from ODIRILE TOTENG in Gaborone, Botswana
GABORONE, (CAJ News) – BOTSWANA is marking its 55th independence anniversary amid hopes of economic resuscitation, food security and tackling the coronavirus.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi raised the nation’s hopes during an address on Thursday, when he described 2021 as “the worst year for almost every nation” because of the pandemic.
“Hopefully, 2022 will be a better year,” he said.
Botswana has recorded 178 050 COVID-19 cases, including 2 367 deaths.
It is the 11th worst outbreak in Africa, in terms of caseload.
The Southern African country plans to vaccinate at least 64 percent of its population of 2,4 million 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,” Masisi said.
He said the improvement in the COVID-19 situation made the reopening of the economy possible.
Botswana has declared 2020/21 a non-drought year.
A food production strategy to 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,” Masisi assured.
The International Monetary Fund projects the Botswana economy to grow by 7,5 percent this year.
Previously known as Bechuanaland, Botswana gained independence from Britain on September 30, 1966 under the leadership of Seretse Khama.
It is hailed as one of the continent’s most stable countries.
Masisi is the fifth president.
The United States congratulated Botswana on its independence milestone.
“In the spirit of friendship, partnership, and cooperation, we send best wishes on this important day,” Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, said.
– CAJ News