Migration News

Archives and Current News

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

Stopping the brain drain from Africa
Call to value health professionals

Angola thanks Zambia for sheltering refugees
Lack of aid hampers reintegration of returnees
Homecoming joy for returnees, but what next?
Cadres residing abroad address integration
Meeting of Angolan cadres from the diaspora
UNHCR airlifts over 40,000 Angolan refugees
Angolans return from DRC

Deporting illegal Zimbabweans costly
Police launch sting against illegal immigrants
Cuban health experts arrive
Illegal immigrants problem needs government intervention
Angolan refugees repatriation exercise
Deportation of illegal immigrants from Botswana

Rwanda army masses on Congo border
Congolese brave tough journey home

New legislation to boost economic participation
Nigerians free to trade in Lilongwe

Mozambicans rush home to vote
Mozambique hosts 8,000 foreign refugees
Chissano urges migrants to vote for Frelimo
Border post with Swaziland reopened
German Embassy rejects former migrants claims

Ballots arrive from abroad
High Court warns Home Affairs officials
Namibians to vote abroad
Border closure no big issue

Seminar on migrant labour, Minister interviewed

South Africa:
Aids hits South Africa profits
Aids hits mine profits
SA fast-tracking recruitment of foreign doctors
Refugees act could be changed
Schoolgirls lured into prostitution
Home Affairs minister to visit DRC
SA mines reeling from Aids pandemic
HIV/Aids taking its toll on mining sector
Address by Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Home Affairs
Minister promises better protection for refugees
Minister calls for Immigration Policy amendment
Zimbabweans protest in Johannesburg
British woman threatened with deportation
Cuban doctors want permanent resident status
Report documents abuses of Zimbabwean refugees
Plan to stem health brain drain
Indian businesses flock to SA
A long way to South African citizenship
Mugabe refugees pour into SA
Foreign business schools court local MBA students
Limpopo MEC urges nurses stay in province
Guateng teachers are leaving in droves
SA deports 45,000 Zimbabweans a year
Video captures plight of Zimbabwean refugees
Government says no bias against Zimbabwean asylum seekers
South Africa hates us, say Zimbabweans
Granting of Zimbabweans refugees status needs to go to court
Child sex ring cracked
Government hosts workshop to address health brain drain
Mapisa-Nqakula visits Home Affairs offices
Immigrants protest ill-treatment
The perils of hiring foreigners
State acts to avert academic brain drain
Lindela - the disturbing face of xenophobic SA
Border post cops on corruption charges
SA citizens free to use foreign passports
Cops nab bogus Home Affairs official
Home Affairs in bid to change image
Government clears air on citizenship amendment act
SAPS takes on border patrol
Police fleece deportees
Home Affairs denies 10,000 ID's stolen
Get legal, minister tells foreigners
Rough road home for illegal immigrants
Zimbabwe's exiles live between danger zone
Health staffing crisis demands a masterplan
10,000 Ids stolen in Limpopo
Mapisa-Nqakula condemns increase in xenophobia
Lindela: my week in hell
Coffin carried in protest at Lindela
Immigrants' plight highlighted
A change of heart needed: Editorial
Police see foreigners as ATMs
Immigrants to march on Lindela over ill treatment, torture
Deportees in fatal jump
Refugee treatment exposed
Foreigners seek safety, dignity
SAHRC hearings considers refugees
2 Home Affairs officials arrested, third on the run
SA not flooded by migrants, hears SAHRC
Currency keeps visitors away
Asian tourists compensate for EU fall
Government urged to protect refugees
Human rights commission xenophobia hearings begin
Government ministers urged to speak against xenophobia
SAHRC to begin hearings on xenophobia
Lindela doesn't comply with immigration laws

Nursing shortages in Government hospitals
Indian and Chinese investors criticized
Border post brings hope for poor Swazi region
Mhlumeni/Goba border a tourist destination

Tanzania's women fuel brain gain
Experts say migration fuels crime wave
Burundians returning from Tanzania

Immigration computerizes operations
Zambians freed from Angolan captivity
Investors who don't respect us must go
Child trafficking: A growing menace
Conditions on foreign students
Strategies to reduce health Braindrain
More tourists coming
Detained Zambians in Angola moved inland
Zambia, DR Congo to set up trade warehouses
Immigration nabs 8 Congolese
Border bridge gets green light

Government to tax information sector and expatriate workers
Zimbabweans abroad contribute to economic turnaround
Lack of skilled manpower affects insurance sector
Children smuggled to UK
Is brain drain negatively affecting the economy?
UK to deport asylum seekers
Informal traders and local flea markets
New national ID cards welcome
New ID cards to be issued
Chinese to take over key state firms
Activists criticize UK's resumption of forced repatriation
Zimbabweans lose automatic UK protection
Zimbabweans living abroad banned from voting
Tourism enters crucial period
Cattle smuggled into Mozambique
Homelink housing scheme proves popular
Plan to disrupt business at border posts
Zimbabwe closing in on currency fraudsters
Zimbabwe, Malawi sign accord to promote trade
Zimbabwe envoy explains Cosatu deportation
Police smash travel syndicate
RBZ sets up housing project for Zimbabweans overseas

Stopping the brain drain from Africa (The Mirror Online, 21/11):-  Africa is losing its human capital at such an alarming rate that some observers say the continent is dying "a slow death from brain drain." Others have warned that, by doing nothing to stop or reverse the brain drain. Africa is "committing suicide." In more measured language, the United Nations has called the brain drain "the most serious threat to the economic development of sub-Saharan Africa." It has, in fact, reached such a level of crisis that it is being compared to the effect of famines, civil wars and even AIDS. According to the International 0rganization for Migration, a UN agency, Africa has already lost one-third of its human capital. Of the estimated 3.6 million Africans in the diaspora, spread all over the world the IOM believes that more than 300,000 are highly qualified professionals. More than 30,000 of these professionals have PhDs. For more than a decade now, Africa has been losing about 20,000 skilled professionals every year. As a result, there are more African scientists and engineers in the United States than there are in Africa. For more than three decades, academics have been engaged in a futile debate about whether the emigration of highly skilled professionals out of Africa is good or bad for the continent. On the one hand, the "brain drain" school maintained that Africa was losing the very people it needs to fight poverty, under-development and disease. The other school, in the meantime, argued that this exodus was simply "an overflow of excess skill" that the African economy could not absorb. It was thus better, they said, for African scientists, engineers, doctors, professors, entrepreneurs and senior managers to be out of the continent. Such people would otherwise be unemployed, underemployed, under-utilized and perhaps persecuted in Africa. Outside, they can work at prestigious hospitals, universities, laboratories, institutions and companies in the West, contribute to global scientific and technological progress, earn a decent income and send remittances to Africa. This way, they will not only support their poor families back home, but also contribute to the gross domestic product of their countries through remittances that come in foreign currency; of which Africa is permanently short. Certainly, Africans in the diaspora are major contributors to Africa's economy. For example, 4.1 per cent of Nigeria's GDP comes from remittances, while Eritrea gets some 16.7 per cent of its GDP from this source. Remittances are particularly important since they go straight into the pockets of individuals and families who use the money for basic necessities. However, the myth created around remittances has for long masked the real cost of brain drain to Africa. Africa employs 150,000 expatriate professionals at a cost of $4 billion U.S. a year to replace the departing African professionals. In other words, for every two African professionals who are outside, Africa employs one expatriate at a much higher salary. Worse, Africa gets little return from its investment in higher education since the graduates who emigrate give little or nothing back to their societies. For example, in Kenya it costs nearly $40,000 U.S. to train a doctor and $10,000 to $15,000 to educate a university student for four years. This has led some to say that Africa's budget for higher education is actually a large subsidy to the education budget of Western governments that receive these graduates. Given its remarkable survival skills, Africa might show its ability, once more, to deal with yet another crisis. During the last two decades, African governments and institutions have launched several programs and offered incentives to slow down or even reverse Africa's brain drain. In both cases, the results were disappointing. Few returned, and many continued to leave. It cannot, therefore, be left to those in Africa to deal with this problem by themselves. This belief was the spur for a group of Ethiopian professionals who immigrated to Canada a decade or more ago to plan what they have come to call "Virtual participation" in their land of birth. We define virtual participation as participation in nation building without physical relocation. The Association for Higher Education and Development (AHEAD), based in Ottawa, has for several years supported medical students back in Ethiopia with scholarships and sent medical books to university libraries. Recently, with funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), its members conducted a study among the wider Ethiopian diaspora with focus groups in three Canadian cities, to learn their attitudes about engagement for development purposes in their homeland. AHEAD also organized focus groups that gathered in Ethiopian cities, asking about the usefulness of this involvement. We also gathered data about the brain drain from other African countries. The findings were more shocking than we had expected. Africa's institutions have become increasingly incapable of responding to Africa's economic, health, social and political challenges, since its professionals with track-record experience and a corporate memory are replaced by fresh graduates with limited expertise or by expatriates who know little about the societies to which they come. In particular, Africa's health and social services are crumbling as skilled professionals leave in droves. The Kenyan Medical Association is warning that the brain drain is threatening the very existence of the country's health services. One-third of Ethiopia's medical doctors have already left the country. Zambia had 1,600 doctors not too long ago; today only 400 remain. In the 1980s, Ghana lost 60 percent of its graduating doctors. The story is no better in other spheres. Zimbabwe's respected mining industry has lost one-third of its skilled manpower. South Africa, which has benefited from the arrival of professionals from other parts of Africa, is losing many of its own - and the rate of exodus may well increase. Ms. Lala Ben Baraka, deputy executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa and an IDRC governor, has even said, "Africa will be empty of brains In 25 years." In September, AHEAD presented its findings in a study entitled "Semantics Aside: the role of the African Diaspora in Africa's capacity building," with Ethiopia as the case study. The study allows the diaspora voice to be heard for the first time. Its thesis is that the international community has wasted valuable time debating about the brain drain; and set the diaspora on the sidelines for far too long. The study argues that the African diaspora must be recognized as a key stakeholder and be engaged in the dialogue and efforts regarding Africa's brain drain. Further, the African diaspora has not only moral responsibility to pay back the people who gave them education, but has tremendous potential to become a major player in Africa's capacity building efforts. For its part, the African diaspora seems to be willing, after almost 20 years of indifference, to engage in this dialogue. In Canada and the United States, groups from Africa have started to mobilize their communities in an effort to raise awareness, co-ordinate efforts and channel resources towards development efforts in Africa. The next step for AHEAD is to organize a stakeholders' round-table with representatives from African embassies, the IOM and civil society, to discuss African capacity building and practical moves in "virtual participation."

Call to value health professionals (The Herald, 18/11):-
Governments should value health professionals and reward them according to the amount and importance of the work that they do, a World Health Organisation official said recently. A health professional's timely intervention often marks the difference between life and death. Dr Rufaro Chatora of the WHO-Africa region said this was the only way of countering the human resources deficiency in the region. He was speaking at the recent 40th health ministers' regional conference and 30th anniversary of the East, Central and Southern African health community, which was held in Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Seychelles, Mauritius, Tanzania, Lesotho, Kenya, Mozambique, Swaziland and Malawi were represented at the conference. Nearly all ministers and senior Government officials attending the conference agreed that human resources continued to be one of the greatest hurdles to the delivery of quality health care in their countries. Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda were some of the countries that indicated that they were experiencing problems in retaining health staff. Health professionals in the region were opting for greener pastures overseas or in the private sector. Dr Chatora said Governments should show health professionals that they were valued by improving their working conditions and remuneration. "In fact, they should just improve labour relations with them," he said. Speaking at the same conference, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said the brain drain and movement of health professionals to the private and non-governmental sector remained one of the greatest challenges in Zimbabwe. This was at a time when HIV and Aids was placing a heavy burden on the health delivery system. Despite the bonding system introduced by Government in a bid to retain health professionals, nurses, doctors, pathologists and pharmacists continued to leave the country at an alarming rate, he said. It is estimated that at least 55 percent of the country's 1 530 doctor's posts and 40 percent of the 11 640 nurses' posts remain vacant. In Tanzania, the deputy minister of health, Dr Hussein Mwinyi, said although health professionals were not leaving the country, there were problems with how their service were distributed. They refused to be deployed in rural areas in favour of urban areas, which left the remote parts of the country with serious human resources problems, he said. The recent gazetting of the Health Services Bill, which seeks to remove all health workers and other support staff in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare from the Public Service Commission and placing them under the Health Service Board, should see Zimbabwe achieving some of the WHO targets. The board will be responsible for deciding conditions of service for health workers in consultation with associations and organisations representing health services personnel. It is hoped that once the Health Services Board is operational, some of the anomalies in the health sector will become a thing of the past.

Angola thanks Zambia for sheltering refugees (Angola Press Agency, 23/11):- The First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly (Parliament), Joao Lourenço, on Monday thanked Zambia for serving as a second motherland for many Angolans, during the ended armed conflict. Joao Lourenço, who was speaking in the workshop on the "contribution of parliamentarians in the strengthening of transborder relationships between Angola and Zambia", says Zambia is one of the countries in the world which accommodated more Angolan refugees. He, however, called on the Zambian parliamentarians attending the seminar, elected by the bordering zones' circumscription, to help the electorate adopt a positive attitude with regard to refugees and the Angolan community. Joao Lourenço considered that the exchange of view points on both countries' efforts towards providing better living conditions for the populations living along the border "will open room for enhanced friendship ties and inter-parliamentarian cooperation". "I am aware that this inedited experience will pave the way to similar meetings with other parliaments and marks a new stage in the long route for the construction of the Southern African development community", he added. According to him, the end of the armed conflict in the country has opened doors for the expected return of Angolan refugees, whose process counts with the support of the Governments of Angola and Zambia, as well as the UNHCR. According to official figures, 40,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia will be repatriated from this year by the UNHCR, in the ambit of the second stage of voluntary repatriation process, started on June 15, 2004. The repatriation process of Angolans residing in Zambia started in 2003 and is to end in 2005, taking place in the framework of a tripartite accord among the Governments of Angola, Zambia and the UNHCR. The Parliamentarians attending the seminar will discuss matters relating to the national plan of social reinsertion and its implementation, repatriation and social reintegration of Angolan refugees in Zambia and the current situation of the programme for the returned people and internal war displaced people. The Secretary General of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, Ksuka Mutukwa, Angolan Government and UNHCR officials, among other individualities are attending the seminar.

Lack of  aid hampers reintegration of returnees (IRIN News, 16/11):-
The lack of funding for humanitarian operations in Angola is being felt by returning refugees, as cuts in food rations and a shortage of seeds and tools mean some have neither the energy nor the inputs to cultivate crops. Many returnees in remote areas of the eastern province of Moxico rely on World Food Programme (WFP) food aid for their survival, and have been affected by WFP's decision to halve maize rations due to a shortage of funds. "The problem here is just hunger - there is no food. There are no clinics or schools either, but hunger is really our biggest problem," said Jonas Kanyanga, a traditional leader in the tiny village of Dangereux in the Lumbala N'Guimbo area of the province. Richard Corsini, WFP country representative, told IRIN the funding shortfall "meant that in April this year we cut cereal rations by 50 percent to general food recipients" and that the agency's "intention had been to try to provide returnees [with food aid] for two full cropping seasons. The lack of funding means that we have reset our priorities to one full season". "The returnees have come back with nothing ... The whole idea of giving food was to give families a chance of getting their lives together to produce their own food. That will now suffer," Corsini added. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR), WFP and their partner organisations promised returnees seven kilograms of maize - down from 14 kg - 1.5 kg of pulses, 150 grams of salt and 0.9 litres of oil for every returnee, each month for a year. Those leaving the refugee reception centre are given two months' rations in advance, but manager Martin Catongo, who works for UNHCR's implementing partner, Medair, said many were soon back, looking for more. "They come here and we exit them in three days but then, just a few days after that, they are back for their second phase of food. We can't give them that second phase until they've been here [in Angola] for two months. With WFP rations reduced to seven kilos, I don't know what many of them will do, how they will survive," he said. FEAR FOR THE FUTURE - Catongo believes some returnees are already retracing their steps, their initial jubilation about being home in Angola turning to frustration as they struggle to feed their families. "Some of the returnees may have to go back to Zambia because they won't be supplied with food, and they won't have enough to eat," he said. "There is a risk that they will become refugees again - not because of war, but because of hunger." In Dangereux, the food shortage is already taking its toll. Sitting on a rickety home-made stool under the shade of a giant mango tree, Kanyanga gestured to a group of skinny village children edging nearer out of curiosity. "These children are sometimes crying because of hunger and one child died last week. This lack of food is becoming more and more serious," he said. A major problem is the area's remoteness. Heavily mined, and with many roads and bridges destroyed during the war, the Lumbala N'Guimbo region is accessible from the rest of Angola only by air. Economic activity is almost non-existent and the meagre market, supplied by a few local entrepreneurs who make a 20-day round trip to Zambia by road and canoe to replenish stocks, offers little choice at very high prices. It is little wonder, therefore, that people are hungry, although aid workers say there is no sign of widespread malnutrition yet. But they agree that distributing around 2,000 seeds and toolkits, which arrived in mid-October, is an urgent priority so that returnees can cultivate crops and have their own food supplies next year. "In our view, the biggest concern is the lack of seeds and tools to assist the food security situation here," said Marc Andre Gagnebin, Medair's deputy country director. "The people here talk about hunger, but it's more that they know they can't produce their own food - I can imagine that they fear for their future." Angola's 27-year civil war ended in April 2002, opening the door for millions of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to their homes. In Lumbala N'Guimbo, residents say the local population has swelled from almost zero to around 24,000 since the end of the war. FUNDING PROBLEMS - All those arriving at UNHCR reception centres are entitled to food rations, non-food items, seeds and toolkits, but many have left without their agricultural supplies because funding shortages and logistical problems have both cut and delayed shipments. "Last year we had 265,000 seeds and toolkits for Angola. This year we have only 38,000," said Jean-Francois Dontaine, emergency coordinator for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). "That is partly due to a shortage of funding, but also because we're obliged to shift our budget away from seeds and tools, and more in the direction of transition and rehabilitation," he explained. The latest consignment of 2,000 kits - part of 11,000 earmarked for Moxico province - will be enough for between 6,000 and 7,000 people, but still leave many returnees and IDPs with nothing. "We are doing what we can. There are a lot of factors we cannot manage, like destroyed bridges and logistical delays - it's not the easiest distribution," Dontaine said. The newly arrived kits - each one consisting of 10 kg of maize seed, five kilograms of bean seed, six types of garden seeds such as tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, peppers, okra and onions, a hoe, a machete and a file - are earmarked for those returning by means of UNHCR's assisted repatriation programme. This is not nearly enough to go round, let alone stretch to those who returned under their own steam, and UNHCR and Medair have decided to halve the ration of maize seed in the kits. "At the moment, the seeds and toolkits are not enough for everybody, so if we reduce the maize seed ration to five kilograms, we can make it go further," said Pedro Tavares, head of UNHCR's Lumbala N'Guimbo Field Office. Once they get the kits, the beneficiaries will have to work quickly to make the most of the seeds, as the maize-planting season ends at the beginning of December. Locals are frustrated, saying this help is simply too little, too late. Kanyanga, who made his way back to Angola in 2003, has received no farming supplies. The village has started small-scale cassava production, thanks to the generosity of the few who did receive equipment, but Kanyanga wants more help with both hardware and seeds. "We try to do our best with our hands and some small pieces of equipment, and this land is very good, it's very fertile. Over there it is perfect for growing rice or potatoes," he said, pointing to a lush field across the river. "But we have too few hoes and, really, what we need is ploughs and animals to help us work the land." Going back to Zambia is unthinkable to him. "I'm very happy to be back in Angola because it's my home. But our life here is tough, and we need a helping hand."

Homecoming joy for returnees, but what next? (IRIN News, 15/11):-
Janet Adelhe squeals with delight as she sees her aunt and uncle step off the plane. After hugs, a few tears and effusive clapping, they sit down to catch up on years of missed news. Albertina and Augusto Mundongo, both elderly, have been travelling for days from the Mehebe refugee camp in Zambia, and have just completed the latest stage of their journey to Lumbala N'Guimbo on an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) cargo plane. "I am very happy," said 25-year-old Janet, cheerfully posing for photographs and giving the thumbs-up sign. "This is my aunt and uncle, this is my cousin, and these are her children. Now I am just waiting for my mother and sister to come and we will be a family again." The Mundongos, along with around 90 other returnees, head for the reception centre where they will spend three days getting their registration papers, collecting food, non-food rations and seeds and tools kits as well as receiving tips on reintegration, hygiene and HIV/AIDS. As they gingerly step down from trucks belonging to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), they are welcomed by longer-term residents who have crowded around the centre's perimeter fencing, eager to get a glimpse of the latest arrivals. A testimony to the success of the UN refugee agency's repatriation and assistance programmes, around 274,000 Angolan refugees have returned home since war ended in April 2002, leaving around 167,000 still in the main asylum countries of Zambia, Namibia and the two Congos. Almost two thirds of those who have come back have been helped by UNHCR and its partners, including the Angolan government, World Food Programme (WFP), IOM, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and several NGO's such as Medair, UNHCR's implementing partner in the Lumbala N'Guimbo region. But more than 100,000 have made their own way back home, often enduring weeks of arduous travel through the hazardous bush. Some, like Mutaipi Kawashu who left his home in Kaoma, Zambia in September with his wife and four sons, have gone to extraordinary lengths and suffered appalling tragedies just to get their feet on Angolan soil. "We walked all the way. I don't know exactly how far it was but it took us three weeks. Those three weeks were very, very difficult. My family and I didn't eat very much and we were - and still are - very tired," he said. Kawashu lost one of his boys during the journey - 11-year-old Okumbi drowned in the river Nengo on the way here - but for him, like many other Angolans, the top priority was getting home to Angola. "At the moment I'm not feeling okay - but life goes on. My parents passed away, my boy passed away but what can I do? I'm very happy to be back. I have waited a long, long time, and now I am here. This is our country. This is where I was born. All I can do now is make a new home for the family I have left," he said. This deep desire to return overlooks the fact that there is very little in place to help returnees rebuild their lives. Few of those coming home seem to have given much thought to how they will get by once they arrive at their final destinations. "You should stop asking us about the future - what will we eat, where we will work," said one visibly irritated man as he boarded the IOM flight to Cangamba, his final stop. "The most important thing is for us to go home." Life for these returnees will certainly be tough. In Moxico province, scene of heavy fighting during the war, vast stretches of road are impassable, bridges are destroyed, and the countryside is littered with landmines. Many are returning to remote communes which all but emptied during the war and have poor access to the rest of the country. In Lumbala N'Guimbo, they discover that WFP rations are being cut, there are insufficient seeds and tools kits to go round and employment and education opportunities are few and far between. In Cangamba, they are almost completely isolated, with no international help on the ground. Ask any returnee who has lived in this region for more than a couple of months about their living conditions, and they will complain of hunger and lack of health, education and employment opportunities, many arguing that the international community is not doing enough to help them resettle. "Life is difficult and we are a worried about our future," grumbled Mateus Boma, a 23-year-old resident of Dangereux, near Lumbala N'Guimbo. "We're hungry, there is too little food, not enough seeds and tools, there are no work projects, we don't have clothes, there are not enough water points and few health posts. What are you doing about it?," he asked. Humanitarian workers are sympathetic despite being constantly bombarded with complaints and requests for more assistance. They understand that after 20 years or more as refugees, switching the mindset away from handouts could prove difficult. "These people have been refugees for so many years. They are so dependent on receiving aid. Of course they are happy to return but the euphoria disappears as they learn that they have to become independent," said Veronique Genaille, Head of the UNHCR sub-office in the eastern Luena. Angola's slowpace of reconstruction and development has prompted some to question whether the refugees came back too soon, before their motherland was ready to receive them. But all agree that rebuilding roads and bridges should be a priority. "One of the biggest needs is access to Luena so that traders can bring foods, seeds and other items," said Marc Andre Gagnebin, Deputy Country Director for Medair. "Especially in these vast and far-reaching provinces of Angola, the economy is not strong enough to provide everything that an individual needs. It is difficult to find jobs to support a family," agreed Pedro Tavares, UNHCR Field Officer in Lumbal N'Guimbo. A number of proposals involving UNHCR, WFP and NGOs are under consideration and UNHCR, which has already helped rehabilitate airstrips and reconstruct roads to facilitate the repatriation process, intends to focus more on development projects next year. "There will be more reintegration projects in 2005 as the number of returnees scales down," Tavares said. "We are preparing ourselves for quick impact projects including education (Portuguese literacy), reconstruction of bridges, improving access to key places," he added. Medair's Gagnebin would also like to see more development projects in the area of agriculture. He believes most of those returning home are hard-working, industrious people, who simply need pointing in the right direction if they are to build a new life in Angola. "A lot of returnees have good basic agricultural knowledge from the camps in Zambia, but Lumbala N'Guimbo really needs an agricultural NGO to work on development projects, to carry out follow-up and monitoring and to make sure resources are used in the best way possible, with seed banks etc and ," he said. The outlook for the future may seem gloomy - it certainly will not be easy for many returnees to get back on their feet reintegrate - but everyone is trying to look on the bright side. "You have to be more positive than negative. In just over two years, Angola is a stable country with peace. The truth is people are coming back and rebuilding their lives," UNHCR's Tavares said. Even the complaining Boma would rather live in poor conditions in Angola than move anywhere else. "We'll be here forever, even though life is difficult. This is our home," he said.

Cadres residing abroad address integration (Angola Press Agency, 09/11):-
Angolan cadres residing abroad, attending since Monday here the first national meeting of national skilled people living in the diaspora, defended the necessity of a dignifying integration when returning home. Speaking to Angop with regard to the theme "The drama of returning to the mother land", the president of the Association of Angolan Students in Romania, Mario da Cunha, said that the integration of cadres coming from abroad should obey items such as training and diplomas that will be presented. He said that some professionals when returning to the country after their graduation are placed in areas different from the ones they got trained in. Many do not get a job or do a work that is totally different from the ones they have with a vocation for. Mario Cunha also spoke on the necessity to reinforce the communication between the State's institutions and Angolan cadres residing abroad, as a way to inform them on existing job opportunities in the country. On his turn, Miguel Kiala, a computer science student in South Africa, denied that returning to the country represents a drama, adding that the Government has to create conditions so that the problems can be overcome. Participating at the gathering are 253 cadres who reside abroad and 263 living in the country. The meeting has been organised by the Angolan Cabinet Council and aims to discuss strategies for job market and the cadres' participation in the country's development.

Meeting of Angolan cadres from the diaspora (Angola Press Agency, 08/11):-
The first meeting of Angolan cadres living in the diaspora (from every continent), starts this Monday, in Luanda's Congress Hall, an event that is being promoted by the Secretariat of the Cabinet Council, under the motto "All for a better Angola". During the meeting, which will go up to Wednesday, the 715 registered participants, will debate twelve themes sub-divided in three panels. The first panel will touch on "The reality of cadres in the diaspora", which is split into other themes such the causes and effects of braindrain, and the Cape-Verdean experience. On the second day, the specialists will discuss issues relating to "Peace, reconciliation and national reconstruction". This panel includes topics on the trauma of the war in Angola, and the challenges of economic transition, besides others. On Wednesday, the third panel's subject is "Market and employment strategies and the participation of cadres in the socio-economic development of the homeland. The topics on this third panel have to do with the perspective of employment in Angola, the country's socio-economic strategy, the role and place for human resources development, perspective for the participation of national cadres in the diaspora in the development of the homeland, besides other themes. The event will have 24 lecturers including moderators that will conduct the debates, which some observers regard as extremely important, for allowing the reunion of Angolans that specialized in several academic areas and trained in various countries, to exchange experiences and reflect on the current problems of Angola. Last Saturday and Sunday, the cadres were divided in groups and went to visit some of the provinces of Angola

UNHCR airlifts over 40,000 Angolan refugees (Angola Press, 08/11):-
About 40,915 Angolan refugees were air-lifted from last June until early November, from Zambia and DR Congo to eastern Moxico province, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners, a source with the humanitarian agency has told ANGOP. The source stressed that it was the alternative found to proceed with the voluntary repatriation process of Angolan nationals from those two neighboring countries, due to the bad state of the roads that link the resettlement camps and the bordering districts of Upper Zambeze, Luau and Bundas.

Angolans return from DRC (Sapa, 01/11):-
A total of 222 Angolan refugees returned home on Sunday from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said. The UNHCR communique, issued on Monday, added that "267,850 Angolan refugees have returned home since the signing of a peace accord on 4 April 2002" which ended a 27-year-old civil war. It said 83,799 refugees were repatriated by the agency, with the help of the Angolan government, while 184,051 others returned on their own. The agency said 173,150 Angolan refugees still remained in nearby countries such as the DRC, Zambia, Namibia and Congo. There were 13,626 others in South Africa and about 2,000 in Botswana. According to official estimates up to half a million Angolans fled their country during the civil war.

Deporting illegal Zimbabweans costly (The Standard, 28/11):- Immigration authorities in Botswana said on Friday that the repatriation of almost 2,500 illegal Zimbabweans each month was a drain on resources. Chief immigration officer Roy Sekgororoane told IRIN that about 150,000 pula (US $32,000) was being spent every month on food for the illegal immigrants and transporting them across the border. Since 2002 Zimbabweans have flocked to neighbouring Botswana in search of economic opportunities. The influx has sparked reports accusing Botswana officials of ill-treating Zimbabweans in the country, but Sekgororoane denied the allegations, saying, "if there are incidents of ill-treatment", these were "isolated". "There is no systematic attempt to mistreat the Zimbabweans. If this is occurring, we have called for the incident to be reported immediately, and action will be taken against the perpetrators," he said. He also denied that an electric fence Botswana has been constructing on its frontier with Zimbabwe was to control the movement of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe. "The fence has nothing to do with keeping people out of the country. Neither the immigration department nor the home affairs ministry has anything to do with its construction - this is an initiative of the ministry of agriculture and is aimed at controlling the movement of livestock," Sekgororoane said.

Police launch sting against illegal immigrants (Mmegi/The Reporter, 25/11):-
The police launched a joint campaign to clean up illegal immigrants in the city and its environs yesterday. Officer Commanding Francistown police district, Senior Superintendent, Boikhutso Dintwa said the operation is a joint effort with the military, local police, immigration officers, prisons officers and other stakeholders. He said Francistown and its environs has become a "hub" for illegal immigrants. "It is a punishable offence to illegally remain in the country and work without relevant documents," he declared. Some illegal immigrants enter the country with valid passports and choose to remain after the expiry of their lawful stay. Dintwa said that after a round up in the city police stations, it was evident that the operation that started at around 6am was going well. By yesterday morning, the police said they had already arrested about 500 people. Dintwa said the joint operation started a few years back because of rising crime in the area and the fact that Batswana enjoyed hiring illegal immigrants for "peanuts". "It is our aim to maintain the momentum. Our intention is to clean our areas of operation and concentrate on other types of crime". After the clean up campaign, Dintwa was positive that at least his area of command would be able to be calm for about two weeks or so without further troubles. "We have other strategies like stop-question-and search to combat crime. These strategies have been very helpful in combating crime as we have been able to recover guns, knives and other dangerous weapons from some people". He said that the strategies do not end crime but have proved to be helpful in controlling thuggery. He asserted that though locals engage in crime, illegal immigrants are the moving force behind the gangsterism in his beat. He said analysis of some crime information like burglary and theft shows that illegal immigrants were the major perpetrators. He said statistics for September indicate that about 30 Batswana were arrested and charged for burglary and theft as opposed to 45 illegal immigrants mainly from Zimbabwe. "There is no doubt that illegal immigrants from neighbouring Zimbabwe in particular, are leading in the commission of some offences," he stressed. Last December, Francistown police and other stakeholders arrested about 4,000 illegal aliens mainly from Zimbabwe, who were later deported. There were also a few Chinese nationals arrested, as they did not have their passports at the time. "With Chinese nationals, it is also a different story altogether as there is someone who keeps their passports in Gaborone. In all the cases so far, we have been able to clear them off with their agents," he declared. Dintwa denied that the police were abusing immigrants on arrest. "Human rights is one of the things that really informs our decisions when dealing with these people," he said. He said that Botswana and Zimbabwe police have good working relations and there was no way in which issues of abuse could go on unchecked. He said those who were caught abusing Zimbabweans were dealt with accordingly. He promised that at the end of the operation, all the police stations within his area of command would mount mini-sweeps to ensure that aliens do not return.

Cuban health experts arrive (Daily News, 24/11):-
A group of Cuban health professionals recently met with Ministry of Health acting permanent secretary Patson Mazonde before being deployed to various stations around Botswana. Dr Mazonde urged the 45 Cubans to help improve the health care delivery system, as Havana was well known for its good health care. He urged them to work as a team with other health professionals they find at their respective stations. "Don't do anything that will make people look down on your profession, or Cuba," stressed Mazonde as he reminded them that they were also here as ambassadors for their country. He said they should be open and speak out if they felt there was room for improvement in service delivery. Mazonde said though they might have problems with the English language, Batswana were understanding people and "a smile is a universal language". Department of Hospital Services assistant director Daisy Mosiieman said that this deployment "comes after President Festus Mogae requested help in the fight against HIV/AIDS from Cuban President Fidel Castro". Twenty-seven of the Cubans are part of the 100 volunteer-technical group that has a two-year contract while 18 replace the regular group on a three-year contract. Such an arrangement has been in place since 1989. The Cubans have been deployed to stations in Francistown, Serowe, Maun and Gaborone.

Illegal immigrants problem needs government intervention (Daily News, 18/11):-
The problem of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe needs direct intervention by Botswana government to issues of governance in that country to create an enabling political environment instead of just deporting them. Specially Elected MP Botsalo Ntuane told Parliament Tuesday that to just deport them (illegal immigrants) back to Zimbabwe was a "futile exercrse because they keep on coming back". He said Botswana must add fresh impetus to efforts made by SADC and other international bodies to resolve the volatile political situation in Zimbabwe.Contributing to Parliament's response to President Festus Mogae's state-of-the-nation address Tuesday, Ntuane warned that if the problem was allowed to spiral out of control Botswana would continue to feel the pinch. "We need to deal with the core issues of governance and an enabling political situation in Zimbabwe," said Ntuane. On other issues, Ntuane expressed concern about some pockets of racism, whereby some remnants of the white minority of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia had created some exclusive little enclaves in Botswana. "We need to clamp down of such racist elements so that they should not abuse our hospitality," he charged. Among his other concerns also was that Batswana were slowly losing their innocence because of the recent spate of crime that had also been targeted on high profile members of society. "When criminals start targeting high profile members of society it suggests that we now have a big problem on our hands," he said, noting that government should look at the feasibility of providing security to such people. Ntuane said even the general public was at risk, hence government must institute other means to combat crime. The Specially Elected legislator also told Parliament that he was disappointed that government has decided to locate Botswana's second university in the Serowe/Palapye area. He stated that government's decision was tantamount to a death sentence for Selebi-Phikwe. "Actually, this is a vote of no confidence on the town," said Ntuane who observed that it would have been prudent to locate the university in Selebi- Phikwe given its bleak future once the BCl mine closed down. He argued that should the BCl operations cease no investor would be interested to set up business in Selebi- Phikwe because the mine was the lifeline of the town. Ntuane suggested that should the university have two campuses, one of them should be located in Selebi-Phikwe to boost the town's fortunes. Government announced this week that the envisaged university is to be located in the Serowe/Palapye area and would be primarily for science and technology subjects. It will start with an enrolment of 1 000 in 2007, rising to 2 700 in 2009 and reaching a maximum capacity of 10 000 by 2016. Ntuane also called on the executive of Debswana Mine Workers Union to make a public apology that it misled its members to engage in an illegal strike. In addition, they should also state what measures they had in place to address the plight of 450 members who lost their jobs because of the illegal strike, while they (executive members) secured their jobs. Ntuane threatened to push a motion in Parliament to censure the union if it failed to oblige.

Angolan refugees repatriation exercise (Daily News, 15/11):-
Of the 800 eligible Angolan refugees, only 201 have so far registered for the on-going voluntary repatriation exercise. Dukwi Refugee Camp settlement commandant Ephraim Sekeinyana told BOPA on Thursday that they were still hoping that more refugees would come forward to register for voluntary repatriation, adding that those who were not willing to go home would not be forced. Sekeinyana added that the idea was to repatriate the first batch by end of this month. "We intend to repatriate them in batches and the registration will inform us about preferred areas of return," Sekeinyana said. "The situation in Angola has improved and a considerable number of people are willing to go back home," said Sekeinyana. He, however, said the number might not rise as some of the refugees had distant relatives in the north-western part of Botswana and as such, they might opt to stay in the country. "But our duty is to encourage them to go back home," he added. He further said that about 185 Angolan refugees, who have lived in the country for more than 20 years, had not shown interest in returning home as they had been integrated into Botswana society and would be issued with Botswana citizenship. UNHCR representative Benny Otim said the Angolan government had agreed to settle the returnees at convenient places. "We went to Angola for a 'go-and-see-mission' a while ago and our perception is that there is stability in Angola," said Otim. A 13-member go-and-see UNHCR mission to Angola gave a positive report about the Angolan situation. For his part, deputy permanent secretary (Political Affairs) in the Office of the President Bergsman Sentle said that the objectives of the go-and-see mission was to ensure that Botswana Angola was stable. Sentle said while in Angola they had an Philatelic Society opportunity to witness a repatriation exercise of Angolans from Zambia. He added 600 Angolans were repatriated daily. He said four representatives of the refugee community were part of the mission to witness the process. "We are satisfied with the programme in place to receive the Angolans and the refugee representatives have also expressed their satisfaction and are looking forward to going back home," said Sentle. He added that while in Angola they had an intensive brief at the highest level.

