In the aftermath of the special parliament that was convened by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi during the course of this week, the union representing Botswana nurses has despised the gathering, after one of the nurses deployed to screen legislators was confirmed to have tested positive for COVID- 19.
This meant that all people who were present at the special general assembly at Boipuso Hall on Wednesday, 8th April 2020 could have had casual contact with the said nurse therefore exposing themselves in the process.
A week ago President Mokgweetsi announced a State of Emergency, and announced a lockdown a lockdown beginning 2nd April for 28 days. He also told the nation through the state broadcaster, Botswana Television (Btv) that he wanted the State of Emergency to last more than the 21 days stipulated in the constitution, therefore he would call parliament to extend it beyod the stipulated days.
A source who spoke to WeekendPost on anonymity said under the Emergency Powers Act, the president can make such regulations as appear to him to be necessary for amongst others securing the public’s safety and the defence of the Republic.
Owing to his promise to convene a special parliament in the next seven days, legislators met this week starting Monday in a bid to move or reject the motion which was pushed by leader of the house and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane.
However, a tragedy befell the house on Thursday morning when the house resumed business and they were notified by Minister of Health and Wellness Lemogang Kwape that a nurse stationed at Block 8 clinic who was deployed to screen them has tested positive for coronavirus.
Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) through a press statement expressed their outmost displeasure and disappointment regarding the special parliament proceedings and criticized Director of Health and Wellness Dr Malaki Tshiphiyagae’s stance on the alleged COVID-19 case.
In his daily update Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Lemogang Kwape, had just told the house that Botswana has recorded seven new cases of covid-19. “The case involve a nurse who was based at Block 8 clinic and yesterday was on duty at Parliament session assisting there. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, there is substantial debate around whether the Special parliament should continue to operate.
Botswana Nurses Union would like to make it categorically clear that it understand the symbolic importance of parliament, but under the current situation, the special parliament proceedings cannot go on.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness, through its Director and Minister, has been preaching on the importance of short meetings (2 hours), few people (less than 10), staying home, and 1m distance rule as well as touching faces. These measures apply to everyone including the leadership of this country. Shutting down is therefore a symbolic act especially at a time of national crisis.
BONU also advised Health Director (Tshipayagae) to take a bold decision by giving every single one of the cohort a mask and send them to quarantine as some of them may not all have acquired the infection. The Director should come out clear and stop the meeting immediately as the 2 hours has elapsed. BONU also want to encourage the Director of Health to be consistent with on applying measures of COVID-19 as the disease knows no boundaries.
“We encourage parliament to consider teleconferencing and video conferencing to minimise the risks. Moreover, BONU like to remind Botswana that WHO has advised against politicizing COVID-19.”
In conclusion, Botswana Nurses Union recommends that all members of the cohort to go on mandatory quarantine immediately. The Director of Health and Wellness, Dr Malaki Tshipayagae must step down as he is unfit to lead under trying times like this and failed to protect the parliament including the president of the nation.
BONU advises Batswana to ignore some unfortunate comments by our leadership in current special parliament sitting. Batswana should continue taking necessary precautions such as staying home, minimising non- essential travelling to COVID-19 affected countries, gathering, regular hand washing and maintaining social distancing.
Moreover, the government must provide Nurses and health care workers with proper PPE, transport and quarantine all exposed health care workers. Nevertheless, BONU is already investigating of what really transpired in relation to the case of the infected nurse”, reads the statement from BONU.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.