Migration News


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

Women in border settlements face greater risk of HIV/AIDS 
Health professional emigration and compensation
Battle on to win back professionals

UNHCR repatriates Angolan refugees in Zambia
Angola halts mass expulsions of Congolese
Luanda announces 45 day suspension of expulsions
Expulsions to DRC decline
Army chief considers situation along border with Zambia as calm
Angolan refugees begin journey home from Namibia
Over 5000 illegal foreigners leave Cabinda
President 'orders halt to expulsions' of diggers
Mines threat to refugee repatriation
140,000 refugees to return home
Angolan refugees face harsh return home
Agreement on repatriation of Congolese immigrants
Refugees face hunger at home
Angola, Congo look to control repatriation

Zimbabwe journalist flogged for public drinking
Zimbabwe cross-border relations with Botswana
Influx of illegal immigrants threatens security, says MP
Xenophobic behaviour must stop

Forced repatriation leaves thousands destitute

Mozambique and Zimbabwe abolish diplomatic visas
Zimbabwean company relocates to Mozambique and Zambia

Angolan refugees begin journey home from Namibia

Seychelles ratifies smuggling and trafficking protocols

South Africa:
Drug unit sweeps Hillbrow 
Immigrant law set to change, says minister
SA joins global drive to repatriate Angolan refugees
Suburban xenophobia
Police nab 11 Home Affairs officials
Passport racket targeted
Amendments to be made to immigration regulations
Refugee influx brings Africa to Cape Town
Home Affairs official arrested
New Home Affairs minister faces administrative crisis
Immigration regulations to facilitate skills access
Pride and prejudice in Muizenberg: editorial
Police to be investigated after xenophobic attack
Child labour reports lead to farm probe
Minister orders child labour crackdown
Health minister aims to stem medical exodus
UK still hiring SA's nurses despite agreement
No plans for massive foreign recruitment
Refugee stories of trauma and despair
Public servants criticize foreign recruitment
Civil service to recruit in India, Iran
Nurses urged to remain in SA
New minister tasked to deal with immigration
SA destination for trafficked children
SA nurses in the UK
Local nurses rethink emigration to Middle East
Signing of plans for voluntary repatriation of Angola refugees 
Article on foreign migration in Johannesburg
Xenophobia report: New South African
Where illegal migrants seek refugee
South Africa's white flight changes gear

Rising number of HIV-positive truckers
Swaziland in health brain drain talks
Cuba helps Swaziland with ten doctors
Nurses seek greener pastures
Problems faced by Swazi in South Africa
Probe into influx of foreigners

Thousands return home from Tanzania
Tanzania orders Ugandans to leave

Immigration wing deports 37 Congolese
Home Affairs requests help in repatriating migrants
UNHCR repatriates Angolan refugees in Zambia
Opinion on new border posts
Illegal DR Congo border shut
Informal cross-border traders harassed
Zambia to lease state farms to foreigners
Zambians arrested in US visa scam

Health ministry moves to bond all professionals beginning next year
RBZ foray into America to repatriate diaspora funds
Zimbabwe to harness foreign exchange from citizens abroad
UK based group launches campaign against Reserve Bank
Weary Zimbabweans seek better life
Foreigners in their own land
Smuggling syndicates cheat customs
Zimbabwean diaspora remits funds
Botswana lashing custom archaic, barbaric, says Mugwadi
Zimbabwe slams treatment of nationals in Botswana
Nigerians woo Zimbabwean farmers
Operators express outrage at xenophobic attacks
Delegation appalled by Botswana laws
Rwandan refugees refuse to go home
Zimbabwean farmers land in Nigeria
Issue of citizenship renunciation forms
Chinese construction firms criticized


Women in border settlements face greater risk of HIV/AIDS (The Star, 20/05) - Southern Africa's notoriously porous borders and border settlements have increased the regional spread of HIV/Aids. This was revealed yesterday by Everjoice Win, the international gender co-ordinator for Actionaid, who emphasised that women were most at risk. Speaking at a conference on HIV/Aids and poverty in Pretoria, she said women's rights need to be protected. She added that prevention strategies needed stronger messages to empower women to change their lives. "We must create a sense of awareness among women as to their rights regarding HIV," she said. Lovemore Mhuriyengwe, director of Project Support Group (PSG), a non-governmental organisation specialising in HIV/Aids research, said regional mobility played a major role in transmission. "A study by PSG has shown that border towns and migrant-labour transit towns have high HIV rates," he said. Mhuriyengwe said social conditions in the border towns acted as a catalyst for the spread of the pandemic. "Borders often juxtapose rich and poor countries and communities, creating economic inequalities that often attract poor rural communities, particularly women." Mhuriyengwe said these circumstances created an environment for commercial sex. "Men passing through these settlements have money and are surrounded by low-income, largely female communities. These men often seek commercial sex, and the women provide it," he said. Studies in South Africa have shown that border and migrant community settlements have a high prevalence of HIV/Aids. The border town of Musina, a major point of exit and entry for Southern Africa in Limpopo province, has a HIV rate in pregnant women of more than 20%, compared with the provincial figure of about 14%."Countries that share borders with South Africa show a similar pattern, which is a concerning trend in terms of HIV transmission," Mhuriyengwe said. He added that HIV prevention programmes were urgently required among low-income women in these communities.

Health professional emigration and compensation (SABC News, 18/05) -
Rich countries that are poaching health professionals from developing countries might soon be forced to compensate countries they poach from. This is part of the Draft Resolution on International Migration of Health Personnel that is being sponsored by South Africa at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. South Africa is expected to present the resolution to the Assembly. Every year thousands of trained health care providers are lured to rich countries by money and better working conditions - leaving Africa with depleted staff. The African Union (AU) health ministers say this is making it more difficult to strengthen health systems and improve the lives of their people. The ministers are concerned that the tragedies of the brain drain, HIV/Aids, TB, Malaria and other such pandemics will leave them with no health care workers. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the newly elected vice-president of Africa to the World Health Assembly, says they want government to government agreements that will facilitate health personnel exchange programmes in order to manage the brain drain. The resolution also proposes that an international convention on the recruitment of health personnel be drawn up. However, it is the suggestion of compensation that is causing a huge debate. "The compensation that we have been talking about - and this is something that we still need to flash out - was that the developed countries in particular because they don't have the resources and they don't have good human resources plans it they come and recruit from Africa, surely they must compensate Africa on one form or the other," says Tshabalala-Msimang. The draft resolution was not clear on who should be compensating who. Botswana, which has a lot of Zimbabweans in its health facilities, is reluctant to sign it because it is concerned that this might mean they also have to pay up. Lesego Matsumi, Botswana's health minister, says it should be made clear that only developed countries should cough up. "I believe that the nature of compensation should be in terms of training. Where we say to them for every nurse that you take, go train two of our people. I don't really believe much in monetary compensation," he says. Canada, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Austria are some of the countries that are poaching health workers. Pierre Pettigrew, the Canadian health minister, has said his country does not support any organised way of soliciting doctors and nurses. More than 20 countries have already signed the South African sponsored resolution and more are expected to come on board.

Battle on to win back professionals (Business Day, 05/05) - Each year, hundreds of African students and professionals leave the continent to study or to seek greener pastures abroad, especially in countries like the UK, US, Canada and Australia. This has been attributed to the many conflicts and the economic collapse that parts of the continent have been experiencing over the years. Those who have left the continent refuse to return either because of better living conditions in their adopted countries, or intolerable conditions in their countries of origin. This has resulted in a massive "brain drain" for Africa, which has in turn created huge economic, political and social deficiencies in many African societies. It is estimated that up to 5-million African professionals doctors, teachers, engineers, technicians and nurses live and work outside the continent. As a consequence of this migration of skilled labour to the west, Africa spends billions of dollars each year on salaries for foreign experts who provide "technical assistance" in areas such as health, education and science. For instance, Nigeria has more doctors plying their trade abroad than at home, leaving huge skills gaps in its own hospitals. SA similarly exports thousands of doctors and nurses abroad annually. It is a shame that our governments should spend such vast sums on foreign expatriates, to provide the same kind of services that could be provided by their many highly skilled professionals. Migration as a labour market adjustment mechanism can be of benefit to both exporting and importing countries if properly managed. However, it is a proven fact that in Africa the "brain drain" has had deleterious effects on domestic economies. Professionals who leave the continent have found it difficult to return to share the skills and insights gained abroad for the benefit of their countries. Many professional Sierra Leoneans, Somalis, Liberians and Congolese have fled conflicts in their own nations to settle abroad. The African Union (AU) the only pancontinental organisation has recognised the negative effect the steady migration of professionals is having on the continent and the important role that those living abroad can play in turning this brain drain into brain gain. Some initiatives have been developed to engage with groups in the diaspora to develop the continent. Among these are the Sullivan initiatives and the AfricanAmerican summits that seek to unite people of African heritage with Africa and to build bridges between Africa and the world. Also, AU civil society conferences have sought to forge partnerships between the AU and African civil society organisations in promoting peace, security, development, human rights and democracy on the continent, including with individuals from the diaspora. By far the AU's most important recent initiative was the amendment made to its Constitutive Act last year. African leaders agreed to amend article three of the act to "invite and encourage the full participation of the African diaspora as an important part of the continent". This significant step gives the AU Commission the mandate and the political clout it needs to design programmes to ensure that Africans in the diaspora also play an important role in revitalising the continent. It also gives legs to the New Partnership for Africa's Development initiative to reverse some of the "haemorrhaging of Africa's best talent to begin building human capacity in Africa", as Mohan Kaul of the Commonwealth Business Council puts it. At a recent meeting on these issues held in Addis Ababa last month, the AU decided to put measures in place to ensure this new mandate is realised and implemented. The AU seeks to create an African Human Resource bank. This will be a database of all African professionals on the continent and in the diaspora. It is not only at the continental level that such initiatives are needed. Member states should also assist the AU by creating enabling environments in their respective countries for African professionals to fulfil their human potential. Policies and programmes should be designed to attract and encourage professionals to return and to stay at home. Governments should provide favourable working conditions, up to date working facilities, attractive pay packages, adequate social amenities and security. African governments must also relax their stifling, inflexible bureaucratic processes that make it close to impossible for highly-skilled professionals to enter the job market at home. This is not an impossible goal to achieve. There are many African countries that have, by sound macroeconomic management and equitable economic policies, managed to attract back home and keep its professionals. Botswana is one such country, and the rest of Africa should learn from this example. Obviously, reversing Africa's brain drain cannot be achieved overnight. It can also not be the responsibility of only one generation, but of many yet unborn. Therefore, if we are to achieve the African renaissance of having the best African minds under one African sun we should be prepared to make this a battle of generations.


UNHCR repatriates Angolan refugees in Zambia (Luena, Angop, 21/05) - About 40.000 Angolan refugees living in the neighbouring Republic of Zambia will be repatriated, as from next June 15th, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in the ambit of the voluntary repatriation process. The decision has emerged from the fourth tripartite meeting of the technical commission of both countries, held on May 19th-20th in Solwezi province, Zambia, during which the delegations discussed and arranged the operative proceedures for the start of the process. The Angolan refugees will be transported by road and air by the International Migration Organisation (IMO), from camps of Maheba, which shelters 18.000 citizens, Mayukwayukwa (12.000), Nangweshi (8.000) and Ukwimi (2.000). Matters regarding the accommodation, transport to their home areas, health and birth registry are in charge of the Angolan authorities and their partners.With the reduction of food aid by the World Food Programme (WFP) in Angola, UNHCR in Zambia guaranteed a three months ration for these citizens. Concerning the improvement of roads, the both sides committed themselves to rehabilitate 86 kilometres of the border route within three weeks, before the start of the process. On the other hand, the Zambian authorities are carrying out, from this Friday to the coming December, a registry campaign of Angolan refugees who are not living in camps, in order to repatriating them in the next operation.

Angola halts mass expulsions of Congolese (Luanda, Sapa-AFP, 21/05) - Angolan authorities have agreed to halt the mass expulsions of Congolese for 45 days following talks with the government in Kinshasa, a newspaper reported Friday. The decision followed a joint meeting on defense and security in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Jornal de Angola quoting an official statement. Angola has expelled some 120,000 Congolese for diamond trafficking over the past five months and have rounded up 3,500 west Africans to send them home soon, a UN humanitarian report said separately. The UN bureau for humanitarian affairs criticised the mass expulsions, saying they violated "basic international standards" of human rights. "More than 120,000 illegal Congolese workers have been expelled and 3,500 nationals from west Africa have been rounded up and are awaiting repatriation to their respective countries by plane," said the report. The UN humanitarian affairs bureau said that women and young girls were raped during the crackdown that the Angolan government said was to put an end to diamond trafficking and other "activities deemed harmful to the Angolan economy." DRC Interior Minister Theophile Mbemba last month traveled to Luanda to appeal to the Angolan government to put a halt to the mass expulsions, arguing that his country could not cope with the influx. The expulsions peaked in early April with a daily influx of about 2,500 people into regions of DRC, where water, food and housing are scarce, according to UN relief officials.

Luanda announces 45 day suspension of expulsions (Kinshasa, Irin, 20/05) - Angola announced on Wednesday a 45-day suspension of Congolese people working illegally in its diamond mines. The announcement was made at the end of a joint security conference in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). "After the 45-day period, the Angolan authorities will inform their Congolese counterparts before resuming the expulsions," the officials said in a communiqué issued at the end of the conference. Angolan and Congolese government ministers, governors of the bordering provinces, as well as immigration and security officials from both countries attended the meeting. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 80,000 Congolese have been expelled from Angola since the beginning of the year. Congolese authorities have described the conditions of the expulsions as "inhuman". "During the last wave of expulsions, some expellees were reportedly wounded by bullets fired at close range by Angolan police and security forces," Olivier Eyenga, the OCHA liaison officer, said. Wednesday's conference was the third between government officials of both countries to discuss the expulsions. The others were held in February and April, in Angola. A senior Congolese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, who requested anonymity, said future expulsions would only involve Congolese living illegally in Angola's diamond mining areas. In addition, the official said, expulsions would only be carried out after negotiations between the two governments. The official added that future expulsions would be preformed in a manner that respected human dignity, international law and all agreements signed by the two countries. The official told IRIN that the conference had also discussed the issue of rebel activity in Angola and DRC. Gendarmes in the southeastern province of Katanga had been implicated in a rebellion against the government of the late Congolese president, Mobutu Sese Seko. The Katangese soldiers had been members of a secessionist movement in that province and fled to Angola in the 1970s. Former Congolese armies - Forces armées zaïroises (ex-FAZ) and the Forces armées congolaises (ex-FAC) - had also staged military operations to destabilise parts of Angola near the DRC and the Republic of Congo. The official said some 800 Katangese gendarmes and 3,000 ex-FAZ and ex-FAC soldiers, who had been disarmed, remained in Angola.

Expulsions to DRC decline (Angola Peace Monitor, 20/05) - The number of foreign diamond miners being expelled from Angola for illegal mining has dropped to a trickle following the completion of "Operação Brilhante" in which the Angolan army forced up to 126,000 people, mainly Congolese, from the Lundas region across the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, the United Nations has warned that the operation may now be extended to Uige province. The forced removal of the illegal miners has resulted in 67,000 Congolese being registered in the DRC by local crisis committees after entering into Bandundu and Western Kasai Provinces. In response to the expulsions, WFP, UNICEF, and the NGO Caritas has been distributing emergency rations. There have been allegations that the Angolan army used the excuse of searching for illicit diamonds to commit acts of sexual abuse, as well as other forms of mistreatment. There have also been reports of abuse by the Congolese police.Operação Brilhante is intended to curtail illegal mining and illicit diamond smuggling in the diamond-rich provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul. There is a long history of Congolese participation in the cross border diamond trade, and during the years that UNITA controlled much of the area over 100,000 diggers were brought in to work for the rebels. Whilst the expulsion of the Congolese has been welcomed by some local residents, there is a certain amount of regionalism, with complaints that people from the Lundas are being excluded from diamond mining and trading by people from Luanda or abroad who have access to the proper licences, and that private security companies and the Angolan army are responsible for widespread harassment. These allegations are detailed in a recent report by the Institute for Strategic Studies. The report "War, peace and diamonds in Angola: Popular perceptions of the diamond industry in the Lundas" concludes that "the end of the armed conflict between the Angolan government and UNITA has provided the first opportunity since independence for the creation of a stable and regulated environment, in which Angola in general, and the Lunda provinces in particular, might be able to benefit from the diamond wealth of the region. Attaining this objective would involve the initiation of a transparent process for the allocation of diamond concessions, with room both for commercial exploitation and garimpo [artisanal]; a transparent system of revenue management; legally enforced fair labour practices for employees of the large commercial companies; and a level of social investment befitting the region's needs. Social investment ought to take into account the training needs of the diamond industry, so as to improve local people's employment prospects in the industry".It continues: "In reality, none of this has happened. Despite the notional return of peace to the Lundas, the management of the diamond industry retains many of the characteristics that it acquired during the period when the diamond fields were both a prize and a weapon in the civil war: the control of the diamond fields and their populations by force of arms; the absence of any kind of functioning legal framework to protect the rights of diamond workers and the population at large; the lack of any functioning civil administration (beyond the level of mere bureaucracy) in most parts of the Lunda provinces; and the domination of the Angolan diamond trade by secretive networks operating on the margins of the law, but ultimately to the benefit of the members of political elites. At the same time, Angola itself continues to be defrauded as inadequate controls allow unknown but substantial quantities of diamonds to leave the country illegally. In fact, far from occasioning a fundamental change in the pattern of exploitation in the diamond fields of the Lundas, the end of the war has served to legitimise the status quo in the eyes of international observers and participants in the industry".

Army chief considers situation along border with Zambia as calm (Luanda, Angop, 20/05) - The Chief of Staff of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), Agostinho Nelumba "Sanjar", regarded as calm the situation along the border with Zambia. The military official made this statement to press, today, in Luanda, at the end of a meeting carried out in the National Defence Ministry, between high-ranking officers of the Republics of Angola and of Zambia, in the light of the visit to the country by the Commander of the Zambian Army, Isaac Soda Arizona Chissuzi. Agostinho Nelumba "Sanjar" highlighted that regular meetings, of regional commands have not reported serious problems, also referring that the majority of the illegal immigrants, in small number, come to Angola for trade. The Angolan Army Chief also said that the two countries joint commissions have given special attention to activity along the border guarded by the armed forces, and until this moment there are no changes in border vigilance`s structure, he concluded. Isaac Soda Arizona Chissuzi, who is ahead of a delegation which arrived in Luanda on Tuesday, for a work visit, said that in his country there have been violations of borders by people, who carry out illegal trade of diamonds taken from Angola. Concerning this issue, he referred that the authorities are working in order to control the situation, which he considered as alarming, besides the free circulation along the common border. In fulfilling his programme Commander Isaac Soda Arizona Chissuzi already met with the Angolan Defence Minister, Kundy Payhama, as well as carried out visits to the General Staffs of the Army and the National Air Force, where he learnt on the functioning of these units of the Angolan Armed Forces. Angola shares 1.100 km of its border with the Republic of Zambia. Besides meetings with the commands of the Army Staffs of the three branches of FAA, the Zambian delegation has also agended visits to military units, as well as to historic, touristic and cultural sites.

Angolan refugees begin journey home from Namibia (Windhoek, AFP, 18/05) - Some 200 Angolan refugees began the journey home on Tuesday from Namibia, the first of some 10,000 displaced who are to return in the coming months, UN officials said. The Angolans will cross the border on Thursday to return home to the southern province of Cunene, UNHCR official Esegiel Xamseb told AFP by phone from the Osire refugee camp, north of Windhoek. Some 90,000 refugees from countries neighboring Angola are to return home in May and June as part of a second wave of repatriations organised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Angolan authorities. Refugee returns were halted last year, when rains damaged the roads in Angola. "The convoy left by mid-morning and will reach the Namibian border post at Oshikango, where they will overnight and complete immigrations and customs formalities on Wednesday", Xamseb said. "They will enter Angola on Thursday via the Santa Clara border post opposite Oshikango to go back home to the Cunene Province", he said. Xamseb said that 200 Angolans on average will leave the Osire camp every week to go back home with a view to ensuring the return of 10,000 refugees this year, double the number that went back last year. Half a million Angolans fled their country during its devastating 27-year civil war that ended with a peace pact in 2002. The World Food Programme warned earlier this month that the returning refugees were facing dire conditions in war-torn Angola. "In places like Cazombo (eastern Angola), they are returning to a deserted town. There is no electricity, no water, no schools. The roads are in a bad condition and there are very few medical services," said WFP spokesman Mike Huggins. "It's going to be a very, very difficult return," he told AFP. Angolan rebels and the government reached a peace accord in April 2002 following the death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. During the second wave of UN-assisted refugee return, up to 10,000 refugees from Namibia are to return home beginning in mid-May and up to 40,000 from Zambia by mid-June, according to WFP.

Over 5000 illegal foreigners  leave Cabinda (Cabinda, Angop, 17/05) - At least 5150 foreign citizens who were living illegally in Angola`s far northern Cabinda province, for more than 13 years have returned voluntarily as from April to the first quarter of this month, to their respective countries, through the common borders of Massabi, Necuto, Tando Zinze, Beira Nova, Tendequela and Yema districts. From this number, about 4.954 were from DR of Congo and other 85 from Congo Brazzaville. In the ambit of the searching operation were expelled for staying in the region illegally, in the same period, nearly 1137 foreign citizens, being 983 from DR of Congo, and 74 from Congo Brazzaville, apart from Malian and Nigerian nationals. According to the chief of the Custom Duties (SME), Pascoal Quimino, the voluntary action comes in the ambit of the "Sossego" Operation, that the institution is carrying out in the oil-rich Cabinda province since last April 14th, with a view to put an end to the illegal staying of foreign citizens in this city. Mr Pedro Quimino underlined also that the voluntary process of return of the citizens to their respective countries is happening normally.

