Certain officials of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), whose full particulars appear herein, engaged in corrupt or illegal practices to influence and distort the outcome of the election; the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) unlawfully aided and abetted the BDP officials in executing the corrupt or illegal practices aforesaid;
Certain officials of the Independent Electoral Commission (first respondent) unlawfully aided and abetted the BDP officials in executing the corrupt or illegal practices aforesaid; The roll that was used on the polling day was not the same as the one certified by the Secretary of the first respondent;
The first respondent contravened or permitted the contravention of the provisions of section 28 of the Act. In proof of the complaints alleged to above, your petitioner shall at the hearing of this petition lead evidence from a whistleblower, Moemedi Dennis Baikalafi (Mr. Baikalafi), whose particulars are as follows: an adult self-employed man of full legal capacity resident in Gaborone; the Managing Director of Even Life Holdings (Pty) Ltd; he is also member of the Botswana Democratic Party ('BDP') Communications Support Sub-Committee.
During the run-up to the 2019 elections Mr. Baikalafi was part of the national campaign team of the BOP. This team comprised amongst others the following office bearers of the BOP, to wit; Secretary General, Mr. Mpho Balopi (Mr. Balopi), Head of Strategy, Dr. Comma Serema (Dr. Serema), and Head of Communications and International Relations Mr. Kagelelo Banks Kentse (Mr. Kentse).
In or about June 2018, a meeting attended by the BOP President Dr.Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi (Dr. Masisi), Mr. Balopi. Dr Serema, the Treasurer of the BOP Mr. Satar Dada (Mr. Dada) and Mr. Baikalafi was convened at Tsholetsa House. Also present at the meeting was the Director General of Intelligence and Security Services, Brigadier Peter Fana Magosi (Rt.) (Brigadier Magosi). In this meeting, Dr. Masisi expressed his concern of losing the forthcoming elections and those present were called upon to suggest strategies of ensuring that the President wins the elections. It was clear to all present that the message conveyed by Dr. Masisi was 'win by any means'.
It was agreed at the said meeting that the date of the elections be set for 23rd October 2019. Brigadier Magosi was to cause registration of 'front companies' to be used for money laundering purposes. An unspecified amount of money was to be transferred from a DISS 'slush fund' to the front companies. The front or dummy companies · were to pay a company referred to as Native Groups (or a company of a name closely related) under the guise of advertising for the presidency. Native Groups is owned by Mr. Balopi, the Secretary General of the BDP.
Dr Masisi, Mr. Balopi, Brigadier Magosi and Mr. Dada devised a plan to pay Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) voters' registration officials to issue more than one voter's registration card per individual to be selected, who would subsequently cast votes for the BDP. The meeting resolved that Mr. Balopi in his capacity as the Secretary General would be the over-arching coordinator of implementation of the plan that had been hatched.
The general voters' registration took place during the period of 3rct September 2018 to 11th November 2018 and it was during this period that implementation of the plan of issuance of double voters' registration cards was to be implemented. Mr. Balopi issued instructions to various coordinators spread over the length and breadth of the country to approach voter registration officers of the IEC and to bribe them so that they could effect the duplicated registration. Mr. Baikalafi was one of the coordinators given this task.
Mr. Balopi gave Mr. Baikalafi an amount of P 16 500.00 (Sixteen Thousand Five Hundred Pula); P 15. 000.00 in cash and P 1 500.00 through Stanbic Mobile money transaction. In addition, he gave him a list of coordinators the latter was to manage. In particular, these were coordinators based in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve ('CKGR') being a certain Onkgolotse (mobile phone number 73925305 I 74480227).
The latter was designated the team leader for the said area and he was to arrange double registration of potential voters in Phakalane, Gaborone and Gaborone Central. The other coordinator (or team leader) was one Mmaagwe Dan (mobile phone 71615580), who was assigned the Maun area. She was assisted by her son Dan· (mobile phone 74128830) and Kefilwe Makata (mobile phone 73735524 I 72369336). Mr. Baikalafi distributed the funds given to him by Mr. Balopi between the two teams aforesaid.
