After approximately nine months since closing its borders as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the Corona-virus, Botswana has moved to open its borders entirely. The borders, just like the re-opening of business operations especially the trading of alcoholic beverages, will be opened in a phased manner.
A week ago, government through the Ministry of Transport and Communications lifted restrictions of international travel and announced the re-commencement of air travel. The ailing Air Botswana was quick to make this pronounced statement, saying it will offer four week flights between Gaborone and Johannesburg. However, this was to be adjusted based on travel demand.
Other regional destinations are to be gradually introduced, including Cape Town, Harare and Lusaka. This weekend, government lifted the suspension of cross-border passenger road transport operations. This means that with effect from December 1st, travel enthusiasts, tourists, cross-border business partners and consumers can finally stamp their passports at different points of entry.
Even though borders are wide open, government emphasizes strict adherence to COVID-19 regulations. The virus still persists, and continues to claim more lives in the country. Death tolls in the neighbouring South Africa where Botswana is opening its borders to, continues to surge.
Government says cross-border operators must clean their vehicles regularly and sanitizing travellers frequently. A passenger shall present their valid 72-hour negative COVID-19 result to either bus operator, conductor or driver before boarding the bus. As it is the new normal, there has be no selling inside a public service vehicle, and touting is banned also.
As of 15th November 2020, according to the COVID-19 Case Report, there are over 8 000 confirmed cases of the contagious COVID-19 in Botswana. The number of active cases are at 818, with over 7 000 recoveries. Botswana is doing well in containing the Corona-virus, this is evident with the number of recoveries recorded lately.
However, the number of deaths continues to surge. There are 31 people who have lost their lives to the deadly virus, mostly of the victims are those with underlying health conditions. Meanwhile, in the neighbouring South Africa, 2270 more people have tested positive for the Corona-virus in the last 24-hours. This takes the total number of confirmed cases to 767 669.
Gauteng province, which is highly urbanized but the smallest province in South Africa, still has the most infections provincially, accounting for 30.4% of total cases, while the Northern Cape has recorded the least cases-accounting for 3% of total cases. Thus far 58 new deaths have been recorded with most of the fatalities from the Eastern Cape, which has recorded 28 deaths.
Even though the Botswana government has decided to open some borders, others will remain shut. Tlokweng border, Ramatlabama border, Martins Drift border, Ramokgwebana, Kazungula will start receiving and sending travellers this festive season. Some of the borders still closed are: Zanzibar, Platjan, Sikwane border, Tlokweng border, Hereford, Makopong, Mamuno and Ngoma border amongst others.
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.