President 'orders halt to expulsions' of diggers (SouthScan, 19/05) - Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has ordered a halt to the forced expulsion of thousands of Congolese diamond diggers, according to press reports. The announcement, after a meeting with the DRC's foreign minister in Washington, came after Angolan troops had entered the Congo as part of their expulsion drive. Tens of thousands of Congolese diamond diggers have been expelled from Angola since the beginning of the year, leading to protests from the Congolese side. On Tuesday (May 11), the interim governor of the Lower Congo province, Emmanuel Ndombi Maboti, called a meeting with the vice-consul of Angola, Martins Fernandes, and the migration police chief in the Angolan province of Zaire and made an official protest against the recent "invasion" of a Congolese village by the Angolan army. The incident came just one week after a meeting in Luanda between Angolan and Congolese officials on security at the common border. The meeting will be followed with another on May 20 between the governors of the Congolese border provinces of Bandundu, Lower Congo and Western Kasai and their colleagues from the Angolan provinces of Lunda Norte, Cafunfu and Zaire. This came after the meeting on Wednesday (May 12) in Washington between Dos Santos and the Congolese foreign minister, Antoine Ghonda, when, according to the Congolese independent news agency APA, Dos Santos said he had ordered a halt to the expulsions. The situation has been creating unease in Kinshasa, where 200 members from the 'Voice of the Voiceless' human rights group organised a sit-in in front of the Angolan embassy on Tuesday to protest against the "massive and brutal" expulsions of their compatriots and to ask for the dismissal of the Angolan ambassador in the DRC for his allegedly "discourteous" words about the DRC. Meanwhile, the governors of the Congolese Katanga province and of the Angolan province of Moxico also met on Tuesday with their colleague from Zambia's north-western province to sort out border problems. They were also preparing for the reopening of the Angola-DRC border between the cities of Dilolo (DRC) and Luao (Angola), and the reactivation of regional trade. Earlier in Luanda, a joint Angola-Congolese commission examined ways and means of promoting co-operation in the energy and transport sectors. Angola agreed to send back to the DRC 49 railway wagons, and the DRC reportedly agreed to reimburse what it owed to Angola. While Angola and the DRC are repairing the situation on their borders, the tensions are more serious on the Rwandan side. The Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, threatened in a radio broadcast on May 3 to send back troops to the DRC if the Kinshasa government and the UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC) failed to prevent the Rwandan Hutu extremists of the 'Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda' (FDLR) attacking his country (SouthScan v19/09). The Congolese minister of information, Vital Kamerhe, immediately criticised the Rwandan president's statement but the Kigali authorities have been unrepentant and called the recent arrest of a genocide suspect in the DRC merely a "symbolic" gesture. Twelve of the 14 people wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for their alleged roles in masterminding the systematic slaughter of between 800,000 and a million people are hiding in DRC, ICTR prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow said on Wednesday in Arusha, the northern Tanzanian town where the court sits. It does seem, though, that there is increasing willingness on the Kinshasa side to curb FDLR activities. On 8 May the US embassy in Kinshasa congratulated the DRC government for the capture of a Rwandan genocide suspect, Yusuf Munyakazi.A FDLR liaison officer called Etienne Usubimurenye was arrested the same day in Bukavu, the capital of the DRC's Southern Kivu province. According to the assistant secretary general of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (CRD), Crispin Kabasele Tshimanga, the suspect was carrying documents showing that the FDLR planned to launch an attack against the Congolese army, then cross the Burundian border and eventually try to capture several Rwandan villages. A second attack was to be launched from the Northern Kivu area of Rutshuru against Rwanda. Four brigades of 6-800 men each were supposed to execute the plans. Other evidence of Kinshasa's new attitude was the fighting which took place in late April and early May between Congolese troops and the FDLR rebels. At least 78 people died in several incidents. The heightened unrest in the Kivus has caused concern in Washington, where last Thursday a tripartite meeting between the foreign ministers of Rwanda, the DRC and Uganda was supposed to take place. A week earlier, the UN Security Council had voiced its concern at the escalation. Indeed, a third focus of tension is the DRC-Uganda border. On 10 May a Ugandan army spokesman declared that a new rebel group called the People's Redemption Army (PRA) led by a defector from the Ugandan People's Defence Force, Colonel Edison Muzoora, was threatening to attack the country from bases in the Ituri district of north eastern Congo. Allegedly, these rebels are trying to combine forces with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), another Ugandan rebel group which operates from DRC territory. Uganda's pro-government paper New Vision reported on 10 May that the PRA rebels were training in Boga, Kayinamura and Kamongo in the DRC, near the Ugandan district of Bundibugyo. The problem is that the DRC government is still far from controlling this area. There has been recent fighting between the UN peacekeeping troops and a Lendu militia called the 'Front of Integrationist Nationalists' (FNI) during which at least ten militiamen were killed. The former enemies, the FNI, the Hema 'Union of Congolese Patriots' (UCP) and the Armed Forces of the Congolese People formed in February a united front called the 'Front for the Pacification and the Integration into Congo' (FPIC) whose main aim is to exert pressure on the UN and the Kinshasa government to obtain government jobs for their leaders. But apparently, the UN troops have decided to crush the rebels. According to local reports they used attack helicopters and fired at least 80 rockets at the rebels in an incident last week. Meanwhile, rebel leaders of the two wings of the UCP, led respectively by Thomas Lubanga and and Floribert Kissembo and other Ituri militia leaders (FNI, PUSIC, FRPI and FPDC) were trying during talks with the government in Kinshasa to boost their chances in the transitional institutions.

Mines threat to refugee repatriation (Luau, Irin, 10/05) - Angola's decades-long civil war is over, but the presence of landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) remain a major obstacle to recovery.The city of Luau in the eastern province of Moxico, once a bustling centre with 90,000 inhabitants, has been isolated since the war destroyed roads and the railroad along which goods flowed from the Angolan coast to the DRC. Its location on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) made Luau strategically important to the armed forces of both the former rebel movement, UNITA, and the government. When Luau became a focal point for hostilities, people fled and left much of the city deserted and in disrepair.In a few weeks' time about 9,000 refugees will return to Luau from the DRC, increasing the population by a third. They will return to a place where land mines and UXOs are a daily threat. The Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a demining NGO, considers Angola to be among the countries worst affected by landmines in the world, and Luau is one of the hardest hit locations."The town is surrounded by about 13 minefields. In the bairro [township] where we are working now, we found one minefield in front of another in a pattern that does not make sense. Mines were laid by [different] parties moving in and running away," said Willi Kubirske, technical field manager for MAG in Luau. "There was no time to make maps and, if there are any, they are incorrect. It was like an ant nest – everybody was moving around. We have even found one minefield laid on top of another." Kubirske is worried about the possible impact of the minefields on the repatriation process. "There is always a risk of accidents when new people are moving in. The returnees are going to settle down in around 100 of the 340 bairros in Luau municipality. Almost none of those have been cleared of mines - we simply do not know where the mines are. We pick the fields out by chance and gamble - I hope that one day a guy on a white horse will come around and tell us where the mines are. I hope I'll be around when that happens," Kubirske said. Many returnees have settled in uncleared areas like the township of Jica, where about 800 returnees were allocated land by the local administration last year. Desperate families accepted the plots they were given and started building homes.Goyi Chivinda Muabila, 31, moved to Jica in July last year when he returned to Luau from the DRC. A line of mines runs just in front of the house where he lives with his wife and three small children. "We were afraid of mines, but where could we go? I was shocked to see the area in such a bad state - but it was war, so I guess it is natural. The only reward is that we receive food [from the World Food Programme]. We have already constructed this house and we cannot go anywhere else - to go to a place, construct a new house and not receive food [aid] would be impossible," said Muabila. The demining process has been slow, because it has to be thorough. A team of 16 deminers works seven hours a day, scanning the ground with metal detectors, picking up every piece of metal they find. Since July last year 112 anti-personnel mines, 4 anti-tank mines and more than 200 UXOs have been unearthed in Luau, with over 40 of the anti-personnel mines uncovered in Jica. The families living there try to lead a normal life: children play and adults walk in places yet to be cleared by MAG, often less than a metre away from where the deminers are working. "We try to keep them out of the minefield, but we cannot stop them from going to their own house," said Kubirske. There have been remarkably few accidents, which no-one can explain - the mines that have been taken out are all in good condition; some were buried deep, some just under the surface. Many residents say it is an act of God that more people have not been killed or injured. Muabila told IRIN his greatest worry has been for his children. "We talk to them and say that they are not supposed to walk where there is grass. We always leave an adult to look after them. [But] I am afraid they might get hurt," he said.

140,000 refugees to return home (Luanda, Angop, 17/05) - The Angolan authorities and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are preparing the second phase of the returning programme to the country, this year, of about 140,000 refugees located in various sheltering centres in the neighboring DR Congo. Speaking to ANGOP today, here, the Angolan ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mawete Joao Baptista, said that the return will be done in phases and organised until late this year. According to the Angolan diplomat, the refugees are living in five sheltering centres located in the DR Congo, as well as along the common border between both countries. Most of the refugees, who had run away from the armed conflict, are living in precarious social conditions, and are under the auspices of the UNHCR. On the first phase of the programme, implemented during last year, about 60,000 refugees have returned to the country, in an operation carried out by road. The 8th bilateral session of Angola/DR Congo, ongoing since Wednesday in Luanda, will close today and issues of cooperation concerning the fields of economy, science, technology, defence and security are being tackled.

Angolan refugees face harsh return home (Johannesburg, UNHCR, 06/05) - Tens of thousands of Angolan refugees who will be returning home in the coming weeks face dire conditions when they get there, the World Food Programme warned on Thursday as it renewed its appeal for funds. Some 90 000 refugees who fled to neighbouring countries during Angola's 27-year civil war are to end their life in exile under a repatriation programme to be launched with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in mid-May. WFP will need a minimum of $136m to feed Angolans who have returned or who will be repatriated from Zambia and Namibia this year, said Michael Huggins, spokesperson for WFP for southern Africa. "In places like Cazombo (eastern Angola), they are returning to a deserted town. There is no electricity, no water, no schools. The roads are in a bad condition and there are very few medical services," Huggins said. "It's going to be a very, very difficult return," he said. WFP is planning to distribute food packs to the refugees to help them survive as they begin to rebuild their lives. Huggins cited donor fatigue as a reason for the shortfall in international aid, adding that refugee return in Angola was not perceived by rich governments as "a high-profile emergency." Angolan rebels and the government reached a peace accord in April 2002 following the death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. Half a million refugees who fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Congo, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa began returning to their country in June 2003. But refugee returns were halted last year, when rains damaged the roads. Angolan Social Welfare and Reintegration Minister Joao Baptista Kussumua said last month that 220 000 refugees had returned home, either with UN assistance or by their own means. During the second wave of UN-assisted refugee return, up to 10 000 refugees from Namibia are to return home beginning in mid-May and up to 40 000 from Zambia by mid-June, according to WFP.

Agreement on repatriation of Congolese immigrants (Johannesburg, Irin, 06/05) - Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have agreed on the conditions for repatriation of illegal Congolese migrants expelled by Angolan security forces in the past few months, a senior official told IRIN on Thursday. "Both parties reached an agreement last night, which is effective immediately," said the Angolan ambassador to South Africa, Isaac Maria dos Anjos. The Angolan authorities expelled at least 67,000 illegal Congolese in a crackdown on diamond traffickers that started in December. UN agencies estimated that 2,500 people a day were arriving in the DRC, mostly in areas where there was no food, water or shelter for them. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported last month that emergency aid for the Congolese was still needed as soon as possible, although the humanitarian situation may now be stabilising in at least one affected zone. According to OCHA, Angolan military agents had reportedly sexually abused women and girls on the pretext of searching for hidden diamonds. The illegal Congolese immigrants were expelled from the provinces of Malanje, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul and Kwanza Sul. The agreement was reached following a meeting on Wednesday between the Angolan Foreign Minister, Joao Bernardo Miranda, and the DRC's Minister of Home, Decentralisation and Security, Theophile Mbemba Fundu. The meeting, the first under the tripartite mechanism for political and security cooperation between Angola and the two Congos, was also attended by the Republic of Congo's Foreign Minister, Rodolphe Adada. "The Congolese understood the Angolan position that illegal Congolese will have to go, and we also appreciated that the Congolese government also needs time to make arrangements to accommodate the expelled citizens," Dos Anjos explained. The Congolese authorities had proposed a 30-day prior warning of repatriations, which was accepted, he said. Dos Anjos said Angola was also holding talks about illegal immigrants with other governments in the region. Illegal immigrants from other countries like Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone were also targeted by the Angolan authorities.

Refugees face hunger at home (Johannesburg, Sapa, 06/05) - Unless it gets more funding, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will not meet its aim to provide food to thousands of Angolan refugees returning home this year, the organisation said on Thursday. "The food component of the repatriation exercise is essential to ensure people prosper when they return," said James Morris, executive director of the WFP. "If they have nothing to eat and face barren fields plus rebuilding their homes, then they're more likely to give up and migrate to cities or return to exile." Mike Huggins, a WFP spokesperson, said the aid organisation had planned to assist as many as 10 000 Angolans in Namibia, 40 000 in Zambia and 19 000 from the Democratic Republic of Congo to return home this year. There they will join the 1.4-million people who have already been repatriated. However, the WFP has received only $35-million of an appeal for $253-million for its resettling operation in Angola. This means the agency will not be able to sustain its current levels of assistance, let alone supply a complete food package to the people returning home, said Huggins. Huggins said the repatriation operation could not be delayed because seasonal rains make June to November the only feasible time for people to return. The Angolan government has asked that any genetically modified food aid be milled before being distributed. Earlier this week the WFP said this request will also cause delays in the provision of food aid to Angola. "Milling would have to be done overseas and we would have to find someone to pay for it," Huggins said. There are an estimated 166 000 Angolans in neighbouring countries, some of whom have been living in refugee camps for decades.

Angola, Congo look to control repatriation (Luanda, Sapa-AP, 05/05) - Angola and Congo have reached an agreement on the repatriation of illegal Congolese immigrants in Angolan territory, officials said, amid reports of executions, rapes and forced separations of Congolese families expelled by Angolan security forces in recent months. Angolan Foreign Minister Joao Bernardo Miranda held talks Tuesday with Congo's minister for the police Theophile Mbemba Fundu. Republic of Congo Foreign Minister Rodolphe Adada also attended the meeting which ended after midnight. "The ministers agreed on the need for close management of the situation and adopted the principle of prior warning before each repatriation as well as diplomatic protection," the ministers said in a communique. Congo's minister proposed a 30-day prior warning of repatriations, the communique said, without explaining whether Angola accepted the proposal. None of the ministers spoke to the press after the meeting. The Angolan government is expelling Congolese who have been working illegally in diamond mines, along with their families, in northern Angola on the border with Congo. U.N. agencies estimated last month that 2,500 people a day were arriving in Congo with no food, shelter or water. Families expelled have claimed they were subjected to invasive body searches to ensure that they hadn't taken any diamonds with them. The United Nations says this has led to some deaths. There also have been drownings among people crossing the dangerous Tungila river that separates Angola from Congo. Aid workers also had reports, confirmed by several sources, of people being shot dead. The United Nations has also expressed concerned for the safety of Angolan refugees in Congo, who have been subject to reprisals by returning diamond workers. The U.N. World Food Program has sent urgent aid to tens of thousands of Congolese who have been expelled from Angola.


Zimbabwe journalist flogged for public drinking (The Herald Online, 29/05) - A Zimbabwean journalist who is based in Botswana's north western resort town of Maun recently became a victim of the neighbouring country's widely condemned disciplinary code of public floggings when he was given four strokes of the sjambok for allegedly drinking beer in public. According to a fellow Zimbabwean journalist in Botswana, the journalist was arrested by police in that country while in the company of another Zimbabwean scribe who was visiting that country after they were allegedly caught drinking beer in public. In actions reminiscent of the treatment of fellow Zimbabweans caught on the wrong side of the law in that country, the journalist, who holds a senior position at a Maun-based weekly publication, was taken to a customary court (also known as Kgotla in Setswana) in the town where he was sentenced to four lashings in public. The lashings are usually done by the chief who presides over cases with the assistance of active men who hold the accused down during the punishment. In defence of the public floggings, the Botswana government says the disciplinary code is entrenched in its constitution and is not designed to humiliate Zimbabweans who have to contend with a xenophobic local population. "When the journalists were caught drinking beer in public, they were taken to the Kgotla and one of them was found guilty. He was immediately given four lashes in public before he was released. It was deeply embarrassing for the journalist and he does not want it to be known in public," said the fellow scribe who asked to remain anonymous. "We, however feel that it is our duty to expose such unfair practices because the Botswana government is asking too much from us, in view of the fact that we are not subjected to the same treatment at home and that the lashings are in violation of international conventions on prisoners." The scribe said public drinking should have, in the worst scenario, attracted a spot fine. "Public drinking in my view, does not warrant such severe lashings. It is surprising that these people can drink to an extent that public drinking appears normal in this country and to hear that a Zimbabwean has been lashed for doing the same thing comes as a total surprise and smacks of double standards," the scribe said. In the past 12 months, the Zimbabwean Government has raised concern with its Botswana counterparts over the ill-treatment of locals visiting or working in the neighbouring country, with emphasis on its opposition to the floggings in customary courts. The Minister of State for Information and Publicity Professor Jonathan Moyo in March met Botswana's Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Mothusi Nkogwe and expressed concern on the increasing cases of ill-treatment of Zimbabweans. Mr Mothusi pledged to take up the issue with the authorities in that country, but a statement from Botswana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation declared that the country had the right to administer the public floggings. Hundreds of Zimbabweans have been flogged in public after being tried and convicted by Botswana tribal chiefs, most of whom have expressed a bitter hatred of Zimbabweans as they accuse them of perpetrating all imaginable ills.

Zimbabwe cross-border relations with Botswana (Bulawayo, Mmegi, 14/05) - A packed minibus stops at the Plumtree border about 100 km southwest of Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo, where the commuters alight and head for the immigration post. A few stride confidently towards the building for a quick passage to the buses that will take them across the Zimbabwe-Botswana border, while the rest amble forward nervously, anticipating hassles by the Botswana immigration officers. “Travelling on weekends is less of an ordeal, when immigration officials are exhausted and less alert,” said 28-year-old Pamela Tshuma, a regular traveller who works as a hairstylist and informal trader in Gaborone. Pamela plaits hair at P30 (US$5) a head in the suburbs of Gaborone. “If one works hard and is lucky to get customers, it is possible to make P3,000 a month (US $605), which translates into a lot of money back home,” she explains Zimbabweans have been making shopping trips to Botswana for almost three decades, but the steadily deteriorating economic conditions in their country have caused thousands, both skilled and unskilled, to trek to Botswana’s cities, towns and mines in search of jobs. Many enter the country illegally along secret paths in the dead of night. Although scores of them are deported every week, the desperate Zimbabweans still find it worthwhile to sneak back into the country in search of opportunities and a better life. Recent media reports on the alleged ill-treatment of Zimbabweans by Batswana nationals have soured relations between the two countries. In turn, the Zimbabwean authorities have accused Botswana of hosting a Voice of America radio transmitter that broadcasts “hostile propaganda aimed at regime change by the Americans”, beamed at Zimbabwe by exiles. Botswana has denied any wrongdoing. On presenting his credentials to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe recently, Botswana’s new envoy to Zimbabwe explained that the radio transmitter had been in operation for the past 25 years, and scoffed at the alleged ill treatment of Zimbawean nationals. “It is a traditional custom in Botswana for traditional chiefs to flog petty criminals. We don’t put people in prison for petty crimes.” Bostwana’s presidential spokesman, Jeff Ramsay, accused sections of Zimbabwe’s media of “fuelling misguided xenophobia”, saying: “Botswana has noted with growing concern openly hostile reports against the government and the people of Botswana, which can only be interpreted as a deliberate and systematic attempt to fuel hatred and xenophobia between our people.” Tsokolo Matibeli, a Zimbabwean electrical engineer working in Botswana told IRIN: “It is those people who have no residence permits, those that overstay and the illegal immigrants who face problems with the authorities - like in any other country.” Tshuma commented: “Naturally, people view foreigners with disdain - that cannot be taken as xenophobia.” But Zimbabwean traders and job seekers in Botswana are afraid the recent stand-off between the two countries could jeopardise what has become a lifeline for their families. “I hope accusations do not develop into retaliatory actions. Botswana is the only country in SADC [Southern African Development Community] that does not require entry visas, unlike South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia,” observed Nkululi Langa, a Zimbabwean motor spare parts dealer who frequently visits Botswana.

Influx of illegal immigrants threatens security, says MP (Mogoditshane, DailyNews, 14/05) - MP for Mogoditshane, George Kgoroba has warned that the influx of illegal immigrants was threatening the security and economy of the country. He said during a kgotla meeting that police officers were not coping with the crime rate. Kgoroba was concerned that the good road network that exists in Botswana, has become a death trap. Motorists, he said drive at high speeds and without due care resulting in accidents that cause a number of deaths and injuries. On other issues he urged residents to attend kgotla meetings and play a role in the development of their village. Kgoroba criticised people who only attended meetings when they have a vested interested in issues to be discussed especially those dealing with plot allocation. Such people he said are only interested in acquiring land and are not concerned about the development of the village. The MP also said financial constraints have resulted in the cancellation of some projects. He said Botswana's education system was rated among the best in Africa. He assured residents that a primary school being constructed at Tsolamosese was near completion. Tsolamosese children currently attend school as far as Gabane. A senior secondary school he said will also be constructed in Mogoditshane during the course of NDP 9. Residents observed that though Mogoditshane was highly populated, most residents did not originate from the area and that is why they did not attend kgotla meetings. They said that Kgosi Kgari III Sechele must intervene in the matter. Residents also suggested that illegal immigrants be subjected to corporal punishment as a deterrent and complained about internal roads that are not maintained.

Xenophobic behaviour must stop (Mmegi/The Reporter, 04/05) - The tendency for Botswana and Zimbabwean citizens to turn to violence against each other at the drop of a hat is now becoming commonplace. This is a clear sign that xenophobic behaviour against Zimbabweans nationals in this country is certainly on the rise. This should be discouraged and strong, decisive action should be taken against any Botswana or Zimbabwean who engage in this reprehensible conduct. The two countries and people will always live side by side due to the force of geography, history and the inter-relatedness as a result of marriage and blood relationships, which go back many years. So for all we know, blood relatives would soon kill each other during this highly explosive xenophobic encounters of the bloody kind witnessed at the Gaborone Bus Rank. Last year, three people (one Motswana and two Zimbabweans), were killed and several others injured after rioting at the Francistown Central Prison over food. When we went to press yesterday, the riot police had to be called in to defuse a riot in which at least five Zimbabwean commuter buses had their windows and windshields stoned at the Gaborone Bus Rank. This followed a scuffle that erupted after a suspected Zimbabwean citizen tried to evade arrest for disorderly conduct - drinking beer in public from a beer can. When policemen who were on patrol tried to arrest him, he ran towards his compatriots at the main long-distance bus rank in Gaborone. This soon turned into a racist pandemonium after the Zimbabweans tried to shield their compatriot from the police, thus infuriating the many Botswana at the station, who started stoning Zimbabwean-bound long-distance commuter buses. If any such nasty events should occur in future, we urge the riot police and other law enforcement personnel to take speedy and decisive action to prevent mayhem and serious damage to property that we witnessed yesterday.


