January 2004 - Click on the country title above the headlines for the entire article.
Human trafficking increases
SADC on track for "free trade" by 2008
Opening of borders increases AIDS rate
Angola drives out Congolese
Officials analyse situation at common border
Allegations of deaths in South Africa
Authorities plan strategies on illegal entrance
Portuguese proves hurdle for returnees
Over 5,000 refugees awaiting for repatriation
Police to fight illegal foreigners
Botswana calls for crack-down on Zimbabwe
Returning Botswana struggling to get employment
Editorial on foreign employment
Botswana to sent 900 students to South Africa
State orders probe in flogging incident
Zimbabweans flogged in Botswana
Another crack-down against illegal immigrants
Commentary on Zimbabwean in Botswana|
Dispute over eviction of asylum seekers
Repatriated Zimbabwean immigrants back in Botswana
Illegal immigrants arrested
Thousands of illegal diamond miners expelled
Kinshasa sign US $10 billion accord
Zimbabwean farmer in Mozambique
Zimbabwean troops accused of attacking Mozambicans
Zimbabwean farmers create 4,000 jobs in Mozambique
UNAM denies expelling Angolans
Lack of skilled workers hampers affirmative action
Angolans victims of bias claim students
New treason suspects sent back to magistrate's court
UNAM expels all Angolans
Namibian urged to carry identifying documents
Visitors figures slide after tough tourism year
SA emigration four times higher that reported
Special allowances for health sector welcomed
Health sector will get more money to stop brain drain
Greatest mobility of high-level skills within the country
Shock finding on exodus of the skilled
Human trafficking alarm
Skills allowances for health sector
Brain drain now a gush
No R&D brain drain crisis says HSRC
Mbeki claims millions of foreigners in South Africa
Congolese refugees claim police beat them up
Criminalise human trafficking says law commission
Educated exiles bring brain drain
International salaries needed for SA professionals
New policing approach in Hillbrow
Eleven Zimbabweans arrested
Biometric data for passports
Home affairs seek volunteers
Boom tourism year for Mpumalanga
Detectives probe fake marriage and ID syndicate
Caregivers help sick refugees live in dignity
SA wastes refugees' skills says UNHCR report
US to begin fingerprinting South Africans for visas
Aliens get a rough festive ride
Foreigners snap up homes in Cape Town
Be friendly to visitors, immigration officers advised
Additional crossing points for refugees to be opened
UN agency prepares for possible mass return of refugees
Marked increase in refugee returnee figures
Returning home not easy for some refugees
Sixty-nine illegal immigrants rounded up
Formulate an effective immigration act says home affairs
Strategy to tax nurses abroad
Angolan refugees may opt to stay
Journalist's deportation reversed
Calm returns to Kasumbalesa border post
Stay order goes back to high court for clarification
Deportation and the rule of law
Zambian police seek fugitive writer
Rule of law on test
Home affairs resists court order
Zambian government issues arrest warrant for British writer
Joint statement by Zambian media organisations
Zambian court blocks deportation of British writer
Zambia to deport British writer for allegedly defaming president
Zimbabwean farmers in Zambia
Growing problem of child labour on farms
Musicians, Journalists join great trek to UK
Zimbabwe police arrest five foreign journalists
Police crack down on graft at border posts
110 Cuban doctors expected
Losing citizenship is painful, says activist
Human trafficking increases (The Herald, 15/01) - There is an increase in human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and cheap labour in southern Africa according to Interpol. The head of Interpol Sub-Regional Bureau of Southern Africa Senior Assistant Commissioner Kenny Kapinga said yesterday that human trafficking for sexual exploitation had become a serious problem in the region. "This practice involves sophisticated syndicates who take advantage of vulnerable women in the region and some Asian countries. "The trafficking for sexual exploitation is more pronounced in South Africa mainly because it has a ready market because of its strong economy." The region had also witnessed an increase in the trafficking of people who were being used as cheap labour. Such people were being made to work in factories or fast food outlets. However, Snr Asst Comm Kapinga said statistics showing the degree of the problem were not readily available. Home Affairs Minister Cde Kembo Mohadi recently said the Government was investigating allegations that hundreds of unemployed Zimbabweans were being smuggled into South Africa every month, in a bid to stop the high levels of crime at the country.s busy port of entry, Beitbridge. He said although joint operations between South African and Zimbabwean police had paid dividends in reducing crime and nabbing border jumpers, his ministry was working on ways to thwart any human smuggling syndicates operating at the border. "Although there are no organised syndicates that we know of at the moment, we know that there is human smuggling and that is why we are investigating and trying to put a stop to that." The minister cited an example in 1998 when 18 Zimbabwean nationals suffocated and died in a sealed container when they were being smuggled into Botswana. Snr Asst Comm Kapinga said Interpol had a project code-named "Project bridge" that involved intelligence gathering with the view to curbing human trafficking. However, Interpol was facing several challenges in dealing with the problem and these included lack of co-operation among those involved. "Human trafficking is shrouded in secrecy and there is a lot of intimidation to the extent that some of the victims may deny that they have been smuggled. "The judicial system is also taking long to dispose of cases of human trafficking and this is mainly because very few countries have specific legislation relating on how to deal with human trafficking." Interpol, he said, welcomed the move by the United Nations of establishing a protocol to deal with human trafficking "What this means is that countries have now an obligation to put in place institutional structures such as legislation to deal with this problem," Snr Asst Comm Kapinga said. Under the UN protocol (to prevent and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children) that supplements the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, countries are required to adopt legislative and other necessary measures to curb human trafficking.
SADC on track for "free trade" by 2008 (Business week, 14/01) - The SADC region is on track towards meeting the major objective of its trade protocol which is to“achieve a Free Trade Area by 2008, when substantially all trade would be dutyfree.”Implementation of the SADC Trade Protocol and other instruments affecting the economic development of the region has shown remarkable progress in 2003, the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Prega Ramsamy said in his year-end briefing. The Trade Protocol is the most important legal instrument in the region’s quest for economic integration, and is in its third year of implementation since ratification in January 2000. Eleven countries have so far been implementing the protocol on trade and SADC is now preparing for the midterm review of the protocol, which will take place in 2004. The findings of this review will indicate the levels of trade that have taken place under the protocol preferences. SADC’s new Directorate for Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI) has channelled most of its efforts during the past year towards harmonizing policies aimed at strengthening the region in the global economy. Substantial progress has been made towards customs cooperation with respect to harmonization of documentation and procedures, and in preparation for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance among Customs Administrations. As SADC prepares to strengthen its intra-regional trade, it remains aware of global developments, which affect the region’s market share in the world trading arena, Ramsamy said. The region has thus continued to reaffirm its commitment to multilateral trading systems on the basis of transparency and predictability. In the last World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Cancun, Mexico, the SADC region and other developing countries presented their view that the key challenge confronting the multilateral trading system is to ensure that development issues are addressed. Developing countries stressed the importance of putting back on track the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. Concerning the negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union under the Cotonou agreement, SADC Ministers of Trade and Industry met in Blantyre late last year to consider the SADC guidelines for negotiating EPAs. The SADC Ministers emphasised the need to set up a structure to support and coordinate the negotiation process, and the need to mobilize resources and build capacity to discuss EPAs. Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Tanzania have so far confirmed their participation in negotiating a SADC EPA. The region has also made significant progress in harmonizing macroeconomic policy intended to strengthen the region’s economy. SADC member states have signed a MOU on Macroeconomic Convergence, which recognizes the importance of macroeconomic stability in the region. They have also signed the MOU on Cooperation in Taxation and Related Matters, which provides a framework for progress towards tax cooperation within SADC. The TIFI directorate has been working towards the implementation of these MOUs and is also developing a draft Protocol on Finance and Investment, which Ramsamy says should be ready by June this year. SADC has also made significant progress in implementing its Protocol on Mining as well as improving the quality of manufactured products.“We are paying particular attention to investment promotion, entrepreneurship development and ensuring that the manufactured products meet internationally recognised standards and quality in order to compete favourably in the global economy.” The Executive Secretary said the region seeks to effectively harmonise policy related to trade and economic development, and has identified the following priority areas for 2004; Consolidate implementation of the Trade Protocol, finalise the midterm review and initiate preparatory work for the negotiations for a Customs Union; consolidate implementation of the Protocol on Mining, finalise the SADC Industrial policy and strategies document, and design an implementation programme that would enhance industrial and mining competitiveness globally; co-ordinate the development of regional positions and inputs for WTO and Cotonou negotiations; consolidate implementation of the signed MOUs under finance and investment, and finalise the development of the Protocol on Finance and Investment. (SARDC)
Opening of borders increases aids rate ( Luanda, Angop, 30/01) - Angola`s Health Deputy Minister José Van-Dunem on Wednesday, here, stated that constant movement of people across the country`s frontiers, as a result of the achieved peace, causes a rise in HIV/AIDS cases.José Van-Dunem made this statement alongside the Forum of Consensus, gathering Non-Governmental Organisations working in AIDS matters, a meeting which started on Wednesday, being held under the umbrella of the Angolan Network Organisations for AIDS Services(ANASO). According to minister, due to the environment of peace in the country, the risk of HIV/AIDS contamination is higher in bordering areas and urban centres with greater population concentration, such as the provinces of Lunda-Norte, Lunda-Sul, Cunene, Luanda, Benguela, Huila, Cabinda and Moxico. José Van-Dunem added that his department will continue to work in the field of prevention, guarantee safe blood donation, and pay more attention to vertical transmition, so that HIV positive pregnant women can give birth to healthy children. The institution will also secure the creation of advisory and voluntary test centres so that both young HIV positive or non infected people can adopt behaviours which help to reduce the contamination rate. The gathering which takes places under the motto "A look to the future" has as goal to create and promote spaces for talks, exchange of experience and knowledge among the participants. The Deputy Minister expressed his institution commitment to work so that access to anti-retroviral medicines is made available countrywide, which in his point of view depends on the improvement of health general services, granting of medicines and constant training of health professional staff. The forum, which is being attended by representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations, church officials and other intitutions of the civil society, is an initiative to make people reflect on the past ten years in dealing with this epidemics in the country.
Angola drives out Congolese (Kinshasa, News24, 29/01) - Angolan troops and police have driven at least 10,000 Congolese from northern Angola's diamond zones in a bloody month-old campaign backed by machete-waving mobs, according to Congolese officials, rights workers and alleged victims of the campaign. The alleged crackdown comes amid growing complaints from Angola that Congolese and other foreigners are plundering its diamond fields - the world's fourth-largest source of diamonds. Angolan authorities refused comment on Thursday on the alleged forced expulsions. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Luanda, the Angola capital, spokesperson Joao Pedro said he was "unable to confirm or deny these allegations." Alleged survivors reaching safety near Congo's border told of attacks by Angolan security forces, starting at the end of December. "The Angolan army and police started firing at us and burning our huts," said Congolese Puis Kabanga. Kabanga said he and other Congolese were attacked in the Angola city of Kambani. They fled, walking 11 days to the Congo border. Angolan civilians armed with machetes attacked and robbed the fleeing Congolese, Kabanga said. At the border, Angola's army and police confiscated the refugees' remaining belongings, he said. Men and women alike were subjected to cavity searches, said Kabanga, who said he saw three Congolese killed in the attacks. News of the scale of the alleged expulsion drive became public on Thursday with a report by Congolese rights group Voice of the Voiceless. Beyond the 10 000 Congolese driven from Angola, hundreds more remained under arrest in Angola in "inhumane conditions," said Floribert Chebeya, president of Voice of the Voiceless. Congo authorities said they were in negotiations with Angola over the alleged expulsions and arrests. Congolese officials were told the Congolese who were driven out or arrested had been mining diamonds without permits, Interior Minister Theophile Bemba said. Central and Western African diamond fields are scenes of low-technology digging for gems, with ragged civilians panning for the gems in muddy pits. Congolese officials have called upon their counterparts in Luanda recently, pledging co-operation as Angola complains of illegal Congolese trafficking in its diamond fields. Some of the Congolese expelled from Angola were said to have been working under the protection of fighters from the Angolan rebel movement Unita, which ended its war against Angola's government in 2002.
Officials analyse situation at common border (Luanda, AP 28/01) - The support of the Congolese structures in the protection and vigilance in the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, was discussed today, in Kinshasa, by the Congolese Vice-president, Jean-Pierre Bemba, and the Angolan ambassador in that country, Mawete Joao Baptista. The Angolan diplomat defended the need of colaboration of the Congolese institutions on the protection along the common border, in a way to limit the flux of illegal foreigners who invade the Angolan economic areas. On the occasion, vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba, who coordinates the economic and financial activities, condemned the illegal exploration of the Angolan resources, and defended the maintenance of tranquillity at the commom border. Both officials analysed also the dossier related to the recovery of Benguela's railway, as well as the development of the common maritime via. During the meeting, both sides tackled all the matters regarding the transitional Government in the DR Congo, the creation of the integrated Armed Forces, the aid to the democratic process and the financing for the next general elections there. Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba Combo is the leader of Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) and candidate for the next presidential elections. In the last meetings held between the Presidents of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, and of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, both leaders showed the willingness in the strengthening of the existing cooperation and good neighbourhood between both States.
Allegations of deaths in South Africa (Daily Nation, 22/01) - The information which has been circulating which says that two Angolan citizens die every week, in Cape-Town, South Africa, was refuted on Thursday, by the secretary-general of the Club of Angolans Abroad, José Gama, explaining that many of the victims are from other countries, to whom the South African police attribute Angolan nationality. Speaking to Angop, today, in Luanda, in connection with the news which was reported this week by the Press, José Gama said that this "farce" is part of a policy by the South African police, aiming at imputing the crimes to foreign citizens, mainly Africans. According to him, in South Africa there are gangs of delinquents made up of people from several countries, including South Africans, and when deaths occur, the police do not mention their nationals, instead they give a different nationality. "With this measure, South Africans intend to convince the International Community that the criminality rate in that country, considered as one of the highest in the world, in a consequence of migratory influx", he said. Meanwhile, the Angolan consul to South Africa, Mário Leonel Correia, stated to the state-owned Jornal de Angola newspaper that this news is completely false and serious for the bilateral relations. Mário Correia stressed that the Angolan community in this country resorts to the consular services for assistance with funerals or corps removal, which helps the Angolan diplomacy to control the information on the number of Angolans that die in South Africa. The Club of Angolans Abroad is an association located in South Africa, speaking for Angolan citizens in the diaspora. It is represented in Italy, France, USA, Potugal, Holland and Belgium.
Authorities plan strategies on illegal entrance (Uije, Angop, 18/01) -The elaboration of a strategic plan to obtain information in time, relating to the migration movement of foreigners, in the northern Uije province, is under analysis since Thursday, in the province. The meeting is being attended by representatives of the defence organs, National Police, information services for border protection and local telecommunication department . The meeting is also open to this department`s officials from neighbouring Zaire province. Participants will also discuss about the possible existence of military armament in magazines of both provinces. During the opening session the first region Military Commmander , Gouveia de Sá Miranda, manifested his concern about the massive entrace, lately, of foreign citizens, mainly from DR Congo. The illegal commerce of diamonds is the princiapl attraction for these illegal entrances. General Sa Miranda, who mentioned that the system of information as being an importante factor to prevent the referred acts, defended the necessity of training well an agent of authority,in order to mantain the discipline .
Portuguese proves hurdle for returnees (Johannesburg, Irin, 13/01) - Faced with the daunting challenges of returning home after years of living abroad, Angolan refugees now have the added task of having to learn Portuguese. "Their inability to communicate effectively and, in a lot of cases, not at all in Portuguese, places the returnees in a very disadvantageous position, especially when dealing with officials. This often leads to further alienation within a group that already feels marginal," Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) regional director, Joe Hampson, told IRIN. During the almost three decade-long civil war, the vast majority of Angolan refugees, some 400,000, fled either to neighbouring English-speaking Zambia or the Francophone Democratic Republic of Congo. Hampson said in some cases the inability to speak Portuguese, the medium of instruction at schools throughout Angola, prevented access to the formal education system. Due to the language gap, children coming back to Angola may have to repeat classes, even if they attained good grades in their host countries. "There are real concerns about the ability of returnee children to integrate into the system without Portuguese, but we will have to wait and see how they perform in the new environment. But it would be worthwhile to invest in short courses in Portuguese, which will facilitate entry into the school system," Hampson said. "Contrary to the statements from government officials [prior to repatriation] that educational qualifications obtained outside Angola would be recognised by the authorities, the implementation of these promises has not materialised. However, it is important to note that provincial structures are fairly weak throughout the country, which means that local government offices do not have the resources and are not equipped to deal with some of these issues," Hampson said. With the assistance of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, 45,000 Angolans have been repatriated Since June 2003. A further 25,000 returned home under their own steam. Before UNHCR began its repatriation programme, 80,000 to 100,000 refugees had trekked home since the war ended in 2002. The optimism of returning home after years of living in exile has sometimes been overshadowed by the difficulties most refugees and others displaced by the war have had to face as they attempt to rebuild their lives, including delays in being issued with identity cards and birth certificates. Since the first wave of returnees arrived last year, humanitarian groups have called on the authorities to do more to assist refugees, noting that conditions in many areas of return were inadequate for resettlement. JRS said the most basic infrastructure, such as roads, water points or health services, was often lacking. The NGO was also concerned over reports of tension between communities and returnees, which it warned could rise as more people returned. "Although the incidents are isolated, we must acknowledge that there has been tension. Some communities perhaps feel as if they bore the brunt of the civil war and deserve the assistance now being offered by humanitarian agencies to the new arrivals. The solution of course is that there should be parity in how different groups of people are treated," Hampson said. An estimated 250,000 Angolan refugees remain in bordering countries, while around 170,000 will return to Angola in 2004.
Over 5,000 refugees awaiting for repatriation (Huambo, AP, 07/01) - At least 5,564 Angolan refugees located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Namibia have been awaiting for their repatriation to central Huambo province since last October. The repatriation process, to be supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was expected to start between October and November of last year. At the moment, the start of the process is expecting for the green light from the National Department for Repatriation, astricted to the Ministry of Social Welfare (MINARS). The refugees, including women and children, who are living in these neighbouring countries for so long due to the armed conflict, will benefit, once their arrival here, from reinstallation and construction kits supplied by the UNHCR.
Police to fight illegal foreigners (Huambo, AP, 02/01) - Angola's central Huambo province commander of the National Police chief constable, Alfredo Quintino "Nilo" announced that an allout fight will be carried out against foreigners living illegally in the region and involved in making easy money. Speaking during the yearend greetings ceremony onm Wednesday, Alfredo Quintino said that the first action of his programme will start in the first quarter of 2004. He explained that the operation will be carried out with the help of the Immigration Services that have already started with the localisation and arrest of the illegal foreigners. Last year, the Immigration Services deported four foreigners, being one Libanese and three citizens from the Democratic Republic of Congo that were involved in illegal dealings in the province. In the same period, over 163 illegal foreigners from the DRC passed on transit in Huambo from also central Bie province, where they were involved in illegal panning of diamonds in the localities of Nharea and Camacupa. He however mentioned the lack of transports as one of the factors hindering the authorities operation in the province. Last year again, the Immigration Services in Huambo registered 119 expatriates serving with Non-Governamental Organizations and UN agencies, plus another 61 residents. On the other hand, the police commander pledged to invest in the academic and professional training of the staff with a view to improving their operating capacity.
Botswana calls for crack-down on Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe Independent, 30/01) -The Botswana government has called for a major crackdown on illegal Zimbabwean immigrants as pressure mounts on its economy due to hundreds of locals seeking economic asylum, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.Sources revealed this week that Botswana President Festus Mogae's government discussed the matter of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants recently and expressed concern over their effects on the economy. A call was made for the country's immigration department to closely monitor the flow of Zimbabweans into Botswana. An intensive campaign, especially in the towns near the border with Zimbabwe such as Francistown, is underway to identify illegal Zimbabwean immigrants.Jeff Ramsay, the press secretary to Mogae in written responses this week confirmed the 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," said Ramsay. "Quite a number have been identified and deported."Sources said immigration officials have in the last three weeks been conducting intensive searches for illegal Zimbabwean immigrants and more than 800 have been deported this month alone."More than 800 illegal immigrants have been deported this month and more are set to be sent home soon," said a highly placed source in Botswana. "Immigration officials have been deployed on a full scale to identify illegal Zimbabwean immigrants."About 100 Zimbabweans who illegally entered Botswana were three weeks ago flogged at a customary court in the country before being deported.Thousands of Zimbabweans have been flocking to neighbouring South Africa and Botswana since 2000 when President Robert Mugabe's government embarked on the chaotic land reform programme that compounded economic problems.
Returning Botswana struggling to get employment (Botswana Gazette, 28/01) - Many students trained in science and engineering who studied abroad, say after completing their studies there is nothing for them to do at home. This surprises them because they were encouraged to take up science related courses so that it would be easier for them to find jobs at home. They are also puzzled by the fact that government continues to employ a large number of expatriates on a contract basis and that there does not seem to be a rational scheme to phase them out and replace them with returning qualified locals. This week The Gazette caught up with a number of young returnees to hear their story. Kabelo Dinale graduated with a degree in aircraft engineering from the University of Embry -Riddle in the United States. He said throughout his studies he looked forward to making a contribution to the development of his country. His contract with the Ministry of Education -who sponsored his education in the United States - stated explicitly that on completing his studies he should come home to work for the government of Botswana, before taking up employment with any other company. Dinale said when he finished his studies in 2002, he came back to Botswana as required and has been looking for a job ever since. None has come his way. "I wanted to stay in the United States, but could not because of my contract with the Ministry of Education. I came back with high hopes. I informed the Bursaries Department of my arrival, but was advised to find a job on my own," he said. Kabelo has applied to the Department of Civil Aviation and Air Botswana, but there are no jobs there. "What frustrates me even more is that I did not want to do this course in the first place. The government had limited sponsorships for the course I wanted and I was offered a scholarship to do Aircraft Engineering." He blames poor planning on the part of government. "What is the point of sending people to do courses that have no value in our market, at the same time forcing graduates to come back home when they finish such courses?" He is bitter, feels betrayed and neglected. He has now applied for a work permit to go and work in the United States.
