Botswana moves to lift ban on people from South Africa

Two thirds of Botswana has been off limits to people from South Africa, since 1988, under a law on people from conflict areas and states.

The controversial law provoked an outcry, and the federal government is now considering its exemption from British law.

A cabinet minister was spotted entering the British Embassy in Cape Town on Tuesday, carrying a bag.

Simon Motsoaledi was seen by observers wearing the plastic bag over his head, but he was not questioned, according to witnesses.

Motsoaledi said “Banning Muslims is unacceptable, inhumane and demeaning and we are not afraid to bring that to the world’s attention.

“We have international and regional institutions that consider us a human rights democracy. We should be treated as such and not treated like a colonial relic.

“We are not bitter, we are only saying that we are part of a bigger movement and something in their constitution must have discriminated against us.

“If there are any Africans who feel a problem with this issue, then let them come and give evidence.”

The seat of South Africa’s parliament, the National Assembly, is in parliament’s main building in Cape Town, near the Great Road.

South Africa-born Lord Nicholas Dunning, who sits in the House of Lords, denounced the law at the time of its enactment.

He said: “Botswana has had black majorities for many years. Africans are part of the country.

“Why does the South African government feel it is necessary to restrict their movement in Botswana? This law represents an intrusion in the affairs of the Botswana government which is incompatible with the rule of law.”

Nick White, of the Institute of Global Affairs, said: “This could be a first step to reducing the South African ban.

“The government has not met with Botswana to discuss this issue, but it’s more likely that the new president Ramaphosa is willing to discuss it.

“Ruling African National Congress support for the move has been reasonably low in the past. But recently there’s been more of a push among the ANC for it to be discussed.”

There are still no signs that South Africa is planning any changes to its ban on people from Botswana, Mr White said.

Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Island of Niue, John Rauhiora, said in 2010: “The government does not deal in apartheid at home and why should we welcome apartheid into our country?

“This is a human rights issue.”

Niue’s legislation bans anyone from a state or a group in a neighbouring country from visiting the Pacific Island.

The state of Niue is the second largest offshore island in the Pacific, making up some 54 miles of coastline with 2,000 residents.

There are about 90,000 people in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal.

“No one likes a ban. But if we had the leadership capacity to do something about it and big enough majorities in Parliament then we would consider legislation to lift the ban,” Mr Motsoaledi said.

A spokeswoman for South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Nathi Mthethwa, said: “The government of South Africa understands the concerns that have been raised by the Botswana Government regarding the South African anti-immigration laws and its impact on Namibians.

“We await further details on the position of the Botswana Government, which may be similar to their country’s existing legislation.”

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