The Public Relations officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Lebogang Bok, has defended the government’s policy of deporting Zimbabweans whilst their country is in turmoil.
”All those we are deporting are merely economic refugees who have come here not because of political turbulence in their country.”
According to her, those who have come here fearing for their lives or fearing persecution in their country are granted political asylum after the due process involving the Office of the President. She says that she has no idea if the government will change this policy at some stage.
”All I know is that this is the case at the moment and can not say if this policy will be changed,” he said.
Some observers are saying that the policy is harsh in that people are being sent to a country where there is potential that they will be persecuted even if they do not belong to any political party.
However, they say it does not serve any purpose because all those deported always find their way back into Botswana as soon as they are dropped-off at the Zimbabwe border post.
According to him, the ideal situation would be to suspend the deportation till the situation has normalized in their country. Asked if this is attainable bearing the costs it involves in consumption of social services, he said, “Well, is it not better to share with them than to throw them into the lion’s den?”
That deported immigrants always find their way back into Botswana was confirmed by one senior immigration officer who says that he has taken part in deporting several of them only to see and arrest them a few days later.
The officer also supports those who say that this game of people being deported back to their country and coming back to Botswana is encouraged by the policy that allows those being deported to carry with them to their country all what they had acquired whilst illegally staying in Botswana.
Some, he says, go back with television sets and others with household goods, which are transported free of charge.