Kagiso Meswele holds a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Engineering from Carleton University in Canada. He graduated in 2003, and he says ever since he came back, life has been a frustrating uphill battle. He has covered every corner of the City trying to find a job, nothing is on offer. He said before he left for Canada, officials at the Ministry of Education advised him and others to enroll in science related courses because it would be easier to find jobs when they came back. Like Dinale, Meswele said he wanted to stay in Canada where there were better prospects of employment. He did not because his contract stated that he should come home on finishing his studies. "I have since learnt that the Bursaries Department does not even know what the market needs. They cannot even say why they insisted that we should come back after completing our studies. There is no logic in sending people to school, then failing to employ them at the end of the day. At least we should have been left to work where we studied, instead of being forced to return home to suffer," said Meswele. He criticised the government for lacking transparency when it comes to employing people. He said he had approached the Water Affairs department in Mochudi who had a post he qualified for, but said he was told to wait for an advertisement - which has not been published to date. "I keep consoling myself that one day I'll get a job. But how long should I wait?" asked Meswele. For Kabelo Moroka, who studied Film Production and Marketing at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, finding a job was not easy. He completed his studies in 2002, failed to get a job, then joined up with a friend to start a small production house. He recently found employment with the Botswana Gazette. He said when he got a scholarship, he had letters of recommendation from the Gaborone Broadcasting Company(GBC) and the department of Information and Broadcasting promising that he he would find employment with them when he returned. Moroka said he signed a contract with the Bursaries Department which bound him to come back home and serve the country on completing his course. "To me this meant there would be jobs available when I came back," said Moroka.
His ordeal started when he responded to Botswana Television's advertisements. He applied three times and was rejected as many times. He expressed disappointment at the way government treated him and other Batswana students. "I am so mad with this government because I had got a job in Australia, but had to fulfill the terms of my contract and come back home." He suggested that government should set up a department that will help graduates find jobs, and those studying abroad should be left to work there and should only be called back when there are vacancies to be filled. Kabelo Europa, who has just got a job with the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, studied Telecommunications Engineering in New York and completed last year. He said when he came back, he reported to the Bursaries Department. He was amazed to hear Bursaries telling him that they have played their part and it was up to him to find a job for himself. Europa said there were jobs available in New York, but he had to come back home, only to be disappointed. "I struggled to get a job, were it not for BTC I would still be suffering. The government does not care at all." He accused the government of misplacing personnel. He said many people in the government occupy positions for which they are not qualified. "You will be surprised to find somebody who has done Environmental Science being a Water Engineer," he observed. He accused the government of preferring foreigners to Batswana, some of whom are under- performing or holding bogus qualifications. He also observed that many government officials stay too long at their jobs, the government preferring length of service over expertise in a specific field. For David Molefa, who has just been hired by the City Council, it would have been better if he stayed in Canada where he studied Environmental Engineering. He said he is just working to earn a salary. Molefa said he is not doing what he was trained for. He said the job that he should be doing is given to consultants and this makes him redundant. He accused the government of sending young peple to school then allowing them to roam the streets without employment. "We are citizens of this country. The government should stop flooding positions with foreigners when locals can do the job," said Molefa. At the time of going to print The Gazette was still awaiting responses from the Directorate of Public Service Management and from Bursaries on what they are doing to absorb the young people who were sent overseas to study and hace now come back home.
Editorial on foreign employment (Botswana Gazette, 28/01) - Over the past few years Botswana has trained hundreds of young people in various technical fields at overseas universities, at a considerable cost. Many of them have returned to find themselves without jobs. At the same time the government is employing- and continues to recruit a large number of expatriates expert in the same professions that the young Botswana returnees have studied for. Without being xenophobic, we believe citizens should be given priority over expatriates when it comes to jobs. No country in the world would do otherwise. While we will be forever grateful to the service that foreign experts gave this country when there were few qualified Batswana, we must point out that the time has now come for them to go home, to make way for Batswana who are now in a position to assume the responsibility of running their own economy. Otherwise as a country we will never be able to justify the high cost of training young Batswana if in the end they are barred from making a meaningful contribution to the development of their country. The Ministry of Local Government is one government agency that offers foreign employees successive employment contracts, and does not appear take localisation seriously. The Ministry does not appear to be willing to absorb young Batswana graduates who have been trained as engineers, quantity surveyors, architects and planners. What is even more worrying is that when these young unemployed Batswana start companies and try to secure tenders from government, they are turned away, such jobs being given to expatriate owned companies who are connected to expatriate experts working for the Ministry. In fact expatriates who at one stage worked for the Ministry now head companies that win most of the government tenders. Citizen companies end up being frustrated by the expatriate network that is set up deliberately to exclude them. The Department of Architecture and Building Services, which has now been merged with Electrical and Mechanical Services is also a cause for concern also continues to employ large numbers of expatriate personnel without seeming to make any efforts to recruit young Batswana. It is not clear why there continues to be so many expatriate staff in this Department when the University of Botswana has been producing young trained Batswana in those fields at certificate, diploma a degree levels in the past ten years. Many such young adults are walking the streets without jobs. Efforts on their part to establish their own companies are also frustrated by the fact that most contracts from the department go to foreign companies.
Once again we stress that this is not a case of xenophobia. As a country which has a high unemployment problem, our first concern should be to provide our young people with jobs. It should be a matter of shame to us that our young professionals are thinking of fleeing the country to seek employment in other countries, because they feel that they are not appreciated at home, and that their fellow citizens would rather connive with foreigner to keep them out of jobs, or deny them business opportunities. We must do everything possible to keep these young professionals at home - not that is inherently bad for them to explore the world and acquire global experience - but because our economy needs them badly. We concede that no country in the world can do without foreign labour. But labour should be imported when no local people are available to fill the jobs. That is not necessarily the case in Botswana nowadays when it comes to technical and other professional disciplines. The reason often cited by government for not employing young Batswana is that they lack experience to assume senior posts. But when will they ever get experience if they are kept outside the system? Also, this is not a valid excuse because the very "inexperienced" young Batswana done well in foreign countries when given a chance. Is it not time we show faith and trust in our own, over foreign experts? Certainly the amount of money spent on training these young people dictates that we should have faith in them. We must not forget that the expatriates who are now employed by our government gained experience by working for their own governments, because their governments had faith in them. If we do not have faith in our people, who will?
Botswana to sent 900 students to South Africa (Daily News, 20/01) - The Department of Student Placement and Welfare (DSPW) will this year send close to 900 students to South Africa for further education. Assistant Director of Student Placement and Welfare Mosoma Kgotla told BOPA that this time all students would be sent to reputable institutions. A screening programme was initiated and that all those institutions found wanting were eliminated and "only those accredited institutions are the ones we are dealing with now", he said. The Ministry of Education had previously been embarrassed as they lost money after sending students to some schools which were not even registered or recognised by South African authorities as learning institutions of repute. He said to ensure that colleges were of credible, officials paid visits to such institutions to gather first hand information. "We really take this seriously. For example, this year one of our credible clients, Abbotts College in Cape Town opened another branch in Johannesburg and we sent our officials there to go and investigate it in case it does not meet our requirements," he said. Meanwhile, some students are concerned about treatment meted to them by education officials, particularly those that process the applications. One student charged that "there is no progress here, sometimes we are told that computers are not working therefore we cannot be helped". Another student, Lesego Tsatsi, said: "We have not been given any comprehensive information so far, and we do not exactly know what we are expected to do. Besides that we have rented people's houses and we do not have money to pay and our passports have not been processed." Some students lamented that delays at the ministry will mean that they have to pay late registration fees at their institutions and miss out on some classes.
State orders probe in flogging incident (Harare, East African Standard, 20/01) - The Government yesterday said it has instructed Zimbabwe's ambassador in Botswana to investigate reports of Zimbabweans who were recently flogged at a customary court in that country. Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mrs Pavelyn Musaka confirmed receiving reports of 100 Zimbabweans having been flogged in public for various alleged crimes but said the Government could only comment after investigations by the embassy. "The Ministry has instructed our ambassador Mr Phelekezela Mphoko to investigate the matter and if established that the reports are true then we can take it up with the Botswana authorities," said Mrs Musaka. Contacted for comment, a second secretary at the Botswana High Commission in Zimbabwe, who refused to give his name, said the commission could only comment on the matter if the request was put in writing. "We will only be able to respond once we are offered a written request. The ambassador is not here and once she is around we will sit down and look at the story and offer a response," said the official. According to Mmegi, a Botswana daily paper, the humiliating punishment was part of a joint operation by that country*s police and army to crackdown on illegal immigrants, mainly Zimbabweans working or selling wares in villages around Francistown. The newspaper said the operation, code-named "Operation Clean Up" resulted in the arrest of 552 Zimbabweans for entering the neighbouring country without valid documents or vending without permits. The spokesperson for the operation, Senior Superintendent Boikhutso Dintwa of Botswana police said about 552 illegal immigrants were arrested mainly from within and around Borolong village, west of Francistown. He said 100 Zimbabweans were tried at the customary court and given three strokes each. He said some of them paid admission of guilty fines for various offences such as overstaying in that country and selling wares without permits. Last year Botswana said it was deporting 2 500 Zimbabweans every week. Politicians in the neighbouring country blame Zimbabweans for the increasing crime rate in their country. This has resulted in a number of operations to flush out the illegal immigrants, a situation that has at some instances resulted in the abuse of Zimbabweans legally resident in that country. Botswana has also faced mounting criticism over its decision to erect an electric fence on its border with Zimbabwe ostensibly to control the movement of animals between the two countries. Critics of the move say the fence is meant to control the movement of people between the two countries and was mainly targeted at Zimbabweans.
Zimbabweans flogged in Botswana (The Herald, 19/01) - Some 100 Zimbabweans who illegally entered Botswana were each given three lashes in public at a customary law court in that country but most Zimbabweans have described it as a primitive act sanctioned by primitive leaders. "You cannot expect that to happen in a country neighbouring Zimbabwe, this is primitive and can only have been sanctioned by primitive leaders of that country, it flies against human rights, freedom of movement and the dignity of human beings, this calls for investigations and an apology by the Government of that country to those who dignity was injured," said a human rights lawyer in Harare. "It’s a gross human rights abuse, you cannot allow that to happen, lashing an adult cannot be expected this day and age," said another human rights lawyer Mr Harrison Nkomo. According to the Mmegi, a Botswana daily paper, the humiliating punishment was part of a joint operation by that country’s police and army to crackdown on illegal immigrants, mainly Zimbabweans working or selling wares in villages around Francistown. In civilised countries, an adult cannot be sentenced to lashing as this is regarded as dehumanising and humiliating. The Mmegi said the operation code named "Operation Clean Up" has resulted in the arrest of 552 Zimbabweans for entering the neighbouring country without valid travel documents or vending without permits. The spokesman for the operation, Senior Superintendent Boikhutso Dintwa of the Botswana Police said about 552 illegal immigrants were arrested mainly from within and around Borolong village, west of Francistown. "The joint operation between the police, the army, immigration, prisons and other government departments, was conducted house to house," said Supt Dintwa "We nabbed some of our targets from their work places, where they were employed illegally. Some were travelling in the bush whilst others were from the roadblocks that we mounted." He said 100 Zimbabweans were tried at the customary law court and given three strokes each. Supt said some of them paid admission of guilty fines for various offences such as overstaying in that country and selling wares without permits. The arrested illegal immigrants were taken to the Centre for Illegal Immigrants in Francistown, where they were kept for a short period before some of them were deported. Last year Botswana said it was deporting 2 500 Zimbabweans every week. The neighbouring country’s politicians also blame the increasing crime rate in their country to an influx of Zimbabwean illegal immigrants. This has resulted in a number of operations to flush out the illegal immigrants, a situation that has at some instances resulted in the abuse of Zimbabweans legally resident in that country. Botswana has also faced mounting criticism over its decision to erect an electric fence on its border with Zimbabwe ostensibly to control the movement of animals between the two countries. Critics of the move say the fence is meant to control the movement of people between the two countries and mainly targeting Zimbabweans
Another crack-down against illegal immigrants (Francistown, Mmegi, 16/01) - The crack down on illegal immigrants has been extended to villages surrounding the city. The “Operation Clean Up” campaign which, started last Sunday and ended on Wednesday, targeted illegal immigrants mainly from Zimbabwe. Spokesperson for the operation, Senior Superintendent Boikhutso Dintwa of Botswana police told Mmegi yesterday that they have nabbed about 552 illegal immigrants mainly in and around Borolong village, west of Francistown. The joint operation between the police, the army, immigration, prisons and other government departments, was conducted from house-to-house. “We nabbed some of our targets from their work places where they were employed illegally. Some were travelling in the bush whilst others were from the roadblocks that we mounted,” explained Dintwa. About 100 of the immigrants were tried at the customary court and given three strokes of the cane each. Some paid admission of guilty fines for various offences such as overstaying in the country and selling wares without permits. The arrested immigrants were taken to the Centre for Illegal Immigrants where they were kept for a short period before some of them were deported.
Commentary on Zimbabwean in Botswana (African Church Information Service, 12/01) - If you are one of the 130,000 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants living in Botswana, chances are that you work at a cattle post, on farm lands or as a housemaid. Or if you fail to get work, survival instincts force you to steal, slaughter and eat cattle and goats in the bush. In this write up, Henry Omondi reports on the harsh situation desperate Zimbabwean immigrants are enduring in Botswana. In his state of the nation address last November, President Festus Mogae of Botswana promised to close in on illegal immigrants in the country. In a carefully crafted speech, laced with connotations referring to increase in crime as synonymous with illegal immigrants, President Mogae promised to tighten the policing of illegal immigrants into the country. From the president's speech, it is apparent that Zimbabweans would be a prime target. They form about 90 percent of illegal immigrants in Botswana, and close to 10 percent of the country's total population of only 1.76 million. According to Botswana's Department of Immigration, there are about 130,000 Zimbabwean immigrants living illegally in Botswana at a given time. Most of them herd cattle and goats for their employers, while others work in farms or as housemaids. Those who do not get jobs get trapped into crime, stealing cattle and goats, which they slaughter and eat in the bush. Zimbabweans are blamed for the increased crime in Botswana's cities of Gaborone and Francistown. They are also held largely responsible for the country's soaring HIV/AIDS pandemic, and for the foot-and-mouth disease that saw over 16,000 heads of cattle slaughtered in January last year. As a result, Batswana from the cities neighbourhoods are increasingly becoming restless as crime takes its toll on their lives. "We have had many incidences of critically ill Zimbabweans dumped at hospitals, or thickets to die without any one claiming them," says Tutume Police Station commander, Seabe Maboka. Last month, three Zimbabweans in Francistown died of food poisoning after eating stolen maize meal. This is in spite of a Botswana-Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) meeting on defence and public security meeting held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, last July. The meeting had promised to promote awareness of refugee rights, and at the same time, reduce the influx of Zimbabwe's economic refugees into Botswana. Cross-border crimes like drugs and goods smuggling, car thefts, poaching and border jumping sees more than 2,000 Zimbabweans deported from Francistown and its environs every month. "We arrest and deport an average of 75 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants a day," says Seabe Maboka, adding: "And often, we arrest the same people every week." Confirming officer Moboka's predicament, Botswana's Chief Immigration Officer, Roy Sekgorwane adds: "We are seriously loosing out on our battle to deal with the Zimbabwe problem." Zimbabwe is the newest entrant in the growing list of Africa's failed democracies. Other countries in the list include Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The tension between Batswana and Zimbabweans has been building up since August, when Tlokweng elders and leaders called for the repatriation of Zimbabweans from their Gaborone suburb. "Enough is enough. We cannot take it any more," said the Batlokwa tribe Deputy Chief, Michael Gaborone. Claims that most crime in Botswana are carried out by illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe have been confirmed by Superintendent Robson Maleka of Tlokweng police station. Says he: "Our cells can only hold 12 people. Sometimes we house suspects in lecture rooms because there is no space." The Batlokwa now want all Zimbabweans, legal or illegal, out. Chief Gaborone accuses Zimbabweans of making his people's lives unbearable. "Crime has gone up because of these people. Rapes, assaults, and house break-ins have increased dramatically . We can no longer travel freely at night. Our children cannot go to school, and we cannot even send them on errands because they fear Zimbabweans," he complains. According to the former Attorney General Skelemani, "the Dikgosi (Chiefs) have been given powers to make sure there is peace, stability and harmony within their [communities]". He reckons that this gives the chiefs great leeway to take drastic measures, such as evicting the Zimbabweans altogether, for security reasons. "I foresee other tribes taking the same measures as the Batlokwa." The Minister for Health, Miss Lasego Motsumi, speaking to journalists recently, said she was worried by the actions the Dikgosi have taken on the Zimbabwe situation. "This will sour our relations with Zimbabwe much more do we have any proof that any of these criminal activities are indeed done by Zimbabweans?" she posed. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lt General Mompati Merafhe, echoes Miss Lasego's sentiments. She, however, exercises restraint, saying: "The Zimbabwe issue is very sensitive." Towards the end of last year, the Botswana Defence Forces (BDF) and the Botswana Police, riding on top of armoured tanks, swept through the White City suburb of the capital, Gaborone, in the wake of a surge in armed robberies and murders. Whereas Operation Phepafatso, as it was called, rounded up more than 1,500 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants and hauled them by back into Zimbabwe, a week later, the Zimbabweans were back, and so was their lucrative black-market phone business they are know for. But their actions are probably a result of a dire situation in Zimbabwe. The country's economic environment has deteriorated since 2000, when the white farmers were evicted from their lands in a much publicised controversial land reform programme aimed at re-distributing land to landless native Zimbabweans. The country's economy has continued to take a downward spiral, with inflation hitting the 525 percent mark, the highest in the world. The country has also been hit by fuel, food and foreign currency shortages.
Dispute over eviction of asylum seekers (SABC, 10/01) - The government of Botswana and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are at loggerheads over the deportation of eight Namibian asylum seekers last month. The UNHCR is demanding explanation from Botswana for this forced return. Botswana has for a long time been home to thousands of refugees from war torn and politically unstable African countries. The refugees include 2 300 Namibians who fled treason trials for their alleged participation in the failed Secessionist bid of the Caprivi region in 1999. It was only until August 2002 that some 700 returned home. The UNHCR intervened and oversaw their safe stay at home, free of prosecutions. Some who were sceptical remained. Last month, Botswana deported eight of the people without consulting the UNHCR. Benny Otim, the UNHCR Chief of Mission in Botswana, says the relationship between the government of Botswana and the UNHRC has been an excellent one. "This is the first time we have heard of forceful return of asylum seekers before the procedures that are set in place in Botswana have been exhausted... that is the point of clarification that we sought from the government." Although critics have labelled the move as an abduction, the Botswana government says the repatriation of the eight men did not violate the UN Convention agreement, which protects the status of asylum seekers. Jeff Ramsay, the spokesperson for the Botswana government says: "When we are talking about Namibian refugees to Botswana, we are talking actually about a large group of people, but the case that has come up recently is just about eight individuals. "In essence at one point they did come into Botswana and sought asylum status, but then they returned to Namibia…then they were found back in Botswana having not gone through proper immigration procedure and so it was determined they were illegal immigrants, they were repatriated back to Namibia." The eight men were last seen on December 15 under heavy guard at a local court in a Caprivi Strip town near the border with Zambia. The UNHCR office in Namibia is monitoring their case.
Repatriated Zimbabwean immigrants back in Botswana (Daily News, 08/01) -Some of the more than 4 000 Zimbabwean illegal immigrants who were repatriated to their country before Christmas are back in Botswana, immigration officials have confirmed. Chief Immigration Officer, Roy Sekgororoane said the country is unable to cope with the influx of Zimbabweans and prisons are over crowded and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship overstretched. While he lauded the Botswana Defence Force, the police and other stakeholders for helping to round up illegal immigrants, he criticised Batswana for defeating the ends of justice by accommodating and employing illegal immigrants. Sekgororoane warned those who would be caught doing so that they would be slapped with fines not less than P300. The illegal immigrants were fined P300 or imprisoned for up to one year, which is not deterrent enough, Sekgororoane said. He said government spent P50 to repatriate each of the 2 500 illegal immigrants to their countries of origin every month. Meanwhile, police in the northern part of the country have expressed concern about the increase in criminal activities, including house breaking and theft perpetrated by illegal immigrants in and around towns and major villages. In one such incident, goods worth P55 000 comprising cell phones and television sets were stolen from the Universal Shop in Francistown. In another incident, three Zimbabweans were found hiding in the ceiling of a house they broke into.
Illegal immigrants arrested (Daily News, 07/01) - Immigration officers at Ramokgwebana had arrested at least 850 Zimbabweans since the beginning of December for forged names and residence permits as well as false stamps in their passports. Senior Immigration Officer Mokganedi Botsalano told BOPA that the offenders were arrested with the help of members of the police force, customs officers, soldiers and game wardens. Botsalano said there was a growing number of Zimbabweans engaged in black market exchange of currencies at the border where some Batswana connived with them. By December 22, the number of people crossing the border into and out of Botswana was increasing as travellers wanted to spend the Christmas and New Year holidays elsewhere.
