Testing times

Refilwe Motube
PARTIAL PLEA: Makgalemele

BEPA plead for partial re-opening despite Covid-19 spike

In terms of timing, the moment was hardly ideal!

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Despite a recent Covid-19 spike pushing the death toll to 1, 125 and counting, Botswana Promoters Association (BEPA) gathered before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday to once again push for the entertainment industry’s partial reopening.

Led by BEPA patron, Philip Makgalemele, the association requested the go-ahead to hold ‘test events’ at 30 percent of venue capacity.

Makgalemele revealed BEPA has been benchmarking with other countries on how to hold safe, Covid-19 complaint shows and is now in a position to put the research into practice.

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“Just to add on, the impact of the pandemic is very severe on us. So we did a lot of research and studied how other countries operated their events during this era and what can be easily replicated – hence we are asking to be given a chance.

“We have also briefed the Minister of Youth regarding a presentation we have on how we intend to carry out such events,” disclosed Makgalemele, noting that even though the briefing took place last year, the Minister [Tumiso Rakgare] was yet to get back to them.

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Building on the presentation, BEPA Vice Chairman, Sydney Nzala begged the government for support.

“While it’s a noble idea to hold an event of 50 people, it’s also important to understand that we can have 500 people in one area in barricaded formats whereby 50 people are indifferent barrier lines,” he highlighted.

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Nzala also pointed out that opening up on a limited basis would provide valuable lessons and pave the way for the industry’s eventual full-scale re-opening.

Switching focus slightly, BEPA Treasurer, Gaolatlhe Kediemetse explained digital events, popular in other countries, had failed to take off in Botswana primarily due to the cost involved.

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“Holding events online in Botswana does not make sense. We are one the most expensive when it comes to Internet expenditure, being in the top five countries worldwide.”

Finally granting BEPA the feedback they have long been waiting for, PAC committee member, Hon. P. Mataosane promised the matter would be taken up in parliament.

“Your issue is heard and will be presented to the parliament floor,” maintained Mataosane.

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