Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) has once again dressed down government’s efforts in curbing and containing the spread of the contagious COVID-19. In fact, the union says it is greatly troubled by how Botswana is lagging behind in administering the vaccine.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness started the COVID-19 vaccination rollout program which resumed on the 10th May 2021. The vaccination roll out program followed the sequence in which citizens aged 55 and above were prioritized. Health care workers also formed part of those that were the first to be vaccinated.
In order to avoid congestion at health facilities, adults above the age of 65 years registered online. Botswana saw prominent former public servants such as former President Festus Mogae and former Health Minister and diplomat, Gaositwe Chiepe, first in line for the vaccine.
Last week, Ministry of Health and Wellness Communications Department issued a statement, indicating that Botswana will receive 38 400 doses of AstraZaneca COVID-19 vaccine on the 29 May 2021 (past weekend), and 19 890 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on the 3rd June 2021. The Ministry stated that these vaccines were bought through the COVAX facility and facilitated by United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
However, BFTU strongly argue that the government’s handling, management and pace of Covid-19 vaccine procurement is clearly not at par with the threat facing the entire nation owing to the increasing variation in the manifestation of the virus across the globe.
“BFTU is strongly concerned that the doses are far from adequate in proportion to both the total number of our population of approximately 2 million people, and in comparison to the conspicuously swift and ordinate response of the rest of the world community.
‘‘Whilst there is talk of different variants of the virus spreading rapidly, second and or third waves of the virus, and therefore the second dose of the vaccine covering wide sections of populations, Botswana does not seem keen on taking advantage of its relatively small population to extend vaccination to a much wider part of it, if not the rest of it,” says BFTU Secretary General, Thusang Butale.
The Trade Union also condemned government’s temperament of always reliant on donations from international organizations and countries, denoting this as ‘time wasted that will never return.’
“Had government not wasted time waiting upon donations and embarked on a clear cut programme and proper and timely procurement of vaccines, a vast number of the population would by far have been vaccinated and now due for second round of the process.”
BFTU maintains that the targeted population (of those aged 55 and above) is still way too low when comparing to the entire population, indicating further that government is mute on why the population is limited.
“Due cognizance is taken of the fact that government has pronounced that the target population for vaccination is the adult age range of 55 and above. This targeted population is far too low when gauged against 2 million citizens. No convincing reason has been advanced as to why it should be limited to such a small population rather than the entire population,” Butale said in a statement this afternoon.
The group has an earnest view that despite the economic challenges especially resulting from Covid-19, it is unreasonable and unfathomable why a small population of 2 million or any part of it for that matter, should face the imminent risk of being decimated in spite of an economy boasting one of the best foreign reserves and highest per capita income.
“Compounding the above concerns is the realization that even in the thick of a crisis such as is presented by Covid-19 there is an observable trend of corrupt or unethical practice by elements within government and politicians, of fighting over and profiteering from the provision of essential supplies, even to the detriment of masses of unprotected citizens. This observation is reminiscent of what occurred with the BOTS50 where public funds were syphoned through what seemed like legitimate tendering without anybody responsible to render due account.”
Meanwhile, according to the Presidential COVID-19 Case Report, there are 142 864 citizens who received their first COVID-19 jab. Botswana has thus far, confirmed 54 973 cases of the deadly virus, with 2865 active cases (as at 31st May 2021).
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.