Deportation of illegal immigrants from Botswana (Zim Online, 10/11):-
Botswana says it is spending up to US$360 000 per year repatriating illegal immigrants from neighbouring Zimbabwe. Chief immigration officer Roy Sekgororoane, told the Press here last weekend that the department was deporting at least 30 000 Zimbabweans every month at a cost of about US$30 000 in food and transport. He said: "Illegal immigrants have become a big issue between the two countries. We deport about 30 000 Zimbabweans every year and this has proved costly." An estimated 1 000 Zimbabweans fleeing home because of hunger and political violence illegally cross into Botswana every day. The influx of immigrants has strained relations between the two countries with Zimbabwe accusing Botswana of ill-treating its nationals visiting that country. Gaborone denies the charge. An electric fence which Botswana is constructing on its frontier with Zimbabwe further worsened relations between the two countries with Harare accusing Gaborone of targeting its nationals with the Gaza-style fence. Botswana says it is building the US$700 000 fence to control movement of livestock across the border. More than 4 million or about a third of Zimbabwe's population of 12 million live in Botswana, South Africa, Britain, United States, Canada, New Zealand and other countries after fleeing economic hardships and political violence in their country.


Rwanda army masses on Congo border (Mail & Guardian, 29/11):- Rwanda massed thousands of troops on its border with Congo yesterday as a scramble for mineral wealth risked fresh conflict in Africa's Great Lakes region. A clandestine network of plunder - illegally mining precious metals in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo - has pushed neighbouring Rwanda to the brink of another invasion. Rwanda's President, Paul Kagame, said his objective was to wipe out Hutu militants sheltering across the border, but there was evidence of an additional reason: protecting Rwanda's riches. Congolese rebel groups loyal to Rwanda are vying to keep control of mineral-rich areas in North and South Kivu provinces, which provide lucrative income to the elite in Kigali, the Rwandan capital. In the towns of Walikale and Rubaya soldiers of the Rassemblement Congolais Pour la Démocratie, or RCD-Goma, Rwanda's proxy force in eastern Congo, transferred sacks of the minerals cassiterite and tantalite to lorries bound for airstrips from which jets shuttled to Kigali. Those shipments were threatened by the expanding reach of militias and army units which are hostile to Rwanda and owe allegiance to the Congo's rulers. RCD-Goma troops and the civilian miners they oversee said commanders had been told to tighten security, apparently at the behest of worried bosses in Kigali. 'Kagame has a dual agenda. Rwanda has major economic interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo,' said Corene Crossin, of Global Witness, an advocacy group which has tracked the plunder of the region. Rwanda invaded its giant neighbour in 1996 and 1998, with the stated aim of crushing Hutu militants who fled over the border after killing more than half a million Tutsis in the 1994 genocide. More than three million people were killed in the war that followed the second invasion, and the United Nations accused Rwanda and other occupying powers of plundering Congo's minerals. The foreign armies withdrew last year under peace accords that installed an interim government in Kinshasa, but left proxy forces such as RCD-Goma still controlling territory. Rwanda said last week that Hutu remnants were mobilising in Congo's forests and, in the absence of action from Kinshasa or the UN, it was obliged to respond. 'We cannot simply be punching balls for these criminals,' said Kagame. 'The war is already on. Otherwise, what would the bases be doing in Congo?' Officials in Kigali said 'genocidaires' sporting fresh uniforms paid for by Hutu sympathisers in Europe had launched rocket attacks against villages in northern Rwanda. They feared a low-level, destabilising insurgency. The UN said no rocket attacks had been verified, and Kinshasa said there had been no incursions. Rwanda was hiding 'its real intentions - to loot Congo's riches', said Henri Mova Sakanyi, a Congolese government spokesman. One Western diplomat said Rwanda had legitimate concerns about the Hutu militants, but its sabre-rattling 'had to be taken with a pinch of salt'. A Global Witness report earlier this year detailed how a Congo desk in Rwanda's Defence Ministry had set up 'a highly efficient network' with RCD-Goma to exploit tantalite - used in mobile phones and laptops - and cassiterite, a form of tin. The minerals were shipped on to Europe in twice-weekly flights, which are common knowledge among aid workers and UN officials, but 'if you value your security, you don't ask questions about this subject', said one witness. The miners of Rubaya use shovels and plastic bowls to mine about 100 kilos of tantalite a week, said one miner. The mining of cassiterite in Walikale has made the town a battleground for the RCD-Goma and the Congolese Mayi-Mayi militia. Damian Lilly, of Medécins Sans Frontières, one of the few aid agencies working in the area, said half of the town's population had fled and it was vulnerable to such diseases as cholera. Five-year-old Bertha Ngongo was lucky. Forced to flee into the bush with no food, her mother Josephine got the malnourished girl to hospital in time to save her life. 'This war just goes on and on,' the mother said wearily.

Congolese brave tough journey home (UNHCR, 26/11):-
Some 1,500 Congolese refugees have braved the tough journey home from the Central African Republic (CAR) to north-western Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the last month on boats, trucks and on foot. But in the remotest parts of Equateur province, where roads are non-existent and the rivers impossible to navigate, the only means of transport possible to repatriate the refugees is by air. The UN refugee agency organised the first airlift to Equateur province on Wednesday, for a group of 95 refugees going back home to Mbandaka town. The flight left from the CAR capital, Bangui, and returnee Mobissi Mama Awblakat heaved a sigh of relief when the plane made its descent over the Congo River towards Mbandaka. She and her four children decided to leave Molangue refugee camp in CAR when they heard that conditions had improved in Equateur province, and now at last they were home. Awblakate's return package included the transfer from Molangue camp to Bangui airport, and the flight to Mbandaka. But starting a new life will not be easy, and upon arrival, the UN refugee agency provided her family with mats, blankets, basic household items and enough food for three months to help out. There are some 12,000 refugees from DRC in neighbouring CAR, a quarter of them staying in Molangue camp. A total of 1,507 refugees from Molangue have gone back to Equateur province in north-western DRC since UNHCR started assisting returns from CAR on October 21. UNHCR plans to repatriate another 750 Congolese from CAR before the end of the year, at the rate of about 100 refugees per trip. The return operation has met enormous logistical challenges in the dense rainforest of north-western DRC. With hardly any bitumen or gravelling, the roads turn into rivers after every downpour during the current rainy season. In addition, many Congolese refugees in CAR have to cross at least two broad rivers – the Oubangui and the Congo – to get home. "As we started the operation, we soon realised that simply organising return convoys would not be enough," says Geoffrey Wordley, who leads UNHCR's emergency team to assist returns from Molangue camp. "There are potholes so deep that a four-wheel drive has difficulty passing, let alone a truck carrying people. The rivers in the area are seldom spanned with bridges. It takes us three days to travel the 200 km from Molangue camp to Gemena town in the DRC, from where many refugees originate." Instead, Wordley and his team arranged for a barge to carry the returnees across the Oubangui River separating the two countries. Three times a week for the past month, UNHCR organised such crossings for refugees going back to Libenge and Gemena. The team is now planning several other airlifts for refugees like Awblakat who are returning to the remote areas of Mbandaka and Gbadolite. Most of the 12,000 Congolese refugees in CAR want to return home, but the situation in some parts of DRC remains volatile, and for the time being UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme extends only to the north-western province of Equateur, which is considered safe for return. In the next phase of return to Equateur province, scheduled for early 2005, UNHCR will repatriate some of the more than 58,000 Congolese refugees hosted in the Republic of Congo.

New legislation to boost economic participation (IRIN News, 16/11):- A group of influential Malawian businessmen has called on the government to create more economic opportunities for its citizens.
Mike Mlombwa, a founding member of the Indigenous Business Association of Malawi, claimed that under former president Bakili Muluzi, locally-owned businesses were sidelined from government tenders. "As local businessmen we are struggling to get business from government, but instead it is the foreigners that are benefiting," he alleged. Local businessmen selling motor vehicle spare parts in the capital, Lilongwe, recently clashed with police, claiming that the government favoured Nigerian-owned businesses. Nigerian shops were shut down temporarily until the situation had calmed down. According to business consultant Mark Maleta, new legislation aimed at broadening economic opportunities for indigenous Malawians would help to alleviate economic pressure. The Economic Association of Malawi has long complained that economic growth was difficult to predict because of the lack of commercial opportunities. The proposed National Empowerment Policy is geared towards improving access to capital and bolstering businesses acumen, particularly among the poor. The draft document reiterates that policies would favour 'Malawian citizens'. An estimated MK 178 million (US $1.68 million) is expected to be allocated to improving access to financial services and capital, while MK 15 million (US $138,000) will be spent on improving access to land and infrastructure, especially for women, the disabled and the youth. Malawians needing land for commercial purposes will be given preference. A key recommendation was that goods and services "consumed" by the government and parastatals be outsourced to businesses owned by Malawians. The country's economy is expected to grow by 4.2 percent in the coming fiscal year, but recently elected President Bingu wa Mutharika has said that 6 percent growth per year would be needed to eliminate widespread poverty. Landlocked Malawi lacks mineral resources and is one of the most densely populated countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In a mainly agrarian economy that employs 85 percent of the labour force and accounts for 40 percent of gross domestic product, three droughts in four years have had a devastating effect on household coping mechanisms. Almost 65 percent of the population live in abject poverty.

Nigerians free to trade in Lilongwe ( Nation Online, 2/11):-
The High Court in Lilongwe Thursday granted an injunction to four Nigerians and another foreigner restraining Lilongwe Motor Spares Association from preventing them to conduct business along Malangalanga road in Lilongwe. The ruling also restrains the association or any of its members from issuing threats to harass or kill the applicants or loot their shops as prayed by the five foreign vendors. Allan Chinula, lawyer for the foreign businessmen trading in motor vehicle spare parts, sought legal settlement when the association, whose members are all Malawians, ordered his clients to close down their businesses or face looting, assault or even death. The association also demanded to see the foreign vendors' business permits, which they refused. The applicants include owners of Stone Auto Parts, JID Investments, Diamond Trading, Solid Foundation Auto Parts and Sputnik Auto Parts who have valid business permits, according to the ruling, and they are all trading along Malangalanga road. Foreign vendors and Malawians in the area have been locked in misunderstandings since mid this year and the wrangle is going on despite the intervention of Immigration Department, Malawi Revenue Authority and Ministry of Trade who checked on the foreigners' business permits. According to court records, the locals feel they are suffering unfair trade practices from foreign vendors "most of whom do not posses proper immigration papers and who pose security hazards" Although the injunction was supposed to be considered after hearing from both parties, according to an earlier court order, the ruling was made without hearing from lawyer for the association, Rodrick Makono. Judge Esmie Chombo, who made the ruling in her chambers, said Makono did not file an affidavit in opposition and failed to turn up for the hearing on October 22 without excuse despite acknowledging receipt of the applicants' affidavits and notice of adjournment. She said it was surprising that the respondent's counsel decided to absent himself from the proceedings where he might have presented the concerns of his clients, saying the respondent did not even file an affidavit in opposition. "If that had been filed, the court would have relied on the affidavit before granting the application. But no party can be compelled to defend its own interest. I therefore grant the application as prayed for," said Chombo. Chinula said in an interview yesterday the law will take its course should the association violate the court ruling by continuing to harass his clients. But the association's secretary Dick Phiri and executive member Mike Jere in another interview indicated they would appeal against the injunction. The law gives them up to 30 days.

Mozambicans rush home to vote (The Mirror Online, 21/11):- More than two million Mozambicans residing in Zimbabwe have renounced their Zimbabwean citizenship in the last months in order for them to go back home and vote in the forthcoming elections next month. Official figures from the Mozambican embassy in Harare reveal that a total of 4 812 have managed to beat the vote registration dates which were set between September 6-25. But several millions others have failed to register because they had no proper documentation to prove that they are Mozambicans or they came late after the deadline dates, an official from the Harare embassy said. This is the first time ever that Mozambicans living outside the country have been accorded their right to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections, Filipe Mandlate, a spokesman for the Mozambican National Elections Commission (CNE) said in Maputo when announcing the decision on October 12. While only 4 812 Mozambicans in Zimbabwe have managed to register to vote in the elections, it has emerged that more than two million Mozambicans have successfully managed to renounce their Zimbabwean citizenship. But it is of great interest that Zimbabwe has the largest number of Mozambicans willing to return home. Although the actual number of Mozambicans who have left Zimbabwe is difficult to ascertain, it is believed to be in excess of two million, since most of those who had no documents just crossed into Mozambique. Guitherme Tamele the Mozambican embassy first secretary giving a general overview of the repatriations said, ‘Because of the size of the Mozambican border which stretches from South Africa to Malawi several people could have just crossed easily into Mozambique as the monitoring is not really tight’. But never in the history of Zimbabwe have people of Mozambiquan origin generated such interest of an immediate return to an unfamiliar home.The Mozambican embassy has been busy of late, with people thronging it to inquire how they can renounce their citizen status. Tamele said most Mozambicans who used to work on farms have been without jobs since the inception of the accelerated land reform programme. He added that this could have been the pushing factor for these people. The official said the improving socio-economic, political environment now prevailing in Mozambique could also have been the pulling element. He added that the Mozambican economy has been steadily growing over the years, while that of Zimbabwe has been on the down turn, living many out of employment. While the aged Mozambicans are going back home to reunite with their relatives and friends, the young ones born out of Mozambicans parents in Zimbabwe, seem to be the most eager and interest lot. There exist two motives between the two groups of people the aged and the young who throng the embassy. “See my brother, I don’t need to struggle to wait and get a passport after 6 months of waiting in Zimbabwe,” said a 29 year old Petros Bwanali from Mabvuku. He said referring to hassles encountered when one wants to apply for a Zimbabwean passport. A Mozambican passport costs only $19 000 in application fees and can be collected in a day. In Zimbabwe, pressure at the registry offices has been mounting for the past three years and the officials have failed to cope with the number of applicants who throng the offices everyday. People even sleep on the queues at the Makombe offices in their desperation to get a passport. The Attorney General’s office has since announced that the offices will be opened during weekends. Mozambicans have been used as gardeners, housemaids, and messengers and in other low earning jobs in Zimbabwe over the years. They were used as cheap labour on farms and in factories by the whites. But some excelled as carpenters and tailors in the communities where they resided. Meanwhile, the decision to let Mozambicans living abroad to vote has been received with mixed feelings by the opposition parties in that country. The CNE, which is appointed by the ruling FRELIMO was in favour of the decision while the opposition RENAMO heavily opposed it. It looks as though RENAMO fears that the ties that exist between Zimbabwe and Mozambique would propel those returning to vote for FRELIMO, because of the long-standing political history dating back to the liberation struggle days. FRELIMO’s candidate is the notorious Armando Guebuza, who is popular for his fire and blood stance that took the Portuguese out of Mozambique in 24 hours. RENAMO, the closest contestant, is being led by the former rebel leader, Alfonso Dhlakama. Mozambicans residing in Zimbabwe can be grouped in two groups. The first group of Mozambicans came to Zimbabwe in the early 1960s seeking employment. ‘These people came to Zimbabwe to work on plantations, farms, factories and at the national railways as Southern Rhodesia was economically better in the region save for that of South Africa,’ Tamele said. The other group of Mozambicans came as refugees during the ‘Matsanga’ (Renamo) scare after the country’s independence in 1975. And ever since these people have been living in Zimbabwe until RENAMO and FRELIMO signed a peace agreement. Since then Mozambicans have been going back home in small numbers until the recent months when they are going en-masse. News coming from Mozambique says retiring president Joachim Chissano has buckled in to the EU demands to let its election observers have access to all stages of the elections including the counting of votes. The president told journalist on October 12 before he left for Gabon enroute to Portugal that the CNE should accommodate the EU requests.

Mozambique hosts 8,000 foreign refugees (Angola Press, 19/11):-
Mozambique is currently hosting about 8,000 refugees of at least 16 different nationalities, 5,608 of whom are at the Marretane Refugee Center, in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, local media reported on Wednesday. According to the Director of the Mozambique's National Institute for Refugee Support, Rosa Chissaque, most of the refugees came from the Great Lakes region. She added that most refugees are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, fleeing from the political, social, ethnic and military conflicts there. Chissaque also said besides those established at the Marretane Center, there are others authorized to reside and receive assistance in other parts of Mozambique. Chissaque said that the flux of refugees has been declining since 2002 and 2003, when there were about 150 new refugees every month, entering Mozambique through Niassa and Cabo Delgado in the north, and Tete province in the west of the country. Tuesday's meeting was to update INAR staff on their role and the country's commitment to the Geneva Convention on Refugees.

Chissano urges migrants to vote for Frelimo ( Angencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 15/11):-
Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano on Sunday warned Mozambicans resident in South Africa to beware of "false promises" from the opposition parties who are seeking their votes in the December general elections. Chissano was speaking on Sunday, at a Johannesburg meeting called so that he could bid farewell to the Mozambican community in South Africa - this is almost certainly the last time he will address them as head of state. But Chissano also took the opportunity to urge his audience to vote for the ruling Frelimo Party and for its presidential candidate, Armando Guebuza. He warned that, just because Frelimo was the only party visibly campaigning for the emigrants, nobody should imagine that the opposition had fallen asleep. "You know that the South Africa of apartheid was the rear base for those who fought against the Mozambican government and people. Don't think that they're not still here", Chissano said. The former rebel movement Renamo had not presented its candidates publicly to the Mozambican migrants - but Chissano assured his audience that Renamo was campaigning clandestinely. "While we in Frelimo are telling the truth, the opposition moves around at night spreading its lies", he accused Chissano declared that Frelimo has a serious programme of governance, and that it keeps its promises to the electorate, although it may take a long time to carry them out. "Parties that make lots of promises do not deserve the electorate's trust, because the solution to a problem requires time and patience", he said. "To say that "if I take power, then I'll change the face of the customs service in January", is pure deceit, because change in that institution, which is part of the public sector reform, cannot happen from one day to the next". Chissano took customs as an example, since this is part of the state apparatus that Mozambican migrants have to deal with when they return to the country, and there are frequent complaints of poor treatment by customs officials. Improving customs involved changing the attitude of customs staff, said Chissano, and it would take a long time to educate the officials as to how they should treat the public, and to put in place the necessary control mechanisms. Those who promised changes in three months "are lying", he declared. "That's why they don't present themselves publicly here, because their mission seeks merely to deceive the electorate". (Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has repeatedly promised to revolutionise the state apparatus in 90 days.) What seemed very difficult in the past, Chissano continued, was now being achieved, thanks to the work of Frelimo and its government. Thus the money was now available to rebuild the Sena railway line (running from the port of Beira, to the Moatize coal mines), which had been sabotaged by Renamo in the 1980s. The Brazilian mining giant, the Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, had promised a massive investment (of up to a billion dollars in Moatize), and this would generate many jobs, Chissano pointed out. It had taken time to negotiate the Sena line, and to organise the Moatize mining concession, just as it had taken time to revive the sugar industry in central Mozambique, also destroyed by Renamo sabotage during the war of destabilisation. Now Mozambique no longer needed to import large amounts of sugar, because most of its sugar mills were producing again, and employing about 20,000 workers. Yet opposition parties told the electorate that Frelimo "has done nothing" since Mozambican independence in 1975. "In this campaign of lies, these parties do not tell you that during 16 years they sabotaged the country", added Chissano, to loud applause. Chissano pointed out that the very fact that Mozambicans living abroad can now vote was due to Frelimo. Renamo had categorically opposed giving emigrants the right to vote - despite the fact that, during the war, Renamo had been based abroad, notably in South Africa and Portugal.

Border post with Swaziland reopened (Angencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 05/11):-
Mozambique and Swaziland on Thursday reopened the border post between the two countries at Goba, which had been closed since 1980. Thus travellers now have an alternative to the Namaacha border post which is much further north. Mozambicans wishing to visit the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal usually travel via Swaziland - and reopening the Goba post knocks about 70 kilometres off the Maputo-Durban journey. President Joaquim Chissano, who was on an official visit to Swaziland, presided at the reopening ceremony alongside his host, King Mswati III. Chissano told the crowd who witnessed the ceremony that the Goba post would facilitate legitimate trade between the two countries - but that nobody should try to use it for contraband. He added that the new border post would also help promote tourism, in the context of the Libombos Spatial Initiative between Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. King Mswati said reopening the border had cost the Swazi government 7.8 million US dollars. This money was spent on rehabilitating the road to the border, and on the premises where the customs services will operate. Work on the Mozambican side, where the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels had completely destroyed the buildings during the war of destabilisation, began in April 2002, and was budgeted at 1.5 million dollars. Initially, the border post will be open from 07.00 to 20.00. If there is sufficient demand, the opening hours will be extended.

German Embassy rejects former migrants claims (Angencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 02/11):-
The demands of Mozambicans who were once migrant workers in the now defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR) have suffered a severe blow with a point by point demolition of their case by the German embassy in Maputo. Those who claim to represent the former migrants (known colloquially as "majermanes") have argued for years that they are still owed vast sums of money by the Mozambican and/or German governments. Although the Mozambican authorities in 2002 yielded to pressure, and agreed, "as an exceptional measure", to repay the social security contributions that were sent from Germany to Mozambique in the 1980s, the majermane leadership claimed that this was insufficient. One of the majermane arguments is that hundreds of millions of dollars that should have gone to them was used instead to pay off Mozambique's debt to the GDR. This became a key point used to justify the majermane occupation of the embassy premises for several days in mid-July. A letter from the German embassy, extracts from which are published in Tuesday's issue of the independent newsheet "Mediafax", points out that this was quite impossible - and that in reality most of the Mozambican debt to the GDR was cancelled under the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) debt relief initiative. The embassy was responding to "requests from clarification" from majermane leader Alberto Mahuaie. Since he does not like the embassy's reply, he has rejected it, and continues to insist that "more than 350 million dollars" was taken from the money discounted from the migrants' wages and used to pay the debt. The embassy's letter says that it was indeed true that, by the time the Berlin wall came down, Mozambique owed the GDR about 350 million dollars. This was the result of purchases of German machinery and other goods under the bilateral credit arrangements between the two countries. Mozambique paid with exports to the GDR of such goods as citrus fruit, cashew nuts, sisal, cement, and coal (which came to an abrupt end in 1983 with the apartheid sabotage of the railway from the Moatize coal mines to the port of Beira). This trade between the GDR and Mozambique was managed through a clearing house, and denominated in US dollars (since neither the metical nor the East German mark were convertible). The balance on this "special account" was worked out at the end of each year - and was always negative for Mozambique. The "special account" mechanism was also used to transfer the majermane deferred wages, and 50 per cent of their social security contribution, to Mozambique - but this does not mean that any of the majermane money was used to pay the Mozambican debt. The extinction of the GDR meant that the debt of 350 million dollars was inherited by the government of a united Germany. The embassy points out that the debt, on the basis of agreements in the Paris club of major creditors, was integrated into the bilateral agreements between Federal Germany and Mozambique, renegotiated, and partially cancelled. But Mozambique was obliged to pay interest on the debt, which amounted to about 16 million Euros (about 20 million dollars at current exchange rates) in the 1990s. Then came HIPC, and in November 2001, the German government scrapped 92.5 per cent of the old debt to the GDR. A few months later, on 28 July 2002, a bilateral agreement between Germany and Mozambique raised this cancellation to 100 per cent. The majermanes have also insisted that 32.5 per cent of their total wages in the GDR were deducted as social security contributions, and not the 32.5 marks which the Mozambican authorities say were transferred. The claim has always sounded absurd - if only because in the late 1980s the majermanes were obliged to transfer 60 per cent of their wages to Mozambique. If a further 32.5 per cent was being discounted for social security, they would have had just 7.5 per cent of their wages to live on. The embassy pointed that, under GDR law, workers were obliged to contribute 10 per cent of their gross wages to social security, or 60 marks, whichever was smaller (there is a slight contradiction here with earlier figures, which speak of a discount of 65 marks). The embassy added that the migrants were treated in exactly the same way as GDR nationals in social security contributions, and received the same benefits. The major difference was that 50 per cent of the migrants' contributions was transferred to Mozambique. The agreement between the GDR and Mozambique stipulated that, after their return, the migrants would enjoy full social security rights under Mozambican legislation. How much money in total was transferred ? According to the embassy, between 1982 and 1989 the Deutsche AuBenhandelsbank of the GDR transferred to the Bank of Mozambique slightly more than 18.6 million dollars. The majermanes also demand the payment of a family bonus, child subsidies, and compensation for the unilateral cancellation of their work contracts when the GDR collapsed. They allege that Germany paid this money to Mozambique, but it was then stolen by members of the Mozambican government. Again, the embassy's letter refutes these claims. Some of the majermanes did indeed have the right to a family bonus and child subsidies - and this money "was paid 100 per cent by the companies that employed them". The compensation scheme for migrants forced to leave Germany in the 1990-1992 period was that the employing companies gave each of them a lump sum of 3,000 marks plus 70 per cent of their net wages for at least three months. In cases where the companies could not pay, the money came from the German state budget. The embassy said that no money at all was ever transferred to Mozambique for these purposes. The response from the majermane leadership to this letter has been a cry of rage. "The ambassador insulted us with the answer he gave us", declared Mahuaie. "It's a very negative letter, in which he does not clearly reply to our doubts, and shows that he has no respect for us".


Ballots arrive from abroad (New Era, 18/11):- Two ballot bags arrived in the country yesterday from Cape Town, South Africa and Zimbabwe where Namibians participated in their country's third general elections. And Returning Officer for Namibians Abroad, Kahe-pa-ko Tjituka, informed Nampa that four ballot bags arrived on Tuesday from war-torn Liberia, where a Namibian peacekeeping force has been deployed, and also from neighbouring Botswana, which concluded its own elections less than three weeks ago. More ballot bags are expected to arrive this week from New York, Washington D.C, Belgium, London, Ethiopia, Zambia, the Russian Federation, Sweden, Angola, Cuba, Germany, France, Pretoria, India, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as two diplomatic bags containing ballot papers from Brazil. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had polling stations at its embassies and high commissions in these cities and countries. Some countries such as Brazil and South Africa had two polling stations due to their vastness. In Brazil, one polling station was in the capital Brasilia and the other one in Rio de Janeiro. In South Africa, Namibians had a choice of voting at the Namibian mission in Pretoria or in Cape Town where a polling station was opened. Tjituka explained that representatives of the various political parties and members of the Namibian police force normally accompany her to Hosea Kutako International Airport or to Eros Airport to collect the ballot bags whenever she is informed of their arrival. These bags are then booked in and kept under heavy police guard at a central police station to await the arrival of other bags before counting commences. But the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has not set a specific window period within which the ballots could be expected in Namibia. Former elections director, Prof. Gerhard Töte-meyer on Wednesday said it was important to have all these overseas votes in the country as soon as possible, because they need to be added on to the total votes received inland to determine the quota for political parties taking part in the National Assembly election.

High Court warns Home Affairs officials (The Namibian, 09/11):-
The High Court has issued to a stern warning to Namibia's immigration authorities to strictly adhere to the country's laws and not to deport alleged illegal immigrants without a proper order from an immigration tribunal. In his second significant ruling on an immigration matter in a fortnight, Judge Petrus Damaseb cautioned immigration authorities in the High Court in Windhoek last Wednesday that any attempt to remove a Chinese national from Namibia without exhausting the provisions of the Immigration Control Act "will be illegal and will attract not only censure but stern action from this Court". The Judge refused to grant a Chinese citizen, Tao Hua Zhu, an order restraining the Minister of Home Affairs and the Chief of Immigration from deporting him from Namibia. That did not leave the immigration authorities free to deport Tao, though. In Judge Damaseb's opinion, a letter from Peter Mwatile, the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Acting Chairman of the Immigration Selection Board, informing Tao that his application for the renewal of an employment permit had not been successful, and giving him 21 days to leave Namibia, was no proof that an immigration tribunal had directed Tao's deportation from Namibia. Such a directive from an immigration tribunal would be an essential prerequisite before someone could be deported from Namibia, it appears from Judge Damaseb's judgement. The Judge not only warned that any attempt by the authorities to remove Tao from Namibia without going through the procedures set by the Immigration Control Act would be illegal but would be met by "censure and stern action" from the High Court. He also directed Nixon Marcus, a lawyer from the Directorate Civil Litigation (Government Attorney) who was representing the Home Affairs Minister and the Chief of Immigration, to provide a copy of the court's judgement to his clients and to explain to them the consequences if they or their officials failed to comply with the requirements of the law. While Judge Damaseb's ruling may have provided clear guidance on the sort of situation in which Tao was, it however also means that conflicting signals on the same sort of situation have now emanated from the High Court in recent cases. Around the middle of September another Chinese national who had been warned to leave Namibia after his temporary employment permit was cancelled also rushed to the High Court to get an order forbidding his deportation. In his case, the letter informing him that he had to leave Namibia appeared to have been accepted by Judge Kato van Niekerk as sufficient indication of a deportation threat to warrant an urgent order against his deportation. It now appears that Judge Damaseb has, however, considered exactly that sort of official documentation as falling short of the requirements for a valid deportation order. Whatever lack of clarity there is on that score may still be authoritatively cleared up, though. Tao's lawyer, Chris Brandt, has already filed a notice that he will be appealing to the Supreme Court against Judge Damaseb's judgement.

Namibians to vote abroad (New Era, 05/11):-
Thousands of Namibians working and studying outside the country and those manning the country's numerous foreign missions will vote in the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in less than a fortnight. The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has confirmed that ballot papers would be provided for Namibian citizens serving or living in more than 23 countries worldwide. More than 23 polling stations will be available in places such as New York, Washington DC, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Zambia, Russia, Sweden, Nigeria and neighbouring Angola. Kanime said Namibians in countries such as Cuba, Germany, Austria, France, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, Botswana, China, DRC, and Brazil would also vote. Kanime noted that Namibian soldiers serving in a UN peacekeeping mission would vote at four polling stations while two such stations would be set up in South Africa. He said no polling station would be available in Nigeria and in Austria. Namibia has thousands of students studying in foreign countries while thousands of others are also working outside the country.

Border closure no big issue (New Era, 02/22):-
The Regional Police Commander for the Kavango Region, Chief Inspector Olavi Auanga, says the continued closure of the Kavango border with Angola has not presented any problems in that region. Auanga told New Era during an exclusive interview that cross-border movements among people sharing the common Namibian/Angolan border in that region, have always been allowed, based on the need for crossing the border. He stressed that Angolan citizens have been allowed to enter the Kavango Region through demarcated entry points, based on logistical and health-related needs. "They are our brothers and sisters - the fact that the border remains closed does not disqualify us to lend a helping hand to their daily requirements. They (Angolans) have not been reported to be promoting criminal activities inside our country, they have proven to be genuine collaborators in executing our common agenda aimed at maintaining a peaceful and stable political climate in this region." He noted that Government recently dispatched teams to the frontier to establish current border conditions to enable the speedy declaration of the re-opening of the border. President Sam Nujoma announced the closure of the border at the height of the military conflict in Angola that had spilled over into the Caprivi and Kavango regions during 2000. Auanga pointed out that a remarkable decline in criminal activities has been recorded in his region, stating that the most disturbing cases of culpable homicide had previously featured prominently on the crime calendar of the Kavango. He appealed to residents to continue to render support to security forces aimed at enabling them to exercise their powers as law enforcement and maintenance officers. Meanwhile, the Vice-Consul of the Angolan Consulate at Rundu, Augusto Markosso, remarked to New Era that there was no need to rush for the re-opening of the border. He stressed that it could be more advisable to open the border after consultation with Angolan counterparts to establish that country's readiness to undertake activities that could be required to be introduced at identified border points.

Seminar on migrant labour, Minister interviewed (L'Express (Port Louis), 9/11):- Interview with S. Soodhum, Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and  Employment:- What is main purpose of the tripartite seminar on migrant labour, which is being held by your ministry? This seminar is organized with the collaboration of the International Labour Office (ILO). My ministry hopes that the workshop will help formulate coherent, transparent and comprehensive policies on migrant labour. Lately, we have brought changes to existing laws and policies to improve the welfare of foreign workers. As you are aware, we have been facing several problems on this count. The ministry is very willing to remedy the situation. Our economy continues to depend on migrant workers mainly in the textile sector and to a lesser extent in some other sectors. The Mauritian experience in labour migration illustrates ILO's statement that "migration has become an integral part of the growth and development process". What are the steps that have been taken to improve the welfare of immigrant workers? The management of migrant workers remains a very critical and delicate issue. We have faced serious industrial problems on occasions and witnessed some important deficits in human resource management practices in some enterprises as well as in the recruitment system. My ministry has set up a Special Migrant Unit to deal with this type of problems. We now have a model contract for all foreign workers. The contract is on our website and we verify the Hindi and Chinese versions so as to ensure that there are no discrepancies.  Work permits are not issued without fire and health clearance for dormitories. Inspection and enforcement procedures have been made tighter with night inspections and surprise visits to dormitories. Workers now feel more at ease to express their grievances. I have also introduced legislation, which provides for heavy fines against intimidation and harassment acts. We have also taken steps to eliminate disparities in food allowances. Workers' contracts are verified before they set for Mauritius in order to prevent any kind discrepancies.  The mode of paying wages is a source of industrial conflict... One of the terms of employment contracts is the transfer of remittances and the mode of payment of wages. These remain a sensitive problem, which has in the past resulted in work stoppages and protests. The role of recruiting agents, deposits paid before coming to Mauritius and the contract signed by workers with recruiting agents have caused a lot of ambiguity and confusion. We have been urging employers to pay workers directly in Mauritius. There has been considerable progress in this area and companies are generally complying with the law.

South Africa
Aids hits South Africa profits (Mmegi, 30/11):- The effect of Aids has started to hit South African firms' profits, a survey suggests, with mining and manufacturing the worst affected. More than 60% of mines surveyed by the Bureau for Economic Research had lower profits as a result of HIV/Aids. The survey, carried out on behalf of the South African Business Coalition on HIV and Aids, found profits at about 50% of manufacturers had suffered too. Retail, wholesale, motoring, building and construction were less affected. But these sectors expect the impact of Aids to escalate over the next five years. As well as being the two sectors most affected by Aids, manufacturing and mining also represent the two largest segments of the South African economy, accounting for about 22% and 13% of its gross domestic product. In both sectors, absenteeism due to ill health is a major problem and is driving up costs, the survey found. Some miners and manufacturers are being forced to invest in machinery or equipment to reduce their dependence on labour, said the South African Business Coalition on HIV and Aids (Sabcoha). Some are planning to take on extra staff to offset low labour productivity, absenteeism and the death of workers from Aids. Sabcoha chief executive Brad Meares cited gold miners AngloGold Ashanti and Harmony Gold as the worst affected. "Each has estimated that approximately one in three of their employees are currently infected with HIV," he said. Harmony estimates that HIV/Aids related expenses could cost their company between $2 and $5 per ounce of gold produced. The Bureau of Economic Research survey was carried out between July and August this year and involved more than 1,000 companies in a range of sectors. "The survey results suggest that a substantial number of South African companies are already suffering the consequences of HIV/Aids," said Mr. Meares. But he pointed out that few companies apart from those in mining or financial services - also included in the survey - mentioned the impact of Aids on their businesses in their annual reports. More than five million of South Africa's population of 45 million are infected with the killer disease, making it one of the most hard-hit countries in the world. The South African government has been criticised for not doing enough. Sabcoha said large companies are leading the fight against Aids, but that smaller companies had made less progress.

Aids hits mine profits (The Namibian, 29/11):- AIDS is behind the reduced profits at 60 per cent of the country's mines, a South Africa Business Coalition HIV-AIDS survey has found. Conducted between July and September, the survey released on Thursday found that the epidemic had also had a marked effect on company profits in the manufacturing and financial services sectors. Whereas mines and manufacturers were relatively alarmed by the impact of the disease on their labour force and production costs, financial services companies also seemed concerned about its impact on their target markets. The disease would not only slow growth in consumer markets but could also increase banks' exposure to non-performing loans as clients started to fall ill and died of AIDS, said coalition chief executive Brad Mears. Areas of concern, not covered by the survey, were transport and agriculture, he said.

SA fast-tracking recruitment of foreign doctors (Business Day, 29/11):- The Government was fast-tracking the recruitment of foreign qualified medical doctors and pharmacists to increase "capacity building" for the implementation of the anti-retroviral roll-out plan, says Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. This emerged in a reply to a written question in Parliament from Democratic alliance (DA) health spokesman Ryan Coetzee who asked how many patients in Limpopo and Mpumalanga were receiving anti-retroviral treatment in terms of the national anti-retroviral roll-out plan and whether she had been informed of any problems in these provinces affecting the speed of the plan's implementation. Tshabalala-Msimang said in Limpopo there were 83 patients receiving treatment while in Mpumalanga there were 448. The minister said the common challenges for both provinces were recruitment of staff and infrastructure problems. The provision of health services was labour intensive and a range of both clinical and management skills "are required to deliver health services in an affordable and equitable manner. "There is currently an imbalance in the distribution of health professionals between the public and private health care sectors, with the majority of doctors, pharmacists and dentists placed in the private sector." In addition the migration of health professionals to developed countries had contributed to the problem of recruiting and retaining health professionals in the public sector. But measures had been taken to attract scarce skills. These were the employment of private health practitioners while doctors were appointed at the level of principal medical officers - at better pay rates - and rural allowances had been implemented. She said a comprehensive "country human resources plan" should be ready for implementation by early next year.
The health minister said the "revamping process" of identified facilities for the roll-out plan was taking place. "Provinces are making use of temporary structures while new ones are built. Training of health care workers is also taking place."

Refugees act could be changed (The Mercury, 29/11):- The Refugees Act might be amended next year to allow asylum seekers the right to work and study while waiting for their applications to be processed. Home Affairs Director-General Barry Gilder said the amendments would also deal with the problem of manifestly unfounded applications for refugee status. At present, refugees wait as long as two years for confirmation of their status. In that time they are not allowed to work or study in South Africa. Gilder said serious weaknesses in the government's refugee management programme were being addressed through the department's new strategy. "They should not have to wait for two years in the first place - that is what I am trying to say." The department had five refugee assistance centres. These were in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban. "Those have been seriously under-staffed, seriously under-equipped," he said. But the department was planning to properly computerise the centres. Gilder said resources had been "squeezed" out of the department's budget and an additional 69 refugee status determination officers were being employed to consider applications. The department was looking at establishing another refugee reception centre in Musina on the border with Zimbabwe, he said.

