The declaration comes after Botswana confirmed 3 positive cases of the deadly corona virus on Monday.
Masisi urged the people of Botswana to exercise extreme social distancing during the period of the State of Emergency.
Read the full message below:
Last night Botswana confirmed with regret (3) cases of the COVID-19 virus. 2.I have been monitoring closely, the situation with keen interest and it has become apparent that urgent and necessary steps need to be taken to protect our country and its people from this deadly virus.
The threat to Botswana has escalated considerably in view of the fact that our neighbouring countries have seen a rapid rise in confirmed cases, some of which have resulted in fatalities.
The other challenge is the low rate of testing of suspected cases in Botswana and cumbersome health protocols. The return of some of our citizens and residents from high risk countries has also escalated the threat of the virus in our country.
Therefore, after consultations with relevant stakeholders it has become clear to me that it is necessary to declare a State of Public Emergency for the purpose of taking appropriate and stringent measures to address the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Section 17 of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana empowers the President to declare a State of Emergency at any time. Where the President declares a state of emergency when Parliament is not sitting, such state of emergency ceases after 21 days.
I have considered that proceeding in this manner would not allow for consultation and buy-in across the political spectrum because this pandemic knows no political boundaries.
I have also considered that 21 days would not be sufficient to employ the necessary measures to fight this pandemic.
Bagaetsho, as a result, in terms of the powers vested in me under section 17(1) of the Constitution, I, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana, do hereby declare that a state of public emergency shall exist from midnight on 2nd April, 2020 until further notice.
I have also decided to summon a meeting of Parliament at which meeting I will seek a resolution of Parliament for the state of emergency to continue for a longer period.
Whilst the state of emergency is in place, there shall also be extreme social distancing commencing on 2nd April 2020 at midnight, for a period of twenty-eight (28) days. This decision was by no means taken lightly
During this period of extreme lockdown all individuals across the country will be expected to adhere to a more severe form of social distancing where movement out of the home is only restricted to those performing essential services and transporting essential goods. Those involved will be permitted to travel using the COVID-19 TRAVEL PERMIT that will be issued by Government.
Section 3 of the Emergency Powers Act (Cap. 22:04) empowers the President to make emergency regulations. 14.Under the Emergency Powers Act, the President can make such regulations as appear to him to be necessary or expedient for amongst others; securing the public safety and the defence of the Republic, the maintenance of public order, and for maintaining supplies and services essential to the lives of the people as well as effective management of COVID-19.