SOUTHERN AFRICAN MIGRATION PROJECT

Migration News

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

Region:
Brain-drain highlighted at Aids conference
Health staff exodus to compromise foreign aid
Africa's 'brain drain' jeopardizes Aids fight
Rights group seeks to half Africa's losses in health care

Angola:
Angolans face repatriation from Canada
Over 100,000 refugees return home
Hardship for Angolan refugees
140,000 refugees return home

Botswana:
Thriving business in fake Botswana passports
Obtaining work permit the easy way
Tracking Zimbabwean truckers
Desperate refugees pull down electric fence
Botswana curbs Zimbabwe cross border traders
Khama laments destruction of electric fence
South Africans scavenging across the border for a living

DRC:
300,000 flee clashes in Eastern DRC
Hundreds leave East Congo's main city
Refugees return to assess home villages
Rwanda reopens DRC border

Malawi:
Malawi, Zambia to discuss border
Poultry export starves consumers in Malawi
Police arrest six Zambians

Mozambique:
Mozambicans in Portugal want to vote
Mozambicans abroad to vote for the first time in elections
Mozambicans abroad to be registered as voters
Former migrants want Independent Commission
Occupation of German Embassy ends
German Ambassador: occupation 'Is a dead end'
Occupation until we die, threatens Majermane leader
Occupation of German Embassy goes into third day
Former migrants invade Germany Embassy
Mozambicans abroad demand right to vote
Police disperse former migrants
Zimbabwean skilled workers seek employment
Labour ministry meets with former migrants
Anti-corruption unit to investigate residence permits
Opposition calls for emigrants to be disenfranchised
Chairperson meets with former migrants
Frontier with Tanzania entirely unprotected
Parliamentary chairperson fails to meet with former migrants
Former migrants invade Parliament

Namibia:
Police probe overseas job scams
Warning to foreigners who tarnish Namibia's image
'Marriages of convenience' criticized in National Assembly
Dukwe repatriation stall
Young sign up in droves as Au Pairs
48 Cuban Doctors jet in

South Africa:
Commission to look into Home Affairs policies
South African police assault Mozambican Judge
Migration of health professionals not unique to SA
Boy too dark to be South African say police
Huge probe into fake marriages
South Africans sent home from Heathrow
Disgraced doctor Durban bound
Government to investigate foreign land ownership
Debate about foreign land ownership
Report on Hillbrow, Johannesburg
Poorly paid nurses leave in droves
FNB scheme to provide financial relief for refugees
SA is exporting jobs as well as products
Stop disenfranchising SA expatriates says Leon
SA expatriates urged to return home
Cape plans to lure UK medical staff
Western Cape doctor and nurses shortages
Harassment of foreign residents
SA citizens hostile to us, say refugees
South African business sees opportunities in Africa
Migrants put Johannesburg's services under strain
Hotels may have to keep register
Immigration law easier on foreign skills
ANC warns absentee landlords
ANC mulls over issue of foreign landowners
Debate needed on foreign land ownership in SA
Migration law could hurt foreign workers
Plugging the medical brain drain
No funds to fill critical jobs at Home Affairs
Limpopo attempts to plug brain drain

Swaziland:
Nurses working overseas illegally
Illegal recruiting in Swaziland


Tanzania:
Foreigners breaking Tanzania Investment Act
Local log exporters blame foreigners
Tanzanian officials for US training
Rampant corruption involved in issuing of passports


Zimbabwe:
Death knell for Homelink
Foreign currency scheme flops
Harare stops pension payouts to non-residents
AirZim workers nabbed for human trafficking
Traders smuggle ARV drugs
Britain tightens visa requirements for Zimbabweans
Corruption rife at border post
No hope for Zimbabwean asylum seekers in South Africa
Professionals in diaspora arrive to work with Reserve Bank
Zimbabwe health sector on brink of collapse
Exiles call for the right to vote
State bonding of doctors and nurses
Zimbabwean journalists launch newspaper from Johannesburg
Sharp decline in visitors to Zimbabwe


 

Region
Brain-drain highlighted at Aids conference (Nation Online, 20/07)- Although Malawi was one of the countries that took centre-stage at the just ended HIV/Aids global conference in Bangkok, Thailand, government did not have a specific agenda for the meeting and only sent a delegation to learn how other countries are dealing with the pandemic. Reuters news agency reported last week that during the conference, which ended last Friday, Malawi was shown to have a more evident scale of braindrain as skilled nurses and doctors leave for better paid jobs abroad. “This is jeopardising the global fight against Aids,” a group of US doctors were quoted as saying. Malawi was mentioned as a country where only 28 percent of nursing posts were filled in 2003, down from 47 percent in 1998. South Africa, which has the world’s highest number of sufferers, has vacancies for 32,000 nurses. In Zambia, only 50 of the 600 doctors who have been trained since independence in 1964 remain in the country. Many of the workers are reported to have headed for better careers and more pay in Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Leonard Rubenstein, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights, said in a statement at the meeting Africa, at the epicentre of an HIV/Aids pandemic that has already killed 20 million people, needs to recruit tens of thousands of health care workers if it is to meet the goal of providing anti-Aids medicines to those who need them. “We have a terrible paradox, which is how can we possibly expect to meet the needs of people with Aids when the workforce is not only declining but the prospects for further decline are great,” Rubenstein told reporters. He said the medical personnel are leaving when a recently adopted plan by the WHO calls for massive increases in the health workforce. Overall, more than three-quarters of countries in sub-Saharan Africa fall short of the WHO’s minimum standard of 20 doctors per 100,000 people and 13 countries have five or fewer per 100,000. And asked what agenda Malawi had for the meeting, Minister of Health Hetherwick Ntaba said on Monday government sent officials from his ministry and the National Aids Commission (Nac) to learn from other countries across the world. Ntaba, who was not part of the delegation, said he was waiting for a report on the meeting. “We wanted to learn from the other countries at the meeting on the principles and other general discussions,” said Ntaba. At the meeting, the United States rejected a plea from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to inject $1 billion a year into a global Aids fund. Former South African president Nelson Mandela also appealed for more funds towards fighting the scourge. Last December, the WHO set a target to get antiretroviral medicines to three million people in developing countries by the end of 2005. Only 440,000 receive them, including 150,000 in Africa.

Health staff exodus to compromise foreign aid (Business Day, 19/07)- Just as billions of US dollars in foreign aid is beginning to pour into Africa, to provide life-saving drugs for millions of people afflicted with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, the brain drain in the continent's nursing sector is intensifying, putting infants and other patients in peril in the continent's hospitals, reports the US daily, The New York Times. The shortage of nurses compromises the ability of beneficiary countries to use the money effectively. The aid itself might aggravate the nursing shortage in public hospitals as a substantial portion of it will be channelled to non-profit organisations that are likely to lure away yet more nurses with higher pay. In Malawi, for instance, the brain drain of health professionals has caused severe staffing shortages. In the capital city of Lilongwe, the result neglect of the sick is apparent in the dilapidated wards of the Central Hospital, where a single nurse often looks after 50 or more desperately ill people, says the paper. Meanwhile, Britain is benefiting from the move, as nurses from Lilongwe Central and other major African hospitals look after the elderly in the carpeted lounges of nursing homes and in private hospitals' wards. The number of certified nurses from Malawi, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana emigrating to Britain, the US and New Zealand has soared since 1999. In the US, there are 3100 registered African nurses. Recent projections have shown that the shortfall in nurses will balloon to 800000 by 2020, putting growing pressure on the country's medical services to recruit abroad. The situation, in which "the poor are subsidising the rich", has caused an outcry among African countries, which see their huge investment in training nurses and health professionals benefiting their former masters. They have called on the British government to stop the exodus of African nurses. A number of British health professionals see the training of local unemployed people as a solution to the depleting of African hospitals, reports the New York Times.

Africa's 'brain drain' jeopardizes Aids fight (SABC News, 15/07)- A "brain drain" of skilled nurses and doctors from Africa to better paid jobs abroad is jeopardising the global fight against Aids, a group of United States doctors said on Thursday. The continent, at the epicentre of an HIV and Aids pandemic that has already killed 20 million people, needs to recruit tens of thousands of health care workers if it is to meet the goal of providing anti-Aids medicines to those who need them. Yet its nurses and doctors are flocking to new jobs in developed countries, particularly Britain where the state-run National Health Service faces chronic staff shortages. 'Nurses and doctors are flocking to new jobs in developed countries' "We have a terrible paradox, which is how can we possibly expect to meet the needs of people with Aids when the workforce is not only declining but the prospects for further decline are great," Leonard Rubenstein, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights, told reporters. In a report issued at the 15th International Aids Conference in Bangkok, Rubenstein called for restrictions on recruiting health care workers in sub-Saharan Africa and urged donor governments to fund improvements in local salaries. In December 2003, the World Health Organisation (WHO) set a target to get anti-retroviral drugs to three million people in developing countries by the end of 2005. Only 440 000 receive them, including 150 000 in Africa. The problem of diagnosing, treating and monitoring HIV patients in Africa has been a major theme of this week's Aids meeting and was highlighted in a speech by Randall Tobias, the US Global Aids Co-ordinator, on Wednesday. "In places like Africa, the Caribbean and South-east Asia, there is a desperate lack of health care workers and infrastructure," he said. "All the Aids drugs in the world won't do any good if they're stuck in warehouses with no place to go." The scale of the problem is evident in countries like Malawi, where only 28 percent of nursing posts were filled in 2003, down from 47 percent in 1998, the government says. South Africa, which has the world's highest number of sufferers, has vacancies for 32 000 nurses. In Zambia, only 50 of the 600 doctors who have been trained since independence in 1964 remain in the country. Many of these English-speaking workers have headed for better careers and more pay in Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. "They are leaving at a time when the plan that the WHO has adopted calls for massive increases in the health workforce, in some cases doubling, in some cases tripling, in some cases even quadrupling workforces," said Rubinstein. Overall, more than three-quarters of countries in sub-Saharan Africa fall short of the WHO's minimum standard of 20 doctors per 100 000 people and 13 countries have five or fewer per 100 000.

Rights group seeks to half Africa's losses in health care (New York Times, (13/07)- Africa's fragile health systems - already struggling to put hundreds of thousands of HIV-infected people on AIDS drugs - are being further crippled by the exodus of doctors, nurses and pharmacists, according to a report to be issued Thursday by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Developed nations should reimburse African countries for the loss of health professionals educated at African expense, PHR said, and they should try harder to train workers domestically rather than recruit overseas. PHR called on wealthy nations and international organizations to directly support higher salaries or other forms of compensation for underpaid African health workers. "Everyone says it's not sustainable to pay salaries," said Holly Burkhalter, PHR's US policy director. "But we're facing the worse health crisis in human history. Let's do things outside the box." Even in better-off countries like Botswana and South Africa, efforts to expand AIDS treatment are hampered by the shortage of skilled workers, she said. In 1997, PHR shared the Nobel Peace Prize for its work to ban land mines. PHR acknowledges both the rights of African professionals to seek a better life and the rights of Africans to decent health care in their countries. While it called for tough limits on the recruitment of African health professionals, it stopped short of calling for immigration restrictions on the workers. Also an ethically difficult choice is whether HIV-positive health workers should be given preferential treatment in accessing expensive regimens. PHR does not advocate such treatment but does urge African governments to inform health workers about treatment options and encourage them to get tested.

Angola
Angolans face repatriation from Canada (Angola Press Agency, 23/07)- Angolan Ambassador to Canada Miguel Nzau Puna refuted allegations that nationals living under asylum in that country and now facing repatriation, have not received assistance from the embassy. Speaking to ANGOP today in Ottawa, the ambassador argued that soon after informed of nationals repatriation cases, the embassy starts legal procedures to help them, but its action is restricted by local migratory regulations. In his view, the number of people being repatriated has been on the rise of late, because most of the applicants allege the war in the country to get visa. But the authorities contend that with the peace prevailing in Angola now, there is no reason for them to remain in Canada. Miguel Nzau Puna stated that the repatriations are not targeted at Angolan citizens only, but also at other countries' nationals whose political asylum petitions were rejected. This makes their staying illegal and forces them to leave the territory, just like in any other country. The Ambassador said that there is a satisfactory relation between the Embassy and the Angolan nationals under its control, which is reflected in their seeking to register with the consular office and obtaining the national passport. Around 5.000 Angolans reside in Canada, in the cities of Toronto, Ottawa, Mississauga, Saint Catherine's, London, Hamilton (Ontario), Calgary, Edmonton (Alberta), Vancouver (British Columbia), Winnipeg (Manitoba) and Montreal (Quebec).

Over 100,000 refugees return home (Angola Press Agency, 12/07)- About 141,180 Angolan refugees have returned to their home-land, coming from the neighbouring Republics of Zambia, Namibia and DR Congo, since the beginning, last year June 20th, of the repatriation processes. According to a press note released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which ANGOP had access, today, from this number around 46,000 have returned under the organised voluntary repatriation programme and 38,300 through spontaneous way, and had been assisted by this UN's agency and its operational and implementation partners. The note further states that on the 2 and 3 of this month, over 377 and 130 Angolan returnees have reached the country, coming from DR Congo's Nkondo and Kilueca districts, concentrated in Mbanza Congo district, north-western province of Zaire, through Luvo entry point. From Zambia, there have arrived to the municipality of Cazombo, east Moxico province, about 1,728 refugees since last May, while in Namibia's Osire camp, around 240 refugees had been repatriated to their homes in southern Cuando-Kubango province, and 625 others returned to the province of Cunene and its outskirts.

Hardship for Angolan refugees (Agence France-Presse, (11/07)- Makela Do Zombo, Angola - Tens of thousands of Angolans who fled to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during the civil war face hardship as they try to go home at their own initiative, but find that few places can accommodate them upon their return. "These refugees often travel between 100 and 200km and cross the Nzadi River (in northern Angola) on their own. We cannot help them cross the river because of the damage caused to the bridge during the war," said priest Manuel Casimir Joao, a community leader in a town near the DRC border. He said trucks belonging to the UNHCR usually pick the refugees up about halfway from the border to the impoverished town of Makela do Zombo in the northern Uige province which is about 40km from the DRC border. The UNHCR has been working with other humanitarian organisations such as Caritas, as well as the Angolan government, to bring about half a million refugees home since the 27-year civil war ended in April 2002. The Makela do Zombo municipality said the town had accommodated more than 23 000 Angolan refugees who returned from the DRC between 2002 and 2004. "Makela do Zombo today has about 345 000 residents," said a municipal officer who did not want to be named. The population in this town grows continuously, but it does not have running water or electricity. A power generator provides some electricity to houses, but a lack of fuel limits usage to three hours a day. Joao said it was impossible to organise that the refugees return to their original homes in Angola because of the bad conditions of the roads. "It is absolutely necessary that the government supports us and renovates these roads so that we can start to organise repatriation," he said. The refugees encounter difficulties when they cross the border from the DRC and have to deal with both administrative bungling and corrupt DRC government officials. Their identity papers are often confiscated by public servants who refuse to give the documents back unless they are paid, something most of the refugees cannot afford. "Many of the refugees arrive here without their identity documents, because it was confiscated on the DRC border," Joao said. Then an investigation needs to be done to determine their identities, a further delay in the repatriation process. The DRC interior ministry estimates that there are 269 812 Angolan refugees in the country, in a total of 403 348 from accross the continent. The Angolan government has confirmed that about 220 000 people, out of the estimated 500 000 who fled during the civil war to neighbouring countries, have returned to Angola either with the assistance of the UNHCR or by their own means.

140,000 refugees return home (Angola Press Agency, 07/07)- Around 141.180 Angolan refugees in the Republics of Zambia, Namibia and DR Congo have returned home, since July 20, 2003, at the time of the repatriation process. According to a note from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, released today, around 46.000 returnees came through the volunteer repatriation programme of the UN's agency and 38.300 spontaneously. For today, it is expected a convoy, which will transport about 130 Angolan refugees from Kimpese (DRC) to Mbanza Congo, north-western Zaire province, through Luvo area, where they will be received by the deputy representative of the UNHCR in Angola, Annette Rita Nyekan, added the communiqué.

Botswana
Thriving business in fake Botswana passports (Zim Online, 31/07)- An immigration officer takes a long look at the faded passport, tracing its worn edges with one finger. Then he looks up at the woman before him, searching her face. She shuffles uneasily, heavy luggage strapped to her back. The official's gaze returns to the document one last time before he stamps it and nods, granting the weary traveller the right to cross into Botswana. As she walks away her step is noticeably faster, and lighter, than when she first approached the checkpoint. Grace (not her real name) is one of many Zimbabweans who buy Botswana passports in an attempt to escape what she calls harassment by immigration officials and other law enforcers. 'What drove me to buy the Botswana passport is the amount of suspicion, and problems, associated with the Zimbabwean document. The moment someone sees you have a Zimbabwean passport they assume, or suspect, you are in Botswana for all the wrong reasons,' explains Grace. 'To escape torture', she had no alternative but to buy a Botswana passport for half a million Zimbabwe dollars, or P500 (two-and-a-half times the average monthly income in Zimbabwe). She says the price - while excessive, by Zimbabwe standards - is worth every cent because it guarantees her peace of mind. She's been living in the country, illegally, for three years and has become conversant in the local language, SeTswana. That, in turn, makes it difficult for officials to detect she is a foreigner. Yet there's no denying that her being the bearer of the correct (albeit false) documentation helps. 'At the border post you do not have to bother about long queues,' smiles Grace, adding 'Botswana citizens to not have to queue.' Some locals say Botswana's economic prosperity and political stability has an unforeseen cost: it is attracting thousands of Zimbabwean - and other - refugees, who are fleeing either political or economic hardship in their homelands. Grace says locals are equally to blame. She maintains Batswana sell their own passports to a syndicate, which reportedly operates from outside the Gaborone offices of the Department of Immigration. Citizens sell their passports for as little as P100 (ZIM $150,000) to a network of underground buyers, most of whom are either locals or South Africans. Previous owners then report to officials, claiming their passports have been 'lost'. The travel documents are then smuggled into South Africa, where changes - including the addition of a photograph, portraying the new bearer - are made. Botswana citizen Michael Mogomotsi (not his real name) acknowledges he is aware of the syndicate, adding there is a 'thriving market', as he puts it, for the Botswana passport. He told ZimOnline South Africa has the sophisticated technology needed to swap snapshots and replace the plastic seal which incorporates security features like the Botswana coat of arms. 'When the passports are brought back to Botswana it's difficult to spot the changes.' Members of the syndicate prefer older passports. 'This', says Mogomotsi, 'is because it is easier for immigration officials to detect changes on new documents'. Grace admits to assisting fellow countrymen and -women in obtaining Botswana passports. But it is not only Zimbabweans who want the document. Grace says she knows Zambians, for example, who are also loyal customers of the syndicate. One of the reasons for the Botswana passport's popularity is the fact that its bearers do not require a visa when travelling to most countries abroad. 'Soon the passports will be smuggled to Zimbabwe too, to be sold to those intending to visit either Britain or America,' says Farai Chiroza, a Zimbabwean citizen. He predicts the situation will remain unchanged, if not worsen, unless the economic and political conditions in his birthplace improve. In short, Chiroza says, people are 'desperate to escape their woes'. But the future, at least for prospective passport purchasers, is not rosy. A Senior Immigration Officer, who requested anonymity, says Botswana authorities are investigating the syndicate. He adds his department is busy creating a passport that will be increasingly more difficult for criminals to forge or alter.

Obtaining work permit the easy way (Mmegi, 28/07)- Zimbabweans seem to be always ahead of the Labour, and Immigration departments when it comes to acquiring residence and work permits. After the regulations for employing farm labourers and herdsmen were relaxed, almost every Zimbabwean taxi driver, and self-employed bricklayer has a permit that states that he is a herdsman or farm labourer. John Mathemba (not his real name) is a 24-year-old taxi driver but his permit says he is a herdsman. He has been driving taxis for the past two years. He says he got his own permit by placing an advertisement for a farm labourer in the Daily News. “It is so easy. All you have to do is place an advert in the Daily News, and let it run for two weeks,” he says. “And it’s cheap to place an advert of this nature in the Daily News. It only costs about P7. According to Mathemba  need a contact number and a postal box number. “After two weeks, you can attach the advert to your application forms and ask a citizen of Botswana to act as your boss and hand in the application forms on your behalf. All you need is a work permit and a resident permit. “Where you work is not really an issue. You can get a permit, which says you are a herdsman, but still drive a taxi,” the Zimbabwean says. The other way of getting a permit is by marrying a Motswana, he says. “Even if you are married in Zimbabwe, you can still marry again in Botswana and nobody would know that you have a wife back home. “A letter that confirms that you are not married can be bought over the counter in Zimbabwe and nobody can charge you with bigamy,” Mathemba says. “As long as the wives do not meet, you are safe or you can tell your wife back home why you have to marry a Motswana and she is bound to understand. Life is tough in Zimbabwe. She has no choice as long as you bring money home”. The Zimbabwean illegal immigrants, who are seen as a menace by many Batswana, are said to be a blessing for many would-be homeowners. The self-employed Zimbabwean bricklayers are said to be charging five times less than their Batswana counterparts. Many Batswana rely on Zimbabwean builders because they say they save a lot of money.

Tracking Zimbabwean truckers (Zim Online, 19/07)- A haulage truck from Zimbabwe pulls up at the Ramokgwebana border post in Botswana. A tall, haggard-looking driver opens his door and slowly gets out with papers - presumably travel documents - in one hand. The truck's consignment (at least according to a sticker attached to the carrier's gleaming body) is Zimbabwe-made biscuits, destined for the Botswana market. The truck driver walks to the nearest sentry and hands over the documents. He stretches, shifting from one foot to another. When he's done declaring the cargo he returns to the truck. The ignition rumbles as another officer waves him through the entry point. The driver puffs away at a cigarette, visibly relieved. But ten kilometres before reaching the country's second largest city, Francistown, he's signalled to stop by police at a road block. Officers talk loudly as they begin a thorough search of the vehicle. One, in particular, makes it clear he's not amused by the cargo's particular aroma. It's not biscuits, but one of the largest drug consignments yet intercepted by officials in the country. The 56 bags inside the truck contain smaller bags, weighing about 50 kilograms - filled with dagga. The bust's street value is considered to be at least P 500 000, or about Zim $ 500,000 million (US$ 110.000). This is one of the reasons why Gaborone is tightening its border controls. The Botswana government says it spends about P1 million (Z$1 billion, US$ 220.000) to deport the more than hundred thousand illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe every year. But what local officials refer to as the "headache" of illegal immigrants may be dwarfed by an emerging catastrophe: drug trafficking. The Ramokgwebana border post is particularly popular because it straddles Botswana's northern frontier with Zimbabwe. Francistown police reveal that in the last six months they have intercepted more than 300 kilograms of dagga, also known as mbanje or marijuana. They add harder narcotics "like cocaine" may have entered the country already. Superintendent Odirile Rampoka, who heads the Diamond and Narcotics Squad, says between January and June alone members of his team confiscated 34 bags of dagga, weighing about 230 kilograms. "We make arrests today, but tomorrow more bags are brought in," says Rampoka, "most of the people we arrest claim that they get the stuff from Zimbabwe." He says of all Botswana's Southern African neighbours, Zimbabwe has been identified as the source of most of the illegal drugs found in the country. Police officers at the Gaborone headquarters say they have traced much of the trafficking route to haulage trucks travelling between Zimbabwe and Botswana. "Truck drivers are targeted and used to transport the drugs," says one officer, "but even if they're involved, most, when arrested, deny knowledge of the consignment." The policeman, who requested anonymity, says dagga and other illegal substances are usually sealed in with other, genuine, cargo as a cover-up. A Zimbabwean truck driver told Zim Online that he is aware of the drug trafficking network. The man, who only identified himself as George, adds drugs are entering Botswana not only from Zimbabwe, but also from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. "We travel long distances. Some unscrupulous people take advantage of drivers because we don't earn much," says George. When asked if he has not fallen into the same trap George acknowledges that "some men from Harare" once tried to convince him to take dagga to South Africa. He says he refused because of the risks involved.

Desperate refugees pull down electric fence (Zim Online, 15/07) - The 500 kilometre electric fence erected by Botswana last year along its border with Zimbabwe at huge cost is not serving its purpose - to keep out refugees. Botswana has officially maintained that the fence is meant to curb the movement of animals from Zimbabwe and contain foot and mouth disease. However, the fence was also erected to try and keep border jumpers at bay. But the border jumpers have started destroying the barrier and are finding their way into Botswana territory regardless. Botswana's Vice President Seretse Khama Ian Khama this week expressed disappointment that his government's efforts to electrify the border fence had borne no fruit as people cut the wires and stole solar panels. Addressing a meeting of traditional chiefs near the Botswana border with Zimbabwe, Khama said strategies to control the destruction of the fence were now being developed. The Vice President called on Botswana chiefs in villages along the border to urge their communities to be "vigilant against people who destroy the fence". Last month Minister of Local Government Michael Tshipinare encouraged locals living along the border to form vigilante groups and track down illegal immigrants who tampered with the fence. He told police officers in Tshesebe, a few kilometres from the Zimbabwe border, that illegal Zimbabwean immigrants posed "a major security risk". The minister said police officers were overwhelmed by the high number of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe. A Zimbabwean resident, Tendai Dzimiri, blamed the situation on President Robert Mugabe's government. "We have been made refugees in other countries. We risk our lives entering this country illegally to try and make ends meet," Dzimiri told Zim Online. Zimbabweans who cut the electric fence risk their lives as they might be electrocuted. Zimbabwe protested the construction of the fence last year comparing it to the wall Israel is erecting along its eastern border with the West Bank.

