The Botswana Khewdom Council has written to government demanding representation in the COVID-19 Task Force. The Council decries that Basarwa have been side lined in the government’s processes of dealing with the virus.
Khewdom Council Executive Director Keikabile Mogodu says the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has not responded to the letter dated 25th April 2020. Attempts to get a comment from the Minister of Local Development Eric Molale were unsuccessful as his mobile phone rang unanswered prior to press.
In the letter, the Khwedom Council, which is an umbrella body for Basarwa, demands direct representation in the COVID-19 Task Force in the Letlhakane, Nata and Gantsi regions. These areas have a large presence of Basarwa. In addition he pointed that Basarwa were amongst the hardest hit communities by this global pandemic.
“As the President of the Republic of Botswana and health officials have stated, this pandemic needs all concerted efforts from various stakeholders to fight its spread since it does not have a cure,” reads the letter.
“Botswana Khwedom Council feels that it can contribute through talking to its clientele, some of who do not understand Tswana and English to adhere to the stipulated guidelines by the health authorities.”
The Khwedom Council further submitted that they have at various local levels approached local authorities for inclusion but they have indicated that they would prefer an instruction from offices “above” in order to do that.
For his part, Member of Parliament (MP) for Gantsi North John Thite said government’s efforts to support the Basarwa tribe should not be undermined. He however admitted that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) had seriously affected the livelihood of Basarwa.
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislator added that they are constantly soliciting all sorts of assistance for the said tribe.
According to reports, a recent report compiled by the Office of the President (OP) has suggested that Kweneng, Gantsi, Boteti and Ngamiland are the hardest hit districts by the COVID-19.