Botswana Members of Parliament Exposed to Covid-19

All who attended the special parliamentary meeting to go on a 14-day quarantine

The ongoing Special Parliamentary meeting in Botswana in which President Mokgweetsi Masisi is seeking extension of the State of Emergency to 6 months in response to covid-19, has been exposed to the virus. This was revealed on the second day of the meeting when the Health minister Dr Lemogang Kwape announced 7 new coronavirus confirmed cases, bring the total number of cases in Botswana to 13.

He revealed that one of the 7 new cases is a nurse who was responsible for screening Members of Parliament on Wednesday at the start of the parliamentary sitting. The results came later in the night of the same day showing a positive test.

The announcement during the general assembly morning by health officials meant that all who attended the meeting have to go into quarantine for 14 days owing to their casual contact with the nurse. This includes all the 64 MPs, including the Speaker, President Maisisi, members of the media and senior government officials.

The Parliamentary Sitting, which Masisi sought to endorse his 6-month State of Emergency proposal was engaged on debates since Wednesday. It is clear Masisi will get the 6 months he needs as members of the ruling BDP have thrown behind their leader, supporting the proposal. The opposition has on the other side called for a shorter period, of 28 days.

Leader of opposition in Parliament, Dumelang Saleshando argued that the Public Health Act was sufficient an instrument to be used by government to fight the virus through extreme social distancing. Saleshando is of the view that the length of the lockdown, coupled with the 28 days sate of emergency, can always be extended if it clear much has not been achieved in containing the virus.

The opposition has also expressed that they are uncomfortable with entrusting absolute powers on the President for 6 months as this would be a recipe for corruption and violation of people’s rights.

Masisi has however expressed in his address to the special parliamentary meeting that he seeks the 6 months State of Emergency for 6 months for the sole purpose of the corona virus. The debate on the matter is ongoing and voting is expected be done on Thursday to conclude on the decision of parliament whether the state of emergency is extended to 6 months.

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