Gabon govt says ‘situation under control’, army rebels seized

2019-01-07 – News 24
The government of Gabon declared that it was in control after an attempted coup by army rebels Monday and that it had arrested most of those involved.
“Calm has returned, the situation is under control,” government spokesperson Guy-Bertrand Mapangou told AFP.
Only hours earlier, soldiers burst into state radio and called on the people to “rise up”, an apparent bid to oust ailing President Ali Bongo, who is out of the country. Of the five who did this, according to Mapangou, “four have been arrested and one is on the run”.

Western Cape region welcomes tourism brand refresh

9 Jan 2019 – Tourism Update

Theewaterskloof updates its tourism brand.
The Theewaterskloof Municipality, in South Africa’s Western Cape, has refreshed its tourism brand.
Originally branded under ‘The Cape Country Meander’, the new brand – ‘Cape Country Theewaterskloof Tourism’ – was created after a series of consultative processes with various tourism stakeholders, presented to the local council and approved in November 2018.
The new brand is said to capture the uniqueness of the region, is easily recognisable, and represents the different route offerings that appeal to niche markets, such as cycling, birding, adventure, wine and heritage. It also aims to change the image of the DMO, and promoting the region’s unique and authentic experiences to local and international visitors while meeting the tourism expectations of the region to become a competitive tourist destination and redirect the interest of domestic and international tourists to visit the Theewaterskloof region.
There are numerous tourism offerings presented by the region, including a walking tour of Genadendal; a steam train trip from Cape Town to Elgin Railway Market with Ceres Rail; a Canopy experience with Cape Canopy Tours; tastings of award-winning wines from Elgin Valley; and exploring the quaint town of Greyton on a guided bicycle or a medicinal plant tour.
Newly appointed Senior Tourism Administrator, Shaun Cloete, believes that brand awareness will increase and strengthen the value of the new brand identity through better relationships with tourism stakeholders, along with attracting visitors. “Through events, marketing and promotional efforts in near future, like WTM Africa and the Cape Epic race, a strong brand message will be communicated to buyers and visitors to experience off-the-beaten-track hidden gems,” concludes Cloete.

