Saturday, March 6, 2021

Chinese diplomats slam Botswana’s “draconian” immigration laws

Two senior officials at the Chinese embassy in Botswana this week described Botswana’s immigration laws as ‘draconian’, ‘disturbing’ and unfriendly to investors.

Li Nan who is the Deputy Head of Mission, Political Counselor at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Botswana made his countrymen’s displeasure known this week when briefing journalists on the official visit of Botswana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Pelonomi-Venson-Moitoi.

According to Nan, some Chinese businessmen who had shown interest in having their visas renewed were turned down and no reasons were proffered.

He also took issue with the countries deportations saying his countrymen were uncomfortable with investing in the country as one could be deported “anytime without reasons being provided.”

He said the deportations were on their own creating a sense of insecurity among the Chinese community in Botswana hence they were reluctant to invest in the country.

Recently Venson-Moitoi said she met her counterpart in China “to inform him that our country suffered because of Chinese companies which did not invest in the country, but only came on contracts to make money and go out after delivering the jobs.”

But Nan who seemed to be countering Venson-Moitoi’s statement said “Chinese have raised concerns that they are uneasy with the country’s deportations and non renewal of Visas. For instance let’s say you have invested a lot in Botswana and the next morning you are told to pack and leave the country.” He added that the deportations and non-visa renewal do not only affect the business to job losses.

Citing a case in which a Chinese national was deported for illegal fishing that happened two years earlier and was fined for that, Nan said they consulted a lawyer who shared the same sentiments as the embassy that “one cannot be punished twice for the same offence but said it was a futile exercise as our countryman had already been booted out of the country.”

Still at the same press conference, Chinese ambassador to Botswana Zheng Zhuqiang expressed the same sentiment that Botswana laws on deportation were unfriendly. He added that those deported are not given enough time to windup or make arrangements with their families.

On the failure of Morupule B project the diplomat said “China fully understands the importance of Morupule B power plant project to people’s livelihood and economic development of Botswana, and feels very distressed that the project constructed by a Chinese company cannot be fully operational till today, although the causes are very complicated.”

Zhuqiang added that relevant authorities of the Chinese Government have already interviewed the accountable officials of the Chinese company several times, demanding them to come up with a feasible rehabilitation plan, and to cooperate with Botswana to fix the failures completely as soon as possible.

He said that Botswana and China shall work closely to solve the Morupule B problem as soon as possible.

“During the past years, a lot of projects in Botswana have been constructed by Chinese companies, and most of them have been finished on time with good quality. Some problematic projects like Morupule B power plant are isolated cases, which should not be blamed on all Chinese companies, and should not hinder the overall friendly relations between the two countries,” said Zhuqiang.

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