid Zimbabwean passport or identification card when they apply for the loan. The amount that can be borrowed depends on the value of the property or proposed property development, as determined by a professional evaluator, and the borrower's ability to meet repayments, as assessed by Homelink or the project promoter, based on the applicant's income and various other factors. The loan can be borrowed to purchase a residential stand or dwelling or to construct or extend a house. However, the property must have title deeds or sectional title deeds on which a mortgage bond can be registered. No deposit is required, although some people are likely to opt to pay as large a deposit as they can manage in order to minimise their monthly repayments. The loan will normally include all costs related to the transfer and registration of the property. There is no restriction on the number of loans a person may have, provided he or she can afford the repayments. For some people the loan will enable them to purchase their dream house. For many more it will enable them to purchase a modest house. Many of the people who today own large expensive houses started off buying much more modest houses or properties, which they later sold to enable them to purchase a better one. In this way they gradually moved up the property ladder, moving from one house and area to another more expensive one. Often they have obtained a series of mortgage loans to do this, selling their first property and using the profit as a deposit for a more expensive home. As their earnings increase with time they are also able to afford the higher mortgage loan repayments a more expensive property requires. The HHDS loans are short-term loans and can be paid back in full at any time without incurring any penalties. Making higher repayments, when one can afford it, than the agreed monthly re-payment inevitably reduces the repayment period and the interest paid.

This page last updated 18 March 2005.