Botswana has thus far vaccinated a meagre 20% of its eligible population against COVID-19. This is despite the country’s leadership stating on several occasions that it had procured enough vaccines to cover the entire eligible population.
“I am happy to share that Botswana has surpassed the set global standard of 10% vaccination by end of September. We will continue until all Batswana are vaccinated,” he said.
Tsogwane made the remarks following a question raised by the Member of Parliament for Selebi-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse, who had asked a question on COVID-19 and democracy in Botswana.
He wanted to know how the State of Emergency (SoE) has impacted the country’s democracy and specific impact on the rule of law and human rights.
Keorapetse had stated that according to Freedom House, an organisation that monitors the state of freedom and democracy around the world, democracy and respect of human rights have gone down in 80 countries worldwide with leaders of those countries leading alone and taking solo decisions without consultations with Parliament.
He further stated that amongst those countries citizen’s human rights are violated, there is no consultation and corruption has escalated.
Further responding to Keorapetse’s questions, Tsogwane told Parliament that the leadership needed to take action that would control the spread of the coronavirus hence the decision to impose the SoE. He stated that all such actions that were taken were in full compliance with the Constitution of Botswana.
“The severity at which COVID-19 affected the world’s most developed countries, instils lessons in us, that, had we not taken the measurements we did our people would have been decimated by the pandemic. The Public Health Act on its own would have been insufficient to facilitate appropriate action taken to safeguard and protect our people from COVID-19,” he said.
Tsogwane further admitted that COVID-19 brought about a slowdown in the world’s economy and Botswana was not spared. He stated that COVID-19 has exacerbated existing growth challenges, leading to an estimated real gross domestic product contraction of 7.9 percent in 2020, the highest on record.
The VP said the contraction reflects the impact that reduced global demand for commodities, travel restrictions and social distancing measures have had on output in key production and export sectors including the diamond industry and tourism.
“It is evident with the downturn of the global economy that had we not put the measures we chose even our public finances would not have been adequate to deal with the pandemic at its peak. Even though we are affected, the pandemic did not have any impact on Botswana’s democracy,” he said.
Moreover, Tsogwane added that the Constitution of Botswana provides a clear mechanism for emergencies like COVID-19. He stated that the country’s democracy, rule of law and human rights credentials continue to get better even during the pandemic.
“The World Justice Project has ranked Botswana number 43 out of 128 countries, an upward movement of 0.60% in their rule of law index of 2020. There are 11 council wards out of 609, with a 1.8% vacancy since the 2019 General Elections. The by-elections to fill the vacancies will be held once the COVID-19 situation abates in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act,” he said.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi, however, when giving his National Address on COVID-19 on Friday said: “I am happy to inform you that to date, the country has managed to fully vaccinate 21.6% of the currently eligible population of about 1,531,000 people.” “One million, nine thousand, nine hundred, nine hundred and seventy-four (1,009,974) doses, comprising Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna are expected to be delivered during September. This number includes the 404,494 doses of Sinovac due to arrive this Sunday (September 5, 2021),” he further said,
“The total number of vaccines expected this month together with those that have been received so far will mean that by the end of this October, 975,782 Batswana will be fully vaccinated translating into 64% of the target population being fully vaccinated.”