Forced repatriation leaves thousands destitute (Relief Web, 14/05) - Although the Angolan President has suspended the expulsion of Congolese living in Angola, tens of thousands of those recently expelled remain under threat in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) because the DRC authorities have failed to make necessary provision for their protection. The UN estimates that up to 100,000 Congolese have been expelled from Angola to the Bandundu and Kasai Occidental provinces of the DRC over the last few weeks. Most have arrived exhausted and in many cases entirely stripped of their possessions and clothes. Some were in an extremely poor medical state due to diseases, dehydration, hunger and having spent many nights without shelters. Many others have also reportedly been subjected to serious human rights violations on both sides of the border. Congolese NGOs and international humanitarian organizations are trying to respond to the needs of those people arriving in their areas by providing them with shelter, food, health and hygiene supplies. However, their resources are limited and they are not receiving adequate support from the DRC government or local authorities. The manager of a Congolese NGO working in Kasai Occidental, told Amnesty International:" In the course of their expulsion, some had to walk for 14 days to arrive in Tshikapa. We are trying to help as they have no food and no clothes, and have nowhere to go. "Those expelled to the DRC told international and local NGOs that Angolan security forces subjected them to appalling human rights violations before expulsion. People were reportedly held in transit camps for up to a week, where the Angolan security forces stole anything valuable. While searching for hidden diamonds or money, the security forces, after separating families, reportedly conducted public and unhygienic internal body searches, including vaginal and rectum searches, on adults and children. Those who resisted searches were reportedly severely beaten. Many women and girls, under the pretext of being searched, were reportedly raped and sometimes gang-raped even when pregnant. A number of refugees were also reportedly drowned as they attempted to cross rivers in their journey to DRC. Information received by Amnesty International also suggests that some refugees have been detained by DRC security forces and accused of being infiltrators ("infiltrés") with a view to extorting money and diamonds from them. If the detainees pay they are allowed to go free, if not they may be subjected to beatings or other abuses, including sexual violence. Amnesty International urges both the DRC and Angolan governments to ensure that such abuses are brought to an immediate end, and that the reports are investigated and the alleged perpetrators brought to justice. Amnesty International is also calling on the DRC government to address the humanitarian needs of those expelled. "The DRC authorities have so far made very little practical effort to assist these people, either at the governmental or the local level. The government must urgently establish and implement a strategy to assist the returnees, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, and promote the integration of returnees into local communities," the organization said. "Local authorities should give every assistance to NGOs working in their zones, and work to ensure good relations between the returnees and communities." Background - Since December 2003 Angolan authorities have been expelling thousands of Congolese they accuse of illegally mining diamonds in the country. Foreigners of 15 different nationalities, including from Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone are among those expelled. Most of them saw their houses destroyed by the Angolan security forces before being forced to flee. The expulsions that took place in April, from the Malange, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul and Kwanza Sul provinces of Angola, have been the third and largest wave of forced repatriation. Many of the people expelled from Angola were born there, and have no place to which they can return. The returnees were suspected by Angolan and DRC security forces of having hidden money or packets of diamonds on their persons, including by swallowing.


Mozambique and Zimbabwe abolish diplomatic visas (Maputo, AIM, 21/05) - Mozambique and Zimbabwe have agreed to abolish definitively visas between the two countries for holders of diplomatic passports. People living in the border areas will also be allowed to cross from one country into the other without visa formalities. According to a report in Friday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", a document to that effect was signed in the northern Mozambican city of Pemba, between Miguel dos Santos, and Augustine Xihure, the general police commanders of Mozambique and Zimbabwe respectively, on Thursday. Mozambican Interior Ministry spokesperson Nataniel Macamo said that the two parties also agreed to put an end to the tension along the common border, where shooting by Zimbabwean troops has been often reported, resulting in the death of some Mozambican citizens. "Because the two countries concluded that there are good cooperation relations, it was decided to encourage and strengthen the exchange of experiences, and to work to sort out any differences. Thus, measures will be taken in both countries giving clear instructions to punish any misbehaviour", he said. The disturbances, occurring particularly in the area of Kuchamano, on the border between Zimbabwe and the western Mozambican province of Tete, are started by the Zimbabweans. The border in that area, on the Zimbabwean side, is garrisoned by a military unit, while Mozambique entrusted border security to the police. Macamo explained that land conflicts between the population on both sides arise because of the lack of fencing along parts of the 4,212 kilometre long border, in both Tete and Manica provinces. Zimbabweans, coveting the fertile land on the Mozambican side, sometimes farm illegally within Mozambican territory. Macamo said that the best way to solve such situations is not to resort to violence, but to seek ways of living together peacefully. Macamo said that the police in both countries have submitted a formal request for the relevant authorities to demarcate the border. For his part, dos Santos said that to facilitate circulation of people and goods between the two countries, it was decided to provide better equipment to the simplified border posts, particularly to cater for the people living near the border, and also to strengthen joint patrols, in order to neutralise any cross border contraband.

Zimbabwean company relocates to Mozambique and Zambia (Maputo, AIM, 18/05) - The owners of a major Zimbabwean horticultural company are to shift their business into Mozambique and Zambia, following the illicit occupation of their 224 hectare farm under Zimbabwe's chaotic land reform. According to a report in the South African daily "Business Day", the Kondozi farm, in the eastern Zimbabwean province of Manicaland, used to supply horticultural produce to South African and European markets, and had a turnover of 15 million US dollars a year. The farm has had problems with illegal occupations since 25 December, when a group of government supporters, allegedly led by Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, invaded the Kondozi property. The situation became much worse on 9 April when an armed gang, supposedly including members of the police and army, invaded the farm, and threw out its workforce. This affects about 5,000 farm workers and their families who lose their homes. The Zimbabwean government's version of events is that Kondozi was occupied by the state-owned Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, but the Kondozi owners believe that top politicians incited what they regard as an illegal raid. The end result is that a thriving company is about to leave Zimbabwe and take its money and know-how to Mozambique and Zambia. The majority shareholder in the Kondozi company, Edwin Moyo, said last week that the Mozambican authorities are prepared to make 800 hectares of land available in the central province of Manica (where several other Zimbabwean investors are already operating). Moyo says that his company has purchased a further 2,000 hectares in Gwembe Valley, in Zambia. He says his project "is equipped with state-of-the-art irrigation equipment". Moyo added that his company has secured loans from the South African Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Barclays Bank International, and the Dutch and British companies, Psom and Tescos. (Tescos is a major British supermarket chain, doubtless interested in purchasing high quality horticultural produce from southern Africa.) Edwin Moyo has given up hopes of recovering the Zimbabwean farm. "We will not waste any more time on Kondozi in Manicaland", he told the South African paper. "I have been rendered a second- class citizen in my country of origin so we will take our business elsewhere". An immediate effect of this decision is a halt to construction of a pack house in the eastern Zimbabwean city of Mutare, that would have stored produce before its shipment to export markets. Now that investment, and the jobs that go with it, will be relocated to Mozambique.


Angolan refugees begin journey home from Namibia (Windhoek, Sapa-AFP, 18/05) - Some 200 Angolan refugees began the journey home on Tuesday from Namibia, the first of some 10,000 displaced who are to return in the coming months, UN officials said. The Angolans will cross the border on Thursday to return home to the southern province of Cunene, UNHCR official Esegiel Xamseb told AFP by phone from the Osire refugee camp, north of Windhoek. Some 90,000 refugees from countries neighboring Angola are to return home in May and June as part of a second wave of repatriations organised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Angolan authorities. Refugee returns were halted last year, when rains damaged the roads in Angola. "The convoy left by mid-morning and will reach the Namibian border post at Oshikango, where they will overnight and complete immigrations and customs formalities on Wednesday", Xamseb said. "They will enter Angola on Thursday via the Santa Clara border post opposite Oshikango to go back home to the Cunene Province", he said. Xamseb said that 200 Angolans on average will leave the Osire camp every week to go back home with a view to ensuring the return of 10,000 refugees this year, double the number that went back last year. Half a million Angolans fled their country during its devastating 27-year civil war that ended with a peace pact in 2002. The World Food Programme warned earlier this month that the returning refugees were facing dire conditions in war-torn Angola. "In places like Cazombo (eastern Angola), they are returning to a deserted town. There is no electricity, no water, no schools. The roads are in a bad condition and there are very few medical services," said WFP spokesman Mike Huggins. "It's going to be a very, very difficult return," he told AFP. Angolan rebels and the government reached a peace accord in April 2002 following the death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. During the second wave of UN-assisted refugee return, up to 10,000 refugees from Namibia are to return home beginning in mid-May and up to 40,000 from Zambia by mid-June, according to WFP.


Seychelles ratifies smuggling and trafficking protocols (Seychelles Nation, 22/05) - The National Assembly has unanimously approved the ratification of two United Nations protocols against the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons, especially women and children. Both motions were presented by the Leader of Government Business Honourable Patrick Herminie on Tuesday May 15, during the Assembly’s first sitting of the second term for the year. When presenting the motion to ratify the Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, Hon. Herminie said the illegal smuggling of people into another country was considered as an organised crime. Citing several past incidents, Hon. Herminie pointed out that in most cases this “lucrative business”, which strives on the misery of others, brings huge profits for the smugglers but very often ends with the death of the migrants involved. In their attempts to escape from poverty or persecution in their own country, some people are willing to pay up to US$5,000 to enter into another country illegally, the Assembly was told. The migrants who manage to make it across the border, Hon. Herminie said, normally ended up working in deplorable conditions earning minimal salaries, having no legal rights and being abused both physically and mentally by their employers. According to statistics there are an estimated 200 million illegal migrants in countries worldwide. By ratifying the protocol, Hon. Herminie said, member countries would have to initiate and enforce relevant legislation against the smuggling of migrants. The protocol, he said, also made provision for training for immigration officers on how to detect illegal migrants and false documents as well as to gather intelligence about criminals involved in this activity. The Assembly also ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Punish and Suppress Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. Hon. Herminie said by ratifying this protocol Seychelles would be helping to deter this inhuman activity where women and children from a country are recruited, abducted or conned, transported into another country and sold to the highest bidder. He said that these people, especially women, normally come from very poor countries and are easily deceived by the prospects of a better life. They usually end up in forced labour or marriage to older men, in organised prostitution and in several cases are intimidated into giving away their organs. Legislation to be implemented, he said, would also make provision for the protection of the victims, as well as humanitarian aid. Other members who spoke included Honourable Ivy Edmond, Regina Alcindor, Rukaiya Jumaye and Alain St Ange.

South Africa

Drug unit sweeps Hillbrow  (IOL, 29/05) - "It's the police, open the door!" bellowed a burly plain clothes operative from the SAPS Johannesburg Organised Crime unit. Outside, the temperature had dropped and a cold wind seeped through the bullet-proof vests that some wore. It was 3am in Hillbrow and several members of the unit, as well as police officers in uniform, were targeting three apartment blocks. For them, it was just another drug-bust operation, an attempt to stem the tide of drugs flowing into the country. These operations also focus on vehicle-related crimes and problems with illegal immigrants. In one building, somewhat cleaner than most of the buildings they raid, a few of the plain clothes operatives stood outside the door of a flat. After several poundings at the door and with still no response, the plain clothes operative prepared to break it down. Twice he slammed his shoulder at the door and on the third attempt, it opened with a cracking sound. Four bleary-eyed men could barely focus as the cops entered the flat. They received a severe dressing-down for not answering earlier. The search began. Mattresses were checked, cupboards opened, a potato bag inspected, plastic bags rifled through, and documents read. While questions were flung at the occupants of the room, cockroaches scurried about on the floors. Captain Gielie Coetzee, from the Johannesburg Organised Crime unit, said depending on the intelligence information received, these operations would continue regularly. Waking up in the early hours of the morning didn't faze him, he said. It was part of the job. "At the end of the day, the success of the operation makes you feel good and makes you feel as if you have achieved something. "Even though Friday's success was minimal - 14 illegal immigrants were apprehended and a stolen vehicle recovered - it was the impact that counted. "People saw the police presence in the building and most will think twice about doing it again. "Friday's operation, said Coetzee, involved the SAPS, Johannesburg Organised Crime unit, area crime combat unit, metro police, immigration officials from Home Affairs, and representatives from City Power. Inspector Dennis Adriao, Gauteng SAPS spokesperson, said having the two latter parties involved helped speed up the process, and cut down on many hours of paperwork. "It is an efficient way of dealing with the problems. City Power deals with illegal electricity and their representatives check to see whether there has been a breach of power supplies." Coetzee said that when illegal immigrants were apprehended, the immigration officials were nearby to take over. Over and above fighting crime, Adriao said the social aspects that had broken down were being addressed so that the city didn't degenerate. He said it was also because of these operations that drug syndicates were moving into more affluent areas of the city and into the suburbs. "We have had good success in the suburbs, but people themselves have to be vigilant and inform the police if they notice any suspicious behaviour," he said.

Immigrant law set to change, says minister (Cape Town,  Business Day, 29/05) - The Immigration Act is finally due for changes, with newly appointed Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula warning yesterday that some amendments may be "contentious". Although Mapisa-Nqakula refused to say which sections of the act would change, it is believed they will relate to safety and security and the access to records by police and security agencies, particularly the creation of a database recording entries and departures from SA. The minister said the decision to amend the legislation was in line with a recommendation by state legal adviser Enver Daniels, who conducted a review of the controversial regulations after they were thrown out following a high court action involving former home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi. She said there were two processes in place to ensure the regulations were finalised within the three month deadline set by President Thabo Mbeki in his state of the nation address. A ministerial task team that was reviewing the regulations would present the amendments to the cabinet on June 23, she said. The changes would be brought to Parliament the following day, and the parliamentary process would then "take its course". This would include a public participation process during the July parliamentary recess to comment on the amendments. Mapisa-Nqakula said she was "optimistic" the regulations would be ready by the end of August. She refused to give details of the amendments or how substantial they would be, but said that they could be controversial. "I don't want to say what the amendments are. You will recall that some of the ministers and their departments were raising problems and opinions about regulations." At the point when the amendments are put to Parliament that's when you will know what amendments are," she said. During the April court proceedings, Buthelezi released cabinet documents that referred to the areas of contention. These included the maintenance of an electronic databank to record the entry and exit of citizens. Buthelezi had argued that the Immigration Advisory Board and public comments had suggested that the amendments be considered only once Professional valuers in there was a legislative and policy framework in place to deal with the "thorny real estate and issue of utilisation of and access to databanks". Other areas of contention related to the foreign affairs department's plan to waive visa requirements for visitors to SA who were citizens of Algeria, Angola, China, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Russia, Senegal, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. There were also questions about the appointment of the chairman of the board and whether his status overrode the accountability of the home affairs director-general. The state legal adviser also called for the regulations to be checked for constitutionality and consistency. Mapisa-Nqakula said the home affairs department was running "as normal" and was healthy, but conceded that it "does have its problems like any other department".She said the department needed to fill 500 posts this year and there were still vacancies. The department recently advertised posts for 19 senior managers and two deputy director-generals. "The only difference in the department is that there has been a change of leadership, which did not change the state of affairs in the department," she said. "Staff in the department are as loyal to the new leadership as they were to the leadership before and are ready to deliver the services expected of them."

SA Joins global drive to repatriate Angolan refugees (Business Day, 28/05) - At least 4000 Angolans based in SA are willing to return home to help rebuild their war-ravaged country. Deputy Political Editor Thousand of Angolan refugees in SA willing to return to rebuild their war-ravaged and landmine-infested country will be going home soon, with assistance from the South African government. Since the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) declared the country politically stable and safe for refugees to return, about 4000 out of 13626 registered Angolan refugees in SA have expressed the wish to go home. It has been two years since the violent death of Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi shot and killed in military action at the age of 67 in February 2002. A peace accord was signed between the Angolan government and rebels of Savimbi's Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) in April 2002. Since then, the Angolan government has recorded the return of close to 218000 Angolan refugees, according to UNHCR. This includes about 45000 who returned in organised convoys after UNHCR started a repatriation programme last June. A further 30000 Angolans voluntarily returned home following Savimbi's death. They have received reintegration assistance from the UN refugee agency. SA is responding to UNHCR's call a year after it started the process of helping Angolan refugees return home from African countries. Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma signed a co-operation agreement with Angola earlier this year that has made it possible for UNHCR to start preparing for the repatriation of refugees in SA. Dlamini-Zuma' s spokesman, Ronnie Mamoepa, says that the department is working closely with the UN and the Angolan government . UNHCR spokeswoman in SA Melita Sunjic says SA, Angola and the commission are finalising operational plans involving documentation and transport logistics. "The programme will be advertised and the first convoy is expected to leave SA for Angola in August this year," she says. Sunjic says the process may take 18 months to complete as more refugees may decide later to take advantage of the programme. She says the commission is assisting with community-based projects in Angola such as the construction of wells, schools, health centres and roads to help the returnees and their communities with resettling. UNHCR and the South African government are discussing whether it will be possible to pay for air tickets for returning refugees. But those choosing to fly home will be allowed to take only 20kg of luggage. The commission encourages refugees to sell commodities in their host country and to buy new furniture and other goods when they get to their home countries. "Otherwise they will have to arrange and pay for the alternative transportation of their valuables," Sunjic says. She says once discussions between SA and Angola are completed, there will be an exchange of refugees' identification data. Angolan officials will set up desks at points of entry to welcome their citizens and assist them with registration and new identity documents. Single parents, particularly women, will receive special attention when returning home, to ensure that they can provide for their families. UNHCR will also ensure that all refugee children are immunised before they leave SA. In the first organised return convoy this year, UNHCR assisted 200 Angolan refugees to return from Namibia. They left Namibia's Osire refugee camp last week and arrived in Cunene province, southeastern Angola, later the same day. Sunjic says they will spend a few days at a reception centre in Cunene, where they will receive accommodation, food and medical assistance as well as training sessions on landmine awareness and HIV/AIDS prevention before heading to their home areas. She says UNHCR plans to conduct weekly return convoys from Osire camp, which is host to 12000 Angolan refugees who fled their country during the 27-year civil war. The commission's plans are at an advanced stage to help refugees in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo return to their homes. " UNHCR plans to help 145000 Angolan returnees in 2004 alone," Sunjic says. Of these, about 90000 Angolan refugees will come from Namibia, Zambia and Congo. Convoys from Zambia and Congo would resume in June, once the rains had passed and roads had improved . Botswana, which is host to 2000 Angolan refugees, expects to begin their repatriation in July, Sunjic says.

Suburban xenophobia (The Financial Mail, 28/05) - Michelle Swart looks at what industry experts have to say about the effect of foreigners buying property in SA - ARE foreigners to blame for the surge in property prices and are South Africans becoming increasingly xenophobic as prime properties become less affordable? Andrew Golding, CEO of Pam Golding Properties says: "While is true that South African property prices have dramatically increased over the last few years it is mainly due to demand outstripping supply. This has been driven by low interest rates, positive economic sentiment and the fact that property is one of the few investments that performed well while the stock market fell over the past three years. When you consider that only 10% of properties in the total Pam Golding inventory over the last 12 months have been sold to foreigners, and less than 1% in SA it becomes apparent that foreign investment in property represents only a tiny fraction of the property stock." With breathtaking scenery, great weather and a high quality of life at a fraction of the cost of places such as England, France and Spain, it is easy to understand why SA is attracting foreign investors. But the infiltration of foreign buyers is affecting the lives of some South Africans who are bitter about increased prices. Gail from Noordhoek (who wished to remain anonymous) says: "Locals are becoming resentful of foreigners who are snapping up prime properties at inflated prices. They are the cause of properties becoming unaffordable for locals." Tony Vaughan, MD of soon to be launched The Property Magazine disagrees. "They are bringing hard currency into the country which is imperative in a developing economy. South Africans are possessive over their' land and need to adapt their attitude to welcome foreign buyers, as they are a minor factor contributing to escalating prices. Locals should rather see it as a massive vote of confidence and be proud." Catherine Simon from New York, who recently purchased a sea-facing apartment in Camps Bay experiences this xenophobia on a daily basis with comments from locals like, "You don't belong here and you are not investing in your community". "This is absurd," says Catherine. "I contribute to taxes like any local and I'm on more environmental committees and community programmes than any one else I know. Not only am I creating employment, but I haven't even begun to add up how much foreign income my endless stream of American visitors spend in the country." Golding concludes that SA needs foreign currency, and most foreigners are economically active, contributing to job creation and a vibrant economy. Courtesy of The Property Magazine

Police nab 11 Home Affairs officials (Pretoria, SABC News, 27/05) - At least 11 home affairs officials from Bloemfontein were arrested this morning following investigations into the issuing of fraudulent documents. A two-year joint investigation with the department and the police's organised crime unit found that foreigners, especially from Lesotho, were issued with illegal documents allowing them to become South African citizens. The officials were allegedly paid large amounts of money for illegal birth certificates. With these, people could apply for identity documents, South African passports and social grants. Up to R1 000 was reportedly paid for fraudulently obtaining ID's. It is believed each corrupt official made about R30 000 a month. Earlier eight employees were also arrested. Liziwe Ntshinga, a police spokesperson, says although the operation was in Bloemfontein today, it is to be extended to other areas of the Free State. The suspects will appear in court on Monday.

Passport racket targeted (Daily News, 27/05) - Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula yesterday promised to smash a false passport racket, after reports that people with Al-Qaeda links were in possession of South African documents. Although she was personally not aware of the link with Al-Qaeda, her department was in the process of devising means to eliminate the ease with which people fraudulently acquired South African passports and identity documents. She was replying to questions from journalists in Cape Town following reported comments by national police commissioner Jackie Selebi in parliament that several people who had evil intentions were arrested in South Africa five days before the recent elections. He intimated they had links to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network which had sparked arrests in Syria, Jordan and Britain. Mapisa-Nqakula said: "We are aware of the potential dangers the problems (of fraudulently available IDs and passports) could cause. "I am personally not aware of the links with Al-Qaeda, but if the national commissioner says so, I have no reason not to believe him. What we are doing on our part is to make sure that South African IDs and passports are not accessible to criminals any more. We will do all we can to ensure that this problem is completely eliminated." She hinted that there was a need for more intelligence work in the elimination of the scourge, saying that from what had been reported it appeared that those caught were "simply nabbed in the normal course of policing at airports and so on". The use of intelligence should ensure that these people were not arrested when they were in the course of committing crime - but ahead of the commission of the act, she said. The Democratic Alliance plans to table parliamentary questions to get more information about the arrests of suspected terrorists mere days before last month's elections. DA spokesman Roy Jankielsohn said today that the United Nations had identified Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organisation and that as a member of the UN South Africa has a duty to fight terrorism and assist other law enforcement agencies in apprehending terror suspects. "We will put in one or two parliamentary questions to get details of who was arrested and where and to ensure there is transparency and accountability," Jankielsohn said.

Amendments to be made to immigration regulations (Sapa, 27/05) - State law advisers have recommended several amendments be made to the regulations for the Immigration act, Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said on Tuesday. The amendments would be presented to cabinet on June 23 and tabled in Parliament on June 24, whereafter the public would then be allowed to make submissions on the act, she told a media briefing at Parliament. Fraser-Moleketi declined to reveal exactly what amendments would be made, or the implications of these changes. "There are issues for instance dealing with the immigration board. We will only tell you when they are published some of these issues are contentious, She said the regulations for the Immigration Act would be finalised by the end of August. Cabinet had established a committee in February, comprising the departments of home affairs, safety and security, foreign affairs, trade and industry, education and justice and constitutional development, to finalised the regulations. "The committee has agreed to finalise the process by the end of August 2004, in line with president's directive," she told journalists. The regulations led to a court battle between Thabo Mbeki and former Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi earlier this year. The court action started when Buthelezi hastily promulgated the regulations while they were still under discussion by the Cabinet. The Cape High Court ruled that an order, made in March this year that the regulations be published, be set aside.