Schoolgirls lured into prostitution (City Press, 27/11):- Inner city schools are the prime recruitment ground for Nigerian drug and child sex syndicates, and many of the hair salons in down-town areas are actually fronts for recruiting "good girls". This is the view of police investigators who say young female students with financial problems attending inner city schools in major city centres in South Africa have become easy recruitment targets for Nigerian syndicates involved in drug and prostitution rings. The police have drawn a link between some of the inner-city hair salons, saying they were opened by Nigerian syndicates. They describe some of the Nigerian syndicate members as "heartless, greedy people who see themselves as deserving a good life at the expense of the poor". The police, according to Superintendent Andre Neethling on a radio programme this week, have now drawn a link between drug use, trafficking and prostitution. His comments came as senior police investigators, charged with investigating the Nigerian syndicates involved in the underworld in the country, provided City Press with a profile on how young women were recruited by the Nigerian syndicates who end up using them as prostitutes and drug couriers. According to police, successful couriers are often rewarded with the establishment of hair salons where further recruitment of young prostitutes takes place. "Once they have gained the confidence of a woman, they will open a hair salon for her and that's where they will do their operations from and recruit prostitutes." More frightening for the young girls is that once they have been drawn into the syndicates, they do not have a chance to come out unless they risk being killed. Say police: " Couriers' work in drug trafficking is a consent to a death contract." Police paint a picture of troubled youngsters - who come mostly from single parents - ending up being vulnerable and unable to support or maintain their own children. A police director, who is credited with busting some of the high-profile syndicates in the country involved in drug trafficking, says educational instutitions have become the nerve centre for recruitment for the Nigerian syndicates who promise some of the girls huge sums of money once they work for them. "They will promise to pay them amounts ranging between R20 000 and R25 000 for a drug consignment to be delivered from other countries to South Africa. At times it is so frustrating for them (the girls) as they don't even get the money promised to them." Police say the Nigerian syndicate members do not allow a courier to withdraw in fear that they might be exposed and be arrested by the police. "They do everything in their power to eliminate whoever wants to withdraw from criminal activities, which includes paying people for dirty jobs such as kidnapping and killing." He warned that the syndicates were ruthless and were fond of abandoning their couriers once they got arrested overseas. "The couriers are sometimes arrested in other countries while in the process of delivering drugs. Members of the Nigerian syndicates don't even know the places they send their couriers to and the danger to which they are exposed. "The Nigerian syndicate members who act behind the scenes, do not care and opt to abandon the arrested person in jail which leads to the suffering of the victim's family." He says in cases where couriers are sent outside the country, they will often have to carry large amounts of drugs which often damages their health. "The swallowed drugs burst or rupture in the stomach and often fatally injure the couriers. " According to the police director, some of the the drugs given to the girls are dependence-inducing drugs that result in them needing more once they have started taking them. "Once they start using them, they get hooked for life."

Home Affairs minister to visit DRC (Sapa, 27/11):- Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Tuesday and Wednesday to sign a memorandum of understanding on immigration and population register matters, her office said on Saturday. The agreement involved personnel capacity building, development of information technology systems and standard operating
procedures, the safe-keeping and management of records and the enhancement of existing systems. The Department of Home Affairs would send a technical staff to the DRC to oversee implementation of the memorandum of understanding, and a team of experts to work with their DRC counterparts. The visit was part of the General Co-operation Agreement and the Joint Bilateral Commission signed earlier this year by President Thabo Mbeki and DRC President Joseph Kabila. The Joint Bilateral Commission aimed to support transition in the DRC by assisting with post-conflict reconstruction and the 2005 DRC elections, said Home Affairs.

SA mines reeling from Aids pandemic (Business Day, 26/11):- South Africa's staggering AIDS rate is severely impacting on the profits of nearly two-thirds of mines surveyed in a study released on Thursday. "The survey results show that a substantial number of companies are already suffering the consequences of the HIV/AIDS epidemic," said a report by the South African Business Coalition on HIV and AIDS. Chief executive Brad Mears said the research, conducted by sending questionnaires to 1,008 companies between July and September 2004, came up with similar results from the first survey released a year ago, indicating that the situation has not improved. However this year the mining and financial services sectors were for the first time included in the study. "When asked how HIV/AIDS is affecting company profits, between 40 percent and 50 percent of the respondents in the financial services and manufacturing sectors indicated that the epidemic has already had an adverse impact on the bottom line," the report stated. "Sixty-two percent of the mines surveyed indicated that the epidemic has already had an adverse impact on their profits, while 75 percent expect a negative impact in five years' time." Mining makes up 40 percent of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange and contributes 8.1 percent to South Africa's gross domestic product and employs about 500,000 people. South Africa has one of the highest AIDS rates in the world with UNAIDS estimating that one in five adults are infected. The pandemic also caused higher labour turnover, lost experience and skills, increased worker absenteeism, higher recruitment costs and lower productivity. Larger companies seemed to have policies in place to deal with the effects of the disease but small and medium enterprises could not afford it, Mears said.
"Whereas approximately half of the mines and a third of the manufacturers and financial services companies have implemented a voluntary counselling and testing programme, less than one in six of the respondents in the other four sectors have done so." The survey covered the mining, financial services, manufacturing, motor trade, wholesale, building and constructing and retail sectors. It found that about 21 percent of mines and 15 percent of financial services companies provided anti-retroviral therapy at the workplace, but 10 percent or less of the respondents in the other sectors funded treatment. A report by the International Labour Organisation issued in July said the AIDS pandemic cost South Africa more than 70 billion dollars in the 10 years to 2002.

HIV/Aids taking its toll on mining sector (Sunday Times, 25/11):- HIV/Aids related illnesses and deaths are taking their toll on the mining sector, with over 60% of the mines reporting lower profits due to HIV / Aids. HIV/ Aids related illnesses and deaths are clearly taking their toll on the mining sector, with over 60% of the mines in a recent survey reporting lower profits due to HIV/Aids. This is according to an in-depth survey on the impact of HIV/Aids on business in South Africa by the South African Business Coalition on HIV & Aids (SABCOHA). The survey was conducted by the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) between July and September 2004 among respondents in the mining, manufacturing, retail, wholesale, motor trade, building and construction and financial services sectors. With 1,008 companies participating in the survey, it is the largest survey on the impact of HIV/Aids on business in South Africa. The survey aims to build awareness of the nature and the extent of the economic impact of HIV/Aids in order to assist business to respond effectively. The survey results suggest that a substantial number of South African companies are already suffering the consequences of the HIV/Aids epidemic. When asked how HIV/Aids is affecting company profits, 40% to 50% of the respondents in the manufacturing and financial services sectors and 62% of the mines surveyed indicated that the epidemic has already had an adverse impact on the bottom line. Whereas mines and manufacturers are relatively more alarmed by the impact of HIV/Aids on their labour force, and hence, productions costs, financial services companies also seem concerned about the impact of HIV/Aids on their target markets, the survey found. According to Brad Mears, the CEO of SABCOHA, HIV/Aids will not only slow the growth in consumer markets, but may also increase banks' exposure to non-performing loans as clients start to fall ill and die of Aids. Profitability in the retail, wholesale, motor trade and building and construction sectors appear to be relatively less affected, but respondents in all seven sectors expect the impact of the epidemic to escalate over the next five years. From a provincial perspective, companies located in KwaZulu-Natal, followed by Gauteng, appear to be the worst affected by the epidemic, while those based in the Western Cape have experienced the smallest impact. These results are broadly consistent with HIV prevalence estimates from the annual antenatal clinic survey conducted by the Department of Health. The latest antenatal clinic survey suggested that HIV prevalence is highest in KwaZulu-Natal and lowest in the Western Cape. It appears as though HIV/Aids is having a larger or more noticeable impact on the production side of business compared to the demand side (i.e. sales). Whereas less than one in eight of the respondents in all the sectors surveyed indicated that HIV/Aids has constrained their sales, more than a quarter of respondents indicated that the epidemic has had an adverse impact on the production side of their business. Overall, it appears as though HIV/Aids has had the largest impact on labour productivity and worker absenteeism, followed by employee benefit costs (i.e. medical aid contributions; pension, life and disability insurance; and funeral benefits). A number of companies are also experiencing higher labour turnover rates, lost experience and skills and higher recruitment and training costs due to the epidemic. "From a production perspective, the mining and manufacturing sectors are by far the worst affected among the sectors surveyed," said Mears. More than 60% of the mines and roughly 50% of the manufacturers surveyed indicated that HIV/Aids has already reduced labour productivity or increased absenteeism among employees and has led to higher employee benefit costs. The majority of the mines that have experienced these impacts rated the effect of HIV/Aids on these aspects as "moderate" or "severe", as opposed to only a "small" impact. Given the high HIV prevalence rate among mineworkers, it is not surprising that HIV/Aids is raising production costs in the mining sector. Two of South Africa's mining giants, Harmony and AngloGold, each estimated that approximately one in three of their employees are currently infected with HIV. Harmony estimates that HIV/Aids related expenses could cost their company between $2 and $5 per ounce of gold produced. On a more positive note, only a very small number of the companies (less than one in ten) indicated that the Aids epidemic has had an adverse impact on their decision to invest in South Africa. Furthermore, the majority of companies indicated that HIV/Aids has either no impact or a net positive impact on their decision to employ new workers. Mears said: "The global spread of the Aids epidemic and increasing evidence of the economic impact of HIV/Aids has highlighted the need for business to take action against the epidemic. Although many South African firms have stepped up to the challenge, the results from the SABCOHA survey show that there is still more work to be done." Whereas more than half of the companies surveyed in the financial services and manufacturing sectors and an impressive 77% in the mining sector have implemented an HIV/Aids policy, less than a third of the retailers, wholesalers, vehicle dealers and building and construction companies have done so. Mines, manufacturers and financial services companies also outperformed the other sectors with regard to the implementation of HIV/Aids awareness programmes, voluntary counselling and testing programmes and care, support and treatment programmes. Employer responses to the epidemic also appear to be linked to company size, with the majority of medium and large companies surveyed indicating that they have an HIV/Aids policy in place and small companies (with less than 100 employees) having done little in the way of action against the epidemic. Furthermore, very few small companies are reporting on the impact of HIV/Aids in annual reports or other statutory documents. Large companies (and particularly those in the financial services and mining sectors) appear to be leading the way in this regard. 

Address by Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Home Affairs (Department of Home Affairs, 25/11):- ADDRESS BY HON. NN MAPISA-NQAKULA, MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS ON THE OCCASION OF THE ILITHA LA BANTU INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR WOMEN AND FAMILY RESTRUCTURING, 24 NOVEMBER 2004, CAPE TOWN - South African Immigration Laws: Challenges Affecting Women, Girl refugees and their Families. We are indeed grateful that Ilitha La Bantu has once again invited us to share issues relevant to our work with Conference Delegates here today. We believe that this platform is one of the opportunities provided for us to test at a practical level, the impact of our work as Government broadly and specifically as the Department, on the people who are at the receiving end of our services. It should also be quite significant that we are meeting here only a day before the national launch of the programme of the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence and Abuse of Women and Children. In her invitation to us, the Executive Director had requested that we address conference on the issue of Immigration laws. I must say that the selection of this subject of discussion could not have come at a more appropriate time. As you might be aware we have spent much of our time since the April this year, on the issue of the repositioning immigration policies and systems. We have made significant progress in this regard, even if it has been to address certain short term priorities. In the long term we intend to develop an Immigration policy Framework that respond to both the developmental, and socio-economic needs of our country, the continent and the world. In this regard we have identified the need for an Immigration establishment that serves to boost direct foreign investment, attraction of skills required by our economy, support the growth of tourism, but most importantly, support the emphasis and realization of the goals of our foreign policies. The key development in this area has been the establishment of the National Immigration Branch of the Department headed by a Deputy Director General and the recent decision we have taken to now release the Immigration Regulations for public Comment. I am sure that this is a process that most of you will take key interest in and we in the Department will benefit a great deal from your input into such a process. I am aware that the long term policy initiatives in the area of immigration will benefit a great deal from research on the specific experiences of women immigrants and how they are affected by such policies. I also know that where such research has been done, it has either been limited to certain categories of subjects or the results thereof have not found prominence in the shaping of immigration policy globally. This is the immediate challenge that I think we need to look at together as a matter of priority. I am raising these issues before I go into the subject matter to demonstrate our appreciation for the timing of this invitation. I must also add that these developments have not only be limited to internal process within our department, but that issues of immigration policies and their impact have also taken prominence in the public domain. We have had several engagements both in the mass media and with organizations such the Human Rights Commission on many of these issues, including xenophobia and respect for a culture of human rights. The outcome of some of these engagements has been very useful in exposing some of the limitation of our policies and systems in the area of immigration. Whilst generally there are problems that affect any immigrant who goes through our systems, certain categories of foreigners have had worse than others, including women, children, asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants. I think all of us can understand that we live in a world that has not been very kind to the most vulnerable sectors of our society. This is evident when you look at the plight of the poor, the rural masses, women, children and so on. This trend is unfortunately also found embedded in most of the problems that we have with immigration. With specific reference to women, one of the key problems that we have identified has been the issue of marriages between South Africans and foreign spouses. In the main the women who are affected in the regard are South African, but the pattern is still one that demonstrates the manner in which women have been subjected to humiliation as a result of immigration systems. As part of our programme to mark the Month of Women in August, we launched a national campaign where we have called upon all women to come forward and verify their marital status to ensure that this is correctly reflected in the National population register and that where there is proof that there has been a fraudulent marriage, the Department can assist victims. The Campaign itself was very successful and we are looking at ways of ensuring its sustainability beyond the Month of August so that we can reach more people who are affected in the regard. Programme Director, We had launched this campaign as a community campaign and we are inviting you and other Community Based Organisations to join us in the mobilization of women to take full advantage of this opportunity. In so far as legislation is concerned, we have sought to protect women who find themselves in these circumstances by making it more difficult for unscrupulous elements to take advantage of loopholes in tour laws to abuse women. Any foreigner who applies for permanent residence or citizenship on the basis of a marriage to a South African will now have to prove that such a union is a union in good faith and should remain married to such a spouse for a period no less than five years before they can apply. I have also been concerned about the situation of women refugees and the impact of refugee and asylum policies on their lives. Not only do women constitute a large number of these refugees, but they are also the ones that experience the harshest treatment of abuse and humiliation, at times from officials whose duty is to protect them. Most of the times, women are forced to flee their homes with children on their backs without food and very little guarantee of shelter and safety when they arrive at their supposed destinations. I have always found it disturbing that policies are not sensitive enough to this situation where women issues are not isolated and given special attention in regulating the treatment and protection of refugees globally. It is important that Governments that are signatories to the UN and OAU Conventions on Refugees should concern themselves with issues such as counselling, safety, reproductive health issues and skills development for women. Programme Director, I have recently conducted a tour of the Lindela Repatriation Centre where we temporarily keep illegal immigrants before deportation. I had felt that with most of the reports that we receive emanating from the Centre it would have been useful to open the centre to public scrutiny so that it is demystified and secondly so that it can be accountable to the general public about its activities. We did find that there are many women who get arrested and taken to the Centre for deportation and while they are kept isolated from the rest of the group, they were not prioritized for transfer to make sure that those who were pregnant, sick or with young children should not stay longer at the centre. The National Immigration Branch is currently working on a policy that will guide the department in dealing with these specific cases. In the meantime we have directed that where it is possible these women should be given priority during such transfers. Lastly, the one issue which is key to the kind of immigration policy we are trying to establish, has to do with the recruitment of skills from outside the country. I am sure that the challenge of balancing this recruitment with our own employment equity targets needs to be addressed. That, women and other designated groups should take priority in this regard. As far as this remains a matter for immigration policy, we will seek to address it through the process that I have highlighted above. I must commend the leadership of Ilitha for identifying this issue as a matter for the agenda of this conference. It is complex and sometimes carries with it a lot of sensitivities, but I am sure that you will be able to expand on it, share your experiences, best practices and suggestions in order to advise us on the proposals emanating from this discussions. I thank you.

Minister promises better protection for refugees (IRIN, 25/11):- The South African government has promised to amend policies and practices to better protect the rights of refugees. Addressing the International Conference for Women and Family Restructuring in Cape Town this week, Minister of Home Affairs Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula acknowledged that there were limitations in current immigration policies and procedures. In a bid to end the ill treatment of more vulnerable refugees, such as women and girls, she promised to review them. Her comments were welcomed by human rights lawyer and spokesman for the Zimbabweans in Exile Forum, Gabriel Shumba. "It has always been obvious that women refugees, in particular those with children, suffer the cruellest kind of treatment," Shumba told IRIN. In her presentation to the conference, Mapisa-Nqakula said, "whilst, generally, there are problems that affect any immigrant who goes through our systems, certain categories of foreigners have had it worse than others, including women, children, asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants". "Not only do women constitute a large number of these refugees, but they are also the ones that experience the harshest treatment of abuse and humiliation, at times from officials whose duty it is to protect them. Most of the times, women are forced to flee their homes with children on their backs, without food, and very little guarantee of shelter and safety when they arrive at their supposed destinations," added Mapisa-Nqakula. The minister said she had "always found it disturbing" that policies were not sensitive to this. "Women's issues are not isolated and given special attention in regulating the treatment and protection of refugees globally," she noted. Mapisa-Nqakula said it was important that governments that were signatories to United Nations and Organisation of African Unity conventions on refugees "should concern themselves with issues such as counselling, safety, reproductive health issues and skills development for women". The South African government had recently been criticised for its handling of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. Earlier this month about a 100 immigrants from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Angola demonstrated at the Lindela Repatriation Centre outside Johannesburg. Joyce Dube, a director of the Southern African Women's Institute for Migration Affairs, a rights NGO, told IRIN at the time that "South African authorities do not check whether the immigrants, particularly the Zimbabweans, are genuine asylum seekers - they merely arrest them and deport them". There have been allegations of ill-treatment at the centre and complaints that immigrants did not have adequate access to sanitation. Mapisa-Nqakula said she had recently toured the Lindela Repatriation Centre. "We did find that there are many women who get arrested and taken to the centre for deportation and, while they are kept isolated from the rest of the group, they were not prioritised for transfer to make sure that those who were pregnant, sick or with young children should not stay longer at the centre," she said. The national immigration branch was working on a policy "that will guide the [home affairs] department in dealing with these specific cases", Mapisa-Nqakula said. In the meantime we have directed that, where it is possible, these women should be given priority during such transfers," she added. Shumba said it was clear that current immigration practices were inadequate, "especially given the treatment of refugees in Lindela". "When helping women secure asylum or responding to their humanitarian needs ... we reflect that there's a great need to treat women with sensitivity: they need special sanitation and hygienic considerations, for example," Shumba said. He added that refugees already enjoyed protection under domestic and international law. "What must change is the attitude of the home affairs officials, and other officials that deal with refugees, rather than the laws themselves. We have adequate protection under the law ... what we need to see is a change of attitude, especially the xenophobic attitude exhibited towards refugees."

Minister calls for Immigration Policy amendment (BuaNews, 25/11):- Government has expressed concern over the maltreatment of women and child refugees living in the country, saying it is considering formulating policy to counter such abuse. Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told an international conference for women and family restructuring in Cape Town yesterday, that authorities were aware that most women refugees were subjected to the "harshest treatment of abuse and humiliation, at times from officials whose duty is to protect them". And this, she affirmed, called for immigration policy amendments. "I have always found it disturbing that policies are not sensitive enough to this situation where women issues are not isolated and given special attention in regulating the treatment and protection of refugees globally," she explained. Government is due to release its new immigration regulations soon for public comment, before being tabled before the National Assembly. Ms Mapisa-Nqakula also called for more research into the regulations to accommodate "specific experiences of women immigrants and how they are affected by such policies." This, she contended, could only benefit "the long term policy initiatives in the area of immigration", saying past research was heavily limited. "I also know that where such research has been done, it has either been limited to certain categories of subjects or the results thereof have not found prominence in the shaping of immigration policy. "This is the immediate challenge that I think we need to look at together as a matter of priority," she affirmed. It was however crucial for South Africa, as a signatory United Nation and African Union Conventions on Refugees to concern itself with the safety, reproductive health issues and skills development of its women refugees. The women rights activist also expressed her concerns at the ill treatment of women at the Lindelani centre in Johannesburg. "We did find that there are many women who get arrested and taken to the centre for deportation and while they are kept isolated from the rest of the group, they were not prioritized for transfer to make sure that those who were pregnant, sick or with young children should not stay longer at the centre," she retorted. The new National Immigration Branch is currently working on a policy that will guide the department in dealing with these specific cases, she announced. "In the meantime we have directed that where it is possible these women should be given priority during such transfers," she explained. Since replacing Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the 48-year-old former teacher has elevated issues relating to women and children. She recently launched a campaign calling on women to check their marital status, and established improved methods for the registration of children for birth certificates, much to the benefit of those needing the child support grants. And now, she proposes the country's immigration laws make it a priority for women immigrants, particularly from Africa, to make a living in the country. "I am sure that the challenge of balancing the recruitment of skills from outside the country with our own employment equity targets needs to be addressed. That, women and other designated groups should take priority in this regard. As far as this remains a matter for immigration policy, we will seek to address it through the process that I have highlighted," she affirmed.

Zimbabweans protest in Johannesburg (Sapa, 24/11):- A small group of Zimbabweans staged a two-hour protest outside the head office of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) today, urging them to bring Zimbabwe's "madness" to the fore. Zimbabwe's government has been accused of human rights abuses. It recently expelled a fact-finding team from Cosatu.In a petition to Cosatu, the group said: "We apologise to the people of South Africa for the ill-treatment the 13-member group received. We are in support of the initiatives being taken by Cosatu in trying to resolve the madness that has gripped our country." The group, which protested under the banner of the Concerned Citizens of Zimbabwe Abroad, branded Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, a dictator who caused Zimbabweans to suffer. Some of the posters which the protesters carried read: "Workers toil for Mugabe's trips and (his wife) Grace's shopping" and "Cosatu please help us go and work at home". Zwelinzima Vavi, Cosatu's general-secretary, accepted the document.

British woman threatened with deportation (Mercury, 23/11):- It took two urgent applications to high court judges but a British woman who was detained for being an "illegal alien" was eventually reunited with her family in Durban on Monday night. Alison Reay, who has lived in South Africa for 23 years, was under threat of deportation and scheduled to leave at 3am on Tuesday morning for Gauteng where she would have been kept at the Lindela Deportation Centre until she could be sent back to England. On Monday, on the instruction of immigration officials, Reay's common-law husband, Fred van Dyk, fetched the couple's 11-year-old son, Kyle, from his Morningside school and took him to Durban Central police cells to say goodbye to his mother, who had been in custody for 12 days. Thanks to the efforts of Reay's lawyers, the boy was reunited with his mother just before 10pm on Monday night. The day was filled with drama - and an immigration official could be in hot water for defying the initial Durban High Court order which instructed the department to release Reay immediately. Reay's lawyers indicated that they would apply for a contempt of court order against the official, ZF Fakude. Reay, who raised two children and held down numerous jobs while living here, was arrested 12 days ago, declared "illegal", and told that she would be deported to Britain. While being held at police cells, her attorney, Brendon Perumal, and Van Dyk spent their days attempting to negotiate with the department of home affairs. On Friday, a desperate Reay applied for a temporary residence permit. Van Dyk was contacted by immigration officials on Monday morning and told that Reay would be taken to Lindela on Tuesday. "They told me to bring Kyle to say goodbye," Van Dyk said. Perumal said he believed the transfer to be a "hurried attempt to remove her in response to our letters". At 3.30pm on Monday, Advocate Piet Haasbroek made an urgent application before Durban High Court Judge Pete Combrink, asking for an interdict preventing Reay's transfer to Lindela, or her deportation, until her applications for temporary and permanent residence were finalised. The judge granted the order, and took it a step further in ordering the department of home affairs and, specifically, control immigration officer Fakude to release her immediately. Although Graham McKenzie of the state attorney's office represented the department and Fakude, the application was not opposed. Armed with the crucial court order, Haasbroek, Perumal and Van Dyk went to Durban central late on Monday to fetch Reay. But police officials telephoned Fakude, who said that the lawyers should bring their court order to him in the morning, which would have been after Reay's scheduled departure for Lindela. Van Dyk wept as he got into his car to go back to his Morningside flat, while the attorney and advocate dashed back to the office to make a new court application. Late on Monday night, after another hearing in judge's chambers, they were back at Durban Central, this time with an order instructing the commander of the prison cells to release Reay immediately, regardless of whether home affairs officials co-operated or not. It took more than an hour for the paperwork to be completed. Van Dyk and Kyle paced up and down in the car park. But this time they were rewarded with the sight of the woman they love. Visibly relieved, Reay said she intended sorting out her paperwork immediately. Reay's case is unusual. In her affidavit before the court she says she came to South Africa from Rhodesia with her husband, John Paul Wilson, and baby daughter in July 1981. She was under the impression that "all the necessary paperwork had been done" and that she had entered the country legally through the border post. Her marriage to Wilson broke up, although the couple never divorced because he "disappeared" and she was unable to trace him. In the meantime, she had bank accounts, worked for Liberty Life, GKN, Nedloyd Shipping, JCI and a firm of attorneys. She met Van Dyk, a South African citizen, in 1984, and the couple have been together ever since, but never married because she was not divorced. Ironically, if Wilson is still alive and is now a South African citizen, this could qualify her for automatic permanent residence. But that aside, her lawyers argue that, in terms of present immigration laws, a foreigner who is a spouse of a citizen should be issued with a permit, provided the department believes a "good faith spousal relationship exists". And they say her common-law relationship with Van Dyk falls under the definition of spouse. Her lawyers also argue that Kyle's constitutional right to family and parental care has been infringed by his mother's incarceration and possible deportation.

Cuban doctors want permanent resident status (SABC News, 23/11):- The South African government is considering applications from at least 17 Cuban doctors for permanent residence in South Africa. "The (health) department is considering the applications and will finalise this matter based on the merit and demerit of each individual's case," the health ministry said in a statement today. It was responding to a report in Beeld newspaper that about 150 Cuban doctors were threatening legal action against the South African government for not providing them with permanent resident status as allegedly promised in an agreement between the two countries. Beeld reported that not even marrying a South African resident would guarantee the doctors the right to live in the country. Sibani Mngadi, a spokesperson, confirmed the health department had received requests from at least 17 doctors, who were Cuban nationals, for the department to endorse their applications for permanent residence. However, the department of home affairs, responsible for granting such requests, said it had not yet been made aware of the situation. Leslie Mashokwe, a spokesperson, said it would be the responsibility of his department to decide on the matter when the issue did arise. Mngadi said the doctors were requesting certificates confirming they had been employed by provincial departments of health for a period of five years or more, and therefore qualified to apply for permanent residence. "The department is considering these requests in line with the Immigration Act, which allows for foreign nationals who have been in South Africa for a minimum of five years on a valid work permit, to apply for permanent residence," he said. The department had to ensure that each application was considered on its own merit -- and such consideration took time. "However, the department is doing its best to finalise these cases as soon as possible," he said. The Cuban embassy was not available for comment.

Report documents abuses of Zimbabwean refugees (The Daily News, 22/11):- A report launched at the weekend by the Zimbabwe Solidarity Peace Trust has revealed that South African soldiers and police officers rape Zimbabwean asylum seekers frequently and at times force them to wash their clothes so that they can avoid deportation. The report, which gives an account of how thousands of Zimbabweans without relevant travel documents enter South Africa, say female immigrants are “routinely expected to give sexual favours to police and army officers in return for not being deported.” According to the report, thousands of Zimbabwean enter South Africa illegally through gates that were manned by South African soldiers for a fee. “However, female immigrants are frequently forced to pay this fee in sex,” reads part of the report. Apart from the soldiers and police officers, truck and taxi drivers also smuggled immigrants in return for sex. Male immigrants are forced to pay amounts ranging between R300 to R400. The report said the practice was so rampant to the extent that lawyers for human rights in South Africa have started giving human rights training to soldiers and police officers who man the border with Zimbabwe. “The SANDF turns over most of its personnel there every three months, meaning there are always soldiers with not much background in the rights of undocumented migrants,” reads part of the report. The report is a part of efforts by the civic society in South Africa to lobby President Thabo Mbeki’s government and SADC leaders to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis and stop its nationals from flocking to neighbouring countries. According to official statistics, South Africa deports an average 1 000 Zimbabweans every week.

Plan to stem health brain drain (BuaNews, 22/11):- A new National Human Resources Implementation Plan for the public health sector is in the pipeline, as government aims to stem the migration of health professionals to developed countries. The Department of Health hosted a workshop in Johannesburg last week, where delegates from both the public and private health institutions discussed the current "brain drain" and how to redress scarcity and misdistribution of human resources, particularly in the rural areas. Delegates from the European Union (EU), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Department of Labour, health unions, professional associations and student bodies as well as academics from nursing colleges, the private health sector and the National NGO Forum attended the sessions. Speaking at the end of the two-day workshop on Friday, Health Human Resource Deputy Director General Percy Mahlathi said there were a number of issues such as salary levels and job satisfaction contributing to this problem. "A strong partnership between all health sector stakeholders needs to be developed to adequately address this issue." "Western countries poach our health workers because they have such a high level of excellence, and we are proud of that. However, that level of excellence must be used for our own needs and not disadvantage our own country," he said. Dr Mahlathi said government hoped to have developed a "broad" implementation plan by the end of March next year. "There will be ongoing discussions on this issue and we want something concrete to present to the Health Minister [Manto Tshabalala-Msimang] and Cabinet by early next year," he said. He also said that Dr Tshabalala-Msimang had prioritised this issue, as it was somewhat of an "Achilles heel" to the department. "We already have a technical team that has started work on this issue. We will be studying in depth the reasons for the migration of our health workers are and how we will deal with those particular areas," said Dr Mahlathi. Dr Mahlathi highlighted that shoddy data capturing was also an issue that needed to be addressed as he could not specify how many health professionals were in fact migrating to other countries, or how many foreign medics were entering South Africa. "We need to beef up our data capturing systems as we have a very thin knowledge base on human resources," he said. Government has meanwhile set aside R500 million to recruit and retain health professionals in the public sector, particularly in rural areas, where the shortage of skilled personnel frequently threatens quality care. To encourage health professionals to work in underserved areas, government has availed rural allowances ranging from eight to 22 percent of annual salary as an incentive to full-time medical doctors, dentists and medical specialists, who are employed in facilities that are situated in rural areas. A scarce skills allowance has also been introduced which is applicable to full-time health professionals in specified categories regardless of the geographic area in which they work. This allowance ranges from 10 to 15 percent of annual salary, depending on occupational category. "These allowances are working well but have not stemmed migration. As I have mentioned there are other issues contributing to migration and we will do everything in our power to correct this situation," said Dr Mahlathi.

Indian businesses flock to SA (Sunday Times, 21/11):- Some people believe that, many years ago, Africa and India were joined at their bulges, so, they say, it's no wonder that there is a trade and investment communion between the two landmasses. This may be just part of an Indian sales pitch but, the department of foreign affairs says, Indian direct investment into South Africa amounts to $26.1-million, although it's not certain what period this covers. In 2003, the figure was $20.8-million. Indian consul-general in South Africa, Suresh Goel, says he doesn't have the exact figures but that there are about 30 Indian companies interested in investing in or trading with South Africa. "They're not too keen to say how much they are investing here for competitive reasons." Some large companies such as Tata Group and Mahindra & Mahindra have already invested in South Africa. In fact, Tata's chairman Ratan Tata, who sits on President Thabo Mbeki's advisory council, has been interested in South Africa for 40 years, says Tata director Syamal Gupta, who sees the coming decade as belonging to Africa. Tata started an investment company in Johannesburg in 1994. More recently, it opened Tata Motors and, this year, launched two passenger vehicles in the country. Tata is also investing around. R40-million in a bus factory and hopes to take a stake in the second national telephone operator when it is launched. Gupta says India finds South Africa's mining sector and its power plants attractive while India can teach South Africa something about tourism, the jewellery industry and entrepreneurship as well as offering cheap pharmaceuticals and telecoms services. Mahindra & Mahindra has formed a joint venture in South Africa with a company owned partly by Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of Thabo, and has recently launched its Scorpio 4x4. "We are appealing to the aspirational and upper-income markets in South Africa but will use South Africa as a beachhead into Africa," says vice-chairman and managing director Anand Mahindra, though he won't say how much his investment is worth. He sees crime as South Africa's greatest drawback. Some other large Indian companies to invest in South Africa so far are United National Breweries and pharmaceutical company Dr Reddy's Laboratories in a joint venture with local company Venturepharm. The trade and industry department says that last year total trade reached around R6.4-billion. Formby traveled to India as the guest of the Indian consul-general.

A long way to South African citizenship (Sunday Tribune, 21/11):- Time is running out for foreigners who are married or in permanent relationships with South African citizens to apply for permanent residence, before they find themselves having to wait for five years to qualify. The Immigration Act, which was signed into law at the end of last month, will place more stringent requirements on foreign partners who want to obtain permanent residence. This will include a five-year waiting period. Although the Act's regulations have not yet been publicised, it is expected to be promulgated at the end of the year or early next year. At the moment, a foreign partner can apply for permanent residence if he can prove that he is in a permanent relationship with a South African. Couples will still have to prove that it is not a marriage or partnership of convenience George van Niekerk, a partner in Cape Town-based Sonnenberg Hoffmann and Galombik, said a foreigner would be entitled to a temporary residence permit, but would have to wait much longer before they could obtain permanent residence. "Until these amendments are enacted, foreign spouses or partners should seriously consider applying for permanent residence under the existing and less stringent requirements," said Van Niekerk. Couples will still have to prove that it is not a marriage or partnership of convenience, but a real relationship. On application, the couple is questioned separately, their friends and families interviewed and inspections are conducted at their homes to make sure that they live as a couple. The couple must stay together for at least three years or the residence will be forfeited. Van Niekerk said these conditions would still be applied under the new Act, but the waiting period was much longer. But people on a permanent residence permit must toe the line. The permit may be revoked if the foreigner is convicted of a serious criminal offence. Van Niekerk said this is in line with the Citizenship Act, which provides that a South African with dual citizenship may be deprived of his or her South African citizenship if convicted abroad. Although the Act will make it tougher for foreign partners to get permanent residence, it will make it a lot easier for them to be employed in South Africa. Due to shortages of skilled professionals in South Africa, up to 610 000 skilled people will be allowed to work in South Africa without the same amount of red tape currently required. Van Niekerk explained that the Director-General of Treasury, Lesetja Kganyago, had urged the financial sector to import foreign talent under the Quota Permit and Exceptional Skills Permit categories. The new Act also abolishes the 2% remuneration penalty that employers had to pay if they employed foreigners. Another amendment in the Act is that the requirements for Exceptional Skill Permits have been revised to place greater emphasis on skills and experience. "It is not only people's qualifications and degrees that will be considered, but also special skills they gained from experience," said Van Niekerk.

Mugabe refugees pour into SA (Sunday Independent, 21/11):-  At least 1,2 million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa during the past three years; yet the department of home affairs says there is no refugee crisis. Historically there have always been about 500 000 Zimbabweans who have come to South Africa to work. But an additional 1,2 million have arrived here in the past 36 months, bringing the total Zimbabwean population in South Africa to close to two million.In addition, the vast majority of Zimbabweans in South Africa have no papers, making information collection difficult and making the refugees illegal fugitives. Some estimates of the number of "undocumented migrants" from Zimbabwe are closer to three million. He cited three major reasons for the exodus These figures were released in a report in Johannesburg on Friday by the Solidarity Peace Trust, a southern African faith-based organisation. Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, is chairperson of the trust. The intention of the report is to raise awareness and understanding of difficulties faced by Zimbabweans who are pouring into South Africa and the region "in their millions". The trust hopes that governments and NGOs will start developing policies to deal with the influx. "The only official strategy at this stage seems to be an endless revolving door of deportations at huge expense to the South African public, that in any case barely scratches the surface of the number of Zimbabweans in South Africa." In an October interview, the Solidarity Peace Trust report quotes Barry Gilder, home affairs director-general, as saying that there has been no large-scale influx of Zimbabweans into South Africa, as had been expected after the past Zimbabwean election. But the Trust says that "South Africans need to brace themselves for ever greater numbers of Zimbabweans unless a lasting political solution is found to the current [Zimbabwean] crisis." The Zimbabwean government's own analysis puts the number of Zimbabweans who have left the country in the past three years at 3,4 million - 25 to 30 percent of the entire population. This means that 60 to 70 percent of Zimbabwe's productive adult population is now outside the country. An estimated 400 000 Zimbabweans live in Mozambique, 200 000 are in Botswana and 300 000 in England. Economic reasons had forced Zimbabweans to leave, but there was also political motivation for these conditions, Bishop Kevin Dowling of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace said on Friday. There weren't piles of bodies and rivers of blood in Zimbabwe, Dowling pointed out, but there was "nonetheless a war". He cited three major reasons for the exodus: the breakdown of law and order including torture with impunity; the collapse of the economy; and the shortage and "political abuse" of food. "Commentators fear the probability of food becoming a political weapon ahead of the 2005 elections is even more likely in a situation where the ruling party effectively controls all food in the country," the trust's report said. Dowling said he expected a huge increase in the number of Zimbabweans fleeing to South Africa around the time of the Zimbabwe election in March next year. The passing of Zimbabwe's Non-Government Organisation Bill would also be a contributing factor. The bill states that no foreign NGO can be registered if its "principal objectives involve issues of governance". The bill defines "issues of governance" as including "the promotion and protection of human rights". Sapa reports that the Bill is set to be passed by parliament as early as next week. To date only approximately 20 Zimbabweans have been granted refugee status in South Africa. About 5 000 have been given asylum-seeker status, which indicates that the person is in the process of being considered for refugee
status. The permit is valid for one month at a time. South Africa's reluctance to give political refugee status to Zimbabweans needed to be tested in a South African court, Dowling said. "People can no longer be denied refugee status when there is political motivation for economic crisis." He called on the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and South Africa, in particular, to take a "more principled stand with the people" of Zimbabwe. "They must move beyond solidarity with government and political leaders to solidarity with African people." According to the trust's report, numerous would-be Zimbabwean asylum-seekers have been told by home affairs officials that they have no right to asylum in South Africa as "there is no war in Zimbabwe". Zimbabweans are allowed to apply for asylum only on Tuesdays, along with people from countries in the "Horn of Africa". Fewer than 10 Zimbabweans are processed at the Johannesburg refugee reception office each week. Many queue outside every week for months before making it into the office. Steve Paradza of the Zimbabwe Political Victims' Association said his organisation had appealed to government to increase this number to 15 a week. Over the past three years an average of 45 000 Zimbabweans have been deported from South Africa a year, more than the total deported between 1994 and 2000. More Zimbabweans than any other nationality are deported. Zimbabweans are now the second largest group of foreign Africans in South Africa, the largest being Malawians. Deportees are held at Lindela detention centre and are then deported on a weekly or fortnightly train, at a cost to South Africa of R720 million a year. Many of these deportees return within hours or days. Nkosana Sibuyi, home affairs spokesperson, said his department was not able to make a statement on the trust's report, but would "study the report and formulate an informed opinion" on the matter. "The department will go through the report in its entirety."

