Botswana Democratic Party Women’s Wing is against possible extension of State of Public emergency by President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Masisi this year attended a parliament sitting to seek a resolution for a third extension of the state of public emergency due to the pandemic.
It has been suggested that Masisi could once again seek for a 4th extension on the back of increasing rate of covid infections.
The current SOE expires end of September this year.
BDP Women’s Wing Chairperson Veronica Lesole told The Telegraph that there is no need for another extension given that it has since been proven that there is only need for behavioural change.
“I do not think it will be good for the President to extend SOE because already people are losing jobs, so extending the period will pile up the misery on people,” she said.
“But in any case, we hope that the President will perhaps seek our opinion on this issue, maybe at this juncture we are jumping the gun,” said Lesole.
She highlighted that they will soon meet as the women’s wing committee to suggest possible ways to be shared with the President.
“Maybe since we feel that it is about time that we enforce behavioral change, we can also think that maybe we can tighten regulations so that we can be able to protect the interests of the business community,” added Lesole.
Addressing the meeting recently, Masisi said it is regrettable that the southern African country has recently experienced an exponential rise in local transmissions after lifting movement restrictions.
“Indeed, Covid-19 has now become a national health and security threat,” said Masisi, adding that extension of the state of emergency provides a better option for safeguarding the lives of Batswana (citizens of Botswana) while controlling and containing the disease.
“Now more than ever, it has become necessary to strengthen our national response to the pandemic given our fragile and limited resources,” he said.
Botswana initially declared a state of public emergency starting from April 2 last year following the pronouncement by the World Health Organisation on March 11 that the Covid-19 outbreak was a global pandemic.
Masisi added the state of emergency will be used solely for the purpose of fighting the spread of the Covid-19.
“It is my considered view that the extension of the state of emergency provides a better option to safeguard the lives of Botswana, while containing and controlling the disease.”
Among others, Masisi said the state of emergency would ensure workers are protected against retrenchment and maintain the restrictions on the movement of people in and out of the country.
He said the country’s Public Health Act was inadequate to fully equip his government to fight the pandemic.
Opposition parties said they were not convinced an extension of the state of emergency was necessary.
David Tshere of the opposition coalition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) argued against the move.
“This is not acceptable. We are restricting movement of people in and out of the country. South Africa has opened up the borders, Namibia has opened up and we have a treaty with these countries. You are saying we should continue to close when our neighbours have opened,” Tshere said.
The leader of the opposition in parliament, Dumelang Saleshando, warned the economy will suffer as a result of the extended restrictions.
“We are locking down the economy. They (people) need certainty. Households are not going to survive this,” Saleshando said.
Despite the opposition members’ objections, the ruling party holding a majority in the National Assembly meant the extension was approved.
The country’s economy is expected to contract by around 9% this year. Its backbone, the diamond industry, suffered significantly after international buyers were shut out due to travel restrictions.