Refugee influx brings Africa to Cape Town (Cape Town, Reuters, 26/05) - It has often been said that Cape Town is not really an African city -- more a European seaside resort than part of a continent mired in conflict and poverty. But a new generation of arrivals is bringing a distinctly African flavor to South Africa's oldest city as refugees and economic migrants from across the continent trek to Cape Town to seek security and fortune. While Cape Town still boasts vacation villas, world-class restaurants and hotels that rival the best in Europe, 10 years after the end of white apartheid rule much of the city is transforming. As in other parts of Africa, nearly every available public space is crammed with markets and stalls as Cape Town's new residents seek to make their fortunes. Official figures show the number of refugees coming to Cape Town has quadrupled over the past three years. Chantal Mujingwa says she fled her village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo about a year ago, leaving behind a 5-year-old son. "I just want peace," she said as she braided a client's hair. She now works as a hairdresser on one of Cape Town's many bustling sidewalks, and lives with a relative in Sea Point outside Cape Town, where many refugees congregate. She says she will not return home unless she can be sure of lasting peace. "I miss my son too much. It was painful for me. It was not a nice day," she said, remembering the day she fled approaching rebels. Rodreck Mupedziswa, director of the forced migration studies program at the University of the Witwatersrand, said South Africa's smaller cities, like Cape Town, were becoming home to many who find themselves in Mujingwa's predicament. Johannesburg, the country's financial center, has traditionally been a haven for those seeking prosperity or trying to escape conflict. Mupedziswa said this was changing as foreigners felt increasingly targeted by police. Africans are not the only ones coming to Cape Town. Last year alone, nearly 1 million foreign tourists flocked here to see its famous sites and enjoy the value they receive for their dollars, pounds and euros, thanks to a favourable exchange rate. Yet, for all its attractions, Cape Town has largely failed to draw black South Africans, especially those from Johannesburg in the North, who generally have more money to spend. The authorities have begun to recognize this, said Sheryl Ozinsky, head of Cape Town Tourism, and are trying to create a more appropriate "tourism package." "Tourism is mainly owned by white players and this is not sufficient," said Ozinsky. Plans to entice blacks south include highlighting the history of black people in Cape Town, in particular slavery and the anti-apartheid movement. But this alone might not be enough. For, as much as tourists might love it, Cape Town continues to be haunted by a reputation for being more racially polarized than South Africa's other major metropolises. Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban all bear the scars of the apartheid government's attempts to divide the races. Most whites still live close to city centers while blacks are relegated to townships on the outskirts. In Cape Town this separation persists, leaving downtown whiter and wealthier than much of the surrounding areas. "The township people do not venture into the restaurants, parks or other public places, except rarely," said Owen Sichone, a lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Cape Town. "There is some crossing of boundaries but little socializing except maybe for kids in expensive (formerly white) schools."

Home affairs official arrested (BuaNews, 26/05) - Home Affairs official appeared in the Pretoria District Court this month, for allegedly accepting a R2 000 bribe from two illegal immigrants. The department alleged Ms Raesetja Magdeline Phoshoko accepted the bribe, which then allowed the two from the Democratic Republic of Congo to be released from detention and eventual deportation. She was arrested on 12 May, immediately after accepting the bribe. According to the department, the police organised crime unit played a major role in her arrest. Ms Phoshoko who specialised as an immigration officer will appear in court again on 30 June after being released on a R1 000 bail.

New Home Affairs minister faces administrative crisis (Business Day, 26/05) - Cape Town Administration within the home affairs department is in crisis and there are 300 vacant posts, says Patrick Chauke, chairman of the home affairs portfolio committee. Chauke said yesterday that the majority of senior director posts in the department, which employs 5700 people, were filled by people in an acting capacity "and have been for the past four to five years". He said the committee wanted Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her department to say what actions would be taken to fill the posts. "Administration is in crisis," Chauke told the committee at a meeting to decide on its programme for the year. He said Mapisa-Nqakula would be asked to indicate how the department would implement its strategic programmes and objectives when she briefed the committee next month. She would also be asked to address the process of regulation- making for the Immigration Act. President Thabo Mbeki, during his state of the nation address last week, indicated that the regulations needed to be completed within three months. Chauke said services offered by the department in the rural areas were not accessible. He said the department needed to be held accountable for this.

Immigration regulations to facilitate skills access (Sunday Times, 2/05) - The South African Government will compile a register of all graduates to link them with job opportunities and learnerships available to ease their passage into the job market. President Thabo Mbeki says Cabinet will also finalise work on the immigration regulations "among other things to ensure that we access such scarce skills from the rest of the world as may be required for our accelerated development". He said in the period since the holding of the growth and development summit, "we have reached the figure of 64,000 with regard to learnerships. We have already studied our experience in this regard". "We will engage all the sector education and training authorities (Setas) to increase the uptake of learners and improve the focus on the skills that are in short supply."

Pride and prejudice in Muizenberg: editorial (Cape Times, 21/05) - Disturbing allegations have come to light recently regarding violence by city police against Congolese refugees in Muizenberg. These allegations are now the subject of an informal inquiry after the intervention of Muizenberg MP Ben Turok. Without wishing to pre-empt the findings of this particular inquiry, it can be noted that this is not the first time claims have surfaced about xenophobia in Cape Town. Like many forms of prejudice, such attitudes are usually based on ignorance and misguided feelings of superiority. These ill feelings are often exacerbated when people from different backgrounds become involved in disputes over scarce resources. In Cape Town, as in our other urban areas, these revolve around competition for jobs, housing and social support. Yet this does not make xenophobia any more excusable. There is even more of an onus on our law-enforcement agencies to behave honourably. After all, it is their duty to uphold the law. And our constitution specifically prohibits discrimination "directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, ... ethnic or social origin, ... culture, language and birth". Irrespective of the findings on the specific incident in Muizenberg, it is high time the city develops a more holistic approach towards dealing with xenophobia. Dealing with sporadic outbursts is no way to deal effectively with the roots of the problem. Cape Town, as a rapidly developing economic hub, will continue to attract people from beyond our borders. They must not be regarded as a burden or a threat. Most are, in fact, valuable economic assets. Others are simply folk in need of a helping hand because of circumstances in their own countries. Only a few are usually rogue elements. They therefore deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully. How a society treats the most vulnerable in its midst has always been an indication of its true worth.

Police to be investigated after xenophobic attack (Cape Times, 21/05) - Former Western Cape deputy police commissioner, Zelda Holtzman, has launched an informal "inquiry into alleged violence and xenophobia in Muizenberg" following the brutal assault on three Congolese refugees, allegedly by City Police members. On May 8, Didi Tshikaya, Bourgeois Kisong, and Gigi Mongendi were severely beaten and needed medical attention after a police raid at their hostel.Holtzman, who will chair the inquiry, described the investigation as "an open and transparent process in which all people can come forward". "The inquiry was motivated by people who got together and were disturbed by what allegedly took place," she said. Holtzman was unable to disclose any information or discuss the evidence. The board will give a report that outlines the results of the inquiry within three weeks, at which time appropriate actions to overcome xenophobia in Muizenberg will also be discussed, she said. "The idea of the inquiry is to get information from as many different viewpoints. Then the recommendations to direct authorities can be made. We want to be proactive in ensuring that it doesn't happen again," said Holtzman. In addition to the inquiry, a formal investigation of the City Police has been launched by the Muizenberg police, according to their liaison officer, Cliff Wyeth. "All the witness statements have been obtained. We are now waiting for the statements from the City Police," said Wyeth. The inquiry and formal police investigation follow the incident on May 8 in which members of the City Police raided a hostel which houses the Congolese refugees. "I heard noise. Police were opening fire and they were verbally abusing neighbours with xenophobic remarks," said a neighbour, Bruce Retief. According to Retief, the police raided the hostel on what appeared to be a drug raid, but found no illegal substances. "They didn't show any warrant. They target population groups that are helpless. "Retief, a member of African Renewal, an organisation that assists refugees, contacted Ben Turok, an ANC member of parliament. The result was the inquiry board, which, in addition to Holtzman, include Attorney Allan Harvey, UCT Professor Anthony Butler, and others. Kisong explained: "The police screamed that nobody can go out and nobody can go in. (An officer) hit me because I talked."Tshikaya added: "The police hit me on my toe with a hammer. I told them that I am a human being too. They hit me with the back of a gun. "He traced his finger on a line of stitches on the back of his head. Tshikaya also said that the policemen barked at them to go back to their country. The refugees gave the Cape Times photographs showing graphic images of the deep head wound and other injuries, and of spent shotgun cartridges which were recovered at the scene.

Child labour reports lead to farm probe (The Star, 20/05) - Labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana has ordered that more farm inspections be conducted around Tzaneen in Limpopo following media reports of child labour in the area. Mdladlana said yesterday: "Employers who deliberately violate labour laws will certainly be brought to book." Earlier yesterday, inspectors visiting a farm near Tzaneen could not find substantive evidence of child labour. However, there was evidence of employment of illegal immigrants. Department spokesperson Monwabisi McClean said another joint inspection with Department of Home Affairs officials would be conducted soon, because neither the farm nor its teenage workers could produce identity documents. "The children were left on the farm until the next inspection can prove whether the farmer committed any offence and whether the youths were indeed Mozambicans," he said. The Labour Department would further not explain why yesterday's inspection had been delayed for about a week. McClean would not say whether the immigrant child labourers would be deported, but warned that inspections would be intensified on five farms in the area to check if they complied with basic conditions of employment and child labour legislation. Yesterday, the trade union federation Cosatu entered the fray, urging the government to stop exploitation of children on farms. The Star reported yesterday that Maniki citrus farm in the Letsitele farming area, between Tzaneen and Phalaborwa, had illegally employed children as young as 14 to pick oranges. The children, who are illegal immigrants from neighbouring Mozambique, were reportedly being paid R170 a week for picking 500 bags of oranges. Fourteen-year-old Musasa Ngobeni recounted how abject poverty had led him to leave school and illegally enter South Africa to pick oranges at Maniki. Because he is an illegal immigrant and too young to work legally here, he lives in fear that police will arrest and deport him, to face joblessness and starvation. Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven yesterday criticised the farmer for allegedly refusing to allow its affiliate, the SA Agricultural Plantation and Allied Workers Union (Saapawu), entry to the farm to investigate working conditions there. Saapawu regional organiser Catholise Moraba blamed the Labour Department's inspectorate for failing to take prompt action against the exploitation of children and illegal immigrants. Cas Saloojee, chairperson of the parliamentary ad hoc committee on social development, said poverty forced many children to work for survival. "We are also deeply alarmed that the adults reported to be involved in this exploitation of children seek to deny and shift their responsibility," he said. Attempts to obtain comment from Maniki farm manager Boka Smith were unsuccessful yesterday.

Minister orders child labour crackdown (Johannesburg, Sapa, 19/05) - Labour minister Membathisi Md1adlana has ordered that more blitz inspections be conducted around Tzaneen in Limpopo following media reports of child labour in the area. Mdladlana said on Wednesday: "Employers who deliberately violate labour laws will certainly be brought to book." Earlier on Wednesday inspectors visiting a farm near Tzaneen could not find substantive evidence of child labour. However, there was evidence of the employment of illegal immigrants. A Johannesburg newspaper reported on Wednesday that a farm in the area had illegally employed children as young as 14 to pick oranges. The children, who were illegal immigrants from Mozambique, reportedly being paid R170 a week. The Congress of SA Trade Unions called on government to stop exploitation of children on the farm. Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said the labour federation was "angry" and "appalled" at the reports.

Health minister aims to stem medical exodus (Sunday Times, 19/05) - Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang proposed a resolution to the World Health Assembly (WHA) on Tuesday which she hopes will stem the flow of qualified health workers from developing countries to better-paid jobs in the rest of the world, her spokesman said. It was hoped that the resolution would eventually lead to the adoption of an international treaty on the hiring of health workers from developing countries. "She has proposed the resolution because there is currently no World Health Organisation (WHO) guiding document on the migration of health workers," Sibani Mngadi told Sapa from Switzerland, where the WHA was meeting. Tshabalala-Msimang was elected one of five vice presidents of the assembly on Monday. "We want to get a code of practice for the recruitment of health personnel which would consider the effects of recruitment on the country. There is a need for government-to-government discussion on the subject and a need to acknowledge that migration is hampering the health systems of developing countries," Mngadi said. "It is one of the most serious problems in South Africa and affects the whole Africa and other developing countries."

UK still hiring SA's nurses despite agreement (Cape Times, 18/05) - The British National Health Service (NHS) is still poaching nurses from South Africa and other developing countries, despite an agreement not to do so. This was the allegation from leaders of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), quoted in a South African weekend news- paper, who accused the NHS of "underhand recruitment" through agencies, and said this was "akin to smuggling". The nurses were speaking at the RCN's annual congress, which backed a motion condemning the recruitment of foreign nurses to plug shortages in the NHS. At the congress, Thembeka Gwagwa, chief executive of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), reported that South Africa was losing 300 nurses a month to the First World. The RCN said that in the past three years 40 000 foreign nurses - about 45% of all new registrations in that period - had registered to work in Britain. Most were from South Africa, the Philippines and India. In a statement sent to the Cape Times, Britain's health secretary, John Reid, neither confirmed nor denied the reported allegations. "We're very proud of the ethical recruitment code, which was the first of its kind and the most stringent in the world," he said. "The code has had a significant impact. "However, we want to make sure that we make it even stronger by clearing up ambiguities, so that those organisations that provide overseas staff only recruit from countries whose governments feel they are not short-staffed with nurses. "We will also strengthen and clarify the code in relation to independent agencies." The Guardian newspaper quoted international development minister Clare Short as saying that commercial agencies were not abiding by the government code of conduct. Ethical principles needed to be drawn up for these agencies, and the NHS should not use agencies that refused to subscribe to these principles, she said. The NHS would need to continue recruiting nurses from overseas, but it was important that this did not drain "scarce, precious, crucial expertise from developing countries", she said. The UK code of conduct discourages the recruitment of nurses from 150 countries including South Africa that are short of health staff. In addition, South Africa and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding last October for an exchange of health care staff that would benefit both countries. South African doctors and nurses should study and work in the UK for limited periods, according to this memorandum. Late last year Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang revealed that almost 31 000 nursing posts were standing empty in South Africa. Gauteng had the greatest nursing shortage, with 7 976 posts standing empty. The Western Cape had 2 533 vacancies. Figures from South Africa's Nursing Council, supplied yesterday by Denosa president Ephraim Masolo, are that between 2 000 and 3 000 nurses have been leaving the country annually in the past few years.

No plans for massive foreign recruitment (Pretoria, Sapa, 18/05) - There are no plans for a massive foreign recruitment drive to fill vacant professional positions in the civil service, Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said on Tuesday. "Our focus must remain on building the skills base amongst our people," she said in a statement in Pretoria. "Government has no plans to go on a wide-scale recruitment drive in any foreign country." The minister was commenting on a Sunday newspaper report based on an interview with her, which she described as sensational. The Sunday Times quoted her as saying the public service needed some 20,000 new top-level personnel. They would be recruited mainly from elsewhere in Africa, India and Iraq. But at the lower skilled end of the scale, several thousand jobs would need to be shed. This would be done, the minister was reported as saying, only after exploring opportunities for re-skilling, re-deploying and retrenching staff. On Tuesday, Fraser-Moleketi said the report had "understandably raised the ire of many South Africans". The recruitment of staff from elsewhere was not "essentially the crux of the interview". South Africa, she said, may recruit from countries with which it had bilateral agreements. But this did not mean skilled South Africans would be neglected and overlooked. "Where there are skills shortages in specific areas, the issue will be looked at case by case and decisions made with regard to recruitment so as best to serve the needs of the people of South Africa," she said.

Refugee stories of trauma and despair (Johannesburg, Globe and Mail, 17/05) - The suitcases are bright with paint and stuck with beads and glitter. One is decorated with a sketch of the mango tree back home in Rwanda. Another has written around its edges, in uncertain children's handwriting, "I used to cry a lot. . . I will grow up and I won't cry any more." Many of the cases bear the vibrant colours of the South African flag. The suitcases were made by children in an extraordinary informal art class held every Saturday morning in an inner-city high school in Johannesburg. The young artists are refugees, most of them what are known as "unaccompanied minors." Orphaned or separated from their families by war, they walked and hitchhiked their way down the continent to the haven of South Africa. This group of about 15 children -- ranging in age from 5 to 17 -- has organized into an improvised family, scrabbling to survive in Johannesburg. And every Saturday morning they gather together to make art. Glynis Clacherty, a former teacher, first met some of the children three years ago. She was amazed by the de facto family they had formed, living in a couple of grim flats in Hillbrow, the most violent neighbourhood in the world's most violent city. The children had sporadic supervision from a couple of "foster mothers" (Burundian women who were refugees with their own children) and a little help from the Jesuit Refugee Service, which paid their school fees and supplied a food parcel each month. But mostly, the kids were on their own. "These children are not victims -- these are the bright ones, the ones who had the courage to run," Clacherty said. "They are the survivors. I tell them that: that no one is going to look after them, but they can look after each other." With her friend Diane Welvering, an art teacher, Clacherty began to run informal classes for the children, thinking they might be therapeutic. And Indeed, as the children learned how to make prints and use pastels, they began to tell their stories. Two Ethiopian girls were separated from their families when their village was burned in the war with Eritrea; one covered much of the length of Africa on foot. A pair of boys fled Burundi's war, into refugee camps in Tanzania, but the camps were so grim that they struck out for the south. Two Congolese girls lost their families fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo's civil war. They all ended up in Hillbrow. 'There is a whole network of people who live off these [refugees], trafficking in people, taking them at night by boat into Mozambique, overland into Swaziland, then down into Jo'burg," said Clacherty, who works as an education researcher. "Then they get here, and the local people don't want them, the police harass them, and the services are totally inadequate." Many South Africans are deeply hostile to the refugees who pour into their country, blaming them for taking scarce jobs and running criminal gangs. South Africa has stringent laws governing refugee claimants and asylum seekers, and deports 1,000 people a week back to each of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Last month, however, the laws were relaxed slightly to allow asylum seekers to work or study during the five or six years it takes for them to obtain legal status here. When refugee children arrive, they usually don't speak English, and they are daunted by Johannesburg's metropolitan bustle. Yet within months it is hard to tell refugee kids from other teens on the Hillbrow streets: They quickly learn English, and somehow rustle up a pair of  Low-rider jeans or an American baseball cap. They learn the latest Zulu slang, and walk like they own the sidewalks. In their suitcase project, they tell the stories of their lives today in South Africa on the outside of the cases, and the story of home on the inside. Maggie, a 15-year-old from the Democratic Republic of Congo, arrived here six years ago. She said she is doing well in high school and wants to be a social worker. On her suitcase she has drawn the brightly lit high-rise blocks of Hillbrow. But Maggie is determined to go back to the country she still thinks of as Zaire because she wants to find her mother and little sisters. "How do I know that my mother is having a good life in Zaire? I have to go find her." One suitcase bears the words "Lees Get Free" painted over the child artist's self-portrait, tears running down his face. A Rwandan boy who lost his family in the genocide, using his new English, wrote, "I sometime cry and ask why -- why my mother die when she have to look after me". As Clacherty sees it, "The suitcases have become something that they can reinvent. They see that their lives are multistoried, not single-storied, and that they are not trapped in a single story that says they are refugees only." Although the suitcases have been their main project, Welvering regularly introduces the group to new art supplies and techniques. Recently she was confounded when one of the boys, 16-year-old Jackson, mixed eight types of paint for the exact shade of blue he wanted. "It's a way to remember where we're from and also to show South Africans that we refugees also have knowledge," Jackson said of the art projects. He fled the war in Burundi 10 years ago, when he was only 6. Last year the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Pretoria heard about the art-therapy project and offered a little funding; the project now may be replicated with other groups of refugee children. And recently the UNHCR and Jesuit Refugee Service agreed to formally take over the project, much to Clacherty's delight.

Public servants criticise foreign recruitment (Pretoria, Sapa, 17/05) - Public servants on Monday criticised reported plans to recruit professionals and senior staff to the civil service from India, Iran and Africa. "It is regrettable to hear the (public service) minister (Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi) talk about retrenching South Africans and replacing them with foreigners," the National Union of Public Servants and Allied Workers said. It was especially disturbing against the background of the recent elections, when ruling party promises of more jobs abounded, Nupsaw general secretary Success Mataitsane said. "Never did they say they would be looking beyond South Africa's borders for these jobs." He also expressed concern about the minister's reported statement that several thousand "unproductive" jobs would be shed. "The victims of apartheid are now becoming victims of democracy," Mataitsane said. "We will fight against retrenchments to the bitter end, even if it means taking to the streets." Fraser-Moleketi told the Sunday Times the public service needed more than 20,000 new top-level personnel. They would be recruited mainly from elsewhere in Africa, India and Iraq.

Civil service to recruit in India, Iran (Johannesburg, Sunday Times, 17/05) - Government is set to shed thousands of "unproductive jobs" and simultaneously recruit many professionals and senior staff from India, Iran and Africa. Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi told the Sunday Times this week that more than 20 000 new personnel were needed - possibly a great deal more. She said a high-level team was probing the needs of the government and would start reporting on these needs within three months. At the lowest level, the government had to shed only "several thousand" unproductive jobs and not the 20 000 that had been reported. This would only be done after exploring opportunities for re-skilling, re-deploying or retrenching of staff. Jobs affected could include those on government-run agricultural projects. Fraser-Moleketi said recruiting new personnel would take place primarily in African countries and in India and Iran, where South Africa had bilateral agreements. South Africa also had a South-South policy and would seek talent in Southern Hemisphere countries, but in all cases would be careful not to poach staff, Fraser-Moleketi said. Considered to have effectively completed a policy framework for the restructuring of the civil service, Fraser-Moleketi kept her job in the Cabinet shuffle which followed last month's election. This week she said she was excited about the next five years, adding that she would push for the development of an integrated, co-ordinated approach to improve service delivery from government departments which share resources and work on joint programmes. It is now clear that the introduction of a senior management service group two years ago - which was planned in 2000 - has only been partly successful. Hence the search for new personnel. Fraser-Moleketi admitted losing top-level personnel to the private sector and abroad. But she added that this was happening at a similar rate in the private sector. A number of top personnel in government jobs, including two directors-general, have resigned and moved to the private sector in the past month. Some have moved for new career opportunities while others were reported to have left because the Cabinet reshuffle left them with ministers they felt couldn't work with. Asked about medical specialists, highly trained nurses and teachers, Fraser-Moleketi said a detailed study was being conducted into immediate and long-term skills in these areas. She said South African specialists were being targeted by the US, Canada and Europe. Nurses and teachers were particularly attracted by the opportunity to earn pounds. However, Fraser-Moleketi cautioned those thinking of moving to Britain that many who had made the move discovered that they didn't get salary increases or fringe benefits, and that they couldn't afford to live near their jobs. Fraser-Moleketi's thinking behind the development of the senior management service was first made known in a media briefing in September 2000. The service was aimed at developing an effective management core which would accelerate service delivery and attract, develop and retain good managers with strong leadership skills. They should embody the values of a new patriotism and a new social morality to combat and prevent corruption in the public service. Professionals and specialists at a senior level were to be paid at the same levels as senior management in the private sector. Fraser-Moleketi said this week that she wanted to look more closely at ways of finding career paths for professionals and to give them "a sense of being employed by a service rather than [being] in posts". She said she would be focusing particularly on senior management, from director level up to director-general, and top specialists from levels 12 to 14.

Nurses urged to remain in SA (Daily Dispatch, 13/05) - "Nursing is a calling. There are days when I am very tired, but you have to make sacrifices. I'm tired, but for a cause. "These are the words of nurse Cynthia Plaaitjies, 49, a South African nurse who refuses to leave the country despite the exodus of many of her colleagues. "Our profession is faced with the tremendous strain of a poverty- stricken society and we must brighten the corners wherever we are." International Nurses Day was celebrated here yesterday with prayer services in most hospitals. A national newspaper reported that, because of the exodus of nurses, coupled with too few entering the profession, South Africa may face a shortage of 18750 nurses by 2011. Nurses in the United States earn almost seven times the salary of nurses here. The attraction of better working conditions and earnings is luring South African nurses to distant shores. "To those people who have left the country I beg and appeal to them to consider returning. Things have changed," said Plaaitjies. "I went through the bitter days of apartheid but we won it over. I can't see why we can't move forward now. Hospitals are more democratic and management is approachable. "We are free to voice grievances and have better access to resources." Frere Hospital deputy director of nursing Lungiswa Maqaqa urged nurses to lead the struggle against Aids, poverty and ignorance.

