March 2004 - Click on the country title above the headlines for the entire article.
COMESA customs union underway
UK in reported deal with Tanzania and South Africa
Plans to create SADC common market by 2012 possible
SADC should follow regional economic integration
Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park open in October
Angolans get tele-medicine treatment in South Africa
Angola and Zambia discuss border
Angolan students in Namibia to resume lessons
Angola and Namibia ready to intensify trade
Angolans residing abroad prepare to return
Border fence electrification
District council wants changes to citizenships laws
Residents warned against harbouring illegal immigrants
Border patrols reduce stock theft, says minister
Immigrant shot dead in Botswana
Papers clash over treatment of Zimbabweans
Zimbabweans escape from police custody
SA, DRC deepen cooperation
Another year of crisis, UN warns
Hope for retrenched
Rwanda urges 6,000 refugees in Malawi to return home
Sex workers from Malawi
Treatment of Mozambicans in South Africa
Customs problem hits Maputo harbour
Minister of Home Affairs lambasts officials
Home Affairs out to beat corruption
SA women unwittingly married to Ghanaians
Foreign tenants slate racism and xenophobia
Call to review legislation to help repatriate doctors
Court rules on non-citizen access to social welfare
Zimbabwean involvement in crime
Turn-around plan for home affairs
Welfare net extended to permanent residents
Church seeks refugee status for Zimbabweans in SA
Nigerians in SA maligned
Cabinet may not meddle with visa rules, says court
New immigration plan 'only in ANC's interest', claims DA
ANC muddles immigration, DA
Statement on the immigration regulation by Foreign Affairs
Another immigrant victory in constitutional court
Public to have say on immigration regulations
Visa requirements consistent with Immigration Act, says Foreign Affairs
Cabinet action on immigration regulations halted by court
Emigration costs SA millions
SA studies how much land in foreign hands
Skills exodus takes toll on growth outlook
SA continues to be a magnet for tourists
SA family gets US asylum
Mbeki asks court to stop publication of immigration rules
Statement on immigration regulations by GCIS
President, Buthelezi clash over immigration laws
Buthelezi's last laugh
Implications of immigration regulations for business
UNHCR praises improvement of asylum system
Congolese refugee reaches out to South Africa's underprivileged
Why government wants the regulations scrapped
Buthelezi defied me, says Mbeki
Manto: Medical assistants will be trained to help with crisis
KZN positions itself to attract foreign tourists
Editorial on the Immigration Regulations court case
Maduna has ulterior motives, says Buthelezi
Angolan refugees want to return home
Brain drain crisis
Company recruits Swazis for Europe and Asia
Soldiers, police line up for USA jobs
Swazis arrested in South Africa
Tanzania may take in Somalis from UK
Britain denies offering cash for refugees
Somali asylum seekers could be Tanzanians
EAC customs union signed
Hopes and fears for East African Customs Pact
50 Tanzanian students leave Malawi school
UNHCR seeks more exit points for Burundian refugees
Burundian refugees in Tanzania
Rwandan refugees resist repatriation
300 flee to Zambia from DRC
Exodus of nursing personnel to foreign countries
Zambia detains 26 Somalians
Zambia demarcates border with Malawi
Zimbabwe's white farmers start anew in Zambia
Influx of Congo refugees worries Zambia government
Over 1,000 Congolese refugees enter Zambia
Zimbabwean farmers funded by Zambian bank
More refugees arrive from DRC
'Customs Union will promote free trade'
Resolution of border dispute with Zimbabwe
Congolese flee Mai Mai threat
Asylum seekers in limbo in UK
Mugabe to seize South African sugar corporation
Embattled business executives scramble for visas
Government urged to register foreign children
Critical shortage of teachers hits schools
Zimbabwe detains South African mercenaries
South Africans on board impounded plane
Police arrest 26 Somalis
Mercenary case shrouded in mystery
Mercenary charges absurd, says lawyer
Mercenaries: Zimbabwe brings new charges
42 new Cuban health professionals arrive
Cross-border cattle rustling increases
Zimbabweans having torrid time in Botswana
Comment: Time to act against Botswana
Four women arrested over fake visas
Mercenaries head to court in Zimbabwe
Business moguls flee corruption crackdown
Nigeria welcomes Zimbabwe's white farmers
Computerisation to enhance migration controls
SA mercenaries in court
Police operations net 152
Asians smuggled into Zimbabwe
Anti-foreigner fears increase in Zimbabwe
Police arrest document forgers
Zimbabwe farmers in other African countries
Minister calls on locals to report illegal immigrants
Botswana fires broadside at Chronicle
Throw out visas, says ACBF
Journalists denied UK visas
Mozambicans blamed for cattle rustling
Report on Zimbabweans in the UK
Human trafficking on the increase
Zimbabwe crisis spills over border
COMESA customs union underway (The Times of Zambia, 01/03) - COMESA says it has made steady progress in harmonising customs procedures in readiness for the establishment of the Customs Union (CU) scheduled for December 8, 2004. Director Trade Customs and Monetary Affairs Charles Chanthunya said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the secretariat had done most of the work required to elect a Common External Tariff in the process of establishing the CU. Dr Chanthunya said the secretariat had managed to come up with a proposed tariff nomenclature, valuation systems while still working on the common trade policies, harmonisation of procedures and custom laws. Tariff nomenclatures are numbers and product descriptions used in tax schedules and these should uniformly apply to all member states once the common external tariff system was implemented. He said that what was remaining was for the member states to consider proposals made on tariff structures for the four categories of imports. The secretariat proposed that four categories of raw materials, intermediate, capital and finished goods be taxed at agreed tariff rates of zero, 10 and 25 per cent. Dr Chanthunya said a meeting had since been set for March 22 to 24, 2004 to consider the proposed rates and further look at the impact of the CU on the economies, industry and government revenue of member states. The Trade and Customs Committee would then make submissions to the Council of ministers in May 2004 in Kampala, Uganda for direction on how to proceed with the CU. Dr Chanthunya has meanwhile said the establishment of the CU should not be confused with issues of COMESA rules of origin. He explained that the rules of origin gave preference and zero rating to products produced within COMESA and those from outside the requirements under different determined indicators on 35 per cent local value adding and change in tariff heading among others. The common external tariff, on the other hand, envisages a common duty by all COMESA member countries on goods coming from non-member countries. He said the appeal by the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) for the implementation of the common external tariff was meant to address the current scenario where some countries within the region were not charging duty on raw materials while other countries did.
UK in reported deal with Tanzania and South Africa (Dar es Salaam, Irin, 01/03) - The British government has said that it was negotiating with at least two African countries to facilitate the process of asylum claims and encourage the return home of failed asylum seekers in exchange for aid, news organizations reported. In a BBC broadcast televised live worldwide on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told the British Parliament that his government was "in negotiations with the Tanzanian government as to how we can process claims for asylum nearer to the country of origin". However, several opposition politicians and humanitarian organisations criticised the plan. The Tanzanian government acknowledged that negotiations had taken place, but it denied that any refugees would be brought to Tanzania in exchange for money. Blair had told the House of Parliament that he could not "understand the objection to seeing whether it is possible, if there are people who are going to make asylum claims, and begin their asylum journey close to the country of origin, why it is not sensible to process some of those claims there? "The Guardian newspaper in the UK, reported on Thursday that South Africa was the second country that the British government had approached regarding a possible deal. The London-based newspaper reported that Tanzania would receive a UK £4-million (US $7.4 million) aid package for the deal with the British government. Although the figure has not been confirmed, sources told IRIN that the figure was high and the deal was more likely to involve "small-scale technical cooperation relating to refugee matters". British officials visited Tanzania in 2003 to discuss the establishment of a processing centre for UK asylum seekers from the region.Tanzania's deputy minister for home affairs, John Chiligati, told IRIN on Wednesday that the government had rejected the proposal as there were already "more than enough" refugees in the country, and the government did not see the "reason or the logic" of bringing them to Tanzania to process their asylum claims. Observers, who asked not to be named, said that another arm of the deal that the British government was trying to secure would be the return home of asylum seekers claiming a different nationality from that of their own in an effort to gain entry into Britain. These would be Tanzanians claiming to be Somalis and South Africans claiming to be Zimbabweans. Regarding Tanzanians claiming different nationalities to gain entrance into Britain, Chiligati said that Tanzanian officials were in the UK interviewing asylum seekers and "if some are proved to be Tanzanians, then they will return home". During Wednesday's session in the British Parliament, an opposition politician, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, warned that such a move could lead to "an international trade in displaced people".Meanwhile, Oxfam, an international relief and advocacy NGO, said it was worried about the prospects of the British government giving aid to Tanzania in exchange for taking failed asylum seekers as such a deal would contravene the International Development Act."Such a deal would set a deeply worrying precedent," Justin Forsyth, Oxfam's policy director, said. "Instead of such deals, we should focus on improving the asylum system in developed countries, and target our aid budget at reducing poverty in the developing world."
Plans to create SADC common market by 2012 possible (The Herald, 18/03) - Plans by the region's leading economic integration body - the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) - to create a common market by 2012 are within a reasonable time frame even though formidable hurdles still haunt this promising 14-member economic grouping. "Eight years is a good period to work on to overcome major obstacles towards the formation of a common market," says prominent economist, Dr Samuel Undenge. "Let's take it as a target and as a vision by the secretariat. The time is reasonable, but of course, they are a number of obstacles to be jumped." Talk of a Sadc common market has been swirling from the 1990s with member states expressing their commitment towards the creation of it at a time when most regions are creating economic blocs to survive or tap opportunities that go with integration. And, recently in Tanzania, the Sadc executive secretary Prega Ramsamy hinted that the trading body intended to create a common market in the region by 2012. "The plan is to have member states sign a free trade agreement by 2008, customs union protocol in 2010 and a common market pact in 2012," Ramsamy was quoted as saying. Sadc already has a number of strategies and programmes, which are being implemented as part of its concerted efforts of realising its long-term goal of becoming a full common market by 2012. The Committee of Central Bank Governors was set up in 1995 as part of the Finance and Investment Sector of Sadc and in 1998 the member states created a Banking Association to establish international banking standards and a regional payment system. Economist analysts say a major component of fuller economic integration would be a common currency arrangement. The Sadc Finance and Investment Co-ordinating Unit (FISCU) has been working on a framework to achieve regional macro-economic stability and convergence. The unit is said to have drafted a protocol to map strategies of developing an information data bank on policies and structures of Sadc central banks and the financial market within the bloc. It is also developing a payment, clearing and settlement system, a mechanism for the repatriation of bank notes and coins among the member countries, training central bank officials, examining exchange controls and their impact on the cross-border flows of goods, services and capital. The unit is examining legal aspects of various trade components related to the issue of economic integration.
Dr Undenge says for fuller economic integration to be achieved, there is need for investment by locals as well as foreign companies. "You can't have trade going without investment," he says. "Factories, infrastructure and services need to be upgraded and developed to facilitate trade." "So much work has to be done. Member states have to break down tariff and non-tariff barriers," he says. Last September, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the African Development Bank signed a US$100 million loan for the improvement of infrastructure services within the Sadc region, boosting efforts to integrate the countries by 2012. Political will, economists say, is a major ingredient for the recipe of a successful common market. "Political commitment is important," Dr Undenge says. "Sadc was created by politicians and not by economists. The political will is there and it has to be re-ignited. Member countries have to ensure that a spirit of co-operation is fostered at all times. "Unity of member countries is crucial in realising this dream." Other economic analysts say some Sadc member states must be weary of being used by foreign powers with vested interests in the region to cause divisions within the 14-member economic bloc. "Sadc should not be torn apart by some few members which are being used by certain powerful nations. These members are being used as pawns to fight against the interests of the bloc or some individual countries that openly castigate imperialists," says one analyst. "Certainly some members are being used and this is not conducive for the creation of a common market. "These countries that pander to the interests of some known superpower must stop this and play a role that unifies and solidifies Sadc. "The country that houses the body must ensure that no foreign power attempts to undo efforts being made by the regional grouping towards the creation of common market." Other analysts say there is a need to build capacity for the regional institutions to strengthen them and prepare them for the key challenge of a common market. Last month, the Norwegian aid agency, Norad agreed to provide Sadc with US$600 000 to finance the transformation of the regional body's structures. The money will help act as catalyst for the efficient integration of the economic grouping through the transformation of Sadc structures and organs.
"The spirit of trade among the members is there as evidenced by the growing formal and informal cross-border trade among the countries," says a financial analyst at a leading bank. "Cross-border trade is rising and this lays fertile ground for the establishment of a common market." Economic analysts say cross-border "informal" traders account for nearly 50 percent of the volume of business between countries on the continent. And informal trade is growing every day following brightening peace prospects in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most Sadc countries have approved the rules of origin protocol for most products that are exported within the region. The approval means that products identified would gain entry from the country of origin into another country duty-free. Southern African economies had grown from 2,7 percent in 2001 to 3,2 percent in 2002 according to figures released by Sadc in 2003. Angola and Mozambique were in the lead with 2002 growth rates of 13,8 percent and 8 percent respectively. The region has a combined total population of close to 200 million and a combined gross domestic product of US$196 billion. Sadc member states include Angola, Botswana, the DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The region has significant and important strategic mineral reserves, which include copper, coal, natural gas, cobalt, diamonds, gold, nickel and platinum while Angola is heavily endowed with petroleum. Sadc members have in the last few years taken giant steps towards greater co-ordination in health, finance, investment, monetary affairs, economics, politics and other critical issues of interest to the region. A number of protocols have been ratified clearing the way for economic integration. And, although the road to fuller economic integration is long and winding, full of potent areas of challenge and obstacles, the efforts made so far by Sadc are encouraging and make prospects for a common market by 2012 even brighter.
SADC should follow regional economic integration (Mmegi/The Reporter, 26/03) - The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Prega Ramsamy has said that economic integration is a route that the regional grouping should follow so as to stimulate economic growth in the sub-continent. "In Africa regional economic integration is seen as an important tool for the continent's effective economic participation in the global economy," Ramsamy said when he addressed the CIVICUS Conference earlier this week. He said the integration would be a mechanism of increasing commerce and trade relations between the continent and the rest of the world. As part of how integration has contributed to the SADC region, in the past, the regional grouping has received donations from European countries that believe in the spirit of regional integration like Belgium and the European Commission (EC), to help fund projects in the sub-continent. The projects that were funded by the Belgium government include the SADC Information 21 Project, which would try to improve communication in the sub-continent. SADC was also funded by the German Republic to the tune of P10.5 million for the Development Fund, which undertook a study on the poverty situation in the region. The regional grouping also received a sum of 7.5 million euros to fund the Project on the Promotion of Regional Integration in SADC Livestock Sector (Print-Project). It was envisaged that the project would help in increasing productivity and trade flows in the livestock sub-sector of member states. "Regional integration in other parts of the world like Asia has now moved into trade and economic cooperation. Europe provides an example of how integration can promote economic growth," Ramsamy said.
Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park open in October (SABC News, 29/03) - The first tourists may be able to cross the border from South Africa's Kruger National Park into Mozambique in October and experience the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park. This announcement was made in Maputo at a three day tri-lateral meeting between tourism ministers from Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Since the signing of an international treaty between the three countries two years ago, the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park has made headway. Fifteen kilometres of fence between South Africa and Mozambique have been taken down. The translocation of game has started and Mozambique's Limpopo Park has received elephant, zebra and impala, to name but a few.Piet Theron, SanParks's co-coordinator for transfrontier parks, says the South African part of the border post will be completed soon.Zimbabwe, however, have not joined the party. At the weekend's discussion, Zimbabwe made it known that there is "not much, if any" funding left for the project. Due to the current political situation in that country, donor money for development projects is drying up.The tri-lateral meeting was also aimed at bidding farewell to Valli Moosa, South Africa's tourism minister. Moosa has been hailed as one of the champions of the transfrontier park initiative. He will be leaving office after the April 14 elections.
Angolans get tele-medicine treatment in South Africa (Luanda, Angop, 04/03) - Angolans suffering from illnesses which are difficult to be treated in the country will soon have the possibility to be assisted by specialists of South Africa public hospitals, through tele-medicine. This methodology of treatment is inserted in a cooperation accord signed in January by the Angola Health Ministry (MINSA) and South Africaoes National Health Department. In this framework, an Angolan Commission made up by health technicians has been set up recently with the goal to monitor the execution of the agreement, well as create technical and human conditions for the materialization of tele-medicine (distance treatment through satellite). The group is also assigned to enlist the hospitals to be geminated with others from South Africa, select the patients to be sent under the agreement, as well as coordinate the actions of cadres training. In May 2002, the governments of Angola and South Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the various fields of health. In January this year, the Minister of Health, Albertina Hamukwaia, moved to South Africa, where she signed a cooperation agreement with her local counterpart, Manto Tshabalala. The two sides agreed to cooperate on technical, professional training, health management and technology, plus exchange of experiences in the creation of conditions for tele-medicine and tele-health. The 5-year agreement also includes research and development, surveillance, control and management of transmissible and non transmissible diseases, support to national and natural disasters, as well as clinic and pharmaceutical aid. A source with MINSA said that, under this agreement, the patients will only be transferred to South Africa public hospitals and not to private ones.
Angola and Zambia discuss border (Menongue, Angop, 12/03) - Regional frontier commanders of the Joint Permanent Commission for Defence and Security of Angola and Zambia are since Friday morning gathered, in Menongue (southeastern Kuando Kubango province), to debate the situation along the common border. For two days, Angolan and Zambian officials are going to focus on themes connected to security on the border of the Kuando-Kubango and Moxico provinces with the Republic of Zambia. The meeting is being attended by the commanders of the 3rd and 6th military regions of Kuando-Kubango, Moxico and the Republic of Zambia. The Angolan delegation is headed by general Eusebio de Brito Teixeira, 6th region military commander, while the Zambian party is led by colonel Siwlale, commader of that country's West side military region. At the opening cerimony, the governor of the Kuando Kubango province João Baptista Chindande, considered the meeting as important, for it is the first time this kind of event is organised in the province. He appealed to both delegations to get an agreement concerning the security at the commom border.
Angolan students in Namibia to resume lessons (Windhoek, Angop, 19/03) - The 165 Angolan nationals who were expelled from Namibia University following scandals related to forgery of documents, might be readmited in the next times, Angop learnt here on Thursday. This was said by the Angolan Deputy Minister of Education, Pinda Sim'o, who integrates the delegation invited to attend the festivities of the 14th anniversary of Namibia's Independence Day. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is expected to arrive in Namibia, Friday early afternoon. To the Deputy Minister, the students involved might resume lessons without any problem. In November 27, 2003, the Executive of Namibia's University Senate decided to expel 165 Angolan students who were living illegally in that country. At the time of enrollment, the students produced copies of certificates allegedely issued by the Angolan Ministry of Education, in Portuguese, and then translated into English and stamped by the Angolan Embassy in Windhoek. Ministerial delegations from Angola and Namibia are right now holding meetings aimed at reinforcing the already existing agreements on fisheries, Agriculture and Energy and Waters and Defense.
Angola and Namibia ready to intensify trade (Walvis Bay, Angop, 21/03) - Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos said Saturday in Walvis Bay (Namibia) that his country is "sensitive to the wish on the Namibian party to intensify the commercial exchange and finalise the accord on promotion and reciprocal protection of investment." José Eduardo, who was addressing a meeting with businesses from that neighbouring country, said as well that "at the banking level it is being considered a system of payment through institutions from both countries that favour the access to financing for the institutionalised commerce and its growth without damgae to the enforcement of the international trade rules. As to education, although there are no accords, Angolan students have been flocking to Namibian teaching institutions. "We thank the authorities of this country the facility that is conceded to our citizens," he said. Angolan head of State said as well that the level of defence and internal order, the cooperation with Namibia has been permanent and effective, adding that there might be the need to review some concepts and forms of action in aimed at improving further the traditional good relationship. According to Dos Santos, a general accord of cooperation in the field of security and public order is being considered to facilitate the travel and turn more flexible the rules on staying of citizens in the two countries. José Eduardo dos Santos is closing his three days official visit to Namibia, after attending the celebrations of the 14th anniversary of that country.
Angolans residing abroad prepare to return (Luanda, Angop, 29/03) - Angolan cadres residing in Europe and in the United States of America are creating conditions for the return to the country and their professional reinsertion, Angop was informed by an official source. The initiative belongs to the Angolan Forum for Knowledges, innovation and Development (Facide), an organization created in December 2002, in Portugal by professional youths. "We want Angola receives back its cadres so that it find its position at the locomotive of development in Africa and in the world", said Augusto Baptista, Facide President, quoted by the bi-monthly magazine Lusofonia on its March-April 2004 edition. For this purpose, Facide is engaged in the preparation of its first congress expected for May 2004 in Portugal. Cadres proceeding from different countries such as United States, Holland, Germany and England are expected. Since Facide creation, its responsibles have been holding contacts near to the Angolan public institutions and singular entities in order to influence them in participating and divulging its existence and objectives. Facide has about 100 members residing in Portugal, Angola, United States and England. Engineer Victor Fernandes is the Secretary-General.
Border fence electrification (Gaborone, BOPA, 03/03) - Electrification of the electric fence being erected near the Zimbabwe/Botswana border is possibly only in sections along the villages where there is Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) power supply. Consequently, only the portions 20km south of Matsiloje and 108km between Matsiloje and Ramokgwebana are electrified, the Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Pelokgale Seloma, said on Monday. He said when answering a question in Parliament that even then the power supply was not continuous and reliable because the fence was vandalised. Mmadinare MP Ponatshego Kedikilwe had wanted to know why the completed portion of the electric fence currently being erected near Zimbabwe/Botswana border is not energised as work progresses. Kedikilwe noted the move would avoid a situation where elephants break the fence daily, which result in time, energy and money spent on undue repairs. He also wanted to know who paid for the repeated repairs. Seloma explained that the Department of Building and Engineering Services is erecting the fence on behalf of the Department of Animal Health and Production, using a private contractor. The contractor was engaged in May 2003 just before the Department of Animal Health and Production, using its crew, completed the erection of the fence between Matsiloje and Ramokgwebana in June last year. Seloma said in an effort to find solutions to the problems, his ministry and that of Works and Transport had a standing committee monitoring the project and was currently working on coming up with the solutions. Further, he said, there were plans to have BPC reticulate power from Semolale to Mabolwe to supply the southern portion of the fence, adding that his ministry pays for the repairs.
District council wants changes to citizenships laws (Mmegi, 10/03) - The chairperson of the Kgatleng District Council Motlhagodi Molomo has expressed concern at the high rate at which immigrants are naturalising to become citizens of Botswana. “While I appreciate the effort made by our authorities to rigorously appraise applicants, I nevertheless consider it desirable that thought is given to the application of a quota system to guard against the possibility of indigenous citizens being overwhelmed by naturalised Batswana so as to preserve the homogeneity and cultural norms of the indigenous population,” Molomo said when opening a full council meeting on Monday. She said consideration should be given to reducing the minimum waiting period of continuous residence to only half the required five years before one may file intent to naturalise. The two-and-a-half-years waiting period for those married to Batswana to file intentions to become citizens should also be halved. “The problem here is the susceptibility of the provision to abuse, especially in respect of citizen females who may be used by non-citizens males as spring boards to acquire citizenship in a short time only to then dump them,” she said. She said that this would be done deliberately by some unscrupulous foreign males with the ultimate goal of then either importing a second wife or reverting to their original wives whom they would be at liberty to import into the country with ease. Molomo also said that there are complaints about the importation of substandard goods - “difonkong”. She said that the liberal licensing system in the country allowed the “fonkongs” to penetrate the market. “When one considers the evident demand of these cheap products and the fact that they are useful to poor members of the community, then one wonders whether it would be wise to disenfranchise the potential beneficiaries by preventing the items from entering our markets,” she said. She lamented that the closure of the Bolux milling plant in Pilane was caused by the competition it faced from foreign milling giants from South Africa. She said that Bolux decided to close their plants in Lobatse and Pilane to survive the competition. She said that the country should celebrate the coming of foreign investors as they create employment. However there is a fear that the investors might not create enough employment opportunities. “I therefore think that policy makers will have to monitor this development closely and decide on the best way to assist local entrepreneurs,” she said. She expressed worry about the expensive cost at which government’s development projects are implemented. She wondered why the KDC had to construct a two bed-roomed LA2 house for close to P300 000 when individual developers spent almost half the amount to do the same job.
Residents warned against harbouring illegal immigrants (Mmegi, 14/03) - Bangwaketse have been warned against harbouring illegal immigrants because it contributes to the increasing criminal activities in Kanye. Acting Bangwaketse Paramount Chief Kgabosetso Mosielele said at a Kgotla meeting in Kanye on Thursday that some people in the village had a tendency to employ and live with illegal immigrants especially Zimbabweans who often come back to haunt the same “employers” and their neighbours. “By living with these people, we become our own enemies because they will come back and steal from us because they would have had enough time to explore all chances that are there for them to do that,” Mosielele said. He complained that some farmers are grazing and watering their livestock at Mmakgodumo dam, which has been earmarked for a bird sanctuary. Bangwaketse Paramount Chief Kgosi Seepapitso IV criticised those people who kept their livestock in the village. He said that he has always opposed the idea of keeping livestock in a semi-urban area like Kanye as the animals caused problems to traffic. “They also cut the beautiful trees planted in our homes and it would be difficult for us to keep the village environment good with animals roaming all over,” he said. He alleged that a few years back when he discouraged people from keeping livestock in the village, a certain councillor opposed the idea and incited the people. However the same people are now seeing the sense in what he was saying. He said the criminal ways of illegal immigrants could only be solved if culprits were subjected to corporal punishment. “These people only need to be beaten on the back, nothing else,” he said. He added that with his experience from the time of “Makgaola Seven”, he was convinced that corporal punishment was the only medicine for criminals. “I dealt with those gangsters who were terrorising our village and they stopped. I even met one of them in the Tswapong area after he ran away from me,” he said proudly. Seepapitso also encouraged Bangwaketse to register for the elections in large numbers. He warned them to be careful when they vote in the coming general elections saying that only capable people should be elected. He said that it was disturbing that people in the country are failing to register while those staying overseas had registered in large numbers. He criticised some politicians who became big headed after being voted to office. He said that such politicians were normally opportunists who only wanted to make money. He, however, squashed rumours that he was planning to join politics when his term as an Ambassador in China expires next year. “I have no interest in joining politics and not even the lure of money would drag me there. I would rather remain poor,” he declared.
Border patrols reduce stock theft, says minister (BOPA, 19/03) - Acting Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Olifant Mfa, has assured Parliament that measures taken by the government to patrol the Botswana/Namibia border have reduced cross border stock theft in Mohembo area. Answering a question from Okavango MP Joseph Kavindama, Mfa said members of the Botswana Police Service and the Botswana Defence Force regularly patrol the border, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture has posted picketers in the area. The measures have reduced cross border stock theft in the area," he said, and assured Parliament that the adequacy of these measures would be reviewed depending on financial resources. "In addition, our security services will also continue to collaborate with their Namibian counterparts through the Botswana/Namibia Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security," Mfa said. The minister has also told Parliament that the Botswana Police Service maintains a record of the activities of the Traffic Personnel, when answering a question from Lobatse MP Nehemiah Modubule. He said the Accident Investigation Report form BP 68 is used to determine and monitor the police response time to road traffic accident reports. Mfa said the recommendations of the auditor general on the response time to road traffic accidents reports by traffic personnel will be studied vis-à-vis current performance possible areas for improvement.
Immigrant shot dead in Botswana (The Chronicle, 25/03) - Botswana security forces shot and killed a Burundi national and ten other immigrants suspected to be Zimbabweans were injured, one of them seriously, when a riot erupted at the Francistown Centre for Illegal immigrants last Friday, Chronicle learnt yesterday. Botswana Presidential Press Secretary, Dr Jeff Ramsay confirmed the incident and said the deceased, Shabani Ramadhan Semuguruka, was shot dead after he “ignored at least eleven warning shots” during a riot at the holding centre. “This Office wishes to express its utmost regret and deep concern about the fatal shooting last Friday of a Burundi national, Mr Shabani Ramadhan Semuguruka, at the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants. “While police investigations into this matter are continuing, initial reports from Prison authorities indicate that the late Mr Semuguruka ignored at least eleven warning shots before the fatal shot was fired. “During this time he had proceeded to cut through two security fences, and climb onto a third and final fence which surround the Centre,” he said in a statement to Chronicle. Ten other detainees, suspected to be Zimbabweans, were injured during the scuffles that followed the shooting incident. The detainees were severely assaulted by the prison authorities and one of then is battling for his life at Nyabangwe referral hospital. Dr Ramsay said Semuguruka, a Burundi asylum seeker, was “shielded and encouraged by a number of other detainees”. “Following the shooting, commotion ensued among some of the detainees which resulted in extensive damage to both buildings and equipment. Order was only restored after teargas was fired and police reinforcements were called.
“During the commotion ten individuals suffered minor injuries while one was admitted at Nyabangwe referral hospital,” he said without elaborating. Sources in Francistown said security forces opened fire on a group of inmates who were rioting against the brutal treatment meted out by authorities. They said the rioters damaged the centre’s monitoring and surveillance system. In his statement, Dr Ramsay said the Botswana Government had been in contact with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and its Chief of Mission had visited the Centre to investigate the incident. He said Botswana was “committed” to upholding the rights of all asylum seekers within its borders in accordance with domestic law and international obligations. .Botswana Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Mr Daniel Mogami and the Commissioner of Prisons, Mr Kau visited the centre on Saturday to investigate the incident, Dr Ramsay said. The Centre for Illegal Immigrants holds thousands of Zimbabwean nationals, refugees and asylum seekers from other African countries. The incident comes in the wake of report that Botswana was illtreating illegal immigrants especially from Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans are subjected to dehumanizing and brutal treatment by Botswana authorities and locals, a development attributed to the prevalence of xenophobia in Botswana. Hundreds of Zimbabweans have been flogged in public after being “tried” and “convicted” by Botswana tribal chiefs. Botswana’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Mothusi Nkgowe has pledged to take up the issue of ill treatment of Zimbabweans with authorities in his country. In a meeting with the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Professor Jonathan Moyo in Harare last Thursday, Mr Nkgowe said the flogging of people suspected to have committed crimes was not illegal as it was in the statute books of Botswana.
Papers clash over treatment of Zimbabweans (The Chronicle, 26/03) - A Botswana newspaper, stung by an expose` of torture, beatings and ill treatment of Zimbabwean nationals in Botswana by Chronicle, has launched an unprecedented and blistering attack on the newspaper. The Mmegi, a privatelyowned daily newspaper in Gaborone, yesterday launched a campaign to discredit reports that Botswana nationals and authorities illtreated Zimbabweans and reacted with outrage to revelations by Chronicle, describing them as an “unprecedented media blitz” on Botswana which might cause diplomatic and security tension between the two countries. The Government of Botswana also said it was “concerned” about the “attacks on Botswana” by Chronicle and would issue a formal response soon. In a front page article entitled, “Zim media calls for stern action against Botswana”, coauthored by its editor, Sechele Sechele, the paper bemoaned the fact that Chronicle had called on the Government and Parliament to take action against Botswana for illtreating Zimbabweans. It cited a “hardhitting” editorial in Chronicle earlier this week in which the newspaper pointed out that besides ill treating Zimbabwean nationals, Botswana also hosts a Voice of America propaganda station, Studio 7, which broadcasts antiZimbabwe vitriol against the Government. The newspaper called on Botswana President Festus Mogae to “deploy a highlevel delegation” to Zimbabwe and further mount a “diplomatic” and “public relations exchange” between “us and our northern neighbour”, that is “bigger and more effective than the one we have had to mount against Survival International. (Botswana has mounted an international campaign against Survival International, a humanitarian organization, to ward off negative reports of its treatment of the San people whom it has evicted from their ancestral land in the Kalahari desert to make way for mining conglomerates interested in extracting diamonds from the area). Said Mmegi in an editorial: “If these allegations and onslaught being brought to bear on the Botswana government and its people by a crazed press that wants to cause violent and xenophobic tension between the two countries is allowed to go on unchecked under the pretext of quiet diplomacy by our government, we have to get worried. “Our people’s limb and life are in danger from (President) Mugabe now that he is finished with the land grabbing and welldocumented oppression of his people.” Quoting a highranking Botswana government official, Mmegi said Gaborone was aware of and “concerned” about the reports in Chronicle. “We are studying the media allegations and reports and a formal response is likely soon,” the government official said. Mmegi said the revelations by Chronicle that authorities and locals in Botswana were “torturing, flogging and killing” Zimbabweans under the pretext of “ridding our country of criminals” would cause diplomatic and security tension between the two neighbours. The paper said it was unfortunate that “ the Bulawayobased Chronicle newspaper should call on the Zimbabwean Government and its Parliament to take stern action against Botswana for illtreating Zimbabwean economic refugees, torturing, flogging and killing Zimbabweans”. It claimed that the allegations against Botswana had been prompted by the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Professor Jonathan Moyo after Botswana’s new envoy, Mr Mothusi Nkgowe paid a courtesy call on him.
