The Leader of Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando says the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is cagey with reasons why the country needs a State of Public Emergency lasting for six (6) months. When addressing the media after the Parliament General Assembly, Saleshando said opposition finds it hard to support President Mokgweetsi Masisi's request that Parliament endorse his decision for a six months State of Emergency.
Saleshando who is also Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Vice President argued that at this point there is no need for a state of emergency as government can impose total shutdown. Saleshando advanced the same reasons in a special meeting of Parliament on Wednesday. "The Director of Health Services has told us that he has such powers. We have fears that giving the President such powers might lead to the President abusing them.
"As MPs we cannot give away our powers to the president. We as MPs support the president in his efforts to fight COVID-19, but we are saying let us explore other ways other than the State of Emergency.”
The MP further said, "We have countries like Mauritius and South Africa who have a similar situation and laws like us but have not declared a State of Emergency but have resorted to total lockdown.
"Namibia has opted for State of Emergency because they have no other pieces of legislation other than that for state of emergency. "So we are not yet there and we are not told why state of emergency is necessary and the need for six months where all powers will be vested on the president".
Saleshando said as Parliament they are prepared to support the president in the fight against COVID-19. He said they could tell parliament how much he needs to fight COVID-19 and if convinced they will give him the money. "He can for instance say I need to have medical doctors who were fighting the virus in China and we will gladly give him the go ahead," said Saleshando who is also MP for Maun West.
According to Saleshando they are open to further discuss the issues with the country leadership. He explained that he has requested to meet with Vice President Slumber Tsogwane and if possible President Masisi so that he could appreciate why the president is pushing for six months state of the nation against total lockdown.
On the UDC’s non-participation at all party leaders meeting on Monday, Saleshando said there was never an invitation extended to his party. Saleshando said contrary to claims by BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi that Director of Health Services has no powers to mobilise law enforcement officers such as BDF, the President as Commander in Chief of the BDF can indeed call them at any time and would not seek anyone's permission.
He revealed that even the UDC leader Duma Boko pointed out that he did not get the invite. He accused President Masisi and his administration of taking advantage of the situation for political mileage. On Wednesday Saleshando accused the BDP leadership of using the State of Public Emergency to enrich themselves.