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DEMOCRACY POSTPONED Botswana doesn’t need State of Emergency: I’ll oppose the extension proposal

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BY DITHAPELO KEORAPETSE

Parliament will this week, possibly Wednesday, rubber-stamp President Masisi’s decision to extend the State of Public Emergency. Already the executive dominated BDP caucus has okayed the decision among other tough measures envisioned. The VP has failed to answer my questions on COVID including what SoE has specifically achieved. We have test kits, ventilators, PPEs, beds and health materials shortages. I was told of patients dying because of oxygen short supply in some health facilities. We’ve experienced a surge in deaths and positive cases during SoE. So what did it really achieve? What has been done that couldn’t be attained without SoE?

State of Public Emergency has postponed democracy; there’s little transparency and accountability…58 cases of covid related corruption have been reported to the DCEC. Parliamentary questions and other interventions have not in anyway enhanced democracy during COVID-19, government Ministers refuse to give clear answers, they withhold information and sometimes outrightly lie.

The country needs a specific special law to deal with COVID, like in other countries such as UK. Alternatively we can amend the Public Health Act rather than have a rule by decree for more than a year. It’s bad for our democracy, it’s bad for the economy especially investment, it’s bad for business.

We can fight the virus and win the war without regressing on democratic values, especially transparency and accountability. We’ve not been doing well in that regard as a country for many years, but SoE has made things worse, corruption is thriving under the guise of direct appointments on big tenders. There should be a country and the economy left after COVID-19. We need a robust vaccine rollout to weather the corona storm, not SoE. All interventions to fight Covid don’t need SoE.

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