Botswana curbs Zimbabwe cross border traders (Zim Online, 10/07)- Three rugged-looking traders cuddle around a fire on the outskirts of Francistown. Half a dozen bags, wriggling with worms, lie at their feet. They talk softly, the day's hard work has taken its toll. Despite their hushed tones one can hear a foreign accent. The three are among hundreds of Zimbabweans who travel to Botswana each winter to harvest the edible Mopane worm, a local delicacy. It is not an easy task: locals disapprove of Zimbabweans coming to poach their delicacy, and so competition is stiff. But Joyce Moyo says she has to make the trip to the town, 79 kilometres from the Zimbabwe border, and bear the scorn of locals in order to feed her three children. "We have to spend sleepless nights in the bush to harvest and dry the worm. Some of the people here do not want us to come," she says. Aside from the chilly reception by locals, Moyo and her fellow harvesters will soon have to battle an additional obstacle. The Botswana government plans to introduce legislation requiring commercial harvesters and cross-border traders of natural resources originating here - like the Mopane worm - to apply for permits. The country's Ministry of Wildlife, Environment and Tourism is busy drawing up the regulations, along with the Agricultural Research Board (ARB). They are scheduled to be implemented by the end of July. When told about this a look of concern flashes across Moyo's face. She grudgingly acknowledges this may signal the end of her bi-annual harvesting trips. "I am very worried," she says. "This means I'll have to find another means of survival." A 50 kilogram bag of the spiky caterpillar can earn Joyce as much as 400 Pula, or about Z$500, 000. The money she earns from selling one bag is enough to feed her family for a month. "If I sell three bags I can make more than ZIM$1,5 million. On a lean budget, we can survive for about two to three months," she says, adding that she sends groceries home after buying them in Botswana. Moyo tries to keep her overheads low. She says about 2 Pula (or Z$2,000) buys her a night's rest in a crowded room in one of Francistown's impoverished locations in Block 1. While the Botswana government assures locals the move will not disadvantage those who trade in natural resources, foreign citizens are obviously vulnerable. Moyo is not the only Zimbabwean trader facing looming trouble. Another entrepreneur, Sarudzai Jaya, who travelled all the way from the small Zimbabwean town of Marondera (nearly 1000 kilometres from Francistown) says it will be difficult, if not impossible, for them to obtain the necessary documents. "The fact is these permits are to be distributed by members of village development committees in Botswana. That's evidence enough that foreigners will be exluded," says Jaya.
Jaya says her main source of income is selling the Mopane worm. Now she is considering returning to Zimbabwe. She says she originally left her job as a clerk in Marondera because of the sky-rocketing prices of basic commodities thanks to inflation, currently at around 400 percent. "Going back home will not solve my situation. But if I fail to get a permit I have no option. Other Zimbabweans have flooded this country (Botswana), pursuing whatever opportunities they could," says Mrs Jaya, adding it would be difficult for her to look elsewhere. Like many of her fellow countrymen and women, who come to Botswana hoping to at least earn enough to make ends meet, Jaya says she has tried other avenues, without success. "I have attempted piece jobs like doing laundry and ironing for a small fee, but almost every Zimbabwean woman who comes here looking for a job goes for that. I found harvesting the Mopane worm rewarding," she explains. The Baswara ( Botswana citizens) have been complaining to authorities, for some time, about foreigners "pushing them out" of the business. Jaya says the Botswana government's decision to issue permits for commercial purposes only proves, at least to her, that the new regulations are meant to eliminate outsiders. "No Zimbabwean will come here to harvest veld products for domestic use," she says. "It is clear that the regulations are targeting non-citizens, particularly Zimbabweans." The acting secretary of the ARB told Zim Online the regulations are necessary to prevent the exploitation of the country's natural resources. Unlike Jaya, not all Zimbabwean traders are considering giving up their source of livelihood when the Botswana government introduces the new regulations. Alexious Nleya, a resident of Plumtree, says he is prepared to face the wrath of the law. Those found harvesting the Mopane worm or other natural resources without a permit, risk going to jail if caught by the authorities. But Nleya says this won't deter him as he has a family in Zimbabwe to look after. He thus sees himself breaking the law because of his desperate circumstances. "My friend, you have to go to our country (Zimbabwe) to see how the situation has deteriorated. It's better to risk arrest than let my family starve," he says, adding, Harvesting and selling the Mopane worm is viable." The 38-year-old says he has been harvesting the Mopane worm in Botswana since his childhood days. "Owing to our proximity to Botswana, we are used to crossing the border to harvest the worm for re-sale in Zimbabwe since the early 1980s. The introduction of permits is a huge blow," he admits. The ARB says it plans to issue the documents to both local and foreign-born commercial harvesters.


Khama laments destruction of electric fence (Daily News, 09/07)- The Vice President Seretse Khama Ian Khama has lamented that government's efforts to electrify the border fence between Botswana and Zimbabwe had borne no fruit as people cut the fence and stolen the solar panels. Speaking during a consultative meeting with VDCs and other stakeholders in Mathathane, Lt. Khama said the ministry has suggested some strategies of controlling the destruction made by wild animals and would make some recommendations to the government. The Vice President called on dikgosi to implore their communities to desist from involving in such criminal activities. Khama was responding to remarks made by Kgosi Richard Serumola that there is need to intensify the control of elephant movement in Bobirwa, adding that elephants killed people and destroyed their crops in the district. Concerning development issues, the district economic planner, Kgangmotse Kgangmotse, said there was shortage of classrooms in all the 31 primary schools in the district, adding that there was need to build 87 273 teachers quarters and 218 toilets. He said the new feeding programme was implemented though construction work on the planned school kitchens has not been completed. He said the council had planned to electrify some of the clinics in the 2004/2005 recurrent budget but this would not happen due to budgetary constraints. Kgangmotse noted that the demand in transport has increased as HIV/AIDS patients were being transported to Serowe and Francistown almost everyday for ARV therapy. He was however hopeful that the introduction of such treatment in Bobonong will help relieve the need for transport. Concerning the social welfare section, Kgangmotse said Bobirwa has a total of 774 destitute persons eligible for assistance and people still come forward for assessment due to various reasons such as the loss of bread winners within the family and insufficient rains that hinders people from ploughing. He said there were 324 home based care patients who are provided with food baskets as per their needs and more than 27 500 orphans in the sub district. He lamented that while the council was trying its best to assist VDCs to collect rental arrears the problem still persisted. He said the Bobirwa VDCs were owed P112 741 as rental arrears as at the end of March this year. However, the VDCs recovered P9 560. Kgangmotse said while tenants owed the VDCs, committee members misappropriate funds and in addition failed to submit monthly arrears as the council requested, adding that this made it difficult to assist them collect the arrears, he said.

South Africans scavenging across the border for a living (Mmegi, 02/07)- Poverty stricken South African border jumpers have started a roaring trade in Moshana village - on the Botswana-South Africa border - out of discarded food, collected from the Ramotswa dumping site. A bag of macaroni or spaghetti sells for R10 while biscuits are sold in small packages for 50 cents and an empty 50 kg bag costs R2.50. The discarded products are a health hazard to consumers not only because they are picked up at the dumping site but because this site is also a dumping ground for clinical waste from Bamalete Lutheran Hospital. Driven by hunger, South African women and children cross the border into Botswana daily, to salvage food and other items at the disposal site. Some of this food is for their own consumption but the rest of the ‘products’ are for sale. On Tuesday Mmegi accompanied three young South African women aged between 16 and 20 to the dumping site. Their day begins at around 5am when the first truck from Bolux Milling, about five km away from Ramotswa arrives with the first load of waste. By that time the South Africans are hiding in the thick bushes along the Notwane river. The truck loaders then set the discarded food alight. Within moments dark clouds of smoke from the burning rubbish can be seen. The women then appear from the bushes as if beckoned by the smoke. Since the dumping site sits atop a hilly outcrop it can be seen from Moshana about five kilometers away. The South Africans then hurriedly mingle with their Botswana counterparts and salvage an assortment of packaging and food from the blazing fire. Occasionally, some of them get caught by the police for entering the country at ungazetted points but poverty knows no borders - they keep coming back. A worker at the site said that last week seven of them were arrested. Last month Balibadzi Boy of Ramotswa Police Station told Mmegi that their efforts to apprehend the aliens were frustrated by the proximity of the border fence to the site. “We cross the border knowing that we risk being arrested but we have to find food to survive,” says Bonyana Marumola (20), one of the young women we accompanied. She was in the company of her younger sister Elizabeth (16) and an acquaintance, Emily Motsamai (18). The Marumolas say they dropped out of school in grades nine and seven respectively. Their parents are unemployed and their eldest brother, who is the breadwinner, works at a quarry and has to cater for a family of seven. Emily’s story is similar. She comes from a family of five and no one in her family has a regular job. The girls who initially don’t say much fearing that I might be an undercover official later decide to allow me to travel with them to their home village. We begin the one-hour journey to Moshana on foot, which begins with jumping the border fences between the two countries. I carry my passport and press card and yet cross the border illegally with them. After emerging from a thicket of bushes we follow the dusty and bumpy road to Moshana village. Along the way one of the women narrates how they learnt of this second hand food business from others in their village. Their mothers have never been to the dumping site and have often discouraged them from taking risky trips but because of the food they bring home, they do not stop them. When we arrive at Moshana some of their neighbours look at them in disdain, while others seem envious but the girls just ignore them as they enter their home. Their home does not exactly paint a picture of abject poverty. The house has two bedrooms similar to most of the other houses in the village. The mother to the sisters, Annah Marumola (36), explains that she cannot afford to pay school fees for her daughters. “I wish my girls could complete their schooling and not remain as poor as I am,” she says. Both girls express their wish to become teachers someday. One can understand their choice of the same career path, as there are no job opportunities in their village other than in the formal sector. “I wish the government could intervene with more help,” she says. Annah says the family depends on a social grant for her two toddlers just like most people in Moshana.


DRC
300,000 flee clashes in Eastern DRC ((Sapa-AFP, 28/07)- Some 300,000 civilians have fled their homes in the area of Kalehe in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where a rebel general is holding out against government troops, relief workers have reported here. Clashes had occurred around Kalehe about 60 kilometres (35 miles) from the key town of Bukavu, which rebel General General Laurent Nkunda and another insurgent officer seized for a week last month, the UN said Wednesday. MONUC, the United Nations mission to the massive central African state torn by more than four years of civil war until last year, said it was concerned about ongoing hostilities in the remote region. "Tension persists around Kalehe where sporadic shooting has been reported between DRC armed forces units and soldiers apparently under General Laurent Nkunda," said MONUC spokesman Abou Thiam. Relief workers said some 300,000 civilians had had to flee their homes in the area of Kalehe. The DRC civil war ended with a peace accord in 2002 which was gradually and laboriously supplemented by further agreements and implemented last year. But sporadic violence still erupts from time, especially in the east of this vast land rich in mineral wealth but devastated by war. Nkunda withdrew his force of some 4,000 rebellious government troops from Bukavu and holed up in the area of Minova. Military sources here said army units were trying to dislodge Nkunda from Minova, whose population was living in fear since the arrival of the rebels. "MONUC is organising military patrols in the affected area but has not yet reported direct clashes between the two sides, and is trying to prevent the situation worsening," the UN spokesman told journalists here. Neighbouring Rwanda has denied any support for the uprising last month by mutinous troops , in the wake of a damning new UN report. The report accused Rwanda of having - in violation of an arms embargo imposed on eastern DRC in 2003 - helped recruit fighters for the uprising in Bukavu. The panel of experts who wrote the report said that while Rwanda had legitimate security concerns in eastern DRC, it continues to play a destabilizing role there. Bukavu, the capital of Sud-Kivu province which lies on the Rwandan border, was captured for a week in early June by a group of dissident DRC soldiers led by Colonel Jules Mutebusi and General Laurent Nkunda. The Kinshasa government accused Kigali of having supported the two officers, a claim that the Rwandan government has repeatedly denied, even though it has consistently refused to condemn the uprising.

Hundreds leave East Congo's main city (Sapa-AFP, 22/07)- Women with babies strapped to their backs balance their belongings in brightly colored cloth on their heads as they walk toward the port of this east Congolese border city. They join hundreds who have been streaming out across Lake Kivu in rickety
boats, saying they fear renewed warfare. Between 600 and 800 people have fled Goma, a city of a half-million, since mid-July, said Johnson Luneno, head of an umbrella organization of rights groups and community organizations in the city bordering Congo's much smaller eastern neighbor, rival Rwanda. Goma's residents experienced the horrors of war in the 1990s, when neighbors Congo, Rwanda and Uganda went to war in Congo. The five-year conflict drew in the armies of at least three other African nations and killed more than 3 million people - most through hunger and disease. A power-sharing deal ended major conflict by last year. But continuing clashes in untamed eastern Congo and what are seen as scaremongering warnings of more war - posted by government loyalists on the Internet -are leading some residents of Goma to leave. Tensions flared again uesday, in a clash between government loyalists and renegades under former rebel Brig. Gen. Laurent Nkunda in the village of Bushushu, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Goma. The U.N. force in Congo said Wednesday that although it had heard of no deaths in the fighting, several thousand people have fled the area around Bushushu since the most recent round of clashes began last week. Nkunda, reached by telephone in Minova village, 30 miles (55 kilometers) south of Goma, denied he was involved in Tuesday's violence. A rusty colonial-era boat was taking dozens of scared Goma residents south across Lake Kivu to the city of Bukavu on Wednesday morning. Another boat, the blue-and-white Hallelujah, was moored at Goma's lakeside port, waiting to take more away from the tense city. The latest trouble began in June, when renegade Congolese troops loyal to wartime rebel commanders Nkunda and Col. Jules Mutebutsi took control of Bukavu - some 100 kilometers south of Goma - for nine days, before being forced out by troops loyal to Congo President Joseph Kabila. Nkunda and his men are staked out in Minova, while thousands of loyalist government reinforcements await orders in nearby cities, sent there in June to counter the revolt. Troops in Goma itself are suspected of sympathy with Nkunda, raising fears that it could be the next scene of conflict. Most of the soldiers there fought with Nkunda in the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Goma, a Rwanda-backed wartime rebel group. The rebel group joined a government of national unity last year and merged its forces with the national army. Charlotte Nsinire, 26, said she was leaving Goma with her four small children after worried relatives in Bukavu begged her to join them. "For the last week, my relatives have been asking me to leave Goma because there is sure to be a war here," she said. "At first I said it wasn't true, but they insisted. Now, with all these people leaving Goma for Bukavu, I think it may well be true." In Goma's small Internet cafes, locals gathered around screens displaying news of impending violence. The Internet reports - propagated by loyalists - are printed out and sold for 50 Congolese francs (13 U.S. cents) a page. "Risk of a Conflagration in the East," one headline declared. "When we read all that the journalists put out about eastern Congo, we're afraid," said Goma resident Vital Katembo. Since mid-July, Goma's military has been warning daily on state radio that anyone found spreading news about an attack on Goma would be "severely punished."

Refugees return to assess home villages (UN News Service, 07/07)- Hundreds of refugees from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been returning to their villages from neighbouring countries to examine conditions with a view to repatriation, the United Nations refugee agency said today. "Most of the returnees are women who leave their families in Burundi, crossing back into the DRC to assess the situation in their villages and to check on their property. They say they plan to report back to their families in Burundi before planning their return," the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. Some 300 people, including students who are scheduled to take final exams, have returned home since 1 July. Another 500 have said they are ready to return, but UNHCR has cautioned them that health facilities and schools in the area are badly damaged "and the military tends to harass and steal from the local population." Businesspeople have been travelling regularly to and from Kamanyola, nonetheless, especially on market days, according to the agency. Meanwhile, the central Government in Kinshasa has reportedly asked the authorities in Uvira and Kamanyola to give away the jobs of government employees who do not return home soon, UNHCR said. Small numbers of Congolese have continued to flee tensions in the South Kivu region and have crossed into Burundi, saying they were afraid of being caught up in conflict between national troops and rebels.

Rwanda reopens DRC border (Mail&Guardian Online, 06/07)- Rwanda on Saturday reopened its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a bid to ease tension that brought fear of renewed war between the two neighbours and led to the sealing of the frontier. Commercial trucks, blocked from ferrying goods into the DRC and beyond, streamed across the reopened frontier after daylight on Saturday. Rwanda had sealed the border with its vast neighbour on June 6 after Congolese officials accused it of backing renegade Congolese troops who seized control of the strategic city of Bukavu days earlier. Rwanda denied the charges, closed the border and said it would reopen only after the United Nations and the African Union send missions to investigate the allegations. The two bodies have yet to verify the accusations. President Paul Kagame and the DRC's President Joseph Kabila held talks in Nigeria on June 25 in a bid to ease tensions. The two leaders agreed to send a joint mission to look into Rwanda's allegations that the DRC is massing troops for a cross-border attack and the DRC's accusations that Rwanda supported renegade army commanders who captured a strategic border city for a week in June. Rwanda reopened the border following requests from the international community to ease the suffering of people living in the eastern DRC who depend on importing supplies through Rwanda. "Our borders opened at six this morning and people have started crossing over," said Protais Mitali, minister of state for regional cooperation. Tensions between the two countries raised fears of another war, less than two years after they signed a peace deal that ended a five-year conflict. Rwanda sent troops into the DRC in August 1998 to back Congolese rebels seeking to oust then-president Paul Kagame, accusing him of backing insurgents threatening regional security. Rwanda withdrew troops from the DRC in November 2002 following a peace deal in which the DRC pledged to hunt down, disarm and send home Rwandan insurgents based in the DRC. The Rwandan rebels include members of the former army and Interahamwe militiamen who led the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. More than 500 000 minority Tutsis and political moderates from the Hutu majority were killed in the 100-day slaughter orchestrated by the extremist Hutu government then in power. Rwanda says the DRC hasn't fulfilled its promise to disarm the Rwandan insurgents.The DRC's war split the nation and killed an estimated 3,3-million people, most through famine and disease


M
alawi
Malawi, Zambia to discuss border (Nation Online, 16/07)- Malawi and Zambia authorities are meeting next week to discuss and resolve recurrent border disputes along the border areas around Nyika National park where thousands of residents risk eviction. Controller of Lands at the Ministry of Lands, Physical Planning and Surveys Patrick Yasini said authorities have agreed to meet and completely resolve the disputes and that a new demarcation of the border is under way. “We are currently putting up new beacons to clearly demarcate Zambia from Malawi and so far we have covered about 200 kilometres starting from Mchinji and we will go on up to Chitipa,” said Yasini. The controller said the border demarcation project will cost the ministry about K5.3 million and will go on for three years. In February this year, Zambian police led by chiefs and municipal authorities evicted over 200 Malawians who allegedly settled on Zambian land. They were later put on around-the-clock surveillance. The disputed land is part of Chuka Village, T/A Kambokambo, Chama District in Zambia which borders the area under Sub-Chief Zolokere in Rumphi on the Malawian side. The two chiefs have been quarrelling over the land for many years and there have been sometimes violent acts between the subjects over farming and cattle grazing land. Officials at Rumphi District Assembly told the press early this year that the wrangles in Chief Katumbi’s area are some of the most sensitive border disputes the country is currently experiencing. Zambian High Commissioner to Malawi Ian Sikazwe is also on record as saying it is difficult to identify land along the borders of Malawi and Zambia since the demarcation exercise is not yet complete. The commissioner said border disputes are bound to be there until the exercise finishes.

Poultry export starves consumers in Malawi (Nation Online, 14/07)- The shortage of chicken on the market is because producers have been exporting the product to neighbouring countries, industry captains have confirmed. Poultry Industry Association of Malawi (Piam) chairman Alex Stewart said recently producers are exporting dressed chicken to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia through borders. But Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito has condemned the producers for exporting at a time when they cannot meet the local demand. Kapito has since demanded that government remove restrictions on chicken imports to allow for more chicken products into the country. “If Malawian producers are exporting, why can’t other countries export into Malawi as well? Why should Malawian consumers be limited to local poultry products even during a shortage?” queried Kapito. But Stewart said although the exports have brought a shortage of the birds, the development will help local producers to expand their businesses. “We are happy that other countries want our products because it means that we are now capable of competing on the international market,” said the Piam chief. Apart from the exports, said Stewart, the chicken business has become very popular among the country’s small scale entrepreneurs. Business Review investigations in major hatcheries last week showed that orders for day old chicks are fully booked up to November—meaning that one may not buy the chicks from the producers before then.  Stewart said the industry is reacting positively to the high demand by planning to increase production. Asked to comment on fears that producers could use the demand and supply forces to hike prices, Stewart dismissed the concerns. He said by expanding, the industry wants to avoid a serious shortage and protect consumers from paying more. Stewart, who is also managing director for Charles Stewart Day Old Chicks— one of the major chicken producers, said his company has already bought a new incubator at the cost of K20 million. “This incubator is in Dubai on its way to Malawi. We expect this investment to boost production by 55 percent by December,” he said. Stewart said the association is encouraging other major producers like Central Poultry to increase out put in order to meet the growing demand. The demand for chicken products has over the years continued to rise, driven by consumer habits and improvements in the quality of the products. Stewart said the demand has caught the industry unawares as they usually expect it to pick up from September or October. Malawi’s poultry industry is currently enjoying a boom after it almost collapsed between 1999 and 2001 when cheap eggs and chicken from South Africa and Zimbabwe flooded the market, making it hard for local producers to compete. To save the industry, government introduced an import licencing scheme in 2001 aimed at restricting the amount of poultry products into the country. Since then, the industry has been growing by about 10 percent on average per year, according to Piam. Consumers have been hoping that the industry’s gains would trickle down to them but nothing of the sort has happened. Ministry of Trade and Private Sector Development officials could not be reached for comment yesterday. But former Commerce, Trade and Industry minister Sam Mpasu said in April this year government cannot lift temporary import bans as doing so could kill what he called the young and fragile local poultry industry.

Police arrest six Zambians (Nation Online, 07/07)- Police in Mzuzu on Monday evening arrested six Zambians for failing to produce documents for their stay in Malawi. But some police officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged the six could be linked to the theft of a Nissan Hardboy double cabin vehicle stolen at gun point from Finance Bank manager Evelyn Malongo last week. “These Zambians who could not even produce passports when police demanded them and were at pains to explain reasons for their being in the country. They should know something of these things. They could be a link to a spate of similar vehicle thefts and armed robberies that have hit the region from last year”. Police spokesman Willie Mwaluka in an interview yesterday declined to comment on the issue, saying he had not received any report on the arrests. Mzuzu Police officer in charge Friday Mulekano while confirming arrests on Tuesday said it would be ‘unfair and unprofessional just to allude that the six arrested Zambians are linked to any criminal activities’. Said Mulekano: “These people (Zambians) are alleging they have necessary documents to stay in the country and our officers are this morning establishing that. If they don’t have the documents, we will hand them over to Immigration”. Mulekano added that the arrest of the six is part of an operation to clean Mzuzu. Immediately after the bank vehicle was stolen, police invaded resthouses and lodges in Mzuzu where they picked over 40 people on suspicion they did not have valid documents to stay in Malawi. Some were released, while over twenty were handed over to Immigration Department for deportation.


Mozambique
Mozambicans in Portugal want to vote (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 23/07)- Mozambicans resident in Portugal hope that the decision of the National Elections Commission (CNE) to register Mozambicans in the diaspora as voters will finally lead to them being able to vote in the country's general elections, scheduled for 1-2 December. But they recall with some bitterness that they were registered once before - in 1997 - but even so, were prevented from voting in the 1999 presidential an parliamentary elections. "This situation happened a few years ago and we were disappointed because everything stopped after the registration", Enoque Joao, chairperson of the "Casa de Mocambique" (House of Mozambique) in Lisbon told AIM. "The most important thing for us is that we should be able to vote", he stressed. "It makes no sense to register us, and then say we can't vote. That's like giving us a sweet and then telling us it's poisoned". "After registering, we also want to vote", Joao insisted. "This right must not be denied to us yet again". He regarded as "senseless" the position taken by the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, which has always opposed granting emigrants the right to vote. "When Renamo and Frelimo signed the peace agreement in Rome it was in order to silence the guns and guarantee that everyone could participate in the building of democracy in Mozambique", said Joao. As for the persistent Renamo complaints of fraud, Joao declared "Those who lose should accept defeat, instead of looking for ways to discredit the democracy we want to see installed in our country". And if opposition parties thought the Mozambican embassy in Lisbon was not an impartial enough place to register voters, Joao said he was prepared to offer the premises of the "Casa de Mocambique" as an alternative "since this is a non-partisan organisation for all Mozambicans". Other Mozambicans whom AIM interviewed in Lisbon had much the same opinion, and were generally annoyed at the possibility that they might register - and then find that, because of a Renamo veto in Maputo, they were unable to vote. Voting was no great mystery to Mozambicans living in Lisbon, said Carlos Chabel, a Mozambican who has taught in a Lisbon school for the past 15 years. They had watched Portuguese citizens cast votes regularly ever since the overthrow of fascism in 1974. "We have watched and lived through these moments", said Chabel. "Our experience here has prepared us to vote, and we don't see how, after two general elections have already taken place in Mozambique, there are still people who say we can't vote". A Mozambican sociologist working in Lisbon, Raimundo Mapandzene, said that excluding Mozambicans in the diaspora from elections was "an aberration of some people who still don't understand that the essence of democracy is the right to vote". "We are now coming up to our third general elections, and it's legitimate that all Mozambicans, without any exclusion, should exercise their right to vote. We've had ten years of multi-party democracy following a fratricidal war of destabilisation, and it makes no sense that there are still people who want to disenfranchise us". The Mozambican consul in Lisbon, Jose Miguel, told AIM that the embassy is perfectly capable of registering as voters the Mozambicans living in Portugal. "We're just waiting for the Foreign Ministry to tell us what we should do to guarantee the registration", he said. He said that the consular services has on its books about 8,000 Mozambicans living in Portugal. He admitted that some of them were not residing legally in the country, but the embassy's position was to register any Mozambican who wanted to benefit from its services. Miguel said the CNE's decision to register Mozambicans abroad as voters "is welcome and it responds to the concerns of most of our fellow citizens here". He noted that the right to vote was always raised when the Mozambican community in Lisbon met with Mozambican government figures visiting the country. When Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao visited Portugal recently "many Mozambicans wanted to know when they would be able to vote", said Miguel. The same question was raised when the general secretary of the ruling Frelimo Party, Armando Guebuza, was in Lisbon, and he promised the emigrants that he would defend their right to vote in the forthcoming elections.

Mozambicans abroad to vote for the first time in elections (Sapa-AFP, 22/07)- Some 200,000 Mozambicans living abroad, mostly in South Africa, will for the first time be able to cast ballots in the December
presidential and parliamentary elections, electoral officials said Thursday. "It is legitimate that our compatriots abroad can now be given the opportunity of taking part in the country's political life after being excluded several times for organizational and financial reasons," said a spokesman for the national elections commission, Antonio Manjate. The expatriates from Mozambique have never been able to vote in their country's two previous multi-party elections since the end of the 16-year civil war in late 1992. A former Portuguese colony, Mozambique will be holding its third multi-party elections on December 1 and 2 to elect a parliament and successor to President Joaquim Chissano, who is stepping down after 18 years in office. Chissano, leader of the governing Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), took power after Mozambican president Samora Machel died in a plane crash in 1986. FRELIMO Secretary General Armando Guebuza is his party's presidential candidate. His main rivals in the December vote will be Afonso Dhlakama of the former rebel group turned political party, the Mozambique National Resistance movement, and Raul Domingos, leader of the Party for Peace Democracy and Development (PDD).


