Malema, Botswana war of words rages on
Gaborone – The South African opposition, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), says it is determined to raise a matter in which the Botswana government refused to grant its president, Julius Malema, a visa with the Pan-African Parliament as well the South African Parliament to ensure that there is recourse to the country.
Malema had applied for a visa to attend the launch of opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Council candidate, Arafat Khan, on September 13, but it was not approved by the country’s security and immigration authorities. .
Following revelations that his visa application was turned down, Malema took to social media Twitter saying “This autocratic military government of Botswana has refused me a visa even when the Botswana people want us to visit them this weekend.”
Malema needs a visa to get into Botswana, after calling in 2011, for regime change in Botswana. But the Immigration Director, Mabuse Pule said it was not possible for Malema to be given a visa. He said that an application was made, but it was delayed by some processes such as security vetting.
Pule said that when the board, which decides on whether to grant visa met this week, his application, was not amongst those before the board.
In a separate statement, EFF spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Quinton Ndlozi, said “Botswana is afraid of the power of his (Malema) message and the message of economic freedom. This message, however, will never be stopped through visa refusals as it will continue to capture the hearts of the African people for the broader struggle to bestow upon the continent an economically free future,” he said.
Ndlozi said there were absolutely no grounds for a so-called democratic country to refuse a person a visa merely on the basis that he holds a different political view to that of the government. EFF is of the view that the refusal to grant Malema permission to visit the country confirms that Botswana is not a democratic country.
“There can never be a democratic country that refuses those who disagree with the acts of its government permission to visit it. Neither does a democratic government arrest journalists like Botswana did to the editor of Sunday Standard, Outsa Mokone, for publishing a critical story about the ruling dictator Ian Khama,” noted Ndlozi.
EFF said President Khama’s actions particularly in light of the approaching expressed concern at the continued treatment of Malema by Botswana.
“First Malema has been subjected to a process where he is the only citizen of the 50 million plus South Africans who needs a VISA to visit what is a SADC country. Secondly, Botswana treats Malema as the only leader of a party represented in the Parliament of South Africa who cannot be permitted to visit Botswana,” said Ndlozi.
“Essentially, Botswana has rejected a representative of the people of South Africa in parliament a right to visit the people of Botswana, treating him as if he is a terrorist,” stated Ndlozi.
The EFF also condemned the silence of the South African government, in particular the department of International Relations and Co-operation in the face of what they termed, “injustice by Botswana government.”
“It will be for the first time that an African child is refused freedom of movement in any part of the continent merely to please USA imperialists. What is the difference between refusing Malema entry into Botswana and the politically motivated sanctions imposed by the West on President Mugabe who is the sitting chair of SADC?” asked Ndlozi.
Malema has previously called for the overthrow of the government of Botswana’s President Ian Khama, who the fiery leftist claimed was a Western stooge. The former African National Congress Youth League President was accused of bring the party into disrepute and his brush with Botswana was one of the factors that led to his expulsion from the party.