SOUTHERN AFRICAN MIGRATION PROJECT

Migration News - February 2004

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

Region:
Southern Africa: Humanitarian situation remains precarious 
SADC saw more visitors in 2003
Mining industry hard hit by AIDS
Diaspora irresistible for Zimbabweans study
Zimbabwe loses its brains
Efforts to strengthen support for informal traders
Comesa states fail to promote intra-regional trade

Angola:
Luanda offers apology over expelled miners
Botswana fails to arrest AIDS spread
Local vows to kick out foreign taxi drivers
Security Forces raid for illegal immigrants
Return of 220,000 Refugees
UNHCR to host meeting on Africa repatriations
UNHCR and government discuss repatriation 

Botswana:
Batswana to be prosecuted for harbouring illegal immigrants
Immigrants threaten Botswana security, says police commissioner 
Some 425,000 displaced people leaving Benguela Province
Woman accused of abduction
Editorial:Deal with exploitation of foreigners
Botswana needs solution to Zimbabwe problem

Lesotho:
Lesotho sees fast trade growth under AGOA
Commonwealth working group on teacher recruitment to meet
Three SA cattle rustlers killed

Mozambique:
South African court sentence "shocking"
Mozambique repatriates 30 Malawians for illegal fishing

Government defends right of emigrants to vote
Moz trader shot at Zimbabwe border

Namibia:
New cross border procedures for customs and excise
Refugees sues Home Affairs
Unam re-admits Angolan students
Angolan students take on Unam in High Court

Seychelles
Crackdown on illegal immigrants

South Africa:
Zimbabwe gangs target SA banks
NIA called in to clean up Home Affairs
Buthelezi warns of KwaZulu-Natal land threat
Damned by human rights report
Brain Drain Accelerating, says HSRC
South African help sought on refugees
Refugees use fake SA passports
Angolan asked to return home
Angolan Refugees expected to return home
Home Affairs department worse than thought, Says DG
Driving force for business tourism
Globalisation brings skills back
Taxi operators from Lesotho and SA in violent clashes
Medical association on exodus of doctors
Home affairs to ask for forgery proof passports
Govt driving health professionals away, Says DA
Conditions at Lindela Repatriation Centre
Organized crime rife in SA
Child prostitutes brought to SA
Squatters court bid to curb migrate influx
Zimbabweans in South Africa
Multi-million trade hub for Joburg Airport
SA, Namibia discuss border control
The threads that bind
Buthelezi may leave government
Immigration regulations before Cabinet
Allowance for medics with scarce skills
Malawians in South Africa
Courts bring migrants under Constitution's protection
Refugees tell their stories
Healthcare professionals set to march
Govt spurns doctors offer to call of march
Practice of immigration law now regulated
The brain drain is colour blind

Swaziland:
Lecturers leave UNISWA to work abroad

Tanzania:
Authorities impose tight transport curfew
Britain negotiating with Tanzania about asylum screening
Tanzania seeks funds to repatriate Burundi refugees
Over 10,000 Burundi returnees
Voluntary repatriation of refugees continues

Zambia:
Tourism Board Targets 400,000 Tourists
IOM asked to stem brain drain
Indian nationals fined and expelled
President attacks brain drain expatriates
Foreigners steal top UN jobs from Zambians
Villagers Opt for Malawian Market
Over 300 flee DR to Zambia

Zimbabwe:
Zimbabwe's woes spill across border
Doctors threaten exodus over new regulation
Mengistu in Zimbabwe as trial resumes
Police round up 200 street people
Illegal sugar exports decline
cross border traders to lobby governments on law
Reduction in illegal cross-border trade
Zimbabwe hunts for hard currency
Nurses duped in Mozambique
The forgotten foreign farm workers
Mozambican traders allege harassment at border
South Africa deports Zimbabweans ahead of elections
Situation at passport office remains unchanged
The plight of ex-commercial farm workers
Zimbabwe keep ban on foreign journalists
Zimbabwen man in asylum ordeal
Bogus asylum seekers in quandary
Zimbabwean migrants rights grossly violated
Embassy ordered top investigate brutality cases in Botswana
Botswana government accuses independent of falsifying story
Botswana accuses paper of falsifying deportation story

Region

Southern Africa: Humanitarian situation remains precarious (IRIN News Org, Johannesburg 28/2/2004)-   Hopes that the growing humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa had been checked are "fading fast", say aid agencies. A mid-term review of the consolidated appeal for the region notes that the food security situation is "again being severely threatened", while aid for non-food items has not been forthcoming.At the launch of the review, the eight UN agencies said they still required US $318 million for a multisectoral approach to address the needs of southern Africa and the "situation ... remains precarious."The total amount of the consolidated appeal now stands at US $642 million. "Our major problem has been that while donor response to food aid has been good, it has not been the case with the non-food items, such as water, health care and education, which are just as important," said World Food Programme spokesman Richard Lee.According to the review, 70 percent of food aid needs have been covered, however, only 14 percent of non-food aid projects and social services support were in place. "Several key donors have cited [the crisis in] Iraq as a reason for the limited response," the review stated.The consolidated appeal was launched in July 2003 by UN agencies, in collaboration with the Southern African Development Community and key NGO partners, to address the critical needs of 6.5 million people in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe."These are people for whom the prospect of survival is critical in the face of the combined effects of food insecurity, weakened capacity for governance and HIV/AIDS," said Chris Kaye, regional representative of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.Children have been worst-affected by the poor response to non-food activities, which amounts to only $24 million. "After millions of children have been saved from starvation, it is tragic that their lives now remain at risk from a lack of clean water, adequate sanitation and proper health care. Unfortunately, without additional funds, crucial projects in these fields will have to be scaled back, while others may never be implemented at all," explained James Morris, UN Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa.As a result of limited resources, some agencies in the health sector were compelled to divert funds from regular programmes to respond to outbreaks of diseases and urgent sexual reproductive health issues, while outreach services to vulnerable populations, including orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), had been delayed in some instances. "By mid-January, key sectors, including health and nutrition and water/sanitation, which is crucial for reducing morbidity and mortality, had received only 30 percent and 20 percent of requirements respectively," the review noted.The protection sector, which includes programmes ensuring basic care and protection for OVC, received no funds. Resources were also insufficient for the agricultural sector, resulting in the failure to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease and contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia. "Failure to contain these diseases will seriously affect the already severely reduced livestock assets of vulnerable households and national economies," the review noted. Besides the lack of funding, the review listed several other negative developments in the region, such as faltering health services and erratic weather patterns, which have affected the agricultural season. Increased unemployment, caused by the deterioration of political and economical conditions, particularly in Zimbabwe, had impacted negatively on household incomes. The appreciation of the South African rand during the second half of 2003 had also made products imported from South Africa more expensive for its neighbours.

SADC saw more visitors in 2003 (The Herald News, Harare, 25/2/2004)-The Southern Africa Development Community received 700 000 more visitors in 2003 compared to the previous year as a result of improved perceptions of the region's safety. According to the Regional Tourism of Southern Africa (Retosa) the end of civil wars in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen an increase in the number of visitors, with 13,5 million arrivals compared to 12,8 million in 2002. Retosa executive director Mr Shepherd Nyaruwata told Business Chronicle in a telephone interview from South Africa that Botswana, South Africa, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Namibia were favourites with the majority of tourists. About 65 percent of the tourists were from regional countries with visitors from Canada, United States of America, Australia and Japan making up 35 percent. "A large number of tourists are now shifting from the Asian markets due to terrorist activities to the region because Southern Africa is considered peaceful," said Mr Nyaruwata. "Civil wars in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo had a deterrent effect on the number of tourists who wanted to visit countries within the region. "However, following the signing of peace agreements within the two countries, we then embarked on an extensive programme to market the entire region as the most safest destination in the world," he said. Mr Nyaruwata added that Retosa last year held successful exhibitions in California and New York in the United States. The organisation has since secured the services of reputable international public relations companies such as BCA Communications in the US, Integra in Australia and Interface Tourism in France to promote the region. However, in Germany and United Kingdom, Retosa works directly with tour operators' associations. Retosa was established in 1997 by Sadc member states to encourage and facilitate the movement of tourists within the region through application of necessary regional, national policies and mechanisms that facilitate liberalisation of exchange control regulations. It was also meant to act as a communication channel between member states to enhance tourism through promotion of "peace parks" that straddle international boundaries such as the 38 million-acre Limpopo Transfrontier Park that encompasses South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Mining industry hard hit by AIDS (Pretoria News, 23/2/2004)- A survey of 26 South African mining and manufacturing companies has found just over 14% of the workforce to be infected with HIV.The research, conducted in 44 companies in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia, is believed to be the biggest ever of the HIV prevalence among formally employed workers in southern Africa.Most statistics about HIV/Aids prevalence are extrapolated from antenatal surveys, which investigate only the infection rate among pregnant women attending the State service.Altogether 28 509 workers were tested in South Africa, as were 6 240 in Botswana and 9 345 in Zambia, in the series of surveys by the consulting firm Aids Management and Support in 2000 and 2001. The survey results were published in the February 2004 edition of the South African Medical Journal. The companies requested the research. Workers' HIV status was kept confidential. It was found that:
-18% of the miners in South Africa had HIV, as had 17% of the metalworkers.
-16% of the South African male workers had HIV, as did 10% of the female workers. In 2001 the country's national antenatal survey found 24,8% of pregnant women to have HIV.
-Contract (23% infected), unskilled (18%) and semi-skilled workers (18%) were much more likely to be infected than skilled workers (10%) and managers (4.5%).
-The average infection rate across countries and sectors was nearly 17%. In several of the companies more than one in four workers was HIV-positive.
"The costs of health care and employee death and disability benefits are skyrocketing," the authors wrote. "If firms are to weather the HIV/Aids storm and provide appropriate prevention and care services to employees and their families, they must have accurate information on how many in their workforce are affected."

Diaspora irresistible for Zimbabweans study (The Sunday Mirror, 22/5/2004)-   DESPITE the sub-human standards of living that Zimbabweans often have to endure when they leave the country for the proverbial greener pastures abroad, a recent study has revealed that many others still wanted to join the band wagon. A Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) report released under the title The New Brain Drain from Zimbabwe established that 57 percent of highly skilled Zimbabweans – especially those in the 25 to 35 age bracket, were seriously pondering to join the great trek to the Diaspora. The developments witnessed in Zimbabwe’s economic sector in the wake of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono’s monetary policy, have shown that the economy was bound for resuscitation if all stakeholders pulled in the same direction. But this had not been enough to hold back those who wanted to go abroad citing the country’s crippling economic woes.The RBZ advisory board on foreign currency recently established that at least 3,4 million Zimbabweans live abroad. Of this number 1,1 million were in the United Kingdom, 1,2 million in South Africa, 100 000 in Australia and the same number in Canada.Social commentators said there could be a number of reasons why many other people still want to vacate Zimbabwe despite indications that the economy could be looking up due to government’s clean up of the slur in the financial services sector.One analyst contended that the fortunes that those who had gone abroad at the peak of Zimbabwe’s economic woes have made others want to follow suit in the hope of translating their dreams of amassing wealth into reality.“If you look at how those who have gone to the UK especially have suddenly found themselves in wealth they had never thought possible, erecting big houses and buying fancy cars, others who have seen these developments would also want to be part of them. So, given such a situation, the fact that they are likely to be humiliated by immigration officials or other nationals of the host country would not be strong enough to hold them back,” he said.He added that even if the economy was to fully stabilise, very few people, if any, were going to make the economic gains made by those whose flirtations with the Diaspora began at the outset of the economic stagnation. Although the media has been awash with unflattering reports of Zimbabwean women who – after coming face to face with the reality that the streets of foreign capitals are not paved with gold – had resorted to flesh-peddling in red-light districts to eke out a living aspiring emigrants have not been a put-off.Zimbabweans who have flooded South Africa in recent years have gained the stereotypical reputation of being women- and job-snatchers, inviting the ire and wrath of South Africans. There have also been reports of isolated incidents in which Zimbabweans were murdered for “stealing our jobs” by South African nationals, in a wave of xenophobia. With the setting of disillusionment, others had found themselves languishing in the jails of the foreign lands in which they had gone to make a fortune. South Africa’s foreign office recently revealed that over 900 Zimbabweans occupy the country’s prisons. This number excludes illegal immigrants who constantly face humiliating deportations if they are flushed out by the South African authorities.A University of Zimbabwe (UZ) social sciences student, Sharon Gomo, said many people were still sceptic about the economy’s turn-around despite promising signs registered so far.“We are talking of people who have suffered as their economy has been in recession for over six years, and for them to be convinced that the economy can stabilise in a few months can only be too good to be true,” she said.She added that, given that Zimbabweans have been on flight for such a long time, the habit had become part of them.Distinguished sociologist, Gordon Chavunduka, said such scepticism was understandable given that there was yet to be tangible, indisputable proof that the economy was really set for recovery.He said: “At the moment, it is still academic because to many people, nothing has really changed so they would not pay much attention until such a time when all doubt dissipates.” Chavunduka said the ultra-punishing nightmares that Zimbabwean immigrants go through at the hands of immigration officials and citizens of the host countries they flee to do not deter them because they look at the future gains.“When they (Zimbabweans) go to those foreign countries, they already expect that kind of treatment, and they look at it as part of their struggle to better their lives,” said Chavhunduka.

Zimbabwe loses its brains (Mail & Guardian, 15/2/2004)-   The common stereotype of the current wave of Zimbabwean migrants is that of the “fence jumpers” who, according to popular wisdom are “here to steal our jobs and our women”. What this picture ignores is the number of highly skilled Zimbabwean professionals and entrepreneurs who have established themselves in South Africa, developing skills and creating jobs. According to a report by the Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) entitled The New Brain Drain from Zimbabwe, 57% of skilled Zimbabweans had given serious thought to emigrating, particularly those in the 25 to 35 age group. Released last year and based on research conducted among a representative sample of 900 skilled Zimbabweans in 2001, the survey found that 51% expressed a desire to leave permanently, while 25% planned to leave for less than two years. It is difficult to gain hard data on the numbers of people emigrating from Zimbabwe, as data collection systems are often inadequate, according to Vincent Williams of SAMP. He says that no specific research has been done on the impact that Zimbabweans have made on the South African economy, but believes it is significant. “These people are skilled and are earning and spending money here, even if they do send a certain percentage home.”The brain drain from Zimbabwe has become a brain gain for South Africa in many instances. Dr Kennedy Mubaiwa came to South Africa to specialise in anaesthetics. He worked in a public hospital, in KwaZulu-Natal, contributing to health care in the province.“I was hands-on from day one and helped with skills and knowledge transfer as I worked with locally trained doctors.”He then went into private practice as an anaesthetist and also managed a 24-hour emergency service in Gauteng. He went on to complete his MBA and is now a medical director at American pharmaceutical giant Lilly. Mubaiwa says that at least half of his medical school classmates are now working in South Africa, and 90% are specialists. “If I consider [gross domestic product] per capita, I feel that Zimbabwe is losing a lot to the advantage of South Africa.”Mubaiwa is optimistic about the future of his homeland. “A diamond is the result of coal under pressure. I am convinced that Zim will sparkle again one day.”Tatenda Sibanda* (28) is a marketing manager of a news agency in South Africa. “I wouldn’t be as effective as I am now because in Zimbabwe things like telecommunications are not reliable. And also because I’m working in the media I’d also have to duck and dive.”Sibanda says she has mixed feelings about her home country, but home remains sweet for her. Going back to Zimbabwe is not an option for now, but Sibanda doesn’t rule out the possibility of returning home in future.Wellington Chadehumbe, chief executive officer of Triumph Venture Capital (TVC), left Zimbabwe in 1996 before the rapid economic decline set in."Before my departure, I participated in numerous forums as president of the Zimbabwe Economic Society, warning about the dangers of fiscal indiscipline,” he says.“I never expected that I would be vindicated in a manner that would be associated with so much economic loss and political turbulence.”TVC manages investments for the Southern African Intellectual Property Fund, a venture capital fund that focuses on the commercialisation of technologies developed by South African science councils and research institutes.Chadehumbe is excited about being in South Africa.“I am in a more vibrant economy, the government of which has a refreshing vision for the growth of South Africa and the economic restoration of the continent,” he says. “That is most refreshing. This has positively impacted on my quality of life.”He believes Zimbabwe’s situation can change.“My commitment to Zimbabwe is as unwavering as my conviction that economic growth in Africa requires a pan-African platform,” he says.“From Japan’s experience we learn that a country’s most valuable resource is its people. Given the skills set of its people and the strong work ethic, Z+imbabwe’s economic recovery is certain, once the political stalemate has been resolved,” said Chadehumbe.

Efforts to strengthen support for informal traders (The Herald Online, 13/2/2004)- EFFORTS to enhance regional economic co-operation and integration have now been stepped up as southern Africa seeks to seize opportunities to expand markets, attract greater investment and increase standards of living.These remarks were made by the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Mrs Sithembiso Nyoni, at a regional workshop for Sadc informal traders which began in Harare yesterday.The workshop is being held to tackle issues which include lack of policy among regional governments on small-scale exporters.Although the macro-economic environment was now generally conducive for informal cross border trade, the absence of proper policy hampered maximum yield from such trade.Central and private trade authorities continued to exhibit a visible ignorance of the potential that small traders could contribute to poverty alleviation and employment.Mrs Nyoni said the informal sector played a major role in the economies of the sub region."The export sector is without doubt one of the most important growing sectors of the economies and it is important to try as much as possible to lessen barriers both tariff and non-tariff that may inhibit the growth of the sector within the sub region," she said.She also bemoaned the fact that because the informal sector had remained invisible, its contribution continued to be disregarded when computing the Gross Domestic Product."It is therefore important for regional government authorities to urgently enforce rules and regulations that facilitate and recognise the existence and operations of this sector," she added. Informal cross border traders have often complained about a variety of problems that hinder their business activities.These problems included obstacles linked to infrastructure, market distortion, visa restrictions that almost stifle their business and excessive harassment at some points of entry."Therefore there is need for Sadc countries to strive for collective capacity, responsibility and action in the pursuit of deeper regional integration to minimise the risks faced by small economies while exploiting opportunities offered by the globalised world," she said.

Comesa states fail to promote intra-regional trade (The Herald Online, 5/2/2004)- THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa member-states have failed to promote intra-regional trade, leaving countries outside the bloc to further their interests.South Africa, for example, is not a member of Comesa but has managed to increase the volume of trade with other countries such as Malawi and Zambia as a result of its aggressiveness.Most of the Comesa member-states have been accused of lacking the necessary aggression that is needed to either maintain or map new markets in other countries, particularly in an increasingly competitive global market where only the fittest survive.Local business people, who attended a Comesa workshop on the free trade area, lamented the need for member states to awaken from the deep slumber.Speaking at the workshop, the Comesa director of trade, customs and monetary affairs Dr Charles Chanthunya urged countries in the bloc to use Comesa as a training ground for competition on the world market.Dr Chanthunya said due to the multilateral trading system of the World Trade Organisation, the world was opening up and there was a need to develop that competitiveness.It was also imperative that the local businesses establish markets within the region since some of the markets in developed countries were well-protected by tariffs and subsidies.A presentation by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries at the Comesa workshop held in Harare showed that Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited had virtually lost the Zambian market to South African dairy products.This was despite the fact that Zambia used to be one of Dairibord’s largest export markets in the region. This scenario was said to be in direct violation of Comesa trade regulations which made it mandatory for any member of the free trade area to seek the permission of other members before entering into a bilateral agreement with a non-member.Zimbabwe’s exports to Comesa between 1997 and 2000 were valued at about US$255,8 million, but the figures declined to US$48,8 million in 2001. The decline in intra-Comesa trade has also been attributed to stringent measures which were being introduced by some countries.For instance, Zambia has imposed a deposit fee of US$250 on all goods passing through that country and there was so much bureaucracy involved in claiming the money, hence, most companies had abandoned the route. This has also affected trade between Zimbabwe and the DRC, a market locals have failed to penetrate since the attainment of peace a few years ago.

Angola

Luanda offers apology over expelled miners (Irinnews. 28/02/2004)- Angola has apologised for the treatment of Congolese miners during a recent crackdown on illegal diamond traffickers in the country, acknowledging that "excesses" were committed by soldiers. "These excesses provoked harmful repercussions, which we regret, and for which we offer a public apology," Angola's official Journal de Angola newspaper quoted interior minister Osvaldo Serra Van-Dunem as saying on Monday. Some 10,000 illegal diamond miners from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been expelled from Angola since December 2003 as part of the government's campaign to clean up the diamond mining industry. However, a DRC rights group, Voice of the Voiceless (VOV), raised the alarm over alleged rights abuses soon after the expulsions took place. VOV reported that Angolan troops and civilians had subjected many of the Congolese to beatings and death threats. "Many of returnees told us that they had experienced some form of violence. In one case, one of the miners crossed the border after Angolan soldiers had amputated one of his arms. These people were treated as subhuman," Dolly Ibefo, vice-president of the rights body, told IRIN.  Although Voice of the Voiceless welcomed the apology, "it was not enough", Ibefo said. He noted: "We are glad that the government has apologised, but the returnees need some assistance now that they have arrived home. Most of them arrived with nothing - there was no time for them to even take their personal belongings. Some of those who fled are now stranded in villages along the border. They have no funds which they can use for transportation."  The Angolan authorities in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, had been alerted to the situation, "but until now there hasn't been any solution", said Ibefo. "We would call on the Angolans to cease the expulsions immediately." According to official figures, about 700 illegal diamond miners known as 'garimpeiros', including 334 foreigners, have been arrested in the central Bie province since last year. It is believed that the majority of traffickers in Angola are from the DRC, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Botswana fails to arrest AIDS spread ( Mmegi Online, 26/2/2004)-A joint UN report has said that Botswana’s HIV/AIDS situation is continuing to get worse despite notable efforts to stem the tide against the epidemic. The Joint United Nations Response to HIV/AIDS in Botswana by six UN agencies resident in the country maintains that Botswana’s HIV prevalence has dramatically escalated from the time when the first case was diagnosed in 1985. From 18.1% in 1992, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the country was 35.4% in 2002. The report says that the 2002 national HIV prevalence report indicates that a total of 258 000 adults [in the 15-48 years age group] are HIV positive, of which 164 373 are women. The factors fuelling the spread of the epidemic have been identified as poverty, intergenerational sex, culture, gender inequalities, population mobility, urbanisation, stigma and denial. The UN agencies maintain that: “These staggering rates illustrate the gravity of the epidemic in Botswana, described as a national emergency”. Quoting the Botswana 2002 HIV Surveillance report, the agencies say the national life expectancy has fallen considerably, from 67 years to 56 years, and the groups hardest hit are the youth aged between 15 and 24, women, orphans and migrant workers and truck drivers. The agencies say that Botswana finds itself at a critical stage. They say the country has shown strong political commitment and significant efforts, reflected by the increase and extent of the government’s national spending for HIV/AIDS, the introduction of free Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy [HAART] for the public, free PMTCT for all pregnant women and the expansion of VCT services. Others are the mainstreaming of HIV/AIDS into the National Development Plan 9, the current revision of the 1998 HIV/AIDS policy, the development of the National Strategic Framework, and the Botswana HIV Response Information Management System (BHRIMS). The report says that civil society and the private sector have become increasingly involved in the AIDS war and today they play a vital role in the Botswana multi-sectoral, multi-facetted response. The UN agencies add that despite these efforts, the national HIV/AIDS response is still faced with serious challenges. They say the continued indulgence in risky sexual behaviour, denial, fear, stigma and discrimination, insufficient human resources within government and civil society, and the limited technical capacity of NGOs, CBOs, and support groups are some of the major factors that impede the success of anti-HIV/AIDS efforts.

Local vows to kick out foreign taxi drivers (Mmegi Online, 19/2/2004) -TAXI drivers in Gaborone are working with the police to kick out immigrants who are illegally employed in the industry. The locals allege that some taxi owners employ Zimbabwean drivers, who have work permits allowing them to work in the construction industry or drive buses. The locals said the taxi owners ignore the fact that there are many Batswana drivers who are unemployed. According to some of the locals, the law prohibits foreigners from getting Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licences. But to their surprise, Zimbabwean PSV drivers are flooding the market. The Traffic Officer at Borakanelo Police Station Superintendent, Gaborutwe Radithupa, said they have responded to calls from locals, complaining about drivers who do not have PSV licences. He added that they caught a good number of Zimbabwean drivers without licences. Many of them were fined for not having relevant papers. He said the drivers use construction work-permits to drive taxis. “It is surprising that most of these drivers have PSV licences,” Radithupa said. The Director of Road Transport and Safety, Moses Sebolai, said there is no way his department can give a PSV licence to someone who came into the country with a work-permit that says he is supposed to work in another industry. He explained that his department checks work permits and residence permits before they can issue PSV licences to foreigners. He said he was not aware of cases where foreigners obtained PSV licences without the relevant work permits. He however said he would not rule out forgery.

Security Forces raid for illegal immigrants (Mmegi online, 16/2/2004)-Roadblocks across the city’s main streets last week signalled another bad day for thousands of Zimbabwean illegal immigrants in Botswana. The police, military, immigration officers, prisons staff and local police combined their efforts Thursday and Friday to clear illegal immigrants from the city, in a surprise raid that netted well over 2,000. The operation caught many people by surprise as the police, soldiers, warders and immigration officers took control of the city searching for illegal immigrants and Batswana who harbour them. The house-to-house search caused traffic jams along the Blue jacket and the Haskins streets because of the numerous roadblocks. Individuals walking along the streets were confronted to identify themselves. The arrested people were bundled into military trucks for further questioning at the Kutlwano police station, which was the temporary headquarters for the operation. Dark skinned individuals wre the main culprits. From one corner to another, they faced a barrage of questions from officers. Day and night, the police and military trucks, rolled through the streets loaded with those netted in the operation. Last Thursday, the raid netted one Somali and 1,642 Zimbabweans. The Somali caught in the operation is reported to be a refugee, who left the Dukwi refugee camp without permission. Senior Superintendent Boikhutso Dintwa of Francistown police said the Somali man has been released. “If there is any action that the Commandant at the camp finds fit to take against the Somali, then he would do so,” said Dintwa. By Thursday 85 Batswana had been charged for harbouring, employing and aiding illegal aliens. They had the option of paying an admission of guilt fine of P1,000 instead or face the wrath of the law.

Return of 220,000 Refugees ( Angola Press, 15/2/2004)-The Standing Commission of the Cabinet Council has taken notice on Wednesday, in Luanda, about the return of at least 220,000 Angolan refugees into the country, since April of 2002 until last December. Among this figure, according to a communiqué from a meeting chaired by the Angolan Head of State, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, about 75,000 people have returned home voluntarily and 44,000 others in the ambit of the organised repatriation operations".At this session, was acknowledged, on the other hand, that the humanitarian situation has improved in a considerable way, in the fourth quarter of last year.During this period, the government distributed over 1,000 tonnes of seeds and nearly 700,000 farming kits to families who have returned to their areas of origin, having also made available about USD 20 million for the improvement of the basic social services for each province.The Standing Commission was told about the memorandum on the execution of the Demining Programme having concluded that the problem on landmines continues to be a worrying issue and there must be developed a greater awareness campaign on the danger of these ordnances and increase the implementation of the National Demining Programme.Was also taken to the acquaintance of the Standing Commission the Report on the activities carried out by the National Commission of Productive and Social Reintegration of the demobilized and displaced people.

