BOFEPUSU disturbed by Advocate Bennet’s visa issue

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Although BOFEPUSUis not surprised by therefusal by the Botswanagovernment to grant a visato Advocate Gordon Bennettto represent the Basarwa intheir High Court case onMonday, 29 July 2013, it isutterly disturbed by the refusaland, indeed, the veryact of imposing a special visarequirement on him.On 24 June 2013 MinisterEdwin Batshu declared thatAdvocate Bennett, a Britishcitizen, Mr Julius Malema, afamous South African politician,Mr Joseph Bennett, AdvocateBennett’s 20 year oldson, and Ms Kate ElizabethHolberton, a British citizen,are required to obtain a visato enter Botswana purportedlyon the basis of regulation5(1) of the Immigration(Visa) Regulations.Advocate Gordon Bennettis a human rights defenderof note. He has won, on behalfof the down-troddenBasarwa, all his court battlesagainst the government ofBotswana.


For this reason,the government of Botswanasees him as the enemy. Thegovernment of Botswanahates with a passion all humanrights defenders becauseit wants to continue to misleadthe international communityinto believing thatit is the best thing that hasever happened to democracy.The international communitydoes not know the truth becausethe Botswana governmenthas steadfastly refusedto accept proposals to havethe Freedom of InformationAct which would enablethe world to know the truth.Critical international humanrights organisations such asSurvival International anddefenders such as the GordonBennett are not welcomein this country because theywould tell the world the truth.Whilst we all accept that,on the face of it, the Ministeris entitled to declare that onehas to obtain a visa for entryinto Botswana, it would bea joke for Botswana governmentto want to cling to theargument that this happensall over the world and that, inany event, the Minister is notobliged to give reasons forthis declaration.


We all knowthe reason. The reason is thatAdvocate Bennett is in thehabit of embarrassing governmentby winning for theoppressed Basarwa court battlesagainst it. Government istoo sensitive to this becausethese court battles have becomematters of internationalinterest. This is no coincidenceat all. The Minister istherefore using the regulationin issue for an improper purpose.It could not have beenthe intention of the lawgiverto allow such untrammeledabuse of power.We are also not surprisedthat yesterday the Botswanaparliament rejected the motioncalling upon the Ministerto revoke the declarationconcerning Advocate Bennett.Parliament is made upmostly of the ruling partymembers who are not independent,and are scared ofthe executive arm of government,especially PresidentIan Khama. They continueto render nugatory the doctrineof separation of powersby shamelessly kowtowingto the President and hisministers. This bootlickingwill continue to grow as weapproach the national elections.


They will not want toanger the leader lest they arevetted out or he campaignsagainst them prior to the rulingparty primary elections.The human rights communityshould expect no favoursfrom them especially at thistime where the level of bootlickingshould be on the increase.In Setswana, “se safeleng se a tlhola”, meaningthat everything has its end.Botswana’s continued violationof Basarwa’s rights, includingthe right to a fairhearing under section 10 (9)of the Constitution, the rightsof workers, and many more,will cer tainly come to an endone day. The continued fi ghtby BOFEPUSU for the rightsof workers and the oppressed,which rights are intricatelyintertwined, shall ensure that,in the long run, these violationscome to an end. Theinternational community’sinterest in Botswana’s violationsis also growing and thisis good for the country.