THE Ministry of Home Affairs says it is finalising preparations to digitalise the applications and issuance of residence permits.
This was said by the Acting Immigration Director, Tšepiso Mosasane at a recent meeting with international community representatives in Maseru.
Ms Mosasane said the move to digital from the manual processing of permits would help curb the fraudulent issuance of permits as well speed up the process for the convenience of foreigners wishing to reside in Lesotho.
“We hope the (digitalisation) programme will be a success as it will solve a number of challenges that were faced by the international community and the ministry,” Ms Mosasane said.
“The new process in being introduced to ensure that the international community, most of whom are investors, live comfortably in this country.
“We hope you will also embrace this new process and make use of it to make things a lot easier for both parties,” Ms Mosasane said.
She further said foreigners should have valid reasons for being in Lesotho and desist from involvement in criminal activities.
“Some members of the international community misuse the residence permits which are issued solely to enable them to reside in the country and nothing else.
“Some defraud the country and some of these people are in prison for such activities. It is such (fraudulent activities) that made us realise there were loopholes (in the manual processing of the permits) and we decided to move to digitalisation.
“The things you do make us fight with our neighbour South Africa. You should understand that such initiatives are done for you to be comfortable and not to defraud the country. I therefore appeal to you to convey the message to members of your communities,” Ms Mosasane further said.
The move to digitalise the applications for residence permits was welcomed by the international community.
The president of the Association of the Nigerian Community in Lesotho, Emmanuel Folaji, said they were happy with the government move, saying it was long overdue.
“Everything about the digital process is clear but we urge the government to charge reasonable fees.
“It is my hope that the fees will be in line with international standards so that we do not feel like we are being robbed in broad daylight,” Mr Folaji said.
His sentiments were echoed by the President of the President of the Pakistan Association, Faizal Abubaker, who also reiterated the need to charge application fees that were in line with international standards.
Mr Abubaker also thanked the Home Affairs ministry for inviting them to the meeting.
“We are aware that there will be some challenges along the way but with meetings like this, everything will be much easier for the government and our members,” he said.