The coordinators (or team leaders) assigned to different areas were required to compile a list of potential voters who were to be used in the double registration exercise referred to above. Mr. Baikalafi was charged with coordination of the CKGR and Maun, inclusive of greater Maun. With the assistance of one Fish, Tiro Mekgwe, Thato Osupile, Selwana Kesebonye, Lotty Manyapedza, Kabo Masoba and Mbakiso Tjiyapo, all BDP activists, a list of the potential double voters was compiled. This list was very copious, running into approximately 16 000 (sixteen thousand) names.
Mr. Baikalafi is aware that other teams which were part of the exercise of coordinating duplication of voters' registration and trafficking also compiled similar lists. Mr. Baikalafi states and has verily informed your petitioner, and the latter believe same to be true for reasons of his stated personal involvement both in the planning and execution of this vote fraud, that the potential voters mobilized for this fraud did not even turn up personally, or attend in person, at the various voter registration points. What was done by Mr. Baikalafi and others in his team was to: obtain the names and National Identity numbers of said potential voters and then submit them to certain identified IEC Voter Registration Officers;
have the IEC Voter Registration Officers capture the names and identity numbers of said potential voters into their voter registration booklets, after hours and at their residences; have the said IEC Voter Registration Officers issue at least two voter registration cards per such voter; collect the issued voter registration cards for safe keeping, awaiting their handing over to the voters on election day to facilitate their voting;
It was agreed that the pool for sourcing potential voters to be used in carrying out the electoral fraud was to include institutions such as military garrisons, tertiary institutions, organized community based organizations like soccer teams and cultural groups, as well as churches from. Which names and details of members could be easy to obtain.
Such names were to be, and indeed were, submitted to the identified IEC voter registration officers and duly registered as having attended personally to register when in truth they had not. Many of the names were so registered without the consent and involvement of the individuals whose names and particulars were used, the idea being to then, consequent upon their successful registration as stated, then have the National Identity Office issue National Identity cards in respect of such individuals and have the DISS collect these and hand them to identified and trusted individuals who would then present themselves at the various polling stations and impersonate the real persons of such names and particulars and accordingly vote.
Most if not all such "voters" were deployed in Gaborone Bonnington North and the rest of the Gaborone and surrounding constituencies. I have myself come across a number of individuals who state that they never attended at any polling station to register for the 2019 elections and did not expect their names to be the voters roll for these elections. They were shocked to discover after the elections that their names do actually appearin the voters roll and fear that someone else may have impersonated them and voted purporting to be them.
One such person states that he resides at Block 9 in the Gaborone Bonnington South Constituency but his name appears as registered in Block 3 in the Gaborone Bonnington North Constituency. He will be called to testify at the hearing of this matter. In Mr. Baikalafi's estimation, the total number of people who were registered as stated above and thus voted more than once in the Gaborone Bonnington North Constituency is over two thousand, which would account for at least four thousand votes ascribed to the second respondent and resulting in her being declared the winner.
Other such "mobilized" voters were registered in the same way in the other Constituencies in Gaborone and the surrounding constituencies of Tlokweng and Mogoditshane, including Lentsweletau-Mmopane and were facilitated to vote in said constituencies and then cast a second vote in Gaborone Bonnington North.
To Mr. Baikalafi's knowledge the bulk of all documentation used to prosecute the said fraud was kept in the custody of Mr. Balopi, who stored same at plot No. 55741, Tsaru Tsaru Close, Phakalane, his residence and Plot 208 Mogoditshane, being one of his properties. Mr. Baikalafi estimates that the total number of people who were used to perpetrate the double registration fraud could well run into tens of thousands.
According to the scheme of double registration, Mr. Balopi paid or facilitated the payment of willing IEC voter registration officers in the amounts between P2 000.00 and P5 000.00. The actual amount paid depended on how well the registration official negotiated. Every registration official had their own voter registration books and were allowed to take the books to their respective homes, so that they could 'work from home'.
Team leaders in various constituencies were appointed to ensure individuals were registered to vote in two or more different constituencies and to be moved to another constituency that needed more votes so that the BDP could win. This became what was called 'the mobilization. When the registration officials managing voter registration filled in Form A correctly he/she would intentionally fill in a second form using the same information as the first but omit either a letter in the same name or a number in the identity number. This caused a second 'individual' to be registered on the voters roll and two pink voter registration cards were issued to the same individual but on the system it was recorded as two separate individuals.