Record workload at anti-corruption agency that polices law enforcement

10 January 2019 — Sydney Morning Herald
Why it matters
• One of the federal government’s anti-corruption agencies reported its highest-ever caseload.
• Trends reported by other integrity bodies present a question for supporters of an agency.
• Law enforcement integrity commission conducted more inquiries – but received fewer new cases.
The federal anti-corruption agency policing law enforcement agencies had its largest caseload on record last year as it reported a backlog of investigations and detected deeper levels of misconduct.
Australia’s commission for law enforcement integrity has also flagged it doesn’t yet know how the creation of the Home Affairs Department will affect its work monitoring agencies, as another 1000 staff come into its jurisdiction.
Inquiries into Australia’s border officials and federal police ended in convictions last year after the commission caught them acting criminally on the job.
Integrity Commissioner Michael Griffin reported the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity reached its highest ever level of operational tempo in its 12-year history as slow-burn corruption probes reached an end, the number of staff it oversaw grew, and agencies it monitored found it easier to detect possible misconduct and more deeply entrenched corruption.
“Deeper levels of corruption are being found, with sophisticated criminal groups sometimes targeting a number of staff in different law enforcement agencies,” he said in an annual report.
The commission reported a spike in new cases in 2015 after the then-Department of immigration and border protection came under its watch, creating a backload of work carried into last year. It received fewer referrals in 2017, and officials identified cases to close.
A reshuffle of Australia’s national security agencies last year could raise its workload again.
“The creation of the Department of Home Affairs in late December 2017, bringing into jurisdiction an additional 1000 staff, many of whom perform potentially high corruption risk functions, is yet to be fully determined,” Mr Griffin said.
The commission conducted 280 investigations last year, up from 240 in 2016 and 45 in 2013. New cases fell from 107 to 55 between 2016 and 2017.
Advocates for a new, over-arching federal anti-corruption agency could seize on the commission’s figures, but face a challenge in conflicting data about government misconduct emerging from the existing patchwork of integrity watchdogs.
The figures don’t undercut a campaign for a new corruption-busting agency, newly-energised by a crossbench that has won more influence since the Morrison government lost its majority. They also present a question for supporters of a new National Integrity Commission in a debate scant on statistics.
New misconduct and maladministration investigations are falling in other agencies tasked with detecting corruption in the bureaucracy.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman, monitoring integrity in non-law enforcement agencies, reported the number of probes finalised fell from 365 to 313. Reports of wrongdoing grew from 684 to 737, continuing a trend in recent years, but many appear to have emerged mistakenly from members of the public through Australia Post.
“Australia Post has strong processes in place for publicising the scheme on its public-facing website, which results in a higher proportion of members of the public, who are not public officials, seeking to access the scheme,” the ombudsman said.
Two hundred disclosures to Australia Post did not meet the threshold needed to investigate as the discloser was not a public servant. Investigation numbers fell at the Department of Defence, but increased at the Tax Office, Home Affairs, and the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
Monash University senior lecturer in law specialising in government integrity, Yee-Fui Ng, said the figures gave only an incomplete picture of corruption in the federal bureaucracy.
The mosaic of federal watchdogs was not “all encompassing” and was not focused on systemic corruption.
“It’s a bit naive to think that it’s confined to the state level, and the federal level is pristine,” she said.
“The point of an anti-corruption commission is it will try to have a systemic look at what might potentially be corrupt. That’s the reason why we want an overarching body to look at all the actions of the agencies and look at a system level.”
The public service commission has previously argued against a new integrity agency, saying misconduct levels were low, current anti-corruption efforts already worked, and the federal government was less exposed to high corruption-risk work – including planning and mining licences – than state governments. Dr Ng said a new integrity commission could investigate federal agencies and politicians dealing in procurement and government grants, among other matters.
In January the public service commission said the number of bureaucrats witnessing corruption had risen to 5 per cent, although fewer code of conduct inquiries were conducted. Australia has slid from ninth to 13th in global anti-corruption body Transparency International’s rankings for perceived government integrity since 2013.
Another watchdog, the Australian National Audit Office, revealed last week the Home Affairs Department and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission were the first agencies to ever flag they could try suppressing parts of its investigations into their projects and spending.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has promised to work with crossbenchers to establish a National Integrity Commission, and independent MP Cathy McGowan on Monday is expected to introduce legislation in parliament creating the watchdog. Attorney-General Christian Porter is considering how to strengthen Australia’s patchwork integrity regime, but the Coalition is yet to determine where it stands on a new commission.

Namibian Home Affairs makes U-turn on consent letters for minors

2019-01 -14 – Namibian
Home Affairs makes U-turn on consent letters for minors
THE Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration’s acting permanent secretary, Anette Bayer Forsingdal, issued a statement on Friday morning saying there is no legal requirement for adults travelling with minors to carry the children’s full birth certificates and consent letters from absent parents.
A spokesperson of the ministry, Sakeus Kadhikwa, told The Namibian this week that adults and single parents travelling with minors should be ready to present full birth certificates and a consent letter from an absent parent, or a relevant court order or death certificate, when travelling with minors domestically.

Kudos to home affairs for serving the people

The department has temporarily extended its office hours from 7am to 7pm every day.

When it comes to government departments, Home Affairs is one that takes plenty of flak from the public. Often, they only have themselves to blame, as South African citizens have become tired of lengthy queues, unnecessary waiting periods and general frustration when applying for passports, smart ID cards and other important documents.
But credit needs to be given where credit is due, which is why we welcome the department of home affairs’ decision to extend their office hours at the start of 2019 to deal with a busy period of the year.
From last week, until the end of this week, some of its offices across the country were operating on a 7am-to-7pm shift to ensure people were not turned away.
“On a normal shift, clients are served from 8am until 3.30pm. This [extension of operating hours] is a result of the long queues home affairs offices had experienced last year around this time. The decision to extend the hours for this period is also in support of the war on queues campaign that was launched last year, in April,” said Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele’s spokesperson Siya Qoza.
“Extending office hours at large offices and selected medium offices will help ensure citizens and clients are not turned away before receiving the services they require. This will assist also in managing queues so that people do not spend a long time waiting to be served.”
It also applies for registration of births, marriages and deaths. After years of inept service from government departments, people are understandably frustrated with some of our structures.
However, if extending operating hours proves to be a success, then surely they need to look at making this more permanent. Yes, resources are always going to be a problem, but if it makes people’s lives easier then surely it needs to be explored.

