Bots places Malema on visa list
Gaborone – Botswana has listed South Africa’s firebrand politician and former ANC youth league president Julius Malema as one of the four foreigners that need to apply for a visa to visit this country, The Southern Times learnt here this week.
In the Government Gazette dated June 28, the former ANC youth league leader is listed together with three British nationals Gordon Bennett, one Joseph Bennett, and Kate Elizabeth Holberton.
South African and British nationals do not need a visa to visit Botswana. Although government does not say why it wants Malema to apply for a visa, he has previously criticised President Ian Khama’s administration saying it is a puppet of Western countries.
As for Gordon Bennett, the senior advocate is credited with successfully challenging the 2002 relocation of Bushmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
He recently successfully represented Ranyane residents in yet another relocation court case.
Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs Permanent Secretary, Ikwatlhaeng Bagopi, confirmed that the government has evoked a visa requirement clause from the Immigration Act to add Bushmen Bennett to the list of 17 individuals who need visas to enter Botswana.
Malema and Bennett join 17 individuals from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada who now need visas to enter the country.
The list primarily comprises human rights activists, academics and journalists.
Regulation 5 (1) specifies that “No visa shall be required by a national of a country visited in the first schedule, who is the holder of a valid passport issued by that country unless the Minister by notice published in the Government Gazette declares that such a person is required to obtain a visa.”
The UK, USA, Australia and Canada are included in the first schedule.
“Contrary to reports, Bennett has not been declared a prohibited immigrant. But in order for him to come to Botswana next time he should apply for a visa. If he does not obtain a visa, he will not be allowed to come into the country,” Bagopi is quoted as saying.
“There are countries whose citizens need visas even though it’s not a requirement for other citizens. They should seek authority to come here. We are looking at many things, among them security considerations for our country and whether it is in the best interest of our country when that person is in the country,” he said.
The permanent secretary also admitted that Bennett had been visiting the country without having to apply for visas.
“The visa requirements say you have to tell us when you are coming, flight details and what you are going to do in the country,” Bagopi was also quoted as saying, adding that it would be the prerogative of the authorities whether to grant or reject Bennett’s visa application when he intends to visit Botswana.
“When you apply for a visa you should expect yes or no. But I’m not saying that Bennett’s application will be rejected when he applies for a visa; it will depend on whether he meets the requirements,” said Bagopi.
Reports indicate that Bennett was being targeted for visa requirements because of his association with United Kingdom-based human rights organisation, Survival International which had always advocated against the relocation of the San people from their ancestral land.
Recently, reports indicated that Bennett was interrogated by government departments, but spokesperson Jeff Ramsay has denied such reports in a press statement.
Reports also indicate that Malema, on the other hand, earned the wrath of the Botswana government two years ago when he attacked President Khama and called for an urgent government change in the country.
Malema, who was then still ANC Youth League president, said the ANC-YL would establish a “command team” to work towards united opposition against the “puppet regime” of President Ian Khama.