UNHCR to host meeting on Africa repatriations (UNHCR, Geneva, 13/2/2004)-The UN refugee agency announced today it is calling a ministerial meeting on Africa next month, saying prolonged conflicts may soon be resolved resulting in the possible return of up to 2 million refugees to nine countries that require significant international assistance.UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said the "Dialogue on Voluntary repatriation and Sustainable Reintegration in Africa" to be held on March 8 in Geneva will bring together key African ministers and representatives, donor governments and other partners to discuss peace processes that are in progress."While we often cite our concerns about specific refugee problems in Africa, UNHCR believes there is now cause for cautious optimism about resolving some of the most protracted refugee and displacement situations on the continent," Redmond said.He said that for the first time, the agency sees "multiple possibilities for the potential repatriation of up to 2 million refugees" some of which are already under way in Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These countries account for more than 5 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)."Given the enormous potential for finding lasting solutions for so many people, UNHCR believes the international community needs to seize this opportunity and take a comprehensive regional approach toward ensuring repatriation and sustainable reintegration in Africa," Redmond said.The Geneva-based director of UNHCR's Africa Bureau, David Lambo, has said that Africa needs long-term, sustainable development and attention to break the cycle of violence, poverty and despair.Joining the ministers will be keynote speakers Poul Nielson, European Commissioner for Development for Development and Humanitarian Aid; Julia D. Joiner, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Commission of the African Union; and Julia Taft, Assistant Administrator of UNDP.The March 8 meeting will be opened by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers. Assistant High Commissioner for Refugee Kamel Morjane will close the proceedings. Regional side meetings on repatriation and reintegration operations in West and Central Africa and in East and Southern Africa will continue on the afternoon of March 9.Actual and potential returns in Africa include:Angola – Following a peace agreement in April 2002, 3.7 million IDPs and refugees have returned, but formidable problems persist, including the presence of land mines, poor or non-existent physical infrastructure, lack of jobs and a fragile socio-economic situation. UNHCR hopes to return 145,000 refugees this year. Sierra Leone – Some 270,000 Sierra Leoneans have repatriated in the wake of a peace process in Sierra Leone, but development and national capacity building are essential for peace to hold and allow full reintegration.Liberia – UNHCR has joined an inter-agency effort to prepare the ground for the eventual voluntary repatriation and sustainable reintegration of 320,000 Liberian refugees scattered around West Africa. Sudan – A peace accord is likely to be hammered out in southern Sudan by the end of the first quarter of 2004; UNHCR expects to help return in the first 18 months of peace in the country devastated by two decades of civil strife some 150,000 of the 600,000 refugees in the nearby countries.Eritrea – Over the past two years, 103,000 Eritreans have returned to Eritrea, where UNHCR has undertaken reintegration projects, but some 300,000 of them have remained in Sudan since the independence war began in the 1960s. UNHCR plans to give some impetus to the repatriation process.Somalia – Despite the repatriation of 467,000 Somali refugees to the north-east and north-west of the country over the past 12 years, Somalia remains a formidable challenge. A national reconciliation process is continuing but obstacles to peace are many and complex, and 400,000 Somali refugees remain around the world, many in dire conditions in nearby countries. Burundi – With the announcement by the last rebel holdout, FNL, that it is joining the peace process, the outlook looks bright for Burundi, where more than 80,000 Burundi refugees have returned. UNHCR expects 150,000 of the 600,000 Burndian refugees, many of them in Tanzania, will return this year. Rwanda – A decade after the genocide in Rwanda that left 800,000 dead, the country is encouraging several tens of thousands of Rwandans living in various countries in the region to return home. Last year, 17,982 Rwandan refugees repatriated. Democratic Republic of the Congo – UNHCR is preparing for the return of 350,000 Congolese refugees from neighbouring countries as the transitional government struggles to restore order in the vast country.

UNHCR and Government discuss Repatriation (Angola Press Agency, 10/2/2004)-The Angolan Government and the UNHCR this month started discussions meant to outline the repatriation program of Angolan refugees in 2004, particularly those living in sheltering camps. The UNHCR official, Matthew Brook said there might occur a meeting, soon, gathering all interveners of the repatriation process, which will analyse the program in an open way. In addition, he said, the UNHCR intends to open new confinement areas in Huambo, Bie, Benguela, Uíge, Cunene and Huíla. The official added that the Tripartite Commission, as a key mechanism assigned to formalize the repatriation might meet in March. About 130,000 refugees await repatriation from Zambia, Namibia and DRCongo. Last year, around 76,000 refugees were repatriated.

Botswana

Batswana to be prosecuted for harbouring illegal immigrants (Daily News, Gumare, 9/2/2004)- The immigration office at Gumare has filed four cases with the Shakawe police against Batswana who have either harboured illegal immigrants or assisted them to acquire Botswana citizenship. Senior immigration officer Frederick Sefikedi told BOPA in an interview that some residents assist foreigners to get passports and national registration cards (Omang) to enable them to live and work in the country. The interview followed last Wednesday's kgotla meeting that was addressed by Okavango MP Joseph Kavindama at Ngarange during which the residents voiced their anger at the recent deportation of some illegal immigrants to Namibia. They expressed resentment saying such people were Batswana by birth and accused the immigration officials of failing to consult village elders so as to establish the truth about victims' status. They said the officers came to the village without prior consultation and dispatched such people to Namibia. However, Sefikedi regretted the influx of Namibian illegal immigrants into the area, saying it should be halted forthwith. He said 25 illegal immigrants were deported from Ngarange, Xakao and Etsha 6 in January, adding that most of them were school going children who were collected from Remote Area Dwellers (RADs) hostels. He said such children are reported to have already secured places in Namibian schools and explained that some of the deportees were found in possession of both Botswana and Namibian citizenship papers. Ngarange chief's representative Tshosa Tsheko felt that the immigration office should have discussed the matter with him as the village leader before making the move. Molekodi Jongwe, who was fined P200 for harbouring illegal immigrants, lamented that his wife and two of his children had been deported. Stephen Lucas, Ngarange Primary School head, confirmed that six pupils had been deported without his knowledge. Consequently, he has written the education officer in Gumare on the issue. MP Kavindama concurred with residents that the village leaders should have been consulted ahead of the operation.

Immigrants threaten Botswana security, says police commissioner (Mmegi, 5/2/2004)- Illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe have become a serious problem that threatens the security of Botswana, according to the Commissioner of Police Norman Moleboge. Briefing the House of Chiefs on crime, the Police boss said in 2002 alone 26 214 illegal immigrants were dealt with by the police for violating immigration laws against 1 387 who were victims of crime. Records held by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship show that the number of Zimbabwean illegal immigrants deported back home increased from 25 511 in 2001 to 26 585 in 2002.“Worsening the crime situation is the fact that some Batswana and foreigners continue to harbour these immigrants, thus providing havens for them,” he said. Concerning juvenile delinquency Moleboge said the year 2000 saw the number of youth offenders increase tremendously from 116 in 2001 to 1257 in 2002. According to Moleboge the number comprised 1083 juvenile males and 174 juvenile females. Although the figures for this year are still being compiled the Police say they don’t expect any improvement. Another factor contributing to crime is alcohol abuse, which Moleboge said has increased with the opening of new liquor licensed premises some of which operate 24 hours. Further Police records indicate that a total number of 25 363 cases are pending before the courts as from December 31 2003. Of all these cases 238 have been registered with the High Court while 238 are registered with the Magistrate Courts. Total cases registered with Customary Courts are 478 and those which are ready but not registered are 5 752 while 15 667 cases are under investigation. Therefore Moleboge says the Police want to forge a partnership with the community to fight crime. He added that this partnership is even more crucial between dikgosi and the Police. “The chiefs are the leaders of our communities and therefore with their judicial powers they can go a long way in controlling factors contributing to juvenile crime, street robberies and breakings’, he said

Some 425,000 displaced people leaving Benguela Province (Angop, 5/2/2004)- Some 425,000 people, formerly settled in Benguela, were settled in the neighbouring Huambo, Bie, Kwanza-Sul, Namibe and Huila Provinces, during the year 2003, by the Technical Unity Of Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (Utcah). With this returning process, Benguela only registered 13,000 displaced people, living in Luongo (Catumbela), Damba Maria (Benguela) 0and Dombe Grande (Baia Farta) Districts. Despite this, the resettlement achieved 90 per cent, for Utcah, in the year 2003, whivh marked by some constrains, such as lack of food to support population that returned their origins. According to the source, the voluntary return of people, althought withtout fulfilment of the established norms for this purpose, surpassed the expectations of this Government organ which deal with people's humanitarian situation. Addressing Angop, Utcah coordinator, Melo Costa, said works achieved in Benguela in the last year, allowed established the humanitarian situation there. He also said that heavy rains hitting the country isolated some inland localities, where is settled a great number of population, due to road's bad conditions.

Woman accused of abduction ( Mmegi, 3/2/2004) - The prospect of a well-paid job can be quite tempting especially to a desperate and impoverished Zimbabwean. But, as two Zimbabwean women found out the hard way, not everything that glitters in a foreign land is gold. After their ordeal, the duo Farai Sangaza and Audrey Mashaire, visited Mmegi offices to report that they were abducted and enslaved by a Motswana woman. They said the woman who they named as Miriam Special approached them last year between October and November and offered them ‘piece-jobs’. “She found me standing by one of the shops at BBS and beckoned to me. She then offered me a piece job, which I accepted. She drove me, together with my countrywoman who she also offered a similar job, to Fikeng. Once in Fikeng she asked us if we would consider working for her on full time basis. Desperate for a job, we were only too glad to accept,” said 24 year-old Mashaire. For the next three days the women slept at Special’s home. The home itself, as Mmegi later found out, is in a secluded area completely surrounded by hills and unknown to many people. But then the young women had been treated nicely those first three days and were almost comfortable with Ma Ross (as Mrs Ross Special is commonly known). “Ma Ross drove us to our lodging place in Maruapula on the third day where we took our luggage. She then went to the immigration department where through the help of a consultant she arranged work permits for us. From there she took us back to her house. I was there until this week when we decided to escape,” said Mashaire. While it was clear that their permits had been issued earlier it was only last week that they got photocopies of the documents, said Mashaire. “She still keeps the original documents,” she added. The documents, copies of which were given to Mmegi were issued on December 11 and expire on March 11, 2004. Curiously the women say they never worked as farm labourers. “Save for a hole which she said we should dig and a few seeds of sugar cane which she said we should plant so that she could show the police that indeed we were farm labourers, there was nothing we did other than feeding her dogs and doing other chores that she assigned us to do,” said Sangaza. “That woman is strange. She made us believe that she cared, but changed after about three weeks. While she would during the first few days bring us some cabbage for relish she suddenly decided to stop. She instructed us to share pet mince with the dogs or starve to death. We were hungry and had no choice so we ate mealie meal and the pet mince with her three dogs,” said Sangaza. According to the women they could not leave Special’s house because they were locked in. “She kept promising us that should we try to escape she would kill us and let loose the big dog on us,” said Sangaza who added that Special would not let them leave the compound, and instructed them not to talk to passers-by. “When recently we broke her law and went to the tuck shop, she promised to kill us if we did it again,” said Sangaza. Despite the fact that she failed to pay the two women for over two months, Special would not buy them such essential items as toiletry. “Just once she bought us each a bar of soap. When I told her that the soap was finished, she said that we should use Omo washing powder to bath,” said Mashaire. Bathing, said the woman is another issue. “We had to bathe outside the house because she would not allow us to bathe in the room that was designed for that purpose. She said we would spread our germs in her house. With me she even told me to leave my slippers outside the courtyard as she said they were smelly. But if they were, what was I supposed to use to wash them as she has not paid me since November 18?” asked Sangaza. “I told Ma Ross that I am a single mother and a widow. I have two school-going children whose school fees I must pay and that as such I would need to leave for home at some point to pay their fees. So two weeks ago, I phoned her and informed her that I needed my pay so that I could go home and see my children. But she told me that I would get no money. She said that we had broken her Omega radio and that it was worth P265, that we lived in her house whose rent was an equivalent of P400 per room, that we had free food and water and that she was going to deduct all that money from our pay. I knew immediately that I would never get back home unless I escaped from Ma Ross’ place. “So together with Mashaire, who only got paid once we hatched a plan to escape, that is how you see us here,” a tearful Sangaza told Mmegi. But the Sangaza who left Fikeng is a different Sangaza from the one who went there last October. “I have lost over 20 kilograms because of an illness which we all got and had no one to take us to see a doctor,” she said. The two women say they have failed to get help from the police, who told them they were not the proper department to deal with their case. “What we simply wanted to lodge was charges of abduction and enslavement,” said Sangaza. Mmegi visited Mr and Mrs Ross Special’s house at Fikeng and found the compound locked. Miriam Special refused to talk to the Mmegi team when it caught up with her. However she branded the Zimbabweans thieves and said they had stolen her work permits.

Editorial:Deal with exploitation of foreigners (Mmegi, 3/2/2004)-We have in the past written against the exploitation of immigrants, especially Zimbabweans most of whom are illegal economic refugees who come to this country to earn an income. Barely four months have passed since we wrote against the practice, and it seems like our protestations went unheeded. Elsewhere in this edition, we carry a story, which indicates clearly that the problem faced by these immigrants is more than just exploitation. We hear stories of desperate women who are being abducted and threatened with death to work for no pay. The case of Mashaire and Sangaza may just be a tip of the iceberg. In many countries today, people, especially the poor and job-hunting economic refugees are abducted and trafficked in what is akin to slavery. Many are physically confined, their travel or identity documents are taken away and they are threatened if they do not cooperate. Fearful of what might befall them, the trafficked human beings, rely completely on their masters for food, shelter and other basic necessities. Furthermore, as in the case of Sangaza and Mashaire, people who exploit or abduct the immigrants also play on the victims’ fear that the authorities in a strange country will prosecute or deport them if they ask for help. And unlike these two women, many of the victims would rather be quiet than face the law enforcement authorities who are rarely friendly. What happens then is that hundreds of these people have their human rights grossly violated. For all we know, this country may be a route for human traffickers. This is unacceptable and we call upon government, NGOs and communities and every individual to fight this cancer that may one day contort the way the world perceive our country and society. It is therefore necessary that government carries out systematic investigations to get reliable data on the treatment of aliens. The story of the two women also means that there is a need to strengthen the criminal justice response to the curtailment of immigrants’ rights through legislative reform, awareness-raising and training, as well as through national and international cooperation. Furthermore victims who give evidence should be protected. What this country needs is a spirit of compassion. Indeed not every alien who comes to this country is genuine. But we cannot afford, as a nation to be xenophobes. We need to treat aliens with compassion and understanding. And when they are ill-treated and exploited we need to raise the alarm. These are our brothers and sisters, one day we might need their help. Until their country’s economic door opens they will keep entering our country to escape from hunger, lawlessness and oppression.

Botswana needs solution to Zimbabwe problem (Mmegi, 2/2/2004)- Opposition leaders are concerned that Botswana is not doing enough to find a permanent solution to the problem of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe. The leader of the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM), Lepetu Setshwaelo observed that the problem of illegal aliens is a problem that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders ought to put on their agenda. He said it was worrying to note the rate at which Zimbabwean illegal immigrants were entering neighbouring countries believed to be economically better off. “SADC leaders should look at this issue with a view to establishing if President Robert Mugabe can be assisted to ameliorate the situation in his country,” said Setshwaelo. He also suggested that the SADC countries should make the Zimbabwe problem a SADC problem. Setshwaelo agreed that as the number of economic refugees continues to climb, Botswana will finally not be able to cope, as the numbers are overwhelming. “It would be important to find out from other SADC members if they could absorb some of the aliens and perhaps engage them in activities that can pay them like farming in such countries like Angola and Mozambique, which are on the verge of reconstruction after many years of devastating civil wars,” he stated. Batswana were encouraged to look at the problem of Zimbabwe with a lot of empathy. “The problem of Zimbabweans is not unique to them as one day Zimbabwe could possibly receive economic refugees from Botswana, South Africa and other countries. We should understand that Zimbabweans are not here to form military groups, all they are doing is searching for job opportunities to feed themselves”. He reminded Batswana to take cognizance of the fact that in the past, when Botswana was nothing but dust, some of Batswana used to work in then Rhodesia. Botswana National Front (BNF) leader, Otsweletse Moupo, sees no quick fix solution when Zimbabwe’s neighbours, Botswana, South Africa and Namibia have better performing economies whilst the situation in Zimbabwe continues to decline. “The only solution is for the economic situation in Zimbabwe to improve,” he pointed out. The leader of the main opposition appealed to Batswana to understand. “The fate of the Zimbabweans is a southern African problem,” he said and asked Batswana to desist from blaming Zimbabweans for internal problems like crime. He appealed to SADC leaders to help Zimbabwe out. “Certainly, there is not much being done to combat this problem. Arresting and repatriating illegals has proved unviable and we need to find effective means as a troubled region”. Over 4,000 illegal immigrants were arrested in Francistown last December in a surprise operation dubbed “Operation Clean Up”. Early last month, stakeholders including the police, army, and others, netted well over 500 illegals in a small village a few kilometers west of Francistown. The leader of the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Bernard Balikani, said it is now common knowledge that Zimbabwe is in trouble economically. “Our belief is that the government of Botswana should engage the Zimbabwe government to discuss this issue. Botswana has not done enough compared to South Africa and Nigeria with their initiatives,” he said. He reiterated that as a good neighbour, Botswana should do something to improve the economic situation in Zimbabwe. “It is important that Botswana show its neighbour how its problems are affecting it and device a permanent solution. It is clear that quiet diplomacy is not helping us any more,” argued Balikani. He stated that Batswana should stop harbouring illegal immigrants and instead report all those who continue to break the law. Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin (MELS) leader, Themba Joina said unless the Zimbabwean economic crisis is resolved then the Zimbabwean problem will persist. “I don’t think the problem of Zimbabwe will find an immediate solution as long as the economic crisis persists. Economic refugees will continue streaming into this country”. Joina does not think SADC should be involved in freeing Zimbabwe from its economic crisis instead he encouraged it to deal with the political problem bedeviling the country. He said the Botswana government should come in and dialogue with its international partners and help Zimbabwe out. “We believe that presently that is all the Botswana government can do. Otherwise we will be demanding too much”, he said.

Lesotho

Lesotho sees fast trade growth under AGOA (L'Express, 20/02/2004) - Tiny landlocked Lesotho forecasts rapid expansion of its manufacturing sector thanks to a US trade deal that gives preferential treatment to exports from eligible sub-Saharan African countries. Trade and Industry Minister Mpho Malie told Reuters in an interview yesterday the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) had brought vibrancy to the economy of the kingdom long dependent on neighbouring South Africa. Under a new duty-free quota for least developed countries, the impoverished country of two million had also started exporting textiles to Canada, Malie said. Jobs in Lesotho's manufacturing sector have jumped to 54,000 from 17,000 since textiles production targeting the US market began in earnest in late 2000, said Malie who is also minister responsible for cooperatives and marketing. The mountainous kingdom surrounded completely by South Africa is often cited as one of AGOA's success stories, selling trendy clothes to US stores like Gap, Kmart and JC Penney. In 2002 it exported $318 million in clothes and textiles to the United States under AGOA, out of the $803.3 million earned from such exports by AGOA-eligible states. During that year, east African powerhouse Kenya earned only $129.2 million from textiles and apparel exports to America. Other AGOA successes range from Mauritius to Ghana. "We've made a lot of gains under AGOA. We expect to make further, faster progress still," Malie added. Malie said Taiwan firm Nien Shein was investing $135 million in a new denim and fabric mill, which would further expand growth in the sector and deliver more jobs - key to social and political stability in the kingdom. Manufacturing has become the leading employer in Lesotho, replacing the government. It is a boon for the kingdom where drought has forced donor agencies to provide food handouts to thousands of people over the past two years.

Commonwealth working group on teacher recruitment to meet (Commonwealth News and Information Service, 19/2/2004)- Senior officials from 11 Commonwealth countries will gather in Lesotho from 23 to 25 February 2004, for the first meeting of the Commonwealth Working Group on Teacher Recruitment. Chaired by Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Winston Cox, the meeting will be hosted by Lesotho's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Training, Lesao Lehohla. The inaugural session of the meeting will be open to the media. The Working Group was set up following the 15th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in October 2003, to develop appropriate and ethical codes of conduct for the recruitment of teachers in the Commonwealth. Senior officials will consider whether present practices afford sufficient protection to countries that have invested heavily in teacher training and to teachers recruited for service abroad. The Group will also advise on measures countries should take to prevent the excessive loss of teachers through unregulated recruitment practices; and on recovery measures which should be employed to assist and train more teachers in seriously affected countries. The Working Group will submit a draft agreement on teacher recruitment to Commonwealth education ministers by April 2004 and the document is expected to be finalised by a Ministerial Group by September this year. Countries represented on the Working Group are Barbados, India, Jamaica, Lesotho, Mauritius, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, St Lucia, Seychelles, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Zambia. Representatives of civil society organisations including the Commonwealth Consortium on Education, the Commonwealth Teachers Grouping and the University of Nottingham Centre for Comparative Research in Education will attend the meeting as permanent observers.

Three SA cattle rustlers killed (Public Eye, 18/2/2004)- THE ongoing scourge of cattle rustling in the district of Mokhotlong took another bloody turn last week when three rustlers from the province of Kwazulu-Natal were killed by villagers from the village of Ts’oana Makhulo.According to Captain Tanki Mothae, the public relations officer of the Lesotho Defence Force a group of rustlers from Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa, raided Ts’oana Makhulo village, sized 17 head of cattle and fled towards the South African border.No sooner had the raiders disappeared into nearby hills and an alarm was raised. Village men then pursued the rustlers but as night fell, the rustler hid in the rugged mountain terrain. The villagers retreated but kept a close watch on the area.The following morning at dawn, the villagers resumed their search and spotted the rustlers. A fierce gun battle then ensued and three rustlers were killed and another was apprehended and is now in police custody in Mokhotlong. All the stolen cattle were recovered.Meanwhile cattle rustling within Lesotho itself has intensified in the last year or so, despite the passing of the Stock Theft Act of 2000 last April, which imposes stiff penalties of up to 20 year’s imprisonment for repeat offenders.Stock theft has become a national disaster and last week the National Security Task Committee visited Koro-Koro and issued a stern warning that lawlessness would not be tolerated. The Koro-Koro area has seen an escalation of stock theft often accompanied by violence and death.In Roma and its environs cattle rustling has reached alarming proportions and this week the animal pound at the Roma charge office was full of cattle, although there were also some sheep, goats and horses.Trooper Sibanda, a member of the stock theft unit at the Roma charge office, told me that most of the impounded animals had been found grazing in open rangelands abandoned and further said that as a result no one would be charged and that the animals will have to be returned to their owners.

Mozambique

South African court sentence "shocking" - (Maputo News, 27/2/2004)- The delegation in South Africa of the Mozambican Labour Ministry has described as "shocking, ridiculous, and manipulated" the lenient sentence handed down by a court in the town of Nelspruit against a local farmer who murdered a Mozambican employee in February 2002. The Labour delegate, Pedro Taimo, cited in Friday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", said he intended to submit an appeal to the South African Supreme Court. Taimo protested that, despite evidence of the brutal and racist nature of the crime, and of the farmer's repeated attempts to obstruct justice, the Nelspruit judge sentenced him to only two years in prison, which can be converted into a fine of 36,000 rands (about 5,350 US dollars) fine, plus another two years suspended for five years. During the trial, witnesses told the court how Gerrit Maritz, the accused, sought out the Mozambican worker, Jotamo Mandlate, in his room for failing to show up for his shift. Maritz assaulted the victim, knocked him down, and ran him over repeatedly with his vehicle, until he was dead. He then put the body in the car and left. All this was done in the presence of the other workers. The witnesses added that on the following day, Maritz, with the help of a friend of his in the police, took the body to the Komatipoort police station, where he intended to dump it in the adjacent morgue without any registration. But the senior police officer on duty at the station refused to collaborate, and asked for details on the origin of the body and the cause of death. This called for an investigation, which led to the arrest of the farmer. Taimo found it quite strange that nothing happened to the policeman who helped Maritz, and he is still working as if nothing had happened. Up to the last day of the trial, Maritz insisted that he was innocent, but after the witnesses' statements, the court advised him to confess. He did so, and this now looks like a sordid deal: in exchange for a guilty plea, the judge had promised a lenient sentence, bearing no relation to the premeditated and brutal nature of the crime. "The sentence delivered by the court on 18 February shocked the audience, particularly the family of the victim", said Taimo. "The verdict was manipulated to benefit the defendant, in a clearly racist plot that started during the trial". He added that such a light sentence "will not deter other white farmers from ill-treating their black employees, particularly Mozambicans, with near absolute impunity". Taimo said that the Labour delegation will not only appeal against this sentence to the Supreme Court, but will also demand compensation for the victim's family. This action is also supported by the secretary of the Mpumalanga provincial branch of the South African Council of Churches, G.M. Mthembu, who has been following the matter, and raising support for Mandlate's family.

Mozambique repatriates 30 Malawians for illegal fishing (Angola Press, 27/2/2004)- Maputo, Mozambique, 02/26 - Authorities in Mecanhelas district of northern Mozambican province of Niassa, have repatriated 30 Malawians accused of fishing illegally and living in floating houses on the Mozambican shore of lake Chirua, national news agency, AIM reported Wednesday. The Mecanhelas district director of Agriculture and Rural Development, Pedro Mavuango, was quoted as saying the Malawians had reached illegal agreements to pay "symbolic taxes" to local traditional leaders for for the illegal fishing in the lake. The Malawians were also accused of indiscriminately felling trees for firewood in the border region. Mavuango said it is difficult to control illegal activities on the long borders between the two countries partly because of the connivance of the traditional rulers. "Often, it is Mozambicans, who exploit the forest resources and then involve the Malawians," he complained.

Government defends right of emigrants to vote (Maputo News, 11/2/2004)- Mozambican Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao said on Tuesday that, if it were up to his government, Mozambicans living abroad would be allowed to vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections, due later this year. "Unfortunately", he said, "this is not the wish of some of the opposition political parties". He was referring to the former rebel movement Renamo, and the minor parties allied to it, who have denied voting rights to Mozambican emigrants ever since the first multi-party elections in 1994. On this issue, Renamo has enjoyed an effective right of veto on the National Elections Commission (CNE). Simao was speaking in Lisbon on Sunday, during a meeting with a group of Mozambicans residing in Portugal, where he is on an official visit. Reacting to the request by those citizens to be allowed to vote in the coming elections, Simao said that "the government thinks that Mozambicans living abroad should be allowed to vote, but we do not know whether or not the opposition will accept this vote". He said that "we (the government) have always sought to persuade other political forces to let the Mozambicans abroad exercise their right to vote". Commenting on the electoral calendar, Simao claimed that all is being running according to the plan, recalling the municipal elections, that took place last November, in which the ruling Frelimo party won in 28 of the 33 municipalities. On this matter, he acknowledged that a few "small mistakes, that need correction", occurred in some places, as noted by the observers, but the announced results reflect the will of the electorate. He said that some of the aspects that need improvement concern voter registration, because "we have not yet been able to create mechanisms to register all people as they turn 18, so that they are able to vote". "There are people who miss their right to vote, and we do not have yet a mechanism to scratch off some names from the register, in the event of deaths", he said. Simao added that all is being done to create a strong link between the civil registry offices and the National Elections Commission (CNE), to improve the updating of the electoral register. Simao also urged Mozambican emigrants to associate themselves with the struggle against absolute poverty. He said that the economy was achieving encouraging growth rates. "The struggle against poverty cannot be successful if the country does not create endogenous capacities, which place Mozambicans themselves in the front line of development", he said.

Moz trader shot at Zimbabwe border (Maputo, 5/2/2004)- Zimbabwean border guards have killed a Mozambican trader and have been beating up others returning from shopping sprees in the neighbouring crisis-hit state, a government official said on state television late Wednesday. Inacio Muchanga, administrator of the Changara district of the central Tete province, said: "Zimbabwean soldiers have constantly assaulted our countrymen and violently beat them to steal their purchases, and on December 17 a man ended up dying after being shot by the Zimbabweans." Muchanga deplored the alleged incidents but called on the local population to stay calm. "We regret what is happening to our people knowing that many Zimbabweans, some entering the country illegally, have been roaming freely on our territory," he said. This is the second time since the economic and political crisis hit Zimbabwe that Maputo has accused Zimbabwean border guards of molesting its citizens. Mozambican traders flock to Zimbabwe where they can buy things at very cheap rates, despite sky-high inflation, owing to the huge disparity in the official and black market rates for the dollar and the South African rand. Sales of locally-produced sugar in Mozambique have dropped drastically due to illegal imports from Zimbabwe.

