Masisi's Independence message

President Mokgweetsi Masisi PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
President Mokgweetsi Masisi PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES

Dumela Batswana betsho ka Pula! Today we celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Independence not with pomp and  ceremony as we have always done prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The year 2021 was the worst year for almost every nation as many people lost their lives to the pandemic.



Hopefully, 2022 will be a better year. As I indicated last year during the 54th Anniversary celebrations of our independence, there was no other option, but to remain optimistic about the future. My Government had resolved to fight COVID-19 with resources at its disposal.




Thus, as I promised in the Reset Agenda which was announced in May 2021, the top priority for my Government is to roll-out a robust national vaccination programme throughout Botswana that will cover all those eligible for vaccination.



Despite the challenges we have encountered in acquiring the vaccines due to global shortage, Botswana is one of Africa’s top countries which have so far fulfilled the World Health Organisation target of vaccinating at least 10 percent of the eligible population. My Government’s plan is to vaccinate at least 64 percent of our population by December 2021.



There is clear evidence that the vaccines are working as expected and our national vaccination strategy is effective as the national roll-out programme has reached both urban and rural areas, including those in the remote areas, demonstrating equity in the distribution of vaccines across the country.



In the months of August and September, Botswana has also witnessed a drop-in hospitalization of people with COVID-19 and a reduction in the number of deaths. We hope that this trend will hold for the rest of the year and beyond especially as we continue to receive significant doses of COVID-19 vaccines.



The improvement in the COVID-19 situation that we are experiencing has made the reopening of the economy possible. It is on the basis of the improvements that I have found it befitting to opt for the exit from the State of Public Emergency, which coincidentally ends on our National Day.



However, I want to caution you that the end of the State of Public Emergency and the administration of the vaccinations is not the end of the pandemic. COVID-19 is still alive.



I therefore, urge you to follow the health protocols that have been laid down under various legislations, as this is the only way of ensuring that we protect ourselves and our loved ones.





Bagaetsho, as you may be aware, the year 2020/21 has been declared a non-drought year, the prevailing poverty levels, aggravated by the adverse effects of COVID-19, present a risk of possible deterioration of the nutritional status of some groups, especially children across the country.



To this end, since June 2021, we have implemented relief and assistance measures which include; intensifying and accelerating fodder production in Botswana, as part of drought preparedness and mitigation; provision of universal Supplementary Feeding at all primary schools and health facilities, and provision of blanket supplementary feeding for children aged 6 to 59 months residing in areas with high rates of malnutrition.



Moreover, a new transformative food production strategy which will replace the Integrated Support Programme for Arable agriculture (ISPAAD) will be operational from the next financial year.



The new programme is an efficient, cost effective and sustainable arable farming platform which will, among others, promote inclusivity in agricultural production and improve social capital base. This is yet another promise that we made prior to the 2019 General Election, when we made an undertaking that

Government will enhance agricultural productivity and improve food security in the country.



In this regard, I encourage farmers to prepare themselves well in advance to benefit from the envisaged programme. Let me assure you that once modalities of the programme have been concluded, the nation will be provided with details.



I hope that the programmes I have highlighted in this message are intended as conduit to help boost people’s livelihoods, businesses and lead to full economic recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19.



In conclusion, I wish you all a happy 55th anniversary celebrations of independence and please continue adhering to the health protocols of social distancing, washing your hands frequently and wearing your masks properly in public.



May God bless and keep you all.





PULA!

Editor's Comment
Everyone should be on high alert

Close to half a million people in the country have been fully vaccinated while over 800,000 have received their first doses. Botswana has tackled tough hurdles, but the race is far from over.Batswana are gearing up for the holidays and there will be a lot of movement across the country and outside the country. Social gatherings are back in full force and now more than ever, people should observe COVID-19 protocols.Our neighbouring country South...

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