As part of revamping the notorious Directorate of Intelligence Security Services (DISS), the spy agency’s Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi says they will assess the status of some Prohibited Immigrants (PI’s) who were banned, banished from the country under the presidency of Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
â€¨Ex Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Edwin Batshu told parliament in 2014 that Botswana under Khama, since taking office in 2008, had declared a staggering 870 nationals from other countries – prohibited immigrants. Batshu was then answering a question from Selibe Phikwe West legislator, Dithapelo Keorapetse who had wanted to know the number of foreign nationals declared prohibited immigrants since president Khama took office in April 2008.
In terms of the Botswana law, a prohibited immigrant is an undesirable inhabitant or visitor in the country and is declared by the sitting president, using any information deemed to be reliable to warrant the effecting of PI status. In light of the alarming number of PI’s, Magosi told Weekend Post this week that they will consider all the PI’s, review them and dully advise the current President Mokgweetsi Masisi to lift or reverse where necessary.
He asserted: “we will consider their status and advise the president accordingly” adding that “they will be all assessed on case by case scenario.” However, when asked which ones are already on the table for review, Magosi was cagey with the details least for stating that “I can’t confirm nor deny which ones we are currently reviewing but we are looking at the cases.”
According to Magosi, as the DISS he said it is in their responsibility to ensure that the country keeps good relations and cordial neighborliness with other countries and avoid unnecessary fall out with such counterparts. The DISS Chief emphasised: “so we will look at such PI cases in an endevour to improve relations with other countries going forward. We really need to try and build relations with other countries.”
Meanwhile President Masisi has, during his first months in office, also in his own word promised to review the cases of every individual classified as a Prohibited Immigrant by the (previous) government. He was speaking at his first Press Conference as President at Mass Media complex where he acknowledged that there were a number of people who have been blacklisted but promised to review such and each case separately.
He stressed at the briefing that a prominent lawyer Joao Carlos Salbany, who was effectively PI’d and his name published on government gazette – was now a free man. “There was an error when a review of his status was being done, he is no longer a PI,” revealed Masisi at the said press briefing, also which was first of its kind after the dictatorial Khama.
Some of the notable names of those who were also banned by the former President Khama’s government include: South African President of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Julius Malema; United States of America (USA) Actor Ricky Yune; Zambian national Jerry Chitube; Malawian Prophet based in South Africa Shepherd Bushiri and Basarwa lawyer Gordon Bennet.
Part of their crime is that they are banned because of their suspected association and sympathy with the opposition parties and their gesture of advocating for the rights of the minorities. Meanwhile on her part, Minister of Nationality, Immigration & Gender Affairs Dorcus Makgato has distanced herself from the PI issue referring this publication to the Office of the President which she said only has such powers.
She separately told this publication that: “PI is an issue of the Office of the President (OP), it lies with OP. I cannot do that as a Minister of Immigration and I don’t know if it is something to consider in future.” It is however understood that the Immigration minister also has the power to declare someone a prohibited immigrant before having it approved by the president.
Makgato said at the moment she doesn’t have a petition at her desk and list of people that want their PI status reviewed while stressing that OP is better placed as it deals with those kinds of people who are considered to have done grave transgressions that threatens the security and well being of the country. When this publication further reached out to OP on the issue, government spokesperson John Thomas Dipowe would not confirm nor deny the PI’s whom are said to be in the pipeline to be revoked.
“I am not conversant with information that the government is currently planning to lift the status of some on the PI list. But I believe it was given on security reasons and therefore they firstly have to see if there are changes, for security clearance and if any, that’s when they can be lifted,” he highlighted.
He also confirmed that there are three key ministries involved in the immigration issue including Office of the President; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as well as Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs. On a separate matter Dipowe told this publication recently that they are also currently working collaboratively to fast track process of acquiring Visa and reducing fees of residence and work permits.
According to Dipowe, there have been complaints by the Private Sector especially Business Botswana that residents and work permits under Khama administration had stringent laws making it difficult for potential investment to come invest in the country and or undertake tourism.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.