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How to push back against a national vaccine mandate

Lessons learnt from the Botswana mandatory vaccination court case

MANDATORY VACCINATION VICTORY IN BOTSWANA — ACTIVE CITIZENRY WINS!

Today, Friday 18 March has been a day of victories for all those who stood against mandatory vaccinations, thanks to courageous people who stood up in Botswana and South Africa. Here are some key lessons learnt from the battles against mandatory vaccination against the Botswana government

Background

On 3 February , 2022, I received a letter from one of the leaders of the Botswana Truth and Freedom group to join a group called Botswana Truth & Freedom, and to provide assistance to them in their fight against mandatory vaccination, as Botswana had begun to implement a mandatory vaccination policy.

President Mokgweetsi’s pledge to the nation and the world

In May 2021, President Mokgweetsi Masisi gave an interview to CNN anchor Zain Asher. He also later gave an interview to BBC. In both interviews he pledged to abstain from implementing mandatory vaccinations in Botswana. His reasoning was sound and based on democratic and sound rule of law principles. He referred to the rights of individuals and to their constitutional rights in particular. It was a shock, therefore, to see Botswana implement an aggressive mandatory vaccination policy on 11 February 2022.

One of the reasons President Masisi advanced for the roll out of a mandatory vaccination policy was that vaccines, which had been sourced from abroad, were expiring in April 2022. Expiration of vaccines, however can never be a compelling reason for infringing on fundamental and key constitutional rights.

Minister of Health – Edwin Dikoloti (WHO Board Member)

On 11 February, the Botswana Minister of Health and Wellness, Edwin Dikoloti, who also functions as a WHO Executive Board member, issued a gazetted notice which made mandatory vaccinations mandatory. The gazette notice required every person, regardless of nationality to be vaccinated or to vaccinate on entry. Botswana citizens who were found to be unvaccinated would also be fined P5,000. Initially, there was great confusion and lack of clarity regarding the purpose and mandate of the gazette as it had been very badly drafted. The Ministry of Health and Wellness had to release several follow up notices to try to give clarity to the intention of the gazette.

There were some critical and very useful lessons learnt from Botswana’s attempted rollout of mandatory vaccines.

We encourage other nations to take some key “lessons learnt”:

LESSON ONEENGAGE GOD

Prayers for Botswana had been ongoing for the past few months.One of the groups praying against mandatory vaccinations in Botswana is a clubhouse group that I am privileged to lead called Weekend prayers. This is a group of over 200 prayer warriors and intercessors from over 7 nations that has been consistently praying for Botswana. Before Cabinet formally convened to discuss the issue of mandatory vaccinations, a team of intercessors in Botswana was requested to pray at the Tlokweng border gate using Psalms 24:1 and declare that Botswana belongs to God and concluding with Psalms 24:7 – 10 and Psalms 97:2. They did so on Sunday Feb 20 at 6pm.

LESSON TWO: ENGAGE PARLIAMENT

After receiving notification of the gazettement, I contacted a number of the Botswana members of parliament. Of all the MP’s contacted, Opposition Leader and MP Dumelang Saleshando was the only one who responded swiftly and decisively. Of great concern to him was the fact that Members of Parliament had not been consulted. This was puzzling as Botswana lifted their state of public emergency on 1 October 2021. There was no valid justification, therefore, to unilaterally impose this gazettement and to omit consultation and engagement with other parliamentarians. 

MP and leader of the Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando raised four critical questions in Parliament. The questions he asked of the Minister of Health and Wellness were as follows:

  • why a 72-hour negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test result is not sufficient to allow for entry into Botswana as is the case with all our neighbours;
  • if he is aware that the world is focused on lifting restrictions associated with COVID-19 to allow for more unrestricted movement of persons and goods; and state why Botswana is opting for more restrictions;
  • if the Ministry had considered the negative impact that the new restrictions would have on tourism and state the measures in place to avert cancellations by inbound tourists and if there have indeed been such cancellations; and
  • state the impact of the restrictions on the transportation of goods into Botswana by unvaccinated truck drivers who had a negative PCR COVID-19 test result.

These questions provoked an investigative process that culminated in the abolishment of the Botswana governments border mandatory vaccination policy.

Lesson learnt: Look for conscientised members of Parliament in your areas, and mobilise and engage them to support your cause and help to raise and represent the matter in Parliament.

LESSON THREE: TAKE LEGAL ACTION

DIKELEDI DINGAKE COURT CASE

On 24 February, a rule nisi order before Justice Maphakwane was granted in favour of Dikeledi Phoo Dingake against the Attorney General of Botswana, the Minister of Health and Wellness (Edwin Dikoloti), the Director of Health Services and the Director of Immigration. The rule nisi was returnable on 28 February 2022 and was to:

  1. authorise the applicants entry into Botswana subject to a valid PCR test with a negative result
  2. restrain the Respondents from interfering with the Applicants entry into Botswana
  3. declare the Public Health (prevention or introduction of Spread of COVID-19, order 2022) order published and gazetted by the Minister of Health on February 11 to not make vaccination mandatory

Before the rule nisi could be made into a final order on 28 February 2022, the Minister of Health made slight amendments to the gazettement. These amendments had the effect of retaining mandatory vaccination as a policy but rendered the High court order obsolete.

