At a time when most African countries, spearheaded by Rwanda are proposing a boarderless Africa, Lesotho is headed in the opposite direction. The country’s immigration policy is becoming more hostile and unfriendly by the day, especially towards fellow Africans.
Lesotho needs professional and entrepreneurial input from fellow Africans to assist its ailing economy, yet it is proposing a new, hostile immigration policy that is inimical to its needs.
In a meeting with Lesotho’s immigration representatives last month, foreigners were informed that although the normal residence permit fees for a principal applicant shall remain at R3000, henceforth, VFS (The managing agents) shall also charge R2800 per family member attached to the principal applicant. Because Lesotho does not issue more than 2 years of residence permit, this implies that such fees shall be paid every 2 years by such permit holders.
To further complicate the situation, application for residence permit is linked to a 2 year work permit issued at the cost of R3000 by the Department of Labour and the whole process may take up to 6 months to consumate.
Researchers and top professionals suffer when they want to travel or transact business with banks due to delays in processing work permits and because of this, experts in different fields are deserting Lesotho’s tertiary institutions in large numbers.
This rather unfriendly immigration policy runs contrary to that which obtains in many African and Western countries where residence and work permits are combined and are both issued by the home affairs department.
We believe that Lesotho shall lose more business and growth opportunities if steps are not taken to relax some of these bottlenecks.
The government of Lesotho needs to review her immigration policies to enhance the flow of capital and professionals into her ailing economy. The country would benefit from emulating a thriving economy like Rwanda whose friendly immigration policies have aided economic growth and impacted positively on the people’s welfare. No nation can survive without excellent relationships with other countries.
Researched and written by Stella Marope, Senior correspondent.