Mozambicans abroad to be registered as voters (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 21/07)- Mozambique's National Elections Commission (CNE) has decided that Mozambicans living outside the country will be registered as voters - but this does not automatically mean they will be allowed to vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 1-2 December. CNE spokesperson Filipe Mandlate told a Wednesday press conference that the Commission "analysed this matter in depth, over three meetings". In the end the decision was taken by a vote, which split along party political lines. The 10 members of the CNE appointed by the ruling Frelimo Party voted in favour of registering the emigrants. Seven appointed by the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition voted against. The independent chairperson, Rev Arao Litsuri, did not cast a vote. Mandlate said the CNE majority bore in mind that all citizens "have a right and a duty to participate in the nation's political life", and registration is a necessary condition before anyone, inside or outside the country, can vote. The majority also pointed out that Mozambican citizens abroad already contribute substantially to the country's economy through the remittances they send home. The Renamo members, Mandlate said, argued that conditions for registering voters inside the country had to be improved before registering ones abroad. They also expressed doubts as to the reliability of the government's data on the Mozambican communities abroad. But the majority believed "registration can be undertaken, even if the conditions are not optimal", said Mandlate. "It is not reasonable to prevent people from participating in political life, just because the conditions are not excellent". The CNE thus instructed its executive body, the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), to draw up a timetable for registering voters abroad. But the registration will not take place everywhere - only in those countries where there are enough Mozambicans to fill at least one electoral register - that is, 500 names. This means that the registration will take place at Mozambican embassies and consulates in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya. Only two countries outside Africa will be covered - Portugal and Germany. Mandlate thought the registration would take place in late August and early September, and would cost about 400,000 US dollars. This money is already available. But he warned that registration did not necessarily mean that the emigrants would vote in December. The CNE would have to discuss the matter again after the registration. "Registration does not guarantee voting", said Mandlate. "But we cannot take the second decision (on voting), without taking the first one (on registration)". There is an unfortunate precedent here. Registration abroad has happened once before - in 1997. But no emigrants were allowed to vote in the 1999 general elections: Renamo successfully exercised a veto on the 1999 CNE, just as it had on the 1994 one. So despite their enormous contribution to the Mozambican balance of payments, the emigrants have so far been unable to take part in any of the country's elections. Mandlate said the CNE had also received protests against alleged irregularities in the voter registration inside the country that took place between 28 June and 15 July. Renamo had delivered a letter protesting at a series of what it called "grave irregularities", and a group of opposition parties had done likewise. Mandlate said the CNE could take no action on either of these documents because they did not follow the procedure for electoral complaints clearly laid out in the electoral law. The correct procedure for any citizen or party wishing to lodge a complaint against any aspect of voter registration is to wait until the registers are displayed at the STAE district offices - which should happen three days after the end of registration. The district STAEs can receive complaints up to the 14th day after the end of registration. They have five days to respond to the complaint. If the petitioner does not like the answer, he can appeal to the District Elections Commission - then to the Provincial Elections Commission, then to the CNE, then finally all the way to the Constitutional Council, the body that has the last word in electoral complaints. By writing directly to the CNE, the opposition parties had completely ignored the legal procedures. Renamo certainly had no excuse for this, since its parliamentary deputies helped write the election legislation. Mandlate said that, as far as he was aware, no complaint following the correct procedure has yet been received, though there was still time for parties to protest to the district STAE offices.

Former migrants want Independent Commission (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 20/07)- The Mozambicans who worked in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the 1980s want an "independent commission" to mediate in their dispute with the Mozambican government. It is now clear that the demand for such a commission was key to ending the occupation of the German embassy by a group of 41 former migrants (colloquially known as "majermanes") on Friday. The end of the occupation, which had been underway for four days, was mediated by a group, essentially of academics, headed by Brazao Mazula, the Vice-Chancellor of the Eduardo Mondlane University (the country's largest higher education institution), and Alice Mabota, chairperson of the Human Rights League (LDH). Establishing an "independent commission" was a condition set by the majermanes for ending the occupation, and agreed to by Mazula and Mabota. Such a commission would work with the Ministry of Labour - but, according to a report in Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", the majermanes want to exclude those Ministry officials who have dealt with the problem in the past. The former migrants are demanding huge sums of money from the government which they allege, against all the evidence, to have been sent from Germany to Mozambique in the 1980s. The government has agreed to repay, in installments, the 50 per cent of their social security contributions that was sent to Maputo. the government calculates that this amounts to around ten million US dollars for the 15,477 majermanes who have registered with the Labour Ministry. The deal that Mazula's team struck with the 41 majermanes is that they would leave the embassy, none of them would be arrested, dialogue would continue with the government - and, crucially, they would be allowed to continue their gatherings in public places. The majermanes have used the 28 May garden, a large public space in the central Maputo neighbourhood of Alto Mae, as their meeting point. They have also staged weekly demonstrations through the streets of Maputo, demanding the money they claim the government owes them. But in recent months the police have banned the street marches, and even the meetings in the 28 May garden. Such blanket bans are illegal and unconstitutional. All citizens have the right to hold peaceful gatherings and demonstrations, and the fact that some past majermane demonstrations have turned violent is an argument for better policing, not for a prohibition on future marches. This point seems to have been tacitly conceded by the police. On Monday, a group of majermanes met in the 28 May garden, and the police were nowhere to be seen. It could be argued that Mazula's intervention was unnecessary, in that hunger would almost certainly have forced the majermanes out of the embassy some time over the weekend. On the other hand, the agreement with Mazula's group allowed the majermanes to retreat with some dignity, and avoided any clashes with the police outside the embassy. Meanwhile President Joaquim Chissano, interviewed on the matter by a Mozambican Television (TVM) crew during his current visit to the northern province of Nampula, stressed that it was utterly exceptional to repay social security contributions. Normally people have to wait until they retire to enjoy benefits from their contributions, in the form of an old age pension. The Mozambican government, however, had decided that the majermanes' circumstances were such as to justify the extraordinary measure of giving them back the social security money that had been transferred to Mozambique. But the President made it very clear that nothing else would be paid to the former migrants. He attacked the claim made by majermane leader Alberto Mahuaie that the true figure owed to the migrants was "22 billion dollars" (or over a million dollars for each majermane). Chissano pointed out that, at the height of Mozambique's indebtedness to foreign creditors, the country's total debt stock was only six billion dollars.

Occupation of German Embassy ends (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 17/07)- The group of 41 Mozambicans occupying the German embassy in Maputo left the premises on Friday night. The 41 are all people who had once been migrant workers in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). They invaded the embassy on Tuesday in an attempt to extort money from the Mozambican and German governments, but after four days of living on nothing but water and a little bread, they gave up. When AIM rang up one of the leaders of the former migrants (known colloquially as "majermanes") on his mobile phone, he merely said "We're not there (in the embassy) any more". He would give more details "in due time", he said, but currently the group was meeting "fur a further dialogue". Where and with whom he declined to say. A report on Radio Mozambique on Saturday morning said the majermanes left the embassy in two vehicles provided by the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH). The riot police, waiting on the pavement outside the embassy, did not arrest any of them. Earlier on Friday the majermanes had requested medical help, because three of them had fallen ill. It is not clear what was wrong with them, other than that one had a severe nose bleed. When a team from the Mozambican Red Cross (CVM), accompanied by a member of the German Red Cross, arrived to evacuate the three, they insisted that, after treatment, they should be returned to the embassy. The Red Cross rejected such pre- conditions, and the German ambassador, Ulf Dieter Klemm, insisted that any medical assistance to the sick majermanes must be provided outside the embassy premises. Two of the CVM team entered the embassy with a stretcher, intending to remove the sick. But the three refused to leave without a guarantee that they would be allowed to return to the occupation. Klemm warned the occupiers on Friday that their action was "a dead end". Her could find no plausible reason to justify the invasion of the embassy, and made it very clear that the Federal German authorities had no intention of paying anything to the majermanes. On Tuesday Klemm had promised that, if the majermanes left the premises peacefully, they would not be arrested, and the embassy would take no legal action against them. It seems that this promise remained valid, and explains the refusal of the police to detain the occupiers as they left the building.

German Ambassador: occupation 'Is a dead end' (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 16/06)- The German ambassador to Mozambique, Ulf Dieter Klemm, has warned that the current occupation of the German embassy by about 40 Mozambicans who once worked in the now defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR) is "illegal" and "a dead end". Klemm's appeal to the former migrants (know colloquially as "majermanes") was distributed on Friday as a press release. In it he pointed out that it was only through "tough and peaceful negotiations" that the majermanes could resolve their problems "and not through illegal invasions". He added that "the people who now say they will only leave the embassy when they receive their money, are not even able to explain how much money the Mozambican government owes them". (In fact the leading majermane spokesman, Alberto Mahuaie, has mentioned the figure of 22 billion US dollars - but since this is over a million dollars for each majermane, nobody takes this seriously.) Klemm revealed that in May majermane representatives had brought a request for information to the embassy, and he had guaranteed that the German government would reply to their questions. "But as I explained to them in detail, the matter is very complicated, and a clarification will take time. This is not a good enough reason to invade an embassy", said Klemm's appeal. "If you have a question of your neighbour, and he says he will reply, but it will take time, you don't invade his house the following day". Furthermore, the ambassador added, Mahuaie's demand that the German government, as well as the Mozambican authorities, should pay the majermanes was entirely new. Mahuaie had called on Germany to repay the 50 per cent of the majermanes' social security contributions that had stayed in the East German social security system. This demand "was only introduced after the invasion", said Klemm. The ambassador recalled that on the first day of the occupation (Tuesday), he had negotiated a deal with the police, under which the majermanes would leave the embassy and they would not be arrested or harassed by the contingent of riot police outside the gates. He had also guaranteed that the embassy would take no legal action against them. But they had chosen to remain illegally inside the embassy, "which clearly shows that they are using this invasion to exert pressure on the Mozambican government". Klemm said the question of the money transferred from Germany to Mozambique in the 1980s could only be solved in negotiations between the majermanes and the Mozambican government. "In this process the only useful role of the German government is in providing information", he added. "It has already played this role when, in 2002, the Petitions Commission of the Assembly of the Republic sought clarification from the German government". This had led to the resolution passed by the Assembly on the matter in May 2003, and Klemm believed that room existed for the majermanes to continue negotiating with the Inter-Ministerial commission set up by the government. "Staying illegally in the embassy is a dead end", he stressed. The sole result of the occupation was to prevent the normal functioning of the embassy, thus creating problems for the many people who, under normal circumstances, would be visiting the embassy's consular section.

Occupation until we die, threatens Majermane leader (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 15/07)- As night fell on Thursday, the group of 40 Mozambicans occupying the German embassy showed no signs of leaving, and their leader even made melodramatic threats that they would rather die in the embassy than give up their struggle. The 40 are citizens who once worked as migrant workers in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). The occupation of the embassy, which began on Tuesday, is the latest move in their attempts to force the Mozambican and German governments to pay them huge sums of money. During Thursday German ambassador Ulf Dieter Klemm met with the former migrants (colloquially known as "majermanes") twice in attempts to persuade them to leave the building, and allow the embassy staff to resume their work. But, as with his previous efforts on Tuesday and Wednesday, he had no success. On the road outside the embassy a large contingent of the riot police stands guard. Up until Thursday afternoon it was possible to look into the embassy building and see the majermanes gesturing. But Klemm decided to heighten their isolation by putting a tarpaulin over the entrance. The occupiers cannot see what is happening on the road, and nobody outside can see them. AIM phoned Alberto Mahuaie, the coordinator of the Forum of Returnees from the ex-GDR, which claims to represent the majermanes, on his cell phone. He admitted that since the occupation began, the 40 majermanes have not had either a hot meal or a bath. On Wednesday night Klemm gave them some bread - but this worked out at just half a small loaf each. They are drinking water from the taps in the embassy bathrooms, and are sleeping on the floor of the visitors' reception area. So would Mahuaie consider leaving the embassy ? "If it's necessary for us to die here, then we shall die", he replied. He told AIM the majermanes would not hand themselves over to the police. So far Klemm has not authorised the Mozambican police to enter the premise and remove the majermanes by force. Doubtless the ambassador fears that the use of force could lead to serious damage inside the building. If no further food is delivered, then the occupation is bound to collapse within the next couple of days. It has served no purpose at all, with the German authorities insisting that they owe the majermanes nothing, and the Mozambican government sticking to its position that, beyond the 10 million dollars or so in repayment of social security contributions already agreed, they too will pay the former migrants nothing.

Occupation of German Embassy goes into third day (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 15/07)- A group of about 40 Mozambicans who were once migrant workers in the now defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR) on Thursday began their third day of occupation of the German embassy in Maputo, and are threatening to stay there "indefinitely". Alberto Mahuaie, the coordinator of the Forum of Returnees from the ex-GDR (which claims to represent the former migrants, known colloquially as "majermanes") told the independent newsheet "Mediafax" that "Everything is calm among us". But he would not say when the occupiers might leave the premises "because we are waiting for the ambassador to attend to our demands". On Wednesday morning the German ambassador, Ulf Dieter Klemm, renewed his attempts to persuade the majermanes to leave the building. The majermanes refused, and after ten minutes of futile discussions Klemm left the building. Other majermanes approached the building with food for the occupiers - but the police refused to let them deliver it. Klemm himself, however, took pity on the occupiers and gave them bread on both Tuesday and Wednesday night. The danger of this humanitarian gesture is that it will merely prolong the occupation. Outside the embassy riot police clashed with other majermanes. About 100 had spent Tuesday night on the pavement, in solidarity with the 40 inside the building. They were huddled in small groups, near the embassy. On Wednesday morning the police ordered them to move away from the embassy. They moved to the road outside a private clinic less than 500 metres from the embassy. The police did not regard this as far enough, and at about 13.00 a riot police unit baton-charged the majermanes. Two people were injured: one, Carlitos Sozinho, suffered a broken arm, and Vicente Fenias suffered a variety of cuts and bruises. The majermanes' hopes that they could put pressure on the German authorities to force the Mozambican government to pay them the vast sums they are demanding were dashed when Klemm issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon declaring that, as far as Germany is concerned, the question of the former migrants is closed. "The demands of those who formerly worked in the GDR, directed to the Mozambican government, are a matter between Mozambicans", the statement read. Germany owed no money at all to the majermanes. The statement declared "according to the information in the possession of the German Federal Government, the government of the GDR complied with all the undertakings arising from the agreement on employing Mozambican workers". One of the new demands of the majermanes is that all their social security contributions, and not just the 50 per cent that was transferred to Mozambique, should be reimbursed. But while the Mozambican government made this concession in April 2002 - which now looks like a serious mistake - the German government has no intention of opening the dangerous precedent of repaying social security contributions. The majermanes now say that their social security contributions were used to pay off Mozambique's debt to the GDR. The German statement dismissed all such wild claims, and warned that everything to do with the migrant labour agreement of 1979 is now "a closed case". The police remain in force outside the embassy, but it seems that they will only move into the building if the German authorities request them to end the occupation.

Former migrants invade Germany Embassy (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 14/07)- About 40 Mozambicans who were once migrant workers in the now defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR) on Tuesday occupied the German embassy in Maputo. The invasion of the embassy marks a completely new stage in the campaign by the former migrants (known colloquially as "majermanes") to force the Mozambican government to pay them vast sums of money which they claim, against all the evidence, was sent to Mozambique from Germany in the 1980s. In the past, the majermanes attempted to enlist the support of German diplomats for their claims. Now it seems they regard the German authorities as enemies. Embassy sources told AIM that the majermanes forced their way through the main entrance to the embassy building, and demanded a meeting with the ambassador, Ulf Dieter Klemm. Once the initial group was inside, others clambered over the walls and joined them. Apparently the majermane violence met with the approval of the group's lawyer, Alice Mabota (who is also chairperson of the Mozambican Human Rights League). Speaking to reporters at the embassy Mabota said she saw nothing wrong in what the former migrants were doing, arguing that they had every right to resort to all forms of pressure to ensure "justice". Despite her profession, Mabota declared "I have nothing to do with legal questions or with the implications this might cause. I am just demanding justice for my people who are suffering from hunger". Alberto Mahuaie, the coordinator of the Forum of Returnees from the ex-GDR, the body that claims to represent the majermanes, said they had decided to occupy the German embassy, because they regarded this as a means to pressure the German authorities to, in turn, force the Mozambican government "to pay without further delay the rest of the money they owe us because of the contributions discounted from our wages in the GDR". He said they would "never" abandon the embassy until the money they say was discounted from the wages is paid. Mahuaie himself has put a figure of 22 billion (sic) US dollars on the amount owing. Since the total number of Mozambicans who worked in the GDR in the 11 years of the migrant labour agreement was rather less than 22,000, this means the majermanes are demanding over a million dollars each. Alternatively, and perhaps more probably, Mahuaie's grasp of mathematics is rather tenuous and he does not know the difference between millions and billions. But even 22 million dollars is far too much. The documents published last year by the German authorities show that the social security contributions deducted from the majermanes' wages and sent to Maputo amounted to about 18 million dollars. Despite Mahuaie's support for the occupation, he said it was not an idea that came from the Forum leadership. He said the group that stormed the embassy did so without the knowledge of the Forum. "Some of our colleagues were tired of waiting and decided to invade the German embassy to try and force the two governments to sit at the same table and reach a conclusion about our demands", Mahuaie said. The National Director of Public Order in the Interior Ministry, Custodio Zandamela, arrived at the embassy with a large contingent of police. He told reporters that Klemm had tried to talk with the occupies, but "as usual, they were incoherent and inconsistent". Initially the ambassador was patient towards his uninvited guests. But patience was just rewarded with more demands - now the majermanes wanted, not only the 50 per cent of their social security contributions that was sent to Mozambique, but the 50 per cent that stayed in the German social security system as well. They also demanded, as a condition for leaving the building, that the police contingent be withdrawn. In an attempt to avoid violence, the police did pull back by about 300 metres. The majermanes then demanded a written document guaranteeing the withdrawal of the police, as a kind of safe conduct. The ambassador agreed to give them this. To no avail. The majermanes suddenly returned to square one, and demanded the "immediate payment" of the money they say is owing. At this point Klemm gave up trying to reason with the majermanes. He and the rest of the embassy staff all left the premises. An uneasy stand-off followed, with majermanes inside the embassy, and a large police contingent outside. Since the embassy grounds constitute German, not Mozambican, territory, the police say they will only go inside if acts of destruction or violence occur. The occupation began in mid-morning, and the majermanes decided to spend the night in the embassy. They were still there early on Wednesday morning.

Mozambicans abroad demand right to vote (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 14/07)- The Association of Mozambican Miners (AMIMO), which represents Mozambicans working in the mines of South Africa, has demanded recognition of its members' right to vote in the forthcoming general elections, due on 1 and 2 December, and asked for support from civil society for their cause, reports Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias". In a letter addressed to the chairperson of the National Elections Commission (CNE), Rev Arao Litsuri, AMIMO explained that theirs is a non-partisan association and that all they are asking for is the right to vote. "We have been following the discussions around the elections that will take place within months", the letter said. "Our expectation, as Mozambicans abroad, is that we will be allowed to exercise our right to vote". AMIMO noted that, even after two general elections (in 1994 and 1999), Mozambican emigrants are still disenfranchised. And the same arguments as to why emigrants should not be granted voting rights were still being used today. AMIMO warned that the country's democracy should not erect barriers to any group of citizens, just because they are not inside Mozambique on voting day. The letter pointed out that the contribution made by the emigrants "strengthens the national economy, regardless of the party in government". AMIMO said that emigrants, including illegal ones, "have not stopped being Mozambicans. They have problems that deserve the attention of government institutions and of the Mozambican parliament". The ruling Frelimo Party has always been in favour of granting the emigrants voting rights, but the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, with its morbid suspicion of Mozambican embassies and consulates, has always opposed this. The electoral law puts the decision in the hands of the CNE, which must decide whether appropriate conditions exist to register emigrants as voters. In the past the Renamo-appointed members of the CNE have an effective veto on this issue, and there is no reason to imagine that is about to change.

Police disperse former migrants (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 13/07)- The Mozambican police on Monday violently dispersed a group of citizens who were once migrant workers in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), and who were trying to demonstrate in support of their claim for more money from the government. Initially the former migrants (known colloquially as "majermanes") had planned to protest in front of the Labour Ministry in central Maputo. But the riot police were waiting for them. According to a report in Tuesday's issue of the independent newsheet "Mediafax", there was a stand-off for about an hour, with the majermanes singing and chanting on the other side of the road from the Ministry building. The majermanes then moved to the 28 May garden, in the Alto Mae neighbourhood. This sizeable public garden has been used habitually as a majermane meeting point. But it too was surrounded by riot police. After an angry exchange of words, the police fired rubber bullets to disperse the majermanes. The former migrants responded with stones, and threw up improvised barricades in the streets, to prevent movement by the police vehicles. The police, however, quickly removed these obstacles. According to one of the majermane leaders, Lazaro Magalhaes, one of the former migrants was injured in the clashes, when he fell, running away from the police attack. There are no reports of any arrests. For the past six weeks the Maputo police command has imposed an illegal and unconstitutional ban on majermane street demonstrations, and even on their gatherings in the 28 May garden. There is no provision in Mozambican law for such a blanket ban. Citizens are not obliged to request permission to demonstrate: it is a right, and the obligation of the organisers of demonstrations is merely to inform the police and the local government, at least four days in advance, of the planned route and time of the march. It is true that some of the previous majermane demonstrations have turned violent, but this does not give the police the authority to ban all future ones. The majermanes say they are demanding the implementation of a resolution on their demands passed by the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, in May 2003. However, the government says it is implementing the resolution, and that it owes nothing to the majermanes beyond the reimbursement of their social security contributions, which is taking place in installments. On Friday, a government team headed by Joao Loforte, the permanent secretary of the Labour Ministry, met with a majermane delegation and went over the Assembly resolution point by point, explaining what the government had done. But Loforte might as well have been talking to a brick wall. Alberto Mahuaie, the coordinator of the Forum of Returnees from the GDR (which claims to represent the majermanes), declared "We're going to ignore the decision of the Labour Ministry to analyse the resolution point by point, and so we shall continue to protest against the decision of the Ministry not to recognise the resolution of the Assembly of the Republic". In fact, the Ministry has said no such thing. At the opening of Friday's meeting, Loforte explicitly said that the government has been implementing everything contained in the resolution. The Ministry has also published in the media a statement explaining exactly what the government has done in response to the resolution. In his rejection of the government position, Mahuaie did not say which parts of the resolution he thought the government was violating. Meanwhile the majermanes have attempted, without success, to secure a further meeting with the chairperson of the Assembly, Eduardo Mulembue. Earlier this month, they met with Mulembue twice, and it was thanks to Mulembue's intervention that the interministerial team headed by Loforte was set up. But, according to a report in Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", Mulembue has no intention of meeting with the majermanes again, since he has "nothing to say" to them.


Zimbabwean skilled workers seek employment (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 13/07)- According to the governor of the central Mozambican province of Manica, Soares Nhaca, the economic crisis in Zimbabwe is leading to a flight of Zimbabwean skilled workers into Mozambique, looking for employment. Speaking to AIM in the provincial capital, Chimoio, Nhaca said that Manica has been one of the beneficiaries of this Zimbabwean exodus. Currently the province is absorbing many skilled Zimbabwean construction workers. There is plenty of work for them to do: Chimoio is an expanding city, and several large scale construction jobs are under way. Nhaca paid tribute to the skills of the Zimbabweans. It was thanks to them, he said, that many recent buildings in Chimoio are of high quality. Due to the vocational education available in Zimbabwe, the country has a large pool of skilled workers, and many more specialists in various building trades than Mozambique has. So building companies in Manica are eager to recruit Zimbabwean labour. The Zimbabwean building workers are following in the footsteps of several dozen Zimbabwean commercial farmers. Driven off their land in the chaotic occupations that the Harare authorities call a land reform, they have been welcomed as investors in Manica. They have been allocated land, and are producing both for the local market and for export, creating many jobs for Mozambican farm workers.

Labour ministry meets with former migrants (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 09/07)- Officials from the Mozambican Labour Ministry on Friday met with a delegation from the Forum of Returnees from the ex-German Democratic Republic (GDR), to discuss their demands for more money from the government. On 30 June the former migrants (known colloquially as "majermanes") invaded the building of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, and successfully demanded a meeting with parliamentary chairman, Eduardo Mulembue. They claimed that the government was not implementing an Assembly resolution on the majermane claims, passed in May 2003. The government, however, insists that it is paying back to the former migrants their social security contributions, sent from Germany to Mozambique in the 1980s, and that it owes them nothing more. Mulembue promised to take the majermanes' grievances to President Joaquim Chissano, and he in turn mandated Labour Minister Mario Sevene to deal with the matter. It was expected that Sevene himself would meet with the majermane leaders on Friday. Instead, it was a civil servant, Joao Loforte, permanent secretary in the Labour Ministry, who headed the government team. Loforte said that he would do "everything to clarify, point by point, all that the resolution passed by the Assembly contains", and the government's response. The former migrants could react, and "we will then have a dialogue in good faith, in which both parties are willing to clarify everything". But it would be a dialogue closed to the public. After Loforte's brief opening remarks, reporters were asked to leave, and the rest of the meeting took place behind closed doors. Sitting on the government team was the Maputo city police commander, Joao Mahunguele - so the meeting will certainly discuss Mahunguele's illegal and unconstitutional ban on all street gatherings and demonstrations by the majermanes. This is a separate issue from that of the money demanded by the majermanes. Regardless of the merits and demerits of their case, the majermanes, like any other citizens, have the right to freedom of assembly, and this includes the right to march in the streets, provided they give the requisite four days notice. The police do not have the power to curtail this freedom, merely because of violent incidents on some of the previous marches. In their two meetings with Mulembue over the past week, the majermanes raised new demands, not envisaged in the May 2003 resolution, or in any other document. One was that, in the case of those majermanes who have died since returning from the GDR, their heirs should receive the social security money. The other is that a figure has finally been put on the money they are claiming - on two occasions a majermane spokesman has mentioned "22 billion dollars" as the total owing to them, a figure which clearly astonished Mulembue. During the entire period of the migrant labour agreement between the GDR and Mozambique, slightly fewer than 22,000 Mozambicans went to work in Germany. So the majermane claim is that the GDR sent back enough money (in addition to the deferred part of their wages) to pay each and every one of them more than a million US dollars. A charitable assumption is that a few extra zeroes have crept in, and the majermane spokesman was confusing millions and billions (in Portuguese, as in English, there is only a one letter difference in the two words). Even if the claim is for 22 million dollars, the figure is too high. The documents made available by the German authorities show that a total of 18 million dollars was sent to Mozambique in social security contributions from the migrants.


Anti-corruption unit to investigate residence permits (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 07/07)- The anti-corruption unit in the Mozambican Attorney-General's Office intends to investigate the sale of residence permits to foreigners not entitled to them, according to a report in Wednesday's issue of the independent newsheet "Mediafax". Foreigners who are legally resident in Mozambique are granted a combined identity card and resident permit, known as a DIRE. But there have been repeated reports of foreigners working illegally in Mozambique who acquire DIREs by bribing immigration officials. The latest such scandal is in the central province of Zambezia, and has been the subject of a detailed report in the daily paper "Diario de Mocambique", implicating the local director of the immigration service. Foreigners from Pakistan, and from various African countries are said to have paid corrupt officials between five and fifty million meticais (200 to 2,000 US dollars) to acquire their DIREs. According to "Mediafax", the Attorney-General's Office regards such activities, not only as flagrantly corrupt, but as an open invitation to foreign organised crime networks to establish themselves in Mozambique. Investigators from the anti-corruption unit will be dispatched to all those provincial capitals where the illicit sale of DIREs is apparently flourishing. They intend to question immigration officials and anyone else involved in this illegal business. Under the current legislation, a foreigner only qualifies for a residence permit, if he or she has a legitimate visa, and has a work contract or investment project duly recognised by the relevant Mozambican authorities.