Other court actions are currently being lodged for adverse effects suffered by various individuals and forced vaccinations.

Lesson Learnt: Mobilise lawyers and the legal fraternity to help you draft and lodge legal actions in respect of unconstitutional mandatory vaccination policies.

LESSON FOUR: ENGAGE KEY STAKEHOLDERS

HATAB (Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana) and Botswana Tourism Organisation

Tourism is a key income earner for Botswana and this sector in Botswana was hard hit and badly impacted by the Government Gazette of 11 February 2022 within a few short weeks.

The introduction of the port of entry vaccination protocols saw the tourism sector experience cancellations worth approximately P110, 000, 000.00 in a span of just two weeks.

After a nation wide call was made by the public and parliamentarians for the review of the latest COVID protocols to the Ministry of Health & Wellness (MoHW) a meeting was arranged with stakeholders. The tourism sector representatives on 8 March 2022 met with the MoHW on 21 February 2022 and suggested the following proposed revisions:

(I) That the mandatory vaccination at port of entry be removed from the entry requirements;

(II) That PCR test results of less than 72hours be the only requirement for entry into the country for those unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. This could be followed with a compulsory PCR or Rapid Test at entry;

(III) That those fully vaccinated be exempted from PCR test provided there is proof of full vaccination and to undertake a rapid test after three days of stay in the Country at own cost;

(IV) The requirements to exempt persons under the age of 12 years.

Preliminary feedback from the Permanent Secretary MoHW on 15 March 2022 indicated that cabinet has acceded to the request for revisions and the final document would be gazetted on 18 March 2022. That gazettement was effected today on Friday 18 March, 2022

Lesson learnt: Look for and mobilise key government and private stakeholder who can provide verifiable evidence on the negative effect and impact of mandatory vaccinations to the citizens, economy and overall well being of the nation.

LESSON FIVE: ENGAGE AND MOBILISE CITIZENS

Active citizens are those members of society who take charge of their future and destiny by participating in the economic, social and political structures, processes and activities in their communities. They are empowered people who value transparency and know their rights and what they are entitled to because they are intentionally informed. They have the necessary information to make meaningful decisions that will positively influence their communities. In Botswana a group of concerned citizens formed a group called Botswana Truth & Freedom mobilised a group of 423 active citizens to challenge the government on its mandatory vaccination stance. The group also provided useful information and acted as useful resource and support to those who did not want to vaccinate and to those who suffered adverse effects from the vaccine. This group will remain active and will take on other concerning issues that have the potential to impact on citizens negatively.

Lesson learnt: Look for and mobilise concerned citizens into groups that can educate & sensitive the public and take agreed actions to push back unconstitutional governmental actions.

WAY FORWARD – BOTSWANA

Going forward, Botswana needs to do away with all COVID protocols like the UK and many other nations. Botswana has far fewer cases than many of the European nations that have discarded all COVID protocols. It is time to ditch the COVID protocols!

DROP THE MASKS

Masks provide little, if any protection, and have been shown to actually cause harm. More information can be sourced from the World Council of Health website. Masks are harmful to adults, and even more harmful to children.

ABANDON PCR TESTING

The UK has now stopped compulsory testing for COVID-19 on entry. It is time for other nations to follow suit. To begin with, PCR tests are not 100% accurate. Some are known to give false positives and therefore cannot be completely relied on. The tests are invasive and taxing on the body and should be eliminated.

STOP THE VAX!

Botswana needs to abandon the vaccination policy. It’s immediate neighbour, South Africa, has reached herd immunity of between 60 – 80%. In all likelihood, Botswana has the same level of herd immunity. Natural immunity has been scientifically proven to far outweigh any alleged efficacy of vaccine induced immunity. Vaccines have failed to respond to certain variants such as Omicron. Forceful and mandatory vaccination policies must be immediately stopped, especially those pertaining to children. Adverse effects are increasingly being reported with cases of myocarditis and blood clots on the rise.

Forceful vaccination of children

I have received numerous complaints of children being forcefully vaccinated at schools in Botswana without their parents consent. This practise must stop immediately as it is an extreme violation of constitutional rights. RIghts to bodily and physiological and psychological integrity are inalienable rights which must be respected. Informed consent cannot be done away with! The Botswana Government cannot willy nilly and forcefully vaccinate children without their consent or their parents consent. Only authoritarian, dictatorial and totalitarian governments will engage in such conduct. Botswana, being the poster child for good governance, rule of law and democracy must never engage in such conduct. Furthermore forcefully vaccinating children is uncalled for, as they have an extremely high immunity and very low chances of contracting COVID-19.

JUSTICE FOR BONGANI

South African rappers, Siyabonga ‘Slikour’ Metane’s driver, Bongani Mbonani, was admitted to Princess Marina Hospital with brain complications after taking the Covid-19 booster shot. According to the event organizer, Carnido, Bongani complained of head pains and collapsed after taking the jab. He was rushed to Princess Marina hospital and was admitted in a private ICU ward, where he later fell into a coma and passed away on the evening of Thursday 17 March. At this stage, all indications point to the jab as a possible or likely cause of death. Formal legal applications are being made for post mortem and autopsy requests to reveal the cause of death.

Well done active citizens in Botswana! God is able!

– Pearl Kupe, Lawyer, Activist & Red List Legal Spokesperson

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