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Failed Congolese asylum seekers face deportation

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defense Justice and Security, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe

At least 600 asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including girl children as young as three years, have been denied refugee status and advised to return home, the WeekendPost can exclusively reveal.

The Congolese were notified of the government decision mid last month. And information reaching this publication is that the government is locked in negotiations with the Joseph Kabila led administration on how best to repatriate the asylum seekers.

When the two governments have agreed on the modalities of repatriating the asylum seekers, the hundreds will be taken back to their home country despite reports of human rights abuses and the recurrence of war situations.

Augustine Makgonatsotlhe, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defense Justice and Security confirmed the development when contacted for a comment. He said the government conducted interviews one by one in order to understand the problems pushing them into seeking asylum.

Makgonatsotlhe, who is the chairperson of the Refugee Advisory Committee, added that all the procedures have been following to ascertain the problems being faced by the Congolese.

“However, the reasons advanced were not all that convincing,” said Makgonatsotlhe in a telephone interview. Makgonatsotlhe could not be drawn into discussing why the government the Congolese’s asylum claims save to say their reasons were not convincing.

For the past three months or so, the country experienced an influx of Congolese asylum seekers.

According to informed sources, some of the Congolese asylum seekers were being trafficked into the country from the DRC straight fleeing war situations. North and South Kivu areas are some of the most affected.

But it has since emerged some of the Congolese asylum seekers are fleeing into country from the neighboring countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe. Some of the asylum seekers have refugees in those countries, sources said.

It is against this backdrop that the government has decided to reject the claims by the Congolese asylum seekers. WeekendPost has been reliably informed that tat government of the belief that some Congolese asylum seekers are economic opportunists.

A senior government official who talked to this publication on condition of total anonymity said the refugee eligibility of the Congolese has always been a suspect. He said the refugee advisory committee failed to establish that the asylum seekers had well-founded fears of persecution.

The official said the government is of the feeling that asylum seekers are now preferring Botswana compared to any other country within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region if not the rest of Africa. 



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WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?

Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.

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In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’  The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.

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Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama). 

Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.

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