Thursday, August 6, 2020

Botswana moves to close out Zimbabwean refugees

Botswana is moving towards closing out Zimbabwean nationals who will be seeking refugee status in the future, The Telegraph learnt this week. Reports indicate that Botswana’s position is that the Zimbabwean political landscape has normalized and is now conducive when compared to the violent political crisis of 2008 that led to many people fleeing the country.

In an interview, Minister of Defense, Justice and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse stated that Botswana does not intend to grant Zimbabwean nationals refugee status in Botswana. Seretse said the decision came after Botswana realized that the political environment in Zimbabwe is safer for the people to stay in their country.

“In the future we are likely to see a situation where Zimbabwean nationals will not be granted refugee status, “he said.

Seretse said most Zimbabwean refugees were given asylum status during the country’s political crisis, which has now come to an end.

Asked if the economic status of Zimbabwean asylum seekers could not work in their favor, Seretse said there is no chance of that happening.

He said currently Botswana only grants refugee status based on the applicant’s political situation.

“Botswana does not consider the economic situation as a criterion to grant an individual asylum status,” he said.

It has emerged that the government of Botswana intends to repatriate more than 200 Zimbabwean refugees. Most of the refugees from Zimbabwe have asked the government of Botswana to absorb them in the community instead of sending them back to Zimbabwe.   They also expressed fears that their lives are still in danger and asked government to allow them to be part of the community where they can find jobs for themselves. A number of refugees were welcomed to Botswana in 2008 when Zimbabwe entered a state of violent political crisis in the aftermath of controversial presidential elections. Following claims that President Robert Mugabe had launched a campaign of terror against the opposition party, most people fled Zimbabwe.  It was alleged that state sponsored violence had resulted in massive human rights violations including torture and forced disappearance.

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Sunday Standard August 2 – 8

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of August 2 - 8, 2020.