Opposition calls for emigrants to be disenfranchised (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 06/07)- Mozambican opposition parties on Tuesday insisted that Mozambicans living abroad should be deprived of their right to vote. If they get their way, which seems very likely, this will be the third general election in which the hundreds of thousands of Mozambican emigrants, whose remittances make a vital contribution to the balance of payments, have been disenfranchised. At a meeting in Maputo between the National Elections Commission (CNE) and representatives of registered political parties, CNE chairperson Rev Arao Litsuri said that the question of registering Mozambicans in the diaspora as voters has been discussed at the CNE, but no decision has yet been taken. "There is great interest in registering the emigrants to vote", he said, "and this is envisaged in the electoral law itself. What is needed is a deeper understanding of the conditions necessary - for instance, who will register the emigrants, who will monitor this, how much will it cost and so on". Litsuri said the proposal on registration of voters at the country's embassies and consulates, drawn up by the electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the civil service, was just that - a proposal, not a decision. The CNE has now asked STAE for a more detailed document, "and in due time we shall decide", Litsuri said. But the very idea that emigrants might vote caused near- hysterical reactions on the part of several opposition parties present. Sensing a sinister conspiracy, Marcos Juma, of the tiny group PANAMO (Mozambican National Party) asked "Who's behind this ideas to register people outside the country ? Who's imposing this ?" He claimed that STAE was proposing to register 300,000 Mozambicans abroad in 20 days, yet only 15 days were allotted to registering an estimated 700,000 new voters inside the country. "What do you intend with this ?", he demanded. Juma is factually wrong: 18 days, not 15, have been allotted to the current updating of the electoral registers. His past is not such as to inspire confidence: he was convicted of counterfeiting foreign currency in 2001, and given a two year suspended prison sentence. This means that Juma will not be able to stand in the coming elections. A representative of the Independent Party of Mozambique (PIMO), claimed that registration abroad "will be used to register foreigners". He added that Mozambique has no real embassies - "they're just party political offices". He alleged that "this instruction (to register Mozambican emigrants) comes from Lisbon which is the centre for cleaning up the image of the Frelimo presidential candidate (Armando Guebuza)". He added that it made no sense to register people abroad "when there's no money available to register voters in Mafalala (a large Maputo neighbourhood)". Over and over again, the same claims were made - Mozambican embassies were just Frelimo fronts and couldn't be trusted, and STAE was making a mess of the registration inside the country, and it thus made no sense to talk of registration abroad. "It's not possible to carry out registration abroad, when you can't do it properly inside Mozambique", exclaimed Gania Mussagy of the former rebel movement Renamo. "If there's money available, it should be spent in the provinces". "The Mozambicans say no to registration abroad !", she declared. Joao Massango, leader of the Ecologist Party, which is allied to Renamo in the Electoral Union coalition, treated emigrants with open contempt. "If these Mozambicans abroad want to vote, then let them come back here and vote", he said. STAE general director Antonio Carrasco denied claims that the registration had ground to a halt in various parts of the country. The PIMO claim that there was no film to take pictures for voters' cards in Mafalala was untrue. "I don't believe there is any part of Maputo city that is short of registration material", he said. As for allegations that STAE would only register Frelimo supporters, Carrasco replied "We have no ability to do that - we don't know what the political sympathies of each citizen are". "At no time have we told the registration brigades to register people from one party only". he added. "When we register voters, we don't ask to see their political party cards". But the top concern for some of the participants was how to raid the state budget. The law provides for a subvention from the budget for the election campaign, but the distribution of this money must take into account the number of parliamentary seats each party holds, and the number of parliamentary candidates it is fielding. This means that most of the money will go to the two parties who do have proven popular support, Frelimo and Renamo. Minor parties who choose to contest only a couple of provinces rather than standing lists in the entire country will be lucky to obtain any money at all. Naturally the minor parties thought this most unjust. PIMO demanded that all parties should be treated "on a footing of equality", and given equal access to state funds, while Marciano Tijama, of the newly formed Popular Democratic Party (PPD) begged "Give us the money early on".

Chairperson meets with former migrants (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 06/07)- The chairperson of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Eduardo Mulembue, on Tuesday met with representatives of citizens who were once migrant workers in the now defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR), to inform them of the results of his meeting with President Joaquim Chissano at which he had promised to raise their concerns. The meeting followed an invasion of the Assembly building by about 300 of the former migrants (known colloquially as "majermanes") last Thursday. The protestors were demanding that the Assembly oblige the government to implement a parliamentary resolution of May 2003 on the majermanes' claims for more money. The government says it is already implementing that resolution, and that in reality it does not owe anything to the former migrants. Mulembue ended the majermane Thursday occupation of the Assembly by meeting with their leaders, and promising to bring them a reply from Chissano to their demands the following day. But Mulembue was unable to speak with Chissano at once, and so his second meeting with the majermanes was postponed to Tuesday. After the meeting, Alberto Mahuaie, the coordinator of the Forum of Returnees from the GDR, seemed cautiously optimistic. He told reporters that Mulembue had informed them of the existence of a dispatch signed by Chissano that will authorise them to approach the Labour Ministry which will tell them what concrete steps are being taken to implement the May 2003 resolution. They had also been assured that four ministries (he did not say which ones) had been instructed to work on carrying out the resolution. Mahuaie thus hoped that all the provisions of the resolution would be carried out. The majermanes seem quite unaware that in October Labour Minister Mario Sevene reported to the Assembly on the implementation of the May resolution: and Sevene can hardly tell the former migrants something different from what he told the parliamentarians. And in October he made it clear that there would be no extra money for the majermanes. The government had already promised, in April 2002, as an "exceptional measure", to return to the former migrants the social security contributions discounted from their wages in Germany, and sent to Mozambique. This money would be paid to every majermane registered with the Labour Ministry. In April 2002. there were 11,252 registered majermanes, and returning their social security contributions would cost the state some 7.5 million US dollars. By October 2003, the number registered had risen to about 17,000, with a corresponding increase in the money to be paid. Thus the government had carried out one of the main recommendations of the resolution, which was precisely to continue registering the former migrants, and repaying the social security. The most controversial clause in the resolution concerned the migrants' deferred wages. Between 1986 and 1990, 60 per cent of each migrant's wage was compulsorily transferred to Mozambique, and paid to its owner in local currency, meticais, on his return. The resolution said that 10 per cent of this sum was unjustly deducted as Labour Ministry expenses, and should be returned to the majermanes. But in October, Sevene pointed out that this 10 per cent deduction was not introduced until 1988, two years before the whole migrant labour agreement collapsed in the ruins of the Berlin Wall. Under the 1979 labour agreement between Mozambique and the GDR, the costs inherent in sending thousands of Mozambicans to Germany were to be borne by both countries. By 1988 both the GDR and Mozambique were finding it difficult to comply with this. Thanks to the war of destabilisation, the Mozambican government was desperately short of money, and it was decided that the migrants themselves, as the main beneficiaries of the agreement, should contribute to the administrative costs. The government did not think this could be interpreted as a violation of the 1979 agreement, and saw no reason to return the money. The resolution also wanted "corrected charts of the workers' wages". The government replied there was nothing to correct. The East German employers had provided monthly wage sheets, and on the basis of these a summary was drawn up of the money transferred to Mozambique, which gave the date and the exchange rates used (between the East German mark and the US dollar, and between the dollar and the metical). Among the other issues raised by the resolution was the question of 219,000 marks (equivalent to about 136,000 dollars) supposedly still owing to 73 majermanes who had worked in a German cement factory. Sevene told the Assembly in October that this money had been paid to its legitimate owners in 1991, and there was documentary proof of this. In short, the majermanes' hopes of extracting further large sums from the Mozambican state budget are misplaced.

Frontier with Tanzania entirely unprotected (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 02/07)- Mozambique's border with Tanzania is entirely unprotected, and as a result every day foreigners cross illegally into the country, according to Alberto Tigre, the rapporteur of the Commission on Defence and Public Security of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. Tigre led a parliamentary delegation to the northern province of Cabo Delgado this week to assess security conditions along the border. He told AIM that the delegation had found that both the maritime and the land border with Tanzania "are totally unguarded". There are no posts of the frontier guards anywhere along this frontier, and so "foreigners, mainly Tanzanians and Somalis, are entering Mozambique en masse". The Mozambican authorities accuse these illegal immigrants of criminal activities including drug trafficking and the illegal mining of precious stones. "Measures must be taken to end the vulnerability of our border", said Tigre. He said the parliamentary commission will work with the relevant government bodies to take measures to protect the border "because the situation cannot go on like this". The Cabo Delgado border with Tanzania is about 300 kilometres long. But Tigre said that the only operational border post is not on the frontier at all, but quite deep inside Mozambican territory. It is thus unable to perform its job of controlling cross border movements. The parliamentary delegation visited a police station in the Cabo Delgado provincial capital Pemba, where seven Somalis are currently under arrest, accused of entering Mozambique illegally. But the Somalis were arrested when they were already in Pemba, which is about 400 kilometres south of the border. They had made their way to Pemba without being detected. "Situations like this happen all the time, precisely because our border is vulnerable", said Tigre. The police are making arrangements to send these seven people back to Somalia. Recently the police also detained a number of Tanzanians in Pemba - only to find that these are people whom they have already deported. They are thrown out of Mozambique but almost immediately they return. According to the police, the Tanzanians are mostly smugglers. They bring clothing, footwear, and hi-fi equipment from Asian countries into Mozambique without paying any customs duties. These goods are sold cheaply on the informal market, much to the anger of legitimate businesses, who complain bitterly of unfair competition.

Parliamentary chairperson fails to meet with former migrants (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 02/07)- Eduardo Mulembue, chairperson of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Thursday broke his promise to meet once more with representatives of those citizens who were once migrant workers in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). No doubt it could be argued that the promise was worthless, since it was given under duress. On Wednesday, about 300 of the former migrants (or "majermanes", as they are referred to colloquially) invaded the Assembly building, and occupied much of the ground floor for several hours. They were demanding that parliament force the government to pay up the money the majermanes are claiming. For years the majermanes have alleged that vast sums were sent from Germany to Mozambique, and were pocketed by the government. Stories that President Joaquim Chissano and his ministers have stolen the majermanes' money continue to circulate, despite the documentation provided by the German authorities which show this to be entirely untrue. On Wednesday Mulembue did eventually meet with majermane leaders. He promised to take their concerns to Chissano, and bring them a reply on Thursday. A written pledge to that effect was read out to the majermanes by an advisor to Mulembue, Celiano Adriano. So on Thursday about 100 majermanes gathered in front of the Assembly. This time the police had the building well guarded and the former migrants could not enter. As usual on their demonstrations, the majermanes were carrying the flags of a country that no longer exists, the GDR, and of the United States. Why should Mozambican gather under a US flag ? This dates back to the US invasion of Iraq in early 2003. Most Mozambican public opinion condemned the invasion - but not the majermane leaders. They called on US President George Bush to invade Mozambique as well. According to a report in Friday's issue of the independent newsheet "Mediafax", the majermanes were shouting slogans such as "Chissano has stolen our money", and "Nyimpine kills and his father steals the people's money". (They were referring to the president's oldest son, businessman Nyimpine Chissano, who has been under investigation for possible links to the murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso). As for the forthcoming general elections, the demonstrators shouted "Chissano and Guebuza (the presidential candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party) don't deserve the votes of Mozambicans". One of the majermane leaders told reporters "Chissano and (Labour Minister Mario) Sevene thought they were going to beat the majermanes, but they're deceiving themselves. We shall fight to the end". As for the American flag, this man, not named in the report, said that the United States had "saved many peoples" and they hoped that the Americans would "save" them as well. After about three hours of chanting and dancing in the street outside the Assembly, senior police officers summoned majermane leaders to a meeting, and gave them an ultimatum - either disperse voluntarily, or the police would disperse them by force. The majermanes obeyed, and left. The coordinator of the Forum of Returnees from the GDR, Alberto Mahuaie, said the majermanes would continue to wait for a reply from Mulembue. By then, Adriano had contacted them to say it was probable that the promised meeting could not happen on Thursday. "We shall continue to wait", said Mahuaie. "We can't say if we're going to take any measures, but one thing is certain: we're going to do something". Contacted by "Mediafax", Adriano said Mulembue had not yet been able to meet with Chissano. Only after he had spoken with the President could the meeting with the majermanes take place, he stressed.

Former migrants invade Parliament (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 01/07)- About 300 people who had once been migrant workers in the now defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR) invaded the building of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday. According to Mozambican Television, which filmed part of the occupation, the former migrants (known colloquially as "majermanes"), took the police and Assembly officials entirely by surprise, and so met no resistance. The majermanes are demanding more money from the government, which they allege was sent from Germany to Mozambique in the 1980s, and never paid to them. They also claim that the government is in breach of a resolution passed by the Assembly on the subject in May 2003. The chairperson of the Assembly, Eduardo Mulembue, agreed to meet representatives of the majermanes, and, after lengthy discussions, he promised that on Thursday he would meet with President Joaquim Chissano, and present their concerns to the head of state. He even pledged that he would bring "concrete replies" from Chissano. Alberto Mahuaie, coordinator of the Forum of Former Workers in the GDR, the body that claims to represent the majermanes, told reporters "We are demanding that the government pays what it owes us, and we want the parliament to force the government to comply with resolution 11/03, where the Assembly itself determined that majermanes should receive what they are entitled to". The former migrants also wanted Mulembue to take action against the illegal ban which the police have imposed on majermane street demonstrations. The Maputo police command have slapped a blanket ban on all public demonstrations by the majermanes, although they have no legal power to do so. The police ban is a flagrant violation of the constitutional provisions on freedom of assembly, and of the law governing demonstrations. After Mulembue's promise to raise the majermanes' concerns with Chissano, and after he had signed a document to that effect, the group occupying the building were split over what to do next. Some proposed spending the night in the Assembly. But, after heated discussions, wiser counsels prevailed, and they decided to leave the premises. But they promised to return on Thursday to hear the result of Mulembue's meeting with Chissano. For the first time, Mahuaie put a figure on the amount of money the majermanes are claiming. According to a report in Thursday's issue of the independent newsheet "Mediafax", he said the amount discounted from their wages was 22 million US dollars, but the government was only paying back seven and a half million. Mahuaie was referring to the migrants' social security payments. Under the agreement on migrant labour of 1979, the East German government transferred half of the migrants' social security money to Mozambique at the rate of 32.5 East German marks per worker per month. Although there is no legal or ethical obligation on the government to repay social security contributions, in April 2002 Labour Minister Mario Sevene announced that as "an exceptional measure" the social security money would be returned to all those majermanes who registered with the Labour Ministry. At that time, 11,252 had registered: the payments for this group did indeed amount to 7.5 million dollars. But Mahuaie's information is woefully out of date. Since April 2002, several thousand more majermanes have registered with the Ministry. When Sevene reported to the Assembly in October 2003, he said there were around 17,000 registered and entitled to payments. The amount each majermane receives depends on how long he or she spent in the GDR. AIM calculates that the total for 17,000 must be around 11.3 million dollars. The total amount of social security money sent to Mozambique is not a matter for majermane guesswork. According to the figures from the German authorities, between 1982 and 1990, a total of 18.6 million dollars in social security payments was transferred to Mozambique. This was for the total number of Mozambicans employed in the GDR, which the Labour Ministry puts at 21,870. Not all of these have registered with the ministry - some have died, and some of those who worked the longest contracts were able to stay in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall (either because they had married Germans, or had skills that were in demand). As for the May 2003 Assembly resolution, this does not demand that the government pay everything the majermanes want. It called for more information - for example, on a claim that the authorities in a unified Germany has sent 300 million dollars to Mozambique to pay for schemes to employ the former migrants. The government did as requested and issued a clarification, reminding the Assembly that the German authorities have denied ever transferring such a sum. Of the various other points in the resolution, the government says it is complying with all of them - except one. The Assembly demanded that the ten per cent deducted from the migrants' deferred wages when they returned, to cover administrative costs, be repaid. On this issue, the government took a risk and openly disobeyed the Assembly. Sevene said in October that this ten per cent discount was only introduced in 1988 "in order to ensure that the workers shared in the administrative expenses". Under the 1979 labour agreement, the costs inherent in sending thousands of Mozambicans to the GDR were to be borne by both countries. But by 1988, severe economic crises were affecting both the GDR and Mozambique, and so it was decided that the workers too, as the main beneficiaries of the labour agreement, should share in the costs. Sevene said this was not a violation of the 1979 agreement, and there was no reason to return the money.

Namibia

Police probe overseas job scams (The Namibian, 20/07)- Police are investigating several cases of dubious job offers which have seen numerous unemployed Namibians, desperate for work, parted from the little cash they have. The latest investigations are in addition to a questionable job offer reported by The Namibian a few weeks ago which promised jobs in Norway, Alaska, Iceland and Greenland for a N$1 100 "processing fee".  Warrant Officer James Matengu confirmed to The Namibian that the Police were "hot on the heels" of a group of foreigners with a Namibian bank account who operated in Windhoek. "They claim that the company is based in South Africa and the United States. These people have taken a lot of money from Namibians," Matengu said. Police almost arrested members of one of the syndicates recently after being tipped off by some of the victims of the scams. However, the group appeared to get wind that something was up and quickly vacated the building out of which they operated. Matengu was reluctant to divulge more details on the job syndicates while Police investigations were continuing. The Namibian reported on an agency, Unique Jobs, which first recruited some Namibians to advertise their scheme and to help transfer the funds to its South African bank account. At the time, Norwegian Ambassador in Pretoria Jon Bech said they had discovered a similar operation in South Africa and had reported the case to the police there. He said there were no such jobs in Norway and claimed people were being duped. Klaus Andresen, Norwegian Honorary Consul General in Namibia, said he had become concerned when people started streaming into his office with applications for visas. They must stop immediately; otherwise we will push for their prosecution. People come to us and get very disappointed when they discover that it is a scam," Andresen charged. Some of the job agencies promise people high-paying jobs in fish factories, on ships and in other factories. However, after depositing their money, Namibians have all to often found that such jobs do not exist and that in some cases even the companies were fake.

Warning to foreigners who tarnish Namibia's image (The Namibian, 16/07)- Attorney General Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana has issued a stern warning to foreigners who bad-mouth Namibia's investment climate. Iivula-Ithana referred to a High Court battle which Government won in February against a foreign-owned mining company Namibia Metals. The company had alleged corruption by high ranking officials including President Sam Nujoma. Iivula-Ithana told the National Assembly on Wednesday that Namibia was willing to do business with any genuine investor. "Gone are the days when African leaders could be intimidated by would-be investors in the name of foreign direct investments," she said. "Namibia is a society of laws, irrespective of anyone's nationality, and prides itself on its hard-won right to steer the courts of its destiny." Iivula-Ithana shared a response her office has drafted to Barry Keyter, the US national living in South Africa, who alleged that Government had unfairly revoked a mineral licence from his company in 2001, to mine for silicon near Omaruru. Keyter is expected to appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court in October. Last November Keyter distributed details of the case to all National Assembly parliamentarians, calling for the impeachment of President Nujoma, alleging that he was turning a blind eye to alleged corruption. He pleaded with MPs to appoint a special commission of inquiry by independent investigators. Keyter has gone as far as disseminating information on the case to numerous African and global leaders. This, Iivula-Ithana said, was aimed at "tarnishing the good reputation of Namibia as an investment destination". She said there was no law that empowered parliamentarians to act above the actions of the Police and the Prosecutor General. Iivula-Ithana said although the President had the right to call for a commission of inquiry, she was not convinced that the matter was of sufficient public concern to warrant such a move. The AG warned that "Namibia will not be taken hostage by devious individuals disguised under the pretext of [being an] investor." Having studied the files Keyter submitted to the Namibian Police, Iivula-Ithana said she was not satisfied with claims he made that the President was failing to "administer and restore" the rule of law in Namibia. Keyter had claimed that senior Government officials had accepted bribes to hand over the mining rights he had previously held to Namibian company, Ozondje Mining instead. The High Court found that Keyter's company Namibian Metals had struggled to finance the project for the more than a decade he held an exclusive prospecting licence. The judgment dismissed Keyter's claims of corruption, saying the Minister of Mines and Energy had acting lawfully in cancelling the mineral rights, claims and licences Namibian Metals had held and in granting the same to Ozondje Mining instead.

'Marriages of convenience' criticized in National Assembly (The Namibian, 12/07)- Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Loide Kasingo has called on Parliament to consider amending laws that give foreigners automatic citizenship after two years of marriage to a Namibian. "We must get rid of it," she told the House on Thursday, "I am not saying foreign men must not marry Namibian women, but not if the intention is to come here and get citizenship in two years." Kasingo argued that the provision was open to abuse and that such marriages were seldom genuine. She received support from Minister of Women Affairs and Child Welfare Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah who, in her closing remarks on the debate on the Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, said Government should condemn "marriages of convenience". "We should not allow ourselves to be used by foreign men," she said, claiming that men were just paying their way into Namibia. Nandi-Ndaitwah cautioned women who, she said, were duped by money and material things that they would be worse off when the men eventually decided to "dump" them upon obtaining citizenship. "They divorce this Namibian and then bring a woman from their country. Then this woman automatically becomes a Namibian," she claimed. Following heated debate over the past two weeks, the National Assembly agreed that Namibia should accede to the protocol but that there were some provisions, which, at a later stage, it would seek to change.

Dukwe repatriation stall (New Era, 05/07)- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has requested government clearance to repatriate up to 60 Namibians who fled to Botswana. According to the UNHCR spokeswoman in Pretoria, South Africa, Melita Sunjac, the group includes children. The government's Com-missioner for Refugees in Windhoek, Elizabeth Negumbo, together with the police is also still verifying the par-ticulars of a group of 14 others who have expressed their "willingness" to come back. New Era has also reliably learnt that a prominent former Dukwe refugee who is now exiled in Canada is also home sick and has approached the UNHCR for repatriation. In June last year the group of 60, from the more than 1 200 Namibians still languishing at Dukwe, approached the UN agency with a request to be brought back to their mother-land, said Sunjac. Sunjac says since the be-ginning of 2004 no repatriations have taken place because the UNHCR is still waiting for "clearance" from the Namibian government. The request to repatriate the group was made in June 2003. "We are still awaiting clearance from the government in Windhoek and that is why there has been no repatriation in 2004," said the senior humanitarian official. Concerning the UNHCR's request for the repatriation of the 60, Negumbo said such a request would go through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Veicco Nghiwete could not comment Thursday as he was out of the country. Other officials at Foreign Affairs were also not available. Since 1998 over three thou-sand Namibians fled to Bo-tswana following the unrest in the Caprivi. They cited per-secution, a charge that has been dismissed by the government. The flight to Botswana picked up steam in August 1999 following the rebellion in the Caprivi. Several hundred locals have already been repatriated to Namibia under a tripartite agreement that involves the UNHCR and the governments of Namibia and Botswana. At Dukwe there is the usual pattern of refugees from other countries, namely Angolans, Rwandans and from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), she said. More recently Mikka Asino, the spokesman at the Ministry of Home Affairs, appealed to Namibians at Dukwe to come back to Namibia to lead "productive" lives as, he says, the government does not have any argument with them.

Young sign up in droves as Au Pairs (New Era, 02/07)- It may make the Minister of Women Affairs and Child Welfare (MWACW) uneasy that young Namibians leave their motherland to do domestic and other menial jobs in foreign countries, but young people are determined more than ever to go experience what life overseas is all about and earn some money for their studies. And if a meeting of prospective au pairs in town recently is anything to go by, hundreds of young people are applying to go to the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, France, you name it, to work for the money their mother-land does not seem to be able to provide. The work they do may be rock bottom as they baby sit, care for the elderly, do housework and work on farms, but the bottom line is, however, that the work exposes them to other cultures while enabling them to earn some money. Two weeks ago, the South African-based American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) was in the capital Windhoek to recruit au pairs to go and work in America. Close to 400 young people, both men and women, unemployed and cash-hungry crammed the conference rooms of a local hotel to hear what the famous au pairing is all about. An au pair by definition is a woman or man aged between 17 and 27 who goes abroad to study language and culture by living in with a family and helping out with some chores to earn some money. Of the attendants at the meeting, more than 200 were quality applicants. Au pairing has not however pleased WACW Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who recently called the practice "neo-colonialism". She said instead of the youth concentrating on their studies, they (the youth) are exporting themselves to European countries to do dirty work while European children remained in school. Emotions ran high after her speech, and some people said that with the hopeless situation where young people have no jobs and no prospects for further education due to either lack of opportunities or money to study, au pairing at least provided an alternative. Since the programme started in Namibia two years ago, 251 young people have gone to the USA. The interest has grown so much that AIFS's Charmaine Stein, who made presentations to prospective au pairs, said the organisation hopes to send abroad between 100 to 150 young Namibians each year. In South Africa, where the programme started in 1995, so far between 600 to 800 au pairs have gone to the USA. Southern Africa, adds Stein, has become the second largest recruiter of au pairs in the world. AIFS, however, only sends au pairs to the USA. AIFS has three programmes. Au Pair in America is a combination of work, study and travel. Au pairs in this case have a minimum of childcare work for 45 hours each week and receive a weekly payment of over N$800 (US$139.05) and study up to three hours each week. Another programme, Au Pair Extraordinaire is for experienced childcare professionals with two years' recent full-time childcare experience. The programme offers such au pairs the opportunity to combine career development, travel and study and they earn around N$1 200 (US$200) a week. The time will be available to study for three hours a week and receive a study allowance of N$3 000 (US$500). Educare, on the other hand, gives one a taste of US college life. Educare companions live with American families with school-going children and have the opportunity to study for a minimum of six hours. The companion is asked to provide 30 hours per week before and after school and receives over N$600 (US$105) as well as tuition fees amounting to over N$6 000 (US$1 000). Anyone, as long as one is in the age bracket 18 to 26 years and who holds a driver's licence, enjoys caring for children, is a secondary school graduate who speaks English and has no criminal record, can apply. Sixteen-year-old Charmaine Tjatindi is eager to get to the US to learn other people's cultures and earn money for her family. Her father is a driver and mother is a domestic worker, work that she says does not bring in much money for the family. Now in Grade 12, Tjatindi does not see any hope of being employed unless she furthers her studies. "Jobs are very scarce here. What I need now is a driver's licence to qualify," she said recently. Another young lady, Tjeripo Kameeta is doing babysitting to gain experience in childcare. She has already gone through the process and is only waiting to be placed with a family. If all goes according to plan, Kameeta may leave Namibia for the USA in July or August. After finishing her Grade 12 in 1998, she went to the USA, where she enrolled for a psychology course for one and a half years and then went to the UK, where she worked in a restaurant as a waitress. Although au pairing is common among young girls, young men are also leaving their homes. For some, boredom is sending them to foreign countries. "It feels like a prison. We go to school and come and stay indoors," said one young man. Funny as it may sound, he said, he can do all types of odd jobs including cleaning floors, babysitting and other household chores. Although still in Grade 12, his mother feels he can go out, work for a while and study a course of his choice. He has always wanted to do a hotel management course, but the course fee, at N$29 000, is an amount his family cannot afford right now. "I hope to raise that money in the US," he said. Despite the culture shock, homesickness, too much work and misunderstandings between some au pairs and host families, Ludmilla Beukes would freely recommend any young person to go au pairing. She left Namibia for a small village called Dipperz in Germany last year and came back in April this year. Her experience has left her with fond memories of her host family and the whole village. First impressions last, they say, and that holds true for Beukes who said not only was the host family waiting for her, but the whole village turned up to meet her. She looked after two children, a four and eight-year old and her work involved taking the kids to kindergarten, helping the older child with homework, ironing clothes and cleaning the house, among others. Among the benefits she reaped were an improvement in her German and travelling extensively to Spain, Holland, Austria and Switzerland. Beukes did not earn much money like they earn in the USA as she got 205 Euros per month plus free accommodation and meals, and neither did she study much. Another au pair who just returned from the US, Melissa Hobling, looked after three kids, an experience she calls nice due to her good host family. While there, she studied accounting when the kids were gone to school. But her work entailed waking the kids up, ensuring that they ate, taking them to activities, helping out at dinnertime and putting them to bed. Before she left Namibia, Hobling worked as a secretary for five years, a career she wanted so much to change. "I wanted to do something different," she said, adding that au pairing gave her just that. Like any other job, au pairing is not always so rosy. Some people work for more than the stipulated hours, some don't get the chance to call their families, others are treated badly. Beukes knows of some au pairs who woke up as early as 05h00 and went to bed very late. "You sometimes do duties of a housewife, taking the kids to school, preparing lunch, cleaning the house, fetching the kids from school, it's a lot of work," she said. She felt that young people travelling to other countries needed to be strong in character. "They are sometimes irritating; you feel like you want to beat someone," she added, also noting that a lack of communication made matters worse. Stein agrees that applicants experience culture shocks and sometimes personality problems with the host family. To solve the problem however, AIFS has a system in which it helps all au pairs deal with problems through community counsellors (surrogate mothers). "These surrogate mothers are there to assist with all the problems. Where the au pair is not happy with her family, the community counsellor will try and place her in another home or where she has difficulty adjusting to the American way of life by introducing her to at least another 20 to 30 au pairs that are living and working in her immediate area," she said. On the whole, American families, says Stein, love their Namibian and South African au pairs, as they regard them as hard working, robust, well mannered and passionate about children.