Describing the revelations the paper said: “The Chronicle also alleged that Botswana hosts an American radio station that is beaming anti Zimbabwe propaganda aimed at causing the ouster of the democratically elected government of President Mugabe. The paper further alleges that Zimbabweans visiting Botswana are subjected to inhumane treatment at the hands of the government authorities, especially traditional chiefs and that they are beaten up and tortured for wild allegations like causing the spread of HIV/AIDS in Botswana”. In an editorial entitled “Time to act against Botswana”, published by Chronicle on Monday, the paper said that by torturing, flogging and killing Zimbabweans under the pretext of ridding the country of criminals, Botswana was in fact brewing a war. It pointed out that it was shameful that Botswana, a neighbour of Zimbabwe, was working with powerful western nations to effect regime change in Zimbabwe. The paper condemned welldocumented xenophobic attacks on Zimbabwean nationals in Botswana and called on whoever was behind them to desist from doing so. “What is shameful is that this is being done by our own neighbour and African brother. We would expect such treachery from Britain and the United States, whose aim to effect regime change in Zimbabwe is no secret. Are we to assume therefore that Gaborone shares that dream? We hope not and therefore condemn the xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans by Batswana authorities and traditional leaders,” read part of the editorial. Reports of brutalisation and inhumane treatment of Zimbabweans in Botswana have been published in both local and Botswana newspapers for the past two years. Scores of Zimbabweans have been killed in xenophobic attacks in Botswana and some of them buried in mass graves. Botswana hosts a medium wave radio transmitter set up by the United States Government at Selebi Phikwe to beam antiZimbabwe propaganda into the country. The hostile broadcasts are beamed from a VOA transmitter on frequency 909 KHz into Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces. Botswana is also home to a huge US military base near the Kalahari desert.
Zimbabweans escape from police custody (The Chronicle, 29/03) - A total of 73 alleged Zimbabweans awaiting deportation escaped from a crowded police station in Mogoditshane a few kilometres from the Botswana capital Gaborone last week, Chronicle has learnt. None of the escapees has been arrested and Botswana police sounded as if they had given up hope, saying it was difficult to trace illegal immigrants as they could easily change their identity. According to media reports in that country, the Zimbabweans who were kept in the overflowing prison overnight in transit to the Plumtree Border Post the following day, were forced to sleep on the floor as some of the buildings at the prison were yet to be completed. The prison has three cells and the Zimbabweans who could not fit in the cells were forced to sleep in the cold, in the corridor. They allegedly took advantage of an unspecified tool left by builders who were fixing doors at the prison complex to break the prison doors before scaling the fences under the nose of a police officer who was guarding the area. The officerincharge of the Mogoditshane Prison, Sergeant Donald Kalu, said most of the escapees were arrested after committing offences in that country, but unconfirmed reports said the arrested were part of Zimbabweans caught in regular clampdowns against locals working in that country. “The illegal immigrants escaped on Friday and they were to be deported the following day. They were sleeping in the corridor because the other two cells are still under construction,” Sgt Kalu said. “They took advantage of a tool that was left behind by builders who were fitting doors to the other two cells and broke out. They scaled the fences surrounding the police station and when a police officer who was guarding the area came back to inspect the cells everyone had gone.” He said security had been stepped up in the area and a manhunt for the escapees was in progress. Meanwhile, six bodies believed to be of Zimbabweans were on Wednesday given a pauper’s burial in Gaborone after lying unclaimed at the Princess Marina Hospital mortuary in Botswana for the past six months. The hospital administrator, Dr Tim Jones said police brought some of the bodies while others came to the hospital when they were critically ill. Some of the bodies, which were said to be in an advanced state of decomposition, were put in one coffin, as the hospital did not have enough coffins. Dr Jones said the pauper’s burials were being done on a monthly basis. Last year, 26 bodies of Zimbabweans were given a pauper’s burial in Francistown.
SA, DRC deepen cooperation (Pretoria, BuaNews, 19/03) - Diplomatic relations between South Africa and the Democratic Congo Republic (DRC) have been taken to a higher level with the signing of a memorandum between the two countries yesterday. Talks led by Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi and his DRC counterpart Thambwe Mwamba follow an earlier signing of a cooperation treaty by Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Joseph Kabila in the mineral-rich country two months ago. The pact which laid the foundation for further engagement on wide ranging areas, sought to bring Kinshasa and Pretoria closer in working to improve among others, cooperation in public administration, health, political, defence and security matters within their countries. During the talks in Pretoria this week, which were divided into five working groups, the two nations reviewed progress made as well as the shortcomings that were experienced. According to a joint communiqué, the South African government agreed to dispatch a task team comprising officials from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and home affairs, to the DRC to assist the latter in preparing for general elections in the Great Lakes region. The French-speaking nation is to hold general elections next year, its first democratic poll in 40 years and only the second since independence from Belgium in 1960. Already, South Africa has committed itself to help train the Congolese police force, as well as assist them with immigration issues. Pretoria helped broker peace in the DRC by playing an instrumental role in the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, a move that will see democratic elections in that country next year.
Another year of crisis, UN warns (Johannesuburg, Irin, 04/03) - Hundreds of thousands of people in Lesotho will require international assistance for a third consecutive year due to the combined impact of devastating drought and the worsening HIV/AIDS epidemic, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Thursday.To underline the crisis facing the tiny mountain kingdom, a high-level UN delegation, led by James T. Morris, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, is due in the country on Friday. He will be accompanied by the executive directors of the UN Children's Fund and UNAIDS, Carol Bellamy and Peter Piot. Food and Agriculture Organisation Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf is also expected."Any hopes that Lesotho's humanitarian crisis would begin to ease this year have been dashed by yet another drought, and by the increasingly devastating impact of HIV/AIDS," a joint UN agency statement quoted Morris as saying. "Hundreds of thousands of people - many of them infected or affected by HIV/AIDS - will once again need the help of the international community to survive."The government declared a State of Emergency in February after it became clear that the country was heading for another year of acute food shortages. Early estimates indicate that Lesotho might only produce 10 percent of its cereal requirements in 2004, leaving thousands of families dependent on food assistance.At 31 percent, Lesotho has the fourth-highest adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the world. UNAIDS estimates that 70 people are dying every day from AIDS-related causes, while 73,000 children have already been orphaned by the disease - a staggering 17 percent of all children."Tens of thousands of orphans in Lesotho are growing up without the care and protection they need," Bellamy said. "We must do everything we can to make sure they are in school and are getting the information, skills and support that will help protect them from HIV/AIDS, and give them a fighting chance of having a healthy and productive future."Piot warned: "Lesotho's future depends on how successfully it tackles the epidemic, and that depends on the help of the international community. Without our support, Lesotho has no chance of combating HIV/AIDS and will slip into perpetual crisis and, eventually, catastrophe."The crisis in Lesotho has been further exacerbated by severe poverty - around two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Retrenchments in the South African mining industry have also reduced household income, especially in rural areas.In July 2002, the UN launched a Consolidated Appeal for vital food and non-food aid for Lesotho and five other southern African countries - Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A second appeal was launched a year later in July 2003.
Lesotho's orphans (Mail & Guardian, 05/03) - It has pride of place in the quiet Basotho village. Large as life, freshly painted and set on lush rolling lawns with luxury cars in the garage, its ochre-coloured walls stand in sharp contrast to the shabbier, grey dwellings of Thaba Tseka. It can only be the best and only hotel in town, or so you think until you drive closer. It's a pretty enough village, high up in the Maluti mountains about four hours along rugged, windy roads from Maseru. But this is no tourist resort and the smartest building in Thaba Tseka does not accommodate the living but the dead. The Lesotho Funeral Services parlour seems to have taken on the significance of a cathedral in a medieval village. It is deceptively green and wet in Lesotho at the moment, but the late rains have created this green drought and the stunted maize bears a pathetic testimony to true crop failure. But not much is as it seems here. We were in the village to speak to Aids orphans, to put a human face to the lifeless, numbing statistics: out of a population of 2,2-million people, 93 000 children have lost at least one parent to Aids. What does it mean to have 10% of the child population orphaned? The principal at Katlehong Primary School, Mantonthabiseng Ramone, said she would gather the orphans to speak to us and came back with a smile, saying "here they are". The schoolyard was jam-packed with chattering children, boys and girls, small and big. "No, no, Mme, sorry," I say, "I don't mean all the children." But they were indeed all orphans - 140 children had lost one parent, 29 of them had neither a mother nor a father. Many of the children are heading households themselves. Thaba Tseka is one of the worst hit districts in Lesotho and the locals blame the the Katse Dam, which is part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project which attracted migrant labourers from far and wide. Now they fear the HIV/Aids prevalence will be even higher once the pending Maluti highway project reaches their village. Last year there were just 88 orphans at the same primary school, but this is not just because more parents are dying as a result of Aids. A band of driven and dedicated teachers at Katlehong Primary has taken responsibility for the growing number of orphans and has made their school a model for others. Julia Likhama is one of these teachers. She has seen the number of Aids orphans at the school increase year by year. "We never saw this thing before, just in the past couple of years," she says. "But now this free education is bringing more and more orphans back to school and they also get porridge in the morning and pap and vegetables, sometimes meat at lunch." Word has now got out that orphans are cared for at the school. Likhama has been teaching at Katlehong since 1986 and knows the intimate details of many of these orphans' lives, but there is one girl in particular who bothers her. We don't get much information out of Matshidiso Rasenoko (16) except that her father died when she was much younger and her mother died in 2000. She thinks they died of tuberculosis. It's left to Likhama to tell her story. "Ever since her mother passed away, she has been sad," says Likhama. "She was a bright, clever girl, one of the top students, but now, eiy nothing. Her marks are not good. She's just sad. This has disturbed her mentally." Rasenoko now lives with an elder brother, but she must work at cleaning other people's homes, to earn R150 a month. "That is why she comes to school late every morning," Likhama explains. Rasenoko seems distant and emotionless, but when I look up from my notes, I see she is crying. Odd then, when she says she wants to be a soldier "because of bad men". "An orphan is a very sensitive person," says Likhama. They all have striking stories to tell. Piekiso Nape (15) lives with his four siblings during school term and with his granny in the holidays; Nthabiseng Leuta (16) is living with an aunt; Mamello Phatsoane (19) and her brother and sister live alone. They all have their own dreams and say they don't like being identified and don't want to be pitied. Lesotho has an HIV/Aids prevalence rate of 31%, one of the highest in the world. The Lesotho government has received much praise for being courageous in the battle against HIV/Aids. Four years ago King Letsie III declared HIV/Aids a national disaster, and ministers speak openly and advocate the ABC (abstinence, be faithful, condomise). Some would say the government has even been overly crude by adding a "D" for death if people don't follow the ABC. About three million children in the six-country region - Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, South Africa - have lost one or both parents to the Aids epidemic. Most are cared for by elderly relatives, but many are now heading households. A massive effort has been undertaken by the United Nations agencies to stem the humanitarian crisis caused by the triple threat of drought, HIV/Aids and weakened government capacity. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) a generation of children is being orphaned to Aids in Southern Africa. It has asked for $34-million under the UN appeal, but to date has only received 20% of the funds. Free primary education has been rolled out year by year since 2000 and is starting to revolutionise Lesotho's youth. At school, children are taught life skills and given HIV/Aids education, supported by Unicef, which is also assisting with curriculum development. The children are also given two meals a day through the World Food Programme's school feeding scheme. In a country where there is great sensitivity about HIV/Aids, Ramone and her teachers are convinced that "the children are the bridge between the school and community". And their ideas are clearly working. All the children I spoke to were well aware of HIV/Aids. "They feel very sad when they hear about HIV/Aids because they realise their parents must have died from this disease," says Likhama. The girls at the school seem to have been especially well informed about HIV/Aids, probably thanks to the Unicef programme, Girls Education Movement, which emphasises gender equality. The challenge in Lesotho is to get boys to school. At a very young age they become herd boys, and though school is free it is not yet compulsory. The Katlehong teachers are bursting with ideas and enthusiasm - setting up model vegetable gardens and using plays to educate the community about HIV/Aids; giving the orphans food packages for the holidays; selling second-hand clothing, and so on. If their efforts, and the efforts of the international community, succeed in Thaba Tseka the Katlehong Primary School may replace the funeral parlour as the most important place in the village.
Hope for retrenched (Maseru, Irin, 08/03) - Nathan Sekhesa spent 27 years of his 47-year-existence in the mines of South Africa. Retrenched in 2002 and still unemployed, he stays at home, waiting for odd jobs. In the meantime, the maize, tomatoes, pumpkin and the odd herb, grown in the kitchen garden under his mother Elizabeth’s watchful eye are feeding his family of five. A decade ago the South African mines employed 120,000 Basotho - a third of the country's male workforce. Last year the figure dropped to 55,000, according to the recruitment agency, Teba Limited. Restructuring in the South African mining industry has drastically reduced foreign labour. The impact on households in tiny Lesotho, dependent on remittances from its miners, has been particularly severe. Teba, and the Mineworkers Development Agency (MDA), set up by the South African National Union of Mineworkers, are attempting to offer income-generating alternatives to some of the unemployed workers languishing at home. "Having devoted most of their lives to mining, most of the retrenched workers do not have any other skills. The simplest skill we thought we could impart was to help them grow kitchen gardens, which would at least help feed their families," Teba Country Manager Mokete Mahula told IRIN. In 2000, Teba began providing subsidised seed, fertilizer and technical know-how to communities in the district of Mafeteng, bordering South Africa in the southwest. There are 10 districts in Lesotho and the programme intends reaching all of them. "It has taken time, because it is very difficult to change the mindset of the retrenched workers. If they are handed seeds and asked to till the land, they consider it as an insult," Mahula explained. The projects are run in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture. The MDA seems to have got involved sooner. It began 10 projects in 1987, which have since spread over seven districts. "Our projects involve brick manufacturing, poultry and agriculture," said Puseletso Salae, MDA’s social plan manager. But the MDA's impact is tiny compared to the scale of the problem. Only 12 to 13 people are covered by their projects in each district. "Three consecutive droughts have not helped to motivate the former miners in the rural areas to farm," noted Salae. Poverty has deepened over the past decade, as remittances by the miners that once kept households afloat dried up. That, plus the spread of HIV/AIDS, has exacerbated the impact of the food crisis. A report by the UK-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) noted: "In the 1990s, the purchasing power of many rural and urban households in Lesotho fell sharply as migrant labourers were retrenched from the South African mines and as the Maloti, linked to the South African Rand, devalued against the US Dollar. Rural households that had remittances as their main source of income became increasingly dependent on agriculture, but on marginal lands."Very few of the former miners have been employed in the up-and-coming textile and garment manufacturing industry, which is geared for exporting to the US market. Almost 90 percent of the Basotho employed by the factories are women, Salae said. According to the ODI report: "Whilst these industries have created employment opportunities that have done little to support rural households containing retrenched miners since most jobs in Maseru's industries ... pay so little that remittances are rarely sent back to rural areas."However, Salae said he is hopeful that new projects, including mining and cutting semi-precious stones, and developing nurseries, might reach out to more retrenched workers. "At the moment we even import seedlings of vegetables and flowers from South Africa, so we have decided to develop a chain of nurseries, which will provide employment to a lot more people," Salae said.
Rwanda urges 6,000 refugees in Malawi to return home (Blantyre, Sapa-AFP, 17/03) - Rwanda wants some 6,000 refugees in Malawi to return soon as there was now a "stable political environment back home," a senior official from Kigali was quoted as saying Wednesday."There is a new Rwanda which respects human rights and good governance principles," Abdulkarim Harerimana, head of Rwanda's refugee commission, told the Daily Times. "We encourage the refugees to come back home and contribute to the development of our nation." Harerimana led a delegation from his country to Malawi to attend a tripartite two-day conference on repatriation at a tourist resort in the southern district of Mangochi. The meeting was attended by delegates from Malawi and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The three sides have signed a repatriation agrrement. Harerimana said since 1994, when up to one million Rwandans died in the central African country's genocide, his government has been visiting people in refugee camps, briefing them on the importance of returning home. "We do this with a strong backing of good policies. We have successfully done it in other countries, we cannot fail in Malawi," he said. He said if the Rwandan refugees wanted to continue staying on in the poor southern African nation, "They should go back home first and then come back later, not as refugees." Wairimu Karago, UNHCR coordinator for the Great Lakes region, said 17,000 Rwandan refugees have returned home since January 2003. There were over three million refugees in 1994 scattered across the region. All but 80,000 have returned home, Karago said."Our efforts to promote voluntary repatriation will be enhanced during the course of this year because 10 years have gone since the genocide," he added.
Sex Workers from Malawi (Blantyre, Malawi Angola Press 22/03) - A leading gender activist affirmed here Wednesday that high levels of poverty had turned Malawi into a major source for women and children trafficked to South Africa and Europe for sexual exploitation. Women`s Lobby executive director Faustus Chirwa said unsuspecting women and young girls accept to migrate to various countries in search for a better life only to end up in brothels. She said while some Malawians are involved in the trafficking, tourists were also known to be recruiting boys and girls as sex workers outside the country. "The children are actually lured by promises of employment and education," Chirwa intimated. One recorded case involving a suspected international sex ring in Malawi was in June 1999 when Ruth Lorenco, a businesswoman in Lilongwe was arrested and charged with "procuring girls for prostitution abroad." At the trial one of the girls, 19-year-old Hezel Mgomezulu told the court that Lorenco took her and two other girls to the Netherlands where they worked in sex clubs. Lorenco is alleged to have told the girls before leaving Malawi that she would find them good jobs in the UK but when they reached the Belgian capital, Brussels she told them they would be sex workers. "It was while we were in transit between Brussels and Amsterdam that she told us we were going to work in sex clubs," Mgomezulu told the court. But, according to the court submissions, Lorenco demanded a refund of 300, 000 Malawi Kwacha (about 2,800 US dollars at the current rate) from each of the girls if they insisted on returning home which they did not have. Chirwa said busting such rings was difficult because some victims willingly join in. "Some of them know what is going on and willingly join the ring hoping for a better living in European capitals," she said, affirming that Women`s Lobby had designed programmes aimed at curbing the practice.
Treatment of Mozambicans in South Africa (Mozambique News Agency, 04/03) - The delegation in South Africa of the Mozambican Labour Ministry has described as "shocking, ridiculous, and manipulated" the lenient sentence handed down by a court in the town of Nelspruit against a local farmer who murdered a Mozambican employee in February 2002.The Labour delegate, Pedro Taimo, cited in Friday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", said he intended to submit an appeal to the South African Supreme Court.Taimo protested that, despite evidence of the brutal and racist nature of the crime, and of the farmer's repeated attempts to obstruct justice, the Nelspruit judge sentenced him to only two years in prison, which can be converted into a fine of 36,000 rands (about 5,350 US dollars) fine, plus another two years suspended for five years.During the trial, witnesses told the court how Gerrit Maritz, the accused, sought out the Mozambican worker, Jotamo Mandlate, in his room for failing to show up for his shift.Maritz assaulted the victim, knocked him down, and ran him over repeatedly with his vehicle, until he was dead. He then put the body in the car and left. All this was done in the presence of the other workers.The witnesses added that on the following day, Maritz, with the help of a friend of his in the police, took the body to the Komatipoort police station, where he intended to dump it in the adjacent morgue without any registration.But the senior police officer on duty at the station refused to collaborate, and asked for details on the origin of the body and the cause of death. This called for an investigation, which led to the arrest of the farmer.Taimo found it quite strange that nothing happened to the policeman who helped Maritz, and he is still working as if nothing had happened. Up to the last day of the trial, Maritz insisted that he was innocent, but after the witnesses' statements, the court advised him to confess.He did so, and this now looks like a sordid deal: in exchange for a guilty plea, the judge had promised a lenient sentence, bearing no relation to the premeditated and brutal nature of the crime."The sentence delivered by the court on 18 February shocked the audience, particularly the family of the victim", said Taimo."The verdict was manipulated to benefit the defendant, in a clearly racist plot that started during the trial".He added that such a light sentence "will not deter other white farmers from ill-treating their black employees, particularly Mozambicans, with near absolute impunity".Taimo said that the Labour delegation will not only appeal against this sentence to the Supreme Court, but will also demand compensation for the victim's family.This action is also supported by the secretary of the Mpumalanga provincial branch of the South African Council of Churches, G.M. Mthembu, who has been following the matter, and raising support for Mandlate's family.
Customs problem hits Maputo harbour (Business Day, 12/03) - Delays by customs officials in finalising discussions on opening the Lebombo border post between SA and Mozambique 24 hours a day are hampering development of Mozambique's Maputo Port. The company responsible for the redevelopment of the harbour, at a cost of $70bn, says that its plans to fasttrack the building of a car terminal at the harbour have been held back by uncertainty about whether the border post would be open around the clock. Alec Don, CE of the Port Maputo Development Company, said his group had spoken to some Gauteng-based car manufacturers about building a vehicle terminal. However, these discussions depended on the customs authorities' ability to clear goods on a 24-hour basis. Don would not be drawn on the size of the terminal, but speculation has been that it will have be able to handle the transportation of up to 100000 vehicles a year. The Maputo harbour has been touted as an alternative to the growing congestion at SA's ports, as it is closer to SA's industrial heartland in Gauteng than Durban. Home Affairs Department spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said that talks on increasing access at Lebombo border post were being hurried along. The department was meeting its Mozambican counterparts later this month to discuss this. Mashokwe said the department was "willing" to open the border post 24 hours a day, but had to do this in partnership with the Mozambican authorities. Also, if the Lebombo border post could clear goods around the clock, this would see the Maputo Corridor, linking Johannesburg and Maputo, growing in importance. Trans African Concessions (Trac) the consortium that built, maintains and operates the corridor said if the border was open 24 hours a day it would be an important part of making the corridor work. Trac CE Arthur Coy said getting the border post open all day and all night was a delicate task, as it meant talks between at least four government departments on either side of the border. While these negotiations were sensitive, Coy was optimistic there would be positive changes at Lebombo before the end of the year. Meanwhile, Don said Maputo port now had two new tugs and had spent $10m on new capital equipment. The CE also said he expected Maputo port to be competing with Durban's harbour in the "next two to three years".
Minister of Home Affairs lambasts officials (Swakopmund, The Namibian, 09/03) - Minister of Home Affairs Jerry Ekandjo has hit out at employees in his Ministry who are unprofessional.The Minister was speaking at the opening yesterday of a six-day strategic planning workshop for the Department of Civic Affairs at Swakopmund."I cannot leave this forum without expressing my discontent with the way the public is mistreated and mishandled by some members of the personnel of the Department of Civic Affairs."Civic Affairs is responsible for civil registration including issuing birth, marriage and death certificates, national identity cards and the general administration of the Births, Marriages and Death Acts and Identification Act.Ekandjo said it was disheartening that some members of the public were being turned away and told lies when they enquired about documents."This is a practice that must be stamped out.Under no circumstances should a member of public be shouted at, yelled at, cursed at or assaulted.Measures to punish culprits must be implemented to remedy this situation," the Minister said.Addressing corruption, Ekandjo said the issue deserved the attention of the workshop.Calling those guilty of this offence self-declared enemies of society, he said they deserved to be locked up and removed entirely from contact with society as they were destructive elements.Ekandjo challenged the workshop to come up with remedial action to stop corruption.Ekandjo also said his mind "boggled" at the fact that equipment was breaking down because of a lack of planning and maintenance programmes.According to a report presented by the Division: Population Services, frequent breakdowns of equipment was a major contributing factor to the massive backlog experienced in processing identity documents (IDs).The current backlog of unprocessed ID applications is about 65 000, while there are about 25 000 processed applications on the production line.The report states that the average waiting period for an ID card can now be as long as 24 months.Delays are also blamed on the manual fingerprint system and the one laser engraver available to print cards.The engraver has a maximum production capacity of 400 cards a day, which is "highly insignificant under current circumstances", the report states.The division has asked for additional funding of more than N$20 million for the 2004-05 year.Ekandjo said the workshop provided an excellent platform to critically examine defects in the Department.Calling his Ministry one of the most widely talked about, he said complaints from the public about service delivery needed to be addressed."Not playing ostrich politics, we must accept that many of the complaints are authentic and genuine. I ask that you analyse and grasp the reasons behind the complaints and provide tangible solutions to them."
Home Affairs out to beat corruption (The Star, 01/03) - The Department of Home Affairs will compile a business plan this week to address the widespread corruption in its ranks. This is typified by its most senior official being regarded as "a national security risk". Last Tuesday, the department's director-general, Barry Gilder, presented a report to the parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs on the state of the department. He said the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) had already been given the task of screening the security clearance of all officials, including himself and other high-ranking staff. Although Gilder confirmed that the current situation at the department was "precarious", he was also confident that measures introduced since he took the reins last year would ensure stability in the future. Gilder was loath to put a rand figure on the corruption involved, "because some of the corruption involves people being given sensitive documents when they should not be in possession of the documents". He said the department was being consistently targeted by sophisticated crime syndicates and also fell prey to individuals who bribed officials to ensure quick service. Gilder called this "corruption of convenience, where people pass a few bucks to ensure fast service". Gilder's appointment last year was marred by controversy when Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi publicly stated his preference for his close aide, Ivan Lambinon. Gilder, who spent 15 years in exile during the apartheid era, served as deputy-director of the NIA before his current appointment. Soon after his appointment, Gilder announced a turnaround strategy designed to end corruption and mismanagement at Home Affairs. He said then that "corruption is widespread and endemic in the sense that the department offers a service which the crooks need". In announcing the turnaround strategy, Gilder said the main targets would be staffing, infrastructure and technology. Yesterday, Gilder said the information technology systems in use were so antiquated that most offices of the department were not linked to mainframe computer systems. He warned that the National Identification and Information System, designed to electronically identify all South Africans, was in danger of collapsing without sufficient funding. More funding would enable the department to continue with its Client Service Console, which is equipped with a digital camera, fingerprint reader, scanner and printer, to allow for speedy processing of identification. Gilder also said that many officials tasked to deal with immigration issues were bribed, which had led to more than 100 000 illegal immigrants making their way back into the country after being deported. Some illegal immigrants never leave the country, and this was due in part to the chronic staff shortages in the department, Gilder said. He added that crucial departmental positions at the Cape Town and Johannesburg international airports and at the Lindela repatriation centre in Gauteng were being filled as a priority. The department planned to open 60 new immigration offices around the country to deal with backlogs. "It is important to be open about the processes we are putting in place and the problem areas. "But I am confident we are putting measures in place that will ensure success," Gilder said.
SA women unwittingly married to Ghanaians (The Sunday Times, 02/03) - A corrupt Home Affairs official registered marriages between Ghanaian men and South African women — unbeknown to the women — so the Ghanaians could get South African citizenship, police said on Monday.Police Captain Sophie Mayisela said the 64-year-old official at the Kempton Park office of Home Affairs was arrested on Monday. This followed the arrest of four Ghanaian nationals on Friday, after two women told police people were approaching South African women aged between 19 and 25, promising them jobs and taking their identity books.Mayisela said: "The ID books are sold to the suspects for R300 each and they are given to an employee at the Home Affairs office in Kempton Park and the official arranges marriage certificates for the Ghanaian males to gain citizenship of this country."Police were continuing investigations to find more victims of this scam."Most of these women are not aware that they are married to unknown people," said Mayisela."The suspects live in the Kempton Park area and they are currently holding Ghanaian passports," she said.Police appealed for anyone whose identity book was stolen or missing to go to any Home Affairs offices to check if they had been illegally married.Any one with more information about this case can contact the investigating officer Sergeant Magatsela on 072-683-0500 or 012-570-9232 during office hours.The suspects will appear in Kempton Park Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
Foreign tenants slate racism and xenophobia (The Cape Argus, 02/03) - A passionate plea for tolerance and trust is being made by the landlord and tenants of a Sea Point block of flats reputed to be a den of drug dealers and prostitutes.Landlord Shlomo Bitton, who owns 32 flats in El Rio, says pressure from a group of Sea Point homeowners "targeting" the building has brought him close to evicting all his tenants.The tenants, many of whom are refugees from the Congo, say racism and xenophobia are behind a protest last week by homeowners accusing them of selling sex and drugs.The homeowner group held a picket outside Bitton's home, blaming him for allegedly allowing drug dealing and prostitution to flourish in El Rio.The tenants retaliated by marching in protest against what they say are unfair accusations."Where can we go?" tenants asked in interviews with Argus Action."We are surrounded by hostility and hatred. Black people kill us when we try to live with them in townships, and white people do not want us to live with them either," said Roxi Badibanja, a Congolese refugee studying electrical engineering at Cape College in the day and working as a security guard at night."We are legally employed, we pay our rent every month, and we want to live decently in a South Africa where apartheid died 10 years ago," said Didi Kibakua, a security guard who is the proud owner of a certificate of good conduct from the Congolese embassy stating that he has never been convicted of a crime.Bitton's attorney, Malcolm Roup, said: "If anyone has valid information about drug dealing or a sex trade in El Rio, we will give them power of attorney to act in whatever way is necessary to clean up the place."Bitton, who keeps a register of photos and details of his tenants, said: "The government has allowed refugees into this country and the Constitutional Court has ruled that the Bill of Rights applies to them in the same way it applies to South Africans."But their human rights are not protected when they come here. They don't get police protection when they are accused of every conceivable sin in Sea Point."Bitton showed Argus Action a copy of a letter from him, dated more than a year ago, offering the Sea Point police free accommodation for two weeks in El Rio "to investigate any criminal activities and I will fully co-operate".He said the police did not take up his offer.Nina Kirsten, communications officer with the provincial police, said it had not been necessary to accept Bitton's offer because he always co-operated fully with police when they wanted access to the building.She said "quite a number of operations" by Sea Point police in the building and surrounding area had resulted in some arrests for minor offences, such as being in possession of small quantities of dagga and Ecstasy."But they were not the people renting the flats. They were visitors."The tenants say drug dealing is rife in Sea Point's main road, and the corner opposite the El Rio is a popular spot for dealers to congregate because of custom from patrons frequenting a club across the road.They say many of the pushers are homeless Nigerians who cannot find accommodation because Nigerians are popularly regarded as criminals in this country."They have the money to pay rent, but they can't find a place to rent. They have cars, so they either sleep in their cars or outside on the street."Kibakua said: "It is we who should be complaining. The noise in the street outside is terrible, and our sleep is always interrupted by the goings-on at all hours."Nicole Masamba, who has lived in El Rio with her husband and two children for four years, said: "The people buying drugs are white. I see what is going on. If they would stop buying drugs, you would not see drug dealers congregating on the corner." She accused homeowners of being opposed to Bitton because he was "the only one who will give black people accommodation" in Sea Point.Masamba said she and her family had struggled without success to find a flat in Sea Point four years ago, until Bitton had agreed to accommodate them."It was not easy to get into El Rio, because the white people were telling Shlomo that black people are bad, that they steal and sell drugs."When white people in Sea Point see a black person they automatically think it is a Nigerian."But all white people are not from Paris, so why should all black people be from Nigeria?" she said.Her pleading had finally persuaded Bitton to rent a flat to her on a five-month trial basis."I had to prove that I am a responsible tenant who likes to live peacefully, like the Xhosa, Sotho, Zulu and Zimbabwean people living in El Rio. We are all mixed and we are family. The problem is not inside, it is outside."She challenged the building's critics to "come here and search all the flats".Babiagui Marcelin, a Congolese refugee who has been in South Africa for six years and works as a security guard, asked: "If I work in Sea Point, why can't I stay in Sea Point?"South Africans have to understand that apartheid is gone. We need to live together. There are no black areas, or white areas, only places for human beings."Masamba said: "They want us to work in Sea Point and live in the location. But go into the cemetery in the township and see how many foreigners have been killed there."She said the 24-hour security at El Rio was one of the building's main attractions."If my baby was in the township she would have been raped by now. When I leave here, I know very well she is secure, because the guard will not allow her outside."Bitton said the 24-hour security guards screened visitors carefully. "They leave their identity books with the guard, who makes sure they have left the building by 11 o'clock at night."Jane van Veen, who owns three flats in the block, said the perception that drug-taking was rife in the building stemmed from a television programme prompted by a tenant who was evicted a few years ago for suspected drug dealing."The police helped very nicely to get rid of all the bad elements in 2001," she said. But Bitton pointed out there was never proof that the evicted tenant was dealing in drugs."Why are the tenants here being discriminated against? There are drugs in the street, and there seems to be an inability of the police to handle the people in the street." Bitton said the area had become shabbier over time as a result of more and more people living on the streets."I initially used El Rio as holiday flats for many years, but as the area on the main road deteriorated, no holiday makers wanted to stay here any more."I even kept my building empty for almost three months to try to get families as tenants, but nobody wanted to move here."He had also signed up with the Botswana government to house students from that country, "but after one month they checked out, feeling threatened by the activity in the street".His only option had been to let the flats to legal refugees with work permits."I understand the anger of residents and neighbours, but I'm not the one to blame for this situation."Bitton said he was fully committed to cleaning El Rio and the street it is in, "and I will fully co-operate with all parties concerned".In a letter to the Sea Point Community Police Forum he wrote: "Let's look forward to cleaning up the whole area and restore Sea Point to its former glory."
