The Republic of Botswana led by His Excellency Mokgweetsi Masisi is celebrating anniversary of Independence day.
Botswana became free from colonial rule on 30th September 1996.
Masisi has addressed the nation as Zambians celebrate the day when they gained power from the colonizers.
“Batswana betsho ke le dumedisa ka PULA!
Today we celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Independence not with pomp and ceremony as we have always done before 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 plans 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 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 based on 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 that 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 the social capital base. This is yet another promise that we made before 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 conduits 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 safe,” he said.