From my own understanding of electronic data maintenance, storage and retrieval systems, any activity undertaken on the system, such as the one kept and maintained by the first respondent, would leave an inerasable trace which would show: who accessed the system?, especially where access is by password or some such form of personal identification; What information was uploaded, deleted or altered during such access; and exactly when such access was gained.
Thus it would be easy and expedient for a proper disposal of this matter to have an audit of the data base or electronic system of the first respondent to settle this aspect. Transport, food, accommodation and incentives were then arranged by Mr. Balopi for voting day for the mobilized/ trafficked individuals.
Registration process commenced on or about September 2018 and continued for three months. There were three registration phases; general registration which took place at the registration polling stations, continuous registration which took place at the registration polling station and supplementary registration which took place at the registration polling stations.
As averred above, team leaders in various constituencies, specifically recruited to defraud the electoral process were appointed to ensure that individuals were registered to vote in two or more different constituencies in an urban area or to be moved to another constituency that needed more votes in a rural area.
In order to facilitate the said process the Election Day was ·set for Wednesday, with the Tuesday afternoon and Thursday being declared public holidays. This was the first time in Botswana's electoral history that three public holidays were declared for a general election. This was done so that buses normally used on working days could be used for 'voter trafficking' on the days before and after the elections.
Sometime in October 2019, but before the Election Day, Dr. Masisi, Mr. Balopi, Brigadier Magosi and others went on a 'tour' around the country and informed the team leaders as to how to mobilize their 'voters'. The buses arrived shortly after the team leaders were informed as they traveled to each area. The team leaders were paid a P 2 000.00 (Two Thousand Pula) stipend for September 2019 and October 2019 by Mr. Balopi and given airtime scratch cards to keep in contact. Some of the national coordinators were given cell phones. This stipend was provided for two months.
The team leaders held all the duplicate voters' cards in their possession as well as their legitimately issued voters' registration cards. They would then get the voters on the buses and travel with them to the relevant constituencies to vote. On the 22"d October 2019 the voters were transported and accommodated at facilities close to the voting stations they were to cast their votes at.
At the voting stations there were line marshals who were holding the queue stating that they were awaiting 50 or more individuals in front of them so that when the voters arrived they could get off the bus, vote quickly and leave again. Voting began at 0630 hours, but the queue started forming much earlier, so that the 'line marshals' would be in place from 0300 to ensure the trafficked voters would vote and go. Houses were 'donated' for accommodation and tents and mattresses were purchased and set up. About 70 tents were set up in Mogoditshane and tents were also set up in Gaborone, Phakalane and Block 6.
Food was purchased from 'Choppies', a local chain store and alcohol was given to the mobilized voters. Mr. Balopi had issued an instruction that no receipt was to be kept for the alcohol purchases and that payment was to be strictly by way of cash. Once the voters were done at the voting stations, they were transported to locations where lunch had been prepared for them by caterers. Both voters' registration cards were then taken from them and their names were ticked off the list, so that a record was kept of who voted. The mobilized voters were only paid their 'incentives' after they voted and had handed in their duplicate voter's registration card.
Mr. Baikalafi was directly and personally involved in the implementation of the said fraudulent scheme in respect of all Gaborone Constituencies which include Gaborone Bonnington North, and Kanye South, Mogoditshane and Tlokweng constituencies. In all these constituencies, the mode of election cheating was as tabulated above. According to Mr. Baikalafi, he was in regular communication with other coordinators involved in the said operation and that they individually told him that they successfully implemented the plan as agreed.
Save where the context otherwise reflects, all the averments made at paragraphs to 13 to 49 above, inclusively stem from what Mr. Baikalafi has verily informed your petitioner, and the latter believes same to be true for reasons of his stated personal involvement both in the planning and execution of this vote fraud.
Your petitioner had assigned two (2) polling agents at each of the polling stations in the constituency. The averments that follow herein, of what transpired at the said polling stations derives from what the polling agents verily informed your petitioner, and the latter believe same to be true for reasons of the former's personal involvement thereat.
At the polling stations and in order to facilitate the fraudulent scheme aforesaid, the presiding officers took copies of the elections rolls which the polling agents had brought with them and gave them substitute rolls, which had been manipulated to enable the fraud. Several names of potential voters who were included in the elections voters' roll certified by the first respondent were not in the substitute roll availed at the polling stations.