Call to review legislation to help repatriate doctors (Cape Town, Sapa, 02/03) - The Democratic Alliance called on the government on Tuesday to urgently review health legislation to assist in repatriating South African health professionals living abroad. Figures released by the British Home Office showed that 5,580 South African medical professionals, including doctors, physiotherapists and nurses, were living in England, DA spokeswoman Sandy Kalyan said. This emphasised how crucial it was that the health department's repatriation programme for medical practitioners be successful, she said in a statement. The DA called on Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang to immediately review legislation, such as compulsory community service for doctors, and the Certificate of Need required of those who wanted to open a surgery or clinic, before the situation worsened."In view of the startling number of South African doctors and other medical practitioners that have found a home in Britain alone, greater urgency is needed in the implementation of the repatriation programme for medical practitioners, adopted in July 2003. "The only way to entice medical professionals back to South Africa is to make practising in their own country more attractive than settling overseas."Punitive legislation is counterproductive, driving medical professionals away, rather than retaining them," Kalyan said. The DA's health policy of "putting patients first" addressed the issue comprehensively. Suggestions to regain and retain South African medical practitioners included improving conditions of service for health professionals by giving serious attention to improving pay levels of health staff. Public sector doctors should be permitted to treat some private patients to compensate for what they could otherwise be earning. In addition, good health staff should be treated with more respect and their legitimate grievances attended to, and a forum should be set up for healthcare professionals so they could have a say in how things were done. Exchange programmes with hospitals in other countries should also be run, and care should be taken to ensure all hospitals met minimum criteria, including adequate accommodation for staff, proper security and reasonable workloads."South Africa invests a tremendous amount of time and money in training health professionals. We must encourage them to stay here, and persuade those who have left to come back," Kalyan said.Meanwhile, in written reply to a question in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Tshabalala-Msimang said a total of 1323 medical students graduated from South African universities last year, compared with 1207 in 2002, 1271 in 2001, and 1153 in 2000.Most of last year's crop graduated from the Medical University of South Africa (283), followed by Wits (192), Pretoria (181), Stellenbosch (177), and KwaZulu-Natal (171) universities.Altogether 160 medical students graduated from the University of Cape Town, 98 from the University of the Free State, and 61 from the University of Transkei, she said.
Court rules on non-citizen access to social welfare (Johannesburg, News24, 04/03) - In a majority ruling of 7-2, the Constitutional Court on Thursday decided that foreigners living permanently in South Africa are eligible for social grants. Sections of the Social Assistance Act which refuses social grants to foreigners, even those living in South Africa permanently, were declared unconstitutional. (Read full article here: www.news24.com.)
Zimbabwean involvement in crime (City Press, 06/03) - Recent police raids in Hillbrow, Yeoville and Berea led to the arrest of 138 suspects, all of them undocumented migrants. Among them were Zimbabweans allegedly linked to organized crime and bank robberies. The recent raids were part of what is going to become an extended anti-crime campaign, according to a police spokesperson. (Read full article here: www.news24.com.)
Turn-around plan for home affairs (City Press, 06/03) - According to the Home Affairs Department's turn-around strategy, the department's infrastructure in rooted in the apartheid era and is to be blamed for its chronic lack of resources, corruption and poor service provision. Measures recommended by the strategy include: increasing human resources capacity (filling vacant posts, improving staff morale, establish career management and proper disciplinary measures), security vetting of all employees, improving the information technology infrastructure, establishing new posts in provinces, regions, districts and foreign missions, overhauling administration structures (including establishment of a national immigration branch and a counter-xenophobia unit). (See www.news24.com for the full article.)
Welfare net extended to permanent residents (The Star, 05/03) - In a sweeping judgment, the Constitutional Court has ordered that social grants be made available to permanent residents of South Africa with immediate effect. It is estimated that at least 250 000 more people will receive these grants now, and the Department of Finance has calculated that it would have to increase its annual social grant budget by between R243-million and R672-million to comply with the Constitutional Court order. In the majority judgment, written by Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, it was made clear that this decision was part of the building blocks to create a "caring constitutional society" in South Africa. The case was brought by two groups of Mozambican nationals who fled to South Africa in the 1980s to escape civil war in their country. They have been granted permanent residency in South African but cannot quality for social grants, such as old-age grants and child grants, because the law says they are not entitled to these benefits. Justice Mokgoro said yesterday that "providing access to social assistance to all who live permanently in South Africa, and the impact on their life and dignity that the denial of such access has, far outweighs the financial and immigration considerations on which the state relies (to justify the restriction of social grants to citizens). The judges said that even if they accepted the amounts supplied by the Department of Finance as a guide, it still did not support the contention that there would be a huge cost in making provision for permanent residents. They said the government had already conceded that it would violate the constitution if it did not pay social grants to the children of permanent residents. This amounts to 20% of the total costs of social grants. The government conceded that it was unconstitutional to deny children a right to social grants because their parents were not South African citizens. The government also proposed that the court should not declare the present laws unconstitutional, and promised to change them. Justice Mokgoro, however, said they had chosen to continue with the case as there was a need for legal certainty for all those who qualify for social grants. She said the law stated that "everyone" was entitled to socio-economic rights in the constitution (with the exception of land rights, which apply only to citizens). "The right to social assistance is entrenched because we value human beings and want to ensure that people are afforded their basic needs," Justice Mokgoro said. She said that even if the state was able to justify not paying benefits to everyone who was entitled to it, the criteria on which this decision was based also had to be consistent with the constitution. The legal team for the government argued that restricting social assistance to citizens was the practice in almost all developed countries. "But unlike ours, those countries do not have constitutions that entitle everyone to have access to social security, nor are their immigration and welfare laws necessarily the same as ours," Justice Mokgoro said. "Discrimination on grounds of citizenship is unfair. It has a strong stigmatising effect. Both permanent residents and citizens contribute to the welfare system through the payment of taxes," Justice Mokgoro said. "The denial is total and the consequences are grave." Eight justices agreed with her. In their minority judgment, justices Sandile Ngcobo and Tole Madlala said the case presented a novel question about who among the needy should receive social welfare benefits. They agreed with their colleagues about social grants for children, but not for the aged.
Church seeks refugee status for Zimbabweans in SA (SABC, 07/03) - The Zimbabwean Church is to lobby government to improve the plight of Zimbabweans in South Africa. It will also - in conjunction with its South African counterparts - push for talks between Zanu(PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). However, while the cleric seeks peace, the situation in the country remains oppressive. Six MDC members were injured when their convoy was attacked on the way to a campaign rally in Zengeza, east of Harare. The attack was allegedly carried out by Zanu(PF) militia. In addition, three members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise are incarcerated in a Bulawayo jail. At a special service for Zimbabwe today, Pius Ncube, the Zimbabwean archbishop, lashed out at Robert Mugabe's government and South Africa's quiet diplomacy towards the country. "I will not excuse the government, they are not going to get my sympathy, they have gone around killing people, raping the young," Ncube said. Churchgoers also heard from Zimbabweans who claim to have suffered at the hands of Zanu(PF). Even those who defend human rights spoke of detention and brutality. Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer, said: "They tied it to my genitals, some to my toes and in my mouth - I was asked to clamp down on it." The animosity between the ruling Zanu(PF) and the MDC is expected to increase ahead of next year's elections. "Next year you can be sure the parliamentary election will be rigged," Ncube said. At the same time - with Zimbabwean authorities saying no to talks with the opposition - the situation in Zimbabwe is not likely to change soon. A reason why the church plans to talk government into giving refugee status to all Zimbabweans in this country. It also wants NGOs to form one body that will cater to the needs of Zimbabweans abroad.
Nigerians in SA maligned (Business Day, 08/03) - The recent screening of a documentary about Nigerian drug syndicates in Durban, made by the Special Assignment team for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), has sparked a new wave of allegations on South Africans' seemingly deep-rooted xenophobia about Nigerians. At dinner last week with several influential Nigerian businessmen, I listened to an attack on the "biased and prejudiced" South African media and not for the first time. Given the one-eyed reportage, few South Africans, they said, seemed to believe there were any decent Nigerians. "We are all apparently drug lords and swin- dlers, not to be trusted," said one. "We are not saying the drug problem does not exist but we are saying most Nigerians here are not guilty of crime and yet we have to live with the stigma. The media never cares to balance the picture," said another, tucking into his pepper soup. The problem was worse for Nigerians but the South African media tarred most Africans with the same brush, they alleged. The documentary was the second made by the SABC targeting Nigerian criminals in nine months. Despite great strides in the relationship between SA and Nigeria, it does seem that many prejudices still linger. For example, allegations that ThisDay newspaper is funded by drug money have persisted from the outset. Many people are convinced that even professional Ni- gerians with regular office jobs peddle drugs after hours. Nigerians in SA maintain that the lowest 10% of their country's lower social class sets the perception for all their nationals in this country. Unfortunately, it is this segment of the population that has hogged SA's media spotlight and set the tone generally for the perception of Nigerians living in SA. This has damaging implications for the majority, including issues such as credibility in business, ease of getting visas and even access to credit. It is not clear how many Nigerians are in SA, as a good deal of them bypass the Nigerian authorities in this country, a situation born of a long and deep mistrust of their successive governments. The official estimate is about 4000 and the unofficial one is about 10000. But wild guesstimates prevail, with numbers of up to 100000 being bandied about by some media, a figure hotly disputed by Nigerians. Drug syndicates have been operating in SA since the 1980s and brought the first Nigerians to this country. By the time Nigerian professionals began arriving in numbers mostly in the mid1990s during the brutal military rule of Sani Abacha the tone for Nigerians had been set and has proved difficult to counter. This impression is not helped by the fact many Nigerians come to SA thinking it is the land of opportunity only to find it is not so. They often end up downtown, being sucked into crime to survive. There are syndicates operating in Nigeria which, for a substantial fee, facilitate the relocation of their countrymen to SA with promises of jobs and then discard them once they arrive. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that west Africans involved in crime often claim to be Nigerians, to avoid tarnishing the image of their own countries and knowing they will be believed without having to prove it. Some South Africans have a perception that Nigeria itself is tolerant of crime, which has spawned a "culture" of criminality. However, this is far from true. The authorities show zero tolerance towards drugs and all crimes. The police force in Nigeria is known to be zealous and Ni- gerian jails not a good place to be. The country's security forces co-operate closely with their counterparts around the world to fight crime. The overwhelming, in-yourface poverty, coupled with rundown infrastructure, traffic jams and general sense of chaos in a place such as Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, bolsters perceptions of Nigeria being a breeding ground for criminals. A number of South Africans has had first-hand experience of crime in Lagos they are easy targets. The very different business and social cultures have also played a role in creating suspicion on both sides. But, on the other hand, nationals of both countries have become more accepting of each other as business ties have allowed increased contact between them. That SA is inextricably part of the continent is not in question. But this carries with it a responsibility of understanding the different cultures and people that form part of that relationship, rather than focusing on what is negative or different. Foreign Africans in SA do not have an easy ride. It is time that changed. Games is director of Africa@Work, a conferencing, research and publishing company.
Cabinet may not meddle with visa rules, says court (The Star, 09/03) -
The publication of clandestine cabinet proposals that would throw open South
Africa's borders to 2,9-billion of the world's poorest people has been stopped
in its tracks. Yesterday, Minister of Home Affairs Mangosuthu Buthelezi was
ordered by the Cape High Court to publish final, un-amended immigration
regulations for public comment. International immigration expert Gary Eisenberg
says the unamended regulations would show that cabinet proposals, and mainly
those from Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, form an
unprecedented departure of existing immigration policy - without calling for one
word of public comment. According to papers before the court, the changes to the
regulations were done by cabinet after Buthelezi was requested to let cabinet
review the regulations before they were published. The regulations as amended by
cabinet were to be published, but the court yesterday ordered Buthelezi to first
publish the unamended rules, drawn up after extensive consultation with members
of the public and the Immigration Advisory Board. By law, cabinet is not
empowered to make immigration regulations. The court also said that the
amendments proposed by cabinet were to be published for public comment. Among
other things, the cabinet proposals included the following:
- Taiwanese nationals can no longer visit South Africa without a visa.
- About 2,9-billion people from some of the poorest nations in the world become exempt from visa requirements if they wish to visit South Africa for certain time periods. These countries include Zimbabwe, China, Russia, Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Cuba, Ethiopia, Mali, Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia, and Turkey. Yesterday, an application to force the publication of the cabinet-amended regulations were brought by specialist immigration law firm Eisenberg & Associates. Eisenberg commented on these changes as follows in papers before court: "The possibility of persons from some of these states (coming) to South Africa without the screening of a visa requirement dramatically increases the likelihood that people will become illegal foreigners." Eisenberg said this policy would have an enormous and unprecedented impact on South Africa's overall system of migration control, with wide-ranging consequences for the whole country. "I do not know of any other country which has adopted such a wide-ranging regime of visa exemptions," he said. In January, Buthelezi was ready to sign the new rules and send them off to the Government Printers for publication. But by February 11, Buthelezi said that cabinet had taken the unprecedented decision to review the immigration regulations. "I submit that the Cabinet Committee has no power to make immigration regulations. It is only the Minister of Home Affairs himself who may do so," Eisenberg stated in court papers. Eisenberg's affidavit was confirmed by Buthelezi, who indicated that he would abide by the decision of the court. By consent between the two parties, Mr Justice Hennie Erasmus yesterday ordered Buthelezi to publish the original, finalised immigration regulations and, within a month, the amendments that cabinet wished to make for public comment.
New immigration plan 'only in ANC's interest', claims DA (Cape Town, Mail & Guardian, 10/03) - The Democratic Alliance has criticised apparent government plans to do away with visa requirements for about 2,9-billion people, mainly from poorer countries around the world."This opens up the serious prospect of millions of people flooding into South Africa to compete for jobs and social grants," DA chief election spokesperson Douglas Gibson said.The Constitutional Court ruled last week that social welfare grants could no longer be limited to South African citizens only.Exempting 2,9-billion people from visa requirements -- from most African countries, as well as China, Russia and India -- is an open invitation to them to come to South Africa for the chance of a better life, Gibson said.He was responding to a report in ThisDay newspaper on Tuesday, which said Cabinet wants the visa exemptions included in the new immigration regulations.In a statement on Tuesday, Gibson said what the regulations should be doing is inviting people to come to South African to help provide a better life."What is in it for South Africa? The African National Congress seems to be putting ideological and party-political considerations ahead of South Africa's best interests."The original intention of the Immigration Act and the regulations was to serve South Africa's interests by attracting desperately needed skills and tourist dollars to the country, he said."But instead, the ANC has chosen to offer universal visa exemptions to countries with which it has close historical ties."South Africa is desperately short of skilled professionals in a number of sectors.Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi set out to solve this problem by liberalising immigration laws and regulations, and encouraging those with something to offer South Africa to come here."Minister Buthelezi has been acting in the best interests of the country. The ANC, by contrast, acts only in the interests of the ANC," Gibson said.
ANC muddles immigration, DA (Cape Town, Sapa, 09/03) - The Democratic Alliance has criticised apparent government plans to do away with visa requirements for about 2.9-billion people, mainly from poorer countries around the world. "This opens up the serious prospect of millions of people flooding into South Africa to compete for jobs and social grants," DA chief election spokesman Douglas Gibson said. The Constitutional Court ruled last week that social welfare grants could no longer be limited to South African citizens only. Exempting 2.9-billion people from visa requirements - from most African countries, as well as China, Russia and India - was an open invitation to them to come to South Africa for the chance of a better life, Gibson said. He was responding to a report in This Day newspaper on Tuesday, which said Cabinet wanted the visa exemptions included in the new immigration regulations. In a statement on Tuesday, Gibson said what the regulations should be doing was inviting people to come to South African to help provide a better life. "What is in it for South Africa? The ANC seems to be putting ideological and party-political considerations ahead of South Africa's best interests." The original intention of the Immigration Act and the regulations was to serve South Africa's interests by attracting desperately needed skills and tourist dollars to the country, he said. "But instead, the ANC has chosen to offer universal visa exemptions to countries with which it has close historical ties." South Africa was desperately short of skilled professionals in a number of sectors. Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi set out to solve this problem by liberalising immigration laws and regulations, and encouraging those with something to offer South Africa to come here. "Minister Buthelezi has been acting in the best interests of the country. The ANC, by contrast, acts only in the interests of the ANC," Gibson said.
Statement on the immigration regulation by Foreign Affairs (Sapa, 09/03) -
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken note of several media reports
regarding immigration regulations highlighted in an application brought before
the Cape High Court by a certain Gary Eisenberg. The Government is still to
study the full text of the judgement before making an informed comment. However,
Section 7 of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 requires that the proposed
immigration regulations must be tabled in Parliament and consequently need to go
through Cabinet. It is in this context that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and
indeed other Cabinet colleagues have made suggestions on the proposed
immigration regulations for the consideration of the Minister of Home Affairs.
The comments made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and indeed other Cabinet
Members were aimed at ensuring that the regulations are consistent with the
intent of the Immigration Act of 2002. The views of the Minister of Foreign
Affairs were especially informed by the principles set out in the preamble of
the Immigration Act which, amongst others, include that:
* temporary and permanent residence permits are issued as expeditiously as
possible and on the basis of simplified procedures and objective, predictable
and reasonable requirements and criteria, without consuming excessive
* security consideration are fully satisfied and the State retains control of
the immigration of foreigners to the Republic;
* interdepartmental co-ordination constantly enriches the functions of
immigration control and that a constant flow of public inputs is present in
further stages of policy formulation, including regulation making;
* the South African economy may have access at all times to the full measure of
needed contributions by foreigners;
* the contribution of foreigners in the South African market does not adversely
impact on existing labour standards and the rights and expectations of South
African workers; as well as all the other principles contained in the preamble.In line with South Africa's foreign policy objectives and especially the well
known principled position in respect of the African continent, Cabinet members
raised valid concerns regarding the vast discrepancy in the strict immigration
requirements applied to African citizens and those of other developing
countries, as opposed to the favourable treatment extended to citizens of
western countries which is a continuation of the attitude of the apartheid
regime. It is an internationally accepted principle that the issuance of visas
ought to be based on reciprocity. Therefore issuance of visas ought to be
informed in addition to other factors by reciprocity as reflected in bilateral
agreements. The relationships between South Africa and the countries concerned
is therefore of great importance and the issuance of visas should rather be
addressed through the conclusion of bilateral international agreements thereby
ensuring reciprocity. It cannot be considered fair that citizens from western
countries can come to South Africa without requirements for visas whilst South
African citizens must pay enormous amounts of money to obtain visas to visit
these western countries. Consistent with that view it cannot be considered fair
that South Africans can travel all over Africa without the need for visas,
whilst African citizens and those from other developing countries must pay
exorbitant visa fees to visit South Africa. The issue of the immigration
regulations is currently before a committee chaired by the Minister of Home
Affairs who is the responsible Minister for the Immigration Act and the
regulations are being processed as prescribed by section 7 of the Immigration
Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa at 082-990-4853
Another immigrant victory in constitutional court (Business Day, 10/03) - The Constitutional Court has brought government in line for the second time in less than a week with regard to the treatment of foreigners. The court held yesterday that illegal immigrants were entitled to the same rights as South African citizens when visiting SA. In his majority judgment yesterday, Justice Zak Yacoob overturned laws that allowed illegal immigrants who entered the country by ship or aircraft to be detained for more than 30 days without a court order. He also said detainees could not be held under intolerable or inhumane circumstances. Yesterday's court ruling, and the one last week that social grants may no longer be limited to South African citizens, has placed obligations on the state to make special provisions for foreign nationals . Yacoob disputed government's argument yesterday that foreign nationals who arrived by plane or ship did not qualify for protection under the constitution as they had not formally entered the country. He said that while this category of illegal foreigner was required to remain on the vessel until it left SA, an immigration officer would be required to move such a person to a state facility if that person was being held in unacceptable conditions. The Constitutional Court held that section 34(8) of the Immigration Act was unconstitutional as it did not require a court order to hold a foreign national on a vessel for more than 30 days. He ruled that it was reasonable, however, not to release this category of illegal immigrant within 48 hours.
Public to have say on immigration regulations (Business Day, 10/03) - The public will be given a chance to comment on the c abinet's proposed changes to immigration regulations including one to exempt foreigners from poorer countries from requiring visas when they are published in the next two months. This comes after t he Cape High Court halted efforts this week to have the c abinet's amended version of the regulations published without public comment. The court heard argument that some of the changes could have a profound effect on SA and its citizens. It was felt the amendments would increase the likelihood of people remaining in SA illegally and that SA could be flooded with foreign nationals as it would become easier to enter illegally. Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi was asked at the 11th hour to allow the c abinet to review the amended regulations before they were published. But the court ordered him on Monday first to publish the unamended rules, and gave him until April 9 to submit a summary of the c abinet's proposals for public comment. Immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg took the matter to court after discovering the cabinet had made substantial changes. "We had waited so many years for these regulations and suddenly the minister told us the cabinet wanted to review them first," he said. "The new proposals would have changed everything." Eisenberg said the regulations were liberal, making SA an attractive destination for businessmen. The interim regulations required someone on a two-year business visa to bring R2,5m into SA. "Under the new regulations, business people are required to bring only R2m into the country, or furnish a certificate that the proposed business is viable."
Visa requirements consistent with Immigration Act, says Foreign Affairs (Cape Town, Sapa, 10/03) - The foreign affairs department sought on Wednesday to allay fears that possible changes to South African visa requirements could lead to a major influx of people from developing countries around the world. "It is an internationally accepted principle that the issuance of visas ought to be based on reciprocity," the department said in a statement. Therefore, the relationship between South Africa and other countries was of great importance, and the issuance of visas should be addressed through concluding bilateral international agreements, thereby ensuring reciprocity. The department was responding to media reports that Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and other Cabinet members wanted to do away with visa requirements for citizens of most African countries and others, including Russia, China, and India - about 2.9 billion people. The Democratic Alliance on Tuesday claimed this would open the serious prospect of millions of people flooding into South Africa to compete for jobs and social grants. In its statement on Wednesday, the department said it could not be considered fair that citizens from Western countries could come to South Africa without requirements for visas, while South African citizens had to pay enormous amounts of money to obtain visas to visit these western countries. "Consistent with that view it cannot be considered fair that South Africans can travel all over Africa without the need for visas, while African citizens and those from other developing countries must pay exorbitant visa fees to visit South Africa." The views of Dlamini-Zuma and other Cabinet members were informed by principles contained in the Immigration Act. These included, among other things, that: - temporary and permanent residence permits be issued as expeditiously as possible, on the basis of simplified procedures, and objective, predictable and reasonable requirements and criteria, without consuming excessive administrative capacity; - security considerations were fully satisfied and the state retained control of the immigration of foreigners; - the economy had access at all times to the full measure of needed contributions by foreigners; and, - the contribution of foreigners in the South African market did not adversely impact on existing labour standards and the rights and expectations of South African workers. The issue of the immigration regulations was currently before a committee chaired by Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and would be processed as prescribed by the Act, the department said.
Cabinet action on immigration regulations halted by court (The Star, 10/03) -
Clandestine cabinet proposals that would throw open South Africa's borders
to 2,9-billion of the world's poorest people have come to light. On Monday,
Minister of Home Affairs Mangosuthu Buthelezi was ordered by the Cape High Court
to publish final, unamended immigration regulations for public comment. The
cabinet proposals, which would have substantially changed the regulations, must
also be published within 30 days. International immigration expert Gary
Eisenberg says the unamended regulations would show that cabinet proposals, and
mainly those from Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, form an
unprecedented departure from existing immigration policy - without calling for
one word of public comment. According to papers before the court, the changes to
the regulations were done by the cabinet after Buthelezi was requested to let
the cabinet review the regulations before they were published. The regulations
as amended by the cabinet were to be published, but the court yesterday ordered
Buthelezi to first publish the unamended rules, drawn up after extensive
consultation with the public and the Immigration Advisory Board. By law, the
cabinet is not empowered to make immigration regulations. The court also said
the amendments proposed by the cabinet were to be published for public comment.
Among other things, the cabinet proposals included:
- Taiwanese nationals can no longer visit South Africa without a visa.
- About 2,9-billion people from some of the poorest nations in the world become exempt from visa requirements if they wish to visit South Africa for certain time periods.
These countries include Zimbabwe, China, Russia, Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Cuba, Ethiopia, Mali, Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia and Turkey. On Monday, an application to force the publication of the cabinet-amended regulations was brought by specialist immigration law firm Eisenberg & Associates. Eisenberg commented on these changes as follows: "The possibility of persons from some of these states (coming) to South Africa without the screening of a visa requirement dramatically increases the likelihood that people will become illegal foreigners ..." Eisenberg said this policy would have an enormous and unprecedented impact on South Africa's overall system of migration control, with wide-ranging consequences for the entire country. "I do not know of any other country which has adopted such a wide-ranging regime of visa exemptions," he said. In January, Buthelezi was ready to sign the new rules and send them off to the Government Printers for publication. But by February 11, Buthelezi said the cabinet had taken an unprecedented decision to review the immigration regulations. "I submit that the cabinet committee has no power to make immigration regulations. It is only the minister of home affairs himself who may do so," Eisenberg stated in papers. Eisenberg's affidavit was confirmed by Buthelezi, who indicated that he would abide by the court's decision. By consent between the two parties, Mr Justice Hennie Erasmus on Monday ordered Buthelezi to publish the original, finalised immigration regulations and, within a month, the amendments that the cabinet wished to make, for public comment.
Emigration costs SA millions (Pretoria, Sapa, 11/03) - South Africa lost R800m a year in tax contributions through emigration, Solidarity general secretary Flip Buys said on Thursday. Every skilled person who left South Africa indirectly rendered up to 10 unskilled workers unemployed, he said in Pretoria. This meant that about 11 000 highly skilled people who left South Africa in 1999 had caused the loss of up to 110 000 unskilled job opportunities. "If emigration continues at this level the country will be unable to attain an economic growth rate of at least 3%." Buys was addressing a gathering to mark the first year of the trade union's "come home" campaign. It seeks to encourage South African emigrants to return home, and help them to do so. Minister of Home Affairs and Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi told the meeting he hoped the next government would do more to encourage South Africans abroad to come home. He criticised the decision not to allow South Africans living and working abroad to vote on April 14. This sent out the wrong message to expatriates and was not conducive to signifying that the country wanted them back, he said.
SA studies how much land in foreign hands (Business Report, 11/03) - South Africa is assessing how much of its land foreigners own as it decides whether to limit how much they should be allowed, a senior official said on Thursday. Land is an emotive topic in Africa's biggest economy, where concern is mounting over slow progress towards meeting a government goal to transfer 30 percent of white-owned agricultural land to blacks by 2014. Abbey Makoe, a senior aide to Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza, told Reuters a study of foreign land ownership in South Africa was launched by the government a year ago and would be ready in five to 10 days. "There has been concern (over this issue) raised at the grassroots level in South Africa... We can't argue with (a) lack of information, we are looking at the bigger picture," he said. "We believe there have to be mechanisms in place to monitor the trend because South Africa is one of the world's most attractive destinations," he said. But he said the country did not wish to deter foreign investors, who play a welcome role in the developing economy. Makoe said Didiza would look at the study and present it to President Thabo Mbeki, who may then pass it on to policy makers. He was clarifying remarks from the minister, who was quoted by South Africa's public broadcaster earlier on Thursday as saying laws would have to be introduced to control foreign land ownership. Makoe said if it was found that foreigners only owned a tiny percentage of South African land - contrary to what he called "thumbsuck statistics" - no action would be needed. "This is not a witch hunt against foreigners with land in South Africa and we don't want it to be interpreted that way," he said. "We welcome foreign ownership because this provides investment which we need for the development of the country." South Africa is struggling to boost meagre levels of foreign direct investment in its efforts to boost economic growth and bring down an official jobless rate of 30 percent. The ruling African National Congress is also under pressure to give blacks more control over the mainstream economy, with wide income disparities persisting a decade after the demise of apartheid. Makoe reiterated the government's pledge that property rights would be respected in South Africa, ruling out land grabs like those in northern neighbour Zimbabwe which have fuelled foreign concern over investing in the region. He also said remarks by Didiza on the need for mining and financial companies to become more involved in land reform should not be seen as a call for compulsory action. "Land reform is not the problem or challenge for government but for all of us, that we need to address," Didiza told the radio station. "Therefore where some of the mining houses and financial institutions are holding land, I think it's important to ensure that... they contribute that land towards redistribution so we can reach the 30 percent target," she said. The aide said Didiza was merely suggesting that firms in both sectors could make some of their land available to employees to live on.
Skills exodus takes toll on growth outlook (Business Day, 12/03) - The brain drain continues to rob SA of its skilled labour, the latest Statistics SA figures show, bearing out warnings from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and construction industry about its effect on economic growth. The exodus worsened almost by half last year, with 16165 South Africans emigrating compared with 10890 the year before. Engineers, accountants, managers and professionals in the construction and technical fields formed the bulk of emigrants. Europe and North America were the most popular destinations. SA's skills exodus is now among the highest on the African continent, according to analysts from the International Organisation of Migration, who have warned that the skills drain is putting the brakes on SA's human resource development strategy and economic growth on the continent. This is confirmed in the human resources development survey, released by the HSRC last month, which found SA was suffering critical shortages of intermediate and low skills, in the realm of the engineers, technicians and artisans on whom the economy relies for growth. The survey said that between 1987 and 1997, SA had lost 41496 skilled emigrants, which was 3,2 times more than the 12949 officially declared. It found 300000-500000 posts for skilled workers were unfilled at hospitals, clinics, schools, universities, financial firms and the public service. Forecasts for the period 2001-2006 indicated that the demand for engineers, scientists and computer-related workers would rise. "The demand for natural-science technologists and technicians is strong, but the supply is not growing fast enough," said Andre Kraak, director of the three-year survey. He identified further severe shortages of electronic, chemical and industrial engineers, especially blacks. Yesterday's migration figures showed 4316 skilled professionals in the engineering and related technologies sector, industrial, civil, mining and electrical sectors headed overseas last year to work. President Thabo Mbeki expressed concern recently that the brain drain had extended to black professionals. The South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors also sounded the alarm this week about the contraction in the building industry sending experienced professionals overseas. Last month, large firms, such as SABMiller, MTN, Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive, Shell, Lafarge, Stanbic and Standard Corporate & Merchant Bank, said they were driving a "skills crusade" to lure the brightest black talent back from abroad.
SA continues to be a magnet for tourists (Johannesburg, Business Report, 12/03) - The number of international visitors to South Africa last year continued to grow despite numerous bogus reports that the strong rand had dented tourism, industry leaders said yesterday. Helder Pereira, the managing director of Southern Sun Hotels, said at the group's annual industry overview for last year that the rand's strength had not hurt the hotel industry's volumes. "We have not had the same experience as other exporters," he said. South African hotel occupancy levels were 68 percent last year, outpacing all other global regions the local industry competes with. In 2002 international visitors, which includes African visitors travelling by air, rose 18.7 percent to about 2.18 million, the biggest growth recorded by the tourism and travel industry. Pereira said the industry had struggled to repeat the 2002 performance especially in the absence of an event such as the UN's World Summit on Sustainable Development. Numbers for last year, until the end of November, showed a 4.5 percent growth on 2002. The rand's volatility had, however, created misperceptions on price increases. "We are still a value destination, pricing is not an issue," Pereira said. Arguments that the industry was pricing itself out of the market did not take into account the pricing in the industry over the past five years. From 2002 to 2003 prices jumped by between 14 percent and 24 percent across a range of three- and four-star hotels. But pricing graphs, tracked for three- and four-star hotels in Cape Town and Johannesburg from 1999 to 2003, showed increases ranging between 6.4 percent and 12.7 percent. Moeketsi Mosola, the chief operating officer of SA Tourism, said he hoped the debate about the strong rand and pricing - which were said to be hurting tourism - would now finally be put to bed. "People are shooting from the hip, they have been writing about issues they don't understand," he said. He added that South African tourism had sound fundamentals and was doing very well when compared to its global competitors. Mosola said studies showed that, on average, visitors spent 10 percent more last year than in 2002, with each person spending an average of R1 300 a day. Pereira and Mosola both called for more flights from different countries to be allowed into the domestic market. Rob O'Hanlon, a Deloitte & Touche partner specialising in travel, tourism and leisure, explained that the growth in the tourism industry was driven by people's desire to have safe, risk-free holidays. South Africa had won new visitors following various terror threats and attacks around the world, particularly since September 2001. Just yesterday, Spanish capital Madrid, a favourite destination for UK holiday makers, was rocked by bomb blasts that killed 186 people and injured hundreds more.
SA family gets US asylum (Pasadena, News24, 15/03) - A Durban family who emigrated to the US in 1997 has been granted asylum in the US in the immigration appeals court of California. The first asylum application in 1999, which claimed "as a white South African she [Michelle Thomas] became a victim of persecution by black South Africans," was rejected because, according to the presiding judge, "the South African government didn't promote violence by blacks against whites." However, the appeal was successful on the grounds that "they [the Thomas family] had been persecuted as a result of their family ties in South Africa." (Read entire article at www.news24.com.)
