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Thursday, 18 April 2024

Khama’s deportations in numbers


Since President Lieutenant General Dr Ian Khama Seretse Khama took power in 2008, he had deported over 2400 foreign nationals, some of who were academics and were declared prohibited immigrants.

In the past two years, Khama has deported a total of 414 foreign nationals of whom 373 were declared prohibited immigrants in terms of in terms of Section 41 (1) (a) of the Immigration Act because they had been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine for the various criminal offences they committed while in the country, the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu has confirmed.

The said section reads, “a person is a prohibited immigrant and his or her entry into or presence within Botswana is unlawful if he or she is an immigrant who not having received a free pardon, has been sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine in Botswana.”

The other 40 foreigners, according to Batshu, were declared prohibited immigrants under Section 41 1(c) which empowers the President to declare any person a prohibited immigrant in consequence of information received from a reliable source. The act, reads, “a person is a prohibited immigrant and his or her entry into or presence within Botswana is unlawful if he or she is a person, in consequence of information received from a reliable source, is declared by the President to be a prohibited immigrant.”
In addition, Batshu said that one of the prohibited immigrants was married to a Motswana.

Batshu was speaking in Parliament in response to a series of questions from the Francistown South legislator, Wynter Mmolotsi who had wanted to know the number of foreigners who were deported in the last two years and the reasons for their deportations. Mmolotsi also wanted to know the fate of the assets accrued by deportees during their stay in the country.

Batshu reiterated that the mandate of his Ministry was to control movement of persons and therefore, in cases of deportations, deportees were facilitated to travel to their countries of origin and they were responsible for making their own arrangements for disposal of their assets. Batshu added that this figures do not include thousands of illegal immigrants repatriated to their respective countries mainly Zimbabweans on a daily basis. However, the Minister could not tell Parliament the nationalities of the deportees or nature of their businesses.  

More deportations under Khama administration

Batshu further revealed that, during Sir Ketumile Masire’s 18 years in power, there were only 115 deportations while Festus Mogae deported 790 foreigners during his presidency which spanned for 10 years.  Mogae stepped down from Presidency at the end of his full term in 2008 and was automatically succeeded by Khama. According to statistics from the Ministry of labour and home affairs, by March 2010 President Khama had already deported 404 foreigners while by last year alone, Khama had declared 133 foreigners prohibited immigrants.

However in August 2014, while attending an African Leadership Forum Panel Discussion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Mogae, who is a recipient of a Mo Ibrahim Foundation prize, revealed that in fact Khama has deported over 2000 foreign professionals since he took over power. Mogae then suggested that Khama’s government was intolerant to debate, criticism and was hostile to any dissenting voice.

Nonetheless, on the sidelines of the National Assembly, a ruling Party Member of Parliament, Biggie Butale of Tati East told this publication that the escalating numbers of deportations under Khama presidency was because of the establishment of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS) which he said was doing a splendid job as the government is now well-informed about the background and activities of foreigners residing in the country.
The impact of deportations on the economy

Another ruling party MP, Setlhomo Lelatisitswe of Boteti East, told this publication in an interview that the skyrocketing figures of deportations by the Khama administration will not scare potential investors. He noted that strengthening the country’s intelligence agency remains the government’s top priority.

“We are trying to tighten the country’s security as in many cases investors would like to do business in a secure and safe environment. By deporting these foreigners, we are simply warning the world at large that Botswana will not tolerate investors who are a threat to its security or who are involved in illegal businesses” he said.
In 2010, the then legislator for Lobatse, Nehemiah Modubule pleaded with the government to amend the immigration act because the deportees were denied justice. He said deporting foreigners without according them justice does not bode well for a country which is seeking foreign investment.

Three years ago, former legislator for Tonota, Pono Moatlhodi decried that deportation of foreign investors was negatively affecting the country’s economy. Moatlhodi lamented before Parliament that it was sad to note that the country was on a mission to lure in foreign investments while at the same time deporting those who had already invested in the country. He went on to warn the government that deporting foreigners in such a manner might in the long run discourage potential investors and already many locals were losing jobs as foreigners who owned some businesses were deported.

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”










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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.


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