When Botswana first reported 4 cases of COVID-19 including 1 (one) death and subsequent State of Public Emergency which curtailed on-essential services and unnecessary movement, this led to panic among the citizenry, the man who was carrying the hopes of the nation was Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Lemogang Kwape.
He was always on national television explaining about the pandemic thus endearing himself to the nation, something that is allegedly didn’t sit well with some within cabinet and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) as his stardom was surging ahead. Like a sunset his brightness started dimming and gradually disappearing from public space and replaced by the President Task Force on Covid-19.
His disappearance even drew attention of Parliamentarians as Member of Parliament for Francistown South Wynter Mmolotsi even suggested that Dr Kwape had been banished to the sidelines. “Batswana used to be looking forward to listening to Minister Kwape updating us on Covid-19 pandemic but now he has been sidelined and thrown into irrelevance,” hit out Mmolotsi in Parliament.
MP for Maun East Goretetse Kekgonegile had on several occasions in Parliament questioned the sudden quietness of Dr Kwape regarding the Covid-19 pandemic saying something might be right at government enclave. Dr Kwape would later appear on national television to announce that the Greater Gaborone will be under lockdown due to the surge in covid-19 cases.
In an interview with this publication, Dr Kwape rebutted allegations that he has been sidelined because he was taking limelight from some of his seniors in cabinet and party. “The reason why I was the leading face on Covid-19 was because the presidential task force together with its technical were not yet appointed,” he explained.
He said that there was nothing sinister about his non-appearance on national television giving updates to the nation.
He highlighted that President Mokgweetsi Masisi appointed technical team which is responsible for implementation and under the Health Sector under the coordination of the Ministry of Health and Wellness while a presidential Task Force chaired by His Excellency the President coordinates the multi-sectoral contributions to the national response.
“So after the technical team was appointed led by Dr Kereng Masupu it was appropriate for them to lead on the updates and even if am the one doing any update or announcement I have to be accompanied by them,” he said.
There has been allegations that due to his academic profession as a medical expert, Dr Kwape is clashing with the Technical team, something that led to President Masisi sidelining him. He laughed off the suggestion, saying he has never had any differences with Dr Masupu led team saying he is just a political head whilst they offer technical advise.
“We need scientists to help us fight this pandemic. They must lead the war not us politicians, our duty is to support them not fight them,” he said, adding that the appointment of the Task Force has helped him to focus more on the health sector and how they can improve the service delivery post Covid-19.