Mbeki asks court to stop publication of immigration rules (Johannesburg, The Cape Times, 15/03) - In a bizarre twist to the saga of South Africa's new immigration regulations, President Thabo Mbeki has taken urgent and clandestine court action to stop Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi's regulations from being published.Mbeki said the government had serious concerns about the unconstitutionality of a number of these rules, was still considering them and wanted legal opinion on them. It seems from papers before court that Buthelezi had not told Mbeki that he had agreed to publish his original immigration regulations, as they were before the cabinet made significant changes to them. Also in papers before court, Minister of Justice penuell Maduna accused the Cape High Court of "unconstitutionally" interfering with the work of the cabinet. On Monday last week Buthelezi agreed to a court order issued by Judge Hennie Erasmus that he publish the unamended immigration regulations after an application filed by Eisenberg & Associates, a law firm specialising in immigration law. In his affidavit motivating the application, attorney Gary Eisenberg said the unamended regulations should be published in the name of transparency and because the law says that they should be. By Monday afternoon, Government Gazette 26126, containing the unamended immigration regulations, was printed, although its publication was postponed. Mbeki then went to court on Wednesday to obtain a secret court order overturning Judge Erasmus's earlier order, that the unamended regulations must be published. T he unamended regulations were to come into operation within 30 days after they were published. On the same day Judge Erasmus issued an order suspending his first order, pending legal argument on the matter. Maduna, who filed the affidavit on behalf of the president, said Buthelezi was not allowed to agree to publish the regulations. "The president was not advised that the order was taken by consent. "The president has not had an opportunity to investigate and establish the circumstances under which the order was taken," Maduna said in papers before court. He added that Mbeki had only become aware of the order to publish the regulations on Tuesday last week. "The minister (Buthelezi) could not give his consent (for the order). It is invalid," he said. Maduna added that under the constitution, the court could not order the immigration regulations to be published. He gave three reasons for this: . The regulations involve questions of national policy. The cabinet has asked the state law advisers to look at the regulations. The status of the regulations are at present unresolved. Maduna said that the court "invaded" the powers of the president and the national executive by making the order. He said the regulations would have an impact on a number of ministries, including foreign affairs, safety and security, health, education, trade abd industry, science and technology, the revenue service and national intelligence. The regulation changes proposed by the cabinet are a detailed departure from existing immigration policy and the immigration regulations now published by the Minister of Home Affairs that were drawn up after extensive consultation with the public and the Immigration Advisory Board. By law, any proposals made by the cabinet must also be submitted for public comment, or the regulations cannot be legal. Among the proposals by the cabinet are: . Barring Taiwanese nationals from visiting South Africa without a visa. Lifting visa restrictions for about 2.9 billion people from some of the poorest nations in the world if they wish to visit South Africa for certain periods. These countries include Zimbabwe, China, Russia, Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Cuba, Ethiopia, Mali, Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia and Turkey. It is believed that the parties were to return to Judge Erasmus's chambers today, to continue their wrangling about the original court order.
Statement on immigration regulations by GCIS (Sapa, 18/03) - Given recent developments around the issue of Immigration Regulations, and in response to media enquiries on this matter, government wishes to set out to the public a clear and comprehensive picture of the processes under way in this regard.In January 2004, the Minister of Home Affairs was preparing the promulgation of Immigration Regulations, the draft of which was discussed by the Cabinet. Cabinet raised some policy and constitutional concerns regarding discrepancies in the draft immigration requirements as they applied to citizens of various categories of countries.The Cabinet decided that consultations needed to continue among the Ministers and Departments concerned, and further that these issues should be referred to the State Law Advisors for a legal opinion. The law advisors were instructed to work, in this process, with a Task Team set up by the Minister of Home Affairs. Accordingly, the State Law Advisors submitted their comments on the draft regulations to a Task Team of the Department of Home Affairs. Interaction between the two entities is continuing. This is an internal government process, after which the external consultations as envisaged by Section 7 of the Immigration Act will commence. Because the regulations have profound foreign and security policy implications, they need to go through Cabinet. A Committee of Ministers chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs who is the responsible Minister for the Immigration Act has been charged with finalising recommendations on the regulations for submission to Cabinet. This Committee will evaluate the inputs from the State Law Advisors. On or about 2 March 2004, Eisenberg and Associates launched an urgent application in the Cape High Court against the Minister of Home Affairs for an order declaring that the Regulations made by the Minister were valid and lawful, and interdicting the Minister from making any other Regulations. The Minister of Home Affairs subsequently filed a notice of his intention to abide by an order made by the court. However, the Minister, at a later stage, consented to a specific order being made, something that had not been asked for by the applicant. Essentially, that order compelled the Minister forthwith to publish the regulations which are still being considered by the law advisors and which also have to be further reflected upon by Cabinet. The order also directed the Minister to make public Cabinet's comments on the regulations and to publish them with a view to making amendments to the regulations. In the view of government, this order, which was granted by the High Court, infringes upon the powers of the Executive to determine national policy and is therefore unconstitutional. Such an order would have a severe impact on the smooth and proper functioning of government. President Thabo Mbeki thus requested Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Pennuel Maduna to address this matter in a manner that would not compromise the country's national interests. Minister Maduna approached the High Court on an urgent basis to stay the order that had been granted, and he will approach the court again to have the order set aside.The court order requiring the Minister of Home Affairs to publish the Immigration Regulations has since been stayed by the Cape High Court. This means that the Court has ordered the Minister of Home Affairs not to continue with the publication of both the regulations and the Cabinet discussion documents.Accordingly, any Immigration Regulations that may have been published are of no force and effect until this matter is finalised. Government is committed to ensuring that the Immigration Regulations are consistent with the intent of the Immigration Act of 2002. The matter is being handled expeditiously and with maximum rigour, and we are certain that the final product will be in South Africa's best interest.
President, Buthelezi clash over immigration laws (The Star, 19/03) - The lack of communication between Mangosuthu Buthelezi and President Thabo Mbeki has led to confusion over the new immigration laws.Their spat is the latest in the more than five-year-long battle for control over the country's immigration policy. The controversy is a reflection on the relationship between the home affairs minister and Mbeki, which has deteriorated to the point where they do not speak to each other.Buthelezi and Minister of Justice Penuell Maduna - acting on Mbeki's behalf - have issued conflicting statements over immigration regulations due to come into effect next month. This supports the contents of papers before the Cape High Court that neither Buthelezi nor Mbeki kept each other informed of legal developments around immigration. The regulations were published on Monday last week, but only after Buthelezi had agreed to a court order sought by immigration attorney Gary Eisenberg.However, the regulations published differ vastly from amendments proposed by the cabinet, which Mbeki said were meant to deal with the unconstitutionality of the regulations. The court also ordered Buthelezi to publish, within a month, controversial amendments made to the regulations by the cabinet. Two days after the regulations were published, Mbeki went to court, asking for this order to be suspended, which was granted.In a statement yesterday, Maduna said: "The court order requiring the minister of home affairs to publish the immigration regulations has since been stayed ..."This means that the court has ordered the minister of home affairs not to continue with the publication of both the regulations and the cabinet discussion documents."Accordingly, any immigration regulations that may have been published are of no force and effect until this matter is finalised."But on Tuesday, Buthelezi released a statement indicating the complete opposite: "The suspension of the order does not affect its first part because the immigration regulations have been made."They are valid and will come into force as set out in the regulations themselves (on April 7)."
Buthelezi's last laugh (The Financial Mail, 19/03) - If anyone is bothering to keep score in the endless wrangle over SA's immigration policy, then, after this week, home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi must be winning. In the past week, Buthelezi has won in the courts and in the media - though at first glance it may not appear so. This week's tussle has been over visa exemptions, which are just one aspect of the immigration regulations, which will give effect to the new Immigration Act. Buthelezi's mandate as home affairs minister is to draw up these regulations after consultation conducted through the Immigration Advisory Board, on which organised business and several other constituencies are represented. On the subject of visa exemptions, the regulations opted for keeping the status quo: in other words, all countries that enjoyed exemption during the apartheid era would be exempted again. No significant additions were made. This consultation process has been under way for a year and the regulations were ready for publication in January. But before they were published Buthelezi was requested to present them to cabinet, as immigration policy affects a range of other state functions, from security to trade and industry. Buthelezi had intended going ahead without consulting the cabinet, on the grounds that the regulation-making process did not specify that he should. In the cabinet, the department of foreign affairs made substantial criticisms, arguing that visa exemptions needed to be reconsidered - in particular, to decide whether countries (such as those in Africa) that exempt South Africans from visa requirements should receive reciprocity. It was agreed that a cabinet committee, chaired by Buthelezi, should be established to discuss the regulations. But before the discussion could get going, a Cape Town immigration lawyer, Gary Eisenberg, who "heard via the grapevine" of the confidential proceedings in cabinet, applied to the Cape high court to have the original regulations published, which they were on March 8. Buthelezi did not oppose the application - in fact, his advisers and Eisenberg negotiated a consent settlement on the Sunday afternoon before the court hearing. The order had two parts: that the original regulations must be published and that the "amendments" must be published. Buthelezi immediately published his original regulations in the Government Gazette. The effect of doing so, say Eisenberg and an adviser to Buthelezi, is that these will come into force after 30 days. Dismayed by what had happened, President Thabo Mbeki, without informing Buthelezi, launched an application two days later to have the order suspended. The outcome of this application will be decided on April 1. .But whether successful or not in setting aside the order, Mbeki's intervention has come too late. Buthelezi's original regulations (see next story) have already been published in the Government Gazette and will come into effect on April 8, whatever the court decides. So Buthelezi has won a political victory against his cabinet colleagues by getting his regulations published, even though the court application was initiated by somebody else. The matter was complicated by misleading press reports which suggested that, in the absence of Buthelezi's regulations, foreign affairs would implement the policy of visa reciprocity, which would open the door to 2,gbn people from the world's poorest nations. The reports were wrong since the department of foreign affairs has not formulated replacement regulations. A cabinet spokesman says discussion on the regulations "was work in progress". A foreign affairs official says "the idea was that all this would be debated, what was simply put forward was that it cannot be correct that the status quo must remain" . While many may have grown used to Buthelezi and the ANC being at loggerheads on immigration, Mbeki's clandestine court challenge of an order to which one of his own ministers consented must place the relationship at one of its lowest points yet.
Implications of immigration regulations for business (The Financial Mail, 19/03) - The furore around the immigration regulations has obscured their significance for business. Together the regulations and the Immigration Act of 2002 prescribe the conditions under which foreigners may work and set the requirements for investors or entrepreneurs wanting to settle in SA. The approach to skilled foreigners has been substantially liberalised. The following permits will apply: Quota permit. 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 would 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 skill levels can be accommodated under the quota system. Immigration lawyer Julian Pokroy says the quota system will be "workable" - and SA would be doing well if it were able to attract the number of skilled foreigners the quotas allow."We'd have liked to see them more liberalised. But I don't think they will be obstructive to investors," he says.However, for employing a foreigner, employers will pay a 2% remuneration penalty, which though originally intended for training South Africans, will now go to the treasury.Business Unity SA's representative on the board, Vic Esselaar, says business has opposed the 2% levy from the start. However, he believes the new procedure can be successful "if the quotas remain as broad as they are".General work permit. Where foreigners do not fit into the quota categories, employers will have to demonstrate that they have advertised the post for a month and not found a South African to fill it.Corporate work permit. Firms that employ large numbers of foreign migrant workers will also be subject to the 2% remuneration penalty. Esselaar says the mining industry remains aggrieved about what amounts to an extra tax and, through talks with minerals & energy minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, "sincerely hopes to be exempted". Business permit. Investors or entrepreneurs who would like to settle in SA must have a minimum of R2m, which is R500 000 less than originally proposed. If they are able to prove that their business can be capitalised by much less, they will be able to negotiate this amount with the department of home affairs.Retired foreigners. During the public discussion on the regulations it was mooted that retiring foreigners would need to bring in a lump sum of R25m. This has been reduced to R12m, or an income of R18 000/month. Both amounts can be substantially reduced by the rental value of a property purchased for living in.
UNHCR praises improvement of asylum system (Johannesburg, Angop, 22/03) - The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) says it is encouraged by some "promising signs" that the asylum procedure in South Africa will be improved both in quality and speedy decisions. In a statement released Friday ahead of the commemoration of the South African Human Rights Day which falls on Sunday, UNHCR regional representative Bemma Donkoh noted that dealing with asylum' cases', in fact, means dealing with human beings who are in very difficult situations. "Their suffering can be drawn out by lengthy and inefficient refugee status determination procedures. Many South Africans do, indeed, know how it feels to be a refugee and how important it is to find a supportive host country," said Donkoh. She pointed out that Pretoria had promised to provide better documentation and to shorten the length of asylum procedures, to enable refugees to rebuild their lives, seek employment and take care of their families. Donkoh hopes that the government's commitment to increase the staffing of asylum authorities, to better train employees and put an end to certain illegal practices will materialise soon. She also welcomed South Africa's numerous peace initiatives, saying that the best refugee policy is to prevent situations, which will force people to flee their countries. "While the people of South African celebrate ten years of democracy, other African nations are less fortunate. As long as this is the case, those victimised by conflict situations and human rights abuses should be able to count on a warm welcome in this country," Donkoh said.
Congolese refugee reaches out to South Africa's underprivileged (Tshepisong, UNHCR, 22/03) - It is away from the high-rise buildings and bright lights of Johannesburg, southern Africa's economic hub, that Mufumbe Mateso Felix, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), finds his purpose in life. Johannesburg's underbelly is home to many of South Africa's desperate and disillusioned. Unrealised dreams of a better life have pushed many people to the fringes of society, unsure of the future. Tshepisong Township, a sprawling shack settlement, is one such place. Established in 1998, Tshepisong's population of 13,000 is a seething mass of would-be labourers and retrenched workers nursing shattered dreams. Ill-advised youth and weary women spend their days on street corners, with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Stories of domestic violence and the abuse of women and children are commonplace here. The spread of HIV/AIDS is steadily on the increase and attending funerals has become a community pastime. Felix is hard at work. When he and Portia Manthatha, chairperson of The Power of Women and Children (PoWC), aren't writing proposals and raising funds, they are out and about in Tshepisong doing what they do best – providing support and assistance. PoWC is Felix's brainchild. Started in 2002, it is a non-governmental organisation that aims to empower women and children by developing their skills. It offers computer, catering and sewing classes, while also assisting communities with selected projects. The organisation is also affiliated to the South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), the largest single umbrella body of non-governmental organisations in the region that work on issues affecting South Africa's development."I became involved with the community of Tshepisong after I heard of their plight," says Felix. "Some very determined women from the community led a protest march against the abuse of women and children, after the arrest of a resident who had raped three little girls. The women fought to have the case heard at the Johannesburg Supreme Court, where the accused was given three life sentences. I was instantly drawn to these women and it was only natural that I became involved in their concerns." Felix studied Rural Development and Regional Planning in his country of origin and boasts an impressive work record. He worked with several international organisations like the UN, CARITAS, Care International and Oxfam in the DRC between 1993 and 1996, and was a logistics officer in a refugee camp in eastern DRC until he fled the invasion of the Tutsi movement in October 1996.It was the plight of women and children in war-torn situations that pulled at his heart-strings all those years ago. Today it is the plight of women and children in South Africa's underprivileged societies that propel him into action. One of the projects Felix is supporting through the PoWC is the Tshepisong Care Centre that looks after AIDS orphans. When he visits the centre today, a gaggle of wide-eyed children rush out and gather around, happy to see him. With a passable grasp of Zulu and a smattering of seSotho, two of the languages spoken here, he gives them his undivided attention.The centre's teacher, Thobile Ngubo, says, "One day Felix came to check on us. It was almost mid-day and the stove wasn't lit. There was nothing to give the children that day but cold stiff porridge. We knew that stiff porridge alone wasn't nutritious, especially for the sick kids. You could see them looking expectantly at us because they knew it was almost lunch time. It was heart-breaking.""Like an answer to our prayers, Felix arrived and we told him that we didn't know what to feed the children. He didn't question anything but got back into his car and drove off. He returned with minced meat and tomatoes, which we prepared for the children's lunch. We were so relieved!"Coordinator Wendy Maseko agrees: "He was the first person to ever donate food to this project. Nobody else did. No member of this community, no South African either."The Care Centre is a two-roomed zinc shack that is stifling in summer and freezing in winter. Maseko and the PoWC are negotiating with the local city council for a plot of land the team has identified. On it, a new Care Centre will hopefully be built with proper facilities to accommodate the children, who are increasing by the day. Sadly, everything here involves a lengthy process. Getting health care from the local clinic – a four-roomed structure run by four nurses for 13,000 people – can be a nightmare. Thankfully, the children's physical and intellectual health has improved remarkably since PoWC negotiated for food parcels and some financial leeway from the local schools. "I am not a qualified teacher," says Ngubo. "But as a mother, I can see improvements in the children's appearance and their attentiveness in class. When they are tested informally, their responses and reactions are very good. They are alert, active and look forward to our time together. Some children came here with bad cases of diarrhoea but have become much better now."Tshepisong Care Centre, which has 65 children under its care, has 10 HIV-positive children who have been admitted to hospital. Three of the children, now in the final stages of the disease, live with Maseko."Felix's role is very important as he does a lot of fund-raising for us. While we have put in an application for support with the Department of Social Welfare, Felix is fund-raising on a smaller scale. We have been disappointed several times by people who came here, shed a few tears and promised something, but who then disappeared without a trace. Felix has never done that to us," says Maseko.Although Felix is one of many refugees making a positive contribution in the lives of South Africans, some people would still question his sincerity. In a country where the levels of xenophobia run high, he has stood his ground when confronted."I have met good people in South Africa who are sympathetic towards refugees and there are certainly people who are xenophobic too," he acknowledges. "Apartheid was thorough in destroying people's belief in their potential and abilities. People struggled to get through each day. With new faces and cultures coming in, surely their suspicion of foreigners taking what is theirs is understandable, to a degree."In December 2003, Felix became a Permanent Resident of the Republic of South Africa. The envy of many of his refugee counterparts, he believes that his good work is being rewarded. This is a sign for him to continue what he is doing and to do more. "In my way I am also trying to break down the divisions that exist particularly between African people here," he says. "In communities like Tshepisong, where people really feel threatened by our presence as non-South Africans, I also take the opportunity to show people that we are here because of the political situation back home, not because we want to take their wives.""We are very happy that Felix has become a Permanent Resident," says Maseko with a smile. "For us though, this was just a legal formality. Felix is a community member. He can't go anywhere now. He is one of us."
Why government wants the regulations scrapped (The Star, 30/03) - The main objections are that the immigration regulations are unconstitutional and cannot be implemented successfully. The new regulations are supposed to come into effect on April 8. In addition, Minister of Justice Penuell Maduna claimed in papers before the court that: . There is not enough money in the Home Affairs budget to implement the regulations, as they envision an extensive increase in manpower. . The rules would allow people into the country who can hold enormous security risks. The cabinet is worried that the new rules would make it easier for people from well-known drug-producing countries, and countries where human trafficking is prevalent, to get a foothold in South Africa. . It might become almost impossible to deport illegal foreigners as there are no immigration courts yet - and this is the main way to effect deportations under the new rules. The Department of Home Affairs does not have the infrastructure to handle the enormous amounts of money expected to be paid and repaid in terms of the regulations.
Buthelezi defied me, says Mbeki (The Star, 30/03) - Mangosuthu Buthelezi has defied President Thabo Mbeki by agreeing to a court order to publish controversial immigration regulations. This is one of several serious allegations made in papers before the Cape High Court by Mbeki, as the relationship between him and the home affairs minister hits an all- time low.If Buthelezi got his way, Mbeki argued, drug dealers and human traffickers would find it easy to enter South Africa; it would be virtually impossible to deport illegal immigrants; and the country would be dumped into "administrative chaos".Immigration regulations state who can come into South Africa and who must be kept out.After almost a decade of acrimonious fights over the country's immigration policy, the two adversaries will finally square up in court next week. This serious clash between the head of state and one of his cabinet ministers comes only two weeks before South Africa's third democratic elections, and amid fears of election violence between their parties - the ANC and Inkatha Freedom Party - in KwaZulu Natal.Buthelezi was completely ignored as a party by Mbeki in the papers, but he has already applied for leave to intervene.In the papers, Minister of Justice Penuell Maduna, acting on behalf of Mbeki, said Buthelezi's consent to the court order - even though he knew the cabinet was still considering the regulations, and without telling Mbeki about it - "had no legal effect" and was "creating a potential constitutional crisis".The drama started about a month ago when Cape Town immigration attorney Gary Eisenberg brought an application to force Buthelezi to publish final immigration regulations. These regulations were the product of public comment and the input of the Immigration Advisory Board.Buthelezi agreed to publish the regulations, which were at that stage under discussion by the cabinet. By publishing them in the Government Gazette on March 8, he started a one-month countdown before the regulations were to come into operation.Mbeki then rushed to court to obtain an order suspending the order to which Buthelezi had agreed. Even though this might have had some political impact, legal experts were divided over the effect it would have on the date that the published regulations were to come into operation. In a bizarre twist, both the departments of Justice and Home Affairs then issued press releases. The Department of Justice said the regulations were not coming into operation, while Home Affairs said they were. Shortly afterwards, the president's legal team filed an amended court action, this time asking for the regulations to be declared invalid and of no force and effect. In an affidavit filed with these papers, Maduna said Buthelezi's regulations were "incapable of proper implementation and are unconstitutional".In an affidavit filed at the Cape High Court, Maduna said that by ordering Buthelezi to publish the documents, the Cape High Court had infringed upon the cabinet's constitutional authority. The legal standpoint the president's team was taking was that Buthelezi "had no authority to fetter the power vested in him or the powers of the president and cabinet", argued Maduna.Maduna said the order directly impacted on the departments of Foreign Affairs, Safety and Security, Justice, Correctional Services, Health, Education, Trade and Industry, Science and Technology, and Finance - but none had been asked about it. According to Maduna's affidavit, the present regulations also violate bilateral agreements with a number of countries.Maduna added that the regulations created "serious security risks" by allowing a "14-day grace period for foreigners and asylum-seekers"."Passport holders from drug-producing countries ... regularly abuse travel facilitation," Maduna said. He added that the regulations would make it almost impossible for people to be deported because immigration courts - for which provision is made in the regulations - would play a very important role in this process, but no measures had been put in place to create these courts.Buthelezi knew that legal advisers were busy looking at the regulations, Maduna said, but had gone ahead and published them anyway."Administrative chaos and state liability will inevitably result from the confusion ..." Maduna said.Mbeki's application is due to be heard on Monday.
Manto: Medical assistants will be trained to help with crisis (The Witness, 30/03) - Medical assistants will be trained to alleviate the shortage of doctors, particularly in rural areas, Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang announced yesterday.The minister said medical assistants would be trained for three years followed by an internship in a district hospital.She was speaking at the launch of a Medical Assistant Programme during a two-day meeting that started in Johannesburg.The programme is expected to enrol more than 100 students when it is piloted next year and the number of students will increase over the next five years.To practise, medical assistants must pass the national certificate examination set by the National Board of Medical Examiners. They will receive a practising licence from the medical board and a medical doctor will be appointed to supervise the medical assistant.Tshabalala-Msimang said South Africa was producing a sufficient number of doctors through its eight medical schools. However, these doctors were not distributed properly due to their movement from rural to urban areas, public to private sectors and across the borders of the country.She said the realities of South Africa were such that there was no obvious way of enforcing equitable distribution of health human resources based on need."This is why we have to be ever creative and innovative in addressing challenges facing South Africa's health care needs," she said.
KZN positions itself to attract foreign tourists (Durban, BuaNews, 30/03) - Tourism bosses in KwaZulu-Natal are devising a number of strategies to minimise the impact of the withdrawal of international flights from the Durban International Airport.The withdrawal of international flights from the airport has resulted in the province losing a considerable slice of foreign tourists. It emerged this week at the KwaZulu-Natal Aviation Development Workshop that the province lost R64 million in 1999 and R143 million last year, due to the lack of direct international flights to Durban.Economic Affairs and Tourism Minister Roger Burrows noted at the workshop, that had the direct flights to Durban not been discontinued, a total of 2 000 jobs would have been created in 2003 alone.Mr Burrows said to minimise this negative impact on KwaZulu-Natal tourism, Tourism KZN launched Tourism Strategy 2003-2006 whose objective was to increase the number of foreign air arrival tourists."The strategy aims to increase foreign air arrival tourists from 520 000 in 2003 to 620 000 in 2006 and increase direct tourism spending from R9 billion in 2003 to R12 billion in 2006. "It is anticipated that this increase in spending will increase the total impact on employment from 125 000 in 2003 to 149 000 in 2006," said Mr Burrows.Also to cover for the loss of tourists due to the withdrawal of international flights in Durban in 2000, the province is focusing on attracting charter flights. "Research has shown that charter flights are big business in Europe and that about 50 percent of all European tourists make use of this type of transport. "The Authority (Tourism Authority) has been instrumental in ensuring the signing of a number of deals which will see charters arriving in KwaZulu-Natal in the 2004/2005 year. "As a result of these charters, the potential exists for an economic impact of about R210 million which could sustain a further 2 730 jobs," said Mr Burrows.He said that, as a long-term strategy, tour operators agreed that the proposed King Shaka International Airport in La Mercy, north of Durban, along with closely associated regional airports could have a dramatic impact on tourism in the province.
Editorial on the Immigration Regulations court case (The Star, 31/03) - Bad governance has many faces. Sacrificing a pivotal law and a crucial department in the name of politics must be one of the ugliest. In 1994, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi was given the Home Affairs portfolio as a way of keeping the peace in KwaZulu Natal. Looking back it seems that what the ANC intended was handing Buthelezi the title with none of the power. Unfortunately for them Buthelezi refused to play ball. Eight years of acrimonious political fighting ensued. This was veiled as discussions about the country's immigration policy. At times Buthelezi threatened to leave government and at times he warned that peace in KwaZulu Natal should not be taken for granted.It should not have come as a surprise to President Thabo Mbeki that Buthelezi outmanoeuvred him by agreeing to a court order publishing his final immigration regulations - the gatekeeping rules in South Africa - while cabinet was still considering a number of the issues. Publication started the countdown for the regulations to come into operation.Mbeki then struck back and got his own court order suspending the order Buthelezi had agreed to. Now - after some more legal wrangling - the president will be squaring up in court to one of his own cabinet ministers. This is a novel situation in South African law and a bad one to be arising nine days before the election.The problem is that this is not only a stand-off between two politicians; there will probably be casualties all round. Legal experts agree that, if anything, the new Immigration Act is a deeply flawed piece of legislation.As the battlefield for most fights between Buthelezi and Mbeki, the Department of Home Affairs was allowed to descend into chaos. An acrimonious court case on the eve of the election might just ignite the simmering political tension present in KwaZulu Natal. Buthelezi is already on the defensive. In his speech at the inauguration of the Immigration Advisory Board he said: "I had to bear a great deal of humiliation and overcome difficulties and obstacles of all sorts, most of which are, and will, in all likelihood, remain untold."Mbeki is faced with a potential public relations disaster in open court as he takes on a member of his own cabinet.But for some reason both these seasoned politicians have decided it's worth going ahead.It seems almost impossible that the matter would be resolved otherwise. Buthelezi is not speaking to the president. He is not even using the government's lawyers to sort out his legal problems. Mbeki effectively had eight years to sort out this mess, but waited until two weeks before the election before taking action against Buthelezi.It is true that he was ambushed, but for once Mbeki is unable to say that he did not see it coming. Or maybe he was not paying attention?
Maduna has ulterior motives, says Buthelezi (The Star, 31/03) - A last chance for some "grandiose Buthelezi-bashing" is what Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi has called litigation over his new immigration policies. Buthelezi on Tuesday said the litigation could be seen as a result of mistrust - and not because of any fundamental problem with the regulations or the manner in which they were published. "It seems the mistrust some people have in me as a leader, a politician and a minister is stronger than the sense of responsibility they should have for the interest of the state," he said in a letter to The Star. The matter comes before the Cape High Court next week when President Thabo Mbeki will ask for the new regulations to be declared invalid and unlawful. Buthelezi fired a salvo at Justice Minister Penuell Maduna, acting on behalf of Mbeki, for giving information to the court which was "wrong in fact" and proves that the litigation was "put forward with ulterior motives". He said allegations by Maduna in papers before court was the product of "ignorance and an improper reading" of the regulations. "I guess this was the last opportunity for some grandiose Buthelezi-bashing before the elections." Buthelezi on Tuesday filed an affidavit at the Cape High Court setting out similar concerns. The drama started about a month ago when Cape Town immigration attorney Gary Eisenberg brought an application to force Buthelezi to publish final immigration regulations. These were the product of public comment and the input of the Immigration Advisory Board. Buthelezi agreed to publish the regulations, which were at that stage still under discussion by the cabinet. By publishing them in the Government Gazette on March 8, he started a one-month countdown for them to come into operation. Mbeki then rushed to court to obtain an order suspending the order to which Buthelezi had agreed. This was followed by further court action by the president, this time asking for the regulations to be declared invalid and of no force and effect. In these papers, he accused Buthelezi of defiance. In an affidavit filed with these papers, Maduna said Buthelezi's regulations were "incapable of proper implementation and are unconstitutional". Buthelezi on Tuesday said there was nothing wrong with what he did. "Should an uproar exist, it should be about the fact that had it not been for the intervention of the Cape High Court, a year-long process of public participation and expert advice of the Immigration Advisory Board would have been subverted by a process which lacked the required accountability and transparency." He pointed out that the regulations were considered and changed by the Immigration Advisory Board - an independent body on which every minister had a "hand-picked representative". He also noted he had addressed all the cabinet's concerns except one - proof that the concerns were "unfounded if not vexatious". The concern he did not address was a proposal of the minister of foreign affairs and the cabinet that South Africa waive requirements for countries containing about 2,9-billion people. Buthelezi explained that this would "include almost the whole of Africa, China, India, Russia and many other countries which host a poor and very mobile population". "Maduna is wrong in saying my regulations would enable drug dealers and human-traffickers to find it easier to enter South Africa. Ignorant people always argue in the extreme." "If anything, it is the waiving of visa requirements for 2,9-billion foreigners that would enable easier access into the country by all types of undesirable people." He said Maduna's contention that the regulations could not be implemented properly was "nonsense". He also dismissed as "similarly ludicrous" Maduna's contention that he had caused a constitutional crisis by agreeing to the order to publish the regulations.
Angolan refugees want to return home (Johannesburg, Irin, 18/03) - The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in South Africa has encouraged Angolan refugees to return home to help rebuild their country."The war in Angola is over and many of the refugees are needed as the country moves forward to development. Many of them are well-educated, which would serve the country well during this time," the UN refugee agency's spokeswoman, Melita Sunjic, told IRIN.Some 200 people protested outside the Angolan consulate on Thursday over what they alleged was the government's lack of support for Angolan refugees living in the country."We want to continue our studies before we return, and for that we need sponsorship from the authorities in Luanda. We don't understand why some [Angolan] students studying in South Africa have received financial assistance, while others are struggling," said Dinies da Costa, one of the leaders of the demonstration.There were also concerns among the Angolan community in South Africa over the lack of employment opportunities in their home country. "Angola is our home country and we do want to go back at some stage, but we are aware that it is difficult to make a living there without education. At least if we finish our education we can contribute to the upliftment of the society," Da Costa explained.The Angolan ambassador to South Africa, Isaac Maria dos Anjos, denied the accusation of discrimination against Angolan refugees studying in South Africa. "Of the 2,500 students, very few have help from the government. Some are helped by the Sonogol oil company, but most of the students receive money from their parents in Angola, which helps with fees." Last year a tripartite agreement signed by South Africa, Angola and the UNHCR laid the groundwork for voluntary repatriation of some 13,000 Angolans. But encouraging Angolan refugees in South Africa to return to their home country will not be easy. "Unlike Angolan refugees in other countries, who are keen to return home even during the rainy season, there may be a few challenges in trying to convince those still living in South Africa. Many of them are well-connected and have integrated well into South Africa society. Angolan refugees who have lived in South Africa have an advantage because many of them speak English. This skill is particularly useful now, as trade increases with the country," Sunjic said. She noted that moves were underway to find opportunities for returnees in South African companies wishing to expand into Angola."It is very important that they go back home because we need the skills they learnt in South Africa - they have learnt much about the private sector and how business works. We desperately need this in Angola, but they must work with the government to put in place suitable conditions for the private sector to develop," dos Anjos said.
Brain drain crisis (Mbabane, Times of Swaziland, 06/03) - Plumbers have also joined the list of people migrating to Europe given the hefty salaries they pay. In three weeks time 20 plumbers are leaving for Ireland where they will be earning close to E20 000, which is unheard of in Swaziland. The Ireland Company has already bought 20 air tickets for the plumbers from Johannesburg International Airport. The recruiters Thuli and John Craven, who are also leaving, placed an advert in one of the newspapers and the response was overwhelming. Thuli stated that there was no age restriction as people in Ireland work until they reach the age of 65. "All the people who applied are qualified and most of them were without jobs. The only problem we faced was that a number of them did not have international passports," she said. The Swazis are expected to sign a two- year contract, which means that they will make up to E480 000. She explained that after they have settled in Ireland, they will be allowed to return to fetch their families. Another profession that is in demand overseas is that of nursing as over 100 nurses have left for England and more are presently processing the necessary papers before leaving.
