Bots advises refugees to return home
Gaborone- Justice, Defence and Security Minister Shaw Kgathi has advised refugees currently residing at the Dukwi Refugee Camp to return to their respective countries.
Kgathi confirmed to The Southern Times that he met with the refugees recently and advised them that African countries, particularly countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) presently enjoy peace and there was no situation warranting any of their citizens to be granted refugee status, hence the need to consider returning home.
Currently refugees totalling about 300 from different countries such as Eritrea, Namibia, Zimbabwe, DRC and Somalia are among those housed at Dukwi Camp.
“Yes it is true that when I addressed asylum seekers at a meeting in Dukwi, I urged them to consider returning to their respective countries on a voluntary basis,” said the minister.
He said the current status quo is giving Africa a bad name as the world is looking at Africa as a continent that is fond of fighting and not willing to accept peace.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that Dukwi residents complained that some of the refugees now own businesses, particularly tuck shops which deprives locals of opportunities to earn a living. The residents complained that the refugees were to blame for the unfair competition now obtaining in the small businesses sector.
A Village Development Committee (VDC) member, Mapula Maja is quoted as saying that tuck shops run by refugees operate as wholesalers and offer the lowest prices, which leaves them wondering where they get their stock from.
Maja further said that because some of the village leaders were fronting for the refugees, their concerns regarding the operation of businesses by the refugees go unresolved. On other issues, the residents proposed that the police station should be relocated from the refugee camp to the village centre because the current arrangement does not serve them well.
Another resident Amos Kgomotso noted that many have failed to report their cases to the police as a result of the distance to the camp, particularly at night.
He said due to shortage of resources and manpower at the police station, they often fail to come and attend to reports in the late hours.
Responding to the concerns, Kgathi said there are businesses reserved for Batswana and as such that should remain the case and urged those fronting or renting out their businesses to refrain from doing so.
He said that it was going to be difficult for government to arrest the situation if Batswana were working in cahoots with refugees to cheat the system.
“There is a reservation policy that clearly states the type of businesses that are reserved for Batswana, for example kiosks, bars and shops. Foreigners, including refugees are not allowed to engage in these types of businesses.
“They are not allowed to engage in any type of business without permission,” said Kgathi, warning locals to also stop renting their homes to refugees to use as business premises.
He promised to have the residents’ request for the police station to be relocated to the village looked into. It was clear during the meeting that locals were worried about refugee-owned enterprises that they claimed have mushroomed all over their village.