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Thumbs up for three Phase Lockdown

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Would he, wouldn’t he? On Monday night, the nation waited with bated breath for President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s update on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The address, broadcast live on Btv as well as The Voice’s Facebook page, saw Masisi extend the lockdown – initially set to end on Friday – by 21 days.

However, there was a twist.

His Excellency explained the extension would be enacted in three stages, with Phase1 – a continuation of the lockdown in its current format – taking place from May 1 – 7.

Thumbs up for three Phase Lockdown
President Mokgweetsi Masisi

The second phase (May 8 -14) will see some – although the President did not disclose which – restrictions lifted.

The final phase, from May 15 -21, will see government gradually lift all remaining lockdown restrictions.

However, Masisi stressed the plan was based on the success the country anticipate in the fight against Corona and could be adapted should this success not materialise.

He further pointed out such success is dependent on cooperation and adherence to the current lockdown rules.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA asked different political leaders what the latest move means for the nation.

Thumbs up for three Phase Lockdown
Phenyo Butale – Secretary General of Alliance for Progressives

We want lives to be spared; whatever is in Government’s power should be done to save lives. In principle, a phasing approach is preferred over sudden decisions. We have no qualms with that.

We support a phased approach as we have already indicated in our leader’s appeal to do everything in our power, and adopt new ways to ensure every student does not lose out from learning this school year.

We are concerned about the hardship and hunger of so many families across the country not because the resources are not there but because of lack of organisation and unnecessary processes.

We are still concerned about whether the professional teams, not only at the presidential task team level but at level of the health ministry, are in place or empowered to pursue their health threat solutions.

We are not satisfied that they are in place or empowered.

We are concerned about procurement processes and lack of oversight in the face of State of Emergency.

Government has not done enough to explain economic plans – which major projects are on hold and which ones are proceeding and why as well as the implementation progress of promised cushioning programs.

Thumbs up for three Phase Lockdown
Moeti Mohwasa – Head of Communications of Umbrella for Democratic Change

We welcome the decision by the President to work on a phased lifting of the lockdown.

This is necessary to ensure that we return to our routine life.

It will also reduce the burden on the government to provide for families.

A prolonged lockdown can lead to instability and civil strive, something we would not like to see happening in this country.

Though we are of the view that in areas where there hasn’t been any reported cases the lockdown should be lifted as of 1st May, we have no qualms with the one-week lockdown extension.

Our economy is going to come out battered and there is need for a comprehensive and elaborate stimulus package.

The stimulus package should not only target sectors that grow the Gross Domestic Product quickly, but should also be job creating and inclusive with special reference and bias to small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), agriculture and the informal sector.

SMMEs, agriculture and the informal sector account for the largest share of employment in Botswana.

This catastrophe presents us with an opportunity to overhaul and restructure our economy.

We encourage the government to seriously consider huge investment in infrastructure with the locals being the largest beneficiaries.

Long-term stimulus package should cover: Infrastructure (roads, ICT, power, water, etc), Social Infrastructure (maintenance of schools, health facilities, building of houses, offices), Investment in Science, Research and Development to generate technologies to benefit the whole economy.

Covid-19 has shown us that our Universities, etc can achieve something if well funded.

Reform our education to provide skills and knowledge to support several sectors including health.

Invest in Agriculture and manufacturing and provide guaranteed loans to SMMES

Thumbs up for three Phase Lockdown
Kagelelo Kentse – Botswana Democratic Party’s Chairman of Communications

As the BDP we welcome the pronouncements by the President.

We equally want to applaud the government for its concerted efforts to contain and deal with this pandemic decisively.

President Masisi has led the country extremely well under the circumstances and we can see that the decisions made have saved this republic.

We commend our frontline officers and their sterling work.

We also thank Batswana for being compatriots and heeding the safety calls as advised by the government, se tshwarwa ke ntja pedi ga se thata.

Lastly, let’s continue to comply with health advice by staying home, practicing social distancing, washing our hands regularly with clean water and soap and sanitizing.

With that we can achieve going back to normalcy after May 22.

