The Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs is rushing to root out immigration corruption and ensure the security of Botswana passports.
Permanent Secretary, Segakweng Tsiane, recently issued a statement that her ministry had decided to centralize the issuing of national passports as a security measure. She also revealed plans to expedite the computerization of national passports and the national border posts.
Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Labour, Lebogang Bok, said on Friday that the new initiative is part of the ministry’s efforts to ensure security as “some expatriates have been found in possession of Botswana passports”.
“We are only centralizing the issuing of national passports. Applications and distribution of the said passports will still be done at the immigration offices throughout the country,” said Bok.
The Sunday Standard is, however, informed that the situation at the Immigration Department is so bad that passports are routinely being sold to expatriates, most of them with criminal backgrounds. It has also come to the attention of The Sunday Standard that some people have, in the past, been arrested for criminal activities outside Botswana, and later found to be in possession of bogus Botswana passports.
Immigration insiders have also revealed that the repeated emergence of Botswana passports in the possession of unscrupulous individuals has heightened tension between Botswana and other countries and is threatening to erupt into a diplomatic fallout.
The situation is said to be so bad that Tsiane has made it her personal crusade to root out the rampant corruption at the immigration department and bring culpable officers to book.
In Francistown, it has emerged that the Zimbabwean political situation had provided both members of the public and immigration officials with an opportunity to make a roaring trade through the sale of national passports. While immigration officials are said to be in the habit of selling passports to expatriates, members of the public are also said to routinely sell their passports and later claim that they have been stolen.
The Sunday Standard is also informed that a number of immigration personnel are presently under investigation for corruption. Last week, Tsiane caught an immigration officer with his pants down and in the midst of a corrupt transaction involving issuing of national passports and extension of days of stay in Botswana. Police and intelligence officials last week raided the Francistown immigration office and detained a number of immigration officers.