Written by By Staff Writer, CNN London
Botswana’s head of state called on the country’s citizens to resist all forms of violence and to rise up against bans that are unacceptable, inhumane and demeaning.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi said that “enough is enough” and that Bans are unfair to people and damaging to Botswana’s tourism industry.
Botswana is a small but prosperous African country that attracts more than 5 million visitors a year.
“There is no place for these embargoes, let me make that abundantly clear,” Masisi said while giving a speech at the end of the Landscape Tourism Awards on Tuesday.
Botswana is a small but prosperous African country that attracts more than 5 million visitors a year. The city of Gaborone is known for its National Botanical Garden and large, three-horned antelope known as the gazelle.
Masisi was responding to recent bans, which he said are inspired by “the political, economic and financial leverage of certain countries,” and can put “people’s livelihoods at risk.”
He referred to the hot-button issue of a ban on local firm Gebna Mashaba Gaborone Limited on importing domestic Botswana livestock and poultry, and the ban on transport services by Botswana – local or foreign – of cows and other dairy products.
“The fact is that there is no evidence of Botswana importing infected cows,” he said. “This ban is inexplicable and reminds us of the days of cowards imposing cow bans.”
The newly elected president said that the ban, with so many other mechanisms available, is an “absolute abuse of power.”
The import ban on domestic Batswana livestock was introduced by the then Minister of Water and Sanitation in February in response to the salmonella outbreak that affected 2,370 cows and more than 2,400 sheep and goats, according to the Botswana Food and Drug Authority.
Cattle and goats are pictured in a backyard in Botswana.
Cows and goats are pictured in a backyard in Botswana.
The World Trade Organization said in a letter in April to the government that the ban was “discriminatory and violated key WTO obligations.”
Masisi acknowledged that bans can have negative effects, especially if they affect the livelihoods of thousands of people, but said such cases “are inexcusable.”
“People should be able to do business wherever they are,” he said. “What we should have a great debate about is the way people choose to live their lives and what happens to them when the money stops coming in. Should we be outlawing what does not work for Botswana?”
The country’s minister of water and sanitation, Matt Phiri, told CNN earlier this month that the ban on import of Batswana cattle was imposed after samples of beef from exports of Batswana livestock were found to be laced with salmonella bacteria in 2012.
The ban was immediately lifted. The government also runs a milk subsidy program for vulnerable households.