Botswana may lift ban on Malema, Bushiri, and others considered ‘security concerns’

Botswana may lift ban on Malema, Bushiri, and others considered ‘security concerns’

EFF leader Julius Malema speaks at Sankopano Alexandra stadium in Johannesburg, 1 May 2019, at a May Day Rally. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

The EFF leader was restricted from travelling to the country for calling for the overthrow of former president Ian Khama’s government in 2011.

Ian Khama, the former president of Botswana, put more than 40 people on a list of those restricted from travelling to the country due to “security concerns”. Now, the government of his successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi, is reviewing these visa restrictions, Sunday Standard reports.

Botswana’s Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) director-general, Peter Magosi, confirmed this week that the restrictions were under review, adding that in most cases there was no evidence of security threats. A report will be issued on his directorate’s findings.

Those on the list include EFF leader Julius Malema, who called for Khama’s government to be overthrown in 2011 back when he was the leader of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), calling the regime a “footstool of imperialism and security threat to Africa”.

Khama’s government reciprocated by alleging that it was Malema who posed a security risk and refusing him a visa to enter the country.

Malema also said at the time the ANCYL would establish a “command team” to unite opposition parties in that country.

Others who faced similar travel restrictions included Korean-American Hollywood actor Rick Yune – who was believed by Khama to have funded this coalition of opposition parties in the build-up to Botswanan elections – as well as controversial pastor Shephard Bushiri, EFF national chairperson and advocate Dali Mpofu, and British human rights lawyer Gordon Bennet.

Bushiri’s restrictions reportedly involved him having to apply for a visa every time he attempted to travel to Botswana despite the fact that other Malawians are not required to possess one.

In May 2017, Bushiri was denied entry into Botswana for not having a visa prior to his departure for a conference there.

Bushiri fell foul of Botswana’s laws again in January 2018, with the country shutting down all Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) churches.

The country accused the controversial religious leader and self-proclaimed prophet of engaging in the practice of “miracle money”, which is illegal in Botswana.

Botswana Democratic Party lawmaker Sadique Kebonang has been arguing for the removal of the travel restrictions for some time.

“I would like to call upon you, there is a particular politician, it is unpopular to talk about him in some quarters, that I think time has come for you to reconsider whether Julius Malema should still be in the list of people who are required to have visas,” he said in response to Masisi’s state of the nation address in November last year.

He also argued for the removal of Mpofu and Bennett’s restrictions on the grounds that they were no threat to security.

“Whether lawyers representing people in this country such as representing Basarwa, Gordon Bennett is supposed to be in the visa restriction, and so Dali Mpofu. I see this purely based on that they are not a threat. I have never seen a lawyer being a threat simply for carrying the mandate of his clients to come and represent them in a court that exists in Botswana,” Kebonang said.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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