Migration News

Archives and Current News

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

SADC tourism industry expected to recover
SADC businesses battle red tape

Vietnam to send in more physicians
Malians living illegally in Angola
Angola and Namibia discuss agreement on border
Commission analyses repatriation of refugees
Commission happy with Zambia border situation
HIV/Aids spreading in Angola
UNHCR intensifies voluntary return operation to Angola

Botswana diverts resources to refugees
Botswana, Zimbabwe open new border gate
South African criminals infiltrate Botswana
The dilemma of a refugee
Life in Dukwi refugee camp
Registration of Angolan refugees to start immediately

Wemba may go to jail for immigration scam
UNHCR begins repatriating DRC refugees
Refugees allowed back into DRC
Refugees stranded in no man's land
Struggle to return DRC refugees
DRC refugees stopped at border
Plea for aid for returning refugees

Missing link in Lesotho Aids fight

Malawi gets bulk of informal cross-border food trade
Illegal Chinese immigrants

Police accused of harassing Zimbabwe transporters
Chissano praises decision on emigrant vote
Limpopo line rehabilitation complete
Mozambicans abroad to vote in December poll

Namibia needs IT skills
Cross-border cattle sparked anthrax fears
Frontier banditry exacting heavy toll
Workers want government intervention
Immigration officer criticized by High Court

South Africa:
British is heaven for SA teachers
NIA to dig deep at Home Affairs
SA in loop of human trafficking
Marital status campaign records success
South Africans working in Iraq contravenes the law
SA should tighten anti-xenophobia systems
Progress on SA-Lesotho border issues
NIA to probe Home Affairs staff
NGO to besiege detention centre in protest
Sex workers and trafficking laws
State employs 450 Cubans
Commission to host xenophobia hearings
90,000 have applied for refugee status in SA
More women found illegally married
HIV prevalence among health workers high
Illegal immigrants present easy pickings
Spooks shake up Home affairs
Home affairs officials on bail
Residents slam cop brutality in swoop
Exodus of medical staff continues
Home Affairs has turned corner: says report
Crime gangs turn to women trafficking
Home Affairs gets new bosses
NIA boss now chief of immigration
An alien in Johannesburg
Immigrant skills quotas to be prescribed
Home Affairs officials arrested in Johannesburg
Dark skin nearly lands local in Zimbabwe
Fact paves way against SA employers
Mining giants told to pay back Zimbabweans miners
Australian asylum report slams south Africa

Re-opening of access to Mozambique
Project aimed at sex workers
Asians a threat to Swaziland, says Minister

WFP cuts food rations for refugees in Tanzania
Tanzania invites South African investors
Burundi refugees hesitate to return home
EA countries to phase out passports

Congolese refugees return home from Zambia
Child trafficking bid fails
Over 1,500 Congolese refugees return home from Zambia
Expatriate workers should receive benefits
Refugees arrive from DRC
Congolese refugees cross into Zambia
Zambia taps into expertise of Zimbabwean farmers
UNHCR increases flights to Angola
UNHCR seeks to solve refugees food crisis
Children trafficked out of Zambia
Zambian food shortages hit 100,000 refugees

Homelink faces confidence crisis
Zimbabwe-based Mozambicans register to vote
RBZ plans another homelink trip
Brain drain hits property sector
Homelink connections found worldwide
Zimbabwe, Botswana to open new border post
Shortage of lecturers at UZ unabated
Pay homelink proceeds in forex, RBZ told
Tsvangirai gets passport back
Disenfranchised Zimbabweans attack Minister
Homelink helps families remit funds
Zimbabweans abroad not allowed to vote
State to act against cheating foreign doctors
Cross border business takes heavy knock
Bonding won't heal health system
Zimbabwe, SA sign deal to halt exploitation of immigrant farm workers
Traders association launches new duty card

SADC tourism industry expected to recover (Mmegi/The Reporter, 13/10):- It was a case of ideals clashing with reality last week, at least as far as doing business in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was concerned. While the free movement of goods and people within the region may be something the group aspires to, a survey released in Johannesburg has shown that the SADC has some way to go before achieving this goal. According to the study, conducted by the Association of SA DC Chambers of Commerce and Industry, entrepreneurs face unnecessary obstacles when conducting their day-to-day business in the 13-state bloc. "Fluctuations of exchange rates, crime, lack of market information, customs procedures and economic and regulatory policy uncertainty are the top five obstacles to intensified trade with other SADC countries," Cader Sayed-Hossein, association vice-president, says. He says these problems will not be easy to tackle, but that the experience of countries elsewhere have shown that "small steps in right direction yielded rewards". The survey covers nine of the 13 SADC member states, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, SA, Swaziland and Zambia. The fact that key SADC countries such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are not in the survey is a source of some concern. "I think nine out of 13 is a reasonable number," Sayed Hossein says. "Zimbabwe couldn't participate because of logistical reasons. It has nothing to do with the situation there."  Martin Kanshichi, the association's president, agrees. "This is just a pilot project. We hope to improve on it next year by covering all the 13 SADC countries." The comments of the two men come as Zimbabwe is grappling with a political and economic crisis that has seen its suspension and withdrawal from the Commonwealth. Its ruling elite has earned sanctions from the US and European Union including a travel ban in reaction to two elections marred by allegations of human rights abuse and vote-rigging. Zimbabwe's key agricultural sector has also been dealt a blow by farm occupation that started in 2000 lead by veterans of the 1970s war of liberation, and younger, often jobless, people. Prior to this, most of Zimbabwe's prime agricultural land had been controlled by a minority of white commercial farmers. Another country missing from the survey, Angola, has ample oil and diamond resources, but poses challenges to would-be investors. Human Rights Watch, a nongovernmental organisation based in New York, has pointed to massive corruption in Angola's oil industry. A report released in January this year by the group says more than $4bn in oil revenue appears to have vanished from government coffers between 1997 and 2002. Similarly, Angola's diamonds have yet to benefit ordinary citizens. A report issued in June this year under the auspices of the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies says: "Despite the notional return of peace to the Lundas (a diamond-producing region of Angola), the management of the diamond industry retains many of the characteristics it acquired during the time when the diamond fields were both a prize and weapon in the civil war." "We hope Angola will be covered in the survey next year," said Thomas Bedenbecker of German Technical Co-operation, a German development agency. In August, Deputy President Jacob Zuma led a high level delegation to Angola to investigate investment prospects in the country. Angola's 30-year-long civil war ended in 2002. Sayed-Hossein also urged southern African governments to address the complaints raised by businesses about corruption but emphasised that the region's difficulties in this regard were not unique. "We are not the only region of the world which suffers from these types of problems," he says. "We are confident that there are many opportunities for companies wanting to invest and expand their production facilities and markets into southern Africa." The survey focuses on the manufacturing sector, which is considered central to reducing unemployment in the SADC states. A total of 333 companies took part in the study, most of them private firms. Just more than 42% of respondents were from SA. Namibia contributed the second-largest number of respondents (16,2%), while 13,5% of participating companies came from Mauritius. According to the South African Institute of International Affairs, SA's dominance of regional markets may pose a further challenge to creating a common market within the SADC.  Although SA has opened up its market to regional suppliers, its share of the SA DC trade rose to about 80% between 1995 and 2000, the institute says. This may result in reluctance on the part of certain governments to lower trade barriers, as some might fear their industries will not survive competition from South African companies.

SADC businesses battle red tape (Business Day, 04/100):- The Southern African Development Community (SADC) 2002-2003 annual report that was released this week projects a boom in the tourism industry by 2020. The report forecasts Africa's share of the world market to stand at 5 percent by the year 2020 with an average annual growth rate of 5.5 percent. By standards of the industry, 5.5 percent of annual growth rate is considerably fair as it is above the projected world annual average of 4.1 percent. The SADC report is compatible with predictions made by the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Tourism 2020 Vision, which had also predicted an overall growth of the industry. The WTO Tourism 2020 Vision predicted that international arrivals in the market would register over 1 billion tourists by the year 2010 and 1.56 billion by 2020. "As regards Africa, international arrivals will more than double to reach 47 million in 2010 and 77 million in 2020," says the report. The most interesting target for Botswana would be the 2010 target as there has been rife speculation that the country would benefit from the 2010 world cup soccer tournament billed for neighbouring South Africa. There is widespread optimism that the country will take advantage of the world soccer showpiece. The onus is now on the recently launched Botswana Tourism Board which is reported to be three years behind schedule. The board was launched by the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Pelonomi Venson, who also said that there are chances of the industry making a round-about turn. Statistics show that African countries that are leading in attracting tourists are Namibia, Tanzania, Nigeria and South Africa. In terms of regional growth, Europe is still maintaining a firm grip on the top spot, while Asia and the Pacific have claimed the second spot from the Americans. Africa and the troubled Middle East follow the pack respectively. Africa as a whole has a tall order to climb, given the unstable geo-politics and continuous upgrading of airline capacities in Europe and Asia. "Given the potential of growth of the tourism sector in the SADC region and the exigency of tourists who are demanding more quality services, training of employees at all levels in the travel and tourism industry is now crucial," notes the report. The report further says that there is a need to facilitate intra-regional travel and the movement of international tourists in the region "in order to increase the market share and revenue of the region in world tourism".

Vietnam to send in more physicians (Angola Press Agency, 30/10):- Physicians and teachers from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam will soon be sent to central Huambo province to reinforce those two sectors in the region, the trade attache of that country's embassy to Angola, Dang Giang, said. Dang Giang who would not mention the number of personnel being sent to Huambo, arrived on Friday in the region for a 24-hour visit. The visit is part of the bilateral co-operation existing between Angola and Vietnam. Besides the sectors of education and health, Vietnam wants to negotiate with the local Government the signing of an accord on forest exploration, for the exploitation of timber for manufacture of various furniture, The diplomatic delegation includes members of the association of companies "Haprosimex" and of the embassy secretariat. There are eight physicians of various specialities currently working in Huambo hospitals. This is the first time Vietnam embassy officials visit Huambo province and the delegation is expected back in Luanda today.

Malians living illegally in Angola (Angola Press Agency, 23/10):- Mali's ambassador to Angola, Farouk Camara, has acknowledged today, here, as worrying the situation of some of his countrymen who are staying in Angola illegally, in return he vowed not to make any diligence or to plead within the Angolan authorities. The West African nation's diplomat, who was speaking at the end of an audience with the Angolan Prime-Minister, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, said that he has told his interlocutor this position, particularly to those involved in the illegal exploitation of diamonds in Angola. "I told the Premier that I would not do any request in favour of my countrymen illegally involved in diamond seeking, because they are in an irregular situation, and no country can accept a savage exploration of its riches", he stressed, denoting a compliance of the Angolan authorities in this matter. However, Mr. Camara expressed concerned over the situation of other Malian citizens who are living in Angola for more than five or 10 years, without possessing any resident document, and honestly carrying out their activities, above all in the trading field, where they also employ local citizens. In this regard, the West African country's diplomat said that he has discussed with the Prime-Minister the ways for the solution of this matter, guaranteeing that the issue will be tackled in a technical commission, to be set up by the two African Governments. However, in the global plan, Mr. Camara regarded as good the bilateral relations between his country and Angola.

Angola and Namibia discuss agreement on border (Angola Press Agency, 20/10):- Angola and Namibia have been working towards signing soon an agreement on the road ways connecting the two countries, informed on Tuesday, in Luanda, the Angolan national director for Road Transports, Freitas Neto. Speaking to Angop, alongside the meeting of the national road ways sub-committees of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Freitas Neto also revealed that similar talks have been taking place with the DR Congo, as part of the dynamics that is wanted in the SADC structures. The full implementation of these agreements, in a short space of time, he said, will very much depend on the political and military stability of the states involved in the projects. The signing of agreements on border road ways will enable a scrupulous observance of the regulations on crossing the borders with the referred countries. At this meeting of the national road ways sub-committees of SADC it is being analysed the functional relationship among the various sectors involved in the technical sub-committee, as well as the level of the communication systems among the sections of road ways and the communication system with the various management activities. This first meeting involves four sectors (road traffic, road transports, infrastructures, services) and aims to conjugate efforts from various sectors so that the tasks can be carried out with efficiency. At the meeting, which will finish this afternoon, the national technicians will try to find any constraints and the best procedures so that the Angolan participation in SADC may be an example for other member states. As from this meeting, the sub-sectors will gather every month, and will have to report to the sub-committees of ministers that will meet every three months. Since the signing of the regional protocol on road transports, in 1996, very few actions have taken place, so, this meeting should bring a change to the whole scenario, since from now on the meetings will be on a regular basis.

Commission analyses repatriation of refugees (Angola Press Agency, 18/10):- The tripartite commission for volunteer and organised repatriation of Angolan refugees living in the Republic of Congo holds from today to Tuesday, in Luanda, its fourth meeting to discuss the return to the country of about 16.000 Angolan citizens located in the neighbouring country. The commission is integrated by representatives of the Angolan and Congolese Governments and the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR). Angop has learnt from a source with the Social Welfare Ministry (Minars) that in this technical meeting there will be analysed matters related to the up-dating of the repatriation of the Angolan nationals, the report on the last registration of the refugees and their final destination in Angola, among other issues. The third ordinary meeting of the tripartite commission was held last March 24th, in Brazzaville, the capital city of Angola's smallest neighbour.

Commission happy with Zambia border situation (Angola Press Agency, 09/10):- Angola/Zambia Joint Commission for Defence and Security on Friday in Livingston (Zambia), has noted with satisfaction that the situation along the common border has improved and reiterated the need for continued strong cooperation on crime matters in the region. This is contained in a communique distributed at the end of its 21st session, held in Zambia on 05-08 October, and also reads that with regard to crime, the Commission will take drugs trafficking, illegal possession of firearms and border jumping as a priority to their fight. The two sides agreed on the urgent need to restore border marks, with a view to facilitating the control of immigration and other unwanted situations. According to the communique, the Commission also expressed satisfaction at the continued repatriation of Angolan refugees and encouraged the two governments and the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to continue with the operation to its end. The parties also highlighted the effort the Join Commission has been expending in relaunching the existing bilateral cooperation in various fields, with stress to the training and exchange of information. On the other hand, the parties reviewed the regional situation and the challenges facing the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi and others interested in restoring peace in those two countries, and recommended the international community to provide the assistance required to secure a lasting peace and stability in the region. The Joint Commission also expressed concern at the spread of Aids in the zone, underscoring the effort made by the two countries Governments in the fight against the scourge, appealing to the international community to continue raising resources to bring down the number of people infected. The Commission that reviewed the situation prevailing in each of the two nations and other matters concerning the region and the world, considered as worrying the threat terrorism poses to the world and the rise in cases of mercenaries in Africa. However, the parties agreed on the need to stand on the alert and exchange information on the mercenary phenomenon with a view to ensuring the defence and integrity of both territories. The Zambian delegation, headed by lt. Colonel and MP, Patrick Kafumukache, comprised the deputy ministers of Interior, Justine Chilufya, and Defence Wamundila Muliokela, as well as Government high ranking officials. They congratulated the Angolan people and Government on the success in achieving peace and democracy and encouraged them to continue with national reconstruction effort. On the occasion, the Angolan delegation, headed by National Defence minister, Kundi Paihama, and including the Interior minister, Serra Van-Dúnem, Adm. Gaspar Santos Rufino, plus other Government high ranking officials, invited the host delegation to attend the 22nd Commission scheduled for 2005 in Angola. Date and venue are still to be set.

HIV/Aids spreading in Angola (Sunday Times, 07/10):- Angola has recorded a sharp rise in the number of people infected with the deadly virus, says the nation's health minister. "The situation is worrying, there has been an exponential rise in the epidemic," Health Minister Albertina Hamukwaya told Portuguese state television RTP Africa. The minister said the rise in infections of HIV - the virus that causes Aids - was especially strong in the coastal provinces of Luanda and Benguela as well as in the province of Cunene which borders Namibia. Official statistics put the prevalence rates of HIV / Aids in the former Portuguese colony at between five and seven percent, well below other countries in the region that have infection rates of between 20 and 30%. Health experts say the infection rate is lower in Angola than in its neighbours because a 27-year civil war, which ended in April 2002, kept foreigners away and limited travel within the country of some 13 million. But with the end of the civil war health officials and aid workers have warned that the country faces the threat of a massive spread of the disease, especially as millions of Angolans who are displaced have been returning home. The minister said a nationwide study into the prevalence of HIV / Aids infections in the oil-and-diamond-rich country was underway and the results would be available at the end of December. She added the government budget for 2005 would include increased funding for education and awareness programmes to fight the spread of the disease as well as for treatment programmes for those already infected.

UNHCR intensifies voluntary return operation to Angola (UNHCR, 06/10):- With only weeks to go before the start of the rainy season, the UN refugee agency has intensified the voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees from Zambia by increasing the number of airlifts and land convoys. Under an arrangement between UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), flights have increased from one to six days per week between western Zambia's capital Mongu, Lumbala N'Guimbo in Angola's east and Huambo in the central highlands. An average of three such flights leave Mongu airport in a day. The airports' processing capacities have also been boosted, with more room for returning Angolans. Chinjenge Muyumbwa has been waiting 25 years for her flight. In 1979, she left Angola and arrived in Zambia's Mayukwayukwa camp with her husband. Now 57, she says going home is a dream come true. "I feel very good. I will always remember this place," said Muyumbwa before leaving the camp to catch her plane at Mongu airport. "I lost my husband here in the settlement in 1992 and now I am going back to Angola with four children." This year, UNHCR and IOM plan to fly 20,027 Angolan refugees home from Zambia. Another 12,218 are expected to repatriate on land convoys. Overland returns are continuing from Zambia's Meheba camp to Luau and Luena in eastern Angola. UNHCR is also assisting the repatriation of 2,000 refugees in Meheba who recently said they wanted to return to Cazombo, also in eastern Angola. The convoys will keep going until the start of the rainy season in November, which may render roads impassable. From the start of repatriation season in mid-June to early October, UNHCR and IOM have helped some 16,000 Angolan refugees to return from Zambia – almost half of this year's target of 33,000.

Botswana diverts resources to refugees (Daily News, 26/10):- The influx of refugees from neighbouring countries and East Africa has diverted some of Botswana's development resources to managing the influx and caring for the asylum seekers, Serwalo Tumelo, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, said Monday. Speaking at the commemoration of the UN Day in Gaborone, Tumelo said however that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has always assisted Botswana to look after the refugees. Tumelo said that the UN day is not only celebrated to mark the founding of the UN, which signifies the collective international version, but also it is also to take stock of its achievements in all spheres of human endeavour. "In addition, this is also a time to reflect on the challenges that confront humanity and the best way to advance development of mankind," Tumelo added. Tumelo said Botswana has been fortunate to benefit from the collaboration of UN member states in addressing human life problems such as polio, promotion of human rights and gender equity. Tumelo commended the UN for its contribution to the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), adding that he hope it will assist in accelerating Africa's integration into the world economy and the reducing of world poverty in line wit the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). "It is also our hope that the UN will continue to assist the member states to mobilise resources for the implementation of the MDGs, which are so critical to our development," Tumelo said. He said the UN, through the UNFPA, aims to help Botswana improve the quality of life and standard of living for Batswana. He also said that the UN has assisted the government in coming up with the 1993-2003 National Action for Children, with the aim to improve general living standards and the wellbeing for children in Botswana. UNICEF is currently assisting government in drawing up a successor programme and we are appreciative of this assistance. "We are grateful to the partnership we have had with the UN system in the fight to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS, in particular, the establishment of the HIV/AIDS voluntary counselling and testing centres, which should go along in addressing the problems of the HIV/AIDS scourge," he said.

Botswana, Zimbabwe open new border gate (Daily News, 21/10):- Botswana and Zimbabwean have agreed to open a new border post at Mmamabaka in the Bobirwa Sub- district. Addressing a kgotla meeting in Mabolwe recently Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Thebe Mogami said Mmamabaka border post would replace the one at Mashambe, which was planned in NDP9. He noted that the change by his ministry followed proposals from people in Bobirwa that the Mashambe border should be relocated at Mmamabaka. The minister said he had approached his colleague at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to change the name from Mashambe to Mmamabaka in the plan. He added that the Customs Department under the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning would carry out the project at Mmamabaka. This follows proposals by Bobirwa residents who said Mmamabaka was ideal because it is only six kilometres from Mabolwe village. Mashambe is 51km from the village. Kgosi Solomon Pharithi of Molalatau asked the minister to consider putting up a temporary structure to enable people to cross while waiting for the construction of a permanent one. He stated that the temporary structure would help the police catch criminals who steal livestock, saying at the moment police have to travel all the way to Ramokgwebana.

South African criminals infiltrate Botswana (SABC News, 07/10):- Botswana Police and their Judiciary are having their hands full in dealing with South African nationals who are crossing illegally into their country to perform criminal activities. More and more South Africans are being arrested in Botswana and are running the risk of being shot by security forces, or getting a death penalty. In the latest incident, seven South Africans and five Botswana citizens have been arrested by Botswana police during an aborted heist in the capital Gaborone. Botswana police say the syndicate consists of seven South Africans and five Botswana nationals. Police say they are working around the clock, in their preparations for the court hearings against the accused. The criminals were caught in possession of heavy ammunition. Solly Mantsoe, a Botswana police spokesperson, said: “We are investigating a case in which 12 suspects were arrested for an offence of conspiring to commit a robbery. They were intending to under take a major robbery in Gaborone.” Recently, incidents of cross border robbery have been on the increase and the South African police attribute this to the thriving economy of Botswana.
According to Piet Du Plessis, a South African police spokesperson, criminals perceive Botswana as quiet, which has lead to Botswana beefing-up its boarder control by deploying police and soldiers. Recently a group of seven heavily armed and most wanted South Africans, were arrested whilst they were attempting to enter the border illegally. Some of them were amongst the 20 most wanted criminals in South Africa.

The dilemma of a refugee (Mmegi/The Reporter, 06/10):- As preparations are made for the voluntary return of Angolan refugees, 22-year-old Andrew Andriano has no reason to be happy. He was born and bred in Botswana and feels no attachment to his country. He speaks Setswana and English fluently and considers Sembukushu his mother tongue. His father, an active member of the defunct FNLA, fled to Botswana in 1975. "The first thing is that I have never been to Angola and I don't even know the official language spoken there. I don't even know how that country is like and I don't even know anyone there," Andriano said last Monday. He added that it is difficult for him to choose whether to leave or stay. "The other thing is that I don't even have an Omang card-the national registration identity card. Not even a passport to show my true identity," he said. He lamented that he has not succeeded in getting identification papers after several attempts. "I tried many times to obtain the national identity card, albeit without success. Without this card, I can't get a job in Botswana and my attempts for further education have fallen apart". Andriano is in the process of learning Portuguese so that if the worst comes to the worst he can try his luck in Angola. "I will have to go there (Angola), and see how the place looks like. I am not in any hurry to register to go to Angola as I don't have much information about the country, except that the country has been torn by civil war," he said. The young Andriano is frustrated by the fact that he does not have identity papers. "I was planning to venture into computer engineering but it is difficult for me to secure scholarship as I do not have the relevant documents," he said and added that the problem is his questionable status. "Opportunities are just passing by and very fast," he declared. Despite his status, he tells people that he is Angolan as that is his father's country of origin. "Knowing Setswana does not guarantee one to become a Motswana. Documents should complete knowledge of the language," he emphasised. He added that it is difficult for his father to leave Botswana because he has been promised citizenship. "That is the reason why my father is waiting anxiously for the documents despite the delay that is punishing his children." His elder brother, who graduates this Saturday from the University of Botswana, has lost hope of getting a job because he is not a citizen. His other brother has a diploma in mining engineering. "Our refugee status is not helping us in anyway now," he said and prayed that the Office of the President (OP) could quickly grant his father Botswana citizenship. "That would open gates for us, because as things are now, we are likely to lose hope in life because we are not getting anywhere," he said. Andriano is currently a volunteer at the education resource centre in Dukwi the camp. He does not even know why his parents who have lived in refugee camps since 1975, are currently staying outside. Officially, his parents are part of the 35 families who have been granted Botswana citizenship in principle after living in the country for many years now. "As we speak, their papers are still at OP and are awaiting final processing," explains, the Dukwi refugee settlement commandant, Ephraim Sekeinyana. He said about 35 families with about 145 members currently live outside the camp following arrangements with the OP.

