Africa’s richest man, billionaire Aliko Dangote has been denied a VISA to enter Botswana, sources within the immigration department said this week. Sunday Standard was unable to establish when Dangote’s application was rejected. It is however understood that it was sometime early this year. It is also not clear why immigration authorities decided to place Dangote on the visa blacklist or why his application was rejected.
The Nigerian embassy in Gaborone was diplomatic when asked to comment on the matter. “Regarding the questions, the Mission is not in position to comment as we have no receipt of the aforementioned complaints from the individuals. Please accept the assurances of the High Commissioners regards.”
It is understood that Aliko Dangote has shown interest in investing in a number of African countries including Botswana. Reports indicate that in recent years, Dangote, through his company, Dangote Industries of Nigeria invested US $ 400 million in a cement plant in Kafue on the Lusaka-Chirundu road in Zambia.
Contacted for comment, Labour and Home Affairs Minister, Edwin Batshu said he was not in a position to confirm or deny the reports since he does not deal with VISA applications on a weekly basis. “The Immigration Director would be in a position to respond to that question since he sits on the committee that assess visa applications,” he said. Batshu said the law does not provide for appeal if the applicant’s visa application is rejected by the committee.
Immigration Director Mabuse Pule’s phone rang unanswered. His department is also yet to respond to a questionnaire sent three weeks ago. Recently more than 300 Nigerians who were deported from Botswana called on the President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly to review diplomatic relations between Gaborone and Lagos “in order to ascertain the true conditions of Nigerians living in that country”. The deportees alleged that since Khama assumed office in April 1, 2008, Nigerians in Botswana had been subjected “to dehumanising conditions and racial abuse even when they claimed they had been law-abiding and of good behaviour”. The decision to deny Dangote visa comes in the wake of an official announcement Thursday that Botswana has placed American film actor Rick Yune on the list of people who should apply for visas before entering the country. Also on the list is Yune’s friend Jennifer Lindsey Bell.
“Notice is hereby given that, in accordance with Regulation 5 of the Immigration (VISA) Regulations, the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs hereby declares that Yune and Bell are to obtain visas to enter Botswana,” the Office of the President said in a statement on Thursday.
Yune was due to attend the launch of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Boko next Saturday. South African’s Economic Freedom Fighters President, Julius Malema was also denied a visa last week when he intended to enter Botswana invited as a guest speaker at the launch of UDC council candidate Arafat Khan. Earlier this year Telecoms businessman Mo Ibrahim criticised Botswana for denying his employees a visa to enter the country. He noted at the time that it was easier for non-Africans to travel within the continent than Africans after some of your staffs were denied entry visas. A dozen of journalists, academics and human rights activists from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada have also been placed on the immigration blacklist.