Knives Out For 'COVID-19 Deliquent' Lelatisitswe

 Sethomo Lelatisitswe
Sethomo Lelatisitswe

Remember George Orwell's Animal Farm? Particularly the proclamation by the pigs who control the government that "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others?" Well, if this is anything to go by and assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Sethomo Lelatisitswe does not get charged for violating COVID-19 regulations given a recent event, then the public may most certainly take this proclamation to be truthful.

When President Mokgweetsi Masisi addressed the nation on August 13, 2021, he said in view of the worsening situation of COVID-19 in Botswana and its burden on the economy and health facilities, the government took decisions to suspend gatherings. One of those was that “all public gatherings, including Kgotla meetings, merapelo, weddings, patlo and magadi be suspended". For junior minister Lelatisitswe, this messaging must have meant very little as his late father’s tombstone unveiling was held with guests at the event.

The junior minister was under fire on social media after he posted pictures of himself and other attendants stating that they on Saturday morning unveiled a tombstone for his father, Lelatisitswe Alogeng. Instead of comforting messages from users, Batswana wondered how he managed to host an unveiling while events have been put on hold. In his defence, the minister said only merapelo, patlo and magadi were suspended.

Following more pressure from the public, Lelatisitswe deleted the post from his Facebook page. When contacted for a comment by this publication, Lelatisitswe said he could only discuss the matter on Monday. It is not just the public that was irked by this as trade unions also want Lelatisitswe to be punished. “This is just wrong. He is a minister in the same ministry that should be leading by example. They make these regulations. How does he display such ignorance and get away with it? Just like we have seen in South Africa, action should be taken against him. He should pay and resign because he is not fit to hold office,” Botswana Federation of Private and Public Sector Unions secretary-general Tobokani Rari said.

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Communications Sub-Committee chairperson Kagelelo Kentse said he was not aware of the incident. “I am away from social media and will need to familiarise myself with the matter. Generally, it is everybody’s responsibility to follow the protocols. I do not believe that it could be true that a minister did such,” he said.

BDP chief whip Liakat Kablay said action should be taken against anyone who does wrong. “We are the lawmakers. We should lead by example. If anyone, regardless of whether they are MP or other, do not follow protocols, action should be taken to show that we are all equal. The police should not turn away from this. We cannot have a society where now Batswana think these regulations are not serious,” he said. Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) is of the view that a public apology would be enough. “The minister has been visibly working.

We expected him to do better and be exemplary. However, he acted wrongly and should tender a public apology. We cannot call for his resignation because he has been visible (in his role),” BONU vice president Vusa Phena said.

Letlhakeng Police Station commander, Superintendent Michael Maphephu said they have not charged the minister. “We only saw and heard of the issue on social media.

No one reported the matter while it was still ongoing, so we cannot have any case against him. Maybe his superiors are the ones who could look into taking any action (against him),” he said.

Editor's Comment
Should COVID-19 Vaccination Be Compulsory?

This is after the easing of several restrictions when Botswana emerged from a State of Emergency at the end of September. The embargoes that were lifted included numbers of attendees at public gatherings.The move to ease restrictions revived the entertainment industry, which had come to a complete halt for a little over 18 months, and that is a long time not making a living.Musicians, promoters and support staff largely depend on festivals to put...

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