Govt spends P5 million on Zim deportees

FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana government has been urged to find cheaper ways of dealing with the issue of Zimbabwean illegal immigrants.

Batswana interviewed likened the present state of affairs to a mad man who kept on pouring water into the drum and the water kept coming out at the other end. The Botswana government keeps taking Zimbabwean illegal immigrants to Ramokgwebana border gate for repatriation back to their country but the deportees keep crossing back into Botswana only to be repatriated again. This everyday exercise has seen the government spending millions of Pulas in what is said to be an effort to ensure their numbers in Botswana are controlled.  According to the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs Acting Assistant Manager (Communications) Letso Mpho, 46, 472 illegal immigrants were arrested and repatriated countrywide last year.  From Francistown and surrounding areas alone 27, 001 illegal immigrants, mostly Zimbabweans, were nabbed and taken home. The amount of money spent on the aliens for both food and transport countrywide was P594 397, 32. Francistown and its satellites accounted for P158 730,14. Illegals grabbed in Gaborone and surrounding areas made the Botswana government P153 337, 65 poorer. Asked whether there were any other alternatives to the current method, which is draining government coffers, especially in these recessionary times, Mpho was ambiguous in his response.

"We believe that with time the continuous repatriating of illegal immigrants whether they come back or not, one day they will see that they are not welcome."  He added that there is money budgeted for sending illegal immigrants back home and feeding them because the issue of illegal immigrants is one of the problems that the country has to address. That the statistics given above prove that more money being spent in deporting illegal immigrants is not helping to improve the country is indisputable. Illegals are costing the government in money, time and resources. They have become a legal responsibility to the government rather than a net benefit. They are taking taxpayers' money away from those who are lawfully entitled to using it and they are putting a burden on the government. In that context, Mmegi took to the streets to gauge the opinion of some citizens as to what should be done about the situation. Themba Habana, a retired school headmaster, agreed that the repatriation exercise is wasteful, especially that those people keep coming back to seek economic opportunities.

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