At a press briefing last week, the Chinese Ambassador to Botswana Zheng Zhuqiang revealed that his compatriots are too scared to invest in Botswana for various reasons.
He cited the unfriendly immigration laws as the main reason why the Chinese are not ready to commit to invest their resources in this country, so as to create the much needed sustainable jobs for Batswana.
With a population of over 1.2 billion, as well as the world’s second largest economy, China is obviously a very important country in the affairs of global economy. The country also has more billionaires than any other country.
This is not the first time the issue of residence and work permits, and deportation has been raised as the main reason why we are not attracting investors.
It has also come to our attention that security agencies have literally taken over the operations of Department of Citizenship and Immigration and they have made it difficult, or even impossible for expatriates to come and invest in our country. What has reached us is that they veto the applicants citing ‘security reasons’.
Another challenge are the presidential powers to deport any expatriates, with no obligation whatsoever to give reasons for such actions.
With unemployment rate at 25 percent, and facing stiff competition for investors, it is shocking to learn that we have the luxury of closing doors on potential investors without a second thought.
Obviously, it is not only the Chinese nationals who are subjected to this problem – other nationalities such as Indians, Africans, and others have in the past shared their frustrations at the manner in which they are treated when they seek to invest, or extend their residence and work permits.
It is time to introspect and scrutinise some of our laws to see if they are working for or against us. The world is changing fast. We are producing thousands of graduates every year that will soon lose patience with their status of unemployment.
The young graduates will not wait forever in the internship programme, graduate volunteer scheme, or just sitting at home when there are people knocking on their country’s doors anxious to invest to create jobs for them.
We should also bear in mind that great nations like the United Kingdom, United States of America, Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, amongst others, opened their doors to foreigners who came work or invest in those countries.
Perhaps what we should do is empower our law enforcement institutions and courts to deal with unruly investors, instead of blocking them based on our suspicions.
“Obstacles to job creation in this country are a result of policy, not of motivation.”
- Rick Scott