Botswana to lift Malema, Bushiri Visa restrictions

10 Jun 2019

The Botswana government is reviewing a number of visa restrictions placed by former President Lt Gen Ian Khama on a number of foreign nationals among the South African Economic Freedom Front (EFF) President Julius Malema and South African based Malawian prophet Shepherd Huxley Bushiri.

Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Director General Peter Magosi confirmed this week that they are in the process of reviewing Malema and Bushiri’s visa restrictions among others.

EFF leader Julius Malema and founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) popularly known as ‘Major One’ by his followers are among more than 40 foreign nationals that Botswana placed on visa restrictions during former President Lt Gen Ian Khama term of office.

In 2011 Malema, while ANC Youth League leader, said Khama and his Botswana Democratic Party were a "foot stool of imperialism and a security threat to Africa".

Calling for regime change in Botswana, he said the ANCYL would establish a "command team" to unite opposition parties in that country.

The Visa restrictions on Malema and Bushiri had divided the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), government and the country. Lobatse Member of Parliament Sadique Kebonang has in the past called on government to lift the visa restriction conditions imposed on Malema.

Responding to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year November Kebonang said there was no reason to keep Malema on the Visa restriction list because he was not posing any threat to anyone or the country.

“I would like to call upon you, there is a particular politician, it is unpopular to talk about him in some quarters, that I think time has come for you to reconsider whether Julius Malema should still be in the list of people who are required to have Visas,” Kebonang said.

Kebonang also called for the same to be extended to Malema’s comrade and EFF’s National Chairperson Dali Mpofu and Basarwa lawyer Gordon Bennet among others.

“Whether lawyers representing people in this country such as representing Basarwa, Gordon Bennett is supposed to be in the Visa restriction, and so Dali Mpofu. I see this purely, based on that they are not a threat. I have never seen a lawyer being a threat simply for carrying the mandate of his clients to come and represent them in a court that exists in Botswana,” Kebonang said.

Malema had always made public his stance against Khama’s style of governance. A friend of UDC President Duma Boko and one of Hollywood’s top actors, Rick Yune, was also placed under Visa restriction following his visit to Botswana, and addressing a UDC press conference in Gaborone. The Khama regime believed the American to be one of the major donors for the coalition in the build-up to elections.

Still in his response to SONA Kebonang also accused his government of religious intolerance. “I do not know why that is the case. I know that in this House we have passed certain laws, again those laws I think were based on our own prejudices, where we now sought to have a minimum number for one private church. We seem to have put people on Visa requirements that do not threaten the security of this country,” the Lobatse Legislator said.