New minister tasked to deal with immigration (SABC News, 13/05) - Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the newly appointed home affairs minister, has been tasked by Cabinet to urgently convene the Committee of Ministers dealing with Immigration Regulations. It was Cabinet's first meeting since the elections of April 14 today. Joel Netshitenzhe, the head of government communications and information services, says Cabinet's decision follows President Thabo Mbeki's successful court action last month to stop the publication of immigration regulations due to have come into effect in March. Netshitenzhe says other issues discussed at the meeting, were economic growth and development the provision of social services, security and justice matters of governance and international relations. Netshitenze says attention was paid to the challenges in the coming five years and on concrete programmes that need implementation and immediate effect. He says the President's address to the nation next week will articulate most of the detail to come out of the two-day meeting.

SA destination for trafficked children (Pretoria, Sapa, 11/05) - South Africa is a major destination and source for international child trafficking, a conference on human trafficking heard in Pretoria today. Susan Kreston of the Council of the National Centre for Justice and the Rule of Law in the USA told the conference, arranged by the Institute for Security Studies, that between 28 000 and 38 000 children were currently being prostituted in South Africa. "Up to 25% of prostitutes in South Africa are children, and up to 25%t of street children are prostitutes," she told the conference. In a 2003 study on migration, South Africa was described as the main destination for trafficked children in Southern Africa. "Many are sent from Angola, Botswana, (the Democratic Republic of) Congo and Lesotho as well as from Thailand and Russia," the report detailed. It also said that many South African children were sent to Europe and Asia to work as sex slaves, labour slaves or both. Kreston explained that human trafficking was the fastest growing source of profit for organised criminal enterprises worldwide. "It is currently second only to guns and drugs. But the advantage of human cargo is they can be reused unlike drugs," she said. She said it was currently a US7 billion dollar (about R49 billion) global industry with up to US30 000 (R210 000) paid for a child. Many sold by parents: Kreston noted that many of the children prostituted in South Africa had been sold by their parents. Some parents thought they were doing their children a favour by handing them over to people promising them better education and work opportunities. These children often end up on the opposite side of the world being sexually exploited. An estimated 900 000 people are trafficked internationally every year. She detailed a story of a five-year-old Taiwanese boy who had been passed from one "owner" to another and as a result had ended up in America with full blown Aids. "South Africa is the same as the United States in that it is a magnet state. Because it is mostly economically developed, cosmopolitan and diverse it has become a lucrative market for child traffickers. "In a three tier grading system - where one is a country doing its utmost to stop trafficking - South Africa is listed in tier two with 52 other countries which included Canada, India, Kenya, Thailand Russia and Brazil. "South Africa has laws but needs to do more," said Kreston, adding that legislation combined with a working criminal justice system would jump South Africa into the first tier. "It's getting there, it just needs that final push," she said.

SA nurses in the UK (BBC News, 11/05) - The UK has been relying heavily on overseas nurses to bolster staffing levels. Nearly half of all new registration nurses in the UK come from abroad.The NHS has a policy to ban recruitment from developing countries, but many private healthcare sectors do not follow this code of ethics. South Africa is losing 300 nurses each month as the move overseas to seek better payment and working conditions, according to Mrs Barbara Nicholls, Chief Executive for the US Commission on Graduates for Foreign Nursing. The Royal College of Nursing is worried that overseas nurses will not want to continue to come to live and work in the UK. I wanted to learn so that is why I came. BBC Online News talks to two foreign nurses working in the UK to find out what attracted them to work here and whether they plan to stay. Lena Masondo is a 47 year old nurse who, up until two years ago, was working in Johannesburg in South Africa. She is currently working in elderly care at the Salford Royal Hospital, but first joined an agency recruiting for an independent nursing home. Lena said she decided to come to live and work in the UK for the pay and educational opportunities. "I wanted to learn so that is why I came. I was attracted by the money promised. But the money is quite low - lower than I was promised. "What I'm getting is better than what I was getting at home. It was far too low." In South Africa, Lena earned 74,000 Rand per year, which equates to about £5,900 per year. In the UK she is earning about £18,000 per year as an E-Grade nurse. Lena has a husband and three children, the youngest being three years old, who she has had to leave behind. She said she had no real choice because she wanted to provide the best she could for her family. "I decided with my husband that I should come over. It's not nice leaving your family, leaving your country. I didn't do it deliberately, I was pushed." Lena is still sending money back to her family. She plans to return to her home town in the future. But she said: "If I had a chance to see my family more regularly I would stay longer. I want to stay."  Ghana to the UK Matthew Tay, 38, came to the UK from Ghana five years ago. In Ghana he was on a sabbatical working both as a union representative and on behalf of a minister. We have a wealth of experience but then we are all stuck at the bottom. Matthew Tay He decided to trade his higher position for the promise of better pay in the UK. He was recruited by an agency for the NHS and is now working for the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust as a mental health nurse. Matthew says, in reality, the monetary gains are not as great as he had hoped. "Initially it felt like a big difference but it does change because you still have to pay your rent and run your car and pay your insurance and so it gets eroded. "I have serious plans to go back. But the difference is that you come and live here and you get used to a different way of living and so it makes it a bit more difficult when you haven't got the necessary facilities in place back home." Matthew has a wife and two children who still live in Ghana. "I've left them and I'm struggling to bring them here. My youngest son is now eight. He was three when I left him." Matthew Tay says going back would be a problem Most nurses who return to Ghana after working in the UK find it difficult to fit back into the system, he said. "There are a variety of issues that make it difficult to go back - political, the use of the law, patients rights, nurses rights. "I may go back but the question is am I going back to nursing because of all of those issues." Those who decide to stay in the UK do not necessarily get equitably rewarded. "I've been a nurse for 13 years. I'm well qualified. But then you come over [here] all of this is not recognised. "We have a wealth of experience but then we are all stuck at the bottom and one out of 10 might move up but the majority stay at the bottom." "I work in acute psychiatric care. For 80% of the time I was in charge of the ward and yet I'm still an E-grade."

Local nurses rethink emigration to Middle East (SABC News, 11/05) - With the escalating political uncertainty in the Middle East, nurses in South Africa are rethinking their emigration and contract labour options in that region. Tomorrow is International Nurses Day and in some parts of the country hospitals report a break in the exodus of South African nursing professionals. Private health care networks say vacancies are down. There is an increase in student enrolments at public hospitals. Private hospitals have shown a drop in vacancies, down from 20 to 13% last year. Two years ago the picture was bleak. In 2002 more than 2 000 South African nurses left for the United Kingdom, mainly due to poor salaries and working conditions. However, it remains a popular profession with registration and student numbers rising each year. Private hospitals appear to be winning the battle against the lure of hefty paycheques. They have done it by offering attractive incentives, such as study leave in countries like the United Kingdom. Government has also negotiated a controlled exchange programme with that country which would be of benefit to both.

Signing of plans for voluntary repatriation of Angola refugees (UNHCR, 07/05) - UNHCR and the governments of South Africa and Angola will today sign a plan of operation for the voluntary repatriation of thousands of Angolan refugees in South Africa. The signing will take place in Pretoria at the first meeting of a tripartite commission that was established at the signing of a formal tripartite agreement between the parties last December. The voluntary repatriation program from South Africa to Angola is expected to begin in August of this year. Some 4,000 Angolan refugees in South Africa are expected to return home over an 18-month period. In all, there are some 13,000 Angolan refugees in South Africa, but many have integrated into local society. On a related subject, our partners at WFP yesterday announced that they are still very worried about an acute funding shortage for the provision of food for nearly 1.4 million Angolans who have already returned to their homes or are scheduled to be repatriated from neighboring countries. UNHCR joins WFP in urging donors to provide the support necessary to ensure that Angolans can not only go home but stay home. UNHCR and the Tripartite Commissions with Angola and the respective Governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo (RoC), Namibia and Zambia have all met in recent weeks to discuss 2004 returns. Organised repatriation movements are planned to resume in June this year through the corridors established in 2003. The respective dates of resumption will depend primarily on climatic conditions specific to each repatriation region. Throughout the region, UNHCR plans to assist some 145,000 Angolans to return and reintegrate this year.

Article on foreign migration in Johannesburg (Mail & Guardian, 07/05) - A motley crew of chess players from the African continent can be seen playing at a restaurant just a stone’s throw away from Yeoville’s park, where nearly a decade-and-a-half ago Ronnie Kasrils sat on a bench, watching to see whether he was being tailed by apartheid goons during Operation Vula. While sitting on the bench, Kasrils began reminiscing about his “childhood stomping ground”, he writes in his biography Armed and Dangerous. Any visitor strolling through Yeoville now will notice how dramatically it has changed from Kasrils’s childhood days. Nigerians can be seen in bars, forcefully arguing their points of view. Congolese men use the streets as a catwalk, displaying the latest Afro-chic couture — trousers belted up to their navels, white shirts sporting ties hanging just below the chest with a huge knot at the neck. In butcheries along Raleigh Street, svelte coffee-cream-skinned Ethiopian girls gaily chatter in their native Amharic as they wait for customers to arrive for the morning trade. Such is the new African presence in Yeoville that mini-capitals of Harare, Kinshasa, Addis Ababa, Accra and Lagos have sprung up as restaurants, telephone kiosks, cosmetic stores, grocery shops and places of worship to respective gods. But five years ago, this pan-African rainbow was yet to arch over Yeoville (and other streets in central Johannesburg) as local hawkers fought pitched battles against their foreign competitors, whom they accused of stealing their jobs. And it seemed there was nothing locals wouldn’t do to get their jobs back — even if it meant committing murder. Remember the incident of the Mozambican who was killed when he was thrown out of a moving train by a baying mob heading back to Johannesburg after protesting for jobs in Pretoria? And let’s not forget the two Senegalese men on the same train who, rather than face the same fate, tried to escape by climbing on top of the train, only to be braaied by overhead electricity cables. My local friends advise me to study the dynamics in place in South Africa’s socio-political arena so that I don’t fall victim to “xenophobia”. I am a Nigerian resident in South Africa. The first dynamic that struck me was in the late Nineties, when I was sitting in the audience of the Felicia Showt. I digested the words of one Makaziwe Mandela. In a high-pitched whine she said, to the cheers and applause of the local component of the studio audience, that it was the people who stayed in South Africa during apartheid who liberated this country, while those in exile had returned and “taken over” the country. This resentment between those who stayed in the country and the exilers who returned home to rule was adroitly expressed by John Kani in the play Nothing But the Truth. Kani plays Sipho Makhaya, a cantankerous old man who sees his ambition to become the first black chief librarian thwarted when an exiler waltzes into the post. Kani cracks a joke in the play wondering what the exiles will take over next. What has the struggle between those who stayed and the former exiles got to do with xenophobia, you might ask? Simply put, black foreigners are perceived to be “taking over” places like Yeoville and are the lightning rod that is struck by locals who feel powerless. But it is one thing to be a lightning rod and it is quite another to be the conductor on a house into which you were not invited. One always perceives a sense of wariness when meeting a black local for the first time. Because the question forming in their mind is: “What the hell is this foreigner going to do in my country?” Let’s face it, the record of the last set of (white) foreigners who arrived on the three sailing ships Drommedaris, Reijger and Goede Hoop in Table Bay to collect victuals in 1652 isn’t particularly great. It would be ludicrous to suggest that today’s black foreign arrivals have any intention to colonise South Africa, let alone on the scale that Jan van Riebeeck and his successors did. But what gets up the noses of locals and indeed fuels the resentment that leads to “xenophobic” rage is the behaviour of bad elements from the black foreign communities. Stories abound of Zimbabwean syndicates controlling cash-in-transit heists, or their less-talented compatriots shooting locals dead for cellphones (which they sell for a measly R50). Neither can the actions of Nigerians — with their drug dealing and 419 scams — help change negative perceptions. The question locals no doubt ask is: “Did we liberate this country for such nonsense to take root?” Perhaps what grates them even more is the fact that Africans from failed states have swarmed into the country like avaricious locusts to feed on the green shoots of South Africa’s democracy — and have become economically prosperous as a result. The question raised is: What are the loyalties of these foreigners? Will they accept this country, warts and all, and help build it to be Africa’s and the world’s economic and industrial powerhouse? Or will they up and leave when the going gets tough, or quit when things improve at home? Are South Africans xenophobic? I respond with a resounding “No”! In Leon Schuster’s Oh, Shucks, I’m Gatvol, a “Rambo-nation” understanding of South Africa’s socio-political dynamics certainly helps avert a necklacing. That’s a lesson missed by petty thieves from Zimbabwe and their families, who paid dearly with their lives in Zandspruit informal settlement on the West Rand in October 2001.

Xenophobia report: New South African (Mail & Guardian, 07/05) - One of the most visible changes in the ten years of democracy is the way SA has changed from being an isolated and fearful " corner cut off from the rest of the continent, to an open vibrant hub of the southern hemisphere. The move from a closed oppressive state to an open democratic one changed not only the internal politics of the country but has seen South Africa become involved in the trend which people and skills have become highly in mobile, moving around the globe regularly and freely.  The opening of SA's borders has meant that for the first time many . South Africans have come into contact with people from other cultures, not always with happy results. The knee jerk response " not dissimilar to xenophobic reactions to immigration worldwide has been that foreigners contribute only crime and disease, while " stealing jobs to which locals have an entitlement. Research by the Southern African Migration Project shows that South Africans have demonstrated the highest level of opposition to " immigration recorded in any country where such research has been done. Yet only 4 of locals had actually had any contact with immigrants, and no real understanding of the experiences and intentions of these people. The common perceptions of migrants often have little or no basis in , reality. Research shows there is no "uncontrollable flood of illegal .. immigrants". In fact the vast majority of migrants have official passports from their home country and had entered the country at " formal immigration posts. The people who migrate tend to be those who have the most skills and resources (personal and financial ), and therefore have something to offer their host country. While some migrants do come to SA for for jobs, many more also come to visit family, for a . holiday, for shopping and on business. Far from stealing jobs from " locals, many migrants set up businesses and create employment for South Africans. Cross-border traders boost the economy by bringing goods into the country to sell and then spending most of the money they earn right here in South Africa. Most migrants don't intend to live here permanently, seeing levels of crime and violence as making this an unsafe place to raise families. , While the strereotype is that all foreigners are criminals, the reality d is that more often than not they are victims of crime rather than the cause of it., While migrants, particularly from other African countries, question the legitimacy of borders drawn up in colonial times, most accept the notion of selective immigration policies and don't expect the SA government to throw its borders wide open. They would, however, like to see immigration policies applied in a rational and humane way. Vincent Williams of SAMP warns that more restrictive policies will simply drive migration underground.

Where illegal migrants seek refugee (The East African Standard, 02/05) - Inside a cramped cubicle in Hillbrow, Johannesburg's notorious inner city, three year-old Miriam jerks involuntarily at the sound of a gunshot echoing in the night across the walls of the high-rise flats. "Too much crime around," says her smiling mother Liumwani Ramaliuhana, a refugee from Zimbabwe as she waves her left hand casually at the dark window. "Tonight they sleep without food," she says indirectly to Miriam and her three other sisters, the gunshot incident instantly forgotten, her eyes glistening, maybe, with tears. Two unlucky immigrants who cannot find shelter or food sleep in the hostile streets of Johannesburg. It is in Hillbrow, South Africa's crime-infested inner city, that most Kenyan immigrants find affordable shelter. It is also home to most legal and illegal immigrants from Africa and across the world. For as little as R200 (Shs 2,000) one will share accommodation in a single room with as many as seven others - bed sheets dangling from strings partitioning their privacy. Many desperate Kenyans seeking better opportunities or selling artefacts consider Hillbrow home. Few know the dark side of Hillbrow. Sometimes it is too late when the realisation hit them, having become just another statistical data in the police crime records. The few who are able, move to the less insecure, but still dangerous, tenets of Yeoville and Berea. Most Kenyan inhabitants of Hillbrow prefer occupying one whole flat - just like their Congolese, Nigerian, Senegalese, Mozambican, Zimbabwean, Angolese or Cameroonian counterparts. To illustrate how much out of control crime is in Hillbrow, the Democratic Alliance health spokesman Jack Bloom has compiled "shock" statistics from a written reply to his question in parliament last year to Gauteng Safety and Community Liaison MEC Nomvula Mokonyane. "A staggering 59,000 crimes were committed in Hillbrow between 1999 and 2001, including 640 murders, 988 rapes, 7,521 assaults, 6775 robberies with firearms, 7,689 other robberies, 3,523 vehicles stolen, 18,7171 other thefts ... 1,347 drug related crimes," he said. The Minister's office stopped releasing detailed statistics two years ago, and instead prefers to calculate reports into averages after the figures were seen to be alarming. The police know the criminal elements of Hillbrow but are restrained by law because, director Louw says, the criminals have found ways of manipulating the system through corruptive techniques. He names six sleaze hotels, which he says they know are homes to drug dealers, addicts and prostitutes. A Hillbrow detective estimates that 80 per cent of fellow policemen are also addicted to drugs and alcohol or work part time as bodyguards, or security men in most of the sleaze hotels making it impossible to conduct secret police operations. A young police constable fresh from school earns a gross salary of R3,200 (Sh32,000) per month which is then whittled down to about R2, 000 after taxes and other obligatory deductions. Director Louw encourages residents of all nationalities to report corrupt policemen, and says he has three policemen suspended on allegations of corruption and one for assassination. Gareth Newham and Themba Masuku of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation say it is hard for the victims of corrupt policemen to file a complaint because the victims are mostly always illegal immigrants or law-breakers. Ted Legget of the Institute for Security Studies and author of Rainbow Tenemet, a book about Hillbrow flats, say the only solution is to introduce drastic legislation that legalises all undocumented persons. He suggests that all buildings with absentee landlords be repossessed, renovated and sold back to the tenants. "Building owners are not accountable to what is happening in the building and that needs to be corrected. Thin out the population," says Legget. Business owners in Hillbrow lament the proliferation of hawkers and grime as the main cause of crime in Hillbrow. Director Louw agrees and says apart from taking over flats, the drug gangs have also established territorial controls as a means of protection from imminent police raids. "The fruit vendor, cigarette hawker, street barbers are all fronts of an elaborate lookout system," he says. Amid all the gunshots that can be mistaken for celebratory crackers, Miriam dozes having eaten the only crumb of bread as her elder sister Rebecca prepares for her next day at a nearby barricaded community school for refugees. Beware Hillbrow, Kenyans.

South Africa's white flight changes gear (Johannesburg, Reuters, 01/05) - After two years of trying to start a new life in Canada, 42-year-old Marcelle Vorster was desperate to return home to South Africa."Please don't tell me where to buy boerewors - just get me home," she pleaded in an email to South Africa's "Come Home" campaign - a civil society initiative working to keep skilled people in the country. Ten years after the end of apartheid, an exodus of mainly white South Africans is still growing. But anecdotal evidence suggests that for the first time it is being offset by a heavy influx of people - both returning expatriates and foreigners. 'I didn't realise how difficult it would be to live abroad' Vorster returned home with her two teenage daughters early in 2004, some of the growing number of white South Africans abroad who have decided they will accept high levels of violent crime and a job market which discriminates against them. "I didn't realise how difficult it would be to live abroad," said Vorster. "I realised how much more freedom we have here - there are less rules and regulations, people are easy to talk to and less robotic. I'm still scared of the crime... but the biggest problem for me now is I can't find work," she said. Vorster's husband, a car mechanic, is still in Canada because he also can't find a job in his own country - where the unemployment rate stands at 40 percent and employers are trying to right the wrongs of apartheid with affirmative action. Official figures show that more than 16,000 people emigrated in 2003 - nearly 50 percent up on the previous year and the highest number since South Africa's first democratic election in 1994, when 10 000 left the country. As in the past, the most popular destination is Britain, followed by Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. But the reasons for the outflow have shifted, after a decade which showed fears of political and economic instability were unfounded. Crime is still often the main factor, but most of the white people who leave now - particularly those with children - say a big concern is the job market and the impact of affirmative action to give the black majority more control of the economy. "I don't think the economy is growing at a rate that will sustain the rate of school-leavers," said Armand Mizan, a 41-year-old accountant who emigrated to Australia early in 2004. "I have two young children and I'm concerned about their future". This perception is bad news for South Africa, which needs skilled workers to help grow the economy and to pass on their expertise - particularly in the fields of medicine, engineering and IT. Every skilled South African who leaves makes 10 unskilled workers jobless, according to research by the University of South Africa (Unisa) in Pretoria. The exodus costs the country around R800-million in lost tax revenue each year. With an estimated 400 000 South Africans living abroad, emigration has already cost the country about R285-billion, Unisa says. A straw poll by local advertising agency Morrisjones&co in 2002 found that 78 percent of South Africans who left the country would like to return - because they miss family, friends, sunshine and the way of life. Former rugby captain Francois Pienaar, who led the country's Springbok team to victory after the demise of apartheid, came back in December 2002 after a six-year absence. "The most obvious reason was family and friends," he said. "I also wanted my children to have the more balanced primary education they will get here - we offer more sports, culture, art and music. It teaches values and teamwork. "IT specialist Nico van Beest said it was easy to leave the Netherlands after six and a half years. Like many other white South Africans, he was forced to start his own business, but he is glad he did. "The culture is so different, those guys are so private you always feel like an outsider. You never get invited home to meet their families or spend a weekend. Here it's common," he said. In January 2003, two women from MorrisJones decided to launch a non-profit initiative - the Homecoming Revolution - to encourage more South Africans living abroad to return or to at least paint a more positive picture of their country abroad. Their website generated 260 000 hits a month from homesick experts, and a lively debate on the merits of living overseas. "The campaign is for all South Africans - black, white, brown and pink," said founder Angel Jones, who lived in Britain for seven years. "But we don't want to waste time with racists, pessimists and moaners. They can stay where they are. "In March 2003 South Africa's white trade union Solidarity and the Company for Immigration launched the "Come home campaign" - another private initiative aimed at bringing back expatriates, and persuading people not to emigrate. Campaign advice manager Alana Bailey says 100 families had returned with its help so far, and more were planning to. Although official figures for returning citizens are impossible to obtain, government data show that South Africa is attracting a growing number of foreigners who are betting that the country is on the right track. The number of new arrivals rose by 62 percent to 10 578 last year - half from the rest of Africa, but more than a third from Europe and Britain.Elliots, one of the country's oldest removal companies, says in 2003 it had 1 240 inbound clients and 1 254 outbound - mainly foreigners but also locals returning home. "The trend has changed - there are many more people coming into the country," said Elliots chairperson


Rising number of HIV-positive truckers (Mbabane, Irin, 31/05) - Swazi authorities and health workers have expressed concern over the rising rate of HIV infection among the country's truck drivers. The landlocked southern African country is heavily dependent on road transport and there are fears that the spread of the virus could have a serious impact on the economy. According to official statistics an estimated 38.6 percent of Swazis are living with the virus, and the country's health ministry has included truckers among the high-risk groups that are partly responsible for Swaziland's soaring HIV prevalence rate. Two years ago prostitutes operating at border posts were targeted by an aggressive HIV/AIDS awareness campaign aimed at encouraging them to engage in safer sex practices, thereby also reducing the rates of infection among truckers. But there have been no new initiatives to raise awareness among sex workers or the trucking community since then. "We try to raise awareness about AIDS as a preventable disease amongst our staff, but every company in the manufacturing industry is feeling the effects of AIDS," Willie Stuart, the owner of Speedy Overboarder, a freight forwarding service, told IRIN. Stuart's company services Botswana and several South African cities from its Swaziland base. A key obstacle to providing support to truckers who have tested HIV positive was their fear of losing their employment if they disclosed their status in order to obtain treatment. "If our drivers start calling in sick a lot, and they show up thin and listless, we can guess what is ailing them," said the director of a road freight firm. "Before, there was nothing we could do for them, but now we can speak with a driver and urge him to take a blood test, because with that test he would qualify to get ARVs [antiretrovirals]." Antiretroviral drug therapy is available in an expanding rollout campaign coordinated by the National Emergency Response Committee on HIV and AIDS (NERCHA).NERCHA director and former finance minister Derek von Wissell told IRIN: "I get requests from businesses all the time for information on how to enrol workers in ARV plans. Employers are taking a more hands-on approach to their workers with AIDS. "IRIN also spoke to some truck drivers. "I don't think truckers are any more likely to get AIDS than anyone else - everybody can get AIDS. Anyway, I carry a condom," said one, who gave his name only as Amos. "I sleep in my cab, and I won't tell you if I have sex in here, but I do have companions. Because of the truck engine it is warm here on a winter night," explained another driver. The truckers said they were aware of how HIV was transmitted, how safe sexual practices could prevent infection, and most claimed that they carried condoms.

