Local business consultants are uneasy at the new immigration Act of 2011 saying it makes expatriates feel unwelcome in the country.
President of the Association of Business Consultants Botswana (ABCB) Ishmael Komanyane said after the Act came into practice they noted a lot of loopholes that have to be addressed. Komanyane said the new Act came with a section that gave the Immigration selection board the power to reject one’s resident application without giving the individual reasons.
“This system is making those who have invested in the country uncomfortable to run their business without fear of being chased out,” he said adding that recently a number of foreigners’ permits are being rejected without any reasons. “Most foreigners employed and operating their own businesses, are not being given any consideration for permits.” He pointed out that even the time that expatriates are given to pack and leave has been reduced from three months to only 14 days to wrap up all their belongings and close business. Komanyane said even those that are not yet affected by the new law are uneasy about investing in the country because they are not certain about future events.
“As a result some are not expanding and rather shrinking their businesses so that when they are rejected they can easily pack and leave and some are voluntarily leaving the country because they don’t even feel welcome.” The head of ABCB is concerned that what is happening is not only costing a number of people employment and affecting the business market but is also tarnishing the image of the country making it seem as if it is anti foreigners. “And this is very parallel to what the government is saying, that they are trying to attract investors into the country at the same time they have laws that make them feel unwelcome.” ABCB is also concerned by the systems used to approve one’s application, as it is a long process that can take weeks even a month before any response is given.
Further the immigration system is often down making investors doubt the seriousness of the country. Komanyane said they wish that the Ministry of Trade could recognise them as a legal association that registers business consultants to improve efficiency and give them the full responsibility to represent their clients instead of taking them along to the immigration office all the time. “We want to increase our credibility and be reliable representatives,” he said.