48 Cuban Doctors jet in (New Era, 02/07)- Forty-eight Cuban doctors have arrived in Namibia to assist in the government's efforts to address the shortage of medical personnel that prevails in the country. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MHSS), Dr Kalumbi Shangula, who arrived this week Monday from Cuba, said he had brought with him 48 Cuban doctors to address this shortage. "I came with Cuban volunteer doctors to replace those who left the country last week," said Shangula. The two governments signed an agreement in 2000 for the Cuban government to assist Namibia with doctors, to work and be assigned on two-year working contracts, which is still the case, said Shangula. Shangula took exception with the New Era article titled: "Cuban doctors' departure deals blow to Tsumeb hospital", published in the Monday edition, saying it was misleading. He went on to describe the article as "irresponsible reporting". He explained that the appointment of doctors, as well as other technical agreements that lead to the replacement of medical officials, are not matters for the regional office or hospital, but are taken care of at the head office. That is why the superintendent was not aware that the doctors who had left were due to be replaced by a new team. Tsumeb Hospital superintendent Dr Ndapewa Jacobs confirmed the looming crisis to New Era last week. Shangula further said that the two governments have a constant agreement to ensure that Namibia will not experience a shortage of medical doctors now and in the future. Shangula was part of the entourage that accompanied President Sam Nujoma to Cuba a fortnight ago. He said Cuban President Fidel Castro had approved the despatch of 52 Cuban volunteer doctors to be deployed in Namibia so as to address the medical doctors shortage. Shangula arrived with 48 doctors and another four are expected to arrive in the near future. The 52 doctors will be deployed at the hospitals that have recently lost staff, including Tsumeb hospital. Shangula assured the public that Namibia's needs for medical doctors will not be a matter of concern because the Cuban government has strongly affirmed its assistance to provide medical specialists in the different fields. Hospitals which will get doctors are Katutura, Katutura Clinic, Windhoek Central, Gobabis, Otjinene, Rehoboth, Lüderitz, Katima Mulilo, Rundu, Mpango Health Centre, Nkunenkane Health Centre, Nankudu Hospital, Tondono Health Centre, Rupara Health Centre, Mupini Health Centre, Oshakati, Okahao, Utapi, Onesi, Oshikuku, Opuwo, Okanguati Health Centre, Onandjokwe Health Centre, Eenhana, Engela, Grootfontein, Tsumeb, Outjo and Khorixas.

South Africa
Commission to look into Home Affairs policies (SABC News, 30/07)- A commission aimed at auditing and reviewing home affairs policies is to be made public soon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the home affairs minister, is optimistic about steps taken to make the department, cleaner, leaner and more efficient. Mapisa-Nqakula says her department faces many challenges. These include curbing corruption and better client service. She says while Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the former home affairs minister, had laid the foundation, transformation needs to be speeded up. A commission has been set to look into the department's policies. The minister says problematic aspects of the Immigration Amendment Bill cannot be dealt with immediately. Next month her department will focus on fraudulent marriages. Women caught up in these kinds of marriages will be assisted without them having to go to court.

South African police assault Mozambican Judge (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 29/07)-
A Mozambican magistrate, Jose Antonio Sampaio, who is the presiding judge of the Inhambane Provincial Court, claims that he was assaulted by members of the South African police while on holiday in Johannesburg earlier this month. Cited in Thursday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", Sampaio said that on the night of 23 July, he was on the veranda of a friend's flat in the Johannesburg suburb of Berea, where he was staying, "when my panic-stricken six year old son ran in saying there were some white policemen in the house pointing guns at everyone". When he stood up from his chair, Sampaio found one of the policemen beside him, pointing a gun at his head. Without saying a word, the policeman searched him from head to foot. Sampaio protested, and told the policeman he was a Mozambican judge on holiday in South Africa. "He didn't reply", recalled Sampaio. "He pushed me with the barrel of his gun into the living room, where there were about eight armed policemen. They had no warrant, and they were speaking in Afrikaans". "I put my hands up, and told them again that I was a Mozambican judge. But none of them wanted to listen", said Sampaio. The policemen then left the flat, taking Sampaio and his host with them. Outside the block, "I told them again that I am a Mozambican judge and I have rights. They just laughed". Sampaio asked the block's security guard what was going on, and he said he had no idea. The policemen then threatened the guard and Sampaio's host, whom they grabbed by the throat. They then let them go back into the building. Only later did Sampaio discover that the police had been looking for a stolen car. I asked myself "how can the police invade somebody's house at night without any warrant ?", said Sampaio. "They searched the whole house. They gave no explanations to anybody, and did not apologise". Sampaio said he detected in these white policemen "the spirit of racial superiority". Shockingly, Sampaio received no support from the Mozambican consulate in Johannesburg. He said that when he contacted the consulate, he was told the consular services could do nothing "because we weren't diplomats". "Is the consulate there just to deal with diplomats or to help all Mozambicans who visit South Africa ?", he asked. What had happened to the principle of reciprocity in international relations, wondered Sampaio. "If Mozambique treats foreigners well, why aren't Mozambicans well treated over there?", he asked.

Migration of health professionals not unique to SA (SABC News, 29/07)-
Manto Tshabala-Msimang, the health minister, says the migration of health professionals is not just a South African phenomenon ... it happens all over the world. She was reacting to the findings of the South African Health Review released earlier this week which cautioned that health care systems in the country cannot function adequately because of the medical exodus. The 2003/2004 Health Review says that about 600 South African doctors are registered to practice in New Zealand. Six-point-three percent of Britain's hospital doctors are South African and 10% of Canada's hospital based physicians are South African. The migration of health professionals was raised at the World Health Assembly in May this year. "One of the recommendations that was made was that if the developed countries recruit health professionals from the developing countries, then they must compensate them somehow because we spent so many resources training these people, training health professionals and just like that overnight they recruit them it means in fact you have wasted your recourses," said Tshabala-Msimang. Over the next five years, the health department will focus on improving the quality of health care and promote healthy living. The department also aims to assist in prolonging the time it takes HIV positive people to develop full blown Aids. The minister described their past ten years a success, specifically in controlling malaria, in disability services and reducing tobacco use.

Boy too dark to be South African say police (The Star, 28/07)-
A 15-year-old boy was nearly booted out of the country because police thought he was "too dark" to be South African. Police hauled Shane Mhaule off a 25-seater bus at a routine roadblock at Belfast in Mpumalanga last Tuesday. "They took one look at me and said I was too dark to be South African," Shane said. He had also spoken to the officers in English, so they made him speak in his vernacular, which is Shangaan - a language that is also spoken in Mozambique. The cops insisted he was Mozambican and ignored his pleas to call his school principal and mother to vouch for him. Bus driver Godfrey Theko, who lives near the Mhaule family in Buyisonto village near Bushbuckridge, tried to intervene. "But they threatened to arrest me for obstructing justice. I kept saying I knew the family and that the kid was South African." Shane was then bundled into a police van, driven to the Belfast police station and locked up with 24 adult men - in violation of laws protecting children. The next morning, the terrified boy was told to prepare for deportation to Mozambique. Back home, his mother, Kate, was frantic with worry because relatives with whom Shane stays in Thembisa had called her on Tuesday to say he hadn't arrived. It was only when Theko got hold of her on Wednesday that she learned what had happened. She called the Belfast police and was told that Shane was already on his way to Mozambique. The whole family clubbed together to hire a car and race 120km to the Nelspruit police station - only to be told they needed Home Affairs approval before Shane could be released. But a Home Affairs official said the office was closed and that they should return the next day. The official eventually relented when the family called in local journalists, leading to a tearful reunion on the steps of the Nelspruit police station. Bertharry School principal Harry Kumwenda said the incident could only have traumatised Shane, who returned to school on Monday. "We have called in a professional counsellor to speak to him and we are in the process of arranging a social worker because, for sure, this wasn't a joke." Mpumalanga police spokes- person Inspector Leonard Hlathi said an investigation would be held into the incident.

Huge probe into fake marriages (Sunday Times, 25/07)-
Overwhelmed by a wave of fake marriages, the Department of Home Affairs has ordered an investigation into the national marriage register. All marriages and divorces will be scrutinised in a "marriage verification" campaign to be announced by Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula next week. Among those to be probed are officials, illegal immigrants and registered marriage officers, including priests. Officials who have access to the national population database target woman aged between the age of 19 and 36 and registered as single. Without their knowledge, they are "married" to people seeking residence permits or for other forms of identity fraud. Barry Gilder, director-general of Home Affairs, said the probe was the result of an increase in the number of marriages recorded on the government database. A task team that met earlier this week to thrash out the scope of the investigation has already found that of 800 000 civil and customary marriages registered since 2001: At least 3 387 were fraudulently recorded; At least 2 009 have since been expunged by Home Affairs; and around 3 000 young women were found to have been illegally married in KwaMhlanga, which is 65km east of Pretoria, in Mpumalanga. Joel Chabalala, chief director of civil services at Home Affairs, said the department had already identified some marriage officers who had performed an excessive number of ceremonies. "We found one of the guys doing about 400 ceremonies a month. It needs to be looked at," Chabalala said. The campaign aims to make South Africans aware of their marital status as recorded by the government and to help prevent their details from being illegally used to claim inheritance, government grants and pensions. Syndicates sold fraudulent marriage certificates and residence permits for up to R5 000 apiece. Home Affairs has established that the majority of the buyers are from Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, China, India, Bangladesh and Brazil. Home Affairs spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said an ongoing investigation into the high number of marriages at Oukasie, near Brits, in North West, showed that "hundreds" of young woman were fraudulently married on the register.

South Africans sent home from Heathrow (The Star, 24/07)-
A number of South Africans have been refused entry as tourists to the United Kingdom. Despite having the required legitimate documents, enough money to spend, a return ticket and a letter from their employers, four South Africans were forced to return home. The four women, one of whom is a policewoman and another who works for the Department of Correctional Services, are livid because they claim they were treated like criminals. Inspector Susan Rasetsoke of Actonville went to the UK to visit her fiancé, but officials at the airport felt that she "did not look like a genuine visitor" and she was booked on the next available flight to South Africa. Rasetsoke had a return ticket, an invitation letter from her fiancé and a letter from the office of the SAPS - as was required - stating that she was on leave and was to be in Britain for a month. "I wasted R7200 to go there and I was treated like a criminal, but when the Britons come here I have to make sure that they are safe. I must protect them, irrespective of their colour, but they treat me like a nobody in their country," said a very angry Rasetsoke. She said she arrived at the airport and was told by officials there to step aside and bring her luggage with her. "I showed them all my documents, they opened my luggage and asked me where the drugs were," she said. Rasetsoke said she was searched by male officials and her underwear was thrown in the air while they looked for the drugs. She said that when she queried what a "genuine visitor" would look like, she was called a "nigger" and told that "you niggers come and invade our country". Rasetsoke said she demanded to be allowed to contact the South African High Commission and said that she was not going back until she was put in touch with her fiancé. She was then handcuffed and put in a cell, her fiancé was called and was told that he was allowed to see her for 30 minutes. Rasetsoke said she thought South Africa had a good relationship with Britain and could not understand such bad treatment. Correctional Services employee Thabisa Hlakotsa said the treatment she received at Heathrow Airport made her feel like she was in apartheid South Africa. "We were humiliated by those English men. I was searched by a male official When I wanted to get a sanitary towel and some underwear, the male official brought it to me and held it up in the air to make sure I was not hiding anything," said Hlakotsa. Ncumisa Bam from KwaZulu Natal, who had been saving for five years to go to Britain, said she was speechless to find out that her holiday was going to see "that old Heathrow Airport". She said the officials asked stupid questions. "They wanted to know the reasons I chose the UK instead of other countries and why I was spending so much money in their country," said Bam. Buyi Mkhwebane said she will never forget the room they were locked up in. "It was small and so dirty, I was crying," she said. Mkhwebane said the officials refused to put her in touch with the South African High Commission. "We want people to know that they must stop planning for their holidays because they might be wasting their money. It was so ironic that on the plane there were so many Britons coming to our country - and none of them were refused entry," she said. The Saturday Star contacted the British Consulate in Johannesburg and asked to speak about the complaints. A spokesperson for the consulate, Aaron Madadasane, said: "We don't comment on individual cases in public. But why don't you come for an off-the-record meeting to make you understand." Ronnie Mamoepa, spokesperson for the department of foreign affairs in Pretoria, confirmed that his department "continues to receive complaints of such nature from South Africans trying to visit that country". Such issues were dealt with by the two countries in bilateral talks in the hope of finding an amicable solution.

Disgraced doctor Durban bound (The Mercury, 22/07)-
Disgraced physician John Schneeberger, who raped a Canadian woman and then ingeniously covered his tracks, has been deported to South Africa. Zambian-born Schneeberger, who was educated and first practised as a doctor in South Africa, arrived at Johannesburg International Airport early yesterday. It is believed that he was accompanied by two armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and was en route to Durban, apparently to see his mother. But South African Home Affairs spokesman Leslie Mashokwe could provide no details last night about Schneeberger's arrival in the country, confirming only that he had landed in Johannesburg. In 1992, Schneeberger was accused of raping Candice Foley. At first he fooled DNA experts by inserting a vial of another man's blood into his arm, and insisting that blood samples be taken from his arm instead of his finger. DNA from a semen sample taken from Foley's underwear did not match the blood sample, and the case was initially dismissed. Foley then hired a detective, who broke into Schneeberger's car to obtain another DNA sample, and he was eventually convicted of the rape. On Monday a Canadian immigration board took 10 minutes to decide that Schneeberger should be deported. He was recently released from prison on parole, after serving four years of a six-year sentence.

Government to investigate foreign land ownership ( Sapa, 21/07)-
The Cabinet today agreed to institute an investigation into foreign land ownership in the country and how it impacted on land reforms. Joel Netshitenzhe, the government spokesperson, said in Pretoria that the audit would be run by the department of agriculture and land affairs. Following the audit, a panel of experts from within government and outside will then debate the results to see if there is a need for restrictions," he said. Public discussions would be held as well. Reporting back on the first cabinet meeting in two weeks, Netshitenzhe said numerous items had been discussed. Cabinet announced that the health department would be reviewing new information concerning nevirapine as a monotherapy in preventing mother-to-child transmissions of HIV.  Netshitenzhe said the department was reviewing the information in order to make recommendations to Cabinet on the future course of action, taking into account information that demonstrated that combined anti-retroviral therapy was more effective and less risky. "In the meantime, nevirapine monotherapy will be provided in public hospitals as is currently the practice, ensuring that mothers are given all the necessary facts so that they can make an informed choice," he said. Eastern Cape education to get assistance. In the education field, an Interim Management Team would be deployed to assist the beleaguered Eastern Cape education department, which despite a concerted effort was still underperforming. "The meeting decided on a one year intervention programme to assist the Eastern Cape department of education, which will include the deployment of a team of officials from national government and other provinces and strengthening of management and monitoring mechanisms," Netshitenzhe said. On foreign affairs the Cabinet took the decision to extend SA National Defence Force participation in the United Nation's mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the UN/African Union mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, by one year. It also noted with "appreciation" the unanimous decision of the AU to approve South Africa as the host country for the Pan African Parliament. According to Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma, the foreign affairs minister, this was a wonderful opportunity to learn about other cultures and a chance to build bridges across Africa. The meeting decided to observe the adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 1540 (2004) - which imposes binding legal obligation on member states to adopt and enforce laws prohibiting the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction, and their acquisition, transport or use. "Cabinet also approved policy and procedure on access of foreign military and other such vessels to territorial and internal waters and ports of South Africa," Netshitenzhe said. Turning its gaze to Women's Month in August, Cabinet approved planned activities which would combine the celebration of 10 years of freedom with programmes pushing for women's emancipation. On the cyber front, Cabinet noted the placing of the details of government's programme of action on the government website. "This marked a new era in ensuring accountability and public involvement in monitoring and evaluating of government activities," Netshitenzhe said. This website, as well as the launch of Batho Pele e-Gateway in the upcoming month, would provide "one-stop, twenty-four-hour access to information about government services. "This initiative complements other programmes to improve services to citizens, such as the employment of community development workers and the launch of more Multipurpose Community Centres," he said. President Thabo Mbeki has called for the creation of 60 MCCs before the end of the year. "The 58th was opened on the Free State yesterday," Netshitenzhe said.

Debate about foreign land ownership (Mail&Guardian Online, 21/07)-
The South African government gave the signal on Wednesday that the public debate about foreign ownership of land in the country will continue. Speaking after the regular meeting of the Cabinet in Pretoria, government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe told a media briefing that the meeting was informed of "ongoing work towards the launch of a public discussion on the matter of foreign land ownership in South Africa". "The process will include research on a variety of issues, including a comprehensive audit of land ownership in our country. A panel of experts from within and outside of government will be appointed, and the public will be invited to submit their views on the matter," said Netshitenzhe. "It is only once they have done that [the research] that the panel can interact with the public," added Netshitenzhe. President Thabo Mbeki backed the national discussion of the issue of foreign land ownership during his Budget vote in the National Assembly in June. He referred to official opposition leader Tony Leon's concern that restrictions on foreign ownership are "a red flag for foreign investors". Mbeki said Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs Thoko Didiza "was correct to call for a national discussion of the issue of foreign land ownership". "To stop this discussion, which will take place, Leon seeks to frighten the country with the notion that restrictions on foreign ownership are a red flag for foreign investors," the president stated. He went on to say: "And yet many countries have such restrictions. These include Switzerland and Canada, to cite only two. We know of no reports that this has served as a 'red flag' to the foreigners who have invested in these countries. "Quite why Switzerland and Canada can have such restrictions without frightening foreign investors while similar restrictions in our country would produce an opposite response from foreign investors is difficult to fathom." Leon had made the remarks in Parliament after pointing to information that Equatorial Guinea "dictator" President Teodoro Obiang Nguema was buying a R23,5-million property in the luxury seaside Cape Town suburb of Clifton. Leon said if Nguema were allowed to buy expensive property "we should certainly welcome all foreign investors into our property markets". The debate about the issue arose from a report in a national Sunday newspaper, City Press, which quoted Didiza as saying that South Africa needs a policy framework that would stipulate "that no foreigner can own land but can have a 99-year lease". Netshitenzhe said on Wednesday that there is the possibility that there will be no change of policy on the foreign ownership front apart from the impact on South African land ownership. "There is no policy ... that is why we want a public discussion ... currently the Department of Land Affairs and Agriculture is doing a comprehensive audit of various forms of land ownership in the country, including foreign ownership. They intend to appoint the panel of experts. That panel will release the information about the result of the audit. "It will invite the public to look at the question whether you need any restriction as far as foreign ownership of land is concerned. Among the questions that should arise would be whether foreign ownership impacts on the price of land in the country and whether South Africans have got access to land."

Report on Hillbrow, Johannesburg (The Star, 19/07)-
In the years when it was still illegal for people of different races to live together, Hillbrow had already become Johannesburg's cosmopolitan paradise. As early as the 1970s, locals and foreigners lived together in defiance of the apartheid laws of segregation. However, residents of this once-popular suburb say little is left today of what used to be the envy of Johannesburgers during the apartheid era. Hillbrow has been on a downturn in the past decade, they say. Long-time resident Stephan Mostert, who has lived in Hillbrow for the past 35 years, said: "Things have changed for the worst today with the influx of foreigners. "It used to be a paradise. There were jobs and people could make lots of money. Hillbrow has deteriorated. Look around there! Every street corner is occupied by foreigners. We used to drink without fear, now we walk unsure of what will happen," said Mostert. Though the suburb has maintained its heterogeneity, the same cannot be said of its physical state. Residents have also become more African - most of them living in exile from other parts of the continent - while the numbers of other racial groups have dwindled. Gone are the days of hotels like Fontana Inn, Quirinale and Moulin Rouge, where the cream of South Africa led a 24-hour lavish lifestyle across the racial divide. For Joy Sibeko (20), Hillbrow has deteriorated since he came to the city in 1994. It was safe before, but now it's dangerous. Sibeko, now a homeless child, said he left his former home a decade ago and was one of the children to be housed at Twilight Home. "This place was safe when I arrived here from Grasmere in the Vaal Triangle and moved to Twilight Home. "It used to be safe, but now it's dangerous. Sometimes we are robbed of the little money we're are getting from assisting motorists to park their cars," said Sibeko. According to police, locals have not accepted the presence of foreigners, especially those from African countries, because they believe the foreigners have robbed them of their jobs. "It's been a serious problem between locals and foreigners. It's like a cat and dog (fight), because locals are hostile towards foreigners, and foreigners against locals," said a police officer based at the Hillbrow police station. It is, however, not all doom and gloom for a large number of high-rise buildings, which house lucrative brothels, nightclubs, shops, hair salons and Internet cafés in Hillbrow. Koos van der Schyff recalls how Hillbrow used to be vibrant during the height of apartheid. "I remember in the '70s when Hillbrow used to be likened to Hollywood. The place never went to sleep and everyone wanted to be part of (it). "Today, Hillbrow is ungovernable and the government is failing to restore the pride of what used to be our Hollywood," added Van der Schyff. The police's role in Hillbrow has also changed from maintaining oppressive laws pre-1994 to chasing after dealers, who have turned the area into a drug den. Another person who fell prey to the latter Hillbrow reality was popstar Brenda Fassie. She once stayed in a downtrodden hotel there, one which was used as a drug dealers' den, when her career was on the down-slope. In fact, Fassie lost her lesbian lover Poppy Sihlali to drugs. Sihlali was found dead in the hotel in 1995, after a drug overdose. Hillbrow today has become one of the most dangerous parts of the city of Johannesburg where crimes - mainly driven by xenophobia - are on the rise. But there may be hope for this once popular suburb, now largely in a state of decay. The City of Johannesburg has reassessed the inner city in line with the Inner City Regeneration Strategy. According to Inner City regeneration manager Martin New, roads, sidewalks, infrastructure, storm-water drains, traffic lights and road signs are receiving urgent attention to revamp Hillbrow. A unit headed by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department has also been established to enforce by-laws and take strong action against slum lords and owners of buildings which contravene the health, fire, town planning and buildings control laws. New said the police provide critical support in the enforcement of these by-laws. Two hotels in the adjoining suburb of Berea, which housed drug lords and prostitutes, have been closed down. "By closing down buildings known to be used as bases for crime, drug dealing and prostitution, the task force makes the inner city a safer and better environment for people in the neighbourhood ," New said. Working towards the regeneration of the city, the Johannesburg council has established the Better Buildings Programme (BBP). The programme includes the refurbishing of historic buildings like the Hillbrow Tower. Geoff Mendelowitz, of the BBP, said the council is also targeting buildings which have been sliding into disrepair. The making of a landmark. One of Johannesburg's landmarks is the Hillbrow Tower. The tower has been incorporated into the city's official logo. The J G Strijdom Tower, named after a former South African prime minister from 1954 to 1958, was built in three years between June 1968 and April 1971. It cost around R2-million (a rather modest office block costs that much today) to build. The tower is 270m (or 90 storeys) high, making it one of the tallest man-made structures with a lift in Africa. The first 178m went up at an average of 18cm per hour, and to ensure that it was perfectly straight, a laser beam was used for guidance as the tower was growing from the ground. The walls of the structure are 84cm thick at ground level and 38cm at the top. J G Strijdom now belongs to telecommunications parastatal Telkom. With the burgeoning of tall buildings in the city in the 1960s skyscraper era, the new telephone tower had to ensure that it stayed above the height of the tallest building.

Poorly paid nurses leave in droves (Cape Argus, 19/07)-
In the first few months of this year alone more than 1 000 nurses in South Africa have asked that their qualifications be sent abroad because they are considering leaving the country in search of better prospects. According to the SA Nursing Council, from January to May more than 1 000 nurses had asked for a verification of their qualifications to be sent to health agencies abroad. While this means about 300 verifications are requested per month, a spokesman for the council said this did not necessarily mean the nurses were leaving, but that they were considering it. He also said there had been more than 4 000 such requests last year. Nomsa Hawker, a 48-year-old nurse who left South Africa three years ago to gain financial security by working in Saudi Arabia, said nurses were leaving the country in droves because they were underpaid and overworked and were looking for more financially stable prospects abroad. Hawker, who has been a nurse for 25 years, said: "It was physically draining and I was getting paid peanuts in South Africa. I was in a top position - a district manager - but I couldn't even afford to pay my four kids' school fees. Now I earn three times my previous salary." The provincial health department has reported that about 1 700 of the 9 500 nursing posts in the Western Cape are vacant. Professor Sheila Clow, the University of Cape Town's associate professor in nursing midwifery, said the intensive care unit, theatre and labour wards were under the worst pressure regarding staff shortages. And Dr Christopher Narramore, a private orthopaedic surgeon, said Victoria Hospital was facing such a shortage of trained theatre nurses that they could not process patients booked for elective surgery. "About 30% of the normal theatre staff have left," said Narramore. He said there were usually three sisters in theatre but last week during his weekly session, there was only one. He blames the low salaries and difficult working conditions for pushing nurses out of the profession. According to Bongani Lose, provincial secretary of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, nurses are grossly underpaid. "The highest-ranked nurse - a chief professional nurse - who could be in service for about 10 years, would be paid just under R9 000 a month. "And an auxiliary nurse, or a staff nurse, who has done a two-year training course, would earn about R3 500 per month," said Lose. "They save lives and work long hard hours. Globally, there is a huge demand for nurses, which means that there should be an increase in their salaries," Lose said. But Clow said money was not the only issue as nurses were unwilling to work under current conditions at hospitals. "Hospitals are trying to cover shifts with agency nurses, but they can't even find any." She said the vacancy rate at hospitals were so high that agency nurses formed part of the staff plan at certain state hospitals in the city. "Some nurses tell me they are so tired but at the same time so anxious that they will be the only one carrying the responsibility that they would rather not go to work." Dr Beth Engelbrecht, deputy director-general for secondary, tertiary and emergency services in the health department said she was aware of nurses' salary packages but added: "I wouldn't say nurses are underpaid. "If there was action at national level, the province will support it. We are in the process of looking at the responsibilities involved and the salary levels." She felt that nurses were leaving because of the working environment and abusive patients but said that payment plans were a factor.

