Botswana News

Botswana: Public Trust in Government Over Covid-19 Approach Waning Fast

Trust in the government of Botswana’s (GOB) approach to management of the COVID -19 pandemic is fading at an alarming rate .During the tenure of the Khama regime , trust of Batswana in the GOB slowly but steadily became worse .Then , when Dr. Masisi came into power , trust in the government increased dramatically , only to wane again rapidly when COVID -19 became prevalent in the country and the State of Emergency (SOE) was proclaimed .After a year , the SOE is still with us and criticism of the handling of the pandemic appears not to be tolerated .The performance of the appointed corona Professor leaves to be desired and even the police have lost confidence in GOB as they have become rather lackadaisical in the implementation of the COVID-19 policies.

Let us look a little bit into COVID 19 management , to scrutinize whether the corona professor really know to approach this crisis ,Strict lock downs in the most countries of the world were implemented when the reproduction® number increased to above 1.The ® number indicates how many persons with COVID-19 infects. If the R number ids below 1 , the incidence of the disease will decrease; if the number is above 1 , the disease will multiply rapidly. The higher the R number , the more people will get infected .The corona professor or the Outbreak Management Team advised to institute a lock-down last year March(2020)when Batswana only had a few cases and the R number was below 1 , thus wasting precious funds , productivity and causing loss to public trust. Currently, people in Botswana do not know the R number , as no information is made available to the public .However , looking at the current COVID-19 figures , as provided by the government, the incidence appears to be going down, however the Greater Gaborone zone remains in the lock-down . Active cases as provided by the GOB.

Date Daily average

22 March 2021 302

26 March 2021 344

29 March2021 379

5 April 2021 306

Major acceptance methods to avoid infection include keeping 1.5 m distance ,washing hands frequently ,good ventilation and quarantine .Yet our good corona professor keeps stressing the wearing of mask as the most important policy.The wearing of mask has created a false sense of protection , as many people in the country wear below required quality mask , or wear masks below the their nose .And whilst wearing these mask , people still hug each other, without keeping the required distance of 1.5 meter. In addition , the poor ventilation of government buildings may explain why so many civil servants get infected. Another example is the corona professor himself getting infected because he was travelling in a corona team bus , whereas the public is still crowding in public transport. While, with the new emerging variants such as the Indian one , which can make even vaccinated people ill, Botswana should consider or stricter quarantine measures or entry stops from high risk countries.

The initial closing of the boarders was obviously a good measure , as many of the covid 19 cases I the country were imported .However , this measure was revoked ,whilst the Greater Gaborone area was once more put into lockdown .This is difficult to comprehend .Furthermore, the GOB fail to officially inform the public of the closing down of the Greater Gaborone Zone .The GOB even went as far as blantantly lying by posting on the website that the issue of the covid permits was temporarily out of order. The government apparently had no intention of resurrecting the permit use through their website, and up to today it is impossible for essiantial service companies based in the Great Gaborone zone ,to obtain a permit to provide much necessary service elsewhere in the country, instead it was decided to award the permit system to the Brastorne company to issue licences through their Besafe application. Initial the app did not work on the phones with Mascom subscriptions , the app still does not work for many other people who do not yet possess or cannot afford a smart phone can no longer obtain permits .And the Besafe app cannot be used to obtain essential -service permits.

One may wonder why the public is deprived of much needed information and why the government resorts to sneaky methods of depriving the public of what is going in their own country regarding covid 19.Lack of information breeds dis-trust. Surely transparency in information dissemination would increase the trust and understanding of the people of Botswana in the government and icrease the appreciation of certain measures, rather than having to speculate and become frustrated as to what is going on .To regain public trust soonest and to prevent discontent and potential chaos pleas keep the public informed , share with the people when and why certain zones have to go into temporary lock-down, share the Botswana figures on a daily basis and make the R number public. Re -instate the permit system through the website whereby people can print permits and keep in mind that not all people carry smart phones. Engage reputable companies to develop and implement new apps. Let people hear and see that there is nothing to hide , stop the speculation , only then can things are move forward and trust regained. And last but not least , why is the Botswana Vaccine Institute not asked to reproduce e.g the Astra Zeneca vaccine , similar to the set -up in India.