Illegal immigration undermines law and order in SA

07 January 2019 – IOL

Illegal immigration undermines law and order in SA.
A nasty trend has taken root in our country in which anyone who dares to speak out against certain issues is publicly humiliated and dismissed.
For merely lamenting the state of illegal immigration I was labelled “xenophobic”, “afriphobic” and “illiberal”. Inevitably, the merits of the argument then go undebated.
But eventually, my message was understood. We want the people of the world to come to Johannesburg to work, live and enjoy our city on condition they enter our country legally and, once here, obey our laws.
Then, something strange began to happen. I was being stopped in the streets by ordinary people who were grateful that someone had said something.
Speaking frankly, the state of illegal immigration in South Africa is a disaster.
We do not have borders in our country. People cross into the country through a border that is not properly policed. Don’t take my word for it, the South African Defence Force have said as much.
To be clear, many of the people who come to our country without documentation are good people. They can contribute to our society but are often deprived this opportunity by a home affairs department that is wholly inadequate in processing their documentation.
There is no civilised country in the world where this is the case, because for a country to succeed there must be a rule of law. Just like the government required my children to have a South African ID book when they turned 16, it is supposed to regulate immigration and documentation for those entering our country.
There is currently an unknown number of people in our country without documentation. They have taken up residence, largely in our cities. Yet there is no process where I can know their true numbers or receive any funding from the national government for the services I am expected to render to them.
And who suffers most? The poor, forgotten people of our cities. They form the majority of the nine million unemployed. Limited work opportunities are taken up by unscrupulous employers taking on undocumented foreigners.
We have already seen how it impacts our over-burdened public healthcare system. Our police are rendered ineffective when they arrest criminals who cannot be processed only to be released by a failing criminal justice system. Given that foreigners cannot qualify for state-funded housing, many of them are subjected to the worst form of abuse from slum lords in our inner city, contributing to our urban decay.
The reality is that not all people coming into our country are victims. Some come with the intention to break our laws, knowing the shortcoming of our justice system.
You would think, given the context of our country’s massive social backlogs, it would be important we discuss this issue.
Why are you branded xenophobic when you attempt to do so? If you think there are not massive criminal syndicates at play, profiteering from vulnerable, undocumented foreigners, you are blind.
And yet, our commentariat plays into the hands of these profiteers. Their need for political correctness drives them to slam anyone who ventures into the terrain of illegal immigration.
It is time that we recognise there is space for a responsible discussion on the subject of illegal immigration. Our citizens want it; our police want it; our doctors and nurses want it.
In a democracy, debating such matters is critical.

Home Affairs Dept urges parents to register newborns as soon as possible

EWN – 03 January 2019
CAPE TOWN – Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Fatima Chohan has urged expecting parents to be prepared for the birth of their babies by also considering what must happen afterward.
Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Fatima Chohan says that her department has widely communicated the need for parents to register newborn babies within 30 days of birth.
Chohan visited Tygerberg Hospital on Tuesday along with Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.
They handed out birth certificates to moms of newborn babies and visited premature babies.
At least 33 babies were born in the Western Cape on New Year’s Day.
From shouts of pain to happier moments.
“I’m excited, because it’s my first girl,” said one new mom.
Two lucky moms who gave birth yesterday at Tygerberg Hospital could breathe a sigh of relief that their babies’ birth certificates had been sorted out for them.
Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Fatima Chohan says that her department has widely communicated the need for parents to register newborn babies within 30 days of birth.
Chohan says although there are Home Affairs offices in most health facilities, many parents are still not going through the process and often leave it until later in the child’s life.
She has urged parents to be prepared not only for the birth of a child but for registering the baby after birth.
“Have a little emergency bag, where you’ve got your essential documents and just make sure that that is in a state of readiness.”