Namibia

New cross border procedures for customs and excise (Namibia Economist, 27/2/2004)-Customs and Excise in Namibia, like Customs administrations worldwide are responsible for the control of goods imported into and exported from Namibia. Some say customs duties are the oldest form of taxation – from medieval times, taxes were collected by guards appointed by the emperor himself from persons entering a country. In these so-called modern times, it not surprising that Customs in Namibia, although the youngest department in the region and in Africa, boasts with a very sophisticated Customs data processing system – called the ASYCUDA Plus Plus. The Plus Plus system will replace the ASYCUDA 2.7, which was introduced shortly after Independence, and is based on the latest technology in customs data processing. Importers and exporters are required to make customs declarations, which are scrutinized by customs officials and read into the system. The system immediately processes the data and prints an assessment notice. The NA500 Customs declaration was used for the ASYCUDA 2.7 and is being replaced by the SAD500 (“SAD” stands for “Single Administrative Document) for the new Plus Plus system. The new form was firstly introduced on 1 November 2003 to facilitate trade along the Transkalahari Corridor (i.e. Walvis Bay, Windhoek, Transkalahari border post, Botswana and South Africa, and vice versa). Transporters registered in terms of the Transkalahari Pilot Project can make use of only the SAD500 form. Additional customs forms (apart from the SAD500) are not required to be completed by the registered transporters since only one set of documents accompanies the consignment along this route. Non-registered importers and exporters are however subject to the customs declarations in Botswana and South Africa.Other border posts have now been linked to the new customs system (ASYCUDA Plus Plus), e.g. Ariamsvlei and Noordoewer on 1 February 2004. The new Namibian declaration SAD500 is in use for customs declarations at these border posts with South Africa. The CCA1 customs declaration must however still be completed and presented on the South African side of the border. The new form is also in use (as from 1 December 2003) at Eros and Hosea Kutako International Airports. Other border posts and harbours are scheduled to be linked during the course of 2004 (e.g. Ngoma on 1 May 2004, Oshikango on 1 June 2004 and Lüderitz on 1 August 2004).The new SAD500 looks quite different and mistakes can therefore easily be made. Such mistakes not only delay the consignment at Customs, but could also lead to penalties and possible detention of goods by Customs should there be a major discrepancy between the goods and the documents presented to Customs. Customs officials traditionally are trained to detect discrepancies, collect taxes and duties for the State and protect society against illegal imports and exports. It is not their duty to assist importers and exporters with the correct completion of customs declarations. Legitimate importers and exporters will be wise if reputable clearing agents are used and prior professional advice obtained to move cross-border consignments, since a consignment stuck at a border post 800 km from the office will logically lead to unnecessary stress, frustration and expenses. Another issue causing headaches for Namibian businesses is the sending of goods for repairs and maintenance to an address outside Namibia. Using the correct customs forms and making sure that they are stamped during the export and re-importation processes is crucial if you want to ensure that your consignments are not blocked by the country of destination or that you paid import taxes which cannot be refunded due to incomplete or missing Customs documentation. This will be addressed in another article."This article is provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers for information only, and does not constitute the provision of professional advice of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all the pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. No responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any material in this publication can be accepted by the author, copyright owner or publisher."

Refugees sues Home Affairs (The Namibian, 17/2/2004)-A REFUGEE and his Namibian wife are suing the Ministry of Home Affairs for poor service, incompetence and "bureaucratic brutality" after waiting in vain to be given travel documents they applied for more than a year ago. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Niilo Taapopi, agreed that service in the Ministry was not up to standard but that plans were under way to improve the work ethic. Jos, Manuel Mananga Conde and Vesta Rebekka Conde last week filed the lawsuit with the Government Attorney.They warned that they intended to make an application to the High Court for an order compelling the Commissioner for Refugees, Elizabeth Negumbo, and the Minister to issue them with travel documents.Jos, Conde, a musician, said he first obtained the United Nations Convention Travel Document in 1998, which was replaced in 2000.The last document expired on August 21 2002, and Conde applied for a renewal a month in advance.He did not receive an answer and thought it was lost.Conde said he submitted another application in February last year."We must have written between eight and 10 letters in the course of the last 12 months or so.None of the letters received even the common courtesy of an acknowledgement of receipt of those letters," Conde states in the affidavit he compiled with his wife.Conde said the couple had "never received a positive answer", and often there was no answer from Ministry officials."The Respondents' [Commissioner of Refugees and Minister of Home Affairs] inaction, and perhaps incompetence and bureaucratic brutality is causing great harm to me and my wife."In terms of Article 21(1)(i) of the Namibian Constitution, I have the constitutional right to leave and return to Namibia," said Conde.He cited three more constitutional arguments, such as the right to practise his trade; right to a family as the absence of his documents make him unable to travel with his wife; and the right to "fair and reasonable administrative decision".Besides, Conde argued, Namibia had adopted the Convention on the Status of Refugees under which countries are obliged to issue refugees with documents."There is no lawful reason why the respondents should refuse to issue me with a travel document".Taapopi was unable to comment on Conde's case, but said he would not dismiss the accusation of poor service."I'm reluctant to agree with 'incompetence', but it is customer care.Of course, we have to do something about it, and we are trying to do something about our customer service," he said.Taapopi said poor service was sometimes caused by the high number of resignations, arrogant staff "who think they have to tell the client whatever they want" and bribers who created shortcuts.Taapopi said his Ministry was inundated with travel document applications, which sometimes hit a peak of 100 a day.

Unam re-admits Angolan students (The Namibian, 12/2/2004)-A GROUP of 165 Angolan students expelled by the University of Namibia because of claims that they forged academic qualifications will be re-enrolled by the institution.The students won an out-of-court settlement after 11 of their colleagues had planned to launch an urgent application in the High Court today to have their expulsions and course cancellations declared unconstitutional and invalid.The settlement, reached two days ago, was confirmed to The Namibian yesterday by the two parties' legal representatives.Norman Tjombe of the Legal Assistance Centre, who represented the students, charged that Unam had acted improperly by expelling his clients without proof that they were involved in the alleged forgery of Grade 12 certificates."The report Mr [Zach] Kazapua [Unam's Registrar] compiled only implicated four students, but they wrongly expelled 165 students who were not implicated in any way," he said.Asked how the university could have taken such an arbitrary decision, Tjombe said: "It was just bureaucratic incompetence [by Unam authorities]".Unam lawyer Clive Kavendjii, of Nate Ndauendapo & Associates, confirmed the out-of-court settlement but referred further queries to the university's administration.But Unam's Department of Communication and Marketing would not comment over the phone and asked The Namibian to put its queries in writing.Legal documents outlining the 11 students' intention of taking Unam to the High Court were served on the university on Tuesday last week.Apart from seeking their reinstatement to the student body, the applicants were going to ask the court to order Unam to:
* Enrol them immediately as students for the 2004 academic year;
* Release the results of examinations they sat last October and November; and;
* Tell those of the 11 who had applied to sit supplementary special exams the outcome of their applications.The 165 Angolans, plus nine Namibian students, were expelled late last year after Unam alleged that they were studying with falsified qualifications.A 28-year-old Angolan national resident in Namibia, Manuel Jose Andriano (alias 'Nelu'), was later arrested and charged with fraud, forgery and uttering for allegedly supplying some Angolan students in Namibia with false academic papers.It was claimed the students paid 'Nelu' between US$300 and US$400 for every forged qualification or translation of a qualification he was supposed to have supplied.The fate of the nine Namibian students expelled along with the Angolans is as yet unknown.

Angolan students take on Unam in High Court (The Namibian, Windhoek, 4/2/2004)- THE University of Namibia's decision to expel 165 Angolan students because of claims that they forged academic qualifications is set to be attacked in the High Court. Legal papers kicking off an urgent case that 11 Angolan students at Unam are bringing against the university were served on the institution yesterday. The documents inform the university that the 11 will launch an urgent application in the High Court on Thursday next week to have their expulsions and course cancellations declared unconstitutional and invalid. They will also ask the court to direct Unam to: * Enrol them immediately as students for the 2004 academic year, * Release the results of examinations they sat last October and November; and to: * Tell those among the 11 who have applied to sit special or supplementary exams the outcome of their applications. The case against Unam flows from a decision of the university late last year to expel 165 Angolan students - or, in the university's term, to "de-register" them. That step was taken after a 28-year-old Angolan national resident in Namibia, Manuel Jose Adriano, was arrested and charged with fraud, forgery and uttering for allegedly supplying Angolan students in Namibia with false academic certificates. It is claimed the students paid Adriano between US$300 and US$400 for every forged qualification or translation of a qualification supposed to have been supplied by him. Unam spokesperson Edwin Tjiramba has denied that all Angolan students registered at Unam were expelled over the affair. The university authorities say they examined the qualifications of 196 Angolan students, of whom 165 were "de-registered" after their previous academic qualifications or translations of their school certificates were found to have been forged. The letter informing the students of their "de-registration" was dated December 9 2003. But, according to the court papers filed yesterday, most of the 11 received it only last month when they returned to Namibia to resume their studies. The letter was succinct. It stated: "We hereby wish to inform you that the Executive Committee of Senate has requested that your studies at the University of Namibia be cancelled with immediate effect and all courses passed at Unam be declared null and void and of no academic value for future admission to this or any other university. "Should you have any queries in this regard, please feel free to contact the undersigned". According to Pedro Chicaia Simba Mamuba, one of the students suing Unam, his receipt of that letter on January 27 was the first he had heard anything from the university about its plan to expel him. Neither he, nor any of the 10 other students, were informed of any reasons for the university's decision, says Mamuba in an affidavit filed in support of his case. Unam also never informed the students of the pending decision or consulted them before taking the decisions, states Mamuba, who plans to register for his fourth and final year of studies for a Bachelor in Business Administration degree this year. Mamuba goes on to claim the students were never warned they risked this sort of action, and only came to know of it when they read about it in The Namibian late last month. He states that he and his fellow students can only speculate about the reasons for their expulsion. In early November, he relates, all Angolan nationals who were students at Unam were called to a meeting. There a person, who introduced himself as a Police officer, informed them that 50 Angolan students had been found to have forged their qualifications - their names were read out, Mamuba claims - and the meeting was told they would be expelled. "The arbitrary decisions by the respondent (Unam) to expel us and expunge our academic records have a devastating and far-reaching impact on all of us," Mamuba states. He argues that Unam's decision to expel them without at least the opportunity of a prior hearing is unconstitutional and against their right to justice. Mamuba also claims the decision contravenes the students' constitutional right to equality, and discriminates against them because of their national origin. The 11's lawyer, Norman Tjombe of the Legal Assistance Centre, addressed an urgent letter to Unam, demanding that the 11 be allowed to register for this year, says Mamuba. When their case was filed five days later they had still received no reply.

Seychelles

Crackdown on illegal immigrants (Seychelles Nation, 26/2/2004)- Immigration, customs and police authorities are combining efforts to deter immigrants from illegally entering the country or using Seychelles as a gateway to enter other countries unlawfully.Speaking to the press on Wednesday February 25, Ronald Fock-Tave, the director general of the Immigration Division, said authorities would step up their surveillance at the airport following an increase in the number of cases where immigrants were attempting to enter the country using false documents.On Monday February 23, Mr Fock-Tave said they were alerted by the arrival of a group of seven men of Indian nationality from Mumbai who claimed they were coming here to work. After a thorough search, customs officers and police discovered a false letter supposedly written by the Immigration Department about them coming to work for a company that did not exist. The letter, Mr Fock-Tave said, was written on poor quality paper with an illegible signature. Besides the false letter, a certain amount of hashish was discovered hidden away in the shoes of one of the men, who Mr Fock-Tave said seemed to be the head of the group. Also in their possession were thick linen clothes, which according to him are normally worn in European countries."The discovery of those items show clearly that they were not bona fide visitors," Mr Fock-Tave said, adding that they either had the "intention of coming to work illegally in the country or to use Seychelles as a transit point to Europe."Mr Fock-Tave explained that since authorities in Europe have stepped up surveillance against illegal immigrants from certain countries, the men were probably trying to use their transit into Seychelles to divert attention. Following the incident, Mr Fock-Tave said they contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in turn notified the Indian High Commission. He said Air Seychelles is taking the necessary steps to return the men, all of whom are in police custody, back to India as soon as possible.In a separate incident last month, six Indian nationals were deported in an apparently similar attempt to get past authorities.On Tuesday immigration officers intercepted 16 Singaporean nationals a group of six men and 10 women – who had return tickets to Comores. The group also had in their possessions tickets to go to countries in Europe. They will also be deported.Following these incidents, Mr Fock-Tave said immigration officials would be working closely with authorities in other countries to monitor the pattern of movement of people and to ensure that Air Seychelles is not used for illegal activities."We have to make sure that Seychelles is not given the reputation of being an easy passage for people involved in illegal or criminal activities," he said.He also called on immigration officers to remain on alert at all times and to use their common sense to detect and deter such practices.

South Africa

Zimbabwe gangs target SA banks (News24.cozb, 28/2/2004)-The Department of Home Affairs - teetering on the brink of collapse as a result of rampant corruption and inefficiency -- has called in the National Intelligence Agency to subject all its employees to security vetting. Employees who fail the test will be transferred to "less sensitive posts" within the department, according to its director-general, Barry Gilder, himself a former top NIA official. The department employs 5 843 people. In addition, it has 1 200 volunteers and 58 contract workers. It is responsible for the national population register, including the registration of all births, deaths and marriages. It issues ID books, passports and is responsible for immigration control, which itself has become a major security issue. It appears from Gilder's report the department is so corrupt that it has become a security risk. Gilder last week presented a report on the state of the department to parliament's portfolio committee for home affairs. "Vetting at senior management level was already underway," Gilder said. The vetting will cover security and vulnerability to corruption, he said. Gilder's report preceded an earlier "damning" report into the department by the NIA.

NIA called in to clean-up Home Affairs (News24, 28/02/2004)-THE department of home affairs - teetering on the brink of collapse as a result of rampant corruption and inefficiency -- has called in the National Intelligence Agency to subject all its employees to security vetting. Employees who fail the test will be transferred to "less sensitive posts" within the department, according to its director-general, Barry Gilder, himself a former top NIA official. "But since the whole department deals with sensitive information, we may not be able to keep such a person. It will depend on the reasons [of refusal]," he said. The department employs 5 843 people. In addition, it has 1 200 volunteers and 58 contract workers. The department is the custodian of the country's citizens' database. It is responsible for the national population register, including the registration of all births, deaths and marriages. It issues ID books, passports and is responsible for immigration control, which itself has become a major security issue. From Gilder's report, it appears the department is so corrupt that it has become a security risk. It was this realisation that sparked the decision to call on the NIA for help. Gilder this week presented a report on the state of the department to parliament's portfolio committee for home affairs. He revealed for the first time that all the department's employees were going to be subjected to NIA scrutiny. "Vetting at senior management level was already underway," Gilder said. The vetting will cover security and vulnerability to corruption, he said. Gilder's report preceeded an earlier "damning" report into the department by the NIA. The NIA report had painted a "dismal" picture of the state of security of the physical infrastructure, information, personnel and information technology in the department. On personnel-related security, the NIA invstigation had found that employees, including those handling security-sensitive information, were not vetted. The report was passed to the director-general who sent it to then home affairs director-general, Billy Masetlha - now security advisor to President Thabo Mbeki. Gilder told MPs the NIA was also conducting an assessment on corruption. He said he found the department was teetering on the brink of collapse, as it was critically under-funded and under-staffed. "I have worked with other under-resourced departments before, but the department of home affairs is so under-resourced that it does not have the resources to do the basics. "When I shared my impressions with senior managers, that was nothing new to them. They have lived with the situation for some time." He said the department needed a total reform of business processes. The action taken by Gilder forms part of the department's nation-wide turn-around strategy. Vetting of senior management is currently underway, and is being done in terms of a memorandum of understanding with the NIA, he said. Gilder also said the department was absolutely critical to the government's delivery agenda, national security and crime prevention. Due to the implementation of the turn-around strategy, critical posts were now being filled, including vacancies in the Cape Town and Johannesburg international airports' immigration offices, and at the repatriation camp, Lindela. A review on policy procedures on IT equipment was also underway and more than 60 new immigration offices will be built to cope with the pressure of an increasing number of asylum seekers. The situation was much the same in all operations, from border posts to regional immigration offices. As a result of corruption in a repatriation centre like Lindela, and under-staffing, 150 000 illegals repatriated each year return to South Africa. Gilder said the department is the target of corruption syndicates and criminals. In addition, "palms were being greased" for better service. Due to a shortage of staff, the department was using 1 200 volunteers at a salary of R40 per day. Gilder said they were being exploited, as they did not have job security. They were also not vetted. He described the home affairs' infrastructure as "typifying the dark days of apartheid". Offices were badly located, dilapidated and insecure. The department's information and technology systems were also outdated, he said.

Buthelezi warns of KwaZulu-Natal land threat (SABC News, 28/2/2004)-Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader, warned supporters near the Swaziland border that their area was once again under threat of being ceded to Swaziland. "The present sovereign has actually approached the present South African government to give KwaNgwanase to Swaziland," Buthelezi told IFP members at a rally. He reminded his supporters that during apartheid, as chief minister of the KwaZulu homeland, he had challenged in court a decision by Pretoria to transfer the region to Swaziland. He said: "I could only challenge it on technical grounds because in those days the government of Pretoria had the power to do as it wished, and therefore I correctly alleged that the decision was invalid because the required consultative process had not been correctly followed."However when the legal challenge succeeded on such technical grounds, it was because of the partnership between myself and the people of this region, that we succeeded in preventing the transfer of this land to Swaziland."Buthelezi says the apartheid regime could have corrected its decision, but they chose not to do so, because they saw how strong the partnership had developed between the people of this region and myself, who were then working together to ensure that everyone here could remain a South African citizen".He says he could not tell the people of KwaNgwanase what to do, adding: "But I find it strange that when people from beyond our borders fraudulently get our identity documents to get social grants, that the people of KwaNgwanase should at this stage be lured to be part of territories where they would not have a snowball's chance in hell to continue to receive social grants and other benefits such as schooling facilities and hospitals from the Republic of South Africa."He also says that subsistence agriculture has been systematically undermined by the ANC government, saying: "There was food and subsistence for all, now there is hunger and despair."

Damned by human rights report (The Star, 27/2/2004)-Excessive force by South African security forces and deaths in police custody are serious problems in the country's human rights performance, a global rights review has found.The annual US State Department's Human Rights Report, a country-by-country survey comprising almost 2-million words, says the government last year generally respected the human rights of its citizens, but there were a number of problem areas.The chapter on South Africa sketches a criminal justice system which was not coping in 2003: "Prisons were overcrowded, and some prison employees and other prisoners abused some inmates. The judiciary was overburdened, and lengthy delays in trials and prolonged pretrial detention were problems."Xenophobia remained a problem. Violence against women and children was serious, as was discrimination against women and people with disabilities. Child labour, including forced child labour, child prostitution and human trafficking were serious problems.The report says vigilante violence and mob justice continued throughout the country and that police use of lethal force during apprehensions resulted in a significant number of deaths in 2003."The government investigated and punished some abusers and worked to prevent future abuses," the report adds, saying that the government's Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) looked into the issue. "During the year, there were 217 deaths in police custody and 311 deaths as a result of police action," it says.The ICD's report lists subcategories under deaths in police custody, which included natural causes, suicide, injuries in custody, injuries prior to custody, and possible negligence.On xenophobia, it says reports continued of a number of violent attacks on foreigners.Turning to torture, the report says: "Some police officers beat, raped, tortured, and otherwise abused suspects and detainees. Some incidents ... occurred during interrogation, arrest, detention, and searches of persons' homes.In September, the ICD reported 23 incidents of torture and 16 rapes committed by police officers between April 2002 and March 2003. During the year, the government investigated these allegations and prosecuted some offenders.On prisons, it says South African institutions did not meet international standards, and prison conditions did not always meet the country's minimum legal requirements."Severe overcrowding in some prisons led to poor health," it says.Correctional Services reported that in March last year there were 131 604 prisoners in custody, with 58 144 awaiting sentences, in facilities designed to hold 111 241. Aids was the leading cause of natural death in prisons. In 2002, there were 1 087 deaths, 90% Aids-related.Prison employees and other prisoners abused and assaulted prisoners physically and sexually, the report says. Press reports indicate that some detainees awaiting trial contracted HIV/ Aids through rape. Food frequently was of poor quality and insufficient quantity, but there were improvements in prisoners' access to health care.Problems remained at the Lindela Repatriation Centre, the largest detention facility for undocumented immigrants in the country, particularly as a result of overcrowding. Some refugees alleged that Home Affairs employees assaulted them and requested bribes. Immigrant children detained at Lindela were not provided with separate sleeping facilities, and were not always provided with food and clothing. Violence against children, including domestic violence and sexual abuse, remained widespread, the report says.While there was increased attention to the problem, a lack of co-ordinated and comprehensive strategies to deal with violent crimes continued to impede the delivery of needed services to young victims.In August, the government tabled the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill in parliament. Among other things, the bill criminalises a sexual act within the view of a child under 16. The crime of incest has been made gender-neutral with a new definition of sexual penetration.The bill also places an obligation on a person convicted of a sexual offence to disclose this when applying for employment that would place them in a position of authority over children. The bill was still pending with parliament at year's end. There continued to be numerous reports of child rape during the year. Between January 2000 and June 2001, the police reported 31 780 cases of rape and attempted rape of children; however, observers believed that these figures represented a small percentage of the actual incidents, because most cases involved family members and were not reported.SA has a low conviction rate for rape and child abuse. The sentence for child rape is life in prison, but judges could grant more lenient sentences.Child labour remained a problem. It is illegal in SA to employ children under 15 years of age. Inspectors enforced this policy effectively in the formal non-agricultural sector and less effectively in other sectors and there were no prosecutions in 2003. Many Department of Labour inspectors were so poorly trained that courts often dismissed investigations of cases involving child labour. - Independent Foreign Service

Brain drain accelerating, says HSRC ( Business Report, Pretoria, 26/2/2004)-Only 37 percent of all school leavers succeeded in securing jobs, with the figure dropping to 29 percent for African first-time work seekers, Mark Orkin, the chief executive of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), said yesterday.He was speaking at the release of an HSRC research publication commissioned by the department of science and technology."The South African youth labour market is characterised by severe problems, most fundamentally its inability to facilitate the progression of young people from school to other learning or employment activities."The fundamental contradiction here is that, as the school system has grown over the past decade, so the number of formal sector jobs available to school leavers has shrunk," said Orkin."Resolving this disjuncture will require action across several independent domains: new employment policies, economic sector growth strategies, public works schemes, child welfare policy, educational quality assurance strategies, improved achievements in grade 12 exams, student financial aid schemes and enhanced technical and vocational education policies."Resolving the problems required joined-up policy and implementation far in excess of what had already been achieved by the government. "Single government department initiatives without complementary cross-sectoral action will have significantly less impact," he said.Andre Kraak, the HSRC's executive director, said: "The research led to the conclusion that dynamic growth in human resource development demands investment in infrastructure on a scale far beyond the means of a single employer."What is needed is large-scale investment in education and training institutions, research and development facilities, networking activity among employers through formal associations, innovation partnerships between higher education institutions and industry, and industrial stability."Another worrying factor is that there are clear signs that the national system of science and innovation is weakening. Science plays a huge role in helping the country to improve ... outputs and employment levels."The report said the loss of highly skilled professionals to other countries had been a cause for concern for many years."The brain drain in South Africa started long before the inception of the new government, and the figures suggest that the exodus continues to increase rapidly," the report said.

South African help sought on refugees (The Guardian, 26/2/2004)-South Africa last night emerged as the second country with which the Home Office has started talks to take failed asylum seekers from Britain as part of a concerted drive to step up immigration removals and deportations.The Home Office confirmed that it hopes to win South African cooperation in agreeing to take failed asylum seekers from Britain who have falsely claimed to be Zimbabweans. Tony Blair confirmed in the Commons yesterday the Guardian's disclosure that negotiations with Tanzania are already under way for a £4m British-funded pilot scheme under which rejected asylum seekers would be sent to the African country as part of an overseas aid deal. But last night Tanzania, which already houses more refugees than any other sub-Saharan country, said it had rejected the idea. "We reject this proposal because we don't see the reason or the logic for refugees to be sent to Tanzania before they are returned to their own country," said John Chiligati, Tanzania's deputy minister for home affairs. Mr Blair's official spokesman had confirmed that there is a second African country that Britain was hoping to persuade to tackle the problem but declined to name it. "I think at the moment my understanding is, it is one other country at the moment - in the same area." But the Home Office confirmed yesterday to the Guardian that it had opened talks with South Africa as well. "We have spoken to South Africa and only had very preliminary discussions about cooperating on returning South Africans who may have falsely claimed to be Zimbabweans when they claimed asylum in Britain." Oxfam and refugee welfare groups warned the government against making aid to Tanzania conditional on cooperation with asylum returns. They also warned that the moves opened up a new attempt by the Home Office to deport failed asylum seekers to third countries. A joint Home Office-Foreign Office team visited Dar es Salaam last year to discuss with Tanzanian officials the establishment of a processing centre in the country and a camp to deal with those wishing to claim asylum "in-region" but also to take failed Somali asylum seekers from Britain.The Home Office insists that those who will be returned to Tanzania are people who had falsely posed as Somalians to gain refugee status in Britain. Somalia, which has been the scene of a civil war, now heads the list of countries from which asylum seekers head for Britain. At prime minister's question time, Tony Blair was pressed by the Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, over British negotiations with Tanzania to take failed asylum seekers. Mr Kennedy warned that such a move could lead to "an international trade in displaced people". He asked if negotiations were taking place with other countries. Mr Blair said: "We are in negotiations with the Tanzanian government as to how we can process claims for asylum nearer to the country of origin." He added: "I honestly cannot understand the objection to seeing whether it is possible, if there are people who are going to make asylum claims, and begin their asylum journey close to the country of origin, why it is not sensible to process some of those claims there." He referred only to the creation of centres to process asylum seekers and not to sending failed Somali asylum seekers to Tanzania. Mr Kennedy later told the BBC: "It is not an issue here of processing people here closer to their country of origin. It is a matter of people who actually come to our country, for whatever reasons, who seek to achieve asylum status who are then denied it, who are then being sent potentially to a third country with a cheque attached to take the matter off our hands." The Downing Street spokesman said the Tanzanian deal was a pilot scheme "exploring how we can help them process asylum applications which arise in Tanzania". But refugee welfare organisations are convinced the Tanzanian scheme and the putative negotiations with South Africa will mean rejected asylum seekers from Somalia and Zimbabwe being sent from Britain to a neighbouring third country. Home Office officials are believed to have been making a "Cook's tour of the world" in their attempt to get new agreements to take Britain's rejected migrants. The difficulty of returning rejected asylum seekers to their countries of origin have long dogged attempts by ministers to increase the number of removals each year. A record 17,000 asylum seekers were removed last year, but that figure is far short of the 61,000 who applied. China has proved a particular problem for British immigration officials, with the Chinese authorities reluctant to take back failed migrants whose nationality is in doubt because they have destroyed their documents. Mr Blair will press the Chinese premier when he comes to Britain on new ways of substantially increasing the numbers sent back to China from Britain.

Refugees use fake SA passports (News24, 26/2/2004)- Some citizens of African countries go to Britain with fraudulent South African passports posing as refugees and seeking asylum in that country, the department of home affairs confirmed on Thursday."We have handled cases where people from other African states come here, acquire fraudulent passports and go to Britain," spokesperson Leslie Mashokwe said. "These cases are not so prevalent and we have been able to attend to them appropriately." On Wednesday, The Guardian newspaper reported that Britain began talks with South Africa over local citizens claiming asylum in Britain posing as refugees from Zimbabwe. "We have spoken to South Africa and only had very preliminary discussions about co-operating on returning South Africans who may have falsely claimed asylum in Britain," a spokesperson for the British home office reportedly said.The announcement came after Prime Minister Tony Blair said his government was holding talks with Tanzania to take Somali refugees who have been refused political asylum in Britain.Blair said negotiations with Tanzania were proceeding, but the Tanzanian deputy minister for home affairs, John Chiligati, said later the proposal had been rejected"We reject this proposal because we don't see the reason or the logic for refugees to be sent to Tanzania before they are returned to their own country," he reportedly said.Mashokwe said on Thursday his department has not been approached by their British counterparts on the issue."We discuss with the British home office a broad range of immigration issues, but we have not touched this matter.Mashokwe said the department was looking at certifying South African passports so as to curb corruption"We are also intensifying our campaign of zero tolerance among our corrupt officials and those citizens who benefit from this exercise."