Life in Dukwi refugee camp (Mmegi/The Reporter, 05/10):- It is Monday morning at the Dukwi refugee camp and people of different nationalities are busy at work. The Monday heat is scorching at the camp dubbed the 'United Nations'- because of various nationalities residing in it. The camp is home to about 3,000 refugees from Angola, Burundi, DRC, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. At the bus stop near the main gate, refugees mainly from Somalia are laden with various wares for sale. They wait by the road hoping to catch the next public transport to sell their wares in Francistown or Nata and beyond. At the entrance, three refugees claiming to be from the DRC are busy at work in the 'make-shift' hair salon on the roadside. It has been widely advertised on the walls of this dilapidated structure that now houses the business of the ambitious young refugees. Across the wide straight dusty road, that seemingly bisects the camp, a family is busy at work in the vegetable garden. Mornings are usually appropriate for watering, tilling the soil and harvesting. "We harvest to consume at home and sell the excess in the village of Dukwi", explained a woman who claims to be from the Caprivi Strip in Namibia. Her husband, who is a mechanic, is already out in the village doing piece jobs. "This is how we live here," she said wiping sweat from her face. Her children attend the secondary school within the camp. "My three children usually assist me in the garden over the weekends," she explained. Her family remains undecided about returning home because they are not yet certain about the peace in Namibia, she said without providing further information. A delivery truck from Metro Wholesalers in Francistown speeds past followed by a cloud of dust. Its first stop is a shop run by a Somali family where it off loads sugar, tea and milk before it heads for other shops. Joao Panzo (47) is an Angolan refugee who fled his country in 1976 during the civil war and is willing to return home come November. "I am an established horticulturist here," he said. His garden at zone nine - an area designated for Angolan refugees within the camp - is evergreen with vegetables ranging from cabbage, spinach, rape and lettuce. Banana, mango, guava and paw-paw fruit trees, form part of his garden. Panzo who comes from the Bemgo province which includes the Angolan capital, Luanda is ready to go home to venture into farming. He has been living in the camp for the past 24 years and farming has become part of his daily life. "I have two wives and 10 children. I have to scratch the soil to get food," he said pointing at his flourishing vegetable garden. Panzo was part of the recent go-and-see mission to Angola. He is now convinced that he should return home. Luis Eduardo, 29 leaves zone nine everyday for the Red Cross building within the camp where he is currently employed as a translator. He translates Portuguese into English for the benefit of the officials and the Angolan community living in the camp or visiting the Red Cross. He may be earning meagre wages, but for him, life goes on and he feels he must return home. Although he was forced to go into the 'bush' during the civil war, he said this was a blessing in disguise because he learnt English while working under the late UNITA rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi. The open space in front of the settlement commandant's office has become the meeting place for several refugees. Bicycles are the main form of transport for the refugees. Some own motor vehicles. The open space has also become a meeting place for potential employers. A businessman from Tutume arrives with three young Caprivi refugees, apparently to renew their documents, so that they can continue working for him. Some lucky ones are employed in factories, cattle-posts and as housemaids. The Tutume man has employed the trio at his cattle-post. Refugees are seemingly at home in the Dukwi refugee camp. They do everything possible to bring bread to the table. This is besides the assistance given to them in the camp. There are many activities going on in the camp like the thriving poultry farming. There are even information boards around leading visitors to the next poultry farm. The whole refugee community at the Dukwi refugee camp seem to be living purely in a world of competition. They have built beautiful traditional huts using local material and semi modern houses. Others still live in tents. Children born of parents who speak various foreign languages are united by the local language-Setswana. Refugees survive from doing business, gardening and piece jobs. They also receive monthly rations like mealie-meal, sorghum, paraffin, soup, cooking oil, sugar, beans and soap amongst others. At night, the camp becomes more active with people moving in and out. Truck drivers bound for Namibia, Zambia and other areas have turned a place near the camp into a picking spot. There are reports of commercial sex operations going on around the refugee camp.

Registration of Angolan refugees to start immediately (Mmegi/The Reporter, 04/10):- The UNHCR representative in Botswana, Benny Otim, told Angolan refugees yesterday that his office would immediately start registering those willing to return home. Otim was briefing refugees at the Dukwi refugee settlement outside the city of Francistown. "The idea is to start moving people before the rainy season in November. It is the registration that would inform us about the preferred areas of return and whether we would have to transport returnees by air or road transport," he said. His registration call comes at a time when only about 50 of an estimated 882 Angolan refugees living at the Dukwi refugee camp has registered for voluntary repatriation. He told the meeting that after the civil war, the situation in Angola has improved. He assured the exiles that "there is no more war in Angola". "Some of you at some stage were members of the UNITA rebel movement and could fear that you will be punished on returning home. The government gazette has recently published that all those who fought it have been pardoned," he said. Otim added that one of the issues that his office looked at during the recent go-and-see mission in Angola was security. "The general feeling is that there is stability in Angola," he said. The UNHCR boss stressed that the Angolan government has made a promise that those returning home will be settled at convenient places. He indicated that those who were still not willing to go home would not be coerced into registering as there is a process through which their cases will be handled. "The UNCHR and the government of Botswana will persuade those who did not register to rethink before they could opt for either resettlement or local integration," he said. He stressed that those who have opted for voluntary repatriation will be notified in advance about their departure dates. The Dukwi refugee camp settlement commandant, Ephraim Sekeinyana briefed the exiles about what the go-and-see mission was all about. Avelino Jose, one of the refugees who was part of the recent fact-finding-mission to Angola, reported back to his compatriots that the situation back home was peaceful and very conducive for their return. "We moved freely in Angola and there is nothing to fear at all," he stressed. He lamented that the majority of Angolans did not attend yesterday's meeting. "This is a good opportunity for you to ask the authorities to straighten up some of the facts about the impending repatriation". He told the meeting that the Angolan government had promised to provide for the returnees. An unidentified woman told the meeting that she was not willing to leave for Angola because most of her relatives were now living in Botswana. It was agreed that her case was different and it would be given the attention that it deserves. Jamba Jamba, who fled in 1995, told Mmegi at the end of yesterday's meeting that he would never set foot in Angola. As a UNITA man, he condemned the MPLA-led Angolan government for targeting some of the returnees. Even after it was explained to him that the Angolan government recently published a gazette notice pardoning those who fought it, he insisted that he will be killed when he returns home. "I know very well that I am one of those who will be killed once I return home. I am only praying that I be resettled elsewhere and I am not willing to return to Angola," he said. About 100 Angolan refugees attended yesterday's meeting.

Wemba may go to jail for immigration scam (Sunday Times, 26/10):- French prosecutors have called for a five-year jail term for Papa Wemba, one of Africa's most popular musicians, for running an alleged immigration scam in which some 150 Congolese entered Europe on visas describing them as his band members. The trial against the 55-year-old musician - a Belgian citizen born Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo - started Monday and was expected to continue on Thursday in a courtroom in the Paris suburb of Bobigny. Before a room packed with many of his fans, Wemba admitted to having taken money from seven immigrants to organise musicians' visas, but he said he had nothing to do with the other cases. "There are several people who took advantage of my name to organise all that," he said, though he added that he was "tempted" by the lucrative opportunity. The court heard that the DRC nationals each paid 3,500 to 5,000 dollars (2,700 to 4,000 euros) to obtain the fraudulent musician visas. French police grew suspicious in December 2001 when 90 DRC citizens got off a plane in Paris and claimed to be band members for a concert headed by Papa Wemba. None of them had instruments nor stage clothing, however. Wemba and his entourage were put under surveillance, including telephone taps, and in February 2003 the singer was arrested in his home near Paris and detained for nearly four months on suspicion of heading an illegal immigration ring that obtained visas and issued fraudulent contracts. The judge in his trial, Francoise Bouthier-Vergez, noted Monday that "none of these bogus musicians were able to tell police what instrument they played." The state prosecutor, Nadine Perrin, said "Papa Wemba's responsibility is serious" and called for the five-year prison term. The maximum sentence under the charges is 10 years' imprisonment and a fine of 750,000 euros ($1 million). Perrin recommended sentences ranging from 18 months to four years for eight other people in court alongside Wemba, including his wife. The African singer, dubbed the King of Rhumba Rock, faces similar illegal immigration charges in Belgium. Wemba's music - a style inspired by Cuban rhythms and played with electronic instruments - gained him a worldwide following from the 1970s and has taken off across sub-Saharan Africa and among African immigrants everywhere. He has performed in concerts from New York to Tokyo, and recorded together with British singer Peter Gabriel. Wemba moved to France in 1986, but kept up ties with the DRC by donating money to help Kinshasa street children and encourage new musical talent there.

UNHCR begins repatriating DRC refugees (Sapa-AFP, 21/10):- The UN refugee agency has begun repatriating to the Democratic Republic of Congo some of the 10,000 refugees who fled to the Central African Republic when war broke out in the DRC in 1998. A first batch of 101 DRC nationals, about half of them children, were ferried Wednesday across the Ubangi River from the CAR to the Congolese border town of Libenge, in northwestern Equateur Province, one of the hardest hit during the five-year war, which claimed some 2.5 million lives, either in combat or through disease and hunger. They travelled home from the CAR town of Molangue, which lies 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of that country's capital, Bangui, on small river boats provided by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). A representative of the CAR government travelled with the refugees from Molangue. The UNHCR returnees were greeted by DRC Interior Minister Theophile Mbemba Fundu and a delegation from the UN refugee agency's mission in the DRC capital Kinshasa. Before the UNHCR-assisted refugees returned to the town, another 94 DR Congolese who had sought refuge in CAR during the devastating conflict came back to Libenge under their own steam, local officials said. "The war is over in DRC. ... We are happy to welcome you," Mbemba said as he greeted the returning refugees. He thanked the authorities in Bangui for "the hospitality and security" provided for six years to the DRC refugees, and the UNHCR for helping those who wanted to return home. Mbemba also assured the more than 10,000 DR Congolese who fled to CAR during the war that they, too, could come back home in safety. "The DRC is ready to welcome back its children," he said, stressing that the repatriation exercise had been made possible by a three-way agreement between CAR, the DRC and the United Nations. The UNHCR hopes to repatriate most or all of them before the DRC holds landmark elections in June next year, as provided for under a peace pact enacted in April 2003 to end the war. The elections would be the first in the vast country since those held on independence from Belgium more than 40 years ago. "Three thousand of them have already said they want to come back and have signed up" for the UNHCR voluntary repatriation scheme, said the refugee agency's representative in the DRC, David Kapya of Tanzania. "There will be at least three returns a week," he added. Nearly 400,000 Congolese fled to neighbouring countries during the war.

Refugees allowed back into DRC (UN News Service, 12/10):- After refusing to allow a group of refugees to return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the country's authorities have reversed their position, opening the border and allowing the first group of 200 back in, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) announced today. Some 1,000 Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) who had massed along the Burundian border are affected by the decision of the Kinshasa Government, which initially said it lacked adequate transit facilities to accommodate them. After the authorities agreed to let the refugees return home on Monday, a first group of 200 were taken into the DRC under the protection of the UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC) to a transit centre near the Congolese city of Uvira. The rest are due to return to the DRC today after verification by MONUC and Congolese authorities, UNHCR said. "UNHCR has repeatedly advised the refugees that the situation in their home region of South Kivu remains volatile, and that return at this stage could be difficult," stressed UNHCR spokeswoman Marie-Hélène Verney at a news briefing in Geneva Tuesday. "However, the refugees are determined to return home, and we are putting in place an emergency assistance programme in their home area that will include the opening of a UNHCR office in Uvira." The returning refugees are part of some 20,000 who arrived in Burundi after they fled fighting the South Kivu region in June. In the past two weeks, UNHCR has transferred around 1,300 refugees to Gihinga camp, further inside Burundi in Mwaro province, following a brutal attack on Gatumba transit centre in August which left some 160 Banyamulenge dead. Another 1,240 Congolese refugees have left Burundi for Rwanda in recent weeks.

Refugees stranded in no man's land (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 11/10):- At least 1,000 Congolese Tutsi refugees, mostly women and children, have been stuck on the Burundi border with Democratic Republic the Congo (DRC) since the middle of last week, waiting on authorities in the Congo to let them back in. "Not a single organisation, either in Congo or Burundi had assisted us until [Monday]," Boniface Rukumbuzi, one of the refugees, told reporters. The only help had come from friends or other Congolese Tutsis living in Burundi, he said. The UN Operation in Burundi, known as ONUB, said it started distributing water to the refugees on Monday. Some 400 refugees arrived at Gatumba, on the Burundian side of the border on Wednesday from Burundi's capital, Bujumbura. Others joined them on Thursday from a transit centre run by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at Karurama in the northwestern province of Cibitoke. Burundian officials allowed the refugees to cross the border, but once on the DRC side soldiers there refused them entry. The refugees said the soldiers told them that they were taking their orders from higher government authorities. "A [DRC] government delegation told us we could [enter the DRC] today [Monday], but we have been hearing that since last week," Rukumbuzi said. Tension has risen in the DRC border town of Uvira, where residents last week organised violent protests again some 360 Congolese Tutsi refugees being allowed in from Burundi. Congolese Tutsi inhabitants of Uvira have said their neighbours have been accusing them of siding with dissidents in the DRC army. Fighting in June between army dissidents and loyalists caused an estimated 30,000 DRC citizens to seek refuge in Burundi. Many refugees remained at UNHCR transit camps near the border but since 13 August, when 160 of them were killed in an attack at the Gatumba transit camp, the Burundian government and UNHCR have been trying to move all the refugees to camps farther in Burundi. UNHCR said an estimated 3,000 of the refugees who fled in June wanted to remain in Burundi. The rest said they preferred to return to the DRC. However, a UNHCR official, who requested anonymity, said conditions were not conducive for their repatriation. "A legal framework between DRC, Burundi and UNHCR needs to be drawn up in order for the refugees to be repatriated," the official said. Meanwhile, Burundian Tutsis have fled their homes in the northern province of Kirundo into neighbouring Rwanda. In early October, UNHCR had registered at least 1,200. They are reportedly fleeing because of fear of violence if elections are not held as planned by 1 November. The governor of Kirundo, Philippe Njoni, visited the refugees on Thursday at Mamba in Rwanda's Gikonko Commune to try and convince them that it was safe for them to return. The Burundi news agency, ABP, reported that the site hosted 710 refugees. Also, 500 other refugees were at a site in Kigeme, some 150 km from the Burundi border inside Rwanda. Only around 50 refugees have agreed to return to Burundi, the agency reported.

Struggle to return DRC refugees (Mail & Guardian, 11/10):- More than 1 000 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) refugees were still stuck on Saturday night in a strip of no man's land between their country and neighbouring Burundi, despite promises by a DRC official that they would be allowed home. Civilians on the DRC side of the border erected barricades on Saturday to try to prevent the return of the 1 176 refugees, some of whom have been camped out in the zone between the two countries since Wednesday. Clashes in the eastern DRC in June prompted an exodus of ethnic Tutsis from the region to Burundi. "We are going to talk with Burundian authorities and then we will meet them [the refugees] straight away to get them home today," DRC Deputy Interior Minister Paul Musafiri Naluango said in Bujumbura earlier on Saturday after arriving in the Burundian capital on Friday night. "We hope that the minister will come up with a solution to our problem, which is very simple, because we are Congolese people who want to go home," one of the refugees, Pasteur Munyaruhanga, said on Friday. "The government [in Kinshasa] sent us to find a solution," explained the deputy minister. "Of course we have to let the Congolese who are in the no man's land return to their country, but we have to protect the DRC from infiltration by people who might want to cause trouble," he added. Most of the refugees are Banyamulenge, Congolese Tutsis of Rwandan ancestry. In June, Banyamulenge former rebels integrated into the DRC's new army mutinied against regular troops, prompting clashes that led to an exodus of Banyamulenge civilians from the eastern DRC. "The Congolese authorities think that some of the [mutinous] soldiers are among the refugees, which explains their mistrust," said a Burundian army officer, who asked not to be named. The Banyamulenge also face hostility from civilians in the eastern DRC. Residents of Bukavu, a town on the DRC side of the border, set up barricades on Saturday after Musafiri visited the town to urge residents to welcome back the refugees. "People are preventing them returning. They have set up barricades to block traffic and there is noticeable tension in the town," said Leo Salmeron, a spokesperson for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DRC. The DRC refugees have refused offers from the UN refugee agency to be moved to camps in Burundi further away from the DRC border. The offer was made after as-yet-unidentified assailants massacred 160 refugees in a camp just next to the border on August 13."They feel the new camps are not safe," said Naluango. "If they have decided to go home, nobody can stop them."

DRC refugees stopped at border (Mail & Guardian, 07/10):- The army of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has prevented 1 100 refugees returning home from Burundi, leaving them stuck in no-man's-land between the two countries, officials said on Thursday. "This morning, six trucks carrying about 500 DRC refugees arrived at the border post in Gatumba (western Burundi), where 411 were already in the zone between Burundi and DRC," chief border official Jerome Ndikuriyo said. The trucks had been rented privately and the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, was not involved in this impromptu repatriation attempt. Two hundred more refugees arrived at the border post on Thursday afternoon, police sources said. Many of the refugees are Banyamulenge, Congolese Tutsis of Rwandan ancestry whose presence in eastern DRC is resented by many of the region's other inhabitants. After 160 refugees in a camp in Gatumba were massacred by as yet unidentified assailants on August 13. The UNHCR set up two other camps further away from the border, but only about 10 of Gatumba's former residents took up an offer to be moved there. The refugees at the border post refused a request by a DRC military officer to return to Burundi for a few days to allow DRC authorities to make preparations for their return. Most of them fled DRC's eastern Kivu provinces in June during clashes between renegade troops and regular army forces.

Plea for aid for returning refugees (UN Integrated Information Networks, 01/10):-Some 360 refugees, who recently returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from Burundi, are living in pathetic conditions in an abandoned warehouse and risk dying from diseases such as cholera, malaria and diarrhoea if nothing is done to relocate them immediately, Refugees International, an advocacy group, reported on Thursday. "From their arrival on Saturday night to the time of this writing the three hundred and sixty refugees have been without any means preventative disinfections or cleaning," RI reported in a statement. According to RI, the doors and windows of the warehouse, which once served as a cotton depot, were looted in 1993 and its roof is perforated by bullet holes, yet no plastic sheeting has been provided to protect the refugees against the elements. "Furthermore, no latrines are around except those that belong to neighbours, but using them would likely spark tensions and hostility," RI said. The refugees, Congolese Tutsis known as the Banyamulenge, were stranded for two days on the Burundi-DRC border after residents of Uvira held demonstrations during which they pelted the returnees with stones. They were opposed to the return of the Banyamulenge, whom they consider to be foreigners because of their Rwandan descent. The refugees had fled fighting in June between loyalist and dissident Congolese-army troops. Among other recommendations, RI said the local government authorities in Uvira should provide immediate help to the returnees "trapped in the warehouse and implement urgent resettlement or return actions". The government should also take responsibility for preparing basic reception conditions for Congolese refugees living in Burundi, who wish to return home, RI said. It appealed to UN-aid agencies and other humanitarian actors to devise an assistance strategy in collaboration with the local authorities. "The lack of proper hygiene is increasing the risk of diseases because returnees are using the same space for multiple services: cooking, showering and sleeping," RI said. "Men and women are being forced to live in close proximity to one another, even though they come from a traditional and conservative society," it added. "The local authorities could and should make an effort to provide separate quarters for men and women." In Burundi, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a statement on Friday, saying thousands of the Congolese refugees who had fled fighting at home in June had left the transit centres near the border with the DRC. "Many have gone back to eastern Congo - some have crossed into Rwanda, while many others have left for a new UNHCR refugee camp in the middle of Burundi," UNHCR said. Almost 20,000 Congolese refugees were counted in July at the three border transit centres at Rugombo and Karurama in the northwestern province of Cibitoke and at Gatumba in Bujumbura Rural Province, UNHCR reported. "Now we estimate that only about 4,000 remain in need of UNHCR assistance in Burundi," it added. An attack on the Gatumba camp in mid-August left some 160 Congolese Tutsi dead and hundreds others wounded. UNHCR moved survivors to schools and other temporary shelters nearby. The refugee agency said many refugees had opted for a new UNHCR camp at Gihinga, in the central province of Mwaro in Burundi, and that some Banyamulenge from the Karurama transit centre had reportedly crossed into Rwanda, seeking shelter with friends and relatives. It said 100 of the refugees entered Rwanda on Wednesday and that Burundian authorities in Cibitoke had reported that another 1,000 had registered to cross into Rwanda. "However, Banyamulenge refugees trying to re-enter the DRC have sometimes been rebuffed by border authorities there and have been subject to anti-Tutsi demonstrations in Uvira in the DRC," the agency said. "We are arranging for monitors to assess the position at the border," it added.

Missing link in Lesotho Aids fight (Zimbabwe Standard, 24/10):- The battle against HIV and Aids in the mountainous kingdom of Lesotho is being hampered by the absence of a vibrant media and the Basotho's seemingly lack of interest in reading. The media in Lesotho is still relatively small but certainly has the potential to grow with time. There are approximately 15 weekly newspapers and only three of these are well established. There is no daily newspaper in Maseru. One of the reasons why the newspaper business is not so vibrant is that the Basotho do not have a reading culture because most of them are illiterate. With a population of about 2,2 million and 80 percent of the population living in rural areas, access to newspapers or other mediums of communication is very low. In this era of HIV/Aids where information dissemination is central in raising awareness on various issues about the pandemic and also for the success of various Aids interventions, the information gap is certainly a cause for concern. In Zimbabwe, for instance, where the awareness levels on HIV and Aids issues are extremely high, people die or expose themselves to the disease knowing fully well the dangers of their actions. In Lesotho people are dying because there are ignorant and there is not enough information reaching them. The media is certainly not the best as a medium to be used in the Aids fight in Lesotho unless Basothos adopt the "scary campaign", which was successfully adopted by Uganda in its early years of fighting the Aids pandemic. In an effort to make its nation move out of the denial phase of the existence of Aids, the Ugandan government used the media to assist people take an interest in Aids. Ugandan newspapers carried pictures of people with full-blown Aids and cartoons were drawn showing numerous graves of people who had died of Aids. They also ran stories of people with Aids coming out in the open while on billboards all over Kampala, they drew the skeleton remains of someone with Aids and so many other frightening tactics showing the grim realities of the dreaded disease. The terror awareness certainly worked miracles for Uganda as more and more people began taking an interest in the Aids problem and cases of new infections dropped and for sometime Uganda was used as an example of an African country that had made notable strides in the Aids fight. Aids organisations in Maseru are certainly learning new ways of embarking on various Aids interventions. Some, like Unicef which has been here for a long time, know that it does not help merely putting a Press statement in the newspaper and hope that people will read it and change ways of life that can expose them to HIV/Aids. The terror campaign will certainly work wonders for Lesotho because even if the majority might not read the stories, the pictures will definitely captivate them. Lesotho has a 31 percent HIV prevalence rate which is the third highest in the world after Botswana and Swaziland, according to the UNAIDS.

Malawi gets bulk of informal cross-border food trade (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 25/10):- The first report on the scale of informal cross-border trading in food among countries in Southern Africa has identified Malawi as the largest recipient of imports. A joint World Food Programme (WFP) and Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) report noted that "informal cross-border trade played a significant role in averting widespread food insecurity in Southern Africa during the major regional drought of 2002 and 2003". However, the report said information on informal trade was mainly anecdotal and its contribution to addressing supply and demand imbalances had thus "not been adequately quantified in Southern Africa". To address this information gap, WFP and FEWS NET, along with other partners, had established a monitoring system for capturing informal cross-border trade. The system began operating in June 2004 and currently covers 24 borders shared by six countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In the initial three months of operation the monitoring mechanism recorded trades accounting for over 36,000 mt of maize, close to 3,700 mt of rice and about 6,100 mt of beans. "The bulk of the trade has been maize exports into Malawi, which have amounted to 34,000 mt, or 94 percent of the total maize trade captured," the report said. "Since July 2004, informal traders have been bringing an average of 11,000 mt of maize per month into Malawi from her neighbouring countries. Malawi is facing a major maize deficit estimated at nearly 280,000 mt." WFP has said it plans to feed about 1.1 million Malawians until March 2005. Almost all the maize Malawi has imported through informal cross-border trade has come from Mozambique, as southern Malawi is virtually surrounded by Mozambique and "is the most affected by the food deficit, and trade links with northern Mozambique are well-established". Additionally, "most of northern Mozambique had a good harvest and [internal] trade linkages with major consumption centres in central and southern Mozambique are weak" due to poor transport infrastructure. According to the report, informal trade in maize across the Malawi/Mozambique border was being conducted with relative ease. "The process starts from the Mozambican side, where stacks of maize are brought in bulk to the border ... these stacks are heaped on the Mozambican side of the border for sale to Malawian traders," the report said. Most of it is then transported across to Malawi by people on bicycles. "During the peak of the marketing season for maize, July to September, the frequency and number of cyclists crossing the border increases. Currently ... it is estimated that up to 100 cyclists carrying three to four 50 kg bags ferry the maize across the border every 30 minutes... Once on the Malawi side, the maize is then consolidated into truckloads for onward shipment to inland urban markets of Malawi," the report related. Conversely, very little informal cross-border trade has been recorded between Zimbabwe and its neighbours. "Zimbabwe has imposed restrictive import levies for any trader that crosses its borders with more than a single bag of rice and/or maize, including maize flour. The Zimbabwe authorities also ensure that only official imports of maize by [the state monopoly] the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) or its appointed agents are permitted in Zimbabwe. As such, there is very little incentive for informal traders to deal in these commodities," the monitoring initiative found. However, it "is probable that maize and rice may still be finding their way into Zimbabwe from Mozambique through smuggling, as there are few natural geographical barriers between the two countries". Monitoring of informal trade allowed for better decision-making "by governments, aid agencies and traders about appropriate levels of commercial imports and food aid", the report noted. Consequently, more borders are being assessed for inclusion in the monitoring exercise.

