As many African countries continue to receive their first consignment of the COVID-19 vaccine from different manufacturers, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his cabinet have set P164 million to be used to roll out the vaccine to the entire population.
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Edwin Dikoloti revealed that they want to start the vaccine roll out in a month’s time once the vaccines have arrived. “Our main aim is to finish vaccine roll out before the end of 2021 to the entire population,” he said on Wednesday on national television.
“The distribution and administration of the vaccine will be led by Inter-Agency Coordination Committee (ICC) under my ministry, which will focus on coordination, risk communication, monitoring and evaluation.” Dr Dikoloti said the vaccine distribution committee is made up of public servants from different governmental departments and organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, UNFPA, USAID, University of Botswana (UB), Botswana Medical Regulatory Authority (BoMRA) and also from the private sector.
“The committee includes people with different area of expertise like doctors and scientist,” said the health minister. “We are continuously engaging manufacturers of vaccines, in order to make everyone in Botswana receive doses of vaccine.” The initial phase of the vaccine roll out will be centred on strengthening the health system and also reducing the number of Covid-19 related deaths, therefore frontline workers and essential services will be given priority.
The second phase of the roll out will focus on reviving the economy hence catered for business owners and employees while the last phase will cater for the entire population. A fortnight ago, government announced that it has moved to procure Covid-19 vaccines at a cost of approximately US$ 10 million.
During the regular Covid-19 vaccine updates on national television, Dr Dikoloti said as part of their broader strategy of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, government has embarked on an initiative to acquire, and quickly deploy safe and secure vaccines for citizens and residents of Botswana.
Dr Dikoloti further mentioned that Africa’s continental platform MTN, which is a leading mobile network, has donated a total of US$ 25 million worth of vaccines to support African Union’s (AU) Covid-19 vaccination programme.
“The donation will help secure up to seven (7) million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which are intended to cater for frontline workers across the continent. As part of the AU, Botswana stands to benefit from these,” he said on national television.
“This program is in line with the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Expanded Program on immunisation; as well as the Public Health Act 2014, regarding the Prevention of the Spread of immunisable Diseases and their Re-emergence.” Minister Dikoloti continued to say they have identified different platforms in which government secured enough doses to cover frontline workers through COVAX facility.
In terms of the law and policy, Dr Dikoloti said coordination structures have been set up to ensure the ethical, equitable and timely distribution of the vaccine across the country; in order to reach the citizens as they aim to reach the entire population. Meanwhile South Africa kicked off its vaccination campaign against COVID-19 this week by injecting healthcare workers with the shot developed by Johnson & Johnson as part of an observational study.
The first healthcare worker was inoculated at the Khayelitsha District Hospital in Cape Town, following the arrival of 80,000 vaccine doses at Johannesburg’s international airport on Tuesday and also President Cyril Ramaphosa, alongside with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla, were also among the first to be vaccinated.
Zimbabwe also kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination programme on Thursday after receiving a donation of 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China earlier in the week. Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the country’s Health Minister, was the first to receive the vaccine at Harare’s Wilkins Hospital. Zimbabwe aims to vaccinate around 60 000 healthcare and other frontline workers in the first round of vaccinations with the elderly and those with chronic conditions will follow.
This week’s Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting held at State House chaired by Party President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, turned into a ‘boardroom brawl’ with Masisi expressing concerns and accusing central committee members of not adequately shielding him from opposition missiles.
The meeting which was held on Monday this week was to deliberate on a number of agenda items but the President took the moment to tongue lash his inner circle to stop silly PR blunders that are causing more harm than good. The reprimand was mostly directed to party Secretary General Mpho Balopi as well as Chairman of Communications and International Relations sub-committee, Kagelelo Banks Kentse.
It took the intervention of the Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Magosi to arrest a dispute between the warring Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), by instructing the former to hand over the unfinished P100 billion docket to the latter.
But the PSP’s efforts are not enough, the two institutions are back in the boxing ring again following a letter from the DPP inviting the DCEC back into a case they long declared as “hogwash”. A savingram dated 18th January 2021 from the DPP to the DCEC is calling on the DCEC to assist with further evidence in the P100 billion case, but the DCEC which has never hidden its indifference posits that the move by the DPP can be summed up by the expressions: ‘opening healing wounds’.
A fed-up Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Director General, Tymon Katlholo has come out guns blazing over an order from the Director of the Directorate of Public
Prosecutions (DPP), Stephen Tiroyakgosi instructing the DCEC, to solicit a statement from the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, and ruling party Member of Parliament for Mochudi East, Mabuse Pule, regarding the role he played in the issuance of Whelheminah Maswabi’s intelligence operations passport.