Angolan asked to return home (Cape Times, 26/2/2004)-  The South African government and the United Nations want 10 000 Angolan refugees living in Cape Town, and a further 3 000, mostly in Gauteng, to return home in April.The refugees, who are considered the creme de la creme of Angolan refugees, many being well-educated and with children in local schools, are currently being informed of the huge repatriation plan by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).At this stage it is a voluntary process, and many of the refugees the Cape Times spoke to yesterday said they wanted to remain in Cape Town.The UNHCR's Southern Africa spokeswoman, Melita Sunjic, said: "We are now waiting for the establishment of a tripartite commission to discuss the technical arrangements, such as whether the refugees will go home by air, trucks or buses, and whether they have to pay customs duty."She said repatriation in SA was "running late" compared with other countries, which had started the process after the ceasefire was signed between the Angolan government and the Unita rebels last year, bringing an end to 27 years of conflict.Sunjic said the UNHCR had a contract with a Portuguese weekly paper available in South Africa in which the message of voluntary repatriation would be disseminated."In Cape Town, we also intend having additional meetings with roleplayers such as churches," she said."South Africa was one of the last countries to sign a tripartite agreement - between sending countries, Angola and the UNHCR - and only signed this (agreement) in December last year." But despite this, logistical hurdles hampering the return of the estimated 13 000 Angolan refugees in SA are being ironed out.Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said the repatriation of refugees was seen as a "major task" in helping Angola rebuild itself."When Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma signed the agreement in December with her Angolan counterpart, she welcomed it as a step in the right direction," said Mamoepa.He said now that peace reigned in Angola, the task facing Angolans was the "reconstruction and development" of their country, which could be facilitated by the return of the refugees. According to the National Consortium for Refugee Affairs' national co-ordinator Joyce Tlou, the repatriation was a "positive" move."The return of refugees to Angola can make a positive impact in the development of that country but it is a voluntary repatriation and the SA and Angolan governments, as well as the UNHCR, need to ensure that those returning will do so in a safe and productive environment."In a snap survey yesterday, Angolans living in Cape Town said they didn't want to leave."Cape Town is a place everybody loves. "South Africa is a very established country, whereas Angola will take another 30 years before it recovers from the civil war," said Alex Francisco, 26.Joaquin Kabinga, 25, who has been in Cape Town for five years, said although Angola was "getting better", Cape Town had become "home"

Angolan refugees expected to return home (Sapa, Cape Town, 25/2/2004)- Logistical hurdles hampering the return of thousands of Angolan refugees currently in South Africa are being ironed out, with a mass exodus expected to commence in April. "South Africa was one of the last countries to sign a tripartite agreement - between sending countries, Angola and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) - and only signed this (agreement) December last year," said Pretoria-based Melita Sunjic, UNHCR spokeswoman for southern Africa. Sunjic said the repatriation of Angolans from South Africa was "running late" compared to other countries, such as Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The repatriation started last year after a ceasefire was signed between the government and Unita rebels, bringing an end to 27 years of conflict. "We are now waiting for the establishment of a tripartite commission, which will discuss the technical arrangements such as if the refugees go home by air, trucks or busses, and whether they have to pay customs, among others," said Sunjic. She described this as "merely an organisational matter" and said the proposed date for the establishment of the commission was April. In areas such as the Congo and Zambia, refugee camps close to national borders housed tens of thousands of Angolans, which facilitated their transport. However, the problem of transport and the concomitant costs, were exacerbated in South Africa, where most of the Angolans were found in urban areas. She said there were approximately 13,000 Angolan refugees in South Africa, the majority of whom, about three-quarters, were in Cape Town and the rest in Gauteng. "The Angolans in South Africa are considered the creme de la creme of Angolan refugees," said Sunjic, adding that this was because many were well educated and had children in school. Sunjic said the UNHCR had a contract with a Portuguese weekly paper available in South Africa where the message of voluntary repatriation would be disseminated. "Of course in Cape Town, where the majority of Angolans are, we also intend having additional meetings with roleplayers such as churches," she said. Meanwhile, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said on Wednesday that the repatriation of Angolan refugees was seen as a "major task" in helping Angola rebuild itself.  "When Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma signed the agreement in December last year with her Angolan counterpart, she welcomed it as a step in the right direction," said Mamoepa. He said now that peace was reigning in Angola, the task that Angolans faced was the "reconstruction and development" of their country, which could be facilitated by the return of the refugees. According to the National Consortium for Refugee Affairs (NCRA), the umbrella body for organisations and individuals working to promote and protect refugees in South Africa, the repatriation was a "positive" move. "The return of refugees to Angola can make a positive impact in the development of that country," said NCRA national co-ordinator Joyce Tlou. However, Tlou highlighted the fact that it was voluntary repatriation, and urged the South African and Angolan governments, as well as the UNHCR, to ensure those returning were doing so in a "safe and productive environment".

Home Affairs department worse than thought, Says DG (SABC News, 24/2/2004)-Barry Gilder, the Home Affairs director-general, says the situation in the department is worse than it was thought at first In a briefing to parliament's Home Affairs Committee, Gilder says they still have offices that typify the dark days of apartheid. He says the buildings are badly located, dilapidated, under-equipped and insecure. He added that the department is living in Information Technology (IT) pre-history with no internal e-mail. Systems and business processes are still paper based with outlying offices and border posts not connected to the mainframe computer. Gilder described the state of security in the department as dismal. He said while the security at the national office has improved, the situation in the provinces is very bad. This, he says, has a direct impact on corruption in the department, which is a prime target of crime syndicates. He hopes that the Turnaround Strategy devised by senior managers will eliminate the perception by officials in the department that the client is always wrong.

Driving force for business tourism ( Business Day, 23/2/2004)- THE link between the boom in business tourism and the success of SA's major convention centres is underlined by the substantial increase in the number of delegates to conference venues. The Cape Town International Convention Centre which opened in mid-2003 is reaping the benefits. In the first six months of operation about 196 events were hosted at the centre between June and December last year, with more than 290000 people attending events over the same period. This number comes very close to the originally targeted 300000 visitors for the first full year, says Dirk Elzinga, the centre's MD. Rick Taylor, CEO of the Cape Town Convention Bureau, says: "With Cape Town increasing in popularity as a conferencing destination, and the opening of the convention centre, we are seeing a greater demand by delegates to visit the city." He says for many of these delegates it is their first visit to Cape Town and SA. Conferences provide them with the ideal opportunity to explore and tour the country, with many of them returning at a later stage on holiday with family and friends. Elzinga says that as more international bids are awarded to the centre the facility "will be a driving force in developing business tourism in SA". The latest international meetings to join the list of bids awarded to the centre are scheduled to take place between 2005 and 2009. The majority of these conferences will be hosted in subSaharan Africa for the first time, Elzinga says. The centre recently won bids to host both the Federation of Gynaecology & Obstetrics (Figo) world congress and the International Diabetes Federation Congress, both scheduled for 2009. The Figo congress will have about 8000 delegates attending, while the International Diabetes Federation congress is expecting to attract more than 10000 international delegates. The International Congress and Convention Association has chosen the centre as the host venue for their annual conference in 2004. This year's congress is scheduled for October and will attract about 600 delegates from across the globe. These delegates represent the international meetings industry and are regarded as opinion leaders who can influence the choice of future destinations for international conferences. The event is attended by international trade media, which means more exposure to the international market.

Globalisation brings skills back (Business Day, 23/2/2004)- THE skills shortage is not a South African phenomenon international skills shortages are at an all-time high and people are more mobile globally than ever before, says Sandra Burmeister, MD of Landelahni. "The increased international capital flows that characterise globalisation have led to increasing global flows of migrant labour. As a consequence, many countries compete in the international labour market to attract skills and investment," she says. "Many South Africans who went overseas to gain international experience want to return." From 1994 to 1996 SA saw thousands of exiles returning from all over the world, says Burmeister. "Many were eager to make a contribution to the fledgling democracy and contribute to the economy. "This stream of internationally qualified and skilled people with experience in multinational organisations across a broad range of professions still continues, although at a slower pace." During the same period there was a substantial brain drain, particularly with engineering, IT and financial skills being sought in the booming international markets and with South Africans being comparatively cheap to employ, she says.  Martin Westcott, MD of P-E Corporate Services, says skills in finance and engineering are still in demand. "What is making the situation worse is that there are very few qualified black people in these areas because we don't get enough good black science and mathematics matriculants." Westcott says there is considerable mobility both into and out of SA, particularly at the senior level in organisations. "In the past we have tended to focus on the brain drain. We're still seeing mobility at the higher level, but not necessarily people emigrating it's a case of companies transferring out. An example is SAB, which has breweries all over the world," he says. "At the same time, we're getting similar transfers of multinationals setting up office in SA."  General shortages exist in specialist and professional skills such as accounting and law, he says.  "Companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche have done a great deal to alleviate these shortages by employing women. There has been an enormous increase in the percentages of women who work in audit firms. "The same applies in legal firms. The working woman has become a reality and people are much more conscious of the need to employ women."  Westcott says IT is about the only area where skills shortages have dropped off. "There are still shortages in IT, but they have eased," he says.  Rob Sussman, MD of Integr8 IT, says it is no longer good enough for IT practitioners to have a specialised or hi-tech skill this needs to be combined with a certain level of business acumen, which is measured in terms of a person's ability to advise and consult and to turn technical work into a business model that generates income.  "We've seen the run of IT certifications and over time the market gets flooded. What it never gets flooded with is people with knowledge and experience with respect to business," he says.

Taxi operators from Lesotho and SA in violent clashes (SABC News, 23/2/2004)-Taxi owners from South Africa and Lesotho have agreed to look into violence between opposition transport operators. Last week two taxis were damaged by members of the Manyatseng taxi association and a driver was assaulted in the latest clashes between operators from the two countries.Cross border permits for taxi operators, implemented by SADC, have not put an end to the taxi violence. The permits allow operators of one country to transport passengers to another. Manyasent and Maseru operators, from the Madiboho regional taxi council and the Lesotho transport cross border association, agreed at the weekend to set up a resolution committee to stop the violence.Four people have been killed in the ongoing violence, there has been damage to property and several people have been injured.The Madibohong taxi council, which operates along the Free State border from Zastron in south to Fouriesburg in north, is opposed to the cross border taxi operations. Sebola Matsemela, a spokesperson, says there will be job losses if the cross-border system continues. Matsemela says there was also no consultation when the system was implemented. He says if this system continues it would spell ruin for the taxi operators in the area. The National Union of Mine workers (Num) through Montwedi Maswetsa, its Lesotho's representative, has raised concerns about the safety of its members, especially at Maseru bridge and Ficksburg. He said the agreement to set up a committee is a positive development. Once the committee has finalised a plan, it will be tabled before the South African and Lesotho governments and taxi associations. The resolution committee is expected to meet for the first time on Friday.

Medical association on exodus of doctors (SABC News, 22/2/2004)-Something must be done to stop the exodus of doctors, para-medics and nurses from the country, Kgosi Letlape, the national president of the South African Medical Association (Sama), has warned. Addressing more than 200 doctors in Umtata at the weekend, he said some doctors preferred to become locums in Great Britain rather than serve their country. He said the government should be applauded for providing adequate health structures, but they were grossly under-funded."There is nothing wrong with the policies of the government, but it's the application of such policies." Letlape criticised health authorities for failing to carry out a proper survey about the needs of doctors in some hospitals. "The in thing now is to cut down the number of doctors in hospitals, thus crippling health services."He revealed that there were a number of doctors who said they were still owed monies by the department of health for work they performed as district surgeons as long as 10 years ago.

Home affairs to ask for forgery proof passports (Business Day, 20/2/2004)-THE home affairs department is to seek Parliament's approval to issue new passports with a sophisticated microchip in a bid to curb rising identity theft. The department is under pressure from the US and the European Union (EU) to make it difficult for organised crime syndicates to forge South African identity documents and passports, which are increasingly being discovered during the arrests of criminals in the US. Interpol said South African passports were surfacing frequently in drug busts at the borders in the EU . Home Affairs department spokesman Leslie Mashokwe confirmed that the department was investigating the commissioning of the new technology to produce "smart passports". He said the department would also begin to keep accurate identity data about immigrants, especially those who entered the country illegally. It is understood this will form part of a broader crime prevention strategy that could boost the fight against identity theft and fraud. Insertion of biometric information chips in passports, recording information and unique characteristics of the passport holder, would go a long way towards eliminating passport theft , said Ina van der Merwe, CEO of credentials verification company, Kroll MIE . Britain and Australia, which also experience a huge influx of asylum seekers and economic immigrants, are also investigating the introduction of biometric chips in identity documents. Van der Merwe said identity theft was a worldwide problem, but South African identity documents and passports were now much favoured by criminals and fraudsters around the world. She said for criminals armed with a name and matching identity number and the assistance of a corrupt home affairs official "getting hold of a copy of a valid passport or identity document is easy as pie". She attributed the escalation of fraud in the department to staff shortages, saying this made it "far too easy" for criminals to obtain fraudulent passports. New National Party spokesman on safety and security Johnny Schippers said there was a general lack of understanding of the growth of organised crime in SA . "The first priority of the police should be to determine whether organised crime units have been able to penetrate the police and corrupt officials involved in investigating these case," he said. He said that once the syndicates were firmly established it would be very difficult to track down. Schippers said the police and department needed to enforce stricter border control to ensure that illegal immigrants do not cross the border. A senior Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman in Washington said in a statement released by Kroll that identity theft was one of the fasted growing crimes in the world . "These cases are difficult to crack because it requires the co-operation of several police forces around the world," said FBI liaison officer Ed Cogswell. He said although identity theft took several forms, the most common of which was the theft out of hotel rooms of tourists' passports, identity books, credit cards and bank cards . Another favourite tactic of criminals was stealing documents from luggage left unattended at airports.

Govt driving health professionals away, Says DA (Cape Town, 20/2/2004)- The Democratic Alliance on Friday accused government of "systematically destroying morale and driving health professionals away". "The end-result will be the transformation of our health care system from a world leader to a third world service provider," DA spokeswoman Sandy Kalyan said in a statement. The healthcare system depended more than anything else on the skills and motivation of the people who delivered the services, she said. However, on its website ANC Today, the ruling party accused South Africa's doctors of "whipping the nations' emotions on the state of health care" and creating the impression there was a serious crisis "akin to an immediate collapse of public health services". The ANC's own Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang stated this week the public health services were in a shambles. Patients in the public sector seldom received the level of care they deserved, and a range of problems affect the ability to offer quality care. These included deteriorating facilities and equipment, too few beds for the number of patients, and a "brain drain" of doctors and nurses, unable to tolerate the low salaries, often appalling working conditions, and being treated as expendable. Currently, there were about 23,000 vacancies for health care professionals, Kalyan said. "The ANC might be able to pass legislation that says where a doctor can and can't open a practice in South Africa, but it cannot keep doctors from leaving. "And if they are left with no other option here than opening marginal practices, then they will leave," she said.

Conditions at Lindela Repatriation Centre (Mail & Guardian, 20/2/2004)- The controversial Lindela Repatriation Centre has again come under fire from the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) after a Malawian, who has had permanent residence status in South Africa since 1997, was detained there for five days.Suzyo Kamanga’s* eyewitness account of his experience at Lindela in Randfontein, Gauteng, tells a horror story of assault at the centre where the only way out is through corrupt officials.Lindela is a central holding point for illegal aliens before they are shipped home. Since the facility opened in 1996, the Mail & Guardian has reported extensively on human rights abuses and corruption inside the facility.A traumatised Kamanga told the M&G that Lindela officials are only interested in how much money they can “shake from us. If you can pay, you can leave.”His eyes close in pain when he revives the memory of his time spent at the notorious facility. “The people there do not respect us,” he said. “They beat them [detainees] like criminals.“There were a lot of beatings, but luckily I was not at the receiving end of them. I tried to be fast. If you are too slow to get into a queue, the guards beat you with a hosepipe.“The people vomit in the rooms and when we call the guards, they spray you with a gas that stings your eyes and makes you gag,” he said. “My eyes are still sore from that gas.”In November last year police arrested four immigration officers working at Lindela after they had allegedly released 16 illegal immigrants. Statements police obtained from the released detainees revealed that they had had to pay more than R500 each to the officers. According to Kamanga, who earns about R450 a month as a gardener, his release was more costly: a bribe of R800.“I am sad to say the human rights abuses situation has not changed at all in Lindela since we started monitoring the facility,” Zonke Majodina, deputy chairperson of the SAHRC, told the M&G this week.“Unfortunately the Malawian’s case is not unique,” she said. “Officers soliciting bribes from detainees are an everyday occurrence at the centre.”Kamanga says his ordeal started two weeks ago when police picked him up while he was walking to work in the north-eastern suburbs of Johannesburg. He did not have his papers with him and the police took him to the Sandringham police station.“Even then the police wanted to know how much money I had on me. But I did not have any money for them.”At the police station he phoned his brother and asked him to bring proof of his permanent residence. But before his brother could arrive with his papers, he was transferred to Lindela. There he was held for five days, until his brother gave him the money to pay the bribe.“The going rate for Malawians is R1 200, because Malawi is far away. Zimbabweans and Mozambicans pay cheaper bribes,” Kamanga said. “I only had R800 to give and the home affairs official was happy with that.” He was allowed to keep R20 to pay for a taxi to take him back to Johannesburg.Majodina said that though the SAHRC monitors and records human rights abuses at Lindela, it does not have the powers to prosecute corrupt officials.Despite the Immigration Act, which regulates every step in the detention of an illegal alien, she said, Lindela has succeeded in breaking every regulation of the Act.The SAHRC cooperates with Lawyers for Human Rights to moni-tor Lindela. Kaajal Ramjathan, a legal officer from Lawyers for Human Rights who deals with Lindela, says there are plenty of obstacles in fighting the corrupt practices of officials.“Most of the victims are undocumented people, who are scared of being deported. People are reluctant to come forward and therefore the corruption is difficult to follow up. The human rights abuses we struggle with most at Lindela are prolonged detention and children in detention,” she said.Lindela director Papa Leshabane said, “I want details. If the SAHRC can come to me with the cases and issues in writing, I will investigate these claims myself.”He said he would investigate Kamanga’s claims that he was tear-gassed. “We only use tear gas for riots,” he said.He did not want to comment on bribery allegations involving home affairs officials, saying he is only in charge of running the facility.*Not his real name

Organized crime rife in SA (News24, 20/2/2004)-Nearly 230 crime networks, operated by Nigerian, Chinese, Russian and Pakistani criminals, are operating in South Africa. The Institute for Security Studies, during two years of researching organised crime in the country, found that these gangs are not really structured, which means that even when the key figures are arrested, they are simply replaced and the operation continues as before. In 1996, the World Economic Forum found that organised crime in South Africa was only marginally less of a problem than in Colombia and Russia. The FBI and CIA in December 2000 found that organised crime was costing South Africa $23bn (about R150bn) a year. The ISS found that Nigerians were mainly involved in fraud and drug trafficking, and in smuggling dagga to Europe and Britain. South Africans are used as couriers, and are paid up to R20 000 a trip. The large cellphone market offered Nigerians the opportunity to buy stolen cellphones from local criminals or to exchange them for drugs. "Through their contacts in the cellphone industry, Nigerians can remove a stolen cellphone from the blacklist for R250." The report claimed that many Nigerians ran legal businesses to hide their illegal income through money laundering. "Nigerian networks use South African criminals as foot soldiers to do their dirty work. They also rely on corrupt police officials to reduce the risk of prosecution and corrupt home affairs officials to ensure their stay in the country." There were between 40 000 and 100 000 Nigerians in South Africa, of which only about 4 000 were legal. Research showed that senior members of the Chinese Triad gangs were normally highly skilled individuals and often welcomed as investors in other countries. These gangs were normally involved in smuggling ivory, perlemoen, gold, diamonds, heroin and mandrax, as well as trafficking in humans and human organs. The Russians were mostly involved in arms smuggling, fraud and prostitution.

Child prostitutes brought to SA (News24, 20/2/2004)-  Child prostitution is flourishing in South Africa and syndicates are bringing thousands of children from Asiatic and African countries into the country to sell their bodies. These shocking findings were published in a human rights report of the United Nations on Wednesday. "We are deeply concerned over the situation where children are forced to sell their bodies to survive," Lyn Perry, director of the Johannesburg Child Protection Association, said. The report claimed that children were abducted from Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Eastern Europe or were lured to the streets of Johannesburg or Cape Town with false promises. Angolan, Congolese and Nigerian syndicates apparently transported the children, but Russians and Chinese are seemingly also involved. UN officials, who investigated child abuse, child rape and prostitution in South Africa last year, compiled the report. They said the remnants of apartheid, poverty and hunger played a significant role in most of the crimes against children. The food shortage in South Africa's neighbouring countries is compounding the problem. The South African Human Rights Commission found last year that a third of the country's children were sexually abused. The lack of a social framework to protect children was given as the cause of this situation.

Squatters court bid to curb migrate influx (Cape Times, 18/2/2004)- Hout Bay's Imizamo Yethu informal settlement has become the scene of a bitter battle over land rights, with the original 2 800 settlers saying they were being "swamped by thousands of new arrivals". And the City of Cape Town is caught in the middle of the conflict. This emerged in court papers filed in the Cape High Court late on Monday, when the Sinethemba Civic Association, representing the residents, joined hands with the historically white Hout Bay Ratepayers' Association to obtain an interdict against the city to stop it from clearing more land for houses in the area. In an affidavit before the court, the chairperson of the Sinethemba civic Association, Goodman Ngwangwa, said the association had been established to promote the interests and land claims of the legal beneficiaries of Imizamo Yethu. He said the land on which the Imizamo Yethu settlement stood had been "swamped by thousands of new arrivals" from other parts of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "I say it is a great injustice that my community of 2 800 people finds itself overwhelmed on the land that was promised to them by more than 12 000 other people, most of whom have no historical ties whatsoever to Hout Bay," said Ngwangwa. Ngwangwa alleged that the overcrowding would result in pollution, pose a fire risk and create unsanitary conditions. The city said it intended making land available for informal housing following a fire which destroyed 800 homes in Imizamo Yethu recently.  City of Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo said the houses would be built three metres apart, but in order to be able to do this, the city was looking for more public land. "The city will be doing everything possible to bring about dignified development in the area," said Mfeketo. "We are particularly mindful of the need to ensure that development is under way before the winter rains set in.  "This is why we are so disappointed that some Hout Bay residents have taken legal action to prevent rapid progress." The two associations had asked the court to stop the city from felling trees in the buffer zones on the east or south-west sides of the land upon which the settlement stands. In addition, the applicants asked that the city be ordered to restrain any person from entering or being upon the land and from erecting or occupying dwellings there.

If the land is occupied before the hearing of the court application, the city should demolish the dwellings and remove any possessions found in them, the associations have said.  Speaking to the Cape Times on Tuesday, Hout Bay Ratepayers' Association spokesperson Graham Kelroe-Cooke said: "The city has no authority to cut down the trees.  "That piece of land is promulgated for amenities such as sports fields and parks for the residents, and not for residential purposes.  "That land was planned to accommodate 2 700 people, now there are about 16 000 people. "Overcrowding, unemployment, health and crime is a problem, as well as being a fire hazard - the shacks are on top of each other," Kelroe-Cooke said.  "The council promised the original residents title deeds, but those promises never materialised. The intention was to uplift the original people of Imizamo Yethu. "Yet there has been a continual influx of people who destroyed the hope that the original Imizamo Yethu people had. "If the council fells the trees, the number of people is going to increase and it's going to be even more difficult than it was before." In court on Monday, Justice Lee Bozalek granted an interim interdict, but ordered that the parties return to court on February 23 to show cause why it should not be made final.

Zimbabweans in South Africa (Mail&Guardian, 15/2/2004)- In recent months Johannesburg drivers have noticed a new phenomenon: blind people begging at traffic lights and major intersections. They are almost exclusively Zimbabwean, and their influx to the city has been sudden.While the world’s attention has been focused on the plight of Zimbabwean farmers, journalists and opposition politicians, little thought has been spared for the effect Zimbabwe’s implosion has had on the most vulnerable members of that society.For people with disabilities, many of whom survived through working at self-help schemes and on charitable donations, the current crisis has ripped away their safety net and pushed them to the margins of an already over-stressed society.Most of the beggars are accompanied by a sighted companion who helps them navigate the traffic and proffer a plastic cup for donations from motorists.Sunduza Ndlovu* is assisted by family friend Patricia Ncube. Day after day, the two stand in the blazing sun to earn a few rands and get a little to eat.Their clothes are tattered and their shoes worn out. “Do you think we like looking like this?” asked Ncube, displaying her dirty feet in white plastic slip-slops.Ndlovu and Ncube were initially reluctant to speak to the Mail & Guardian, fearing this would alert the authorities who might send them back home to Zimbabwe.“We’re not getting enough money but it’s better than in our country,” said Ncube.She said they make between R20 and R50 a day. Out of this they spend R14 on transport from downtown Jo’burg and are left with just a few rands for food. In a good month they manage to save a little to take home to Zimbabwe.The money they make from begging pays for the trip home and some groceries for their families. “I’ve never stayed here for more than a month,” said Ncube. They enter the country on visitors’ permits, allowing them to stay a maximum of 21 days. They return home by bus, which is the cheapest form of transport, costing about R200 a trip.“We are not ever, ever interfering with South African politics whatsoever,” said Ndlovu. “We, the disadvantaged people, need assistance from everyone who’s living on this Earth.”The Zimbabwean state does pay a small social grant, but “our government gives us Z$2 000 per month only — and it’s nothing. We cannot afford a loaf of bread that costs $3 500,” Ncube said.Zimbabwean Abigail Sibanda is very angry with her country’s government. She is sighted and accompanies her blind brother Samson to Johannesburg. They are unable to make a living in Zimbabwe. “Zimbabwe doesn’t give us a thing, not even a spoon of salt,” said Sibanda.They pay R30 to R40 a week to rent a room in Johannesburg. The remainder of the money they make pays for Sibanda’s transport to Zimbabwe and for food for their two families. They share the money equally between them, buying food in Johannesburg because there is nothing to buy in their country. “There are good people in South Africa,” said Sibanda. “Only a few are not cooperating.”South African Human Rights Commissioner Charlotte McClain represents the rights of children and the disabled. She said the meltdown in Zimbabwe has turned many of its people into economic refugees but those with disabilities are particularly vulnerable.She says foreigners with disabilities cannot get government social grants in South Africa, unless they are granted refugee status. “They should go through normal procedures of seeking refugee status. There is no special category for the disabled.”* Not her real name.

Multi-million trade hub for Joburg Airport (Daily Dispatch, 12/2/2004)- A multi-million-rand business hub will constructed at the International Airport here to serve foreign investors looking for South African products. The Airports Company SA (Acsa) in partnership with National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) and the International Trade Bureau announced that an international trade and exhibition centre costing R15 million would be developed airport. The centre, to be called the Johannesburg International Trade Bureau (JITB), would be a Mecca for foreign business people and would give foreign investors access to local markets, said Acsa spokeswoman Nicky Rose-Innes.  It is to be built opposite the International Arrivals section of the airport. The construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year or early next year. It would offer permanent exhibition space to 122 of SA's premier exporters.  JITB director Michael Sudarkasa said the industry sectors to be represented at the centre included medical, consumer products, electrical and electronics, mining, metal and allied industries, business information library, food and beverage, building materials and hardware, telecommunications and textile and clothing. "We are happy to put together a project that will benefit and empower local business people. On the doorstep of the airport, the busiest airport in Africa, this centre will be a place where foreign investors will get information on any products they want in the country," he said.  On how the JITB will be marketed, Sudarkasa said: "It will primarily be marketed to the growing number of international business travellers who visit South Africa." He said marketing media would include the in-flight magazines of airlines flying to and from SA, em- bassies and consulates and on-site marketing at the airport's international terminal.  "JITB will be proactive in attracting foreign markets. Instead of going out looking for new markets the JITB will bring foreign markets to exhibitors in the trade centre," he said.  According to Acsa, an estimated 1,2 million business people visited SA in 2003. Foreign business visitors to SA came from African countries, North and South American countries, Asian and Pacific Rim countries, the Middle East and Indian Ocean islands.  Sudarkasa said similar trade centres exist in 308 locations in 101 countries, all serving business travellers to assist private and public sector organisations promoting international trade.

SA, Namibia discuss border control (East African Standard, 12/2/2004)- Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is today hosting her Namibian counterpart Hidipo Hamutenya, in a one-day meeting in Cape Town to discuss cross border control issues. Foreign affairs department spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said the meeting would among others discuss the Orange River boundary issue while simultaneously looking into the establishment of a maritime boundary between the two countries. Dr Dlamini Zuma will meet minister Hamutenya together with her South African delegation consisting of Minister Mosiuoa Lekota (Defence), Sydney Mufamadi (Provincial and Local Government) and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (Minerals and Energy). Minister Hamutenya's delegation will include Ministers of Lands Hifikepunye Pohamba and Abraham Lyambo of Resettlement and Rehabilitation.