Illegal Chinese immigrants (Angola Press, 07/10):- The Malawi government has promised not to prosecute seven Chinese nationals whose businesses have been closed in Blantyre for flouting immigration laws governing work and business permits, an official said. Immigration Department spokesman Bryson Bendala told PANA Tuesday that instead, the Department has told the Chinese businessmen to concentrate on establishing businesses for which they had the permits to operate in Malawi. Meanwhile, four Tanzanian women working in shops without valid work permits in Malawi have been deported and an Egyptian national, Magdi Abdel El-Aziz, who works as an engineer with the Blantyre City Assembly, has had his shop in the city closed because he has only a work permit but no business permit. Bendala said some of the Chinese and Tanzanians entered Malawi as tourists, while others came as prospective investors in manufacturing but ended up running retail businesses. "We discovered that these business people were operating on fraudulent business permits," he charged. On the fate of the Chinese businessmen and the Egyptian national, Bendala said chances are that they would not be deported, but would be required to abide by the provisions of their permits. The Chinese businessmen included Liang You Guo of Dafa International, who had applied for a permit to manufacture shoes but ended up buying items from Tanzania for resale in Malawi, Li Hao, who applied for a permit to manufacture bed-sheets, duvet and garments, as well as Li Zeng You and Wang Qi Zhi, who said they would invest in tourism industry under Merriman International Limited. Others are Tianyu Chen of Haimen Ltd and Haidong Zhu, who both applied for permits to manufacture duvet, and Zhuoguan Wu of CB Trading (Pvt) Ltd., who had applied for a permit to manufacture garments for local and export market. "These people know that Malawi is looking for manufacturers and it`s easy to get a business permit for manufacturing," Bendala said. He claimed some of the foreigners entered into "marriages of convenience" with Malawians in order to do business in the name of their "spouses," adding that others simply used Malawians as fronts. Observers say Malawi has become a safe haven for illegal immigrants who take advantage of the country's porous borders and lax immigration laws. Some illegal immigrants also fraudulently obtain Malawian passports because Malawians do not require visas to enter several European countries including the United Kingdom.

Police accused of harassing Zimbabwe transporters (The Herald, 18/10):- The Zimbabwean embassy is investigating claims by the country's transporters who use the Mozambican route that they are being harassed by Mozambican police. Mr Gideon Kapaswara, the consul general at the Zimbabwean Embassy offices in Beira, at the weekend said that they had received several letters from Zimbabwean transporters complaining of ill-treatment by the Mozambican police. He said the transporters expressed concern that the accompanying high level of alleged graft was resulting in them losing millions of dollars in paying bribes to corrupt officers. "This is a big problem that both the Mozambican government and ourselves are concerned with. We would like to find ways of stopping it as it is discouraging our transporters from using the Mozambican route," he said. The truckers have alleged harassment over trivial offences such as not travelling with a triangle sign in case of breakdown or not paying the road toll at the border, resulting in the trucks or travel documents being confiscated for failure to pay the fine. Kapaswara also said that truckers had complained of poor handling facilities and ship breakdowns, which resulted in huge financial losses. The Beira port offers an important alternative route to the sea for goods from other landlocked countries such as Botswana, Malawi and Zambia.

Chissano praises decision on emigrant vote (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 17/10):- Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, during his official visit to Portugal, has stressed that the most important decision taken so far by the National Elections Commission (CNE) was the ruling that Mozambicans living abroad could be registered as voters. For the first time, Mozambicans in the diaspora are being allowed to exercise their rights to stand for parliamentary elections, and to vote for the head of state and for parliament. Speaking on Thursday, to about 1,000 Mozambican emigrants in Lisbon, Chissano said "It was not easy to ensure that Mozambicans abroad could exercise their right to vote, since there was no consensus with other political forces who wanted to wait until all conditions for this were created. But we preferred to start the process so that gradually it will gain in cohesion". Chissano regretted that this, his final visit to Portugal as head of state, had, of necessity, to be very short, precisely because of the election campaign. Chissano said he had undertaken to be present at the launch of the Frelimo campaign on Sunday in the northern city of Nampula. Chissano also spoke of the emigrant vote when he addressed the Portuguese parliament. He declared that the voter registration abroad took place with the "enthusiastic participation and involvement" of Mozambican citizens, despite the inadequate time to prepare the registration, and the shortage of resources. Chissano thought that the messages of appreciation and satisfaction received from Mozambican communities in the diaspora indicated the positive impact of the CNE's decision to allow the emigrants to vote.

Limpopo line rehabilitation complete (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 11/10):- The rehabilitation of the 534 kilometre Limpopo line, linking the port of Maputo to Zimbabwe, will help Mozambique resume its pre-eminent position in terms of rail services and stimulate long term economic development, through the creation of more jobs, declared Transport Minister Tomas Salomao on Saturday. The line was severely damaged in the massive flooding of February 2000, but has now been rehabilitated by a consortium formed by the South African company Grineker, and the US company Harsco. Speaking in Chokwe, in the southern province of Gaza, during the official ceremony to hand over the completed work, Salomao described the undertaking as a visible landmark in the efforts to rebuild, with international cooperation, infrastructures destroyed by the 2000 floods. "We continue committed to the reconstruction of all infrastructures damaged by the floods in order to enhance economic growth in all areas", he said. He praised the efforts of the country's cooperation partners, namely the United States and Canada, for their assistance in carrying out the reconstruction. Emergency rehabilitation took place immediately after the flood waters had receded - at this stage the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided 1.2 million US dollars for the purchase of ballast and its transport to the line, while the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provided six million dollars for other costs. Mozambique's own port and rail company, CFM, provided seven million dollars from its own funds. The emergency work was completed in November 2000, and traffic between Maputo and Zimbabwe resumed. In order to restore full reliability and security to the line, definitive rehabilitation took place from 2001 to 2004, funded by USAID to the tune of 53.5 million dollars. The work concentrated on the stretch worst hit by the floods - the 225 kilometres from Maputo port to Macarretane in Gaza. 72 kilometres were completely rebuilt, 50,000 new concrete sleepers were laid, and drainage systems installed. Salomao recalled that the line had been seriously damaged by the floods, when the waters reached the height of five meters, submerging houses and unearthing land mines that had been planted during the war of destabilisation. "But with the support of our partners it was possible to reverse the situation", he said. He urged the people living along the line to remain vigilant against vandalisation of the railway by thieves who will steal materials such as ballast for private use. For his part, Gaza provincial governor Rosario Mualeia also stressed the importance of the undertaking, saying that it will enhance the transport system in the province. "This railway is particularly important for the populations of Mapai, Mabalane, and Chicualacuala districts (in the north of the province). For instance, water supply to this last district was, for many years, undertaken in tankers carried by train, along this line", he said. The chairperson of the CFM board of directors, Rui Fonseca, was clearly not happy with the quality of the work done. He said the line had been rehabilitated to a "reasonable" standard, but there were still irregularities". "Perhaps it is not what CFM dreamed of and desired", he said, "but it is what was possible. CFM hopes that the contractor and the inspecting company will correct the anomalies that we detected right from the start and throughout the work".

Mozambicans abroad to vote in December poll (Angola Press, 13/10):- For the first time ever, Mozambicans living abroad would be able to vote in their country's presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 1-2 December. Filipe Mandlate, spokesperson for the National Elections Commission (CNE), announced in Maputo Tuesday that the Commission members reached the decision after a vote at their meeting Monday. Registration of Mozambicans abroad 6-25 September showed a relatively poor result. The Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the civil service, had estimated at 300,000, the number of Mozambicans of voting age living in the nine countries where the registration took place (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Portugal and Germany). But under 47,000 people actually registered, 45,865 of them in the seven African countries, and 1,101 in Europe. Mandlate identified two major difficulties for the low figures. According to him, many Mozambicans living outside the country have no identification documents and there were also very few registration agents. The Mozambican electoral law requires emigrants to elect two deputies - one for the emigrant communities in Africa, and one for those in the rest of the world. Following is the breakdown of the registration figures: - African constituency: South Africa 32,186, Malawi 676, Kenya 699, Tanzania 3,807, Zambia 764, Zimbabwe 4,812, Swaziland 2,921, European constituency:- Portugal 911, Germany 190,. Meanwhile, the Mozambican police have promised to guarantee law and order during the election campaign, and actual voting 1-2 December. Police spokesman Nataniel Macamo, who was attending a meeting of the Consultative Council of the Interior Ministry in the southern resort of Pequenos Libombos said Monday that police would ensure that the elections "take place in a secure and peaceful environment." "It's true that this also depends on the civic attitude of the public, but we can guarantee that all security conditions have been created by the police," he added. The meeting of the Consultative Council was held behind closed doors. Macamo said it discussed reports on the national survey ordered by the government on perceptions of corruption and anti-corruption strategy, as well as security during the December elections. The meeting also discussed illegal immigration. Last week, authorities in Mozambique`s northern province of Cabo Delgado deported 20 alleged illegal immigrants to Tanzania.  Cabo Delgado police command said those deported included Ethiopians and Somalis. Since late last year, the Cabo Delgado authorities have expelled 99 foreigners - including people from Ethiopia, Somalia Burundi, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Permanent Secretary of the Interior Ministry, Armando Correia told reporters "Repatriation has its costs, and every day they tend to get higher."


Namibia needs IT skills (Economist, 29/10):- The current laws of the country have provided an enabling environment for new companies to be founded and to be successful in providing their services. The infrastructure in the country is adequate for ICT to grow to the highest heights. These claims are contained in the draft e-readiness assessment for the public service. The assessment was done by the department of public service information technology management in the Office of the Prime Minister. The document states that to promote the use of ICT throughout the country, e-government needs to be rolled out at the onset so that promotion of ICT is ensured. The document says with the countrywide rollout, companies would be forced to go to other regions to support the infrastructure running e-government. Companies that operate in Namibia are mostly foreign companies. Most of the workers in the companies are also foreign. This situation makes the Namibian computer industry reliant on foreigners. The document says knowledge that is necessary to growth in the industry is always taken elsewhere. Despite huge projects that have been undertaken by companies, government or individuals over the years, very little experience is left in Namibia. The country continues to pay highly for solutions that are being provided, since experts are always sought from abroad, even for solutions that exist in Namibia. The sales people in Namibian companies are not knowledgeable enough to move the industry forward.

Cross-border cattle sparked anthrax fears (New Era, 29/10):- Investigations by a team of veterinarians, health inspectors and the Gobabis police are currently under way in the Omaheke Region, following the imposition of a quarantine on the north-eastern areas of that region, earlier this week. The ban on the movement of cattle came into place after communities of the Eiseb Block One area, situated some 450 kilometres from the town of Gobabis, reported finding a herd of ten cattle believed to have been brought in from across the Botswanan border into Namibia. Fearing the risk of any disease found in the livestock, the case was brought to the attention of the local police and veterinarians at the town. Ever since Tuesday this week, a restriction of movement of livestock was imposed on Eiseb and the adjacent areas of Euphoria, Otjimbinde and Otjinene. This situation in Omahake also comes on the heels of another restriction of movement of livestock imposed earlier on the village of Leonardville, some six kilometers from Aminuis, after reports of anthrax cases were discovered by villagers among their small livestock . Clinical research conducted by the veterinarians in the area confirmed the presence of anthrax at two unspecified farming plots. With anthrax looming in areas like Leonardville and two incidents of two stock theft this year, the ten herd of cattle from Botswana raised some fears amongst the villagers. They decided to bring the latest incident to the attention of relevant authorities. "Possibilities that these cattle could have anthrax, lung-sickness or foot-and-mouth disease are there. We don't know how they came into Namibia from Botswana and we need to find out in what health condition they are in," said Dr Milton Maseke, who's the State Veterinarian in Gobabis. He told New Era that these cattle would be taken blood samples of and visual and mouth inspections to determine whether they are disease free. As a meat exporting area, Omaheke animals form a sizeable account of the country's export quota to the European Union. Dr. Meseke said that incidents like these could most likely be worrying for the region as a whole. He added that the ban on movement has now been lifted in the Leonardville area, with constant assessment of possible anthrax cases. He cautioned the people of Omaheke to be vigilant and report any such cases to the relevant authorities on time. Omaheke police spokesperson, Micheal Matengu, said investigations are currently being conducted up until Sunday. With the case being in the hands of the police, he said that all possible leads to cross-border stock theft would be investigated. A full report will only be made available by next week Monday after the investigation team returns from Eiseb Block on Sunday. The restriction of movement at Eiseb Block and surrounding areas in Omaheke would last for 21 days, unless the situation is rectified before that time.

Frontier banditry exacting heavy toll (New Era, 29/10):- Time and again, this country has had to contend with cross-border cattle theft particularly on the eastern frontier with Botswana. Cattle thieves from communities around Aminuis, Otjombinde and Eiseb Block have become so daring that they drive animals across the border from Botswana into Namibia with impunity. This year alone, there have been two such incidents on our eastern border. The theft of cattle from Botswana can have dire consequences for the entire country, particularly the beef industry. Similarly, communities residing in these areas have had to feel the pinch of the lawlessness there. They continue to pay the price. This week, the department of veterinary services slapped restrictions on the movement of animals in some parts of the Omaheke Region, including Otjinene, Eiseb Block and Epukiro, after it was discovered that animals had been illegally driven across the border from Botswana. The ban on the movement of animals in these areas has brought to a complete halt their sale because they cannot be moved to selling points. This means that entire communities will be without cash for their purchases for as long as the ban lasts. The ban also affects normal farming activities as farmers cannot move their animals freely in search of good pastures or for whatever purpose. We have said this before that when thieves break the law with such impunity, the cost to the state in monetary terms is immense. Law enforcement officers as a matter of duty have to go after these thieves and that costs money. Equally, animal health people have to locate the animals, examine them and ultimately destroy them if need be. Again, this costs money. That is why, the issue of cross-border theft of animals has to be addressed as a matter of urgency by Government, local and traditional authorities and the affected communities. The seeming banditry has the potential to harm the beef industry with dismal costs for our country’s economy. Needless to say that farming is the lifeline of most subsistence communities in Namibia. It also contributes immensely towards our GDP and general employment situation. Rampant theft especially along the border poses serious risks including the spread of diseases, hence these marauding gangs of thieves should never be allowed to ruin a whole industry for self gain. They must be tracked down quickly and locked up. In addition, there must be a clampdown on illicit buying of animals especially by some of the commercial farmers. The thieves who indulge in driving cattle from across the border are attracted by a market for stolen animals that is thriving in Omaheke. Reports have it that some commercial farmers buy stolen animals knowingly because it is cheaper to do so hence such transactions take place under the cover of darkness. The permit system also needs to be re-looked at and perhaps the police in the different areas must become involved in the issuance of permits in order to curb crime. At the same time, communities from which these elements live have a duty to report them to the authorities. It is also high time that law enforcement agencies start patrolling the border in conjunction with their Botswana counterparts. But, having said that, the police must be given the necessary tools to preserve law and order. Yesterday, we spoke to the police at Tallismanus to find out how they are enforcing the law along the border. To our surprise, they informed us that they have been without a vehicle for the past four to six months because the only vehicle they had overturned sometime ago. Currently, they have to rely on the police at Kalahari border post for help when they have an urgent case or simply hitch a ride with local people. This is just not on. Law and order has to come above all else because without law and order, internal security is compromised.

Workers want government intervention (New Era, 25/10):- Workers at Coimbra OK Foods, saddened by police inaction to arrest two Portuguese bosses who allegedly assaulted a black worker, now want the Ministry of Home Affairs to probe the incident that smacks of racism. The workers at Coimbra OK Foods want the Ministry of Home Affairs to investigate their complaints jointly with the Ministry of Labour. They argue that had the Portuguese been on the receiving end, the black perpetrator would have been arrested in record time. The ugly incident that left Crispin Lucas bloodied was allegedly committed by one male supervisor and his daughter and it triggered a noisy demonstration involving over 100 workers. The workers, who have since resumed duty at Coim-bra OK Foods after the incident, are further unhappy that their representatives at Nafau have dismally failed to address a list of their grievances. Following the incident, three workers were fired on the spot while others were apparently forced to sign final warning letters from their seemingly unsympathetic bosses. A source at the shop who cannot be named for obvious reasons said that since September 7 2004, the workers' complaints had not been addressed by Nafau and their management. Lucas was allegedly bashed on the head with an iron rod by Fernando Badster and his daughter, a certain Tina, when he tried to seek clarity on why they were deducting certain monies from his wages. The incident and the fact that the Portuguese supervisors reportedly have very little respect for blacks as they allegedly often refer to them as being," uncivilised," "baboons," or even "sons of bitches", among other discriminatory labels, triggered a demonstration. The workers say, "If it were a black person who had beaten a white person, then he would have been arrested already." Sources at the shop say since the incident Lucas has been redeployed to work as a farmer labourer at a holding run by the Coimbra family and his wages were also reduced. Workers and other residents at Katima Mulilo are unhappy that the police seem to be dragging their feet as they have not yet arrested the alleged perpetrators of the incident. Workers angered by the incident want the work permits of the two alleged culprits revoked so that they could either be deported back to Angola or to Portugal. Efforts to get comment from management were again in vain as they refused to speak to a New Era correspondent at Katima Mulilo. A Nafau representative at the town also provided a vague reply as he seemed not to know how far management had gone to address the workers' grievances.

Immigration officer criticized by High Court (The Namibian, 01/10):-Police and immigration officers who took part in a sweep for illegal immigrants in which a Namibian-born woman was caught up in their dragnet were rapped hard over their knuckles in a judgement of the High Court this week. The arrest and detention of Luiza Lomba, a Namibian-born Ondangwa resident who found herself detained as an alleged illegal immigrant in December 2000, is now set to cost the Minister of Home Affairs - or, in effect, the Namibian taxpayer - N$12 000. It is this amount in compensation for damages that Lomba suffered as a result of her experience at the hands of Police and immigration officials on December 7 2000 that the High Court awarded to Lomba in a judgement handed down on Monday. The judgement was the result of an appeal that the Home Affairs Minister had lodged against a Windhoek Magistrate's Court decision, in which he had also been judged to be accountable for Lomba's wrongful arrest and detention, and was ordered to pay her N$15 000 in compensation. The High Court, in a judgement written by Judge Petrus Damaseb and with which Judge President Peter Shivute concurred, dismissed the bulk of the Minister's appeal, but lowered that amount to N$12 000, based on a finding that Lomba had to some extent exaggerated the hardships she suffered in the about 11 hours that she had been locked up in a Police cell before she could prove that she was a Namibian citizen. The officials who had detained her had acted arbitrarily and unreasonably, judge Damaseb commented in his judgement. In fact, in his view part of their conduct during those early morning hours of December 7 2000 represented the height of unreasonableness, Judge Damaseb stated in a scathing comment in the judgement. He was referring to evidence by both immigration and Police officials who had testified on behalf of the Minister in the Magistrate's Court, to the effect that they would arrest anyone that they found without proper proof of his or her identity - even if they knew that such a person was a Namibian citizen. Lomba was just such a person. She was detained after a party of Police and immigration officers taking part in a night-time operation supposed to be aimed at finding illegal immigrants in Namibia had knocked on the door of her flat at Ondangwa. When she was unable to produce her Namibian birth certificate quickly enough, she was bundled off to a Police cell, only to be released about half a day later when she found the certificate after she had been allowed to return to her flat to look for it. There had not been reasonable grounds on which Lomba could be arrested as a suspected prohibited immigrant, the Judge found. The fact that a person could not produce an identification document on demand was not enough to warrant the arrest of that person, he indicated. Before an official took such a step, the judge said, there was a host of other enquiries that could first be made - and that had to be made - by an official that suspected that a person may be a prohibited immigrant in Namibia. The arrest of a person was a very serious matter that not only restricted a person's freedom, but was also an invasion of privacy and a reflection on the person's dignity and reputation, Judge Damaseb noted. "It is therefore not a matter to be treated without some deliberation and a measure of foreboding," he cautioned. While the court, for the most part, dismissed the appeal on behalf of the Minister, it also ordered that the Minister should bear Lomba's legal costs in the appeal. She had been represented by Norman Tjombe from the Legal Assistance Centre. Steven Nkiwane, from the Directorate Civil Litigation (Government Attorney) in the Office of the Attorney-General, appeared for the Minister in the High Court.

South Africa
British is heaven for SA teachers (Sunday Times, 31/10):- Totally inappropriate.” This is how, with his trademark wry smile, Martin Stanley would have described the setting had it been 10 years ago — “Sir” perched on a settee sipping sparkling wine with one of his former pupils, Lando du Plooy. Today they are friends and colleagues who discuss long-division sums and swap breyani recipes from their mothers back home. But a decade ago, the relationship would have been more formal and would have “known its place,” because Stanley was Du Plooy’s high-school teacher. Stanley and Du Plooy are just two of an estimated 1500 South African teachers who leave the country for Britain, lured, say local unions like the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), by “the pull of the pound”. According to the unions, South African teachers drawn by the promise of better pay and working conditions end up short of money in ailing London inner-city schools. The culture shock and the high cost of living in Britain are cited in calls made, mainly by unions, for teachers to rethink leaving their local schools. Here in London it’s a Saturday afternoon and a get-together opportunity for the group of friends, all South Africans teaching in the city. One of them, Felicity Coetzee, has been on maternity leave, and her colleagues are visiting her and the baby. The rain that is inseparable from the London landscape is sobbing against the glass doors. Inside there are roars of laughter. The air is thick with slang from “Wenties” — the coloured suburb of Wentworth, outside Durban. Stanley and Du Plooy, the comedians of the group, have nicknames for all their colleagues, and delight in mimicry. They are gossiping about the latest antics of a nosey teacher at Du Plooy’s school, whom they have christened “Nuus-Tak” after an early-1990s puppet show on Good Morning South Africa. One invisible thread binds them to their home country: cuisine. They all live in different parts of London, but open any of their fridges and the chances are you will find bottles of Gorima’s Garlic and Ginger Mix, and curry powder specially procured from Durban’s Grey Street in the grocery cupboard. Du Plooy starts recounting his first day at school, to the delight of his assembled audience. He says he knew things were going to be different when he was shown the supply cupboard by the head teacher. Opening it to find mountains of stationery, books and other learning aids, he remarked: “Ma’am, I think it will be very inconvenient if the whole school’s stationery is stocked in my classroom.” He was shocked to learn the supplies were for him alone. Du Plooy says he has “loved every minute” of the two and a half years he has spent teaching in London. He says the situations in the two countries are incomparable — at the school where he teaches in London, there is a £2-million budget for staffing alone. “It’s all about placing value on teachers, “ he says. And though acknowledging that the higher salary and subsidised accommodation do matter, Du Plooy says it’s not about chasing pounds. In Britain, he says, the government applauds and rewards teachers who put in the extra effort whereas in South Africa, he says, “it’s expected of you”. And effort it is. Du Plooy, Stanley, Coetzee and their colleague Lenore Ismail all teach in schools in east London, one of the toughest areas of the city. The area is full of council housing populated by an assortment of working-class English families and refugees and asylum-seekers. Coetzee pulls out some of her flash cards, which are used to get children to associate pictures with words. The words under the pictures are in three languages, including Arabic. In most east London schools, an average of 29 languages is spoken, ranging from French to Vietnamese to Twi, a dialect from West Africa. On a typical teaching day, standing in front of the pupils is not only the teacher, but a support assistant (or two) to cater for the “English as an Additional Language” pupils, and another assistant to cater for “special needs” pupils such as the hearing-impaired. Then there are the “social differences”. In South Africa, Stanley says jokingly, pupils “know their place”. Du Plooy remembers a case in Britain where, in defiance of his parents, one of his pupils, a young Sikh boy, refused to go to religious education classes, citing his rights guaranteed by the government. “Deep down inside, I miss the old days,” says Stanley, laughing. East London is not one of the safest places in the city either. All the teachers at Coetzee’s house get an “inner London allowance” of roughly £3000 a year as an incentive to teach there. This is what teachers’ unions back home refer to, saying that South African teachers going to Britain are biting off more than they can chew. But Stanley is dismissive: “Crime — you can hardly call things like breaking a bus window crime!” When Coetzee and Stanley arrived in London four years ago, they were posted to Gainsborough Primary, a school with such appalling exam results that it faced imminent closure. It was defined as a “special measures” school. Despite his affable nature, Stanley turns serious when talking about why he came to London. After 10 years at Wentworth Secondary School in Durban, the former accounting and business economics teacher says he found himself, for the first time, hating his profession. Like Du Plooy, he says it wasn’t mainly the lack of resources but what he saw as the rotten apples in the profession spreading their decay to the rest. He registered with a recruitment agency, and three telephone interviews later was offered a job. At first he was daunted — instead of teaching matric accounting, he would be teaching young pupils in a primary school. He was first posted to what he labels a “posh” Catholic school in Kent, but a chance meeting in London with Coetzee, whom he knew from back home, resulted in him ending up at Gainsborough Primary. When asked about his contribution to the “brain drain”, Stanley — who is about to finish his four-year contract, but says he plans to stay on longer in London — says his experience in the city has been for the benefit of his profession. In South Africa, he says, he taught Zulu-speaking pupils in the same way as English-speaking pupils. He would do it differently now, he says. Stanley and Du Plooy’s smooth path to teaching in London may not remain that way. Early last month, education ministers from 23 Commonwealth countries met to discuss a “deep concern” at what has been called teacher poaching from developing countries. According to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, South Africa is by far the largest provider of teachers to Britain. The ministers’ meeting came up with the Commonwealth Protocol, which is intended not to ban but to control teacher recruitment. Among other things, it states that countries importing teachers should give them extra training to enable them to invest their skills into their home countries when they return. Stanley’s view is that his stint in London is for the eventual benefit of South African education. And he has advice for teachers looking for similar “adventure.” “For the lazy teachers, who like the kids to carry their bags or to rub their feet, or who, during school hours, send pupils to Makro to buy gold bangles on sale — London is hard work. Stay at home!”

