A total of 318 foreigners have been declared prohibited immigrants and sent packing back to their respective countries this year.
The startling statistics made public at a meeting to give an update on the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs’ successes and challenges revealed the figures to be the highest in the country’s history, showing President Ian Khama’s administration to be the most hostile in comparison to his predecessors.
From April 1980 to March 1998, combined statistics of former presidents Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae indicated that the two heads of state were more tolerant having booted out only 404 undesirable foreigners in 18 years.
In this year’s figures Zimbabweans were leading the pack of expelled immigrants with 260 deported followed by 16 Indians, 11 South Africans, 5 Nigerians, 5 Chinese, 5 Bangladeshi, 4 Kenyans, 3 Zambians, 2 Tanzanians, 2 Egyptians, 1 Sri-Lankan, 1 Mosotho and a Pakistani.
Speaking at the same meeting, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu also revealed that P 1, 355 713.80 was used for the deportation of the prohibited immigrants while P818 440.90 was spent on the repatriation of illegal immigrants.
Batshu said foreigners are declared prohibited when they are in extreme breach of the country’s laws, mostly in cases such as human or drug trafficking and national security.
“For example, if a foreigner is convicted by a court of law and sentenced to a prison term without the option of a fine they’re automatically declared a prohibited immigrant. In other cases the declaration of such status is determined by the head of state and he is not obliged to divulge the reasons,” Batshu said.
While no concerns have been reported in the business corridors regarding the deportation of prohibited immigrants, the ministry has been criticized for the stiff Point Based System (PBS) that is used for processing work and residence permits.
While the system that was introduced in April this year is said to have a success rate of 83% in approved applications, Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) have complained that it stifles Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) efforts.
BITC director of Corporate Communications Kutlo Moagi says her organization has engaged all relevant stakeholders in order to deal with teething problems resulting from the introduction of the PBS.
“A stakeholder forum with the broader business community was held on the 25 October to engage the private sector on the issue.
Proposals for the revision of the PBS have been submitted to the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs for consideration and BITC continuously engages with the Ministry through our Minister of Trade and Industry,” she said.
Moagi further said she hoped that a solution would soon be found to revise VISA, work and residence permit procedures to facilitate and ease the setting up of business in Botswana.
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