By Thobo Motlhoka
While Botswana would be happy to issue Visas to ‘men of God’ willing to come here and preach the gospel, it remains the government’s responsibility to ensure the preaching does not entail feeding Batswana snakes. Any possible violation of the constitution (including issues of public health) are taken into consideration before issuing out Visas to these men of God, Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Dorcas Makgato has said. “We shall not ignore our responsibilities to protect citizens of this country.”
In parliament Gaborone North Member of Parliament Haskins Nkaigwa had wanted to know whether there were plans by the Government to review the deportation orders of pastors in the past 10 years and whether there were plans to review Visa requirements on some foreign pastors especially from nations that do not require a visa to visit Botswana. He had also wanted to know whether the Government was aware that the gospel knows no boundaries and therefore it would be for the good of the country to allow the enjoyment of freedom of religion.
“Currently, Government does not have any plans to review the deportation orders in relation to pastors who were deported in the past 10 years,” Makgato responded. “Similarly, Government does not have any plan to review the visa requirements on ‘some’ foreign pastors from nations that do not require visa to Botswana.”
She said the government was aware that gospel knows no boundaries and as such it was important to note that enjoyment of freedom of religion is contained in Chapter II, Section 11 of the Constitution of Botswana which provides for the Protection of freedom of Conscience.
She said three pastors had been deported in the last years. “I would not want to go into the reasons for their deportation because they are not here to defend themselves. According to our regulations, anyone who was either deported by the President or Minister can write to the Minister or President and ask for a review. I do not have any plans for a wholesome review because as I am speaking to you now, whichever pastor has been deported can write to whoever deported them,” the Minister said.
Chapter II, Section 11 of the Constitution of Botswana states that: Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience, and for the purpose of this section the said freedom includes freedom of thought and religion… Section (5) :Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held inconsistent with or in contravention of this section in the extend that the law in question makes provision which is reasonably required ÔÇô (a) in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; (b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of other persons, including the right to observe and practice any religion without the unsolicited intervention of members of any other religion and except so far as that provision or, as the case maybe, the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.