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Politics

HE’s trip raises temperatures

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HE's trip raises temperatures

On Tuesday morning, President Mokgweetsi Masisi flew to Harare for an Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

HE was invited by the current SADC Chairperson, Emmerson Mnangagwa, with the Zambian and Mozambique Presidents, Edgar Lungu and Filipe Nyusi also in attendance.

According to Office of the President, it was decided that a face-to-face meeting was necessary considering the sensitivity of the issues up for discussion.

However, this did not go down well with many Batswana, who labeled the trip unnecessary and accused Masisi of failing to lead by example.

Having already been quarantined twice, although it only lasted a day, the Zimbabwe trip means Masisi is now set for a third 14-day stint in quarantine.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA talked to various leaders and political analysts to get their take on Masisi’s foreign escapades.

HE's trip raises temperatures
Moeti Mohwasa – UDC Head of Communications

While the UDC acknowledges and appreciates the importance of international cooperation, it is disturbed by the President’s inability to balance that with the threat that international travel poses to the nation’s health and in particular the outbreak and control of Covid-19. Our President currently ranks high amongst the leaders who have breached or disregarded the rules they have set for their people!

It is unfortunate that our leader prefers to always hide in quarantine at a time when we need his visibility in the fight against Coronavirus.

In the light of the current situation it would have been prudent for President Masisi to participate through Zoom or Skype.

This would have sent a strong message about his full commitment to the fight against the virus.

We need leaders who don’t just say ‘do as I say’ but also lead by example.

What Masisi is saying to the nation is that you can just breach the Covid-19 regulation as you wish as long as you are prepared to be subjected to 14-day quarantine. This is wrong.

HE's trip raises temperatures
Biggie Butale – BPF President


These Presidential trips to Corona-challenged countries in the middle of a crisis seem to indicate a President with mixed priorities.

We have lost our CEO for 42-days due to him being unnecessarily quarantined during Botswana’s greatest ever hour of need.

I wonder what would have happened if we could have been without the Director of Health for this long although the President is a higher decision maker.

Maybe his presence or absence is immaterial?

Perhaps the question to ask is why the President feels it absolutely urgent to attend meetings that are not life-and-death matters whilst leaving life-and-death matters in his own backyard?

Could it be we have the absolutely wrong person as CEO who does not understand that we as a country might be entering an apocalyptic period of our existence?

Could it be that he is running away from the pressure? Could it be that he is just overwhelmed?

Kebapetse Lotshwao – Political Analyst
Ideally, the President should not be going to Zimbabwe.

However, the realities on the ground dictate that he goes.

The first reality is the fact that Botswana is the incoming chair of SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

As incoming chair, Botswana has to work closely with the current and previous chairs.

Secondly, there are threats to peace and stability in the region, particularly in Mozambique and Lesotho.

These threats have to be resolved, and by their sensitive nature may require face-to-face discussion to avoid infiltration.

HE's trip raises temperatures
Tobokani Rari – BOFEPUSU Secretary General


Truly speaking leaders should lead by example.

The standards set cannot be enforced for the ordinary citizens to the exception of those in positions of power; that would be terrible as this would mean they are some above the law.

Honestly I tried to listen to the reasons advanced by Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang to justify the President’s need to physically attend the Zimbabwe meeting, but I could not be convinced.

Elsewhere in Africa, South Africa to be specific, and President Ramaphosa suspended a Minister for breaking the Covid Protocol – that shows exemplary leadership!

HE's trip raises temperatures
Phenyo Butale – AP Secretary General


Governments all over the world have stopped movements to control the Coronavirus pandemic.

It would appear the government of Botswana has only done this in writing, as in practice they do the opposite.

Where pressing matters are/were to be discussed we have seen Heads of State using teleconferencing to conduct their meetings.

For instance, The East African Community has held several teleconference meetings about Covid-19 and other issues of concern.

The continental body, African Union (AU) has also been holding meetings and conducting its business, through teleconferencing facilities.

Just two weeks ago, President Masisi participated in a meeting of SADC leaders held via teleconference.

Further afield, the 46th G7 summit, which was scheduled to be held next month in Camp David, United States, will now be conducted by video conference.

It is worrisome that the President does not learn even from such a growing trend among world leaders and the global community.

We have in the recent past, communicated our displeasure on the President’s conduct of flouting with impunity the Covid-19 rules and regulations.

