Botswana has amended the contentious Immigration law to attract more expatriates who contribute significantly to the economy of the country.
The Immigration (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (Bill no. 23 of 2016) was published in the Government Gazette on 16th December 2016. The amendment of the Act was passed by parliament in its previous sitting of the 2nd meeting of the 11th parliament. It is understood that the object of the Act is to empower the Minister to grant the status of Permanent Residence to non-citizens who are investors and have resided in Botswana lawfully for a period of less than five years in order to promote job creation and encourage foreign investment.
Under the amended law, it is also stated that such status may also be extended to a non-citizen’s spouse and minor children. The Act, in particular section 28, was amended by inserting immediately after subsection (2), the following new subsections:
“(2A) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), the Minister may confer the status of permanent residence on a non-citizen who has resided lawfully in Botswana for a period of less than five years where the Minister is satisfied that the non citizen – a) Has established a significant business in Botswana; b) Intends to establish a significant business in Botswana; or c) intends to make a significant investment in an existing business in Botswana.”
The section also continues at (2B): “The status of permanent residence conferred by the Minister to a non-citizen under subsection (2A) may be granted to the non-citizen’s spouse and minor children.” Previously, the said amended section 28 of the immigration Act 2011 stated that “28(1)A non citizen who has resided lawfully in Botswana for at least five years may apply in the prescribed manner for a permanent residence permit.
(2)Where the Minister is satisfied that a non citizen who has resided lawfully in Botswana for at least 5 years – (a) is of good character; (b)has made significant contributions of benefit to Botswana; (c) is of good standing in society; or (d) has sufficient means to support himself or herself, the Minister may in the prescribed form, confer on such person the status of permanent residence subject to such conditions as the Minister considers necessary, exempting the person from the requirement of applying for a residence permit. (3) The Minister may withdraw the status of permanent residence, without giving any reasons for the withdrawal.”
Speaking to WeekendPost this week, Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Edwin Batshu confirmed the amendments and hailed them as progressive saying they will assist attract more foreign investors and improve the country’s economy.
Batshu stated that: “going forward, senior investors with significant contribution to economy can apply for permanent residence within five years, even with few days into the country, and they will be assessed and can be granted instantly if they qualify for such.” He conceded that the previous 5 years threshold imposed on investors made them very uncomfortable when doing business in the country hence why they removed the threshold.
The Immigration Minister also added that the amendments include work and residence permits, and also include separately a permanent residence that allows you stay in Botswana (which is for business purposes). He said permanent residence permits are given to businesses to make sure that they don’t renew them frequently, from time to time.
On their part, when contacted for their reaction to the amended Immigration law, Business Botswana President Lekwalo Leta Mosienyane welcomed the development of change of law to accommodate foreign investors. “It’s a welcome development particularly because not only does it address investors in our economy but also goes an extra mile in including their spouses and children,” Mosienyane stated.
He explained that awarding the investors a permanent residence is useful as it gives certainty to the investor. He however added that he believes government should go an extra mile to also recognize the child of an investor who is not a minor and also not an investor per se. “Partly, I also don’t think the law is fair enough because it only addresses minor children and not all the children in general.”
He gave an example of a situation whereby a child was born in Botswana to a foreign investor, who has been in the country for more than 20 years and who is also not a minor anymore.“We are losing that child who probably has got a sense of connection to Botswana in terms of culture, sports and others. And they don’t know any other country other than Botswana. I believe we should also start to address their interests. We should either give them citizenship or permanent residence.”
Meanwhile the new Immigration Act comes at the backdrop of an outcry by local business professionals who were perturbed at the previous Immigration Act of 2011 saying it makes expatriates feel unwelcome in the country. Indications suggest that some of the sections unwanted in the previous Immigration Act of 2011 were the one to do with the set board having power to reject resident application without giving reasons.
Reports indicate that some of the expatriates’ entrepreneurs were living in fear of being deported or their permits not being renewed which would ultimately lead to a business loss. They said this also led to loss of local jobs and affecting the business market which consequently also tarnished the image of the country making it seem as if it is anti foreigners. This they say beats the logic of attracting foreign direct investors on the other hand.
Controversial Dual citizenship gets thumbs up
Another issue, which the Business Botswana president Mosienyane described as “sensitive” is the one on dual citizenship. We as Business Botswana, he said, implore Minister Batshu to speed up the work on dual citizenship. “I say this because in Business Botswana, we have entrepreneurs who own businesses outside Botswana. So we are prejudiced by the fact that we cannot take citizenship of such countries who offer us dual citizenship.”
The Business Botswana president explained that, he has businesses in Ghana, South Africa and Botswana, and without a dual citizenship they suffer as Batswana business people in other countries as they cannot benefit in so many things that citizens of those other countries are benefiting on.
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.