Company recruits Swazis for Europe and Asia (Manzini, Times of Swaziland, 06/03) - Another mass migration of people in the country for greener pastures has started and this time it is not to the South African mines where over 3000 Swazis are employed but to Europe and other parts of the world. Close to 120 Swazi people will leave the country in about two weeks time to start their new life in England and Asia (Japan) where they have been hired. The 120 people will join over 100 Swazis who are already working in the different countries in Europe. An American company, trading under the style name S&S Investments facilitates this migration, which started operations in the country last year May. The company is situated in Manzini at the SNA T Co-ops Building. The function of the company is to link any Swazi who is interested in working overseas with the relevant industries and that person can earn up to E35 000 a month. The 120 people to work overseas include qualified and none qualified Swazis. Actually there is a great demand of people who are interested in working in the industries and other places. According to the Company Director, Phumlani Mkhonta they are linked to a number of companies in Europe through their mother company in the United States of America. Every person who comes to them looking for a job overseas is 95 percent sure that he or she will be employed. He said that his company works as an agent and they take the application of their client and sent it to their mother body in the USA where it is processed. "So far most of the people who are leaving the country for Europe, more specially England where the demand is high are the nurses. Everyday I attend to more that five nurses who come for a consultation and some of them have already sent their applications. Nurses are paid close to E60 000 in Europe. We are here to help people find employment the only thing you have to do is approach us and in about two weeks you could be waiting for an international passport and an air ticket to go to Europe or Asia and anywhere in the world to start working," said Mkhonta. Mkhonta said that they only charge less than E400 for facilitating everything and that money is refunded when there is a problem. "Our mother company in the USA has all the names of the companies in the world an individuals who need people to work for them and we hope that by the end of this yea we will be having a database here in our office so that we can save time when dealing with our clients. Otherwise every person who comes to us and wants a job in Europe or anywhere in tr world is 95 percent sure that he or she will get what they want," he said.
Soldiers, police line up for USA jobs (Manzini, Times of Swaziland, 13/03) - At least 20 police officers and soldiers have signed up with S&N Enterprises for the lucrative and tempting European jobs that are offered by this American agent company. The Swazi News gathered that police and the soldiers flooded S&N Enterprises offices at the SNA T Co-operatives building in search of assistance to join the hundreds of Swazis who are now based in various countries overseas. The police officers and soldiers will know which country they will be going to before the end of next week. Most of them, more especially the soldiers, are interested in going to Angola for the decorticating of landmines, while others are rushing to England and Alaska to work as waiters and fish packers respectively. "It is true that there are police officers and soldiers who have signed up with us, and we're waiting for a response from our mother body in the United States of America. In about two weeks they will know where they have been hired," said the Director of S&N Enterprises, Phumlani Mkhonta. Mkhonta said that since the beginning of last week they have had a tremendous response from the members of the public and about 120 people have sent their applications to the US. "Apart from the police officers and the soldiers, a lot of nurses have also sent their applications and most people are interested in going to the United Kingdom," he said. Mkhonta said that his company will now mail the response from their European companies to their clients because their offices are now flooded with people who want assistance. "The other tenants here are complaining that our clients are taking up the whole passage and it is difficult for them to move around so we will now mail the response to our clients," he said. Mkhonta added that other people who are interested in getting information about their company can contact him at 622 1564.
Swazis arrested in South Africa (Mbabane, Times of Swaziland, 20/03) - In a shocking revelation, 136 Swazis have been arrested in South Africa since the beginning of the year for crimes ranging from prostitution, illegal staying and other illegal acts. More shocking is that some of the arrested had to be deported back to Swaziland after they were discovered to be without proper documents validating their stay in South Africa. Even though the average age group and trends are not noted on this figure, the South African Immigration Department has proved it's zero tolerance on illegal immigrants aimlessly overcrowding the streets of the country's major cities. An independent investigation by this newspaper has proved that most locals of ages ranging from 18-38 years leave the country hoping of making a better living in South Africa. This 'dream' of better living has resulted to vulnerable youths being forced to engage in the commercial sex trade, where they advertise their bodies on the streets or advertise their services in that country's media publications. Lucas Mokwena from the SA Commission in the country confirmed the arrest of Swazis in his country. "Since the beginning of the year, 136 Swazis have been arrested for illegal staying in South Africa," said Mokwena. He said depending on the circumstances, which include the availability of travel documents, the persons arrested are taken to the country of their origin as soon as possible. "If they are not declared prohibited persons, they will be allowed back into South Africa when they are in possession of the correct permits. All nationalities are dealt with in terms of the Immigration Act of 2002," he said. He further mentioned that the illegal immigrants are deported as soon as the relevant travel arrangements have been made.“The South African Police Service unfortunately does not keep statistics on the nationalities of suspects arrested," he said.On another note, Mokoena stated that from time to time individuals are arrested on charges related to prostitution and these arrests are usually made during crime prevention operations. The FT A will be completed by December.
Britain denies offering cash for refugees (Nairobi, The East African, 01/03) - Britain's Home Office has denied allegations that it is trying to dump failed Somali asylum seekers on Tanzania, with a spokesman dismissing as speculation media reports that thousands of Somalis who had failed to be given political asylum in the UK could be sent instead to Tanzania."The situation with regard to Tanzania is subject to discussion between London and Dar es Salaam," the spokesman told The EastAfrican. "We have been talking to the Tanzanian government about various immigration issues including East Africans falsely claiming to be Somalis in the hope of securing British residency."In Dar es Salaam, the government confirmed that consultations with the British government over London's request to set up a camp in Tanzania for screening Somali asylum seekers were going on.Home Affairs Minister Ramadhani Mapuri said in a brief statement last week, "The government also wishes to acknowledge another request made by the government of the United Kingdom to settle the said Somali refugees in Tanzania. Internal consultations among stakeholders within the government of Tanzania are in progress and the government is yet to give its response to the UK government."He added, "Any response must take full consideration of the magnitude, multitude and the entire range of socio-political implications for Tanzania including the fact that Tanzanians are already overwhelmed by the burden of refugees, hence the need for adequate time for consideration."According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Tanzania is host to more than 600,000 refugees mainly from Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Somalia.UNHCR Information Officer Freddy Mwinjabi said Tanzania hosts 470,000 refugees, who are in camps, and another 170,000 who are living independently in the Tabora and Rukwa regions.Mr Mapuri also touched on the issue of Somali refugees currently residing in the UK who are believed to be Tanzanian citizens, saying "it was brought to the Tanzanian government's attention that there are some alleged Tanzanian nationals in the UK who pose and continue to live in the UK as Somali refugees."According to Mr Mapuri, the British government had requested that both categories be returned to Tanzania for screening. But it was later agreed that the identification process be conducted in the UK where a Tanzanian Immigration officer has been stationed to screen the Somali refugees."Tanzania believes that, should any of nationals posing as Somali refugees in the UK be identified, they should not be expelled, but returned to Tanzania under normal procedures that respect human dignity," he said.Tanzania is one of the major transit points for asylum seekers from the Great Lakes region trying to get into Europe due to its lax immigration scrutiny. Once they arrive in the UK, most of them identify themselves as Somalis seeking asylum due to the current turmoil in Somalia.This has resulted in people from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia itself go to entering Britain through Tanzania.In London, the Home Office was denying a report that appeared in the Guardian last week saying that it was prepared to offer an extra £4 million a year in aid to the Tanzanian government if it was prepared to house failed Somali asylum seekers in a camp.London has however said that it is prepared to help Dar es Salaam with cash support for its growing refugee problem. Tanzania currently hosts around 400,000 refugees from neighbouring civil wars.Somalis made up the largest number of refugee applicants to Britain last year but the numbers are still tiny (around 6,000 in 2003) compared with the number of refugees Tanzania has to host.Peter Kallaghe, Director of Communications for Tanzanian President Ben Mkapa, told the Guardian that there had been discussions between the two governments over the issue but that it was a sensitive issue."Any decision would not be taken very easily," he said.Refugee experts say that moving failed asylum seekers to Tanzania would create an important precedent. Until now, a third country has not been an option: asylum seekers have either been allowed to remain in Britain or returned to their country of origin.Only 3,800 of the Somalis who applied for political asylum in Britain last year were granted refugee status and after the legal appeal process is exhausted, the British government is now anxious to deport those deemed to have failed the process back to Somalia, Somaliland, or it seems, Tanzania, although exactly where is not being specified.The Guardian report said that the camp in Tanzania could offer a processing point for Somalis seeking asylum as well as a home for failed asylum seekers.It appears to be part of a sensitive and confidential plan being drawn up by Home Office officials to deal with asylum seekers who are no longer wanted in the UK.Earlier in the week, the BBC World Service had reported that UK prime minister Tony Blair had said talks were underway with Tanzania about UK officials handling asylum claims there. He was responding to reports in the Guardian newspaper that the UK had offered Tanzania £4m to harbour failed asylum seekers who had come to Britain from Somalia.But John Chiligati, Tanzania's deputy home minister, told the BBC his country had turned down the offer saying: "That proposal was not accepted by our government because already we have enough of a refugee problem."According to the BBC, Mr Blair's official spokesman later insisted the main aim of the proposed camps was to process asylum seekers' applications before they travelled to the UK, rather than being somewhere to deport people from the UK."It is not a crude cash for people trade-off - but the government has always used money to tackle migration issues," he said.
Somali asylum seekers could be Tanzanians (IPP Media, 02/03) - Asylum seekers reported last week to be behind the trade for a 8bn/- aid exchange between the governments of Tanzania and Britain are in fact not Somalis, but Tanzanians, it has been revealed. The Political Attaché with the British High Commission in Dar es Salaam, Andrew Massey, told this paper in a telephone interview that the asylum seekers that the two governments were negotiating about “are Tanzanians who have employed wrong procedures to enter the European country.” “What Britain has been discussing with the Government of Tanzania is not about Somali refugees per se, but rather some economic migrants from this country who, on reaching Britain, destroy all the travelling documents and pose as if they are political refugees from Somalia,” he said. He said the flow of economic migrants has been a growing trend in Britain, many of whom use the cover of political asylum seekers in order to be given refugee status. “This is a growing trend, and there are a number of Tanzanian economic migrants who are trying to exploit it,” Massey clarified. He said besides Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe are also among the countries whose citizens have been abusing the procedures of seeking political asylum in Britain.Massey said officials in the British government have held talks on how migrants from these countries should be handled. He said Tanzania’s senior officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs visited Britain recently, where they discussed the matter with their counterparts, including attempting to establish whether the failed asylum seekers were Tanzanians or not. The political attaché said there had been similar visits by British officials to Tanzania to hold discussions on the same issue. Massey said should they fail to establish that the asylum seekers are Tanzanians they would let them be treated in the normal procedure followed by all refugees. He refuted that the refugee status seekers did not constitute a big group as claimed in the press, but were only “two dozens and a half”. “They are not more than two dozens and a half,” he said when answering the question, which had sought to know the number of failed ‘Somali’ asylum seeker. Asked why the talks for the failed refugees’ new asylum in Tanzania are pegged on the 8bn/- aid exchange, he said he only heard about it in the press. “In fact no amount of money has been offered or agreed on this, I only heard about it in the press.” Last week the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, confirmed that his government was negotiating about giving Tanzania aid in exchange for failed asylum seekers thought to be Somalis amid criticism from the opposition. “This type of aid in exchange for failed asylum seekers between UK and Tanzania is a very bad precedent, which risks starting global trade in displaced persons,” the Liberal Democratic leader, Charles Kennedy, was quoted by the BBC as saying. However, the British Home Office has since denied there was such a deal. Tanzania’s Minister for Home Affairs, Omari Ramadhani Mapuri, commenting on this said in a press statement that consultations among stakeholders were in progress and that the government was yet to give its decision to the British government. “Any response must take full consideration of the magnitude and the entire range of social-political implications on our part, including the fact that Tanzanians are already overwhelmed by the burden of refugees,” Mapuri said. “Our government has also learnt that there are some alleged Tanzanian nationals in the UK who pose and continue to live as Somali refugees,” he explained. Currently Tanzania is a home to more than 800,000 refugees from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Somalia.
EAC customs union signed (IPP Media, 02/03) - The Three East African Community member states sign protocols for the establishment of the long awaited EAC Customs Union in Arusha today. President Benjamin Mkapa will host Presidents Mwai Kibaki of Kenya and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni in the signing of the protocols that will pave the way for the creation of the common market of over 90 million people in the region. According to the EAC Information and Public Relations Office, the signing ceremony of the protocols will be held at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium after the 5th Summit of the EAC Heads of State to be held earlier in the day.The three EAC presidents held another meeting yesterday. No details were released, but officials here said the leaders reviewed a report on the Customs Union prepared by the EAC Council of Ministers. On the same occasion, the Heads of State will launch the EAC Essay Writing Competition and will witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding of the Mayors of the three East African capitals – Dar es Salaam, Kampala and Nairobi. President Yoweri Museveni, the Chairman of the EAC Heads of State Summit, will unveil Arusha’s prominent street renamed Barabara ya Afrika Mashariki in honour of the East African Community, according to a programme released by the EAC Information and Public Relations Office. The 1.5 kilometres road runs through the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) complex from the Moshi-Nairobi junction at Sanawari to a roundabout near the regional block. Burundi’s President Domicien Ndayizeye and Rwanda’s Prime Minister Bernard Mukuza are among foreign dignitaries expected to witness the signing ceremony. Chief executives of various regional and international organizations are also expected at the ceremony. The signing of the protocols for the establishment of EAC Customs Union was earlier scheduled to be held last month but was postponed due to a number of unresolved issues between the member states. No details were released, but the postponement came amid frantic lobbying to delay implementation from the East African Business Council which wanted a delay of three to five years. The Chairman of the Council, James Mulwana, was quoted in the media as having cautioned EAC member states against rushing to achieve something that has taken developed countries in Europe several years to achieve. Under the proposed agreement in the protocols, Kenyan goods would face a 10 per cent import tax in the region that would gradually be reduced to zero per cent over the next five years as Ugandan and Tanzanian businesses adjust. Tanzanian and Ugandan goods would be sold in the three countries without being subjected to import taxes. Under the East African Community Treaty of 1999, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda were to work towards a customs union within four years of the treaty signing.
Hopes and fears for East African Customs Pact (The Business Times, 12/03) - The Customs Union deal signed in Arusha recently by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya comes a full four years after the countries embarked on their latest attempt at regional integration. The original East African Community collapsed in 1977 due to Nyerere's war against Idi Amin of Uganda, as well as economic and political divergences. In 1999, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania signed a Treaty re-establishing the Community. But attempts to forge agreements since then on economic and political union have taken some time to materialise. With a combined population of 90 million and total gross domestic product of some US$25bn, the three countries hope they will now be able to start pooling their resources, boost trade and take advantage of their combined markets. Under the Protocol, trade will be liberalised as tariff and non-tariff barriers are eliminated. A common external tariff will be maintained, and an integrated market established. Many in the business community - such as Arnold Kilewo, managing director of Tanzania Breweries Ltd - are confident that the Protocol will bear fruit. "We believe the Customs Union Protocol will set the ground for business development in East Africa," Kilewo said. One potential problem, however, is Kenya's private sector, which is far more advanced than those in its regional neighbours. There is concern, therefore, that Kenya might dominate the region. "I would expect our Kenyan colleagues in the manufacturing sector to be able to give room for Tanzanian manufacturers to export to Kenya more freely for a given period, so that we can catch up," said Kilewo. The protocol aims to address this imbalance with a so-called system of asymmetry. Tanzania and Uganda will open up their markets to Kenyan competitors over the next five years, while Kenya will open its markets immediately. Some businessmen in Tanzania are still worried. But Christine Kilindu, the chief executive officer of the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI), is confident the weaker economies will have the chance to prepare themselves. "We have to be able to capitalise on the political will of the people of East Africa to be one," she said. "I am confident that it is being dealt with sufficiently. We have taken note that we are at different stages of development. That's why one market is opening up earlier than the others. "This gives the Tanzanian business community time to grow, time to innovate, and time to change so that when the market finally opens we will be able to compete," Kilindu said. Another potential complication is the growing number of regional blocs to which the countries already belong. Alongside the East African Community, there is SADC, the Southern Africa Development Community, as well as COMESA, the Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa. Tanzania is a member of SADC, but not of COMESA, while Kenya and Uganda are members of COMESA but not of SADC! Dr Sengodo Mvungi, a University of Dar es Salaam professor specialising in regional integration, says this could undermine the new Customs Union's potential to act as a unifying force. "The East African sub-set has to look at itself as a special sub-set. We have to be able to capitalise on the political will of the people of East Africa to be one," he said. And, although the signing has taken place with some final details of the agreement still incomplete, Mvungi is not alone in thinking that, if the region is to develop and make an impact in global business, East Africa cannot afford to miss out on this latest opportunity.
50 Tanzanian students leave Malawi school (IPP Media, 15/03) - Fifty Tanzanian students at Twanda Secondary School, in Chitipa District in Malawi have run away from the school while others were prosecuted after a fight with Malawian colleagues last month. Six Tanzanian students were taken to court in Malawi, including the school head prefect, Charles Msukwa, who was later freed, five others were told to pay fines. Some of the students, mostly from Dar es Salaam are still stranded at Isongole Township, in Ileje District and others in Chitipa. Authorities have appealed to parents and guardians to collect their children. The Chitipa District Commissioner, James Kanyangalazi, confirmed that a fight erupted between students from the two neighbouring countries. On her part, the Ileje District Commissioner, Esther Wakali, has urged parents to send money to their children so that they can return to their homes. According to some of the students, a Malawian student wearing a pair of shoes full of mud trampled over a mattress of a Tanzanian student. As the latter protested by pushing him away, a fight ensued. They alleged that some of their belongings like mattresses, clothes and suitcases, which they claim to be worth over 1.5m/-, were set ablaze. The students also complained over unfairness saying there was no Malawian student who was arrested after the commotion. A total of 14 students who deposited their subsistence money with the school administration are stranded in Chitipa town. They claim that the school administration could not give them their money because “It lacks funds.” Students who are stranded at Isongole in Ileje District from Dar es Salaam are William Yuda, Shukuru Haonga, Charles Kalonga, Hemed Mtawazi, Eric Barton , Hussein Msangi and Gordon Mwangwala. The district government has provided them with shelter and food at Mbembela Guest House, but the upkeep costs are becoming unbearable, hence the call for parents and guardians to come to the rescue of the children. The district government is also said to have facilitated transportation of other students from Chitipa to Mbeya Town where they dispersed to their homes.
UNHCR seeks more exit points for Burundian refugees (Nairobi, The East African, 15/03) - A Tripartite meeting between Tanzania, Burundi and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) will take place this week in Kigoma town, western Tanzania, to discuss crossing points to be used in the repatriation of Burundi refugees living in Tanzania. Freddy Mwinjabi, the UNHCR information officer in Tanzania, said, "the meeting, on March 16, will look into additional exit points from Kasulu district on the Tanzania side to Makamba in Burundi. Most Burundi refugees come from Makamba and Ruyigi provinces." "The main agenda of the meeting will be to discuss new entry points into Burundi and modalities on how to repatriate Burundi refugees and we hope that within a few weeks new entry points will be in place." According to the UNHCR, the opening of the new crossing point at Mabamba-Gisuru has brought to three the number of exits for the voluntary return of Burundi refugees. Others are at Kobero for Muyinga and adjacent provinces and in Murugamba for the province of Cankuzo. The UNHCR hopes to open a fourth crossing point into Makamba province before next month, security permitting. There are 320,000 Burundi refugees living in camps in western Tanzania. Said Mr Mwinjabi, "The response to repatriation by the refugees is positive, although we would like to see more being done to sustain the repatriation from within Burundi, in terms of accommodation, land and other necessities," he added. Last month, the UNHCR successfully opened up a new crossing point for Burundi refugees into Ruyigi Province. On January 28 last year, a trial convoy of 22 vehicles ferrying 983 Burundi refugees crossed through the Mabamba-Gisuru point into Ruyigi province of Burundi from Kibondo, in Kigoma, Tanzania accompanied by UNHCR deputy director for Africa, Zobida Hassim-Ashagrie. The UNHCR said the success of the convoy crossing had made them consider regular repatriation convoys through the new crossing. The activation of this crossing point was discussed last January 21 at a Tripartite Commission meeting in Arusha following the improved security situation in the province of Ruyigi. About 70,000 refugees have returned home since the beginning of the voluntary return to safe provinces in Burundi in May 2001. Those who return to Burundi with UNHCR help receive a basic package including food and non-food items. UNHCR is optimistic that there will be a steady increase in the number of those seeking repatriation in 2004 in light of progress in the peace process in Burundi. The Burundi refugee camps in Kibondo district hold about 60,000 refugees and half of them are expected to return home over the next 12 months. The UNHCR is also finalising an "Operations Plan" that would form the basis of an appeal to donors to meet the needs of a multi-year programme for voluntary return of refugees from Tanzania to Burundi.
Burundian refugees in Tanzania (Refugees International, 24/03) - Tanzania has played host to tens of thousands of refugees for more than four decades in a region torn apart by civil conflicts. Since independence in 1972, Burundians have fled their country repeatedly to find safe sanctuary there. In the last decade, since the outbreak of the civil war, which began in 1993 and killed an estimated 200,000 people, around 300,000 Burundians have fled to Tanzania, leaving behind their homes, farms and lands. But Tanzania's traditional generosity, which has been hailed by many for years, including by the U.S. Congress in 2003, is finally wearing thin. The country is becoming increasingly intolerant of the refugees' presence. The pressure and harassment by the Tanzanian government has become so unbearable that some Burundian refugees recently told Refugees International they can no longer continue to live in the camps. The desire of Burundians to return home is high. The signing in late 2003 of the Pretoria Protocols that led to the ceasefire between the main rebel faction CNDD/FDD and the government has indeed increased their hopes for peace, but many remain skeptical about when they should go home. Military and security arrangements called for by the 2000 Arusha agreement are still unresolved and there is great uncertainty related to the outcome of the national elections, which are likely to be held by the end the year. A series of harsh policies implemented by the Tanzanian authorities is placing increasing pressure on the refugees. Since early 2003 the Tanzanian police have started to enforce a 1988 legal provision to limit refugee movement within a 4-kilometer radius around the camp. Refugees caught outside the camps are arrested, imprisoned and returned to the Burundi-Tanzania border without documentation. RI interviewed two Burundian returnees who were imprisoned by the Tanzanian authorities on March 2, 2004 and returned to the border. When reaching the UNHCR transit facilities in the southern Burundian province of Makamba, the two men were denied assistance because they could not show documentation. The restriction of refugee movement is in violation of refugee law as enshrined in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the OAU Refugee Convention, which Tanzania has acceded to. Under international legal instruments, refugees have the right to move freely, regardless of where their camps are located. Nonetheless, the Kibondo District Commissioner, a former military officer, has repeatedly told refugees to go back home because they are dangerous. According to humanitarian personnel working in the area, the Commissioner has said he wants Kibondo to be a refugee free zone by the end of the year. Based on interviews conducted by RI with security officers in the camps, there is no evidence that refugees pose a national security threat to the government of Tanzania. One humanitarian worker told RI, "The government of Tanzania is using the issue as a scapegoat to expel the refugees from the country." In November 2003, individuals wearing uniforms similar to the Tanzanian police burned markets and stole items belonging to the refugees in Lukole, Ngara and Kibondo Districts. Incidents of banditry and assaults, including pillage and rape, have skyrocketed, both outside and inside the refugee sites. RI heard allegations that Tanzanian police have connived with criminal gangs, but this information could not be verified. Religious leaders monitoring activities in the camps told RI that it was difficult to distinguish the police from the bandits or those who actually committed the criminal acts. Several refugees complained repeatedly about the inaction of police and refugee security guards and their lack of capacity to curb the violence and provide protection. Some 114,000 Burundian refugees currently live in Karago, Mtendeli, Kanembwa, Nduta and Mkugwa camps in Kibondo district. The restrictions on refugee movement has also imposed serious economic difficulties on refugees who have been farming or doing business outside the camps for several years. Now prevented from engaging in economic activities, they need to use part of their fortnightly food ration to purchase needed items. The inaction of the police in the face of crime and banditry, coupled with the harsh restrictions in the camps, has pushed many refugees to return home. As one refugee put it, "We feel like prisoners in the refugee camps." Spontaneous returnees are often forced to pay bribes or are robbed of their belongings by the Tanzanian border guards and the criminal gangs, the "Basungusungu," during their long journey home. According to a report prepared by a Burundian NGO, returnees are often told by border guards, "You came to Tanzania with nothing and you will return home with nothing." Some returnees who refuse to give up their belongings are beaten and have their items taken from them. Most of the refugees making the journey home on foot are women and children. Those who are repatriated with the help of UNHCR are protected and escorted to the borders. Although there is genuine interest amongst Burundians to return home, Tanzania has pressured UNHCR to speed up the facilitated repatriation program and there is fear that Dar es Salaam will initiate policies like the forcible return of the Rwandan refugees in the mid-1990s. When Burundians started to return home under Tanzanian pressure, UNHCR began to facilitate the repatriation process. From April 2002 to the present, 38,000 Burundians from the Kibondo District camps have been repatriated. The number of returnees from January 2004 has already equaled all the 2003 returns, demonstrating that the process is accelerating. The Tanzanian government has declared that the repatriation of Burundian refugees under UNHCR auspices is voluntary. Voluntary repatriation is when refugees decide that the time is right and the conditions are conducive to return home in safety and dignity. While the conduct of the Tanzanian government does not rise to the level of refoulement, the government is implementing policies that create conditions under which the refugees conclude that they have no real option but to return home. Repatriation under such circumstances is not voluntary. Refugees International therefore recommends that:The government of Tanzania cease forcibly returning refugees who are arrested outside the 4-kilometer zone.The Kibondo District police authorities investigate allegations of harassment at border crossings, and commit more resources for curbing crime and preventing physical harassment of refugees inside and around the camps.Tanzanian national authorities intervene and prevent the District Commissioner of Kibondo from intimidating refugees and pressuring them to leave the camps.
Rwandan refugees resist repatriation (The Times of Zambia, 01/03) - Commissioner for refugees Jacob Mphepo has expressed concern at the Rwandan refugees' resistance to being repatriated under the voluntary exercise.Speaking at the official opening of a workshop for refugees protection staff and partners in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Mphepo said the refugees' defiance was a source of concern.Mr Mphepo said Government, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), wanted to repatriate all refugees."While the programme of repatriation of Angolan refugees is progressing well, the Government and UNHCR have noted resistance from the Rwandan refugee population in Zambia, which is a source of concern and requires concrete measures," he said.And UNHCR deputy representative Vedasto Mwesiga said durable solutions such as repatriation, resettlement and local integration were difficult to undertake because they were only determined by the capacities of hosting countries.Mr Mwesiga said the UNHCR was only supposed to provide material and legal protection to refugees while physical protection was entirely the responsibility of host countries.
300 flee to Zambia from DRC (Kawambwa, AFP, 02/03) - About 300 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have fled to northern Zambia this year following skirmishes in rebel-controlled areas in their country, a United Nations official said Tuesday. The refugees, mostly from the towns of Pweto, Kalemie and Moba, started coming into Zambia last month after a group of Mai Mai militia fighters began terrorising them, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) protection officer Patrick Kawuma told reporters. "The refugees have reported that atrocities are being conducted by the Mai Mai militia. Some women came with bruises and it is clear that they were victims of sexual and gender violence," Kawuma said. In January, the UNHCR office in Kawambwa, a tiny Zambian town situated about 40 kilometres from the border, recorded 267 new arrivals while 67 refugees are reported to be at the border waiting to be picked up, he said. A small number of people from DRC are scattered along the frontier, trying to gain entry to Zambia, Kawuma said. The UNHCR official said more refugees were expected to cross into Zambia as most areas where the DRC government is not present could continue experiencing sporadic unrest despite progress made in the peace process. A Zambian refugee officer in Kawambwa told AFP that four rebels had been nabbed in Zambia after they fled fighting in eastern DRC. "They have been arrested and separated from civilians. They will be taken to another camp that was established for ex-combatants," Joseph Musonda said. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced here that it faced a major food shortfall in its efforts to feed the 25,000 Congolese refugees living at the Kala Refugee Camp in Zambia. "The food, which we have now will only last us up to mid-February," said Omar Abdel-Hameed, head of the WFP office in Kawambwa. He said due to food shortages, the refugees have been put on a 15-day food allocation programme as opposed to a month because WFP has not received any donations towards their food this year. Zambia hosts more than 50,000 refugees from DRC who are mainly sheltered at Kala Refugee Camp and Mwange Camp both situated in the north.
Exodus of nursing personnel to foreign countries (Lusaka, Zana, 11/03) - The Zambia Nurses Association (ZNA) has bemoaned the massive exodus of the nurses to other countries, leaving the local communities and the nation with inadequate medical personnel.ZNA President, Thom Yung’ana said currently, there were only 10,000 nurses against the national population of 10 million people, a situation he attributed to the high attrition rate of the nurses.“This situation has left us with a ratio of about one nurse to 1,000 Zambian citizens,” he said at a press briefing held at Lusaka’s Pamodzi Hotel today.Mr. Yung’ana noted that the nursing profession was facing a lot other challenges, citing high mortality and morbidity rates as a result of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) and inadequate surgical facilities in health centres as some of them.He pointed out that the limited career progression ladder further worsened the shortage of nurses in the country.He said there was therefore great need for strong partnership with local and foreign stakeholders and governments in addressing these challenges, which posed an unhealthy system to the nation.Mr. Yung’ana, whose association has been working with the Norwegian Nurses Association (NoNA) since 1988, however assured the country that his association would ensure quality delivery of services to the communities.He emphasised the need to retain nurses if the health of the nation was to be protected.And the International Council of Nurses (ICN) has disclosed that it is unethical for developed countries to embark on recruiting nurses from poor countries.ICN Chief Executive Officer, Judith Oulton said rich countries should instead enter into agreements with governments in developing countries on the migration of nurses to their countries, saying this could benefit both countries.Ms. Oulton regretted that there was however no regulation meant to inhibit rich countries from continuing with the massive recruitment exercise of nurses from poor counties.She suggested that health workers should have access to treatment because this incentive would make nurses stay in their profession and countries.“Targeting health workers for access to ARV treatment will strengthen the health care system,” she observed, adding, “ We will shortly be talking to the government about introducing a programme of access to full chronic ARV therapy for nurses and other health care workers”.Meanwhile, Norwegian Nurses Association (NoNA) International Secretary, Per Godtland Kristensen called for concerted efforts in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the world.“This epidemic is global. We have to fight it together, and learn from experiences already gained,” Mr. Kristensen said.
