Umbrella For Democratic Change (UDC) along with Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) in Parliament will be challenging the State of Emergency that is scheduled to come to an end in October. The State of Emergency (SoE was since enacted in April to help tackle the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Suspended Leader of Opposition Dumelang Saleshando addressing the media last week on the UDC weekly alternative view forum, said that the SoE has no relevance to the fight against against the virus. He noted that the SoE has rather relegated to being a facilitator for push for corruption.
“A lot of people are saying that the State of Emergency is relevant because jobs are lost, but that is some fake job security there because there are some companies who are not operational and they have no money injection. What then should they do? Should the continue with paying employees without any income?” Saleshando. During State of Emergency the president is given absolute powers.
Government can impose actions that it would normally not be permitted to do. Some rights and freedoms may be suspended during that period. Under Botswana law, this must last for 21 days however Parliament has since granted a six months State of Emergency. UDC Member and Palapye member of Parliament Onneetse Ramogapi has since lashed the relevance of the SoE.
“State of Emergency is not relevant to fight COVID-19, what we actually need was the Public Health Act, we just need to use the Act against the virus. Even if you can ask the President or the Health Minister, they cannot tell you why the State of Emergency had to be enacted. There is no one who justifies its relevance. What we see is just abuse of power, it is gaining power because under SoE any law can be made by the President. We have seen how people were harassed around Botshabelo. Even you media carried reports that in Letlhakeng one young person was flogged, this is what we have seen under SoE, there was no need to use it at all,”Ramogapi said in an interview.
Meanwhile acting opposition whip Baratiwa Mathoothe said that he belied three months was enough, there still remains no answer on why it had to be put in place.”The only thing that I have heard so far around SoE is that Honorable Mzwinila has gained ability to pass tenders that are aimed at helping Batswana with water,” Mathoothe. He said that the SoE should be lifted and that the Public Health Act should be amended. Botswana is currently standing at over 700 confirmed cases.