Thousands of illegal diamond miners expelled (Kinshasa, Irin, 30/01) - At least 10,000 Congolese, mostly illegal miners, have been expelled from Angola since December 2003 under inhumane conditions, a Congolese human rights organization said on Thursday."They were forced back by the military and hundreds of others have been arrested and detained in subhuman conditions," Dolly Ibefo, vice-president of the rights body, Voice of the Voiceless (Voix des Sans Voix), said.Returnees have recounted their experience on reaching the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A priest at the Evangelical Church at Kahemba, Jean Kasongo, said Angolan troops and knife-wielding civilians had subjected many to brutality and death threats. They spoke of having been stripped of their belongings before their expulsion."Sometimes they arrive with swollen feet from having walked long distances," Kahemba said. One of the returnees who crossed the border on Wednesday, Puis Kabanga, said many of the miners did not have the necessary work permits. Moreover, Congolese working in the diamond business said that many of the miners in Angola worked with former Unita officers, who once fought the Angolan army."According to the report we have received, these people were illegal miners," Theophile Bemba, the DRC minister of the interior, said.Voice of the Voiceless said most of these were settled in most of Angola's northern diamond mining provinces such as Lunda Norte, Malenge and Kafunfu. The exact number of the returnees is unknown, Kahemba said, because most went directly to their villages of origin without registering.Congolese and Angolan authorities have confirmed the expulsion and are holding talks over the issue. However, the Angolan Embassy in Kinshasa has not made any public statement on the affair.The expulsions occurred as the government in Kinshasa announced its largest earnings from diamond sales. Congo's Centre for the Evaluation of Precious Stones reported the export of 27.1 million carats valued at US $642.74 million, in 2003."This is a record," Pierre Kikuni, the director of the Ministry of Mines, told IRIN.
Kinshasa sign US $10 billion accord (Kinshasa, Irin, 16/01) - South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo signed a bilateral agreement worth US $10 billion on Wednesday, covering the areas of defence and security, the economy and finance, agriculture and infrastructural development.Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Joseph Kabila signed the deal in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, at the end of Mbeki's first state visit to the Congo. A joint commission of the two governments has been tasked with implementing the agreement."The commission's first meeting has already been set for February in South Africa over which my colleague Kabila will preside," Mbeki told reporters in Kinshasa.One of the aspects of the bilateral accord requires the South African Chamber of Commerce to rehabilitate the Congo's giant Gecamines mining concern, the 39th concession of the Kilomoto Gold Mines, and for the management of Kinshasa's Grand Hotel as well as Hotel Karavia in Lubumbashi, the minister responsible for state-owned firms, Joseph Mudumbi, said.Congo, potentially one of the richest countries in Africa, has vast deposits of gold, diamonds, copper, uranium, coltan and other minerals. However, these resources have remained under exploited due to the country's instability and mismanagement during the rule of President Mobutu Sese Seko. The mining sector collapsed completely as the country slid into war in 1998 in which some 3.3 million people died.In a bid to halt such tragedies and lead Africa’s renaissance, South Africa was pivotal in facilitating an all-inclusive agreement reached in 2003 among Congo's warring factions.In their final communiqué, Mbeki and Kabila reaffirmed their support for the upcoming peace and development conference for the Great Lakes.
Unam denies expelling Angolans (The Namibian, 30/01) - The 165 Angolan students deregistered at the University of Namibia had all forged either their matric documents or translations of their certificates, the higher education institution maintained yesterday.Responding to questions forwarded by The Namibian, Unam's Director of Communication and Marketing Edwin Tjiramba denied that all Angolan students had been deregistered.He criticised the Association of Angolan Students, which has cried foul over the deregistrations, charging that the group was not registered with the Office of the Dean of Students."The audit undertaken by the Office of the Registrar, covered all registered students at the university including 196 students of Angolan origin.Only 165 of that number were deregistered from Unam.The rest continue to be registered students and Unam will continue to accepts students from that country if they meets its entry requirements," Tjiramba said in a faxed reply.Angolan students have accused the university of treating them all as culprits after the Police uncovered a fake matric certificate scam last year.Tjiramba said the majority were deregistered after their Angolan declarations were found to be forged, while others had forged translations of their school certificates with grades that did not match the grades on the originals.Some Namibians were also found to have submitted forged school papers.Unam said other Namibian students had never submitted documents at all despite repeated requests to do so.Tjiramba said Unam had also established that some Angolan students who completed Grade 12 in Namibia but failed to achieve the required points for entry into Unam had also obtained forged Angolan certificates and declarations to enrol for degree programmes."These students now want to be considered for re-registration on their Namibian documents and would prefer that the Angolan documents be ignored by Unam.The University finds this behaviour reprehensible and will not stand for it," he said.Leaders of the Association of Angolan Students claim they were unfairly dismissed and that Unam produced no evidence against them.They also alleged discrimination against Angolan nationals.Tjiramba said students could appeal to Unam on an individual basis."Only students with original Angolan school certificates and those who have never submitted documents will be considered through a help desk.Students with Angolan declarations will not be considered," he added.He called on the aggrieved students to make written appeals to the Chairperson of the Executive Committee of Council through the Office of the Registrar.By yesterday, three students had approached Unam to appeal against their treatment.
Lack of skilled workers hampers affirmative action (Namibian Economist, 30/01) - The implementation of Affirmative Action can only be successful if the country produces skilled people. This is according to Mr Taarah Shaanika the CEO of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI). According to Shaanika the private sector can only implement affirmative action act if there is a pool of skilled people. "It doesn't matter if you have a number of black at the top. Affirmative Action is also needed in the middle level management," he said. Moreover Shaanika said technical as well as managerial positions should be included. Hence the need for skilled people, a major problem in this country. "What we should fight is not unemployment but the unemployability of the disadvantaged people," he said. NCCI commissioned a survey on affirmative action. The consultants have completed the survey and the findings have been submitted to the chamber. "We now have to go over it before we introduce the findings to the public," said Shaanika. The survey covered the entire country where "relevant employers" as defined in the act are found. The survey looked at the manner in which the companies are complying with the law and the difficulties faced in carrying out their obligations. Furthermore the survey will enable NCCI to devise intervention mechanisms. The Affirmative Act is expected to be amended by government in the near future. "With these findings we will be able to make recommendations to the proposed amendments," said Shaanika, adding that NCCI is duty bound to make a contribution to the implementation of the act. Nevertheless, he remains convinced that a major block to the implementation of the act is the lack of skilled people. However, that cannot be changed unless the education base is changed. "So far we have spent so much money on our education system. But the skills that result there from is very little," he said. According to Shaanika the country needs to put more work into educating the youth. Mathematics and Science are the basic components of a skilled person. "One of the problems is lack of qualified teachers in these two subjects. I think we must use our brothers and sister from our neighbouring countries to help us out. These countries have a pool of skilled people who often take their skills to Europe," he said. But he said such a drive force will need both the private sector and the government to succeed. He suggests that skill development be the priority in the private sector. The first thing is to highlight the areas where the country has competitive advantage. He mentioned geologists, meteorologists, and engineers in the mining sector. Other sectors include information technology, telecommunication, fishing, and agriculture. "If you have skilled people in these areas you will not only be able to give disadvantaged people jobs, but they will also be able to employ themselves," he said. Shaanika said: "Stop blaming the white owned companies for the sake of blaming. Rather lets start training our own people and in the end we will have a pool of skilled previously disadvantaged Namibians who can fill the positions and able to create their own enterprises."
Angolans victims of bias claim students (The Namibian, 28/01) - The Association of Angolan Students at the University of Namibia says all its nationals have been deregistered and their results from last year annulled.The students are crying foul, accusing the university of treating them all as culprits after the Police last year uncovered more than 50 names of students involved in a fake matric certificate scam.Unam's Director of Communication and Marketing, Edwin Tjiramba, denied that all Angolan students had been deregistered but would not elaborate, saying he had just arrived from South Africa when approached by The Namibian.The Office of the Registrar wrote a letter to 174 students last month, informing them that the executive committee of the university's Senate had cancelled their studies with immediate effect and annulled all the results of courses passed.The students were informed that their results would have "no academic value for future admission to this or any other university" in the world.Of the 174, nine are Namibians and 165 Angolan students.Leaders of the Association of Angolan Students claim they were unfairly dismissed and that Unam produced no evidence against them.One of the students, speaking anonymously, told The Namibian last night: "We are already grown-ups.I think there is something behind this."We came to study, not to stay in Namibia, and the treatment we get means there must be something else."They are discriminating against us Angolans".Neither Unam nor the Angolan Embassy would enlighten the students on what the future holds for them, several of the students complained.One said: "When you go to Unam they say that the embassy is not forthcoming with information, while the embassy claims the same.Sooner or later we will become illegal people in Namibia".The students declare that their Grade 12 qualifications are "genuine" and have called on Unam and the Police to re-open the investigation so that experts from the Angolan Education Ministry can be brought in to verify their results.Unam said it had approached the educational authorities in all the source countries whose students attend Unam, seeking assistance in verifying their qualifications, but only some had responded.All foreign students, upon registration, were required to provide their original certificates preparatory to gaining admission.Unam and the Police launched an investigation after The Namibian disclosed in August that many Angolan students had used fake Grade 12 qualifications to study at the institution for several years.Information available at the time pointed to the existence of a syndicate said to have sold bogus Angolan 'matric' certificates with inflated pass marks so that students could gain access to Unam.The culprits apparently presented certified copies of Angolan declarations issued in lieu of lost certificates purported to have been issued by the Angolan Ministry of Education.The original documents were in Portuguese, but translated into English and certified as true copies by the Angolan Embassy in Windhoek.So far one person, believed to be one of the masterminds behind the scam, has been arrested and charged with the crime.Among the new stricter measures for the admission of students, all prospective students whose medium of instruction in secondary school was not English are now required to pass a special course in English at an advanced level.
New treason suspects sent back to magistrate's court (The Namibian, 20/01) - Wwith only Police and Prison officers and court personnel present, the seven high treason suspects who were recently extradited from Botswana, made a low-key first appearance in the High Court at Grootfontein late yesterday afternoon.The seven - Progress Kenyoka Munuma, Manuel Manepelo Makendano, Samulandela Shine Samulandela, Vincent Siliye Liswaniso, Vincent Khasu Sinasi, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa and Salufu Diamond Samunzala - made a second court appearance, this time in the Grootfontein Magistrate's Court, after normal court hours yesterday.That was after their case was removed from the court roll during their appearance before Judge Elton Hoff in the High Court.The suspects, whose return to Namibia last month has been criticised by human rights organisations as an abduction, appeared before Judge Hoff after proceedings in the continuing hearing of a jurisdiction challenge by 13 of the 120 high treason accused were adjourned.Those proceedings, which resumed after a two-month break yesterday, are also focusing on claims of abduction.Thirteen of the treason suspects are claiming that they were unlawfully abducted from Botswana or Zambia to Namibia, and that because of these claimed illegalities a Namibian court cannot exercise jurisdiction over them.The seven are now scheduled to appear in the Katima Mulilo Magistrate's Court again on February 2.Magistrate Andre le Roux transferred their case back to that court yesterday after he had explained the rights to legal representation to the seven suspects.The leader of the prosecution team working on the Caprivi high treason case, Deputy Prosecutor General Herman January, had asked Judge Hoff to remove the case of the seven from the court roll because they had, according to him, not been correctly transferred to the High Court when they first appeared in the Katima Mulilo Magistrate's Court on December 15.January said the transfer of their case had been incorrect, because it was done without the instructions of the Prosecutor General and before the seven had been asked to give a first plea in the Magistrate's Court on the charges against them.This is normally a procedure that is completed in the lower court before the PG makes a decision on the further prosecution of a suspect.The seven remain in custody.The circumstances of their arrest in Namibia after they were returned from Botswana where they had been given refugee status, drew sharp criticism and accusations of abduction from Namibia's National Society for Human Rights and its Botswana counterpart, Ditshwanelo, in December.The human rights organisations claimed that the seven were asylum seekers who had been forcibly returned to the country from which they had fled in the first place because of fears of persecution.The Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Botswana, Benny Otim, also commented in a press statement last month that the UNHCR viewed the alleged "forced return" of the seven "with utmost concern".According to Otim, the UNHCR office in Botswana had never been informed or consulted by the Botswana government before the seven and another Namibian national were returned to Namibia.According to the Botswana government and the Namibian Police, the seven were returned to Namibia after their refugee status in Botswana was revoked.That was done because they had violated UNHCR regulations as well as Botswana laws, by having illegally returned to Namibia while they were supposed to be refugees under Botswana's protection, it has been claimed.
Unam expels all Angolans (The Namibian Economist, 16/01) - The University of Namibia has deregistered all Angolan students, causing panick and havoc among Angolan nationals studying at the institution. Only those Angolan citizens who have completed their Grade 12 in Namibia were excempted from the broad action against foreigners. This follows the uncovering of a fake-certificate scam last year, which saw some of the students being expelled from the higher learning institution. Toward the closure of last year's academic calendar all foreign students were informed that they must bring their original school leaving certificates to be registered for the 2004 academic year. This was intended to affect only thos students who have not yet submitted their original documents. However, a chain of events this week indicates that the heat has gone up and every Angolan national has been deregistered from the institution. Foreign students have received letters informing them that their studies with the University of Namibia have been cancelled with immediate effect. Others who have not received letters where informed telephonically, when they inquired about their status. Students claim that the letters give no reason for the cancellation. The director of communication in the office of the vice chancellor, Mr Edwin Tjiramba, confirmed that a letter has been sent out to all concerned students. He said the letter went to students who have been deregistered because of the certificate problem. The office of the registrar could not state the exact number of students deregistered since the registrar as well as the vice registrar, are still on leave. At the time of going to print, the Economist could not establish whether foreigners from other countries have also been deregistered. But Angolan students who said they had no part in the false certificate scam said the deregisteration is going to cloud Unam's registration process for this year. In a telephonic interview last week Tjiramba said the university is not going to take any chances and repeat the blunders uncovered last year. But as to how exactly they intend to sort out the mess, it was not made clear. At present the office of the vice chancellor together with the office of the registrar and concerned parties are engaged in consultations about this problem. “We are still working on pointers which will indicate to us how to go about this,” said Tjiramba. He said once a detailed map of the process is ready, a press release will be sent out to the media to inform the people. In the meantime all foreign nationals who hope to be re-admitted at Unam must have proof that their certificates have not been forged. Apart from the original school leaving certificate students must also bring letters from school principals, that show they have indeed met the admission requirements at Unam. “For Namibians it is easy to verify the certificates because education's offices are here. But for foreign nationals it is hard. Hence the uncompromising and strict attitude,” said Tjiramba. The uncompromising attitude will also make it difficult to foreign nationals who have just completed their secondary school. In some cases the certificates only arrives after a certain period of time. However, Tjiramba said that is unfortunate. “But if it takes two years to get your certificate in your country than it will take two year to register at Unam.” This is to eliminate any possibility of fraud at Unam, he stated.
Namibian urged to carry identifying documents (The Namibian, 09/01) - No law specifically requires Namibians to carry proof of their identity with them at all times - but if people want to make their journeys around the country smoother, they would be wise to have some form of acceptable identification on them.This was the message from Nkrumah Mushelenga, the Deputy Director of Immigration in the Ministry of Home Affairs, yesterday when he was invited to explain the law on personal identification in Namibia.The topic of immigration officers' insistence on seeing proof of people's identity - a request with which many Namibians were confronted at roadblocks around the country over the Christmas season - has already formed the subject of past lawsuits for damages against Government, and featured again this week as the basis of an urgent application in the High Court in Windhoek.Norman Tjombe - a Legal Assistance Centre lawyer - brought this week's application to the High Court.The court was asked on Wednesday to order the release of a 17-year-old boy who claims to have been born in Namibia but was still arrested as a suspected illegal immigrant last Friday.The court was informed that the 17-year-old was detained because he did not state his full name to an immigration officer at a roadblock in Ondangwa.Also, according to an affidavit sworn by his grandmother, his birth certificate did not indicate he was born at Walvis Bay, as the teenager is claimed to have stated to an immigration officer.Tjombe this week called such actions on the part of immigration officers "blatantly illegal and unconstitutional".In a previous case, a Namibian woman won damages of N$15 000 against the Minister of Home Affairs for having been detained for 14 hours as a suspected illegal immigrant because she could not immediately show her Namibian ID to immigration officers.Mushelenga appeared to advocate a pragmatic line on the issue when he set out the legal basis on which immigration authorities' requests for proof of identity rely.He acknowledged there is no law specifying people in Namibia must produce proof of their identity on demand.But, he added, the Identification Act of 1996 - in force since May 18 2001 - provided that a person over the age of 16 may be asked to prove his or her identity to an officer "within a reasonable time".Mushelenga said the law allowed a person to present an identity document, a passport, or any other proof of identity issued by the State which bore his or her name and photograph.A driver's licence was also acceptable, he said.In assessing what constituted "a reasonable time", the officer could take down the person's details, such as his or her address, and ask for proof of identity to be produced later.Only an officer's suspicion that the person was an illegal immigrant or , for example, a criminal on the run might warrant an arrest, Mushelenga said.While the law does not require people to carry proof of identity with them, Mushelenga said, it would be both wise and logical to do so.He added that the attitude - of both travellers and officers - at roadblocks could lead to smoother passage.Immigration officers should be polite when requesting personal ID, but at the same time people should co-operate and not take offence when asked to prove who they were, he said.
Visitors figures slide after tough tourism year (Seychelles Nation, 18/01) - Visitor arrivals in 2003 closed the year having fallen some 7.7% to 122,038 from the 2002 level of 132,246.The drop follows what the industry and government alike have agreed was a difficult year for the country's premier industry, but the single figure fall will have been better than many tourism trade watchers feared.From Europe, Seychelles largest continental tourist supplier, the visitors total fell below the 2002 level by 5.6%, equating to 5,969 tourists.Of the European big four, France, Italy, the UK and Germany, only Germany was able to bolster its 2002 showing, with visitor figures tailing off in 2003 for the others.France retained it's position as the largest tourist supplier, despite registering the second largest drop in arrivals, as 2,336 less French tourist made the trip to Seychelles than in 2002, bringing its country total down to 25,990.The second largest supplier in 2002, Italy, also saw a significant decline in tourists to Seychelles, as its 2002 total of 20,000 fell by 2,222.For its part, the British market was hit with a slight fall of around 200 visitors.Despite suggestions earlier in the year that recession in Germany was helping to pull down the cumulative visitor arrivals figure, the German market actually closed the year as one of only two European countries to beat the arrivals downturn. A slight rise of some 750 visitors saw the German total increase to 15,903.The other European country to buck the trend with an increase in tourists was the much smaller market of the CIS, which recorded an 18% up turn in visitors to Seychelles, taking its end of year figure to almost 3,400.Visitors to Seychelles from the Iberian peninsula decreased by a dramatic 24%, or 812 visitors, possibly due to Spanish holiday makers deciding to stay at home due to their country's strong support for the Iraq war.Seychelles second largest continental tourist supplier, Africa, continued to be lead by a dominant South African market.South African visitors increased by 20% over the last twelve months, to 5,003, but the good news was offset by a 24% drop in visitors from the second placed African country, MauritiusMauritian visitors fell by 2,351, a move echoed by most other African tourist suppliers.As a region African visitors to Seychelles fell in 2003 by a near negligible 3%.The Asian market experienced a massive drop of 45% in 2003, mainly due to the plummeting number of Israeli visitors.The number of Israeli tourists in Seychelles in 2003 nose dived by 2,346, to only 6% of its 2002 level, possibly due to the November 2002 bombing of an Israeli owned Mombassa hotel and simultaneous missile attack on an El Al jet in the same city, which heightened fears about travel to the region.Visitors from the rest of the Middle East also fell, though the decrease was far smaller and came on the back of an all time record high in 2002.Visitor figures from the Far East recorded large percentage falls in 2003, likely caused by the SARS outbreak, but given the low volume of arrivals from the region the actual down turn in figures was relatively small.Despite widely discussed fears of long haul travel plaguing the US market, the number of American visitors contracted by only 161 visitors or 5% on the 2002 level, though the total number of visitors, 2,793, is still far below the 2001 high of 5,805.An additional 42 people from Seychelles smallest continental tourist supplier, Oceania, made the journey in 2003 creating a 9% rise for the continent.
