The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of labour and Home Affairs Pearl Matome has absolved security vetting from delays experienced in applying for work and residence permits. This also includes VISA applications. Instead, she blames corrupt government officials and business people for the anomaly.
“Security vetting is a vital component of good governance, not only in Botswana but in all countries that have a Government. Lack of or laxity in security vetting can lead to a national disaster. So vetting is a legal and critical component of the process. What I want to confirm to you is that vetting does not delay the process,” said Matome.
Matome was speaking at a one day stakeholder consultative forum on work/residence permits and visa process in Gaborone on Wednesday. She is of the view that Botswana needs quality investors and skilled people, to benefit the economy in a positive manner. And therefore there is need to ensure that selection processes are flawless.
Matome, however, accepted that there was a big problem in the Ministry especially with regard to work/residence permits and visa application as far as turnaround time is concerned. “We have from time been accused of taking too long to facilitate you in terms of processing Visa as well as work and residence permits on time. As we mapped the process we indeed realised that we are not able to meet the standard time of 14 days, and instead exceed even 70 days, which indeed causes dissatisfaction and anxiety to our customers. So yes, there is a problem,” said Matome.
She bemoaned that the inefficient process in her ministry has resulted in a lot of other leakages and bottlenecks that negatively affect the image of the Ministry, and the effectiveness of the business community. This, she says, then affects the overall performance and image of Botswana. This vast inefficiency in her ministry she says has subsequently developed into corruption.
“There are some, and I want to stress the word ‘some’ unscrupulous officers, unscrupulous private sector individuals and unscrupulous organised members of the public who are illegally making money through soliciting and/or offering bribes and deceit, out of this inefficiency,” she said.
She, however, promised that her ministry will deal with the concerned individuals accordingly.
Not targeting nationalities
Meanwhile the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Montshiwa Montshiwa, dismissed reports that government is targeting individuals of certain nationalities by denying them work and residence permits whenever they apply. Montshiwa was responding to a concern raised by Business Botswana officials. He absolved government and his ministry from any wrong doing, saying that most of reports on the issue were just perceptions by certain individuals who may have felt hard done by the immigration process at some point.
“The Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs can only decline to issue a work/residence permit or visa to an individual who does not meet stipulated requirements,” said Montshiwa. He said that he is not aware of any list, written or silent which contained nationalities to be targeted for persona non grata to Botswana and said he doubted if any such list will exist as the country is guided by set laws and principles.
He, however, said that since his ministry is in the process of revamping the process to make it more efficient and rewarding they will look into existing laws to see if they are not counter-productive. “Some laws will be looked into to ensure that they facilitate business for the country instead of impeding it,” he said.
The Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs officials and representatives from the private sector and other concerned stakeholders are expected to meet Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi to make submissions on how the work/residence and Visa permit process can be improved.