Foreign business schools court local MBA students (Business Day, 19/11):- SA's master of business administration (MBA) candidates are attracting greater foreign interest.  Johannesburg was added to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World MBA Tour itinerary after the company, which provides information and research on the degree, received requests from some foreign business schools keen to enter the market. The annual tour, which showcases the best MBAs in the world, and also offers scholarships, has not come to sub- Saharan Africa before. "Some (global business) schools phoned us and we looked at what was happening locally and decided to go," says QS director Matt Symonds. In April, SA's Council on Higher Education gave only six of the 28 institutions offering MBAs full accreditation, resulting in confusion and anger, especially among students enrolled in courses that did not make the grade. According to the council, in the early 1990s there were only seven business schools in SA, all at state funded universities. This was followed by "an explosion" in the industry. As a result, at the beginning of this year there were 37 programmes offered by 28 institutions. The expansion took place to meet growing demand in 1995 most postgraduate students were studying the humanities and social sciences (39%) or education (23%). Business and commerce students accounted for only 16%. By 2001 education and the humanities enrolments had dropped to 28% and business and commerce registrations had risen to 19%. "Our coming to SA is a commitment to looking at high-profile and excellent candidates," Symonds says. To this end, the World MBA Fair comes to Johannesburg on December 6. Stellenbosch University's Graduate School of Business, Pretoria University's Gordon Institute of Business Science and the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business will exhibit. The University of the Witwatersrand's Business School will also take part. Symonds says the council's accreditation process will not have dented foreign interest. "They would have been alarmed had all 28 (business schools) been accredited," he says. Some top foreign schools have waited a long time for accreditation. The Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris waited about seven years for its MBA to receive accreditation from one of Europe's three accreditation bodies. It is now accredited by the London-based Association of MBAs. "They had been around since 1872 and they didn't give a hoot," Symonds says. Equis, a quality assurance scheme run by the European Foundation for Management Development, has a long list of business schools waiting for its sought-after certificate of approval. Unlike its counterparts abroad, SA's Council on Higher Education has the power to close schools, and did so. The 10 local institutions that did not receive conditional accreditation have to phase out their MBAs and may not enroll new students. Symonds says that ultimately MBA candidates need to choose the course that suits them. Foreign schools might not be accredited by one of the major bodies, but might meet a student's needs. "MBAs were over- reliant on Harvard (Business School) for case studies. Now there's a healthy diversification in the source of research. It's a very healthy evolution."

Limpopo MEC urges nurses stay in province (BuaNews, 19/11):- Limpopo Health and Welfare MEC Seaparo Sekoati has appealed to newly graduated nurses in the province to be patriotic and not seek better paying jobs elsewhere in the country or abroad. MEC Sekoati was speaking yesterday during a graduation ceremony for auxiliary nurses enlisted by the health department as part of efforts to beef up support staff in hospitals. Over 2 900 auxiliary or supplementary nurses were recruited last year to work in public hospitals around the province under the guidance of qualified nurses. Mr Sekoati said their training had provided a base from which they could seek further qualifications and better serve the South African public especially those in rural areas where there were serious shortages of qualified health professionals. "Your patriotic duty lies in providing services to the people of this country," he said at the graduation ceremony. "After all, they have invested a lot in you." He said their training had provided them with the minimum requirements to work in the province's health institutions and pleaded that: "As your skills and experience improve, we appeal to you not to leave our country and province in search of greener pastures in western countries". "Our department evolved the programme to train auxiliary nurses, who will also help reduce the dire need for health personnel, particularly in our clinics," he explained. The training of auxiliary nurses was part of government's efforts to improve lives and deliver basic services like quality health care. The MEC added that government was also offering other assistance like the Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Programme, to help the poor since good nutrition was essential for healthy families and communities.

Guateng teachers are leaving in droves (Pretoria News, 19/11):- Young Gauteng teachers are leaving the profession in droves, prompting Education MEC Angie Motshekga to launch an investigation into the reasons for this. Motshekga said yesterday she was concerned why teachers were going on retirement at such a young age. "I have instituted an investigation into why they are leaving and I am expecting a report by January next year," she said. This emerged at the legislature yesterday, when the province's education committee tabled an overview report on the Gauteng education department's annual report for the period between April last year and March this year. The committee raised concerns about permanent young teachers between the ages of 35 and 39 who were retiring from the department. "Over the reporting period, 334 (21%) permanent educators who dropped out of the system fell within the 35-39 age bracket," education committee chairman Mbongeni Radebe told the legislature. He also raised concerns over vacant posts being converted into long-term temporary posts. "While the committee acknowledges the department's commitment to ensure teaching and learning continues even when educator posts are vacated, the committee is also concerned that the practice of creating long-term temporary posts may result in the casualisation of labour." "The committee would consider this practice to be against the objective of improving job security for educators," Rade said. On vacant posts, Motshekga said positions had been advertised and were in the process of being filled. Dave Balt, president of the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa, agreed that a large number of teachers were retiring, but for different reasons. "Age 35-39 is a very important grouping because of the experience they have gained. This is a group that is ready to take management positions but most of the time their morale is very low." "Through experience, teachers feel it is not worthwhile to take up a management position because they do not get incentives for taking extra responsibility." He also said there were insurance brokers who encouraged teachers to cash in their pensions, claiming that they would make a lot of money by investing it. "The brokers benefit but the teachers lose out on their pension," he said. South African Democratic Teachers' Union spokesman Sipho Mthetwa could not be reached for comment. The committee also urged the department to closely monitor and strongly discourage secondary schools from holding pupils back in Grades 10 and 11. This, apparently, is done by schools in order to reach their matric pass rate targets. The Gauteng education department was commended by the committee for building 48 new schools, 333 new classrooms, 12 soccer fields, 20 combi courts, 13 administration blocks, 16 media centres and 12 computer rooms.

SA deports 45,000 Zimbabweans a year (Zimbabwe Independent, 19/11):- The South African government deports 45 000 Zimbabweans a year seeking to escape President Robert Mugabe's marauding tyranny, Solidarity Peace Trust has said in a report published today. The story of Zimbabwean deportees from South Africa is captured in a documentary No War in Zimbabwe, released this month by the Trust. Zimbabweans who have fled political violence in Zimbabwe have found it difficult to secure asylum as the authorities there cannot classify them as political refugees because "there is no war in Zimbabwe". The report comes as the British government announced the end of its two-year suspension of deportations of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe because, it says, the concession had been abused. Solidarity Peace Trust said while Zimbabweans have sought work in South Africa for decades, the numbers had swollen greatly in recent years since the economic collapse. "Around 45 000 Zimbabweans a year are deported," the report said. "Deporting Zimbabweans costs South Africa approximately R720 million a year. Most deportees are back in South Africa within a few hours or days of deportation." More than two million Zimbabweans are currently living in South Africa - about 15% of Zimbabwe's population of 12,5 million. The decision by the British government to deport Zimbabweans was met with outrage from refugee welfare groups who charged that no-one should be returned to Zimbabwe without monitoring what happens to those who are sent back. "Deporting Zimbabweans into the hands of Mugabe's notorious intelligence services is akin to surrendering Condoleeza Rice to Osama Bin Laden," said an editorial on a Zimbabwean news website. Solidarity Trust said Zimbabwe's biggest export was now its people. "The current exodus is not part of the long-established cross border movement between Matabeleland and South Africa," the report said. "Around 500 000 are estimated to have regularly migrated to South Africa for work, but there is an estimate of an additional 1 200 000 now in South Africa." An estimated 25% to 30% of Zimbabwe's population has left the nation. Government's own analysts put the number at 3,4 million. Out of a population of 12 million, around half is under the age of 15, and out of the remaining six million adults, one million is retired. Out of five million potentially productive adults, 3,4 million are outside Zimbabwe. This is a staggering 60% to 70% of productive adults if the figures are correct. The report said thousands have fled because they were victims of state violence and torture and they feared more persecution. South Africa is obliged by law to grant political asylum to those who have a reasonable fear of such violence. But Solidarity Peace Trust says South African officials are preventing Zimbabweans from gaining their rightful status. "The attitude (of the South African Home Affairs department) before then - and very often since - is that there is no war in Zimbabwe and therefore no right to asylum for its people," the report said.

Video captures plight of Zimbabwean refugees (, 19/11):- A local non-governmental organisation, Solidarity Peace Trust, has produced a video, No War in Zimbabwe, which captures the South African government's indifference and insensitivity to the plight of thousands of Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa. The Trust says the 52-minute video would be used to raise awareness on the state of the Zimbabwean refugees in the United Kingdom and South Africa where the majority of are staying. Zimbabweans are now the biggest group of foreign Africans in South Africa, although very few are have been granted political refugee status. The South African Home Affairs ministry has told them that they cannot be granted asylum status because "there is no war in Zimbabwe." The video, based on extensive research over one year looks at why Zimbabweans are leaving their country and whether South Africa is meeting its international obligations towards refugees. In the video immigrants recount horror experiences at the hands of South African authorities and how some died by jumping from moving trains to avoid deportation. Speaking after screening of the video to refugees at the Central Methodist Church, a Solidarity Peace Trust official said the video would be used to conscientise the African government and population about the plight of the Zimbabwean refugees. Socks Chikowore, a Zimbabwean refugee, said: "This video is good and we are going to use for lobbying here so that our situation could be improved." Another refugee said: "I hope this video would be used to change things here and at home." A South African who declined to be named said: "What I saw in the video is disturbing. I lived in exile in many countries and I was never treated that way." A young male refugee who claimed that his father used to cook for President Thabo Mbeki when he was exiled in Harare said South Africans must remember they are now free because of the assistance they got from fellow African brother and sisters. Hundreds of Zimbabweans are dying in South African detention centres and are being buried as paupers.

Government says no bias against Zimbabwean asylum seekers (IRIN News, 19/11):- The South African Ministry of Home Affairs has denied any bias in granting Zimbabweans political asylum, but said they lacked the manpower to deal with the number of applications. "We have a backlog of 80,000 to 90,000 applications for political asylum from people from various nationalities; out of these, 5,000 are from Zimbabweans. All applications are being dealt with on a first come, first served basis - no country is being given preference," home affairs spokesman Mike Ramagoma told IRIN. The church-led NGO, Solidarity Peace Trust, claimed in a report released in Johannesburg on Friday that the South African government was reluctant to grant refugee status to Zimbabweans. "There is a clash between the policy of 'quiet diplomacy', which plays down the crisis of governance, and simultaneously acknowledging that citizens of Zimbabwe have genuine reasons to fear persecution and to run away in their thousands," noted the report, 'No War in Zimbabwe: An Account of the Exodus of a Nation's People'. Ramagoma pointed out that only six applications from Zimbabwean asylum seekers had been rejected, while 15 had been accepted. "We are obliged, under the UN Convention [and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees], to assess the merits of each application," he said. The Peace Trust report estimated that at least two million Zimbabweans were living in South Africa, many of them illegally. Around 45,000 Zimbabweans were deported annually at a cost of approximately Rand 720 million (US $120 million) a year, most of whom tried to return to South Africa as quickly as possible. The Peace Trust also alleged that the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, showed a "lack of commitment to protecting Zimbabwean asylum seekers in South Africa". UNHCR spokeswoman Melita Sunjic told IRIN, "Very few Zimbabwean asylum seekers - only about 1,500 - have approached us for assistance. We have found that very few Zimbabweans want refugee status, as they are reluctant to forfeit the right to travel to and fro between South Africa and Zimbabwe." Bishop Kevin Dowling of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace said there was a need for a test case in South Africa to establish whether being denied food on political grounds [in Zimbabwe] would be justification for asylum. Some human rights groups have alleged that food aid distributions by Zimbabwe's government have been based on membership of the ruling party. Dowling called on the African Union and the Southern African Development Community to shift their stance from "solidarity with the government to solidarity with the Zimbabwean people". Ramagoma said South Africa's department of home affairs was employing 69 more officers to determine refugee status, and was involved in a major restructuring and electronic updating exercise to improve its services.

South Africa hates us, say Zimbabweans (Mail and Guardian, 19/11):- Thousands of Zimbabweans are crossing the border into South Africa, and they face a tough life on the other side. Refugees say they are disappointed by the lack of solidarity shown by South Africans. On Friday, the Solidarity Peace Trust launched a report in Johannesburg that examines these refugees' situation in South Africa. "To live as a makwerekwere [foreigner] in South Africa is very hard, and still refugees choose this hard life above their lives in Zimbabwe," said Bishop Kevin Dowling, of the Solidarity and Peace Trust. "We take the stand that the Southern African Development Community governments must move away from their policy of quiet diplomacy, away from their solidarity with the Zimbabwean government. "We want these governments to move to a principal stand behind the people of Zimbabwe." Refugees - The report, titled No War in Zimbabwe, speaks of abuse and prosecution by police and other government bodies in that country. It analyses Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis and shortage of food, and describes the collapse of social services and the economy. All of this has caused 3,4-million Zimbabweans to leave their country -- about 65% of all productive adults. About 1,7-million chose to come to South Africa, including the estimated 500 000 who migrate regularly for work. The report states that once in South Africa, it is difficult for these people to obtain an asylum-seeker permit or a refugee status. The South African Department of Home Affairs is described as highly corrupt, and is said to work very slowly when dealing with Zimbabweans' applications. The report quotes staff of the Refugee Reception Office in Johannesburg as saying: "There is no civil war in Zimbabwe, so there is no reason to apply." Zimbabwean refugees without papers have no right to health care, and it is difficult for them to find jobs. They face discrimination and poverty. With the coming elections in Zimbabwe, planned for March next year, the number of refugees is expected to rise. No War in Zimbabwe describes the deportation of illegal refugees as a revolving door, because most deported Zimbabweans return within hours or days to South Africa. The report also points to the inhumane aspects of the deportation and detention of illegal immigrants. Food - In terms of the Refugee Act, refugees who face prosecution when they return to their country are eligible for a permit. The Solidarity Peace Trust wants to set up a test case to establish whether Zimbabweans who are being denied food on political grounds should also be given asylum. The report says the United Nations predicts a 50% food deficit in Zimbabwe, regardless of claims by President Robert Mugabe's government that there is plenty of food to feed the nation. The Solidarity Peace Trust fears that Mugabe's government will use food as a political tool; only supporters of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF will have access to food. If this test case is successful, refugees who are being denied food on a political ground will also be eligible for a refugee permit. Solidarity - Many Zimbabwean refugees are disappointed by the attitude of the South African government and people. "We have always supported South Africa in its struggle for freedom and against apartheid," said Gabriel Shumba, a Zimbabwean refugee and human-rights lawyer, at the launch of the report. "During that struggle, South Africans were welcome in Zimbabwe, but now that we face similar problems, we are ignored, discriminated and deported. The attitude of the South African people is shameful. "South Africa hates us for standing up against Mugabe," he concluded. But is this criticism just? There seem to be few initiatives from Zimbabweans in their own country or in South Africa to organise protests that could provoke such solidarity. "That is true, but it is very difficult for the people in Zimbabwe to organise protests against the government," Elinor Sisulu, of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, told the Mail & Guardian Online on Friday. "The government will react in a very harsh and oppressive way, and apart from that, the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy leaves them with very little practical means to organise. There is no petrol; there isn't even ink to print posters or pamphlets. "Zimbabweans in South Africa could do a lot more, though, to mobilise people against Mugabe and against the politics of quiet diplomacy," Sisulu said. "The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is trying to motivate Zimbabweans here to mobilise a protest movement in South Africa. "But we don't just need a movement of protest. The mindset of many South Africans towards Zimbabwean refugees should change from hostility to solidarity."

Granting of Zimbabweans refugees status needs to go to court (Sapa, 19/11):- South Africa's reluctance to give political refugee status to Zimbabweans when they are denied food as part of a political agenda
needs to be put before a South African court in a test case, a bishop said on Friday. This call came from Bishop Kevin Dowling of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. He was addressing a press conference representing the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, chairman of the Solidarity Peace Trust and an outspoken critic of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Dowling said economic reasons forced Zimbabweans to flee but there was political motivation behind the conditions in that country. "A test case needs to be brought before the courts on that issue," he said. Mugabe has widely been accused of using the distribution of food aid as a political weapon. Dowling also warned that there could be a possible further influx of Zimbabwean refugees to South Africa around March when elections were scheduled to take place. The controversial Non-Government Organisation Bill, before the Zimbabwe Parliament, would restrict NGOs and churches monitoring the run up to the elections and the climate of oppression could increase, he said. The bill restricts organisation from acting on human rights issues. The Johannesburg press conference saw the launch of a report by the Solidarity Peace Trust on the exodus of Zimbabweans. It said up to 30 percent of Zimbabweans had left the country, including 60 to 70 percent of all productive adults. Ncube was not present as he was doing his rounds visiting the two million Zimbabweans estimated to be in South Africa.

Child sex ring cracked (Sapa, 18/11):- Police smashed a child-prostitution syndicate and rescued 13 girls, some as young as 10 years old, in Johannesburg and Durban on Thursday, SABC radio news reported. Police said this was just the tip of the iceberg, and girls between the ages of 10 and 15 were across the country being kept locked up, and forced to have sex for money. On Thursday, after a month of investigation, police swooped on the sex-syndicate and arrested 59 Nigerians. None of the clients have been arrested as yet. The girls were either sold to the syndicate by their parents, had run away from home, or were kidnapped, police said. They were given heroine, leading to addiction that made them dependant on their captors. Police believed many more girls were still in the clutches of the criminals. The girls were being moved between Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Durban, making it difficult to track and rescue them, police said. A special police unit started investigating the sex ring about a month ago, after receiving a tip-off from one of the girls' sisters. She believed her sister was being kept in a building in Durban.Police swooped on the place and found the girl, the SABC reported.

Government hosts workshop to address health brain drain (BuaNews, 18/11):- The Department of Health has embarked on a two-day consultative workshop in an effort to redress the problems of scarcity and misdistribution of human resources, particularly in rural areas. The workshop, which kicked off in Johannesburg today, is aimed at developing a National Human Resources Plan, which will seek to plug the brain drain affecting the country and Africa as a whole. Delegates from the European Union, the World Health Organisation, Department of Labour, health workers' unions, professional associations and student bodies as well as academics from nursing colleges, the private sector and the National NGO Forum will attend the sessions. Major themes for the seminar include human resource planning, development and management. In effort to address this problem, the health department said it had entered into bilateral discussions and signed agreements with other countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada, on how issues of international migration of professionals should be managed. "We recognise the international migration of health professionals is a challenge facing many developing countries, particularly in the African continent," it said. A study conducted by the WHO in six countries, including South Africa, indicates that a majority of health professionals migrate because they need international exposure and experience. The department added that by providing South Africans with this opportunity in a form of a two-year exchange programme, the department could retain more workers. "We are also keen to attract back and retain professionals living in various parts of the world, to contribute in the rebuilding of their country. Working with the International Organisation on Migration, we are exploring the development of a voluntary repatriation strategy," it said. The Department has set aside an allocation of R500-million to recruit and retain health professionals in the public sector, particularly in rural areas, where the shortage of skilled personnel frequently threatens quality care. To encourage health professionals to work in underserved areas, a rural allowances ranging from eight to twenty-two percent of annual salary as an incentive to full-time medical doctors, dentists and medical specialists, who are employed in facilities that are situated in rural areas has also been made available. A scarce skills allowance has also been introduced which is applicable to full-time health professionals in specified categories regardless of the geographic area in which they work. This allowance ranges from 10 to 15 percent of annual salary, depending on occupational category. "It is globally recognised that a focused human resource strategy backed up by an appropriate implementation plan is a critical ingredient of positive change in health care. Success in this area helps create a positive image and an environment conducive for health care," said the statement.

Mapisa-Nqakula visits Home Affairs offices (BuaNews, 18/11):- Home Affairs Minister Nosizive Mapisa-Nqakula is visiting home affairs departments in the country to obtain firsthand information regarding the quality of services rendered there. Today, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula was at the department's regional offices in Johannesburg, on Market Street and at Rossetenville. Ms Mapisa-Nqakula said by visiting the offices, it would help to interact with and listen to people's concerns regarding service delivery. "We actually want to know the problems that people face in the department and to come with measures and ideas on how to work together and accelerate service delivery. "We wanted to reassure that the department would sort out all the problems that people have raised," she said. The minister also asked the heads of offices she visited about how they rendered services to the public. Speaking with officials of the Market Street office, she said their distribution of 1 500 IDs a day was not enough, stressing that a better distribution strategy had to be implemented. At the Rossetenville offices, the Minister told the officials to treat work permit and political asylum applicants with respect. "There are people who believe our department is xenophobic through the way officials treat refugees. We can't turn the back on them as we also stayed in their countries during the political unrests in this country," she said. The minister also visited the Johannesburg International Airport to see how migration and emigration programmes were being conducted. She is expected to have visited all the offices countrywide by early next year.

Immigrants protest ill-treatment (IRIN News, 16/11):- Scores of immigrants from five Southern African countries marched to a deportation centre in South Africa this week to protest against the alleged abuse of foreigners on the premises. A director of rights NGO, the Southern African Women's Institute for Migration Affairs, Joyce Dube, who coordinated the march, told IRIN that about a 100 immigrants from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Angola had demonstrated at the Lindela Repatriation Centre outside Johannesburg on Thursday."The problem is that the South African authorities do not check whether the immigrants, particularly the Zimbabweans, are genuine asylum seekers - they merely arrest them and deport them," Dube claimed. Gabriel Shumba, the legal advisor of the NGO, Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, said that of the 5,000 Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa, only 11 had been given asylum. "We have received reports of torture in the centre, and that the immigrants do not have access to adequate sanitation." Emily Wellman, an activist who also participated in the demonstration, claimed the inmates did not have access to proper medical care. "The centre has the capacity to hold 5,000 people, but often immigrants are squeezed in and subjected to inhuman conditions. We were hoping to appeal to the hearts and the minds of the authorities to accord some dignity and respect to the asylum seekers [by protesting]." Home Affairs spokesperson Mike Ramagoma described the allegations of torture and unhygienic conditions at the Lindela centre as "malicious". "The centre is open for public scrutiny at all times and is scrupulously clean - I visit the centre frequently," he said. Ramagoma also refuted allegations of immigrants being denied asylum status. "All immigrants, including Zimbabweans wanting to apply for asylum status are welcome to do so and will be given asylum seekers status after investigations. If found eligible, the applicant will be granted refugee status. No illegal Zimbabweans will be tolerated - they have to apply for the proper permit." Reuters news agency reported earlier this week on the hearings before the government's Human Rights Commission, when rights activists said many illegal foreigners ended up incarcerated in overcrowded detention centres. In her submission Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh of Lawyers for Human Rights alleged that at least 25 foreigners had died at Lindela, while others, including children, had reportedly been abused. "Assault has occurred, and it does occur ... but it is very difficult to monitor," Reuters quoted her as saying. Zimbabweans make up the bulk of illegal foreigners deported by South Africa, and Ramjathan-Keogh said the process was often brutal, with migrants taken by train to the Zimbabwe border and held in outdoor pens, pending repatriation. The South African Press Association (SAPA) reported that the hearing was also told there were no free movement agreements between southern African countries, and immigration laws did not take into account integration and movement in the region. There were long delays in asylum applications, with allegations of bribery in some departments, and when people had the correct paperwork, officials, particularly in hospitals, discriminated against them, the hearing was told. Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula admitted to the commission that there were problems and delays in her department, many of them due to a lack of resources, but said these were being addressed, reported SAPA. She condemned "the scourge" of xenophobia and said officials who treated asylum seekers and refugees unfairly were not a reflection of government policies.

The perils of hiring foreigners (Cape Argus, 17/11):- Firms must make sure that they know who they are employing to avoid violating the Immigration Act. South African companies need to be careful when employing foreign nationals. They need to ensure that their foreign employees have not entered the country illegally, thus putting the company in danger of violating the Immigration Act. According to Itayi Gwaunza, an attorney in the employment law department at Sonnenberg Hoffmann Galombik, companies have to comply with certain obligations contained in the act, which prohibit them from employing foreigners who are not in possession of the relevant permit from the department of home affairs. "Employers have a duty to establish that no illegal foreigner is employed by the company and to determine accurately the status or citizenship of all its employees," he says. "Anyone who knowingly employs an illegal foreigner or a foreigner in violation of the Immigration Act is committing a criminal offence and may be liable to a fine or imprisonment. The penalty for contravening the Immigration Act can be serious." Foreigners who have entered South Africa (SA) illegally, or who have not obtained a relevant work permit, also do not qualify for the employee protections outlined in the Labour Relations Act, such as protection against unfair dismissal and unfair labour practices. In a recent case, a highly qualified foreign national with an engineering degree entered SA illegally and found employment in a small vehicle repair business. After six months, the employee had a dispute with his employer as he felt he was being exploited and underpaid, and was dismissed without a hearing. Unfortunately for the employee, the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) holds that a foreign national without the necessary permit cannot be regarded as an employee, as the employment relationship is invalid and he could, therefore, never have been "dismissed". The CCMA did not have the authority to resolve or pass judgment on the dispute, leaving the employee with no assistance with his unfair dismissal. "There is no such thing as a valid employment contract if the employee does not hold the mandatory papers," says Gwaunza. "This is true no matter what the parties may have intended and holds implications and consequences for the prospective employer as well. "It is vital that employers and employees meet the terms of the Immigration Act when entering into employment relationships to avoid criminal charges. "Foreign nationals should also act in accordance with the Immigration Act to ensure they have the protections to which employees are entitled under the Labour Relations Act and other employment related legislation."

State acts to avert academic brain drain (Business Day, 16/11):- Education department and treasury officials will study the overall funding of higher education to prevent a potential loss of qualified academic staff, Education Minister Naledi Pandor said. "Unless there is a concerted effort in the coming years to create the next generation of academics and researchers, we stand to lose not only valuable capacity in higher education to meet the high-level human resource needs of the country, and increasingly the region, but also the opportunity to build our competitive edge in research and innovation." Speaking at the opening of the Council on Higher Education's colloquium on 10 years of democracy last week, Pandor said the study, jointly undertaken with the treasury, would focus on academic salaries , better co-ordination of research funding and the enhancement of "institutional cultures supportive of black and women academics". It is anticipated the study will be concluded in the second half of next year. SA is one of many countries on the continent to lose academics to private industry and overseas institutions. The government-funded National Research Foundation said in July 2002 that African universities were "exporting" about one-third of their experts to the west. Pandor said building a competitive edge was "key" to positioning SA in the global economy and to responding to social transformation challenges. Higher education also had a role to play in redressing the crisis in school-level maths and science education, the minister said.

Lindela - the disturbing face of xenophobic SA (The Star, 15/11):- Outside the Lindela Repatriation Centre, Willem, whose Malawian employee was picked up by the police, was doing his best not to lose his temper. “I’ve been trying to speak to the guys at the front desk, but it’s like talking to a brick wall,” said Willem. “I have my guy’s passport. I’m here to show these officials he is 100%. They’ve hinted that he could be released if I slipped R1 000. When I made it clear there would be no backhander, they got aggressive.” We arrived at the centre last Wednesday after Papa Leshabane, Lindela’s director and spin doctor, said: “You could go any time, unannounced, to Lindela to see for yourself what is going on. We have nothing to hide.” This was in response to allegations made at last week’s xenophobia hearing of the mistreatment of immigrants accommodated at the centre. Willem joined about 30 people wanting to visit detained immigrants, but visitors were not allowed in – Wednesdays are repatriation days. On the other side of the wall, a voice reeled off names of the 1 000 Zimbabweans who would begin their journey back to the place they had fled. There are horrifying stories about what goes on behind those walls – stories of corrupt officials, beatings at the hands of warders and sex demanded from women detainees in exchange for their freedom. Leshabane said these stories are not true – they are malicious exaggerations. True or not, though, the accusations are out there – and they fuel the growing reputation that South Africa is a xenophobic country. Willem said he hadn’t heard of the centre until his Malawian employee was arrested. Curious, he typed “Lindela” into an Internet search engine. “I read tons of articles about how terrible this place is,” he said. Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) alleged at the xenophobia hearing that foreigners’ rights were being trampled on. Leshabane was furious. “Whenever Lindela is in the press, it’s described as the ‘notorious’ Lindela or ‘controversial’ Lindela. But there is nothing notorious or controversial about us. Lindela is a soft target – it’s popular to trash it. When South Africans come to see the centre, they are upset. They say these guys get better treatment than most South Africans. They get three square meals a day, a room, facilities to watch TV and play soccer, and there’s a clinic on site. Most South Africans don’t have that.” Leshabane said what was never documented was the way the illegal immigrants mistreated the staff members. “They have a toilet in their room but they do their business in the shower and the staff have to clean it up – nobody wants to know about that.” Leshabane explained that Lindela, which is owned by a private company, did not identify illegal immigrants. “We have the contract to accommodate, feed and look after them – and then we hand them back to Home Affairs for deportation,” he said. Because of reports of South Africans being held at the centre, the department introduced a fingerprint system to speed up the verification process and identify South Africans and people with legitimate documents. Our tour started at the induction centre where detainees are received and where the “rules of the house” – access to the clinic, visiting hours and their rights – are explained to them. They are issued with identity cards and their possessions logged into a property register.
Immigrants milled about the men’s Section A yard. The detainees related stories about their experiences of Lindela. Some complained about the food. One said drugs had been sprinkled into it to poison them. Some claimed they were beaten. Leshabane scoffed at their accusations. He marched off to the kitchen – it’s huge and clean – and opened an industrial-sized container filled with crumbed chicken legs – lunch. “If the food is poisoned, which is a common myth, then we are all going to die. Because this is the food the staff eat, the food I eat. We have one of the best kitchens in the country.” He also denied that beatings were common. “People who make these allegations must tell me where and when they were beaten,” Leshabane said as he headed off to the control room, where officials watched a dozen monitors. “We have 48 cameras covering the facility, except the rooms. We don’t have cameras in the rooms because human rights groups told us that would violate detainees’ rights to privacy. “We won’t tolerate corruption or assaults by warders on illegal immigrants. We clean up quickly. We aren’t scared to take action. Since last year we have fired five officials for corruption and four for assault.” He pointed to a monitor overlooking a yard where a soccer game was in progress. “We don’t wait two years for the African Cup of Nations. We hold a tournament whenever we want. Nigeria is strong, but unlike in the real world, South Africa dominates here.” In Section A, an information centre assists immigrants with queries about their status. The centre has not been able to help George Phalane, who said he left Mozambique in 1975 when he was two, and has lived in South Africa ever since. “I’m a South African citizen. I should be here he insisted" Jim Dixon, from Ghana, claimed he had a work permit and was teaching at a school when police picked him up. One Zimbabwean admitted he was in the country illegally, adding that as soon as he was deported, he would return. “I’ll jump the fence, no problem. I’ve got my hi-fi here.” Men and women mix by day but sleep in different sections at night. One woman, on her way to Zimbabwe, said: “I heard rumours about Lindela and I expected a rough place. But besides the sh*t cabbage they give us, I can’t complain.” Because of overcrowding, LHR alleged, disease was easily spread. “The lack of a well-stocked medical clinic at Lindela is a problem. A doctor is only available an hour a day,” it said. Leshabane denied that there was overcrowding. “We can accommodate 6 000 people and we have 1 800 people today,” he said. Dr Mohamed Khota, who works at the clinic, was outraged at the accusations. “The clinic is always open and I am here whenever I am needed. Yes, people get sick. Yes, we have deaths, but we have medication and we address our problems. I’m very passionate about the people.” Leshabane said this year there have been 52 deaths – with seven people dying at Lindela and the rest in hospital. All in all, 572 956 people have passed through Lindela’s gates since they swung open in 1996. This year Lindela, which gets R50 per person a day from the department, has housed 70 000 people. The Zimbabweans lined up to make their way to the station to be deported. Some sang. All held on to meagre possessions. Outside the centre, another group of immigrants was being herded out of two police vans. They had just been picked up.

Border post cops on corruption charges (Sabc-News, 12/11):- Specialist investigators today arrested four police officers who allegedly helped syndicates convey stolen vehicles across the Lebombo border post into Mozambique. Eric Nkabinde, the Mpumalanga provincial police commissioner, came down hard on the four -an inspector, a sergeant and two constables -- saying: "I suspended them with immediate effect without any benefits." He had warned corrupt officials to stop their activities back in 2000. "This operation was once again a demonstration that I will not tolerate corruption in the Mpumalanga SAPS," Nkabinde said. "The involvement of these suspects, to allow suspected stolen vehicles to cross the South African border, is an important link needed by organised crime syndicates to commit specific violent crimes such as robbery. "Without this (cross-border) link, the syndicates will not function as they did until now." The four would appear in the Barberton Regional Court on Monday on charges of corruption and racketeering. More than 40 related charges would be added. The suspects would spend the weekend in custody.

SA citizens free to use foreign passports (The Star, 12/11):- South Africans with dual citizenship may use their foreign passports in certain circumstances without losing their SA citizenship. Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Nkosana Sibuyi yesterday said section 9 of the South African Citizenship Act of 1995 was repealed in September. This section regulated the use of the citizenship or nationality of another country by a major South African who has dual citizenship. "In essence, the act repealed the provision which allowed the minister of home affairs to deprive a citizen of his or her citizenship for having used the citizenship of a foreign country," Sibuyi said. "The previous requirement for exemptions or letters of permission from the minister to make use of a foreign passport has been terminated. The issue of deprivation of citizenship was inconsistent with the constitutional right to citizenship." A South African with dual citizenship may now use a foreign passport in another country, but may not use it to enter or exit SA or to "gain advantage or avoid a responsibility or duty".

Cops nab bogus Home Affairs official (Sunday Times, 12/11):- The Home Affairs department has again came under the spotlight with the arrest of an "illegal agent" caught issuing legitimate documents, Pretoria police said on Friday. "Top level discussions will be held with the department of home affairs to find what the problem is," said police spokesman Captain Piletji Sebola. The latest arrest weeks after 1000 identity books were stolen from the department's office in Limpopo, and a member of the community finding ID books dumped in a field near Rosslyn, Pretoria. Searching the 65-year-old suspect's home outside Soshanguve on Thursday, detectives described it as "a mini home affairs office." Among the documents found were temporary permits for foreign nationals, marriage, birth and death certificates, school certificates for grades eight, nine and 12, social grant forms and Unemployment Insurance Fund forms. Sebola said all had been filled out by applicants and carried official stamps. The man was arrested in a sting operation on Church Square in central Pretoria, said Sebola. He said an East Rand woman who had legitimately applied for an ID book at the department's offices in Pretoria, was allegedly called by the "agent" to say her ID was ready and to bring R350. They agreed to meet in Church Square, Sebola said. She alerted the organised crime unit of the police and the man was arrested. "We think he must have had a contact in the department who gave him forms once they had been completed. He was acting as a sort of illegal sub-contractor," he said. It was believed he had been running the scam for about two years. The man would be charged with corruption, Sebola said, adding that more arrests were expected. Home Affairs spokesman Nkosana Sibuyi said there was no way the department would sub-contract any of its work. "It's not the way we operate," he said, stating, that the situation would be investigated immediately.

Home Affairs in bid to change image (Sabc-News, 12/11):-
Malusi Gigaba, the deputy minister of home affairs, has embarked on a two-day working visit to the North-West province where he is engaging with his department's staff and clients to get first hand account of the challenges facing his office. The visit is part of the department's project to re-invent itself as a department that values government mandate to deliver quality service to the poor and marginalised communities.  Gigaba's whistle-stop tour took him to the Skilpadhek border post - one of the province' busiest ports of entry into Botswana. During his interaction with the department's staff, he did not mince his words in expressing contempt on what he terms as inhumane manner in which African illegal immigrants are treated whenever they are caught. Gigaba has stressed that they be treated with greater compassion as not all of them are criminals.  During the recent public hearings on xenophobia, which were convened by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) - the home affairs department came under attack for failing to reverse the backlog of pending asylum applications. The current backlog currently stands at plus minus 85 000 applications. This has been largely blamed on the lack of efficiency, poor and somewhat moribund procedures on asylum determinations.  Gigaba is expected to spend tomorrow campaigning for the registration of children birth data - an initiative which seeks to enable their parents to access child support grants.

Government clears air on citizenship amendment act (BuaNews, 11/11):- Government has appealed to local citizens with dual citizenship to apply and use the South African passport when entering and departing the country. This follows confusion over the use of foreign passports by locals when leaving or arriving at the country's ports of entry. According to the new amendments to the Citizenship Act, it is now an "offence" for locals with dual citizenship to continue using their foreign passports to depart or gain entry to the republic. It is also an offence for such a citizen, while in South Africa, to use his or her foreign citizenship or nationality to gain advantage or avoid a responsibility or duty, says the home affairs department. However the Amendment Act allows local citizens, with dual citizenship or nationality, to freely use their foreign passports outside South Africa but "must" use their South African passport to depart from or enter South Africa. The warning comes after authorities repealed section 9 of the South African Citizenship Act of 1995, which regulated the use of the citizenship or nationality of another country by a South African. The Act repealed the provision that allowed the home affairs minister to deprive a citizen of his or her citizenship for having used the citizenship of a foreign country. Consequently, the previous requirement for exemptions or letters of permission from the minister to make use of a foreign passport has now been terminated. "The issue of deprivation of citizenship was inconsistent with the Constitutional right to citizenship. "Accordingly, we would like to advise all South Africans who have a dual citizenship and do not have South African passports to apply for their South African passports at their earliest opportunity," said home affairs spokesperson Nkosana Sibuyi. "In terms of the South African Citizenship Amendment Act of 2004 that came into effect on 15 September 2004, it is now an offence for a major South African citizen to enter the Republic or depart making use of the passport of another country," Mr Sibuyi explained. The department affirmed that it was mindful that many affected South Africans might not yet be aware of the amendments and the implications thereafter. "We have therefore decided that affected South Africans departing or arriving through our ports of entry, attempting to use a foreign passport, will be issued with a warning giving them three months to obtain a South African passport," said Mr Sibuyi. He added that authorities would not in the meantime; prevent departing from or entering the country provided people had applied for the relevant document.