FNB scheme to provide financial relief for refugees (Sunday Times, 18/07)-
After a successful two-year pilot project in Johannesburg in which several thousand new accounts have been opened, First National Bank is to open accounts for asylum seekers and refugees. Since 1994 about 120 000 asylum seekers have come to South Africa, seeking jobs. Many have set up networks of small informal businesses. They have had little or no access to a banking system that demands a South African ID, a permanent address and a financial track record. The man behind the scheme is Ndessomin Dosso, 41, from Ivory Coast, who for seven years fought a battle to obtain refugee status in South Africa after seeking political asylum. Dosso is the director of Alliance Française in Soweto and chairman of the Co-ordinating Body of Refugee Communities, which caters for tens of thousands of asylum seekers and refugees from 14 African states. He says that once people have access to banking the crime rate that tends to be blamed on foreign Africans will diminish. "They are wrongly blamed," he says. "They are the victims rather than the perpetrators, attracting security officers and street tsotsis because they have to hide their money wherever they can. Until now they have not had access to financial institutions." Jean Ochse, FNB's provincial executive for Gauteng, says: "The pilot proved to be an overwhelming success, with more than 2 000 accounts opened in the first couple of months. As a result of this success, the project has now been extended to all FNB branches countrywide and is enjoying good support via word of mouth from the local refugee community." The pilot project was conducted at FNB's branches at the Carlton Centre in central Johannesburg, the East Rand Mall in Boksburg and in Smith Street, central Durban. Dosso is conducting research through the University of the Witwatersrand on how access to banking may affect crime levels. Jacob van Garderen of Lawyers for Human Rights sees FNB's move as "a profound breakthrough. This has always been a crisis issue for asylum seekers. The broader problem extends to South Africans as well." He says access to banking services will provide refugees and asylum-seekers with security. "They don't realise the dangers they face. We have received so many calls from people who are attacked by mobs or criminals in the streets suspecting that they [foreign Af ricans] carry cash on them." Van Garderen says the difficulty for asylum seekers and refugees has been their inability to provide adequate identification. Until recently, the banks did not recognise temporary identity documents issued by the Department of Home Affairs. The breakthrough has, however, come with FNB recognising temporary documentation. "Refugees who have a Section 22 letter from Home Affairs, which acts as a form of temporary identification, can visit any FNB branch to open a transactional account," says Ochse.

SA is exporting jobs as well as products (Business Report, 16/07)-
Exports are the economic lifeblood of South Africa. Not because it necessarily has to be so, but because it has been decreed to be so. Government policies are geared towards encouraging an export-driven economy to compete in the cut-throat global marketplace. So there is a constant, if largely unsuccessful, appeal to attract greater foreign direct investment. Such investment is seen as essential to create more productive enterprises where the costs are calculated in rands. This, in turn, should mean more products to sell to others, usually for dollars, euros, pounds and yen. "This is an export reality the government needs to come to grips with". Yet our costs have been soaring over the past two years as the rand, propelled by high interest rates, has become much more expensive in relation to those very currencies. Whether this is a consequence or merely a contributory factor of the Reserve Bank's fetish about inflation rates is still debated. But it has seen much metaphoric wailing and gnashing of teeth by mining houses and export-orientated manufacturers. It has also seen a constant stream of complaints from trade unions as thousands of jobs have been shed in the name of higher productivity. However, as various apologists are quick to point out, competition, exacerbated by a stronger rand, has resulted in more competitive exports. What this means, in simple terms, is that fewer workers are producing more, often to be sold for less. And while profitability may have slid because of higher rand costs, exports continue apace, especially in terms of minerals. The world needs our platinum, coal and even gold. But the world outside, like ourselves, also needs jobs. And these, too, South Africa has been exporting. "In fact, we have the worst of all worlds," says Chez Milani, the general secretary of the Federation of Unions of SA. He points out that South Africa is losing highly skilled workers and professionals while receiving a steady number of unskilled migrants who add to our pool of the unemployed. Teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, accountants and other professionals from throughout the region tend to head for Europe, North America or Australia This brain drain is costing many countries dear. South Africa is no exception, despite having gained some of the skilled personnel fleeing Zimbabwe's battered economy and the strife in other parts of the region. This effective pillage of human resources has led to talk at the International Labour Organisation about compensating developing countries for the loss of skills, most of them gained at local expense. So far, nothing has come of these discussions. Given the complexity of the issue, solutions involving financial compensation are unlikely. But talk of skills loss and brain drains has tended to disguise the fact that countries like South Africa are also exporting jobs. A number of products previously made in South Africa, bought and used here, are now imported. This applies almost across the board, from clothing and footwear to steel flanges. It means that the country's exports and imports are now in rough equilibrium, a worrying position for an export-reliant economy. And imported products are created by workers in other lands, often heavily subsidised if they are from Europe, Japan or the US or produced under virtual slave labour conditions in other developing countries. Particularly badly hit has been the textile and garment sector, with an estimated 20 000 more jobs lost over the past year. Just how many jobs may have been created elsewhere in this sector at the cost of jobs here is impossible to calculate. But it can be assumed that the slack created by jobs and socially necessary production lost here will be taken up elsewhere, an effective export of employment. A classic local case that illustrates this point very clearly was that of the wind-up radio, developed and first produced, with considerable government assistance, in South Africa. This product is now apparently very popular in the US and it can also be bought here. Only now it is manufactured in China. "Economic imperatives," was the explanation given by the bosses for the move to China. As a result, several hundred jobs went to China where the 60-hour, six-day week at rates of little more than R6 a day is the norm. This is the export reality that government needs urgently to come to grips with.

Stop disenfranchising SA expatriates says Leon ( Sapa, 15/07)-
South Africa should not continue to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of its citizens who live overseas and who have much to contribute to the country, says Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon. In a speech prepared for delivery in Covent Garden, London, at the launch of an organisation for expatriate South Africans, he referred to South Africa's last two general elections, saying government had not done much "to ensure that its diaspora is represented in its domestic politics. "In the 1994 elections, South Africa made a special effort to enable overseas citizens to vote. The ANC, in fact, pushed the government of F W de Klerk to allow an external vote. "As a result, hundreds of thousands of South Africans abroad participated in the country's historic first democratic election. "In 1999, however, the ANC changed its attitude, and refused to allow an external vote. It did the same in the 2004 general elections, setting tight restrictions on who would be allowed to vote overseas. "In the end, only 1,681 people applied to vote overseas, and many of them were not able to cast their ballots. "Surely we can do better. South Africa should not continue to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of its citizens who happen to live overseas and who have much to contribute to the country." Leon said the costs of holding an external vote would be high, but that did not prevent other developing and middle-income countries, such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Algeria, from making provisions for citizens living abroad. "It would be impossible to accommodate every South African living outside the country, but voting could be held in key cities, such as London, where large numbers of South Africans come to travel, study, and work." There were an estimated 800,000 South Africans living in the United Kingdom alone. "In the coming months, the DA will push for new legislation that will allow a far greater number of expatriate South Africans to exercise their democratic right to vote in future elections." Leon said South Africans who lived overseas should be encouraged to contribute in whatever way possible to the building of the country. "Many (expatriates) are gaining valuable skills and experience overseas that could be of great use to our country's domestic economy and to our political and social life. "In the past, President Thabo Mbeki has spoken approvingly of the efforts of South Africans living in the United States to help contribute to our country's economic development. "We should encourage such efforts, and extend them, by reaching out to the South African diaspora and making sure the voices of our expatriates are heard back home." Many other developing countries had begun to enlist their expatriate communities all around the world to assist development at home. "Around the world, remittances sent home by foreign workers are the second-largest source of external funds for developing countries, behind foreign direct investment," Leon said.

SA expatriates urged to return home (BuaNews, 15/07)-
Millions of South Africans living abroad, especially young professionals in the United Kingdom have been urged to return home and be part of the country's second miracle of economic growth. Owners of the non-profitable Homecoming-Revolution website sounded the call last night at a ceremony to launch their revamped website that is home to expatriates who flood the site discussing among others, the merits and demerits of returning home. The website now boasts tips on finances, ways to start new businesses, how to become the country's ambassador, learning the national anthem, chat rooms, personal stories and good news about the country. It is believed that there are about five million South Africans living overseas with the majority being in the UK and US followed by Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Project leaders said the overhauled site would cater for expatriates who still felt passionate about the country's future and diversity as well as offering solutions to what they perceived as problems facing the nation. The primary goal is to attract expatriates with skills and technical know-how in the fields of engineering, medicine, IT and economy to help create jobs and a secure social security net. However, site co-owner Angel Jones believes that time is ripe for South Africans to come back. Foreign affairs deputy foreign affairs minister Aziz Pahad, former Springbok captain François Pienaar and scores of television and radio personalities attended the event. The gathering heard that though crime and unemployment were challenges facing the expatriates upon their return, such obstacles were found anywhere in the world including developed nations. Therefore these factors ought not to prevent them from making the great trek down south. This especially now that the country has shown its mettle by winning the right to stage the multibillion Dollar World Cup in 2010, and further entrenched its democratic principles by hosting free and fair political elections in April. The First National Bank, site sponsor, has committed itself to offering help to those seeking to return, by helping them open bank accounts, get home loans as well as obtaining finance for vehicles.

Cape plans to lure UK medical staff (Business Day, 14/07)-
The Western Cape health department is advertising in the UK to lure British health workers to SA as part of "innovative" measures to deal with the massive shortage of doctors and nurses in the province. Department head Prof Craig Househam said the province would fund the advertising campaign in the British Medical Journal and also advertise locally to entice medical professionals back into service. The overseas recruitment drive comes amid growing public concern in the province over the ability of hospitals, such as Tygerberg and Red Cross, to provide emergency services. Although only about 10% of the total 2000 positions for medically qualified staff were unfilled, the shortage was heightened because it affected areas critical in providing operational services such as casualty services, Househam said yesterday. Of the 9500 nursing posts , about 1700 are vacant. But health officials believe the new recruitment drive could help attract and retain local medical staff who in the past 10 years have left in droves for better working conditions and pay overseas. Househam said there would be flexibility in the approach to attract health professionals, including offering attractive salaries and part-time morning only or afternoon shifts to relieve the burdens on full-time staff. Househam denied, however, that the province's hospitals were in a crisis. "While we face serious challenges, including critical staff shortages in some hospitals, no hospitals would be closed for emergencies," he said at a press conference. Househam said the shortage of doctors in some areas was aggravated by the shortage of experienced nurses, which health authorities were grappling with "on a daily basis". He said the "innovative" proposal to hire UK doctors had been initiated by local doctors. The overseas recruitment drive would give Western Cape health services some "breathing space", he said. The recruitment fell within the ambit of the Health Professionals Council and would not require special government dispensation to recruit from countries such as Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, he said.

Western Cape doctor and nurses shortages (Sapa, 13/07)-
The Western Cape Department of Health moved on Tuesday to quash media reports that staff shortages in the province were leading to a public health service crisis, assuring the public that services would continue as normal. Admitting that serious challenges needed to be addressed, including that of staff shortages, head of the Western Cape's health department, Craig Househam, said that no hospital was or would be closed for emergencies. "We have a no closure policy and while patients may be redirected to other hospitals at times, no patient has been or will be turned away," said Househam in a statement. Househam said the shortage of staff was being felt particularly in the professional and specialist nurse categories, with 1,700 out of 9,500 nursing posts unfilled. He said some hospital staff were already working up to 16 hours overtime and more, with others showing a willingness to put in extra hours over and above their normal programmes, in order to assist in the immediate future. "Advertisements will also be placed in overseas journals in the hope of attracting South African and other doctors working abroad," said Househam, on the department's attempts to recruit more staff. He said the department was also finalising a range of incentive measures for junior doctors and nurses, such as taking over student-debt loans. The department was appealing to doctors from other areas in the health services to assist and volunteer where possible. Househam also appealed to the public not to go to hospitals such as Red Cross or Tygerberg for minor ailments that could be more appropriately treated at clinics and community health centres. "Attendance at hospitals should be reserved for emergencies or when a doctor refers patients," he said, emphasising that the public would always have access to emergency health services at hospitals

Harassment of foreign residents (Mail&Guardian Online, 13/07)-
It’s 5.15pm on a weekday, and I’m in a minibus taxi travelling along Louis Botha Avenue through Orange Grove, Johannesburg, when a group of policemen pulls us over. I ask the woman sitting alongside me what’s going on. “They are looking for illegals,” she whispers conspiratorially. “Foreigners,” she adds, as though I might have misunderstood her to mean a general breaking of the law. “You ladies are lucky today,” the only white policeman laughs sheepishly. “There are no ladies on duty, so we can’t search you.” He gives the impression he’d rather risk missing any dagga that might be in my bag than have to confront a tampon. Yet in the world of men, things are different. In searching the male passengers there appears to be an understanding on either side of the badge. They are thorough and uncompromising. But while South Africa is looking the other way and investing all this time and energy into rooting out foreigners, many South Africans seem to be getting away with murder. I’ve been mugged twice at knifepoint and both times it was by South Africans. I could tell by my attackers’ speech — the second time, I was told in a perfect Model C accent: “Just cooperate, and you won’t get hurt.” I was chatting with a South African teenager, while waiting for a bus in Hillbrow a few months back, and he told me: “It’s the Nigerians. They offer these young South Africans jobs to steal. Why should they say no?” With Nigeria’s track record on corruption — second last, at 132 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index — it’s not hard to understand the suspicion about them. Though I notice that South Africa slipped from 36 in 2002, to 48 in 2003. “Would you do crime?” I asked the boy. “No,” he told me indignantly. “Why not?” “My mother taught me different,” he said. My point exactly. I checked out the arrest statistics in the free weekly rag for my area, the North Eastern Tribune, over a two-month period. Without exception, the highest number of arrests every week was of “illegal immigrants”. About half of all arrests every week. The only deviation from this pattern was the two-week period when there was obviously a sweep on prostitution. Do the police really mean to tell me I’m more at risk from a sex worker than an armed robber or a rapist? Or maybe prostitutes are just easier to catch. But South Africans shouldn’t think they’re protected by this clampdown on foreigners. In fact, sometimes they end up being victims, wrongfully arrested because of it. Take the case of Sylvia Manda, the teacher from Hillbrow who was arrested and allegedly assaulted because of “her complexion, facial appearance, accent and her style of dressing”. “It almost happened to me,” my colleague Sibongile, also a Hillbrow resident, told me. “Luckily I had my passport with me. I really started wondering what would have happened if I had forgotten to put the passport in my handbag. You know they make you count in Afrikaans to prove you’re South African?” As in the bad old days of the dompas, ironically, as a white South African I’m in the group once again protected from this kind of harassment. White foreigners are regarded as tourists. I asked Mannie Cableira, the owner of the Radium Beer Hall in Louis Botha Avenue, what he thinks of all of this: “Look, I don’t think they’re targeting foreigners. They’re just doing their job. “I have cops from the Norwood police station, black and white, come and drink at my place. And these guys are tired, man. Me myself, I don’t have a problem with foreigners. Hell, I’ve got the whole Tower of Babel working at my place! “They’ve got papers of course,” he assured me, in case I might think he’s employing “illegals”. It’s beginning to get cold on the pavement, and it’s now 5.25pm. I’m growing impatient hanging around, so I consult with my confidante alongside me again for an update. “What’s taking so long?” “They are checking his papers,” she nods in the direction of a big, good-looking black man, of indeterminate nationality, who is creating the illusion of privacy by turning his back to us because he has a gun, while the police check his documentation. Finally, it seems everything is in order, and we’re on the road again. I don’t know if I’m more relieved to know there are no illegals among us, or to have a fellow South African now sitting next to me with a loaded gun in the front of his pants.

SA citizens hostile to us, say refugees (The Mercury, 12/07)-
Refugees living in South Africa encounter similar, if not worse, treatment than they face in their home countries. This emerged at a Refugee Solidarity Service at St Paul's Church in Durban yesterday. The service, at which Archbishop Pius Ncube of Zimbabwe was the guest speaker, provided a platform for refugees from across the African continent to tell their stories. Jimmy Juma, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said he came to SA after more than 1 000 people were killed in his village in just one day. "The refugees are not here by choice, we are forced to be here. My whole village was destroyed and I had nowhere to go." Juma left DRC four years ago, hoping to make a better life for himself in SA. However, he admits that life here is not what he expected it to be. "We are not feeling at home in South Africa. You can only feel at home if you have a brother, sister or friend. This is not the case here, many of us have been here for years, but we have no friends," Juma said. "We are labelled as crooks and drug dealers. The police come into our homes, they destroy our things and beat us up. We are not all criminals. We love people, respect them and care for them." Juma added that while there were laws to protect refugees, they were meaningless because they were not implemented. Lambert Nzeyimana, 18, of Burundi, said: "It is not easy living in a foreign country when there is no one to look after you. We get no guidance so we have to learn on our own. Sometimes we go the wrong way." He said while he understood the importance of an education, he had more basic needs. "I'd love to go to school but how can your brain function on an empty stomach? How can you attend school when you have no shelter?" Canon Sibisi Ndabanzinhle, of St Paul's Church, apologised to the refugees for the harsh conditions they faced in South Africa. "I apologise on behalf of the Christian church in Durban to those who have found that they have received worse treatment here than what they encounter in their home countries. Please forgive us for the pain we inflicted on you," he said. He added that South Africa had a responsibility to care for these refugees.

South African business sees opportunities in Africa (Business Day, 09/07)-
South African businesses may be criticised for not investing enough locally, but they cannot be faulted for finding investment opportunities in the rest of Africa. SA is the largest foreign direct investor on the continent, with investment opportunities climbing gradually after 1994, but really taking off in the past five years helped in part by the government's relaxation of foreign-exchange controls for businesses investing in Africa. Research by LiquidAfrica an online business information company shows that SA's foreign direct investment in Africa averaged 1,4bn a year in 2000. This made SA the top investor on the continent, ahead of the US, France and the UK. Foreign-exchange control adjustments in recent years means that South African companies can invest up to R2bn in a project in Africa, compared with R500m on projects elsewhere in the world. Investment activity appears to have accelerated since 2001 as SA's largest companies continue to look for growing markets. Research published by the SA Foundation an association of SA's top businesses shows that the bulk of SA's cross-border investment activity occurred in the second half of the 1990s. Based on information collected from 80 member companies of the foundation, the research shows that 63% of SA's cross-border investment is destined for countries outside of the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu), consisting of Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. Investment in non-Sacu countries have been mainly in subSaharan Africa, dominated by Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya. The research also shows that since 2000 South African companies have diversified away from traditional markets in southern Africa , moving north to many Francophone countries. These diversified investments tend to be concentrated in minerals and energy projects, according to Whitehouse & Associates, which prepared the research report for the foundation. "Since 2001, countries such as Algeria, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Mauritania and Morocco, have attracted such interest from South African companies," says the report. The latest World Investment Report, published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), says SA's investment in the rest of Africa, which has traditionally been focused on mining and breweries, also moved into the telecommunications sector. Unctad highlights cellular operators MTN and Vodacom as having made "significant inroads" into telecommunications in other African countries. The report also highlights South African Airways' stake in Air Tanzania and the formation of Ashanti Goldfields, as notable foreign direct investments on the continent. The SA Foundation says that in the evolution of investment on the continent it was notable that the countries that attracted the most interest from South African companies in recent years were those that had "undergone substantial (positive) political and regulatory reforms". Tanzania has attracted 46% of investment from SA in Africa, and Mozambique, which has moved from years of civil war to a more stable political and economic environment in recent years, received 33% of investment. The Economist Intelligence Unit's regional director for Africa, Pratibha Thaker, said recently SA was involved in 50% of the projects privatised last year in Mozambique. She said while most countries' investment on the continent was centred on the oil industry, South African investment had been more broad-based, in sectors such as retail, agriculture, manufacturing and financial services. SA's economic growth is important for the rest of the continent, with a recent International Monetary Fund study showing that a one percentage point increase in SA's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) growth sustained over five years would boost growth in the rest of Africa by between 0,4 and 0,7 percentage points. However, with SA importing far less from the continent than it exports the trade effect from higher economic growth is minimal. According to the SA Foundation report, South African exports to Africa grew from R5bn in 1991 to R43bn in 2002. However, imports come to only about R5bn, and this has been skewed recently by rising oil imports from Nigeria.

Migrants put Johannesburg's services under strain (Business Day, 09/07)-
While the growth rate of other cities throughout SA is declining, Johannesburg is expanding at 4% a year, putting pressure on the metro council's social infrastructure and budget , says a new Wits University study. But the constitution was complicating city authorities' workload by expecting them to find a working formula to form viable communities out of the newcomers, said the study, released yesterday. As a result, the city had no option but to promote and cater for the needs of new migrants and existing residents. Acting director of the university's Forced Migration Studies programme, Dr Loren Landau, attributed Johannesburg's problems to unstoppable domestic and international migration patterns since apartheid collapsed. He was speaking yesterday at the university before World Population Day celebrations on Sunday. Landau said the strain on metro authorities and resources was to be expected when trying to achieve an ideal, socially inclusive city, because few countries were facing the acute polarities and dislocations left by apartheid. He said continued rural poverty and the sad realities of HIV/AIDS also meant that the number of people seeking better opportunities or safety in Johannesburg would increase. The city's vision to become a "world-class African city" combined with government's foreign policy hinging on spearheading the New Partnership for Africa's Development objectives fuelled the influx of migrants. Johannesburg's problems, he said, were compounded by the fact that its population was not static. There were movements of residents from suburb to suburb. The research confirmed that many city residents blamed the newcomers for unemployment, disease and physical insecurity. However, there was hope, said Landau. The Jo'burg 2030 Vision outlined strategies for recruiting and incorporating highly skilled migrants and foreign capital. The Gauteng provincial development plan also recognised that municipalities needed assistance in tackling migration, he said. It called on all spheres of government to collaborate in their efforts to counter the sources of social exclusion, such as health and education institutions, which were often motivated by xenophobia. Landau said the study found that both local and international migrants were making important economic and cultural contributions to Johannesburg. It was therefore unfortunate that they faced significant obstacles when trying to obtain accommodation, education, health, and financial services, he said. As a result, the provincial government was advocating policies that promoted equal opportunities for the welfare of all residents.

Hotels may have to keep register (Daily Dispatch, 09/07)-
Hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts may soon have to identify guests as citizens or foreigners if a new law is passed. The Immigration Amendment Bill, which has been tabled in Parliament and is not yet a public document, will require accommodation establishments to keep a register of all foreign guests. This register must be produced for inspection by an immigration officer. Owners are also obliged to report to the Home Affairs Department any instance where a guest refuses to furnish such identification. If this is not complied with and an illegal foreigner is found on the premises, it will be presumed that the establishment is in fact harbouring an illegal foreigner and the owner would be held responsible. If the guest failed to comply or gave false details, they would be found guilty of an offence and be liable for a fine or imprisonment of up to one year. Home Affairs communications officer Leslie Mashokwe this week said that comment from the department was "premature" as the proposed law "has not been digested and has not become a public document. As soon as it does, Home Affairs will implement the legislature", In a snap survey, the Daily Dispatch found that most accommodation establishment owners were unaware of the pending change in legislation. "We haven't been aware of this and so we haven't been doing anything," said a lodge owner who preferred not to be named. "We would have to find out about it. We'll do it then if it's the law." Larry Kelley, owner of The Castle Bed and Breakfast in Beacon Bay, felt that "it wouldn't be a problem at all" to identify guests. Glen Johnson of the Dolphin Hotel in Nahoon said he was unperturbed by the idea. "I think it's a good idea. They can inspect all they like: we don't break the law." Holiday Inn Garden Court's general manager Richard Keet said that his organization generally identified where its guests came from for marketing purposes. However, this was the first that he had heard of the proposed law.
May Geriscke, owner of Gonubie Sun Bed and Breakfast, said the need to identify guests was "quite ridiculous; I don't think it makes a lot of sense. They are just making more and more red tape".

Immigration law easier on foreign skills ( Financial Mail, 09/07)-
Will the bickering over immigration policy never end? The latest is a public condemnation of the Immigration Amendment Bill - even before it has entered the public domain. Former home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi has slated the bill "for undermining the entire reform of migration control" that he introduced, "with one stroke of the pen". So what do the amendments say? That is difficult to answer as the bill is yet to be published and is not in the public domain. Neither Buthelezi nor home affairs director-general Barry Gilder could provide the FM with a copy. But Gilder says the bill does the following: It reduces the powers of the immigration advisory board , a body that advises the minister and DG; Alters the board's composition; Amends the original act to make the DG rather than his department legally accountable; Shortens the regulation-making process; Removes the proviso that a chartered accountant must certify whether a business qualifies for a business permit; and; Removes the obligation on employers to pay a training levy or premium when they hire a foreigner. Many of the amendments are technical; but they are also politically more attuned to the way the ANC government goes about its business than the way things were under Buthelezi, an IFP minister. For instance, says Gilder, its unusual for a law to confer powers on "the department" which is the what the original act does. This gives rise to problems as it is unclear when it comes to litigation who "the department" is. The amendment bill changes all references to "the department" and replaces them with "the director-general." Buthelezi calls this "centralising power in the hands of the DG". For Gilder, "this is normal in government". Another example is that in Buthelezi's original act the immigration advisory board was expected not just to provide advice on policy, but to review a range of decisions made by the DG and the minister - though neither was actually bound by its advice on these matters. It also gave the board executive powers rather than advisory ones, says Gilder, so the board's redefined role is no different from that of other advisory bodies. In Buthelezi's view, however, "the board is emasculated" and the amendment allows the minister "to let people in and out (of the country) as he or she sees fit". The amendment also adds two government departments "with an interest in immigration" to the board - the department of justice and the national intelligence co-ordinating committee. Under the original act the minister was required to publish regulations and allow 21 days for public comment. Then a fresh set of regulations based on the comments had to be published after which there was another 21-day period for comment before the regulations were made final. The amendment b ill shortens the process. Regulations will have to be published only once for public comment before being made final. Buthelezi describes this as the "most concerning feature of the b ill" because, he claims, it "abolishes" public participation in regulation-making". But the big question is: will it be easier for business to hire foreigners? Buthelezi says that now "each work permit will need to go through a tortuous and lengthy process" and that permits will be granted at the "discretion" of the department. Not so, according to Gilder: "The amendment bill hasn't dabbled with the permit section at all," he says. The rules introduced in the 2002 a ct will apply, where most foreigners will be employed through the quota permit system. Employers will be able to employ any foreigner who fits into the quota categories. These are broad and general and allow almost anyone with a tertiary qualification entry into the labour market. The ceiling in each category has been set high. In all, 610 000 immigrants of various skills levels can be accommodated under the quota system. If anything, the amendment bill looks like it could make it easier for firms to hire foreigners. While under the original act employers would pay a 2% remuneration penalty to hire a foreigner with a quota permit, this provision has been scrapped in the amendment. The 2% remuneration penalty, which also applies to the mines which hire many foreign workers, has been a great source of concern to business. The new political flavour could prove more palatable.