In the event a voter's name was excluded from the substitute roll, the presiding officers would ask him/her to leave his/her telephone number under the pretext that they would call them later. The polling officers would later call the affected voters, some would come and they were allowed to vote despite the fact that their names were not in the roll. Some prospective voters were reflected as deceased on the substitute voters' roll when they were still alive.
Some of the substitute rolls were incomplete. At Khuduga Polling Station, for instance, the roll that had been availed commenced from names starting with alphabet "M" to those starting with alphabet "Z". Later, the presiding officer brought a complete roll. However, by then a considerable number of people had already voted.
One of your petitioner's polling agents at Khuduga Polling Station, Gaolatlheope Lydia Ngaka protested the conduct of the Election Officers at the Polling Station, and her remonstrations were captured in an audio recording which will also form part of the evidence herein. Her protestations were against: the prohibition by the Election Officers of crossing out on the voters rolls supplied, of voters as they voted; the conduct by Election Officers, of allowing persons to vote whose names and details did not appear in the voters roll;
the refusal by the Election Officers to stop the voting in order to address the issue of voters rolls that were not the same and did not contain the same information as evidenced by the claim by the Election Officers in rejecting her protestations, that the names of said persons appeared in a voters roll that the Election Officers claimed to have which had not been availed to the polling agents despite the fact that the Election Officers had prevented the polling agents from bringing into the polling station a copy of the Certified Voters Roll and insisted on the polling agents using the voters roll given to them by said Election Officials.
The forcible insistence by the Presiding Officer that your petitioner's polling agent should not cross out voters who had voted made cross checking and detection of double voting difficult, if not impossible. In view of the fact that the only Voters Rolls used at the polling stations were those furnished to the polling agents at the polling station on Election Day, said voters rolls form a critical piece of evidence in this matter and should, therefore be availed to your petitioner. He has consequently requested said voters rolls from the first respondent by letter dated 6 November 2019 which was duly served on the first respondent. A copy of the letter is annexed hereto as "DGB 5".
The first respondent undertook to revert to your petitioner's attorneys in respect of the said voters’ rolls per its letter of 7 November 2019 annexed hereto as "DGB 6", subsequent to which the first respondent sought an indulgence to 14 November 2019 per its email communication of 11 November 2019 annexed hereto as "DGB 7". The first respondent then finally gave a response by letter dated 13 November 2019 a copy of which is annexed hereto as "DGB 8". The voters' rolls which were the subject of your petitioner's request communicated through his attorneys are of critical importance to this petition and he persists in his demand to be furnished therewith.
There were four (4) parliamentary candidates representing BDP, UDC, and Real Alternative Party (RAP). This notwithstanding, the ballot paper included a symbol of a fifth candidate, depicted thereon as a gem diamond. This caused confusion amongst the voters. Your petitioner contends that the first respondent has failed to deliver in the constituency he contested for, a poll that was efficient, proper, free and fair, thus abdicating its Constitutional mandate. Owing to the nature and magnitude of the fraud perpetrated and irregularities committed as averred above, it would be difficult and even impossible for the Court to ascertain the rightful winner for the Bennington North constituency.
Wherefore your petitioner prays for an Order in the following terms: directing that the second respondent was not duly elected and that no other person was or is entitled to be declared duly elected; directing that the declaration made by the Returning Officer for the said elections to the effect that the second respondent was duly elected is null and void. Declaring that the Bennington North constituency seat is vacant; certifying to the President the vacancy of the constituency seat and the cause thereof; directing that the first respondent pays the costs of this petition;
Owing to the nature and magnitude of the fraud perpetrated and irregularities committed as averred above, it would be difficult and even impossible for the Court to ascertain the rightful winner for the Bonnington North constituency. Directing that the declaration made by the Returning Officer for the said elections to the effect that the second respondent was duly elected is null and void.
Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.
Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.
“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.
Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.
The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.
The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River. They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).
His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.
The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.
Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.
37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far
Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.
“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.
It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.
Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.
This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.
In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.
“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.
Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.
Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”
Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.
He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”
According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.
Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.
“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.
He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.
Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.
“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.
He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”
Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.
However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.
In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.
“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.
Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.
“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.
Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.
In an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.
The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.
“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.
According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.
“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.
Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.
“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.
“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.
COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.
Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).
On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.
Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.
President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.
“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.
On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.
In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.
Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.
Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.
As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.
This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.
The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.
As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.
“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.