Legislators have hailed the immigration amendment Bill, 2016 (no.23 of 2016) which was passed in parliament but warned against possible abuse by politicians especially those in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)
The objective of this bill is to amend the Immigration Act in order 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 less than five (5) years “in order to promote job creation and encourage foreign investment”.
According to the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Edwin Batshu, the current position of the law as provided under Section 28 is that a non-citizen who has resided lawfully in Botswana for at least five (5) years may apply for a permanent residence permit. The minister may grant a permanent residence permit if he is satisfied that a non-citizen who has resided lawfully in Botswana for at least five (5) years: Is of good character, has made significant contributions of benefit to Botswana, is of good standing in society and has sufficient means to support himself or herself.
“The current position of the law is general to all non-citizens but there is a need for a provision targeting investors of value,” said Batshu.
However, Francistown South MP Wynter Mmolotsi has expressed concerns regarding the implementation of this law, saying the bill comes at a time where Botswana is viewed by other countries as not willing to welcome foreigners who wish to be citizens. He argued that the people denied an opportunity to be Botswana citizens, some of who investors- can create employment for Batswana. Mmootsi says there are instances where some investors are denied citizenship or residence permits while some foreigners who bring no value to the country given the permits based on their friendship with authorities. “But we should be mindful that, this bizarre way of doing things in turn defeats our efforts as government- of attracting investors into the country,” he said.
Mmolotsi said it was disappointing to know that many laws are made with good intentions but end up losing their worth as some people use them for selfish interests; “Some foreigners end up being threatened with permit revocation once its suspected that they fund the opposition or a disliked faction at the BDP.”
He cited as an example a recent story published by The Botswana Gazette in which it was purported that businessmen, Jagdish Shah, also a BDP member, was being harassed for not supporting the Masisi faction for the party’s congress. “You can see that even if permits are issued, they are issued with politically motivated conditions,” he explained.