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Mokgweetsi Masisi

Botswana Parliament votes to extend emergency measures to combat virus

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Botswana has extended its state of emergency for a further six months to combat the spread of COVID-19.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi approached the national assembly during an extraordinary meeting of parliament to seek a resolution for the country to be placed under a state of emergency.

Addressing the meeting, Masisi said it is regrettable that Botswana has recently experienced an exponential rise in local transmissions after lifting movement restrictions.

“Indeed, COVID-19 has now become a national health and security threat,” said Masisi, adding that extension of the state of emergency provides a better option for safeguarding the lives of Batswana (citizens of Botswana) while controlling and containing the disease.

Mokgweetsi Masisi in parliament
President Mokgweetsi Masisi in parliament, photo by New China News Agency

Botswana will continue to restrict public gatherings but it has reopened schools and allows the sale of liquor during limited hours. Facemasks must be worn in all public places.

The government has spent nearly all of its 2 billion Botswana pula ($171 million) COVID-19 relief fund to provide wage subsidies for ailing businesses, distribution of food to needy families, and to buy medical supplies for hospitals.

Leading opposition figures criticized the extension of the state of emergency.

“Households are under severe financial strain with wages in the tourism sector cut and the wage subsidy not in place to assist them,” said Dumelang Saleshando, leader of the opposition party, the Botswana Congress Party.

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