NIA to dig deep at Home Affairs (Pretoria News, 25/10):- The National Intelligence Agency will probe all Home Affairs officials over the next three years in a drastic move to end endemic corruption. The department's director-general, Barry Gilder, said NIA's security clearance scanning of Home Affairs employees had exposed corrupt officials - including senior managers - who are currently under the department's investigations. In an interview, Gilder declined to reveal who - or how many - among the top brass were being investigated but confirmed that the NIA's security clearance exercise had found "bad potatoes". "We are in the process of dealing with them," he said. "We have started security clearance with the senior management staff and all new employees, and we are hoping to get all staff on the programme by 2007," he said. The Home Affairs Department employs about 7 000 staff members, and is hoping to increase the number to 13 000. Gilder said the department was also developing its own internal security and anti-corruption measures to complement the NIA programme. "We have just appointed a chief director to deal with corruption and security. He is Stan Musi, the former provincial manager of NIA in the Free State," Gilder said. Musi assumed duty last Monday and this was marked by the tightening of security procedures in entering the department's Pretoria east head offices. Gilder said a key focus would be to beef up security at Lindela deportation centre, Johannesburg and Cape Town international airports. Musi's appointment follows that of another senior spy, former Western Cape NIA provincial manager, Arthur Fraser. He was appointed deputy director-general: national immigration branch. Gilder, also former deputy director-general in the NIA, played down speculations that he was converting the department into an NIA wing. He said that because of the nature of the service Home Affairs provided, syndicates tried to get their claws into the department, corrupting officials. "It's not enough just to catch corrupt officials because the syndicate will then corrupt other officials. What we have done is to develop a strategy that was started off by NIA to analyse the causes and the nature of corruption and smash the syndicates," he said. These corruption strategies were undermined by lack of staff and instability at the director-general level, he said. "The remaining challenge now really is to capacitate ourselves, to get staff from 7 000 to 13 000. We must have filled about 700 posts by now." They had advertised 25 posts this year: five deputy directors-general, six chief directors and 14 directors. "Of the five DD-G posts, we have filled three and of the six chief directors posts, two have started (working)." "These posts did not exist before and will help deal with corruption effectively," he said. He hoped to stay at the department when his term expires in 2007 to ensure stability after the department was characterised by a high turnover of directors-general.

SA in loop of human trafficking (Daily Dispatch, 29/10):- South Africa is "a country of origin, destination and transit for women, children and men trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour", according to a US State Department annual report released to the US Congress recently. Details of the report were disclosed in East London this week by US State Department official Sally Neumann at a function hosted by Masimanyane Women's Support Centre. Neumann, whose job it is to help build capacity worldwide to fight trafficking in persons (TIP), said the definition of trafficking refers to any person - man, woman or child - who is put into a situation of exploitation. "Women and girls are trafficked to South Africa for forced prostitution, forced marriages and forced labour," the report says. These include Mozambican women and street children from Lesotho, women from East Asia (Thailand and China) and South Asia (Pakistan) and women from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. South Africans were at the same time trafficked internally for domestic servitude, sexual exploitation and forced labour, and some were trafficked to Macau, Hong Kong and the Middle East for similar purposes. The report describes South Africa as a "Tier Two" country - one whose government does not fully comply with minimum standards to combat trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. Of five international conventions and protocols listed in the report that are aimed at combating abuses like trafficking, child labour, sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography South Africa has signed and ratified two and either signed or ratified three. South Africa lacks an anti-trafficking statute and has no comprehensive law enforcement programs targeting trafficking. Approximately 10 investigations and four prosecutions involving trafficking are under way." Neumann emphasised trafficking could take place without moving people. One example was "debt bondage", which is when someone bails someone out financially and then requires the debt to be "worked" back - but only the debt holder keeps track of the "repayments". "Whole families have been kept in slavery this way for generations." Although trafficking is often linked to domestic violence, poverty, corruption and disasters like floods and war, which leave communities vulnerable, no one is immune. "Teachers, engineers, doctors and nurses have been lured to foreign countries by bogus ad agencies." In Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, 60 percent of women between 16 and 30 years old have disappeared. About 27 million people are estimated to be in the hands of traffickers worldwide.

Marital status campaign records success (BuaNews, 28/10):- The Home Affairs Check Your Marital Status Campaign has yielded remarkable results since its launch twelve weeks ago. The department said 1 454 women found out that they were married without their knowledge to strangers since the launch of the campaign in August this year. "Gauteng province recorded the highest number with 868 fraudulent marriages from a number of 8 331 women who verified their marital status from different Regional and District Offices of Home Affairs," the department revealed in a statement today. It added that KwaZulu-Natal recoded the second highest statistics with 163 fraudulent marriages, Mpumalanga with 91, Eastern Cape with 82, North West with 67, Western Cape with 65, Free State with 56, Limpopo with 53.The province with the least record was the Northern Cape with nine. The department explained that this week only, Gauteng topped the list with fraudulent matrimonial unions. "In this twelfth week only, Gauteng Province recorded 26 fraudulent marriages out of 313 people who checked if their marriage status is still the same as they know. North West recorded eight cases of unknown couples, followed by Western Cape with seven, KwaZulu-Natal with four, Free State with two, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga recorded one case in each province respectively," the department said. Out of 311 people who came to enquire about their marital status in the Northern Cape no cases of fraudulent marriage was recorded. The campaign further prompted another 277 couples to come and register their customary marriages this week. Since the campaign was launched 56 091 women visited different offices of Home Affairs in all the provinces to check and verify their marital status, where a total of 2 020 couples also registered their customary marriages.

South African working in Iraq contravenes the law (BuaNews, 27/10):- Government says close to a hundred South Africans are being investigated for working in conflict-ridden Iraq without permission, which contravenes the Foreign Military Assistance Act. Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota says at least one person has been tried and found guilty for working "in the theatre of conflict" without authorisation. The minister addressed a media briefing in Parliament earlier today as part of the International Relations, Peace and Security Cluster. He explained that reports provided to him had identified 47 individuals, with a possibility of more, which could take the list up to a hundred. Other cases of transgressions involved serving members of the South African National Defence Force and the country's other security agencies working in Iraq. "Some of the individuals are seeking to resign but where transgressions have happened before people have resigned, action will be taken in the military courts as well as civilian courts," he said. He added the private security companies providing salaries of up to R75 000 a month were actively recruiting South Africans, targeting "unfortunately" highly trained and skilled members of the country's security forces. He said the matter was being dealt with quite firmly, "as it is unacceptable for members to act in areas of conflict in contravention of governments' position". "It raises a very serious question of loyalty to this country within the [SA] National Defence Force which is the ultimate instrument of security in this country," the minister explained. Minister Lekota described the "growing phenomena of paid armies", as dangerous and said they should be stopped. The minister said these armies emerging in a globalised world were a threat to democracy and could be used against legitimate governments. He explained that the Foreign Military Assistance Act was currently under review, a process that had been stepped up as a result of the situation in Iraq. Asked what government would do should any South African there be kidnapped, he said it was government's responsibility towards all its citizens to take action to save their lives. "If somebody is threatened with death, it would be unimaginable that this government can say 'good, let it go ahead'," he explained, adding government would do all that could be done.

SA should tighten anti-xenophobia systems (BuaNews, 27/10):- Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe says South Africa needs to tighten its systems and procedures to prevent xenophobia. She said this would minimise contempt against foreigners in the country and would help increase social relations between South Africans and foreigners. The Deputy Minister was speaking today during discussions on xenophobia at the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs. Xenophobia is a deep-rooted dislike of foreigners and is universally recognised as a violation of human rights. "Xenophobia seems to be an international problem not just only in South Africa and I think we need to tighten up on our programmes and procedures and to also encourage our neighbours to trade freely and move into our borders," she said. Currently, South Africa does not have legislation on xenophobia but the country is however subscribing to the Durban Declaration adopted at the World Conference Against Racism three years ago. The declaration emphasised "the paramount importance for promoting equality and non-discrimination in the world" and "universal adherence to and full implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination." Speaking at the same meeting, Acting Director for human Rights at Foreign Affairs Department, Pitso Montwedi, said South Africa was categorised as one of the most xenophobic countries in the world. In that regard, he said the country was required to submit its report to the United Nations on the progress it has made in addressing the issue of xenophobia. "The challenge that we have is to ensure that we take the spirit of the conference held in Durban forward. We are under obligation to report to the International system on how we are performing as a country in regard to the implementation of the outcome of the world conference in Durban," he said. Home affairs Chief Director for Admissions Lorraine Makula told members that there were a number of incidents reported where the integrity of foreigners was undermined and their rights violated. However, she said they had not experienced large-scale reports about physical attacks on foreigners. She said her department had embarked on road shows to advocate tolerance towards refugees, emphasizing to the communities the rights foreigners had as stipulated in the constitution.

Progress on SA-Lesotho border issues (Daily Dispatch, 25/10):- The Ukhahlamba District Municipality and other stakeholders are finding solutions to problems on the South African and Lesotho border, municipal spokesman Toto Wonga said. Wonga said a district liaison committee consisting of various stakeholders had been formed to deal with problems affecting the district municipality. He said the committee served as a platform to discuss the border relations between the two countries, especially if the issues were potentially problematic. These included stock and car theft, drugs, abduction of people, emigration and SA health budgets being affected due to Lesotho nationals using hospitals in the district. DDR.

NIA to probe Home Affairs staff (The Star, 25/10):- The National Intelligence Agency is to probe all home affairs department officials over the next three years in a bid to end corruption. The department's director-general, Barry Gilder, said the NIA's security-clearance scanning of home affairs employees had exposed several corrupt officials - including senior managers - who were currently under investigation. In an interview with The Star, Gilder declined to reveal who - or how many - among the top brass were being investigated, but confirmed that the NIA's security-clearance exercise had found corrupt officials. "We are in the process of dealing with them," he said. "We have started (security clearance) with the senior management staff and all new employees, and we are hoping to get all staff on the programme by 2007," he said. The home affairs department employs about 7 000 staff and hopes to increase the number to 13 000.The department has been rocked by scandals, from officials taking bribes, to foreigners marrying South African women without their knowledge. Since August this year, 1 329 women have found themselves married to husbands they do not know. Gilder said the department was also developing its own internal security and anti-corruption measures to complement the NIA programme. "We have just appointed a chief director to deal with corruption and security. He is Stan Musi, the former provincial manager of the NIA in the Free State," Gilder said. Musi assumed duty last week, and this was marked by the tightening of security procedures in entering the department's Pretoria East head offices. Gilder said a key focus area was to beef up security at the Lindela deportation centre and at Johannesburg and Cape Town international airports. Musi's appointment follows that of another senior spy, former Western Cape NIA manager Arthur Fraser. He was appointed deputy director-general of the national immigration branch. Gilder, also former deputy director-general in the NIA, played down speculation that he was converting the department into a wing of the NIA. He said that because of the nature of the service home affairs provided, syndicates tried to get their claws into the department, corrupting officials. "It's not enough just to catch corrupt officials, because the syndicate will then corrupt other officials. What we have done is to develop a strategy to analyse the causes and smash the syndicates," he said.

NGO to besiege detention centre in protest (Daily News, 23/10):- Members of locally-based non-governmental organisations plan to march to Lindela detention camp just outside Johannesburg to protest against the deaths and ill-treatment of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants by South African authorities. The South African Women's Institute for Migration Affairs (SAWIMA) director, Joyce Dube told the Daily News Online that it was concerned about the state of affairs and condition of illegal immigrants. She said they were living in crowded conditions and had poor diet which made them susceptible to disease. Dube said they would be carrying coffins on the march as a way of mourning all those who died at Lindela as well as praying for the sick at the camp. "Some of them die but we are not able to ascertain the number because some of them do not have relevant identification documents but we have occasionally gone there to collect bodies of the immigrants for repatriation home," said Dube. It is estimated that at least three Zimbabweans die at Lindela every month but the exact number is not known. A senior official at the centre this week told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that they also did not know how many Zimbabwean immigrants were dying at the centre. Immigrants without identification papers were given paupers' burials while those whose bodies could be collected by their relatives were given the same type of burial. Dube said a recent visit to Leratho hospital where sick immigrants from Lindela were admitted had revealed that most, if not all were suffering from diseases that are caused by poor hygiene, poor living conditions and poor diet. She said SAWIMA was willing to work with authorities at Lindela to explore ways of assisting illegal immigrants' access proper treatment and return to their homes. "But one of our major problems is that some of the immigrants do not want to go back home because they will be arrested. We have some youths who ran away from National Youth Training Centres and once they get home they will be arrested," said Dube. There are more that two million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, the majority of them are staying here illegally. Lindela is a centre just outside Johannesburg where illegal immigrants are kept before deportation.

Sex workers and trafficking laws (Cape Argus, 22/10):- South Africa is moving rapidly to improve its international reputation in the controversy around human trafficking, but a warning has been sounded that adult sex workers may become scapegoats in the process. With specialised trafficking legislation firmly on the cards for South Africa, there are fears this could spell an end to "a more humane and socially responsible approach" to adult sex work, and see it branded "trafficking in women". South Africa is rated a Tier 2 country in the 2004 Trafficking in Persons report, published by the US Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, joining countries whose "governments do not comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorisation Act of 2003's minimum standards", but which are making "a significant effort to do so". 'Legislation must be relevant to local circumstances'. South Africa is a signatory to the UN Protocol on Trafficking in Persons, and hopes to have comprehensive domestic legislation in place by 2006, according to the International Organisation on Migration (IOM). According to the Geneva-based organisation, South Africa is the regional centre of an intricate trafficking network that recruits women and children from Mozambique, Angola, Malawi, Eastern Europe, Thailand and China. But Ted Leggett, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, is adamant the extent of South Africa's problem is unclear, with preliminary research here hinging on the direct experience of fewer than 35 people. The greatest deficiency of this research, Leggett said in the Institute article, "The Risks of Human Trafficking Legislation", lay in the small number of victims interviewed - yet the research was being taken as "authoritative" by international agencies which, he said, needed evidence to support the cause. Leggett said human trafficking called to mind images of children being snatched from the streets into panel vans, stowed in the holds of cargo ships and dumped in chains in a foreign brothel or work camp far from their mothers' arms. "It is difficult to imagine a more horrific crime, and no one would question the drive to halt this activity. But definitions of trafficking are broad, and much of the activity that has been labelled trafficking falls far from this scenario," he wrote. In addition, the offences involved could be prosecuted under existing South African law. There were also grave dangers in passing a new law if it was poorly drafted; there were some who would argue that all adult sex work was based on the exploitation of economic vulnerability, making it possible that all consensual domestic adult commercial sex work could be deemed "trafficking in women". "By possibly locking the country into a law enforcement approach to the problem of adult prostitution, the country could lose its flexibility to deal creatively with local problems," he said, pointing to the fact that for nearly 10 years academics and human rights advocates here had championed a movement to see adult commercial sex work decriminalised or legally regulated. "The consensus has been that criminalising prostitution only locks women deeper into sex work and exacerbates the abuses they suffer - while deterring no one," Leggett wrote. Writing in the IOM bulletin, Eye on Human Trafficking, Advocate Lowesa Stuurman, law adviser at the South African Law Reform Commission, acknowledged that while this country had an obligation to bring its domestic legislation in line with the Trafficking Protocol, "the extent of the problem of trafficking within and across the borders of South Africa is unclear". But she argued that the absence of definite statistics was an added reason for urgent promulgation of anti-trafficking legislation. "Legislation can be used to ensure that the necessary structure is established for determining, on a continuous basis, the extent of the problem," she said. Stuurman argued too that the trafficking of people for sexual exploitation should not be confused with voluntary involvement in prostitution. Victims of trafficking forced into prostitution were often afraid to seek help because they feared arrest, they were held under debt bondage and paid very little, if anything. The Law Reform Commission was currently investigating the possible legalisation, regulation and decriminalisation of adult prostitution however, and legal interventions to combat human trafficking needed to take into account any changes that may result. But existing legal measures that could be applied to prosecute offences related to trafficking in people were insufficient to combat trafficking, or to effectively protect victims. "Although South African legislation on trafficking in persons must adhere to international standards, it must be relevant to local circumstances," Stuurman said.

State employs 450 Cubans (Cape Argus, 20/10):- More than 450 Cubans are on the payrolls of South African government departments including Housing, Health, and Water Affairs and Forestry. Most of them - at least 339 - work as doctors. Others are architects, engineers and technicians.  The statistics are found in a report released yesterday by the Public Service Commission on the appointment of professional Cubans in the public service. The query arose in a question asked in parliament by Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald. The report makes clear, however, that the numbers could be higher. It says 53 other "foreigners" are employed as engineers. Groenewald said yesterday if doctors were included in the field of "engineering and related professions" then more than 34% of engineering posts in the public sector were filled by foreigners. "The report confirms what the FF Plus said originally- that the government of the day is ensuring that some people in South Africa remain unemployed. "We request that the government put a stop to this practice and start employing South Africans whose qualifications are accepted by the South African Qualifications Authority," he said. In his parliamentary question, Groenewald asked whether the qualifications of the Cuban employees were up to par with South African qualifications. The report suggests that in the case of architects and civil engineers working in the Department of Housing, the standards of qualification are unknown. "Consultations with professional bodies in South Africa to assess the qualifications of Cuban professionals is under way," it says, adding that Cuban engineers are not currently involved in certifying projects. It says Cuban technicians in the Health Department are "highly qualified". "Clinical engineering is one of the very scarce skills in the country as a whole because of further training being required over and above the normal electrical engineering done in most technikons," it says. According to the report, the 62 Cuban architects and engineers employed by the Department of Housing were remunerated contractually for three years. In the case of the engineers and technicians at the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, the government of Cuba pays their salaries and the department pays a monthly stipend of R3 300. Cuban doctors in the public service receive "direct remuneration from the department". The only detailed information available in terms of salaries shows that 26 Cuban engineers take home an annual gross income of R4.68 million. Groenewald also took issue with the Department of Housing which the report said only advertised posts in Cuba..

Commission to host xenophobia hearings (Sapa, 19/10):- The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will be hosting open hearings on xenophobia in November and has called for written submissions from individuals, organisations and interested parties. The SAHRC said on Tuesday it would host the hearings together with the Parliamentary portfolio committees of foreign affairs and home affairs from November 2 to 4. They would be held at the commission's offices in Parktown, Johannesburg. Written submissions should reach the office of the SAHRC on or before October 27, as they would be taken into consideration when the findings were made. SAHRC chairman Jody Kollapen said in a statement xenophobia was "pretty widespread" but "difficult to quantify" in South Africa, manifesting itself in the workplace, academic communities as well as on the street where it affected informal traders. The problem affected both South Africans and non-South Africans, he said

90,000 have applied for refugee status in SA (Sapa, 19/10):- At least 90,000 foreign nationals have applied for refugee status in South Africa, Members of Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee heard on Tuesday. "By now, we have at least some 90,000 pending applications from people," said Bemma Donkoh, a regional envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Most of them came from the Great Lakes region, Somalia, Ethiopia and some from Eritrea. A few came from Sudan, Liberia and Angola. Others came from Zimbabwe and Mozambique, she said. "... it's very important for us to know the numbers; the demographics where they come from. We need to know who they are; what is their background," Donkoh told members of the committee. "You find people from India, Pakistan, Bulgaria. They are all there, applying. (Others are from) Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria. "But the critical profile of those who actually get recognised, I think it's a recognition of the circumstances in their countries today." Donkoh said 26,000 people had been recognised as refugees in South Africa so far. She said the UNHCR did not recognise victims of natural disasters and economic migrants as refugees.

More women found illegally married (BuaNews, 13/10):- The Department of Home Affairs has released new figures, since the launch of its campaign encouraging women to check if they have been illegally married to unknown men. Since the launch of the "check your status" campaign in August, a total of 1 329 women have found to be married without their knowledge. Gauteng is the province with the highest number of fraudulent marriages - 792. This is 522 in the Gauteng West region (Soweto and the West Rand) and 270 for Gauteng East (Pretoria and East Rand). The department said KwaZulu-Natal was second with 157 cases reported, Mpumalanga recorded 87, Eastern Cape 80, North West 59, Limpopo 49, Western Cape 49, and Free State 48 and Northern Cape Province with only 8 reported. Since the campaign started, 47 771 women have come to the department to verify their marital status. This campaign has also prompted 1 515 couples to come forward and register their customary marriages which were previously not registered, said the department. According to the statistics kept since November 2001 to date, 4 388 complaints were received while 2 830 fraudulent marriages were expunged from the population register. The department said a total number of 303 cases were referred to court, as it was not convinced that the complainants were fraudulently married. "About 83 cases remain unresolved because complainants did not provide enough information in order for the department to finalise their queries," the department explained. Another total of 1 172 complaints are still being investigated. South Africans who still wish to check their marital status can visit the department's website at <> or call the toll free number 0800 10 1994.

HIV prevalence among health workers high (Sunday Times, 12/10):- The prevalence of HIV among health workers in South Africa is "very high" and they need to be targeted with antiretroviral treatment as part of a multipronged approach to augment the sector, the SA Medical Journal (SAMJ) warns. "Given the high prevalence of HIV (of 15.7%) in the younger population of health workers, it is critical to increase the numbers of nurses to be trained, particularly if one considers that from 1997 to 2001 the country experienced a 6.86% decline in the number of nurses registering with the South African Nursing Council," says the October edition of the SAMJ. In outlining their research, the authors said a stratified cluster sample was drawn of five percent of health facilities in the country representative of the public and private health sectors in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the North West. The sample was designed to obtain a nationwide representative sample of medical professionals and non-professional health workers, with a sub-sample comprising health workers in four provinces tested for HIV status. In the results of a sample of 721 health workers and a response rate of 82.5% or 595 respondents, the study found that an estimated 15.7% of health workers employed in the public and private health facilities located in the four provinces had HIV/Aids in 2002. Among younger health workers, the risk was even higher. This group, aged between 18 and 35 years, had an estimated HIV prevalence of 20%, with non-professionals having an HIV prevalence of 20.3% while professionals had a prevalence of 13.7%. The article said given the fact that health workers were "critical" in managing HIV/Aids patients, it was important that planners had information on health workers' zero status. The authors said black health workers had a much higher HIV prevalence than all other race groups, but said caution needed to be exercised in interpreting the results because the figures among the other race groups were too small to yield meaningful results.
The study also found that health workers' levels of education were not significantly related to the HIV prevalence, but marital status was strongly related to it. "Health workers who were unmarried were more likely to be HIV-positive than those who were married," read the article. The authors said the high prevalence of HIV in the health sector had serious implications for the health system, with increased absenteeism and non-infected workers becoming overloaded with work, leading to lower morale and burnout. Occupational exposure to HIV was highly likely in health care settings, with the authors saying infected workers were likely to be "doubly infected" with opportunistic diseases such as TB. Interestingly, the authors note that while the risk of health workers being infected by patients was high, HIV-infected health workers were "less likely" to transmit HIV to their patients. The multi-authored article on the prevalence of HIV/Aids among South African health workers, also said that in addition to training more nurses, the national Department of Health needed to conduct an in-depth investigation into the reasons causing nurses to leave the profession and/or emigrate. The authors note that another area of concern was the closure of nursing colleges in the country, and the proliferation of private training colleges with "serious" accreditation problems.

