Botswana: Leader of Oppostion Laments SOE Extension

Gaborone — Leader of the Opposition and Maun West MP, Mr Dumelang Saleshando has expressed his displeasure at the extension of the State of Public Emergency (SoE) by six months.

Giving his response during the debate on the Affirmation of Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations tabled before the National Assembly by the Vice President, Mr Slumber Tsogwane, he said an extensive SoE was unnecessary as the Public Health Act could have sufficed.

Mr Saleshando said various clauses within the Public Health Act allowed the director of health services to declare a state of public health emergency and to curtail movement through lockdowns or curfews, force people to test and partake in vaccination, as well as to enforce social distancing.

Where the Public Health Act had inadequacies, Mr Saleshando said Parliament could institute necessary reforms to add requisite changes to combat COVID-19, Mr Saleshando said.

He gave the example of countries such as the United States of America, United Kingdom and Singapore, which he said had promulgated legislation specific to COVID-19 instead of instituting SoE.

Mr Saleshando said a few countries such as Namibia had enacted a State of Emergency, owing to the absence of laws similar to the Botswana's Public Health Act and it was introduced for a limited period of time.

He further said Namibia, which had the State of Emergency for only six months, recorded fewer COVID-19 related deaths compared to Botswana where the emergency powers had lasted 12 months and was being extended.

Mr Saleshando said SoE had the negative effect of suffocating the economy with businesses being weakened and workers losing jobs or having their wages reduced.

He cited the concerns raised by Business Botswana and the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) in 2020 about the negative impact of the SOE on domestic trade and tourism.

Source : BOPA

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