SAPS takes on border patrol (BuaNews, 10/11):- Patrolling a stretch of about 1 200km of dry desert across the Kalahari dunes in temperatures of up to 47ºC daily can be a daunting task. "It takes dedication and shows loyalty to our country. We could all learn from the commitment shown by these men," said Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula here yesterday. The minister was referring to the 40 SA Police Service (SAPS) members who have been deployed here on the border posts of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. This deployment is part of government's plans to shift border control from the defence force to the police, following government's completion of the SANDF/SAPS exit and entry strategy for 2004 to 2008. The deployment commenced on 13 September, as Mr. Nqakula explained, border control was the duty of the police as it involved crime prevention and combating which was not the function of the defence force. Mr. Nqakula had visited the men in their three units - Middelputs, Rietfontein and Nakop to inspect their working conditions and living arrangements. They were developed there after a weeklong refresher course. The course included understanding relevant legislation such as the Immigration Act, detection of impostors and smuggle techniques, crime threat analysis and driving 4X4 vehicles, suitable for desert areas. Captain Miya, base commander for Middelputs, said their duties included checking for clues of illegal border crossing. "The law states that people have to use the border gates. If we find people who are crossing illegally we arrest them," he explained. The units have brand new air-conditioned tents as sleeping quarters and recreational facilities, complete with pool tables and TV sets. The 4X4 vehicles are also air-conditioned and have fridges. The Middelputs unit patrols up to McCarthy's Rest and back along the Botswana border. The unit from Rietfontein patrols the corner wedged between Botswana and Namibia, while the Nakop unit patrols the straight stretch of the border along the eastern side of Namibia. Mr. Nqakula expressed gratitude at how the men had adjusted to their environment, enduring scorching heat most of the time. One of the members of the Middelputs unit, Samuel Ndwendwe from the East Rand in Gauteng, said that two-and-a-half months could feel extremely long under the hot temperatures. "Unfortunately I have no control over the weather," Mr. Nqakula joked later with the Nakop unit. Currently there are no women in the deployed units, but Captain David Mbambo, section head of border police, said that future units would include women.

Police fleece deportees (The Daily News, 10/11):-Border jumpers and illegal immigrants deported from South Africa are up in arms with police officers at Beitbridge border post whom they are accusing of fleecing them of their foreign currency. Several deportees interviewed by the Daily News Online said after being dumped at the police station by South African authorities, they are subjected to thorough searches by officers who confiscate all their money especially the South African Rand and US dollars. The deportees are then released without any travel documents and told to go to their respective homes, some of them as far away as Hwange, Masvingo and Bulawayo. A deportee who asked to be identified only as Behlule said: "There were about 15 of us in the South African police truck two weeks ago when we arrived at Beitbridge. The cops at the station searched us but they were only interested in money. They took even small amounts such as 10 rands and after that they told us to go to our homes. "Behlule said one of his colleagues had about 2 500 rand and when he asked why the police were taking it, he was assaulted and told to go home and plough the fields. "They also accused him of being an MDC member," Behlule said. Another deportee who lost his foreign currency to the police officers at Beitbridge police station, Martin Makhalima said after his release at the border post, he could not go home because he was broke. "I stayed in Beitbridge for three days and during one of the days I saw one of the men I had seen at the police station trading foreign currency at the terminus," said Makhalima. He said he later crossed the border back to South Africa and he is back in Hillbrow suburb in Johannesburg from where he was earlier rounded up by the South African police officers before deportation. A number of deportees, who have passed through Beitbridge police station, complained that they were losing money to police officers. Joyce Dube, director of a Johannesburg-based regional non-governmental organisation dealing in migration affairs, told the Daily News Online that her organisation was aware of the problems confronting deportees but there was little they could do as police had given them a cold shoulder each time they sought an explanation. Arnold Tsunga of the Zimbabwe lawyers for human rights said the allegations were serious and the police commissioner must ensure that they are investigated. He said expropriating money from deportees amounted to misconduct and theft and the police chief must make sure that his officers acted ethically. More than 1 000 Zimbabweans are deported from South Africa after entering the country illegally every month

Home Affairs denies 10,000 ID's stolen (Mail & Guardian, 10/11):- The Department of Home Affairs on Tuesday disputed reports that 10 000 identity documents were stolen from its offices in Lebowakgomo in Limpopo, saying it was "less than 1 000". "I don't know where the figure of 10 000 comes from," spokesperson Nkosana Sibuyi said. "Less than 1 000 was stolen." He said the circumstances around the theft are at this stage still unknown. "We don't know what happened and we don't want to speculate." A head of counter-corruption in the department has recently been appointed. Sibuyi said the counter-corruption department will investigate the theft in conjunction with the police. He did not want to divulge any details of the investigation, saying it might jeopardise it. Police suspect that a syndicate, which colludes with illegal immigrants, may be behind the theft, the South African Broadcasting Corporation said on Tuesday morning. Thieves broke into the Department of Home Affairs office last Thursday night and stole the IDs. The Lebowakgomo offices are in the provincial legislature complex, which accommodates several other government departments, including the office of the police area commissioner. There are eight private security guards in the complex during the day and six at night. Security officers at the complex said they are understaffed relative to the size of the building.

Get legal, minister tells foreigners (Mail & Guardian, 10/11):- The minister of home affairs made an impassioned plea on Thursday for foreigners to apply for the necessary permits to be in the country legally. In a personal statement to the South African Human Rights Commission hearings on xenophobia, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said: "Look at Zimbabweans -- why are they illegal? There are many different permits they can apply for in South Africa. Many different permits." She said every country has its own laws that cannot be violated, and even she as a refugee in Zambia during the apartheid regime had to apply for the necessary documentation. "And rightly so," she said. "Why not come and declare that you are an asylum-seeker?" Earlier, the hearing heard there are no free movement agreements between Southern African countries, and that immigration laws do not take into account integration and movement in the region. The hearing was also told that there are long delays with asylum applications, with allegations of bribery in some departments, and that even if people have the correct paperwork, officials -- particularly in hospitals -- discriminate against them. There are also allegations of police harassment. In a candid address, Mapisa-Nqakula admitted there are problems and delays in her department, many due to a lack of resources, but said these are being addressed. She condemned "the scourge" of xenophobia and said officials who treat asylum seekers and refugees unfairly are not a reflection of government policies. Her department has already set up an anti-xenophobia unit and is working with organisations such as the Southern African Migration Project to train border officials. She has also addressed concerns about police behaviour to the minister of safety and security. She conceded that South Africa is the only Southern African country that has not signed the Protocol on the Free Movement of People. "But we are discussing the matter now," she said. Concerned about what she feels are inaccurate reports about the Lindela deportation facility outside Krugersdorp, she said officials have been told that it is not a detention centre or a place to verify documentation. It is only a deportation point. Children are no longer allowed to be kept there, and pregnant women for no longer than a week. She urged NGOs, the media and the public to take up her offer to inspect the centre whenever they want to. "What is worrying is that people who are the most vociferous don't visit it," she said. Although the room was silent during her impassioned submission, there were occasional grunts of disagreement and disbelief from the room. At times, emotions ran high at the hearings, attended by NGOs, refugees and asylum seekers, some with their babies cooing on their knees. The first day of the hearings started late and although individual submissions were given a time restriction, lengthy statements and questions from some of the six members from Parliament's portfolio committee on home affairs caused further backlogs. On the final day, MP Dumisani Sithole, narrowly skirting rudeness, kept a tight rein on his fellow panelists and comments from the floor -- but it was too late. There was no time for submissions from Christians for Peace in Africa and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities. They received an apology and the minister was given the floor. Tension also rose at times, especially when MP Mewa Ramgobin appeared troubled by what he later referred to as "government bashing" contained in some of the personal experiences of refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. Some of the panel's comments led one person to say after her submission that the hearings, although open, did not make people feel comfortable about making their submission. However, MP Joe Seremane frequently stepped in the fray with a gentle African proverb to soften the mood. And for others, there was the commission canteen's soul food lunch of rice, gem squash and meat in gravy to look forward to, with the shortage of canteen chairs forcing people with opposing views to eat together and break the tension with small talk about the Swiss rolls waiting for pudding.

Rough road home for illegal immigrants (IRIN News, 08/11):- In the South African border town of Musina, authorities regularly detain dozens of undocumented immigrants, sometimes for days on end, in an outdoor facility without toilets or running water. Men, women and children, including those seeking refugee status in South Africa, are held behind a chain-link fence and razor wire in the yard of the Musina police station. "We arrest someone, put them in a [holding enclosure], with no roof, no water, no toilets," said the police station's commissioner, Superintendent Mainganye Godfrey Nephawe. "It's not human, and we're worried about most of them." Located just 12 km south of the Zimbabwe border, Musina is on the front line of South Africa's efforts to curb illegal immigration - an increasingly controversial issue in this nation of an estimated 46 million people. Yet, while individual officials express concern about conditions in the detention facility in Musina, the South African authorities have been accused of not moving quickly enough to rectify the situation. SCORES DEPORTED DAILY In a joint effort with South Africa's Department of Home Affairs and the South African National Defence Force, the Musina police conduct daily patrols in the town and on the surrounding farms, arresting dozens of individuals who cannot present proper identity papers. Station spokesperson Captain Mashudu Malelo said the authorities determined which undocumented individuals were immigrants by interrogating them in local dialects and asking questions about city landmarks - at least three-quarters of those arrested were from Zimbabwe. He said the station deported an average of 100 undocumented immigrants every day, ferrying them in a steady stream of armoured trucks to the police station in Beitbridge on the Zimbabwe side of the border.But after dark, or when the station does not have enough trucks to transport detainees, undocumented immigrants have to spend the night in the detention facility. "Sometimes they stay for two, three, four, or five days," said Eric T. Ndou of the Musina Community Police Forum, which partners with the Musina police station in addressing community issues. CONDITIONS INSIDE THE FACILITY - At midday last Tuesday, three dozen individuals sat on the dirt floor of the holding facility, where more chain-link fencing and razor wire separate the men from the women and children. As temperatures reached 35ºC (95ºF), most sought refuge under the shade cast by the concrete wall and the yard's only tree. There is no toilet inside the facility. During daylight hours, detainees say, authorities will escort them to an outdoor toilet, but at night they must urinate and defecate inside the enclosure. The facility has no running water, so detainees cannot wash. For drinking water, individuals scoop water from a single cooking pot set up on a table in the sun. Police spokesperson Malelo admitted that the station "does not have [suitable] cells to detain them". They had requested the department of home affairs and defence force to stop bringing undocumented foreign nationals at night, as this would allow the police to deport the immigrants on a daily basis rather than having them spend time exposed to the elements. "Immediately, when we've got a full load of the people as well as their goods, the truck leaves," he said. But the station commissioner told IRIN that detainees slept overnight in the pen. "They stay overnight when we are tired of deporting them," said Superintendent Nephawe. "You cannot work 24 hours a day." Mduduzi Nkomo, 20, a detainee from Gwanda in Zimbabwe, said he had been fed twice since arriving the day before, and each meal had consisted of one slice of bread and a cup of tea. Nephawe said the station shared what little it had with detainees, "because we must give them food". Although he believed the meals were insufficient, he said the station was doing its best to cope with the constant influx of immigrants. "You understand, small kids are sleeping out in the open, at night, on the ground, because if they come in at midnight or one [o'clock in the morning], we must keep them [overnight]," he explained. "But if it is raining, it rains on them." ASYLUM-SEEKERS DETAINED - At least three young men detained in the facility last Tuesday were attempting to attain refugee status in South Africa. Shebani Celeste, Manga Mmbyula, and Kiza Djuma said they were from Southern Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where dissident soldiers are currently battling the Force Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo (FARDC). Speaking in French, they said they came to South Africa by train and had been held in the facility since Saturday. They didn't know whether they would be deported or not. Mmbyula and Djuma showed IRIN documents from the South African Department of Home Affairs, requesting that they report to one of the country's five Refugee Reception offices. There is no Refugee Reception office in Musina - the nearest one is in Pretoria, nearly 500 kilometers away. Rudolph Jansen, a director of Lawyers for Human Rights, a South African legal-advocacy organisation, said the authorities needed to be more sensitive to the needs of those claiming to be refugees. "Police stations are ill-equipped to detain foreign nationals," he said. "For those who are fleeing persecution, it's absolutely crucial that they are given access to services; that their status is determined; and that they're given documentation to prove that status as soon as possible." - ZIMBABWEANS AT HEART OF DEPORTATION EFFORT - In recent years, Zimbabwe has been crippled by massive food shortages, a disintegrating economy and political instability. Millions of Zimbabweans have crossed the porous, 225 km border into South Africa, either by cutting through fences or crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo River. They reside in South Africa as exiles, constantly at risk of being caught and deported. Standing behind the chain-link fence at Musina police station, Raymond Moyo, 32, from Plumtree, Zimbabwe, said he had been detained for two days. "We come to South Africa because we are suffering, [and are looking] for a job," and added that he had been deported once before, but had returned to Musina to work in a hotel.  As a Zimbabwean without proper documentation, Moyo is a primary target in an escalating deportation effort in Limpopo Province, where Musina is located. Des Venter, head of immigration in the Department of Home Affairs in the provincial capital, Polokwane, said South Africa was deporting growing numbers of Zimbabweans from Limpopo. In the first 10 months of this year, he noted, the South African government had deported 41,069 Zimbabwean citizens from the province, a nine percent increase from the total of 37,796 deportations in 2003. Because there is no internationally recognised conflict in Zimbabwe, the South African government maintains that undocumented immigrants from Zimbabwe are "economic migrants", rather than refugees. But Refugees International, a Washington DC-based humanitarian organisation, has reported that 80,000 Zimbabweans are currently seeking political asylum in the country. Police spokesperson Malelo said he didn't have "any idea" whether anyone deported to Zimbabwe had sought refugee status, but those who had been deported "have not been afraid to be taken back to Zimbabwe". Zimbabweans who crossed the border looking for food and work also deserved adequate treatment while detained, said Tara Pozel, director of the Rural Research Project of the Forced Migration Studies Programme at the University of the Witwaterstrand. "South Africa is legally able to deport them as immigrants, but the question is, basically, whether basic human rights are being respected in that process," she said. SENIOR AUTHORITIES AWARE OF CONDITIONS - Nephawe said National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi had visited the facility on 27 January and was "very much concerned" about the existing conditions. "The minute he saw this place he sat right here and called his office, and instructed his representatives to fly to Musina the following day." Nephawe said plans to create a new, R50-million (about US $8.1-million) facility for detained foreign nationals in Musina were contingent on acquiring additional land, which required the cooperation of the Musina Local Municipality. He had contacted the council about the matter as recently as 27 October, but had been told that an investigation of the request was still pending. In the interim, Nephawe said, he hoped to receive about R1 million (about US $163,000) to renovate a nearby vacant military barracks to house the undocumented immigrants. "If we can get money ... we can fix it," he said. "We must not leave people suffering." But Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, director of the Refugee Rights Project at Lawyers for Human Rights South Africa, said there had been talk about using the army barracks for years. "There were rumours going around about creating a facility at the army barracks, but that never happened," she said.

Zimbabwe's exiles live between danger zone (, 08/11):- An estimated 4 million people have fled Mugabe's regime, many of them finding work in South Africa - Climb the hill through  the shacks and past the water pump. Take a right at the Luv is in Da Hair beauty salon, built in half a shipping container painted turquoise. Here, 20 minutes outside Pretoria on a dirt road crammed between houses constructed of scrounged metal scrap, is the workshop: Behind thick green tarp to block prying eyes, 30 men labour, sawing old shipping pallets and turning them into crude furniture. It's hot, and the curls of sawdust stick to sweat-streaked skin. The men work seven days a week, from early morning until long past dark. They risked drowning, crocodiles, electrocution and worse to get here. But they can earn the equivalent of $40 a week, a fortune for their families back home. All of these men are Zimbabwean, and with one exception are 17 to 25 years old, the prime age for forced recruitment into the Green Bombers, Zimbabwe's notorious youth militia. They fled their home country, where the fields are empty, the stores are empty, inflation runs at about 400 per cent and any suspicion of
sympathy for the opposition to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his regime is enough to have the police pounding at the door in the dark of night. "We live," July Bistongo said, "between danger zones." There are an estimated four million Zimbabweans, or a quarter of the population, in exile. Some are political exiles -- judges, journalists, lawyers driven out of the country for supporting the opposition or simply attempting to operate independent news media. Others are the so-called "economic refugees," like this group, although their exile, too, has its roots in politics. A decade ago, Zimbabwe was an African success story, with one of the highest literacy rates on the continent, a thriving economy and an agricultural sector so healthy the country fed many of its neighbours. Then Zimbabwe was hit hard by structural-adjustment programs put forward by
international institutions such as the World Bank, which badly undercut spending on health and education. The country really went off the rails in the late 1990s, when the Movement for Democratic Change emerged as the first serious opposition to Mr. Mugabe's Zanu-PF Party. Mr. Mugabe had embarked on a heavily politicized "fast-track land-reform" program that was supposed to see the large, mostly white-owned commercial farms that dominated the agricultural sector handed over to landless black Zimbabweans. In reality, however, most of the farms were transferred to the wealthy colleagues of Mr. Mugabe. Many white farmers and their considerable expertise were driven from the country. The black farm workers who once worked for the white farmers are jobless. The large farms lie idle and the great majority of blacks are subsistence farming on small plots. The region is experiencing a drought this year, as it has for the past several years, and that exacerbates the problem. Zimbabwe, once so productive, will have a serious food shortage this year, though the government continues to insist there is no problem. About 4.8 million people will be critically short of food, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned. The FAO estimates the harvest this year at 950,000 tonnes (as opposed to the government figure of 2.4 million tonnes) and said that an estimated 30 per cent to 40 per cent of farmers are running out of food (the next harvest will be in April). Meanwhile, the average labourer earns enough only to feed a typical family for two days a week, and the price of corn has doubled since April. And there is only one sort of job to be had these days in rural Zimbabwe. "You can't work if you don't go and do their training, join their forces -- but the only job you get from that is beating people or being one of 10 guys to rape a girl, and you get AIDS," said Timothy Mhlang, 25, one of the workers in the bustling little furniture co-operative, part of the secretive network of ways in which Zimbabweans refugees try to assist each other. Human-rights groups such as Amnesty International has documented numerous incidents of forced conscription into the national youth militia that is ostensibly a skills-training program for young people, and of assaults and gang rape by militia members. Suspicion of sympathy for the opposition is enough to have you killed. It's also enough to keep you from being fed. "Everybody needs food at home now," said Mr. Bistongo, 23, who left home in Chipenga two months ago. "But if you don't show a membership card [in the Zanu-PF] or if they think you are opposition, you can't get it. Sometimes there are soldiers with lists [of Zanu members, at distribution points for heavily subsidized food by the National Grain Marketing Board] and sometimes they just have their spies there to say who should be allowed to get food." Such allegations are confirmed in a new Amnesty International report called Zimbabwe: Power and Hunger, Violations of the Right to Food. Rocky Rakings, 19, in charge of varnishing table tops, left home in Checheche, Zimbabwe, last month. His family could no longer survive on the 40,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about $8) he was earning each month doing agricultural labour. He has saved $40 from the furniture shop to take home to his parents, four brothers, wife and baby son, none of whom can find work. But the journey from Checheche was perilous, and he dreads the thought of returning to deliver the money. "To come here, you must travel through the bush, and then you have to cross the [Limpopo] River -- there can be crocodiles and hippopotamus. Sometimes you must swim. When you get across, there are the fences." Here, Mr. Mhlang took up the narrative.
They cross at night, to avoid patrolling South African helicopters. The first fence is not so bad, about 1.5 metres, he said, and they climb over or dig under that one. The next fence, though, is much higher and electrified. He used a couple of tools from the workshop to mime the pole-vaulting technique they use to clear it. "The third fence is better, but it has razor wire at the top." Once over, often bleeding, they head for the bush again, to avoid patrolling jeeps. Travelling at night, they finally reach the highway, and flag down a truck headed for Johannesburg, Durban or Pretoria, somewhere they can get lost in a squatter camp like this one. "You have to say everything you need to say to your family when you go," Mr. Bistongo said, his voice cracking a little. "Because you don't know when you're coming back." The men said they were glad to have the work in South Africa, but life is hard here, too. They pay about $20 a month to rent living space in shacks, and they are in constant fear of raids. South Africa, with 40 per cent unemployment, does not want the immigrants. And the government takes a weak stand on Zimbabwe because much of the prime land in South Africa is still in white hands and because Mr. Mugabe is still revered here for his role in the liberation of Zimbabwe. So South Africa will not acknowledge the political crisis in Zimbabwe, and thus few refugees can claim asylum; they must live as "illegals." "It's worst at the end of the month, when the police are short of money. They come and pick you up and they want 100 rand or 80 rand [about $20] to let you go," Mr. Mhlang said. None of these men was an active or formal member of the opposition. "You must keep your political affairs only in your heart," Mr. Rakings said. There will be an election in Zimbabwe in March, but the men do not think it will change things. "You know who will win," one said. "So we will stay here, earning money to give our families."

Health staffing crisis demands a masterplan (Business Day, 05/11):- The reasons for the shortage of health-care professionals in SA are diverse, but the absence of a comprehensive human resources plan for this sector has a part to play, says the Health Systems Trust. "It is clear that there is an urgent need to ... develop a coherent plan to address this issue," it says in its 2003-04 South African Health Review. The trust is a nongovernmental organisation contributing to the development of a health system to meet the needs of all South Africans. According to its review, 31,1% of health posts in the public sector were vacant between 2001 and 2003, and there were vast differences between provinces, with 67,4% of Mpumalanga's posts vacant, 13,4% in Limpopo and 13,8% in Western Cape. Recently, Health Professions Council of SA registrar Boyce Mkhize called for equity targets to be set for training institutions, and suggested there be broadened criteria for the admission of black students . He said many blacks were excluded due to poor matric grades from poorly resourced schools. The council's statistics show that only 23419, or 22%, of the 104463 health professionals registered with it describe themselves as black or African, and when those describing themselves as Asian (5491) and coloured (1708) are added, the percentage is only 25%. But new registrations of black, coloured and Asian professionals have increased to 70,2% this year, from 42,7% in 2000. Former education minister Kader Asmal proposed a centralised, government-controlled admissions agency for universities and technikons, which was opposed on the grounds of academic freedom by the South African Universities Vice-Chancellors' Association. Mkhize says academic freedom that does not account for SA's unique features is "not good academic freedom". Since 1998, most of SA's eight medical universities have used "alternative admissions tests", which take non-academic criteria into account in an effort to increase admissions of black students . In 2003, 45% of firstyear medical students were black, about 10% coloured, 15% Indian and 30% white. The Health Systems Trust expects the new admissions policy and academic support programmes will have a "significant" impact on drop-out rates, which have been high among black students. Mkhize says more is still to be done as some tertiary institutions' admission policies are still not broad enough. He cannot give any details of new admissions criteria, but says the council is "keen" to help devise them. Admissions policies are not the only reason for the shortage of black health professionals. Health Systems Trust spokeswoman Ashnie Padarath says the migration of graduates to other countries is probably the largest contributor to the shortage. "We probably would have enough if they were not leaving. Our production is not keeping up with the attrition," she says. SA has signed the Commonwealth Code of Practice for the international recruitment of health workers, designed to help ensure that the recruitment of professionals by wealthier countries from developing countries is of mutual benefit. In August Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang signed the National Health Act , which makes the registration of all public and private health establishments mandatory , aiming to ensure they are "distributed equitably throughout the country to enable equitable access to health services for everyone". All health providers will have to apply for a certificate of need a government attempt to meet its policy objectives of improved access to health services. The regulations for the new law will be finalised next year. The t rust says the introduction of the rural and scarce skills allowances this year, designed to attract health professionals to the public sector and keep them there, had limited success in increasing the supply of personnel in underserved areas. The allowances are an attempt to address the "dual inequality" in the distribution of health services between the public and private sectors and between urban and rural areas. The number of medical graduates involved in community service has declined. "Possibly they might have left the country, or decided not to work as medical practitioners. Either way, the loss to the country is significant," the trust reports. Other problems included that students still preferred urban areas over rural areas and there was an absence of adequate supervision.

10,000 Ids stolen in Limpopo (Sabc News, 05/11):- Lebowakgomo police in Limpopo say more than 10 000 IDs have been stolen from the local home affairs office. Mohale Ramatseba, a police spokesperson, says the theft happened on Wednesday, but was only discovered yesterday. He says they suspect that a syndicate, involved in the smuggling of illegal immigrants, is responsible. Ramatseba says the documents were destined for people in the neighbouring Nebo and Sekhukhune areas.The home affairs department has in response said it suspects that the theft of IDs was an inside job. Victor Mabunda, the Limpopo home affairs manager, says I was meant to understand. I'm not sure...that these people came with a car. It was at 4 o'clock in the morning. When we opened our office at about 7:30am it was discovered that offices had been buglared and the bags containing IDs are gone. And surprisingly those bags containing IDs were delivered on Wednesday and on Thursday early in the morning the IDs were gone," he said.

Mapisa-Nqakula condemns increase in xenophobia (BuaNews, 05/11):- Home Affairs Minister Nosviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has condemned the increase in the number of cases of xenophobia in the country, saying they border on misperception, myth and bad-tempered societal fears. "We are extremely concerned, that now, ten years into our democracy, there are some within our society who display a dangerous tendency of hatred of other people merely on the basis that they do not know them or that they come from a country different from their own," she said. The minister made these remarks during her department's presentation to the three-day public hearings on xenophobia conducted by the South African Human Rights Commission in Johannesburg this week. The inquiry follows a series of complaints by foreign nationals alleging harassment by local citizens, police and immigration officers in major cities. The officers are frequently accused of extorting bribery from foreigners, which the former say they find difficult to argue against as the foreigners fear being deported back home to face wars and abject poverty. Since the dawn of democratic dispensation, anti-foreigner feelings, particularly directed at Africans, have increased alarmingly, with some locals accusing them of perpetuating crime, stealing their partners and grabbing opportunities, that were meant for them. This has seen many foreigners subjected to emotional and physical abuses, in some instance violent harassment, with some allegedly thrown out of moving trains as soon as their national identify is established. However, the private sector also stands accused of exploiting foreign nationals as they view the latter as cheap and unaccountable labour. "There is no way that as the South African government and as a nation we can tolerate or justify xenophobia... because it is based on prejudice, is frequently violent, and most of the time, racist," affirmed Ms Mapisa-Nqakula.  The minister also spoke out against the ill-treatment of illegal immigrants at the Lindela centre saying the centre was "neither a detention [nor] a place of verification of status, but a place from where those who are definitely illegal foreigners should be deported." She affirmed that authorities would investigate allegations of corruption, harassment and death at the centre. Government needed to do more to protect the refugee community in the country, including speeding up the status determination process, but also the proper training and coordination of agencies who were involved in enforcing immigration laws, she said. "Our goal will be to instill in our staff members, as well as our colleagues in SAPS, that foreigners are people too and that foreigners have rights and thus need to be protected," she asserted blaming the xenophobic tendencies amongst locals to a lack of exposure and "not being familiar with the level of co-existence." Meanwhile, government is in the process of implementing its new immigration regulations.

Lindela: my week in hell (ZW, 05/11):- Joe Ncube, a Zimbabwean asylum seeker, spent a week in the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp. This is his story:  'People die every day here." This warning, from a Burundian I met on my first day in Lindela detention centre in Krugersdorp, came as no surprise. I'm a Zimbabwean who has been living in South Africa for the past six years - and the centre's reputation is legendary among us - the amakwerekwere (foreigners). For illegals it is the first stop on a round-trip journey back into South Africa. But for legal foreigners like me, who have asylum-seeker status, it is where we learn what it feels like to be a victim of this phenomenon called xenophobia. The day my luck ran out was September 28 when I was travelling to work in a taxi that got stopped at a road block. I was immediately identified by the police as a foreigner. Maybe it is because I am darker skinned, or maybe because I replied in English, and not in Zulu, that I had no ID on me. I was told to get into the back of the police truck where I joined more than 100 people. There were children, women, men and old people. But I knew I was better off than many of them - I had my asylum papers with me. But the police said: "No we don't need an asylum papers, you must have a  South African ID." I asked how they expected me to have a South African ID when I was not a citizen, but they were not interested. It was as if their orders were exclusively that all foreigners must be arrested and taken to Lindela. I also have a work permit, but it would not have made a difference because the police were arresting anyone foreign - regardless of whether they had papers or not. The fear in the truck was tangible on the journey there, with children crying and women clutching their meager possessions. The truth is that many Zimbabweans give other names so they can get back into the country. We all know how to get around the system, but this time I had no reason to lie. I was a legitimate immigrant. What could possibly happen to me? The procedure on arrival at Lindela is that men and women are separated in a courtyard. Security guards then do roll-call and allocate prisoners according to nationality. Our names are called out by the detention centre's home affairs officials to identify our immigration status. But we arrived late that day and the officials had closed their offices - which meant we all had to stay until they returned the next morning. My first impression of the dreaded place was that it was a prison. We were searched for any cellphones, cameras, pens and notebooks, and warned that we were not allowed to take these to the cells. But the fear started clawing at my gut when I realised that I would be spending my first night in a cell with 50 other men. I did not know what to expect or how to behave. But I decided to keep my mouth shut and watch what happened. I remembered my friend Edwin Ndlovu, who died at the age of 24, just a week after he was released from Lindela. His cause of death was unknown, but his nose was bleeding and he was coughing before his death. I was curious about why he died and what happened to him. Was there TB or other illnesses in the air at Lindela? Dinner was a plate of anaemic cabbage and pap that looked like it had been cooked days before. I refused to eat, remembering tales of food poisoning and noticing that other inmates looked unhealthy. The time for sleeping grew closer. We were given a blanket each and divided into different cells. I wasn't expecting a five-star hotel, but I was not prepared for the conditions of cell number 29 where I was taken. Picture about 54 men all crammed into a tiny cell with double bunks and room for only 24 people. But the putrid smell of a blocked shower and toilet overrode my anxiety about where I was going to sleep. An elderly Zimbabwean, who seemed to command respect in the cell, ejected a guy from the Côte d'Ivoire from a bunk bed for me. Lying on the bunk with the smell of smoke and the soft sound of cards being played I wondered what I should do. My girlfriend could bring my work permit in the morning, but I knew that this was the place where Edwin had died and wanted to stay longer to see what really happens to us foreigners in Lindela. I could not sleep because there was an old man who was coughing and whose nose was bleeding. The elderly Zimbabwean called the security guard to take him to the clinic. Thirty minutes later they brought him back. It did not seem as if he was any better. The next day I heard he had died. How will his family know what happened to him? Where will he be buried? I thought about how my mother would feel if she never heard from me again. Could I die like this - having been persecuted into coming to South African by Zanu PF, just to rot in this hole? I felt like everything was for nothing because the only decision left was where I preferred to die - in Zimbabwe or in Lindela. I tried to find out what it is that happens in Lindela that causes people to die here or get sick. I sat with three South African boys who were mistaken for foreigners because they were found in the street and did not have IDs. In the courtyard, where most of the foreigners sit around to pass the time, I noticed that dagga was openly sold for R5 a bankie (a packet of dagga). I phoned my girlfriend. She was afraid I would be kept in Lindela indefinitely. This is what happened to Eugene Makwinja, a former colleague who I met on the second day there. He had been in Lindela for three months and had no way of knowing why he was being detained instead of being sent to Zimbabwe. "If I had R900 to pay for a bribe I could get out of here," he said. Looking around I began to realise that there weren't many Chinese and Indians. "That is because the Chinese and Indians can afford to pay to get out of here, even the Nigerians," Makwinja said. If you are a foreigner and you don't have the money to pay bribes you go back to your own country. Many Nigerians pretend to be Zimbabweans because it takes three months to get back to Nigeria; but Zimbabweans and Mozambicans leave every month and it is easier to get back to South Africa across a river than across a continent. Those too poor to afford bribes get deported and make their way back, even if it means jumping off a moving train. Ishmael, one of the two Malawian brothers who slept on the beds next to mine, had been living in Lindela for two months because the train to Malawi was not yet full enough to warrant a trip. His brother was sick during the stay and I later heard he had died when he reached home. We had spent time talking about our countries and what it felt like living in South Africa. I knew that I could not live in this place for two or three weeks, having two meals a day, being beaten up, sleeping in a cell with blocked toilets. On Saturday and Sunday the electricity was cut and when there is no electricity there is no water. You are left alone most of the time unless you piss-off security guards, as did one of the foreigners who lost his identity tag (which we all had to carry). They beat him with sjamboks until he bled from his mouth. It was a lesson that made us feel powerless. We knew that there was no one here who cared whether we lived or died. No high commissioner from our country fighting for our release, no lawyers to sue the security guards for torture or abuse. The clinic is a joke: there is only Panado available, even for the most severe pains. Most of the foreigners who are sick are left to rot on bunks until it is too late to save their lives. Just when I thought I would never see my baby or my girlfriend again, I was released - a week after my arrest. Maybe the reason why the South African government treats foreigners so badly in Lindela is to ensure that we never want to come back to this country. But most of the people who stay in Lindela will come back: they have no other option. Ultimately I blame the South African government, which claims to fight for the rights of all human beings. We are not animals. Even though we Zimbabweans work among South Africans I always feel like a prisoner here. When President Thabo Mbeki talks about Zimbabwe and says we should solve conflict in the region I want him to go to Lindela and see how South Africans treat other Africans. What is the New Partnership for Africa's development if other Africans cannot be treated with dignity and respect ? As a foreigner I feel that some South Africans are too proud of their nation, but too blind and forgetful to remember that it is the same amakwerekwere who you scorn that allowed you to flee your apartheid government. I never heard a South African exile saying there was a hell like Lindela waiting for them. As told to Nawaal Deane

Coffin carried in protest at Lindela (ZW, 05/11):- Claims of "appalling treatment" of asylum-seekers and "general xenophobia" have led to a demonstration outside the Lindela Deportation Centre on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Yesterday's protest was held by Zimbabweans and South African sympathisers. It coincided with the final day of a Johannesburg hearing into xenophobia hosted by the Human Rights Commission and parliament's portfolio committee on foreign affairs. The 100 protesters marched to Lindela carrying a coffin wrapped in a Zimbabwean flag to represent people who either had died at Lindela or as a result of the general crisis in Zimbabwe. They sang songs and prayed for detainees, who include women, whom the protesters said bore the greatest brunt of ill treatment. They alleged that some of the women were pregnant or had young kids on their backs. The protest drew prominent human rights activists, including Central Methodist Church Bishop Paul Verryn, of Johannesburg. They handed a Lindela official a petition demanding appropriate treatment of asylum-seekers. Zimbabweans detained at the detention centre have alleged a litany of abuse, including heavy beatings and torture as well as being denied access to immigration officials. They also claim an increasing number of deaths at the centre. While acknowledging that deaths had occurred, the head of communications at the Department of Home Affairs, Nkosana Sibuyi, rejected claims that they were because of torture and ill treatment. He said some Lindela inmates had died from diseases they had before being brought to the centre. He insisted that conditions at Lindela were conducive for human habitation. "We are guided by country and international conventions which prohibit any form of ill treatment of detainees," said Sibuyi. Activist Emily Welman, an organiser of the protest, said: "We have started a process to hold these people accountable for their appalling treatment of legitimate asylum-seekers. Genuine political asylum- seekers are being unlawfully treated by the South African authorities. They are being thrown back to Zimbabwe, where they face all sorts of dangers, including being murdered." Welman said it was "high time South Africa ended this xenophobia and bad treatment of these asylum-seekers".

Immigrants' plight highlighted (Sabc News, 04/11):- Allegations of terrible treatment and even torture against illegal immigrants awaiting deportation, was again brought to the attention of officials at Lindela, just outside Krugersdorp, today, A small group, mainly concerned friends and relations of people being held at the facility handed over a memorandum to officials. The march resembled a funeral procession to symbolise the group's fear and past experiences. At the centre's main gate various pleas were made. Many have lost family members at deportation facilities and for some the memories were just too much. For Nomsa Moyo, the pain of losing her brother Max, just over a month ago was too much to bear. Joyce Dube from the South African Women's Institute for Migration Affairs (Sawina) told Moyo's story. "Max died from diarrhea, this is because of poor conditions, bad water and sanitation," she said. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the home affairs minister, in reaction said she is unaware of misconduct by officials at Lindela. "Reports I received is that people at Lindela died of malaria or other ailments," she said. Lawyers for human rights disagree with Mapisa-Nqakula's assertion. They say since 2002, they have asked for access to the deportation register in vain. The centre says only three people have died over the past two years.

A change of heart needed: Editorial (The Star, 04/11):- The South African Human Rights Commission and Parliament's Portfolio Committee of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday began important hearings into the plight of foreigners in this country, and the spectre of xenophobia that they daily encounter. The litany of abuse which foreigners have to bear was detailed, including deaths in detention, immigrants with legal documents being detained, children being detained and abused, appalling facilities and prolonged detention, torture, men and women being held for up to three days under a tree, and a South African being arrested in the official paroxysm to round up foreigners who are in the country illegally. There were also disturbing reports of foreigners dying while being held at the Lindela deportation centre near Krugersdorp.O ne of those who testified at the hearing, a Zimbabwean who has lived in South Africa for 12 years, was so moved by her experiences here that she dramatically remarked: "We are going to march to Lindela ... to ask God to look at the dying children at Lindela." Undocumented foreigners are among the most vulnerable section of society. Often they do not have job security. In South Africa they are often victims of rampant prejudice where xenophobic sentiments are endemic. Corrupt police officers also often demand bribes from them on pain of arrest and deportation.NGOs agree that the government has all the necessary legislation in place to fight xenophobia, but appears not to be living up to its own laws. South Africa, isolated from Africa for decades until the advent of democracy 10 years ago, draws immigrants like a magnet on the subcontinent and farther afield, and the problem is not likely to go away in the foreseeable future. The police force and the Home Affairs Department need to go back to the drawing board to address the plight of foreigners in this country. It is often said that a society is judged by how it treats its children. In our case, we run the danger of being judged by how we treat our foreign compatriots.

