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'No', Siele tells employers of illegal immigrants

Staff Writer
Investors have called on the Botswana government to give illegal immigrants temporary permits to allow them to work in the country.

Speaking yesterday at a Labour and Home Affairs Pitso, a conference organised by the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs in Gaborone, Ishmael Komanyane of the Association of Business Consultants said Botswana's fear of being overrun by illegal immigrants could be turned to Botswana's advantage.

At the moment Botswana spends millions of Pula on repatriating illegal immigrants, most of whom are from Zimbabwe.

"We can fingerprint them wholesale and see if they can be utilised in various industries, give them permits and employ them in various industries. This will do away with the hypocrisy that is obtaining currently in the country where even high profile people in government are employing illegal immigrants as maids," he said.

Another investor who did not give his name told the conference that in the construction industry they are not able to finish projects on time due to lack of labour.

He said most Batswana are not willing to do construction work, "but these people are very helpful and ready to work. So

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why not give them temporary permits and use them productively to boost the economy instead of spending a lot of money repatriating them," he said about the illegal immigrants.

Earlier addressing the conference, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele, had indicated that the problem of illegal immigrants has a negative impact on the country's national kitty.

He said his ministry repatriates them with their property, only to have them come back into Botswana the next day. In the past three months, Siele said they repatriated 14,015 illegal immigrants at a cost of P488,470.

"We continue to seek ways to make the management of these immigrants less expensive and to reduce it to the barest minimum if we cannot eradicate it completely," he said.

However in his response to suggestions by investors that the ministry give temporary work permits to gainfully use the illegal immigrants, Siele said that "it would be unlawful to give temporary permits to illegal immigrant and hire them," he said.



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