Swaziland in health brain drain talks (Swazi Observer, 29/05) - Government, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is engaged in massive historic talks with one major developed country in an effort to get compensated for the migration of nurses. Swaziland and many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is losing a number of skilled nurses and other professionals to developed countries like England. The talks follows a breakthrough in what was an intense debate in last week's World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, where Africa and other developing countries from South East Asia and Pacific Islands made a strong call for compensation. Health Principal Secretary Dr. John Kunene, who attended the meeting together with Health Minister, Chief Sipho Shongwe, stated that this kind of uncontrolled recruitment of the scarce health professionals cannot be allowed to go on any further. "There was a lot of resistance from the developed North, hence it took us three days to finally come to a resolution. "Even though the resolution did not have compensation, the principle reached was that country to country level negotiations on compensation could be held. "I am pleased to say that with the assistance of the WHO and the possible response we have received from one developed country locally, we are engaged in positive talks over compensation," Dr. Kunene disclosed in an interview. He said Africa felt strongly that they should be compensated because they have invested resources in the training of these professionals. Dr. Kunene said in order for Africa and Swaziland in particular to produce more nurses, it should be compensated adequately. "What is obvious is that there is no way we can prevent the recruitment of these people, but whatever is done, should be done in a more controlled order. "We are happy to state that the WHO director general has shown a lot of support and is willing to assist developing countries come up with strategies to retain their professionals and negotiate with these powerful developed north," he stated. Dr. Kunene said already they have a committee comprising the central agencies and the nurses association executive, which looks into the pulling and pushing factors. He said though they have not been able to meet frequently, they are now going to try and finalise their talks which will give birth to a joint strategy to deal with the crisis. "In fact, just yesterday, myself and the minister had met with the prime minister who demanded a way forward on this matter. That paper to be presented to cabinet will be an effort of all the partners involved in the matter, the nurses included through their executive committee," he said. WHO country director Dr. David Okello said they need to address the pulling and pushing factors. "What must be understood is that some of these things are not solely in the hands of the ministry of health, but there are other ministries responsible. Health is not the employer, but the ministry of public service, while finance and economic planning look into the issues of budget allocation. "Another problem is that the agencies that do the recruiting are not known by their governments, that is to say, these professionals are working in the private sector of these countries. So when you call upon a particular government to compensate you, it becomes a bit of a problem," he said. However, Dr. Okello said if nursing is a skill like football is, then developed countries have to pay for it. "Football clubs based in Europe pay handsomely for talent sourced here, and it is high time the other professions do the same," Dr. Okello said. He said as a country, the fight against HIV/Aids cannot be won if the work force is continuously going abroad. "We can have the best facilities, but without the skilled personnel, all the efforts to fight the pandemic will be useless," he said.

Cuba helps Swaziland with ten doctors (Lozitha, Angop, 15/04) - Cuba is sending ten medical doctors to assist Swaziland deal with the health crisis in the enclave African kingdom, according to Cuban Ambassador Esther Armenteros. The Cuban government will pay the highly qualified medical specialists and Swaziland would only have to provide housing and cater for incidental expenses for the duration of their stay in the country, Armenteros informed King Mswati III at Lozitha Palace Thursday when she presented her letters of credence. The brigade of medical experts will be deployed to various hospitals around the country, particularly in the rural areas. Armenteros reminded the king of recent celebrations of the First Joint Commission for Scientific, Economic and Technical Co- operation (FJCSETC) where bilateral relations between the two countries were reviewed. Many areas of co-operation, particularly education, health, human resources development and housing were then identified, she cited. "In this spirit, Cuba has offered to provide a team of Cuban doctors to work in Swaziland as they already do in more than 60 developing countries, mainly in Africa and Latin America. "I hope that one of my first tasks as an Ambassador will be to finalised with the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Swaziland the arrangements that would make possible the arrival of the medical team as soon as possible," she said. "I wish to thank the people of Cuba for their assistance over the years, particularly in the medical, education and economic fields," King Mswati responded.

Nurses seek greener pastures (Mbabane, Irin, 12/05) - Swaziland's nursing crisis is deepening as trained nurses leave the country for better salaries abroad and the Swaziland Nursing Association renews a call for strike action. Last month another 29 Swazi nurses left the country for better paying jobs in the United Kingdom - a third of all nurses who graduate each year. "At issue is respect for the nursing profession, and government needs to work to retain nurses," the secretary general of the nurses' union, Thabsile Dlamini, told IRIN. The union did not indicate when it intended to strike again. Their demands include improved working conditions, provision of adequate medical supplies to enable them to do their jobs, and security - some rural clinics have had to close down because of numerous incidents of nurses being attacked, mugged and raped. "We don't even have rubber gloves in the maternity wards, where HIV prevalence is high. There is a lack of other basic equipment, and nurses have not received AIDS training: how to treat it and how to avoid it," said Dlamini. The nurses walked out on a two-week work stoppage in late February, after government failed to deliver promised salary increments and back pay. The local press attributed 60 deaths to the strike, caused by the lack of nursing staff at government hospitals. "The strike was unnecessary, and it distracted [attention] from the programmes we seek to launch this year on HIV/AIDS, malaria, pre-natal care and other vital initiatives", Dr. John Kunene, principal secretary at the ministry of health and social welfare, told IRIN. Although nurses have received 80 percent of their back pay, a new issue of unpaid overtime is simmering. "Nurse's assistants [and] the orderlies are not paid overtime, so they knock off work before evening - there is no one to help nurses turn patients, or do other physical tasks at night," Dlamini said. Nurses also complain of low morale in the profession. "Health care is seen as women's work, and this may be the problem - women are paid less than men in any field," Dlamini remarked. AIDS has also taken its toll on the profession, reducing the number of nurses by 10 percent, according to health ministry estimates. Swaziland has 3,000 nurses, of which about 100 to 150 leave the profession each year, and the training of new nurses has not kept pace - just 100 new nurses graduate annually from the two main government hospitals in the capital, Mbabane, and the central commercial town of Manzini. "You find that in some clinics there is only one nurse per shift, or one nurse the entire day ... [sometimes there] is no nurse at all at night", Dlamini explained. Health organisations note that if all Swaziland's nurses depart, the government will have to spend more money recruiting replacements from other countries. The authorities have already had to resort to recruiting doctors, many of whom work in the country on contract from other African nations.

Problems faced by Swazi in South Africa (Swazi Observer, 04/05) - South African universities and colleges are now demanding that foreign students should have medical aid cover before they can be admitted for study. This is to ensure that their medical bills are not borne by the institutions or the South African government as has always been the case. This was disclosed by Mfundo Nkosi, who is an Information Technology student at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria.Nkosi made this remark before His Majesty King Mswati III when he met Swazis residing, studying and working in South Africa last week. The meeting was part of the King's four-day working visit to South Africa, which included him attending the inauguration of Thabo Mbeki as president of South Africa for the second time. The meeting held at the Pretoria Country Club was attended by over 400 Swazis who included miners and professionals working in South Africa. Narrating the problems they faced in South Africa, Nkosi said this new prerequisite made life extra difficult for students who came from not so rich families. He said this condition came into effect last year, and parents had to dig deeper into their pockets if they wanted to send their children to South African tertiary institutions. "Even though Swazi medical aid cover was operational in South Africa, most of us cannot afford it, and we plead that government provide students coming here on her scholarships with a blanket medical aid cover, as without it they will no longer be admitted to these institutions," Nkosi told the King. He added that most students found themselves having to pay for their studies from their own pockets while they had been assured of a government scholarship, and the additional medical aid cover money meant they have to dig deeper into their reserves. Responding to the students' concerns, the King stated that their grievances were being addressed. He said the issues they had raised will be closely looked at and hoped that members of his delegation would remind him of the concerns when he returned home.

Probe into influx of foreigners (Lobamba, Swazi Observer, 03/05) - Minister for Home Affairs Prince Gabheni has been called by Senate to investigate circumstances leading to foreigners without Swazi citizenship acquiring PI numbers (PIN) and national identity cards. Senators on Friday decried that there were too many government documents, such as the passports and lDs, which have fallen into wrong hands. This was during the debate of the Performance Report of the Ministry of Home Affairs for the year 2003/2004. Senator Ngom'yayona Gamedze implored the minister to clarify the qualities required to enable a person to acquire a Swazi passport, travel document, a PIN or a national identity card. He said he had information that people in other countries preferred the Swazi passport more than any international passport, mainly because of the country's peace and stability, as well as its good diplomatic standing. "May the minister of Home Affairs explain how the nationals fall into the hands of foreigners. One can be surprised that foreigners have PI numbers, as well as the Swazi passports. This will enable even drug traffickers to travel all over the world using the Swazi passport," warned Senator Gamedze Senator Thuli Msane echoed Senator Gamedze's sentiments, saying the influx of foreigners in the country was disturbing, to say the least. "Why did we stop deporting the foreigners, especially the Mozambicans to their own countries?" she queried. Senator Mbashayemahlatsi Magagula asked the Minister for Home Affairs to revisit the Citizenship Act. He warned that foreigners will continue to dominate in the country as they endlessly reproduce each other. The Minister, Prince Gabheni will respond tomorrow.


Thousands return home from Tanzania UNHCR, 18/05) - More than 40,700 Burundi refugees have returned home from camps in Tanzania so far this year, bringing the number of Burundi refugees in Tanzanian camps to below 300,000 for the first time in years. In total, 40,788 refugees have returned this year, leaving just over 290,000 refugees still in the camps. The last time the camp population was below 300,000 was in 1998. According to the Tanzanian authorities, another 170,000 Burundians, most of whom left Burundi in the early 1970’s, live outside the camps in settlements and some 300,000 have settled on their own in villages. The vast majority of those returning this year have come back on UNHCR-facilitated convoys, mainly through two border crossing points - Gisuru crossing in the east and Kobero in the north. A third entry point for facilitated returns is Gahumo, in Cankuzo province. A fourth entry point for the facilitated returns is scheduled to open at Mugina in the southern province of Makamba, possibly early in June. The opening of this crossing point has faced some delays due to heavy rains which have slowed road repairs needed to enable the convoys to travel. So far this year, we have also organized three go-and-see visits to bring refugees from the camps to see for themselves what the situation is like in their home areas and report back to their fellow refugees. The most recent visit in early May brought ten refugees from Lukole camps in Tanzania to visit their home communes in Kirundo province and meet with relatives, neighbors and the administrative authorities. Upon their return to the refugee camp in Ngara, the refugees were guests on Radio Kwizera in Ngara, a radio station that broadcasts refugee programs in Tanzania. A fourth go-and-see visit is planned for the end of May. Since we began facilitating returns to Burundi in 2002, more than 176,000 refugees have returned home from camps in Tanzania.

Tanzania orders Ugandans to leave (Mbarara, The Monitor, 17/05) - Tanzania has ordered more than 1,000 Ugandans living along its border to leave by May 17. Mbarara LC-V Secretary for Defence Capt. Steven Rwakanuuma said this last Friday. He said the move came after the two countries disagreed on border demarcations last year. The affected areas are Endinzi, Embale and Kashumba villages on the Ugandan border side. Rwakanuuma said that both Uganda and Tanzania have constitutions that state that the borderline is one degree south of the equator. This puts the affected areas on the Uganda side but the East African map left by the colonials shows that these areas are in Tanzania. He said Tanzanian authorities have insisted on the East African map rather their constitution and have written to the people living in these areas to vacate before May 17. He said Tanzania intends to develop the area into government ranches. Rwakanuuma said both Ugandan and Tanzanian officials agreed last year to let the people in the affected areas stay until the border dispute is sorted out. "The matter is now at a higher level (national). I have written to the Permanent Secretary in the Lands ministry, Engineer Lubanga to handle the matter," Rwakanuuma said.


Immigration wing deports 37 Congolese (The Times of Zambia, 31/05) - The immigration department has deported 37 Congolese prohibited immigrants (PIs) under the programme to decongest prisons in Zambia.Immigration department public relations officer Jones Mwelwa confirmed the deportation of the 37 Congolese in an interview in Lusaka yesterday adding that the Congolese were deported through Kasumbalesa border post on Saturday. He said the Congolese were escorted by immigration officers by road to their country stressing that the programme to decongest prisons would continue. "While we are still waiting for assistance from the Permanent Human Rights Commission who assisted us in terms of tickets to deport West African prohibited immigrants, we will continue decongesting the prisons by deporting prohibited immigrants from the neighbouring countries," he said. And in a related development, the department has arrested 10 Somalis for travelling using forged Kenyan passports. Mr Mwelwa said the Somalis were arrested at Chirundu boarder post on their way to South Africa. He said the Somalis were currently detained at Chimbokaila prison pending prosecution. Meanwhile, the department has effected the charging of visa fees on nationals from Angola, Ghana and Nigeria. Mr Mwelwa said the move to charge nationals when obtaining visas should not be seen as though the department was trying to frustrate foreign nationals."We have started charging nationals from Angola, Ghana and Nigeria a fee when obtaining a visa which was being done on reciprocal basis as we never used to charge before," he said.

Home Affairs requests help in repatriating migrants (Post of Zambia, 25/05) - Home Affairs permanent secretary Peter Mumba has appealed to embassies in Zambia to help government get rid of illegal immigrants from their countries.In an interview last week, Mumba said the attitude of the embassies in Zambia was very worrying because they were refusing to take responsibility for their nationals in prisons, particularly those charged with illegal immigration.He said the number of illegal immigrants was worrying and had contributed to the congestion in Zambian prisons.He said the proportion of illegal immigrants was very high in Zambian prisons."Government is spending a lot of money to feed these people everyday and to look for air tickets to fly them out to their respective countries," Mumba said.Mumba said Zambia was spending K300 million per year in repatriating the illegal immigrants.Mumba said since government had no money to repatriate the immigrants, they had remained in prisons for a long time."It is sad that embassies have refused to take responsibility for their nationals in prisons. It is now a heavy burden on government," Mumba said. "They are refusing saying they don't know how they found themselves in Zambia."He has since appealed to the embassies to be responsible for their nationals to lessen the Zambian government's burden of sustaining and repatriating the illegal immigrants.Mumba said if the embassies became involved there would be quick deportations and thereby decongest Zambian prisons.And Mumba bemoaned poor funding to prisons that had led to poor quality of food given to the inmates."I now feed the prisoners on beans day in and day out. The money is not coming to the 53 prisons. We are only given K300 million for all prisons," he said. "What is K300 million to 53 prisons when the prisoners want to eat everyday?"Mumba said all people were potential prison candidates and if the powers that be did not improve the conditions in prisons, they should not complain themselves when they would be put there someday.

UNHCR repatriates Angolan refugees in Zambia (Luena, Angop, 22/05) - About 40.000 Angolan refugees living in the neighbouring Republic of Zambia will be repatriated, as from next June 15th, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in the ambit of the voluntary repatriation process.The decision has emerged from the fourth tripartite meeting of the technical commission of both countries, held on May 19th-20th in Solwezi province, Zambia, during which the delegations discussed and arranged the operative proceedures for the start of the process.The Angolan refugees will be transported by road and air by the International Migration Organisation (IMO), from camps of Maheba, which shelters 18.000 citizens, Mayukwayukwa (12.000), Nangweshi (8.000) and Ukwimi (2.000).Matters regarding the accommodation, transport to their home areas, health and birth registry are in charge of the Angolan authorities and their partners.With the reduction of food aid by the World Food Programme (WFP) in Angola, UNHCR in Zambia guaranteed a three months ration for these citizens.Concerning the improvement of roads, the both sides committed themselves to rehabilitate 86 kilometres of the border route within three weeks, before the start of the process.On the other hand, the Zambian authorities are carrying out, from this Friday to the coming December, a registry campaign of Angolan refugees who are not living in camps, in order to repatriating them in the next operation.

Opinion on new border posts (The Times of Zambia, 20/05) - The revelations by Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha that Government is currently helping Angola set up border posts following the return of peace in that country is most welcome. Angola was ravaged by a civil war for close to three decades and most certainly needs a helping hand from experienced and friendly neighbours such as Zambia. Through the new border posts linking Zambians to towns across the border into Angola and vice-versa will come increased trade between the two countries. But what is not welcome are the reports that neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo has been erecting entry and exit posts illegally, and without the knowledge of the Government of Zambia. The DR Congo and Zambia have signed numerous technical agreements which include the existence of a joint permanent commission that meets regularly to solve disputes if any. Once in a while there are disputes that need urgent solutions but more often than not, the commission is pre-occupied with developmental matters and just how the two countries can benefit from each other through increased trade. Under the existing charters and trade conventions, Zambia and the DR Congo should have been miles ahead of several other countries in terms trade and exchange programmes. But this would have only been possible if our neighbours had little more regard for Zambia and its people as well as international covenants. The two countries have been independent much longer than most of their neighbours. And yet younger nations have been apt when it comes to recognising international laws, charters and conventions. That is why Zambia and the DR Congo must lead by example and show the younger republics how to conduct themselves especially when it comes respecting international law. It is therefore unfortunate that instead of marching forward, our leaders have been expending time and resources settling unnecessary wrangles such as the illegal borders posts said to have mushroomed at Lonshi and Kasumbalesa. Through these illegal points, we have had criminals having a field day, smugglers pushing banned substances and in the end we have not been taking stock of people moving between the two countries. As we concur with General Shikapwasha's orders that the illegal border posts be shut immediately, we also appeal to Zambia and the DR Congo to emulate the world around us. Other neighbours have been busy developing. They have joint operations fighting crime, terrorism, smuggling and the ever increasing scourge of drug trafficking. This can only be possible if there are entry and exit points recognised by countries sharing common borders.

Illegal DR Congo border shut (The Times of Zambia, 20/05) - The Zambian Government has ordered the closure of an illegal border post put up in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Home Affairs Minister, Ronnie Shikapwasha announced yesterday that DR Congo officials had illegally erected a border post about 60 km from Kasumbalesa without the Zambian Government's knowledge. "Our colleagues put up a fully fledged border post where they were stamping immigration documents granting entry to their nationals into Zambia. "We have ordered them to close the post because this was not agreed in the Joint Permanent Commission and have also set up camp in the area to monitor their movements," he said. This was after Kabompo East member of Parliament Lucas Chikoti (UPND), complained that a border post had been constructed by the Congolese at Lonshi under irregular circumstances. Lieutenant General Shikapwasha said Government was currently helping the Angolan government, set up border posts following the return of peace in that country. Meanwhile, in an interview, Gen Shikapwasha said the search for fugitives former intelligence chief Xavier Chungu and former Zambian envoy to the US Attan Shanshonga had continued. He said the British government had requested to try Shansonga in the UK, for crimes relating to that country while the Zambian Government had also approached the British government to have Shansonga brought back for trial.

Informal cross-border traders harassed (The Times of Zambia, 15/05) - A sixty-nine-year-old widow wakes up on a bright Monday morning with a prayer for strength to enable her to render emotional and physical support to her 11 grandchildren whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS-related diseases. Other than providing the daily needs, Fridah Tembo (not real name) is overburdened with the responsibility of securing the health and educational needs of the 11 children with the eldest being 12 years old and the youngest four. When she lost her last son, Ms Tembo was left with only K1,260,000 which remained in her late son's bank account. That money was to help her take the children to school and even provide for their material needs. Like any other person in today's biting Zambian economy, Ms Tembo believed the amount of money in her hands could not secure the needs of the children. She, however, made a radical decision to invest the little financial resources into the informal sector by joining small-scale cross border traders. Ms Tembo has since fitted in the trade for the past four years and crosses into Zimbabwe every so often. She also buys Coca-Cola drinks which she later resells in Livingstone. Like any other small-scale trader, Ms Tembo does not only pay customs duty for the goods imported from the neighbouring country but she also pays non-tariff barriers affecting the development of the sector. Small-scale cross-border trade creates employment and is one form of trade that holds hope for many Zambians to break free from the shackles of poverty. Zambia would only address the sky-rocketing unemployment levels once it identified the potential areas such as promoting small-holder cross border trade. This could help create employment opportunities for the people, whose majority are the women and youths. Despite her commitment to earn a living out of trade, Ms Tembo laments that the cross-border trade is almost becoming unbearable for most women because of the harassment suffered at the hands of the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) customs officials at the border points. The complaints of harassment such as confiscation of goods by customs officials have become a regular refrain. The cries of small-holder cross-border traders recently prompted Parliament to approve a motion that would enable Government and other stakeholders to promote trade in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Opposition United Party for National development (UPND) Livingstone member of Parliament Sakwiba Sikota, who moved a motion, appealed to the House to encourage cross-border trade as an alternative way for the unemployed people to earn a living. Mr Sikota, however, observed that the prevailing situation at the borders in Zambia did not encourage small-scale cross-border trade because the levels of harassment and torture of traders by customs officials had reached alarming levels. He said that traders, mostly women, were usually detained for long hours and had their goods confiscated because of their failure to pay inflated customs duty by the ZRA officials. "Small-scale traders are detained for long hours. This situation is inhumane. The customs duty is deliberately inflated so that the traders who are mostly women fail to pay, so their goods are confiscated," Mr Sikota said. "Some times these officials charge as high as K9,000 duty on one can of Coca-Cola which is sold at K6,000 at an expensive hotel like the Zambezi Sun," he noted. It is time Government moved in and investigated the allegations regarding customs officials exploiting the poor women, who are mostly widows working hard to earn an honest living and help the nation address the effects of daunting challenges of poverty and disease. "The customs officials sell the confiscated merchandise in a secretive and non-transparent manner to some regular buyers, some of whom are top Government officials and prominent businessmen in the area," Mr Sikota charged. The MP appealed to the Government to protect the almost 10,000 Livingstone residents who rely on the trade after suffering the retrenchments that resulted from the shutdown of various industries in Zambia. If the practice is left unchecked, it would negatively impact on the development of tourism in the area as people would have little or no economic activities to engage in, a situation that would spark an increase in crime in the tourist capital. Therefore, these concerns call for urgent action from Government and other stakeholders to look at the SADC protocols again to encourage people to trade and promote equity in trade. The SADC Protocol on Trade and Cooperation, which was signed in 1996, was instituted to establish a Free Trade Area (FTA) to create opportunities and enhance cross-border investments among the member states. The SADC member states effort, of which Zambia is part, that works to enhance cross-border investment does not entail sidelining small-scale entrepreneurs because it is important to the promotion of regional integration and cooperation. Therefore, the reported harassment of cross-border traders in Zambia should be condemned in the strongest terms because it would not only affect the implementation of efforts to develop the country's economy but would also affect the country's commitment to promoting regional integration. Former Finance minister in the Chiluba government, Dr Katele Kalumba, observed in Parliament that the SADC protocols on trade should be promoted because the regional body was particularly founded on the principle that features that impeded the free movement of people were removed. "In SADC there is no reason why people should commit themselves to unjustified efforts of creating restrictions instead of promoting trade through cooperation." However, Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Dipak Patel pledged Government's commitment to investigating the alleged harassment and discrimination at border crossing points in Livingstone and other border towns. Mr Patel acknowledged complaints that there were discrepancies in the manner the customs duty was being charged on imported goods by ZRA customs officials. The minister assured that he would meet ZRA officials to discuss the reported harassment and the inflation on duty so that immediate action could be taken against the erring officials. Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande said that Government through his ministry is keen on regional integration and, therefore, emphasised that perpetrators of corruption and harassment at borders should be punished. Mr Magande said Zambia's economy could not develop without the regional cooperation through such activities as cross-border trading. Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha acknowledged that Government was aware of what was pertaining in border areas and would ensure that security is maintained to sustain cross-border trade. Parliament unanimously approved the motion to promote the trade through the elimination of non-tariff barriers. Cross-Border Traders Association (CBTA) chairman Misheck Musonda hailed Parliament for recognising the traders who have been subjected to inhuman treatment for a long time. Mr Musonda appealed to the small-scale traders to support Government commitment to curbing harassment and corruption at borders by ensuring that they conducted their businesses in a corruption-free manner. The commitment exhibited, once translated into action, would help the country develop key sectors of the economy and would make meaningful contributions towards the promotion of cooperation and integration in the SADC region.

