The Alliance for Progressives – AP – has noted with concern, communication from the Foreign Affairs ministry that the President will on Tuesday travel to Zimbabwe, to participate in a meeting of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense and Security.
Governments all over the World have stopped movements to control the coronavirus pandemic. It would appear the government of Botswana has only done this in writing, as in practice they do the opposite.
Where pressing matters are/were to be discussed we have seen Heads of State using teleconferencing to conduct their meetings. For instance, The East African Community has held several teleconference meetings about COVID-19 and other issues of concern. The continental body, African Union (AU) has also been holding meetings and conducting its business, through teleconferencing facilities.
Just two weeks ago, President Masisi participated in a meeting of SADC leaders held via teleconference. Further afield, the 46th G7 summit, which was scheduled to be held next month in Camp David, United States, will now be conducted by video conference. It is worrisome, that the President does not learn even from such a growing trend among world leaders and the global community.
We have in the recent past, communicated our displeasure on the President’s conduct of flouting with impunity the COVID-19 rules and regulations. This continued violation of the regulations puts a strain on the efforts of officers charged with enforcing them. Up to today no one, not even the President himself can adequately account for the Namibia trip save to say “it was for a damn good reason”. For a Government that parrots 4IR at any given opportunity this is an embarrassing form of doublespeak. We are concerned about the government's growing reputation of saying one thing and doing the exact opposite.
The acting Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Health and Wellness has assured the nation that the president will be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon his return. However, this does not in any way take away from the fact that he is reneging on the regulations that have been put in place, and is neither providing leadership nor leading by example.
We reiterate our view that we cannot continue to live on two sets of rules: those for the President and the ruling elite and those for the rest of us. We urge the president to reconsider this risky trip and opt for a teleconference instead.
Notwithstanding the above concerns, the AP wishes to urge the nation to continue their disciplined adherence to health protocols in order to minimize the spread of the deadly virus and curve a path towards opening the economy.
Phenyo Butale (PhD)