The Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs has reduced the turnaround time for citizen renunciation such that people renouncing citizenship of the other country are processed immediately instead of 3-6 months as has been.
Minister Dorcas Makgato revealed this week that her ministry has relaxed requirements on stateless citizens staying in Botswana, who are around 12 000 in number, so as to facilitate them to resume citizenship. Makgato said that people who never took citizenship of the other country but failed to renounce upon age 21 will be exempt from the current administrative requirements of producing a valid passport and/or documents of the other country.
“In addressing these problems my ministry will ensure that affected person, including their children, both minor and major, are assisted within the limits of the law and each case will be looked at within its special circumstances,” she said. As for the 12 000 classified as stateless people, a renunciation form will be provided.
“The said form will have a portion for persons who are not sure whether they are citizens of the other country or not by virtue of the citizenship laws of that other country. The envisaged process will reduce the turnaround time since it will be such that applicants will be assisted immediately as compared to the current 3-6 months,” she added.
Furthermore, Makgato said the ministry was working around the clock to clear the Omang backlog by August 31 2018.This would be on time for general elections registration. “We do not want to deny people from exercising their right hence why the ministry is doing all it can so that it doesn’t frustrate people,” she highlighted. At the end of May 2017, the National Identity register stood at 1 634 294. 136 844 Omang cards were not yet renewed dating back from 1998 to date. Currently the ministry is clearing 59 000 deaths from the system. Since April 2018, 64 000 Omang renewals have been done.
The law has also been relaxed for elder people as they will no longer be requested to bring a witness who is ten years older than them, where the date of birth is unknown and captured as xx/xx. The applicant is no longer required to make an affidavit confirming the replacement of xx/xx with 01/01.
“The request for elders to bring people who have known them for more than 10 years was problematic hence why the ministry decided to use a guideline for verification of age such as calendar of events for example, ngwaga wa tsie, ntwa ya lehatshe ya ntlha,” Makgato explained. The National Registration Act of 2017 that introduced the specifications for a photograph of an Omang card created ambiguity and clashes with some communities, religion and culture, she said.
“While the ministry addresses this, the affected communities will retain the headgear and push it away from the forehead in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation standards.” There will also be no penalties for minors between 16 and 18 who have failed to register on time and the ministry is no longer confiscating Omang cards from the public unless obtained fraudulently.
The ministry on VISA
The ministry has further committed itself to facilitate movement of people across borders to promote investment, tourism and relations with other countries. They have also identified impediments to delays in the issuance of VISA as well as the work and residence permits. The Ministry decided to:
>Decentralize VISA processing to Embassies
>Allow provision of VISAs at port of entry; exits at Kasane and any other Border Posts near National Parks are authorized to grant VISA on arrival to tourists who are travelling into Botswana as a tour group for day trips
> Allow group applicants as opposed to individual applicants
>Allow visitors maximum of 90 days VISA instead of the current 30 days practice
>Automatically grant VISA to applicants who have been granted work and residence permits.
>Decentralize the service of certification to any commissioner of Oaths in line with the Commissioner of Oaths Acts.
>Investors on wind up period are now given up to six months period from 30 days.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.