Leader of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana National Front (BNF) Duma Boko has criticised President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s interventions put in place to curb the contagious and deadly COVID-19.
In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, president Masisi imposed the state of emergency to fight the plague. Initially, the state of emergency was to take six months, but in September parliament voted to extend the state of emergency.
The move passed through despite objection by opposition parties. The extension meant that president Masisi continued to rule by decree until March 2021, a full year since the pandemic hit the African continent. Masisi told special parliament that it was necessary to extend state of emergency. It was extended again in March this year, by another six months.
President Masisi said the state of emergency will be used solely for the purpose of fighting the spread of COVID-19. “It is my considered view that the extension of the state of emergency provides a better option to safeguard the lives of Botswana, while containing and controlling the disease,” Masisi said earlier this year.
MASISI ABUSED SOE POWERS
Boko has given Masisi’s notorious state of emergency (SoE) the third digit, saying that it hasn’t served its anticipated purposes. He claimed that it has resulted in the wide scale impoverishment of citizens.
“State of Emergency has resulted in runaway levels of corruption because of the over-centralization of decision making and award of tenders. It has basically given us a president who constitutionally has a wide power, but now under the SoE, operates in an untendered manner. Masisi is running loose in every sector, he is the single decision maker. So this has effectively suspended democratic decision making in the country,” Boko held.
Quizzed on which options president Masisi had on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, Boko said it is crucial to descent to specifics so as to design together a means ends calculus.
“Having determined what the goals are, then we could have asked ourselves what the best means of achieving our goals are. Are the available legislative options not enough? If they are not, what manner can we orpiment them in order to achieve the goals that we want to achieve as a country. The public Health Act has a wide range of powers and instruments that can be used. and even where it would have determined that a SoE was required, it should have been precise in terms of what it is that will be suspended, operate and we would have narrowed down considerably and curb in the powers of the president. We did not do that so the result is an omnibus granted of powers to a single individual,” Boko said in an interview with the media.
UDC leader claims that president Masisi has entirely abused the state of emergency and the powers it granted him. Boko underscored that when one takes over all decision making, they end up making centralized decisions.
BOKO ON VACCINE ROLLOUT
On government’s effort to vaccine the population, Boko noted that initially, a large-scale COVID-19 rollout was to get the country back to its feet. He however said the country did not start off in a manner that it should have in rolling out the vaccine.
“The systemic challenges that are faced in relation to acquisition of vaccines are some of the elements that puts Botswana in a bad space as much as vaccination is concerned. African countries including Botswana are lacking radically behind in vaccinating populations. Just recently, Botswana was at just 2.9% and the rest of the countries are much lower than this scale. Even that, we will flatter to deceive because if you look at the levels of how many people have been vaccinated, you will realise that it’s a very low number. We needed to have had ourselves roll out on a large scale vaccination programme and that we still have to do.”
BOKO ON THE ECONOMY
The World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO) organizations which have been at the forefront of the pandemic, held that only fully vaccinated population will be able to emerge from the pandemic. Boko shared that the future economically looks bleak because vaccination in the country is near to the ground.
“If we are vaccinating at the rate that we are doing now, we are looking at quite a long time to vaccinate the entire population. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of waiting that long. We need to get this economy ticking as soon as possible. Government needs to establish a coordinated and properly structured rollout of vaccines in the country and to acquire the vaccines. Has the state of emergency helped us roll out the vaccine? No it has not. This is something it should have at least achieved.”
MASISI ADDRESS ON TUESDAY
Meanwhile, president Masisi is expected to give a national address on Tuesday next week. This past week Masisi, in accordance with the emergency powers suspended with immediate effect the sale of alcohol.
The suspension of the sale of alcohol was attributed to the escalating COVID-19 cases and risks that come along with the virus. However, the country’s largest alcohol brewer Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) is challenging this decision by government to ban alcohol in court.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.
Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.
The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ, Patrick Thedi said, “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”
As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.
Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele, who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.
The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as well as bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.
TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050, has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.