Zambia to lease state farms to foreigners (Lusaka, Business Report, 12/05) - Zambia was offering the first leases on government land to foreign and local farmers, including some from Libya and Zimbabwe, as it tried to diversify the economy, lands minister Judith Kapijimpanga said yesterday. An area of 100 000ha in central Zambia would be ready for occupation this year, once roads were constructed and power provided. The land is the first to be put up for lease under a government policy to establish farms in all nine provinces of Zambia, which has faced severe food shortages in the past.Kapijimpanga said Zambia hoped to woo farmers who would grow cash crops for export as the country diversified its economy from copper and cobalt mining to agriculture." We have demarcated land into small-scale farms, semi-commercial and commercial farms. They measure between 20ha and 10 000ha."Kapijimpanga said soil tests showed the land was good for growing cash crops such as wheat, maize and tobacco. Foreign applicants for land included the Libyan government, which wanted to start growing wheat for export, she said." The Libyans approached us for land as they want to grow wheat on a commercial scale and we are in serious discussions with them," Kapijimpanga said.She said Zambia would welcome white Zimbabwean farmers who had fled their country since the start of the seizure of white-owned farms there. White Zimbabweans were already farming in Zambia on land leased from private owners. "We have a number of [white] Zimbabwe farmers who have settled in the Mkushi bloc [in central Zambia] ... they too are free to apply and [we] already have a number of applications that are being processed," she said.Treasury data indicate that only 3 million of Zambia's 45 million hectares of arable land are used for farming, partly due to the fact that the impoverished country is thinly populated with only 10 million people.

Zambians arrested in US visa scam (Lusaka, Angop, 11/05) - Police have arrested about 30 Zambians for allegedly forging travel documents to re-apply for United States visas after their initial applications were rejected by the embassy here. Chrispin Kapela, acting spokesperson for the Zambia Police, said Monday that the 30 were, however, released on police bond pending full investigation into the matter, after which they could face court trial. Police pounced on the suspects after alert US embassy officials recognised the face of a 38-year-old Zambian woman whose first application for a visa was rejected by the embassy. The woman had allegedly obtained another Zambian passport with a different name and other personal data, but when the passport was screened at the US embassy the image was same as that on an application earlier rejected. The woman was subsequently invited to the embassy for interviews and information she provided helped the US embassy screen all other applications afresh, leading to the batch of suspects. They were then invited by the embassy "to pick up their visas", only to fall in the dragnet of the Zambia security network of police detectives, immigration and Anti-Corruption Commission agents, Kapela said. Since the US government tightened entry visa requirements after the infamous 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, crowds of prospective Zambian travellers gather daily outside the fortified embassy complex here.


Health ministry moves to bond all professionals beginning next year (The Zimbabwe Herald, 30/05) - Bonding, adopted by Government last year to arrest the crippling exodus of nurses, will from next year be extended to all professionals in the health sector, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, has said. He said the move was part of efforts being pursued by his ministry to improve the country's health system, which has been beset by a shortage of skilled personnel, most of whom are leaving for other countries. The minister was speaking at the graduation of 99 nurses in Masvingo recently. The bonding of health professionals trained by Government would see them being obliged to work in the country for a stipulated period before they are free to resign. Dr Parirenyatwa said it was saddening to note that the country has become a nursery of health professionals for other countries. "We have been bonding nurses only in the past, but from next year all other health professionals will be bonded because we cannot continue to train professionals for others. We will also continue to review the working conditions of health professionals as part of our efforts to make sure that they are not tempted to leave for other countries," he said. Dr Parirenyatwa exhorted nurses to stay in the country, saying that it was disturbing to note that some locally trained nurses were relegating themselves to doing menial jobs in countries like Britain. He added that Government had introduced the primary care nurse's course as an innovative measure to train nurses who were in high demand in developed countries as was the case with state registered nurses. The establishment of the Health Service Commission, Cde Parirenyatwa said, was going to usher in a new epoch for health professionals in the country as their problems would be expeditiously attended to. The creation of the Health Services Commission, which is still awaiting Parliamentary approval, will see health professionals being removed from the Public Service Commission under which all civil servants fall. The country's health delivery system has been teetering on the verge of collapse for the past few years arising from the massive exodus of skilled manpower prompted by concerns over working and living conditions.

RBZ foray into America to repatriate diaspora funds (Sunday Mirror, 30/05) - Zimbabweans in the United States of America have welcomed the central bank's recent establishment of the new money transfer system that transfers funds to recipients in the country saying they were keen on contributing to the country's economic development. A Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe team on Wednesday this week met with Zimbabweans in Dallas, Texas where many Zimbabweans are based." Some went further and asked whether the Reserve Bank could not look into the possibility of some of them establishing money transfer agencies in America to deal with money transfer agencies in Zimbabwe rather than people having to pay high rates of commission to a major international money transfer agency in the United States, " The RBZ said in a statement. Western Union, one of the oldest and most well known money transfer agencies in the world, is the only money transfer agency through which Zimbabweans in America can send back their money. In a recent study conducted by the central bank advisory board, it is understood that an estimated 3.4 million Zimbabweans are scattered across the globe. Of that figure, an estimated 1.1 million Zimbabweans are known to be residing in the United States alone. Some locals have been residing in the US for over nine years." The Reserve Bank is team is visiting the United states on the first leg of a mission to make Zimbabwean living abroad aware of the new system the central bank has put in place for their convenience to facilitate the sending of funds back home," the central bank said. Herbert Nkala, the Rainbow Tourism group chief executive officer and chairman of the publicity sub-committee of the central banks foreign exchange advisory board is leading the RBZ team in America. The new system, called Homelink, was introduced last month to formalise and regulate the repatriation of foreign currency by Zimbabweans in the Diaspora. Prior to that, most Zimbabweans used unofficial channels, largely the blackmarket, to send money home since the black market rate offered much higher exchange rates than the unattractive official exchange rate that was offering a paltry $824 to the greenback. Since then, the unofficial black market has been dealt a deathblow because the new system now authorises money transfer agencies to payout funds at the auction rate of $5 200 or the Diaspora rate, whichever might be higher. Currently, more than 15 money transfer agencies have since been registered with the central bank and they all operate under the Homelink system. Further, money sent to Zimbabwe through the Homelink channels can be paid to recipients in foreign exchange or local currency. Currently the auction rate is at around $5 300.Lovemore Chihota, another advisory board member and a businessman in the tourism sector is part of the RBZ delegation in America. Despite the Gideon Gono led economic revival, particularly his endeavour to repatriate funds from locals in the Diaspora, he has been receiving some flak especially by other Zimbabweans in the Diaspora." Participants were eager to hear how the country's economic reforms were going. Although some of them had lived in Dallas for as long as nine years, they all clearly saw Zimbabwe as home and wanted to see it succeed, "the RBZ said. One of the main arguments used by critics is that the 3.4 million locals that are living and working abroad were driven by the government's political and economic crisis. They argue that government is to blame for the current situation that accounts for close to a quarter of the government's entire population. But the central bank of late has said that all Zimbabweans, both local and abroad, can collectively take part in efforts to resuscitate the country's economy. The continued inflow of foreign currency from the significant number of Zimbabweans abroad is also expected to impact positively on the country's productive sectors that rely heavily on the availability of foreign currency. Most of the country's major companies in the manufacturing and import sectors were receiving the brunt of the shortages that threatened to topple the country over the precarious edge of economic ruin. The central bank delegation is currently taking part in the annual ZimExpo 2004 in Atlanta, Georgia. The ZimExpo business event, in its second year, is organised by a local company, ZimExpo Business Consortium that facilitates and networks Zimbabweans living abroad who are keen on doing business in Zimbabwe. The two-day event that started this Friday is ending today and it is expected to pool more foreign currency back into Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe to harness foreign exchange from citizens abroad (Harare, Angop, 29/05) - The central bank in Zimbabwe Wednesday launched a campaign to attract foreign currency remittances from an estimated 3.5 million nationals working abroad. The Reserve Bank launched a HomeLink money transfer service dedicated to Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, whom it said could be an important source of foreign currency for the country. Bank officials also said they were launching road shows in the US and other countries to lure Zimbabweans to remit their earnings back home through official channels, to undercut the black market which until now reaps the bulk of inflows. The southern African country is facing a critical shortage of foreign currency because of Low export earnings, and sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by powerful western donors in protest at its land policies. Under the HomeLink scheme, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are offered a special exchange rate to entice them away from the black market to the official one. Central bank officials said since the scheme was launched three weeks ago, over 10 million US dollars had been remitted to the country by Zimbabweans abroad. The bank expects monthly remittances of USD100 million when the scheme is fully established.

UK based group launches campaign against Reserve Bank (The Zimbabwe Herald, 28/05) - A UK-based anti-Zimbabwe group has launched a rabid campaign on the Internet and the British House of Lords to derail the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's international outreach to regularise foreign currency remittances to the country by Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora. An article written by Mduduzi Mathuthu posted on the website alleged that central bank governor Dr Gideon Gono slipped into London on private business on Tuesday and was expected to stay there until Friday (today). However, the governor was nowhere near London as he was meeting with African Export and Import Bank officials in Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday and Wednesday before being joined by President Mugabe to solicit support for Zimbabwe's agriculture and mining sectors. The Zimbabwean delegation returned home on Wednesday evening. Mathuthu, a former Zimbabwe Independent reporter now based in the UK, wrote that outraged British MPs were set to review the list of senior Zimbabwe Government officials banned from travelling throughout the European Union after Dr Gono's imagined visit. "Since Gono was appointed Reserve Bank governor last November, the EU sanctions list has not been reviewed. "Embarrassed British Foreign Office officials said: 'It's a private visit. It's certainly nothing to do with us. We are not meeting him." "In the House of Lords," wrote Mathuthu, "Baroness Amos, responding to questions from peers who suggested Gono was on a mission to raise funds for Zanu-PF's re-election campaign also stressed that the Government's hands were tied on the issue." Mathuthu alleged that President Mugabe's opponents were already planning to make it an uncomfortable visit for Dr Gono with unspecified protests, as he claimed that the governor was "trying to raise money for Zanu-PF's re-election campaign". Contacted for comment in Harare yesterday, Dr Gono said: "When I go to the UK it will be on a mission to promote the formalisation of funds transfers into Zimbabwe by our brothers and sisters in not only that country but other parts of the world. "Those of us charged with the responsibility to superintend financial systems in our backyards have a duty to ensure that funds that flow into our system do so in as transparent and accountable manner as possible. "Some of us cannot forget the horrors of September 11 which have changed the whole face of this world and that horror was in part financed by funds which were moving in and out of world financial markets without close scrutiny or accountability." He said: "Under the prevention of terrorism finance, as governor of the central bank I have an obligation to urge Zimbabweans living outside the country to use safe, transparent and accountable channels for funds transfers as our collective fight against opaque financial systems which tomorrow can be used against humanity through money laundering and other terrorist activities." He said if Mathuthu could regard such a mission as counterfeit by choosing to lie about "why I would be visiting the United Kingdom or any other part of the world then he ought to be seen for what he stands for." "His (Mathuthu) hatred for the governor should not be allowed to cloud the noble mission that is founded on international responsibility towards clean financial systems in one's backyard." Dr Gono said he last visited the United Kingdom in September last year.

Weary Zimbabweans seek better life (Mail & Guardian, 19/05) - The bus driver from Bulawayo grins and shrugs in typically Zimbabwean fashion as he explains the difficulties of feeding his family and keeping his five children in school. But he insists: "I am going to see the problems through to the end. Nothing lasts for ever." The driver, Never, plies the busy route between Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, and Francistown, Botswana, ferrying droves of Zimbabweans trying to find work in the neighbouring country. Amid the busy cross-border traffic, he leans against his 12-seater van, which sits in the no man's land straddling the border. "I am out of fuel. Fuel is short again in Zimbabwe, can you imagine? So these women are walking across the border with these chigubus (20-litre plastic containers) to get diesel in Botswana and bring it back so we can drive all the way to Francistown." He chuckles at the absurdity of the situation. As we talk he remembers my expulsion from Zimbabwe. "They put you in jail, put you on trial. And when you were found innocent they threw you out of the country anyway. Don't worry, [information minister Jonathan] Moyo and [President Robert] Mugabe can't last for ever. We will get over our troubles and you will be able to come back." Two Zimbabwean border guards toting automatic rifles approach through the tall grass and begin climbing through the rows of barbed-wire fences. They shout at the young women carrying the fuel containers and motion with their guns for them to come back for questioning. "You better go now," says Never. "These guys could give you trouble. These days they do what they like. They can be rough." Through the field, past four barbed-wire fences, stands a much taller fence. It is the electrified fence that the Botswana government erected two years ago, ostensibly to keep Zimbabwean cattle from straying into Botswana, but really to keep Zimbabweans from flooding into the country. Stable and prosperous, Botswana is struggling to cope with the effects of Zimbabwe's deepening economic and humanitarian crisis. Each month, according to immigration authorities, its population of 1,7-million is swollen by an estimated 127 000 Zimbabweans, most of them illegal immigrants, seeking work, food and refuge. In the year since I was forced to leave the country, the situation in Zimbabwe has worsened in every respect. More people are going hungry, with nearly two-thirds of the population reliant upon international food aid in recent months. State brutality has become more systematic and more widespread. Thousands of young Zimbabweans have been trained in torture at the militia camps and are inflicting their skills on the population, particularly anyone suspected of supporting the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. The state repression against the independent press has increased. The Mugabe government closed The Daily News, the country's most popular paper, with a million readers. Other newspapers have been threatened with closure and 75 journalists have been arrested. "Things are bad, really, really tough," says Thabani (34) whose smile shows two teeth missing. Speaking at the Botswana border post, he says: "I am a bus inspector in Zimbabwe. But the money is too small. I can't pay rent or buy food. Here the money has power. I will take any job here, a labourer, a cleaner, a security guard, anything. Whatever money I make will go much further." Zimbabwe's ongoing economic meltdown is evident from the black-market traders waving sheaves of the country's rapidly depreciating currency. They offer 1 000 Zimbabwe dollars to one Botswana pula, which just a few years ago traded one for one. One US dollar fetches Z$6 000. But a loaf of bread costs nearly Z$3 000. A Zimbabwean man drives a battered truck with a load of folding wooden chairs which he hopes to sell in Botswana. A young woman in a straw hat tearfully pleads with the border guards to allow her into Botswana, but she does not have the 100 pula required to enter so is turned back. "There are so many Zimbabweans who go from house to house looking for any kind of work. They will work for food or for a T-shirt," says Dorcas Bogatsu, a secretary in Francistown. "And they are well educated. Their English is good. It is very sad. Zimbabwe used to be a rich country." In the chilly nights, Zimbabweans with no place to sleep huddle together around small fires at the Francistown bus station. "When I find work I'll send money back to my family," says Prosper, who says he once worked as a schoolteacher but was threatened by Zimbabwe's secret police. Along Blue Jacket Street, Francistown's main drag, young Zimbabwean women cluster at street corners and wave at passing cars. Zimbabwean sex workers now outnumber local prostitutes and the competition has driven down prices. Ordinarily Francistown is a placid little border town, but the scenes, the stories and the desperation of the Zimbabweans make the locals feel as if they are living next to a volcano. No electric fence can keep that unease away.

Foreigners in their own land (The East African Standard, 17/05) - Ian King who owns a 320-hectare farm lives in fear. He is oblivious of what tomorrow holds for him, the nights, he says are even more dreadful. Ian, a third generation white farmer lives on a land he inherited from his father. He cannot tell whether he will be the next victim to be forced out of the land alive or dead. "I live in fear, fearing for my life, fearing that my lifetime investment could be gone in minutes. In this district, out of 63 farmers, only three remained," he said. Ian got a Zimbabwean partner last June who has settled on part of his farm to do commercial farming. His parents had lived in Mazowe District since 1952 developing the land into one of the most productive commercial farms in Zimbabwe. Ian employees over 300 Zimbabwe natives who work on his flower farms. He exports two to three million stems of rose flowers to the European market and produces some 300 metric tones of maize per harvest. He also rears over 50 cows. Ian's story represents the plight of the remaining white farmers living under the mercy of President Robert Mugabe since after the forceful invasion of white-owned farms in 2000. The President's declaration last week that the land acquisition programme has moved a notch higher-to what will soon be a major take-over of chunks of commercial farms -classified as A2 land-and those owned by multi-nationals from white farmers is worrying. No doubt the land acquisition programme was vital but the method used was haphazard. The way it was done has hurt the economy in a major way because the new farmers have no inputs and most of those allocated the land were not farmers. They are either politicians from the city or militiamen. It is therefore difficult for the new farmers to contain sustainability in these farms because farming needs skills a lot of efforts. "White farmers, once a vital factor in Zimbabwe's growing economy are moving away to Zambia and Nigeria where they are given land for commercial use," says a bitter Ian. Others have moved to neighbouring Mozambique and Namibia. Ian believes that the invasion of the farms was used as a political rhetoric to bring back Mugabe to power in the 2000 General Election. Ian says production has not been sustainable as a result of the invasion. He denies that those in the manufacturing industry were sabotaging the economy. "That is an excuse, there is no money, commercial farmers cannot borrow from banks due to stagnating production and most of the new farmers are growing sugar beans which is not viable. "At the same time, the new farmers have no equipment and for those who were lucky to get them on the farms after chasing the white farmers, they still cannot repair the equipment," he said. About his new partner, Ian says they are trying to work saying it is hard to trust somebody who wants a share of your 30-year investment. "We are still working on the modalities with him to see how we can be partners because there is no two way about it, the government's decision is final," he adds. "I have nowhere to go, though even here, my security is not guaranteed," he says. Ian says after the invasion, milk production dropped from 240 million litres per year to between 120-140 million litres. "Before, there were 55,000 cows in production but currently there are only about 25,000 cows," he says. The farmers have continued to receive quit notices. From about 4,500 white farmers who owned more than half of land in Zimbabwe, only less than 400 of them remain now. Forty-seven-year-old Zimbabwean farmer Mr Richard Bvukumbwe has been re-settled on a 1,800-hectare piece of land formerly owned by a white farmer. He grows tobacco, sugar beans, commercial maize, and seed maize and rears cattle too. Bvukumbwe was lucky to be settled on a farm with a completely furnished farm house, a swimming pool and a beautiful environment with security lights. In the compound, some of the equipment was grounded. The swimming pool has dried up and some of the security lights are not working. Most of the granaries are worn out probably due to lack proper maintenance. Bvukumbwe has no regrets or apologies to make about the invasions. "Total liberation for Africa means being in control of your country including land. "We have no beaches, we boast of our land without which we are not independent," he said. Bvukumbwe believes that it is the British who sparked off the fight because it had refused to compensate its brothers and sisters who were occupying land. "We could not tamper with the constitution for 10 years and when we got the opportunity, we tampered with it to fight for our right to land and that we have done and won," he says. Bvukumbwe says the invasions and the right for Zimbabweans was not meant to impress anybody else apart from the indigenous Zimbabwean.

Smuggling syndicates cheat customs (Zimbabwe Independent, 14/05) - The government could be losing millions of dollars daily as goods continue to illegally enter or leave Zimbabwe through the Nyamapanda border post under the nose of Customs officials who sometimes appear to be part of the smuggling syndicates, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal. Smuggling of food stuffs such as sugar, margarine, powdered milk and mealie-meal out of the country is rampant at the border post for destinations in Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania. The Customs officials are allegedly also bribed by those wishing to bring goods into the country without paying duty. The goods brought into Zimbabwe are mainly electric gadgets and clothing from Asian countries. When the Independent visited Nyamapanda border post last week, long queues of vehicular traffic could be observed the whole day on both sides of the entry point. Most prominent were haulage trucks, which are allegedly used to smuggle goods in and out of the country. A truck driver, unaware that he was talking to a journalist, said: "Oh yes, it is common knowledge that a gonyeti (haulage truck) driver makes millions on every trip by ferrying goods into or out of the country without declaring (filling in Customs declaration forms). There are established networks that involve Customs officials." Talking to Customs officials proved more difficult as most of them are suspicious of strangers and only interact with "well-known" connections. The Independent established that Customs officials now scramble to be stationed at Nyamapanda border post. "On a good day a Customs official can make up to $1 million in addition to gadgets such as VCRs, DVDs and cellphones," said a trader during a conversation. A man from Harare, who had spent two days at the border post waiting for a truck in which his ton of sugar was stashed to be cleared, was confident he would make it to the Mozambican capital, Maputo where his clients were waiting. "I have been assured (by Customs officials) that today we will cross (the border) and I will be back tomorrow. My clients are waiting for me in Maputo ready with the US dollars," he said. The man expected to quickly come back to Harare where he said he would pick up a consignment of rice, which he intended to smuggle into Mozambique.