Police see foreigners as ATMs (The Star, 04/11):- This is according to Loren Landau, of the Forced Migration Studies Programme, speaking at the xenophobia hearings being held by the Human Rights Commission and parliament's portfolio committee on foreign affairs yesterday. "The criminalisation of non-nationals has opened opportunities for police corruption. By targeting them, police are able to meet arrest targets. "Also, because they are denied access to almost all formal banking services, poor immigrants must either stash cash in their residences or carry it on their bodies. This, coupled with their tenuous legal status, leads some police officers to see foreigners as mobile ATMs. "In the words of one Eritrean living in Johannesburg, 'as foreign students we are not required to pay taxes, but when we walk in the streets, we pay'." On Tuesday, it was the Lindela deportation centre that was in the spotlight for allegedly abusing foreigners' rights, but yesterday it was the police who were in the firing line. Foreigners, NGOs and church groups working with asylum-seekers alleged that police had targeted immigrants for bribes and arrested them even when they had legal documents.
Jake Kazani from the Democratic Republic of Congo said that every day, police searched foreigners and stole whatever money they found. At times, he said, police tore up documents when a bribe couldn't be paid. The police brought out their big guns to answer allegations and came out blazing. Director Francois van Graan, from the national office, said the SAPS was aware of its legal responsibilities towards all the inhabitants of the country. Gauteng Police Commissioner Perumal Naidoo said that while he didn't want to sound xenophobic, the police had been "rough and tough" on Nigerian 419 scam artists. Joburg Police Commissioner Oswald Reddy said the police would investigate allegations made to the hearing but added there was a misconception that the police had a special programme to target foreigners. The HRC's deputy chairperson, Zonke Majodina, pointed out that three HRC officials - all with valid documents - had been arrested on "reasonable suspicion". Central Methodist Church Bishop Paul Verryn told the hearing that he had just heard that a young Zimbabwean asylum-seeker had thrown himself through the window of a church sanctuary in a suicide attempt. Verryn said people didn't understand foreigners' levels of desperation and profound anxiety.

Immigrants to march on Lindela over ill treatment, torture (The Daily News, 04/11):- Scores of immigrants from 15 African countries will today march to Lindela Deportation Centre near Krugersdorp in South Africa, in protest against ill-treatment, torture and death of immigrants at the hands of South African authorities at the centre. Southern African Women's Institute for Migration Affairs (SAWIMA) director, Joyce Dube who is coordinating the march told the Daily News Online the march would culminate in a church service at the main entrance at the centre. "Authorities have told us that we will not be allowed to go inside so we are going to have our prayers at the gate. After that we are going to have a service in honour of all those who have died at the centre," said Dube. Dube said people across the world must fast and pray to the Lord to help resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe so that nearly five million Zimbabweans who are in the Diaspora could go back home. Organisations such as Heal Zimbabwe Trust and the Coordinating Board for Refugee Communities are scheduled to take part in the protest. The protest comes amid widespread reports of deaths in detention, abuse, torture and appalling living conditions for foreigners at Lindela Detention Centre. A hearing into xenophobia on Tuesday in Johannesburg heard chilling reports of torture and abuse of immigrants by authorities at Lindela which falls under the Home Affairs department. Other immigrants died at the hands of police officers and soldiers. Two months ago, three members of the South African Defence Forces were arrested after they raped and forced Zimbabwean women who had illegally crossed the border to swim across the crocodile-infested Limpopo River back to Zimbabwe.

Deportees in fatal jump (The Daily News, 04/11):- Five Zimbabwean illegal immigrants died last week after they jumped from a moving train in a bid to avoid deportation by South African authorities. An eye-witness told The Daily News Online that four youths died near Louis Trichardt in South Africa when they jumped from a speeding train. Efforts to get comment from the South African police over the incident failed yesterday. "The train did not stop and police officers accompanying the deportees did not care or do anything about it," said an eyewitness who declined to be named. He said they were dumped at Beitbridge police station where they were told to go to their homes. He said he stayed in Beitbridge for two days before illegally crossing the border again into South Africa. The eyewitness said another immigrant was thrown out of a moving train by South African police officers. The witness said the immigrant had earlier tried to jump out of the moving train but was restricted by officers who later threw him out of the train. "There were two white police officers who earlier stopped him from jumping out when the train was moving slowly and threw him out when the train had picked speed. They said now you can go and threw him out," said the eyewitness. Scores of Zimbabweans fleeing poverty and state repression in the country cross the border into South Africa illegally where they are harassed and arrested before being sent back to Zimbabwe. A locally-based Zimbabwean non-governmental organisation, the Southern African Women's Institute for Migration Affairs (SAWIMA), said it provides counselling to immigrants who are harassed by South African authorities. The organisation also assists in locating and informing relatives of immigrants who die in South Africa.

Refugee treatment exposed (The Star, 03/11):- They come here seeking a better life, but many of them end up beaten, detained - or in a mortuary. At a hearing into xenophobia yesterday, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) accused the government of not living up to its international obligations to protect foreigners. The litany of abuse against foreigners documented at the hearing, hosted by the Human Rights Commission and parliament's portfolio committee on foreign affairs, included deaths in detention; people with documents being detained; children being detained and abused; appalling facilities and prolonged detention; torture; men and women being held for up to three days under a tree, and South Africans being arrested in the frenzy to round up foreigners. According to Joyce Dube, the situation at Lindela Deportation Centre was so desperate that her organisation, the Southern African Women's Institute for Migration Affairs (Sawima), planned to hold a march tomorrow to call for God to intervene to protect the foreigners. LHR official Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh said the remains of 25 foreigners who died at Lindela, near Krugersdorp, had been unclaimed at the Leratong Hospital mortuary last year. While the Department of Health has alleged that deaths in detention were because detainees had pre- existing medical conditions, like HIV/Aids, the LHR said its investigation had revealed that most of the people had died very soon after being admitted to the centre. "Lawyers for Human Rights has investigated the circumstances of 16 deaths in Lindela. The causes of death varied from malaria and meningitis, to suicide in one case. The most common cause of death seems to be meningitis and pneumonia," Ramjathan-Keogh said. Dube, a Zimbabwean living in South Africa for the past 12 years, claimed that foreigners had been tortured at Lindela. "Our people face harassment. They are treated like animals and murderers. We heard of one man who was tortured to death - he wasn't a criminal, he just didn't have a green ID. "We are going to march to Lindela on Thursday, to ask God to look at the dying children in Lindela." Butholezwe Nyathi, who deals with health issues for Sawima, said it was shocking that most of those who died at Lindela had suffered from diarrhoea and chest infections. Ramjathan-Keogh said Lindela could accommodate 4 000 detainees but overcrowding was a serious concern - especially in winter, when temperatures can drop below zero. "Sickness and disease are easily spread and many detainees contract influenza and other viral ailments." Ramjathan-Keogh said there weren't adequate medical facilities at the centre, with a doctor consulting there for only an hour a day. The Department of Home Affairs had been arresting and detaining children and some had been abused. "There was an incident of sodomy of a Zimbabwean child by a group of adult detainees in December."  Ramjathan-Keogh said there had been numerous incidents in which refugees with relevant permits were arrested and detained, despite being able to prove their status. Ramjathan-Keogh said 176 foreigners had been detained at Lindela for longer than the maximum 30 days last month. Between January and September, the LHR secured the release of 295 unlawfully detained foreigners. They had serious concerns for the way foreigners were deported from Musina, near the border with Zimbabwe. "In September, more than 1 000 Zimbabweans were deported over three days. They are detained at the Musina police station under appalling conditions. "The detention facility comprises an area enclosed by a wire-mesh fence around a tree. "There is no drinking water or ablution facilities in the enclosure. Men, women and children are detained in the same enclosure. Detainees can be held here for up to three days until they are deported." But it wasn't only foreigners who were detained - in the rush to round up illegal immigrants, South Africans were also being unlawfully arrested. Ramjathan-Keogh explained that to identify illegal foreigners, authorities relied on "profiling" - darker skin colour, manner of dress and hairstyle. NGOs agreed that the government had all the necessary legislation in place to combat xenophobia, but was not living up to its own laws. Florencia Belvedere, the acting director of the Agency for Social Enquiry, said that while SA had made great strides, the government should do more to fight xenophobia. "The government needs to lead by example. Politicians have said that foreigners are the reason that the RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) has failed, and for the rise of crime. "We need to separate myth from reality. We must be proactive. The government must make a concerted effort. We must not wait until we see on TV that the police are using foreigners for dog training before we react," she said. Belvedere's submission raised the hackles of MP Mewa Ramgobin, who said he did not appreciate being told what to do. "To say that this (xenophobia) is a responsibility of the government is a half-baked reflection of the past. For heaven's sake, don't exclude the question of race," he said. "I'm passing the buck to you (civil society). What are your programmes? When did you go to the government and say 'let's form a partnership (to combat xenophobia)'?" Lawrence Mavundla, of the African Council of Hawkers and Informal Business, said local traders did not have problems with foreigners, but the system was fuelling conflict. Lindela officials, the police and Home Affairs officials will be given the opportunity to respond to these allegations during the three-day hearing.

Foreigners seek safety, dignity (Bua News, 03/11):-  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says a large number of foreigners seek sanctuary in other countries in order to regain their safety, dignity and human rights. Representative Bemma Donkoh said this during the second day of hearings on Xenophobia at the South African Human Rights Commission offices in Johannesburg today. These hearings have been organised to find solutions to this intolerance, singled out to be very rife in South Africa. Ms Donkoh said foreigners wanted to regain normal lives because they were from conflict stricken countries such as Angola, Liberia, Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan. "Most foreigners are only looking for normality in their lives and they are found mainly in urban and commercially driven areas where they are self-employed or working in the informal sector," she said. Ms Donkoh's sentiments supported those echoed yesterday by several human rights groups that foreigners came to this country, attracted by its socio-economic status. She added that they saw South Africa as an ideal place to access what their home countries had deprived them, unfortunately they were faced by obstacles. "Many foreigners have to deal with bureaucracy, administration problems and inaccessibility to basic resources. They are also susceptible to street crime, prejudice and abuse," she said. Zimbabwean Political Victims Association (ZIPOVA), an organisation that assists Zimbabwean nationals in South Africa, is concerned about the high level of xenophobia in this country and the related violence. ZIPOVA says those xenophobic do not consider the chaotic situations foreigners face in their home countries. "We are treated as if we are not humans. All we ask is for the appropriate treatment and respect as stated in the country's constitution," said a representative. However Loren Landau of the WITS Forced Migration Studies said the Immigration Act and the country's foreign policy were not enough, adding that government had to find also ways to regulate the influx of foreigners. "This should not be about politics or the police; there should be management on the flow of migrants. South Africa should also refrain from saying that migration, immigration and xenophobia happens everywhere else in the world," said Mr Landau.

SAHRC hearings considers refugees (Cape Times, 03/11):- Foreigners are regularly detained at the Lindela Detention Centre outside Krugersdorp for longer than the permitted 30 days, the SA Human Rights Commission hearings on xenophobia heard yesterday. Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) said non-compliance with the Immigration Act seemed to be the norm at the centre, run by a private company on behalf of the Department of Home Affairs. The three-day hearing is being run by the commission and six members of parliament's portfolio committee on foreign affairs. The findings will guide what action parliament will take on the problem of xenophobia. Last month 176 people were detained at Lindela for longer than 30 days - with an average stay of 39 days. South Africa was not living up to its legal obligations in terms of refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, she said. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees there are were about 26 000 documented refugees in South Africa, with another 34 000 asylum seekers - people still in the process of applying for refugee status. They originate mainly from the Great Lakes region, Somalia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo - all areas of protracted violent conflict. She said even South Africans were arrested and taken to Lindela, with one being deported to Lesotho, which he had never visited before. Twenty-five bodies of foreigners who died after arrest were still lying in the mortuary at Leratong Hospital, which is near Lindela, which referred them. Most of the deaths were from meningitis or pneumonia and the centre attributed them to pre-existing conditions. However, there did not appear to be enough of an attempt to trace families and the process was hampered by a tendency for people to give false names when they were arrested. At the Beit Bridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe, people were regularly detained for between one hour and three days under a tree surrounded by a fence. Men, women and children were held together without toilet facilities. One thousand Zimbabweans were deported during the three days she was in the area monitoring in September. At Johannesburg International Airport people who could not produce the correct paperwork were detained by a private security company in a room with no windows, furniture or water and then deported so that the airline did not pay penalties. She said the government had all the necessary legislation in place but was not living up to its own laws. This was echoed by Florencia Belvedere of the Agency for Social Enquiry who said government officials should send the constant message that xenophobia violated the core principle of the constitution. The current ethos of many officials dealing with refugees and asylum seekers was that they were guilty until proven innocent, and were also system abusers. Belvedere lamented practical problems like not being able to open bank accounts because many people were not familiar with the maroon identity document carried by refugees, and job seekers found that prospective employees rejected their work permits. The African Council of Hawkers and Informal Business (Achib) told the commission it did not have problems with traders from other countries, with very little overlap between wares sold by locals and foreigners, and foreigners contributing to the economy. However, bribery and corruption involving the police and home affairs officials was fuelling xenophobia.

2 Home Affairs officials arrested, third on the run (Pretoria News, 03/11):- Two Department of Home Affairs officials have been arrested and another is on the run following an investigation into fraudulent documents, Pretoria police said yesterday. A 32-year-old Atteridgeville woman and a 31-year-old Ga-Rankuwa man were arrested at noon after undercover police purchased a false birth certificate and an identity document from them. Police spokesman Inspector Piletji Sebola said the detectives managed to buy the birth certificate for R3 500 and a forged identity document for R4 500. "A third person is on the run but will be arrested shortly," he said. He said the suspects, who had been working at the Civitas Home Affairs building in the city centre, were believed to have been running the scam for "quite a while". "Certain Home Affairs officials are rotten to the core." He added that what the operation proved was that anything could be bought through certain officials at the department as long as the money was right. "Money talks for foreigners wanting South African resident documents," Sebola said. The group would be charged with corruption. Additional charges relating to the Aliens Control Act may be brought against them, Sebola said.

SA not flooded by migrants, hears SAHRC (Sapa, 03/11):- It is a myth that South Africa is being flooded by foreigners, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) heard on Wednesday. "There are more people coming to South Africa, but the highest estimate (of refugees and asylum seekers) puts the number at
150,000 out of a population of 44 million," said Loren Landau, research director of the University of the Witwatersrand's forced migration project. He said people should be wary of accepting claims that two to three million people were coming from Zimbabwe. "It is simply implausible. That would be more than 20 percent of the population would be displaced to South Africa." He said although there were estimates there was no way of knowing how many undocumented people there were in the country. He was testifying at the commission's hearings on xenophobia, run with Parliament's joint committee on home and foreign affairs. He said other myths were that non-nationals were needy, strained public service resources and were an economic threat.
Research had shown that non-nationals were in fact contributing to the economy and even employing South Africans for their language skills and knowledge of local business. He recommended that South Africa reconsider its citizenship and residency laws, as the European Union had done, taking into account many people spent their working lives in another country. He told Sapa regional integration was an important factor in the success of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the reconstruction blueprint for the continent. Earlier, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that from January 2004 there were 26,900 recognised refugees and 90,600 awaiting determination of their asylum applications. The commission also heard testimony from church groups assisting asylum seekers and refugees, and from individuals with a common thread that asylum seekers battled to get access documentation and services they were entitled to from officials who did not appear to be informed on their rights. Emmanuel Ngenzi Nyakarashi, co-ordinator of the Refugee Ministries Centre in Johannesburg, alleged that a standard R500 bribe was necessary to access application forms at the department of home affairs' Rosettenville office. In terms of immigration laws, asylum seekers are supposed to access the documentation for free within 48 hours of their arrival. Later, Methodist Church leader Paul Verryn said that just before travelling to the hearings, he had been told of a young refugee who had committed suicide at the church's sanctuary. He said this illustrated that many refugees arrived in the country feeling profoundly psychologically estranged because of their journey and the difficulties they left behind. He said the documentation process was difficult and red tape around life in South Africa was "hugely bureaucratic". "Apartheid made us think we are not part of Africa, and that must be disintegrated," he said. Verryn said the people alienating people now, were once hosted, (during the liberation struggle), by people who were being alienated now. "We have a very profound pay back time now,"

Currency keeps visitors away (Business Day, 02/11):- The number of overseas visitors to SA fell 2,1% year on year in August as the strong rand continued to eat into the economy, tourism figures released yesterday by Statistics SA (Stats SA) showed. Tourism makes up 7,1% of the SA's economy, and has stagnated with the rand's 95% gain against the dollar since 2001, forcing up prices, from hotel rooms to beer for visitors.
Overseas visitors increased 1% in the first half of this year, after going up 4,3% last year and 20% in 2002. Although overseas tourists dwindled, those from Africa continued to flock in. Stats SA said a total 568 890 foreigners visited SA during August. A 4,6% increase in visitors from other African countries offset a 2,1% decline in foreign visitors to SA in year-on-year figures, Stats SA said. But calculated on a month to month basis overseas visitors increased 10,9% while African visitors went up 5,3%, it said. The Standard Bank's economics unit attributed the month-on-month increase to the SA Reserve Bank's decision in August to cut interest rates. The bank said the surprise announcement had weakened the rand and saw it trading at an average of R6,42 to the dollar for the month compared to R6,09 the month before. "This is likely to have had a greater impact on visitors from other African countries, who regard SA as a shopping Mecca", the bank said. Travelers from the continent make up the vast majority of tourists to SA, with visitors from Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana being the major contributors. More than 91% of the foreign visitors to SA were from six neighbouring countries. Stats SA said the number of non-African visitors to SA fell to 152544 in August from the same month last year after arrivals from Germany, France and Spain declined. German and French arrivals dropped 14% to 14657 and 8924 respectively, while visitors from Spain fell 23% to 3492. Arrivals from the UK - the leading country of origin of overseas travellers - rose 3,87% to 31893. This was followed by travellers from the US which increased 1,4% to 19874. The number of arrivals from China showed the biggest increase, surging 66,5% from 2672 last year to 4450. Standard Bank said there were a number of favourable considerations for international tourists to travel to SA in August. A marked improvement in global economies, together with European school summer holidays would have certainly boosted the number of British tourists enjoying a holiday in SA, the bank said. The hot summer was also expected to attract overseas tourists to the country over the next few months. The bank said that the effect of the threat of global terrorist on international tourism patterns could not be discounted. SA was still regarded as a safe destination, away from conflict areas, and has no shortage of quality accommodation and services. The number of immigrants arriving in SA increased in August 12,3% year on year. The main countries of origin were Nigeria (133), Pakistan (98), UK (93), Zimbabwe (88) and China (70). Of the total immigrants to SA, 91% were not economically active, the majority being spouses and to a lesser degree students. Of those economically active 41% were managers, administrators or executives. The South African tourism industry employs about 500000 people in a country where almost one in three people is jobless.

Asian tourists compensate for EU fall (Business Report, 02/11):- A steep rise in the number of visitors from mainland China helped to compensate for a drop in tourism from some of South Africa's traditional European source markets in August. Figures released by Statistics SA yesterday showed that 152 544 visitors from overseas arrived in South Africa in August - a drop of 2.1 percent compared with the same month last year. The drop was mainly in arrivals from Germany, which has been South Africa's second-largest source market for tourism, and from France and Spain. Tourism authorities pointed out that the German economy was not doing well and that August was a month in which European holiday makers tended to visit their local resorts. This year, the number of arrivals from Germany fell to 14 657 in August from 17 077 the year before. Arrivals from France fell to 8 924 from 10 390 and arrivals from Spain fell to 3 492 from 4 536. But arrivals from the UK, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark were slightly up. Arrivals from mainland China - identified by SA Tourism and SAA as a growth market - almost doubled to 4 450 from 2 672 despite a shortage of airline seats on the direct route from Hong Kong. Japanese arrivals rose from 1 986 to 2 422; Taiwanese to 1 762 from 1 258; South Korean to 1 773 from 1 469; and Singaporean to 423 from 370. This week Singapore Airlines introduces a non-stop service to Cape Town. Andrew Chee, the general manager of Singapore Airlines in the Cape, said half its passengers were Chinese and he expected their numbers to increase during the rest of the year. Helder Perreira, the managing director of the Southern Sun hotel group, said it had noticed "a slight drop" in overseas guests in August, but the number at the end of July had been little different from the previous year. "Some European markets, including Germany, dropped but this was made up for by arrivals from Asia. "We do not expect a large number of visitors from Europe in August, at the end of our winter. There is nothing to worry about," Perreira said. Onkgopotse JJ Tabane, the vice-president communications at SAA, said: "August was one of our best months ever for passengers from overseas." Lufthansa, which introduced non-stop flights from Frankfurt to Cape Town in October, said these had average passenger loads of 81 percent. It planned to substitute larger Boeing 747-400s for the Airbus A340-300s on the Cape Town route in the peak holiday period to meet expected demand. Juan-Pedro Aritio, the general manager of Spanish airline Iberia in southern Africa, said it had high passenger loads averaging 87 percent on its five flights a week to Johannesburg. It was using a larger Airbus A 340-600 to meet growing demand on the route.

Government urged to protect refugees (Bua News, 02/11):- The Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) has urged government to protect foreigners from discrimination and ill treatment. This was heard today at the beginning of three-day hearings the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has convened to look at how best to address xenophobia in the country. Xenophobia is a deep-rooted dislike of foreigners and is universally recognised as a violation of human rights. And South Africa has been singled out as having the highest rate of this intolerance.  The LHR and the National Consortium for Refugee Affairs also recommended that government should effectively implement and constantly monitor policies regarding foreigners. A representative from the refugee organisation Joyce Tlou said government had to look beyond xenophobia as a human rights issue. "Xenophobia also affects the socio-economic status of the country therefore government must play a role in combating the fear of foreigners. As a country we should also deal with the challenges together," she said. She added that government should afford foreigners, especially legal ones, benefits such as basic health care, education and social services afforded to all South Africans. Ms Tlou urged South Africans to be tolerant of foreigners because they were attracted by the socio-economic status and job opportunities in this country. However arrested illegal foreigners faced detention in harsh conditions such as at the Lindela Repatriation Centre. The Centre has a capacity of 4000 detainees but it is often overcrowded, with detainees kept longer than the 30-day period. According to the National Consortium for Refugee Affairs, this is due to lack of proper administration. Presiding over the hearings is Human Rights Commission's chairperson Jody Kollapen and Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, among others. Representatives from the departments of defence, safety and security, foreign affairs, as well as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees are expected to speak during the next two days.

Human rights commission xenophobia hearings begin (Sapa, 02/11):- Foreigners are regularly detained at the Lindela Detention Centre outside Krugersdorp for longer than the permitted 30 days, the SA Human Rights Commission hearings on xenophobia heard on Tuesday. Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) said non-compliance with the Immigration Act seemed to be the norm at the centre, run by a private company on behalf of the Department of Home Affairs. The three-day hearing is being run by the commission and six members of Parliament's portfolio committee on foreign affairs. The findings will guide what action Parliament will take on the problem of xenophobia. She said that last month 176 people were detained at Lindela for longer than 30 days - with an average stay of 39 days. South Africa was not living up to its legal obligations in terms of refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees there are were about 26,000 documented refugees in South Africa, with another 34,000 asylum seekers - people still in the process of applying for refugee status. They originate mainly from the Great Lakes region, Somalia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo - all areas of protracted violent conflict. She said that even South Africans were arrested and taken to Lindela, with one being deported to Lesotho which he had never visited before. Twenty-five bodies of foreigners who died after arrest were still lying in the mortuary at Leratong Hospital, which is near Lindela, which referred them. Most of the deaths were from meningitis or pneumonia and the centre attributed them to pre-existing conditions.  However, there did not appear to be enough of an attempt to trace families and the process was hampered by a tendency for people to give false names when they were arrested. At the Beit Bridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe, people were regularly detained for between one hour and three days under a tree surrounded by a fence. Men, women and children were held together and there were no toilet facilities. One-thousand Zimbabweans were deported during the three days she was in the area monitoring in September. At Johannesburg International Airport people who could not produce the correct paperwork were detained by a private security company in a room with no windows, furniture or water and then deported so that the airline did not pay penalties. She said the government had all the necessary legislation in place but was not living up to its own laws. This was echoed by Florencia Belvedere of the Agency for Social Enquiry who said government officials should send the constant message that xenophobia violated the core principle of the Constitution. The current ethos of many officials dealing with refugees and asylum seekers was that they were guilty until proven innocent, and were also system abusers. "We must not wait until we see on television that the police have decided to use foreigners for their dog training and then react." She was referring to a case when a number of police were captured on camera on the SABC's Special Assignment programme setting dogs on people they had arrested. Belvedere also lamented practical problems like not being able to open bank accounts because many people were not familiar with the maroon identity document carried by refugees, and job seekers found that prospective employees rejected their work permits. The African Council of Hawkers and Informal Business (Achib) told the commission that it did not have problems with traders from other countries, with very little overlap between wares sold by locals and foreigners, and foreigners contributing to the economy. However, bribery and corruption involving the police and home affairs officials was fuelling xenophobia. Achib said that when they questioned foreigners who had been given permission to trade on the streets they were told: "You South Africans, you don't know that money talks, money speaks - and that sours relations between us." Achib suggested a data base of street traders but cautioned that paperwork must be properly verified. "You cannot have a study permit and then we find you on the sidewalk - when are you studying?"

Government ministers urged to speak against xenophobia (Sabc News, 02/11):- It is critical for government ministers to be outspoken about xenophobia, the South African Rights Commission (SAHRC) has heard. "They should send the constant message that xenophobia violates the core principle of the Constitution," said Florencia Belvedere of the Agency for Social Enquiry. She said the ethos of most officials dealing with refugees and asylum seekers on a daily basis is that they are guilty until proven innocent, and are also system abusers. She was referring to a case when a number of police were captured on camera on the SABC's Special Assignment programme setting dogs on people they had arrested. Belvedere said there are many opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers to be absorbed into the economy. Foreigners are already being used in health facilities where locals were reluctant to work. Belvedere lamented practical problems like not being able to open bank accounts because many people are not familiar with the maroon identity document carried by refugees. "Nobody knows these maroon IDs expect the department of home affairs," she said. Only 11% of refugees have received their maroon IDs, which are being issued manually.

SAHRC to begin hearings on xenophobia (Sabc News, 02/11):- The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is due to begin three days of hearings on xenophobia in Johannesburg today. According to the Roll Back Xenophobia Campaign, South Africa shows one of the highest levels of xenophobia - defined as a deep dislike of non-nationals by nationals - in the world. Xenophobia is expressed by calling foreigners derogatory names, violent attacks on foreigners and negative media coverage perpetuating myths and stereotypes. Among those expected to testify are the UN High Commission for Refugees, Lawyers for Human Rights, the SA National Defence Force and the police, the departments of foreign affairs and home affairs, and various non-governmental organisations.

Lindela doesn't comply with immigration laws (Sabc News, 02/11):- Foreigners are regularly detained at the Lindela Detention Centre outside Krugersdorp for longer than the permitted 30 days, the SA Human Rights Commission hearings on xenophobia heard today. Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) said non-compliance with the Immigration Act seemed to be the norm at the centre, run by a private company on behalf of the department of home affairs. The three-day hearing is being jointly chaired by the commission and six members of Parliament's portfolio committee on foreign affairs. The findings will guide what action Parliament will take on the problem of xenophobia. Last month, 176 people were detained at Lindela for longer than 30 days - with an average stay of 39 days. She said South Africa was not living up to its legal obligations in terms of refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. Ramjathan-Keogh further submitted that 25 bodies of foreigners who died after arrest were still lying in the mortuary at Leratong Hospital, near the centre, which had referred them. She also submitted that the group had investigated 16 deaths at the centre last year, which Lindela attributed to pre-existing conditions, such as HIV/Aids. The LHR found many of the deaths due to meningitis and pneumonia. Ramjathan-Keogh said there did not appear to be enough of an attempt to trace families and the process was hampered by a tendency for people to give false names when they were arrested. At the Beit Bridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe, people were regularly detained for between one hour and three days under a tree surrounded by a fence. Men, women and children were held together and there were no toilet facilities. She said 1 000 Zimbabweans were deported during the three days she was in the area monitoring in September. Ramjathan-Keogh also submitted that airlines employed private security officials to detain and deport people who arrived in the country without the necessary paperwork to avoid paying penalties. These people were held in windowless offices with no furniture, water or toilets. She lauded a recent Pretoria High Court ruling that in future children must be treated under the Child Care Act with access to all the relevant services, whether they were South African or not. Previously, children were treated as adults and deported. She said the government has all the necessary legislation in place, but is not living up to its own laws.

Nursing shortages in Government hospitals (Times of Swaziland, 15/11):- Two nurses at the Mbabane Government Hospital look after 70 plus patients in ward 18, which is the hospital's biggest ward. Under normal circumstances, Hospital Administrator Happy Tsabedze said a nurse is supposed to look after eight patients. In this case, it means each of the two nurses in the ward is looking after 35 or more patients a day. Tsabedze said the hospital has a serious shortage of personnel and the nurses as well as the doctors are overstretched. The ward in question is the biggest in the hospital and caters for chronically ill (infectious diseases) patients. Despite it being the biggest with a capacity of 46 beds, it currently has a shortage of space and beds as it is overcrowded with over 70 patients who are all very ill. Some of the patients have to make do under other patient's bed; they use sleeping mats while some use sponges provided by the hospital. Tsabedze said this state of affairs is not conducive for the patients, nurses and doctors because a nurse has to look after only eight patients.
She said another problem is the continued exodus of nurses that is bound to go on as far as such conditions prevail in the kingdom's health sector. Tsabedze said the current personnel is trying hard to help the patients but the truth is they are being overstretched and they are feeling the pinch. "Some hospitals in the country are contributing to the situation because they refuse to admit patients and yet people out there are very sick. We never turn away a patient who has to be admitted because we know that people are very sick," she said. She added that if people could start considering home based care then such problems would be easily dealt with as that would mean less patients admitted. She also said that it is not healthy for the patients to be sleeping on the mats and under the bed as they could be reinfected. "One can say that we are in a fix. We have considered extending the hospital and the other space available next to ward 18 but the question that hit us was who would then look after the patients in that ward. Secondly there is no furniture to use in the extra space that is available but mostly it is the shortage of personnel," she lamented. Furthermore, Tsabedze made it clear that all the people in ward 18 are patients and need proper care. She then said their relatives (lodgers) are given space in the other wards to sleep in otherwise in ward 18 they have patients only and they are all seriously ill but have two nurses to look after them.

Indian and Chinese investors criticized (Time of Swaziland, 13/11):- Businessman Waiter Bennett says some Chinese and Indian 'investors' are creating unnecessary competition and hardship for Swazis. He admitted that there are genuine Chinese and Indian investors but he cannot overlook those who create hardship for Swazis. Bennett was speaking during the graduation ceremony for residents who completed a designing course through the Regional Education Centre (REC) Programme at Big Bend High School. He said some Chinese and Indians open shops in rural areas yet it is the preserve for Swazis to embark in small businesses. "The Labour Department should discipline foreign investors who ill-treat Swazis. We are aware that some prominent people have a conflict of interest in such issues," he said. Bennett said those who are corrupt and misuse government funds should be taken to task through the Draft Constitution Chapter V 1 section 60 (1). "The State shall take all necessary action to ensure the national economy is managed in such a manner as to minimize the rate of economic development and to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every person in Swaziland. To provide adequate means of livelihood and suitable employment and public assistance to the needy." Bennett said those who steal government funds should not be allowed into Parliament, businesses and Royal Residences and they include Members of Parliaments (MPs), accusing some high-ranking government officials of theft. It is worth noting that the Enterprise and Employment Ministry last year donated six sewing machines worth over E2 000 each which were used by the 26 graduands. They complained that it is too far for them to work in textile companies based in Matsapha and requested Bennett to help them start projects in Big Bend. Other invited guests present at the ceremony include the Senior Inspector of Adult Education Musa Macwele, Big Bend High School Head Teacher Marco Gwebu, Lubombo Regional Education Officer (REO) Phineas Masinga and Umphakatsi representatives among others.

Border post brings hope for poor Swazi region (Business Day, 08/11):- The reopening last week of the Mhlume border post, linking Swaziland with Mozambique, is expected to improve the lives of residents in the drought and poverty stricken eastern Lubombo area. "This entire region has suffered because of our isolation, which was caused when the border post closed 20 years ago," Amos Nhlabatsi, a longtime resident of the regional capital, Siteki, told UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (Irin). Mhlume was once Swaziland's principal outlet to Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, giving landlocked Swazis access to the Indian Ocean and opening the Lubombo region to tourism. "Siteki was a beautiful and thriving town you could not travel between Maputo and Mbabane (the Swazi capital) without stopping here. The border closure resulted in a regional depression," Nhlabatsi said. The Mhlume border post closed in the late 1970s, during the early years of Mozambique's civil war. Siteki Inn, a thatched roof tourist stop that was the town's principal hotel, shut down shortly afterwards, and is now a ruin. When the tourist trade ended, most people earned a marginal living as subsistence farmers on communal Swazi national land. According to the Central Bank of Swaziland, Lubombo is the poorest of Swaziland's four regions, with a high prevalence of AIDS nearly 40% of its adult population is HIV positive. The area has not had normal rainfall in five years and the combination of drought and AIDS has made most residents dependent on food assistance. The World Food Programme (WFP) supplies maize meal and cooking oil to a network of community food distribution points, while the UN Children's Fund (Unicef) supports primary school food feeding schemes. "Trucking and not tourism is likely to bring the first big improvement to the local economy," said Thandi Fakudze, a Siteki businesswoman who owns a hair styling salon and a general dealership. Despite the financial assistance she provides to her family members across Lubombo, most of her relatives depend on WFP food aid. The Mhlume border post will reestablish the shortest route from Mbabane to the Matsapha Industrial Estate outside Manzini, the country's largest urban centre, and to Maputo, giving industrial exporters and commercial shippers the option of using the nearer Mozambican port instead of relying on the more distant Durban in South Africa. Only one other border post, farther north at Lomahasha, is currently open between Swaziland and Mozambique, but the route to Maputo is longer. Reopening the post was a provision of the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative (LSDI) a 1999 economic revival plan for the shared Lubombo mountain range, signed between Swaziland, Mozambique and SA. "Tourism and transport, and making the area more accessible with the construction of new highways, were two main features of the LSDI," said principal secretary for public works Evart Madlopa. However, Mozambique was slow to construct facilities on its side of the border and new Swazi offices at Mhlume were idle for four years until Mozambique's building and gate were ready. Swazis have complained that they were largely left out of the LSDI, which some parliamentarians felt concentrated on SA and Mozambique. While Mhlume remained closed, a major highway connecting Johannesburg with Maputo was built, bypassing Swaziland by 50km.

Mhlumeni/Goba border a tourist destination (Times of Swaziland, 08/11):- The re-opening of the Mhlumeni/Goba Border Posts has a great potential for selling South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland as a tourist destination. His Majesty King Mswati Ill, during the joint launching of the border posts last Thursday, said tourists will be able to see all three countries without being overstrained. "I am informed that tourists from overseas might find it worth their money to buy such a package. 1 am convinced that even tourists from the three countries will find such a package very attractive," he said. Forward - The king further stated that they look forward to the establishment of profitable ecotourism industries in this corridor, starting from Siteki to Maputo. As an example, he said investors stand to gain in accommodation and leisure facilities. "Handicraft and gift shops might soon fill this corridor. All this will in turn create employment opportunities for our people from both sides of the border," he said. Further, His Majesty congratulated the Mozambican government for improving the connection to Swaziland. "I have enjoyed driving on the Lomahasha/Maputo road, which is yet another huge investment for keeping us closer as neighbours. This leaves us with no doubt that the people of Mozambique have been fortunate to have been led by leaders with great vision and foresight," he said. He recognised the role played by the Republic of China, on Taiwan for their contribution towards the construction of the road from Siteki to Mhlumeni.

Tanzania's women fuel brain gain (BBC News, 10/11):- Aboard could be Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, a director of the mining conglomerate De Beers or a party of big game hunters flying in from Switzerland. Whoever steps off this plane will be met by Susan Mashibe, the director of Tanzanite Jet Services, a company which specialises in meeting all the technical and bureaucratic needs of visiting private jets. Ms Mashibe, who at 31 is already a commercial pilot and aviation engineer, set up the company 2 years ago. She is one of a growing number of young Tanzanian women who have returned from living abroad to do business in the country of their birth, prompting speculation that the country is enjoying brain gain rather than suffering from brain drain. Ms Mashibe spent 10 years training and working in the American mid-west. We have competitive markets and young people especially are realising that this is a land of opportunity. Amabalis Batamula, managing editor of the lifestyle magazine Femina - "I was curious to come back home to see if I could make a difference in Tanzania," she says, looking out at the airport's runway from her small office. "There are good business opportunities here and I think I can make the most of them." She is not alone. There is anecdotal evidence that an increasing number of young women are bringing their hard-earned money into Tanzania to establish new businesses. Other reasons returnees give for coming home is patriotism or family ties. But some also cite a better quality of life as a reason. Many of Tanzania's newly rich enjoy beach-side villas, four-wheel-drive cars and plenty of servants. These young women - who, it must be said, are largely from elite Tanzanian families - are returning to a country which is enjoying rapid economic growth, spurred on by the government's liberalisation of business. Ms Kessi says the bureaucracy in Tanzania makes life hard. The Tanzania Investment Centre, which monitors inward investment, believes there is a trend of young women returning to set up businesses, a trend which is bringing in up to $2m (£1.08m) a year. Director Emmanuel Ole Naiko, says, these women entrepreneurs will help to boost the economy. "We are trying to revive entrepreneurship in Tanzania and these women are going to bring the skills they have learnt abroad and pass them onto other people," he says. "We believe that this really is going to be a brain gain." Another young business woman who is enjoying success is Rachel Kessi, the director of Mawazo, an art gallery she opened in downtown Dar es Salaam two years ago. Ms Kessi has lived most of her life in Switzerland, but traded in teaching English for selling art to expatriates and the burgeoning Tanzanian middle class. Business is booming, but the red tape has sometimes been as complex and intricate as the wooden carvings sold at Mawazo. "There is a huge amount of bureaucracy involved in setting up a business, which is very time consuming," she says. "As a woman, I'm also sometimes not taken seriously, so if I need something official doing quickly I will send along an older man, who commands more respect." Despite the difficulties, Tanzania is moving in a new dynamic direction, at least in business, according to Amabalis Batamula, managing editor of the lifestyle magazine Femina. "A lot has changed in Tanzania in the area of business and development. We have changed from the years of socialism to a different era now," she says. "We have competitive markets and young people especially are realising that this is a land of opportunity."

