Motswana stranded in the UK no longer suing gov’t


FRANCISTOWN: After high-level intervention by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, a Motswana based in the UK, Bakotelo Moagisi Mmipi, is no longer suing the Botswana Government over the suspension of flights that was ordered a month ago as a part of measures to fight COVID-19.

Mmipi is a Masters student at the University of Essex. “After I threatened to sue the government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation immediately reacted,” he said in a WhatsApp response to The Botswana Gazette. “The ministry authorities then promised to start making arrangements in order to evacuate Botswana citizens interested in coming back.”

He said he had resorted to legal action after “relevant authorities” failed him in his efforts to return home. Mmipi lauded President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s statutory instrument 61 of 2020 that relates to citizens returning home but said the suspension of flights by the Ministry of Transport and Communications had made that impossible. “The President was alive to the risks we face outside our country and therefore wanted to allow us to return home when we can, subject to a mandatory quarantine,” he said. “Why then has this decision been made? What does it solve?”

Mmipi pointed out that other countries were assisting their citizens to repatriate and wondered why Botswana was not doing the same. “These countries are actively assisting their citizens to return home while our noble and humble republic (is) prohibiting its own from returning to safety,” he said. “As it stands, I do not know if I will have to stay here until 2021 or not. The government sees nothing wrong with this and leaves me with no option but to seek judicial intervention.

“I hope you understand my concerns and will not (view) my decision as selfish or inconsiderate. Citizens back home have been provided with a clear plan with phases. They know how long they are expected to stay home. On the other hand, I am expected to stay put without knowing when I may possibly be able to return home safely.”

Meanwhile, The Botswana Gazette has established that in the wake of its successful intervention with Mmipi, Foreign Affairs has created a WhatsApp group to link all Batswana in the diaspora who want to return home. By Monday this week, the group had 177 members, 121 of whom had registered to return home.

The public relations office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a questionnaire from this publication would be answered during the course of the week.