The threads that bind (Mail & Guardian, 15/2/2004)-A big black hand gently directs a needle with yellow cotton from a sewing machine into blue fabric to create an embroidered picture of a rural village.It will take an hour for Saddam Kwesi*, a 29-year-old Ghanaian, to complete the design on this skirt, which he hopes will be worn by a young South African woman.He is one of about 50 West African designers in the Johannesburg inner city’s fashion district. Most rent small offices in nondescript buildings as their workrooms and showrooms.To find Kwesi, we pass vegetable vendors, pavement hairdressers and street hawkers, eventually coming across a battered mannequin draped in a bright orange-and-black, heavily embroidered African outfit. It stands alongside a home-made sign declaring: “Touba Fashion — African Embroidery designers — 8th Floor.”A cranky elevator takes us to a small room where dozens of multi-coloured, richly patterned garments are hanging. In another room, where fabric is thrown across every available surface, sit three West African embroiderers. Kwesi boasts of the intricate patterns he can create without even drawing a picture on the fabric: “Even though we use the machine [to embroider], you must think about it [the pattern] so your hand communicates with your brain.”In most West African countries the art of embroidery is a male rather than a female pursuit, one handed down through the generations. But, says Kwesi, “It is not easy to learn and takes about five years of apprenticeship”.He came to South Africa almost five years ago, armed only with the ability to embroider. He saw South Africa as a new market for West African clothing. “In Ghana, this [art] has been there for centuries — everyone is doing it. But, here, Africans dress like white people and not in traditional clothing.” Kwesi says most of his clients purchase the garments for weddings and special occasions.Since the end of apartheid, the inner city has had an influx of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. The exodus of white-dominated corporate head offices and the move by large retailing enterprises to decentralised shopping malls created a vacuum that has been filled by the informal sector.Fahmida Cachalia, former programme manager of the Inner City Garment Project and author of a study called The Urban Edge of African Fashion, says the informal clothing industry has become a hub for immigrant entrepreneurs. They have “established their businesses on the basis of capital brought in from outside South Africa or from savings earned while working in the country”.Immigrants from Francophone West Africa (especially Senegal, Mali and Ivory Coast) see “the inner city as a place of opportunity rather than a zone of economic decline”. Taxi routes bring Africans from the continent directly into the inner city to purchase cheap products, making it the ideal location for Kwesi to sell his creations.“Here we embroider the Zulu shields or a Lesotho hat with West African embroidery designs for our South African customers,” says Kwesi. He says traditional West African designs have been fused with South African traditional symbols and styles to create a new African look.A fully embroidered shirt costs anything from R250 to R1 500, depending on how long it took to complete the pattern. The garments are relatively expensive because, apart from the embroidery, they are made from the wax-print fabric Vlisco, which is imported from Holland.Kwesi points to a yellowed album in which satisfied customers pose in their completed outfits. He uses this album as a catalogue.He will not settle in South Africa permanently because of the burden of living without a permanent residence permit and the constant persecution by immigration police. “When you come to South Africa you expect black people to be nicer and treat you like Africans. But we are not free — everywhere you go you are attacked and there is nothing you can do.”He lives in Yeoville because “it is difficult for West Africans to stay in Soweto” — foreigners are not welcome. Kwesi doesn’t believe he is taking jobs from South Africans, but, rather, creating jobs and boosting the economy. He says South Africans are lazy. “It takes five years to learn this but they want to do it in a few months.”On the other hand, a survey by Christian Rogerson, professor of geography at the University of the Witwatersrand, found that the majority of immigrants claimed that they had not been the victim of xenophobia or hostility by South Africans. The problems they experience are a result of police harassment and individual hostility.“Despite these difficulties experienced in South Africa, 27 of 28 interviewees said that in future they did plan to expand the operations of their clothing manufacturing businesses in Johannesburg.”According to Rogerson many of the immigrants also earn higher incomes than local fashion entrepreneurs, because of a higher level of education and skills. He said immigrants are “formidable” entrepreneurs, with a capacity to adjust and compete successfully.“Differences emerge also in the type of clothing production which takes place ... Foreign entrepreneurs often have special skills in embroidery and this is reflected in producing a range of more highly specialised custom-made garments in traditional (often imported) African materials.” He said immigrant entrepreneurs enjoy access to international networks and contacts that South African entrepreneurs traditionally have not been a part of.The immigrants are assisted by an NGO, Bees Consulting Group (BCG), supported by the Ford Foundation, which commissioned Rogerson’s survey. The intention was to look at the relationship between South Africans and immigrants and to expand fashion markets. BCG director Kevin Kane said the survey found that African designers were doing good work but the decor industry and the larger market were unaware of it.“There were lots of problems with company registration and how immigrants can get work permits.” He said many immigrants felt the risk of registering their business outweighed the benefits.This study paved the way for opening up the market by linking South Africans and immigrant designers. For instance, there is a major collaboration under way with local designer Jacob Kimmie.The immigrants also participated in the Fusion Workshop, intended, said Cachalia, “to teach South African designers about the richness and variety of West African garment design and embroidery and to teach the West African immigrants about what is popular and in demand in South Africa”.* His self-chosen pseudonym

Buthelezi may leave government (Sunday Times, 11/2/2004)- Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Wednesday gave the strongest hint yet that he is unlikely to be reappointed to President Thabo Mbeki's government after the national election in April. At what appeared to be his last briefing to the media as minister after 10 years in the post, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader said: "Should I leave my department, as is likely, I am now confident that it has adequate administrative leadership and a man of integrity at its stewardship". He was referring to last year's appointment of Barry Gilder as director- general after a long period of poor relations with his previous director- general. Today's remarks have fuelled speculation that Buthelezi's IFP would not be reappointed to the cabinet after the next election and follow a heated debate on Tuesday between Buthelezi and former African National Congress minister Pallo Jordan, in which Jordan called on Buthelezi to leave the cabinet. The IFP was first appointed to the government of national unity in 1994 by President Nelson Mandela in terms of the constitutional provision at the time that parties with more than 5% of the vote would serve in cabinet.Although the government of national unity fell away in 1999, the ANC was re-appointed to the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government led by the IFP and the IFP was re-appointed to the ANC dominated national cabinet. Buthelezi's party - the only former homeland party which has played a part in government consistently since non-racial democracy in 1994 - had three ministers in the cabinet holding the posts of Home Affairs, Correctional Services and Arts, Culture, Science and Technology - until last week when his deputy national chairman, Ben Ngubane, resigned as minister to take up a diplomatic post. Ngubane had been Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Minister. If Buthelezi goes, it is likely his counterpart, Correctional Services Minister Ben Skosana, will also be dropped from cabinet after the next election. It could also see the end of ANC participation in the KwaZulu Natal government if the IFP and the official opposition Democratic Alliance achieve a majority of votes together in that province. ANC spokespeople have until now said that any accommodation of the IFP in cabinet would be dependent on the outcome of the April election. Buthelezi's party has consistently outpolled the national ruling ANC in KwaZulu-Natal - although this election is widely expected to be a neck-and-neck race in the predominant Zulu-speaking province. Buthelezi, as traditional prime minister to the Zulu King, has held political sway particularly in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. The IFP's recent rapprochement with the official opposition - with which it has formed a "coalition of change" - has also strained political relations with the ANC. Earlier this week Buthelezi said he had been obliged to work with the DA as the system of defection introduced by the ANC had robbed his party of some of its elected representatives.

Immigration regulations before Cabinet (Sapa, Parliament, 11/2/2004)-Almost a year after being suspended, the immigration regulations were still before the state law advisers. The regulations were suspended in March last year after a full bench of the Cape High Court ruled they were invalid because Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi had not followed notice and comment procedures. Replying to a question after a media briefing at Parliament on Wednesday, Buthelezi said the matter was before the state law advisers after what he termed an "unnecessary intervention by Cabinet". Public Service Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, who chaired the briefing, said the regulations were being closely examined. Defending Cabinet's decision, she said that it was the prerogative of government to "look at any arrangement". "It has nothing to do with who is the minister. We are looking at exactly what we need to do," she said. The regulations are essential for the enforcement of the new Immigration Act.

Allowance for medics with scarce skills (Daily Dispatch, Cape Town, 10/2/2004)- Members of the medical profession qualifying for scarce skills allowances will receive an additional 10 to 15percent of their salaries while a rural allowance of between 8 and 22percent will be paid depending on area and occupational category, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said yesterday.The allowances will be backdated to July1 last year.She said the Health Department had now concluded an agreement in the Bargaining Council to pay special allowances to professionals in rural areas and those in the public sector whose skills were in scarce supply. The total allocation for these allowances, she said, was R500million in the current financial year. This would rise to R750m in the next financial year.As far as community service was concerned, the minister said that this continued to expand and this year 3000 young professionals would be performing community service with "a much larger proportion serving in predominantly rural areas".The minister said in order to counter the challenge of international migration, South Africa had pressed for the adoption of the code of conduct for the recruitment of health workers within the Commonwealth in May last year.The code sought to ensure that recruitment was "transparent and does not harm the health services of the source country".She said an agreement had been signed with Britain in October last year.

Malawians in South Africa (Mail&Guardian, 9/2/2004)- Tree-lined avenues walled with six-foot stockades and electric fencing in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs hide lush green gardens. What many are not aware of is that a network of Malawian green fingers tends the city’s greenbelt.Dennis Nyirenda is sweeping the driveway in a garden in Parktown North on an overcast Saturday morning. The garden is small, but a collection of colour lines the driveway. Ivy covers the brick walls and potted plants line the entrance to the house.“The fragile ones, those are impatiens, the others are roses, geraniums and ivy,” says Nyirenda pointing out his charges. He starts his day by sweeping the driveway alongside which are the flowers, then he mows the lawn and maintains the beds. “It takes me the whole day to pull the weeds.”Nyirenda hails from the north of Malawi and moved to South Africa in 1995, travelling down the continent by bus. “It took two full days; we travelled day and night and were delayed by borders. It is a hassle.”His wife joined him in Johannesburg two months ago while his four children live in Malawi with his mother. “She is looking for a job, she can’t find it.”Nyirenda has dreams that his eldest, now in secondary school, will go to university, “I work hard for them, but it’s expensive”. He sends home as much as he can as often as possible, at the moment R300 every two months. In Malawi, someone doing his job would earn between R100 and R150 a month. He earns about R70 a day in South Africa, but finds the cost of living here expensive.“I don’t earn much here.” His wife is battling to find a job, together they stay in Kew and he works as far away as Linden, travelling by taxi. “Life here is better than Malawi, it’s a poor country compared to South Africa.” When he arrived in South Africa he found work as a gardener for a company in Rivonia and was later promoted to office cleaner and then to an administrative clerk. “The company sent me to school; I used to go to Rosebank Damelin.”At Damelin he qualified as a bookkeeper. “I used to be a part-time bookkeeper — when they had work for me I did work for them.” When he wasn’t keeping the books he was doing the filing, the banking and delivering messages. When the company in Rivonia went bankrupt, he went in search of another job. “Any job, being a foreigner I don’t have a choice.”He doesn’t find conversing in a different language difficult. Initially he used to work in a white-dominated environment but now he is learning Zulu. “Some words are the same, there is no problem conversing.”Nyirenda’s youngest brother was sent to Rhodes University to study on a scholarship from the Malawian government and has since relocated to South Africa. “There is a community of Malawians [in Johannesburg], most work as gardeners, messengers, housekeepers. A few are professional, my brother is a pharmacist,” he says.Relocating is an expensive process. “Somebody who comes here must have good cash.” It cost Nyirenda 4 000 Malawian kwacha (about R300) to relocate. “To find it, it’s not easy.”“Most of the people like Malawian gardeners, we’re friendly and don’t like crime, we’re hard workers but it’s expensive and a long process to become legal,” Nyirenda says.The Malawian greenbelt operates by grapevine. Gardeners pass on work to each other and even advertise in local knock-and-drop newspapers. Brothers often teach each other the trade.Nyirenda has been employed by James Bamford for about 14 months — he found the job after being recommended by a previous gardener. Bamford says that Nyirenda is enterprising and pro-active, not only in his work in the garden, but in his approach to life.The two men run the garden like a business with daily work plans and updates at morning tea, lunchtime and a round-up at the end of the day.Samuel Jere arrived in South Africa in 1995 and has worked as a gardener, driver, messenger and petrol pump attendant. He is currently working temporarily as a gardener, which is why he has advertised in the Rosebank Killarney Gazette.Jere sends as much as he can afford home every two months, to his wife and five-month-old baby who still live in Malawi. It was always his ambition to come to South Africa as he believed he could find better employment here than in Malawi. “I’m very happy to live here. Now I’m satisfied. I’m fulfilling my ambition.”He says he tries to return to Malawi once a year. After one such visit he lost his job as a petrol pump attendant as he was “late for work, they said I must look for another job”. He went back to Malawi to get a driver’s licence, “now I can drive all over Africa”.Despite having a driver’s licence, Jere still travels back to Malawi by bus, a long and arduous process that starts with negotiating leave from an employer. Transport is another problem he has to contend with. “A lot of people are going home; I have to fight for passage.” There are Malawians travelling home every day and the trip can cost up to R500, he says.The shortest route is to travel through Zimbabwe and Mozambique before getting to Malawi, a total of five borders. The trip north takes two full days, travelling day and night, and the bus stops periodically for supplies at shopping centres. “We just carry some food.” While the bus is comfortable to sleep on, Jere sends the majority of his luggage with private people heading north who act as courier companies beforehand as there is only space for hand luggage. “We make sure we send our things first.”Malawi has a population of 10,5-million people living in 118 500 km2. Its gross domestic product is $1,7-billion and the population grows at a rate of 2% annually, according to information on the World Bank website.Henry Flint, senior economist of African research at Standard Bank, says Malawians were traditionally employed in the mining sector. “They were regarded as hard workers, word of mouth spread and now you find people doing various jobs. They are employed as gardeners and cooks.”Malawi is undergoing economic hardship; there is drought and food shortages and the unemployment level is high. “Malawi is not creating many new formal jobs. The economy is agriculture-based, tobacco is the main thing but it can only absorb so many people,” Flint says.

Courts bring migrants under Constitution's protection (Sunday Times, 8/2/2004)-A part of apartheid's madness lay in its increasing exclusivity. More and more people were defined as politically and socially unimportant - even threatening - and unworthy of protection by the law. Their potential contribution to the life of South Africa, to our culture and thought, was discounted. And under the old constitution Parliament could simply pass laws sidelining them. Now our Constitution says that what counts is the inherent dignity of each person, and so we have to rethink many prejudices hidden in the law and - if we are honest - in our minds. That's why I've found it significant to be present at a series of cases dealing with two groups, long regarded as worthless trash, and to witness them being "brought in" under the protective banner of the Constitution, as their full dignity is recognised. You may think these two groups unrelated - "aliens" or would-be immigrants on one hand, and gay and lesbian people on the other. But their suffering under the previous dispensation was in some ways similar: their worth was denied and it was often assumed that their mere presence indicated they were up to no good, if not actually committing a crime. When, after 1994, would-be immigrants first started asking the High Court to help with problems they had with officials making unfair decisions, a number of judges just didn't get it. They couldn't see how the advent of the Bill of Rights made any difference. The courts still held that the state had absolute power to decide who could come into a country and the circumstances under which a person could be thrown out; the judges held that the individual had no right even to question such decisions. In the early days of the Constitution, there was even serious consideration by some judges of the argument that foreigners did not have the "legal standing" to ask for help from the courts. When they were reminded of the Constitution during argument in court, some judges took the view that the foreigners whose cases they were considering had no relevant rights - and so the Constitution made no difference. Teething problems, perhaps, but the pain and disillusionment caused to the individuals denied the protection of the Constitution was real enough. Eventually, High Court judges began to reconsider the impact of the Constitution on even such issues as immigration cases; and around the same time, disputes involving would-be immigrants reached the Constitutional Court, allowing the highest court to pronounce on whether "aliens" had rights. One of the most satisfying decisions came from the Durban High Court, where Judge Ken Mthiyane (now on the Appeal Court in Bloemfontein) had to consider the case of Jonathan Tettey from Ghana, who had been ordered to leave South Africa without being given any chance to explain why he believed the decision unfair. The judge decided that despite the views of his colleagues in earlier cases, the Constitution no longer permitted an official (in this case someone from the Department of Home Affairs) to make such a decision without considering the argument of the person affected. And what about whether foreigners were included in the promises of the Constitution? "Every individual who comes before the courts in this country, whether high or low, rich or poor, alien or local, is entitled to enjoy the benefits flowing from the supremacy of the Constitution," said Judge Mthiyane, "especially where state functionaries perform administrative functions which affect his or her rights, interests or legitimate expectations." So far immigration cases heard by Constitutional Court judges have dealt with slightly different issues from the one considered by Judge Mthiyane, but the court has approached them from the same perspective - that the benefits of the Constitution belong to all. Foreigners, as much as any South African, share the fundamental right to dignity. Just a couple of months ago, Appeal Court Judge Robert Nugent dealt with a case concerning foreigners seeking asylum in which he spelt out how the Constitution has affected their rights. "Human dignity has no nationality," he wrote. "It is inherent in all people - citizens and non-citizens alike - simply because they are human. And while that person happens to be in this country - for whatever reason - it must be respected, and is protected, by Section 10 of the Bill of Rights [the right to dignity]." But foreigners are not the only ones brought in under the Bill of Rights. Gays and lesbians make up another group, often given more prominence, whose legal ostracism has come to an end with the Constitution. Now that the Bill of Rights has become the touchstone for judging official behaviour, it's unacceptable to discriminate against anyone unfairly on the grounds of a list of attributes. Among them is "sexual orientation". That means laws that unfairly discriminate against homosexuals, either directly or indirectly, are unconstitutional.In the case of gay men , the law had regarded each as someone whose private sexual expression, even in the context of a long-standing and committed relationship, was an illegal act, making its "perpetrator" liable to arrest, persecution and even the legitimate target of shoot-to-kill action by police.That was one of the first "gay rights" issues challenged under the Constitution, and it was dealt with by the Constitutional Court as an issue of human dignity. The court said that the law as it stood had no other purpose than to criminalise conduct that did not conform to the moral or religious views of a section of society. This discrimination "gravely affected the rights and interests of gay men and deeply impaired their fundamental dignity". The court went on: "Its symbolic effect is to state that in the eyes of our legal system all gay men are criminals." The harm imposed by the criminal law was far more than symbolic, said the court. Gay men were at risk of arrest, prosecution and conviction simply because they sought to engage in sexual conduct that was part of their experience of being human. "Just as apartheid legislation rendered the lives of couples of different racial groups perpetually at risk, the sodomy offence builds insecurity and vulnerability into the daily lives of gay men. There can be no doubt that the existence of a law which punishes a form of sexual expression for gay men degrades and devalues gay men in our broader society. As such it is a palpable invasion of their dignity and a breach of the Constitution." This victory has been followed by a number of others, thanks to the strategic litigation of groups such as the Treatment Action Campaign and the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project. All kinds of issues have been successfully challenged, from treatment for those with HIV/Aids to social benefits for life partners and the right of two same-sex partners to adopt children jointly. But while discrimination through the law can now be dealt with relatively efficiently, sometimes without even needing to go to court, discrimination in the broader society can still be a problem causing gay people to feel marginalised. Everyone likes to think that they are protected by the equality clause of the Constitution. Perhaps it makes us feel safe. But within that clause lies a challenge to all who rely on it. Here's how the Canadian Supreme Court put that challenge: "It is easy to say that everyone who is just like 'us' is entitled to equality. Everyone finds it more difficult to say that those who are 'different' from us in some way should have the same equality rights that we enjoy. Yet so soon as we say any group is less deserving and unworthy of equal protection and benefit of the law, all minorities and all of society are demeaned."

Refugees tell their stories (Cape Times, 6/2/2004)- "There was no colour, race or nationality when God created the world. He did not create borders and divide up continents. These constructs are man made. As fellow-humans I ask all South Africans to love and protect us. We came here to look for protection and not to hurt you. Help us lobby the government to give us documents that can help us to survive in this country. We have different talents that can be used to the benefit of this nation," says Democratic Republic of Congo refugee Moses Kabasele.Before they were scattered across Africa, men and women, often fleeing with their children, lived stable happy lives. Their families were united in communities. Some were dedicated students. Some joined rebel armies. All experienced the senseless slaughter of innocents and had no choice but to flee.They thought the war would end soon. But in Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda, Angola and Chad the killing continued unabated for years, spreading hunger, disease, death and confusion."His family wanted him to kill me and my children and my family wanted me to kill my husband and my children...The only option was to run away." Qurusuma explains how her thriving community in Burundi erupted into a tribal war - being Hutu or Tutsi had never been significant before.For the 13 storytellers in Torn Apart, the journey towards refuge was dangerous and extremely difficult. Residents of refugee camps in Zambia and Zimbabwe frequently disappeared, believed to have been killed, and the camps were often without food or water, pushing the desperate to trek further south and eventually reach Cape Town."Life in Cape Town is a daily struggle. Our most basic rights are violated on a daily basis and there is no one we can turn to for help. We are here like orphans," says Rwandan Fani M.The voices of people struggling to survive cry out for action to be taken: "We are like prisoners in other countries. We do not have rights or protection. No one will give me work...because I do not have an identity document. Having refugee status does not help. Most employers don't accept these papers and sometimes police do not recognise them either...It is impossible to open a bank account or to travel."Bureaucratic restrictions incapacitate foreign Africans in South Africa, but xenophobia threatens their lives."In Angola...it was easy to know who your enemy was. You could see them carrying their guns and shooting at any living thing ...But here in South Africa it was difficult to know who my enemy was. I did not know who to be afraid of." Collin Emanuel escapedthe war, but he did not escape the fate of Angolans who stayed and lost limbs to landmines. His legs were amputated after his South African housemates, with whom he shared his meagre earnings, poured paraffin over him while he was asleep and set him alight. "South Africans hate foreigners. They see us as a threat, as people who are here to take their jobs and their women, as criminals," says Clement Madila, from the DRC.Why? Many refugees started coming to south africa after democracy, believing that the enemy had been suppressed. The backlash after so many generations of racial oppression has been fear and jealousy rather than racial empathy and support. "I think that someone who has come from a war-torn country, because they needed to stay alive and to show their disagreement with the war, should not need to fight new battles where they settle. Refugees will do anything to live in peace," says Johanna Bigirimana, a mother of five from Burundi.Instead of recognising refugees' entrepreneurial skills and will to make ends meet, previously oppressed South Africans stereotype and undermine these Africans."I used my gun to kill many people. All of them were black brothers like me. I could not answer the question in my mind: why are you killing your brothers? I wanted to run away from the army but did not know where to run to," Angolan Miguel Dieszhgardoz whispers.While South Africa is seen as doing much for African unity, the reality of this country contradicts these efforts."I speak 11 languages and have translated for organisations working with refugees. Through these experiences I have learnt about the lives and cultures of many different people," says Madila. The only work this highly qualified man could find was as a car watcher.A problem Torn Apart fails to recognise is that South Africa does not yet fully support their own, and that this may be causing the xenophobia."You are playing tricks with me because you do not feel the same way as I feel. You are better off. You have homes, you eat well and drive nice cars. You can never understand suffering. You do not know when someone is in need or what it means to be really hungry. You are playing with my life," says Qurusuma from Burundi. He also speaks for impoverished South Africans. Book has a detailed list of contact numbers for organisations assisting refugees.

Health-care professionals set to march (Business Day, Cape Town, 5/2/2004)- The South African Medical Association (Sama) has accused Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang of a racist attempt to weaken support for its planned march on Parliament tomorrow Sama represents about 65% of SA's doctors, and says the protest timed to coincide with the opening of Parliament is intended to highlight the problems facing health-care professionals in the public and private sectors. Sama chairman Dr Kgosi Letlape claimed yesterday that the minister had targeted black doctors with a series of meetings aimed at dissuading them from joining the march. She met health-care professionals in Midrand on Sunday, followed by meetings in East London, Durban and Port Elizabeth. "We don't know why she is meeting black doctors, (but) we are concerned that she's dividing the profession," said Letlape. Ministerial spokesman Sibani Mngadi denied that the meetings were aimed at black doctors. "To put a racist agenda on this whole matter is inappropriate," he said, adding that the meetings were open to all health-care professionals. "We are calling upon all doctors black and white not to participate in the march," he said. In addition to its efforts at direct persuasion, the health department issued a statement yesterday warning public sector health-care workers that the protest was not a legitimate industrial action. "Failure to report for duty will result in disciplinary action being taken," the department said. Sama said the march would go ahead as planned. One of the association's key concerns is the planned National Health Bill, which says all health establishments surgeries, hospitals and clinics must apply to the department for a certificate of need, effectively a licence to practice in a specific area. Sama says the controversial provision will fuel the flight of health-care professionals and deter those who are overseas from returning to SA. The organisation is also unhappy with the department's recent moves to limit the number of doctors who dispense medicines to their patients. Mark Sonderup, chairman of the South African Registrar s Association and a Sama board member, emphasised that the protest was not only about problems facing the private healthcare sector. He said there had been a steady decline in patient care in the public service due to poor conditions of service. Sonderup said chronic underfunding and under-resourced facilities affected the overall delivery of health care. The problems created by these constraints were compounded, he said, by the inability of the public service to attract and retain skilled health-care professionals. He welcomed government's recent announcement of rural and scarce-skills allowances, but said this was insufficient to counter the exodus of doctors and nurses. Sonderup said health-care professionals were unhappy with their limited job opportunities in the public service, and were frustrated at their inability to secure direct representation at the public service bargaining chamber. Yesterday, both the Netcare private hospital group and the South African Managed Care Cooperative announced their support for the planned protest.

Govt spurns doctors offer to call of march (The Star, 6/2/2004)- South African Medical Association chief Kgosi Letlape has held out an olive branch to the government. He said yesterday that the planned march by doctors on parliament today could be called off if the Health Department held serious talks about the association's grievances. However, the department's spokesperson, Harry Mchunu, rejected the offer. Discussions with Sama, he said, had already taken place and the doctors' organisation "wants to get its own way". In fact, doctors' resistance to the certificate of need showed that they were not committed to the transformation of health services, he said. Today's Sama march after the opening of parliament was to protest against a range of issues, including certain restrictive provisions in the National Health Bill. But Letlape said yesterday: "We march reluctantly. We don't want to pre-empt anything, but there has been a lot of activity around this march, including talking about whether it could be avoided. "We're hell-bent on dealing with the issues, not hell-bent on marching." The march, believed to be the first of its kind in South Africa, has stirred up a political and civil society furore. Statements have poured into the press from political parties, private doctors' groupings and civil society organisations, while Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has threatened disciplinary action against marching doctors. The Congress of SA Trade Unions said the planned action was a legal protest, not a strike, so the Health Ministry had no grounds to threaten disciplinary action. Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said the participants were either self-employed doctors or in the public service, and would be acting in their own time. He said that while both Cosatu and Sama supported the need to establish an affordable and accessible healthcare system, it differed with the government on how to achieve this. In terms of the National Health Bill, health practitioners will have to obtain a certificate of need to provide health services, or to establish or operate a health establishment or agency, such as a clinic, hospital or surgery. Meanwhile, the march has received widespread support from political parties and organisations, which have criticised the reaction of the government. Democratic Alliance health spokesperson Sandy Kalyan said the ANC's actions were an unjustified attack on the doctors, who were exercising their constitutional rights. African Christian Democratic Party health spokesperson Cheryllyn Dudley said the obstacles facing the health profession were valid and that disgruntl.ed doctors had the right to make their voices heard. Bantu Holomisa, leader of the United Democratic Movement, said the government's approach would achieve nothing, but would alienate more health professionals and speed up the "medical brain drain". New National Party spokesperson Dr Kobus Gous said the planned protest action was an indication of the poor relationship between medics and the government. The Treatment Action Campaign said it would fully support any healthcare workers who had disciplinary action taken against them for participating in the march. The Western Cape ANC was organising its own demonstration, which was to start at 9am and end at noon - three hours before Sama's march was due to begin. Western Cape ANC health spokesperson Cameron Dugmore said the voice of those supporting the certificate of need "also needs to be heard".

Practice of immigration law now regulated (The Star, 4/2/2004)- This new dispensation, which is a requirement in the new Immigration Act, has brought South Africa into line with the UK, Australia and Canada, the chairperson of the newly established Association of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa (Aipsa), Julian Pokroy, said yesterday. Practising attorneys and advocates are the only ones exempted from registering. Pokroy said there had been almost a decade of groundwork laid by practitioners campaigning to have the industry regulated. "A whole lot of unsuspecting would-be immigrants used to get caught up in the webs of unscrupulous immigration agents - not only in South Africa but all over the world," Pokroy said "It is in an effort to stamp this out that we have campaigned for the industry to be regulated." Aipsa said all private individuals dealing with, for example, visas, visitors' permits, work permits and permanent residence applications would be required to join an association and be registered as practitioners. Minister of Home Affairs Mangosuthu Buthelezi has accredited only Aipsa as such an association. Candidates will need indemnity insurance and be required to write an exam, the first of which will be written in major centres on February 26.