ANC warns absentee landlords (Business Day, 06/07)-
The African National Congress (ANC) yesterday said it was not against foreign investors buying land for residential purposes, but called for a review of foreign owned farmland lying furlough. The party's calls came amid debate on land ownership in the country and an increase in the number of farm labourers and tenants being evicted from farms. This, it said, was despite large pieces of land lying idle and owned by foreigners. Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza sparked the debate a few weeks ago calling for a review of property rights of foreign investors. ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe said yesterday during a briefing on the party national executive committee meeting held at the weekend, that the party was not opposed to foreigners who bought land in SA for purposes of investments and job creation. Motlanthe said, however, that this should be treated separately from the old problem of "absentee landlord s ". "These people buy land for the purposes of future speculation. The land is not used to benefit the country and its people," said Motlanthe. SA's property prices climbed an average 25,1% in the year to June, accelerating from 23,4% the previous year, spurred partly by foreign buying, particularly in coastal areas. But the ANC said it was more concerned by the ownership of rural and farm land. Spokesman Smuts Ngonyama said most municipalities found themselves with a lot of foreignowned unused land, which they could not use to stimulate local economies and create jobs. "We have to come up with some form of regulations. You cannot have it both ways as a foreigner. "There are certain categories of legislation that affect this," said Ngonyama. University of Western Cape land expert Prof Ben Cousins said that for SA to formulate a policy on foreign land ownership it needed to have statistics on the phenomenon. "It is possible that it (foreign ownership of land) is exaggerated," said Cousins. Land affairs spokeswoman Nana Zenani said yesterday that the department would know the scale of foreign land ownership in the country only once the current land audit had been completed.

ANC mulls over issue of foreign landowners (The Star, 06/07)-
The African National Congress wants to rid the country of foreign speculators to stem rising property prices - but is unlikely to opt for a total ban on foreign ownership of land. By Makhudu Sefara and Moshoeshoe Monare This was stated on Monday by ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe, who said his party wanted to eliminate "absentee landlordism". He explained this was the phenomenon where rich people He explained this was the phenomenon where rich people, invariably from developed nations, bought land in the country for future sale at exorbitant prices. Motlanthe was speaking after the ANC's national executive committee met at the weekend. He said the ANC considered various policy options, including "whether (foreign ownership of land) should be a general exclusion or one that is informed by usage or utilisation". "If, for instance, foreigners come and say we want to invest in the land in the following fashion... (this could help eliminate) the old problem of absentee landlordism, where people just take over land for purposes of future speculation and so on," Motlanthe said. This would mean that foreigners wishing to own land might soon have to provide plans for how they intend to work the land before they are allowed to buy it. The thorny issue of foreign ownership was first mooted at the ANC policy conference in Stellenbosch, with the ruling party deciding that there should be some restrictions. 'More work needs to be done so that we don't send mixed signals' The department of agriculture and land affairs has conducted a two-year audit of foreign ownership of land and its report is expected in September. The issue gained prominence last month when Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza again raised the issue of restrictions on foreign ownership and mooted 99-year leases. This prompted concerns by the South African Property Owners Association and others, who said limits would scare away investors. President Thabo Mbeki also entered the fray last month and said other countries had restrictions on foreign ownership, calling for a debate on the issue. A decision on whether to limit foreign ownership of land has been deferred until a later date, Motlanthe said. "More work needs to be done so that we don't send mixed signals," he said. A highly placed source on Monday said dormant land did not assist in dealing with what the ANC calls the "national question", a quest towards the creation of a prosperous nation founded on unity, non-racialism and non-sexism. The ANC had also debated ownership of land by mining houses, "obtained in the past in terms of laws that enabled them to have surface and underground rights" and how the Minerals Act had brought the situation "in sync" with the rest of the world. This was to further clarify how the act had impacted on those who "owned mineral deposits, which were a heritage of all South Africans". The problem in the minerals sector was that individuals could sit on mineral deposits for "over 100 years and could determine when to mine and when not to mine", and this affected the economy. The legislation gives the government the power to confiscate unused mines.

Debate needed on foreign land ownership in SA (BuaNews Online, 02/07)-
Over the past few days, a myriad of debates have raged in the public discourse. These debates, include amongst others, foreign land ownership, reflections on whether there is a shift in government's economic policy, and reports on the deployment of troops in the Great Lakes. For some reasons, the debate on foreign land ownership has generated more heat than light. Some in our country invoked a number of conspiracy theories to give credence to their viewpoints. One of the conspiracy theories proceeds from the premise that restricting foreign land ownership will have unintended consequences on foreign direct investment. Further, some have been quick to remind us that these eminent restrictions will compromise the bilateral relations that we have with other countries. It has been argued in some quarters that some of the foreign nationals have taken advantage of the rand-dollar exchange rate to buy land with the intention of selling at higher prices over a period of time. Some of the estate agencies and economists added their chorus to the debate contesting that the move will send frightening signals to the market and potential investors. These are some of the dimensions to the debate. But it would be wrong to over-emphasis one at the expense of the other without looking at the totality of issues at play. It is not a simple question of either or, as some would like to make us believe. Accordingly, this debate provides us with a possibility to engage in a national dialogue robustly and openly without clamouring for cheap popularity and false consensus. Notably, the heat generated in the process can be attributed to the fact that most of the media did not solicit government's policy position on the matter. Instead, most of their stories carried commentary from economists, few non-governmetal organisations and estate agencies amongst others. No effort was made to solicit commentary from labour too thus giving an impression that the rest of society does not exist. Ultimately, the debate tended to be ideologically homogenous and oppositional in character. But what is the truth of the matter? The fact of the matter is that government is calling upon all South Africans to engage in dialogue on the question of foreign land ownership. Some of the critical matters that could enrich this dialogue are a constructive engagement on whether there is a need for a regulatory mechanism on this matter and exploring possibilities for long lease agreements. Afraid that their ignorance would be exposed as we negotiate our way to finding solutions on the matter, those who turned themselves into instant experts on the discourse in foreign land ownership were misleadingly silent on the practice by other countries worldwide. For instance, President Mbeki in his response to the Budget Vote on 24 June said that Switzerland and Canada have such restrictions that regulate foreign land ownership. Closer to home in Mozambique, land is owned by the state whilst allowing investors and nationals to use the land. "Quite why Switzerland and Canada can have such restrictions without frightening foreign investors, while similar restrictions in our country would produce an opposite response from foreign investors is difficult to fathom," the President said. The question that we need to pose is: what lessons can we draw from the experiences of these countries whilst taking into account the contemporary relevance of these policies to our own conditions and needs as South Africa? What should be the content of our envisaged policy on foreign land ownership? What would be the socio-economic and political implications of such a policy to a country such as ours? Quiet clearly, we need a national dialogue on the issue of land ownership in South Africa. Instilling fear, uncertainty and casting aspersions on this call for a national discourse will at best be defeatist and at worst stifle the capacity of the society to engage openly and freely.

Migration law could hurt foreign workers (Mail&Guardian Online, 02/07)-
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is worried that amendments to immigration law have retained work permit provisions that create inequality between foreign and local workers. And it is adamant that attempts to attract foreign scarce skills should not undermine the training of locals. These concerns, as well as the Immigration Advisory Board’s reduced oversight powers and the substitution of civil society representatives with immigration experts, were raised at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on Wednesday. A further meeting on the proposed immigration amendments will be held next Thursday. Cosatu’s parliamentary officer, Prakashnee Govender, said it was problematic that work permits still depended on submitting “satisfactory proof” of employment within six months of issue or every year thereafter. While labour laws applied to all workers, this provision effectively required foreign workers to leave the country following unfair dismissals or retrenchment. Govender said the permit should remain valid until all labour law processes ran their course. Also, there were unresolved questions about the status of foreign workers following the sale of a business where they worked. Govender said it was crucial to find a balance between attracting foreign scarce skills and training local workers. “The focus on filling gaps with foreign skills could remove incentives for training locals,” she said. She added that much of South Africa’s economy, particularly mining, still relied on foreign workers. Home affairs ministerial spokesperson Mike Ramagoma said the proposed amendments were tabled in Nedlac to ensure “buy-in”. Their aim was to attract skills, from Africa and elsewhere, while maintaining a balance with the training of local workers and economic growth. he Nedlac process marked the start of discussions on a long-term review of migration policy, he added. The skills shortage in South Africa has been a long-standing government concern. A domestic skills profile was completed in October last year, highlighting a dearth of IT specialists, adult education trainers, and other professionals.

Plugging the medical brain drain (Mail&Guardian Online, 02/07)-
The flight of nurses and doctors from South Africa -- and other African states -- has long been a source of concern for the governments of these countries. And, the advent of Aids has sharpened fears about the effects of this migration. IPS was not able to get comment on the matter from South Africa’s Department of Health. However, statistics from the British Medical Journal indicate that in the 2001/02 period, 2 114 nurses left South Africa for Britain (up from 599 in 1998/99). The picture for 2001/02 was less dramatic, but still worrying, for states elsewhere on the continent. About 470 nurses left Zimbabwe, while 432 left Nigeria. Ghana lost 195 nurses to Britain, Zambia 183 and Kenya 155. Health workers who leave for greener pastures in Europe can net substantially larger salaries than they earn in their home countries. African governments, pointing to the host of social needs that clamour for attention, could claim that they don’t have the money to compete with these salaries. Many are also following programmes set by the International Monetary Fund and other financial institutions that set limits on public expenditure. All of this begs the question as to whether donor agencies and NGOs should start supplementing the salaries of health workers to keep them in South Africa and other African countries. This might involve a marked departure from the areas of responsibility that these groups have traditionally set out for themselves. Yet, it seems clear that the "brain drain" of medical personnel is as much a problem for NGOs that work to contain Aids and other diseases, as it is for governments. No matter how low the prices of anti-retrovirals go, the benefits of these reductions risk being undermined if there aren’t sufficient, trained health workers to administer the drugs. “If donors want to achieve a small part of the target they set, they will need health workers to ensure all health-care interventions are implemented,” says Lucy Gilson, a researcher at the Centre for Health Policy at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. IPS sent numerous requests for comment on this matter to a variety of donor agencies and NGOs, including the Global Fund for Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Health Organisation and Oxfam. However, none of the groups appeared willing to put its views on the record. Part of this reluctance may stem from the fact that a well-meaning effort to supplement state salaries could get bogged down in politicking. How would a donor agency be able to justify addressing staff shortages in a country where arms purchases are continuing -- or where endemic corruption is visibly depleting the financial resources that might otherwise be spent on health matters? Certain commentators have also indicated that a debate about this type of intervention is fruitless, because the effectiveness of donor agencies depends, in part, on the fact that they are clearly seen not to meddle in the internal affairs of the states that they assist. However, Gilson does not think agencies and NGOs will “aid and abet” poor governance by boosting the salaries of doctors and nurses: “If they made direct payments to individuals, the governance problem would be theirs, not that of the government.” The flip side of this argument is that donor funds for salaries might not be sustainable over the long term. Damaria Senne, communications manager of the Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa (Cafsa) says as yet, there has been no formal discussion with regard to donor funding specifically for the salaries of health workers. “But I have heard comments at conferences and meetings where people and organisations have complained bitterly of donors’ unwillingness to fund administration and salary costs [for aid projects].” Cafsa is a non-profit organisation that provides financial expertise and other assistance to NGOs. Senne says funders sometimes cap the allocations for project administration and salaries at 20% of the total aid package, leaving these projects understaffed. Poor salaries are not the only reason why nurses seek employment abroad, however, as Thembi Mngomezulu, chief negotiator for the Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa, points out. She says some want the adventure of working in a foreign country. Others leave because of poor or insecure working conditions, bad management, a lack of training opportunities -- and the sense that nursing offers little in the way of career advancement over the long term. Mngomezulu believes that donor funding could be used to provide occasional incentives for nurses -- rather than a permanent addition to their salaries. “Salaries need to be sustained once introduced, therefore foreign funding will pose a special challenge in this regard,” she says. “However, special allowances can be introduced to attract certain skills to underserved areas.” Gilson agrees that the dissatisfaction of health workers extends far beyond the matter of what is in their pay packets. “It is about giving people a sense of calling and purpose, making them feel valued and acknowledging their hard work. These are all important -- though to different degrees for different people,” she says. This complicates the matter of hiking up salaries to retain staff. “Higher salaries probably would be a factor, but what level of increase is required we just don’t know,” notes Gilson. She adds that increases that put South Africa and other African states on a par with European countries are also unnecessary. This is because the cost of living in Africa is generally lower than that in European countries, “so you should be able to buy more with your salary here than there”.

No funds to fill critical jobs at Home Affairs (Business Day, 01/07)-
There were no funds to fill 5 700 posts in critical areas such as immigration, information technology and border posts management, home affairs department director general Barry Gilder said yesterday. The massive staff shortage had hampered efficient service provision in the department, he said. Gilder's announcement followed the parliamentary portfolio committee's expression of concern that the vacancies were causing a crisis in the department. It also came two days after the Immigration Act was passed in Parliament, granting more powers to the home affairs minister and Gilder and allowing them to fix the loopholes in the system. Gilder made the announcement during the launch of the department's internship programme in Johannesburg yesterday. The department had managed to fill only 6 000 of the 11 700 vacant posts, Gilder said. "This means we do not have enough people on the ground to service our people at rural areas, at our borders to receive visitors and at the immigration offices to make sure no illegal foreigners enter our country," he said. Gilder said this had resulted in "glaring gaps" in the delivery of services to the department's clients. He said when he joined the department last year he was also perturbed by the "downright exploitation" of people who were employed as volunteers. "These people earn a R40 a day stipend, which is enough to transport them to work. Yet they are doing jobs that are supposed to be filled by permanent staff members." In his budget speech in Parliament three weeks ago, Home Affairs Deputy Minster Malusi Gigaba said the department planned to move swiftly in filling senior posts in its information technology branch in an effort to fix the chaotic information's system. "We seek to develop an integrated information system to make our work smart and efficient in order to harness information technology for more effective service delivery and dramatically enhance the integrity of our systems," he said. The department is planning to employ 350 graduates as interns for the next 12 months. The interns, who were expected to start work in the next two months, would each be paid a stipend of R1 500 a month. According to Gilder, the department also planed to allocate a mentor for each intern. Gilder felt there was a need for government departments to encourage the youth to make government an employer of choice. He believed the department's internship was a "modest" contribution towards eradicating unemployment among the youth. He said more than 73% of unemployed people in SA were under the age of 35. Gigaba said the interns were expected to improve service delivery in the department. The department would also offer interns the opportunity to upgrade their skills and obtain practical work experience. And if opportunities arose within the department, he said, these interns would be employed on a permanently basis. "This programme is therefore a small contribution dedicated to the implementation of a comprehensive and integrated youth development programme, led by the National Youth Commission, involving all government departments," Gigaba said.

Limpopo attempts to plug brain drain (Bua News, 01/07)-
Nearly 100 youth have been brought into the Limpopo government as part of an internship programme that aims to plug the brain drain from the province. The Department of Finance and Economic Development initiated the programme costing R2 million a year and targets school children and graduates. The department then identifies promising interns for permanent posts. "The programme will be held yearly to provide a sustainable way of curbing the brain drain," said department spokesperson Ms Masilo Ratopola. He said the programme would also ensure that the graduates gained the necessary experience and skills to enable for them to enter the job market. Already 98 graduates and high school children are working in several government departments this holiday. The department hopes to accommodate another 34 interns this year. In Limpopo, 71 percent of the 5.5 million population comprises youth. On Wednesday, Finance and Economic Development MEC Thaba Mufamadi launched the Centre for New Venture Creation at the Tshwane University of Technology in Polokwane. The centre will equip students with the necessary skills to start their own small businesses. "We [government] will then follow and support these new businesses for the first five years of their conception to ensure they are sustainable," said Mr Mufamadi. The centre is a partnership between the department and the Umsobomvu Youth Fund, which was created by the national government in 2001 and has already spent R490 million on more than 70 youth projects. "The efforts to empower the youth is in line with our 2020-vision of making Limpopo a major contributor to national wealth," Mr Mufamadi said.

Swaziland
Nurses working overseas illegally (Times of Swaziland, 19/07)- The acting Health Administrator for the Manzini region, Mlondolozi Dlamini says nurses who looked for jobs overseas while they were on deterred leave will face stiff penalties. Dlamini said taking this leave was as good as absconding from duty, because there are certain procedures that need to be taken into consideration before one can be allowed to leave. He said it is very common for the nurses to leave their duty stations in this fashion, which is against the rules and they will face serious prosecution for this deed. He said this leave is official but the nurses need to follow the stipulated procedures in carrying out this process with the final word coming from the Ministry of Public Service. "The ministry needs to approve the application before one can leave, but instead, the nurses decide to do things behind our backs," he explained. He highlighted that in Mankayane where he is administrator, none of the nurses had joined the 'exodus' because they communicate very effectively with each other. Dlamini said communication is very important because it makes everyone within the structure feel wanted in the institution. He said only two nurses within the clinics under his wing had left and those were from Mkhulamini and Scutt/Bethal Clinics. "The thing is, we work as a team and we discuss all of our problems," he said. Meanwhile, the Mbabane Government Hospital has lost quite a number of nurses but they all gave up the government houses before they left. In a recent report by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare it was recommended that in order to correct the current situation, the ministry would have to bring in health professionals from other countries. There is a need for the immediate implementation of pay review recommendations for all health cadres, together with ensuring that overtime allowances are paid on time was another suggestion.

Illegal recruiting in Swaziland (Times of Swaziland, 13/07)-
Enterprise and Employment Minister Lutfo Dlamini says illegal recruitment agencies are ripping vulnerable Swazis off. The minister told Members of Parliament (MPs) that instead of paying slightly more than E30 for registration with the overseas companies, Swazis looking for jobs were made to pay E350 by the mushrooming agencies. "It was against that background that we decided to stop assisting clients of recruitment agents with foreign exchange," the minister said. He was responding to a story that appeared in yesterday's edition of this newspaper. The article in question, which the minister tabled in parliament yesterday, quoted Circular No. D52 from the Central Bank to other banks and dealers authorised to deal with foreign exchange. The circular renders the work of recruitment agencies useless because their clients will not be allowed to get any assistance. Only people coming as individuals are reportedly free to get assistance. This aspect has, however, been disputed by at least one person who went to a bank as an individual.

Tanzania
Foreigners breaking Tanzania Investment Act (Ippmedia, 21/07)- The Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) has said that foreigners who engage in petty businesses have not gone through formal investment procedures that are provided for under the Tanzania Investment Act of 1997, which require them to have a capital base of about Usd300,000 which is equivalent to 300m/=. The Act also requires foreigners employed as expatriates to have sound professional qualifications and practical experience. Under the provisions of Section 24(1), the Act restricts the employment of foreigners to only be five persons in any one organization and the number could exceed upon application and the approval of the TIC and Immigration Department. The TIC’s Investment Promotion Manager (Domestic Investment), Stephen Mpuka, speaking to The Guardian yesterday, said that the centre has been receiving complaints that foreigners have been taking up jobs and investments which are legally restricted for the locals. According to him, the investment law in Tanzania strictly restricts employment of foreigners to safeguard national interests. “We have received complaints that some foreigners sell flowers, traditional medicines and others run car garages. After investigations the so called investors we discovered never underwent any investment procedure,” he said. Mpuka pointed out that such people, due to the scale of their business, could not manage to meet the capital size demand of shs. 300m for foreign investment or even pay for work permits which cost Usd1,620 for class A and USd620 for class B. “So with all these legal requirements it’s pretty clear that it’s expensive to employ a foreigner, a clear indicator that such people are not investors and that they have not abode by the legal investment procedures,” he said. A labour officer with the Ministry of Labour, Youth Development and Sports attached to TIC declined to comment on the issue on the grounds that he was not the ministry’s spokesman. However, he admitted a committee under the chairmanship of Judge John Mroso had been formed for reviewing the regulations on the employment of foreigners in the country. Attempts to talk to the Labour Commissioner in the ministry proved futile as she was said to be in a meeting.

Local log exporters blame foreigners (Ippmedia, 21/07)- Local exporters of logs have accused foreign companies and their agents of wanton felling of trees and causing destruction to forests. Five businessmen (names withheld at the moment) who held talks with the Parliamentary Committee on Environment on Monday revealed that the companies exported over 50 containers of logs every month, raising doubts that such a huge consignment followed existing procedures. The traders, who held consultations with the committee individually, claimed that due to their financial muscles, foreign exporters flouted regulations and felled trees indiscriminately, while forestry officials took no action. “It has been total destruction. The exporters and their agents have no concern for the environment. They are only interested in making huge profits,” said one of the traders. He said that while the foreign companies carted away huge loads of logs every month, local businessmen could hardly export 30 containers a year. The five individual exporters based in Kilwa, Kisarawe, Rufiji, Mpanda, Morogoro and Kigoma, admitted that logging had indeed reached alarming proportions. In an interview with The Guardian yesterday, the Chairperson of the Bunge committee, Anne Makinda, said the traders had travelled to Dodoma to seek MPs’ help on how they could sell their consignments current lying in forests, following a recent export ban. “They wanted a grace period of six months to clear their stocks. Their argument was that they don’t have saw mills and it is not easy to sell the stocks to timber factories as prices would be low,” she said. There was nothing the committee could do as the ban was legally binding, Makinda said. “ We did not agree with them on this. We know that they had been duly informed about the ban,” she stressed, adding that the committee only advised them to form an association. Meanwhile, container inspection at the Dar es Salaam Port has stalled, as majority of owners had not, until yesterday, shown up, reports Pastory Nguvu. The directive issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism requiring exporters of logs held at the Port to present their documents to the Director of Forestry and Beekeeping for inspection is yet to bear fruit. Only three containers belonging to Ceilmac had been inspected since the exercise commenced last week. There were 140 containers awaiting inspection as of yesterday. An impeccable source from the Ministry of Natural Resources, who preferred anonymity, said nine companies which were supposed to report to the Director of Forestry had not turned up. Our source identified the names of the companies whom letters had been sent to as ABG African Link, Epac Resources, Adept Impex and Natural Wood. Others are AGM International, Z*H Holdings, Equatorial Natural Essentials, DG International and Nguni Investment. "Our inspection team is still waiting for them,” said the source. Commenting on the steps taken to implement the minister’s order, the source said that the ministry had already sent letters of notification to the companies demanding their presence at the inspection site. “We have sent them letters since Monday July 19th 2004. The ministry expects the companies to show up within the specified period,” said the source. “Inspection of forest products stored in containers at Dar es Salaam Port is on. You are required to be at the inspection point from 19-7-2004 at 8:00am to facilitate the exercise, ” reads part of the letter. The letter further states that 26/7/2004 is the deadline for after which legal action would be taken in accordance with Forest, Act No: 14 of 2002. In another development, massive tree felling in Rufiji District, Coast Region, continues despite a government ban on exporting logs. An official with Ruhingo Natural Resources and Environment Conservation Group (RUNECO), a non-governmental organization responsible for environment conservation, told The Guardian in an exclusive interview that labourers were flocking the forest from surrounding villages. “It takes them a couple of weeks before ferrying the logs to Ngolongo, Ndundu, Nyikanza, Mkongo, Kipo and Mibuyu Saba, which are their collection centres,” said the Rufiji resident on condition of anonymity. Expressing concern, Paul Nnyiti, a Conservation Officer with Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, said that logging must be properly controlled, adding that most of good seasonal trees would take between 50 to 80 years to mature. “This means that if we cut them, we shall have to wait for such many years to have a replacement. Who on earth can wait for 80 years for the next harvest of timber?” queried Nnyiti. He appealed for combined efforts from communities around the forests, saying the Forest Department alone could not control illegal lumbering.

Tanzanian officials for US training (Express Online, 07/07)- A training programme aimed at deterring illegal immigrants will kick off in Washington DC July 1 until July 22, in which two officials from Tanzania’s Immigration Division will attend. A statement from US Embassy in Dar es Salaam said Donald Ndagula, a Deputy Secretary in the Public Service Commission and Michael Mtoba, Senior Immigration Officer, would join 9 other officers from various countries in the programme. The statement further highlighted that the programme is aimed at clarifying US government policies on refugees and immigrant affairs. Efforts will be taken to deter illegal immigration as well as review public and private programmes which facilitate the integration of immigrants and refugees into the American society. It said the programme would benefit the participants provided that Tanzania and US have many things in common pertinent to immigration. “Tanzania immigration would also benefit from seeing how the US uses non-technology-intensive methods for migration control,” the statement read in part. According to the statement the participants will also visit various key federal agencies including the Department of Labour and the Department of Home Security. The US government has embarked on an ambitious programme to enhance and automate Tanzania’s border control capabilities, said the statement adding that the programme seeks to provide Tanzania with the capability of tackling movement across its borders. By doing so, the US hope to provide Tanzania with the ability to shore up and control porous borders and to make cross border movement of criminal elements and illegal immigrants more difficult. The immigration and refugee project is part of the prestigious International Visitor Programme run by the US State Department and intended to facilitate personal and professional contacts between the people of the United States and Tanzania.

Rampant corruption involved in issuing of passports (Ippmedia, 06/07)- Rampant corruption and complex procedures at the Immigration Department have been reportedly forcing people to use illegal channels to secure documents, The Family Mirror reveals. Investigations by this paper revealed that cumbersome procedures were forcing many to opt for illegal passport dealers who charge them five times more than the legal fee. These illegal dealers act as middlemen, and in collaboration with some dishonest immigration officers, process a passport within a day, and without requiring many documents from the applicants. One of the dealers who talked to this paper said while it can take up to a month to process a passport through legal channels, informal dealers, well connected to the department’s system, do it in less than five days. A genuine passport costs about 20,000/- but informal dealers are charging between 80, and 100,000/-. “Applicants decide to ask for help from illegal channels or dealers due to the department’s cumbersome procedures. It is better to pay more money but get your document quickly,” said Mohamed Mlamu, a Dar es Salaam resident. Mlamu said the requirements for a passport are too prohibitive. “One is required to produce one’s birth certificate, a letter from the local government leader, parent’s birth certificates, letter of invitation , and other related certificates.” Although it is the right of every Tanzanian to have a passport, many still do not have that important document, according to the Family Mirror investigation. Many people interviewed, apart from blaming the cumbersome procedures one has to go through to secure a passport, said immigration laws were not clear, and that only a few people know that it is their right to have a passport. “Some people still think that for one to get a passport one has to have a lot of money or has to have connections with influential government officials,” said Omar Saguti, a Dar es Salaam resident. Saguti said to remove all the unnecessary, burdensome inconveniences inflicted on passport applicants, the whole process of issuing a passport should be done by one office. “Let’s do away with this system which forces people to move from one office to another in search of required documents needed for passport processing,” he said. The Immigration department spokesman, Herbert Chilambo, has however, defended the procedures of processing passports, saying they are clear. He said the department issues passport to those intending to travel outside the country for various purposes and advised people who were denied the document to forward their complaints to the department. When asked what does the laws say in respect of passport applicants who want to be issued one although they have no immediate intention to travel, Chilambo replied: ”You can answer that question, but I have already made myself clear. If there is anyone complaining about it being difficult to get a passport, let him or her come to see us.” A renowned lawyer, Professor Issa Shivji said that a passport was a vital document that allows people to exercise their freedom of movement from one country to another. “From the legal point of view, it is the constitutional right of every Tanzanians to get a passport whenever they need one. It is irrelevant whether one wants to travel now or possess it for future use,” said Shivji in a telephone interview last week. Meanwhile Our Correspondent, Peter Cassonga reports from Kigoma that some immigration officers at Kibirizi Immigration Post in Kigoma are reportedly assisting foreigners with no proper travelling documents to enter the country illegally. They are also accused of assisting Tanzanians who wish to travel to the neighbouring countries of Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to do so without undergoing normal procedures. This is done after the would-be beneficiary has coughed up some money which normally ends up in the pockets of the officers. Investigation by this paper has revealed that Tanzanians wishing to go to neighbouring countries are crammed into motor boats and are then covered by tarpaulins to make it seem as if the boats are carrying goods. This is done by the officers in collaboration with the management of the Kigoma Boat Owners Association (Uwamaki). The investigation also revealed that foreigners from these countries pay between 5000/- and 10,000/- to enable them to stay in the country. The Kigoma Regional Acting Immigration Officer, Mose Matinde, said he had no comment to make about the allegations. He however, said he would work on the allegations to see whether they are true. “If they are true, stern measures will be taken against the perpetrators,” he said. Investigation by this paper has however revealed that on June 13, seven Tanzanians, three Rwandese and 10 Burundians left the country through Kibirizi post in two boats for Rumonge in Burundi without proper travel documents. The Uwamaki secretary Jarufu Mahamudu, said as transporters, they were not responsible for checking whether a certain passenger has a valid travel document or not. “We are mere transporters. The task of vetting people is the job of the immigration department,” he said, adding that once they receive a letter from the immigration ,their job is to stamp it and allow the boat to cross the border. The Kigoma Police Regional Commander, Boniface Mgongolwa, admitted receiving such information about immigration officers assisting foreigners to enter into the country illegally. He said that at one time, the police laid a trap and intercepted a letter written by one of the immigration officers which had a list of names of foreigners who had entered the country illegally. Mgongolwa said all the police efforts were reduced to nothing after the immigration department in the region complained that the police were usurping their powers. So we stopped working on this problem, and left the whole matter to the immigration department,” he said.

