Transparency Key In COVID-19 Fight

Botswana, like many countries across the world, is in the middle of an unprecedented fight against COVID-19. The jury is still out on whether there is success or failure in the efforts aimed at containing the spread of the novel virus.

When the pandemic reached Botswana’s shores last year March, a nation united in the quest to defeat an invisible enemy. It is a moment never witnessed in recent memory, with the catastrophes of the world war and the 1918 Spanish influenza being the only other comparisons in living memory. Botswana, like the rest of the world, had to readjust its priorities and channel most, if not all, of its energies towards fighting COVID-19. It has not been an easy fight with relapses along the way.

When the first three cases were registered, the government responded by announcing a hard lockdown, while mobilising resources to fight the spreading pandemic.

Millions of pula were raised as people from all walks of life poured the little they had to ensure the government was well resourced in the battle against COVID-19.

Armed with billions in foreign reserves, there was assured optimism that the fight would be won, although the government and health authorities were entering unchartered territory.

In some cases, it has been trial and error, as the argument has been that the country has never been in a similar war.

But the war chest, in most people’s view, was sufficient to ensure Botswana navigates the difficult period, through initiatives that would ensure the economy stays afloat, while at the same time, procuring enough vaccines to inoculate the eligible adult population.

Before the vaccines, was the period of containment, where the government had to feed people while the population was locked down.

There were murmurs of discontent that the food parcels had not reached the entire population.

The second round of food parcel distribution did not take place as promised. News of insufficient funds resurfaced, with further reports foreign reserves had been severely depleted.

The COVID-19 Presidential Task Force team was deemed necessary to ensure a coordinated and sustained campaign against the pandemic.

However, reports were soon to emerge over concerns that the Task Force members were earning fat salaries, which was fast depleting resources.

The purchase of vaccines has caused consternation in the recent past, with ambiguous statements from the government, leaving the ordinary man and woman on the street, in a state of confusion.

The government should ensure transparency in its fight against the pandemic. It should be prepared to answer the uncomfortable questions in order to earn public trust. For instance, there is concern of rising corruption during the State of Emergency and that funds donated by the public have not been prudently used. Just last week, the American Embassy had to come forward to give a breakdown of the money the US had donated to Botswana for the COVID-19 fight. For the avoidance of doubt, the government will do well to tell the nation how much was raised and how these monies have been distributed in the COVID-19 fight. This is not too much to ask.

Editor's Comment
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