Windhoek — The Africa Development and Education Foundation in Namibia (ADEF), says the visa rejection of two investors from Saudi Arabia, are linked to derogatory remarks by Home Affairs and Immigration officials.
ADEF says one of the top officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration made the derogatory remarks against the Saudi investors.
In a letter addressed to the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Frans Kapofi, Dr. Armas Shikongo who heads ADEF said he wanted to help the two investors apply for a visa to visit Namibia, to explore investment opportunities as Namibia encourages foreign investments.
"To our total dismay and shock, one of the top official in the Ministry of Home Affairs, a certain Mrs Gillian Korner, who was dealing with our visa application made negative remarks about our guests, apparently based on her watching news having referred to our guests as 'towelheads'," said Shikongo in the letter dated June 14, 2018.
Towelhead is a racially offensive and religious slur that derogatively refers to people of Middle Eastern or Asian origin who wear turbans.
Shikongo said: "this is why when our application for a work visa was rejected we were not surprised as the openly displayed negative attitude of the official already signaled to us that our application was going to be prejudiced based on negative news that she watched."
Shikongo further said one of the guests, Abdullah Ibrahim Abdulla Almesfer is an investor in Namibia and he is also a regular visitor to the country by virtue of his property investment in Namibia.
He provided New Era with documents including criminal clearance, letter of rejection from the Home Affairs Ministry and a deed of transfer of property in Almesfer's name.
"The purpose of their visit this time around was to discuss the future improvement and development of a property located in Windhoek and to further explore other investment opportunities in Namibia, proof to this effect was provided," said Shikongo.
He also said Almesfer's past visits benefitted the country because many educational opportunities were provided to Namibian students.
"Some of them have already completed their university education and are now serving the country in various professional capacities," said Shikongo.
Shikongo also stated in the letter the intention of writing to the minister was not to challenge the basis on which the visa application was rejected. The application was rejected on the basis that the applicant applies through the nearest embassy.
Shikongo said the motive of writing the letter was to highlight "the unprofessional and unethical behaviour of the said official who seems to have negatively influenced the rest of those who were involved in the consideration of our visa application".
Shikongo also said they expect an official apology for the remarks.
"This negative attitude needs to be uprooted from the minds of public servants and government officials simply because it is not professional conduct and rather against the letter and spirit of the Namibian Constitution," added Shikongo. Contacted for comment, Sakeus Kadhikwa, the Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration said the ministry is looking into Shikongo's concern.
"The ministry would like to advise clients to exhaust all possible avenues before going to the media," advised Kadhikwa.