SA emigration four times higher that reported (Cape Town, Mail&Guardian, 30/01) - A study by South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has confirmed earlier findings regarding the under reporting of emigration by highly skilled South Africans to major consuming countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, with the flow up to four times higher than the official figures of Statistics South Africa.Releasing the study, entitled Flight of the Flamingos, the Study on Mobility of Research and Development (R&D) workers in Cape Town on Wednesday, the HSRC said a key finding was that, although emigration figures of highly skilled researchers remain high, the greatest mobility of high-level skills is now within the country. The study was commissioned by the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI)."We used the flamingo metaphor to understand our pool of skills. Flamingos migrate only to return when the brackish waters are replenished," explains Professor Michael Kahn, executive director of the HSRC's Knowledge Management Research Programme.He says a well-functioning science and technology system is a recognised contributor to economic growth and is in turn dependent upon a competent and productive R&D workforce. The loss, gain and circulation of this workforce presents both a threat (when it entails permanent loss) and an opportunity through brain gain and career development.While official migration statistics show that 16 725 highly skilled South Africans emigrated between 1994 and 2001, this represented less than 1% of South Africa's highly skilled human resources in 2001.However, the study found evidence that movements of R&D workers within South Africa were significantly more of an issue than international mobility. The pull of management and financial occupations was noted as being particularly strong, with many organisations referring to this as the 'MBA drain'. Data from the 2001/2 R&D Survey supported this, as only 11% of R&D personnel departing from the science councils were reported as going overseas.R&D worker mobility -- a much wider concept than the emotive phrase 'brain-drain' -- is a complex phenomenon that concerns policy makers of all countries, explains William Blankley, the study project manager: "It's about developing, attracting and retaining skills, while at the same time recognising that knowledge workers are necessarily mobile people. The world of professional football understands this: train and play abroad, support the national team, and consider transferring the latest technology of the great game through the genius of a foreign coach."Thomas Pogue, senior researcher at CSIR, says the study approached the issues of brain drain, brain gain, brain circulation, and brain development not as disasters, but as component realities of mobility that must be managed for what they are, both good and bad."The main conclusion of the study is that mobility needs to recognised and managed proactively by making the domestic environment attractive and simultaneously maximizing the participation of the research diaspora," Pogue said.South Africa, like other emerging economies such as Russia and India, faces special problems in managing mobility. Moreover, re-emergence from isolation, the restructuring of the economy and the impact of globalisation have altered our international trade relations, financial position and the mobility of human resources, especially in the science, technology and innovation fields.Kahn points out that mobility is an important means of technology transfer and expanding the knowledge base. Questions such as why trained researchers leave their research fields for management positions, why top researchers emigrate permanently or temporarily and where the next generation of science and technology workers will come from need to be understood.At the same time, mobility is a worldwide phenomenon. Industrialised countries such as the United Kingdom and France express concern about movement of their top researchers to the US. Emerging economies like India and China see many of their most talented young knowledge workers going abroad for greater research career opportunities.Until now there has been an 'information chasm' concerning the data needed to inform our thinking on R&D human resources, Kahn said. This study and the national R&D Survey 2001/2 (published early in January 2004) that HSRC carried out for the Department of Science and Technology, go some way to addressing these problems. - I-Net Bridge
Special allowances for health sector welcomed (Johannesburg, 29/01) - The SA Medical Association (Sama) on Thursday joined political parties in extending praise and support for government's introduction of the special allowances for some health professionals in a bid to stem the brain drain. This follows Wednesday's decision reached between unions and the government to allocate R500-million towards providing incentives to 33,000 full-time rural healthcare workers. Sama chairman Dr Kgosi Letlape said: "This is a step in the right direction in addressing the concerns that Sama has raised regarding the remuneration of doctors in the public sector, on numerous occasions." He said Sama preferred this method of addressing the shortages of skills and in providing access to health care, above unfavourable legislation such as the Certificate of Need. Letlape said the implementation was a befitting mechanism to encourage doctors to work in the public sector and in rural areas in particular. But Letlape urged that this allowance become a permanent part of a new salary package for doctors. Earlier on Thursday, the Democratic Alliance and New National Party congratulated Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang for offering benefits and incentives to healthcare professionals. The DA's Sandy Kalyan said her party had always maintained that incentives, rather than punitive measures, was the way to put an end to the brain drain in South Africa's healthcare sector, and to encourage healthcare professionals to practise in rural areas. Meanwhile NNP spokesman Dr Kobus Gous said the NNP welcomed "the long awaited step by the Department of Health to pay doctors who work in rural areas more as a incentive to work in those areas." But, the NNP said, more needed to be done to make it worthwhile for doctors to stay in the country. "It is, however, sad that these laudable steps by the Department of Health will be negated by the draconic Certificate of Need which will be imposed in future." Gous said the way of prescriptive, and possibly unconstitutional, legislation which forced doctors to work in certain areas, was not the way to go. He said the concept of a Certificate of Need bordered on the old pass laws of the apartheid era. It would not serve any purpose if health workers had the freedom of movement, but not the freedom to work where they wanted to. "This legislation will certainly lead to many doctors leaving South Africa to work overseas, regardless of any incentives to remain here." The NNP again called on Tshabalala-Msimang to reconsider the concept of a CoN, "as it could only have a negative impact on health services in South Africa, not to mention the constitutional reservations thereof". Healthcare workers across the country have opposed the new legislation, and a protest march at the opening of parliament is being planned.
Health sector will get more money to stop brain drain (SABC, 29/01) - Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the Health Minister, says some health professionals would receive special allowances in a bid to stem the brain drain from the health sector. The initiative, which took three years to negotiate, was signed by trade unions and the Public Service Health and Welfare Sectoral Bargaining Council. The agreements allow for the payment of a scarce skills allowance and rural allowance to designated health professionals in the national and provincial health departments. The agreements aim to attract and retain health professionals with scarce skills to the public service and to entice them to work in rural areas. Tshabalala-Msimang says the allowances stem from a pledge made in the 2003 budget speech. "I told Parliament at the time that I would use a special allocation of R500 million to recruit and retain professionals in the public sector, particularly in rural areas where the shortage of skilled personnel frequently threatens quality of care." Those who would benefit from the scarce skills agreement included medical doctors, dentists, medical and dental specialists, pharmacists, dental technicians, psychologists, dieticians and nutritionists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, radiographers, speech therapists, pharmacists and professional nurses. The rural allowance, which would apply to 33 000 full-time health professionals, would be between 8% and 22% of the practitioner's annual salary, depending on area and occupational category. The scarce skills allowance, ranging from 10% to 15% of annual salary, would apply to 62 000 full-time health professionals. Tshabalala-Msimang says certain health professionals will qualify for both allowances. She said it had taken longer than expected to reach agreement on these special incentives as the "prioritisation of needs is complex and several government departments were involved in finalising the system". The agreements would, however, be effective from July 1, 2003. Employees who qualify for payment would receive back pay.
Greatest mobility of high-level skills within the country (Cape Town, BuaNews, 29/01) - The Human Science Research Council (HSRC) has revealed that although emigration figures of highly skilled researchers remain high, the greatest mobility is within the country. This is the key finding of the Flight of the Flamingo, a study on the mobility of research and development (R&D) workers released by the HSRC in Cape Town yesterday. The National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) commissioned the study. The report states that the official migration figures show that 16 275 highly skilled South Africans emigrated between 1994 and 2001, representing less than a percent of the country's highly skilled human resources in 2001. "We used the Flamingo to understand our pool of skills. Flamingoes migrate only to return when the brackish waters are replenished," said Professor Michael Kahn, the executive director of the Knowledge and Management Research Programme at the HSRC. The report stated that mobility did not only refer to movement of people between countries but also the movement of people within the system. "Information on internal mobility is as problematic as international mobility. While firms maintain their own personnel data files, exit interviews are not consistently conducted and when they are, the information given to employers is often as inaccurate as emigration data," the study found. Prof Kahn added that 'brain drain' was an emotive phrase, which was part of a bigger complex phenomenon. The study's project manager William Blankley said the phenomenon was about developing, attracting and retaining skills, while at the same time recognising that knowledge workers were necessarily mobile people. "If you only concentrate on brain drain you lose sight of the big picture, we enlarge the concept of brain drain and we talk about mobility, brain gain, brain production, brain circulation and you have also brain drain," Prof Khan said. According to him, the challenge was to ensure that those South Africans, who worked and studied abroad, came back home. He mentioned that a country such as Spain regarded lack of mobility of its research and development workers as a problem, because it felt a country that did not exchange ideas with others lagged behind with development. He added China became a developed country because centuries ago, the country sent its talented people abroad to acquire and bring back new skills. A major concern, he said, was that only nine percent of South Africa's adult population was qualified in comparison to other countries. The number of foreign students enrolled in South African higher education institutions has risen from 12 600 to 35 000 in 2001. Of these, 73 percent come from other African countries. "The pull of management and financial occupations was noted as being particularly strong, with organisations referring to this as the MBA drain," he said. Professor Kahn said an R&D worker mobility strategy was needed to manage the reality of South African and foreign mobility. CSIR senior researcher Thomas Pogue said mobility needed to be recognised and managed proactively by making the domestic environment more attractive and simultaneously maximizing the participation of the research diaspora. NACI has forwarded its recommendations to Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Minister Ben Ngubane for consideration.
Shock finding on exodus of the skilled (Cape Argus, 29/01) - The number of skilled South Africans continuing to emigrate in search of a better life may be four times higher than official figures. The latest study's report, released in Cape Town yesterday, confirmed earlier findings that the emigration of research and IT personnel to countries such as the United States and Britain was under-reported. But researchers say there is no "brain drain crisis" in South Africa. They say many people will eventually return home, although the rate of return is not known yet. Officially 16 725 research and development-trained South Africans emigrated between 1994 and 2001. the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) says the figure is probably much higher - perhaps by as much as four times. Immigration may also be higher than has been thought. Researchers likened what they termed "worker mobility" to the world of professional soccer, with coaches and players working abroad and accumulating knowledge to benefit their national teams. Study project manager William Blankley said: "It's about developing, attracting and retaining skills, while at the same time recognising that knowledge workers are necessarily mobile people. "The world of professional football understands this: train and play abroad, support the national team, and consider transferring the latest technology of the great game through the genius of a foreign coach." While emigration figures for highly skilled researchers remain high, the report says the greatest mobility of high-level skills is within the country. This means companies are aggressively recruiting each other's skilled personnel. The findings were disclosed at the launch of a report, Flight of the Flamingos, on the HSRC's latest study on the "loss, gain and circulation of highly skilled" South Africans. The metaphor of the flamingo was used to understand the pool of skills - when a brackish pan is replenished, the flamingos return. Michael Kahn, executive director of the council's knowledge management research programme, said the main conclusion of the study was that mobility needed to be recognised and managed by making the domestic environment attractive and maximising the participation of those overseas.
Human trafficking alarm (Daily News, 28/01) - There are records of Mozambican women brought to Gauteng and sold as wives in Johannesburg and of "an alarming number of children" who are travelling to England by themselves. A number of organisations are investigating cases of children sold or given to rich families as domestic workers. Yet human trafficking is not a crime in South Africa. There are no prosecutors specifically trained to combat this crime and no specific support structures in place. As a result the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) has started an investigation into human trafficking in South Africa - with the view to put specific laws in place to combat it and help the victims. According to the SALRC report, South Africa is mainly considered as a country of destination for victims of trafficking. It is also used as a transit point for trafficking between developing countries and Europe, the United States and Canada because of its direct flight and shipping routes to most countries in the developed world. At present if traffickers are caught and prosecuted, they are usually charged with the crimes of kidnapping, abduction, Immigration Act offences and offences under the Sexual Offences Act. The SALRC report points out that prosecutors are not sufficiently trained to deal with human trafficking. In the Netherlands, for instance, a national public prosecutor has been appointed to deal specifically with human trafficking and anti-trafficking co-ordinators have been appointed at district courts. Authorities believe that between 800 000 and 900 000 people are affected worldwide. For South Africa there are no official statistics. The most comprehensive steps to deal with this were taken in December 2000 when 121 countries, including South Africa, signed the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. Eighty countries, again including South Africa, also signed the Palermo Protocol aimed at the prevention of trafficking in persons. The "Palermo Protocol" defines human trafficking as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion of abduction of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation".
Exploitation is defined as including any form of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. Among other things the protocol provides for the safe return of victims to their countries of origin. According to the SALRC report research on human trafficking in South Africa is extremely limited. Anecdotal evidence captured in the report however indicates that several instances of human trafficking have been documented. . In 2001 France informed the police that a group of women and children, trafficked from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, would be moved through South Africa to France. . Newspaper reports and unconfirmed reports to the police indicate that there is a possibility that children are moved out of South Africa to be sold as sex slaves. There is a reported case of Chinese women who were offered work in an upmarket hotel but then forced into commercial sex work. Investigations by the International Organisation for Migration indicate that there is a syndicate of taxi drivers operating from Maputo. The young women are then held captive and sold as wives to mineworkers. The International Organi-sation for Migration has reported that male refugees in South Africa recruit female relatives from their countries of origin for "purposes of sexual exploitation". Very few instances of men being trafficked for the purposes of sex have been recorded. According to the SALRC men are instead used to do household and garden work. Research by the Inter-national Organisation for Migration also pointed at domestic labour
Skills allowances for health sector (News24, 28/01) - In a bid to stem the brain drain from the health sector, some health professionals will receive special allowances under two new agreements signed on Wednesday, the Public Servants Association (PSA) said. The deals, which took three years to negotiate, were signed by trade unions and the Public Service Health and Welfare Sectoral Bargaining Council. In a statement, the PSA said the agreements would allow for the payment of a scarce skills allowance and rural allowance to designated health professionals in the national and provincial health departments. The agreements aimed to attract and retain health professionals with scarce skills to the public service, and to entice them to work in the rural areas. Those who would benefit from the R509m scarce skills agreement included medical doctors, dentists, medical and dental specialists, pharmacists, dental technicians, psychologists, dieticians and nutritionists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, radiographers, speech therapists, pharmacologists and professional nurses. They would receive a rural allowance of between eight and 22% of their salary, while a scarce skills allowance ranging from 10 to 15% of their salary would be on offer. Employees in rural areas would be entitled to both allowances, if they qualified. The agreements would be effected from July 1, 2003. Employees who qualify for payment would receive back pay. General manager of the PSA, Anton Louwrens, welcomed the signing of the R509m scarce skills agreement, but said there was a need for even more assistance to retain scarce skills in the health sector. "We are committed to extend the agreement to other scarce categories of employees in the health sector but must point out that there are also other sectors in the public service where there are severe shortages of skills. The PSA will also pursue negotiations in those sectors for similar arrangements," he said. The PSA said the parties were committed to negotiating in February to extend the agreement to other categories and to increase the percentages payable to certain health employees in terms of the current agreements.
Brain drain now a gush (Sunday Times, 28/01) - A study by South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has confirmed earlier findings regarding the under reporting of emigration by highly skilled South Africans to major consuming countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, with the flow up to four times higher than the official figures of Statistics South Africa. Releasing the study, entitled "Flight of the Flamingos, the Study on Mobility of Research and Development (R&D) workers" in Cape Town on Wednesday, the HSRC said a key finding was that, although emigration figures of highly skilled researchers remain high, the greatest mobility of high-level skills is now within the country. The study was commissioned by the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI). "We used the flamingo metaphor to understand our pool of skills. Flamingos migrate only to return when the brackish waters are replenished," explains Professor Michael Kahn, executive director of the HSRC's knowledge Management Research Programme. He says a well-functioning science and technology system is a recognised contributor to economic growth and is in turn dependent upon a competent and productive R&D workforce. The loss, gain and circulation of this workforce presents both a threat (when it entails permanent loss) and an opportunity through brain gain and career development. While official migration statistics show that 16,725 highly skilled South Africans emigrated between 1994 and 2001, this represented less than 1% of South Africa's highly skilled human resources in 2001. However, the study found evidence that movements of R&D workers within South Africa were significantly more of an issue than international mobility. The pull of management and financial occupations was noted as being particularly strong, with many organisations referring to this as the 'MBA drain'. Data from the 2001/2 R&D Survey supported this, as only 11% of R&D personnel departing from the science councils were reported as going overseas. R&D worker mobility - a much wider concept than the emotive phrase 'brain-drain' - is a complex phenomenon that concerns policy makers of all countries, explains William Blankley, the study project manager: "It's about developing, attracting and retaining skills, while at the same time recognising that knowledge workers are necessarily mobile people.
The world of professional football understands this: train and play abroad, support the national team, and consider transferring the latest technology of the great game through the genius of a foreign coach." Thomas Pogue, senior researcher at CSIR, says the study approached the issues of brain drain, brain gain, brain circulation, and brain development not as disasters, but as component realities of mobility that must be managed for what they are, both good and bad. "The main conclusion of the study is that mobility needs to recognised and managed proactively by making the domestic environment attractive and simultaneously maximizing the participation of the research diaspora," Pogue said. South Africa, like other emerging economies such as Russia and India, faces special problems in managing mobility. Moreover, re-emergence from isolation, the restructuring of the economy and the impact of globalisation have altered our international trade relations, financial position and the mobility of human resources, especially in the science, technology and innovation fields. Kahn points out that mobility is an important means of technology transfer and expanding the knowledge base. Questions such as why trained researchers leave their research fields for management positions, why top researchers emigrate permanently or temporarily and where the next generation of science and technology workers will come from need to be understood. At the same time, mobility is a worldwide phenomenon. Industrialised countries such as the United Kingdom and France express concern about movement of their top researchers to the US. Emerging economies like India and China see many of their most talented young knowledge workers going abroad for greater research career opportunities. Until now there has been an 'information chasm' concerning the data needed to inform our thinking on R&D human resources, Kahn said. This study and the national R&D Survey 2001/2 (published early in January 2004) that HSRC carried out for the Department of Science and Technology, go some way to addressing these problems.
No R&D brain drain crisis says HSRC (Cape Town, 28/01) - A study by the Human Sciences Research Council has discovered no evidence of a brain drain crisis in the research and development field in South Africa. "The brain drain may be overestimated, in that the rate of return to South Africa [of researchers] is not clear," said the report, released in Cape Town on Wednesday. Its authors conceded however they did not investigate some specific sectors, such as the public health sector, where problems might be more critical. The report, commissioned by the National Advisory Council on Innovation, said South Africans had only really been welcome to travel and work freely in other countries since 1994, and many of those currently abroad might eventually return. Even if they did not, they still had formal and informal links with South Africa which could be exploited for the benefit of this country. One things was clear, however. If South Africa's research system was seen to be weak or eroding, in that few jobs were available, this would encourage researchers to seek posts in other countries. The report, based partly on interviews with 60 South African companies, found that though emigration figures of highly skilled researchers remained high, the greatest mobility of high-level skills was now within South Africa. "The main conclusion of the study is that mobility needs to be recognised and managed proactively by making the domestic environment attractive and simultaneously maximising the participation of the research diaspora," said Prof Michael Kahn, leader of the HSRC team that produced the report. The report also highlighted what it said were gaps in education policy on financial and other support for postgraduate students. The fact that South Africa produced only 274 PhD graduates in the natural sciences and engineering in 2000 was indicative of the problem. By comparison Mexico, which has a population roughly twice that of South Africa, aimed to produce 1,000 PhDs a year in information and communication technology alone by 2006. A critical bottleneck was the supply of maths and physical science graduates from the school system. Blacks made up only about a fifth of all school leavers with higher grade passes in these subjects. The study also found there was a "striking" mismatch between the apparent good intentions of the Immigration Act's generous quotas for foreign academic researchers and other key professionals, and the complex and costly bureaucratic procedures that had to be followed to bring them to South Africa. "Collaboration across key ministries and government departments needs to be reinforced if obstacles to mobility are to be removed," the study said.
Mbeki claims millions of foreigners in South Africa (Business Day, 26/01) - President Thabo Mbeki expressed satisfaction yesterday with the level of voter registrations, suggesting the claimed 7million-person registration shortfall could largely be made up of foreigners. Mbeki cautioned against benchmarking the Independent Electoral Commission's (IEC's) second registration drive on the Census 2001 figures, which included millions of adult immigrants living in SA who did not qualify to vote. This could lead to the IEC revising downwards the outstanding 7-million potential voters identified by Census 2001 and declaring the 20-million on the voters' roll, the number reached at the weekend's final registration drive, as a valid reflection of the voting public. Addressing the media in Carletonville, south of Gauteng, Mbeki expressed satisfaction about the turnout observed during his two days of whistlestop touring when he encouraged potential voters to register in the informal settlements of Orange Farm's Palestine section, Vlakfontein, as well as in Merafong.
Congolese refugees claim police beat them up (Cape Times, 23/01) - Three Congolese refugees have claimed that they were viciously kicked by eight Nyanga policemen and then held in custody for two days for not having their residence permits on them. Approached for comment on the trio's allegations yesterday, Nyanga police spokesman Nomthandazo Mvoto said the men should lay a charge against the police. The men appeared in the Athlone Magistrate's Court on Monday on charges of defeating the ends of justice, but were not asked to plead. The Congolese trio, who repair television sets and music centres in KTC, claimed they had been beaten up in public by eight Nyanga policemen, had their appliances and premises vandalised, were called makwere-kwere (a derogatory term for African immigrants) and detained for two days when they were unable to produce their residence permits on police request. Emmanuel Nyathi, 28, Jules Batshiendenda, 23, and Fredericks Yengo, 24, said the trouble started when they quarrelled with a customer, who later returned with Nyanga police. "When the matter was resolved, the customer left and the police asked for our permits, telling us that we don't belong in this country," Batshiendenda claimed. The trio want to lay charges against the police and sue them for public humiliation, alleging they were assaulted in front of their neighbours. Gugulethu police station spokesman Charles Kakudi said the men had been charged with defeating the ends of justice, at his station as it was closer to where they lived. One of the neighbours who witnessed the alleged assault, Nonzondelelo Sineke said: "It was an ugly sight to see eight police kicking the three guys rolling like bags on the ground. "We (neighbours) tried to intervene, but the police told us to stay back. It don't think it had anything to do with the guys not having permits. They called them makwere-kwere," said Sineke.
Criminalise human trafficking says law commission (News24, 23/01) - Efforts to criminalise human trafficking in terms of South African law received a kick-start on Friday with the release of an issue paper on the topic by the SA Law Reform Commission. Receiving the document in Pretoria, Justice Minister Penuell Maduna said existing legislation was inadequate and did not deal with the problem at all. People suspected in South Africa of trafficking in human beings had to be charged with other crimes like kidnapping, sexual offences, or contraventions of immigration legislation. "The intention of the government is to criminalise trafficking," Maduna said. "If you participated in trafficking, we will be able to charge you with a crime very soon." Commission researcher Lowesa Stuurman told reporters the paper raised several questions on how the legal system should be improved to deal with the problem of trafficking. It would serve as a basis for the commission's deliberations with South Africans on the issue before it prepares draft legislation - expected to be completed around year-end. The document, therefore, did not contain any recommendations. Stuurman said South Africa was viewed as a country of destination for trafficking victims. "It is also being used as a transit point for trafficking operations from the developing to the developed world." Trafficking was mainly for the purposes of sexual exploitation of human beings, but also for forced labour, forced marriages, and the removal of body parts and organs for sale. While several measures were in place to protect child trafficking victims, such as housing them in places of safety while deliberating on the best course forward, adults did not enjoy the same level of compassion. They were merely arrested, detained and deported without officials having investigated what kind of circumstances they were being sent back to, Stuurman said. In some cases, victims were charged with crimes committed as a direct result of them having been trafficked into the country - like prostitution. No register existed of trafficking victims, making it difficult to establish the exact extent of the problem, she added. Other problems that needed to be addressed by legislation was victims' refusal to testify against their kidnappers for fear of their safety. Language was also an obstacle in court cases, with some 85 percent of trafficking victims unable to speak any of South Africa's official languages. There were also no facilities to house victims pending the completion of a trial, and victims were often deported before they were able to testify. Punishing victims was clearly not the right way of handling the issue, Maduna pointed out. "We need to ask the question whether the law is providing us with the necessary instruments to deal with the larger problem?" South Africans had until May 31 to comment on the issue paper.
