NEWS 2005



News editor ordered to leave the country

Country/Topic: Botswana
Date: 03 August 2005
Source: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) 
Person(s): Rodrick Mukumbira
Target(s): editor(s) 
Type(s) of violation(s): legal action 
Urgency: Threat

(MISA/IFEX) - On 27 July 2005, Rodrick Mukumbira, news editor for "Ngami Times" newspaper in the north-west of Botswana, was instructed in writing by the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs to surrender his work and residence permits to the relevant Immigration departments and leave the country within seven days.

The letter, dated 26 May and faxed more than a month later on 27 July, was written by an officer on behalf of the Permanent Secretary. 

"I am directed to inform you that the Minister has by powers conferred upon him in terms of the provision of Section 22 (1) of the Immigration Act and Section 8 (1) of the Employment of Non-Citizens Act cancelled the work and residence permit in your possession," the letter reads in part. 

Section 8 (1) reads, "The Minister may at any time by notice in writing served on the holder of a work permit, cancel the work permit or vary the terms thereof or the conditions attached thereto: 

Provided that such cancellation or variation shall not take effect until the expiry of seven days, or such greater number of days as the Minister may specify in the notice, immediately after the day on which the Minister's notice was served on the holder of the work permit." 

Mukumbira, a Zimbabwean national, told MISA Botswana that he was taken aback by the order to have his permits withdrawn two years before they were due to expire, and that no reasons had been given for the order. Mukumbira has been working for "Ngami Times" for about two years and his work and residence permits will expire in October 2007. 

"Ngami Times" managing editor Norman Chandler told MISA Botswana that he too was surprised by the order as Mukumbira has been a good employee and law-abiding since his arrival in Botswana. "We are absolutely mystified by this action and we would like to know the reasons given by the government for withdrawal of his permits. Mukumbira has worked for us for over two years now, he is a valued member of staff at 'Ngami Times'," Chandler said. 

In an interview with MISA Botswana, Chief Immigration Officer Ray Sekgororwane in Gaborone refused to comment on the matter, saying that it was at the discretion of the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs to exercise such powers of withdrawing permits of non-citizens. Sekgororwane said the reasons for the withdrawal of the permits should have been given to Mukumbira by immigration officers in Maun. 

MISA Botswana is concerned about such actions and their impact on media freedom and freedom of expression in the country. This move comes at a time when political leaders in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) are talking about seamless borders. At present, individuals are being extracted from countries simply because they are foreigners and arguments for such removal are couched in generalistic terms such as, ". . . it is no longer in the interest of Botswana that you should have a permit" [Section 22 (1) (f) of Botswana's Immigration Act]. 


For further information, contact Zo Titus, Programme Specialist, Media Freedom Monitoring, MISA, Private Bag 13386 Windhoek, Namibia, tel: +264 61 232 975, fax: +264 61 248 016, e-mail: , Internet: