Secrecy surrounds Salbany’s banishment

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LAWRENCE SERETSE

  • Ministers, DIS, OP, PS evasive
  • How lawyer Salbany was declared Prohibited Immigrant
  • Controversial automatic succession debate may be to blame
  • Misa, BCP condemn Salbany’s banishment

On Monday government officials played hide and seek with this publication went it sought answers and a formal confirmation on the decision by the State President to declare lawyer Joao Salbany a prohibited immigrant.
This publication can confirm that on Saturday 26 May, Salbany a well known human rights lawyer was informed by plain clothed “officials” at Tlokweng border post that he had been declared a prohibited immigrant. Salbany said that his passport seemed to have been flagged because the officers who refused to identify themselves called him to a separate office to break the bitter news.
“I asked if I had been put on a Visa requirement or declared a prohibited immigrant and the lady who was addressing me, said she was not allowed to answer as the information was confidential. They said I would be informed at the Embassy in Pretoria and documents would be given to me,” Salbany said.
The Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Dorcas Makgato said that she was not aware nor could she provide confirmation to this publication stating that although her Permanent Secretary Kebonye Moepeng is also new to the Ministry, any queries should be routed through her.  Moepeng was not available for comment.
Government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay said that he was also not aware and did not respond to a questionnaire sent at time of press. “I only read about it in the papers and it should be gazetted. Usually PI issues are not discussed with anybody because they are  the prerogative of the President. I assume Mr Salbany would know better than anybody.”
The Senior Private Secretary to the President Bezark Maphakwane also said that he could not deny or confirm the development on Salbany’s status in the country.  He directed this publication the Minister of Defence, Shaw Kgathi whose phone rang unanswered all day.
Deputy Director of the Directorate of Intelligence Tefo Kgotlhane also said that he was not aware while the Director General Brigadier Peter Magosi’s phone was answered by an assistant who said that he was in a meeting and would return the call.
At press time this publication was still being taken from pillar to post in its effort to acquire an official statement on the banishment of Salbany.
The Botswana Congress Party has condemned President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the decision to declare Salbany a persona non-grata. In a letter released on Sunday, BCP said that his expulsion was a heinous and disgraceful act.
BCP said that the prohibited immigrant declaration law was open to abuse and could be utilized to restrict information and control opinions like in the case of deportations of journalists, civic leaders, academics and people who allegedly insult or slur  and/or  disrespect the president.  “The policy decisions of deporting foreigners fail the basic standards of the rule of law and constitutional test.”
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) also expressed it disappoint  in the President for the move  stating that “It has so far been heart-warming to see the ‘clean-up campaign’ as a promise of more to come. However, the declaration of Salbany as a persona non-grata could not have been expected because those acquainted with the man such as us at MISA Botswana have known Salbany as an upright man and an astute lawyer of conscience. His record is that of a man thoroughly wedded to the democratic cause in which he defended journalists, trade unionists and politicians. We, therefore, appeal to the president to do right and pardon Salbany.”