Educated exiles bring brain drain (Johannesburg, Mail&Guardian, 23/01) -Black professionals are leaving the country to compete with the overseas qualifications of many returned exiles, a recruitment company said on Wednesday."The former political exile community has been punting their overseas qualifications and work experience ... This has created the perception that employers give preference to people with international experience", said Brian Khumalo, a recruitment executive.Khumalo, who is a senior partner of a large South African executive recruitment company, Leaders Unlimited Korn/Ferry, said this perception of inferiority is fuelling the outflow of skilled black professionals."Local blacks are now trying to emulate them [the returned exiles]," he said.This in itself is not a problem, said Khumalo, but growing numbers of these black professionals are not coming back.Other African countries are in similar situations, said Khumalo."Countries like South Africa and Nigeria train large numbers of highly skilled professionals, many of whom are deliberately poached by countries in Europe and the United States."The presidents of South Africa and Nigeria, Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo, met recently to discuss ways of encouraging Africans -- scientists, engineers, technologists and managers working outside the continent -- to return home, said Khumalo."We desperately need the input and expertise of these men and women to help grow the economy and to create jobs for the more than one million unemployed people in South Africa."However, he admitted that it is a "chicken and egg situation".South Africa needs a strong vibrant economy to create the demand for skilled professionals; however, a strong human resource base will lead to more investment in the country."Do you invest first, and have skills come after, or do you enhance your skills base, and have investment follow the skills?" he asked.While likely to raise the hackles of trade unions, who already believe that executives are too highly paid, Khumalo said that executive salaries needed to be internationally competitive."The most highly skilled workers tended to relocate for higher wages, or better opportunities for development. They move so that they can develop. That is a natural thing," said Khumalo."An employee is hardly going to look for greener pastures when he or she is paid appropriately and treated well in their home country," he said."It is imperative that employers invest in their workers to prevent them from leaving the country."He said that while social conditions are also a cause of this "African diaspora", the government is taking effective steps to improve this situation.
International salaries needed for SA professionals (SABC, 21/01) -Skilled professionals need to be paid competitive salaries if they are to stay in the country, a leading executive recruitment company said today. "It is imperative that employers invest in their workers to prevent them from leaving the country", said Brian Khumalo, a senior partner of Leaders Unlimited Korn/Ferry, the largest executive recruitment firm in South Africa. "An employee is hardly going to look for greener pastures when he or she is paid appropriately and treated well in their home country," Khumalo said. But what is an 'appropriate' salary? Khumalo said that many businesses were willing to pay internationally competitive salaries for top executives, even though this might lead to a very skewed salary distribution within the company. Various trade unions have expressed outrage at the looming disparity between the highest and the lowest paid workers in South African companies. National Health, Education and Allied Worker's Union (Nehawu), in a media release in October last year stated that this was "outrageously illegal...ignorant and retrogressive", and described it as "apartheid style discrimination against lower category workers". However, Khumalo said: "In a boardroom decisions have to be made, companies will go for the global talent, at the going rate. It is global demand and supply". He did not feel able to comment on the political and socio-economic consequences of this, other than to say: "We desperately need the input and expertise of these men and women to help grow the economy and to create jobs for the more than one million unemployed people in South Africa." The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), in a press statement today, said it was unfortunate that so many skilled South African workers decide to seek employment overseas. However, like Khumalo, Cosatu said: "Ways have to be found to provide skilled workers with acceptable salaries...to convince them to stay here."
Patrick Craven, the Cosatu spokesperson, did not agree that lower salaries for professional and executive positions would help to prevent job losses in firms that were struggling in the face of the strong rand, as some, more radical critics have suggested. "You can't solve those problems by reducing wages," he said. He said that if and when South Africa could expand its skills development programmes and end the skills shortage, "we would have enough workers with the skills we require". However, one would have to end the skills shortage in the whole world in order to stop the brain drain from Africa, and it seems that there will always be an attraction for skilled professionals to go abroad. For instance, there was a perception, sometimes real, sometimes imaginary, that employers gave preference to people with international experience, said Khumalo. Many returned exiles to South Africa have international qualifications and experience. Local blacks are now trying to emulate them (the returned exiles). They leave to improve their qualifications, and then don’t come back".
New policing approach in Hillbrow (Mail&Guardian, 20/01) - One Gauteng newspaper put it best when its billboards read “New Year in Hellbrow”. It was not a spelling mistake but a clever pun referring to the lawlessness that happens in the Johannesburg inner-city suburb of Hillbrow.Reports emanating from that hell-hole — which has become a den of evil, a haven of pimps, prostitutes, junkies and drug dealers — seem to suggest that news of an impending Armageddon were greatly exaggerated.As the old year was put to bed things changed in Hillbrow, ushering in new hope for the sometimes hopeless slum.After years of rolling in army trucks and heavily-armed police to try and prevent the tradition of throwing old fridges and other heavy household items from high-rise buildings — without much success on the part of the law enforcers — it was time for some quiet diplomacy. And it worked.Police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi showed leadership when he proved that enforcing the law need not be a synonym for jackboot tactics.On December 30 Selebi met with Hillbrow citizens and conveyed his expectations for the celebrations that would herald the beginning of the new year.Like the school teacher he once was Selebi lectured communities on why there was no logical reason to throw objects, which could possible injure others, in the name of happiness because 2004 had begun.He told them that those who did not heed his call would be forced to clean up their mess.When New Year’s eve arrived most people heeded Selebi’s call, but true to the occasion some individuals threw household items from their balconies.Selebi saw this, ordered his foot soldiers to cordon off the respective buildings and residents from those buildings were ordered to come downstairs and clean up their mess. It was unprecedented in the history of South African law enforcement that brooms were preferred to handcuffs or guns.There are few lessons to be learned from this episode, the most obvious being that throwing objects from balconies is something that should be frowned upon by decent people.Another lesson for law enforcement is that visible policing can be even more successful when coupled with practical “community policing”. As Selebi proved, speaking to communities and getting them to listen to the message that lawlessness would not be tolerated, can produce results.The clear message to communities is that they will have to pay a price for their indifference to the lawlessness that takes place on their doorsteps.For a xenophobic country such as ours I wonder how the many foreigners, who also live in the area, must have felt when they engaged with a policeperson who did not ask them for their papers. Hopefully it sent out a message that South Africa has finally been cured of its fixation with influx control.But most importantly, Selebi’s example could go a long way to reducing the number of people in jail for relatively minor offences.Throwing a fridge from a balcony is not exactly kosher, but in an area like Hillbrow police have more pressing concerns than waiting around for whatever the heavens may toss at them.Members of the Law Society of South Africa recently visited Pollsmoor prison and returned with the all-too-familiar complaint that it was crowded with prisoners who had to wait for many months before going on trial for minor offences.Many of these prisoners, especially juveniles, are sexually and physically abused while in jail. On their release the anger and antipathy they feel for society, which they believe does not care about them, makes them walking time bombs.Call it optimism, but a peaceful Hillbrow and a police boss who believes that people can unlearn their wayward ways without having to sit in a courtroom dock, bodes well for the year ahead.
Eleven Zimbabweans arrested (Polokwane, News24, 20/01) - Limpopo police arrested 11 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe and recovered a range of suspected stolen office equipment during an early morning police raid on Tuesday. The illegal immigrants, aged between 17 and 40, were arrested at a house in Seshego Zone 1 outside Polokwane at about 2am. "We`d received a tip-off about suspicious goods that had been delivered to the house," said Seshego police spokesman, Inspector Mohlaka Mashiyane. Police recovered six computers, four fax machines, three music systems, three video machines, two televisions and numerous compact discs. "The suspects could not produce any receipt for the goods and did not have any documents to prove they were in the country legally," said Mashiyane. The suspects are expected to appear in the Seshego magistrates` court on Wednesday. Meanwhile, pupils at Soshangane high school in Buyisonto near Bushbuckridge have not got their stolen computers back. Three armed robbers loaded 19 computers from the school after assaulting and tying up the security guard in the school premises on January 11. No arrests have been made.
Biometric data for passports (Cape Town, News24, 18/01) - In an attempt to curb the flood of illegal immigration and passport fraud, several countries - including South Africa - plan to add biometric information disks to passports. These information discs will contain psychological information and unique characteristics of the passport holder. Britain and Australia have already indicated that they plan to use the discs. Britain plans to incorporate this data in the form of a digital photo in the passport by 2005. The photo will then be marked with the British passport service's signature to make forgery virtually impossible. South Africa has similar plans for passport holders. Department of home affairs spokesperson Nkosana Sibuyi confirmed that the government would be looking at introducing an information card in passports. He said the cards would be similar to a driver's licence. The card would contain personal information about the passport holder that will be difficult to forge, he added. Sibuyi said illegal immigration and passport are some of the biggest problems they are facing. According to Sibuyi home affairs would have to investigate the affordability of the cards. At present, South Africa spends about R90m annually on repatriation of illegal immigrants to their homelands, especially Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Home affairs seek volunteers (East London, Daily Dispatch, 16/01) -The Home Affairs Department is formulating a national volunteer programme to renovate dilapidated offices especially in rural areas, acting communications head Nkosana Sibuyi said yesterday.The project involves the Public Works Department, private sector and communities, and is expected to be operational by the end of April."It encourages everyone to donate their time and effort in the spirit of 'Ilima', to help accelerate service delivery," Sibuyi said. "We hope our people will understand that it's not about another job creation scheme."He could not reveal the projected expenditure, but said: "We've finalised budgeting and are only waiting for the national Treasury allocation."The move follows last year's damning report by the National Assembly's Home Affairs standing committee into the physical conditions of the department's Eastern Cape offices.This was after the committee had visited the province and found the department's offices in a sorry state, especially in the former Transkei area.It was reported that most offices in the region were filthy and lacked the most basic facilities including electricity, water, proper sanitation, telephones and computers.The committee recommended that the department commission a nationwide audit that would be forwarded to Public Works.Home Affairs director-general Barry Phillip Gilder also visited the province in September last year.He acknowledged the seriousness of infrastructural backlogs facing the OR Tambo municipal area.Sibuyi noted that provinces had been requested to submit requisitions, adding that the pilot project targeted five regional offices in each province.The department said it had managed to distribute more than 2,6million ID books between January and December last year.Sibuyi said the department was using mobile units, parliamentary constituency offices, the Post Office, councillors and civic structures to deliver IDs in rural areas."We've also deployed our head office team to help beef up service delivery in the Eastern Cape and it's now all systems go."
Boom tourism year for Mpumalanga (Nelspruit, BuaNews, 15/01) - Mpumalanga experienced a boom tourism year, last year, and had clearly recovered from the negative publicity of 2002, says the province's tourism director, Calvyn Gilfellan. In 2002, 30 foreign visitors were attacked in the region. Some 928 000 foreigners visited the region that year and more than two million domestic visitors, according to Mpumalanga Tourism Authority statistics. But these numbers are expected to have increased last year, as there was a three percent increase on traffic coming into the region on the N4 highway. "2003 was a good year, compared to the previous year," Gilfellan said. "We had lots of positive things happening." He said the province was ranked the fifth most popular destination in South Africa in May last year by South African Tourism's quarterly review. The next month, it leapt to third place and was ranked a hot favourite after Gauteng and the Western Cape. "That was one of our highlights for the year and we aim to do better this year," said Gilfellan. The company that manages the N4 toll road, Trans African Concessions (TRAC), recorded a three percent increase in traffic coming into Mpumalanga in December. "It's pleasing to see the many South Africans and tourists are choosing to travel to or through the Mpumalanga region, as is evident from the increase in traffic over the December holiday period," said TRAC CEO Arthur Coy. Just before the festive season, traffic cops attended workshops on how to be "tourist friendly". Tourism monitors who were introduced after the attacks in 2002, are also trained to be friendly and provide relevant information to tourists, so that visitors aren't forced to turn to potentially dangerous strangers for assistance. The monitors keep watch at tourist attractions in Nelspruit, Malelane, White River, Graskop, Pilgrim's Rest, Hazyview, Piet Retief and Watervalboven. "We saw a substantial decrease in crime against tourists over the past year and we believe this could be attributed to the monitors," said spokesman for the provincial department of safety and security, Ntime Skhosana. He said the crimes that did occur were minor incidents like bag-snatching, as opposed to rapes and hijackings experienced in previous years. Mpumalanga's most popular tourism destinations include Pilgrims Rest, the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes, the Kruger National Park and luxurious five-star game lodges.
Detectives probe fake marriage and ID syndicate (Pretoria, Cape Times, 14/01) - A South African security task force is working to smash an international crime syndicate supplying fake identity documents to criminals entering the country. The syndicate is believed to be one of many supplying hundreds of fake IDs and marriage certificates to international crime gangs and drug cartels operating within the country's borders. The task force, comprising detectives from the national organised crime unit and investigators from the Department of Home Affairs, has been tracking the syndicate for over a year. On Monday detectives from the organised crime unit arrested a Nigerian drug dealer in Johannesburg. He was found in possession of more than R100 000 worth of cocaine, ecstasy and Mandrax. The man, who is to appear in court this week, was found in possession of an ID belonging to his South African "wife" and a marriage certificate. It is believed that the certificate and ID were supplied by the syndicate. The only problem with the marriage certificate was that the woman, who lived in Mabopane, was never married, said investigators. Detectives from the crime unit said they had noticed an alarming increase in the number of foreign criminals in possession of fake marriage certificates and IDs. The problem is sky-rocketing," said arresting officer Shimi Mojela. He said they had received information on a group of Nigerian drug dealers operating out of a house in Highlands North. "We kept the house under observation for several hours, during which time we saw a number of people walking in and out of the premises. "When we raided the man's home we discovered that he and his partners had been using it as a storage facility for drugs," said Mojela. He said that during the raid they had seized 208 Mandrax tablets, a thousand ecstasy tablets and 200g of cocaine. Mojela said they had also found several IDs believed to be fake. National police spokesperson Mary Martins-Engelbrecht confirmed that the task team had been established to investigate identity fraud syndicates. "We believe there are a number of organised crime gangs and syndicates involved in creating false marriage certificates and identity documents for foreign criminals in South Africa," she said. Martins-Engelbrecht said anyone with information on fake marriages or false IDs could contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111 or their nearest police station.
Acting head of communication for the home affairs department Nkosana Sibuyi said the number of fake marriages being discovered had reached alarming proportions. "We often discover that foreign criminals caught in the country are in possession of fake marriage certificates and IDs." "These have been supplied to them by syndicates who approach South African women and persuade them to marry the criminals." "The women they approach are usually poor so when they hear that they will be paid for the marriage they readily agree." "The moment the women are married to their 'husbands' they discover they have been conned and their grooms have disappeared and cannot be found," he said. Sibuyi said fake marriages and identity books were also arranged by bribing corrupt home affairs officials. He said if a person discovered that they had been fraudulently married they should approach the department so that an investigation could be launched. "If the investigation shows that the marriage is fake, then it will be deregistered," said Sibuyi.
Caregivers help sick refugees live in dignity (Johannesburg, UNHCR, 08/01) - Daniel (not his real name) is wearing his best clothes for the occasion. His shirt and tie are much too big for his body, which has lost a lot of weight. But when he heard he was meeting a UNHCR official, he insisted on being taken out of bed and dressed properly. The 37-year-old refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is terminally ill with a motor-neural disorder. He looks nothing like the sociologist and human rights activist who fled Rwandan Interhamwe groups in the DRC to Burundi and Tanzania. A long and dangerous journey brought him to South Africa, where his weak health deteriorated rapidly. He is now bed-ridden and paralysed. Sitting in a tiny room in a flat shared by several refugee families in Johannesburg-Hillbrow, Daniel looks forward to visits from his nurse, Julie. She shares his sorrows, jokes to make him laugh, and breaks the monotony of his days. "She is my family now," he says as the young woman swirls out to pay his rent. Normally articulate and fluent in French, he has trouble speaking now as his muscles weaken by the day. Daniel is one of 24 terminally-ill refugees and asylum seekers under the care of a team of home-based caregivers in Johannesburg. Under the project run by the Jesuit Refugee Service and co-funded by UNHCR, the caregivers are refugees themselves - nurses and paramedics whose certificates are not recognised by the South African government. The project allows them to use their skills, earn money and help fellow refugees and needy South Africans who are also benefiting from the scheme. "Asylum seekers have difficulties accessing health care, and hospitals refuse to give them medicine at affordable rates," says Julie, who has been working with the project for several months. She visits her four patients twice a week, brings them money for food and rent, and helps them with personal hygiene and house cleaning. But most importantly, she provides psychosocial support. "We talk to the clients, spend time with them and bring them love," says Julie as her colleagues nod in approval. "We know they are going to die, the question is how. We can at least help them to pass away in dignity and peace."
Their job is one that even professional medical staff find hard to cope with. Augustine, the only male nurse in the project, lost one patient just last week. "Since I came here, I've never seen somebody recover," he laments. It is almost impossible to give the patients hope without lying to them. The caregivers also worry about the danger of infections. Many of the patients suffer from tuberculosis and AIDS, though nobody wants to admit the latter for fear of being ostracised by their communities. HIV/AIDS is certainly taking its toll. Julie tells of a paralysed patient who kept saying he just had high blood pressure and would recover soon. Only when he was actually dying was he able to acknowledge that he was very sick. Another patient is a father of six. His wife died of AIDS a few years ago and he is worried about the fate of the children he will soon leave behind: orphaned minors, asylum seekers in a foreign country without relatives or legal status. Augustine remembers a cancer patient who was 18 years old but looked 55. He never talked about his fate until one day he said, "I am waiting for my last day." That same afternoon the young man's mother called to say that her son had just died. It is such cases that fall through the cracks of the system in South Africa. A recent study on living conditions of asylum seekers in South Africa revealed that one of their greatest problems is access to health care. Of those respondents who had tried to access emergency medical care, 17 percent had been refused in violation of existing constitutional provisions. As for non-lifesaving medical interventions, the vast majority of asylum seekers do not have enough money to pay the fees. The UN refugee agency is continually taking up these issues with health authorities in South Africa, urging them to grant the same assistance to asylum seekers and refugees as to poor South African citizens. But while this problem remains unresolved, the agency is subsidising the home-based care project in Pretoria and Johannesburg to assist the most vulnerable of asylum seekers - the chronically and terminally-ill patients. UNHCR joined the home-based care project in 2003 with a contribution of more than 180,000 rand (approximately $28,000) for a trial period of six months. But given the pressing humanitarian need, the agency plans to continue funding the project in Johannesburg and Pretoria, as well as to support the development of similar schemes in Cape Town and Durban.
SA wastes refugees' skills says UNHCR report (Finance24, 08/01) - South Africa appears to receive the cream of African refugees seeking safe new homes, but their skills and experience go to waste, says a survey released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Japan International Co-operation Agency. One-third of the 90 000 refugees and asylum-seekers in South Africa have some form of tertiary education. Two-thirds have a secondary certificate or equivalent and the same proportion had skilled jobs before coming to South Africa. While only 3% of refugees were unemployed in the countries from which they fled, a quarter of those in South Africa are without jobs. Only half of the people seeking refuge in South Africa can afford to send their children to school here. Refugees have as much right to primary education and emergency medical aid as South Africans, but not many know this and do not resist when they are illegally turned away because of lack of funds. The first comprehensive study of refugees took two years and was conducted with a sample of 1 500 people in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria. The refugees came from 12 countries - Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Congo-Brazzaville, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Liberia and Cameroon. Refugees from other countries, including Zimbabwe, were excluded due to their small numbers, says the survey. The survey finds that 44% of the refugees in South Africa survive on only one meal a day, with 21 % saying they and their families often go without food. The average family income for refugees in South Africa is R650 a month and only 3% have no income at all. One-fifth of those surveyed said they paid for immigration services that should have been free of charge. Seventeen percent said they had been denied emergency medical treatment. Demographically, two.thirds of the foreigners sheltering in South Africa were asylum-seekers, and the remaining third were refugees. The average age of the refugees was 31 and three-quarters had arrived in South Africa alone. Two-thirds of those in the country now had arrived after 1999. Three-quarters of the respondents said they could not find work because they had short-term residence permits. Half said employers were put off by their lack of any documentation, and a third were convinced they were excluded from the job market because they were not South African. A quarter of those arriving were reliant on initial food aid. This came chiefly from mosques and churches (41%) and other NGOs (39%). Of the refugees who applied for documentation before passage of the Refugee Act in April 2000, 27% are still waiting. No fewer than 71 % of applicants since April 2000 are still without documentation. Asked to prioritise their needs, respondents put employment first (56%), followed by documentation (53%), education for themselves (48%), housing or shelter (42%) and food (18%).
US to begin fingerprinting South Africans for visas (The Star, 06/01) -The United States consulate general is to begin fingerprinting and photographing all visa applicants from South Africa aged 14 to 79.It will start in its Cape Town offices on Monday, as part of a new security programme. Visa-issuing offices in Johannesburg and Durban will begin the procedure later.US consulate general public affairs officer Daniel Caffey yesterday said the fingerprints, along with the applicant's photograph, would verify the traveller's identity on arrival in the US.Caffey said the reason they would be starting in Cape Town was that it was the first place to get the equipment. "It had nothing to do with the populace. If we had been able to, we would have done all areas."Cape Town, home to a large proportion of the country's Muslims, was the scene of the 2001 arrest of one of the al-Qaeda men convicted of bombing the US embassies in East Africa in 1998. Militant Muslim group Pagad was placed on the US terror list in 2001.Caffey said the plan had been in the pipeline for some time, but was "aggravated" by the September 11 terror attacks in 2001.Caffey said the "fingerscan" process was fully digital and did not involve ink or other substances that leave a residue.