Zambia detains 26 Somalians (Lusaka, AFP, 16/03) - Zambia detains 26 Somalis allegedly trying to sneak into neighbouring Zimbabwe. LUSAKA: The Zambian government has detained 26 Somalians who entered the country with emergency travel documents, and tried to sneak into neighbouring Zimbabwe. Zambian immigration spokesperson, Jones Mwelwa, says the Somalians, who had emergency travel documents issued in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, were nabbed by Zimbabwean security officers when they tried to enter through the bush, and then handed over to Zambia. He says they are currently in detention and the security officials are investigating their background. Mwelwa says the Somalians had not yet been charged with any offence, because the immigration department was waiting for a report from security agencies who were screening them. SAPA
Zambia demarcates border with Malawi (The Times of Zambia, 19/03) - Ever heard of a football pitch with one goal post in one country and the other in another country? Would players be required to obtain passports and border passes to cross the border and score in a foreign goal post? How about a house with rooms in two countries and its occupants have to sleep in different countries under the same roof? That is what is exactly obtaining on the Zambia-Malawi border where the Zambian Government erected beacons to enable citizens of both sides of the border to realise the boundaries of their country. It takes barely a day's visit to places along the Zambia-Malawi border for one to notice a vivid cloud of fear and anxiety that has gripped the settlers. Everywhere you turn to, eyes of suspicion would instantly greet you. And the message carried in them is evidently clear - they cannot trust anyone at the moment. The reason is that so many strange but prominent faces have shown up in the area over the last two years, without anyone offering a convincing explanation on the rationale behind the new features and marks that they leave on the ground. The local people do not seem to understand the meaning, let alone importance of the many beacons that have been mounted on the 200km piece of land between Zambia and Malawi. To them, it suggests the beginning of many attempts to dislodge them from their own land and, in the long run, leave them completely displaced. "We are not at peace my son. Even your friends come in the same way you have come, very humble but they all leave us with more questions than answers," said Mr Zacheus Zimba of Chikoka village after the author introduced himself and his mission. It was very difficult to gain a platform for a smooth interview. Many people preferred to shun away and avoid talking to this first time visitor who was in the area to gauge the general mood after the commencement of the border demarcation exercise. Until last year, the two countries were divided by a rugged, ungazetted gravel road that runs from the main Malawi tarred road to Chadiza Boma of Eastern Province. But after much talk and negotiations, the two governments felt the need to physically demarcate the common border to maintain harmony as sovereign states. The two governments sourced funds for the commencement of a 200km stretch as a pilot out of the total distance of 804km of this particular border area. Lands Minister Judith Kapijimpanga said the absence of a physical demarcation often times posed administrative challenges like poaching and encroachment for the two sovereign states. In Kalovya forest of Chief Tembwe's area in Chama district, Malawians have established three big tobacco estates on hundreds of hectares of Zambian land, set up as far back as 1979. From time immemorial, the people living on this common border area have shared common attributes in form of cultural and traditional backgrounds which emanate from a long historical bond of the colonial area when both countries were ruled by Britain. Even today, many things remain unchanged and people still share social facilities like schools and hospitals. In Mzigawa area, Zambians of Chikoka and the surrounding villages at the far east of Chadiza district, find it easier to get medical attention from Mchinji Hospital in Malawi some three kilometres away. They do all their businesses in the same town of Mchinji and the currency accepted is only Malawian Kwacha since Chipata, the nearest Zambian town, is some 25 kilometres away. The locals also share educational facilities like Mzigawa Basic school which has its football pitch running across the two countries. The southern goal post is in Malawi while the northern one is on the Zambian side. Chadiza district education board secretary Kezias Lungu said he saw no problem with the set-up of the ground since 70 per cent of the pupils at the school were Malawians. "There is currently no problem with the football pitch running through the two countries or the fact that many pupils here come from the Malawian side but we don't know what might happen in the future," Mr Lungu said. Zambians in Mzigawa, which literally means "you are dividing yourselves", bury their dead at Kankhala cemetery on the Malawian soil. It is against such a backdrop that the current marking of the border area with beacons has posed serious concerns to the locals. They feel it is a deliberate move to disturb their unity and peace as it has left some houses divided between the two countries. Ms Tormaido Mwanza's house has its kitchen and sitting room on the Zambian side while the two bedrooms are on the Malawian side, going by the beacons which have been mounted across her house. Her other smaller hut is now considered completely pitched on the Malawian land. "It is very disturbing because we don't know what may happen tomorrow. I may die today, but what security will I have left for my children if my home is divided between the two countries?" She complained of having not been cleared on the issue. When the officials from the Zambia-Malawi Joint Permanent Commission visited her area to mount the beacons, "they told me that they were building a stool for me as an old woman." "But by the time I realised that the beacon was actually demarcating my house between the two countries, they had already left." Ms Mwanza recalled that at the time of building her two houses in the 1960s, the main demarcation mark was the gravel road that runs just some 10 metres away. And now, she does not understand why the Malawian border has to be extended beyond the original point. This is a concern that even the people who live between the two checkpoints on the main highway also identified. They feared that once the Malawian police post which is under construction became operational, they would end up being displaced. The new police post is being constructed barely some 100 metres away from the Zambian checkpoint, which entails that the over 12 km stretch of land which used to be the "No man's land"will now become part of Malawi. The Zambian settlers on this area fear that they may eventually be forced to renounce their Zambian citizenship or ordered to vacate the land. "We are panicking day and night because we do not know whether our government has put in measures to ensure our security in case of political changes," said Mr Frankwell Phiri, whose house is 15 metres away from the tarred Chipata-Malawi road on the "No man's land". Ms Kapijimpanga, however, assured that the people who had encroached on the wrong side of the border that they would not be moved away after the demarcation. Furthermore, Zambians on this part of the country continue sharing a lot of things with their counterparts in Malawi. There are some Zambian places which cannot be accessed without having to pass through Malawi. To get to Kapitsandodo area of Chadiza district, for example, officials from the Zambia Social Investment Fund (Zamsif) who are putting up a school in the area, are forced to obtain border passes to go and assess their project. This is because the only route to Kapitsandodo goes some 50km after Mchinji in Malawi before branching off to the area. And the onus now is on the two governments to sensitise their citizens on the importance of these new developments in the demarcation of the border.
Zimbabwe's white farmers start anew in Zambia (Chisamba, The New York Times, 21/03) - Douglas Watt is part of a most curious diaspora in Southern Africa: prosperous white farmers, vilified as greedy racists and driven out of Zimbabwe, looking for a home.Mr. Watt left the country of his birth about a year ago after what has become a common sort of encounter there. The husband of a worker in the office of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe politely told Mr. Watt that he was taking over his farm and that Mr. Watt had 90 days to get out.Today Mr. Watt is one of about 140 white Zimbabwean farmers who have relocated to neighboring Zambia hoping, many say, for a mix of racial harmony and political stability that will enable them to prosper and contribute to black Africa. For the farmers and for the Zambian government, the migration amounts to a new experiment on an issue central to the whole region: how do whites fit in?While Zimbabwe has been uprooting its white farmers in an aggressive effort to redistribute colonial era landholdings, Zambian officials, if a trifle warily, have rolled out the welcome mat. They are hoping that farmers like Mr. Watt will breathe new life into the nation's moribund farming economy, which has been mired at the rake-and-hoe level since the mid-1970's.For their part, some transplanted farmers say they have learned from their experience in Zimbabwe that they need to integrate, not just prosper, if they want to be accepted.Mr. Watt drove around Zambia for three weeks before he found 1,600 acres to lease near this one-street village with a post office, police station and food market north of Lusaka, the capital. Pasture and brush a year ago, the gently rolling land is now five feet high in green tobacco plants tended by 240 workers. Huge yellow sheaves of tobacco are hung to cure in 15 shiny sheds by a new blocklong warehouse.Mr. Watt has sunk $900,000 into his new farm, most of it borrowed from a bank and from the Universal Leaf Tobacco Company, based in Richmond, Va. "I have put every cent I have into this," Mr. Watt, 38, said, sitting in the dining room of his new ranch-style house. "I've got more invested here than I ever did in Zimbabwe. We will be an asset to the country."Mr. Watt's move continues a long pattern of whites, increasingly uncertain of their welcome, who have hopscotched around the southern end of Africa in the last four decades. His shift reverses that of his parents, 40 years ago. Back when this Texas-size nation was still called Northern Rhodesia and chafed under colonial rule, Roy and Ria Watt grew tobacco and corn on 4,000 lush acres. In 1964, when white minority rule crumbled and the country became Zambia, the Watts, fearful of their future under a new black-led government, fled to Zimbabwe. Today their son is convinced that his parents bet on the wrong country.Douglas Watt describes Zambia as everything that Zimbabwe is no longer: racially tolerant, law-abiding and moderate. It had been desperate for investment after disastrous postindependence economic policies reduced the nation to a beggar for foreign handouts and loans. Critics say President Mugabe's policies in Zimbabwe are creating the same conditions for disaster there today. Also unlike Zimbabwe, or South Africa for that matter, Zambia has good land in abundance: about 60 percent of the countryside is arable, but less than 10 percent is actively farmed. In a country of 10 million, there are no more than 450 commercial farmers, including the Zimbabweans."We think there is a large vacuum to fill," said Chance Kabaghe, deputy minister for agriculture, in an interview in a dilapidated office building in Lusaka. "That's why we have been so open."Still, he added: "We are encouraging them to respect our norms and mix with the local people. We are watching the situation very closely."For Zambia, the white farmers' money and knowledge may help the nation climb out of the hole it fell into with the decline of its copper mines and nationalization of land after independence.Aided by open government policies on leasing and investment — and by America's tobacco industry, which is underwriting much of the farm-building — farmers like Mr. Watt are already creating a more modest version of Zimbabwe's once mighty tobacco industry, which has been left in ruins after three years of land seizures.Zambia is taking up some of the slack, doubling its tobacco production this year. By 2008, analysts predict, it will produce 82 million pounds of flue-cured tobacco a year. That is twice the yield of that in the mid-1970's, before farmland was nationalized, but still far less than Zimbabwe and Malawi each produce now. Government officials see a new revenue stream of fees and taxes, plus the potential for fertilizer stores, irrigation equipment and maybe even a tobacco processing plant like the one now operating at a quarter of its capacity in Zimbabwe."We think we have benefited from the farmers who have come in," Mr. Kabaghe said. "We are very proud of them. Our tobacco industry is now booming." At the same time, no official here wants the success of white farmers to be too visible, lest it engender the sort of racial backlash that has helped spur Zimbabwe's land takeovers and that is building in both South Africa and Namibia.Nor do the tobacco companies want to be seen as the benefactors only of whites. Universal Leaf says it wants to develop 40 to 50 smaller, black-owned commercial farms on the periphery of the white-owned farms — a move Mr. Rusch says makes both political and economic sense.Campbell Dunlop, a 42-year-old farmer, is not certain how it will all work out. He has lived for 18 months next to his tobacco fields in a safari-style hut off a heavily rutted, half-flooded road near Chisamba. But he left his wife and children in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, calculating that he might eventually go back after turning over his new 395-acre farm to Zambian managers to run. "I haven't got my head around making this home," he said.Like many of his compatriots here, Mr. Dunlop is haunted by his losses in Zimbabwe. He and other migrants say they find comfort as far-flung neighbors, united by their two-way radios, their memories of 90-day eviction notices and their sense of outrage over the lack of world reaction to Mr. Mugabe.A few of their old workers have followed them. Dzingai Kapondoro, 33, worked for 15 years for a white tobacco farmer in Zimbabwe. After Mr. Mugabe's forces evicted the farmer and carved up the farm, Mr. Kapondoro's delighted family were the proud new owners of 25 acres. But while he had skills, Mr. Kapondoro said, he had no equipment to till the land or money for fertilizer and seed. With 25 acres of barren farmland and no income, he finally followed the farm's former white manager to Mr. Dunlop's farm in Zambia. Now he grades tobacco and lives in a thatched hut hundreds of miles from his wife and four children.Douglas Watt says it is a relief, a joy even, to feel welcome again. Barely a year ago, during his final days as a Zimbabwe farmer, he recalled, his own workers barricaded him and his wife in their farmhouse for 18 hours. With shouts and a clamor of drums, they demanded that he make good on the Mugabe government's promise of compensation for the fact that the Watts' forced eviction from their farm would leave them jobless.During his first weeks in Zambia last year, his workers raised a different sort of ruckus. They were celebrating the first time in their lives that many of them had been paid."You could hear the party across the river," he said. "The drums beat for two days. It was actually a wonderful feeling."
Influx of Congo refugees worries Zambia government (Lusaka, Xinhua, 21/03) - About 700 refugees have entered into Zambia from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the last one week and have settled on Kilwa Island of Nchelenge district in Luapula province, Zambia News Agency reported.Luapula Province Deputy Minister Justine Chilufya was quoted as saying Sunday the refugees are from Mpweto area in Lubumbashi province of the DRC. Chilufya said the cause of the influx of refugees into Zambia was the civil strive which occurred in Mpweto in the recent past, but noted that calm has since returned to the area. He however said despite the prevailing peace in Mpweto, refugees have not indicated willingness to return to their country. Chilufya expressed worry at the insistence by refugees to continue staying on Kilwa Island even when Zambians there were incapable of supplying them with food. He feared that the need for food might degenerate into serious differences between the local people and the asylum seekers for the later might start digging cassava and eating maize belonging to Zambians. Chilufya has since appealed to relevant authorities to quickly address the situation on the island before it worsens. The deputy minister said the matter has also been reported to the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Zambia hosts about 200,000 refugees from the DRC and other neighboring countries, including Angola, Rwanda and Burundi. Copyright © Xinhua News Agency. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Over 1,000 Congolese refugees enter Zambia (The Times of Zambia, 22/03) - More than 1,000 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) nationals have fled into Zambia following fierce fighting by rebels in Dikulushi 150 kilometres from Nchelenge district. Government has since sent defence personnel to screen them and asked the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to take care of the affected Congolese. Home Affairs Deputy Minister Kennedy Sakeni in an interview in Lusaka yesterday described the situation in Nchelenge as "not very serious." Mr Sakeni said 300 of the 1,000 were still stuck at Kilwa Islands and had refused to be classified as refugees but Government could not allow them to be there because it was not an established refugee settlement. "The incursions were not on the Zambian soil. It was in Dikulushi in the DR Congo which is 150 kilometres from Nchelenge border. The situation in Nchelenge is not very serious and we have sent our officers to screen them," he said. He said the provincial administration was also expected to provide some food supplies to the area while waiting for the UNHCR to take charge.
Zimbabwean farmers funded by Zambian bank (Lusaka, Business Day, 23/03) - A Zambian bank has given more than $30m to white Zimbabwean farmers resettling in Zambia, state media reported yesterday. Peter McLean, managing director of Standard Chartered Bank (Stanchart), said the money was disbursed between January and December last year. However, he could not state how many Zimbabwean farmers had received the loans, the Zambia Daily Mail reported. "The bank has given loans to farmers who were clients of Stanchart Zimbabwe and were identified as they moved to Zambia," he said. This comes at a time when black Zambian farmers are struggling to obtain loans and other credit facilities from local banks because of exceedingly high interest rates and other conditions they fail to meet. Scores of white farmers from Zimbabwe have been moving into Zambia to set up commercial tourism and farming blocs in the southern and central provinces of the country after the Zimbabwean government of President Robert Mugabe seized land belonging to the country's white commercial farmers. The Zambian government said it has no special policy to resettle Zimbabwean farmers, despite a major policy shift to turn a copper mining- driven economy to an agriculturebased economy. Land Minister Judith Kapijipanga said Zimbabwean farmers were welcome to set up agriculture activities in Zambia, but they would receive no special preference, the newspaper report said.
More refugees arrive from DRC (Johannesburg, Irin, 24/03) - A senior Zambian official on Wednesday said authorities were investigating reports that hundreds of Congolese had crossed into Zambia over the last two weeks as a result of fighting in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Zambian Commissioner for Refugees, Jacob Mpepo, told IRIN that a security team had been sent to Kilwa Island, about 150 kilometres from the DRC-Zambia border to "screen" the arrivals. "At this stage it is very difficult to say just how many people have come into Zambia. Until we have received a comprehensive report from the security team we will not be in a position to say if any of them may claim asylum status," Mpepo said. He added that a priority of the security team would be to check whether any of the group was armed. "If it is found that any member of this group is carrying a weapon, then they will have to be disarmed before we proceed with any registration process. If there are women and children among the group they will obviously be granted asylum, provided there is sufficient evidence that they fear for their lives." Earlier this week Agence France Presse reported that more than 1,000 DRC nationals had fled to Zambia after renewed fighting between Mayi-Mayi rebels and government troops in Dikulushi in Katanga Province in DRC. But, according to sources in the DRC, the group appeared to have fled because they feared being caught in confrontations between the newly arrived government troops (FARDC) and Mayi-Mayi "irregulars" in the area. "There has been no recent renewal of fighting in this vicinity [Dikulushi] since the incident of 10 March 2004, when one FARDC major was confirmed killed near Kilwa," said an aid official. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said the organisation would be ready to assist "those of concern to UNHCR" to reach Kala camp, a site for Congolese refugees in northern Zambia.
'Customs Union will promote free trade' (The Times of Zambia, 24/03) - The Customs Union will give Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) member-states an opportunity to promote economic development and enhance free and fair trade, Comesa secretary general Erastus Mwencha said yesterday.Mr Mwencha was speaking during the first Comesa technical workshop on preparations towards the Customs Union.He said the coming of the Customs Union would push for a less distorted, fair and a level trading field, and post dynamic gains for Comesa-member countries. “The dynamic gains resulting from a Customs Union will include creating economies of scale which are not limited to technology, but also employment of specialised labour and mass scale production. “It will be a stimulus to competition which is achieved by enlarging the size of the market where the larger industrial enterprises, in order to capture the market, will invest in technology leading inefficient firms to follow suit in order to survive,” Mr Mwencha said.He also said the Customs Union would be a stimuli to investment as it would create an environment that would attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) because of the size and confidence in the market.And Mr Mwencha said the Common External Tariff (CET) remains the best option to overcoming regional barriers and differences. He said the CET would bring more harmony among member countries.“No doubt the determination of the CET depends on a number of factors, namely, among others revenue implications, competitiveness of industries, elasticity’s of imports and compatibility with World Trade Organisation provisions,” he said.Mr Mwencha warned that failure to relax tariffs had the tendency to increase domestic prices and penalise the end-user.“The harmonisation of trade and tariff policies have become urgent as we strive to integrate into the global process. This requires a profound re-evaluation of the various policies that make our region prosperous in order to address the urgent need to raise the standards of living of our people,” Mr Mwencha said.
Resolution of border dispute with Zimbabwe (The Times of Zambia, 25/03) - The resolution of the on-off border dispute between Zambia and Zimbabwe to pave way for a bridge across the Zambezi river at Kazungula is a good and welcome development. What makes this development a very significant one is that the requisite funding is available and feasibility studies on the matter are already underway with Chinese and Japanese contractors standing by to start work. Against such a background, it is now incumbent upon the Zambian, Zimbabwean and Botswana governments to meet in the shortest possible time to work out modalities needed to facilitate the project. Indeed, as Works and Supply Minister Ludwig Sondashi said, speed is of the essence otherwise the three countries risk losing out on the donor funding which could be channelled towards other projects. In view of the strategic, socio-economic importance which such an installation entails, it would be very unfortunate and a big drawback for the three countries if the project fails to take off due to delays to sort out the modalities. With memories still fresh of last year's Kazungula pontoon accident in which several lives were lost, this development has come at the right time and should help improve the situation. As things stand now, road communication between the three countries is difficult and people are subjected to long hours of waiting. Although there are quite a number of pontoons in the country, they should, wherever possible, be replaced by bridges because of their more permanent nature. Furthermore, bridges are, with proper maintenance, stable installations which can be relied upon year in, year out and do not experience problems such as breakdowns. Although it would have been desirable to put up a dual purpose bridge which caters for both road and rail transport, the available resources do not permit that as it would have been much more than the three countries can afford. Unless they are able to source for the requisite resources, the three countries just have to tailor their suit according to the cloth which is there in line with the wise old English adage. The rail component of the bridge can be addressed in the future when the requisite resources have been mobilised and for now, the priority is the road bridge. With the improved communication which the bridge will entail, the potential for trade between the three countries is bound to increase with benefits accruing to all the parties. Thus, against such a background, it is no doubt the wish of all concerned stakeholders in the three countries that the requisite modalities to facilitate the project will be worked out soon.
Congolese flee Mai Mai threat (The Times of Zambia, 30/03) - Several inhabitants of Kilwa Mulenga, a small town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have fled into Zambia following threats by the Mai Mai militia to invade the town on March 30. Home Affairs deputy minister Kennedy Sakeni said a total of 1,038 Congolese had entered Zambia so far. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) was screening those coming in before they were transferred to Kala refugee camp in Kawambwa district. Mr Sakeni said the Mai Mai threats had sent waves of panic among the villagers in the small border town on the DR Congo side, forcing them to flee for their lives. He said most of the entrants were still at Kilwa Island, on the Zambian side, because they hoped to return home once the situation calmed. The situation was, however, under control as Zambia's security wings had taken positions to ensure security was maintained. The minister said the flight had nothing to do with the recent coup situation as some people thought, but the March 30 imminent attack from Mai Mai.
Asylum seekers in limbo in UK (The Yorkshire Evening Post, 02/03) - Scores of asylum seekers face destitution on the streets of Leeds after Government laws have left them in a legal limbo. Asylum seekers from Zimbabwe, Iraq and other countries whose claims have been refused by the Home Office cannot be sent back because their homelands are considered too dangerous. But without entitlement to benefits and with no legal right to work, they are left homeless and poverty-stricken. In Leeds, the problem has led to asylum seekers being forced to sleep rough. Destitute The worst affected are Zimbabwean nationals who have lost their claims. While people of other nationalities, like Iraqis, are entitled to some financial support, those who have fled the regime of Robert Mugabe receive nothing – even though the UK Government admits it is unsafe for them to return to Zimbabwe. To help tackle the problem, kind-hearted volunteers in Leeds are putting up destitute asylum seekers in their homes. But asylum groups here admit those they are managing to help could be only the tip of the iceberg. John McClaughlin is the co-ordinator for Short Stop, a project aimed at finding temporary accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers. He said: "The people we help would otherwise be on the street. But we can only speak for those who use our service. We don't know how many more are destitute and are either sleeping on friends' floors or living rough." There are around 1,800 asylum seekers in Leeds awaiting decisions but there are no figures for those who have lost their claims. Short Stop helps around three a week into temporary homes. Prince George is a 17-year-old Liberian who fled his country in the aftermath of the bloody civil war there. Prince lost both his parents when soldiers attacked their village. He said: "I came here totally alone and didn't know anyone. After a few days in London, I was sent to Leeds. It has been very hard for me but I have had some good help from people here." One person he met was Short Stop volunteer Simon Webster. The 37-year-old teacher has hosted dozens of nationalities including Iraqis, Afghanis and Africans since he joined the scheme a year ago. Simon, from Armley, said: "I was so disgusted by the negative stereotypes in the media. So when I heard about asylum seekers having to sleep on park benches, I decided to help out. "I put people up for a couple of days at a time and it allows them a small sanctuary where they can rest and relax. It's very good to meet the individuals and hear their stories – it puts all this hysteria about asylum into a proper context."
Mugabe to seize South African sugar corporation (BBC News, 02/03) - Anglo American says its Hippo Valley sugar-producing estate in Zimbabwe has been designated for confiscation under the land redistribution programme.The estate located in the south east of the country is highly profitable producing sugar worth $41m annually. The South African mining giant says it is fighting the move. Until now, industrial plantations have been exempt from the government's scheme to transfer farms owned by the white minority to blacks. Newspaper notices "We have raised objections with the Zimbabwean government and are in negotiations with the local land committee," Anglo's spokeswoman in South Africa, Anne Dunn, told BBC News Online. The government of President Robert Mugabe threatened to seize the plantation in 2000 but the company won a reprieve. Last week, however, the official Herald newspaper reported that Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party pushed land law adjustments through parliament making the process of land confiscation easier. One amendment, which is presently awaiting Mr Mugabe's signature, ends the requirement that notice of the appropriation be issued personally to the landowner. Notices of confiscation would instead be published in a government newspaper. Hippo Valley is one of the biggest sugar producers in the country, employing some 4,000 people. Many people are now waiting to see if South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki tries to prevent the confiscation. Mr Mugabe's land reform programme is highly controversial. While many people say it has led to the economic degradation of Zimbabwe, it has been heralded by parts of the country's black population and some African leaders.
Embattled business executives scramble for visas (The Sunday Mail, 07/03) - Some local business executives who are believed to be involved in illegal financial dealings are now in a hurry to leave the country following the current shake-up in the financial sector which has seen the arrest of top business people. Sources in the financial services sector confirmed last week that the executives were trying to flee to the United Kingdom before the police begin investigating their dealings. Investigations conducted by The Sunday Mail also revealed that some executives were now seeking urgent visa applications to the UK. According to figures made available by the British Embassy, the number of visa applicants increased from 4 159 in January and February last year to 4 247 during the same period this year. The embassy also received just less than 5 000 applications between November and December last year, which was the busiest period. The embassy spokesperson, Ms Sophie Honey, said people wishing to travel to the UK on business for short periods apply for the visitor’s visa. Although Ms Honey said the embassy does not have a specific category to cater for business executives, she confirmed that the majority of the 1 700 applications received last month were for visitors’ visas. It is understood that most of the executives apply for the visas which are valid for about six months with the intention to extend their visit. The UK is also understood to be a convenient destination for the escapees as they expect to get protection from the British government, which is hostile to Zimbabwe. The British government is believed to be willing to turn a blind eye to fugitives who would have helped it in its bid to sabotage the Zimbabwean economy with a view to effecting a regime change. The Government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe are currently on a massive anti-corruption drive. The drive has seen some of the country’s business heavyweights being arrested. Police are pursuing four NMB Bank executives — Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Francis Zimuto and Otto Chekeche — whom they accuse of operating a money transfer facility without a licence. Police allege that the executives set up a money transfer company in the UK named LTB, which they used to mop up foreign currency from Zimbabweans working in that country. The executives are believed to have fled to the UK after police started their investigations. There is growing concern that more businesspeople likely to face prosecution for externalising foreign currency might bolt before the police pounce on them. Yesterday a spokesperson for Kingdom Financial Holdings denied that its deputy chairman and founder, Nigel Chanakira, was on the run. A weekly paper, The Tribune, had quoted Chanakira as confirming that he was fleeing from the police. The same paper also published a letter written by NMB Bank chief executive Julius Makoni to Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono complaining about the investigation into the directors and NMB’s dealings with a money transfer company, LTB. Makoni also says in his letter that besides NMB Bank, LTB traded with Interfin, Kingdom and Century Bank. He claims in the letter their relationship with LTB was meant to encourage Zimbabweans to remit money to Zimbabwe through authorised means as opposed to informal means. Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said the police could not prohibit people from travelling. He said little could be done since there was no evidence implicating the visa applicants. "People are free to travel as they wish but if we have cases against them, we normally keep their travel documents. "If we do not get to know about the cases, then they will get away with it. However, if we have a case against them, we will be able to chase them down," said Assistant Commissioner Budzijena.
Government urged to register foreign children (The Sunday Mirror, 07/03) - Government should register alien’s children, especially those in farming communities who have for a long time not been accepted as citizens of this country, humanitarian activists have said. The aliens are not registered as citizens despite the fact that they are supposed to be accorded that status according to amendments made in the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act of 2003.Most of the aliens came to Zimbabwe as contract workers during the period between the 1930s and the 1960s. Under the Master and Servants Act put in place in 1890s, the workers were bonded to white commercial farmers in the country,hence they could not be registered as citizens.The advocacy manager of the Children Protection Society (CPS), Sibusisiwe Bhebhe, in a paper she presented at a two-day workshop on the plight of disabled farm workers in Zimbabwe held in Masvingo recently, said government should observe international conventions on citizenship. Zimbabwe is a signatory to the United Nations Charter on Children and should abide by the Charter. It is also a member of the African Charter on the Rights of Children.Quoting the charters, Bhebhe said the country has an obligation to acknowledge children’s right of identity.The workshop was organised by a non-government organisation, Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ). Bhebhe said though government had acknowledged the children’s rights at national level, there was need to fast-track the registration of children in large-scale farming communities. Bhebhe urged government to revisit the Birth and Death Act, which she said had procedures that were unfavourable to the children as more than three witnesses were required in registering the children.“It must be borne in mind that for a farm worker to travel to a birth registration centre and pay busfare for the number of people required for the process, is beyond his or her means,” she said.“Orphans are finding it difficult to obtain witnesses to validate their birth claims for purposes of accessing birth certificates. The law provides that only an adult can give notice of birth thereby barring child heads of households from registering siblings.” Bhebhe said the number of child-headed families was increasing particularly in farming communities in Mashonaland Central Province. “A study of child-headed households on commercial farms in Mashonaland Central carried out during April-May 2002 revealed that 74 percent of all orphans on farms are unregistered,” she said quoting a survey conducted by another non-governmental organisation Farm Orphan Support Trust (FOST).Emphasising the need for registration of alien’s children, Bhebhe argued that most farm workers and their families now qualify for Zimbabwean citizenship.“Farm workers and their children qualify by virtue of their birth and long time of residence in this country as acknowledged by the Citizen of Zimbabwe Amendment Act Number 12, 2003. The Act exempts persons in the Southern Africa Community parentage resident in Zimbabwe from complying with Section 9 of the Citizen of Zimbabwe Act, which requires renunciation of foreign citizenship.” Bhebhe added that unless government urgently addressed the registration of children, many of them would continue to be denied access to writing public examinations. Among recommendations the FCTZ workshop accepted and to be forwarded to the Parliament Portfolio Committee for the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, include amendments to the Birth and Death Act to include aliens’ children. It was also suggested that a mobile registration exercise be carried out which would also target farm workers.In line with this, the government, through the Registrar’s General Oficce is in advaced stages of implementing this mobile registration exercise.
Critical shortage of teachers hits schools (The Zimbabwe Standard, 07/03) - Crippling shortage of qualified maths and science teachers at high school level is threatening to undermine government's much publicised claims of exceptional successes in the education field in Zimbabwe, The Standard has established. Scores of teachers in the critical maths and science subjects are leaving the country in droves in search of greener pastures abroad. Also affected by the unprecedented "brain drain" are commercial subjects such as economics and accounts, most of whose tutors have taken their qualifications into the more lucrative banking sector. Harare Regional Director for Education, Tomax Donha confirmed the crisis but declined to give details referring this paper to the Ministry of Education Sport and Culture. "Generally there is a serious shortage of teachers especially in the science and commercial departments. Most of these teachers have left the country for greener pastures," said Donha. A majority of the teachers fleeing the country's mounting economic problems are mostly headed for the United Kingdom and the United States. Almost half way through the first term, some schools are still advertising for vacant teaching posts. For instance, Harare High school in Mbare is still without Form One and Two maths and science teachers since the beginning of this year. Teaching is one of the lowest paying professions in the country. Only last year, teachers were getting a monthly gross salary of about $147 000 but this has since been hiked to approximately $800 000 this year. Efforts to obtain comment from the relevant ministry were unsuccessful as the deputy permanent secretary, authorised to speak to the Press, was said to be attending meetings. A number of headmasters around Harare confirmed teachers were leaving the country or abandoning the profession altogether due to poor remuneration.
Zimbabwe detains South African mercenaries (Business Day, 09/03) - Zimbabwean security authorities have impounded a US-registered cargo plane and detained at a military air base 64 suspected mercenaries who were on board. Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said yesterday that the aircraft had landed at the Harare International airport, the country's main airport, carrying 64 men of various nationalities as well a "military material". "A US-registered Boeing 727-100 cargo plane was detained last night (Sunday) at about 7:30pm at Harare International airport after its owners made a false declaration of its cargo and crew," he said. The plane, allegedly on a stopover, was declared to be carrying only three crew members and civilian cargo. "The plane was actually carrying 64 suspected mercenaries of various nationalities. Further investigations also revealed that on board the plane was military material." Mohadi said investigations to establish the "true identities of the men and their ultimate mission" were under way and that full details would be issued in "due course". A spokeswoman at the US embassy in Harare said her government had not been officially informed about incident and therefore would not comment on the matter. Reporters were shown the cargo, which included a rubber dinghy, military uniforms, wire cutters, armour, compasses and other military hardware, chief police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said yesterday. US Federal Aviation Administration records show the N4610 plane to be a 727 plane registered to Dodson Aviation based in Ottawa, Kansas. Dodson Aviation said that it sold the plane about a week ago to an African company called Logo Ltd. There was no information last night about the plane's origin, its destination, or why a refuelling stop was made in Harare, which has little fuel. With the winding down of conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Angola, demand for mercenaries has decreased. The plane may have been en route to Iraq or Afghanistan, where a large number of private security firms have operations. The fate of the plane's crew was unclear at the time of going to press, but the plane was parked at Manyame airbase. In 1999 three Americans were arrested at the Harare International airport trying to leave the country for the Democratic Republic of Congo with guns and ammunition. At the time, Zimbabwe was fighting a war in Congo. The three were convicted, but they were later freed and deported.
South Africans on board impounded plane (The Sunday Times, 10/03) - The foreign affairs department confirmed today that there were 20 South Africans in the group of people detained in Zimbabwe as suspected mercenaries.Ambassador Jerry Ndou met Zimbabwean authorities today, to find out details on the detention and impounding of a Boeing 707-100 that landed at Harare International Airport on Sunday evening, said Ronnie Mamoepa, the foreign affairs spokesperson. He said: "All detainees are being held in a local prison. Apart from the South Africans there are 18 Namibians, 23 Angolans, three Congolese and one Zimbabwean national." If the South Africans were indeed implicated in mercenary activities, this would be in breach of the Foreign Military Assistance Act, Mamoepa reiterated. Yesterday Kembo Mohadi, Zimbabwe's home affairs minister, announced the impounding of a US-registered aeroplane which he said contained military equipment and 64 suspected mercenaries. Rumours have since abounded about the occupants, destination, and ownership of the aircraft. Latest reports state it was indeed carrying mercenaries, employed to assassinate the president of Equatorial Guinea. Agustin Nse Nfumu, the information minister of Equatorial Guinea, said his government had detained 15 suspected mercenaries, and declared they were an "advance party" for the group of 64 on board the impounded aircraft. He said the leader of the group, a white South African called "Mick", had confessed to a plot to kill the president.However, the firm Logo Logistics Ltd claimed to have contracted the mysterious aircraft to carry mining contractors to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In a statement, Logo Logistics said that "contrary to some reports they (the people on board the aeroplane) are contracted to provide a range of services to mining clients, including logistics, support services, asset and human security, and communications".What had been described as "military" items on board were in fact equipment such as boots, pipe-bending and wire-cutting tools, the firm declared. It confirmed that some of the contractors on board were South African citizens and denied they had broken any South African laws. "We appreciate that the South African government may wish to debrief its citizens on their return from their ordeal, but that is a different matter."The statement was not sourced to an individual, giving merely an e-mail address and a telephone contact number in the United Kingdom. This is answered by an electronic message. Today South Africa's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the cargo plane was not registered in South Africa. The CAA also confirmed that the Boeing 727-100 departed from Polokwane International Airport on Sunday. Whether it flew directly to Zimbabwe was not known, the agency said.Logo says its equipment is normally acquired in South Africa. It did not give details on the flight path of the aircraft before it entered Zimbabwean air space. He said: "We can make it clear that we have no current or intended business in Zimbabwe and certainly no illegal intentions against its government and people." The company says it was aware of the political sensitivities of the Zimbabwean government.Logo Logistics says their first concern was the welfare of the contractors. "They and their families have had an extremely distressing time. It is our intention that they return to their homes for a few days to recuperate before recommencing work."The company's website states that it has so far operated in African countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, Angola, Zambia and Mozambique. "Common key attributes" found in staff in its service include "discretion, political sensitivity, (and) military experience". Services offered by Logo Logistics include "risk intelligence and assessment, support helicopter operations, service support in harsh environments, (and) rough field and parachute air re-supply".Mamoepa says the South African embassy would continue to liaise with the Zimbabwean authorities as they investigate the incident.
