Members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have urged Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs to loosen up its immigration policy in order to attract skills and investors which the country needs to progress economically.
Botswana, considered one of the closed countries grants citizenship to less than 200 people a year, a quota which has seen thousands of people being rejected despite meeting all the requirements.
Guma Moyo, a PAC member has contended that the quota system is having a negative impact on the country since the country is unable to utilise the skills and investments that it needs from various foreign nationals who are willing to become citizens of Botswana.
“We must learn from countries like the United States of America which is successful largely because of immigrants,” he said.
Moyo said it is evident that the quota which has been set by government is creating a problem because some business owners are forced to leave the country to settle elsewhere.
“If somebody has been in Botswana and doing business for the past years with a clean record, why not grant him citizenship?” he asked.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Pearl Ramokoka revealed that it is indeed true that qualifying applicants are rejected because of the quota set by government. The quota has been in use for the past 10 years and has not been reviewed despite a growing number of applicants qualifying for citizenship.
Guma has advocated for a policy similar to a points based system used by some countries including Australia, New Zealand and others to attract the skills which they need in their countries. This would mean qualification of citizenship based on factors such as skills and age.
The immigration policy has become a hot potato issue in the last few years, with former President Festus Mogae having joined the bandwagon by stating that Botswana has become a closed society which is unwelcoming.
PAC was also informed that over 600 VISA applications were rejected last year alone owing to various factors.
Countries like South Africa, United States, and United Kingdom have a diplomatic agreement with Botswana that their nationals do not require VISAs to visit Botswana.
Notwithstanding that, the department of Immigration has placed some citizens from these countries on VISA restrictions and those nationals have on several occasions been denied visiting Botswana.
The Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) has been accused of playing part in the rejection and delaying of VISAs, something which the DIS chief Isaac Kgosi dispelled two weeks ago when he appeared before the committee.
Most of the concerns raised by MPs were raised again in the last session of PAC. The Tati East MP previously said Botswana is quickly earning a bad name for its self as its image as a friendly and welcoming nation has started to fade away.
Moyo also highlighted that countries like India, and China, who are one of the biggest investors in Botswana’s economy have began to think Botswana is a no go area for business.
Biggie Butale, a committee member also suggested that Botswana could open up a bit for the purpose of increasing its population, so that Botswana’s economy becomes competitive.
“I am not saying we should just open it to anyone, but to those we think will add value to the economy of this country,” he said.
“I know there are countries with immigrants who are more in number than the natives, countries like Dubai [United Arab Emirates] for instance.”
Moyo further poured scorn on the issue regarding the Ramokgwebana border as he expressed his displeasure with the attitudes of employees there towards Zimbabweans.
“The service is poorer because of how your staff treats Zimbabweans,” he said. “On the other side in Zimbabwe the service is quicker, yet in Botswana people wait for a long time in queue. At Tlokweng and other border gates the service is also quicker. Why in Ramokgwebana?”
Moyo also noted that the services at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport are quicker, which raises concern on Ramokgwebana border. Ramokgwebana border is one of the busiest border gates in Botswana, with Zimbabwean nationals crossing over to Botswana on daily basis mainly for shopping.
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.