As countries continue to wind up their COVID 19 fight and exit the battleground, pressure continues to mount on Botswana’s battle leaders, the COVID-19 Task Team, to wrap up, pack their bags and vacate the scene and hand over power to the rightful heir – the Ministry of Health and Wellness which experts say has the right ammunition to continue to monitor the pandemic.
Officials at the Ministry say the Task Team should do the honourable thing and inform the president, Mokgweetsi Masisi that there is no more work to be done because the president seems to be at pains to pull the plug on them. Botswana is among the leading countries in the region on vaccine roll out and many citizens have long returned to normality.
Speaking to this publication on conditions of anonymity, high ranking Ministry officials said the Task Team has caused so much pain and destruction at the Ministry and ruined many blossoming careers because of the power they currently wield. They said “of late the Team seems to be idling and encroaching into other territories unrelated to their mandate and causing confusion.”
Asked for his impressions on the unfolding events, the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Edward Maganu who has worked for the Ministry of Health for 21 years and for World Health Organisation (WHO) for more than 12 years, says the Ministry should be given a chance to strengthen its disease control capability.
“My own feeling is that epidemics and pandemics are a challenge to the health sector, and therefore the Ministry of Health should use the occasion to strengthen its disease control capability. Our Ministry has medical professionals specialized in Public Health and in Internal Medicine. They should be given responsibilities when there are disease outbreaks, big or small,” he said further reasoning that “that will enable them and of course the Ministry to build disease control capability, which is good for the future.”
According to Maganu, “the Ministry should have a department or division responsible for epidemiology and disease control.”
He declined to make comments on the Task Team saying, “I cannot comment on the existence of the Task Team as I do not know how they work with the Ministry except from what I have read in the press. Certainly the Ministry should take control of Covid-19 control as it is likely to be with us for some time to come, or even become endemic.”
Similarly he shied away from answering a question on whether he shares the view that the team should be disbanded.“I cannot comment on whether the Task Team should be disbanded as I am not sure what their role in long-term disease control is, and what their role in capacity building of the Ministry is. The resources for disease control, including Covid-19, should of course be with the Ministry of Health.”
The Task Team which was once regarded as a team of messiahs now finds itself having to defend its existence from people who are now convinced that they have nothing to offer. Their weekly television COVID 19-updates views have dropped drastically with many being of the view that the Team now only exists as COVID 19 statisticians. Yet, there are others who are of the view that Botswana should not relax guard yet until the World Health Organisation signals so.
The Task Team and the Ministry official have never seen eye to eye since day one. Their animosity dates back to the days when the Task Team was appointed where upon the ministry officials felt overlooked to lead the fight against the pandemic. The animosity was further fuelled by the hefty salaries paid to the team which officials said were unheard of in the salary structures. The Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane informed parliament last year that in a year, the team clocks over P5 million.
The government last year cut ties with the Task Team’s communications team after public pressure following discoveries that the team communications team was each earning over P50 000 despite earning competitive salaries from their primary workstations.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katholo has revealed why he took a decision to engage private lawyers against the State. The DCEC boss engaged Monthe and Marumo Attorneys in his application to interdict the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing files and dockets in the custody of the corruption busting agency.
In his affidavit, Katholo says that by virtue of my appointment as the Director General of the DCEC, he is obliged to defend the administration and operational activities of the DCEC. He added that, “I have however been advised about a provision in the State Proceedings Act which grants the authority of public institution to undertake legal proceedings to the Attorney General.” Katholo contends that the provision is not absolute and the High Court may in the exercise of its original jurisdiction permit such, like in this circumstance authorise such proceedings to be instituted by the DCEC or its Director General.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has gone through transformation over the years, with new faces coming and going, but some figures have become part and parcel of the furniture at Tsholetsa House. From founding in 1962, BDP has seen five leaders changing the baton during the party’s 60 years of existence. The party has successfully contested 12 general elections, albeit the outcome of the last polls were disputed in court.
While party splits were not synonymous with the BDP for the better part of its existence, the party suffered two splits in the last 12 years; the first in 2010 when a Barataphathi faction broke ranks to found the now defunct Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The Barataphathi faction was in the main protesting the ill-treatment of then recently elected party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, who had been suspended ostensibly for challenging the authority of then president, Ian Khama.
Mr Abdoola has known Mr. Uzair Razi for many years from the time he was a young boy. Uzair’s father, Mr Razi Ahmed, was the head of BCCI Bank in Botswana and “a very good man,” his close associates say.
Uzair and his wife went to settle in Dubai, the latter’s birthplace. He stayed in touch and was working for a real estate company owned by Mr. Sameer Lakhani. “Our understanding is that Uzair approached Mr. Abdoola to utilize their services for any property-related interests in Dubai. He did some work for Mr.Abdoola and others in the Botswana business community,” narrates a friend of Mr Abdoola.