The brain drain is colour blind (Mail&Guardian, 4/2/2004)-The so-called “brain drain” of professional expertise from South Africa has been a source of concern for several years now. Discussions of the trend have tended to focus on white professionals –- but, it appears that black South Africans are also joining the exodus.Brian Khumalo, senior partner at Leaders Unlimited, South Africa’s largest recruitment firm, described the brain drain as “a very serious situation”.“It’s not so much the departure of black people which is the concern. It’s their return which is the concern. We have no problem with black people going overseas and acquiring skills and global experience. The problem is, once they get there will they come back?”Asked about the number of black professionals leaving South Africa, Khumalo said: “We don’t have specific statistics. But, according to various reports, 2 000 black people leave the country every year.”He said black professionals were moving overseas to acquire better qualifications and skills to match what South Africans who lived in exile during apartheid had attained.These exiles, now back in the country, have landed good jobs because of their superior qualifications and international exposure.Amongst South Africans who do seek their fortunes overseas –- nurses, medical doctors, teachers and information technology experts are sought after because of their proficiency in English.Some 11 671 South Africans emigrated last year, compared with 8 080 in 2002, according to official statistics. Most of them have gone to the United States, Britain, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Australia. Their reasons for leaving South Africa range from low salaries to the country’s crime rate.A new study, entitled the Flight of the Flamingos, released in the port city of Cape Town recently, added its voice to the chorus of concern about the brain drain. “The flow is up to four times higher than the official figure,” said the report.Michael Kahn, Executive Director of the Human Sciences Research Council, which conducted the study, said that “At one point, people didn’t say when they were emigrating. They would just tell the immigration officials at the border that they were going to work overseas for a year or two so that they could take most of their property with them.”“But now the laws relating to things like foreign currency controls have eased a little bit,” he added.The issue of the brain drain is also worrying the 1,7-million-strong Confederation of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU). “The shortage of skills is a problem. It adds to employment,” said William Madisa, President of COSATU.In addition, the matter was raised when South African President Thabo Mbeki met his Nigerian counterpart, Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abuja recently.Nigeria –- and indeed most of Africa –- finds itself in a similar predicament to South Africa: about 250 000 Nigerians are living in the United States, according to the US Census Bureau.The Ethiopia-based United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) estimates that since the 1980s, Africa has lost more than a third of its professionals to developed countries.Sub-Saharan Africa, said the ECA, spends over $4-billion yearly on technical assistance, including the cost of hiring 100 000 foreign experts.“(The) brain drain is a major impediment to African development as it depletes many countries of the human resources necessary to build the institutions and infrastructure that support strong economies,” it observed.Edward Ofori-Sarpong, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, told a gathering in the capital of Accra last year that 70 000 highly qualified Africans leave Africa every year.He lamented that Sub-Saharan Africa has only 20 000 scientists and engineers, about 3,6% of the world’s scientific population, servicing the continent’s estimated 600 million people.“Africa needs at least one million scientists and engineers to sustain its development prospects,” he said in a paper entitled “Effects of the Brain Drain on National Development”.The challenge that Africa faces now is how to reverse this trend.“The onus lies on a company like ours to make it their business to track down people overseas. It should find out what these people are doing and when they are coming back, so that they can be recycled into the job market,” Khumalo said.Critics say low wages often prevent Africans from returning home. “An African professional will not resign from his $50 000-a-year job to accept a $500-a-year job in Africa,” said Dale Emeagwali, a Nigerian scientist based in the United States.Emeagwali is lobbying African governments through his internet site and speaking at conferences to increase the salaries of professionals so that they can return to Africa.

Swaziland

Lecturers leave UNISWA to work abroad (Swazi Observer, 15/2/2004)- The university of Swaziland's contribution to socio- economic development fac a magnitude of constraints, especially with the exodus of lectures for greener pastures. This was disclosed by the acting vice chancellor of the University of Swaziland, Professor Cisco Magagula, during education minister Constance Simelane's to of the institution this week. According to Magagula the successful recruitment of qualified staff is slowly becomming a nightmare. This he said is evident with the continous repeat of the same post advertisment over and over again. However, he said this situation had been exacerbated by the taxation of gratuity and benefits. Magagula appealed to the government to review the tax method they were currently using. He said this affects a number of their programmes, especially the post- graduate programme which had no teaching staff for the  post- graduate studies. Other constraints include the scholarship provision for post-graduate students studying at UNISWA, instead the provision is made for those studying outside thE country, and the inadequate teaching resources and many others. Magagula said the constarints stiffle and bottleneck the opportunities for UNISWA's positive contribution in the accelerating economic development. He said stakeholders active participation in contributing to the alleviation of the constraints could go a long way to enhancing the opportunities for UNISWA to further contribute to socio- economic development.

Tanzania

Authorities Impose tight Transport Curfew (New Vision, Dar es Salaam, 26/2/2004)- TRAVELLING at night in Tanzania is a nightmare. While buses in Kampala operate throughout the night, the case is different in Tanzania.When it clocks 10:00pm, all buses operating within Tanzania have to stop wherever they are. Even those coming from Uganda or Kenya can not enter Tanzania before 6:00pm.If a bus gets at the Kenya-Tanzania or Uganda-Tanzania boarders at 5:00pm, the Tanzanian police officers can not let the bus enter until it is 6:00pm.Passengers end up spending nights on board.A police officer in Dar-es-Salaam said the law banning movement of buses during the night was passed in order to reduce road accidents."There used to be several accidents resulting from buses. These buses carry many people and at night, they drive carelessly. We can not monitor them if they travel in the late hours of the night. This system is effective and it has worked," the smartly dressed officer said.An immigration officer at Namanga Immigration Office said, "Buses leaving or entering the country have to be weighed. We do not tolerate too much speed. If the bus has been travelling at a very high speed, this machine detects it."The officer said buses which carry excess weight are fined. He said very few buses over-load due to the existence of the weighing bridge system.He said a computerised system is used to detect the speed. The buses are checked at major road junctions and the border.Buses heading to Dar-es-Salaam all end up at the country's biggest terminal, UBUNGO. The terminal is organised, clean and less congested compared to Kampala's Baganda Bus Park.Meanwhile, the taxis of Tanzania, called Dalla Dalla have different colours depending on their routes. The taxis are also numbered.The drivers of Dalla Dalla who take routes they are not supposed to operate from are fined, a traffic officer said.

Britain negotiating with Tanzania about Asylum screening (AP, London, 28/2/2004)- Hoping to diminish the flow of refugees to Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday that the government is talking to Tanzania about helping officials there process asylum claims.Many Somalis fleeing instability in their homeland pass through Tanzania on their way to Britain.The Home Office said Britain might eventually consider sending Somalis – now the largest group of refugees in Britain – to Tanzania if their requests for asylum are turned down here. Tanzania rejected the idea.If it happened, it would be the first time Britain evicted immigrants to a third country, rather than to their home country."We are in negotiations with the Tanzanian government as to how we can process claims for asylum nearer to the country of origin and I think that is a sensible thing," Blair said during his weekly question-and-answer session in the House of Commons.His office and the Home Office, which handles immigration issues, said later that Blair meant Britain could help the east African nation process applications from those seeking refuge there, not from people applying for asylum in Britain."I honestly cannot understand the objection to seeing whether it is possible, if there are people who are going to make asylum claims, and begin their asylum journey close to the country of origin, why it is not sensible to try and process some of those claims there," the prime minister said. "That's what we're in negotiations with the Tanzanian government about."Charles Kennedy, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat party, said the move could be "the beginning of an international trade in displaced people," an allegation Blair dismissed.The prime minister emphasized that he would not create a distant "fantasy island" where those seeking refuge in Britain would be processed far from its shores."There is no way, however, even if we manage to establish some of these centers, that they can possibly deal with the bulk of the asylum problem," Blair said.That would have to be done, he said, through strict new measures the government is instituting at home.The Home Office said this week that the number of people seeking refugee status here fell by 41 percent last year compared with 2002, but asylum nonetheless remains a potent political issue.A Home Office spokesman said talks were focusing on how Britain could help Tanzania process refugees – many, but not all of whom come from Somalia – in hopes that doing so would prevent some of those people from later migrating to Britain."The logic there is that if we help them process and protect refugees then it makes less likely secondary movements to the U.K.," the spokesman said on condition of anonymity.Maeve Sherlock, chief executive of the Refugee Council, an immigrants' advocacy group, said Tanzania already hosts more than 600,000 refugees and should not be asked to take more."We should be sharing, not shifting, responsibility for the world's refugees," Sherlock said.The Home Office spokesman said the talks were at an early stage and that few details had been worked out.Also under discussion was how to return home failed Tanzanian asylum seekers, including those posing as Somalis in an effort to get refuge in Britain, the Home Office spokesman said.He said Britain wouldn't rule out sending Somalis whose applications are rejected by Britain to Tanzania, but said it was not one of the main proposals under discussion.The Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday that Britain was negotiating with Tanzania about accepting Somali refugees whose asylum applications had been rejected in Britain. The Home Office called that report "speculative."Tanzanian assistant foreign affairs minister John Chilingati said his country had discussed that idea with Britain late last year but rejected it."We said no to that proposal because we did not see the reason or logic of bringing the refugees here to be sorted out and then repatriated to their country of origin," he said. Tanzania can only accept Tanzanians, he added.

Tanzania seeks funds to repatriate Burundi refugees (Pana, Dar es Salaam, 23/2/2004)- Tanzania appealed at the weekend for more international financing to quicken the repatriation of thousands of Burundi refugees in the East African country, saying it was scaling the operation in response to improved security in war-ravaged Burundi.Appeals were also made for aid to help deal with multiple problems such as deforestation caused by the refugees in western Tanzania, particularly in Kagera and Kigoma regions, Foreign Affairs minister Jakaya Kikwete told reporters here. He said the appeals had been presented to Japanese envoy Masaharu Kohno, who is in-charge of Sub-Saharan Africa and a special envoy of the Japanese Prime Minister to the G8 during meetings. "We are currently encouraging Burundi refugees to go back home as peace has returned to at least 95 percent of their country," Kikwete said, adding "we appeal to Japan and other international donors to help the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the governments of Tanzania and Burundi carry out this massive operation." Currently, there are about 350,000 Burundi refugees assisted by the UNHCR in seven refugee camps in Tanzania. Another 470,000 refugees who left Burundi way back 1972 live outside camps in overlying towns and villages. Kikwete said appeals had also been made for financial assistance to aid the demobilisation and reintegration of former fighters, who have been involved in a decade-old civil war that has left between 250,000 and 300,000 people dead in Burundi. "Our expectations are such that funds will be made available not only for the resettlement of the Burundian refugees but also for the rehabilitation of the belligerents who will not be accommodated in the new Burundian army," the Foreign minister said. Kikwete noted that UNHCR began facilitating returns to Burundi in 2002, but had limited the operation to provinces in northern and central Burundi for security reasons until the beginning of this year. Following the signing last year of a ceasefire and power-sharing deal between the transitional government in Bujumbura and Burundi's biggest rebel group, the CNDD-FDD of Pierre Nkurunziza, improved security has been opening up opportunities for organised refugee returns to new regions of the country, he added. According to the UN refugee agency, more than 10,000 have returned home in January and the first half of February alone. In a related development, Kikwete said a planned regional conference would be held in Dar es Salaam in November to shore up the peace process in Burundi.

Over 10,000 Burundian returnees (UNHCR, Gisuru, Burundi, 18/2/2004)- More than 10,000 Burundian refugees have returned home from camps in Tanzania in January and the first half of February this year.Nearly 5,200 of the refugees have returned through a new border crossing point opened in late January. Twice-weekly convoys have brought thousands of refugees home in the first two-and-a-half weeks of the operation. The new crossing point at Gisuru was opened to allow UNHCR to organise returns to the eastern Ruyigi province, which was previously inaccessible for security reasons.Given the success of the returns through Gisuru so far and the interest among the refugees to return home to Ruyigi, UNHCR is increasing the number of weekly convoys along this route to four starting this week. Each convoy transports around 1,000 refugees back home.At the same time, refugees staying in camps in the Ngara region of Tanzania further to the north have been returning in twice-weekly convoys through the other border crossing point at Kobero in Burundi’s north-eastern Muyinga province. UNHCR plans to continue the convoys for some 1,000 refugees per week, which will bring the total weekly returns to 5,000. A third crossing point at Gahumo is used for refugees from Burundi's Cankuzo province. Over 500 refugees have returned with UNHCR's help through this crossing point this year.So far this year, 9,125 Burundian refugees have returned home in UNHCR-organised movements, while another 897 have returned on their own.To cope with the large numbers of returns, UNHCR has been beefing up its presence and operations in the provinces neighbouring Tanzania. Three more emergency staff have been deployed to Burundi, joining the three already on the ground as of January 20. Another four emergency staff are due to arrive in the next 10 days.The teams are working to open a UNHCR office in Ruyigi province to help the returnees. The refugee agency closed its office in there in 2001 for security reasons. Recent improvements in security in some areas of Burundi have paved the way for an increased UNHCR presence and programmes. The agency is also expanding its existing office in Muyinga province, and a staff member has arrived to head up the office there.More than 300,000 Burundi refugees still live in camps in Tanzania. UNHCR began facilitating returns to Burundi in 2002, but until this year had limited these organised convoys to provinces in northern and central Burundi for security reasons. This year, following ceasefire and power-sharing agreements between the government and the main rebel group, the FDD, improved security has been opening up opportunities for organised refugee returns to new regions of the country.

Voluntary repatriation of refugess continuies (IPP media, 1/2/2004)- Voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees from camps in Tanzania to safe areas in their country continues, an official with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said. “These are safe provinces, that’s why we are voluntarily sending home refugees to these areas,” UNHCR Public Information Assistant, Frederic Mwinjabi said referring to the northern and central parts of Burundi. “We hope the exercise will be fruitful,” he told The Guardian recently. Mwinjabi said since the beginning of the exercise UNHCR has assisted over 70,000 refugees to return home. “At least 3500 refugees return home every month,” said Mwinjabi.

Zambia

Tourism board targets 400,000 tourists (The Times of Zambia, 19/2/2004)-THE Zambia National Tourism Board (ZNTB) is expecting to woo at least 400,000 foreign tourists in 2004 and envisages a growth of 14 per cent for the next two years. ZNTB chief executive Charity Lumpa said this when the Board hosted business journalists at the Mulungushi Village Complex in Lusaka on Wednesday. Ms Lumpa also said the Board expected Livingstone alone to bring in not less than 250,000 tourists during the year. She said the sector had been boosted by added incentives that were announced in the 2004 Budget. Ms Lumpa said news that Government would improve tourism support infrastructure like roads, airports, communication facilities and security would enhance the number of tourist arrivals in the country. "Accessibility is the most important factor in tourism, and the recent Budget announcement that infrastructure would be improved, is a great boost to tourism and investment. We should see a lot of lodges and hotels come up and an improvement in the number of tourists coming to Zambia," she said. She said that a further boost was the allocation of K3 billion to the Board in the 2004 Budget, from last year's K2 billion. And Ms Lumpa said while tourism targets were predominantly foreign, the Board was also looking at effectively embracing the local market. "The domestic tourists are just as important. They are there all seasons through, even when we experience highs and lows in the industry," she said. Ms Lumpa hoped that the media would help interest the local and international markets about tourism and tourist destinations in Zambia and also help allay misconceptions about Zambian tourism. "Now marketing should be a matter of priority. We want to sell our tourism as best as we can. Yes, we have challenges but they are not insurmountable," she said.

IOM asked to stem brain drain (The Times of Zambia, 18/2/2004)- GOVERNMENT has requested the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to supply technical assistance to help Zambia curb its brain-drain. Labour and Social Security Minister Patrick Kafumukache said at a Press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that Government needed help to put in place mechanisms that would assist to reverse the brain drain. Lieutenant-Colonel Kafumukache asked IOM for assistance in identifying highly-skilled Zambians working abroad so that they could be encouraged to make investments in their home country. He said there was need to create a data-base of all such Zambians so that a compensatory tax arrangement beneficial to Zambia could be worked out. He requested the ministries of Agriculture and Co-operatives and Commerce, Trade and Industry to work with IOM to attract Zambians working abroad to invest part of their earnings back home in agricultural business, Information Technology (IT), telecommunication, tourism and by buying shares on the stock exchange market in Zambia. IOM member, Charles Harns said the organisation was ready to encourage Zambians living abroad to invest in their country. He said the organisation would come in to create programmes that would be beneficial to the country and to reduce technical problems in the country. The IOM has been in the country since 1984 and has been actively involved in the repatriation of refugees to Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a related development, an organisation for Zambian professionals working abroad, Career Prospects, has launched a programme through which they will link qualified Zambians abroad to challenging jobs in Zambia. Speaking in Lusaka yesterday, Career Prospects managing consultant Namuchana Musiwa said the organisation had received many enquiries from Zambians living abroad who wanted to contribute to their home country.

Indian nationals fined and expelled (Times of Zambia, 12/2/2004)- TWENTY-THREE Indian nationals have been fined K1 million each for working in Zambia illegally and given 14 days in which to leave the country.Initially, the immigration department rounded up 25 Indian nationals who were working for a local firm, but two were cleared yesterday after they produced valid documents.Immigration spokesman Jones Mwelwa confirmed yesterday that the 23, in addition, were fined K2 million each for temporary permits to last 14 days in which they should prepare for departure to their country.Mr Mwelwa said a company they were working for, Consolidated Farming Limited, had also been charged with 23 counts for employing people without valid immigration documents and fined K1 million on each charge."The 23 have been charged with engaging in paid employment for gain without immigration permits. They've paid admission of guilt fines and were given 14 days to leave the country," he said.It was against the Immigration and Deportation Act to work without valid immigration documents in Zambia.The department, Mr Mwelwa said, had been working with members of the public who were providing valuable information.

President attacks brain drain expatriates (Zambezi Times Online, 12/2/2004)- Low wages and unemployment, coupled with high taxes, have forced thousands of qualified Zambians to flee the country in search of greener pastures - but President Levy Mwanawasa is calling them 'coward failures'.Mwanawasa told the nation recently that Zambians working abroad were fond of criticising his administration and giving the country a bad name when they did not know the situation on the ground. "Let them come back here and prove their effectiveness. They failed to make the grade here and have gone to exhibit their inefficiencies outside," he said. The address, which was posted on the Internet, brought on an avalanche of responses - mainly from Zambians working abroad. John Malumo, an electrical engineer, who works in Johannesburg, South Africa, says government does not appreciate its own professionals and prefers to engage expensive and often poorly qualified expatriates. "I was retrenched from the ZCCM (Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines) despite my qualifications and profession which were needed on the mines. A person who was less qualified, but was given more perks and a higher salary, replaced me. Since I could not find a job, I trekked to South Africa where within days I was given a very good paying job with a mining company," he said. Malumo says contrary to Mwanawasa's assertions that they are failures, people who work abroad compete on an open international market for their positions. He said they are constantly upgrading their skills to keep up with international standards. "The last thing we are is failures. It is those who fail to secure jobs outside that are failures," he said. Malumo recalls that Mwanawasa himself poached two of his ministers from their international posts to run the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance. "Why? Because he knew they had been highly trained abroad to the extent that foreign organisations vied to employ them." While Malumo left because he could not find a job, Doreen Malambo, a university lecturer, complains of remuneration. She had a job at the University of Zambia but could not afford to look after her family of five even though she was a top management official. "Our salaries were a pittance. We could not afford to send our children to proper schools. We lived hand to mouth. Here I am appreciated and remunerated appropriately. I have even bought a house in Zambia, which I would never have been able to do had I remained in the country," she said. According to orld Bank statistics, 80 percent of Zambians live on less than a dollar a day. The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection puts the cost of the food basket at over 200 dollars, for a family of six. With more companies being privatised, unemployment is certain to exceed its current 1.5 million (out of a potential workforce of about 2 million). Even the 400,000 employed in the formal sector, 70 percent earned less than $100 a month. Minister of Health Brian Chituwo acknowledged that low pay had 'chased away' medical staff. He said over 2,500 Zambian nurses were currently working in British hospitals alone and about 3,400 doctors spread across Britain, Botswana and South Africa. And yet, he said, there was a serious shortage of health staff in Zambia. Nurse Gina Siwale says there is no future in Zambia's medical industry. She urged President Mwanawasa to work on enticing Zampats (Zambian Expatriates) instead of condemning them. "When I was in Zambia, there were no drugs in the hospitals. We hardly got paid and when we did, it was peanuts and there was no room for further training. Here I have gone for further training. I would love to go back home and contribute but not under the present climate where I will hardly be able to look after myself, let alone contribute to my family's income," Siwale said. She sends over 1,000 dollars a month - something she would not have been able to do had she remained in Zambia where she earned less than 50 dollars as a midwife. The Lusaka branch of Western Union, an international money remitting agency, says it receives about 30,000 dollars a day sent by people working abroad for their families. "We get more money towards Christmas and other days like the New Year," said Charles Mushingo, who words for a Western Union outlet in Lusaka. Siwale says many people would like to go back to contribute to Zambia's development because working abroad has exposed them to higher skills and experiences. Charlie Makani from New Zealand offers the example of India whose phenomenal software industry is from Indian returnees from the United States' Silicon Valley. "Part of Zambia's problem is that it has never been run by a president with international exposure. All the major economic transformations we read about involve national leaders who had exposure to international best practices (like Botswana's Sir Seretse Khama and Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew)," he said. "Government," said Makani, "appears jealous of people who live abroad and deliberately make it difficult for them to come back." He says President Mwanawasa should take a leaf from his Malian counterpart who recently called a conference on all Malians in the Diaspora because he discovered the remittances from abroad far outstripped aid inflows. "I am encouraging all my relatives to come to New Zealand where there is a great demand for electricians and plumbers. I want them to live a good life, (get) good education and contribute to the clan's welfare by sending money to our relatives who cannot make it to New Zealand," Makani said. It is likely that there will be a further exodus of Zambian professionals following the new taxes introduced by government this week. People earning over 170 dollars will be required to pay 40 percent tax, says Brenda Ngulube, a human resource manager at an international bank. In this year's budget, government has instituted a wage freeze on public service workers. Last year civil servants went on strike twice demanding higher wages. Government refused to give in saying there was a budget overrun of K6bn (100,000 dollars). "We are all looking elsewhere not because we have failed but because the government has failed us. How can we pay so much tax? There are no jobs and there is too much corruption to engage in business. So what is to keep us here?" wondered a civil servant. But Mwanawasa has remained adamant. Zambian expatriates, he said, should stop shouting from far and come and suffer with their kinsfolk. The United Nations International Organisation for Migration (IOM) that used to help repatriate Zambians wanting to come back says it has since stopped the programme in Zambia. This is because no Zambians wanted to return home. "We are now engaged in repatriating refugees and displaced persons. That programme for returning Zambians stopped some years ago," an official who begged anonymity said. Given the current scenario, he said it was unlikely that people would want to come back to Zambia. "There is very little incentive," he said

Foreigners steal top UN jobs from Zambians (Zambia Daily Mail, 10/2/2004)- Another employee who claimed to be Zambian had completely no link with Zambia nor did he represent the interest of the country but was given a job under the Zambian slot. Mr Mulenga said there was something fishy about how the two got the jobs because there was no recommendation from the Zambian government for them to be employed. UNESCO had five international job opportunities specifically reserved for Zambian nationals but only three of the five slots had been fulfilled. Mr Mulenga told the parliamentarians that the employee of Asian origin did not represent the interests of Zambia although she claims to have been born here. Government has since taken measures to ensure that her contract was not renewed and that the five job slots are given to bonafide Zambians who had the qualifications. Mr Mulenga blamed the developments at UNESCO to lack of information on the jobs that were reserved for Zambians. He told the Parliamentarians that from now on, Government would advertise the positions so that those interested could apply. And officials from the National Commission for UNESCO informed the minister that most jobs had been taken up by West Africans, especially those from Senegal. Mr Mulenga also disclosed that the National Commission for UNESCO has had no commissioners locally because previous ministers of education did not appoint commissioners to serve on the United Nations agency. He said the officers at the commission were civil servants and that none of them were seconded to UNESCO. The minister said the permanent presence of UNESCO in Zambia was assured by the National Commission which contribute d to efforts in promoting international cooperation in intellectual activities.  The Zambia National Commission for UNESCO played complementary functions as a national programme and carrying out the ideals of UNESCO. Mr Mulenga urged the MPs to look at the strengths and weakness of the National Commission for UNESCO and suggest recommendations of how to improve it. And Zambia National Commission for UNESCO acting Chief Programmes Officer, Felicitas Chinanda said the ministry of Education was in the process of reviewing the Act of the commission and that the contributions of the parliamentarians were important. She said the gathering provided an opportunity to share information on how best values of creating a better Zambia could be promoted.

Villagers opt for Malawian market (Ndola, 4/2/2004)- VILLAGERS in Lundazi district in Eastern Province have been forced to sell their produce to neighbouring Malawi because roads leading to other parts of the province are impassable. Senior Chief Magodi of the Tumbuka people said in an interview that it was sad his people were being forced to sell their agricultural produce, mostly rice, to Malawi where the road network was better. He said his people had a bumper harvest last season but were finding it difficult to access markets in Zambia because of the poor state of roads. Malawian authorities have now taken advantage of the situation and have since built markets along the border. Chief Magodi urged Government to repair feeder roads in the province adding that Zambia had a lot to benefit from farming in the Eastern Province. "Imagine if the whole produce in this province was consumed in Zambia. The food here could feed the whole country if Government cared to rehabilitate roads that had never been worked on since independence," he said. Meanwhile, Works and Supply Deputy Minister, Kennedy Shepande, has directed authorities in the Eastern Province to ensure that the road contractors worked according to specifications. Mr Shepande who was in the province last week said this after Chipangali member of Parliament, Lucas Phiri (UNIP), complained about the poor workmanship on the Chipata/Lundazi road. Mr Phiri urged Government to terminate the contract and award it to another deserving company. But Mr Shepande observed that the contractor had inadequate machinery. He said Government was concerned about the state of roads especially that the region was performing well in farming. He appealed to farmers to be patient as Government had allocated money towards the repair of feeder roads and would soon start releasing the funds. Provincial roads engineer, Steve Petwe, said Government had given the province K7 billion for repair works on the Chipata/Lundazi road. Mr Petwe said the province was waiting for K500 million for grading of the Lundazi/Chama road. Government is said to have released K600 million for the rehabilitation of the Gwembe-Chipepo road in the Southern Province under the auspices of the Tonga Development Project. Provincial Minister, Chilufya Kazenene, confirmed this.