Aliens get a rough festive ride (Sunday Times, 04/01) - Illegal immigrants who handed themselves over to South African authorities in the hope of getting free train tickets home spent the festive season behind bars instead or on the backs of bone-jarring trucks .Thousands of immigrants spent Christmas and New Year at the notorious Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp because train and plane seats usually reserved for their journey home were filled by local holidaymakers. The Lindela camp is used as a central detention facility for foreigners who arrive in South Africa without travel documents or who do not qualify for asylum, before they are deported. It is run by the Department of Home Affairs. Spoornet spokesman Hanlie Kotze said the corporation would resume deporting illegal immigrants later this month. Over the holidays there was simply too much demand on Spoornet's rolling stock for people to be deported, she said. "The festive season is our busiest period as we transport between 800 000 and a million passengers. We have added 456 more trains to cope with the high volume of passengers," Kotze explained. The Sunday Times this week established that 4 572 illegal immigrants spent New Year's Eve at Lindela. Earlier, some were deported in a long and bumpy ride by truck, and more will be trucked away in the next few days. Home Affairs spokesman Nkosana Sibuyi said the department spent R7-million @ to R8-million a month repatriating illegal immigrants from Lindela. Sibuyi said: "We are aware of people giving themselves over to be deported during the festive season. At the moment we are using trucks to deport some of them but we are taking fewer people than we do with Spoornet trains." It costs Home Affairs about R58 to deport each illegal immigrant by rail to a neighbouring country. Sibuyi said between January and September last year 114 416 illegal immigrants were deported to 10 different countries.
Foreigners snap up homes in Cape Town (Cape Times, 02/01) - Despite a strong rand, Britons and increasing numbers of African-Americans are snapping up homes in the Strand, Stellenbosch, Durbanville and a range of middle-class suburbs in Cape Town. "The perception that foreign sales are diminishing because of the rand's strengthening is a fallacy," said Andrew Golding, chief executive of Pam Golding Properties. "Foreigners are still coming and they are still getting value for money. Sales have not been levelling off, which is a function of the fact that when the rand was cheap, there was tremendous exposure of the South African property market." The average price paid by foreign buyers for homes in the past year was R1-million, Golding said. The stronger rand had made investors more confident in the South African economy, said Ian Flot, Western Cape chairman of Seeff Properties, and some visitors who would previously have stayed in hotels were now buying properties. Flot said property was cheap in South Africa when apartheid ended, largely because foreigners didn't want to own property in the country. "The Irish say that Cape Town smells and feels like Dublin 10 years ago. Ireland has done so well economically and now they are looking for other places that could do something similar," he said. "British people buy more properties here than any other nationality and since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks there has been a boom in the number of properties being bought by Americans. "People, especially African-Americans, are wanting to be part of an African success story. They are coming for all the right reasons. They don't want just another holiday destination." Across the city, foreigners had accounted for about 15 percent of property sales in the past year, agents said. Property prices have risen by about 15% in the past year, but this masks dramatic increases in the city bowl and expensive areas of the Atlantic seaboard, Bishopscourt and Constantia, where prices have risen by 20 percent to 25 percent. On the Atlantic seaboard and in the southern suburbs, a R1m price tag, previously considered a fortune, would now be seen as "modest".
Be friendly to visitors, immigration officers advised (Mbabane, Swazi observer, 27/01) - Tourism Minister Thandi Shongwe has advised immigration officers to be friendly each time they receive visitors. Addressing immigration officers at a workshop yesterday, the minister said the immigration department was a major player in the tourism industry. She said the department forms the backbone of the tourism industry, as well as improving the country's economy. The workshop, on excellent customer service, was organised by the Swaziland Tourism Authority (STA). The minister remarked that it was important for the officers to reflect the true spirit of Swaziland to both local and incoming visitors. "Swaziland was among the few countries in the world that are blessed with a rich culture, scenery and a strong heritage. Swazis are known to be very hospitable worldwide and that has contributed in making the country a remarkable tourist attraction. "As immigration officials, the onus is on you to create return business for Swaziland by exercising the greatest level of hospitality. I feel that a bright smile does more good than a thousand kind words," said Shongwe. Shongwe added that visitors were likely to spend more time in a friendly environment than in a hostile place. She explained that the reason for the workshop was to improve the tourism industry and hoped the officers would benefit from it. Chief Executive Officer of STA Poppy Khoza shared the same sentiments, citing that more avenues were tried by her department to improve the industry. Khoza said participants were drawn from the police, customs and immigration officers, but all dealing on customer service.
Additional crossing points for refugees to be opened (Arusha, Irin, 26/01) - Two additional crossing points on the Tanzania-Burundi border will be opened in coming months to facilitate the return of Burundian refugees living in Tanzania, according to officials.More concerted steps would also be taken to prepare for the return of Burundians living outside Tanzanian camps and those who have been living in Tanzania since the 1970s, known as the "old caseload", the Tripartite Commission on Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees from Tanzania concluded on Wednesday at the end of its seventh meeting in Arusha, northern Tanzania.The meeting was organised by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and brought together Burundian and Tanzanian government officials working to facilitate the return of an estimated 324,000 refugees living in Tanzania due the decade-long civil war in Burundi.The commission called for the immediate opening of the Makamba-Gisuru crossing, followed by that of the Manyovo-Mugina crossing point in April. The two crossing points would be in addition to two that are already in existence. The first convoy is due to pass through Makamba on Wednesday, with a minimum of two convoys per week per crossing point, the tripartite commission said on Wednesday in a communiqué.The UNHCR and government officials agreed to complete a census of Burundians living in villages, outside the refugee camps, as well as to finalise the budget for the repatriation of a separate group, the old caseload, with a view to both parties returning home as soon as possible.The "old caseload" are refugees who fled ethnic killings in the 1970s and were moved to areas in Tanzania farther away from the border, where they have been living ever since.Added to these announcements, with the refugees beginning to return in considerable numbers - 80,000 in 2003 - the commission acknowledged the difficulties that returning refugee students face with the recognition of their education certificates and called for the relevant documents to be issued. Despite the increased repatriation, the officials did, however, point out the need to establish benchmarks or conditions that need to be met in order to move from the facilitation to the promotion phase of repatriation.The issues, which will include security, cantonment of former rebel fighters and the preparedness of humanitarian organisations on the ground, would be discussed in the next meeting, due to be held in May in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura. Formally closing the meeting, Tanzanian Minister for Home Affairs, Ramadhan Omar Mapuri said the agreement marked "another piece of good news" for Burundian refugees and that all parties "must live up to what they had agreed upon".He said that all sides would gain from the completion of the repatriation process."For Tanzania, it will ease the burden we bear and let us get on with social and economic development; for Burundi, it will allow them to focus on national reconstruction and the strengthening of democracy and it will add to the credibility of the UN system and to the enormous experience of UNHCR in tackling refugee matters," he said.
UN agency prepares for possible mass return of refugees (Nairobi, Irin, 22/01) - The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has sent an emergency team from Switzerland to Burundi to explore the possibilities of opening up more field offices in preparation for the possible return of hundreds of thousands of refugees now in Tanzania, the agency reported on Tuesday. The agency reported that the team, comprising a head of operations, a finance and operations officer and a telecommunications/information technology officer, would join a field staff safety adviser. They will travel to areas bordering Tanzania "to assess the situation, review the needs on the ground and prepare for the possible deployment of additional staff". The agency plans to open offices in several of Burundi's eastern and southern provinces bordering Tanzania to facilitate the return of the refugees to previously inaccessible areas in the country. The plan follows improved security in parts of the country after the signing in November 2003 of a power-sharing agreement between the transitional government and the former main rebel group in the country, the Conseil national de defense de la democratie-Forces pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD) led by Pierre Nkurunziza. "The UN has eased some restrictions on travel and presence in three areas of Burundi - Makamba, Bururi-Ville and Rutana - bringing these three areas in line with much of the rest of the country and making them more accessible by UN staff," UNHCR reported. It said that security permitting, it would like to open new offices in Ruyigi, along the central stretch of the border, and Makamba in the south, as well as expand its presence in Muyinga in the north. The UNHCR said it closed its office in Ruyigi and reduced its presence in Muyinga in 2002 due to insecurity. It has not had a presence in Makamba for decades. The agency began assisted voluntary repatriation operations in March 2002 and has focused on facilitating returns to safer areas in northern and central Burundi. Its planned expansion to the east and south would mean that some of the more than 300,000 refugees still living in Tanzanians camps could soon return home with UNHCR assistance. The agency reported that a meeting between Burundi, Tanzania and the UNHCR would be held in Arusha, Tanzania on Wednesday, to review the ongoing return programme between the two countries. At the meeting, it reported, representatives from the UNHCR and the two governments hope to agree on plans to activate additional border crossing points for repatriation, the number of weekly return convoys as well as plans to rehabilitate roads and other infrastructure on both sides of the border. The agency said more than 68,000 refugees had returned to Burundi since the start of UNHCR-assisted repatriation in March 2002. Another 45,000 went home on their own in 2003, it added.
Marked increase in refugee returnee figures (Dar es Salaam, Irin, 14/01) -At least 6,000 Burundian refugees left camps in western Tanzania for home in December 2003, indicating increasing confidence in Burundi's peace process and a possible beginning of a large-scale repatriation, aid workers told IRIN on Wednesday."There seems to be a steady stream [of returnees], and if more crossing points are opened up it looks like the numbers will increase," said Jesse Kamstra, the project coordinator for the Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service, an organisation managing refugee camps in Kigoma Region's Kibondo District in the northwest.The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) transported registered returnees into Burundi through crossing points in Kibondo and Ngara districts.Refugees in camps further south in Kasulu and Kigoma regions organised their own journeys home, because UNHCR was said to be awaiting the completion of a security assessment in southeastern Burundi before opening more crossing points, officials said.The signing in November 2003 of a power-sharing agreement between the government and the main Hutu rebel group in Burundi, the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Forces pour la defense de la democratie of Pierre Nkurunziza, was welcomed by the estimated 324,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzanian camps. However, most of them chose to wait and see the agreement implemented before going home.At least 5,470 Burundians left Kibondo in December 2003 - up from 3,000 in November, Kamstra told IRIN.Other aid workers said the fact that refugees were beginning to leave Kanembwa camp, where many of the intellectuals who fled Burundi's civil war have spent the last 10 years, pointed to a rising confidence in the country's peace process and readiness to go home. The number of refugees leaving camps in Ngara - where there are 88,000 refugees - is stable, at about 1,000 a month, said Mark Wigley, an official at Norwegian People's Aid, one of UNHCR's implementing partners in the district. He added that the refugees would probably "wait and see" over the next couple of months."But everything seems right for repatriation in large numbers - all the signals are positive," he said. "There is no real push right now as people are confident that their land will still be there when they get back."Aid workers said the delay affecting the repatriation of Burundians from Kasulu was because the border crossing into southern Burundi had not yet been opened up, due to security concerns. Nonetheless, some refugees are making their own way home."Most of the repatriation here is spontaneous," Paul Davies, the programme officer for Africare in Kasulu, said. "The refuges are organising their own transport and heading for Makamba, Rutanda, Ruyigi."He said some were handing in their ration cards and others were not, just in case they need to return.The UNHCR's public information assistant in Dar es Salaam, Frederick Mwinjabi, said a security assessment of southeastern Burundi had not yet been completed, but the tripartite meeting between UNHCR and the governments of Burundi and Tanzania due to be held from 19 to 21 January would discuss repatriation, especially with a view to opening up new crossing points."We need to get prepared before people start going back en masse," he said. "When we are sure that it is safe, we will encourage people to go home."He added that the repatriation of some 150,160 Burundian refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo had not yet begun, but was being looked into.
Returning home not easy for some refugees (Daily Mail, 30/01) - With peace returning to Angola and the Great Lakes region, thousands of refugees who had found refugee in Zambia are now expected to go back to their home countries. Many are happy with the prospects of being reunited with family members they left behind. To others, the journey back is like being sent into another refugee camp. Zambia has been a host to over 250 490 refugees mainly from war-torn countries such as Angola, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi among others. Of late, 18,140 refugees from Angola have gone back to their country under the voluntary repatriation programme, a project run by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and other cooperating partners. The project facilitates alllogistical requirement for those that voluntarily choose to return. About 125 Rwandans have also returned to their country out of the original 4,000 that fled to Zambia after the outbreak of the tribal war that led to the genocide 10 years ago. However, most of the Angolan refugees have lived in Zambia for a very long time such that the prospect of being "uprooted" again to go back to Angola and begin yet another new life is not attractive. Because of this, a number of refugees from Angola have refused to go back, opting to make Zambia their motherland. Currently, 18140 Angolan refugees from the estimated 200,000 have so far been repatriated and more are expected to go after the rainy reason. The repatriation has been postponed due to the heavy rains. UNHCR Public Information Assistant Kelvin Shimoh said it will commence in May and should end in 2005. To some of the refugees who have spent most of their lives in camps in Zambia, the prospect of returning home is a good one as it presents an opportunity to build their lives especially as Angola is undergoing reconstruction. Some say prospects are very high especially for those that have acquired some skills and can participate in the infrastructure rebuilding exercise. However, for some, returning home is not such a rosy prospects due to a number of uncertainties such as insecurity and broken family ties in their homeland. Some refugees, especially those that live among the host communities in townships and suburbs have become a part of the Zambian society. They also in one way or another contribute to the country's well being. Some of the Angolan nationals are married to Zambians and have integrated themselves into the Zambian society and even acquainted themselves with the local culture.
Most refugees through the Zambia Initiative Programme have settled down well and have contributed to the development of the country. The initiative is a project aimed at integrating refugees to their host community while at the same time helping the communities to develop. It also helps people in changing the perception that refugees are not a burden but engines to development. Most Angolan refugees in Zambia have lived here for so many years and many Angolan children have been born in the country. For refugees going back home and helping to rebuild their countries from the ashes of war is a very important issue as they too would like to stand proud before their countries. For the refugees that choose not to return home their fate remains in the hands of the Zambian government and its laws that will determine whether these people are eligible to remain in the country as permanent residents or become citizens. But then, how many of them can the government possibly grant permits or citizenship to because allowing thousands of them to stay is huge a strain on the government resources. The UNHCR Public Information assistant Kelvin Shimoh explained that currently all the financial aspects of the refugees stay in the country were being handled by UNHCR and other cooperating partners. It is generally assumed that when peace has been restored in a country where there has been civil strife, externally displaced people are no longer refugees as they can return home. To a certain extent it would become very difficult for the UNHCR to continue facilitating the stay of these refugees in Zambia should many of them choose to stay. This would also imply that the Zambian government might have to take up the burden of looking after the refugees. The UNHCR and other donors on their part only assist refugees that are accommodated in settlement camps and a small number living in urban areas. Apart from the huge Angolan refugee population in the country, there are about 55,000 refugees from ORC alone. Shimoh explained that the UNHCR would commence the repatriation programme for the ORC refugees soon. The question still remains what would happen to refugees who are married and have children with Zambians in the event that the government does not grant them permits to stay in the country. The impact of wars in the neighbouring countries and the Great Lakes region has been greatly felt in Zambia as witnessed by the influx of the thousands of refugees. According to Shimoh, there has been no influx of refugees recorded in the past months. This can be attributed to the relative peace returning in the neighbouring troubled countries such as the ORC. Political and economic analysts say the thaw in relations between former foes in the region could enhance economic development as resources once used to buy arms are now being channelled into rebuilding tattered economies.
Sixty-nine illegal immigrants rounded up (Times of Zambia, 23/01) - Sixty-nine suspected illegal immigrants were on Wednesday rounded up in Mpulungu after immigration officers mounted an operation.Immigration department public relations officer Jones Mwelwa said in a statement yesterday that 31 of those picked up were confirmed to be staying in the country illegally. "Out of these, five paid K1,080,000.00 as admission of guilt fines and were placed on temporary permits while 12 Congolese and 13 Tanzanians were escorted to their respective countries by boat. One Congolese is still detained for further investigations," Mr Mwelwa said. He said the remaining 38 were cleared after it was established that they were in the country legally. The immigration department during the operation discovered that most of those picked up were in fact Zambians who had not obtained green national registration cards. Mr Mwelwa advised citizens, especially those living along the border, to get their cards so that they could easily be identified. "The areas we visited in Mpulungu are town centre, old and new locations, Mzabwela, Mupata, and Kaizya villages surrounding the townships," he said. Meanwhile, immigration officers arrested eight illegal immigrants at the Lusaka International Airport and Chirundu for travelling on forged passports. Mr Mwelwa said the immigration department had intensified operations to rid the country of unwanted elements who could scare away genuine investors.
Formulate an effective immigration act says home affairs (Times of Zambia, 22/01) - Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba has directed the chief immigrations officer to liaise with relevant stakeholders and formulate an effective Immigration Act. Mr Mumba said the current Act was last revised in 1997 and as a result it had become so weak to guard against bogus investors who were only after making money in Zambia. He said this in Lusaka yesterday when he handed over uniforms, caps, and other materials worth K1 billion to chief immigration officer Ndioyi Mutiti. The uniforms and other materials are for all immigration departments in Zambia. "There is need to tighten the laws and also revisit the issue of capital flight in order to attract genuine investors as we ensure peace and tranquillity in our country," Mr Mumba said. He said Zambia's doors were open and that the rate at which investors externalised funds to their countries of origins were alarming and needed to be checked quickly. "In consultation with relevant stakeholders, I urge the chief immigrations office to revisit the Immigration and Importation Act to make it more effective." Mr Mumba said even Government had difficulties in taking action against such investors because of the porous Act in place. He also implored heads of procurement departments in his ministry to observe transparency in the way they used public funds.Mr Mumba said Government was spending a lot of money and controlling officers were entirely in charge of ensuring that the money was used wisely.
Strategy to tax nurses abroad (Daily Mail, 18/01) - Government is considering engaging countries where nurses have migrated to enter into a formal memorandum of understanding for fixed contracts. Health minister Brian Chituwo says government is working out modalities on how to retain and motivate nurses and other medical personnel that have left the country. The countries in question would be required to pay the Zambian government a certain amount of money which will be re - invested in training. Health minister Brian Chituwo says government is working out modalities on how to retain and motivate nurses and other medical personnel that have left the country in search of greener pastures. Dr Chituwo said government was concerned with the brain drain being experienced in the medical field. The minister was speaking at the Chipata council chambers on Wednesday when he addressed councillors, the business community, NGO leaders and other stakeholders. He said although the nurses had a right to seek employment outside the country, the community also had a right to get the services from the medical staff who are being trained using tax payers money. Dr Chituwo disclosed that Zambia had some of the best qualified nurses in the region so this could be the reason why they are being poached in the region and internationally. "So the question is what can we do to retain and motivate them? Definitely the government is doing something," Dr Chituwo said. The meeting at the council chamber was jointly addressed by Dr Chituwo and Local Government and Housing minister Sylvia Masebo and also attended by Msanzala member of Parliament, Peter Daka. Dr Chituwo also told the gathering that Zambia still had a high percentage of underweight children despite the country producing sufficient food. He said 42 percent of the children were stunted in the country. He also appealed to the private sector to assist government in employment creation.
Angolan refugees may opt to stay (Johannesburg, Irin, 15/01) - A significant number of Angolan refugees in Zambia may elect not to join a voluntary repatriation programme restarting in the next few months at the end of the rainy season, said a report this week by the US Committee for Refugees.Some 18,000 Angolans were repatriated from Zambia by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, in an operation that began in June last year. Approximately 90,000 remain in three refugee settlements - Mayukwayukwa, Meheba, and Nangweshi - in the west of the country, while an estimated 97,000 more unregistered "spontaneously settled" Angolans live outside the camps among the Zambian population.According to the US Committee for Refugees, "as many as 30,000 to 50,000 Angolan refugees have no desire to live in Angola and will choose to remain in Zambia rather than repatriate." These include young adults and children born and raised in Zambia, many of whom have never visited Angola and are unfamiliar with their homeland.However, Anu Visamies, UNHCR's senior programme officer in Zambia, cautioned that there was no known figure for how many refugees may choose to opt out of the repatriation programme. The estimate used by the US Committee for Refugees was based on the number of old-caseload Angolans, who by now were well integrated into Zambian society.Visamies said UNHCR was working with the Zambian government to regularise their immigration status, and a first step was to provide them with permanent residency. She noted that a parliamentary bill, which would have granted them citizenship, failed to pass through the national assembly.People fleeing the war in Angola began arriving in Zambia three decades ago, but only in the last few years have schools in the refugee camps used the Angolan syllabus and taught Portuguese.The Angolans are known for their farming skills, and most reached a remarkable level of self-sufficiency and did not become dependant on the international community during their stay in Zambia, the US Committee for Refugees commented."Local Zambian officials empowered Angolan refugees by providing them with [2.5 to 5 hectares] of fertile land for agriculture purposes upon arrival to Zambia. This generosity enabled refugees to supplement their diets and to eventually amply feed themselves," the report noted."With the repatriation of the Angolan refugee population, Zambia has already lost, and will continue to lose, a tremendous source of agricultural labour and production," it added.
Journalist's deportation reversed (Times of Zambia, 14/01) - Government has re-instated POST newspaper columnist Roy Clarke's residential status until the court decides whether he should be deported. In a matter that was held on chambers before High Court Judge Philip Musonda, Government and Mr Clarke's lawyers agreed to re-instate the columnist's status until the court makes a decision. Mr Clarke's lawyers Patrick Matibini said the two parties agreed to maintain the status of his client until the matter was resolved by the courts. Mr Matibini who refused to reveal Mr Clarke's whereabouts said his client was not a prohibited immigrant (PI). He said it was resolved Mr Clarke was an established resident until the matter was concluded. "We have agreed to re-instate Clarke's resident status and it has been resolved that he is an established resident until the case is concluded," said Mr Matibini. He said it was not necessary for the chief immigration officer to clarify court orders on Mr Clarke's status because of the decision that had been made. Mr Matibini said the Ministry of Home Affairs had the power to deport someone but that the two parties had agreed to maintain his status quo. On Monday the Lusaka High Court subpoenaed the chief immigration officer to clarify High Court orders and the status of Mr Clarke. Mr Clarke is being represented by Patrick Matibini of Patmat Legal Practitioners while the Government is represented by Attorney General George Kunda. The matter has been set for January 26 for hearing.
