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Khama’s deportations in numbers

Publishing Date : 21 April, 2016

Author : JASON RANTHATSA

Since President Lieutenant General Dr Ian Khama Seretse Khama took power in 2008, he had deported over 2400 foreign nationals, some of who were academics and were declared prohibited immigrants.

In the past two years, Khama has deported a total of 414 foreign nationals of whom 373 were declared prohibited immigrants in terms of in terms of Section 41 (1) (a) of the Immigration Act because they had been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine for the various criminal offences they committed while in the country, the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu has confirmed.

The said section reads, “a person is a prohibited immigrant and his or her entry into or presence within Botswana is unlawful if he or she is an immigrant who not having received a free pardon, has been sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine in Botswana.”

The other 40 foreigners, according to Batshu, were declared prohibited immigrants under Section 41 1(c) which empowers the President to declare any person a prohibited immigrant in consequence of information received from a reliable source. The act, reads, “a person is a prohibited immigrant and his or her entry into or presence within Botswana is unlawful if he or she is a person, in consequence of information received from a reliable source, is declared by the President to be a prohibited immigrant.”
In addition, Batshu said that one of the prohibited immigrants was married to a Motswana.

Batshu was speaking in Parliament in response to a series of questions from the Francistown South legislator, Wynter Mmolotsi who had wanted to know the number of foreigners who were deported in the last two years and the reasons for their deportations. Mmolotsi also wanted to know the fate of the assets accrued by deportees during their stay in the country.

Batshu reiterated that the mandate of his Ministry was to control movement of persons and therefore, in cases of deportations, deportees were facilitated to travel to their countries of origin and they were responsible for making their own arrangements for disposal of their assets. Batshu added that this figures do not include thousands of illegal immigrants repatriated to their respective countries mainly Zimbabweans on a daily basis. However, the Minister could not tell Parliament the nationalities of the deportees or nature of their businesses.  

More deportations under Khama administration

Batshu further revealed that, during Sir Ketumile Masire’s 18 years in power, there were only 115 deportations while Festus Mogae deported 790 foreigners during his presidency which spanned for 10 years.  Mogae stepped down from Presidency at the end of his full term in 2008 and was automatically succeeded by Khama. According to statistics from the Ministry of labour and home affairs, by March 2010 President Khama had already deported 404 foreigners while by last year alone, Khama had declared 133 foreigners prohibited immigrants.

However in August 2014, while attending an African Leadership Forum Panel Discussion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Mogae, who is a recipient of a Mo Ibrahim Foundation prize, revealed that in fact Khama has deported over 2000 foreign professionals since he took over power. Mogae then suggested that Khama’s government was intolerant to debate, criticism and was hostile to any dissenting voice.

Nonetheless, on the sidelines of the National Assembly, a ruling Party Member of Parliament, Biggie Butale of Tati East told this publication that the escalating numbers of deportations under Khama presidency was because of the establishment of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS) which he said was doing a splendid job as the government is now well-informed about the background and activities of foreigners residing in the country.
The impact of deportations on the economy

Another ruling party MP, Setlhomo Lelatisitswe of Boteti East, told this publication in an interview that the skyrocketing figures of deportations by the Khama administration will not scare potential investors. He noted that strengthening the country’s intelligence agency remains the government’s top priority.

“We are trying to tighten the country’s security as in many cases investors would like to do business in a secure and safe environment. By deporting these foreigners, we are simply warning the world at large that Botswana will not tolerate investors who are a threat to its security or who are involved in illegal businesses” he said.
In 2010, the then legislator for Lobatse, Nehemiah Modubule pleaded with the government to amend the immigration act because the deportees were denied justice. He said deporting foreigners without according them justice does not bode well for a country which is seeking foreign investment.

Three years ago, former legislator for Tonota, Pono Moatlhodi decried that deportation of foreign investors was negatively affecting the country’s economy. Moatlhodi lamented before Parliament that it was sad to note that the country was on a mission to lure in foreign investments while at the same time deporting those who had already invested in the country. He went on to warn the government that deporting foreigners in such a manner might in the long run discourage potential investors and already many locals were losing jobs as foreigners who owned some businesses were deported.

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