Botswana gets tough with foreign pastors
Gaborone- Botswana has announced the removal of exemption on work and residence permits for non citizen pastors and church leaders. The Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs Principal Public Relations Officer Mrs. Lebogang Bok said effective 1st August 2009, all non citizen pastors, priests and church leaders are required to apply for work and residence permit
“The affected individuals can apply through respective immigrant’s selection Boards throughout the country,” she said. Bok added that as a result of the removal of the exemption, those whose residence permits had expired or will be expiring, are required to apply for work permits upon renewal of their residence permits. She called on the parties to comply with the latest development saying it was not discriminatory but was aimed at closing legal loopholes in services offered by the immigration department.
“It is recommended that such applications should be lodged about six months before expiry or renewal to avoid inconvenience,” she said. Bok said all church leaders should conform to the newly introduced Employment of Non-Citizen Act of 2009 failing which their licenses would be revoked. “All new applicants (non citizens, priests, pastors and church leaders) will be required to obtain work and residence permits before commencement of ministry or preaching in any church in Botswana,” she said.
The president of the Botswana Council of Churches, Reverend Mpho Moruakgomo, said the move would strengthen church leadership in Botswana and that the voice of the Church was often not loud enough partly because of the “expatriate” factor. The removal of the exemption means that unlike before when churches could engage pastors as their work and residence permits were being processed, non-citizen pastors will also have to apply for the permits beforehand.