More deportations under Khama

Staff Writer
More people have been deported from this country since President Ian Khama took over power in 2008, compared to the near two-decade era of former president, Sir Ketumile Masire.

During Masire's 18 years in power, there were only 115 deportations, while under Khama, 404 people have been expelled from the country so far.

These figures emerged in Parliament last week although no names (presidents) were mentioned.

Parliament was told that 404 foreigners were deported from the country since April 2008 to March, 2010.

The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele said from April 1980 to March 1998, 115 persons were deported from the country. From April 1998 to March 2008, 790 were deported and 404 for the period April 2008 to March 2010.  The minister stated that the deportations were made under provisions of Section 7 (e) and (f) of the Immigration Act.

Siele said the figures do not include the thousands of illegal immigrants repatriated to their respective countries, mainly Zimbabwe on a daily basis. 

He revealed that for the periods in question 59 088, 291 460 and 93 477 illegal immigrants were repatriated respectively.

Siele was responding to a question from the MP for Lobatse, Nehemiah Modubule who wanted to know the number of people deported during these periods.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National Assembly, Modubule said he was concerned about the high number of deportations since Khama took over power. "I am concerned that they are not given a hearing. To me this sounds like defeating the ends of justice," said the legislator.

"It seems the deportations are higher these days.  More people have been deported sinc 2008, than we have ever seen in this country," he said.

He said this was shocking as this comes at a time when the country is not under a security threat, unlike in the 80s when there were liberation wars.

Modubule is concerned that people are deported for "security reasons" that are never mentioned. 

"The process of the law should be allowed to take its course.  This is an issue of serious concern," he said. "Does it imply that when you are a foreigner you should be denied justice?" he questioned.

He said if it is an issue of a security threat the suspects can always be tried in camera.

"They should be prosecuted.  There is no reason for the deportations. I am not against

the deportations if they are genuine.  But if somebody is a security threat, they should be prosecuted," he insisted.

Modubule said the Immigration Act that Siele was talking about should be amended because the deportees are denied justice. He wondered whether this was happening in other countries. 

He said deporting foreigners without according them justice does not bode well for a country which is seeking foreign investment. He said the deportees can never speak positively about this country.

Foreign journalists have not been spared either when it comes to presidential deportations.  In the 1980s, a number of foreign journalists who were working for the private media were declared Prohibited Immigrants (PI) under Presidential Orders.  Some of the journalists who were deported include Gwen Ansell and Charles Mogale, a South African who was the editor of the Botswana Guardian. Ansell who was renowned for reporting on arts and culture, was bundled into a police van and ordered to leave the country for good.

Another journalist who was declared personae non granta was the former Botswana Guardian editor, John Mukela.

Mukela who succeeded Mogale, originated from Zambia. During President Festus Mogae's reign, the deportation that made headlines was that of former University of Botswana (UB) political lecturer, Professor Kenneth Good. 

Good had become one of the harshest critics of the government. Good challenged his deportation order in court but it was dismissed.

Charges of "insulting" the president are also prevalent. Since President Khama took over, more people have been charged with insulting him.  One of the people who faced such a charge was an Indian citizen who was a manager of Choppies in Maun. The Indian was deported after he was prosecuted for "insulting" the president. The manager had allegedly told his employees that they should ask "Ian" for permission to go to the loo. Apparently on that day, Khama was addressing a meeting in Maun.

A South African woman also faced the wrath of the law after she innocently pointed at Khama's portrait and remarked that he resembled a Bushman. The woman was fined for "insulting" the president.  There have also been other people who were charged for "insulting" the president especially foreigners.



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