The Committee to Protect Journalists is troubled by your government’s recent expulsion of Rodrick Mukumbira, a Zimbabwean national who had been working as a journalist in Botswana since 2002. Local press freedom groups have expressed concern that the expulsion may be linked to his work.
On July 27, the government sent Mukumbira a letter revoking his work and residence permits and ordering him to leave the country within seven days, according to the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA). He was forced to leave the country on August 2, the journalist told CPJ. Mukumbira was a news editor for the Ngami Times in northwest Botswana and a correspondent for international news media, including Agence France-Presse and the UN-affiliated IRIN.
Mukumbira said he has received no explanation for his expulsion, but he believes it is connected to his work as a journalist. He told CPJ that it may be linked to his reports on sensitive subjects such as the government’s eviction of the San people of the Kalahari desert from their ancestral homeland.
Your government invoked sections of Botswana’s Immigration Act and Employment of Non-Citizens Act to revoke Mukumbira’s permits, according to MISA, which expressed concern about the impact of such action on media freedom and freedom of expression. These laws provide sweeping powers that can be used to effectively expel non-citizens, including journalists, without explanation.
Mukumbira’s expulsion comes after Australian Kenneth Good, a political science lecturer at the University of Botswana, was forced to leave the country after his public criticism of government policies. Good’s appeal against his deportation was rejected on July 26.
We call on Your Excellency to immediately reverse the decision forcing Mukumbira to leave Botswana, and to ensure that immigration laws are not used to punish government critics. We urge you to allow all journalists to work without fear of government reprisal.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.