Botswana reveals SADC countries that require visa
By Mpho Tebele
Gaborone- The Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar are the only countries in SADC whose nationals are required to obtain visa to enter Botswana.
Nationality, Immigration and Gender Minister Edwin Batshu revealed in parliament last week while responding to a query by legislator Dithapelo Keorapetse who wanted to know the names of countries within SADC that are required to obtain visa to enter the country.
The legislator also wanted to know if is true that well-known founder of Enlightened Christian Gathering Church Shepherd Bushiri is required to obtain visa to enter Botswana and if it was proper for government to legislate issues relating to religion.
Batshu confirmed that Bushiri, a Malawian who has a great number of followers in the SADC region, is required to obtain a visa to enter Botswana and this was published in the government notice of 26 April 2017.
“Yes it is proper for the Government of Botswana as a sovereign state to legislate issues relating to religion and morality for maintenance of law and order,” said Batshu.
He said Botswana does not have a problem with Christianity saying that is the reason why there are so many Christian churches in the country that are registered in terms of the law.
“As to many pastors being disallowed, I don’t know what the honourable legislator is talking about because there are quite a number of foreign pastors who are actually in this country. That is a demonstration of the fact that we have no problem with Christianity,” said Batshu.
He said in terms of the law, he was hamstrung to give reasons why Bushiri’s application for visa was rejected recently.
“What I would like to share with you is that, this individual, we have no problem with him. He is not a Prohibited Immigrant in this country, but he could be a security risk; somebody we should know and prepare for his visit in advance and therefore he can apply for a visa and that will be it. Of course, in terms of security, we have to take care of people who come here.”
Batshu added: “I want to share with this House that we have received a letter from his church notifying us of the high profile of this individual and asking us to open certain borders 24 hours. So if he has to come and we have to prepare along those lines, we need to be notified in advance.”
“For us to be able to do that he has to apply for a visa to come here so that we could then lay on the ground all those provisions that will meet his status as the church has announced.”
Meanwhile, Botswana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently denied social media reports that the country had slapped visa requirements on Zimbabweans and closed its embassy in Harare.
The message on social media had alleged that Minister of Foreign Affairs Pelonomi Venson–Moitoi revealed this in an interview on the state of relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana.
But in a statement, the ministry stated that Venson-Moitoi was never recently interviewed by any reporter on Botswana’s relations with Zimbabwe.
“We wish to categorically refute this fabricated story, whose origin remains a mystery,” the statement said.