Botswana: Ministry Resumes Services Interrupted By Covid-19

Gaborone — Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs has resumed offering key services such as travel and immigration sidelined by the outbreak of COVID-19, minister Ms Annah Mokgethi has said.

Briefing the media on Saturday, she said in an effort to facilitate economic recovery, the ministry was also offering change of name, registration of societies, processing and issuance of passports services.

Ms Mokgethi said processing of application for work permits and extension of days and facilitation of students returning to school across borders had resumed.

"The ministry has considered facilitation of next of kin attending funerals of close relatives across borders," she said.

Minister Mokgethi said Batswana travelling to neighbouring countries for medical reasons and individuals wishing to visit their spouses across borders had been assisted.

On Omang, she said the renewal backlog stood at more than 40 000 adding that the ministry had assisted 14 000 Batswana requiring new identity cards.

Ms Mokgethi pleaded with stakeholders, especially financial institutions, to continue accepting expired Omang cards until further notice.

"Citizens who are eligible to apply for Omang cards, those who have attained the age of 16, are advised to use their birth certificates as a form of identification until further notice," the minister said.

During extreme social distancing, she said, the ministry continued offering services such as registration of births and deaths, facilitated movement of essential services and goods across the 10 border posts as well as returning residents and citizens and issuance of passports for essential and critical service providers.

Minister Mokgethi acknowledged that the outbreak of COVID-19 had aggravated gender based violence (GBV) in Botswana.

She said the ministry had developed a national strategy towards ending GBV guided by among others communities, traditional and religious leaders, Botswana Police Service, politicians, counsellors as well as teachers.

"The ministry in collaboration with other stakeholders such as the civil society and the police undertake public education community dialogues to allow them to discuss GBV issues prevalent in their communities", she said.

She said the ministry, together with First Lady Ms Neo Masisi, BOCAIP, National Aids and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA) organised a Pitso ya Bomme followed by Pitso ya Borre and a bonfire for youth in Kasane earlier this month to discuss GBV issues.

Some six days later, the ministry, in partnership Ms Masisi and Gaborone mayor, embarked on a cycling challenge around the city to raise public awareness against GBV, she said.

Minister Mokgethi said while the ministry was responsible for coordinating GBV issues, it remained the responsibility of sectors and individuals to address it at their level.

She noted that the pandemic had also broadened socio-economic disparities as the majority of women who were in the informal sector went out of business during extreme social distancing period.

Source : BOPA

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