This continued violation of the regulations puts a strain on the efforts of officers charged with enforcing them.

Up to today, no one, not even the President himself, can adequately account for the Namibia trip save to say ‘it was for a damn good reason’.

For a Government that parrots 4IR [Fourth Industrial Revolution] at any given opportunity this is an embarrassing form of doublespeak.

We are concerned about the government’s growing reputation of saying one thing and doing the exact opposite.

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Politics

The back bench that came to the party

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The back bench that came to the party

MPs Healy, Greeff’s impressive input during (COVID 19) debate

After a successful 28 – day-extreme distancing protocol to curb the spread of the novel Corona Virus, President Mokgweetsi Masisi called another emergency parliamentary meeting this week for Members of Parliament to debate the motion on the affirmation of the Emergency Powers (COVID -19) (Amendment) (No.4) 2020 Regulations.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA followed the Boipuso Hall broadcast on national television and watched from the comfort of his home as the backbenchers put on a sterling performance.

Member of Parliament for Francistown West, Ignatius Moswaane and Mephato Reatile of Jwaneng Mabutsane were in their element as usual but it was the underdogs, Christian Greeff, of Gaborone Bonnington South and Tumisang Healy of Gaborone Central who took many by surprise with their impressive contributions to the debates.

The two have been too quiet in parliament before but below is what they said yesterday much to the delight of many.

The back bench that came to the party
CHRISTIAN GREEF

“My constituency is the most affected. Out of 15 974 households assessed, only 1 540 have been given food and this is not even 50% of the population of the constituency. The worst part is that majority of the people in places like Phase 4 and Block 9 were overlooked simply because their houses look decent. The constituency is dominated by informal sector being taxi and cab drivers, driving schools and vendors and it will be a good idea to open up for them to start their operations within COVID-19 protocols because by so doing we would offload the burden of social welfare provision from government. Our electricity tariff has also gone up and donating food only is not enough and therefore I call on the President to intervene concerning that.”

The back bench that came to the party
TUMISANG HEALY

“I am against the idea of people having to foot their own hotel quarantine bills as part of the amendments have suggested. This would be a major setback in fighting this virus because we have been doing very well so far with government catering to the needs of the sick and suspected patients. It would be best if we continue with the system that we have in place as it has given us positive results so far. Since we have been encouraging people to work from home, there should be provisions of laptops in their hampers to assist with that. I am also against the idea of food distribution but suggest that we credit money into COVID 19 debit cards for people to buy groceries for themselves.


My constituency has complied with lockdown restrictions very well so I suggest that we relax some of the restrictions a bit and allow the sale of alcohol. Bottle Stores should be allowed to trade and deliver to their clients. Alcohol is consumed by adults. I therefore expect them to be responsible to make better decisions for their own safety. Regarding the opening of businesses, it will be helpful to have Safety Health and Environment (SHE) officer to monitor and make sure that all the required procedures are adhered to. SHE officers should be the ones helping in taking temperatures of customers and making sure clients are wearing masks and keeping their hands clean. However, I thank government for recognising the disabled people and exempting them from all the COVID- 19 protocol requirements.”

The back bench that came to the party
IGNATIOUS MOSWAANE

“We have to come up with a timeline for all food hampers to be distributed. We cannot have people locked in their homes for five weeks without food and pretend that everything is going accordingly. I want to notify this house, especially Minister Molale (Local Government and Rural Development) that his officers are not giving him a true picture of what is happening on the ground. We have an acute shortage of social workers and this makes the process of assessing and distributing food very slow. Another issue that needs to be solved is the dispute between landlords and tenants as there has been no clear picture on what is going to happen during this time. Informal sector has been left out too and it is time we introduced a grant to assist small and medium enterprises to recover from the adverse effects of COVID 19.

The back bench that came to the party
MEPHATO REAETILE

“I have a problem with how the zones were demarcated because most of the workers from Jwaneng Mine commute from Kanye and it will mean applying for a permit all the time as they will be travelling from one zone to another everyday. Our President should advise landlords that by not collecting rentals, they would have contributed to the COVID-19 Fund like other businesses. I also ask that after the 8th to 15th phase of the lockdown, we must do away with zones and allow free movement.”

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