Police arrest 26 Somalis (Harare, The Herald, 12/03) - Police yesterday arrested 26 Somalis, who allegedly entered the country illegally by using a canoe to cross the Zambezi River from Zambia. The Somalis were arrested in Makuti. They are still in custody and investigations are still in progress. They were arrested by a policeman after they had boarded a bus to Harare. The policeman had demanded their identity cards. "On March 9, the foreigners entered the country using a canoe and travelled to Makuti in an unidentified truck," said police spokesperson, Inspector Andrew Phiri. He said the suspects had spent the night at Makuti Travel Lodge. The following day, a receptionist at the lodge informed the police but by the time police arrived, the Somalis had left. "The suspects had boarded a bus, which was heading for Harare before our police officers had arrived," said Insp Phiri. "After carrying out preliminary investigations, the foreigners later revealed that when they boarded the bus to Harare, they were on their way to a refugee camp." The Somalis said that they were seeking refuge but could not say why they entered the country illegally, Insp Phiri said. Insp Phiri said the Somalis would be transferred from Makuti to Waterfalls where a vetting process would be carried out by a Refuge Verification Team. "We want to check whether they were genuine asylum seekers or not," he said. "And even if they are genuine asylum seekers, they should have entered the country following the normal procedures." Insp Phiri urged foreigners not to enter the country illegally. "The illegal way is dangerous since it might cost their lives because they can meet dangerous animals along the way or the canoe might have capsized during the process," said Insp Phiri.
Mercenary case shrouded in mystery (Business Day, 12/03) - Logo Logistics, the company whose plane and employees are being held in Zimbabwe, is not one of the better known private military companies. The details of the arrest of 64 men in Harare, who flew in at the weekend on a Boeing 727-100, are still enveloped in mystery. Conflicting information is being provided by Logo Logistics, and the governments of Equatorial Guinea, SA and Zimbabwe, which brand the detainees as "mercenaries" on their way to a coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. London-based newsletter Africa Confidential suggests that Logo Logistics had made an advance payment to Zimbabwe Defence Industries a stateowned arms company for weapons and stopped in Harare to collect them before planning to fly to Equatorial Guinea . According to a source knowledgeable about the plane's flight plan, Zimbabwe Defence Industries was given as a reference in Harare in the application for a landing permit. Logo Logistics insists that the men were on their way to conduct security work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Charles Burrow, a Londonbased executive with Logo Logistics, says the reason for the stop in Harare was to pick up mining equipment because it can be bought cheaply in Zimbabwe.When asked what mining equipment they were planning to buy , Burrow said he did not have the plane's manifest. Logo Logistics is registered in the Channel Islands. Its website says: "Governments, nongovernmental organisations and commercial organisations entrust harsh logistical and related requirements to us." The website says Logo has operated in Venezuela, Guyana, Sri Lanka, the Republic of Congo, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Pakistan and China. The tasks in which the company has experience are risk intelligence and assessment; aircraft charter; rough field and parachute resupply; support helicopter operations ; sea and air import/export facilitation; harsh environment road haulage; service support in harsh environments; field catering; and staff recruitment for "harsh environmental projects". The website says the company hires people with discretion, political sensitivity, initiative, military experience and commercial experience of logistical operations in a harsh environment. According to Zimbabwean Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, the "men on the plane were all carrying South African passports, although only 20 had their origins in SA". He says the others were from Angola, the Congo and Namibia. "Some of them are known to be mercenaries," Mohadi says, naming Simon Mann as the leader of the group and KwaZulu- Natal-based Simon Witherspoon as another member . Mohadi says they worked for Executive Outcomes, which was widely thought to have been disbanded in the early 1990s, prior to the passage in SA of the Foreign Military Assistance Act, which requires South Africans to get government permission before taking up assignments with private military companies. Until the alleged mercenaries appear in court , their identities and much else surrounding the saga will remain a matter of speculation.
Mercenary charges absurd, says lawyer (Harare, The Daily News, 15/03) - Police have charged 60 suspected mercenaries detained in the country with violating the country's immigration Act and with attempting to illegally purchase firearms, their " lawyer, Jonathan Samkange said. Samkange said the remaining 10, including the leader of the group, Simon Mann, would be charged today. Two others identified as Lawrence Horn and Malani Moyo, who were already in Harare would, together with Mann, be charged with actually purchasing arms without a licence. The charge of buying firearms without a licence carries a 10-year jail term, while that of "attempting to buy firearms" carries a two-year term with the option of a fine. He said all the 70 men are expected to appear in court today. They would vehemently deny the charges against them, the lawyer said. The men were arrested about a week ago after their plane landed in Harare en route to Burundi, according to their flight plan. The Zimbabwe government has since said they were headed to Equatorial Guinea where they planned to topple the government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema and replace him with exiled opposition figure Severo Moto Nsa. Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi has threatened to charge them with "destabilising a sovereign government" while Foreign affairs Minister Stan Mudenge had said the men could be executed. Samkange said the charge Mohadi had spoken about "does not exist in Zimbabwe". Samkange said in an interview the 60 charged men had a similar story as to why they landed in Harare. He said they told the police they had been hired by a man referred to only as Harry to go and work as security guards at a mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Samkange said the 60 had agreed on a venue where Harry was going to pick them up in Pretoria and proceeded to the airport to travel to the DRc. Before boarding a plane at Wonderboom, they had been given uniforms for their security work in the DRC. Most had worked there before. "When they landed in Harare, my clients in fact thought they had arrived in the DRc. But the crew explained to them they had not yet arrived but were in Harare to do one or two things before proceeding to the DRC. "They were surprised when afterwards the plane was stormed by armed soldiers who asked them to lie down and then arrested them and took them to prison," he said. He said they all knew nothing about the alleged coup and were not privy to any information of arms purchases by Mann in Harare. So they had not conspired or attempted to buy arms, he said. They had also not violated the Immigration Act as they did not intend to stay in Harare. "These were all employees hired to do security work. There was nothing about the purchase of arms that they knew about. So charging them with conspiring or attempting to buy arms illegally is most absurd," he said.
Mercenaries: Zimbabwe brings new charges (Harare, Mail & Guardian, 23/03) - The Harare court appearance of 70 men alleged to be mercenaries involved in a coup plot in Equatorial Guinea was called off on Wednesday as new charges under anti-subversion laws were prepared.Defence lawyers accused President Robert Mugabe's government of using political influence on the attorney-general's office, getting it to charge the men under security legislation with heavy penalties.The men have been in detention for 10 days since they were arrested at Harare International Airport and accused of planning to overthrow Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Mbasogo.It is alleged that 64 mercenaries and three crew flew in a Boeing 727 from South Africa on March 7, stopped at Harare to collect a consignment of military weaponry organised by an advance party and were planning to fly on to stage the coup d'etat in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.Officials in Harare said the "advance party" was arrested in a "sting" operation after they came to Zimbabwe first in February and allegedly negotiated with the state-owned arms manufacturer, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, to buy AK-47 automatic rifles, light machine guns, mortars, rocket launchers, pistols, hand grenades and ammunition.Harare claimed that British and American intelligence were backing the coup.Simon Mann, the alleged leader of the operation, has been described as a former British Special Air Services officer and a founder member of Executive Outcomes, the now defunct South African mercenary recruiting company.The men were first charged with breaking firearms and immigration laws.On Tuesday defence lawyers were told a charge of conspiring to murder Mbasogo would be added. Defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange said the defence team wasexpecting to go to court on Wednesday morning, but the investigating officer telephoned to postpone the court appearance and asked them to come to the Chikurubi Prison again where their clients would be charged under the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).Samkange said he had been given no details of the charge, but the state-controlled daily Herald quoted acting attorney-general Bharat Patel as saying that they would be charged under the act, "for weaponry". He did not elaborate.Earlier this week Patel and defence lawyers agreed there was nothing in Zimbabwean law for them to charged with anything more than offences under immigration and firearms control legislation."Naturally," he said, when asked if the government was bringing political influence to bear on the attorney-general. He referred to Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge's statement last week that the government would impose "the severest punishment" against the group, including hanging."They (the government) want them to face the charges with severest penalties. Under Posa the penalty is 10 years. For attempting to acquire arms under the firearms act without a licence carries a 1000 Zimbabwe dollar fine," he said.
42 new Cuban health professionals arrive (Harare, The Herald, 19/03) - Forty-two new Cuban health professionals arrived in Zimbabwe yesterday, along with 75 others already assigned to Zimbabwe who had gone back to Cuba for holiday. The group comprises general practitioners, specialist doctors, nursing tutors, engineers and technicians. The 42 are part of a new group of 60, the fourth group to arrive in Zimbabwe since 2000. The 75 who had gone back to Cuba for holiday work at central, provincial, district and mission hospitals. The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, is today expected to welcome the health professionals. "Dr Parirenyatwa is also expected to mention where the Cuban health professionals would be deployed," said the spokesperson for the ministry, Mr Bright Mpofu. Zimbabwe and Cuba enjoy excellent relations and this has seen more than 186 health professionals serving in Zimbabwe since 2000. Last month, a three-member Cuban delegation met Dr Parirenyatwa in Harare under the ninth session of the Zimbabwe-Cuba Joint Commission as part of efforts to strengthen co-operation in the field of health. At the meeting, the Cuban Deputy Minister of Foreign Investment and Economic Co-operation, Mr Ramon Ripoll Diaz, who was leading the delegation, said his country would assist Zimbabwe to improve its health delivery system. Zimbabwe and Cuba also signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at strengthening economic, scientific and technical co-operation. The memorandum was signed by the Deputy Minister of Industry and International Trade, Cde Kenneth Manyonda, and Mr Diaz. New areas of co-operation proposed under the memorandum of understanding include science and technology, youth, gender and employment creation.
Cross-border cattle rustling increases (Mutare, The Zimbabwe Standard, 21/03) - Cattle rustling is on the increase in Manicaland and villagers living along the border with Mozambique say they are losing livestock to thieves who sell them across the border where there is a ready market. In Mozambique, cattle are sold in foreign currency, with a beast fetching as much as US$500 (Z$2,1 million) Police in Mutare last week confirmed that cattle rustling was on the increase in Manicaland but could not give figures. The police said they had intensified patrols along the border to arrest cattle rustlers. Most of the cattle are being stolen from Chigodora area, southeast of Mutare, and driven into Mozambique through illegal entry points. They are then sold in Mozambique live or as cheap beef. Annanias Jindwi of Chigodora Village said he lost four cattle last week to cattle rustlers and has not recovered them. "I woke up to find that my kraal was empty as the four beasts were my only cattle that I use as drought power. I reported the matter to the police," he said. Alfred Sithole of Vumba said he also lost two herd of cattle to thieves last weekend and police had not yet recovered them.
Zimbabweans having torrid time in Botswana (The Sunday Mail, 21/03) - Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana have sunk to an all-time low amid revelations that Zimbabweans who visit that country are being subjected to wanton torture and harassment by Botswana security forces. It is understood that many Zimbabweans resident in Botswana are even failing to access bank loans while others are being used as cheap labour. Following earlier reports of these humiliating acts against Zimbabweans, attributed mainly to xenophobia by the country's south-western neighbour, The Sunday Mail carried investigations that unearthed the slanderous attacks on Zimbabwean nationals visiting that country. The revelations came about as Botswana's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Mothusi Nkgowe, made the promise to "take this issue with authorities" in his country during a meeting last Thursday with the Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo. The two-week investigations by The Sunday Mail revealed that the land reform programme had fuelled the hostile attitude against the Zimbabweans, with some ministers and legislators in Botswana alleged to have gone on a propaganda blitz to demonise the Zimbabwean Government. Some Zimbabweans resident in Botswana told The Sunday Mail that the ill-treatment started in 2000 when the Government embarked on the fast-track land reform programme that was viewed by some officials in that country as undemocratic and a sign of bad governance. "They rudely told us to go back home to till the land or vote for a new government," said one Zimbabwean, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Other Zimbabweans refused to talk about this issue, saying once the authorities in that country found out that they were the source of the story, they would be harassed and tortured. It was also established that human rights organisations based in Botswana, namely the Ditshwanelo and Amnesty International, cited Zimbabwe as the worst example of bad human rights records. These organisations, with the help of Danida, are alleged to have screened a film entitled "Soul in Torment” whose commentator was one Prudence Uriri. The film was used to create a bad image about Zimbabwe. The investigations also revealed that a number of legislators and ministers in Botswana helped fuel the hatred for Zimbabweans by condemning what they said was bad governance, giving the example of Harare's failure to repay the US$6 million worth of fuel advanced to the country during the 2000 fuel crisis. It was also established that Chief Michael Gaborone from Botswana had repeatedly called for the eviction of Zimbabwean nationals whom he blamed for spreading HIV/Aids. The other chief, Christopher Masunga, is also alleged to have shown zero tolerance of Zimbabweans whom he blamed for prostitution in his area. One Zimbabwean resident in Botswana for about six years said what made the situation worse for Zimbabweans was that the country's leader, President Festus Mogae, on November 10 2003, in his address to the nation, seemed to fuel the hatred by mentioning that immigrants had aggravated the wave of crime. "He went on to commend the country's security forces for adopting pro active strategies of intervention and revealed that the need to maintain a safe and secure nation continued to affect the country's resources. "When the people hear such kind of remarks they hate each and every foreigner, especially Zimbabweans," said the Zimbabwean. It is alleged that the Botswana security forces recently embarked on a clean-up operation targeting Zimbabwean immigrants, with the officers making slanderous utterances during the operations. "The immigrants are at times subjected to corporal punishment at the hands of the chiefs. Any cases reported to the Botswana police which affect Zimbabwean nationals are referred to the embassy, and protests and representations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have not yielded anything as far as I know," said one immigration officer from Botswana. After his meeting with ProfMoyo, Mr Nkgowe said the flogging of people suspected to be committing crime was not illegal as it was in the statute books of Botswana. Other Zimbabweans resident in Botswana said they could not access bank loans, overdrafts or even open accounts just because they were Zimbabweans. "You can have all the papers, but once they see you are from Zimbabwe, the story changes. They will give all sorts of excuses," said one Zimbabwean. Information from the Urban Police Station indicated that of the I 107 criminal cases reported in 2003, only 330 were attributed to foreigners from different countries. "You see, this story of yours can get us into trouble. Can you imagine Zimbabwean expatriates have also arbitrarily had their work permits withdrawn on false accusations. "Some Zimbabweans are being used as cheap labour and most of them are not paid for services rendered," said the Zimbabwean.Numerous cases of Zimbabweans being ill-treated in Botswana have been reported, with some said to have been publicly flogged at the country's customary courts. In 2003 Botswana said it was deporting 2 500 Zimbabweans every week. Botswana security forces are alleged to have tortured and harassed many Zimbabweans during the operations to flush out illegal immigrants. Zimbabweans who are legally staying in that country have also complained of harassment and torture. This dehumanising treatment of the Zimbabweans has strained relations between the two countries. The situation was even made worse when there were allegations that an American radio station, Studio 7, was broadcasting anti-Zimbabwe propaganda from Botswana. Prof Moyo raised the issue with Mr Nkgowe, who said he was not aware of this radio station and made an undertaking to investigate. During the meeting Prof Moyo also raised concern about Zimbabweans who were being hired by Botswana businessmen and then thrown out before getting their dues.
Comment: Time to act against Botswana (The Chronicle, 22/03) - A neighbour is a very important person to an individual or family. Even the Bible acknowledges this importance and teaches us "to love thy neighbour". In times of happiness or sorrow a neighbour is usually the first to come to your rescue. Antagonising a neighbour is just as good as pressing a selfdestruction button. This, in a nutshell, is what Botswana is bent on doing. By torturing, flogging and killing Zimbabweans under the pretext of "ridding our country of criminals" is akin to brewing a war. Perhaps it explains why Botswana hosts an American radio station that is beaming antiZimbabwe propaganda aimed at causing the ouster of the democratically elected Government of President Mugabe. What is shameful is that this is being done by our own neighbour and African brother. We would expect such treachery from Britain and the United States, whose aim to effect regime change in Zimbabwe is no secret. Are we to assume therefore that Gaborone shares that dream? We hope not and therefore condemn the xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans by Batswana authorities and traditional leaders. Whoever is behind these attacks must desist from them as they should not forget that hundreds of Batswana are resident in Zimbabwe, the majority of them attending schools. And the pretension of ignorance of what is going on by the new Botswana Ambassador, Mr Moehusi Nkgowe smacks of a consipracy of the highest order that we cannot stomach. Was he coming from Mars that he would profess ignorance on the daily arrests, torture, flogging and other dehumanising treatment being meted out on Zimbabwean nationals by the SSG and others? Next he will tell us he is unaware of the electric fence his Government has erected "to keep out troublesome" Zimbabweans. We want Mr Nkgowe to know that we are not amused at all. He should send a message loud and clear to his Government that Harare wants this illtreatment to stop immediately. Chronicle and other local and Botswana newspapers have carried numerous stories of our nationals being subjected to this dehumanising illtreatment. Although diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and its neighbour to the west Botswana have been cordial it appears some ugly developments on the ground are threatening to spoil them. Reports of Zimbabweans visiting Botswana being subjected to inhuman treatment at the hands of the authorities there especially traditional chiefs are a cause for concern. They are being beaten up and tortured for wild allegations liking causing the rise of HIV/AIDS. These childish claims only go to show the amount of hate and contempt that the Batswana now have for Zimbabweans. Possibly some of them are doing this out of ignorance of historical facts on the ground. Botswana and Zimbabwe are permanent neighbours by geography and their people are linked by blood relations which some of these simpletons cannot do anything about. Some of them that are most vocal and unwilling to see Zimbabweans in that country are Kalanga in areas around Francistown whose origins are etched in this country. Others are certainly Zimbabweans who emigrated to that country a long time ago and now they want to be more Tswana than the Batswana themselves. There is no need for our two countries to operate at counter purposes. Bostwana should not allow western countries like Britain and the United States to spoil our good relations. These are the same people that we fought together against yesterday. Let their money not spoil our brotherhood. While the silence from western human rights bodies like Amensty International are no surprise as they probably know that their sponsors are behind this, we are worried by the defeaning silence from our Members of Parliament especially those representing urban centres where most of the nationals being tortured come from. Should we read from this that it is the opposition which called on Gaborone to attack Zimbabaweans? We demand debate and condemnation of Botswana in Parliament as this matter has been happening for the past two years without institutions of Government and State taking action. It is obvious that we should now move away from "issuing a statement" to more practical action so that Gaborone realises that the Government and people of Zimbabwe are not amused. After all and this we have said before and will say again Botswana has nothing to offer except a strong currency that cross border traders are rushing for to trade on the black market. It cannot even offer its nationals basic high school education forcing them to fill our schools to as far as Zvishavane therefore authorities there should not stand and judge us when they have a large speck that is clogging their eyes. They should remove it first then turn to ours.
Four women arrested over fake visas (The Herald, 23/03) - Immigration officials yesterday nabbed four women suspected to be part of a syndicate that allegedly manufactures fake South African visas and employment permits for foreigners. The women, who allegedly operated outside a building along K wame Nkrumah A venue in Harare, are in detention at the immigration offices in Harare while investigations continue. Chief immigration investigating officer Mr John Kambunda yesterday confirmed they had made the arrests. He said the arrests followed the discovery of fake employment permits circulating among some foreign nationals. "We have recovered fake work permits belonging to Igbal Kabir of Bangladesh and Oidarul Islam Bhuiyan of Pakistan. We are concerned this could lead to an illegal flocking-in of foreigners," Mr Kambunda said. He said the permits had an immigration stamp whose origins are still being investigated. "We are not ruling out the possibility that the syndicate might have connived with some insiders from here," he said. One of the arrested women allegedly indicated that she has been in the business for a year and gets at least two clients in need of South African visas a day. "We are about 1 0 at that point and charge $400 000 per visa. Half of that amount is paid before the visa is processed," the woman confessed. She said the documents, which included passports, were given to some "boys" who dealt with staff at the South African embassy. One of the women said she looked for foreign nationals in need of work permits and referred them to her boss who manufactures fake permits.
Mercenaries head to court in Zimbabwe (The Namibian, 23/03) - Seventy men, including about 30 Namibians, detained as mercenaries in Harare two weeks ago will finally appear in court today following the defence's failed application to have their case heard in a normal court.The case will now take place in Harare's Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison as the Zimbabwean authorities had wanted, both defence lawyers and the prosecution said yesterday.But the High Court in the Zimbabwean capital ruled that the proceedings should be open to the public - allowing for up to 100 people to attend, including journalists and relatives of the accused.It is still not clear what all the charges will be as the Zimbabwean Acting Attorney General Bharat Patel gave conflicting information.The suspected mercenaries are expected to be charged under at least three laws, with two or more other charges still unclear.Jonathan Samkange, who is representing the accused, said yesterday that so far six charges had been levelled against his clients.The charges added on Saturday relate to terrorism.They follow earlier attempts to charge the men with conspiracy to murder the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.But Patel said yesterday they would now not pursue that charge.The latest charges are based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions: Zimbabwean authorities allege that the accused engaged "in a conspiracy to commit international terrorism" between June 2003 and March this year in South Africa.Another terrorism charge claims that the 70 accused "conspired and agreed to overthrow the President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo from power in a coup d'etat and underwent vigorous [training] in weapons handling and urban warfare..."Samkange said yesterday that authorities in Zimbabwe were unlikely to make the terrorism charges stick because the UN resolutions under on which the charges were formulated were not law in Zimbabwe."Whereas it may be an offence in some countries, until our parliament has ratified them, that is not a criminal offence," said Samkange.Patel, who was quoted by the Zimbabwean news agency (Ziana) as saying that the charges had been laid, told The Namibian the authorities were "still looking" into laying them.The accused have already been notified of several breaches of immigration and firearms laws as well as Zimbabwe's notorious Public Order and Security Act (Posa) under which people can be detained without charge for long periods.They are accused of an attempt to buy a range of "dangerous weapons" from the state-agency Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI).Logo Logistics, the company that was flying the men on the US-registered plane before it was seized in Harare, has maintained that they were going to the Democratic Republic of Congo where to guard the mining operations of several companies.No firearms were found on the plane.Authorities showed equipment on State television that included wire cutters, hammers, boots and heavy-duty clothing.Patel said the suspected mercenaries would be brought to court merely for a "remand" and that prosecution would "obviously resist bail" applications.The accused also include South Africans, Angolans and Congolese.Most of the Namibian, Angolan and South Africans served in South Africa's apartheid army and had engaged in mercenaries activities before.
Business moguls flee corruption crackdown (Mail & Guardian, 23/03) - Zimbabwe’s anti-corruption crackdown last week resulted in the closure of five key financial institutions.President Robert Mugabe is vigorously dismantling the country’s deep-rooted economic patronage system in an effort to ensure his political survival.The sweeping clean-up drive has sent business magnates — whose economic power was beginning to threaten Mugabe’s diminishing political influence — fleeing abroad to escape jail.As many as 10 prominent business tycoons have fled the country in recent weeks. Most are said to have sought refuge in London.However, the Zimbabwean president has said the moguls will be found and brought to justice.Financial institutions closed by the Reserve Bank this week included Barbican Bank and Barbican Asset Management. Reports say Barbican Asset Management South Africa, Barbican Holdings Botswana, and Barbican Capital Partners are also in deep financial crisis.The collapse of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Barbican Holdings, owned by Mthuli Ncube and others, was preceded a few days earlier by the closure of Intermarket Holdings, one of the local firms owned by Nicholas Vingirai.The group’s major subsidiaries, Intermarket Banking Corporation, Building Society, and Intermarket Discount House, were shut down because of a severe liquidity crisis. Barbican Holdings was closed for the same reason.But there were also allegations of corruption involving “foreign currency externalisation” and siphoning off of investors’ funds by directors in the form of “loans”.Other financial institutions and companies that have been netted in the campaign include NMB Bank, Trust Bank, Century Bank, Century Discount House and Metropolitan Bank.NMB Bank managing director Julius Makoni and his deputy, James Mushore, are believed to have fled to London.Trust Bank, Century, and Metropolitan have had to be rescued by the central bank through its Troubled Banks Fund to protect investors and depositors’ funds, as well as preserve their assets.A number of asset management companies, in particular ENG Capital Asset Management, whose directors have been languishing in jail since December over a Z$60-billion fraud case, and discount houses have sunk as the clean-up tide sweeps across the financial sector. Many other locally owned companies are facing the risk of going under.When the corrosive banking crisis began affecting the ordinary people Mugabe stepped in, masquerading as their saviour. However, critics point out his disastrous policies helped create the problems.Political analysts and a wide spectrum of Zimbabweans blame Mugabe’s regime for the corruption that has become an integral part of the country’s political system.They have accused Mugabe of maintaining his tyranny through an eclectic mix of coercion, emotional propaganda, patronage and graft.Business moguls have all along been kept within Mugabe’s political realm and at his regime’s service. The business executives provided resources to sustain his rule in exchange for security.However, since September, Mugabe has complained of “unhelpful businessmen”, especially bankers, who had been beneficiaries of licences under his government but had shifted their political loyalty.At the Zanu-PF conference in December Mugabe warned the “unhelpful businessmen” and “tricksters” that their days were numbered. Later that month the crackdown started, with the arrest of ENG directors.Mugabe’s concentrated campaign has been likened to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent clampdown on the “oligarchs” in his country. On October 25 last year Putin ordered the arrest of Russian billionaire oil baron Mikhail Khodorkovsky for tax evasion and corruption dating back to the wholesale plunder of state property during former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost programmes in the early 1990s.Khodorkovsky was using his immense personal fortune to bankroll opposition parties in Russia.This apparently broke an unwritten covenant between the “oligarchs” and the Kremlin leadership committing the moguls to keeping out of politics in return for the state’s protection of their ill-gotten wealth.Mugabe is seen as following the same formula by dealing with Zimbabwe’s “economic mafia” for breaking the cardinal rule of not interfering in politics and funding the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, a party deeply resented in official circles.Zimbabwe’s nouveau riche had accumulated wealth that had given them economic muscle that was beginning to challenge Mugabe’s political power and influence.The entrepreneurs, who admittedly had gained some of their fortune through illicit means, were building up their profiles as an alternative source of political power, and their adventurism as MDC financiers had ruffled the feathers of the powers that be.
Nigeria welcomes Zimbabwe's white farmers (The Sunday Times, 24/03) - President Olusegun Obasanjo said that Nigeria would welcome Zimbabwean commercial farmers who wanted to set up business there, if they felt they had to flee their own country. "We don't want to take what is good for Zimbabwe away, but we don't want what is good for Africa taken away," Obasanjo told a delegation of Zimbabweans who visited him at the presidential villa in Abuja, according to a statement. "Wherever you stay in Africa, the knowledge you have remains in Africa for the benefit of Africans," he said. Many white Zimbabwean farmers have emigrated or plan to do so to escape the political crisis in their own country, and in particular President Robert Mugabe's policy of seizing white-owned land for redistribution to blacks. Some have already settled in other parts of southern Africa, but Obasanjo said he was keen for other African countries to "benefit from the technical know-how, expertise and experience of Zimbabwean farmers." According to statements from the Nigerian presidency and vice-presidency the head of the Zimbabwean group, Allan Jack of the Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe, was positive about what he and his colleagues had seen in Nigeria. Before travelling to Abuja they had been invited to Kwara State, a largely rural region of light bush, watered by tributaries of the Niger River in southwest Nigeria, to inspect possible farming areas. "We have been in Kwara, we have looked at the sugar and rice plantations. We know we can do better," Jack said, according to a statement from Vice President Atiku Abubakar's office. "We have also seen a great deal of cattle movements between Kwara and Lagos, we know we can get the dairy industry up and running within the next three years," he said. The Zimbabweans added, however, that Nigeria needed to improve its infrastructure and financing opportunities in order to make the most of its agricultural potential, according to the presidency's statement. Nigeria, which has a population of 126 million, has seen its agricultural base collapse since the discovery of oil diverted government's attention, but Obasanjo has now vowed to promote both farm exports and food security.
Computerisation to enhance migration controls (The Chronicle, 24/03) - The Department of Immigration Control has embarked on a $4 billion computerisation programme to enhance its operations to enable it to effectively screen undesirable and criminal elements entering the country, a senior officer said yesterday. Responding to questions from Chronicle, Chief Immigration officer, Mr Elasto Mugwadi, said the computerization programme would enable the department to effectively screen undesirable criminal elements and the prohibited immigrants from bona fide tourists and visitors to Zimbabwe. "The first phase of the programme will consist of constructural alterations and cabling to the town, airport and border offices. The second phase will consist of hardware and software installation and takeoff of the project," he said. He said the project was expected to be completed by 2006 with $288 million having been allocated for this year. The computerisation programme for the Immigration Control Department comes at a time the Registrar General's Office is decentralising its major operations like issuance of birth and registration certificates to the districts. It has also in the past three years embarked on an improvement programme to tighten the controls on identification and travel documents for the locals. The department was allocated $500 million for the computerisation programme for this year alone. Meanwhile, Mr Mugwadi said two new border posts linking Binga and Zambia and Honde Valley and Mozambique will be opened this year, This would make travel easier for villagers who normally travel across these borders to visit relatives on the other side. Three other border posts, Chidodo, Chituripasi and Mapungubwe were approved and funded under the Public Sector Investment Programme. A total of $353 million has been allocated for the construction of the Chituripasi border post.
SA mercenaries in court (Harare, The Cape Times, 24/03) - The 70 South African suspected mercenaries detained in Zimbabwe appeared briefly in court yesterday and have been remanded until their next appearance on April 13. Defence attorney Jonathan Samkange told the court that some of the accused had been assaulted, refused food, water and telephone access for four days. Clad in khaki prison shorts and shirts, leg-shackled and handcuffed in a two-by-two formation, the 60 black and 10 white men appeared for the first time in public in a makeshift court in Chikurubi maximum security prison, about 20km east of here. The group were formally charged but not asked to plead. Samkange told magistrate Mishrod Guvamobe that he would apply for bail on April 13. Their brief appearance was attended by South African High Commissioner Jerry Ndou, a representative from the British High Commission, a few family members, and a horde of local journalists. The men are facing five charges, which include conspiring to bring about a coup in Equatorial Guinea, contravening the Public Order and Security Act, trying to buy arms without legal certificates and contravening civil aviation and immigration laws. But the primary charge is the contravention of the Public Order and Security Act, which is regarded as high treason in Zimbabwe, and which carries a life sentence. Simon Mann, Lourens Jacobus Horn and Carlos Jacob Hermanus, who were arrested as an alleged advanced team in Zimbabwe, are facing serious charges of trying to buy firearms. The list of arms they allegedly ordered from a local armaments company included 61 AK-47 rifles, 45 000 rounds of ammunition, 20 light machine guns, 100 RPG rocket launchers, seven anti-tank launchers and 150 handgrenades. Reading out the charges, Chief prosecutor Mary Zimba-Dube said Mann, Hermanus and Horn tried to buy the weapons from Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI). When ZDI realised that Mann was a notorious mercenary, Zimba-Dube said, the company refused to continue with the deal and contacted the authorities. By that time, a cheque for US$180 000 had already been handed over to the armaments company in the name of Nick du Toit, who is currently under arrest in Equatorial Guinea. The accused appeared to be in high spirits, but when the prosecution read the charges they listened attentively and impassively. Most were wearing sandals, except Mann, who was wearing white sneakers and grey socks.The bespectacled Mann appeared concerned, chewing on something, playing with his fingers and constantly tapping his right foot. Horn and an unidentified accused were not shackled, as they had swollen legs. One court official joked that they were suffering from gout. Most of the men have grown beards, an indication of the time they had already spent in prison. They were escorted by more than 40 policemen, with half of them standing outside the makeshift court. It took more than 30 minutes to get a security clearance from the first security checkpoint to the fifth checkpoint before one could see the shabby looking and dilapidated building serving as a court.It was hot inside the building, which seemed more like a warehouse than a court of law. One of the woman prison warders said the building was usually used as a function hall for staff members. There was no furniture apart from old benches that had been specially brought in for the prisoners, members of the public and the media. Chikurubi Prison is in the middle of nowhere, hidden behind a curtain of blue-gum trees and mealie fields. One passes through thick bush before reaching the first checkpoint. Then the buildings emerge from behind a security fence, guarded by watchtowers. But the entrance to the maximum prison is colourful, with flowers and a green garden pruned by woman prisoners. As the magistrate left the court, looks of despair and confusion could be seen in the eyes of most of the men, whose fates are now in the hands of the Zimbabwean authorities.
