Opposition Demands Consultation on COVID-19 Matters

  • LOO accuses Masisi of never consulting him on COVID-19 matters
  • Calls on Masisi to disband Task Force
  • Says Masisi and Tsogwane should lead by example and take the vaccine


The Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LOO), Dumelang Saleshando, says President Mokgweetsi Masisi has never engaged or consulted him about any COVID-19 related
matters since the declaration of the first State of Public Emergency (SoPE) in April 2020.
Speaking in Parliament this week, Saleshando said upon the declaration of the first SoPE last year, Masisi called a consultative meeting of all political parties that had taken part in the 2019 general elections.

According to a statement from the Office of the President (OP) released days prior to the event, the meeting was meant to inform and update all political parties on the country’s COVID-19 situation and the government’s proposed response to the pandemic.

Saleshando said at the meeting, despite objections to the SoPE by opposition parties, Masisi assured them that he would not suspend the rule of law or in any way violate the law during the SoPE and promised to continue to engage the opposition. However, he told Parliament that Masisi has never seen it fit to consult him about any COVID-19 related matter. “President Masisi has never bothered to consult me on anything on COVID-19,” he said, adding that he was more than ready to be of assistance to the President should he deem it fit to consult him.

Saleshando slammed the Masisi administration for being “economical with the truth” surrounding the country’s COVID-19 situation, saying this is bound to work against the government’s efforts to fight the pandemic. “In the midst of this health pandemic and economic crisis, it is important for government to weigh all its decisions taken in response to the pandemic against the heavy burden of anxiety that the nation is going through,” he asserted.

“Decisions that add to the enormity of the crisis that we are going through should be clearly communicated and government should not be economical with the truth. Government needs to be upfront in following pertinent issues.”

He expressed disappointment in what he called the government’s “cagey and slow approach” in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. “Botswana has been uncharacteristically
slow in embracing the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Traditionally, Botswana takes the lead position when it comes to timely response to a health threat. This is not the case with COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The slow vaccine rollout is dogged with controversy,” he asserted and cited revision of the categories of people to be vaccinated from 55 years and above to 75 and above.

Saleshando noted that the age category of 75 and above constitutes less than 10% of Botswana’s total population and raised questions that he said remain unanswered, among them:

  • When did Botswana placed its orders with vaccine manufactures?
  • Which brands have been ordered and in what quantities?
  • When should delivery of the orders be expected?
  • When does Botswana expect to achieve herd immunity?
  • Is it true that some of the deliveries were discovered to have been in the wrong quantities?

The Leader of the Opposition also criticised the government’s use private facilities as vaccination centres and called for disbanding the COVID-19 Task Force.

“Disband the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19,” he said.

“There clearly is a problem of two centres of power that is leading to costly confusion. Government officials at Health and Presidential Affairs have been unable to account for some of the decisions emanating from the Task Force like travel restrictions.”

Saleshando then challenged President Masisi and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane to “lead from the front” by taking the vaccine for enhanced public confidence. “The President should further commit more time to monitoring the vaccine rollout and reduce his international travels in favour of virtual meetings as has been the case with many other heads of State.”