- Says the move would be an extension of heightened and serious looting
- Widespread reckless behaviour have prompted calls for re-instatement of SoE
The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has warned the government not to re-introduce the State of Emergency (SoE) because doing so would amount to extension of heightened and serious looting.
The UDC’s warning comes after calls from sections of society for a return to SoE after widespread violation of COVID-19 protocols during the Independence holidays, many of which were publicised in the press and on social media.
The last day of September marked the end of 18 months of Botswana’s state of emergency that had been in force for six months at a time amid strident demands against it by the opposition.
While some sections of society are calling for a return to SOE because of fears of reckless behaviour that precipitates infection, especially by tipplers at bars and revellers at venues of entertainment, the UDC has warned the government against heeding these calls.
In a statement released by spokesman Moeti Mohwasa, the UDC says while some calls to re-introduce SoE are reasonable, another section of the public is influenced by a sense of nostalgia and that a re-introduction of SoE would be an extension of heightened and serious looting.
“It is well known that the BDP government has conceptual agility challenges,” the statement says. “Its response to the pandemic has been embarrassing, uninspiring, disjointed and unconvincing. The truth is that SoE has caused so much devastation to the economy. The government failed to come up with adequate programmes to help SMMEs and the economically vulnerable during the period.”
“As we had long warned, SoE was used to create a wall behind which looting took place. The pockets of the highly connected were lined. We knew that this would be the result as our country lacks independent structures that can stare down obdurate political actors and their associates who abuse state resources.”
The UDC argues that past initiatives to fight COVID-19 lacked citizen involvement and there was no transparency. “It cannot be for us without us (because) at the end of the day it is about our lives,” it says in the statement. “Ensuring public participation and involvement invokes by-in and responsibility on the side of the citizenry.”
Meanwhile, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC) registered 69 COVID-19 related cases between April 2020 and May this year. Speaking before the Parliamentary Committee on Governance and Oversight , the head of the agency for busting corruption, Tymon Katlholo, decried the organization’s lack of independence and appealed to the committee for political support for change.
“There is need for political support and political will from all spheres of power to ensure independence,” Katholo said. “Such political will and support is anchored through laws (to) give the agency extensive powers to investigate (for) effective enforcement.”
The Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Edwin Dikoloti, declined to take questions from The Botswana Gazette while presidential affairs minister Kabo Morwaeng said he was in meetings.