Experts say migration fuels crime wave (Angola Press, 10/11):- Uncontrolled movement of people across the borders of the East African Community members of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania was hampering the successfully implementation of the UN-Habitat engineered Safer Cities Programme, an official observed here Tuesday. The upsurge of robberies at banks, rich commercial shopping complexes and mobile phone dealers as well as car jacking were the direct result of such migrations, the Coordinator of the Safer Cities Programme in Dar es Salaam, Anna Mtani told delegates attending the Nairobi Residents Convention. "Cross border crimes involving Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenyan, Tanzanian and Ugandan nationals have become common. Whenever a bank is robbed in Dar es Salaam, the robbers are usually citizens from these countries," Mtani said. She said policing in the Eastern Africa region has become difficult due to the "porous borders and the long distances across the borders, which make it difficult to control illegal entries". "The illegal entries and the collapse of the society's moral fabric in this region have seen the re-emergence of organised crimes. These are brought by the early retirements of very active people, mostly those from the police and the uniformed forces," Mtani observed. The escalating crime across the three capitals in the region, has made policing difficult, mainly because the police force in the three countries are ill-equipped and lack the proper training technology to counter the development of new crime techniques. "The use of outdated approaches to fight crime and urban safety and the weak criminal justice system in the region also form major reasons for the escalating crime," said Laura Petrella, the Safer Cities Programme Coordinator of UN-Habitat. The Safer Cities Programme, introduced at the behest of African Mayor's in 1996 to help combat crime, a major threat to economic progress and poverty reduction in cities, is being implemented in Durban, Abidjan, Yaunde, Kampala, Dakar, Bamako, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. According to the Kenya Police, the upsurge in violent crimes is due to economic recession in most African cities, which has created cross-border migrations. The rising un-employment, poverty and rural urban migration are also among the leading factors. Monthly crime statistics released last week by the Police Commission, Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Hussein Ali show that robbery cases fell from 577 in September to 523 recorded for October. House burglaries went down to 706 in October from 743 in September. Meanwhile, police chiefs from the three countries are currently holding a three-day meeting in Mombasa to develop a crime prevention strategy, seeking to control the inflow of drugs across the borders

Burundians returning from Tanzania (Relief Web, 04/11):- Since the beginning of 2004 around 80,000 Burundians who have been living in camps in eastern Tanzania have returned back to their country assisted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Those returnees are mainly part of the group that left Burundi because of fighting between the National Army and the largest rebel group, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy/Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD). In 2004 the security situation in the country has significantly improved with greater circulation and increasing economic activities between the provinces. The return process, however, started to slow down in the second half of the year, mainly due to the uncertainty associated with the possible results of national elections, originally scheduled for November and now slated for early next year. Returnees participating in the UNHCR-facilitated repatriation program receive free transportation, a three-month food ration and a reintegration kit with several non-food items. Then, once arriving in the village, the challenge is to rebuild a new house and start to cultivate the land.
Refugees International recently visited the Nyabitare area in the eastern province of Ruyigi and met with Maggie. The old woman told us smiling, "I left Burundi for Tanzania in 1993 and due to the harsh living conditions in the camp I returned to Burundi in 1995. Last May my nephew, Mkeshimana, returned from the Karago camp in the Kibondo District (Tanzania) and is now starting a new life. I am so happy for him. He received a new house and is going to get married soon." A large building program aiming to provide 2,000 houses for returnees has been completed, while another project for an additional 5,000 houses should start soon. The reintegration of the returnees is a long-term process but people are ready to get involved. Using creative approaches based at community level and through the support of local structures quick improvements can take place. Traveling through the eastern province of Rutana, RI stopped at an informal seed market. A humanitarian worker from a local organization explained to RI, "The creation of the seed market has successfully managed to increase access to much needed seeds for the most vulnerable returnees, both internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. We expect to reduce the dependence of assisted beneficiaries and it's a means to reconcile groups set apart by the recent conflict." During another field visit in Ruyigi province RI met with a church activist supervising the building of a primary school. He told RI, "After years of war that forced families to separate or flee the country, the school represents a crucial reintegration activity. Refugee children and adolescents who studied in exile need to continue to study like the children of those internally displaced persons who left the camps and are back in their 'collines' [literally hills, which is what Burundians call rural communities]." These achievements are building hope among Burundians. The donor community should seize these opportunities to increase their support and contribute to the successful completion of the reintegration of all returnees.

Immigration computerizes operations (The Times of Zambia, 30/11):- Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba has challenged immigration department officers to be abreast with new technologies to serve travellers better. Speaking at the launch of the computerisation pilot project at the Lusaka International Airport yesterday, Mr. Mumba said there was need for immigration officers to continuously undergo training in information technology to improve service deliver. He said his ministry would in the next phase build on the facilities at Zambia's main airport and border control points such as Livingstone and Ndola. "I wish to state that this pilot project is a mere beginning and it is my sincere hope that the programme will continue until all border controls are linked up," Mr. Mumba said. He said his ministry had always wanted to computerise the immigration department but lack of money had hindered the process. Mr. Mumba thanked the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for funding the pilot project. IOM chief of mission Josiah Ogina said the launch was the beginning of a much wider project plan to have principal border posts equipped with automated technical and communication systems. He said through the Lusaka mission IOM would ensure that the pilot phase developed into a comprehensive project including remote sensing.

Zambians freed from Angolan captivity (The Times of Zambia, 26/11):- All the 15 Zambians arrested by Angolan security forces on October 20, 2004 have been unconditionally released. Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha told Parliament in a ministerial statement yesterday that the 15, who were all men, were released on November 19, 2004 and brought to Mwinilunga district by the Zambian immigration officers on November 20.Lieutenant General Shikapwasha said the men, who came through Kamapanda border post, were in good health and reported that they had not been harassed but rather subjected to manual work like slashing during the captive period. The minister said the men, who were arrested for using bush paths, had no weapons and the bicycles they used to enter Angola had since been handed back. However, one bag of cassava, bundles of fish and money that that the men were found with had not been recovered. Gen Shikapwasha warned Zambians that crossing into a foreign country without proper documentation was a serious and punishable offence. He paid tribute to the Angolan authorities for the unconditional release of the Zambian men. "This only goes to show the strong bondage that exists between the two sister countries," Gen Shikapwasha said. The minister also paid tribute to the security and defence forces of the two countries for working together in an operation that did not result into any loss of life. And the minister said Government was still negotiating for easy entry into Angola for Zambians living along the border lines as was the situation along other border points where people living within the radius of 30 kilometres were only given passes to cross into the other country. Gen Shikapwasha said the situation was different with Angola which has just emerged out of a war situation and systems had to be put in place, among them, the pass system for those along the border lines through the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) for the two countries. The minister said Government was doing what it could to mark the border and the process was already underway in Eastern Province through the ministry of Lands. And Parliament heard yesterday that 21,867 cases of cholera were recorded between 1991 and 2004 out of which, 1,230 deaths were recorded. Health Deputy Minister Kapembwa Simbao told the House that no records were available at the ministry for the same incidences of cholera for the period between 1970 and 1981.The deputy minister was responding to a question by Chiengi MP Katele Kalumba (MMD) who wanted to know the yearly incidences of cholera morbidity recorded for the periods 1970 and 2004.The House also heard that the ministry of Health would deploy medical doctors currently at the Central Board of Health to hospitals as soon as the National Health Act was repealed. Health Minister Brian Chituwo told the House that the ministry had embarked on a retention scheme to attract medical personnel to rural areas through an incentive mechanisms with the support of the Netherlands government.

Investors who don't respect us must go (Post of Zambia, 25/11):- Investors who do not want to respect us must go, Ministry of Home Affairs permanent secretary Peter Mumba has said. Addressing Hotel Inter-continental employees who were calling for the deportation of their general manager tan McLachlan, Mumba said there was need for investors to realise the importance of respecting the locals. "If this is what investors will be doing then they can have their money. We can't afford to be insulted by anybody because this is our nation," Mumba said. "Therefore, investors who do not want to respect us must go because when we ask them to come, they should come with their money but they should not insult us. "That's why last month, I picked up a quarrel with somebody and the case is in court." Mumba assured the protestors that his ministry would investigate the matter. "Let me assure you that we are going to do anything possible and I will brief the minister tomorrow. Now you can see that if we are soft, they will end up entering our bedrooms," he said. And Hotel and Catering Association Workers Union (HCA WU) deputy general secretary Kamfwa Malisawa said McLachlan's behaviour was uncalled for because he was fond of using abusive language to the employees. "Recently he (McLachlan) was quoted in an international publication where he was saying that about 50 per cent of the hotel staff are sick and that 16 employees have died so far," Malisawa said. "He is fond of using abusive language. That's why we want him to be deported because he has no respect for Zambians." McLachlan was quoted in the international publication, the Wallpaper magazine, as having said that he was now trying to establish a hospice for AIDS sufferers in Lusaka. "The manager of the best hotel in town can be a mayoral figure, with daunting responsibilities. The manager here, Ian McLachlan, has lost 16 of his staff to AIDS this year. He reckons at least half ofthe rest are infected with HIV, in a country where a culture of denial and a strong church presence have conspired to produce some of the highest infection rates on the continent. 'I only really know when my staffs uniforms start to look too big,' he says," read the article. But hotel inter-continental public relations executive Mbo Kamanga said she could not comment because the general manager was the right person to speak for himself. However, efforts to reach McLachlan proved futile.

Child trafficking: A growing menace (Zambia Daily Mail, 23/11):- The exploitative trading of human people across borders is a clandestine activity on which there is little hard statistical information. Zambia has no specific legislation against child trafficking and victims are reluctant to report their experiences for fear of being prosecuted and deported as illegal immigrants. The UN now believes the number of children trafficked annually, internally and externally is around 1.2 million. VIOLET MENGO takes a look at the secret and lucrative trade of human trafficking and its impact in the country. ZAMBIA could face a child trafficking bombshell in the future. This is according to the draft rapid assessment report done by the Zambian Child. The study that was carried out by the Anglican Children's Project pointed to over a hundred cases of potential child trafficking that occurred within four sites in the last twelve months. Study researcher co- ordinator, Felix Mwale, said the preliminary results demonstrated that the trafficking of minors to other countries which according to him was well established was worrying. Based on the questionnaires given to 213 adults and 119 child respondents, the report suggested that commercial exploitation, labour and other vices had become rampant over the years of trafficking of children and young people. "Through this preliminary study it had come to light that children especially girls have been trafficked by individuals to and from Zambia for the past 10 years," Mwale says. This study was conducted in Lusaka, Livingstone, Kapiri Mposhi and Chirundu between June and August 2004. The report also says in all the four areas at least 108 children have been trafficked in the past 12 months. Of these 60 per cent are female while the rest are male. However it is difficult to get a clear grasp of the extent of trafficking at national level. Mwale adds that these figures are probably a conservative estimate and could be just the tip of an iceberg. Nearly 70 per cent of the respondents said that child trafficking did exist in their community, with four out of 10 stating that young girls were trafficked. It came to light that children especially girls have been trafficked by individuals for the past 10 years, reads the report. The report cited poverty and social economic situation of many Zambian families as the main causes of trafficking. Respondents acknowledged that it was difficult to look after their children well and this had led to them being trafficked. Some of the perpetrators in the trade include foreigners, parents, guardians, truck drivers and businessmen and women. However, according to the research very few reports have come to the attention of authorities such as the Police, Anti-Corruption Commission, Human Rights Commission or non-governmental organisation dealing with child issues. Many Zambian are not even aware that their children are being trafficked. Trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation and transfer of people. In most cases, children who are trafficked are used as commodities for labour or sex, a lucrative international trade. It is estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide each year. Like other criminal activity, trafficking is underground activity and is difficult to address. Many families are often not aware of its dangers believing that their children might have the chance for a better life outside the country. Frequently, trafficked children are arrested and detained as illegal aliens. In some countries girls as young as 13 are often trafficked as mail order brides. Up to 10,000 women and girls from poorer countries have been lured into commercial sex establishments in one South East Asian nation. Though it is difficult to quantify, many Zambian children have been exploited in the multi-billion dollar sex industry. Commercial sexual abuse of children is fuelled by local, not foreign, demand with sex tourism only playing a small part of the problem. Children are trapped into trafficking most directly by abduction or kidnapping. But the vast majority of trafficking victims are trapped in more subversive ways. Typically, traffickers promise their victims that they will have respectable jobs as waitresses, perhaps domestic servants in a foreign country.  Traffickers may also persuade parents that their children would have a better life elsewhere: a secure job and a chance of a better education. In Zambia, much of the trafficking is internal, though external trade one is on the increase. In extended family system, parents have sent their children to work in other households. The government is, however, aware that trafficking does exist in the country and is on guard to make a stop to the trade. Deputy Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development, George Chulumanda, said that there was a growing trend in the transportation of children from Zambia to other countries. Government will soon be mapping a way forward to tackle child trafficking. Mr Chulumanda said government would take a hard line in bringing perpetrators to justice. "May I warn child abusers that government is not going to take kindly to perpetrators of child abuse which has brought so much misery to our children," he said. The minister made these statements after he watched a short documentary entitled: Child trafficking: Does it exist in Zambia? The film was produced by M films and would soon be broadcast on the national television station as part of a social change and development campaign featuring 13 documentaries on child issues.  The documentary showed the gravity of the problem. Bishop David Njovu appealed to the International Labour Organisation to carry out a survey so that the country could be aware of the current situation of trafficking in Zambia. The bishop also recommended for a change of law to protect children from the abhorrent trade. "It is essential that we protect our children, their safety must be granted," urged Bishop Njovu. The police is working with relevant ministries to establish the extent of the trade.
Some of the traffickers have already been brought to book, but the police require the support of the community and all concerned citizens.

Conditions on foreign students (The Post, 22/11):- The Immigration Department has directed all learning institutions to only admit foreign students with study permits issued by the department. Immigration spokesperson Mulako Mbangweta also said home affairs minister Ronnie Shikapwasha signed for the deportation of 11 foreign nationals in October only. Mbangweta said all schools, colleges and universities should ensure that all the foreign pupils and students produced valid study permits before enrolling them. She said the department was aware that most schools and higher learning institutions had pupils and students without study permits, which was a serious crime. She said although the department had been issuing study permits, the number of foreign students without documents was still high. "In October only, we issued 111 study permits but there are a lot of foreign students in most institutions," she said. Mbangweta added that 204 prohibited immigrants were in detention while 318 were removed from the country in October. She said in the same month, 72 self-employment permits were issued to investors and 429 employment permits were issued to foreign nationals working for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and as volunteers. The department in Kitwe has also arrested 10 foreign nationals who have been living in the country without valid documents. Mbangweta said five Senegalese, three Malians, one Tanzanian were arrested in an operation conducted in Bulangililo, Riverside townships and Kalulushi. The 10 are currently detained at Kamfinsa state prison in the outskirts of Kitwe.

Strategies to reduce health Braindrain (The Times of Zambia, 11/11):- Government has said the abolishment of the Central Board of Health (CBoH) would help reduce the braindrain of staff experienced in the country's health sector. Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Simon Miti, said this in an interview at Kafue Gorge in Namalundu yesterday, where a three-day strategic plan development for the ministry of Health is being held. Dr Miti observed that the continued existence of CBoH set up in 1996, had contributed to an exodus of medical staff to neighbouring nations, because of the disparities in the working conditions of civil servants who were attached to the board. Dr Miti said all employees of the CBoH would be incorporated into the ministry of Health which is currently facing a critical shortage of personnel. "This strategic meeting is crucial to help chart the way forward for the ministry of Health, although we are talking about abolishing CBoH, it will mean incorporating the employees into the mainstream civil service where they used to work before," he said. He expressed hope that in next year's budget, there would be sufficient funds to help improve the conditions of service for the health workers and reduce the variances that existed in the CBoH. Dr Miti said the Government had ensured that there would be no losses of jobs encountered in the process of abolishing the board. He said pure CBoH employees would also be accorded an opportunity to join the mainstream civil service and that these would have similar conditions of service to those offered by the board. And speaking during the official opening of the workshop, secretary to the Cabinet, Joshua Kanganja, expressed hope that the dissolution of the CBoH would assist in the improvement of the health delivery system in the country. Dr Kanganja, in a speech read for him by his deputy, Evans Chibiliti, said the reorganisation of the ministry of Health was vital towards helping the institution address some of the major challenges in the health sector in the context of the public sector reform programmes. He said among the achievements that had been attained, since the introduction of health reforms in 1992, were the decentralisation of health services to districts and local partnerships strengthening through the creation of health boards. Others were the improvement in the availability of drugs, medical supplies and management at district level. He said despite the positive scores in the reforms, many major challenges still existed including the failure to overcome barriers to good service delivery. He cited some of the impediments encountered as failure to address the duplication of the roles between the ministry of Health and the CBoH; failure to fully implement the delinkage process of workers from the mainstream civil service to the health boards which further resulted into a costly bloated structure.

More tourists coming (The Times of Zambia, 11/11):- Zambia expects to attract 400,000 tourists during the 2005/2006 period, Tourism Minister, Patrick Kalifungwa, has said. Mr. Kalifungwa said it was for that reason that Government had embarked on tourism promotion initiatives to create awareness of Zambia's tourism products to the outside world. The minister was speaking in London on Monday when he officially launched the "Visit Zambia 2005 " campaign at the World Travel Association market exhibition being attended by over 5,000 exhibiting companies and 46,000 tourism industry professionals from more than 190 countries. The World travel market which was celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, attracted senior buyers in the travel industry as well as top officials in products and services, travel agents, hotel, transport, technology and marketing consultants. Mr. Kalifungwa said Zambia earned US$149 million in 2003/4 with visitors from Britain emerging second largest group of visitors after South Africa. "Tourism is a mass employer. Last year alone, the tourism industry in Zambia created more employment than any other industry. It employed 16,000 people," he said. Mr. Kalifungwa, who is Africa Travel Association current president, described Zambians as warm, peace loving and the greatest asset and strength to tourism. He described tourism as a means of promoting peace, reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development and prosperity.

Detained Zambians in Angola moved inland (The Times of Zambia, 09/11):- The 14 Zambians who were held in Angola in the border town of Luhuza, have been moved into the inland of that country. Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba regretted yesterday that a Zambian Government team that made inquiries in Luhuza was informed that the 14 had been transferred to a town in the mainland Angola. "I am very sad that the 14 are still being detained in that country. What is disappointing is that they've been moved further into that country," Mr Mumba said. The 14 men who were on a poaching expedition in Mwinilunga district, strayed into that country where they were arrested for illegal entry. The type of weapons they had carried during their expedition were not immediately known though indications were that they were not arrested for poaching. Mr. Mumba, however, said negotiations for their release were going on and was hopeful that the matter could be resolved within this week. "We are discussing the matter at a very high level. I cannot divulge what has been discussed so far. I know that the people went hunting for food meant for their pots. There was nothing against the security of any nation at all," he said. He could not release the particulars of the 14 people but indicated that they were all adults. Meanwhile, police in Lusaka are looking for five suspected criminals armed with a pistol who stole a vehicle from a taxi driver. Police assistant spokesperson Chrispin Kapela said yesterday that suspects hired a taxi from town centre to Rhodespark but later diverted the taxi to the light industrial area where they produced a gun, tied up the driver before they sped off. Mr. Kapela said the five criminals also got away with an undisclosed amount of money, a cell phone and a pair of trousers that the driver was putting on.
Mr. Kapela warned the taxi drivers to report or drive to the nearest police station if their clients were looking suspicious. And in Kabompo, police were investigating a murder case in which a 23-year-old man identified as Roger Chitima was found murdered by unknown persons. Police further discovered that the deceased's body had deep cuts on the head and on the right upper arm. In another development, police in Solwezi are investigating an arson case where property worth more than K6 million was destroyed. In a related development, police in Mansa were investigating an arson case, which occurred in Chief Mwenda's area in Mwense where property worth K2 million was destroyed.

Zambia, DR Congo to set up trade warehouses (The Times of Zambia, 04/11):- The Zambian Government and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are to set up warehouses in Lubumbashi to boost trade between the two states. Commerce, Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Eugene Appel said at a Press briefing yesterday that the warehouses would be set up after a bilateral agreement was signed. The minister said the facilities would help to meet the high demand for Zambian products in DR Congo which many Zambian business houses were unable to export because of lack of storage for exported products. "We are fortunate that the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) is looking into the setting up of warehouses in Lubumbashi after the bilateral agreement between the two countries is signed," he said. The Export Board Zambia recently undertook a trade mission to Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, and DR Congo under the Export Business Intensification Programme (EBIP) sponsored by the an effort to promote non-traditional exports. He said trade with those four countries would contribute significantly to increasing production and job creation thereby reducing poverty on sustainable basis in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). "The mission to DR Congo in particular, is expected to translate into more business as there is huge and lucrative markets for every product and more companies should therefore participate," he said. Most companies in manufacturing, agriculture, and mining and the Zambia Trade and Investment Enhancement undertook the mission to those countries.

Immigration nabs 8 Congolese (The Times of Zambia, 04/11):- The immigration department has arrested eight Congolese who were being trafficked to South Africa by a fellow Congolese living in Zambia. Immigration department public relations officer Mulako Mbangweta confirmed the development in Lusaka yesterday that the eight Congolese were arrested at the weekend by immigration officers at a roadblock on the Great North road en-route to Lusaka. Ms Mbangweta said after interrogation the eight Congolese revealed that they were being taken to South Africa by a Congolese friend living in Lusaka who had recruited them for cheap labour in South Africa. They could not give more details as to the whereabouts of the man. "The eight were arrested at the roadblock on the Great North road. After interrogation, they revealed that they were en-route to South Africa and that they where recruited by a Congolese friend living in Lusaka," Ms Mbangweta said. The eight have since been detained at Mukobeko Maximum Prison to help with investigations. In a related development, four Ethiopians were arrested at the weekend for having fake Ethiopian passports. The Ethiopians were arrested at the Victoria Falls boarder post when they were trying to cross into Zimbabwe. And 10 Zimbabweans who were detained in Zambia have been repatriated to their country. The 10 were arrested for contravening immigration regulations.

Border bridge gets green light (Zambezi Times Online, 02/22):- Zambia and Zimbabwe have resolved a border dispute which stalled a $60-million (about R370-milliOn) bridge project over the Zambezi river after financiers pulled out, senior government officials said on Tuesday. Deputy Works and Supply Minister Kennedy Shepande said Zimbabwe had dropped its objection to the project and a Japanese and a Chinese company had submitted bids for the bridge, which will link Zambia and Botswana. The project was delayed after Zimbabwe said the bridge would encroach on its territory and it should therefore be involved. The bridge will be built at a point where the three southern African countries share a common border. The Zambezi is one of Africa's largest and longest rivers. Shepande said the bridge would be a vital trade link between South Africa and other southern African countries and East African nations and that it would enhance regional integration. He said Zimbabwe had dropped its objection which it raised in April as work was due to begin. "The technical hitch on the boundary has been resolved and we are now moving towards starting the project... Zimbabwe will not be part of the project," Shepande said. Shepande declined to name the Japanese and Chinese companies that had submitted bids to finance and construct the bridge until Zambian and Botswana officials meet next month to choose which they want. Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation had originally won the bid, but withdrew after Zimbabwe raised its objection. "Zambia and Botswana have agreed on a private-government partnership through which the firm picked to construct the bridge will operate it and collect (toll) fees for a specific number of years to recover their costs and make profits," Shepande said. The bridge will then be handed over to Zambia and Botswana who will manage it jointly, he said. It is expected to take about a 1? years to construct.

Government to tax information sector and expatriate workers (Zim Online, 26/11):- The cash-strapped Zimbabwe government will beginning next year tax the informal sector and expatriate workers of foreign organisations in a bid to finance a Z$27.5 trillion budget presented to Parliament yesterday. The informal sector, expanding because of a collapsing formal sector, and some expatriate workers of foreign organisations based in Zimbabwe were previously exempt from paying tax. Acting Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa told the House the measure was necessary to raise extra cash to finance the budget which he said was going to be funded entirely from domestic funds because Zimbabwe's isolation had crippled foreign direct investment. Murerwa said: "I propose to amend legislation to require foreign employers to register for PAYE purposes through resident agents with effect from January 1, 2005. Strategies to bring the informal sector into the tax net, rationalising zero ratings and exemptions in the Value Added Tax structure." He however did not say how much the government expected to raise from the informal sector and workers of foreign organisations, most of which are non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are expected to pull out because of a proposed law that puts severe restrictions on such bodies. Turning on economic performance, Murerwa said Gross Domestic Product will this year decline by 2.5 percent, contradicting Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono's projection of a 5 percent drop in GDP. GDP, which is a country's total production, declined by 8.5 percent in 2003. Painting a rosy picture of Zimbabwe's crumbling economy, Murerwa said the agriculture sector, which contributes about 16 percent of GDP will make strong recovery in 2005 after registering a relatively marginal decline of 3.3 percent in 2004. He said: "The sector is projected to grow by 28.0 percent in 2005. The projected recovery in agriculture is underpinned by increases in production of tobacco, sugar, maize, wheat and cotton." The mining sector which contributes about 4 percent to GDP is projected to register a positive growth of 7.5 percent in 2005, after recording an estimated growth of 11.6 percent in 2004, according to Murerwa. Growth in mining was mainly due to increased out of gold, platinum, nickel and palladium, he said. But Murerwa, who is acting on behalf of Chris Kuruneri who is in jail for allegedly siphoning foreign currency outside the country, said the manufacturing sector, was going to decline by 8.5 percent in 2004. Of the total budget allocation, $5 trillion will go towards capital expenditure, while $22.5 trillion will be recurrent expenditure. Murerwa said $11.49 trillion of the recurrent expenditure will go towards public service employment costs. Murerwa said the country's overall balance-of-payments deficit had worsened to US$523 million this year, from a deficit of US$335 million in 2003. But the current account deficit had however improved from US$581 million in 2003 to US$338 million in 2004, Murerwa said, adding this was due to good performance of exports in the agricultural, mining and manufacturing sectors. The capital account recorded a US$185 million deficit because of  low Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and portfolio inflows against high scheduled outflows.

Zimbabweans abroad contribute to economic turnaround (The Herald Online, 25/11):- Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr Gideon Gono has included Zimbabweans in the diaspora in his consultative machinery, as part of an ongoing process to ensure the bank*s policies are relevant and responsive to the needs of their intended beneficiaries. Having set up the Johannesburg Chapter or think tank of his Advisory Board in June, he has gone on, through his Homelink team, to establish other chapters or think tanks in Indianapolis, Atlanta and Los Angeles in the United States and in East London, Central London, Luton, Slough, Manchester, Northampton and Leeds in the United Kingdom. The purpose of these think tanks is to provide the Governor with ideas from Zimbabweans living abroad on what should be done to achieve the objectives he has set in his economic turnaround policy and contribute in this way to the review and development of the Reserve Bank*s monetary policy and the country*s economic recovery. Dr Gono made it clear soon after his appointment as RBZ Governor towards the end of last year that he intended to consult widely and involve Zimbabweans from all walks of life in drawing up and reviewing a monetary policy designed to turnaround Zimbabwe*s economy. He did not only consult widely with representatives of various sectors of society prior to announcing his monetary policy but went on to establish an advisory board, on which representatives of different sectors of the economy and society sit to offer advice and ideas on how to tackle various issues related to monetary policy and the country*s economic turnaround. His setting up of think tanks on which Zimbabweans living abroad sit to offer their own ideas and recommendations was a natural extension of this process. It followed the central bank*s engagement of Zimbabweans living abroad through its Homelink outreach programme, which was designed to link Zimbabweans in the diaspora with their home, by providing them with a safe, reliable, fast and convenient means of sending money to Zimbabwe and offering them investment opportunities that would benefit them and their country. When a Homelink team, made up of representatives of the Reserve Bank and private sector, visited Zimbabweans living in the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa met in May and June this year, it was impressed by the frequently expressed desire of those it contacted to contribute to Zimbabwe's economic turnaround. The team told them about the Homelink system that embraced a network of licenced money transfer agencies and their foreign partners, and listened to the many ideas and suggestions they put forward. Most of these ideas and suggestions concerned investment opportunities that they were asking to be put in place for them. Consequently, the Homelink portfolio has grown to include investment products as well as the money transfer system that was its original major focus. Implementation of the ideas and suggestions put forward by Zimbabweans in the diaspora has given birth to the popular Homelink Housing Development Scheme, the Reserve Bank*s Foreign Denominated Bonds and changes in investment regulations which have given Zimbabweans living abroad have the advantages enjoyed by foreign investors when it comes to repatriation of profits and dividends and an advantage over foreign investors when it comes to the proportion of shares they can hold in Zimbabwean companies. So useful have the ideas put forward by Zimbabweans living abroad proved to be that it was perhaps natural that the Governor should have wanted to incorporate into his advisory machinery think tanks made up of Zimbabweans in different places. The skills and experience many Zimbabweans had acquired abroad so impressed members of the Homelink team that the team*s leader, Mr. Herbert Nkala, former chief executive of the Rainbow Tourism Group and a member of the Governor*s Advisory Board, declared that it appeared Zimbabwe had experienced not a brain drain but a brain gain. The think tanks have all been established in places visited by the Homelink team. There are many places the team has not yet visited. Typically, the team has asked for five or six volunteers for a think tank and ended up with as many as 15 to 20 members. Members of these think tanks meet regularly to discuss suggestions that they can put forward to the Governor for possible inclusion in his monetary policy reviews. They come up with ideas for helping improve the country*s economy and for benefiting Zimbabweans in the diaspora as well as at home. Ideas, suggestions and enquiries relating to the Homelink money transfer system and Homelink products are continually received from individuals in various parts of the world who send e-mails to this column ( or to the Reserve Bank directly or through the Homelink web site ( Queries sent to this column that require answers from the Reserve Bank are forwarded to the central bank for individual responses. RBZ has, as part of its Homelink initiative, established a Homelink Customer Relations Desk to answer any inquiries related to Homelink products and the Homelink money transfer system. It has also established an Investment Unit within the Exchange Control Division to facilitate investments by non-resident Zimbabweans. One of the most popular Homelink investment products for Zimbabweans in the diaspora is its new housing development scheme. This enables Zimbabweans living abroad to obtain housing loans from the Reserve Bank at interest rates which, although risk-weighted, are close to the mortgage interest rates pertaining in the countries they reside in.

Lack of skilled manpower affects insurance sector (The Sunday Mail, 21/11):- Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has included Zimbabweans in the diaspora in his consultative machinery as part of an ongoing process to ensure the bank’s policies are relevant and responsive to the needs of their intended beneficiaries.
Having set up the Johannesburg Chapter or think tank of his advisory board in June, he has gone on, through his Homelink team, to establish other chapters or think tanks in Indianapolis, Atlanta and Los Angeles in the United States and in East London, Central London, Luton, Slough, Manchester, Northampton and Leeds in the United Kingdom. The purpose of these think tanks is to provide the governor with ideas from Zimbabweans living abroad on what should be done to achieve the objectives he has set in his economic turnaround policy and contribute in this way to the review and development of the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy and the country’s economic recovery. Gono made it clear soon after his appointment as Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor towards the end of last year that he intended to consult widely and involve Zimbabweans from all walks of life in drawing up and reviewing a monetary policy designed to turn around Zimbabwe’s economy. He not only consulted widely with representatives of various sectors of society prior to announcing his monetary policy but went on to establish an advisory board, on which representatives of different sectors of the economy and society sit, to offer advice and ideas on how to tackle various issues related to monetary policy and the country’s economic turnaround. His setting up of think-tanks on which Zimbabweans living abroad sit to offer their own ideas and recommendations was a natural extension of this process. It followed the central bank’s engagement of Zimbabweans living abroad through its Homelink outreach programme, which was designed to link Zimbabweans in the diaspora with their home, by providing them with a safe, reliable, fast and convenient means of sending money to Zimbabwe and offering them investment opportunities that would benefit them and their country. When a Homelink team, made up of representatives of the Reserve Bank and private sector, visited Zimbabweans living in the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa in May and June it was impressed by the frequently expressed desire of those it met to contribute to Zimbabwe’s economic turnaround. The team told them about the Homelink system that embraced a network of licensed money transfer agencies and their foreign partners, and listened to the many ideas and suggestions they put forward. Most of these ideas and suggestions concerned investment opportunities that they were asking be put in place for them. As a result, the Homelink portfolio has grown to include investment products as well as the money transfer system that was its original major focus. implementation of the ideas and suggestions put forward by Zimbabweans in the diaspora has given birth to the popular Homelink Housing Development Scheme, the Reserve Bank’s Foreign Denominated Bonds and changes in investment regulations which have given Zimbabweans living abroad the advantages enjoyed by foreign investors when it comes to repatriation of profits and dividends and an advantage over foreign investors when it comes to the proportion of shares they can hold in Zimbabwean companies. So useful have the ideas put forward by Zimbabweans living abroad proved to be that it was perhaps natural that the governor should have wanted to incorporate into his advisory machinery think-tanks made up of Zimbabweans in different places. The skills and experience many Zimbabweans had acquired abroad so impressed members of the Homelink team that the team’s leader, Herbert Nkala, former chief executive of the Rainbow Tourism Group and a member of the Governor’s Advisory Board, declared that it appeared Zimbabwe had experienced not a brain drain but a brain gain. The think-tanks have all been established in places visited by the Homelink team. There are many places the team has not yet visited. Typically the team has asked for five or six volunteers for a think tank and ended up with as many as 15 to 20 think-tank members. Members of these think tanks meet regularly to discuss suggestions that they can put forward to the Governor for possible inclusion in his monetary policy reviews. They come up with ideas for helping improve the country’s economy and for benefiting Zimbabweans in the diaspora as well as at home. Ideas, suggestions and inquiries relating to the Homelink money transfer system and Homelink products are continually received from individuals in various part of the world who send e-mails to this column ( or to the Reserve Bank directly or through the Homelink website ( Queries sent to this column that require answers from the Reserve Bank are forwarded to the Reserve Bank for individual responses. The Reserve Bank has, as part of its Homelink initiative, established a Homelink Customer Relations Desk to answer any inquiries related to Homelink products and the Homelink money transfer system. It has also established an investment unit within the Exchange Control Division to facilitate investments by non-resident Zimbabweans. One of the most popular Homelink investment products for Zimbabweans in the diaspora is its new housing development scheme. This enables Zimbabweans living abroad to obtain housing loans from the Reserve Bank at interest rates which, although risk-weighted, are close to the mortgage interest rates pertaining in the countries they reside in.

Children smuggled to UK (The Sunday Mail, 21/11):- The migration of Zimbabweans to the United Kingdom has caused all sorts of problems for many families. In one such case, Wilfred Chinyuku of Chitungwiza is threatening to drag his mother-in-law to court after she allegedly "posted" his children to the UK without his knowledge. Chinyuku's wife, Shelter, left the country amid disagreements with her husband who insisted that it was not a good idea for his wife to emigrate to the UK. She did not heed her husband's call and flew out to Britain leaving behind a primary schoolchild and a four-year-old toddler. Chinyuku could not cope with babysitting duties and going to work so he asked his mother-in-law, Ms Revai Mapfunya, to take care of the children while he looked for a maid. Mapfunya connived with her daughter in the UK and processed travel documents for the children. She sent them to the UK without the knowledge of their father. When Chinyuku went to see his children during a routine visit to his mother-in-Iaw's place, he was shocked to find out that they had left the country. He phoned his wife who dropped the bombshell that she no longer loved him and had not told him in advance to avoid custody wrangles. "If I had the means, I would go there and take back my children because it is not my fault that our marriage broke down. I love my children and I want them back. Hapana chaaimboshaya mukadzi iyeye. Kungokara pound chete (I used to give her everything but she insisted on leaving the country all for the love of the British pound)," said a distraught Chinyuku. He said he would sue his mother-in-law for facilitating the departure of the children. When contacted for comment Ms. Mapfunya said she had no obligation to discuss personal family issues with the Press.

Is brain drain negatively affecting the economy? (The Sunday Mail, 21/11):- In a move that is set to dash the hopes of Zimbabweans aspiring to go to the UK, the British government has lifted its two–year suspension of the deportation of asylum seekers from that country, saying the concession, which came into force in January 2002, had been abused. The British immigration minister, Des Browne, said early last week Zimbabweans who did not need “international protection” had been making false claims knowing that even if the claims were rejected, they would not be forced back to Zimbabwe to face “intimidation or torture”. In response to questions posed by the Sunday Mirror last week, the British Embassy said “the decision not to return failed asylum seekers in 2002 was taken because of the turbulent political conditions existing at that time.” The embassy, however, said the suspension of the deportations, which had been under review, was not peculiar to Zimbabwe. It said: “The suspension has been kept under review and we have concluded that in the absence of any immigration or asylum reason why it should continue, it should now end, and our policy on Zimbabwe should be brought in line with that on every other country, which is that each case is dealt with on its merit.” It added that a written ministerial statement was laid before Parliament on November 16 this year, bringing to an end “the temporary suspension of enforced returns of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe.” The embassy also noted that the resumption of the deportations was not a reflection of any change “in our categorical opposition to human rights abuses” in the former British colony, but added that genuine refugees will continue to be protected. The plan, if effected, is likely to throw spanners into the manoeuvres being made by the new British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Roderick Pullen, who pledged to work towards the normalisation of relations between the two countries. After presenting his credentials to President Robert Mugabe on September 2, Pullen said: “I am happy to be here in Zimbabwe, and had a frank and useful discussion with President Mugabe. I am looking forward to a productive time as British Ambassador here.” Diplomatic ties between Zimbabwe and its former colonial master, were strained in the wake of the 2002 watershed presidential poll won by President Mugabe, after which the UK slapped Zimbabwe with “smart sanctions,” arguing that the election had not been free and fair. The relations hit rock bottom when Zimbabwe pulled out of the Commonwealth, a grouping of former British colonies, after which the grouping split along racial lines, with white members endorsing the ex–communication of Zimbabwe from the club. At the height of the economic crisis, thousands of Zimbabweans fled the country in search of the proverbial greener pastures, with the bulk of them heading for the UK. A significant number of them failed to get into the country after they were deported by the UK immigration officials. In February this year, the UK authorities plugged an immigration loophole exploited by Zimbabweans who sought to beat the visa system that had been set up to curb an influx of refugees. Estimates of the correct number of Zimbabweans in the UK vary, but it is generally agreed that there are about half a million, most of whom are asylum seekers or refugees. Statistics provided by the British Embassy indicate that 62 percent of asylum seekers from Zimbabwe were refused entry in the UK in 2002. In 2003, 78 percent of the applicants faced the same fate while during the first nine months of the 2004, the number increased to 89 percent.

