Marriages of convenience have become a common phenomenon in Botswana and if the nation is not careful, there could be serious consequences, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Edwin Batshu has cautioned.
Speaking to the Monitor on Friday, he said that his ministry is currently investigating cases of 'marriages of convenience' which have lasted for only a short period of time before falling apart. So far, some people have approached his office to try to cancel the citizenship status of their spouses who have divorced them immediately after acquiring Botswana citizenship.
"It is true that we are handling cases where people want us to cancel the citizenship of their former spouses because they have divorced them. But it is not possible to do that because divorce is between two people. Unless that person has committed a serious crime, we cannot cancel their citizenship," he said.
Minister Batshu stated that the problem cuts across all genders as there are men who are also experiencing difficulties in their marriages after getting married to foreigners. He said that the acquisition of Botswana citizenship does not occur automatically when a Motswana marries a foreigner. He said it's a long process that entails a lot of screening and a number of years of staying in Botswana before one can acquire the Botswana citizenship.
He said that the problem of 'marriages of convenience' has now made it difficult for couples in steady and peaceful relationships to acquire Botswana citizenship for their spouses as the ministry has since tightened the screening process.
He cautioned that people should be careful when they marry foreigners because there are hyenas in sheep skins out there who use these marriages as a pretext to acquire Botswana citizenship. Meanwhile in South Africa, a scam was recently uncovered in which the Ministry of Home Affairs found out that some people were married to foreigners without their knowledge.
The syndicates forged everything from official stamps to marriage certificates and used the names of local women they claimed marriage to.