Illegal immigrants present easy pickings (Business Day, 12/10):- A fact-finding mission of Parliament's portfolio committee on home affairs recently heard complaints of corruption, xenophobia, incompetence and human rights abuses at the Lindela repatriation centre. Chairman Patrick Chauke and four committee members recently met foreign embassies' representatives and the South African Human Rights Commission on the issues. Commission chairman Jody Kollapen says there are weaknesses in the verification systems used by police and home affairs officials when they arrest suspected illegal foreigners. He says people are sometimes arrested because they are "too dark" or because they cannot speak any local language fluently. Kollapen also says the screening processes are not sensitive to people's basic human rights. The Human Rights Commission regularly visits Lindela, and has found minors detained there. Kollapen says allegations of corruption are regularly made against home affairs officials at Lindela. "I think we have to review the arrest, detain and deport policy as far as illegal foreigners are concerned," says Kollapen. He says people who are deported often return to SA within 24 hours . But he acknowledges that conditions at Lindela have improved. The consulate-generals of Zimbabwe and Mozambique recited a litany of harassment, bribery and rights abuses meted out against their citizens at Lindela by police and home affairs officials. Zimbabwean consul-general Godfrey Dzvairo says Zimbabweans living in and around Hillbrow are targets of unscrupulous policemen looking for bribes. "Police raid the flats of foreigners at similar times each month. They know that Zimbabweans stay there and that some of them have no papers. So they raid the area, arrest them and free those who can pay," Dzvairo claims. "If you talk to Zimbabweans in Hillbrow they will tell you when you cannot visit because there is going to be a raid. Those who remain have money. "What they usually do is to arrest a group of people and throw them into a police van. They then stop in the next street and ask if there is someone who wants to go to the toilet. Those people who have money raise their hands because they know they will be let free." Dzvairo says police fail to recognise diplomatic passports, and tear up genuine passports and visa documents while seeking bribes. He also accuses home affairs officials of not affording illegal foreigners their rights as stipulated by international law. People are not allowed to collect their belongings before they are deported, and one woman was refused permission to collect her son from a preschool and was able to do so only days later. Mozambican consul-general Luis Adelino da Silva says his office is inundated with complaints from Mozambicans raided in their homes. He says the quality of food and medical care at Lindela is worrying. So far 20 Mozambicans held at Lindela have died from unexplained causes. Even African diplomats are not spared harassment by police, who often question their documents, Da Silva says. Chauke says their concerns will be studied by the committee, which will draft a report to Parliament with recommendations. He says there is a need for greater coordination between home affairs officials, especially those at Lindela, foreign embassies and the police so that there is uniformity in the application of immigration laws. Chauke says government cannot be seen to be condoning xenophobia while it is championing African unity at bodies such as the Pan African Parliament and the African Union.

Spooks shake up Home affairs (Cape Argus, 12/10):- There has been a changing of the guard at the Department of Home Affairs aimed at sending a chilling message to criminals and terrorists seeking shelter in this country. Strategically selected former top officials from the National Intelligence Agency have taken up senior positions in the department. In the past week two former NIA regional managers have been appointed as Deputy Directors-General in the Home Affairs Department, to serve under former South African Secret Services boss Barry Gilder. Arthur Fraser, former NIA chief in the Western Cape, has been appointed to head immigration services and Stan Noosi, former head of the NIA office in the Free State, has been installed as head of counter-corruption. The appointment of the seasoned intelligence operatives has caused some analysts to speculate on whether South Africa is headed down the road taken by the United States, where the Department of Homeland Security has been vested with wide ranging and intrusive powers. Addressing the concerns raised about top spooks taking over a department that had a wide civilian functions brief, intelligence ministry spokeswoman Lorna Daniels said immigration was a "security function", and in this respect "we are moving in the direction of other countries, like the United States, which has a department of Homeland Security". Daniels said the appointment of Fraser, Noosi and other employees of the intelligence agencies followed the thinking in the department which involves beefing up strategic areas of governance. "(Intelligence) Minister Ronnie Kasrils is committed to assisting key government departments such as Home Affairs. "In this respect he believes that the appointment of Arthur Fraser, with a wealth of experience in intelligence, will strengthen the department's efforts at immigration security," Daniels said. She said that Mfundo Majozi, a long-term NIA official who had worked in the Cape Town office for the past few years, had been appointed as acting Western Cape NIA general manager. It is understood that the appointment of the officials is a direct attempt at stemming widespread graft which has resulted in several high-profile arrests of home affairs officials involved in selling identity documents, passports and involvement in fake marriage scams. Several arrests by police agencies in the US, Pakistan and the United Kingdom have also placed South Africa in the spotlight as a weak link in the global security environment. Daniels said that the problems that have been recently publicised within the department have been a problem for a significant period and for this reason it had been decided that an inter-departmental approach had to be adopted.

Home affairs officials on bail (BuaNews, 12/10):- The six people who were arrested in Johannesburg last week, for allegedly selling fake official documents, have been released on bail. The suspects, who include two Home Affairs officials and four middlemen, were arrested following an exposé by the investigative and award winning television programme, the Special Assignment, flighted every Tuesday on SABC. The suspects were captured on a hidden camera accepting bribes from people in need of official documents such as Identity Documents (IDs) and birth certificates. The suspects all worked at the Market Street Home Affairs office where they allegedly sold IDs for R1000. They are Steven Mailula, an administrative clerk and Sipho Sithole, a cleaner. They were released on R5 000 bail each, while the middlemen were released on R3 000. They will appear again at the Johannesburg Magistrate Court tomorrow.

Residents slam cop brutality in swoop (Sunday Times, 11/10):- Outraged Port Elizabeth residents claimed they were beaten up, robbed of cash and strip-searched for drugs by police during a crime prevention blitz in Central at the weekend. The allegations of police brutality followed a swoop on nightclubs across the suburb on Friday and early Saturday. Some club patrons said police officers had sprayed tear gas at revellers and taken money from them, and one man was allegedly attacked by a police dog. The raid - Operation Thorn - was the second launched by police in a bid to rid the area of crime. Last month's Operation Bite was unpopular with locals because of alleged aggressive behaviour and manhandling by police. Beachfront trader Yusuf Khan, a Tanzanian, said he had been walking in Western Road about midnight on Saturday when he was approached by four policemen. "When they discovered I was a foreigner, one said foreigners must go back to their countries as they were causing problems here. They searched my pockets, took out the only R50 I had in my wallet, threw (the wallet) on the tar and walked away. "When I asked for my money, one came back, grabbed me by the neck and pushed me," said Khan, who sells wood carvings and artifacts in Port Elizabeth and along the Garden Route.
A Ugandan man, a Central resident, said five policemen had surrounded him at Destiny Jazz Club in Trinder Square and taken about Rl,000 from his wallet. The man claimed the police had asked him for an identity book, grabbed his wallet and emptied it, then sprayed tear gas in his eyes after he tried to take it back. About 50 policeman had raided the club on Saturday night, patrons said. They claimed some civilians had been slapped in the face for questioning the police. During a raid on Kwaito House in Parliament Street, witnesses said a man had suffered leg injuries when a police dog allegedly mauled him. Angry resident Mandla Qupe said the raid reminded him of apartheid. "They are behaving just like Hitler's gestapo. They are instilling fear in communities. This is not the way modern policing should be." Two young women were also among those who complained of police ill-treatment. Nontobeko Makhaya and Meicy Dziwonu claimed they had been slapped by female police officers in Destiny Jazz Club late on Friday. Dziwonu, 29, said she had been sitting in the club with her friends when the police walked in. "I just commented, 'Here come the cops', and that was my mistake. Two policewomen slapped me in the face." Makhaya, 20, said she had been slapped because police thought she was too young to be in a club. Club manager Mike Anderson said the raid had taken place about 2am and he claimed the police had not been in possession of a search warrant. "The police burst into the club and started searching our customers, who were already at the door, leaving." Anderson said he had asked for a search warrant and was then assaulted. "They were even beating up women and arrested one for refusing to be searched by a male officer," he said. Police spokesman Tembi Gwe said people were urged to report incidents of this nature so that police could investigate. Central councillor Terry Herbst - who is championing the clean-up of the area - said he was very concerned about the behaviour of "those rotten apples". "I do not think the average policeman would do that. Any policeman found guilty of such behaviour must be thrown out," said Herbst.

Exodus of medical staff continues (The Mercury, 08/10):- A total of 23 400 health care workers have left South Africa in the past 10 years and health experts have predicted that the country will continue shedding health professionals to its global competitors. This was revealed at the fifth Joint Population Conference in Durban yesterday. It was also revealed that KwaZulu-Natal had the second highest number of vacant posts as the exodus of health care workers continued unabated. Ben Ngyende, a health professional from the National School of Public Health at Medunsa, attributed the exodus of nurses and doctors to economic instability, poor working conditions, the impact of HIV/Aids and attractive salary packages offered in Europe, Canada and the United States of America. Ngyende told delegates that the emigration of health care workers was set to continue even though the government had pleaded with people to stay. "Up to 100 000 people left SA over a three-year period while 70% of these people (those still in the country) are considering emigrating. This is despite government calls for professionals to stay and help build the country," said Ngyende. He added that out of the 233 609 South Africans believed to have emigrated in the past 10 years, 23 400 of them had been health workers. "Despite poor quality data about the actual number of health care professionals who have left the country, there is no doubt that the brain drain has accelerated since 1990. "The migration of health personnel has to be better managed if the country is serious about reversing this disturbing trend," he said. Ngyende also acknowledged that the migration of health care workers was not confined to South Africa, adding that it was a common factor that applied to all developing countries. He identified better pay, better working conditions as well as the desire to continue with education as key factors contributing to the exodus of health workers. He said in developing countries health professionals were underpaid and poorly motivated, a factor that countries like Canada and the US were using to their advantage. Ngyende shocked the delegates when he told them that the exodus of health workers had contributed to the high vacancy rate in the health sector. "One out of three positions in the country is vacant and this translates to 500 000 positions in the country," he said.

Home Affairs has turned corner: says report (Pretoria News, 08/10):- The Department of Home Affairs has "cut an impressive path" in its bid to drastically improve services to the public, according to Director-General Barry Gilder. Commenting on its first "turnaround" annual report to Parliament for 2003/04, Gilder says his department's admission - that it was lagging in government's efforts to transform itself into an efficient service-provider - was an important step in its bid to offer better services. "Unlike other departments, who have largely come to terms with the challenges of transformation and change in the first decade of democracy, we have publicly admitted that we lag behind. This admission was an important first step in our turnaround journey," Gilder says in his introduction to the report. Since his appointment as head of the department early last year, Gilder has been making a little-publicised but concerted attempt to tackle a myriad of problems including corruption amongst staff, a lack of resources and low morale. Another major issue which has plagued the department for many years is the controversial issue of the country's immigration policies, laws and regulations. "In conceiving our service delivery improvement agenda we did not have the luxury of conducting long-range planning. The turn-around strategy had to be developed with speed, precision and decisiveness. This meant that we had to re-determine our priorities and re-allocate our resources," he said in the report. While there were still many challenges ahead, the department had succeeded in raising awareness about its centrality to government's attempts to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans and the need to prioritise the department's recovery, he said. Government has said that the wide-scale problems with birth certificates and identity documents, has a significant influence on the ability of ordinary citizens to access social grants and pensions. Corruption relating to marriage certificates and death certificates has also been a major problem for the department as many people, especially foreigners, benefit from fraudulent South African citizenship. False South African passports have also been the source of problems for the department because international crime syndicates and alleged terrorists have been using these documents to conduct illegal activities at home and abroad. But Gilder says the department is gaining ground. "Given the limited time that we have had to implement our turnaround strategy, some may feel the evidence may not yet be conclusive. However, the past year has seen us cut an impressive path through the hard rock of the mountains through which our road to a better Department of Home Affairs must pass. Now we can begin to level the road and lay the tar that will make our journey easier and faster."

Crime gangs turn to women trafficking (SABC News, 07/10):- International smugglers of weapons and drugs are increasingly trafficking women from Africa, Latin America and Asia to developed countries where they are duped into working as prostitutes, Interpol said on Wednesday. "There is a clear movement of organized crime, which is changing particular crime fields in the direction of people smuggling and trafficking," Hamish McCulloch, head of Interpol's people smuggling unit, told a news conference. He said hundreds of thousands of foreign women in western Europe, North America and Japan were working involuntarily as prostitutes after being tricked into leaving their countries on the promise of legitimate jobs. "The women leave their home countries thinking they will be working as waitresses, babysitters, in bars or in some other type of employment that will supply them with a decent wage," McCulloch said at an Interpol meeting in Cancun, Mexico. Organized criminals then take the women's passports, air tickets and money and force them into prostitution, sometimes under the threat of sexual and other physical violence. "Although it is hard to conceive of why they don't just leave, the evidence is that they don't because of the fear of what might happen to them, what might happen to their families and children back home," McCulloch said. Norway, where prostitution is legal, has seen a rise in criminal gangs becoming involved in women smuggling, the country's deputy police commissioner, Odd Berner Malme, said. "It is more the rule that organized crime is involved than the exception. Before it was an exception when we saw criminal networks involved," he said. Trafficking in women initially became a major concern for Interpol after the collapse of the former Soviet bloc, when eastern European women began to be sent to western Europe to become prostitutes. Now, criminal networks are trafficking women all over the world. "There have been examples of women being trafficked from South America, through Europe to as far afield as Japan, so we are not just talking about women being passed across the border," McCulloch said

Home Affairs gets new bosses (BuaNews, 07/10):- Government has quickly moved to close the administration gap at the home affairs department by appointing three new directors-general. The three are Mr Joel Risimati Chavalala, Ms Thembekile Cele and Mr Arthur Joseph Fraser and would respectively be responsible civic services, service delivery and the national immigration branch. The latter is seen as the potential to close loopholes that have exposed immigration regulations to fraud. The department, which until recently was led by Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi, has been hit by cases of organised corruption, bribery and maladministration. Since taking over the reigns, Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula and her deputy Malusi Gigaba have sought to rid this department of grime. The department recently launched a campaign calling on women to check their marital status. This after it was flooded with complaints of single women fraudulently "married" to foreign men desperate for citizenship. The campaign has proven to be successful, with many women coming forward and several people arrested for this crime. In a recent development, in the Special Assignment documentary this week, the SABC exposed how deep-rooted corruption was corroding efforts for good service delivery at the department's offices in Johannesburg. This effort led to the arrest of several officers including others who acted as middlemen, suspected of bringing potential clients for illegal official documents such as Identity Documents and Birth Certificates. It is hoped that the new bureaucrats would tighten the department's grip on maladministration, uprooting corrupt elements within the system. Two of the new appointees will assume their duties immediately whilst the third (Service Delivery) will join the department in December.

NIA boss now chief of immigration (Pretoria News, 07/10):- A former intelligence boss is to become South Africa's immigration chief. Arthur Fraser, at one time the head of the National Intelligence Agency in the Western Cape, will be the new deputy director-general for immigration services in the Department of Home Affairs. His appointment was one of two announced by the Cabinet yesterday. Joel Chavalala was appointed the new deputy director-general for civic services. The appointments were part of the department's turn-around strategy aimed at stamping out corruption and to beef up service delivery. Home Affairs director-general Barry Gilder said after the Cabinet meeting in Pretoria that the upgrading of immigration and civic services from chief directorates to full branch level formed part of addressing the leadership shortcomings in the department. "When I was appointed D-G, I only had one deputy director-general, and this was not a good way to manage," he said. In line with this strategy, a new chief director for counter-corruption would also be announced soon. Early indications were that the candidate was also likely to hail from the intelligence services. Gilder said Fraser's history in the NIA, particularly his experience with issues relating to border control, would stand him in good stead as he drove the implementation of the new immigration legislation. South African borders were notoriously porous and the challenge for Fraser would be to facilitate the entry of those who were desirable and to keep out those who wanted to enter the country illegally. Chavalala would be responsible for the division which issued ID documents and marriage and death certificates to South African citizens. His position was upgraded after a re-evaluation of his post found that his duties spanned a vast area. Gilder said the process of overhauling civic services was still ongoing and a final structure would be in place soon. It was hoped that the upgrading would stamp out the systemic corruption that had been plaguing the department.

An alien in Johannesburg (Mail & Guardian, 07/10):- You are so lucky! Oh I wish I was in your shoes, leaving this dreadful country and its problems. I wish I could fit in your suitcase!” So they all said to me. My friends, my family, colleagues in the office, complete strangers at Harare airport immigration.  I smiled. I have no words for them because I have been out of the country on long stays twice before. I know what it’s like. It is my first day in South Africa and not my lucky day. The fellow at customs orders me to open my baggage. He searches … very ... very slowly. Then he walks away from me, leaving my stuff strewn all over the counter. I repack with tears blinding me. In Johannesburg now and I still don’t feel so lucky out on a short trip to buy fruit and vegetables. A South African police car stops right in front of me. I almost fall into it. “Come here!” the white officer barks at me. I move towards him, while the black officer jumps out from the other side to come to me. “ID,” the white officer demands. As I hand it to him, he turns away, motions for me to give it to the black cop who grabs it and roughly flips through it. “What you want here? When will you go back to Zimbabwe?” he barks. I am not sure how to answer this question. Does he mean what do I want at Dunkeld West shopping centre? Or does he mean what do I want in South Africa? I point at my two-year visitor’s visa. “This not working permit. Sisi, not working permit. Get working permit or we deport you. You hear me?” he asks. I can hear him too loud and too clear. I can feel him too. So menacingly close to my chest. I feel much luckier later in the day, when a taxi driver asks me where I am from. When I tell him, he gives me R10. “Don’t worry my sister, you will defeat him [Robert Mugabe] like we defeated the Boers. Here is a little something for you. Go well, my sister.” Luck doesn’t seem to stay with me long. I am in a supermarket. Surrounded by what appears to be the entire management of the chain. I am being questioned intensely about the origins of my rand-denominated travellers’ cheques, what am I doing here? I try to explain that these are from a local bank. They are legal tender. Nobody is convinced. They reject them. “We have had a lot of problems with many Nig ... I mean people from Africa. Just get proper cash,” says the manager. Nigerians, that is what she was about to say. That’s the collective name for those of us who are a different species from across the Limpopo. Nothing much has changed since I lived here back in 1999. Occasionally, my sojourn in South Africa makes me feel like an unhappily married woman returning to a union she is not wanted in. I really can’t believe my ears, when my own mouth proclaims loudly, “I am doing this for the sake of my children. They will be better off. They will at least have a more normal childhood.” There are some good things about my new life in Jozi. Joy of all joys, I am able to listen to the radio. (I couldn’t at home because it’s all state-run and mostly propaganda.) The same goes for television and newspapers. My Sundays fly past as I devour all the papers. Can someone remind me how I ever survived without a daily newspaper? I’m afraid the state-run Herald didn’t cut it. Political exile. Economic exile. Company transfer. There are so many words to describe why you left your home. I feel all the dislocation of the emigrant. As I walk past happy South Africans having Saturday brunch, a group of men playing chess on the street and listen to their conversations, I am depressed and angry. I am here and yet I am not here. In moments like these I clip on my headphones and listen to one of our exiled singers, Lovemore Majaivana, “Umoya wami bo, ausekho lapha … ngisakhe ngikhumbule ekhaya … Ngabe bona basakhela amafekithali … ukuthi siyesebenza, Gijima gijima mfana, uyetshela abadala, ukuthi mina ngithe ah ah.” “My heart is not in this place … I am thinking of home … If only they [our leaders], could build us factories, then we could work, Run, run young man, go tell the old men, … I said no.” I am a fish out of water, not a lucky fish.

Immigrant skills quotas to be prescribed (Mail & Guardian, 07/10):- South African Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana has confirmed that he will be consulted before quotas for professional categories and occupational classes of immigrants are set in terms of the Immigration Act. Replying to a question from Minority Front MP Sunklavathy Rajbally, who asked whether there was any involvement by his department with Home Affairs to set criteria to "resource" immigrants with skills needed in South Africa, Mdladlana said: "The Department of Labour is represented on the Immigration Advisory Board, where inputs are made on immigration policy. Regarding criteria for the attraction of skilled immigrants, the Immigration Act uses quotas that are now to be prescribed according to specific professional categories and occupational classes. The Minister of Labour is to be consulted before these quotas are published in the Government Gazette. "The Department of Labour will therefore be involved with the Department of Home Affairs in terms of the Immigration Amendment Bill once it is promulgated and the regulations finalised." Mdladlana noted that in terms of general work permits, both the old and new immigration legislation required an employer to search for South African labour before making use of immigrant workers. "This search criterion is one that the department of labour supports. Where immigrant workers are employed, their conditions of employment should not undermine the employment of South African workers. The criterion is also one that the Department of Labour supports."

Home Affairs officials arrested in Johannesburg (Mail & Guardian, 06/10):- Police say they have arrested a home affairs official and four "middle-men" at the home affairs offices in Market Street, Johannesburg, for allegedly selling fake documents. South African Broadcasting Corporation news reported on Tuesday that the documents included lDs, birth certificates and passports. The arrests follow an expose by Special Assignment, an SABC 3 current affairs programme. The Special Assignment team found out just how easy it is to buy a .. fake ID when they visited the department. Within an hour, they were issued a temporary ID, which was handed to them by a photographer at the door. Although the document looked legitimate, there were no records of it .. at home affairs. The department, dogged by allegations of fraud and corruption, admits it has a long way to go. Barry Gilder, the director general at the department, said: "It was clear to me when I was appointed as DG last year. The department has massive challenges. We provide a service to South Africans and visitors that is attractive to criminals and crooks too." Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the minister of home affairs, says the department has taken immediate steps to discipline the officials involved. She said there was an ongoing programme to rid home affairs of corruption. The five men arrested will appear in court soon.

Dark skin nearly lands local in Zimbabwe (City Press, 02/10):- Black is beautiful - but for Nomvula Zondo her dark complexion landed her in dire straits this week when she was wrongfully arrested and scheduled for deportation. Furious about what happened, the 24-year-old South African poured her heart out to City Press after her release. Born in Tatane village, Estcourt, in KwaZulu-Natal, Zondo told how she was arrested and beaten by local police, who accused her of being an illegal immigrant. "I still have vivid images of how they dragged (me) and beat me up," she said. "My complexion has always been like this. I have never been victimised because of it. These policemen were the first people to do this to me." Zondo's nightmare started on Monday morning when she was stopped by two Fairland police officers. She had been outside her flat in Windsor, Johannesburg, with her Zimbabwean boyfriend, Butho Nkiwane, at the time. She said the officers asked for her identity document and when they failed to produce it they were asked to pay a bribe of R200. But they only had RSO on them. The police officers complained and tried to arrest them, she said. Nkiwane managed to escape, leaving Zondo at the mercy of the cops. She said the officers, one named Mthethwa, accused her of being an illegal immigrant from Zimbabwe. They then allegedly beat her up before pushing her into the back of their van. "I told them I was a South African but they did not want to listen," she said. Zondo said her flatmates witnessed her ordeal and shouted at the officers, telling them to stop beating her. One of the witnesses, Anita Mkandla, said: "I screamed for help when I saw the police beating Nomvula up. They refused to accept her identity document when I gave it to them. I did not know what to do." Zondo further said that the officers offered to release her in exchange for sex. "I refused and he (the one officer) told me that I will remember him when I am back in Zimbabwe." Once at Fairland police station, a female police officer called her a whore. "When I called her a bitch, Mthethwa hit me across the face with an open hand." She said she was then forced to spend the night on the floor of a cell without a blanket. At first light on Tuesday, she was fed bread and tea. That morning, Mkandla and her brother handed Zondo's ID in at the station. This did not secure her release, however. Instead, she was taken to the Lindela repatriation centre. Zondo said she was registered as "unknown" at the centre. She said she spent most of her time there praying for a "miracle" to happen despite the improved conditions. "At Lindela, at least I had a bed and blankets. We were served pap, soup, an apple and some brown bread," she said. "We were going to be deported to Zimbabwe on Wednesday afternoon." Zondo added.