Zimbabwe
Death knell for Homelink (The Zimbabwe Independent, 30/07)- Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono's attempt to curb abuse of the Homelink facility by forcing Zimbabweans to receive money from the diaspora only in local currency could be the death knell for the system, analysts have warned. They said the move was likely to discourage Zimbabweans in the diaspora from sending money through Homelink - government's official money transfer initiative. In a bid to stop foreign currency leakages into the parallel market, Gono said all proceeds from money transfer agencies (MTAs) under Homelink would be paid in local currency. Previously locals had the choice of receiving their money in Zimbabwean dollars or in hard currency. "With immediate effect therefore, all receipts under the Homelink channel will be converted to local currency at the diaspora rate of $5 600, or the auction rate, whichever is higher and no payments shall be given out in foreign currency," Gono said. The move, analysts said, would cause a drastic reduction in foreign currency inflows from people living abroad. They said this could herald the death of the Homelink programme.

Foreign currency scheme flops (Zim Online, 29/07) - A new scheme, meant to tap into hard currency held by Zimbabweans living and working abroad and called Homelink, has failed, Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has admitted. Under Homelink, Zimbabwean exiles are encouraged to send money back home to relatives and friends using banks and other official channels. Recipients in Zimbabwe would get the money in hard currency if they so wished. Gono now said said during a review of monetary policy function earlier this week that he would reconsider Homelink. People were only using the scheme to obtain scarce foreign currency from the official market which they would then sell on the illegal parallel market. The RBZ chief said Homelink had by last Monday raised US$23,3 million from Zimbabweans in the diaspora. Gono, who in the last three months visited Zimbabwean communities in South Africa, the United States of America and Britain to encourage them to use the Homelink system, said at the time he was hoping to raise US$300 million per week through the scheme. To ensure that foreign currency sent through Homelink remained in the official market, Gono said, 'all receipts under the Homelink channel will be converted to local currency at the diaspora rate of Z$5 600, or the auction rate, whichever is higher, and no payments shall be given out in foreign
currency'.


Harare stops pension payouts to non-residents (Zim Online, 29/07) - The Zimbabwe government has stopped paying pensions to retirees living outside the country forcing thousands of them to lead destitute lives. According to John Redsern, honorary secretary of the Flame Lily Foundation of South Africa, which is assisting elderly Zimbabweans in the country, most pensioners have not received their pension payouts for more than a year. Redsern told Zim Online that the Zimbabwe government had cited persistent foreign currency shortages as the reason for not honouring its obligations to the pensioners. "Most Zimbabwean pensioners live in South Africa. They made pension contributions during their lives but they are not getting anything and most of them are leading destitute lives," said Redsern. He said it was because of their plight that Flame Lily started a project called the Zimbabwe Pensioners' Association (ZPA) two weeks ago. The project is meant to raise funds to help suffering pensioners. ZPA's other objective is to pressure Harare to meet its obligations to the retirees. Redsern said ZPA had made several representations over the issue of non-remitted pension payouts to Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mangwana but had not had any success. The Zimbabwe government last responded to queries from the pensioners in August 2003, according to Redsern. Mangwana could not be reached for comment. The acute foreign currency shortage gripping the country since the International Monetary Fund cut balance-of-payments support to Harare has also led to Zimbabwe¹s defaulting on debt repayments to several foreign institutions. Redsern said, "Last year we even suggested that the South African government loan some money to Zimbabwe so that it could cover the pensions but they told us it was impossible.(South African) President Mbeki referred us to the Ministry of Finance but we did not get much help from there and we are due to meet President Mbeki soon over the same issue." He added that the ZPA was planning to carry out fund raising activities in Britain, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand where substantial numbers of Zimbabwean retirees live. The oganisation also hoped to open offices in those countries.

AirZim workers nabbed for human trafficking (Zimbabwe Standard, 25/07)- Police and secret security agents based at the Harare International Airport have smashed an international human trafficking syndicate in which workers at Air Zimbabwe were smuggling fugitives and asylum seekers onto London bound planes for huge pay offs, investigations by The Standard have revealed. Three workers at the heavily-indebted national airline were recently arrested for helping the two foreigners get into a plane using forged South African passports. Investigators say the two foreigners had paid out several millions of dollars to be shared among members of the syndicate before they were guaranteed passage through the security check-points at the airport. Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the crackdown had resulted in two foreigners being arrested while hiding in an Air Zimbabwe aircraft bound for the United Kingdom. "Two people, one from Pakistan and another from the Democratic Republic of Congo were arrested on July 4 after they used fake passports to get into the plane with the assistance of Air Zimbabwe personnel. The Air Zimbabwe workers are now facing prevention of corruption charges," said Bvudzijena. Although he did not provide details, he said the two foreigners had already appeared in court and pleaded guilty to charges laid against them. He identified the Zimbabweans arrested in connection with the syndicate as Lindiwe Mugabe, Tawanda Shonhiwa and Ephraim Musarurwa. Workers at the national airline who spoke to The Standard last week said the human trafficking syndicate had been going on for several years. "Zimbabweans and other nationals seeking asylum in the UK and fugitives running away from law enforcements agents would contact certain people at Air Zimbabwe for easy passage to the United Kingdom. "The airline workers also helped their relatives without passports get free rides on the plane to the UK where they would claim asylum," said one Air Zimbabwe employee. The ease with which security personnel have allowed the scandal to occur under their noses raise questions about the safety of passengers using the Harare International Airport. In September 2001, terrorists hijacked aircraft to launch terror attacks against the USA. Employees at the national airline said following the arrests, security at the Harare International Airport had been tightened. But the director of Airports and Business Development in the Civil Aviation Authority, Jerry Ndlovu, said the breaching of the security wall did not mean that security at the airport was sloppy. "All the security arms at the airport, including the Central Intelligence Organisation and police are always on high alert." The Standard has established that the two foreigners were on the run from Canadian law enforcement agents in connection with drug related offences and bribed personnel working at Air Zimbabwe to facilitate easy entry into the plane. They flew from Canada to Johannesburg, South Africa, and hired a vehicle, which they drove through Beitbridge to Harare. Sources close to the investigations said the duo abandoned the vehicle in Harare before contacting a representative of the syndicate at the national airline.

Traders smuggle ARV drugs (Chronicle Online, 23/07)- Crossborder traders are allegedly smuggling antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) into the country for resell to people living with HIV and AIDS at lower prices than that being offered in the country, Chronicle learnt yesterday. In an interview the director-general of the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe, Mr Maphios Dauramanzi, said his organisation was aware of the smuggling of drugs in the country and was in the process of formulating ways of dealing with the problem. "We are trying to liaise with officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority at all border posts so that they can make thorough searches of people coming into the country.  "We are encouraging the public to inform us on the whereabouts of the smugglers so as to bring them to book. These cases should be dealt with before the situation gets out of hand," he said. Mr Dauramanzi said it was an offence to smuggle drugs into the country. He said anyone found in possession of ARVs would be charged under the Drugs and Allied Substances Act. The antiretroviral drugs are alleged to be coming from South Africa, Botswana and Namibia where a large number of people living with HIV are supplied with the drugs by their governments which get financial assistance from Western donors. Zimbabwe started its own rollout programme for antiretrovirals in March from its own resources without support from the donor community.  Some countries, mainly in Europe and America have encouraged their international donor organisations to withdraw support to Zimbabwe as they are opposed to the country's land reform programme. Most beneficiaries of the smuggled drugs are poor people who cannot afford buying the drugs from pharmacies. In Zimbabwe ARVs cost between $150 000 and $3 million at the pharmacies for a month's course and the ones on the streets cost about $60 000 for the same course.

Britain tightens visa requirements for Zimbabweans (Zim Online, 20/07)- The British Embassy in Harare has tightened its visa requirements for all Zimbabweans intending to travel to the United Kingdom. People are no longer allowed to queue outside its mission to apply for visas. All prospective travelers now have to either use a facility known as the "drop box" or the services of the local Fedex offices. According to the embassy, you can use the "drop box" if you "are aged 60 or over and are visiting your mother, father, sister, brother, son, or daughter in the UK or you are the holder of a valid UK work permit or spouse or child of a work permit holder and you are applying to join them." Hardest hit by the new requirements are all those who have not traveled to Britain over the last two years or who have not visited any Schengen country during the same period. If you have not visited Britain or any Schengen country in the last two years, then you cannot use the "drop box" but a courier service called fedex. Schengen countries include Holland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Sweden and Belgium. Other countries which one needs to have traveled to in order to be
able to use the "drop box" include USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Switzerland, and proof has to be shown of the actual visit to those countries. There are an estimated 1 100 000 Zimbabweans living in the United Kingdom, with the bulk of them suspected to be illegal immigrants. Despite the cold winter weather numbers of prospective travelers to the UK having been sleeping directly opposite the embassy building in Samora Machel Avenue. To beat the long queues, others have resorted to hiring street kids as placeholders for their space. According to embassy officials, those able to use the "drop box" also include Zimbabwean government employees on official business, members of a diplomatic mission accredited in Zimbabwe, diplomats in the Zimbabwean foreign service, or members of airline crews on routes which pass through the UK. Also allowed to use the facility are returning residents who have evidence of their current status in the UK. Excluded are those who have been denied a visa before in the UK or denied entry into any country, or those who failed to "comply with your conditions of entry or been refused an extension of stay."


Corruption rife at border post (Chronicle Online, 20/07)- Corruption at the Beitbridge Border Post has reached alarming proportions, with revenue officials, police officers and private security guards on both sides of the border getting hefty bribes to facilitate the smuggling of goods and people between Zimbabwe and South Africa. This reporter observed that travelling between Zimbabwe and South Africa without a passport, or using another person's passport is not difficult, provided that one is prepared to pay officials manning the border post. In addition, one can pass through the border post without declaring goods if he or she is prepared to pay the officials. In interviews, crossborder traders and frequent travellers between the two countries confirmed making "special budgets" for bribing police officers, revenue officials and security guards on both sides of the border. "It's now normal. Most of us (cross border traders) carry a lot of goods and if we were to declare all of them, the duty would be too much. What we pay to these guys is insignificant compared to what we would pay if we declared our goods, so in the end, everyone benefits," said a cross border trader who only identified herself as Mrs Munyuki. She revealed that most crossborder traders and people travelling without proper documents preferred travelling in long distance commuter omnibuses because the drivers were well connected to officials at the border post. In most cases, the drivers negotiate with revenue officials and police officers on behalf of their clients. On 2 July, while travelling from South Africa, this reporter witnessed two people travelling to Zimbabwe without passports, while a number of people who were in the same coach had overstayed. After stamping the passports of those whose travel documents were in order, the immigration officer, who had initially "refused" to have anything to do with those who had breached their visa conditions by overstaying, later changed his mind and stamped the passports after getting a bribe. Those without Passports were also allowed to pass through the border. Members of the South African Police Services who were stationed just before the border so as to inspect gate passes, also received a 20 rand from the driver after they had demanded to see passports of all the passengers. On the Zimbabwean side, everyone completed their goods declaration forms before going into the customs yard to be "searched". The driver, however, asked the passengers to contribute 30 rand each so that officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority would not search their bags. All the passengers, except those who had their travelling documents and declaration forms in order paid. The officials, however, took long to clear the vehicle, although they had gladly accepted the bribe. When the vehicle was finally cleared, another bribe had to be paid to police officers and security guards manning the exit gate after they demanded to see passports of all the passengers in the vehicle. On 7 July, while going back to South Africa on a very reputable coach, the crew members asked those travelling using other people's passports to see them before reaching the border so that they could facilitate their entry. The same bribery process was repeated on both sides of the border. Travellers between the two countries noted that given the levels of corruption at the border, it was not surprising that firearms and stolen vehicles were easily being smuggled between the two countries. It is also not surprising that many notorious criminals, including carjackers and murderers find it easy to cross the border into South Africa after committing crimes in Zimbabwe.

No hope for Zimbabwean asylum seekers in South Africa (Zim Online, 19/07)- Victims of political persecution in Zimbabwe wishing to apply for asylum in South Africa had better think again. According to
Refugee International (RI), a respected advocacy group for refugees, South Africa has granted political asylum to less than 20 Zimbabweans to date. In a report released at the weekend, RI said it is worried about the South African government's attitude towards Zimbabwean political asylum seekers. "South Africa is denying access to political asylum to thousands of Zimbabweans seeking to escape persecution. Of the 5,000 applications for political asylum filed by Zimbabweans to date, fewer than twenty have actually received political asylum in South Africa." "While the senior management of the Immigration Department acknowledged to RI that Zimbabweans have the right to be considered refugees, Refugee Reception officers were unable to state whether or not Zimbabweans had the right to political asylum in South Africa. Staff in the Reception Office told RI that Zimbabweans were not a priority because there is no civil war in Zimbabwe, so there is no reason to apply." The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, which is involved in the mobilisation of support for refugees, expressed outrage over South Africa's refusal to acknowledge Zimbabwe as a conflict-torn country. "We are particularly irked by the fact that the South African government simply and deliberately decided to blind itself to the human rights issue in Zimbabwe. This is why the South African government finds itself with a flood of Zimbabweans. Thousands of Zimbabweans are crossing the border on a daily basis running away from persecution and there is no basis for South Africa to deny political asylum to Zimbabweans. .As exiles our urgent demand is that South Africa should stop acting as if it were the foreign ministry of Zimbabwe and acknowledge that Zimbabwe needs help", said Zimbabwe Exiles Forum coordinator Gabriel Shumba. The South African department of home affairs director-general, Barry Gilder, denied that his department was particularly harsh on Zimbabweans: "All of the offices are woefully understaffed, resulting in a backlog of up to 80,000 cases waiting to be reviewed". He told RI that his department was working on a turnaround strategy but admitted that "it has a long way to go". Zimbabwean asylum seekers interviewed by RI said they spend nights queuing at the department of home affairs: "They only took one Zimbabwean that day. I was number two." Other Zimbabweans said they were denied access to the process because they did not have valid passports. "The asylum seekers also complained of rampant corruption within the home affairs office as well as among South African policemen. Said one Zimbabwean: 'I was stopped while walking down the street. The policeman asked for my papers but told me that for 200 Rand [Z$240 000] I would get them back'." RI recommended the immediate establishment of a taskforce to address the backlog of pending political asylum cases and prioritise interviews with Zimbabweans.


Professionals in diaspora arrive to work with Reserve Bank (The Sunday Mail, 18/07)- Zimbabwean professionals and businessmen living in the Diaspora have started coming back home to give their input on ways to turn around the economy with the first team from South Africa arriving in the country yesterday for a working weekend with top officials from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). The RBZ Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, yesterday said volunteer teams that will work together with the RBZ Advisory Board were formed in the US and the UK and were expected to be launched in those countries in the next few weeks. Yesterday, the team from SA held meetings with Dr Gono and his RBZ team. An RBZ team last month went on a whirlwind tour of the US, UK and South Africa to promote the Homelink Money Transfer System that seeks to give Zimbabweans living abroad the opportunity the transfer their money back to Zimbabwe using a transparent and secure system. The Governor yesterday confirmed that the SA team comprising professors, bankers and other Zimbabwean businessmen living in South Africa had arrived in the country and were scheduled to have several meetings over the weekend. "This is a major boost to our Homelink initiative which is already gaining momentum and favour from Zimbabweans living outside the country," said Dr Gono. However, the names of the eight-member team were being withheld as of yesterday for fear of victimisation in South Africa but they would make themselves known during a meeting scheduled for the end of August in SA. When the RBZ team visited South Africa last month to promote the Homelink system, a group of suspected MOC hooligans tried to disrupt one of the meetings in Midrand. But still Dr Gono and his RBZ team managed to establish a co-ordinating chapter in that country drawn from Zimbabwean professors, members of the academia, bankers and other businesspeople who volunteered to join a think-tank affiliated to the RBZ Advisory Board. Their visit comes ahead of the soon to be announced monetary policy statement for the half year ending June 30 2004. It is understood that after the meetings in Zimbabwe, the SA team will go back to South Africa to disseminate information and solicit ideas on the best way forward in turning around Zimbabwe's economy thereby complementing homegrown strategies being implemented by the country. During one of the meetings that Dr Gono had with key businesspeople in SA, a Zimbabwean businessman immediately pledged to increase his company's R250 million investment in Zimbabwe by investing a further RIOO million. Yesterday Dr Gono said: "Day in day out we remain inundated with messages of encouragement from Zimbabweans in the US, Britain and other parts of the world who are seeking our blessing to set up representative chapters in those countries. "Already work is at an advanced stage to duplicate the SA initiative in the US and in Britain and we believe that in the next two weeks such chapters will be launched. "They will become the rallying point for progress on how best to turn around our economy using experiences in those countries. We are very delighted by this development as a central bank." As Zimbabweans living outside the country responded to the RBZ initiative, the central bank reported that at least US$135 million worth of project proposals were submitted in the US, while in the UK about £800 000 worth of commitments were made with £22 000 collected from Zimbabweans living in that country. The IMF has acknowledged efforts by Dr Gono and his team to turn around the economy. The IMF board of executive directors recently gave Zimbabwe another six months to consolidate its economic turnaround strategy before the issue of possible expulsion can be reopened.

Zimbabwe health sector on brink of collapse (Zimbabwe Standard, 18/07)- The health delivery capacity of public health institutions has been adversely affected by the poor economic environment and some clinics and hospitals are now operating without essential drugs and medical supplies. Zimbabwe's public health sector - once the best in sub-Saharan Africa - is now reeling as a result of neglect and inadequate funding by the government. Years of economic turbulence and rampant inflation, averaging almost 600 percent a year, have left the health sector on its knees. Contributing to the deteriorating health standards has been the acute shortage of foreign currency from the late 1990s and the withdrawal of support by international donors to protest allegations of maladministration by the government. Although the foreign exchange supply situation has improved, the price of medicines and medical supplies remains highly prohibitive. Over the years, Zimbabwe has witnessed a massive brain drain and the health profession has been one of the worst affected sectors. Recent investigations by The Standard revealed that major hospitals in the capital city Ñ Harare and Parirenyatwa Ñ are operating below capacity because of inadequate staff and the shortages of basic drugs and medicines. At Harare Hospital, patients with serious wounds that require dressing and cleaning at least once a week, were last week being turned away because the hospital had no bandages. 'I have been told to go back home because there are no bandages. They have said I should keep this one clean because it will be a while before they get some more supplies. I am afraid the wound might develop infection if it is not cleaned and changed regularly,' said a helpless Paul Sadomba from Warren Park who was injured at work when a layer of bricks fell on his leg. Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo, also a referral hospital, recently suspended major operations such as those in the caesarian section because there are no anaesthetic drugs and intravenous fluids. In cases of emergencies, patients are asked to provide their own intravenous drips. The fact that major hospitals are suffering is a major reflection of the general decay in the state of affairs at other smaller health institutions in remote areas in the country. City council-run public clinics have also not been spared the rot. Besides the prolonged strike by nurses and doctors, which is now into its third week, Harare City Council has failed to keep a constant supply of even basic drugs such as paracetamol and those for tuberculosis and malaria. At Kuwadzana clinic in Harare there were no TB drugs and general painkillers when a Standard news team visited a week ago. Patients were being given prescriptions to buy the drugs at private pharmacies. In normal cases TB treatment is administered for free because it is part of the government's policy to control and eradicate the disease. 'TB patients are supposed to collect their drugs every week and are not supposed to abscond treatment for whatever reason. This erratic supply of TB drugs is a danger to patients,' said a nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity. Mufakose clinic, also in Harare's high density suburbs, has been closed for more than two weeks now, as the strike by nurses continue. Getting Zimbabwe's health sector back on track requires strong political will, according to medical experts. 'The bottom line is that there is need for proper management of resources, experienced staff, adequate remuneration of health personnel to avoid further brain drain,' said Dr Billy Rigava, chairman of the Zimbabwe Medical Doctors' Association (ZIMA). 'I would feel that government has not given the health sector the importance it deserves,' said Rugava. ' If they had given the health sector the same priority that they have given to the land reform and giving land to landless Zimbabweans, then they would not be any problem in the health sector to talk about,' he said.

Exiles call for the right to vote (Zim Online, 16/07)- A group of Zimbabweans living in South Africa yesterday demanded that Harare should allow exiled Zimbabweans to vote in next year¹s March election. About 400 placard-waving protesters staged a demonstration at the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria and handed over a petition. They want Harare to set conditions for free and fair elections and stop human rights abuses.
Gabriel Shumba of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, which organized the demonstrations together with the Johannesburg chapter of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said we want (President Robert) Mugabe to respect the vote of all the exiles that have been forced out of their motherland through the regime¹s political repression and economic mismanagement. We want to raise awareness that we (exiles) are a voice to reckon with and cannot just be ignored. We have a right to determine how we want our country to be governed. Shumba called for foolproof mechanisms to ensure that the exiles¹ vote is not tampered with if they are allowed to vote. The petition was handed to an embassy official after Zimbabwe¹s ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya-Moyo ,refused to meet the demonstrators. Efforts to get comment from Khaya-Moyo were fruitless. Officials at the Embassy said he had no time to respond to the issues raised by the protesters. Some of the placards made reference to Mugabe taking Zimbabwe back to the stone age, in an apparent reference to the country¹s recently introduced ox-drawn scotch-carts turned ambulances. Vote must be respected. Murderous Mugabe should go. Tsvangirai for President, read some of the placards. Nicholas Nqabuto, the MDC administrator for Johannesburg, urged the demonstrators to demand their rights from Mugabe. Mugabe¹s government has been trampling on our rights for a long time and we cannot allow him to rig another election. We have to fight for the restoration of democracy in our country, Nqabuto told the protestors. The demonstrators dismissed the recent ZANU PF proposal for electoral reforms as a non-event. What we want is an electoral commission that is entirely independent. Also understand that any reforms that do not include a reversal of repressive legislation, a stop to violence and intimidation and apolitical security organs fall short of our expectations, said Shumba. On the situation of Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa, he said: We are worried about South Africa¹s attitude. South Africa, through its support for Mugabe, has become an active player in fomenting the Zimbabwean crisis. Hence South Africa has an obligation to ensure humane treatment of Zimbabweans flooding the country from the conflict in Zimbabwe. The organisers said they are planning more demonstrations in Pretoria and Johannesburg


State bonding of doctors and nurses (The Herald, 14/07)- The Government is thinking seriously about bonding doctors and nurses in a move which will see them working in local health institutions for the same number of years it takes to train them, before they can leave the country, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, has said. He said nurses would be expected to serve for at least three years while doctors would have to work for at least five years after training. This would see a reduction in the number of health personnel leaving the country after training in search of greener pastures, as has been the case in the past. In a speech read on his behalf at the launch of nine ox-drawn ambulances in Seke recently, Dr Parirenyatwa said the Government would not accept money in exchange for labour from the nurses and doctors. "We are taking seriously the issue of bonding and will not take money from the trained nurses and doctors but expect them to work. "Some of them have been offering to pay back the money used to train them but we have since resolved that we will not accept that money. Money can never translate into a good doctor or nurse and that is what we need most," he said. These measures were being taken to stem the mass exodus of health personnel to other countries in the region or overseas in search of greener pastures. This exodus has seen several areas and communities in the country doing without skilled health personnel. Dr Parirenyatwa said his ministry was also committed to improving working conditions in the health sector in a bid to keep health personnel happy and content. State registered nurses and doctors have been leaving the country in droves over the past few years in favour of those countries where remuneration is considerably better. To alleviate the serious shortage of nurses in the country, Government introduced a primary care nursing course, which saw nurses being trained in 18 months, half the time it takes to train a State registered nurse. Government has also signed agreements with friendly countries such as Cuba and the Democratic Republic of Congo for the secondment of doctors to some of Zimbabwe's understaffed hospitals.

Zimbabwean journalists launch newspaper from Johannesburg (Angola Press, 09/07)- A team of Zimbabwean journalists has launched an online daily newspaper "Zim On line," the group said in a statement released in Johannesburg Wednesday. "Zim On line aims to help fill the vast information vacuum left by the banning of independent newspapers and the expulsion of all foreign correspondents from Zimbabwe. "Seasoned Zimbabwean journalists will tell the other side of the Zimbabwe story which the Harare government is trying to suppress," the statement said, adding that the internet-based service started (today) 7 July. It said the project was registered in and would be run from Johannesburg since it could operate from Zimbabwe under the country's draconian media legislation. "The project is targeting those best placed to influence positive change in Zimbabwe - the African community. "Too many Africans have so far remained indifferent to the Zimbabwe crisis and unaware of its real causes and victims, partly because of the Harare government's robust propaganda," the statement claimed. Zim Online comprises an on line newspaper and the Zimbabwe News Service (ZNS), through which stories would be provided to other mainstream media around Africa and the rest of the world. In addition, the team said, Zim Online would serve the Zimbabwean exile community as a reliable source of information from home, and provide those living in the country with an alternative to the State controlled media.

Sharp decline in visitors to Zimbabwe (Sapa-AP, 08/07)- Tourism has dropped dramatically in troubled Zimbabwe, especially among affluent visitors from Europe and the United States, according to government figures released Thursday. The government's Tourism Authority said 348,946 tourists visited Zimbabwe in the first three months of the year, about half the number that came in the first quarter of last year. Of those, 4 percent came from the United States, 9 percent from Europe and about 80 percent from similarly poor African regions,
the authority said. Zimbabwe is suffering its worst political and economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980, with spiraling inflation and unemployment and acute shortages of hard currency, food, gasoline, medicines and essential imports. Political violence has claimed at least 200 lives since the government launched an often violent program in 2000 to seize thousands of white-owned farms, crippling the agricultural-based economy. The United States and European governments have warned their nationals about the dangers of visiting Zimbabwe. In 1999, tourism earned the country nearly US$200 million. Tourism receipts last year fell to about US$44 million. Tourism was Zimbabwe's third largest hard currency earner after agricultural exports, including tobacco, and mining.

 


This page last updated 5 Nov 2004.