UK to deport asylum seekers (The Sunday Mirror, 21/11):- In a move that is set to dash the hopes of Zimbabweans aspiring to go to the UK, the British government has lifted its two-year suspension of the deportation of asylum seekers from that country, saying the concession, which came into force in January 2002, had been abused. The British immigration minister, Des Browne, said early last week Zimbabweans who did not need "international protection" had been making false claims knowing that even if the claims were rejected, they would not be forced back to Zimbabwe to face "intimidation or torture". In response to questions posed by the Sunday Mirror last week, the British Embassy said "the decision not to return failed asylum seekers in 2002 was taken because of the turbulent political conditions existing at that time." The embassy, however, said the suspension of the deportations, which had been under review, was not peculiar to Zimbabwe. It said: "The suspension has been kept under review and we have concluded that in the absence of any immigration or asylum reason why it should continue, it should now end, and our policy on Zimbabwe should be brought in line with that on every other country, which is that each case is dealt with on its merit" It added that a written ministerial statement was laid before Parliament on November 16 this year, bringing to an end "the temporary suspension of enforced returns of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe." The embassy also noted that the resumption of the deportations was not a reflection of any change "in our categorical opposition to human rights abuses" in the former British colony, but added that genuine refugees will continue to be protected. The plan, if effected, is likely to throw spanners into the manoeuvres being made by the new British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Roderick Pullen, who pledged to work towards the normalisation of relations between the two countries.After presenting his credentials to President Robert Mugabe on September 2, Pullen said: "I am happy to be here in Zimbabwe, and had a frank and useful discussion with President Mugabe. I am looking forward to a productive time as British Ambassador here." Diplomatic ties between Zimbabwe and its former colonial master, were strained in the wake of the 2002 watershed presidential poll won by President Mugabe, after which the UK slapped Zimbabwe with "smart sanctions," arguing that the election had not been free and fair. The relations hit rock bottom when Zimbabwe pulled out of the Commonwealth, a grouping of former British colonies, after which the grouping split along racial lines, with white members endorsing the ex-communication of Zimbabwe from the club. At the height of the economic crisis, thousands of Zimbabweans fled the country in search of the proverbial greener pastures, with the bulk of them heading for the UK. A significant number of them failed to get into the country after they were deported by the UK immigration officials. In February this year, the UK authorities plugged an immigration loophole exploited by Zimbabweans who sought to beat the visa system that had been set up to curb an influx of refugees. Estimates of the correct number of Zimbabweans in the UK vary, but it is generally agreed that there are about half a million, most of whom are asylum seekers or refugees. Statistics provided by the British Embassy indicate that 62 percent of asylum seekers from Zimbabwe were refused entry in the UK in 2002. In 2003, 78 percent of the applicants faced the same fate while during the first nine months of the 2004, the number increased to 89 percent.

Informal traders and local flea markets (Chronicle, 20/11):- The continued increase of prices at conventional shops has seen many people turning to the informal sector either to buy clothes or furniture and one such area which has drawn people from all walks of life is Sekusile Centre in Bulawayo's sprawling suburb of Nkulumane. Although the place has a well developed market established by the city council, many informal traders have built their own stalls using old zinc sheets and plastic material. Some even sell their wares from the ground. It is common to see posh cars parked at the makeshift flea market as people from all walks of life pass through, doing their shopping. The volume of human traffic here can make one mistake it for some central business district in a city, although the difference is that the area is dusty and untidy. This week Saturday Chronicle visited the Sekusile Market to find out what makes it tick and the newscrew immediately drew parallels with life at Renkini Country Bus Terminus in Makokoba, and Siyaso in Harare. The flea market's popularity has grown to levels where it is now drawing people from as far as Harare. There are hundreds of stallholders who come from different parts of the country and some even from neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Malawi and as far a field as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Realising that the area is growing, the Bulawayo City Council has expanded the selling points, but despite that, many people still need space. As one draws near the market, he or she is immediately greeted by the noise of owindi (touts) who will be soliciting for passengers. The parking space is very limited as commuter omnibuses crisscross the area, picking or dropping off passengers. If you are a visitor, you should not just ask for directions from strangers because you risk falling into the hands of conmen who normally hang around the areas. The popular Chinese clothes have, however, found a match in secondhand clothes, popularly known as mupedzanhamo. The mupedzanhamo are brought in bales by the Zambian crossborder traders. From clothes, one is immediately attracted by beautiful electrical gadgets like fridges, radios and stoves, as well as furniture. There are also other smaller items like cassettes and plumbing material. However, it is also believed that some of the goods stolen by thieves end up finding their way to the flea market. Police have made constant raids at flea markets in the past and recovered some of the stolen goods. Some of the stolen property even includes textbooks which could be easily identified by stamps of various schools in the country. As it is, vegetable and fruit vendors are also in abundance in an effort to get a slice of the cake. Investigations by Saturday Chronicle also established that the overcrowded market is a hideout for criminals and illegal foreign dealers. Those that have lost their cell phones have at times managed to buy them back from third parties at the flea market. However, the volume of human traffic in the area has overwhelmed the only toilet which has at times forced the traders and members of the public to queue, or resort to relieving on nearby buildings. Mr. Webster Bakera of Nketa 7 said he started operating from the flea market six years ago. "Like elsewhere, business is very brisk during month ends. However, the advantage which we have here is that at any time of the month you cannot go home without a considerable amount of money because people are always buying our goods on a daily basis. "I think the popularity of the area has benefited us immensely. People from all walks of life always come here because they know that our goods are cheaper than at shops in town," he said with a smile. "With even a small amount of money here, you can manage buy any item. These days I am selling these tackies which I buy either in Botswana or South Africa. They are actually cheaper here compared to stores in the city centre. So people have realised that," he said. Mr. Bakera said some of their customers came from as far as Harare. "Some visitors to the city just come here not with the intention to buy, but just because they have heard about the place. However when they are here they end up buying our goods," he said. Another trader in the area, Mrs Ruth Matambanadzo of Killarney, who sells a variety of clothing which include Chinese goods, said she has been operating in the area for more than 10 years now. "There were not many traders when I first came here. With time, the place began to grow. Over the years we have seen many buy an item. These days I am selling these tackies which I buy either in Botswana or South Africa. They are actually cheaper here compared to stores in the city centre. So people have realised that," he said. Mr. Bakera said some of their customers came from as far as Harare. "Some visitors to the city just come here not with the intention to buy, but just because they have heard about the place. However when they are here they end up buying our goods," he said. Another trader in the area, Mrs. Ruth Matambanadzo of goods, said she has been operating in the area for more than 10 years now. "There were not many traders when I first came here. With time, the place began to grow. Over the years we have seen many traders flocking here to open shop because business is good. "The place is now so crowded that there is no longer any room for expansion. What we also need here is more toilets because the one which all the people here rely on is too small," she said. Some of the traders are now complaining that the Zambians who have descended on the area in large numbers are taking away business from them. "The Zambians are somehow destroying our business because their second hand clothes are very cheap and that has seen many people rushing for them. More over, judging by the volume of these goods, I do not think they are brought into the country lawfully," said a trader who chose to remain anonymous. However, the Zambians are quick to defend themselves. "We are just here to do business just like you would find Zimbabweans also doing business in large numbers in our and neighbouring countries such as Botswana and South Africa. "It is just that we may be getting an edge over the Zimbabweans and that is why they are complaining. "But in business you should expect competition," said Mr. Josphat Sakala from Choma in Zambia. His colleagues concurred with him adding that they brought the second hand clothes legally into the country. "We declare the goods and pay all the necessary duty. We are just here to earn an honest living. "We are not here illegally because we have our passports with us," said another Zambian. The flea market has also benefited shop owners in the area. An employee at one of the leading chain supermarkets in the country said the activities at the flea market have boosted business in the area.

New national ID cards welcome (The Herald Online, 20/11):- The switch next week to an instant national identity card will be heartily welcomed. The metal cards were good and durable, but the production delay had lengthened to several years as the backlog increased. The need to use an ever deteriorating sheet of paper in the interim could be worse than irritating, especially when some banks refused to accept the "green" pass as proof of identity. The delay in processing the metal cards was even more irksome when people noted that driver's licences, using an identical technology, took only a couple of weeks to process. There is no controversy in Zimbabwe about the need to register. It is simply so useful to have a card which, by law, everyone must accept as proof of identity and citizenship status. Most countries have these and even those where there could be a constitutional barrier to compulsory registration, such as the USA, get round the problem by having a universal identity document, such as the US social security card, ostensibly issued for another purpose. Before the metal cards arrived in the late 1970s only black men were required to register. The metal cards were a considerable advance in making it compulsory for all, regardless of race or gender, although their introduction was, in fact, a security measure introduced by the UOI regime. However, the new Zimbabwean Government at independence saw the advantages of universal adult registration. In 1997 the Government extended the system so that even babies received their national identity numbers when the birth was registered, although they would have to wait until 16 before registering for the card. The only controversial matter was the colonial holdover requiring all to carry their cards on their persons at all times, just as black men had been forced to do. This was eventually successfully challenged, although most people find it useful to keep their card with them since it avoids any problems whenever they need to "positively" identify themselves. While the metal cards were state-of-the-art technology in 1977, there has been considerable progress since then and the Registrar-General was wise to switch to the new technologies. There has been a flourishing market in stolen cards for some years, with illegal immigrants looking for identity cards with youthful-looking photographs that could easily pass for them at the time the card was issued. While the instant production of the new cards will be the major appeal for most, we should not be unaware of the extra information the new cards contain. Better photographs from digital technology and fingerprints will make positive identification far easier, enhancing the value of the card to the genuine holder but reducing its value to almost nothing for the alien trying to gain citizen or resident rights through a stolen card. We hope that the reduction in man-hours required to produce cards from the developing of photographs to the making of the metal cards and the need to have people making at least two visits to a registration centre - will result in a far speedier service. There should not be long winding lines of people registering. Instant production should be complemented by instant registration. We acknowledge that because the card is the foundation of so many other documents, from passports to voter registration, there has to be adequate documentation presented by a person registering. But if a person has all this it should only take a few minutes from the time they walk into a registration centre before they can walk out with their new card. The halving of the workload should not see a reduction in staff, only a doubling in efficiency. The Registrar-General comes in for a lot of criticism, simply because everyone living in Zimbabwe has to have dealings with his office before they can go to school, write exams, get a driver's licence, travel or vote. We hope his new system will see that criticism significantly muted and that the efficiencies he introduces will be complemented in the other areas of his office.

New ID cards to be issued (The Herald, 19/11):- The Registrar-General's Office will introduce new instant national identity cards from Thursday next week and eventually phase out the existing metal cards that have been in use since 1978. This was said by Registrar-General Mr. Tobaiwa Mudede at a press conference in Harare yesterday. Mr. Mudede said the introduction of new national identity cards had become necessary because they were produced instantly as compared to the existing system, which takes some time to produce the metal IDs.
"When new technology comes in, we have to move with that technology. It comes in with speed," said Mr. Mudede. He said the first phase of the programme would begin on November 25 and go on until February 25 next year. It will consist of five teams that would issue the new national IDs to people who are 16 years of age and have not yet applied for the national identity cards. The second phase will come later and it will involve the deployment of more machinery, issuing the new cards to people with green waiting passes awaiting the issuing of their metal cards. "We need to emphasise that those who have lost their cards won't be in this category. They have to go to the district office for interviews and go through the whole process of replacing the metal ID cards," he said. Mr. Mudede, however, said the metal cards will continue to be in use but would be eventually phased out. There was no need for those who hold such cards to rush and apply for the new cards, inconveniencing those who never applied for the old cards. The new card is made of polythene synthetic material which does not break if it is bent and features a number of visible security features. Instead of featuring one facial picture as with the case with the metal cards, the new card will have two pictures of different sizes. It also features the signature of the bearer, fingerprint, citizen status, map of Zimbabwe in the background and the national registration number. Mr. Mudede said there were also other security features on the card that were not visible with a naked eye to prevent any cases of counterfeiting or forgery. He said residents who were non-citizens of Zimbabwe also qualified to be issued with the new cards. "A person in Zimbabwe for six months on a work permit can qualify for the card but it would be indicated that the person is an alien," said the registrar general.

Chinese to take over key state firms (Zim Online, 18/11):- Cash-strapped Zimbabwe will cede control of most of its strategic but loss-making state firms to China, acting Finance Minister Hebert Murerwa told journalists in Harare yesterday. Murerwa, who was briefing the Press on his macro-economic policy
framework for 2005-2006, said the Chinese were going to invest into the ailing parastatals and take over control while in some cases they were going to provide loans only. "Chinese deals are purely investment deals in which case the Chinese would assume control of the companies and also provide lines of credit to the parastatals. We expect tourism growth to provide foreign exchange to finance these loans," said Murerwa. Key state firms set to be taken over or to receive financial rescue packages from China include, National Railways of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings and the country's only fixed telephone company, Tel-One. The Chinese are said to have already provided three aircraft to national flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe. Murerwa said the Chinese were also already working on rehabilitating the dilapidated national rail system and would also be bringing in new rail wagons for the country. Harare is vigorously pursuing a "look East" policy after falling out with traditional trading and development partners in the West over its
appalling human rights record, failure to uphold democracy and the rule of law. Local industry however says Zimbabwe is reaping little positive results from its association with China and other Asian states. For example, a survey commissioned by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries two months ago established that at least 40 companies were forced to shut down last year after losing the market to cheaper goods from mostly China. And local hotel and leisure mogul, Shingi Munyeza, told the Press yesterday that the tourism sector had benefited little from Zimbabwe's association with China. He said: "The Chinese are bad spenders moving in large volumes. They insist on their dishes and we have to configure all our systems to suit their demands. This puts pressure on the local operators. There is nothing of significance in terms of business arising from the influx of the Chinese."

Activists criticize UK's resumption of forced repatriation (IRIN News, 21/11):- Zimbabwean human rights activists have criticised the British government for its decision to end a two-year suspension of the forced repatriation of failed asylum seekers. Des Browne, the British minister for citizenship and immigration, announced on Tuesday that while "there has not been any improvement in conditions in Zimbabwe", he was removing the suspension put in place in January 2002, as it was being abused. "We can appreciate the fact that the suspension was perhaps being abused, but the timing of the announcement - ahead of the [Zimbabwe] general elections [in March 2005], when a number of opposition party supporters could possibly face persecution - is unfortunate," said Bidi Munyaradzi, director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association. "There are a number of Zimbabweans who have fled because of economic reasons, but there remains a substantial number who face pressure because of their political leanings," he told IRIN. Maeve Sherlock, the chief executive of the UK-based NGO, the Refugee Council, which works with asylum seekers, has called on the British government to monitor "what happens to those who are sent back. No one should be sent back to Zimbabwe before monitoring procedures are in place". Citing asylum statistics released this week, Browne pointed out that in the first nine months of 2004 the British government granted asylum to 195 Zimbabweans, and some form of protection to more than 25 others, out of a total of 2,025 applicants. With a 90 percent refusal rate and the dismissal of 82 percent of subsequent appeals to the independent adjudicator, "the clear message is that the majority of Zimbabwean asylum applicants are able safely to return to Zimbabwe," he added. However, Sherlock said, "Far too many valid applications are being turned down". Several million Zimbabweans are reported to have sought refuge outside their homeland as a result of the political and economic crisis in their country.

Zimbabweans lose automatic UK protection (Sunday Times, 17/11):- Britain's Immigration Minister Des Browne has announced that a blanket ban on enforced deportations to Zimbabwe - introduced in 2002 - will end because of "clear evidence that it has been exploited" by Zimbabweans and others posing as Zimbabweans. Cases now will be considered individually, and those in genuine need of protection, including those fleeing as political refugees, will continue to be assisted, he said. The Home Office meanwhile reported that more asylum-seekers came to Britain in the July-September quarter, though the overall number remains down from a year earlier. It attributed the 13% third-quarter rise, to 10,385 compared to 9,210 in April through June, to seasonal variations and a surge of 220 applications from Eritreans. The total was still the second-lowest number of applications for a quarter since 1997, and was 29% fewer than in the same period last year, a Home Office spokeswoman said. Elaborating on the figures, Browne said: "Experience has taught us to expect seasonal highs during the July to September period. But year on year the figures are continuing to fall. They are 67% down on October 2002's peak... We are on track to cut asylum support costs by a third by the end of 2005". Browne added that 80 people have been charged so far, and 20 convicted, under a new law that makes it a criminal offence to deliberately destroy or discarding travel documents to delay deportation.

Zimbabweans living abroad banned from voting (Mail & Guardian, 16/11):- Zimbabweans living abroad will not be allowed to vote because ruling Zanu-PF Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa says the country's Constitution bars them. Chinamasa made the comment in Parliament on Wednesday in response to questions from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. While estimates vary, most believe that millions of Zimbabweans have fled political strife and economic hardship in the past four years. Most have headed for South Africa, though about 40 000 are believed to be in the United Kingdom, with others now living in Australia and New Zealand. Still, Chinamasa said the registration of voters living in foreign countries is impossible because of a ban on senior Zanu-PF members from travelling to Western nations. "There is a travel ban against the Zanu-PF leadership, from the president down to the lowest Zanu-PF cadre, to travel to the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand," claimed Chinamasa. "How would Zanu-PF be able to canvass support from Zimbabweans in the Diaspora when its political leadership suffers from a travel ban in those countries? "In reality, the travel ban against Zanu-PF extends only to the party's most senior leadership. Nor is there a travel ban to South Africa, where most of Zimbabwe's political and economic refugees live.

Tourism enters crucial period (The Sunday Mirror, 13/11):-
Zimbabwe’s flailing tourism industry enters a critical festive period in the coming weeks, as players battle to counter the crippling effects of a six-year slump, and possibly restore the country's battered international image.  With only a month to go before the festive period gets into full swing, hospitality and leisure industry players say they have already embarked on efforts to attract tourists to the country's prime leisure destinations and hopefully turn the fortunes of the once bustling industry.  Room rates in some of the country's major hotels have been slashed by between 20-40 percent, as the industry looks to capitalise on the traditional festive season spending boom in an effort to increase occupancy levels.  National carrier, Air Zimbabwe has also reduced its round-trip fare from Harare to Johannesburg by 50 percent to try and cash in on the extravagance of tourists during the holiday season.  Zimbabwe's tourism industry has been among the worst affected in the country's economic depression and isolation, and despite previously being a significant contributor to foreign currency earnings and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), tourism has struggled to recover from the slump.  According to central bank statistics, tourism activity accounts for an estimated 6.5 percent of total GDP.  However the sector's contribution to the country's total foreign currency earnings has fallen from a high of 10-11 percent in "normal years" to less than 3.5 percent at present.  Zimbabwe's GDP is about US$3.8 billion.  In a recent analysis of tourism sector performance, CFX Financial Services said the sector was "still bleeding", with the industry's contribution expected to remain static at US$60 million.  Figures obtained from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) showed that overall arrivals in Zimbabwe tumbled by 36 percent, from 1.4 million recorded during the first half of 2003, to a low of 827 245 visitors in the same period this year.  The numbers. some analysts say. reflect a mirror image of the actual situation on the ground and the extent of the challenge local tourism operators face in restoring the viability of the sector.  "International tourists continue to shun Zimbabwe owing to the heightening risk perception, fuelled by alleged deteriorating political and economic conditions," CFX said.  International airlines, Lufthansa and Qantas have cancelled their weekly flights to Harare because there simply weren't enough passengers.  According to the ZT A, most of the tourists visiting the country from January to June this year hailed from mainland Africa, and constituted 675 538 of the total 827 245 visitors. The overseas market contributed the remainder of the visitors.  Analysts said the main challenge the sector faces is to restore its image on the international arena, where Zimbabwe has suffered damaging assaults on its reputation as a safe and hospitable tourist destination.  The result has been a boom in tourism activity in neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia, which has taken advantage of the troubles in Zimbabwe to intensify its marketing of the Victoria Falls. Other destinations, such as the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, are still "white elephants", still to be fully utilised as tourist sites.  In an effort to beef up the country's tainted global image, the government and other tourism industry players have drafted the National Tourism Policy and Master Plan, which should have been launched earlier this year.  Inroads have also been made into East Asia, where Zimbabwe recently received Approved Destination Status from China. RBZ governor, Gideon Gono said the Asian initiative was expected to yield results "progressively over the next 12 to 36 months". It remains to be seen whether the sector would be able to survive over the three-year period.

Cattle smuggled into Mozambique (The Herald, 12/11):- Most cattle stolen from Mashonaland East, Manicaland and Mashonaland Central provinces are being smuggled into Mozambique where they fetch higher prices, police have said. Police reports throughout the country's 10 provinces showed that more than a million Zimbabwean cattle have been lost to unscrupulous dealers who smuggle them into Mozambique. Some are also allegedly being sold to unlicensed butcheries, mostly in the peri-urban and rural areas. Between January and June this year, 8 986 cases of stock theft were reported in all provinces compared to last year's 8 894 cases. In most cases, more than one cattle was stolen in a single reported case while police have not made headway in recovering the bulk of the stolen cattle. With the July, August, September and October statistics still being calculated, there are indications that the statistics could double owing to a sharp increase in cases of stock theft over the last four months. Stock thieves in Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Midlands provinces, where the highest number of cases were reported, were allegedly taking advantage of the land reform programme, which had seen a relaxation in restrictions governing the movement of cattle. Mashonaland East, which borders Manicaland Province, recorded 1 687 cases of stock theft during the first six months of this year, compared to 1 591 cases for the whole of last year. It is suspected that most cattle stolen in the area were also smuggled into Mozambique through the Nyamapanda Border Post. Some cattle stolen in Mashonaland East were at times ferried to the border town of Mutare or as far as Chipinge where they were sold to Mozambicans who frequented the border areas. Manicaland recorded the second highest number with 1 298.lost to cattle rustlers. Police in Chipinge last week confirmed that stock theft dominated their records with a significant number of Mozambican nationals implicated. Mashonaland West recorded 1 207 cases while 1 182 cases were recorded in Midlands. There has been a sharp increase in stock theft cases in Harare this year compared to last year. Last year, 127 cases were reported, while this year 191 cases had so far been reported during the first half of the year. Police in Harare attributed the increase in cattle theft to flourishing unlicensed butcheries. Matabeleland South recorded 877 cases compared to last year's 797 while Masvingo has 808 cases, up from last year's 797 cases. Residents of Rushinga and Kanyemba in Mashonaland Central have also suffered heavy losses. This year alone, the province has recorded 804 incidents of stock theft compared to 760 cases during the corresponding period last year. Against the trend, cases of stock theft in Matabeleland North Province had decreased from 741 last year to 651 and Bulawayo has also seen a reduction from 294 cases to 281 this year. Police spokesperson Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka yesterday said they had introduced comprehensive policing strategies to curb the menace. "We have revived the anti-stock theft committees in all areas to enable us to effectively monitor activities of suspected cattle rustlers," Supt Mandipaka said. He said the committees comprised officials from the veterinary department and other local authorities.

Homelink housing scheme proves popular (Financial Gazette, 11/11):- The Homelink Housing Development Scheme has generated a great deal of interest and enthusiasm among Zimbabweans the world over, judging by the number of enquiries being received daily. Among those who have sent requests for further information about the scheme to this column are Zimbabweans living in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Botswana, Namibia, Canada, the United States, Japan and Northern Ireland. While most of these inquiries were about applying for housing loans, there were some enquiries about becoming Homelink Housing Development Scheme project promoter partners abroad. Project promoters play an important role in the housing scheme. They are the link between the borrower and the Reserve Bank, which has made Z$750 billion available to enable Zimbabweans living abroad to obtain mortgage loans at interest rates close to those pertaining in the country where they live. The loan can be used to purchase a stand or house in Zimbabwe or to construct or complete the construction of a house in Zimbabwe. The Reserve Bank licences project promoters in Zimbabwe. These project promoters may be building societies, real estate agents or licensed money transfer agencies with twinning arrangements with real estate agents. The project promoters are required to have an agreement with a reputable international partner in the countries where they wish to promote the scheme. As the scheme is brand new, there is plenty of opportunity for new project promoters to be licensed. It may take a while before there are licensed project promoters with partners in all the countries in which there are Zimbabweans wishing to take advantage of the scheme. One of the first project promoters to be approved was Patriot Properties, which is partnered in the United Kingdom and United States by Angwa Associates, a company owned by Zimbabweans and headquartered in Birmingham, in the United Kingdom. There is room for many more project promoters with partners in these countries, as well as in others, judging by the number of inquiries being received. Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono announced the Z$750 billion facility in his Monetary Policy Review two weeks ago. There was also a revision in the Monetary Policy Review of the diaspora floor price, which now stands at Z$6 200 to the US dollar, higher than the auction rate, which was $5 632.05 at the beginning of the week. This means that those who send money to relatives, friends or other beneficiaries, or for their own investment purposes, will have the money paid out at a higher rate than the auction rate, namely at Z$6 200 to the US dollar. The conversion rate from other currencies depends on the corresponding value of those currencies against the US dollar. The diaspora floor price is a special foreign exchange rate for those living in the diaspora who send their money to Zimbabwe through legitimate channels. So long as it is higher than the auction rate, then this is the rate that they are paid. If the auction rate exceeds the diaspora floor price, then the auction rate is used. The basic rule is that they are paid at the diaspora floor price or the auction rate, whichever is higher. As regular readers of this column will be aware, Homelink is the brand name used to describe the money transfer system through which money is transferred to Zimbabwe through a money transfer organisation partnered with a licensed money transfer agency in Zimbabwe. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe licenses these money transfer agencies and lays down the rules they must abide by to ensure that the system is fast, reliable, safe and convenient. Although the foreign money transfer organisation charges commission in line with its own policies, no commission is charged by the money transfer agency in Zimbabwe. Western Union, MoneyGram and Travelex, three of the largest international money transfer agencies, are part of the Homelink system. So too are many smaller agencies. The key determinant of whether an agency is operating within the Homelink system is whether or not it is sending money through a money transfer agency partner in Zimbabwe that has been licensed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and is abiding by the rules of the Homelink system, including conversion of the foreign currency to local currency at the diaspora floor price or the ruling auction rate, whichever is the higher. Money can also be sent legitimately to Zimbabwe through an inter-bank transfer, as commercial and merchant banks in Zimbabwe are authorised foreign exchange dealers. However, banks do charge a commission at both ends. The exception to this rule is where the Zimbabwean bank is also a registered money transfer agency and is receiving funds as a licensed money transfer agency from a foreign money transfer agency partner. This is an important distinction. It is only where a bank is registered as a money transfer agency with a foreign money transfer organisation partner or partners and receiving foreign currency in that capacity that the transaction falls within the Homelink system and is therefore free of commission at the Zimbabwe end. Details of foreign money transfer organisations that fall within the Homelink system are available from the Reserve Bank's Homelink Customer Relations Desk and the Homelink website ( If problems are experienced with sending money through any of the organisations partnered with a registered money transfer agency in Zimbabwe, then the Reserve Bank would like to know about it.

Plan to disrupt business at border posts (The Herald, 09/11):- Anti-Zimbabwe civic organisations within the Southern Africa Development Community are planning to disrupt the smooth operations of business at Beitbridge and the country's other border posts with Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique between December 4 and 8. The organisations have vowed to close the country's border posts and called on workers to remain at home. The planned demonstrations are in protest over alleged bad governance, lawlessness, and lack of Press freedom. The demonstrators would also demand unspecified change. Civic organisations in the region have been advised to notify their embassies in the respective countries that it would be dangerous to travel into Zimbabwe during the period of the demonstration. The civic organisations plan to disrupt electricity supply to State House during the demonstrations, bar the entry of buses and flights into the country. The demonstrators said they planned to demolish President Mugabe's statue but the President does not have any statue erected in the country. Non-governmental organisations, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and churches have been invited to participate in the demonstration that will involve disgraced South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and the leadership of Congress of South African Trade Unions. Amnesty International South Africa and Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation have also planned a border-to-border solidarity rally on December 10. They said the rally will coincide with the International Human Rights Day. The organisations announced that citizens from South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi would march to the borders with Zimbabwe to express concern over alleged continued violation of basic fundamental freedoms of the people of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe closing in on currency fraudsters (Sunday Times, 08/11):- Zimbabwean police say they are seeking prominent ruling Zanu-PF party businesswoman Jane Mutasa in connection with "externalising foreign currency" and will arrest her on arrival at Harare International Airport. If caught Mutasa, currently in South Africa on business, will bring to at least 10 the number of people arrested on the same charge in the last seven days. She is a director of cellular network provider Telecel, whose chief executive James Makamba was also arrested last week. Mutasa denies fleeing the country and says she is in South Africa for a meeting. Meanwhile police last week arrested at least five senior officials from cell phone giant Econet, leaving only the state-owned operator NetOne unaffected by arrests of senior managers and directors. Scores of arrests in recent months have shown at least a degree of seriousness in President Robert Mugabe's claim that he will crack down in economically and politically troubled Zimbabwe. Even former finance minister Chris Kureneri remains languishing in squalid prison conditions while facing charges of moving foreign currency out of Zimbabwe. Kureneri, once a rising star in the ruling party, was arrested after a South African newspaper carried stories about a lavish home he had built in a top Cape Town suburb. Still, prominent Zimbabwean economist John Robertson says the arrests may be an attempt to curry favour with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World bank. "There's an element of proving that the rule of law is in place," Robertson said. "They (Zanu-PF) are trying to show that no one is safe, but there are people who are safe. They have the whole landscape rigged to their advantage and there are people who are beyond arrest." Zimbabwe, which is heavily indebted to the IMF, saw the lender close its Harare office last month. Robertson said the current waves of arrests would probably continue. "They hate success. The particularly hate success that they can't use and tap into themselves. Now they feel threatened and are taking some people out as a message to say that business should either be with them or be dead." Robertson said the "trough was getting smaller with less room for the snouts" in Zimbabwe's embattled economy. "They're running out of people to mug," he said. Still, Zimbabwe's police deny they are partisan, claiming they will arrest anyone accused of economic crime or sabotage. "The problems of gold smuggling, gold panning, money laundering, illegal foreign currency transactions, corruption, hoarding of cash, tax evasion, under-invoicing exports and externalisation of foreign exchange have been whittled down," said senior policeman Assistant Commissioner Garikayi Barara. He said "nefarious" businessmen "bent on destroying our economy through selfish, devilish and corrupt business practises presented policing challenges that are new."

Zimbabwe, Malawi sign accord to promote trade (The Herald, 05/11):- Zimbabwe and Malawi have signed a bilateral agreement that promotes trade between the two countries and create a conducive trading environment known as the Reciprocal Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (RIPPA). The agreement is a milestone in cementing trade and investment relations between the two countries. "The rationale behind entering into such an accord on a bilateral basis is to guarantee the protection of investments made by Malawi nationals living in Zimbabwe. "Such arrangements give confidence to investors and help promote inflows of investment into Zimbabwe and Malawi," said the Acting Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Herbert Murerwa. He added that foreign investment was critical to the economic development of any country as it provided new technology, improved production methods, inflows of foreign currency, access to international markets, joint venture partnerships and helped in employment creation. Expropriations of investments by nationals of the countries in agreement are safeguarded by the articles and provide for prompt, adequate and effective compensation where expropriation or nationalisation does occur. The agreement also provides for full remittance of all payments connected with an investment in line with the laws and regulations of the contracting parties. Malawi Minister of Trade and Development Mrs Eunice Kazembe said the agreement was critical for common objectives in the economic front that are being pursued by both countries. "The agreements will facilitate trade between the two countries especially cross boarder trading, hence the private sector in the two countries should fully utilise the opportunities that the two governments have opened. "Furthermore, the private sector should not point fingers at the governments if they fail to utilise this chance as the legal and all important frameworks have been set and what's left is initiative from the sector," said Mrs Kazembe. The agreement was mooted in Geneva last year and was only awaiting the two governments' approval and logistical frameworks.

Zimbabwe envoy explains Cosatu deportation (Mail & Guardian, 04/11):- The deportation last week of a Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) delegation from Zimbabwe was unfortunate, but had happened because the visit was politically motivated, the South African Parliament's foreign affairs portfolio committee heard on Wednesday. Briefing members, Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa, Simon Moyo, said Cosatu had been forewarned its delegation's plans to meet "quasi-oppositional political organisations" were not acceptable. The warning had come in the form of a letter -- from Zimbabwe's Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in Harare -- to Cosatu, sent on October 21, before the delegation's visit. Referring to the letter, Moyo said the political nature of the visit by the 13-member delegation was confirmed by a planned meeting between Cosatu and Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe's ruling party, and between Cosatu and the Movement for Democratic Change, that country's opposition party. Cosatu had also planned meetings with the Crisis Coalition, National Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwean Election Support Network, Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwean Council of Churches and the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). These organisations are "all involved in the political discourse of Zimbabwe", Moyo said, quoting from the letter. "These organisations are critical about the government of Zimbabwe, and indeed, most of these are quasi-oppositional political organisations. "Moyo said copies of the letter had also been sent to the ZCTU; South Africa's high commission in Harare; South Africa's Minister of Labour, Membathisi Mdladlana; its Cabinet; and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Cosatu's defiance of the letter and its subsequent deportation from Zimbabwe was "unfortunate". If the union had seen Mdladlana before their departure and asked how they should proceed "maybe things would have been, I think, more decent than what happened".Moyo also said Cosatu had sent "shop stewards" and not its top leadership to Zimbabwe. "I thought that the [Cosatu's] secretary general [Zwelinzima Vavi] would have gone," he said. African National Congress MP Rubben Mohlaloga attacked Cosatu during the briefing, saying the trade union's visit to Zimbabwe had been a "fishing expedition". "This was nothing but a fishing expedition. They [Cosatu] wanted to come back with the title of heroism," he said.

Police smash travel syndicate (Chronicle, 03/11):- Police in Matabeleland South has smashed what they believe is a syndicate which was producing faked emergency travel documents to facilitate the legal emigration to neighbouring countries such as Botswana. The police spokesman for Matabeleland South, Inspector Johnson Nyoni said two women from Bulawayo have been arrested in connection with scam. He identified the suspects as Anesu Chisoni (25) of Cowdray Park and Nothando Bhebhe (27) a typist a Bulawayo based chemical manufacturing company. Insp Nyoni said the pair will soon appear in court to answer charges of contravening a section of Immigration Act. He said the scam was unearthed following the arrest of a Mr Tabengwa Rusike of Emakhandeni suburb in Bulawayo for using a fake emergency travel document at the Plumtree border post to cross to Botswana. On being questioned by the police Mr Rusike revealed that he had obtained the fake document from a house in Cowdray Park. Mr Rusike led the police to Chisoni's house in Cowdray Park where they found several blank travel documents with same serial number. "Chisoni led the detectives to Bhebhe who is employed as a typist at Simbiotic Chemicals in Bulawayo where they found a copy of the fake document saved in the computer. The ETDs were colour printed by the computer including the passport office date stamp, " Insp Nyoni said. He said the two women were arrested on 29 October, but the police believe this just tip of an iceberg. "It is apparent that there are a number of well organised syndicate involved in this thing as evident by the number of fake documents in circulation," Insp Nyoni said. He said the women involved in the scam are believed to have been charging $80 000 for a fake travel document.

RBZ sets up housing project for Zimbabweans overseas (The Herald Online, 01/11):- The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has formulated a $750 billion housing project for non-resident Zimbabweans termed the Oiaspora Housing Facility, governor Or Gideon Gono said in Harare yesterday. Through the facility, an off shoot of the Homelink initiative, Zimbabweans living abroad have been awarded an opportunity to construct residential properties in the country by accessing cheap funds from the central bank. Participants would access loans through registered agents-repayable in foreign currency within a period of five years 'for purchase and or construction of residential properties'. For acquisition of residential stands, the maximum repayment period would be 12 months, says the RBZ. The underlying bond would be in foreign exchange and would be at a risk-weighted interest rate, "and in line with mortgage rates prevailing in the foreign country in which the Zimbabwean beneficiary is domicile." All disbursements on the loan would be in Zimbabwe dollars with no mandatory deposits, while the RBZ will also be conducting "regular on-site and off-site inspections on the use of the disbursed funds" to ensure bondholders are not prejudiced under the plan. An estimated 3,4 million Zimbabweans are living outside the country, with the majority in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Most of these Zimbabweans are working in foreign lands in order to acquire assets back home. This Oiaspora Housing Facility is expected to officialise the purchase of assets by participants, improve infrastructure development in Zimbabwe which principally earning the country the much needed foreign currency in the long run through loan repayments. Or Gono said in his third quarter monetary policy review statement yesterday that Homelink, which has transacted deals worth US$40 million since its inception in May 2004, had given birth to this housing development project. Zimbabweans abroad who are supportive of the nation's efforts of boosting its depleted foreign currency reserves via the repatriation of hard currency, cannot wait for the OH Facility, said Or Gono. "In the event that mortgage holders cannot continue to participate in the scheme, the RBZ will purchase the property from the owner," said the governor. "The proceeds from the transaction will be reimbursed in foreign currency up to a maximum amount contributed by the individual and will also be fully remittable "Our dream as the central bank is to see our fellow Zimbabweans in the diaspora competing among each other to showcase the intricate, varied and elaborate breeds of architectural designs they come across during their levels, to elevate the marvel sights of our beautiful cities here back home." Meanwhile, Homelink has continued to gain ground in spite of criticisms, which have been levelled against the programme from distinct sectors of the economy. Or Gono said the programme had gained "significant interest from fellow Zimbabweans living abroad," and that "we are committed to ensuring that no amount of bad mouthing or obstructive inferences succeed in side-tracking us in what we firmly believe to be good for the present and future well being of our Great Nation."

This page last updated 7 Feb 2005.