Cabinet, Task Force divided over tough COVID restrictions at Christmas

While the Task Force has advised the President for strict measures, ministers hold that now is the worst time for such restrictions and fear a public backlash but BDP chief whip Kablay wants nothing less than another state of emergency.
Staff Writer LETLHOGILE MPUANG reports

President Mokgweetsi Masisi is reportedly torn between advice of the COVID-19 Task Force for tough measures to reign in the spread of COVID-19 and his ministers against doing so for fear of a public backlash in the festive season, The Botswana Gazette has established.

Although the government has managed to have more than 50 percent of its eligible citizens and residents vaccinated, the current spike in infections means Botswana could be on the threshold of a fourth wave of the pandemic.

According impeccable sources, the Task Force has recommended stricter and tougher restrictions that include curbs on travelling and social gatherings.

The Chief Whip of the parliamentary BDP, Liakat Kablay, has told The Gazette that the government is keeping a close watch on developments and is on the lookout for a fourth wave.

“They have told us that they are monitoring the situation but once the cases get out of control, there will definitely be an intervention,” Kablay said Kablay, who is the MP for Lephephe-Letlhakeng, believes reinstatement of the State of Emergence is called for because available legal instruments cannot achieve the goal of controlling an upsurge of new cases. “Are we supposed to be focusing on businesses when cases are increasing at this rate? We need the government to act and save people’s lives,” he said.

But there are fears of a public backlash if stricter measures are enforced in the course of the holiday season. “It is a very tough decision that the government must make here,” said one minister.

Sources say because of these fears, if restrictions are introduced, it is likely to be after several bye-elections that are taking place over the weekend.

Botswana only exited an 18-month long State of Emergency on 1st October 2021.