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Political, union leaders opposed to Masisi’s rule by decree

Lockdown should be enough- Motshegwa Use of soldiers should be minimum- Pilane

President Mokgweetsi Masisi this week declared a 28 -day lockdown and proposed an extended State of Emergency this week, a day after the announcement of three cases of coronavirus were recorded in the country.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA engaged Party and Union leaders on what the latest move means to Batswana.

Dumelang Saleshando: Vice President for Umbrella for Democratic Change-

It was inevitable that corona virus was going to find it’s way into Botswana.

It’s important for Batswana to take heed of the measures proposed by government to try and contain the spread and avoid an explosion similar to the ones we have seen in places like Italy.

We have a dysfunctional and under resourced public health system that won’t cope with corona spread.

The proposed extended State of Emergency is not necessary. Under the proposed state of emergency the President will rule by decree; meaning that he makes new rules alone, diverts public resources as he wishes and awards contracts to those he chooses, amongst other things.

The President does not need to rule alone to fight the virus. We are in consultation with attorneys and have sought audience with the Vice President to propose measures available other than Rule by Decree.

A lockdown can be enforced through the Public Health Act, no need for State of Emergency.

Ketlhalefile Motshegwa- Deputy Secretary General of BOFEPUSO: Countries that have declared lockdown have not even declared state of emergency These are Countries with high cases of Covid -19 . It is important and right for our Country to go on lockdown, but is the state of emergency that necessary ?

The state of emergency should have been the last resort, unless if Masisi just wants to be a dictator during this period, do what he has always haboured to do and only restricted by democratic processes at hand.

Parliament should hold the President accountable to state reasons for declaring this state of emergency , and infact Parliament should focus on getting the President to indicate the state of our preparedness to fight Covid -19 and economic measures to protect workers , businesses and society in general.

The problem with state of emergency is that the safety and health of workers might be compromised and we will not have a say, as this tool will allow the President to be dictatorial and disregard input of social partners on protection of employees. The Public Health Act and other laws can deal with the matter rather than state of emergency.

With declared state of emergency we should be careful not to slide into a police state .We however agree with President on lockdown and safety measures announced because we need to unite as a Country to fight Corona.

What is not coming out clear , is economic stimulus package for protection of jobs , assistance to businesses particularly SMMEs and the informal sector

Biggie Butale, President of the Botswana Patriotic Front

There is the danger that Government may take advantage of the state of emergency to impose unwarranted restrictions on human and civil rights to neutralise ”opponents’ or for some other self serving purpose that would be impossible to achieve under normal circumstances like raiding the fiscus.

Biggie Butale

There is always that ever present risk that a ”constitutional dictatorship” may be sprung upon an unsuspecting populace in the guise of a state of emergency declaration.

In our current circumstances, the declaration of a state of emergency to deal with a virus pandemic seems to be an overkill on the part of Government.

There are a plethora of laws and regulations that could have adequately addressed the need for a country wide lock down and restriction of movement without resorting to the ” open cheque ” that the state of emergency declaration constitutes.

In my opinion the lever setting of a state of emergency, must be pulled in only dire of circumstances and where no other legal remedies are available.

In our current situation as I have stated, the various Public Health laws and regulations would have adequately sufficed when used in conjunction with executive power, to address the current challenges facing our nation.

We can only pray that all parties involved will resist the urge to use and abuse the ” open cheque ” that the state of emergency declaration represents.

Sidney Pilane- BMD President: The declaration of the state of emergency was unavoidable and timely.

Of course, it could not contain detail, and the devil will be in the detail, and details of the operation of the lockdown will be crucial, must be well thought out and must be comprehensive.

Sidney Pilane

It must, inter alia, cater for the mitigation of the losses of all private sector employers and employees, and it must make provision for how members of the public will be able to access basic needs and medical needs during the period of the lockdown.

I commend Government for engaging banks, by which I take it the President meant financial institutions and all money lenders.

It is important that all lenders declare a moratorium on the repayment of all lendings during the period of the lockdown.

Although it was right for the Government to leave modalities to lenders, one hopes that lenders will not be selective but will extend mitigation and the moratorium to all borrowers as all borrowers will be affected by the lockdown and its financial rigours.

The Government is also to be commended for deciding to include all national stakeholders, including politicians and Parliament, in decision-making in respect of Government initiatives and activities in response to this existential threat.

It is my hope that the government has and will continue to include health workers and their organizations in the decision making, planning and execution of the comprehensive response to this scourge, health workers in all their categories being the people most at risk by reason of them being in the coalface of this emergency as the frontline people and first responders, it being particularly important that their fullest protection and facilitation be assured.

I suspect that we may not, depending on the scale of the emerging problem, have enough health workers to deal with the emergency.

In the event that I am right, the Government must feel free to invite volunteers to assist in places where patients will be kept and treated, under the direction and supervision of health workers.

It is of the utmost importance that law enforcement should, while enforcing the lockdown, do so with due patience and understanding.

The use of soldiers must be kept down to the utmost minimum and, where they are used, it should be under the direction of police officers as law enforcement is a police and not a military function.

The use of military people in law enforcement in the past in Botswana, and by our neighbours presently, has been characterized by brutality and violence.

That we cannot have in Botswana as it would be intolerable. Ntwakgolo ke ya molomo. The Botswana Police are amongst the best law enforcement in the world on account, inter alia, of their professionalism and self restraint.

They will be tested, and I urge them to be as we know them.

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