Member of Parliament (MP) for Selebi-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse has blasted government for failing to account to the nation on the management of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and pleaded for clarity.
When raising a question in Parliament that was directed to the Leader of the House and Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane, the MP said it has been nearly a year since the coronavirus was first detected in Botswana and the nation needs an update on how the management of the COVID-19 pandemic has been. He stated that the nation needs to know whether the government is winning the war or losing.
“What has been the strategy, has it been reviewed or will it be reviewed? Has it worked or it is working? What are the numbers of infections and deaths telling us? What lessons are we learning as a country and has the government carried out COVID-19 impact empirical assessment to make sure there is an understanding of the real effects of the disease on individuals, families and institutions to make sure that going forward our polices are informed or shaped by empirical evidence. If not, does the government intend to do one and when?” asked Keorapeste.
He said a State of Emergency (SoE) was declared and asked if it has assisted Botswana so far and how. He also wanted to know if President Mokgweetsi Masisi will ask Parliament to extend the SoE, which will come to an end in a few weeks’ time.
“How much has been used in total in the fight against the scourge and how has this money been used. Do we have enough tests kits, what sort of drugs are used to manage the disease and so we have enough of these drugs at private and public health facilities,” he said.
The legislator further questioned the number of patients who are currently admitted at Sir Ketumile Masire Hospital and if the facility alongside the rest of healthcare system were coping. Addressing psychological aspects, Keorapetse wanted to know the impact of COVID-19 on the general mental well-being asking if the government has established the extent of the
“What is the government doing to protect individuals who are at the risk of going bankrupt due to financial commitments they had before the pandemic? What are the trends on the blacklisting of Batswana at credit bureaus? Families are struggling and this could lead to divorce, domestic violence or abuse and destabilisation of families,” he said.
The legislator also wanted to know what the government was doing and whether the country has experienced a rise in recipients of assistance from Social and Community Development (S&CDs) across the country and if there are many temporary destitute being assisted. Addressing corruption cases caused by COVID-19, Keorapetse wanted to know the number of graft cases that have been registered by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the process of their investigations.
He further pleaded with the government to commit to making public all companies that were directly awarded COVID-19 related tenders during SoE for transparency and accountability purposes. Keorapetse also wanted to know the types of vaccines the country had procured and whether they would be able to deal with the South African variant that has been detected in Botswana.
In response, Tsogwane said the country has achieved a high testing rate as it has managed to conduct 815,362 tests.
He also stated that the positivity rate within the country has been maintained below five percent, which signified the ability to contain and control rampant community transmission.
Tsogwane revealed that the government has opted for a multiple vaccine approach. This he said was to ensure that they do not place the entire population at risk if one of the vaccines does not perform as expected. He said the government has achieved a milestone in helping its people and will continue to do so.