Thursday, May 23, 2024

Khan calls on President Masisi to lift Visa restrictions on Malema & co

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary hopeful for Molepolole North, Arafat Khan, has called for the lifting of visa restrictions imposed on South African political figures, including Julius Malema and other Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leaders. 

In a formal letter addressed to President Mokgweetsi Masisi, Khan highlights the longstanding visa requirement for Malema, Floyd Shivambu, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Advocate Dali Mpofu, and Magdalene Moonsamy, all influential members of the EFF in South Africa.

Khan emphasizes the anomaly of imposing visa restrictions on citizens of South Africa, a country typically exempt from such requirements for travel to Botswana. Notably, Malema, a leading opposition figure in the South African Parliament and a member of The Pan-African Parliament, is described in the letter as a renowned Pan-Africanist with extensive travels and respect across the continent.

Citing Botswana’s commitment to good governance, democracy, and African solidarity, Khan appeals to President Masisi’s conscience and urges a reconsideration of the 2013 decision that necessitates a visa application for the EFF president and his associates.

“In the spirit of good governance, deepening African solidarity, and constitutionalism, I write to humbly request your government to reconsider its 2013 decision,” Khan writes in his letter, arguing against the use of state apparatus to hinder political dissent.

He further emphasizes that individuals with diverse political perspectives should not face impediments to their movement, especially in a multi-party democracy like Botswana.

Khan concludes his letter by expressing confidence in President Masisi’s prompt attention to the matter and reiterates the friendship between Malema and his fellow leaders and the people of Botswana.

The appeal from Khan, a known friend of the EFF having been a constant feature at their major events, adds weight to the long running debate surrounding the visa restrictions imposed on South African political figures, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s sister in law, Bridget Motsepe.

It will be interesting how the President responds to the request, especially considering Malema and his EFF comrades were banned by Masisi’s now estranged predecessor Ian Khama.

In 2023 Malema lambasted Khama in a public speech, saying he should return to Botswana.

“One day when I went to Lesotho, that Ian Khama came to greet and … you are in a foreign land and you don’t want to be bringing attitude, I just co-operated, he hasn’t an issue to us … If indeed he is a fugitive he has to be taken back home, even when he was banning us from Botswana, I was like, what do we want from Botswana? I appreciate the information, it means that I must go and look for it now, the hunter becomes the hunted. I will make a follow-up with the minister of police so they can go and fetch him and take him back to Botswana. I know his address. He doesn’t live in Hyde Park, he lives at the Saxon Hotel,” Malema was quoted by the South African media.

More recently, Malema appeared on a video saying South Africa should learn from Botswana’s business relationship with De Beers. “De Beers agreed to give 50 % to the State in Botswana but refuse to do it here in South Africa. That is unacceptable.”

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