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.
Social-media use in Botswana has doubled over the past five years despite considerable misgivings about some of its possible negative effects, the latest Afrobarometer survey shows.
According to Afrobarometer latest survey, “more than a third of Batswana now use Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, or other social media every day as sources of news. Most citizens praise social media as helping make them better informed, more effective citizens, but most also believe it makes people more susceptible to false news and intolerance.”
Overall, the results show that Batswana are divided as to whether social media is good or bad for society. “But a majority favour protecting unrestricted access”. According to the findings, more than one-third (34%) of Batswana say they use social media every day to get news, almost twice as many as five years ago (18%).
“Daily use of social media for news is significantly higher amongst citizens with post-secondary education (65%), the youngest respondents (53% of those aged 18-26), and urban residents (50%) (Figure 2). Six out of 10 rural residents never use it.”
Amongst the 73% of Batswana who say they have heard of social media, most say it makes people more informed about current events (91%) and helps them have more impact on political processes (77%). At the same time, large majorities believe that social media makes users more likely to believe false news (81%) and more intolerant of people with different political opinions (65%).
Overall, Batswana are almost evenly divided as to whether social media is good (35%) or bad (30%) for society. “But people who say unrestricted access to social media should be protected outnumber, by 52% to 38%, those who say it should be regulated because it’s dividing Batswana,” the survey results show.
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life. Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018, and Round 8 surveys are currently underway. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice.
The Afrobarometer national partner in Botswana, Star Awards Ltd., interviewed a nationally representative, random, stratified probability sample of 1,200 adult Batswana in July-August 2019. A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. Previous surveys were conducted in Botswana in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2017.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Land Management, Water & Sanitation Services, Ms Bonolo Khumotaka has appealed to Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) customers to pay their outstanding water bills.
She said this will help the Corporation to recover costs and ensure it continues to operate without hindrance. Speaking to members of the media this week, Khumotaka revealed that during the COVID-19 lockdown WUC was only able to collect around P50 million from utility fees instead of the usual P150 million. She observed that this is a whooping P100 million deficit in revenue collection during the month of April 2020.
When COVID-19 intensified President Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi instructed WUC to suspend its process of disconnecting water supply for defaulting customers. President Masisi indicated that the decision was imperative and necessary to enable Batswana to comply with COVID-19 protocols and requirements. Batswana are encouraged to maintain general cleanliness especially the washing of hands and sanitization.
The Permanent Secretary reiterated that the Water Authority was therefore suffocating from overwhelming operating costs that are not recovered. “We encourage all those who can pay their water bills to do so, this will enable us to continue servicing the country with the much needed water during this period of COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary further noted that it is crucial for WUC customers to pay their bills so that the Corporation recovers costs and keeps its workforce. “Distributing water is very expensive, because we have to maintain our pipes and pumps to keep water supply afloat. We appeal to Batswana to meet us half way, even if its paying half of the bill, it is very much welcome,” she pleaded.
Khumotaka further added, “The Corporation is employing Batswana, so for us to avoid cutting costs and coming to drastic decisions such as laying off some employees, it is important that we recover costs from Batswana who can afford to pay their bills. We have come up with new payment platforms, including digital and cell phone payments methods to make it easy for our customers to pay,” she advised.
Khumotaka said on a monthly basis, Botswana needs 10.5 million cubic meters of water, but currently the country only provides around nine million cubic meters. Meanwhile responding to concerns that WUC was relatively ineffective in delivering water to Batswana, Khumotaka said Government was currently formulating a decentralization policy in which Central Government would be relieved of some duties and mandates.
Concerns from rural settlements are that since public water supply services migrated from Local Government (Councils) to Central Government (Water Utilities Corporation) delivery has been relatively poor. “The policy will inform Government of which services to take to Local government, water supply is one of those under review,” she said.
Some Dikgosi across the country have expressed their desire and eagerness to have Paramount Chiefs who had joined politics return to their traditional roles and occupy their seats in Ntlo Ya Dikgosi (NYD). This development, they believe, will boost the integrity of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, which has lost spark over the years.