GABORONE – Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi has gone into self-quarantine following his return from Namibia where he attended the inauguration of Hage Geingob over the weekend.
Presidential spokesperson Andrew Sesinyi on Sunday confirmed the Botswana leader would work from his official residence, isolated from his family.
Members of his entourage who accompanied him on the trip will respect the same restrictions.
Namibia has registered just three “imported cases, and is considered low risk for COVID-19 transmission,” Mr Sesinyi said.
He further said there was a “high probability of undetermined local transmission” because of the low rates of testing in southern Africa.
Botswana is one of the few African countries that has not yet officially recorded a single coronavirus case, as continental numbers rose to more than 1,000 cases at the weekend.
In an effort to limit the spread of the virus to the diamond-rich country, President Masisi last week suspended all external trips by public officers.
However, the Botswana government justified the Namibia visit, calling it an “emergency official” trip for face-to-face talks with his counterparts to discuss “urgent border matters” in light of the Coronavirus outbreak.
President Masisi was heavily criticised for the move.
Prominent human rights lawyer Uyapo Ndadi wrote on his Facebook timeline: “No one is immune from Coronavirus, we must all suspend our travel abroad. I am disturbed that His Excellency found it fit to go against what his government is preaching against. He is said to be attending a public event in Namibia. We can’t afford to quarantine our President in this time of need. We need his leadership, and must be exemplary.”
Some people who commented on the post described the move as “very irresponsible and careless”.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Angola’s President Joao Lourenco also attended the ceremony in Namibia despite having declared strict travel restrictions in their countries.
The ceremony, at the presidential palace, was attended by several hundred other guests despite official restrictions on public gatherings to a maximum of 50 people.Meanwhile, South Africa on Sunday announced the number of confirmed cases was now 270.President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation on Monday on additional measures aimed at combating the outbreak.