Zimbabwean diaspora remits funds (Zimbabwe Independent, 14/05) - Zimbabweans living abroad say before they can channel funds to their motherland President Robert Mugabe must quit and a new government takes over. This emerged in an informal survey of senior businesspersons conducted by leading bankers on business opinions and problems in Zimbabwe as well as how to attract foreign currency from those in the diaspora. The survey, known as "The market barometer - Snap survey of issues affecting business", was distributed to business executives including Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, at a foreign currency conference in Harare on Tuesday last week. Economic commentator and consultant Eric Bloch is in charge of the RBZ team set up to harness foreign currency from locals in the diaspora. Despite the negative political sentiments however, in just two days last week, US$1,7 million had gone into the RBZ coffers from Zimbabweans abroad. Bloch says although numbers could not be established with absolute authority, on the basis of diverse and informed sources, it was established that there are approximately 3,4 million Zimbabweans in the diaspora for various reasons. He said of these 1,1 million are in the United Kingdom, 1,2 million in South Africa, 450 000 in southern African countries, 200 000 in the United States and Canada, 300 000 in mainland Europe and 150 000 in Australia and New Zealand. Human Resources (Pvt) Ltd chairman David Harrison, whose company carries out research for top companies and government, says Zimbabwe has already lost close to 60% of its accountants to the diaspora. He said the reasons varied from low remuneration, job dissatisfaction, failure to command high standards of living in Zimbabwe and political uncertainty. Departing from the written presentation, Stanbic Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd (Stanbic) head of the Treasury department Weston Makwara, said Zimbabweans living abroad regularly asked when President Mugabe will go. President Mugabe says he won the last election and therefore is "democratically" allowed to see his term of office through. The term ends in 2008 but speculation is rife that he could step down earlier. Makwara said when compiling the data it was also discovered that Zimbabweans living abroad were generally unhappy with the present government and its policies and most of them had left the country because they were being frustrated in their efforts to contribute positively to the country's success. The locals abroad said they felt even more isolated after being refused the vote in parliamentary and presidential elections. Those who have departed for the diaspora include doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants and commercial farmers. Followed up on the issue Bloch said there were a few "rabble rousers" in the diaspora who "spoke louder than everybody else". "We have just received US$1,7 million from serious Zimbabweans living in the diaspora and the money is coming in ever since we began tapping it from them," Bloch told business digest in an interview. "Some of those individuals making those statements either had failed in Zimbabwe, or are just rabble rousers trying to throw a spanner into the works of our programme. I would not take those sentiments seriously and representing the majority of those in the diaspora. "Makwara said the survey's key conclusions were that industry needed to take advantage of the RBZ's open door policy to submit contributions to help the governor. "They need to work together, not so much being seen together, but mutually supporting each other," he said. "Free enterprise needs to continue to have free rein and to flourish. "According to the survey, issues that affected business in Zimbabwe in 2003 prior to Gono's monetary policy statement included runaway inflation, inaccessibility of foreign currency, rising and ultimately very high interest rates, and cost containment challenges. He said any set of financial statements was witness to this. Makwara said current issues were that there was a very predictable way of allocating foreign currency but not enough available. He said the survey had discovered that interest rates seemed stable allowing some semblance of planning while the extension of productive sector validity had been hailed. "We need the demand, goods are there but there is no demand," he said.He said market perception about Zimbabwe were factors such as is inflation now under control vis money supply issues and the impact this would have on the wage bill.Zimbabwe's month-on-month inflation that averaged around 18% last year, and reached a peak of 33% in November, slowed down to 13,7% in January, 6% in February and 5,9% in March. The country's year-on-year inflation, according to the RBZ, has declined from a high of 622% in January this year to the current 583%. However prices of basic commodities such as bread, sugar and milk continue to soar. So have those for electricity, water and fuel. Makwara said investors also querried would the exchange rate be managed in relation to major trade partners' figures and the projected impact this would have on inputs, as well as the fact that in the absence of donor support would Zimbabwe be able to have a stable exchange rate? He said the survey had also raised issues such as could dampened local demand coupled with the auction rate drive exports and bring in much-needed foreign currency, as well as were the diaspora initiatives a step in the right direction? He said investors were worried about the tourism industry and declining agriculture figures. "No matter what may be one's political perspective, almost all who live in Zimbabwe and a very great number of people outside this country, do not wish the already gravely devastated, deeply distressed economy to be totally destroyed," Bloch said. "They may wish for major political changes, as I very much do, but they do not wish to achieve it by intensifying poverty, misery, malnutrition, ill health and death for millions and millions of innocent people, and for children, the aged, the infirm and the disabled, in particular. Moreover, they wish that when the eventual political changes occur, which I firmly believe will happen, there should still be an economic foundation and framework - no matter how fragile - on which to rebuild and carry this country forward to the prosperity and well-being that it greatly needs and deserves. "He said if only 10% of Zimbabweans abroad avail themselves of the new structures, to an extent of as little as US$100 a month, the country would access US$34 million monthly. "That alone would suffice to meet all Zimbabwe's fuel importation costs," Bloch said.

Botswana lashing custom archaic, barbaric, says Mugwadi (The Zimbabwe Herald, 11/05) - A Zimbabwean delegation from the Department of lmmigration, which was in Botswana recently to discuss the alleged ill-treatment of Zimbabweans in that country, has described the Botswana custom of lashing foreigners as "archaic and barbaric". The Chief Immigration Officer, Mr Elasto Mugwadi, said Botswana officials had maintained that they could not change the law unless the citizens of the country wanted those laws done away with. "We were informed that corporal punishment enjoyed the support of the nationals who would not understand its removal under any guise," Mr Mugwadi said. "Although Botswana immigration officials indicated they cannot change their custom, we informed them that their custom is archaic and barbaric. We feel it is unfair to punish foreigners who do not pay allegiance to that custom. This is the reason why we have international laws." Mr Mugwadi said his department carried out a survey which revealed that at least 90 000 Batswana nationals visit Zimbabwe every month to do their shopping but are not forced to follow any of Zimbabwe's customs. "If they break the laws of this country we use the international laws observed internationally to punish them. We do not drag them to our traditional leaders," Mr Mugwadi said. He said his department suggested that any Zimbabwean caught breaking the law in Botswana, should be given an option to pay a fine, be immediately deported or sent to prison. "But from the investigations we carried out, we discovered that when Zimbabweans are legally or illegally arrested their money is taken away from them and, therefore, cannot pay fines. They are left with no choice but to be lashed naked before they are deported." Although the matter of lashing of Zimbabweans was raised at the last Botswana-Zimbabwe Permanent Commission on Defence and Security meeting held in Kasane last October, it was noted that corporal punishment remained in the statutes of Botswana as part of its national legal code. Mr Mugwadi said they indicated that there were fears that the retention of corporal punishment could induce xenophobic attitudes in the minds of the public. "We were informed that the issue was now being dealt with at the political level, which is a higher level than the one that has been handling the matter," Mr Mugwadi said. He said they had agreed that police officers from both countries should carry out joint patrols along the border following allegations that some Botswana police officers were usually seen battering Zimbabweans they accused of entering Botswana illegally. He said they also discussed the repatriation of bodies of Zimbabweans who would have died in Botswana. "Our counterparts said they would help out in such cases because we felt no normal person could make a false claim for a dead body. There is no reason why there should be hassles in the repatriation of bodies," Mr Mugwadi said.

Zimbabwe slams treatment of nationals in Botswana (Harare, Sapa-AFP, 11/05) - Zimbabwe has condemned the "barbaric" use of corporal punishment by neighbouring Botswana against Zimbabweans caught on the wrong side of the law in their country, a newspaper said on Tuesday. Relations between Zimbabwe and its western neighbour have been strained in recent years after regular reports that Zimbabweans are harassed, flogged or attacked while in Botswana. Zimbabwe's chief immigration officer Elasto Mugwadi told the state-run Herald after a recent visit to Botswana that the country's use of corporal punishment against Zimbabweans was unfair. "Although Botswana immigration officials indicated they cannot change their custom, we informed them that their custom is archaic and barbaric," said Mugwadi. In April Botswana dismissed the media reports as hostile and distorted. In January Zimbabwe's ambassador to Botswana was asked to investigate reports that 100 Zimbabweans were flogged for illegally entering Botswana. An estimated 125 000 Zimbabweans who have been flooding into Botswana every month to escape economic problems at home have been blamed for an upswing in crime in that country. Mugwadi said that Zimbabweans who break the law in Botswana should pay a fine, be deported or be sent to prison. However, he claimed Zimbabweans arrested in Botswana have their money confiscated and are beaten. "They are left with no choice but to be lashed naked before they are deported," he told The Herald.

Nigerians woo Zimbabwean farmers (BBC News, 10/05)-Zimbabwean farmers could start growing crops in Nigeria within three months after a recent visit. A spokesman told the BBC that the land they had seen in Kwara state was very fertile and they said they would be training local subsistence farmers. The farmers are among those whose land was taken by the Zimbabwe government for redistribution to blacks. Nigeria's farms have been neglected since oil was discovered 40 years ago. One of the farmers, Alan Jack, told the BBC's Network Africa programme that 60% of the land they had seen was virgin, while 40% had been cultivated in the past. He said local chiefs and elders were keen on the farmers going because they would bring jobs, electricity and roads. At least 67 people were killed last week in clashes over land between farmers and cattle-herders in other parts of central Nigeria. The farmers are concerned about the lack of infrastructure and Nigeria's reputation for corruption. But Kwara state is optimistic that the men will agree to the project. "I think the few farmers that have visited will spread the good news that there is arable land here," said Nigel Crompton, a local official. President Obasanjo has backed the project Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has also given his support for the project, saying Nigeria was "anxious to benefit from their expertise and experience". The farmers would find their stay in Nigeria "rewarding and exciting," he added when the group visited the capital Abuja. But Nigeria is not the only offer the farmers have had. Mr Jack said they had also received overtures from Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Operators express outrage at Xenophobic attacks (The Chronicle, 07/05) - Cross border transport operators whose buses were extensively damaged after an attack by Batswana nationals during a riot in Gaborone yesterday expressed outrage over the unwarranted and “senseless” incident and called on the Botswana government to bring the culprits to book. In interviews with Chronicle in Bulawayo, the operators said the xenophobic attacks were uncalled for as their buses were operating within the confines of the Botswana laws. They said the attacks had put the lives of hundreds of passengers in danger as Batswana went on the rampage and indiscriminately stoned any Zimbabwean bus at the Gaborone rank. Zimbabwean cross border traders and shoppers aboard the Zimbabwean bound buses also lost thousands of dollars worth of wares and goods in the ensuing confusion which followed the riot.Some  Batswana reportedly went on a looting spree as Zimbabweans scurried for cover and fled from their attackers. The owner of Zebulon Express, Mr Richard Maplanka, said one of his buses had all its windows smashed. “The bus is still in Botswana and we are trying to find ways of getting it fixed so that the passengers can be brought back home. It is sad that we cannot tolerate each other as African brothers and we are at a loss as to why we were targeted,” he said. Mr Maplanka said it was unfortunate that passengers who were in Botswana legally had to endure untold suffering. “I think this thing should stop. Our governments (Botswana and Zimbabwe) should sit down and sort out this problem before it gets out of hand,” he said. Another transport operator, who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals from the Botswana authorities, said he had to scurry for cover and flee from angry passengers who had lost all their belongings during the riot in Botswana. His bus, which had extensive damages to the windscreen and windows, arrived in Bulawayo yesterday morning and immediately proceeded to Harare. “They (passengers) lost everything and I can understand their anger. But I am not to blame. I am also a loser here. I have to incur the costs of repairs,” he said. He said it was disheartening that innocent people were being victimised. “The problem with Batswana is that they paint every Zimbabwean with the same brush and assume anyone from this country is a criminal. They don’t see us as upright people. Virtually all the people who use our buses are law abiding citizens out to make an honest living. These attacks are therefore absolutely unnecessary,” he said. Chronicle established that most of the buses that were attacked during the riot are still in Botswana due to the extensive nature of damages inflicted. Operators said the buses would be fixed in Botswana. A fierce riot erupted in Gaborone on Tuesday when a mob of rampaging Batswana nationals ran amok and indiscriminately attacked Zimbabweans. Five Zimbabwean buses had their windows and windscreens smashed during the riot. Batswana nationals reportedly wanted to mete out instant justice on a Zimbabwean man they accused of “drinking beer from a beer can in public”. The riot police had to be called in to defuse the situation, which erupted after the Zimbabwean man sought refuge from the menacing Batswana at other Zimbabwean bound buses at the Gaborone long distance bus rank. A Botswana newspaper known for its anti-Zimbabwe stance was on Wednesday forced to concede that xenophobia against Zimbabweans was on the rise following the incident. The Mmegi, which has attacked Chronicle for exposing ill treatment of Zimbabweans in Botswana, acknowledged that Batswana were xenophobic and called for a cessation of hostilities between nationalities of the two countries.

Delegation appalled by Botswana laws (Harare, The Chronicle, 07/05) - A delegation from the Department of Immigration which was in Botswana to seek lasting solutions to the alleged ill-treatment of Zimbabweans in Botswana has described customary laws in that country as “barbaric”. Chief immigration officer Mr Elasto Mugwadi yesterday said during the three-day meeting, the Botswana immigration officials indicated that in terms of their laws, it was appropriate to lash offenders. “We felt such customary laws were archaic and barbaric. It does not make sense for people to argue that they can apply their customs on foreigners who do not pay allegiance to those customs,” Mr Mugwadi said.The Zimbabwean officials were invited by their Botswana counterparts to discuss the alleged assaults of locals in the neighbouring country.Mr Mugwadi said the issue of the illtreatment of Zimbabweans should be viewed in the light of no such reports being made in the case of the Batswana people who flock into Zimbabwe every month.“According to our reports, at least 90 000 Batswanas visit Zimbabwe to do their shopping in Bulawayo and we have not applied some of our customary laws on them as they are not Zimbabweans.”Mr Mugwadi said they had suggested to Botswana that they apply other forms of punishment to Zimbabweans who violated the laws of Botswana such as fines, imprisonment and immediate deportation. “We were informed that at the last Botswana Zimbabwe Permanent Commission on Defence and Security held in Kasane last October, it was observed that the matter of the lashing of Zimbabweans was already receiving attention at political level,” Mr Mugwadi said. It was also noted that even after that meeting, corporal punishment remained in the statutes of Botswana.“They said the law enjoyed the support of the nationals who would not understand its removal under any guise,” Mr Mugwadi said. He said although the Botswana officials made it clear that their laws could not easily be changed unless the citizens so wished, there was a quest from both parties to maintain good relations and coexistence between the two countries. Mr Mugwadi said they also discussed other matters that included problems some Zimbabweans were facing whenever they wanted to repatriate bodies of deceased relatives from Botswana. “The immigration officials said they would render assistance to the bereaved families in the repatriation of bodies. “We do not think there is any person who could go into another country to falsely claim a body of a person he or she does not know,” Mr Mugwadi said. The two departments also agreed that police joint operations by the two countries should be conducted regularly and visitors to either country treated humanely.

Rwandan refugees refuse to go home (Financial Gazette, 06/05) - Plans by the United Nations (UN) to repatriate thousands of Rwandan refugees in Zimbabwe have hit a snag amid reports that the immigrants are resisting efforts by the world body to return them to their country, purportedly for security reason. The refugees reportedly told officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Harare that they feared for their lives if they returned to Kigali.Zimbabwe, reeling from a barrage of economic problems, has become home to at least 13 000 refugees mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Burundi, who perceive the southern African country as a safe haven for asylum seekers from the troubled Great Lakes region. Currently, there are about 3 500 Rwandan refugees in Zimbabwe with at least 500 of them living at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge, while the rest are scattered in the country's urban areas. The UNHCR head of mission in Zimbabwe, Grebe Kriston, and the agency's protection officer Ester Kigaro visited the camp two weeks ago and held a meeting with the asylum seekers in frantic efforts to persuade them to return home. However, the refugees indicated to the UNHCR officials that they were unwilling to do so as they feared for their security. "It's not yet safe to return to Rwanda because people are still being kidnapped by government agents," said John Bagabo, a Rwandan national who has been in the country since 1998, when internecine strife in the DRC further compounded the instability in the Great Lakes region. Another refugee who preferred to remain anonymous said: "There is a planned repatriation of Rwandans, but we will not go back because the security situation is not yet stable. Those currently fleeing Rwanda say the future is not promising." Reports from Rwanda say the Tutsi-dominated government in Kigali has been beefing up security on its border with the DRC to repel attacks by Hutu rebels calling themselves Rwandan Democratic Liberation Forces. The Rwandan government has reportedly stationed troops in the north-eastern part of the country and further south near the Burundi border, while the Tutsi-led government of Paul Kagame is alleged to have launched a witch-hunt trekking down Hutu intellectuals, professionals and politicians. Officials from the UNHCR office in Harare referred all questions to Isaac Mukaro, the commissioner of refugees in Zimbabwe, who refused to comment on the planned repatriation. The Rwandans, predominantly from the Hutu ethnic group, have been staying in Zimbabwe since 1994 when Kagame and his forces (then a rebel group) invaded Rwanda from Uganda to end 100 days of bloodshed which saw over 800 000 mainly Tutsis and Hutu moderates being brutally killed. Hutu extremists reportedly masterminded the genocide.

Zimbabwean farmers land in Nigeria (This Day, 05/05) - Kwara State government has allocated almost 200,000 hectares of prime agricultural land to Zimbabwean commercial farmers wishing to relocate to Nigeria - almost twice as much as they had bargained for. "We will do anything in our power to make this project a success," said Permanent Secretary of Lands and Housing, Mrs. Tayo Alao. "It will enhance the status of our people, who will learn skills from the Zimbabweans," she said. She assured the farmers no Nigerian villagers would lose their homes in the process, but conceded movement of nomadic herders in the district would be curtailed. A second delegation of Zimbabweans whose farms were seized under Robert Mugabe's land redistribution programme arrived in Kwara state this week. Kwara governor Bukola Saraki has been vigorously courting Zimbabwean farmers to kick-start commercial agriculture in Nigeria since the dramatic success of their compatriots in Zambia late last year. About 100 Zimbabwean farmers reportedly grew over 70 percent of Zambia's 2003 maize crop. On average Nigeria spends $1.5 billion on rice and dairy imports a year, agriculture officials said. An import ban due to fall on a range of agricultural products will leave a lucrative gap in the market. At a meeting with the farmers in Kwara's capital Ilorin earlier this week Alao insisted local residents would not be relocated. This apparently contradicts an earlier remark by the state deputy surveyor-general Ezekiel Ajiboye that some villagers would be resettled and compensated for land lost. "But we have made it clear to the Fulani nomads they must steer clear of the Zimbabwean farms," said Alao. Last weekend clashes in Plateau State between Muslim Fulani cattle herders and Christian Tarok farmers over land and cattle reportedly claimed 100 lives. About 20 000 people live on land earmarked for a proposed Zimbabwean sugar cane estate, village officials said. The estate comprises about 10 percent of total land allocated. Alao was responding to concerns raised by the Zimbabweans their arrival would coincide with land being seized from local peasants. "We know what it feels like to be kicked off farms," said Alan Jack, who led delegations sent by Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers Union. "If the same happens to the local [Nigerian] population the project will fail because we will get a bad name, locally and internationally." Other concerns included poor roads, lack of services such as clinics and schools, and erratic electrical power provision and telecommunications." This is worse than the [Zimbabwean] Lowveld in "62 and worse than Zambia, where the farms were already marked out," said Allain Faydherbe, who saw his sugar cane holdings shrink from 700 ha to 35 ha and spent the weekend in jail under Mugabe's reforms. "It's virgin bush."But the farmers regarded the Nigerian invitation a golden opportunity, despite the massive capital investment required. An irrigation consultant who accompanied the group said it would cost 30 farmers a total of $80 million to irrigate 27 000 hectares of land. Another $80 million would have to be found for building and farming equipment costs.Governor Saraki returned yesterday from a trip to Brussels to woo investors. The farmers will present financing proposals to the governor later this week.

Issue of citizenship renunciation forms (Harare, The Zimbabwe Herald, 05/05) - The Registrar-General's Office has started issuing forms for special renunciation to people who are citizens of other Southern African Development Community countries by descent The forms are available at the provincial and district offices of the RG's Office. The move follows the amendment of section 9 of the Citizenship Act by the Government last week. Special renunciation and restoration will only apply to people born in Zimbabwe but whose parents originate from fellow Sadc countries, particularly Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia, and will be done in terms of the Zimbabwean law. Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede told The Herald that those who would benefit are descendants of Sadc nationals who came to Zimbabwe to do menial jobs and not for commercial purposes." This is meant to cater for descendants of Sadc nationals who came to Zimbabwe before Independence in 1980 in search of employment as mine, domestic, farm or unskilled workers," he said. Mr Mudede said the amendment of section 9 had helped his department to deal effectively with the problems posed by dual citizenship in Southern Africa. The department, with the help of Sadc countries, designed a form that has already been sent to district and provincial centres for easy access by those who need to renounce or restore their citizenship. Mr Mudede said the form would help to cut on people's travel costs and frustration since they could now access it close to their areas of residence." Most people lost their citizenship because they failed to travel to our provincial centres, to Harare and to their embassies to renounce," Mr Mudede said. Senior citizenship officer Mrs Badge Nyamunda said the forms were being issued to those who would have satisfied the laid down procedures." Indeed we have started implementing the Act and would like to assure our clients that we will be there to assist them whenever possible," Mrs Nyamunda said. The special renunciation and restoration exercise follows complaints from descendants of forebears from neighbouring Sadc countries that they were being short-changed by the amended Citizenship Act.

Chinese construction firms criticized (Zimbabwe Standard, 03/05) - Zimbabwean contractors have criticised the government's procurement board for awarding key contracts to Chinese companies ahead of local firms. The Zimbabwe Building Contractors' Association, which represents the country's black-owned construction companies, said contracts should be awarded to "competent people" but the tendering process needed better transparency." Where people start asking questions is when a company comes up with a higher bid but still wins the contract, or when the bid is very low but there is no bid bond," ZBCA president George Utaumire told StandardBusiness last week. A bid bond binds a company to its offer and the bidder is penalised if they adjust or withdraw their offer. Utaumire however responded with caution to industry concern that local firms were being crowded out by the Chinese contractors, saying the threat to local industry was not yet cause for alarm." We are convinced there is a trick here. They indicate the least price on tender bids but make up for the actual price and profit in the variations allowed in contract agreements due to cost fluctuations," a contractor said. Most recently, Chinese company China Giansu was awarded a tender for the construction of Lupane Provincial Hospital. Documents show that the company underbid the lowest offer of $106 billion by $7,8 billion. China Giansu last year also won a deal to build the Lupane Government Composite office block. The company's winning bid was not covered by a bid bond. Another Chinese company, Hualong, has been awarded a contract to supply relocatable scanners to ZIMRA at the Beitbridge Border Post. Hualong is also reportedly leading bids for the construction of the Chinhoyi Magistrates' Court, after putting in a bid that was $3,6 billion lower than the lowest bid of $21,1 billion.Officials in the construction industry last week said they suspect the companies could be part of a single syndicate. There was no comment from the Procurement Board last week. The government has also recently made tax concessions to cement maker Sino Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe-China joint venture, exempting the company from non-residents' tax on fees.

Updated 14 July 2004