Police operations net 152 (Harare, The Herald, 24/03) - Police have arrested 134 Zimbabweans and 18 illegal immigrants in separate raids countrywide as they intensify their campaign to rid society of undesirable elements. The 134 were arrested under Operation Clean-Up in Mbare, while the foreigners were arrested under Operation Dzokera. Police said Operation Clean-Up was launched to curb and clean up crime in Mbare, while Operation Dzokera was targeted at illegal immigrants. All the suspects were arrested between Saturday morning and Sunday night. Of the 134 locals nabbed, 88 were arrested for public drinking, seven for illegal vending, seven for conduct likely to provoke a breach of peace and 32 were touts. Some of them were fined $25 000, while those who failed to raise the fine would appear in court soon. Police spokesperson Inspector Andrew Phiri said the operations were launched in response to complaints by members of the public at Mbare Musika bus terminus. He said touts were in the habit of harassing travellers, stealing their valuables and even forcing them to board buses. Of the 18 foreigners arrested, three were found without the required papers. The three, from Congo, the Sudan and Angola, were handed over to the immigration officials. "We are not saying foreigners should not stay here, but they should enter the country following the normal procedures," said Insp Phiri. He said those who had entered the country illegally would end up committing crimes in most cases. This is not the first time that foreigners have been arrested for entering the country illegally. Early this month, 26 Somalis were arrested for entering the country illegally using a canoe to cross the Zambezi River from Zambia. Police also arrested 130 people under Operation Clean-Up early this month.
Asians smuggled into Zimbabwe (Harare, The Herald, 25/03) - Scores of Asians and other foreigners have been smuggled into Zimbabwe without proper documents in what officials fear could be a well-orchestrated case of human trafficking. Immigration officials have busted a suspected human traffic syndicate in Harare and arrested five people from Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and Pakistan who have been implicated in the racket. Senior immigration investigations officer Mr Evans Siziba this week said the department had smashed a network of human traffickers who were smuggling in people from outside Zimbabwe to work without proper documents. One of the suspected human traffickers, Mahommed Durrani, a Pakistani national, is said to be currently back in the country and on the run after numerous deportations. He is alleged to be using fraudulent documents to keep returning to the country to conduct the illegal business of human trafficking. His accomplice, Mahommed Shamin, was deported last year after investigations by immigration officials revealed that he was illegally facilitating the flocking-in of Pakistanis into the country under unclear circumstances. Most Pakistani immigrants are involved in buying and selling, while others operate retail shops, some without trading licences, in the country. Another Pakistani, Mehmood Tahir, was arrested in Gweru this month after it was discovered his papers were not in order. In his statement to immigration, Tahir alleged that he had paid US$500 to a certain Pakistani he met at Harare International Airport. After paying the money, the man took him to a lodge in Harare where there were scores of other Pakistanis. Mr Siziba said Tahir was still in police custody while awaiting deportation. Two Burundi nationals, Norbert Ntahorubuze (33) and his 28-year-old brother Claud, were also arrested in Harare for suspected human trafficking early this month. The Ntahorubuze brothers were implicated by a South African who was arrested at Beitbridge border post early this month. The South African had been found in possession of suspicious documents. Tharcisse Dukuzumure, a Burundi national, is in police custody after he remained in the country following the cancellation of his refugee status by the Ministry of Home Affairs in February. Dukuzumure contravened Section 15 of the Refugees Act after he was allegedly involved in human trafficking and was also found to have engaged in criminal activities detrimental to the country's na-tional security. Mr Siziba said Jeylani Yaye, a suspected Somali human trafficker linked to the arrest and deportation of 26 Somalis at Chirundu border post early this month, has also been arrested. Yaye is understood to have charged US$1 000 a person to those who wanted to travel to South Africa via Zimbabwe. He would bring in people into Zimbabwe at night using a canoe to cross the Zambezi River from either Zambia or Mozambique. They would then proceed to cross the Limpopo River into South Africa. "Our investigations have revealed that the Somalis find South Africa a better country to live in as work is easily available. We do not know how they forge their documents there, but they have not been able to survive here and prefer South Africa," Mr Siziba said. He said his office was investigating some Congolese nationals based in Highfield and Cranborne. "Some Nigerian nationals are also on target following reports that they are soliciting for marriages of convenience with Zimbabwean women in order to acquire resident permits." Mr Siziba said although his office would want to protect Zimbabwean women from such fraudulent marriages, it was difficult to prove such cases in court. Last year a Marondera woman was shot dead by her Nigerian husband after she had exposed the nature of their marriage to immigration officials. Some of the Congolese and Nigerians have been implicated in prostitution, money-laundering and foreign currency deals. "We have detected some have started operating brothels in the Avenues area, while others who came into the country under refugee status hardly spend time at the Waterfalls refugee transit camp," Mr Siziba said. He said most refugees disappeared from the Waterfalls camp each time a vehicle that comes to ferry them to Tongogara refugee camp in Manicaland arrived. "We would like to urge landlords harbouring and protecting such illegal immigrants on the basis that they offer rentals in foreign currency that they risk being arrested. Anyone with information regarding any illegal dealings by foreign nationals should also contact us on our hot line 790035," Mr Siziba said. Zimbabwe is one of the few countries that accept refugees from all over the world. Owing to laxity by some authorities and loopholes in some of the country's laws, the immigration department said, some foreigners stay illegally in the country.
Anti-foreigner fears increase in Zimbabwe (The Star, 25/03) - Zimbabwe's government has launched a crackdown against foreigners as the paranoia increased over 70 suspected South African mercenaries.Air Zimbabwe and Department of Immigration officials said scores of foreigners, especially East and West Africans, were being rounded up and deported as part of Operation Dzokera (go back) .Many foreigners were being denied entry into the country as President Robert Mugabe's government fears that it might itself fall victim to "mercenary activities" such as those the 70 men were allegedly plotting in Equatorial Guinea.All passenger lists of commercial aircraft landing in Zimbabwe were being submitted to the Central Intelligence Organisation. "By the time each plane lands in Harare, the CIO and the police already have the names of all the passengers," said an airport official.British Airways, operated by Comair, as well as South African Airways, are the only major international carriers operating into Zimbabwe. A British Airways spokesperson said last night it was still operating its daily flights.The CIO and the police have been operating permanent bases at Harare International Airport in the past few months. The police have also built holding cells at the airport to detain suspects.To deal with any security threats, soldiers are stationed at the Manyame air force base, located near Harare International Airport, as well as at other airports.Operation Dzokera a joint operation by the police, the army and the Department of Immigration, comes after 70 suspected South African mercenaries appeared in a makeshift courtroom at Chikurubi Maximum Prison. The state indicated it feared a rescue attempt if it transported them to the magistrate's court 25km from the jail. It said it did not have enough security and appropriate vehicles to thwart any possible rescue attempt. Official sources said that apart from the fears raised by the suspected mercenaries, foreigners were being accused of a variety of crimes. Allegedly, some were sabotaging the economy by dealing illegally in foreign currency, while others were using Zimbabwe for human trafficking. The sources added that others had entered the country on false pretences in order to transit to South Africa, which is harder to enter directly from their own countries.Asians thought to be involved in drug scams were also being targeted. Efforts to get official comment from the police and Immigration Department failed.
Police arrest document forgers (Harare, The Herald, 26/03) - Three Zimbabweans believed to have facilitated fake work and resident permits for people from Pakistani, Bangladesh and Burundi were arrested in Harare yesterday. The three - Derek Masawi, Herbert Mazvisiya and Edith Rwasarira - were in custody while investigations continue. Iqbal Kabir of Bangladesh and Didarul Islam Bhuiyan of Pakistan, who were arrested after they were found in possession of fake work permits made by one of the three, were yesterday still in police custody. Immigration authorities discovered last week that the two had been staying illegally in the country. They had also unlawfully opened a supermarket in the city centre. A senior investigations officer in the Department of Immigration, Mr John Kambunda, yesterday said the foreigners and the other five ring leaders of the human trafficking scam were still in custody. "We have also in custody Derek Masawi, Herbert Mazvisiya and Edith Rwasarira, who assisted in the making of fake documents for Kabir and Bhuiyan and many other foreign nationals we are still investigating," Mr Kambunda said. Mazvisiya (27) is believed to be the director of the Highlands-based company that made the fake documents. It is alleged that sometime last year the two Asians, who were business associates in Botswana, decided to come to Zimbabwe to open a supermarket. The two indicated to the driver of the commuter omnibus they travelled in from Botswana that they needed work permits and were referred to Masarira. Masarira took them to Masawi before they were introduced to Mazvisiya. Investigations by the police have revealed that Mazvisiya used various machines that included computers and fake immigration stamps to make fake documents that include birth certificates.
Zimbabwe farmers in other African countries (The Star, 26/03) - Zimbabwe's white farmers - evicted from their farms in their home country - are, like the lost tribe of Israel, wandering around the continent, looking for places to put down their roots again. And they are starting to do so. About 150 families have now settled in Mozambique, about 100 in Zambia and a handful in Tanzania. The few in Zambia have been widely credited with turning the country from a net food importer into a net food exporter within a couple of years. In Mozambique, President Joaquim Chissano recently visited the ex-Zimbabwean farmers in Chimoio, near Beira, and thanked them for re-establishing the country's dairy industry. This week the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which represents Zimbabwean farmers, sent a delegation to meet Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who offered to let them farm in his country. Alan Jack, who led the CFU delegation, said in an interview that the farmers had been overwhelmed by the response. Jack said he told Obasanjo: "We are Zimbabweans but we cannot farm there now. We are also Africans and we want to stay here." "Where else do you get to meet the president, the vice-president and the minister of finance all at once?" he asked.He said the Nigerians candidly admitted to him that their farm industry was ruined, that they were importing 98% of their food and that they desperately needed help. Obasanjo told them: "We don't want to take what is good for Zimbabwe away, but we don't want what is good for Africa taken away. Wherever you stay in Africa, the knowledge you have remains in Africa for the benefit of Africans." South Africa's Democratic Alliance has praised Obasanjo for his "wise and farsighted approach" and for realising that the "irreplaceable local skill and experience" of commercial farmers was "crucial to obtaining overall food security in Africa". It noted that the success of the New Partnership for Africa's Development depended upon reviving the continent's immense - but largely fallow or unproductive - farmlands. It is intriguing to see how the same person - a white Zimbabwean farmer - can be viewed so differently by two African leaders. To Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe he is a coloniser, a parasite feeding off black Zimbabweans and denying them land. To Obasanjo he is an investor, possessing rare skill and capital, willing and able to come to his country like a pioneer and help it feed itself. By welcoming them so warmly and praising the contribution they can make to Africa, Obasanjo must surely have intended to send a message to Mugabe that he is wrong about the farmers, that he is squandering a valuable resource. But many other Africans - probably quite a few in this country - will no doubt feel considerable unease about what they would see as a recolonising of Africa. This handful of whites, however, can surely not dominate any country, nor seize land from locals as the colonists did. Severed from any government force, they are merely investors, no more colonisers than an industrialist who builds a factory in an African country. Especially as the Zimbabwean farmers insisted that they should not displace any local farmers from their land and the Nigerians fully agreed to that. Jack admitted, though, that his delegation had raised one particular concern with the Nigerians: that having moved to the country and revived the farmland, they would then excite the envy of the locals who would covet the productive farms they then saw, and come to take them away as the Zimbabweans had done. In other words, that when they had served their purpose, it might be convenient to re-label them as colonists. "They assured us they were a democratic country with a constitution and that would never happen," he said. "We know, though, that there are no absolute guarantees. Each farmer must make his own choice." But between certain deprivation in the present and possible deprivation in the future, there is no real choice.
Minister calls on locals to report illegal immigrants (The Chronicle, 26/03) - The Minister of Home Affairs, Cde Kembo Mohadi, has called on locals to assist the police arrest foreigners working in the country without proper documents, Cde Mohadi told Chronicle that Zimbabwe continued to deport illegal immigrants whenever they were arrested, His appeal follows an announcement by the Immigration Department that it had smashed a human trafficking ring that has been smuggling scores of Asians and other foreigners into Zimbabwe without proper documentation. The syndicate, which is said to be based in Harare, was exposed after five people from Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, and Pakistani who were implicated in the racket were arrested. “We continue to arrest and deport illegal immigrants everyday, it is actually an ongoing exercise, but we would like to appeal to everyone with information on illegal immigrants to pass it on to the police," Cde Mohadi said, "It is difficult to identify these people, but if anyone has information he/she must furnish it to our people so that they can make a followup," A number of illegal Asian, Nigerian, Congolese, Angolan, Rwandese and Burundian immigrants are said to be working in the country or running bogus businesses using forged documents. Most Pakistani immigrants are said to be involved in buying and selling, while others operate retail shops, some without trading licences, in the country. The senior immigration officer, Mr Evans Siziba told our Harare correspondent that the problem of illegal immigrants was getting out of hand. "We have detected that some have started operating brothels in the Avenues area (Harare) while others who come into the country under refugee status hardly spend time at the Waterfalls transit camp," Mr Siziba said. "We would like to urge landlords harbouring and protecting such illegal immigrants on the basis that they offer rentals in foreign currency that they risk being arrested, Anyone with information regarding any illegal immigrants should also contact us," In Bulawayo, a number of business people told Chronicle that the city was now infested with illegal immigrants who were now operating cell phone shops while others trade in foreign currency. "A community of illegal immigrants is fast emerging in this city. Most of them are operating shops without licences and others are marrying Zimbabwean women so that they can obtain legal documents," said a local businessman. "Others have also taken to prostitution, while others are into money laundering and if the problem is not addressed immediately it might get out of control." A police blitz at the end of last year netted a number of Zambian and Congolese women who were operating in the city as commercial sex workers. Some of the illegal immigrants are said to be entering into socalled marriages of convenience with Zimbabwean women to circumvent the legal demands for them to obtain residence and work permits. Others are said to be using Zimbabwe as a springboard to cross into South Africa where work is easier to secure and all of them are said to be using fake documents.
Botswana fires broadside at Chronicle (The Chronicle, 26/03) - A Botswana newspaper, stung by an expose' of torture, beatings and ill treatment of Zimbabwean nationals in Botswana by Chronicle, has launched an unprecedented and blistering attack on the newspaper. The Mmegi, a privatelyowned daily newspaper in Gaborone, yesterday launched a campaign to discredit reports that Botswana nationals and authorities illtreated Zimbabweans and reacted with outrage to revelations by Chronicle, describing them as an "unprecedented media blitz" on Botswana which might cause diplomatic and security tension between the two countries. The Government of Botswana also said it was "concerned" about the "attacks on Botswana" by Chronicle and would issue a formal response soon. In a front page article entitled, "Zim media calls for stern action against Botswana", coauthored by its editor, Sechele Sechele, the paper bemoaned the fact that Chronicle had called on the Government and Parliament to take action against Botswana for illtreating Zimbabweans. It cited a "hardhitting" editorial in Chronicle earlier this week in which the newspaper pointed out that besides ill treating Zimbabwean nationals, Botswana also hosts a Voice of America propaganda station, Studio 7, which broadcasts antiZimbabwe vitriol against the Government. The newspaper called on Botswana President Festus Mogae to "deploy a highlevel delegation" to Zimbabwe and further mount a "diplomatic" and "public relations exchange" between "us and our northern neighbour", that is "bigger and more effective than the one we have had to mount against Survival International. (Botswana has mounted an international campaign against Survival International, a humanitarian organization, to ward off negative reports of its treatment of the San people whom it has evicted from their ancestral land in the Kalahari desert to make way for mining conglomerates interested in extracting diamonds from the area). Said Mmegi in an editorial: "If these allegations and onslaught being brought to bear on the Botswana government and its people by a crazed press that wants to cause violent and xenophobic tension between the two countries is allowed to go on unchecked under the pretext of quiet diplomacy by our government, we have to get worried. "Our people's limb and life are in danger from (President) Mugabe now that he is finished with the land grabbing and well documented oppression of his people." Quoting a highranking Botswana government official, Mmegi said Gaborone was aware of and "concerned" about the reports in Chronicle. "We are studying the media allegations and reports and a formal response is likely soon," the government official said. Mmegi said the revelations by Chronicle that authorities and locals in Botswana were "torturing, flogging and killing" Zimbabweans under the pretext of "ridding our country of criminals" would cause diplomatic and security tension between the two neighbours. The paper said it was unfortunate that" the Bulawayobased Chronicle newspaper should call on the Zimbabwean Government and its Parliament to take stern action against Botswana for illtreating Zimbabwean economic refugees, torturing, flogging and killing Zimbabweans". It claimed that the allegations against Botswana had been prompted by the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Professor Jonathan Moyo after Botswana's new envoy, Mr Mothusi Nkgowe paid a courtesy call on him. Describing the revelations the paper said: "The Chronicle also alleged that Botswana hosts an American radio station that is beaming antiZimbabwe propaganda aimed at causing the ouster in Botswana and some of them buried in mass graves. Botswana hosts a medium wave radio transmitter set up by the United States Government at Selebi Phikwe to beam antiZimbabwe propaganda into the country. The hostile broadcasts are beamed from a VOA transmitter on frequency 909 KHz into Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces. Botswana is also home to a huge US military base near the Kalahari desert.
Throw out visas, says ACBF (The Zimbabwe Independent, 26/03) - Africa must seriously consider throwing out visa requirements for its nationals to be able to compete effectively with its international counterparts, says a senior official from the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF). The ACBF, an arm of the World Bank, is charged with attracting international investors to Africa as well as ensuring that money borrowed by the continent is used wisely. The main objective of ACBF however is to build sustainable economic policy analysis and development management capacity for growth, poverty reduction and good governance in Africa. The diplomat made the comments in Harare after a one-day meeting with politicians and business executives at a time when Zimbabwe is facing hyperinflation, unemployment, and soaring debts. Last year Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, head of the African Business Roundtable, expressed the same sentiments when he visited Harare. Bamanga, who is based in Nigeria, also met with local business leaders during a one-day stay in Harare. Bamanga promised to formally present his findings to President Robert Mugabe. The ACBF official said government, civil society, business and other stakeholders should ensure that all barriers that impede the free movement of goods, and services and persons were dismantled. "We must just get rid of these visa requirements," he said. He said it was worrying to discover that Africa still insisted on executives applying for visas when travelling. "Look at my passport. I have a visa for Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and Mozambique. In fact the list is endless. However I only have one visa for Europe and one for the United States of America, which are far more developed than Africa. Seriously if we are trying to attract investment we should allow our citizens to move freely within the region and sample opportunities." He said it was disturbing to see Zimbabwe go through such a bad patch both economically and socially. "Zimbabwe used to be the jewel of Africa and we had so much hope for you," the official said. "It is however sad to see the country go down the drain like this. Look at your infrastructure, it's crumbling. Look at the street kids all over the capital. Look at the litter. Where are the businessmen? What are they doing? Are they happy about the way things are going? This is very sad." He said the problem with Africans in general and Zimbabweans in particular was that there was this sense of "collective responsibility" when dealing with problems even when this did not help either politically or economically. The official said Africa had decided that Nepad was its development theme and what remained was a well-focused political will to see it through. "This will depend on the committed leadership of both the public and private sectors in Africa," he said. "If there is any recurring unison lately on Africa's entrepreneurial future, it is on the need to fully engage the private sector in Africa towards continental development". The ACBF official said from the huge volumes of research papers and conference resolutions, expert recommendations in the international forum, policy pronouncements in boardrooms, a consensus had been reached that Africa's economic well-being into the millennium rested essentially with its private sector. "So, if words are to be the day's catch, the private sector in Africa should have long been the visible vanguard of our commercial life," he said. "The truth however is that indigenous African private enterprise is as weak as the African economy itself. It exhibits the same shortfalls - it is weak, fragmented, isolated, peripheral, inadequate, and fragile. In a world of major advances in technology and economic progress, Africa appears a barely tolerated drop in a vast ocean of global opportunities."
Journalists denied UK visas (The Zimbabwe Standard, 28/03) - In an unprecedented move, British immigration authorities in Harare have denied three senior Zimbabwean journalists business visas to the UK on suspicion that they would not return upon arrival there, The Standard has learnt. The journalists - who include a line editor from The Herald and two senior editors from the Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard - were told by UK visa officer Andrew Gerrad that he was not "satisfied" that they were "genuinely seeking entry for the purpose and period as stated". The journalists had been invited by British Airways as a routine trip to see the current travel arrangements for Zimbabweans wanting to visit the UK. "I have been to England on several occasions and I have never met such treatment. It's unfair for them to say that I would desert my job and family to go to UK," said one of the affected journalists. The Zimbabwe National Editors' Forum (Zinef) said it was "appalled" by the British embassy's decision to refuse visas for the three journalists. "Although the three were invited separately, the embassy's entry clearance office made gross generalisations about them that were both spurious and prejudicial," said a statement from Zinef. "No evidence whatsoever was supplied for the assumption that they would not return to Zimbabwe. All three, to our knowledge, had every intention of returning to this country. They have jobs and families here." Efforts to contact the British Embassy for comment were fruitless.
Mozambicans blamed for cattle rustling (Bulawayo, The Zimbabwe Standard, 28/03) - Mozambican cattle rustlers stole more than 900 cattle in Zimbabwe between November and February this year alone, police have confirmed. 'It is true that most villagers residing in these areas (Chiredzi, Mwenezi, Beitbridge and some parts of Matabeleland south province) have lost hundreds of cattle to the Mozambican thieves. 'We have since formed anti-stock theft teams with joint police patrols involving Zimbabwe and Mozambique. We are also involving the South Africans so that we can bring to book the thieves,' said Masvingo Provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Patson Nyabadza. Several Zimbabwe villagers in Chiredzi, Beitbridge and some parts of Matabeleland region have lost cattle worth billions of dollars to the Mozambicans, a move that could, if unchecked, have a serious negative impact on the current exercise to rebuild the national herd. Inspector Nyabadza said besides the joint police operation, people in the affected areas had formed the neighbourhood watch committees to compliment police operations.
Report on Zimbabweans in the UK (The Mirror, 28/03) - The lifestyles that Zimbabweans who had smelt the sweet aroma of the pound across the seas - particularly in Zimbabwe's nemesis, the UK who joined the great trek into the Diaspora in search of meaningful and worthwhile lives have been extensively documented, largely as a grim affair. There have been woeful tales of working in menial jobs, drug-peddling, crime syndicates and notorious red-light districts that could break one's spirit, upon realising that the UK's streets were not paved with gold as earlier perceived. In recent months, British authorities-in a bid to stem the tide of desperate Zimbabweans flocking there en masse, have tightened their immigration laws, hiked visa costs and prices of air tickets. But - as indicated by the continuous exodus and the swelling numbers that continue to head for the UK - it has not done much to dampen the spirits of Zimbabweans. Official statistics indicate that between 28 000 and 30 000 Zimbabweans are in the UK, with at least 10 000 of those based in London and the rest scattered across the country. People who had been to the UK, who spoke to The Daily Mirror, could not give an exact answer as to why they opted for that country. But they spoke of fitting into a pattern that had already been carved by some pacesetters, and a conservative society that looked at foreigners - who are sidelined to the periphery -leading far from colourful or flattering lives. Sheila Mhako (34) of Greendale, who had just returned from a one-year flirtation in the UK, said she braved all the stacks that were up against Zimbabweans, the butt of crude jokes and racist prejudice, but felt her stint in that country was worth the while. She said, she managed to make savings that enabled her to buy a car, household furniture and other properties she would 'not have been able to purchase had she not taken the risk of going to explore the unknown. On why she opted for the UK and not any other European nation, she said: "Well, I don't really know. I just thought since many others from Zimbabwe were going there, I could as well go too." While Zimbabweans who had gone to the UK before the late 1990s were going to pursue studies and other such "official" or business interests, the latest emigrants were largely going to seek personal fortunes in a desperate bid to beat the economic blues that have plagued the nation of late. When one is "digging gold" in the UK, Mhako said, it was unfortunate there was no time to enjoy the rare experience and feeling of being in a country other than your own. A Harare-based social worker, Robert Mhishi, said there were different reasons why the majority of Zimbabweans going abroad were heading for the UK where, ironically, they were subjected to sub-human treatment by both British authorities and citizens. "While it would be difficult to pinpoint the specific reasons, it's more a question of people just getting into a bandwagon; on the other hand, it is a trend that people from an African country who go abroad find their bases in countries that are their former colonies, ironically," he said. The trend, he said, finds a vivid illustration in how many Congolese have since turned France - Congo's former colonial master - into their home. Despite the long-standing dispute between Harare and London, which has since found a voice in the dirty political duel between the two nations, the British system's capacity to absorb high-flying professionals from Zimbabwe in a diverse spectrum of sector including health and education, remains high. It is a vivid illustration of a paradox. But Mhishi reckons that despite the nightmare that Zimbabweans had gone through in their attempts to sneak into the UK, many more still want to go after having seen from others the kind of wealth that an individual could accrue in the process. Rangarirai Machaka (29), who returned from the UK last year where he had been studying on a scholarship at Birmingham University, said many Zimbabweans braved the hostility of the British owing to their determination get rich by acquiring pounds that they sent back home to change on the black market. That way, they are able to build houses that they could never dream of possessing even with a good job in Zimbabwe. When you set goals, particularly in a foreign country, then you can sacrifice anything, including your dignity, to achieve that goal. You won't let what you're subjected to get into your way because at the end of the day, when you come home, there must be something to show for it," he said. It was not surprising also, he said, why Zimbabweans kept going there despite media reports that could otherwise have made them reconsider their positions to move. "Sometimes reports are not enough. You want to see for yourself to believe. You have to learn by yourself, step by step," he said.
Human trafficking on the increase (Harare, The Herald, 29/03) - Reports of organised human trafficking and smuggling gangs in Zimbabwe are disturbing and call for swift action to nip it in the bud before the problem gets deeply rooted. Scores of foreigners, mostly Asians of Pakistan origin have been smuggled into the country, where they perceive huge opportunities to engage in illicit activities. Immigration officials and the police have managed to bust trafficking rings involving nationals from Pakistan, Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia. Evidence abounds in the country of the organised human trafficking rings whose roots have been traced back to such countries as Pakistan. One Pakistani arrested in Harare recently has allegedly confessed to have paid US$500 to trafficking ring leaders after which he was taken to a lodge in the capital city where he joined several others from Pakistan waiting to get their papers "processed".Suspected Burundi and Somali human traffickers have also been arrested for smuggling scores of foreigners into the country using forged documents and charging their victims US$1 000. Some Congolese, Ban-gladesh and Nigerian nationals are also under investigation. Some of the illegal immigrants who have been caught in Zimbabwe were found to be in transit to South Africa, where they believe it is easier to find jobs and lead a better life. Three Zimbabweans have been nabbed after being implicated in the racket for processing fake work permits and travel documents of people that have been smuggled into the country. Human trafficking is probably the fastest growing area of crimes in the world and the scourge, which is rampant in Europe, is now spreading fast in Africa, eclipsing the more risky and now less lucrative drug trade. The United Nations estimates that world-wide, gangs who are often one step ahead of investigators, make US$7 billion annually from trafficking in humans, and at least 700 000 people are smuggled from their home countries each year. But for the majority of the victims of human trafficking, promises of wealth and better life often turn out to be modern-day slavery. Young men and women are lured by agents who cash in on the dreams of the poor to make it big in developed countries or African countries with opportunities like Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana. In Europe, the majority of the victims are women, who come from eastern European countries such as Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, and Lithuania. However, increasing numbers are also coming from Africa, Zimbabwe included. According to the UN, women have been an easy target for the sex traffickers, who make promises of well-paid jobs, marriage to well off gentlemen or an artistic career in the art of exotic dancing, the preferred euphemism for strip-tease. Once they get to their destination, they soon discover that they are in the sex trade and their passports are confiscated. The women often work extra hours to pay off debts and bills of expenses charged by the traffickers. They are, in most instances reluctant to report the cases for fear of reprisals. In Europe, typical areas of work for victims of human trafficking include domestic service, prostitution and forced labour in factories. Russian trafficking victims working in the sex industry in Germany, for example, reportedly earn US$7 500 monthly - of which the trafficker takes at least US$7 000. Zimbabwean immigration officials and the police said most of those arrested without proper documents have been implicated in prostitution, money-laundering and illegal foreign currency deals. It has since emerged that foreigners are behind the mushrooming of brothels in Harare's Avenues area, where strip-tease business has become popular with most locals. Illegal immigrants from such countries like Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia have entered Zimbabwe through border jumping or under the guise of refugees running away from civil wars. Their voyage can chill all but the most desperate. For example, 26 Somalis recently entered the country at Chirundu border post using fishing boats. Others risk their lives in squalid and airless truck containers for days trying to reach their destinations. While immigration authorities and the police maybe acting to clampdown on the sophisticated criminal networks of the traffickers, landlords, whose properties have been used by the traffickers as bases or hideouts are paid handsomely in hard foreign currencies and will not inform the authorities. The lure of the scarce foreign currency and profits made in the illicit activities also make it very possible for traffickers to buy police and immigration. This also makes the crackdown more difficult. Despite such hindrances, the authorities should intensify the war against the human trafficking sharks, whose activities are not only a threat to the socio-economic system of the country, but also to national security. However, stiffer sentences for human traffickers, such as lengthy jail terms, should have a deterrent effect.
Zimbabwe crisis spills over border (BBC News, 30/03) - Out in the flat, featureless bush, on the outskirts of Francistown, near the Zimbabwean border there is a bleak Botswanan prison. The influx of Zimbabweans is worrying Botswana. It is a collection of brick houses surrounded by high fences topped with barbed wire. But it is clean and, so far as I can tell, a humane place. It only opened in 2002, specifically to host illegal immigrants. There are people from all over Africa here - the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Rwanda. But, above all, there are Zimbabweans. Very few of them are political activists appealing for asylum. They are simply ordinary people - men and women - ruined by their country's economic collapse, who came to Botswana to try and find work, and perhaps even send a bit of money back home. On the day I visited, there were 300 Zimbabweans in custody. "You should have been here in December", one official told me. "We had a big round-up of illegal foreigners in Francistown, and we brought in more than 4,000 of them." Destroyed lives On an average day, the Botswanan immigration authorities load about 100 Zimbabweans onto trucks, and drive them back to the border. There are now more Zimbabweans in Botswana than there are Batswana Government official Its an expensive, and probably futile exercise. Because all of the Zimbabweans I spoke to said that they would try and come straight back to Botswana. "In Zimbabwe there is just corruption. And there are no jobs. So of course I will come back; do you expect me to starve?" asked one. Many of the Zimbabweans are just teenagers - their young lives destroyed by events back home. One 16-year-old said: "My father was the foreman on a farm - but he lost his job - and then he could not afford to send me to school. So I came to Botswana, because here the currency is strong". 'Overwhelmed' The Botswanan prison staff sympathise with the Zimbabweans. "We have to do our job and expel those without papers. But of course we know why they come here. Life over there is too hard," said one official. The political stalemate in Zimbabwe has fuelled the crisisAnd he pointed to a thin teenage boy getting on board the truck which is bound for the border. "That one has been here three times already this month." Zimbabwe's crisis is affecting all of southern Africa, and neighbouring Botswana is on the frontline. Botswana has a small population - less than 2 million - and it is a tightly-knit, conservative society. Now it is feeling overwhelmed by the influx of Zimbabweans. "There are now more Zimbabweans in Botswana than there are Batswana", one government official told me. She is wrong, of course, but the sentiment that Botswana is being swamped is a common one. Crime Locals now refer to one part of the capital Gaborone as "little Harare" because of the dozens of Zimbabwean men and women who line the roads, begging passers-by for odd jobs, or "piece-work" as they call it. In a village outside Gaborone I met local chiefs who are not happy with the arrival of so many outsiders. "They rape, they steal, they cut people with knives", one old chief told me, pointing to a group of Zimbabweans sitting under a tree. "We never used to have these problems" he said. 'Gaza Strip' Driving back to Francistown, we were given permission to visit the fence which the Botswanan government is building along its border with Zimbabwe. By the time it is completed, probably later this year, it will run for 300 miles. Eight-feet high, and with an electric current on top, its costing the Botswanan government about £2m. It is a delicate issue. Botswana is building a fence at its border with Zimbabwe Zimbabwe's High Commissioner in Gaborone has complained that the Batswana are trying to build an African "Gaza Strip". But the Batswana insist the fence is designed to stop animals, not people. "It's all to do with foot-and-mouth disease. We've had two outbreaks in recent years, and we can't afford another one," one agricultural official told me. Botswana exports its beef to the European Union and lucrative contracts have been disrupted by the outbreaks. The Batswana suspect that on both occasions the disease came from Zimbabwe, where commercial cattle ranching has collapsed, and the movement of animals is no longer carefully controlled. So the fence ought to keep Zimbabwe's animals out of Botswana. But it will, no doubt, make it harder for many Zimbabweans to escape their country's tragic decline.
Updated 25 May 2004.