Calm returns to Kasumbalesa border post (Times of Zambia, 14/01) - Copperbelt Minister Webby Chipili has said the situation at Kasumbalesa border post has normalised after some Congolese protested against the closure of warehouses to curb smuggling of mealie-meal and maize into DR Congo. Mr Chipili said in an interview in Kitwe yesterday that calm had returned to Kasumbalesa border post after the two governments held meetings at district level on how best to maintain peace and harmony in executing the exercise of curbing smuggling. The provincial minister said he was happy that the Congolese government was very supportive in carrying out the exercise of closing the border warehouses even after more than 1,000 calls-boys popularly known as Katokas protested the two governments' decision. Last week the Katokas protested at the residence of Kasumbalesa mayor over the two governments' co-operation to curb smuggling of mealie-meal and maize. He commended the task force which comprised Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), Zambia Police and immigration officers for working tirelessly to ensure that smuggling was controlled at the border and no maize was off-loaded after 18.00 hours. "The influx of Katokas has reduced. I must praise our counterparts from DRC for their co-operation during the meetings with them, and of course not forgetting our hardworking men and women from ZRA, police and the immigration department," Mr Chipili said. Mr Chipili said Government had taken the decision to close border warehouses to ensure that the country does not import maize when it had a good harvest. He said Government wanted to succeed in producing food as well as its security. Mr Chipili said if the situation was left as it was at Kasumbalesa border post, the country would have lost a lot of maize though illegal exports and the same maize would have found its way back to Zambia at a much higher price.
Stay order goes back to high court for clarification (Lusaka, The Post, 13/01) - The Lusaka High Court has subpoenaed the Chief Immigration officer to clarify the high court orders and the status of popular Post columnist Roy Clarke. According to the subpoena to clarify court order 32 of the rules of the Supreme Court filed in the High Court yesterday by Clarke's lawyers Patmat Legal Practitioners, the Chief Immigration officer would starting today until the matter was tried be required to give evidence on behalf of Clarke or the respondent (Attorney General George Kunda) in the matter in which Clarke has applied to the court to clarify his status. The matter comes up for hearing before High Court judge Philip Musonda at 14:30 hours today. According to the affidavit in support of summons to clarify court orders and his status, Clarke stated that he had been advised by his counsel that the court had issued an order granting the stay of execution of his deportation order issued by home affairs minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha. He also stated that he was advised that the court directed that his status quo be maintained and that a temporary permit be issued on him pending determination of his matter on January 26, 2004. Clarke stated that soon after the order, his lawyer attended on the Chief Immigration officer. He said the Chief Immigration officer verbally indicated to his lawyer that the Immigration Department would issue him a temporary permit, which would be valid up to January 26, 2004 and thereafter be subject to review. "The grant of the said permit is subject to payment of the sum of Two Million Kwacha (K2, 000, 000.00)," he stated. Clarke stated that each time a renewal was made, the said fee was required to be paid and that the Chief Immigration officer was insisting on personal service of the warrant. He complained that despite the grant of leave for judicial review of the minister's decision, he was still being treated like a prohibited immigrant. "The conditions that the state is insisting on my continued stay in the country are roving and oppressive," he stated. Clarke stated in view of the court order, he was entitled to enjoy his status as an established resident until the matter was finally determined by the courts of law. Last week, Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha ordered the deportation of Clarke following The Post's publication of his weekly column which the minister found he to be unpleasant. But Clarke sought a judicial review of the order and hearing for the same comes up on January 26, 2003.
Deportation and the rule of law (Lusaka, The Post, 12/01) - While the nation expected President Levy Mwanawasa to have used his holiday in Mfuwe to seriously reflect on the performance of his government in 2003, he seems to have come back more determined that ever to assert his executive authority and intimidate his critics. Both the decision to send the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mukelabai Mukelabai, on forced leave and to deport popular Post columnist Roy Clarke for his 'Mfuwe' article seem to have been orchestrated by Levy Mwanawasa himself. His recent press conference was very revealing (Post, 9/01/04). It is now very clear that the MMD government no longer has any pretensions to upholding principles of democratic governance, such as transparency and respect for the rule of law. The removal of Mukelabai Mukelabai as DPP has not been properly handled. It comes against the background of personal differences with the Nchito brothers - Nchima and Mutembo - over the prosecution of cases of plunder of national resources that had led to their resignation two weeks ago. Would the Nchitos' reinstatement be related to the forced removal of DPP Mukelabai Mukelabai? While Mukelabai's handling of a number of high profile cases have seen nolle prosequis entered and the public may need an explanation as to why he has continued in office for this long, he holds a constitutional office and can not just be sent on forced leave without following the due process. According to Article 56 of the Constitution, the DPP may be removed from office only for incompetence, inability to perform his functions or misbehaviour. If as President Mwanawasa indicated at his press conference, Mukelabai has been compromised in the discharge of his duties, is that not a subject for the establishment of a tribunal? Why has there been a contradiction between the Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, George Kunda and the President over the tenure of the DPP? For example, George Kunda dismissed speculation that Mukelabai was being sent on forced leave and informed the nation that he was on ordinary leave and would return to his job at the end of his leave. However, President Mwanawasa was emphatic when he declared that Mukelabai would never come back as DPP. I have difficulty with the manner in which our government functions. It would appear that it lacks coordination and seriousness in handling national affairs. George Kunda is Zambia's Attorney General and chief legal advisor: how come he was contradicted by the President? If Kunda had any decency he should resign. I have great sympathy for him given the fact that he is only a nominated Member of Parliament and it is not a common practice in this country for ministers to resign on matters of principle. There seems to be too many contradictions regarding why Mukelabai has left the DPP's chambers. He is supposed to have wanted to tender his resignation due to innuendos and lack of public confidence in his handling of the cases of plunder of public resources. The President revealed that he had unsubstantiated anonymous letters that alleged that Mukelabai had acted unprofessionally in meeting one of the accused persons. Why then did he not let him resign? Why should Mwanawasa be interested in finding a scholarship for someone he accuses of having failed to discharge the duties of his office? Why has he come up with suggestions of appointing him as High Court or Supreme Court judge if he did not return to his job? I would like to believe that Mwanawasa doubted the ability of Mukelabai to successfully prosecute his predecessor, Frederick Titus Chiluba. As he is so desperate to secure the conviction of Chiluba, Mukelabai has had to be sidelined, even without following provisions of the Constitution. I am afraid that this appears to be abuse of authority on the part of the President and a violation of the Constitution. Mukelabai should know that he holds a constitutional office and cannot be removed on the basis of innuendos. Now that the President has indicated why Mukelabai will not return to his job, it is only proper that he is suspended from his office and a tribunal appointed to investigate the serious allegations leveled against him.
On Monday 5 January 2004, Government ordered Post columnist Roy Clarke to leave the country following the publication of a satirical article which lampooned the MMD leadership. The article is said to have insulted President Mwanawasa, the MMD leadership and the Zambian people. As the political satire was written by a British national it was considered offensive. But a critical analysis of the events leading to the deportation order clearly shows that the article was not offensive to all Zambians as Home Affairs Permanent Secretary would want us to believe. It was found offensive by President Mwanawasa and his loyalists had to find a way of sorting out Roy once and for all, using the swiftest means available - deportation. Hence, the hiring (or is it renting) of a mob masquerading as MMD party cadres. It is doubtful that the majority of those who illegally marched to Ronnie Shikapwasha's office had read the article nor regularly read the Post. The planned deportation of Roy Clarke has serious implications for press freedom and respect for the rule of law. It shows that Government can resort to extreme and arbitrary actions when it dislikes certain opinions from sections of our society. Satire is a form of political expression which has been used in Zambia even in our traditional societies. It is political criticism expressed in an art form. Its indirect nature gives it universal applicability. Satire is a vital component of public debate in democratic societies. It uses humour to portray serious issues. It allows society to laugh at itself. It is surprising that at issue with Roy Clarke's article is not the matters he raises such as high unemployment, high taxes, low wages, lack of medicines in hospitals and facilities in schools, but rather the depiction of animal characters. One wonders what would have happened had the article been written by a Zambian citizen. Would the depiction of animals have attracted similar wrath? Assuming President Mwanawasa, his Government or any citizen of this country felt offended by Clarke's article, they would have written to show their displeasure. And I have no doubt that such a response would have been published by the Post. Why was that not done by Peter Mumba who seems to be the most aggrieved by the article? If indeed the article was insulting the aggrieved parties should have sued for defamation under article 69 of the Penal Code. The reprieve granted to William Banda and Majid Ticklay last year seem to suggest that the MMD Government was now more self-confident and would not resort to desperate measures such as deportations. But here we are back to square one. There has simply been no change in the MMD with the coming of Levy. It is still the old MMD with all its baggage bequeathed to it by Frederick Titus Chiluba. It is a well-known fact that insulting the President is a criminal offence in this country. Many people, including foreign nationals who have been accused of defaming the President have been prosecuted in our courts. Why should Roy Clarke's case be different? Why did Peter Mumba and Home Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha want a swift deportation for Clarke without due process? It was disconcerting when Government ministers indicated that they would ignore the stay of execution granted by Judge Philip Musonda. The sadistic suggestion by Ronnie Shikapwasha that Roy Clarke should come out of hiding so that he can be detained at Chimbokaila prison awaiting the hearing of his case goes to show how heartless this Government is. Is that how the man charged with protecting our civil liberties should conduct himself? There are a number of people who have been falling over each other condemning Roy Clarke. But it is important to point out that if this deportation is not fought, the MMD government will be encouraged to deport anybody at will. It is very easy for the Government to pick on its opponents and strip them of citizenship by declaring them foreigners. Zambians should join hands in demanding that Government protect individual liberties and govern according to the rule of law. I would like to believe that the impending deportation of Roy Clarke is not only politically motivated but has racial underpinnings. Roy has been targeted because as a British national he is not expected to participate in Zambian political life. However, every human being is entitled to the full enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms. This includes the freedom of expression. I would appeal to Levy Mwanawasa to revoke Roy Clarke's deportation order at his earliest convenience. It would be unfortunate if he will have to lose the international goodwill he currently enjoys due to a silly article by an individual who does not pose any political threat to him or his Government. Levy, you have a chance to redeem yourself!
Zambian police seek fugitive writer (Lusaka, The Star, 08/01) - Lusaka - In an action reminiscent of the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, the Zambian government says it will ignore a court order and deport columnist Roy Clarke if he is found. The Zambian government has issued a warrant for the arrest of the British writer, who was ordered to quit the country for "insulting" President Levy Mwanawasa in his weekly column in The Post newspaper, police sources said yesterday."All security agents in the country have been ordered to look for Roy Clarke and immediately detain him pending his deportation," a senior police officer said yesterday on condition of anonymity Deportation set to proceed despite court challenge ."The alarm was raised after the 24-hour ultimatum expired," the officer said, referring to a government order on Monday that Clarke leave the country within a day.The Lusaka High Court later temporarily blocked his deportation until it had ruled in the case in which Clarke will challenge the reasons for his deportation. Clarke's lawyer Patrick Matibini said the case was due to be heard today in the Lusaka High Court, but could not confirm whether his client was in hiding.Said Matibini: "Roy is around but we cannot give information about his current whereabouts."Home Affairs Minister Lieutenant-General Ronnie Shikapwasha said yesterday the deportation would go ahead as planned. "Clarke's deportation order is still in place. The attorney-general will respond to the stay of execution but the deportation is still in force."Clarke has lived in Zambia for many years and is married to a prominent Zambian women's rights activist.The British high commission said it was not aware of Clarke's whereabouts, but that he was welcome to return to Britain. "We cannot comment further because the matter is subject to legal proceedings," the high commission said. - Independent Foreign Service
Rule of law on test (Lusaka, The Post, 07/01) - We hope home affairs minister Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha's statement does not mean that they intend to ignore the stay of execution granted to Roy Clarke by High Court judge Philip Musonda. We say this because if the government intends to ignore the stay granted to Roy, then we are headed for an even more serious crisis - the break down of the rule of law. The right to equality before the law, or equal protection of the law as it is often phrased, is fundamental to any just and democratic society. Whether political ally of the state or opponent - all are entitled to equal protection before the law. A state that aspires to be democratic cannot guarantee that life will treat everyone equally, and it has no responsibility to do so. However, under no circumstances should the state impose additional inequalities; it should be required to deal evenly and equally with all the people. No one is above the law. In every society throughout history, those who administer the criminal justice system hold power with the potential for abuse and tyranny. In the name of the state, individuals have been deported or banished, imprisoned, had their property seized, and been tortured, exiled and executed without legal justification and often without any formal charges ever being brought against them. No society that aspires to be a democratic society can tolerate such abuses. Every state must have the power to maintain order and punish criminal acts, but the rules and procedures by which the state enforces its laws must be public and explicit, not secret, arbitrary or subject to political manipulation by the state. But whatever our emotions, our bitterness with Roy and The Post and whatever we decide to do or under the cool salons of political manipulation, let's not forget that freedom of speech and expression is the lifeblood of any society that aspires to be democratic. Roy may be a little prickle, but this matter is much more than that. This isn't just a Roy issue. Democracy is communication: people talking to one another about their common problems and forging a common destiny. Before people can govern themselves, they must be free to express themselves. We live with the conviction that through the open exchange of ideas and opinions, truth will eventually win out over falsehood, the values of others will be better understood, areas of compromise more clearly defined, and the path of progress opened. The greater the volume of such exchanges, the better. The press in our country will be reliable and useful not because of its good character but because of its diversity. As long as there are many newspapers, radio and television stations each pursuing its own brand of truth, we the people will have the opportunity to arrive at the truth and dwell in the light. A government that aspires to be democratic neither controls, dictates nor judges the content of written and verbal speech. Democracy depends upon a literate, knowledgeable citizenry, whose access to the broadest possible range of information enables them to participate as fully as possible in the public life of their society. Ignorance breeds apathy. Democracy thrives upon the energy of citizens who are sustained by the unimpeded flow of ideas, data, opinions and speculation. But what should the government do in cases where the news media or other organisations abuse freedom of speech with information that, in the opinion of the majority, is false, repugnant, irresponsible or simply in bad taste? The answer, by and large, is nothing. It is simply not the business of government to judge such matters. In general, the cure for free speech is more free speech. It may seem a paradox, but in the name of free speech, a democracy must sometimes defend the rights of individuals and groups who themselves advocate such non-democratic policies as repressing free speech. Those who aspire to democratic society defend this right out of the conviction that, in the end, open debate will lead to greater truth and wiser public actions than if speech and dissent are stifled. Furthermore, the suppression of speech that we find offensive today is potentially a threat to our exercise of free speech tomorrow which perhaps we or someone else might find offensive. One of the classic defences of this view is that of English philosopher John Stuart Mill, who argued in his 1859 essay, "On Liberty," that all people are harmed when speech is repressed. "If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth," Mill wrote, "if wrong, they lose...the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error." Democracy is a process, a way of living and working together. It is evolutionary, not static. It requires co-operation, compromise and tolerance among all citizens. Making it work is hard, not easy. Democracy embodies ideals of freedom and self-expression, but it is also clear-eyed about human nature. It does not demand that citizens be universally virtuous, only that they be responsible. As American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr said: "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."
Home affairs resists court order (Lusaka, The Post, 07/01) - Roy Clarke's deportation order cannot be quashed by the court, said home affairs minister Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha yesterday. Veteran politician Sikota Wina said the MMD government lacked qualities of courage, maturity and calmness. And Post lawyer Patrick Matibini yesterday disclosed that Clarke's deportation case would be heard by Lusaka High Court judge Philip Musonda tomorrow at 14:00 hours. When asked whether government would respect judge Musonda's order to stop its planned deportation of popular Post columnist Clarke, Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha said: "Clarke's deportation order is still in place. The Attorney General will respond to the stay of execution but Clarke's deportation is in force." Lt Gen Shikapwasha said Clarke had no status to live in the country because his resident permit had been revoked by the state. "His resident permit is gone. Those that are challenging Clarke's deportation will argue their case in court and the Attorney General will contest the stay of execution." Lt Gen Shikapwasha advised Clarke to choose between fighting a huge legal battle and voluntarily flying out of the country. He said Clarke's column remained offensive in the eyes of Zambians. Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha advised Clarke to come out of hiding and surrender himself before the immigration department to apply for a temporary resident permit as he awaited the outcome of the court's ruling over his deportation tomorrow. "If he continues to live in the country illegally, we will force him out of Zambia," Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha warned. "It is very easy to find him. There is no need for him to go into hiding." On Post editor-in-chief Fred M'membe's adoption of Clarke's column, Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha said M'membe was not the originator of the article that offended Zambians. "Fred's adoption of the column is meaningless because he is not the initiator of the article that offended Zambians. Fred has nothing to do with the offence that Clarke committed against Zambians," Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha said. "As minister I am not vindictive. But it is wrong for Clarke to insult the people of Zambia. They voted for the President and all the government leaders he referred to as animals." He said Clarke had lived long enough in Zambia to be familiar with Zambians' feelings on political issues. "You cannot expect Zambians to consider Clarke's referring to leaders as long-fingered baboons, knock-kneed giraffe, hungry crocodile and red-lipped snake as mere jokes," Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha said. "You can't go to UK and call the Queen names and expect to stay in that country. They will deport you immediately." Wina bemoaned the low leadership qualities in government. "The absence of these qualities in our present leadership struck me vividly as I watched the pictures on the TV screen on Monday night, which showed MMD cadres demonstrating outside the office of home affairs minister Shikapwasha," Wina said. "And to my consternation, Ronnie Shikapwasha who stood in front of the mob was smiling as he listened to the mob and when order was restored he blurted out the words which the mob had been chanting. It was mob rule at its worst. No vestige of any serious reflection." He said Clarke came to Zambia two years before Zambia gained independence and had raised a Zambian family out of his marriage to one of the most respected women in Zambian society. "It is sad that the deportation of a man who lived in this country for 42 years should ever be contemplated and in his deportation announced casually in front of a frenzied mob," said Wina. Clarke said President Mwanawasa had not spoken to complain against his column. "As far as I am concerned President Mwanawasa is being let down by Shikapwasha, Peter Mumba and the rented crowd of MMD cadres that protested at Cabinet Office," Clarke said."President Mwanawasa promised Zambians freedom of the press, expression and rule of law but now he is being put in a fix by his minister, PS and overzealous MMD cadres who are going against his promise." Clarke said he was not a racist as claimed by some of his critics. He denied having had gone into hiding after government announced his deportation order because the court has already stayed that decision. "I consider taking legal action against people labelling me as a racist," Clarke said. "I have no reason to hide because there is a court order."
Clarke said he had not either received his deportation order or being visited by any security officer. "As far as I am concerned, I am not in hiding and there is no deportation order because I have not received it," said Clarke. Matibini explained that the effect of the court order meant that government's decision to deport Clarke could not be implemented. "If to the contrary the government implements its decision, that will be a violation of the court's order and will amount to contempt of court," Matibini said. "But since this is a government of laws, I hope we will not go that far." M'membe said he was shocked by Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha's denial of the fact the editor is responsible for what is published by his newspaper. "The consequences of their denial of this fact just to fix Roy will catch up with them soon," M'membe said. "In today's world one doesn't need to be in Zambia to contribute to a column. Roy can contribute to this column even from England. Are they going to follow him there? This is very strange thinking and it exhibits a very high level of ignorance on the part of our leaders." Kabwe Deanery Catholic priest in-charge Fr Mathew Phiri warned that it was very dangerous for a political party in power to intimidate and tamper with the freedom of the media. Fr. Phiri said the ignorance exhibited by the MMD cadres on the satire publication was very dangerous to the well being of the Zambian society. He described Clarke as a satirist. "It is up to an individual or authority to fit in the interpretations of the satirical articles," he said. Fr. Phiri reminded government that Zambian chiefs and traditional leaders used satire to communicate to their subjects. "What type of Zambia are we building when cadres are allowed to take up power. We have been talking about the public order Act. When and how were MMD cadres given a demonstration permit at short notice?" Fr Phiri asked. "It is questionable." He advised the government to draw a lesson from the contents of Clarke's satire. "If you are wrong... you are wrong. Let them learn a lesson," he said. Fr. Phiri reminded government that satire was used in the Bible. "When you talk of the beast in the Bible, it does not mean so," he said. Fr. Phiri condemned MMD cadres for carrying a coffin during their demonstration. "That was traumatising to people. It is wrong," Fr. Phiri said. "How can they carry a coffin as if society is pleased with deaths?" Christian Life Ministries Pastor Davis Malulu said the government could have warned Clarke instead of deporting him. "Levy's government has decided harshly on the decision to deport Clarke. Two wrong things cannot make a right. What government has done is highest exhibition of intolerance," Pastor Malulu said. He wondered why the government rushed to deport Clarke when it was still harbouring some of the sinful and corrupt officials. Pastor Malulu said the Christian community expected Vice-President Nevers Mumba to prevail over Clarke's deportation with Christ's teachings of forgiveness, tolerance and reconciliation.
Zambian government issues arrest warrant for British writer (Lusaka, Sapa-AFP, 07/01) - Zambia's government has issued a warrant of arrest for a British writer who was ordered to be deported for "insulting" President Levy Mwanawasa in his weekly newspaper column, police sources said Wednesday. "All security agents in the country have been ordered to look for Roy Clarke and immediately detain him pending his deportation," a senior police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity. "The alarm was raised after the 24-hour ultimatum expired," the officer said, referring to a government order on Monday that Clarke should leave the country within a day. The Lusaka High Court nevertheless granted Clarke a stay of execution order later on Monday, temporarily blocking his deportation until the court ruled in the main case in which Clarke will challenge the reasons for his deportation. His lawyer Patrick Matibini said the case would come up for hearing on Thursday in the Lusaka High Court. Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha told local newspapers that the court order would not affect Clarke's deportation, however. "Clarke's deportation is still in place. His residence permit is gone," he said. The article in the Post newspaper, modelled along the lines of George Orwell's "Animal Farm," referred to the person in charge of the farm as "Mawelewele" - "fool" in the local Nyanja dialect. The article, published last Thursday, also referred to ministers as "long-legged giraffes, red-lipped, long-figured baboons." Clarke has lived in Zambia for many years and is married to a prominent Zambian women's rights activist.
