Government maintains visa requirements on foreign pastors
Minister of Nationality Immigration and Gender Affairs Dorcus Makgato has revealed that government does not have any intentions of changing its position in respect of foreign pastors that have been blacklisted.
During former President Ian Khama’s tenure, the numbers of foreign pastors deported and denied visas increased culminating with international media headlines after Botswana deported controversial anti-gay pastor Steven Anderson.
A year later, South Africa-based Prophet Shepherd Bushiri was put under Visa restriction. Reports suggested that Bushiri was slapped with visa requirements because he was “too demanding”. Former Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Edwin Batshu told Parliament at the time that Bushiri wanted security provision while in the country and wanted government to direct all the borders to remain open for 24 hours preceding his intended “service.”
Answering questions from Member of Parliament for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa on government’s intentions to review its stance on some foreign pastors, Minister Makgato said the President Mokgweetsi Masisi led administration has no plans to review deportation orders and visa requirements on certain foreign pastors.
“Currently, government does not have any plans to review the deportation orders in relations to pastors who were deported in the past ten (10) years,” Makgato answered in Parliament on yesterday (Monday)
Similarly, government does not have any plans to review the visa requirements on some foreign pastors from nations that do not require visa to visit Botswana.
“We are aware that gospel knows no boundaries and it is important to note that enjoyment of freedom of religion is contained in Chapter II, Section 11 of the Botswana Constitution which provides for Protection of Freedom of Conscience. In accordance with Section 11 (1) states that,
“Expect with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience, and for the purpose of this section the said freedom includes freedom of thought and of religion.
Section (5) states that: Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held inconsistent with or in contravention of this section in the extent that the law in question makes provision which is reasonable –
(a) in the interest of defence , public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or
(b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of other persons , including the righjt to observe and practice any religion without the unsolicited intervention of members of any other religion and expect so far as that provision or , as the case maybe , the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.”