President Mokgweetsi Masisi has reversed another key policy posture which is the brainchild of the former President Lt. Gen Dr Ian Khama Seretse Khama’s administration. Under Khama, Botswana was so rigid and strict on foreign investors in as far as acquiring a Visa is concerned.
The notorious security agency, Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) has been very instrumental in assessing and consequently turning down most of the Visa applications, residents and work permits hence barring foreigners from working or staying in the country. There were no reasons declared publicly for rejecting VISA applications save for the famous ‘security reasons’ line. The private sector has been advising that such a policy could harm the economy.
Such laws, policies and strategies were seen as not friendly to foreigners with an endevour to set up business in Botswana and others for tourists’ purposes. Since taking power from Khama in April, Masisi has and continues to reverse key policies that defined the former’s president’s tenure including but not limited to the contentious immigration laws.
The new head of Government Communications, who doubles as a Presidential Speechwriter, John Thomas Dipowe, told Weekend Post in a first interview after filling in the shoes of Dr. Jeff Ramsay that indeed the current administration is reviewing the immigration laws to make them friendlier. “Immigration is currently reviewing its policies and laws,” Dipowe emphasised to this publication.
He further explained that, “in terms of the Visa, in our current administration, we have planned to change few things here and there. These include turnaround time which is being changed to accommodate and attract other peoples from outside the country especially tourists and investors.” Currently, he said it takes around 14 days to acquire a Visa and now that is undergoing review to reduce the time period and to accommodate those that have the checklist needed to do Visa to give it to them as a matter of urgency, adding that these are the issues that government is still looking at on the table.
He 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. We are currently working collaboratively to fast track process of acquiring Visa and reducing fees of residence and work permits, the government chief spokesperson stated to this publication.
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. “So we are trying to address this issue. We want to make process of Visa applications friendly. We want to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) more in this country,” Dipowe insisted.
He justified that “when we talk about employment creation, one of the avenues that we refer to is through FDI which literally creates employment through foreigners taking part in the development process of our country and which also lead to poverty reduction.” Dipowe also said government doesn’t create jobs but just acts an enabler or facilitator towards that direction.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.