Refugees protest the closure of SA asylum offices
By Alex Bell
20 June 2012
Refugees in South Africa have marked World Refugee Day by protesting the
ongoing closures of asylum offices across the country, accusing the
government there of ‘disregarding’ its international human rights
The government started closing the refugee reception centres in metropolitan
areas last year, with plans to reopen the offices at border posts. The
Department of Home Affairs has insisted that this will not impact the
country’s commitments to protecting asylum seekers, but will instead help
deal with South Africa’s bloated asylum system.
But human rights groups have warned that the closure of the offices is
making it even harder for asylum seekers to apply for the protection that
South Africa is committed to provide.
The government’s plan started with the closure of the Crown Mines office in
Johannesburg in May 2011. This was closely followed by the closure of the
Port Elizabeth refugee office in November 2011. Both these closures were
challenged in the courts and the courts have held that the decision to close
these refugee offices was unlawful and have asked Home Affairs to revisit
this decision. In the Port Elizabeth legal challenge the Eastern Cape High
court even ordered the refugee office to re-open to existing refugees and
asylum seekers as well as newcomers. To date this has not taken place.
UK Home Office in Spotlight Over Zimbabwe Asylum Cases
19 June 2012
Violet Gonda | London
The British Appeals Court on Monday sent back to a lower court a test case
regarding Zimbabwean asylum seekers after it emerged the country’s Home
Office had deliberately failed to disclose significant evidence in the
matter during deliberations.
Legal experts say the case, first heard in 2010, involves the Home Office’s
attempts to force failed asylum-seekers to return home and ‘lie’ about their
political affiliation to avoid persecution, so the UK can reduce immigration
But four Zimbabwean respondents claim they will face a real risk of
persecution if deported.
Brighton Mutebuka, a principal lawyer at Mutebuka & Co Immigration Lawyers,
based in Leeds, told VOA the Home Office conceded that their action was
“The Upper Tribunal judges will look at all the evidence afresh including
evidence that hadn’t been disclosed and of course they will also look at the
current political developments in Zimbabwe and then provide a thorough
country guidance case which will then form future guidance in Zimbabwean
asylum and human rights cases.
Battle lines drawn as COPAC negotiations begin
By Tichaona Sibanda
18 June 2012
Talks between negotiators from parties in the GPA to conclude the drafting
of the new constitution have begun in Nyanga, amid hope that the latest
negotiations will yield some positive results.
The indaba in Nyanga is aimed at resolving all outstanding issues in the
drafting of a new constitution, whose process has taken over three years and
left many Zimbabweans frustrated.
The country’s rival parties have been stuck on certain contentious issues in
the draft, despite pleas from NGO’s and civil society organisations for a
quick resolution to the crisis.
It is hoped that these negotiations at a secluded lodge in Nyanga will yield
a breakthrough on the crucial issues. The country’s current constitution was
drawn up in the run-up to independence from Britain in 1980 and has been
revised repeatedly, giving Robert Mugabe sweeping powers.
After the constitutional outreach program Zimbabweans have said they want a
charter that would reform how their country is run following decades of
abuses by the former ruling ZANU PF government.
A highly placed source in the MDC-T told SW Radio Africa on Monday that the
six party negotiators, who are the management committee of COPAC reviewing
the contentious draft constitution, are expected to agree on key issues.
COPAC officials from the three sides of coalition government had mainly
differed on the proposal for a less powerful president, the devolution of
power and dual citizenship.
A Harare based political analyst was less optimistic, convinced that ZANU PF
wants to collapse COPAC and declare a deadlock.
‘No good news will come from Nyanga. ZANU PF is digging in, the securocrats
have Mugabe by the throat. There will be very little, if any, compromise
from ZANU PF,’ the analyst said.
Analysts warn of bloodbath in Mugabe's last election
by Tendai Kamhungira 21 hours 16 minutes ago
HARARE - Rival political parties and analysts have warned that Zimbabwe
could plunge into chaos and bloodbath if the military heeds Zanu PF plans to
have them campaign on its behalf in the next elections.
The warning comes against Friday’s statements by Zanu PF that soldiers will
campaign on their behalf in next elections “because the MDC had the backing
of trade unions and other groups” disliked by the liberation movement.
President Robert Mugabe has been pushing for a snap poll without
implementing reforms he agreed with his coalition partners — Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
“It is a ploy not only to bring soldiers into politics but to ensure that it
(Zanu PF) will win the next elections. Soldiers are trained to kill. If they
are to campaign for Zanu PF they will do what they know best and that is
killing and inflicting pain,” warned University of Zimbabwe lecturer and
political analyst, John Makumbe.
Makumbe told the Daily News on Sunday the idea by Zanu PF to use the army to
campaign for them was unconstitutional and should not be allowed.
“If soldiers are allowed to campaign for Zanu PF, there will be instability
and the situation will be worse than the 2008 scenario and before we know
it, we will be having GNU number two,” said Makumbe.
On Friday, Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, said his
party would not have problems with the military campaigning for them.
“Personally I do not have a problem with the military choosing to campaign
for a party of their choice. It is common knowledge that trade unions (ZCTU)
campaign for the MDC and should we then say they should not do that.
“These people (military) fought with us during the liberation struggle, so
why should we discriminate against them. We cannot stop them from
campaigning,” Mutasa said.
His remarks are consistent with findings by a broader civic society
coalition — Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition — which released a report in June
last year warning about military deployment in provinces to prop up Zanu PF.
Minister confirms army ownership of diamond mine
By Alex Bell
18 June 2012
A Zimbabwean government minister has confirmed that an army firm has a 40%
stake in one of the most lucrative concessions in Chiadzwa, in a clear
admittance of the military’s direct involvement in the Zim diamond mining
The country’s Deputy Mines Minister told parliament last week that the
Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) owns 40% of the Anjin mining firm, which
is a joint venture with the Chinese. Although the ZDI is, on paper, a
private company, all the shares in the company are held by the ZANU PF
controlled Ministry of Defence.
The state owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) owns a
further ten percent of Anjin, with the remaining half of the shareholding
being held by the Chinese Defence Industries.
Minister Gift Chimanikire told parliament that there was nothing sinister
about the ZDI’s involvement in diamond mining, and that “Anjin itself is a
defence industry company that is owned by the Chinese.”
But Chimanikire’s admittances come amid fresh reports that the army, along
with police and private security, is still leading a violent campaign
against diamond panners at the Chiadzwa alluvial fields. According to a
report in the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper, witness have described continued
shootings, beatings and the use of dogs by soldiers, police and private
guards against illegal miners at the controversial fields.
One victim described being shot in the face by soldiers while four friends
were murdered and others beaten after digging for diamonds near a
concession. The man claimed he had been recruited to dig for stones by the
soldiers who had later killed his colleagues and disfigured him for life,
apparently in an attempt to eradicate witnesses to their brutality.
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