Fact paves way against SA employers (Sapa, 01/10):- A new labour agreement signed between Zimbabwe and South Africa on Friday could pave the way for financial claims by migrant workers, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana said. He said the South African government had been approached by many African neighbours on behalf of former mine- and farm workers who did not receive proper severance packages from South African employers because of their foreign status. "Those who they worked for should get their bank balances and cheques ready," the minister said after signing a labour agreement with his Zimbabwean counterpart Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana in Pretoria. The claims could go back many years, he added. He said many people from Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana had worked on South African mines and other companies but had not received their retirement or disability packages because their employers took advantage of them being foreigners. "Many can produce sufficient proof that they were employed by these companies and now it's time for their former employers to pay up," he said. Mdladlana said the memorandum of understanding was also aimed at reducing the number of illegal immigrants in South Africa, which had led to xenophobia. Mdladlana said there were an estimated 12,000 illegal Mozambicans and 20,000 illegal Zimbabweans working on South African farms. He said there were an estimated 500,000 illegal Mozambicans in the country and "even more Zimbabweans because of our history." He accused Limpopo farmers of employing illegal Zimbabwean labour for far less that South Africa's regulated labour. "From now on if South African workers get R600 a month so will Zimbabwean workers," said Mdladlana, who added that if it meant making it easier for foreigners to enter the country legally then "so be it." He said that not only did illegal immigrants pose human rights abuse issues but also security issues. "Not all who enter our country illegally are looking for work," Mdladlana said. Both ministers agreed that if illegal immigrants continued to stream into South Africa it could lead to the possible outbreak of war between the peoples of southern Africa, sparked by xenophobia. "I am sure presidents Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe don't want a war between their citizens," Mdladlana said, "especially when we are striving to achieve an African renaissance."

Mining giants told to pay back Zimbabweans miners (SABC News, 01/10):- Membathisi Mdladlana, the labour minister, has warned the country's mining giants and farmers that they must prepare to make back payments to hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean miners who worked and retired without proper payment in South Africa. Mdladlana made the comments at the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Paul Mangwana, his Zimbabwean counterpart, in Pretoria today. The memorandum considers ways of reimbursing former Zimbabwean gold mine migrant workers and farm labourers. He says the South African government has been approached by many African neighbours on the issue. Mdladlana says the document also outlines policy and guidelines that the farmers, especially around the borders of the country, must follow before employing foreign workers. Those who had employed the migrant workers should get their bank  balances and cheques ready, he says. Zimbabwe and South Africa are doing this on behalf of former mine and farm  labourers who did not receive proper severance packages from local employers because of their foreign status. Mdladlana has urged the local farming community not to abuse the "illegal immigrants" because they also have the same human rights. Mangwana on the other hand says the agreement will continue strengthening both countries' working relations. More than 20 000 foreign farm labourers are employed illegally in South Africa.

Australian asylum report slams South Africa (Cape Times, 01/10):- An Australian report to be handed to the United Nations next week names South Africa as a "high-risk" country for asylum-seekers. The report by the Edmund Rice Centre, a Sydney-based Catholic organisation, highlights the actions of private South African companies engaged by the Australian government to send failed asylum-seekers home to other parts of Africa. In collaboration with the governments of both countries, these companies were receiving deportees from Australia and passing them across borders without assuming responsibility for their ultimate safety, it said. In 35 of 40 cases studied in the two years of the research, the failed asylum-seekers were returned to dangerous situations. "Some people have had no option but to become refugees a second time." In one case, a failed asylum-seeker from Angola had been escorted by Australian government officials to Johannesburg and handed over to representatives of a company specialising in repatriating stowaways. The company had initially tried to deport the man to the Democratic Republic of Congo, although he had no family there and did not speak French. It was only after he demanded meeting Angolan embassy officials that his nationality was confirmed. As soon as the man arrived in Angola, he was jailed because of his anti-government views. He escaped to another First World country, where he was living as a recognised refugee. Another case constituted "one of the most bizarre episodes in Australian deportation history": a failed asylum-seeker, a stateless man born in Kuwait to Sudanese parents, was taken on several flights between Australia, South Africa and Tanzania before being returned to an immigration detention centre in Australia. The report would be presented to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva next week, the centre's director, Phil Glendenning, said. "We have evidence of people being returned to situations that aren't safe. Any party involved in that is in breach of international law and common standards of decency and humanity." The centre hoped the UNHCR would help to pressure the Australian government, in particular, to take more responsibility for the failed asylum-seekers it was deporting. In some respects, the South African government had been "quite generous" to asylum-seekers, but there was not enough supervision of companies involved in deportations. "The problem is private companies that we believe were set up under the apartheid regime to move people quickly across borders and some of the practices they use put people's lives at risk," he said. The report was being studied to see if it raised matters meriting investigation, a government spokesman said here. Allegations in a preliminary report could not be substantiated. The Australian government was satisfied with the actions of the South African companies. It could not be responsible for the wellbeing of people in their homelands simply because they had spent time in Australia.

Re-opening of access to Mozambique (ReliefWeb, 29/10):- The reopening this week of the Mhlumeni 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 long time resident of the regional capital, Siteki, told IRIN. Mhlumeni was once Swaziland's principal outlet to Maputo, the capital of Mozambique and a major port, 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 Mhlumeni 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 after, and is now a ruin. When the tourist trade ended, most people earned a marginal living as subsistence farmers on communal Swazi Nation 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 percent 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 dependant 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 Mhlumeni border post will re-establish 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, further north at Lomahasha, is currently open between Swaziland and Mozambique. Reopening the border 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 South Africa. "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 customs and immigration facilities on its side of the border and new Swazi facilities sat idle at Mhlumeni for four years until a companion building and gate were recently finished by Mozambique. Swazis have complained that they were largely left out of the LSDI, which some parliamentarians felt concentrated on South Africa and Mozambique. While Mhlumeni remained closed, a major highway connecting Johannesburg with Maputo was built, bypassing Swaziland by 50 kilometres.

Project aimed at sex workers (Time of Swaziland, 24/10):- A local non-governmental organisation has denied allegations that it is assisting sex workers in the formation of a union. The Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS) revealed that it was involved in a HIV\AIDS programme targeted at what it has termed 'vulnerable women'. The programme is part of the regional Corridors of Hope project that supports the improvement of sex workers' conditions in countries where prostitution is legalised such as South Africa. In Swaziland, the Crime Act of 1889 makes prostitution an illegal trade. Despite this state of affairs FLAS has decided not to ignore the existence of the illicit trade and is providing reproductive health care and education for men and women in identified hotspots. An official from the organisation said their intention was not to encourage prostitution, but given the state of affairs, that is the drastic effects of the HIV /AIDS pandemic coupled with the escalating effects of poverty, they could not pretend as if prostitution was not practiced and people needed to be helped. The project is part of the PSI/AIDSMARK project sponsored by the USAID Africa Bureau. The organisation has identified four of the country's prostitution hotspots and has recruited peer educators to work amongst the sex workers. The hotspots are Ngwenya, Lomahasha and Lavumisa border towns, and Matsapha since FLAS realised that it was also a highly active area. According to FLAS Information Officer Jerome Shongwe, the programme is aimed at intensifying the prevention and care response for mobile populations who frequently cross international borders among ten countries in Southern Africa. The term 'vulnerable women' was coined after realising that not only full time sex workers were at high risk but also members of the community were at high risk. This was due to the high volume of informal and formal trade in these border towns.
"Initially, the project was aimed at sex workers but then we realised that not only this group was active at these busy border towns. Women who work as vendors and hawkers are also at high risk as there is a lot of cross border traffic, and transport workers, mostly truck and kombi drivers spend the night in these areas. The goal of the project is to promote behaviour change amongst high risk groups," Shongwe said. He said Lomahasha was a high-risk area, despite being the last intervention site in the country. Established in January 2004, Lomahasha has been identified as a high transmission site. In a recent report, a total of 33 026 condoms were distributed in Lomahasha in only two months. Of the other towns, Ngwenya had 35 490 condoms distributed in four months, being an increase of over 2 000 compared to the previous quarter. Lavumisa decreased by half, receiving 24 683 condoms compared to 46 985 in the previous quarter. The number of people referred for sexually transmitted illnesses in these areas increased from 59 in the first quarter of the project, to 125 in the second quarter and 83 in the last quarter.

Asians a threat to Swaziland, says Minister (Time of Swaziland, 10/10):- Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Mabili Dlamini is standing his ground over the comments he made about Asians being a threat to the country, which offended the Asian community. Instead, the minister has justified and defended his comments, which have been widely criticised and considered racist. "I don't feel apologetic as such because I was saying something which I legitimately feel it was a matter that Swazis should look into. Whatever I said was in the context of the empowerment of the Swazis," the minister told this newspaper in an interview, finally breaking his silence over the controversial comments. The minister was quoted by our sister newspaper about two weeks ago saying Asians, especially Indians and Pakistanis were a security threat in the country. Ever since the matter, which has raised a lot of interest among the Swazi nation, began, the minister has been elusive. But just a day after this newspaper brought the news that one of the Asian nationals had reported the matter back home, he finally realised the need to respond. During the exclusive interview, the minister said it was unfortunate that the aggrieved parties had decided to make conclusions without consulting him first so that he could make his clarification to them. In short the minister has said he will not apologise for what he claimed was not his statement. He then denied ever saying that Asians were a security threat in the country. "In that one I was deliberately misquoted because when I referred to the Asian issue I did mention that it was an issue that we have already asked that it be part of Cabinet agenda," saying even the secretary to cabinet can confirm that. He said what he did not like was that the report came as if the Asian issue was on his original speech while he just responded to a question which was raised that touched on the Asians. "I am not the one who changed or misquoted the speech so I cannot apologise for that reason and it is regrettable that people interpreted it in another way," he said. Even after the minister had conceded that his speech was presented maliciously he still could not apologise. "My intensions will never change-they are the same. There was nothing malicious in what I said but it was presented as such. It was not by me, that's why I can not apologise. Those who changed my message and made it to be malicious are the ones who should apologise," he stressed. He said because he is in a public office everyone has a right to confront him and ask him what he meant on a certain issue where it is felt some clarification is needed. "I have an obligation to explain anything I say if it has not been clearly understood, therefore it is regrettable that some people ended up concluding they way they have," he conceded. The minister said the issue of the influx of the Asians into the country was raised in Cabinet a long time ago even before his speech. He said even though he was in foreign affairs, the department responsible for the coming in of foreigners was the immigration office. His ministry only facilitates the Enterprise ministry's trips when they leave to look for investors. When asked again whether he felt the country did have a security threat or asked to clarity what he meant when talking about a security threat according to his statement he said, "there are certain things that I would not like to disclose." Dlamini went on to conceal that he has a lot of Indian friends together with his family. He said in his position he meets people of all races and origins.

WFP cuts food rations for refugees in Tanzania (ReliefWeb, 25/10):- Faced with severe funding shortages, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) was forced today to cut food rations to some 400,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees living in 13 camps in western Tanzania. WFP is urgently appealing to donors for US$14 million to prevent additional cuts and continue feeding the refugees through the first half of 2005. With inadequate supplies of both cereals and pulses, WFP had to reduce the daily ration of the most important staple, maize, by 24 percent, from 2.5 kilograms to 1.9 kilograms per person per week. Recently WFP was forced to cut the ration of pulses by a similar amount. "We had no other choice. This harsh measure was unavoidable and could have serious implications as the refugees rely almost entirely on WFP food aid for their survival," said Patrick Buckley, WFP Country Director for Tanzania. "Regular provision of a full ration is vital for the health of refugees, and our concern is that prolonged cuts will lead to increased instability in the camps," he added. WFP has appealed to donors for 39,000 metric tons of food, at a value of US$14 million, in order to bridge a gap in food commodities in the first half of 2005. According to Buckley, food arriving from outside Tanzania could take up to six months to reach the refugees, however cash contributions would enable WFP to buy food within Tanzania and neighbouring countries so it could reach the camps within two to three months. "Donors have to act fast, otherwise food stocks will dry up completely by February," he warned. The WFP refugee operation assists more than 400,000 refugees in addition to more than 8,000 Tanzanian school children, street children, orphans, hospital patients and others in the host communities surrounding the refugee camps. Many Burundian refugees have returned home over the last two years. The number repatriating has recently slowed because of concerns about the security situation in Burundi while the continuing insecurity in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been preventing most Congolese refugees from returning home. Recent donors include the European Union (US$ 8,423,586), USA (US$ 5,299,071), Finland (US$ 292,500), Luxembourg (US$ 248,756), and Japan (US$ 91,500).

Tanzania invites South African investors (Bua News, 20/10):- Tanzanian Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye has called on South African business to explore investment opportunities that exist in his country. Mr. Sumaye is on an official visit to South Africa and is being hosted by Deputy President Jacob Zuma. The two held bilateral discussions at Tuynhuys in Cape Town yesterday focusing on strengthening economic and political relations between the two countries. They also discussed among others, the political crisis in the Great Lakes, Burundi as well as the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad). Briefing the media last night, Mr. Sumaye said there were quite a number of South African businesses already operating in Tanzania and “were doing very well”. However, he pointed out that trade levels between the two countries could be expanded further. “There are a lot of opportunities that are still untapped in Tanzania, and therefore we need resources and investments from outside so that they can be used to change people’s life for the better,” he said. He explained that trade levels between the Tanzania and South Africa were not balanced and emphasised the need for serious attention in this regard. “Imports from Tanzania are about 8 to 9 percent of the exports from South Africa to Tanzania. There is quite a big imbalance, and that is why we are here. We want to correct that imbalance.” He said the only way to correct that imbalance was to increase manufacturing capacity in Tanzania. “So that is why we need people or big companies from South Africa to invest in Tanzania.” “So that in the process, we will have enough goods that can be exported to South Africa and also to other countries in the region,” he said. Mr. Sumaye announced that he would be leading a high-powered delegation to Johannesburg next week for a meeting with South African business people. The meeting would serve as a platform to showcase investment opportunities that exist in Tanzania. Speaking at the same event, Mr. Zuma said South Africa always had a healthy working relationship with Tanzania. “We are really looking forward to deepen that relationship between the two country,” he said. Prime Minister Sumaye is expected to visit some of the agricultural and poverty alleviation projects around Cape Town.

Burundi refugees hesitate to return home (ReliefWeb, 06/10):- Voluntary returns of Burundian refugees from Tanzania have slowed down in the past month due to increasing incredulity of Burundi's political stability. Seven trucks and one bus supplied by the United Nations and carrying 288 refugees from two camps bordering Burundi in the Ngara district left western Tanzania on Tuesday. The figure of refugee returnees has currently dropped to between 200 and 500 each time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when repatriation exercise is carried out, whereas in July each repatriation day saw about 1,000 Burundian refugees heading home, local newspaper Daily News reported on Wednesday. The paper quoted Samuel Chakwera from the Ngara sub-office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as saying the repatriation slows down due to several factors, including an increasing fear among refugees there might be conflict shortly before the country' s elections scheduled at the end of this month. Most of the Burundians prefer to go back after the democratic polls and not before, the official said. Following the killing of 160 Congolese Tutsi refugees at the Gatumba camp in Burundi in August, Burundian refugees in Tanzania show much more worries about insecurity in some parts of their country. In western Tanzania, an estimated total of 300,000 Burundians reside in refugee camps after fleeing a civil war fueled by ethnic rivalry between its two major tribes since 1993. The war has already claimed more than 300,000 lives. The number of Burundian refugees returning home has increased since the latter half of 2003 when a rebel movement signed a power- sharing agreement with the transitional government. From January the Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees has sent trucks and buses twice a week to ferry refugees home, helping them end a decade of exile. The number of voluntarily returning refugees peaked in July right before the power-sharing agreement was endorsed by 20 Burundian parties in early August.

EA countries to phase out passports (The Nation, 05/10):- East African countries will phase out their individual passports soon after they become a federation. Attorney-general Amos Wako, who is chairman of the Committee on Fast Tracking East African Federation said that although there was a regional passport, it had not been recognised by other states of the world. "Once the federation is realised, the passport will be accepted worldwide, and then we shall phase out the individual country ones," Mr. Wako said, in Nairobi, yesterday. Mr. Wako was leading a delegation nominated by the three Heads of State to speed up the formation of the federation. The delegation, including vice chairman Haidari Amani, secretary Ezra Suruma and associate members Margaret Chemengich, Sam Tulya-Muhika and Mohamed Fakih Mohamed had paid a visit to Culture minister Najib Balala. The East African passport has been issued to 20,000 people from Tanzania and 10,000 each from Kenya and Uganda. Mr. Wako said the committee would meet President Mwai Kibaki yesterday evening, adding that every ministry would give recommendations on the treaty. The committee was formed following a meeting by the three Heads of State in Nairobi in August. The committee completed its one-week visit to Tanzania and is scheduled for Uganda between October 11 and 15.It would meet representatives of the business community, employers associations and manufacturers, academicians and leaders of various religious groups. Mr. Balala said the countries would have a common approach on refugees and immigration.

Congolese refugees return home from Zambia, (Sapa-AP, 27/10):- Some 3,000 Congolese refugees who sought refuge in neighboring Zambia after fighting broke out in a southeastern village have safely returned home, military officials said Wednesday. Most of the refugees crossed into Zambia when a group of militia
fighters briefly held the village of Kilwa, near Congo's southern border with Zambia, before being repulsed by government troops on Oct. 16. The refugees have returned "after suffering from hunger and trauma for a week," Chikez Diemu, deputy governor of Katanga province, told The Associated Press. Karl Mawej, assistant coordinator of the French aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, said there was "no catastrophic humanitarian situation" in the area. A spokesman for the traditional Mayi Mayi fighters had claimed responsibility for the attacks on Kilwa, saying his group was demanding a greater role in the country's new national army. The government said the identities of the fighters was unknown. The new army was formed in December as part of a peace deal that ended a 1998-2002 civil war that split the country into several rival fiefdoms. The army is expected to grow to 100,000 men, but currently comprises just a few thousand fighters taken from rival rebel factions, the former army and the Mayi Mayi. Tens of thousands of Mayi Mayi operate in remote, lawless parts of eastern Congo where the central government has little or no influence.

Child trafficking bid fails (The Times of Zambia, 25/10):-
Police in Lusaka are keeping 14 Congolese girls between five and 17 years and one woman aged 29 who allegedly tried to smuggle them to South Africa without legal documents. The woman who travelled with the children from the Democratic Republic of Congo using a local bus is alleged to have been pairing the girls so as not to raise suspicion among other passengers.
Police spokesperson Brenda Muntemba and Victim Support Unit (VSU) officer Peter Kasale both confirmed the arrest. Mr. Kasale said the group was intercepted at the Chirundu border post in Southern Province as the woman was trying to make arrangements to smuggle the children in small numbers in order not to raise suspicions at the exit point. It was found that the woman had no legal documents to support her being in possession of the children drawn from different families. Mr. Kasale said the woman did not even have legal travel documents or any document to show that the children were in her custody legally. He said he was saddened that a person could decide to move with a child as young as five years old in such circumstances. According to one of the children talked to at one of the Orphanage Centres where they are being kept in Linda Township, the woman had promised the girls that they were going to be employed in South Africa while some would proceed to America. The child said her parents could have been given some money for they are the ones who allowed her to accompany the woman so that she finds her a job. "I do not know whether I was supposed to be employed in South Africa or America but my parents told me that the woman was going to find me a good job and that I should not worry about anything," she said. Another child said she was told to say the woman was her aunt and that the family was going to join relatives in South Africa. Mr. Kasale said some of the children would be repatriated to the DRC during the week, while others will be repatriated next weekend together with the woman who has been arrested for travelling with no valid documents and alleged child trafficking. "Some of the children will be repatriated back to Congo while the woman is being held for investigations. But we hope to hand her over to DRC authorities," he said.

Over 1,500 Congolese refugees return home from Zambia (ReliefWeb, 23/10):-
More than 1,500 refugees have returned home in Kilwa-Mulenga Island in the southeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from Zambia, the official Zambia Daily Mail said Saturday. Kennedy Sakeni, deputy minister of Luapula province that shares a border with the DRC, was quoted as saying business in the border area has returned to normal, adding the barge of Australian firm Anvil has started shuttling between the DRC and Zambia. "Business has returned to normal. The mining firm, Anvil, has started its operations and movements between Kilwa-Mulenga and Zambia," he said. Zambian immigration and security personnel have been deployed in the area to screen all refugees. About 3,000 DRC refugees fled into Zambia after Kilwa was captured by a group of rebel militiamen last week, though soldiers loyal to DRC President Joseph Kabila's government soon recaptured it. Sakeni, however, said some refugees, mainly male youths between the ages of 15 to 30, were reluctant to go back, for fear of being linked to the rebels. He said the Zambian government still maintains its position that the refugees be screened before they are sent to refugee camps. Sakeni appealed to the disaster management unit under the vice president's office to expedite its shipments of food supplies and other requirements to the area. The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has only brought non- food supplies, he said, adding that there is an urgent need for food supply to avoid starvation among the refugees.

Expatriate workers should receive benefits (The Times of Zambia, 20/10):-
Government has said development of cross-border social security systems would help expatriate workers receive their benefits when operating within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Labour and Social Security Minister Patrick Kafumukache said this in Lusaka yesterday during the official opening of the national tripartite workshop to consider the SADC code on social security. Lieutenant Colonel Kafumukache said a social security code among SADC members would help improve the lives of workers after they had retired. He said despite a sizeable migration within SADC, there was loss of benefits when crossing borders due to citizenship-based social security arrangements. The code aims at providing member states with a set of principles and minimum standards of social protection as well as a framework for monitoring at national and regional levels. The minister observed that the social security systems inherited from the colonialists had not changed to suit current trends and that insurance schemes in the SADC region only covered less than 10 per cent of the labour force. "These weaknesses point to the need for harmonisation of social security systems to enhance regional integration policies among SADC member states," he said. Col Kafumukache announced that the Zambia-Malawi Joint Permanent Commission had already developed mechanisms for ensuring payment of benefits across the borders. He added that such harmonisation could be expanded to other countries with common norms and standards. He said social security had a direct impact on the lives of many Zambians. He said it should be strengthened as it had continued to negatively affect many retired people, who were not getting their benefits on time. "As we celebrate 40 years of independence, let us reflect on improving the social security system in our country before people are turned into destitutes. "We need to take action and the ministry of Finance should take the lead because they are the financiers. We need to put in place the legal frameworks and prescribe a social security for our people,' he said. Labour Permanent Secretary Josephine Mapoma said social security problems were common in almost all the countries and that it was important to have a guiding framework covering all regional social security issues. And Friedrich Ebert Stiftung resident representative, Michael Schultheiss observed that the code was necessary for concretising ways of implementing the SADC social charter, approved by the heads of state in 2002.

Refugees arrive from DRC (ReliefWeb, 18/10):-
The arrival of an estimated 3,000 Congolese refugees in Zambia at the weekend is expected to further strain on the country's limited resources, a senior official has warned. Zambian Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba told IRIN on Monday the refugees crossed into Zambia to flee a rebel insurgency in Kilwa, a mining town on the Congolese shore of Lake Mweru, which straddles the border with Zambia. "It is still unclear to which group these rebels belong but we are making sure that all those who came across the border are screened. After we know for sure that there aren't any combatants amongst the group we will assign them refugee status. But it is becoming quite difficult for the government to continue hosting refugees," Mumba told IRIN. He pointed out that the authorities had already worked with humanitarian agencies to hasten the repatriation of some 40,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia, scheduled for this year. "The problem is that the World Food Programme already lacks funds for food aid. We have seen how this has had a negative impact on their ability to support Angolan returnees," he added. WFP has been forced to reduce its food parcels for repatriating refugees. Another concern was that although Zambia had produced a bumper maize harvest this year, the government lacked sufficient funds to purchase the cereal from farmers. "A bumper crop doesn't necessarily translate into ample food for everyone. We don't have the money to buy the maize so that it can be rerouted to the refugees. But we need to sit down and devise a plan to ease the situation," Mumba said. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the agency could not confirm the number of refugees that had crossed the northern border and had not as yet been approached for assistance. Spokesman Kelvin Shimo said the agency was ready to assist but "for now, every effort will be made to continue monitoring the situation". In March this year hundreds of Congolese crossed into Zambia as a result of fighting in the southeastern DRC. The refugees reportedly fled renewed clashes between Mayi-Mayi rebels and government troops in Dikulushi in mineral-rich Katanga Province.

Congolese refugees cross into Zambia (ReliefWeb, 17/10):-
As new sign of unrest in the Great Lakes region, at least 80 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have entered Zambia, following seizure of Congolese mining town of Kilwa, local newspaper Sunday Post reported. Zambian Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba was quoted as saying the refugees were undergoing screening before they could be granted refugee status. "They are undergoing the usual screening so that we don't harbor combatants," he said. Mumba said the Zambian government has put measures in place to prevent the use of Zambian soil by combatant groups along the border with the DRC. According to international reports, a mysterious armed group on Friday seized Kilwa, a mining town in the southeast DRC, located around the Lake Mweru area on the Congolese borders with Zambia. The attack on Kilwa in the mineral-rich Katanga province by the group known as the Liberation Movement for Katanga prompted an evacuation as Congolese troops were being re-grouped to re-take the town. Little is known about the occupiers of Kilwa. According to British Broadcasting Corporation, the Congolese government and diplomatic sources reported some of the troops were believed to have entered from neighboring Zambia and speak Portuguese, leading to speculation they might have come originally from Angola. Congolese Information Minister Mova Sakani said a Congolese envoy has since been sent to Zambia to discuss the matter.

