President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has called Members of Parliament to an emergency meeting of Parliament to discuss the possibility of extending the State of Emergency (SoE).
Botswana has been on SoE, which came into effect in April to fight the spread of Coronavirus. The current SoE is set to end in October 2020.
Neighbouring countries had also made such declarations with regard to Coronavirus, after it was declared a global pandemic. However, some governments are slowly moving towards lifting the SoEs in their countries as the Coronavirus spread slows down.
In essence, the SoE suspends certain laws to allow Parliament to create new ones suitable for the task at hand and controlling the public. This means during this period, some of the human rights are limited.
The big question on everyone’s mind is do we need it? There have been some divisions amongst quarters of the society as to whether the SoE should be extended or not.
While the political opposition block, some civil societies and trade unions have voiced their displeasure at the consideration of extending the SoE, it is important that the issue is debated thoroughly. We know the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wants it. They should be clear as to how it will benefit to carry on under that state.
Before concluding on whether to extend or not,
Although the SoE has helped the country achieve some commendable results in the fight against the COVID-19, there have been also allegations of corruption as authorities seized the opportunity to loot.
The SoE is also meant to protect workers against unfair dismissal by employees. Government was also able to inject billions to cushion Batswana against the pandemic.
Despite all this, some companies also took advantage of the SoE regulations to mistreat their workers since the SoE had taken away the workers’ rights to industrial action.
There are a lot of the goods and the bad to look at before deciding on what to do. MPs should go into the emergency meeting with open minds, and debate putting forward the interests of the nation.
It’s only recent that Botswana is experiencing a surge in the number of Coronavirus cases. This could suggest that the necessity to extend the SoE.
We urge the emergency House to put away the party colours and think of ‘us’ first.
“There is nothing so strong or safe in an emergency of life as the simple truth”
– Charles Dickens