Joint statement by Zambian media organisations (Misa, 06/01) - We, the media fraternity in Zambia, appeal to the government to rescind its decision to deport Post newspaper columnist Roy Clarke over a satirical article he wrote in the January 1, 2004 edition of the Post, in which he allegedly insulted President Levy Mwanawasa. We feel this action is an infringement on media freedom and freedom of expression as enshrined in article 20 of the Zambian constitution and a complete reversal of the major strides made by the new deal administration in media law reforms in Zambia. When the new deal administration came to power in January 2002, President Levy Mwanawasa decided to bring back people that were wrongly deported by the previous administration of Dr. Frederick Chiluba. Among them included former United National Independence Party (UNIP) Member of the Central Committee William Banda, and Lusaka businessman Majid Ticklay. By deporting Clarke, the government is destroying the progress and achievements that the new deal government has made in this regard so far. We feel that deportation should be the last resort on the part of the government since this is a matter that can easily be resolved by the courts of law. Time and again, we have stated that if anyone is injured in any way by any published matter including that of satirical nature, it is best to address it by civil proceedings rather than resorting to criminal means. We urge the government to review its decision in the interest of freedom of expression and media freedom, human rights, democracy and development.
Zambian court blocks deportation of British writer (Lusaka, Sapa-AFP, 06/01) - A Zambian court has temporarily blocked the deportation of a British writer who was ordered to be deported for allegedly "insulting" President Levy Mwanawasa in his weekly column in a private newspaper, his lawyer said Tuesday. Patrick Matibini said he obtained a "a stay of execution order" on Monday night from the Lusaka high court after he filed an application. "The judge has granted us the order pending the hearing of the main case at a date to be announced later," Matibini told AFP. The Zambian government on Monday gave Roy Clarke, a newspaper columnist, one day to leave for supposedly deriding Mwanawasa in his last article in the Post newspaper. The article, modelled along the lines of George Orwell's "Animal Farm," referred to the person in charge of the farm as "Mawelewele", or fool in the local Nyanja dialect. The article, published last Thursday, also referred to ministers as "long-legged giraffes, red-lipped, long-figured baboons." Clarke has lived in Zambia for many years and is married to a prominent Zambian women's rights activist. On Tuesday, Fred Mmembe, the editor of the Post re-published Clarke's article in full but put his own byline. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) watchdog meanwhile appealed to Mwanawasa in a statement to rescind the decision to deport Clarke, saying it was contrary to human rights and press freedom.
Zambia to deport British writer for allegedly defaming president (Lusaka, Sapa-AFP, 05/01) - Zambia has given a British writer one day to leave the country for "insulting" President Levy Mwanawasa in his weekly column in a private newspaper, a minister said Monday. "Mr (Roy) Clarke will not have more than 24 hours in the country," Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha told a group of Mwanawasa's supporters who marched on the interior ministry to demand Clarke's deportation. "I want to tell the nation that action has already been taken," Shikapwasha said. But Clarke told AFP he had not been served any notice. "I am not aware of the deportation order being issued," Clarke said. Earlier, home affairs permanent secretary Peter Mumba said he had recommended the interior minister issue a deportation order against Clarke, who writes a column in the Post newspaper. The article, modelled along the lines of George Orwell's "Animal Farm," referred to the person in charge of the farm as "Mawelewele", or fool in the local Nyanja dialect. "When you insult the president, you insult the people he represents. He should go back and start writing about his own people," Mumba said. The article, published last Thursday, also referred to ministers as "long-legged giraffes, red-lipped, long-figured baboons." Clarke has lived in Zambia for many years and is married to a prominent Zambian women's rights activist. The editor of the Post, Fred Mmembe, said he would take responsibility for the article and urged the government to deal with him and not Clarke. "I will be very surprised if President Mwanawasa will sanction such nonsense," Mmembe was quoted as saying by his newspaper. In the past, the Zambian government has deported foreigners for allegedly insulting the president or leaders in government.
Zimbabwean farmers in Zambia (Lusaka, Sapa-IPS, 02/01) - White Zimbabwean farmers who sought refuge in Zambia, have helped that country pull out of a crippling food shortage that saw millions of people relying on food aid last season. The landowners were forced off their properties in Zimbabwe during the fast-track land reform programme that began in 2000. Over 100 of them have since settled in Mkushi, a fertile maize-growing area in central Zambia that is favoured by commercial farmers. The Zimbabweans either rent land for farming from the locals, or go into partnership with owners who do not have the capacity to till huge tracts of land. The Zambia Investment Centre (ZIC) says it has issued certificates to 31 Zimbabweans to allow them to begin commercial farming. These farmers, having had their fingers burnt once, are not in a hurry to put down roots in Zambia just yet. But as one of the migrants, Jimmy Stewart, says: "It's farming that we know and do best. So we just want to see where the land lies, if you will excuse the pun, before we apply for permits and licenses and buy land." Deputy Agriculture Minister Chance Kabaghe has nothing but praise for the farmers, eve though their arrival prompted anxiety amongst Zambians -and some discomfort in relations between Lusaka and Harare. "People saw them as the enemy, seeking refuge in Zambia. Because they were white, people were also scared that the history of racism would resurface. Even people in government thought there should be solidarity (with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe), and we should refuse them (entry)," says Kabaghe. "But we saw them as potential investors who could improve our food security. We have now been vindicated." His boss, Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana, is more grudging with accolades. He explains that Zambia, reeling from the effects of two successive droughts, had a shortfall of 635,000 metric tonnes of grain last year. Food prices rocketed and 2.9 million people were in need of assistance. "This season we were determined to prioritise agriculture with timely input distribution," he said. The government continued to support more than 150,000 local farmers with subsidised maize seed and fertiliser. It also specified that commercial farmers, both local and foreign, had to put at least ten percent of their acreage into maize production to ensure Zambia did not suffer another grain shortage.
There is no figure to show exactly how much maize Zimbabwean farmers produced as a result of this directive. But, some reports indicate that they grew over 70 percent of the maize needed in Zambia. ZIC notes in its end-of-year report that all the Zimbabwean farmers awarded licenses had also started producing tobacco and wheat. "They have what it takes to undertake various farming enterprises and we would like more farmers of the calibre of Zimbabwean farmers to invest in agriculture," it said. While acknowledging the farming prowess of the Zimbabweans, local farmers complain they had an unfair advantage. "I do not want to sound petulant - I am happy that we have a bumper harvest and do not need food aid. But I feel a little peeved because we (local) farmers have been made to look incompetent. There are reasons the Zimbabweans had such a good crop," Thrifty Stephenson, a Zambian farmer, told IPS. He says the Zimbabwean farmers had collateral for loans from local and international financial institutions, while some also brought equipment and machinery with them. This gave them a "leg up" when they arrived in Zambia. "We are not talking refugees here. We are talking well-heeled business people," he says. The Standard Chartered Bank of Zambia, for example, gave loans to more than 20 Zimbabwean farmers who had settled in Zambia, to acquire existing farms or buy land. The bank's executive director of finance, Brighton Ngoma, says his institution had set up an agricultural unit to help boost the sector. The money being lent out was from the European Investment Bank and from Standard Chartered itself. Local farmers were also supposed to have benefited from the funds, but discussions about this matter are still underway with the Zambia National Farmers Union.
"It's not that we do not have confidence in the local farmers. We need to make sure that we protect our investment and also attain our objective to increase agricultural production. Already we are seeing the benefits of our lending to Zimbabwean farmers, because the good harvest has helped reduce inflation as well as stabilise the foreign exchange," said Ngoma. President Levy Mwanawasa announced recently that government would revitalise farming through agricultural financing, tax exemptions for imported equipment and low power tariffs. The government also wants to revive co-operative banks that lend money to farmers at favourable rates, and national marketing boards to buy their crops. Stewart, who has a 10-acre farm leased from a local resident, was reluctant to criticise existing agricultural policies. But he agreed that it was difficult to make commercial farming viable in Zambia. He cited high electricity tariffs, duties on equipment and the lack of a good lending and marketing policy. "Basically we came equipped with our own money, some equipment and good relations with international banks and donors. So we are not affected by those problems." On the positive side, says Stewart, there is a steady and reliable supply of manual labour, abundant land and water resources. Forty seven percent of Zambian land is suitable for various types of crops. Government appears to be keeping an eye on the Zimbabweans. "The minister (Sikatana) visited us here, I think, just to make sure we were doing what we said we would do, and was quite happy with our output. So for the time being, things are looking good," Stewart says. Kabaghe is confident that more Zimbabwean farmers will come when they realise Zambia welcomes investors, and that it does not have the land-ownership problems that have beset other countries in the region. Meanwhile Zimbabwe is experiencing a debilitating food shortage for the second year running - something that analysts have ascribed to drought, and the drop in food production caused by the land distribution programme. More than half the country's population will require emergency food aid this year, according to the World Food Programme.
Growing problem of child labour on farms (Harare, Irin, 28/01) - When a lorry carrying farm workers crashed this month outside the capital, Harare, killing 22 people, a number of children were among the fortunate survivors. The tragedy came at the beginning of the new school year, when a rise in school fees had forced many former farm workers - among the poorest of the rural poor - to pull their children out of school. The children on the lorry, aged between 13 and 18, were seeking piecework on neighbouring farms to earn the money to continue with their schooling. Prior to Zimbabwe's land reform programme in 2000, an estimated 320,000 to 350,000 farm workers, often from neighbouring countries, were employed on commercial farms owned by about 4,500 white farmers. Their dependents numbered around 2 million - more than 20 percent of the national population. As a result of land reform, some 90 percent of commercial farms have been redistributed, the majority broken up and parcelled out to newly settled small-scale farmers. The farm workers, many from neighbouring countries who had lived on the commercial estates for generations, were suddenly faced with an uncertain future. Not only did they lose their jobs, many also lost their entitlement to free housing, education, basic health services and subsidised food. Gertrude Hambira, secretary-general of the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers' Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), told IRIN that the new settlers were able to absorb only a fraction of the former farm workers they found living on the plantations. Many of those of Zimbabwean origin returned to their rural homes, others turned to gold panning or migrated to the towns. The rest were left with little option but to become squatters, surviving by offering their services to the neighbouring farms. The lives of the former farm workers remained precarious, said Hambira. They were barely able to make ends meet and provide sufficiently for their children, thus the high rate of child labour and school absenteeism. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS, which the UN Development Programme's Relief and Recovery Unit estimated at 43 percent on the farms, had led to many child-headed households and still less children in school. Sending a child to school in the rural areas costs about US $110 a year for basics such as school uniforms and fees. But the salaries of farm workers currently range from US $10 to US $20, which must not only cover household expenditures, but also farming inputs like seeds and fertiliser. According to Peter Mazadzise, GAPWUZ national coordinator, some of the newly settled farmers pay their workers no more than US $5.50 a month. Many children are thus pulled out of school by parents who cannot cope. "When parents can't pay, they simply select a few of their children, whom they think can do well, and the rest assist them on the farm," explained Hambira. She added that even many of those in school had to provide some kind of labour to assist with covering education costs. Some areas, such as the tobacco and tea plantations, have an "Earn and Learn" school system where children study some of the time and work part-time to help raise the money for their fees.
Musicians, journalists join great trek to UK (Daily News, 26/01) - Zimbabwe's music and media industries have not been spared by the country's worsening economic crisis, with several journalists and musicians joining the trek to the United Kingdom in search of greener pastures. Industry officials said the local media and music companies had lost many professionals, mostly because of declining standards of living and the lure of better working conditions and pay in the UK. Alleged political persecution and demotion in the government-controlled media had also forced several journalists out of the country, the officials said. Some musicians and journalists who have left Zimbabwe took advantage of sponsored tours and assignments that enabled them to travel to the UK, and they did not return to Zimbabwe. Among those who have joined what has become known as the "great trek" in the past two years are former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation employees Happiness Pemhiwa, Kelvin Sifelani, Tichaona Sibanda, Ezra Sibanda, Eric Knight and part-time presenter Chaka Ngwenya. Sifelani, an accomplished presenter and businessman, was arguably one of the most popular disc jockeys on radio. He worked with both Spot FM and Power FM, formerly Radio One and 3FM, respectively. Before leaving in 2001, Sifelani used to attract a wide listenership base to his Saturday night programme, the Soul Selection, with his self-endowed title of "chief executive" of the Zimbabwe Soul Movement. Knight and Ezra Sibanda were very popular on Radio Zimbabwe, formerly Radio Two, on which their combination on Wednesdays and Saturdays drew listeners to a once respected station. Meanwhile, the print media has lost Herald assistant editor Cephas Chitsaka and his subordinates Elton Dzikiti and Archibald Musonza, who have also left Zimbabwe for the United Kingdom. Discharged primary school teacher-turned-journalist at the Bulawayo-based Chronicle, Admore Tshuma, has also joined the exodus to London. The Weekend Tribune's former sports editor, Clemence Marijeni, remained in the United Kingdom in July last year at the end of a tour by the Zimbabwe national cricket team. Marijeni had travelled to the United Kingdom on a sponsored trip. On the musical front, the lure of the pound has disrupted most groups, with the biggest casualty being the now-defunct promising gospel group Appointed. The talented performers - products of Harare's New Life Covenant Church - left the group to search for new opportunities in London. Only group member Pardon Mutsago remained behind. Mutsago has risen to claim a stake in the small but vibrant urban grooves industry, which includes popular local musician Pastor G. Businesswoman-cum-musician Portia Gwanzura, financier and leader of traditional group Hohodza Band, flew to Luton in 2002 and criticised President Mugabe's policies in an interview with the Times newspaper. Gwanzura alleged persecution by government security agents. Rising Kwekwe musician Tongai Moyo lost key members of his band while touring the UK last year. Popular Alick Macheso has also not been spared. Industry officials this week said the exodus of professionals from the media and the music industries was likely to continue in the next few months, despite what the government says is an improvement in the economy. Zimbabweans continue to queue every day for United Kingdom visas, despite the high cost of airfares and the stringent visa conditions introduced by the British government. Queues form at the British Embassy in Harare as early as 4am as desperate Zimbabweans battle to obtain the few visas that are granted to some of the 25 people who are attended to daily.
Zimbabwe police arrest five foreign journalists (SABC, 26/01) - Zimbabwe has arrested five foreign journalists for allegedly entering the southern African country under false pretenses, and might charge them under tough media and security laws, police said today. The five from the US, Finland, Kenya and two from Germany were "picked up" yesterday together with a Zimbabwean reporter from a private daily newspaper after travelling to Zimbabwe's central district of Zvishavane on their assignment, the police's chief spokesperson said. Wayne Bvudzijena, the Assistant Commissioner, said the police were not yet ready to release details of those detained, but were investigating them on a number issues. "Technically, they are not yet under arrest, but we picked them up on information that they entered the country under false pretenses, declaring that they were working for some aid agency, and had come to monitor food distribution," he said. Bvudzijena was responding to a report in the official Sunday Mail newspaper that some journalists were under arrest. "Our laws say foreign journalists must apply to come into the country, and these journalists also have some interesting documents suggesting they could be on some clandestine mission," he told reporters. "If we charge them, we could charge them for entering the country under false pretenses or under the Public Order and Security Act while the local journalist could be charged with assisting in contravening national laws," he added. The Sunday Mail said the foreign journalists were "suspected to have been sent into the country to secretly write stories aimed at tarnishing the image of the government." The Zimbabwean government has waged a relentless campaign against the Western press in the past three years, accusing some journalists of spearheading a hate campaign against President Robert Mugabe's government. Last year, the government passed tough media laws to a clamour of protest from media freedom organisations, banning foreign journalists from being based permanently in Zimbabwe and requiring journalists to apply to come into the country for short periods. Media houses and Zimbabwean journalists are obliged to apply to a government-controlled media and information commission for permission to operate and work in the country. The law punishes "abuse of journalistic privilege," such as publishing falsehoods, with fines and up to two years in prison. More than a dozen journalists have been charged under the media laws, including Andrew Meldrum, a US citizen and correspondent for Britain's Guardian newspaper, who was acquitted last July of charges of reproducing a false story. Meldrum, a Zimbabwe permanent resident, is challenging his subsequent deportation from the country. In November, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court reserved judgment on a challenge by journalists against the media laws.
Police crack down on graft at border posts (The Herald, 15/01) - Police have intensified their fight against corruption at border posts around the country to reduce the number of criminal activities at borders, the Minister of Home Affairs, Cde Kembo Mohadi said yesterday. In an interview, Cde Mohadi said the police had improved and intensified their undercover and intelligence network to curb as much as possible crime at the national borders. Responding to inquiries over criminal activities that were being reported at the border areas, Cde Mohadi said the number of cases that were being reported by the media as having gone to court were an indication of the police efficiency. "The fact that we have seen a number of stories about officials and members of the public who have appeared in court charged with corruption at the national border areas is an indication that the law enforcement agents are doing their job in enforcing the law," he said. He said although criminal elements were trying their utmost to corrupt officials employed at the border posts, police would leave no stone unturned to bring the culprits to book. Several Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officials have appeared in court in Beitbridge on charges of extortion and accepting bribes to let people through the border without paying their duties. Some policemen have also been arrested for accepting bribes. "We want to make the situation as tight as possible so that the corrupt officials change their attitude," said Cde Mohadi.
110 Cuban doctors expected (The Herald, 09/01) - At least 110 Cuban doctors are expected to arrive in the country at the end of this month under the Zimbabwe-Cuba Joint Commission. Head of the Cuban Medical Brigade in Zimbabwe Dr Felipe Delgado Bustillo yesterday said the doctors would serve in the country for two years. "The doctors will be working under the comprehensive health programme launched by President Fidel Castro in 1998, which is aimed at providing something like a donation to other people specially those in Africa in solving various health related problems," said Dr Bustillo. He said the first brigade of Cuban doctors came in 2000 and more than 186 doctors are currently working in more than 52 district hospitals in the country. "We have been working during the strike by junior doctors and nurses contributing to the welfare of Zimbabweans especially those in rural hospitals," he said. The second brigade came in 2002 and the one coming at the end of this month is the third brigade, which will be in the country until 2006. Dr Bustillo said Cuba has a similar programme in several African countries including Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, Malawi, Angola, Botswana, Chad, Lesotho and Tanzania. He said more than 3 500 Cubans in various fields were working in Zimbabwe. Cuba, he said, was proud of its successes in the medical field with more than 21 medical schools and 70 000 doctors working in that country. Dr Bustillo was speaking at a function hosted for journalists by the Cuban Ambassador Mr Bueventuras Reyes Costa to mark the 45th anniversary of the Cuban revolution declared on January 1 1959. The ambassador said despite orchestrated campaign by almost all governments in Latin America and the United States to subvert the revolution, the Cuban people had remained resolute in their fight for the right to build their own future through self-determination. "The aggression began as early as 1959 with the use of all possible economic and political measures, including violence, terrorism and even the threat of massive military invasion from the US army," said Mr Reyes Costa. He said despite the threats and the economic blockade imposed by the US, the Cuban economy has risen by 2,6 percent according to traditional methods of measuring the fluctuation of the Gross Domestic Product. Cuba’s GDP also increased four-fold than that of the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. "The Cuban revolution gave to our people the possibility to extend our friendship, brotherly support and solidarity, to many other countries around the planet. We are so proud to have diplomatic and consular relations with 181 countries," the ambassador said. Cuba also has bilateral agreements with 165 countries, mainly in health care, education and sport fields. It had 120 Joint Commissions, which are periodically checked to assess the programmes and outline the new one. "With Zimbabwe, the friendship and solidarity among our two countries and peoples, began even before independence," Mr Reyes Costa said. Cuba marked its 45th anniversary of the toppling of the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship by revolutionary forces led by Cde Fidel Castro. In his speech, the Cuban President paid tribute to all those who struggled to make the revolution a reality. "I congratulate all those who struggle, those who never give up in the face of adversity; those who believe in humanity’s capacity to create, sow and cultivate values and ideas; those who bet on humanity all of those who share the beautiful tenet that a better world is possible.
Losing citizenship is painful, says activist (The Star, 02/01) - Veteran Zimbabwean human rights activist Judith Todd will stay in South Africa for the moment "to catch my breath", but she has denied that she has fled the country. Todd arrived in Cape Town on Wednesday after an unsuccessful battle to retain her Zimbabwean citizenship, which forced her to claim New Zealand citizenship in order to conduct business abroad. Officials in President Robert Mugabe's government refused to issue Todd with a passport, saying she was a citizen of New Zealand, where her father, Garfield Todd, was born. Garfield Todd was prime minister of Southern Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was then known, from 1953 to 1958. He and his daughter were outspoken supporters of Zimbabwe's independence, and both were detained under the oppressive rule of Ian Smith. Judith Todd said it was very painful to have lost her citizenship, but she considers herself fortunate that New Zealand has granted her a temporary passport. She denied reports that she had fled Zimbabwe, and said she would be going back. "I'm catching my breath, but all of these instances in my life under the two repressive regimes of Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe have not altered my commitment to Zimbabwe." She said about 2-million Zimbabweans were in a similar situation. She accused the Mugabe regime of being "intent on wiping out the citizenship and voting rights of any Zimbabwean of whatever colour or background thought to be against the ruling party". Todd said she never took up New Zealand citizenship but would reluctantly claim it to get a passport to allow her to travel. The New Zealand government yesterday promised a sympathetic hearing for Todd. - Independent Foreign Service.
This page last updated 28 March 2005.