Botswana opposition fears Covid-19 funds will be looted during state of emergency
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RUSTENBURG - Botswana's opposition leader Dumelang Saleshando accused the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) of not giving reasons for the state of public emergency to last for six months.
He said state coffers would be looted during the state of emergency, claiming that already he was in possession of relatives of BDP members including President Mokgweetsi Masisi's benefiting from Covid-19 procurement without tendering.
"This will enable the president to give tenders to his party members without being questioned. We will request for a commission of inquiry of the Covid-19 money on how it was used. I want to tell you that you will be the one to answer," he said in a televised parliamentary debate.
Vice president Slumber Tsogwane said the declaration of state of public emergency in Botswana was necessary for the purpose of taking appropriate and stringent measures to address the risks posed by Covid-19.
Presenting a motion on the endorsement of the state of public emergency, Tsogwane said Botswana was grappling with the rising number of confirmed cases.
"Currently standing at six, therefore there is urgent and necessary steps that need to be taken in order to protect Batswana from the virus."
He said the Covid-19 threat in Botswana was being escalated by the fact that neighbouring countries have seen a rapid rise in confirmed cases.
The government of Botswana said that a six months declaration of emergency would accord sufficient time to allow the marshalling of what was needed to succeed in the fight against Covid-19
"If we are able to do that within a shorter time, the proclamation declaring the state of public emergency will be revoked," he said.
In a televised media briefing on Tuesday, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the state of emergency may not last six months.
"I personaly gave assurance to the leaders of parties that part took in the 2019 election... of my complete commitment to stick to the intention of the constitution and my willingness and desire to uplift the state of emergency the very minute the experts who know how best to manage this pandemic inform that we no longer need those powers to be applied to manage what remains.
"The state of emergency may not need to last six months and I hope it does not because states of emergency are distruptive by their own nature," he said.
Parliament debate continues on Thursday, and a decision on whether the state of emergency is extended or rejected.
Masisi declared a state of emergency for 28 days and was seeking parliament to endorse the state of emergency to last for six months.
Botswana has recorded six confirmed Covid-19 cases and one death.
Covid-19 was first recorded in the Wuhan the capital of Central China’s Hubei province in December of 2019.
It has spill over to other parts of the world and so far there were almost 1.5 million confirmed cases worldwide with over 87,000 deaths and over 320,000 recoveries.