Zambia taps into expertise of Zimbabwean farmers (Angola Press, 13/10):-
Zambia has continued to reap benefits from the presence of experienced white farmers from neighbouring Zimbabwe with the price of wheat suddenly nose-diving on the local market, while tobacco harvest has spiralled in recent times. The price of wheat has gone down from US$320 to US$280 per tonne, according to the Agricultural Marketing Information Center at the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives. Government has not provided full statistics on amount of wheat harvested this year as the process has just begun and would end after October. But with the expertise of the white Zimbabwean farmers most commercial farmers in Zambia this year took up wheat production in May, and their harvests are already finding their way to the millers, who in the past dealt only with imported grain. Earlier this year, white farmers from Zimbabwe, who were uprooted under the country`s controversial land reform policy, were also credited with the rise in the volume of tobacco leaf harvested on Zambian commercial farms. Since the arrival of the white Zimbabwe farmers, Zambia`s tobacco output has jumped from about four million to 22 million kilograms. White farmers from Zimbabwe have settled in the central and southern provinces, with some working on Zambian farms as supervisors and managers of already existing establishments.

UNHCR increases flights to Angola (The Post, 07/10):-
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has intensified its voluntary repatriation process by increasing the number of flights to Angola from three to 18 in a week. In an interview, UNHCR public information assistant Kelvin Shimo said the number of flights to Angola had been increased from three flights in a week to an average of 18 flights per week. Shimo said this development would enable UNHCR achieve its target of repatriating 32,245 Angolans by the end of this year. "We have intensified our Angolan voluntary repatriation operations by increasing the number of airlifts from the initial one to six days a week, which includes an average of three flights in a day," Shimo said. Following the fourth Angolan Voluntary Repatriation Tripartite Commission meeting last month, we adopted the plan of moving 12,218 people by land and 20,027 by air and we hope to achieve that especially that we have increased the number of flights." He said the two air corridors to Angola that were opened this year were helping to reach areas which were inaccessible by road. Airlifts are from Mongu to Lumbala N'Guimbo and Huambo. Shimo said the capacity of the departure centre at Mongu airport had been enhanced to accommodate about 500 to 900 people per seating. Meanwhile, UNHCR has repatriated about 132 Rwandan refugees since last year. Shimo said the number signifies progress especially that the Rwandese were hesitant to go home. There are about 4,000 Rwandese refugees in the country. He said efforts were still being made to sensitise the Rwandan people on the importance of leaving for their country. Shimo said though the 'Come and Tell' visit had been cancelled, the organisation was making sure that Rwandese were well informed on the developments in their country. "It's not just about repatriating these people, political situations in their countries have to be taken into consideration. As much as we would want to repatriate, we would want it to be done in dignity and peace. UNHCR is still talking to these people and those who change their minds can still go," he said. Shimo urged Rwandese refugees who would want to go back to their country to contact UNHCR or the Ministry of Home Affairs.

UNHCR seeks to solve refugees food crisis (The Post, 02/10):-
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) country representative Ahmed Gubartalla has said the commission is making efforts to solve the food crisis that will be created after the World Food Programme (WFP) said it would cut down by half food rations to over 100,000 refugees living in Zambia. WFP director for Zambia David Stevenson on Thursday told the BBC that they were seeking US $3 million to ease the refugees' plight. Zambia is home to some 300,000 refugees, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. Gubartalla said the refugee commission was coordinating with the WFP and government to sensitise donors so that they could respond to the needs of refugees in the country. He asked donors to respond to appeals to continue providing food for refugees to avert a possible crisis. Stevenson told the BBC that the refugee food situation was serious and needed urgent attention. He said the world's attention was focused on the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan than on the desperate situation of refugees elsewhere in Africa which he said was being neglected by the donor community. "So we are simply just saying to the donors, come let's go to the plate for this one and not forge the needy people here in Africa," Stevenson told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme. The WFP also said a further reduction in food rations would be implemented if more donor funding was not forthcoming by November.

Children trafficked out of Zambia (The Times of Zambia, 02/10):-
A record 108 children between the ages of five and 19 have been trafficked outside Zambia according to a research conducted by the Anglican Children's Project (ACP) recently. Research Director Chileshe Kapwepwe disclosed at the Chrismar Hotel during a one-day workshop organised by the ACP, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Programme on the Eradication of Child Labour (IPEC) in Lusaka yesterday. Mr Kapwepwe said according to a survey conducted in June this year in Livingstone, Chirundu, Kapiri Mposhi and Lusaka, the ACP discovered that from the 213 service providers visited a record 108 children had been trafficked during the period 2003 and 2004 alone. "It is difficult to say the real figures, but from the research we carried out in the four centres we visited, 108 children are known to have been trafficked. The figures could be more. These figures were only obtained from the 213 service providers visited. The average age is five to 19 and above," Mr Kapwepwe said. He said some of the children were taken by their own relatives to go for school or work outside Zambia and they had never been seen since. And ACP chairperson, Mary Kazunga appealed to Government to carry out a national survey on the trafficking of children saying this could assist with the figures on the alarming rates of child trafficking in Zambia. She said it was sad that even when reported to the appropriate authorities like the police, little was done to curb the crime. She was saddened that even when the crime was rampant in Zambia, authorities were still ignorant about it saying it was important that Government stiffened child trafficking laws to stop the perpetrators. "The surveys revealed a lot. Child trafficking does exist. Government and the activists of child laws must start doing something about it to ensure that the perpetrators are punished," Mrs. Kazunga said. Mrs. Kazunga called for a campaign in form of video films to sensitise the public, particularly parents and children saying children where subjected to slave conditions when trafficked and implored Government to amend the children's laws which she said were currently archaic. And Deputy Minister in charge of the Youth in the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development, George Chulumanda revealed that the Government had started the process of reviewing child-related legislation to ensure that they offered maximum protection to the children. "May I take this opportunity to inform you that Cabinet has approved a Child's Right's Bill, which will facilitate the review of all legislation dealing with children" Mr Chulumanda said. He added that his ministry had embarked on a process to review the national child policy in order to ensure that it encompasses the new emerging issues such as the HIV/AIDS, poverty, child streetism and child trafficking. He warned child abusers that Government would punish perpetrators of child abuse, which had brought so much misery to the children. He appealed to members of the public to ensure that cases of child trafficking were reported to the relevant authorities so that appropriate action could be taken. Mr. Chulumanda paid tribute to the ACP who facilitated the workshop whose theme was "Sharing information on the rapid assessment of child trafficking." He said Government would soon be holding a consultative meeting to chart a way of combating child trafficking with co-operating partners like UNICEF and the United States Government who have shown willingness to support the process. "I therefore urge the organisers of this workshop to work closely with the Government on tackling this scourge. It is important that as a nation we reach a consensus on the statistics and magnitude of the problem of child trafficking in Zambia for effective planning," Mr. Chulumanda said. And Anglican Church of Zambia Bishop David Njovu said his Church took the initiative to approach ILO and IPEC because of the challenges of the problem of child trafficking.

Zambian food shortages hit 100,000 refugees (Sunday Times, 01/10):-
Over 100,000 refugees living in camps in Zambia will see their food rations cut by half this week due to shortages, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said. WFP is seeking $3.2 million to help mitigate the plight of refugees mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, said WFP spokeswoman Jo Woods in Zambia. "We will reduce the ration for pulses by half starting tomorrow," she said. "By November, if we won't get any funding, we will reduce the rations for cereals by half," Woods said. Zambia is home to about 300,000 refugees mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola who have been living in refugee camps and settlements in the southern African country. WFP said the erratic funding was now threatening a number of its operations in Zambia, which includes the distribution of relief food to refugees. So far, 10,000 Angolans have returned home after the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched a voluntary repatriation programme to help some 40,000 return home this year. "WFP is providing wet rations for returning refugees in transit sites and dry packs for the journey, as well as a two-month food package at their point of arrival in Angola," Woods said.

Homelink faces confidence crisis (Sunday Mirror, 31/10):- The success of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's (RBZ) Homelink initiative has come under immense pressure, following the central bank's unwavering decision to have all foreign currency sent to locals through Homelink received in local currency. The Homelink-Kumusha-Ekhaya money transfer system was introduced in May this year, with the intention of enhancing foreign currency inflows through tapping hard currency from Zimbabweans abroad. But while the initiative has generally been successful throughout its lifespan, the central bank's persistence with regard to local currency receipts could now put Homelink's future on a knife-edge. Public sentiment towards Homelink has reportedly waned significantly in the wake of the persistent central bank regulations announced in the second quarter monetary policy review - a development that analysts believe could sound the death knell for the five-month-old system. Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are believed to be getting increasingly agitated with the new receiving system, which means their relatives back in the country are now getting less money for the hard currency they would have sent. "Although there are some people who are still sending their money home through Homelink, a lot of people here are now going back to the system of having their foreign currency changed from this end or we just send someone with it," one Zimbabwean in the United Kingdom, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Business Mirror in an e-mail. Black market trading in foreign currency has risen notably over the past month, with rates between the Zimbabwe dollar and the greenback falling to between $8 200 - $8 500 to one US dollar. Parallel Rates to the British pound are believed to be hovering between $13 000 - $14 000 to one pound sterling. When the Homelink system was introduced, recipients of money sent from abroad had a choice of receiving their money either in local or foreign currency. Now, however, money is only paid out to recipients in local currency. After a while many recipients of payments from abroad discovered they could receive their money in foreign currency and sell it illegally at a trade in foreign currency and undermined the value of Homelink as a means of mobilising foreign currency for the foreign currency auction. "Money sent from abroad was, by fuelling the black market, having a negative rather than a positive effect on the country's economy. It was hardly surprising, therefore, that the privilege of being able to choose to receive payments in foreign rather than local currency was eventually withdrawn," Homelink public relations consultant Mike Hamilton said in a recent statement. Zimbabwe's foreign currency supply situation has been consistently precarious throughout the year, despite wholesale incentives and initiatives put in place by the RBZ to try and boost foreign currency reserves. Although a marked improvement has been noted in the amount of foreign currency entering the system, supplies are still inadequate to meet the demands of an increasingly demanding population. Since its inception in May, Homelink has generated an estimated US$40 million, while central bank statistics reflect that foreign currency generated in the first nine months of the year has amounted to slightly more US$1 ,2 billion, compared to about US$259 million accrued in the same period last year. In spite of the improvement, problems still remain. "There are a lot of pressures on the foreign currency situation right now and unless something is done as soon as possible about the supply situation, particularly on the auction, then something could go very wrong," said a research analyst with a local stockbroking firm. Demand for foreign currency at the Currency Exchange's bi-weekly auctions has slowly crept up to the US$70 million mark, as opposed to a meager supply of US$10 million on offer at every auction. A recent statement by Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, to the effect that Zimbabweans abroad would not be allowed to vote in next year's parliamentary elections, could also put a dent to Homelink ambitions. "You must understand that there are other factors to consider as well with the Homelink issue because it is essentially a question of whether or not someone is willing to use the system. "Statements like that one (the one made by Minister Chinamasa) could have an effect on people's willingness to send their money and in that context they could threaten the whole system," another investment analyst added. Presenting his third quarter monetary policy review statement last week, RBZ governor Gideon Gono announced slight changes to the country's foreign exchange management structures, with the only notable change being an increase in the Diaspora floor price for exchanging foreign currency.

Zimbabwe-based Mozambicans register to vote (The Standard, 31/10):- Police were recently called to control thousands of people who were massed at the Mozambican Embassy in Harare where nationals from that country were registering as voters and being issued passports. The first secretary at the Mozambican Embassy in Harare, Guilherme Tamele, said: "The electoral body in Mozambique has decided that Mozambicans living outside the country are entitled to vote in the December elections." The registration started on September 6 and ended on September 25. There were skirmishes as thousands of people, most of them suspected to be Zimbabweans, tried their luck to get Mozambican passports. The Mozambican documents have become popular with Zimbabweans because as that country and South Africa have scrapped visa requirements. The Mozambican and Malawian passports are much sought after by Zimbabwean cross border traders because holders of such documents are not subjected to much scrutiny around the world. Although many Zimbabweans tried to fraudulently obtain the passports, alert Mozambican officials flushed them out. Tamele said: "We have our own screening methods and anybody who did not qualify to register as a voter and get travel documents was turned away." In recent weeks national radio and television have carried messages urging Mozambicans resident in Zimbabwe to register as voters if they want to participate in the December presidential election in Mozambique. Zimbabweans could only watch enviously as the Mozambicans jostled in long winding queues outside the Mozambican Embassy for a ticket to participate in the democratic process unfolding in the former war ravaged country. Mozambique, along side Botswana, is one of the emerging democracies in Southern Africa, which has embraced democratic elections while Zimbabwe continues to have the label of rogue State attached to it. Before the 2002 presidential elections, Zimbabwean authorities changed electoral laws, which barred those living outside the country from participating in elections. The only people who could vote under the electoral law were embassy staff based outside the country and members of the military on foreign missions whose votes could be counted on to be in favour of the ruling party. Millions of Zimbabweans based in South Africa, the United Kingdom, USA and other parts of the world were denied the vote. As most of them were economic refugees or had fled political repression, the feeling was they were unlikely to vote for the ruling Zanu PF. The first SADC Principles and Guidelines governing democratic elections state that there should be full participation of citizens in the political process.

RBZ plans another homelink trip (The Standard, 31/10):- The central bank will embark on yet another crusade to once again promote the failed Homelink money transfer facility before the fall of the year, Standard Business understands. Insiders at the Reserve bank said the Herbert Nkala-led campaign team would make two trips to try and prop up the remittance of hard currency to the crisis-racked southern African country. Their first port of call will be South Africa where an estimated two million Zimbabweans are living before pouncing on Zimbabweans in Asia. The central bank will also target pinpointed investment consortiums in the respective countries and promote investment opportunities "abundant" in the country. Zimbabwe is battling a severe foreign currency shortage since President Robert Mugabe led the nation to independence in 1980. This has resulted in an acute shortage of fuel and electricity. Vital imports that include medical drugs and critical raw materials have been curtailed as a result. The forthcoming tour will be the third round since the Homelink team embarked on the promotions. In May the team visited South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom and held meetings at some of which the RBZ Governor, Gideon Gono was reportedly booed off the stage. Only a fortnight ago, the team returned from the US where it vainly tried to once again entice the transfer of badly needed green back. Nkala, the chairman of the central bank's information and publicity committee, who has led similar missions in the past, could not be drawn into commenting and referred Standard Business to Gono. Through the Homelink campaign, the central bank anticipates to raise hard currency for Zimbabwe's struggling economy, which is in its sixth year of recession. However, economic analysts say the panacea to the hard currency squeeze lies in boosting exports, which regrettably, have dwindled over the past three years. "The real ability lies in increasing our exports. We should not expect to overcome our problems with small amounts people in the diaspora save. The central bank is missing the point. "Their (Zimbabweans in the diaspora) biggest contribution is to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the countries where they are living," says John Robertson, an economic consultant. Latest figures on cumulative foreign currency inflows from the diaspora amounts to about US$36 million. Analysts slam the July change in the method of payment, which outlawed receiving proceeds in hard currency for the dwindling inflows.

Brain drain hits property sector (Financial Gazette, 28/10):- The exodus of qualified and experienced professionals, which was mainly restricted to the health and educational sectors, has also caught up with the property market. Abraham Sadomba, the managing director of CB Richard Ellis, said the brain drain had left the country saturated with inexperienced personnel, affecting service delivery in the property sector. "Serious shortages of qualified technicians, especially in the construction sector, give rise to poor workmanship, building projects not being delivered on time and services such as maintenance of air conditioners and lift equipment being left to deteriorate," said Sadomba. A property consultant who declined to be named said it was sad that the government spent a lot of money on training professionals who later left Zimbabwe for green pastures. "It would be wise enough for the sector to introduce some incentives to attract them back to work here and benefit the country," said the consultant.

Homelink connections found worldwide (Financial Gazette, 28/10):- Requests are frequently received for information on where, in a particular country, to find money transfer agencies (MTAs) that are part of the Homelink-Kumusha-Ekhaya money transfer system. Such agencies exist in countries the world over, although there is a greater choice in some than others. Country-specific booklets for the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa are now available, providing detailed information on money transfer agencies that are part of the Homelink system in these countries. Booklets entitled 'Sending Money from the United Kingdom to Zimbabwe' and 'Sending Money from the United States and Canada to Zimbabwe' are available at embassies in London and Washington and from some of the organisers of recent Homelink investment meetings held in various centres in the UK and USA. 'Sending Money from South Africa, Botswana and Namibia to Zimbabwe' is available from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. In a few weeks' time it should also be available at the Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria. The list of money transfer organisations and their Zimbabwean counterparts in the country-specific booklets is comprehensive, although not exhaustive, since new money transfer agencies continue to be registered and existing money transfer agencies may enter into agreements with new additional partners. The latest list of registered MTAs and their partners is available from the Reserve Bank's Homelink Customer Relations Desk and from the Homelink web site ( United Kingdom has the largest number of money transfer organisations operating within the Homelink system. This gives Zimbabweans living in the United Kingdom a considerable range of money transfer organisations to choose from, enabling them to shop around for the most competitive one in terms of both price and convenience. Money transfer organisations in the UK include large international money transfer agencies as well as small agencies, some of which are owned by Zimbabweans residing there. There are three large international money transfer organisations linked to Zimbabwe's Homelink system, through which money can be sent from virtually any country. These are Western Union, MoneyGram and Travelex. They have a wide network of agencies. Between them they cover most countries. Finding out the closest agency is easy for those who have access to the Internet. Their websites include agent locators. All you have to do is enter the information that applies to where you are in terms of region, country and town or city. If you are in the Netherlands, for instance, or New Zealand or Kenya, all you have to do is search for the website of one of these agencies and when you find it use the agent locator to see if one of them has an agency close to you. Some people have mistakenly thought that Western Union was a competitor of the Homelink system. This is incorrect. It is one of the international money transfer organisations partnered with Homelink registered money transfer agencies in Zimbabwe. Its partners in Zimbabwe are People's Own Savings Bank, Fredex and Standard Chartered Bank. MoneyGram's Zimbabwe partner is CFX while Travelex is partnered by Barnfords. MoneyGram's agents in South Africa are Rennies Foreign Exchange and Master Currency. In Botswana its agent is ASA Group. In Namibia it is the Namibia Bureau de Change. Money can be sent to Zimbabwe through any of these agents under the Homelink system. In Botswana money can also be sent as part of the Homelink system through Kingdom Africa in Gaborone, which is partnered with Kingdom Bank in Zimbabwe, and through any post office that offers money transfer services. Botswana Posts is Zimpost's partner. The South African Postal Company is also a partner of Zimpost, making it possible to send money to Zimbabwe from any South African post office that offers money transfer services. Money can also be sent through Standard Bank to Stanbic in Harare.In Canada an alternative to Western Union, MoneyGram and Travelex is the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which is partnered with Oval Green, Trust Bank's money transfer agency. Oval Green also has an agreement with Deutsche Bank Trust Company in New York. The number of agencies in the United Kingdom are too numerous to list in this column. However, those of you who have seen and kept the Homelink supplement published with most major newspapers some weeks back will find most of them listed there. Those in the United Kingdom, quite a few of whom seem to read this column judging by the e-mail messages received, can obtain the information they need in the 'Sending Money from the United Kingdom to Zimbabwe' booklet, which is available from the Zimbabwe Embassy. For those who are unsure whether many of the organisations and individuals claiming to be legitimate money transfer agencies are in fact part of the Homelink system, you can check in the booklet or on the Homelink website ( If they are not listed then contact the Reserve Bank's Homelink Customer Relations Desk to see if they are licensed. Another indication is the rate. Bona fide money transfer agencies within the Homelink system can only offer the auction or diaspora floor price rate, whichever is higher. If an agency offers more, then it is acting outside the system and there is a good chance the foreign currency you give it will never reach Zimbabwe. Anyone who has questions they would like to see dealt with in this column, can send them by e-mail to or by post to Homelink Column, Box MP97, Mount Pleasant, Harare.

Zimbabwe, Botswana to open new border post (ZimOnline, 28/10):- Zimbabwe and Botswana will next year open a new border post in a bid to ease congestion at the only crossing point between the two neighbours at Ramokgwebana/Plumtree and also to curb the use of illegal routes to cross into either country. Botswana Home Affairs Minister Thebe Mogami this week told the Press that Gaborone had provided resources for the construction of the new border post under its national development plan for next year. He did not say how much was set aside for the project or when exactly it would start next year. Mogami said: "This will also go a long way in addressing the problem of illegal border crossing and bring order in the area. "It is our hope that once the border post is established people will use it instead of jumping the border fence. There is no fee charged for crossing the border at official points and therefore there is absolutely no reason to jump the border, especially by the bona fide visitor." He said the construction of an additional entry point between the two countries was evidence that relations between Gaborone and Harare were warm and cordial. But relations between the two southern African nations are strained chiefly because of Gaborone's open criticism of some of President Robert
Mugabe's controversial policies.

Shortage of lecturers at UZ unabated (The Sunday Mail, 24/10):- The critical shortage of lecturers, which has plagued the University of Zimbabwe over the past few years, has continued unabated with more academic staff reported to have left the university in recent weeks. According to figures of the institution’s lecturer vacancy rate made available to The Sunday Mail, most faculties at the university continue to experience a mass exodus of the professionals. The Faculty of Medicine, which is the most affected, currently has a vacancy rate of 51,3 percent, the Faculty of Science 43 percent, the Department of Veterinary Sciences 36 percent, the Faculty of Education 35 percent and the Faculty of Engineering 34,6 percent. The vacancy rates for the Faculties of Commerce, Agriculture, Law and Social Studies are pegged at 32, 5 percent, 19 percent, 25 percent and 17,6 percent respectively. The Faculty of Arts is the only department that has been spared from the lecturer exodus with a vacancy rate of zero percent. The vacancy level schedule revealed that the range in vacancy levels had, however, dropped from between zero and 58 percent in June to between zero and 52 percent in September.
It is understood that the drop in the vacancy range could be attributed to the recruitment of temporary staff to fill in the vacancies left by the lecturers over the period under review. UZ acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Ostin Chivinge confirmed last week that the university had continued to lose lecturers. He said many lecturers had left the higher learning institution citing unsatisfactory remuneration and conditions of service. Prof Chivinge said local university salaries were comparatively lower than those offered in other countries in the region. "Many of the lecturers may not be meeting their basic requirements since the salaries may not be sufficient to cover the increased cost of living. So this drives them to look for greener pastures and in the process leaves the university with a vast shortage of staff," said Prof Chivinge. The shortage of lecturers at the country’s first and largest university has been a cause for concern for some time. It is also understood that temporary staff forms the bulk of the university’s academic structures following the departure of qualified staff. Prof Chivinge said the university was constantly in search of new staff, resulting in the huge influx of staff on probation. He said the university authorities had since hired local and expatriate lecturers for a specific period in order for respective programmes to continue. Although he could not give specific details, he said some of the expatriate lecturers had already arrived in the country. Prof Chivinge also said the university authorities were negotiating with the Government for better packages for the lecturers.

Pay homelink proceeds in forex, RBZ told (Zimbabwe Independent, 22/10):- The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) must immediately revert to the promised system of paying Homelink proceeds in foreign currency if the scheme is to survive, a parliamentary portfolio committee on budget, finance and economic development has said. Making a presentation during a three-day pre-budget seminar in Mutare, committee chairman and Mudzi member of parliament, Ray Kaukonde, said there was an urgent need to start disbursing Homelink proceeds in foreign currency. He said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe auction system was fuelling the black market because of its static, unrealistic exchange rate. Few, if any, people were using it anymore despite the huge amounts spent advertising it. "The Homelink facility is good, but should revert to giving the funds from abroad in foreign currency," said Kaukonde. "The current system of giving out money in Zimbabwean dollars is fuelling the parallel market." Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono made a sudden policy about-turn when he ordered all money transfer agencies under the Homelink banner to pay recipients in local currency. The move has seen people in the diasopra reverting to the more lucrative black market that flourished before the new monetary policy was announced by Gono in December last year. For all practical purposes, Homelink is dead.Analysts say the foreign currency exchange rate being offered by the Reserve Bank is far too low to attract the diaspora market. People abroad are also concerned with the yawning gap between the central bank's controlled exchange rate and that on the parallel market. They said recent remarks by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa that Zimbabweans abroad would not be allowed to vote were an own goal by a government eager to be seen as investor-friendly. Chinamasa last week said Zimbabweans who do not work at any of the country's diplomatic missions would not be able to vote in the parliamentary election set for March next year. On his recent visits to the United States and the United Kingdom to solicit for foreign currency, Gono was confronted by angry protestors who demanded the right to vote as one of the conditions for supporting the Homelink initiative. The auction rate, which is the benchmark for the Homelink rate, has been stagnant since April. The fragile Zimdollar has been hovering around $5 616 against the US dollar. The slow business in Homelink seems to be also impacting on the foreign currency auctions floors, which have been battling to meet demand from the market.

