Bots tightens screws on foreign marriages

 

Gaborone – A foreigner will no longer automatically obtain citizenship after marriage to a Botswana citizen, the Botswana Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu, has revealed.

The government took this decision, the minister said, after discovering that some foreigners were marrying for convenience. However, the minister was quick to point out that that there were some foreigners who married for genuine reasons.

Minister Batshu said pastoral marriage officers should be careful of such marriages in order to protect Batswana.

According to the minister, there were instances where foreigners – among them pastors ‑ married locals to either acquire citizenship or benefit from the property of the other spouse.

To plug this loophole, Minister Batshu said, there would be rigorous screening of pastors who want to settle in Botswana. 

He also accused such pastors of wanting to rob Batswana of their hard-earned cash.

Asked what prompted his ministry to tighten screws on foreign pastors, Minister Batshu said his ministry was trying to curb marriages of convenience and would present Bills aimed at addressing it in the coming sessions of parliament.

In future, Minister Batshu said, any new church seeking registration will have to have at least 250 or more members before it could be registered.

“We will have to introduce a standard of 250 or more members for a church to be considered for registration because it looks like each and every offended member forms their own church,” he said.

Each Church will also be asked to provide an audit on how it uses its money in an effort to curb the rampant abuse of church finances by pastors, Minister Batshu said.

“Churches will have to avail their tax returns at my ministry and failure to do so will result in closure,” Minister Batshu further explained.

Issuing a warning to members of the public to avoid being manipulated by pastors in the name of God, Minister Batshu went on to say: “You should think for yourself before doing what pastors ask you to do.

“How can people eat grass? They should learn to make decisions on their own,” said the minister in reference to reports that members of the congregation of a certain church in South Africa were made to eat grass.

He said although all were equal before the eyes of God, some churches still failed to appreciate that women could be given positions of responsibility.

The minister also condemned the rate at which locals were allegedly receiving bribes to help foreigners acquire citizenship either as “husband” or “business partners”.

“The government has also decided to review an Act of law which entitles a foreign man married to a local woman to acquire citizenship. Under the new Act a foreign man who marries a local woman will not get citizenship because of the marriage but the woman will be free to acquire citizenship in her husband’s country of origin,” said Minister Batshu.

Local evangelical churches have appealed to government not to deny every foreign pastor who wishes to settle in the country permits. 

Evangelical Churches of Botswana President, Master Matlhaope, says Botswana should avoid the possibility of closing out people who could add value by carrying out godly work.

February 2014
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