The Government of Botswana has refuted reports that it intends to close its mission in Harare and introduce a visa regime for Zimbabweans wishing to travel to that country. Social media has in the last few days been awash with news that Gaborone would close its mission on September 1 and also introduce visas. “For Zimbabweans to apply for a visa, they need to have; 270 Pula or $18 which is refundable if the application is rejected, a bank statement with at least 1 500 Pula or $100, Yellow fever vaccination card, police clearance, two passport size photographs and an invitation letter from Botswana,” read part of the false news.
According to the fake report purported to have been authored by Kgomotso Duma of Mmegi Online, the new order would see Zimbabweans travelling to Zambia, Mozambique or South Africa to apply for the said visas.
The story had been attributed to the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Hon Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.
Through its embassy in Harare, the Botswana government said in a media statement yesterday that the story was a hoax.
“We wish to categorically refute this fabricated story, whose origin remains a mystery,” read the statement.
“Hon. Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi was never recently interviewed by any reporter on Botswana’s relations with Zimbabwe.
“Given the damning nature of the story, the Ministry queried the origin of the story and in response the Mmegi Newspaper unequivocally disassociated itself from the story.
“The Mmegi Newspaper further disclosed that they do not have any association with a reporter by the name of Kgomotso Duma.
“The Ministry therefore wishes to advise the general public to dismiss this story as it is a figment of the author’s imagination.
“Botswana and Zimbabwe continues to enjoy excellent relations.
“This has been clearly demonstrated by the recent convening of the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security between the two countries in Gaborone, Botswana on 29th May to 2nd June 2017.”
Zimbabwe’s assistant regional immigration officer in charge of western region, Mr Blessing Marwa, said the movement of people between the two countries had not changed.
The region covers Plumtree, Mpoengs, Maitengwe and Mlalmbaphele borders.
Mr Marwa said they were handling an average of 70 000 people travelling into either country per month, via the four ports.
He said at the moment, Zimbabweans travelling to Botswana were allowed a stay for not more than 90 days (free visa) per each calendar year.
“Please note that the calendar year starts on your first entry day which may be in December or any other month,” said Mr Marwa. “In case you exhaust your 90 days and wish to travel you apply for more days at a prescribed fee.
“For the Tswana’s visiting Zimbabwe on holiday, we grant them a 30 days stay per entry. In addition, they are allowed to extend their stay twice for free at the nearest immigration office.
“After which they may apply for an extension for a prescribed fee.”
Mr Marwa said Tswana’s travelling on business purposes were only granted a maximum of 30 days and after which they would be required to acquire a permit.
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