Over 300 flee DR to Zambia (Agence France, 3/2/2004)-About 300 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have fled to northern Zambia this year following skirmishes in rebel-controlled areas in their country, a United Nations official said Tuesday.The refugees, mostly from the towns of Pweto, Kalemie and Moba, started coming into Zambia last month after a group of Mai Mai militia fighters began terrorising them, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) protection officer Patrick Kawuma told reporters. "The refugees have reported that atrocities are being conducted by the Mai Mai militia. Some women came with bruises and it is clear that they were victims of sexual and gender violence," Kawuma said. In January, the UNHCR office in Kawambwa, a tiny Zambian town situated about 40 kilometres from the border, recorded 267 new arrivals while 67 refugees are reported to be at the border waiting to be picked up, he said. A small number of people from DRC are scattered along the frontier, trying to gain entry to Zambia, Kawuma said. The UNHCR official said more refugees were expected to cross into Zambia as most areas where the DRC government is not present could continue experiencing sporadic unrest despite progress made in the peace process. A Zambian refugee officer in Kawambwa told AFP that four rebels had been nabbed in Zambia after they fled fighting in eastern DRC. "They have been arrested and separated from civilians. They will be taken to another camp that was established for ex-combatants," Joseph Musonda said. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced here that it faced a major food shortfall in its efforts to feed the 25,000 Congolese refugees living at the Kala Refugee Camp in Zambia. "The food, which we have now will only last us up to mid-February," said Omar Abdel-Hameed, head of the WFP office in Kawambwa. He said due to food shortages, the refugees have been put on a 15-day food allocation programme as opposed to a month because WFP has not received any donations towards their food this year. Zambia hosts more than 50,000 refugees from DRC who are mainly sheltered at Kala Refugee Camp and Mwange Camp both situated in the north.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's woes spill across border (Globe Newspaper Company, Musina, 29/2/2004)- Around southern Africa, many countries are working hard to stop "border jumpers" -- Zimbabweans who illegally sneak into surrounding nations to seek jobs or escape political persecution as their nation slips further into chaos.This border town has crafted some imaginative agreements with its Zimbabwean counterpart, Beitbridge, across the bridge over the Limpopo River, to cope with the impact of the worsening miseries in Zimbabwe since the government began seizing land from white farmers in 2000.Still, Zimbabwe's problems are literally spilling into South Africa. Beitbridge's waste treatment plant's main pump is broken and the facility is spewing sewage into the Limpopo, the source of water for both towns. During the last six months, patient visits have doubled at Musina Hospital, and half of those patients are from Zimbabwe. Its maternity ward is swamped with Zimbabwean women, who deliver nearly 70 percent of the babies born at the hospital.In communities around Musina, social workers are reporting a large increase in orphans in recent months. Almost all the children are from outside South Africa -- Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. Their parents have died largely from AIDS-related diseases, and they have gravitated toward South Africa's relative wealth. It means many orphans here are alone, with no relatives to care for them.And there are legions of Zimbabwean children who slip into South Africa to earn money, some of them selling their bodies."Many children think of going to Musina to work," Alice Nsingo, a Zimbabwean child protection officer based in Beitbridge, said in a telephone interview. "We need to come up with strategies that combat the problem."An estimated 3.4 million Zimbabweans, or perhaps one-quarter of the country's population, are living outside the country, according to a recent study by an advisory board to Zimbabwe's Central Bank.The group, which is trying to find ways to get those exiles to send hard currency home, found that more than 1.2 million Zimbabweans were in South Africa; another 1.1 million in Britain, the country's former colonial ruler; and the rest scattered in southern Africa, the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.Some Zimbabweans in South Africa, such as Gabriel Shumba, 29, a human rights lawyer, say they have fled President Robert Mugabe's regime because they feared for their lives."I have scars on my head, on my chest, from the torture I received," said Shumba one day recently, sitting on a bench at the University of Pretoria and opening his shirt to show the marks. "I've been arrested 14 times since 1993 for protesting the regime's policies. I finally left seven months ago after receiving death threats."And because Zimbabwe's inflation rate has soared over 600 percent, making basic goods unavailable to poor people, and there is little chance to find work, many have fled their country as economic refugees.In Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, recently, 11 young Zimbabwean women allowed the founder of an HIV/AIDS support group, Helen Ditsebe Mhone, to enter their shared hovel in a tiny concrete room.The women were all prostitutes. The floor was covered with bare mattresses, heaps of clothes and shoes, and small tanks of propane, used for cooking."I know you guys have a problem in Zimbabwe, but the thing is, you're taking big risks with AIDS," Mhone said, sitting on the floor among them. Before she could say more, several women spoke up."How can you get a job in Zimbabwe?" said one."How can we live?" said another."We get into a man's car, and we know we are risking our lives," said a third, "but tell us, what is our choice?"In Musina -- formerly known as Messina -- the stories are different, but hardship remains the common theme.At the town's vegetable market, Ishmael Moyo, 33, sells bags of South African onions and tomatoes to local people. His wife and four children are nearly 200 miles north in Zimbabwe, but he said he couldn't support them there. Now he earns roughly $300 a month in the market among other Zimbabwean sellers, some of them doctors and lawyers."I start work at 7 a.m., and I end at 5 p.m., and at night I read my Bible and pray," he said. "I am grateful for my faith. It is very hard to be away from my family. But there are more terrible sides of South Africa for us Zimbabweans, especially on the farms. It is almost like slave labor. They earn 150 or 200 rands ($22 to $30) a month from the farmers. It is nothing."Musina officials confirmed his story. They say they have confronted farmers, who have denied employing refugees."Some of us in South Africa are benefiting from this crisis," said David Phologa, the mayor. "It's just like a war situation, where some people benefit by selling weapons. We benefit from taking advantage of cheap labor. It's not right."In response to these problems, representatives from Musina and Beitbridge have reached a series of agreements in quiet meetings over the last few months. The accords call for easing cross-border travel for local residents and jointly facing other problems stemming from Zimbabwe's troubles.While the impact of two towns that combined have a population of 75,000 people may not be earth-shattering by itself, officials in both communities hope their countries take notice and learn from their cooperation."The fact is even if you improve security on the borders, people from Zimbabwe will still come and be with us," said Phologa. "The crisis there is affecting us in every way -- the economy, the HIV rates, social matters, jobs."The Musina and Beitbridge officials met under the approval of provincial and national governments, which two years ago had encouraged communities to form "twinning," or sister-city, relationships.Phologa is hopeful that both national governments will approve the recommendations from the towns' officials, including granting border passes for residents to facilitate trade and approving initiatives aimed at attracting tourists.Still, he and others acknowledged, events in Zimbabwe are not predictable. Earlier this month, for instance, Zimbabwe slapped a 500 percent increase on duty charges at the border, which overnight stopped most of the imports.But the joint effort by the two border towns reaches deeper than simply improving trade. One great concern is the impact of so many Zimbabweans seeking care at the Musina Hospital. "The systems have collapsed in Zimbabwe," said David Mokobi, Musina's community liaison officer. "They have no medicines, and so if they are sick, they come here."Another initiative is building "safe houses" for children in Musina. One of the most remarkable passages in the towns' draft agreement concerns the protection of children, especially orphans.It reads, in part, "We are saying if a child is seen in the street of Musina or Beitbridge, we as the community will have failed and committed a crime."The author of that passage is Nsingo, the Zimbabwean child protection officer. "The words are very strong, I know," she said. "But if there are orphaned children wandering in the streets, we will have failed as parents, as a community, as two communities. We will have committed a crime. We now agree to work together on this."

Doctors threaten exodus over new regulation (Harare, Zimbabwe Independent, 27/2/2004)- ZIMBABWE'S private health sector faces collapse with revelations this week that many of the country's doctors plan to pack up and leave for greener pastures to avoid government's new measures that bar them from charging cash upfront. The situation has been compounded by the prolonged impasse between the doctors and the medical aid societies over the level of fees charged by medical practitioners. A new instrument gazetted by government this week bars doctors from demanding cash upfront from patients. The regulations, promulgated without consultation with the Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima), a body representing general and specialist practitioners, requires doctors to attend to any patient who produces a valid medical aid society card. The measures also cover patients not on medical aid schemes. Doctors say using medical aid as a guarantee for health services will transfer the risk of non-paid fees to individual doctors instead of the societies whose business hinges on risk. A doctor who has been in private practice for 13 years says the envisaged new rules will force many doctors to leave the country. "The instrument forces us to admit each and every society member without an assurance that the responsible medical aid society will pay for that service," he said. "Doctors bear the risk when the societies write back saying the patient treated some three months ago was no long their member," he said. "There is no reason to run a private surgery if I am exposed to such a risk. I might as well close shop and go to a more friendly country than Zimbabwe." He said through this instrument government was in fact colluding with the National Association of Medical Aid Societies (Namas) to exploit doctors. If doctors pack up and go as a result of the latest move it will simply compound an existing trend. Unconfirmed reports show that 75% of general practitioners and specialists based in Bulawayo have left the country in the last two years. The figures also reveal that about 40% of surgeries in Harare have closed shop. A survey carried out by the Zimbabwe Independent reveals that most specialist doctors in Zimbabwe now require patients to pay cash upfront. Some have done so for as long as 25 years. Doctors have also accused government of imposing regulations without consultation with representative organisations. At the core of the crisis is the fact that medical aid societies decide the fees to be charged by the doctors for their services. Over the past seven years the government has allowed the societies to determine what a doctor should be paid for his services. "This is contrary to business logic. The provider of a service should decide his fees," said a leading specialist physician. "They (societies) are making billions while we struggle to survive. If this continues I have no choice but to leave the country." Zima had proposed a $46 500 fee for consultations with general practitioners, which Namas described as exorbitant. Namas wants to set a fee of $32 000 leading to the current impasse. Sources in the health sector said Health minister Dr David Parirenyatwa held a meeting with doctors last Friday to find a solution to their problems. He said he would listen to doctors' concerns. Another meeting had been pencilled in for this week. Zima secretary-general Dr Paul Chimedza refused to comment saying it would affect ongoing negotiations. "I cannot comment. We are still at the table talking," said Chimedza. Namas was still considering questions sent to them at the time of going to press.

Mengistu in Zimbabwe as trial resumes (Swazi Observer, 26/2/2004)- Former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam remains in Zimbabwe as his genocide trial in absentia resumed back home on Tuesday, government officials and diplomats said. "We know for sure he is still living in Zimbabwe," an official at the Ethiopian embassy here told AFP in a telephone interview. "But we are not sure where in Zimbabwe." Mengistu, a former ally of President Robert Mugabe, was given asylum in Zimbabwe when he fled his country ahead of a rebel advance in May 1991. Zimbabwe said it granted Mengistu asylum on "humanitarian grounds" and put him up in a tightly guarded luxury government villa in Harare's upmarket Gunhill suburb. Along with 65 other officials, 21 of whom are also being tried in absentia, Mengistu is charged with genocide and other crimes in a trial that began in 1994. He stands accused of killing tens of thousands of people, including the murder of Emperor Haile Selassie, during the 1977-78 so-called "Red Terror" period which followed the emperor's ouster by a Marxist junta in 1974. The Ethiopian embassy official said his government had been trying without success to have Mengistu extradited to Ethiopia to face trial. "We have been pursuing it for a long time because the people of Ethiopia want him back home to face trial. We strongly look for him and we will be very happy if he is returned to Ethiopia," he said. "But as to Zimbabwe's position, you are better off speaking to them," he added. Asked about Mengistu's status amid speculation that he had been granted a Zimbabwean passport, the Zimbabwean foreign ministry said: "The former Ethiopian leader is in Zimbabwe after being granted political asylum in accordance with the UN Convention on Refugees. "The Convention stipulates that any refugee is entitled to a travel document, e.g a laisser passer issued by the United Nations or a travel document issued by the host government. This is done to ensure protection of the refugee," said Pavelyn Tendai Musaka, foreign affairs spokeswoman.

Police round up 200 street people (The Herald Online, 21/2/2004)- POLICE in Harare this week rounded up street people and arrested more than 200, among them 36 illegal immigrants who are to be deported, as city authorities embark on a clean-up campaign to bring back the capital*s image as "The Sunshine City".Of those rounded up under a police campaign code-named Operation Snow, street kids below 16 were taken to children*s homes while others were taken to farms.However, some were back in the streets by yesterday evening. They alleged that they had been dumped in a bushy area near Shamva and had to walk back to Harare.But Officer Commanding Harare district Chief Superintendent Silence Pondo said they had been taken to farming areas not to bushy areas."We have arrested some of them near Eastgate today and we are going to send them back to the farms," he said.The operation to rid Harare of street families was launched last Friday due to an increase in crime and police are working with the municipal police, the Department of Social Welfare and immigration officers in a bid to bring sanity in the central business district.The face of Harare had changed drastically over the past few years owing to the increasing number of street people who had turned the citys streets into homes.Chief Supt Pondo said street kids below the age of 16 were sent to children*s homes by the Department of Social Welfare.He said those above 16 were vetted to check whether they had not committed crimes.Seven street kids were arrested during the verification process. Of the seven, three were arrested for rape, three for theft from motor vehicles and the seventh for plain robbery.Among the street kids who were arrested for rape, a source from the police force said, one had a sexually transmitted disease.Chief Supt Pondo said police were still carrying out the process and those without any criminal record would be sent to the farms."We have our officers from the Criminal Investigations Department who are carrying out the screening process," he said. He said immigration officers were helping in deporting some illegal immigrants who were now living in the city"All those with a criminal record would be detained and appear in court and those who are not citizens of this country and do not have proper documentation would be taken back to their country of origin," said Chief Supt Pondo.He said the operation was an ongoing process and police would maintain the clampdown until the city is clean.At least 36 illegal immigrants were rounded up during the operation and would be deported by immigration authorities.Out of these, 15 are from Mozambique, six are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and an undisclosed number are from Malawi and Zambia.Police have identified the Mozambicans as Sam Dhliwayo, Brighton Sigauke, Mathew Moyana, Philip Sithole, Thomas Moyana, Rutendo Nyapumbo, Fatima Fichi, Margret Batani, Anita Ruwizhi, Henry Kembo, Caleb Mbofana, Titos Moyana, Joseph Mhlanga, Simon Sithole and Tito Mathew.The five from DRC were identified as Lombe Ngoti, Gaston Mawanga, Bill Malonda, Justin David, Simon and Johanne Nyaunda.They are still detained at Harare Central Police Station awaiting deportation under the Immigration Act. The Harare City Council has blamed the street people and vendors for messing up the city and making some streets and sanitary lanes impassable.Residents and shoppers, especially women of all ages, were no longer comfortable walking the streets of Harare particularly during the night due to an increase in criminal activities perpetrated by these people. Most street kids had developed a habit of harassing people, taking their food and groceries by force while cases of women being gang raped by these vagrants were on the increase. Early this month, a 38-year-old woman was gang raped by five street kids at the intersection of Leopold Takawira Street and Samora Machel Avenue.Some of them were allegedly conniving with criminals, snatching necklaces and mobile phones among other valuable items, during the day. The city council*s public relations manager, Mr Lesley Gwindi said it was high time vendors were removed from undesignated areas. "Council is unrelenting in efforts to clean up the city. Vendors have become an eyesore while street kids on the other hand have become a menace, stealing and raping women," he said. "This is just the tip of the iceberg since it is an on-going process." Mr Gwindi recently said people should not give money or other things to street kids and street people as this would encourage them to remain on the streets.The vendors, rank marshals and touts who were arrested paid fines ranging between $5 000 and $25 000.Harare Central Social Welfare officer Mrs Edna Saruchera said their main concern was to rehabilitate some of the street children and bring them back to society. "They had engaged themselves in drug abuse and criminal activities. We are only doing it for their own safety," she said. She said they would send them to children*s homes that are situated countrywide."I don*t think they will be able to come back to the streets again as all the places have good security," she said.

Illegal sugar exports decline (The Zimbabwe Independent, 20/2/2004)- THE sugar price increase awarded recently has seen a marked reduction in illegal exports, says Zimbabwe Sugar Refineries Corporation Ltd (ZSR) chief executive officer Patison Sithole. Sithole told businessdigest in an interview that the new Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) foreign currency auction system had also "drastically changed" the company's operations. Unscrupulous individuals including top business executives have been buying sugar from wholesalers at the official price in bulk and then later reselling it on the parallel market at exorbitant prices. The racket also included sugar exports to neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique where the commodity is scarce or expensive."We have seen a marked reduction in illegal exports of sugar following an increase in the price of sugar on the domestic market in January," Sithole said. "The new auction rate of exchange has also made such exports unviable." While the Zimbabwe dollar was officially pegged at $824 against the United States dollar it was going for as much as $7 000 on the parallel market, making it lucrative for those selling sugar in foreign currency beyond the country's borders. The auction rate is currently swaying between $3 600 and $3 900 at the RBZ. Sithole said ZSR was currently exporting to Botswana and Namibia - its traditional markets. "Our annual sales are Namibia, 15 000 tonnes and Botswana, 18 000 tonnes," he said. The chief executive said while it was still too early to assess the impact of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's new Monetary Policy Statement on business his company had witnessed some reduction in the cost of imported raw materials in their tyre business and engineering firm. He said problems being faced in the sugar business related to recent cost increases."The National Railways of Zimbabwe increased their rates in January by 150% in respect of raw sugar movement and 100% in respect of coal," Sithole said. "In addition, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority advised us of increases in excess of 400%. Due to prevailing market conditions our company has had to absorb these increases."He said in terms of sugar stocks, there had been a marked improvement in local stocks."Our suppliers of raw sugar have also assured us of adequate stocks for the foreseeable future," Sithole told businessdigest.

Cross border traders to lobby governments on law (The Herald Online, 18/2/2004)- CROSS-BORDER traders from the Southern Africa Development Community have pledged to take concrete steps in lobbying regional governments to put in place trade policies and harmonised laws regulating their operations. Delegates from member countries made this pledge at a workshop on sustainable livelihoods and economic development through trade held in Harare last week. The workshop was organised by Zimbabwe Environmental Regional Organisation (Zero) regional environment organisation and the Corn (Community Organisation Network) regional secretariat, in partnership with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the Zimbabwe Cross-border Traders Association. The purpose of the workshop was to conduct a dialogue session discussing issues around regional integration, informal trade and sustainable livelihoods. Organisers hoped to raise awareness on regional issues which impact negatively on the ability of informal traders to sustain a living from trade and explore interventions to circumvent the problems, with an ultimate aim of providing an enabling trade environment for the sector. The workshop provided a platform for exchange of experiences and intervention strategies amongst Sadc countries involved in informal trade. Delegates were also presented with the opportunity to look at barriers to free trade and create a plan for long-term campaign, which will demand a more conducive trade environment for small traders in the region. A list of common problems relating to cross-border trade and an identity of common issues and opportunities emerged during deliberations. A menu to lobby for affected stakeholders was agreed upon, with multi-sectoral programme teams of action, whose efforts would be co-ordinated by Corn, to be formed in each country. Speaking at the workshop, a representative from AFSC, Nachilala Nkombo, said that experience in Zambia had shown that lobbying at government level was more effective than lobbying through regional bodies. "Pressure that can be exerted at national level by lobby groups has tended to be more effective than at regional level," she said. The director of Zero, Dorothy Manuel, said the workshop was a success. "There is going to be continuity. We are going in the right direction in terms of initiating dialogue between stakeholders. Networking in itself is a success," she said. She said that her organisation’s role was to act as facilitators and she also applauded her organisation’s partnership with AFSC in the whole exercise. Zero engaged AFSC representative Brenda Mofya around issues of development specifically informal trade as a positive form of poverty eradication. Mr William Antonio Mulhovo, lobby and advocacy officer for Oram (Rural Association for Mutual Support) in Mozambique said he would urge cross-border traders back home to explore the parameters of setting up partnerships in the region.

Reduction in illegal cross-border trade (Mutare, 14/2/2004)- "One man's meat is another's poison," can probably best describe the predicament currently being faced by illegal cross-border traders and foreign currency dealers as the local currency firms against major currencies. Most affected are those from Manicaland province who frequented Mozambique, smuggling essential commodities and obtaining from that country foreign currency for sale on the black market in Zimbabwe. They made giant killings as the local currency continued to weaken against the major currency, but since the upturn began in December, the forex dealers are now singing the blues. The thriving smuggling and forex dealing business had even lured businesspeople and the formally employed, who opted out of their jobs. The smugglers usually played hide-and-seek games with law enforcement agents manning the border. In some cases, they reportedly colluded with law enforcement agents whose hands were heavily greased, making them forget their poor salaries. Both the police and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officials in Mutare have confirmed a sharp decline in smuggling and other illegal activities. The reported decline in the volume of illicit trade has also been linked to the firming of the local dollar. Since the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe got a new governor, Gideon Gono, in December last year, his monetary policy has played a vital role in strengthening the dollar, particularly through the controlled auction system where the greenback is sold, thereby increasing forex reserves. "There used to be large influxes of people from both countries (Zimbabwe and Mozambique) with large quantities of goods mostly from Zimbabwe but that has significantly declined. "The situation has changed following the central bank's new monetary policy," said an immigration officer at the Forbes border post. Manicaland police spokesman Inspector Edmund Maingire echoed the immigration officer's sentiments. "We used to have hectic times controlling the border (as people illegally smuggled goods and forex). Some people even risked their lives, using land mine-infested illegal entry points between the two countries. The situation has since improved although we may still have a few through numerous illegal entry points that mushroomed along the border with Mozambique were sugar, fresh milk, beef, eggs, bathing and washing soaps, maize meal and agricultural inputs. Nearly all the cross-border traders and forex dealers said life had turned gloomy for them due to the present economic scenario. "Life has turned nasty for us. Although some of my colleagues may be shy to admit it, life is no longer as it was when the dollar was strong. "The weakening of the local currency against major currencies in the past year was a blessing in disguise because we made fortunes at the expense of the suffering majority," said Thembinkosi Makuyana of Chikanga. His sentiments were echoed by another resident, Tildah Chishava who said several people had since stopped crossing to Mozambique as it was no longer profitable to either sell or order goods from there. "We had for long survived on selling wares in neighbouring Mozambique. We also bought a few goods there for resale back home and brought foreign currency for sale on the black market. This is no longer profitable because of the local currency's firming against major currencies," said Chishava. Some Mozambicans interviewed at the Forbes border post admitted that Zimbabwean goods had become scarce in their country. "There are now very few Zimbabwean commodities found on the market in Manica, Chimoio and Beira. We are now facing problems in accessing some Zimbabwean goods. The few that we are getting there have become so expensive that very few can afford them," said Joseph Rumaro of Manica.

Zimbabwe hunts for hard currency (The Associated Press, 13/2/2004)- More than 3.4 million Zimbabweans - nearly one fourth of the population - are living abroad, many of them having fled violent state repression and the nation's deepening economic crisis. The figures were compiled by a central bank advisory board formed to explore ways of getting "Zimbabweans in the Diaspora" to send hard currency home, board member Erich Bloch said Friday. Many Zimbabweans support the families they left behind but usually send money through black market currency dealers who payout in local currency and keep the hard cash offshore. Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono in December said he was launching a program to try to channel that hard currency through state coffers. Bloch said the advisory board found there were 1.1 million Zimbabweans working in Britain, the former colonial power. Of those, some 800,000 were illegal immigrants. More than 1.2 million were working in neighboring South Africa and at least 100,000 were in Australia.  The rest were in Canada and scattered throughout Europe, the United States, southern Africa and other parts of the world. Bloch, an independent economist and deputy president of the Zimbabwe Institute of Chartered Accountants, heads the drive to persuade Zimbabweans to repatriate their money legally. He said it was estimated up to US$400 million could be paid annually into the central bank for onward payment in local currency to families in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe, suffering its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980, is facing acute hard currency shortages.  Bloch said a range of incentives for Zimbabweans abroad was being considered. "The exchange rate will have to be close to what they are getting through other channels. They have to be satisfied there is no risk as there would be in the illegal market and that their families will be very promptly paid," he said. Assurances were also needed that there would be no double taxation and illegal immigrants would be guaranteed confidentiality. "We will also have to see whether we have some form of amnesty" for Zimbabweans who have accumulated hard currency reserves abroad in breach of the nation's exchange control laws, Bloch said. Provisional results of a national census last year put the country's population at 11.5 million but acknowledged large numbers left the country, many to seek jobs, and others may not have been counted. Zimbabwe's population is generally accepted to be as many as 1 million people may not have been counted after disruptions in the economy and the seizure forced them to move from their traditional homes. About 300,000 farm workers and their family members during the land seizure program. The official results of the census are to be released later this year. As well as shortages of hard currency, Zimbabwe is facing acute shortages of food, gasoline, medicine and other essential imports.  In black market trading, scarce commodities sell at more than five  times the usual price.  The US dollar buys about 4,200 Zimbabwe dollars on the black market. The official exchange rate is fixed at 824-1. A currency auction system introduced by the central bank  last month has set a second official rate based on average bids. Bids at Thursday's auction averaged 3,900-1 - up from 3,500-1 on Monday- while black market rates were also beginning to climb, dealers said.

Nurses duped in Mozambique( Herald on Line, 10/2/2004)- SIXTY-ONE Masvingo nurses were left stranded in Mozambique after they were swindled of over $10 million by a trickster who lied to them that he would facilitate employment for them in Maputo. Some of the nurses who had gone with their children and domestic workers are said to have broken down and cried after discovering they had been tricked.It was not clear where exactly the nurses were employed in Masvingo, but one of the nurses said she had taken off days to survey what seemed to be a greener pasture.The nurse said she and others had paid $200 000 each two weeks ago after she learnt from other nurses that there was an employment agency looking for nurses to work in Maputo.She said the agent, whom they only knew as Makaure, had said he had been tasked by a certain hospital and the Health Ministry of Mozambique to look for nurses who would be paid in United States dollars."We were told that $50 000 was for the visa while the other $150 000 was for processing the applications and for stationery," the nurse said.On February 1, the nurses boarded a hired bus to Maputo."When we arrived in Rutenga, Makaure addressed us and said he was getting off the bus to wait for his grandmother from a nearby village who wanted to be left with some relatives in Maputo," she said.She said Makaure also said he wanted to sort out other administration issues in Rutenga and referred them to a certain Mr Vasili who he said owned lodges where they would temporarily stay."He said the hospital had already paid for our stay there so we proceeded with the journey without him."She said when they arrived at Mr Vasili's residence they were shocked by the state of the house which was dilapidated and did not appear like a lodge."We had problems communicating with him since he spoke Portuguese but we later managed to understand that he had never made any arrangements with Makaure."The nurse said they all proceeded to the country's health ministry where they were told they never requested for any nurses from Zimbabwe."The hospital Makaure had mentioned was also non existent."The nurses spent three days in Mozambique staying on the streets and scrounging for water to drink."We had a tough time, it was unbearable. We only managed to board a train back home last Thursday and the conditions in the train were equally bad," she said.Efforts to contact Mr Makaure and the bus company for comment were futile.Nurses went on strike two months ago demanding for a salary increase.The Government awarded them and other civil servants a 250 percent pay rise.

The forgotten foreign farm workers (Mail&Guardian, 9/2/2004)- Mathew Gondo was made homeless at the height of Zimbabwe's chaotic land-reform programme, which began in 2000. He was a foreman at Tate's Farm, about 120km north of the capital, Harare.His employer fled following the violent farm invasions by pro-government war veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation struggle. Gondo says he has decided to stay put on the farm since he has nowhere to go."My parents worked at this farm for the whole of their lives. My father came from Mozambique as a teenager. He married my mother here and I was born here. There is nowhere I can call home besides this place," said Gondo, who was born on the farm 50 years ago.Like Gondo, many of the former farm workers have foreign backgrounds. Some came from Zambia and Malawi. And most of them cannot return to their countries of origin, given the huge transport fares and settlement expenses involved. Others, who are second generation in Zimbabwe, have lost contacts with their relatives, if they have any, in their countries of origin.Winnet Banda, a widow, is also holed up at her former employer's farm. She hopes one day, David Smith, her former employer, will come back. Banda lost her husband four years ago."Mr Smith was a good man ... a very good man, indeed. He used to give us food every month-end. Now things are bad. I will die here because I have nowhere to go. My hopes are now on the elections. Maybe after the next election Mr Smith will be allowed to come back."Zimbabwe's controversial land-reform programme has not spared children either. Their parents, who are already financially crippled, cannot afford their school fees. Some of the children have vision and dreams. One of them, Tinashe (12), who is showing signs of malnutrition, says when he grows up he wants to become a medical doctor so that he can look after his mother.The former farm workers get some help from the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ), an NGO in Harare. The group's spokesperson says the new settlers, who have been allocated land by government, are increasingly becoming impatient with the farm workers' continued presence on their property. They are now threatening them with eviction.About 200 000 former farm workers, with their estimated one million dependants, spend most of their time searching for work or food. About 94% of Zimbabwe's commercial farmers were issued with eviction notices.FCTZ's Takaitei Bote says her organisation provides food to the farm workers."We have moved in as an organisation to respond because they [farm workers] have become very vulnerable. We've had to move in with a general feeding as well as a supplementary feeding programme."The general feeding programme is targeting 100 000 farm workers with rations of mealie meal [maize flour], cooking oil and dry beans. With the children aged between six months to 12 years we are running a supplementary programme at pre-schools and primary schools as a way to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the farm worker households."They need all the assistance that can be made available to them because they are in such a difficult situation," Bote said.To make ends meet, some of the former farm workers in Mashonaland Central Province, about 120km north of Harare, have started panning alluvial gold along Mpfurudzi River.Some of them are unaware of the effects of their panning, which include erosion and possible siltation of the river. Some panners say they have no choice as they have no other means of survival. Josephine Zulu says she has 11 children whose father died of Aids last year. They live in a temporary shelter along the Mupfurudzi River, with three children, who have also begun panning."We're panning because we want to survive. If we cannot pan gold then we will die of hunger. When war vets took our farm, I could not find any job. I have to look after all these children and the children have also to help me to pan gold," says Zulu. Some displaced former farm workers and their families live around Harare. Though born in Zimbabwe, they are not regarded as citizens and should, according to President Robert Mugabe, go back to where they came from.About 30% of the 2 900 white farmers issued with eviction notices have left the country to explore farming opportunities in Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda, Botswana, New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

Mozambican Traders allege harassment at Border (Irin, 9/2/2004)- Attempts by the Zimbabwean authorities to stamp out smuggling across its eastern border with Mozambique have resulted in increased friction with Mozambican traders, who accuse immigration officials of harassment. Mozambican cross-border traders, mostly women, at the Forbes border post told IRIN that they were excessively searched and allegedly sometimes beaten by the Zimbabwean police. A Mozambican trader, Maria Duncas, told IRIN: "The Zimbabwe police and the soldiers are cruel. They ask us to remove our clothes when searching us ... most of the time the body search is done by men. We complained to the governor of Manicaland province, but the soldiers are not changing their behaviour." The traders have threatened to march from the Forbes border post to Mutare - about 30 km away - to protest to Zimbabwean officials over the alleged mistreatment. Last year the Mozambique government launched an inquiry into claims that a Zimbabwean soldier had shot and killed a trader returning to Mozambique from Zimbabwe. At the time, the governor of Mozambique's western Chimoio Province, Dario Jane, said his government had contacted Zimbabwean officials to verify the killing, and allegations of abuse of Mozambican civilians by Zimbabwean border officials. The acting director of public relations for the army, Sipho Masuku, confirmed this week that a Zimbabwean soldier had accidentally shot a Mozambican national near Nyamapanda border post in December. Masuku said when the incident happened, the trader was attempting to cross the border from Zimbabwe into Mozambique with a group of people while carrying illegal goods. "They were found in the bush and ordered to stop, but they started running away. That is when one of our guards accidentally discharged his firearm and shot him." Price controls imposed by Zimbabwe on basic foods, such as cooking oil, salt and other products, have made it a cheap alternative for Mozambicans. Traders try and smuggle the goods illegally across the border to avoid customs controls, which the Zimbabwean authorities say is fuelling shortages for local consumers. The scale of the smuggling has reportedly led to sales of more expensive Mozambican-produced sugar dropping significantly. Zimbabwean soldiers were deployed to help customs officials control the border crossing points. In a joint operation between the two countries, several illegal traders were arrested, Masuku said. IRIN was told that some smugglers were caught and taken to Grand-Reef Infantry battalion, about 20 km from the Zimbabwean border city of Mutare, for corporal punishment before being asked to pay about Zim $30,000 (US $10) in fines. Zimbabwean officials have also accused Mozambican traders of hoarding Zimbabwean currency. At the height of Zimbabwe's cash crisis last year, a high-powered delegation of Zimbabwean businessmen traveled to Manica, a Mozambican town about 30 km from the border, to reportedly locate local currency rumoured to be in circulation in the neighbouring country.