Tsvangirai gets passport back (Zimbabwe Independent, 22/10):- Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai will now be able to lead his party's diplomatic offensive in the region over the Zimbabwe crisis after he got his passport back following his acquittal last week on treason charges. The passport was seized by the state when he was charged with high treason in 2002. "I got my passport this (Wednesday) morning after some resistance," Tsvangirai said. "Now I will be able to travel mostly in the region and across Africa to reinforce the diplomatic work that has been done by the party in the 20 months when I couldn't travel.". The release of Tsvangirai's passport follows his acquittal on trumped-up treason charges in which it was claimed he had plotted to assassinate President Robert Mugabe in 2001. There were reports Tsvangirai might not get his passport back due to the second treason charge. However, the surrender of the passport was not part of the bail conditions on the current treason case. Tsvangirai is due to appear in court over the case on November 3. The first treason allegations were sparked by discredited Canadian businessman Ari Ben-Menashe after he held three meetings in London and Montreal in 2001 with MDC officials. Tsvangirai, who narrowly lost the 2002 presidential poll to Mugabe, said plans were under way to arrange meetings with regional leaders to discuss Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis. "We are still in the process of organising meetings mostly in the region and in Africa because that is where we should now concentrate," he said. "As soon as that is done, I will start travelling to meet regional leaders to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe." MDC officials met President Thabo Mbeki last month in Pretoria and are expected to meet other regional leaders soon. Mugabe also met Mbeki in New York last month. Tsvangirai said it was important to have a free and fair election in Zimbabwe as that would enable the country to start a recover programme from extended periods of political instability and maladministration. He said a free and fair election was not only in the interest of Zimbabweans but also the region and Africa in general. Tsvangirai said the only way that this could be achieved was through forcing Zanu PF to comply with Sadc norms and standards on elections. Government is under pressure to comply with the Southern African Development Community principles governing democratic elections. The principles require the establishment of independent electoral institutions. Zimbabwe's electoral institutions are controlled by government. The standards also require government to adopt "measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging or any other illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process to ensure free and fair elections".

Disenfranchised Zimbabweans attack Minister (The Daily News, 20/10):- Zimbabweans living in the diaspora have described recent utterances by Zimbabwe's minister of justice legal and parliamentary affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, that they will not be able to vote in the March 2005 general elections, as uncalled for and reckless. Responding to electronic interviews by Daily News Online, the Zimbabweans said Chinamasa's recent statement that Zimbabweans in the diaspora would not be allowed to vote in the forthcoming general elections in March next year, was against the spirit of patriotism and good governance. They indicated that Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, as part of his presentations when promoting the repatriation of foreign currency by locals in the diaspora, had included discussions on how the locals could positively participate in the development of the country. The issue of providing voting rights to those Zimbabweans in the diaspora was discussed, with Gono allegedly assuring them that he would inform the government of their concerns. Moses Muvevi, a Zimbabwean based in the United States, said most Zimbabweans he had interacted with had indicated that they were not happy with the government's position. He said Gono had made assurances that he would personally deal with that issue. On his promotion tours for 'Homelink' an RBZ initiative aimed at harnessing the much needed foreign currency, which had been coming through the black market, Gono, who went on a whirlwind tour of USA and Europe, told Zimbabweans who attended the meetings that all the issues which they had raised, would be forwarded to the relevant authorities. Muvevi also said what Chinamasa had said, was against the spirit of inclusive participation which Gono had exhibited in various meetings with Zimbabweans in the USA. "What Chinamasa has exhibited is his party's politics of exclusion. Zanu PF seems to thrive on that and I know that most Zimbabweans will not accept what he said. Zanu PF has always elbowed out any kind of opposition through beatings and denials to vote," added Muvevi. Muvevi was not alone in criticising the government, as another Zimbabwean in London, Elphus Mutongwizo, said the statement by Chinamasa was set to adversely affect RBZ's Homelink programme. He said a number of surveys which have been carried out on Zimbabweans in the diaspora, have indicated that they have always wanted to participate in any democratisation process. "I do not understand why the Zimbabwean government would want to be different from other governments within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), which are allowing their nationals in foreign lands, to vote in general elections. Look at the Mozambican and Botswana. governments which are giving their nationals an opportunity to participate in their forthcoming elections," said Mutongwizo. Chinamasa, as minister of justice legal and affairs and leader of the house of assembly, said it was government's position that all Zimbabweans in the diaspora would not be allowed to vote in the forthcoming general elections in March next year. The MDC, which has given Zanu PF a run for its money, has meanwhile indicated that it would not participate in the forthcoming elections if they are not held under the SADC guidelines on elections which were unveiled at the heads of government meeting in Mauritius in August. President Robert Mugabe is a signatory to the protocol, which aims to put all elections within the SADC region in line with world standards. The opposition party has also called on the government to postpone the March 2005 general elections so that the contentious issues could be addressed. Among the issues at dispute, is the participation of the Registrar General's office in the election process. The MDC is arguing that the office, which has been running all elections since independence, had failed in its mandate to organise a free and fair election. The establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission, which would oversee the holding of all elections, including next year's general elections, is one of the demands which the MDC has put forward to government. Access to the public media and the democratisation of the country's media policy is also another demand. The Government has however said it would not open the public media to the MDC as it has said it will boycott the March elections. Although an electoral commission would be set up as part of changes to the country's electoral laws, the Registrar General's office will continue running the elections, against the MDC's wish. Meanwhile, the Botswana and Mozambican governments have asked their nationals in Zimbabwe to come forward and register to vote in their forthcoming general elections. The two countries have been placing advertisements in the local media urging their citizens to participate in their country's electoral processes. Botswana will hold general elections on October 30, this year, while Mozambique's elections will be held at the beginning of December.

Homelink helps families remit funds (The Herald Online, 14/10):- The Homelink-Kumusha-Ekhaya system of sending money to Zimbabwe is designed not only to enable Zimbabweans living abroad to send money home safely, quickly, reliably and conveniently, but to help the country as a whole. It achieves this objective by making foreign currency available to the foreign currency auction, where businesses and individuals are able to bid for it. The impact that the availability of foreign currency at the auction had on stabilising prices when it was first introduced earlier in the year was dramatic. The more foreign currency there is available at the auction for companies and individuals to pay for imports or for goods and services outside the country, the better this is for the country and for ordinary Zimbabweans. When money is sent from abroad to a registered money transfer agency in Zimbabwe, the foreign currency is delivered to the Reserve Bank for sale at the foreign currency auction. The money transfer agency pays the recipient the equivalent in Zimbabwe dollars, using either the diaspora floor price or the ruling auction rate, whichever is higher. A Zimbabwean living abroad who sends money to a relative back home using the Homelink-Kumusha-Ekhaya system benefits not only the relative to whom the money is sent but the country as a whole, since the foreign currency becomes available for the auction. Those who use illegal channels for the sake of possibly obtaining a slightly higher exchange rate or to avoid paying commission to the money transfer organisation in the country where they live deprive the country of valuable foreign currency that productive companies could use for raw materials or essential imports. In many cases the foreign currency in black market transactions never reaches Zimbabwe. It is banked in an individual’s or a company’s foreign account outside the country. If it is sold to a Zimbabwean company at an inflated exchange rate, this pushes up the price of the company’s goods — to the detriment of the ordinary person in the street. A number of messages have been sent to this column, all of them, as at the date of writing this article, appreciative of the Homelink initiative. One of them, however, said that money transfer agencies falling under the Homelink banner charged a fortune, while "our traditional black market guys" never used to charge anything. The commission charged would, if converted to Zimbabwe dollars, be enough to buy bread for a month. It is probably a mistake to think of the commission in Zimbabwe dollar terms. It is a charge made in Britain, the United States, South Africa or anywhere else the money is being sent from for a service provided in that country. It is likely that senders regularly spend the equivalent of even the highest commission charged on less important things. As mentioned in a previous column, the commission charged by foreign money transfer organisations varies from one to another. It is possible to shop around for the most favourable charges, particularly in the United Kingdom, where there are the largest number of money transfer organisations linked to licensed money transfer agencies in Zimbabwe. To avoid the charges by turning to the black market is to act illegally and to the detriment of one’s country. Another message, while wishing the Homelink initiative good luck, said many people in the diaspora felt Homelink was an effort by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to "get the government out of a situation it created". The Homelink initiative is part of the Reserve Bank’s efforts to turn the economy around for the good of the whole nation. It is ordinary people who have suffered most as a result of high inflation and soaring prices. It is ordinary people who will benefit most from an economic turnaround. A well-known Zimbabwean journalist working in South Africa with a reputation for being opposed to the Zimbabwe government put it like this: "When there were shortages of foodstuffs in the shops I had to send my mother food. With the new monetary policy, food has become available on shelves again and I no longer have to do this. For anyone to oppose measures that will improve the country’s economy, therefore, is foolish." By sending money home through the formal and legal channels that constitute Homelink, Zimbabweans abroad can benefit their relatives back home not only through the value of the money they send but by contributing to the country’s economic recovery, which will benefit their relatives, like everyone else. They do this by making foreign currency available to commerce and industry through the money they send. It is commerce and industry that use most of the foreign currency made available at the main foreign currency auctions that are held on Mondays and Thursdays each week. There is a smaller auction on Tuesdays for small businesses and individuals requiring foreign currency for such things as holidays and school fees. The auctions are run in a transparent manner by the Currency Exchange, an independent body that is supervised by an advisory body made up of bankers, miners, farmers and other individuals from various sectors of the economy. The results of the Homelink competition (see also boxed list) are as follows: First prize of $500 000 goes to Eddison Jekesayi of Warren Park D, Harare, the second prize of $250 000 to Munyaradzi Moyo of Zvishavane and the third rize of $100 000 goes to Pezias Macheka of Lochinvar, Harare. All three will also receive a Homelink T-shirt. Homelink T-shirts also go to M Ngilazi of Cold Comfort, Tynwald, Harare; Obert Mukwamiri and Macmilen Mupingo of Highfield, Harare; Joseph Mutezo and Ilene Chipatiso of Mutare; Bright Samapundo and Shepard Liwinga of Chitungwiza; Z Munakamwe of Avondale, Harare; Stanley Mapolisa of New Mabvuku, Harare; Ronald Mutusva of Glen Norah A, Harare; Francis Makuvadze of Glen View 8, Harare; Bongani Sibanda and Maxmillion S Takavaruva of Kwekwe; Davison Tavakonza of Masvingo; and Loveson Mapete of Mufakose, Harare. lIf you have any questions you would like addressed in this column or any suggestions, send them by e-mail to or by post to Box MP97, Mount Pleasant, Harare.

Zimbabweans abroad not allowed to vote (Sapa, 14/10):- Patrick Chinamasa, the Zimbabwe's justice minister, has said Zimbabweans outside the country will not be allowed to vote in elections expected in March next year. Chinamasa was responding to questions in parliament from the David Coltart, the shadow justice minister of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Still, when Coltart said most Southern African Development Community countries allowed citizens to post votes from abroad, Chinamasa said: "The law in our situation is explicit. Citizens of Zimbabwe who are resident will be allowed to vote." Some analysts claim that up to a quarter of all Zimbabweans now live abroad, with most fleeing to South Africa and Britain to escape economic hardship and political persecution. These people are still Zimbabweans," said Abedinico Bhebhe, MDC MP. The opposition claims "overwhelming support" from Zimbabweans living abroad. Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu(PF) party has repeatedly claimed it will abide by SADC election norms in next year's parliamentary poll. The MDC has rejected Zanu(PF's) claims and threatened to boycott the election unless there is "meaningful progress" towards transparency and free and fair polls in the troubled country. Meanwhile Chinamasa further dismissed MDC pleas for immediate access to state-owned radio and television, saying: "You cannot have a country that is permanently on elections from January to December. Outside election periods, broadcasters are free to determine what news to broadcast." The MDC has made repeated complaints about the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's "fierce loyalty" to the ruling party. The country has no independent electronic media, while the government has banned four independent newspapers in recent years. Chinamasa said access to the state-owned ZBC would be regulated during the run up to the election, when the opposition would have access to the airwaves.

State to act against cheating foreign doctors (The Herald, 14/10):- Government will soon act against some foreign medical doctors who allegedly hoodwinked it and acquired permanent residence permits on the pretext that they would commit part of their time working in Government hospitals. The majority of the doctors, who had signed up contracts of up to 10 years to work in Government hospitals, allegedly resigned and went into private practice soon after they had acquired permanent residence status. Harare Central Hospital Medical Superintendent Mr Chris Tapfumaneyi yesterday criticised the decision by the foreign doctors to shortchange the Government which had accommodated them and made it possible for them to get permanent residence permits. "We had a number of foreign doctors from countries such as India, Uganda and Yugoslavia who came into the country desperate a few years ago. They had made an oath that they would help the Government which was losing local doctors to private practice and to the UK (United Kingdom) on a monthly basis. "We ensured that they got permanent residence permits, a development which we now think was unfortunate on our part because when their contracts expired and they had acquired that status, they left us stranded," Mr. Tapfumaneyi said. He said recently Harare Central Hospital had lost another foreign specialist doctor, adding that there were fears that some might be following the trail. "We feel the doctors should still give their services to the Government even on a part-time basis, rather than to just turn around and forget the basis on which they acquired permanent residence permits," Mr. Tapfumaneyi said. He said Government should re-examine the contracts and bonding requirements for all health professional workers trained by the Government to ensure they did not shun Government service. Government has over the past 20 years spent billions on training nurses, doctors and other health professionals who opted for private practice or left the country for greener pastures soon after qualifying. he growing number of private hospitals mushrooming in nearly all urban centres has left Government hospitals barely able to cope with their mandate. Harare Hospital is one of institutions hardest hit by a shortage of both doctors and nurses. In September alone, 27 nurses resigned to work in private practice and for the Harare City Council. At present, Harare Hospital has 300 vacant posts for qualified nurses. The hospital was reeling under a shortage of specialist doctors. "We are coping with 20 specialist doctors instead of about 50," Mr. Tapfumaneyi said. Parirenyatwa Hospital has not been spared from the exodus of staff. It, too, has lost several doctors and hundreds of nurses. A Mrs. Makarau, who is in the administration department at Parirenyatwa Hospital, confirmed that scores of foreign and local doctors had left, citing unfavourable working conditions. "We still have three Ugandan doctors who, despite acquiring permanent residence status, did not abandon us," she said. A foreign doctor who went into private practice last week said he was no longer bound by the conditions of the three-year contract he signed with the Government and had decided to go into private practice where the rewards were much better. The director of technical support in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Davis Dhlakama, this week confirmed that the issue of foreign doctors was high on the Government's agenda. "The issue is still under discussion; we are equally concerned about how things are going on in our hospitals and Government will act soon," Dr Dhlakama said.

Cross border business takes heavy knock (The Sunday Mirror, 10/10):- Zimbabwe's cross border traders are slowly bowing down to a crippling combination of high import costs and persistent foreign currency shortages, which are threatening to shrink the once thriving business that employs a significant number of the country’s informal traders. Following the exorbitant hiking of customs duties by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) last year, a number of traders were reportedly forced to pull out of the business, which had proved to be a lucrative source of income for several individuals and families. At the peak of their activities last year, cross border traders are believed to have been raking in between $3 million and $5 million a month from their business, an amount well above the poverty datum line, currently at $1.4 million. The traders’ main activities include importing and resale of clothing items, vehicle spare parts, cellular phones and other household goods from South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. However, the restrictive charges put in place by Zimra have seen a major slump in business for cross-border traders, a significant number of whom are now leaving the business altogether or have now resorted to purchasing their goods from immigrant West and East African traders, who are slowly taking over the business. Customs duty is levied on imported goods in terms of the Customs and Excise Act, with rates set out in the Customs Tariff, which is published in the form of a Statutory Instrument. The rates vary according to the category of goods. Last year, Zimra hiked import duties to as much as 500 percent of the original cost of some items, an action that saw a severe reduction in the quantity of goods being imported by cross border entrepreneurs. “The foreign currency shortages and high import duties have adversely affected our business to a larger extent than we anticipated. “We are now forced to rely on Nigerians who find it much easier to import goods into the country,” said Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association (ZCTBA) president Killer Zivhu. Although ZCTBA had foreseen the potential damage to the industry as a result of the foreign currency shortages, the long-term implications of the high import duties seem to have initially been lost on the organisation, which is now seeking urgent measures to keep its operators in business. Zivhu said the major problem that had been faced by the traders had been foreign currency shortages and the fluctuating exchange rate, which made it difficult for the traders to plan their trips as well as the quantity and cost of goods they would bring into the country. Although the official exchange rate for the United States dollar to the Zimbabwe dollar is $1US to $5 610, the inability of traders to access the funds from the formal foreign currency auction has seen the parallel market rate shooting to one greenback to $7 500 Zimbabwe dollars. The same has also applied to traders importing goods from South Africa and Botswana, where the official auction rates are $860 and $1 171 though the black-market rates are $1 300 and $1 700 respectively. “With rates such as these combined with the duty that one has to pay at the border when bringing goods into the country, we have found it very difficult to stay in this business,” said Revai Matambisa, who imports used clothes from Mozambique. The only other alternatives left for the traders have been drastically scaling down on the quantity of goods imported or purchasing their market goods from the large influx of immigrants hailing from other countries in the continent. Over the past four years, Nigerian and other West and East African immigrants from the Great Lakes region have practically invaded Zimbabwe, partly to take advantage of opportunities posed by the country’s flagging economy, while others have fled worse problems in their own countries. “These people are now becoming our lifeline because they are able to afford the high black market rates for foreign currency whereas we are not. So we are forced to buy goods from them which we later sell in our own flea markets,” Zivhu said. The move could however court the ire of immigration authorities, who are battling to control the influx of illegal immigrants entering the country with fake documents and engaging in several illegal activities. In July, government revised import duties on goods brought into the country by cross border traders in a move that was hoped would reduce congestion at border posts. Previously, goods worth as little as $500 were charged import duty causing unnecessary hold ups and administrative congestion at the ports of entry. “The revenue collected does not justify the amount of administrative work involved,” Acting Finance and Economic Development Minister, Herbert Murerwa said when presenting his mid-term fiscal policy review. In an effort to correct the anomaly, Murerwa announced that the taxable threshold would be upped to $100 000, a figure that has made little difference as most importers bring in goods worth significantly more than the $100 000.

Bonding won't heal health system (The Zimbabwe Independent, 08/10):- This week Health minister David Parirenyatwa announced that health personnel trained at government institutions would be bonded to the state for a period equivalent to the time it took to train them to stem the brain drain. The haemorrhaging of skill in the health sector has been problematic for Zimbabwe, which has over the past five years lost a large number of doctors, pharmacists and nurses. Aggressive recruiting of health professionals by Europe and North America and countries in the region is depriving Zimbabwe of vital skills. Statistics are anecdotal at best because doctors leaving the country do not seek to have their names removed from their professional registers. Studies have however shown that of 1 200 physicians trained in Zimbabwe in the 1990s, only 360 were left by 2001. The rate of emigration has accelerated since then as graduate doctors escape the harsh reality of living in a class way below their qualifications and status in society. Even without specific figures, the extent of the brain drain is easy to fathom. Paediatricians, neurologists, specialist surgeons, cardiologists and dermatologists have become an endangered species in the country. In government hospitals patients can wait for days before they are attended to by specialist staff. The patient-to-doctor ratio continues to balloon. The United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development report for 2004 says Zimbabwe has about six doctors per 100 000 people. It says the country is committing less than 3% of its GDP to the health delivery system. Up to 39% of the population is undernourished, it says. There are more not-so-good indicators. In 1975 life expectancy was 56 years but the figure has since dropped to 33. Zimbabwe’s infant mortality, once the envy of most African countries only five years ago, is going up and is believed to be above 7,5 of all live births. This week Health permanent secretary Elizabeth Xaba said maternity mortality in Zimbabwe was too high at 695 per 100 000. Government has proffered ox-drawn ambulances as a solution to pregnant rural women’s access to healthcare. Not in the 21st century please Elizabeth! Then there is the high HIV infection rate of 24%, which has pushed the already overstretched state hospitals to the wall. The deteriorating health conditions are in sync with the growing deprivation of an already poor population. The sad reality is that poor health status keeps the poor in poverty and poverty keeps them in poor health, thus worsening the vicious cycle. Poverty is one of the main causes of reduced life expectancy in Zimbabwe. As much as 70% of the population is living on below US$2 a day. Lack of accommodation has resulted in overcrowding which has increased the spread of respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis and asthma. The risk of diarrhoeal diseases has also increased in urban areas due to poor water quality, as there is no foreign currency to import chemicals for water treatment. Waste disposal in urban areas has become erratic due to inefficiency and lack of equipment. Unemployment has pushed female juveniles into prostitution with its attendant dangers. Government’s resettlement programme has not helped the situation either as new farmers do not have access to primary healthcare. Child immunisation programmes have suffered major setbacks in resettlement areas. Public health institutions are offering limited services due to poor funding, worsened by lack of balance of payment support. The cost of accessing health services has meanwhile continued to rise. Only this week private doctors increased consultation fees to as much as $400 000 per visit. The health delivery system is sick and Parirenyatwa, who got the poisoned chalice from his predecessor Timothy Stamps, has continued to treat the symptoms. Parirenyatwa believes tethering doctors and nurses to hospital beds will improve the country’s health delivery system and reduce the emigration rate. This is not the first time government has promised to bond health personnel. As way back as 1997 when the exodus started to pick up, government said it would bond nurses. The president of the nurses association then, Clara Nondo, responded: “That will not work as long as government does not address the primary causes why professionals in the health sector are trooping out of the country daily. Bonding will not stop the brain drain because it’s about bread and butter issues and not patriotism.” Working conditions emerge as the single most important pre-disposing factor for health professional to leave. Salaries of health workers have remained poor while working conditions have deteriorated, as equipment and protective clothing are not being replaced. Doctors working long hours have complained that they are exposed to dangerous situations as fatigue-induced errors can result in them contracting diseases. The government has taken every opportunity to denounce those leaving the country as sell-outs. It is a dangerous attitude. The long and short of it is that bonding doctors by itself will not staunch the brain drain so long as the working conditions and the political situation in the country remain unstable.

Zimbabwe, SA sign deal to halt exploitation of immigrant farm workers (Zim Online, 04/10):- Zimbabwe and South Africa have signed an agreement to end the exploitation of illegal Zimbabwean migrant workers on South African farms. South Africa's labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana acknowledged at the weekend that the exploitation of Zimbabwean immigrant workers was a widespread practice on South African farms. He said his ministry would put in place a mechanism for the recruitment of Zimbabweans to work on South African farms legally. Mdladlana accused mainly white South African farmers of hiring illegal immigrants and giving them fake identity documents. The farmers often threaten to deport the illegal immigrants during disputes over salaries and working conditions. The latest agreement will eventually see the creation of an agency to act as a recruitment centre for South African farmers looking for labour. It is envisaged that Zimbabweans will also register at the agency for employment on South African farms. Labour minister Paul Mangwana who signed the agreement on behalf of Zimbabwe said: "We do not encourage our citizens to cross into South Africa
illegally. We want to put in place a mechanism to ensure that Zimbabweans wanting to work in South Africa are properly registered." There are over three million Zimbabweans living in South Africa with an estimated 20 000, most of them illegal immigrants, working on the farms. Most of the illegal immigrants opt to eke out a living by providing cheap labour on the farms after running away from economic hardships at home.

Traders association launches new duty card (Sunday Mail, 03/10):- The Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders' Association has launched a new duty card that will be used by its members for duty payment purposes at the country's border posts, in a move that will curb the externalisation of the Zimbabwe dollar and ease congestion at the country's borders. The association's president, Mr Killer Zivhu, said the launch of the new payment system in conjunction with a local freight company, Real Freighters International, would also help in eliminating the foreign currency parallel market at border posts as traders will not be forced to change their foreign currency to pay duty. "The new payment system will make it easier for our members to pay their duty and also reduces the risks that are associated with carrying large sums of money by traders," he said. Mr Zivhu added that his association had launched an $800 million loan facility as part of measures aimed at facilitating the easy acquisition of visas by its members.

This page last updated 7 Feb 2005.