South Africa deports Zimbabweans ahead of Elections (Zimbabwe Standard, 9/2/2004)- The South African government has thrown out hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans working in that country illegally as Pretoria prepares for general elections within the next three months, it emerged yesterday. Several Zimbabweans, many of them from Bulawayo, told The Standard that South African government officials and police had rounded them up and expelled those found without proper identification documents. Other illegal Zimbabweans have fled their homes and jobs down south fearing that the police crackdown would net them. "We have been told that Zimbabweans have a serious negative influence on South Africans by teaching the locals how to unleash violence, farm invasions as well as general lawlessness,"said one Zimbabwean, who escaped from the South African police dragnet. "As you can see, our Kombi is fully-packed with Zimbabweans returning from South Africa and they are all Bulawayo residents. We are returning home until such a time they finish voting,"said another, Mandla Mguni. The deputy secretary in Zimbabwe"s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pavelyn Tendai Musaka, confirmed receiving numerous reports about Zimbabweans being pushed out of South Africa. She said Zimbabwe and South Africa were holding discussions at government level to bring to an end such problems.

Situation at Passport office remains unchanged (The Herald, Harare, 7/2/2004)- THE situation at the passport office has remained unchanged almost a week after the increase in passport fees which was effected last Sunday. A visit to the offices revealed that queues were still the order of the day as people continued to apply for the travel document in spite of the fee increase of 200 percent. An official at the passport offices said that most of the applications that were being made were for ordinary passports as opposed to emergency passports. "The queue that you see outside is for applicants for ordinary and emergency passports because when you collect application forms you all join one queue. "It is only after you return the forms and you want to pay that you are separated," the official said. The official said there had been a slight decline in the applications for 24 hour passports. There were however people still coming through to process other emergency passports that take longer periods to process. "The issue here is that some people are not concerned about the new fees as long as they get their documents. "We also have those people who failed to apply for emergency passports before the month-long period when we suspended the processing of such documents now coming through," the official said. The increments saw the fees for adults applying for ordinary passports rising from $5 000 to $30 000 while that for a child under 12 years now costs $15 000, up from $2 500. An adult's executive passport processed within 24 hours, now costs $350 000 up from $110 000 and a child's 24-hour passport now incurs a cost of $175 000 up from $40 000. An application for an emergency travel document, which used to attract a fee of $2 000, now costs $50 000. The fees for an urgent passport processed within three working days has been pegged at $300 000 up from $80 000 for an adult and $150 000 up from $30 000 for children under 12 years. An adult and a child below 12 years of age, who are prepared to wait for a week in order to be issued with travel documents will have to fork out $225 000 and $100 000 respectively up from $60 000 and $20 000 respectively. For passports to be processed within 14 days, it would now cost $110 000 for adults and $55 000 for the under 12 year olds. The cost of processing a passport during the same time frame was previously $40 000 and $10 000 for adults and children respectively. Penalties charged on people who lose their passports have been increased from $5 000 to $50 000, while those with defaced travel documents will now have to pay $50 000 up from $10 000. Those who would want to have their children's names added to their passports now have to pay $5 000 up from $2 000, while people who would want to extend the period for the use of their passports and endorsement have to pay $5 000 up from $2 500.

The plight of Ex-commercial Farm workers (Irin, Harare, 6/2/2004)- Almost four years after the government of Zimbabwe adopted the fast-track land redistribution programme, thousands of ex-commercial farm workers find themselves displaced and without employment. In 2000 the government embarked on the controversial initiative that drove thousands of white farmers off their estates, saying it intended to resettle land-hungry black Zimbabweans. More than 300,000 farm workers who had been employed by the former commercial farmers were also displaced in the process. The Farm Community Trust (FCT), an NGO seeking to promote the welfare of farm workers, bemoans the impact of the fast-track programme on the lives of former commercial farm workers. "The fast-track land reform programme created a class of Zimbabwean citizens whose lives resemble that of refugees. First, they were displaced from the only homes they had known for whole generations, and what is now emerging is that the former farm workers are finding it difficult to regain stable employment," FCT director Godfrey Magaramombe told IRIN. He said the problem was pronounced in the provinces of Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central, where the former farm workers were still found in large numbers. The three provinces boast good soils and thus had a high concentration of commercial farms. A presidential land review of the fast-track programme found that less than one percent of former farm workers had been resettled as part of the programme. The majority migrated to urban settlements or their rural communal areas, turned to gold panning or remained in the area, offering their labour to the new farmers. IRIN visited some of the farms in the Chinhoyi area, 140 km northwest of the capital, Harare, and found that former farm workers had set up squatter settlements, mostly on the outskirts of farms that used to be home, but were now allocated to new settlers, particularly in the commercial A2 model schemes. Living conditions and sanitation facilities were poor. The occupants lived in pole-and-mud huts and used improvised pit latrines or went into the bush. Very few of them had plots to cultivate because the new farmers did not provide them with land. They lacked basic health and education facilities, and children roamed the settlements because many of their parents could not afford school fees. "In the Mashonaland provinces, in particular, the farm workers have in certain cases moved from their original farms, but have tended to confine themselves in the same districts as where they used to work," Magaramombe said. Fifty-five year old Silent Bhauleni, a Zimbabwean of Malawian origin living on one of the new farms, told IRIN that providing for his family had been difficult since he lost his job on a commercial farm that was reallocated. "We have problems with the black farmers. They expect us to provide them with labour on their farms for free, or very little money. Most of the time they complain that they do not have money to pay us, saying they are just starting to farm. As a result, they prefer to engage us as contract workers, allowing us to stay on their farms in return," Bhauleni said. "This means that we have to depend on the money that we get from the piece jobs we do for them in order to survive, but that is not enough. [So] we move from one farm to the other, doing contract work, and we can do that on several farms a day and receive our money immediately after the stints," he explained. He said those who refused to do contract work were often chased away by the new farmers, some of whom viewed the displaced farm workers as enemies, since they were generally perceived to have been on the side of white farmers, who had resisted land reform. Bhauleni admitted that some of the former farm labourers were engaging in illegal activities such as gold panning, gambling and prostitution, in their quest to make ends meet. "In most cases, the black farmers come with their own labour force, and the new farm workers are usually relatives or people who come from the new farmers' [home areas]," added Bhauleni. Magaramombe said while the new farmers were offering Zim $38,000 (about US $10.63 at auction rates) per month for a regularly employed farm worker, some white farmers had been paying Zim $90,000 (about US $25.18). An official with the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), speaking on condition of anonymity, accused the new farmers of exploitative practices. "These new farmers are engaging in unfair labour practices, taking advantage of the hopeless situation the farm workers are in. They should give them full-time employment when they decided to keep them on their farms, and pay them in accordance with the labour regulations of the country." He added: "Granted, most of the farm workers are stranded because they do not have anywhere to go, but by keeping them on the farms, the new farmers are virtually accepting them as their employees, yet they are not treating them like that." But one of the new farmers, Cyprian Chauke, said the former farm workers were refusing to be employed by the new farmers. "They are reluctant to work for us, saying we pay them too little. However, that is not fair because we offer them the stipulated minimum wage of Zim $38,000. Even then, it should be borne in mind that we cannot afford to give them what is beyond the minimum rate because, as new farmers, we still have a lot to do to build our own capital bases." Chauke added that the farm workers were refusing to work because they were receiving food handouts from the FCT, and charged that some of them were resorting to stealing produce from surrounding plots. Magaramombe acknowledged that his organisation was assisting about 100,000 farm workers in selected districts with food, but dismissed the allegation that this was why they were refusing to be employed on a full-time basis. "It does not follow that because we are assisting the farm workers with food, they are using that as a reason not to seek full-time employment with the new farmers," Magaramombe said. "There are many areas, for instance Mount Darwin in Mashonaland Central, where hundreds of the farm workers do not want to be taken on as regular employees, but we do not provide food to those people."

Zimbabwe keep ban on foreign journalists (SABC News, 6/2/2004)- Zimbabwe hailed a supreme court ruling upholding its restrictive media law and vowed today it would not relax measures preventing foreign journalists from residing permanently in the country. Jonathan Moyo, the information minister, said a British inquiry's criticism of the BBC in a row with Tony Blair, the prime minister, over Iraq had vindicated its banning of the broadcaster. "We have no apology to make," Moyo told reporters."We do not want to flood our country with foreign media representatives when we have a flood of Zimbabwean journalists with no jobs." He said foreign journalists could still make short reporting trips to the country after a stringent accreditation procedure. Zimbabwe's highest court yesterday endorsed legislation tightening government control over the media, ruling the laws do not violate free speech. Media groups condemned the ruling, calling the laws an "unnecessary evil" in a country calling itself a democracy.President Robert Mugabe introduced the laws after his controversial re-election in March 2002, a move critics say was aimed at silencing opponents as the southern African country struggles with a deep political and economic crisis. Dozens of journalists have already been prosecuted under the act. It has also been cited in police attempts to close down the Daily News, Zimbabwe's largest privately owned daily newspaper and a strong critic of Mugabe's government."I am delighted about the decision of the Supreme Court," Moyo said. He said the government was forced to act after realising that Western powers wanted to use the foreign media in "their campaign for unconstitutional regime change" in Zimbabwe. "It will take a stupid and irresponsible government not to do something against such a move," he said.Moyo said Zimbabwe had been vindicated in banning the BBC by last month's indictment of the public broadcaster in a report into the suicide of a British weapons expert identified as the source of a BBC report that said Blair's government deliberately exaggerated Iraq's weapons capability to justify going to war.The BBC apologised to Blair after the release of the Hutton report. "These guys are no good. Look what they did to Blair," Moyo said. "But at least they apologised to him. We asked for a similar apology but they refused." Zimbabwe banned the BBC after June 2000 parliamentary elections, alleging biased reporting. The BBC denied the charge.

Zimbwabwe man in asylum ordeal (The Star, 6/2/2004)- For almost six months, Michari Moyo has been a man with no country. Political violence has driven him out of Zimbabwe, the land of his birth. His own passport barred him from Britain, where he has family. A fraudulently obtained South African passport he used to get to London landed him in the Lindela repatriation centre on the West Rand. He doesn't want to go back to Zimbabwe. He was deported from Britain, and South Africa doesn't want him either. His case has confirmed a suspicion long harboured that Zimbabwean refugees flee to London using South African passports. Diplomats say they fear that if the problem increases, Britain might introduce visas for South Africans. However, the London High Court has ordered the Home Office (ministry of the interior) to do all it can to return Moyo to Britain, and last night he was on a flight back to London. Maxwell Zimuto, an information officer for Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said the Zvishavane district, from which Moyo hails, has been one of the areas worst affected by political violence. He said MDC councillor Simon Dick had only this week fled his ward after his house was burnt down by Zanu PF supporters. "I can tell you that we have seen some of the most horrific episodes of political violence here," said Zimuto, describing Zvishavane and surrounding areas as the "home of the green bombers" - members of President Robert Mugabe's youth militia.Last year, Moyo says, the political climate in Zimbabwe forced him to flee his country. On August 26 he arrived at Heathrow Airport using a South African passport, as he could not enter with his Zimbabwe passport be-cause he did not have a visa. He immediately claimed asylum but, as his travel documents said he was South African, he remained there in limbo for four months until British immigration officials sent him back to South Africa under escort. Moyo was handed over to the South African authorities and charged with having unlawfully obtained a passport. He was held at the Kempton Park police station for four days before being transferred to the Lindela repatriation centre, where he was until last night, awaiting removal to Zimbabwe. Hours before repatriation, his family, who were already in London, brought an urgent court application to force the Home Office to help him. A judge agreed. Nick Sheppard, spokesperson for the British high commission in Pretoria, explained that there was a general moratorium in place in Britain against deporting illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe. The blanket order stipulated they should be allowed to stay in Britain until they had had the opportunity to apply for asylum. But, he said, Moyo had arrived in Britain on a South African passport under a different name - Molepe. When British immigration authorities contacted South African authorities to check this, they confirmed that Molepe had been issued a passport properly and was therefore a South African. "On that basis, he was returned to South Africa, since we do not grant political asylum to South Africans," Sheppard said. It was discovered only later that his passport should not have been issued because he was Zimbabwean. Official sources said he probably got it by paying a corrupt Home Affairs official R4 000 - the going rate. Official sources said the British court order to send Moyo back to Britain could open the door to many more Zimbabweans. They said that every night "a good few" Zimbabweans with false South African travel documents were embarking on flights from Johannesburg to London. The British government charges airlines £2 000 (about R24 000) for every passenger they bring in who is not supposed to be in the UK, so it is not in their interests to let these people through, an official said.

Bogus asylum seekers in quandary (The Herald, Harare, 4/2/2004)- THOUSANDS of locals who sneaked into the United Kingdom as political asylum seekers have found themselves alienated from their families, as they can no longer return to invest or attend important family functions. Economic emigrants without any political significance masqueraded as political asylum seekers fleeing from victimisation and genocide. They secured residence in the UK under the "exceptional leave to remain" (ELR), which allowed them to stay in the country while their applications were being assessed. Following an upsurge in criticism against the Labour governments lenient immigration policies, which saw immigration doubling in six years, the British government disbanded ELR. This was replaced by the more stringent "humanitarian protection" policy, which effectively plugged the influx of bogus refugees and asylum seekers. In 2002 alone, more than 103 000 asylum seekers poured into Britain, with at least 70 000 being rejected and granted an asylum amnesty. Zimbabweans bunched themselves with bona fide refugees and asylum seekers from beleaguered countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia and secured permits to live and work in the UK. However, this has proved costly for most asylum seekers as they have found themselves marooned on the island and unable to return to Zimbabwe, even when there are genuinely compelling circumstances like the death of close relatives. Asylum seekers and refugees, under the UN Convention and Protocol relating to the status of refugees, cannot return to "frontiers where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion." The bogus asylum seekers who sneaked into the UK had claimed that they were being persecuted for their political opinions, therefore they stand to lose their status as asylum seekers once they set their foot in Zimbabwe. Asylum seekers are issued with passports and travel documents that allow them to travel to virtually any part of the world except for their country of origin by the contracting state. They are accorded the same benefits and treatment enjoyed by nationals of the country-giving asylum except voting. Zimbabwean asylum seekers have however sought counter-asylum from British emigration officials by sneaking back into the country through South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and other neighbouring countries. From there they either bribe immigration officials or brave the lions of Trans-Zambezi National Park to get back to Zimbabwe. . . the land of their alleged genocide and persecution, and see their families without being detected by British emigration officials. Most people have expressed concern at this apparently high level of alienation and identity crisis. "This kind of self denial is worrisome," said Mrs Gladys Mutero. "These people will not accept that they are Zimbabweans even when it is clear that they cannot do without coming back home," she said. The late Prof Canaan Bananas family, for instance, could not attend his burial in Umzingwane, Bulawayo late last year, with two of his children, Martin and Michael saying they feared losing their jobs. His wife, Janet was bound by her status as a political asylum seeker. Only one member of the Banana family, Nathan, managed to travel from the UK to attend his fathers funeral. Following charges of drug abuse in the UK, Former CAPS United goalkeeper, Ernest Chirambadare was faced with deportation and he claimed that he was an opposition MDC activist therefore he could not return to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean migrants rights grossly violated (The Herald, Harare, 3/2/2004)- THE treatment of Zimbabwean citizens and other people from the region who migrate legally and illegally to neighbouring countries mainly Botswana and South Africa is often catastrophic raising underlying questions about xenophobia. In most cases their human rights are systematically and grossly violated. The question of ill treatment and violent mal-practices on illegal migrants has taken on a new urgency in the wake of recent reports on the flogging of some 100 Zimbabweans who illegally entered Botswana. Reports are numerous and victims have in the past complained about the punishment meted out to them by the Batswana police and army is some cases. In this latest xenophobic case, a customary law court ordered 100 Zimbabweans to be given three lashes in public, a move that has been roundly condemned by human rights activists and many others as dehumanising and humiliating. "It is a gross human rights abuse, you cannot allow that to happen, lashing an adult cannot be expected this day and age," says human rights lawyer Mr Harrison Nkomo. This, critics say, is similar to the inhuman and barbaric system of slavery. There are even more gory tales. Last year in October three Zimbabweans died under mysterious circumstances after eating sadza laced with poison in Botswana. The three died in Tutume village, a few kilometres outside Francistown after eating the meal laced with rat poison. At the same time, the Botswana government buried 12 bodies of Zimbabweans after officials in that country said they could not identify their Zimbabwean relatives. Anti-Zimbabwean feelings are prevalent in Botswana and the hosts often hurl insults at them accusing them of crime and strangely for "spreading" Aids through prostitution, foot and mouth and for "stealing" jobs in their country. The Batswanas are quick on name-calling and tend to down-play the fact that there are many enterprising Zimbabweans who are involved in genuine cross-border trade - selling music and video tapes, artifacts, clothes and many other items to earn a living. Similarly, the Batswanas tap on the skilled labour from Zimbabwe to enhance their economic growth. Lack of mutual trust has fuelled up xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans. Zimbabweans cross the border legally or illegally into Botswana or South Africa in search of jobs and better living standards. Hundreds cross clandestinely on a daily basis and are often sent back in trains and trucks at regular intervals and literally treated like animals. Many cross the borders without taking into account what may happen to them there. Ill-treatment of Zimbabweans has even stung critics in diamond-rich Botswana. "You just have to go kgotla (chiefs meeting) meetings and see how they attack the Zimbabweans," Peter Tshukudu an official of the Botswana-based African Civil Society was quoted as saying. "The language used and the accusations thrown at our fellow Africans are so inhuman. "Batswana only feel that it is all right when the Zimbabweans work for them as cheap labour and it is not fair. "What is being done to Zimbabweans in this country is so inhuman that you can feel nothing but sheer pity," he said. He felt strongly that they were more sensitive and human ways of dealing with the growing problem of illegal immigrants than sheer force and violence. But this does not happen to Zimbabweans alone. Mozambicans, Malawians, Zambians, Congolese and in some cases West African nationals have in the past been caught in a similar web of intolerance mainly in South Africa. A common feature of repatriations of these nationals is that Mozambicans and Zimbabweans caught by the police are sent back home without being given the opportunity to collect property they would have accumulated over many years of hardworking because they are considered illegal immigrants. Some Mozambicans and Zimbabweans have lived in Botswana and South Africa for many years and are married and have families. They too, are confronted with the indifference and intolerance of the police and are often deported. According to the African Security Review most of the repatriated Mozambicans and Zimbabweans quite often returned to the countries of deportation and this gave rise to a vicious cycle with no predictable end in sight. Much public protest was made about the abuses and arrogance shown by members of the SA police in dealing with foreign nationals. But it was only when a videotape that showed brutal images of the use of illegal migrants in police dog training sessions that was broadcast around the world in 2000 that a wave of shock and repulsion swept through SA, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and many other countries. It emerged that the target for the training conducted by six white SA police officers in East Rand were three black Mozambicans. "The end of apartheid did not necessarily mean the end of ill-treatment of blacks in South Africa," a social analyst wrote in the African Security Review. In many cases, only a few incidents find their way on to the public stage. Numerous other cases go unreported and scores of illegal immigrants are ill-treated, abused, deprived of food and stay under squalid conditions in holding camps like the infamous Lindela in South Africa. There are mysterious disappearances in trains, rivers and mine shafts. "Communities that are in South Africa for work must be treated humanely, if they become involved in criminal cases, they must be subject to trial by competent and impartial courts," a social analyst says. He suggested that Zimbabwean and Mozambican authorities should be involved in the screening for repatriation of their nationals who entered South Africa and Botswana illegally. "South Africa and Botswana have registered positive economic growth from the exploitation of cheap labour from countries in the region," says a University of Zimbabwe analyst. "Without labour from Malawi, Zambia, Angola and Zimbabwe, South Africa wouldn't be what it is today." He suggested that stronger economies in the region should move to support weaker neighbours through relaxation of trade and labour regulations. "Most people in the region survive through cross-border trade and other menial jobs they get on part-time," he says. "Closing all avenues for trade and employment will not lead us anywhere. Look at what countries in the European Union are doing. We have to move towards that." Migration is both a complex issue for analysis and serious probe. According to the International Labour Organisation, it is difficult to give an accurate number of migrants for employment worldwide. But it estimates that migrants for employment accounted for 90 million people living legally and illegally in a country other than theirs. A study carried out by the United Nations in 218 countries showed that in 1965 there were 75 million people living outside their country of origin or both. The figure increased to 120 million people in 1990. In 1997 the figure was estimated to have hit 140 million. Botswana repatriates more than 2 500 Zimbabwean immigrants every month. The country is constructing a 480km electric fence which is aimed at controlling movement of cattle from Zimbabwe which it suspects spreads the foot-and-mouth disease. Critics in Zimbabwe charge that the neighbour was for strange reasons erecting a fence modelled along Israel's Gaza Strip fence to stop free movement of people from either side of the border. In the past Malawians and Zambians had also accused Zimbabweans of xenophobia but this has mellowed down over the years. Illegal migration has become a hot topic in the region and growing hatred and ignorance about the rights and realities of migrants has blighted human rights records for the region's two richest countries which flaunt about democracy. Analysts cite economic recession, poor investments, unemployment and search for better living standards as the major reason for migration. Until economies in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique improve Botswana and South Africa will have to contend with frustrations of having to deport someone today only for them to return back two or three days later.

Embassy ordered top investigate brutality cases in Botswana (Chronicle, 3/2/2004)-The Government has directed the country’s embassy in Botswana to investigate all cases involving the brutalisation and public lashing of Zimbabweans in Botswana, a senior official said yesterday. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Pavelyn Musaka, said following reports of the arrest and public flogging of hundreds of Zimbabweans in Botswana late last year, the Government was keen to establish the extent of rights abuses of its citizens. She said the Government had since sought legal advice regarding the operations of Botswana customary courts, which sentence illegal immigrants to public flogging. “Our ambassador has been instructed to investigate all these cases. He is actually on the ground as I speak. We want to find out what really happens to our people,” Mrs Musaka told Chronicle by telephone from Harare. Her comments came in the wake of reports that the Zimbabwean embassy in Botswana had lodged a formal complaint with the Government of Botswana over crude remarks made by a village tribal chief in Mahalapye while publicly lashing 22 Zimbabweans alleged to have illegally entered that country. Zimbabwe Ambassador to Botswana, Cde Phelekezela Mphoko, recently visited Mahalapye tribal administration offices and raised concern over comments made by the chief while lashing the alleged illegal immigrants. The chief reportedly told the Zimbabwean immigrants that he was “distributing Christmas presents” to them while he was caning them in a public arena in December last year. A statement released by the Botswana Press Agency and posted on the official website of the Government of Botswana yesterday said Cde Mphoko visited the kgotla in Mahalapye on 6 January and demanded an explanation. He inquired why the chief said he was distributing Christmas presents while he was lashing the Zimbabweans. Cde Mphoko is reported to have described the remarks as mischievous, crude and derogatory as they sought to demean the Zimbabweans. Botswana tribal chiefs, Kgosi Johannes Maherero and Kgosi Tshipe Tshipe told BOPA that although the ambassador was aware that corporal punishment was lawful in Botswana, he was not amused by what was said during the lashing. Kgosi Tshipe, who meted out the lashings and is alleged to have uttered the derogatory statements, said the Zimbabweans who were canned at Mahalapye kgotla towards the end of last year had crossed into Botswana illegally. He denied saying he was distributing Christmas presents to Zimbabweans. Mrs Musaka said the Government had since established that corporal punishment administered at customary courts was enshrined within the Botswana constitution. “Our lawyer has told us that it (caning) is within their constitution. Our people have an option of choosing between caning and prison,” she said. A total of 100 Zimbabweans were flogged in public at a customary court in Botswana last month for allegedly entering that country illegally. The humiliating punishment was meted out following a blitz conducted by the Botswana security forces on illegal aliens which netted more than 4 000 Zimbabweans. Under Zimbabwean law, an adult cannot be sentenced to ublic lashings as it is regarded degrading and humiliating. Botswana has embarked on an operation dubbed “Clean Up” to rid the country of illegal immigrants. But their efforts have been concentrated in areas around Francistown where scores of Zimbabwean traders and shoppers are found. The clampdown on foreigners has resulted in the death of more than 20 Zimbabweans who have either been beaten to death or shot dead by authorities in that country.

Botswana Government accuses independent of falsifying story (The Herald, 2/2/2004)- THE Botswana government has accused the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper of falsifying information on the deportation of Zimbabweans from that country as a desperate attempt to create unnecessary ill will between the two nationsIn an apparent reference to a story published by the newspaper last week Dr Jeff Ramsay, the press secretary to the Botswana president Mr Festus Mogae said the Zimbabwe Independent had attributed a false statement to him alleging that he had called for swift action against illegal Zimbabwean immigrants.The Zimbabwe Independent carried a story headlined Botswana calls for crackdown on Zimbabwe immigrants in which it quoted Dr Ramsay as confirming that the Botswana government had called for swift action to address the issue of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants."There is concern over the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe and a call has been made by government on the immigration department to tighten measures. Quite a number have been identified and deported," he was quoted as saying.But Dr Ramsay said the story carried by The Zimbabwe Independent and written by Itai Dzamara cited revelations of supposedly anonymous 'sources' to support a story whose overall intent would appear to create unnecessary ill between "our brother nations".He said the paper could possibly have an explanation for the slant that it took on the story."Under any circumstance, this office shall promptly expect your newspaper to publish a full apology and retraction of the fabricated passage in question.Dr Ramsay said Botswana had however acknowledged that illegal immigration into Botswana, be it from Zimbabwe or any other country was a problem."As a small (population of about 1,7 million) country with limited employment opportunities, there are obvious limits to our ability to absorb illegal immigrants".He said the long-term solution to illegal migration rested in the economic development of the entire region.

Botswana accuses paper of falsifying deportation story (The Herald, 2/2/2004)- THE Botswana government has accused the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper of falsifying information on the deportation of Zimbabweans from that country as a desperate attempt to create unnecessary ill will between the two nations In an apparent reference to a story published by the newspaper last week Dr Jeff Ramsay, the press secretary to the Botswana president Mr Festus Mogae said the Zimbabwe Independent had attributed a false statement to him alleging that he had called for swift action against illegal Zimbabwean immigrants. The Zimbabwe Independent carried a story headlined Botswana calls for crackdown on Zimbabwe immigrants in which it quoted Dr Ramsay as confirming that the Botswana government had called for swift action to address the issue of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants.  "There is concern over the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe and a call has been made by government on the immigration department to tighten measures. Quite a number have been identified and deported," he was quoted as saying.  But Dr Ramsay said the story carried by The Zimbabwe Independent and written by Itai Dzamara cited revelations of supposedly anonymous ‘sources’ to support a story whose overall intent would appear to create unnecessary ill between "our brother nations".  He said the paper could possibly have an explanation for the slant that it took on the story. "Under any circumstance, this office shall promptly expect your newspaper to publish a full apology and retraction of the fabricated passage in question.  Dr Ramsay said Botswana had however acknowledged that illegal immigration into Botswana, be it from Zimbabwe or any other country was a problem.  "As a small (population of about 1,7 million) country with limited employment opportunities, there are obvious limits to our ability to absorb illegal immigrants".  He said the long-term solution to illegal migration rested in the economic development of the entire region.

This page last updated 28 March 2005.