Over P600m spent on PPEs last year but no PPEs
Questioned additional P70m budget for PPEs
Dikoloti, Director of Health next on the line – sources
We need stability at MoHW – Tshere
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Kabelo Ebineng became the latest causality in the protracted fallout between Covid-19 Presidential Task force and Performance Improvement Coordination (PIC) Force which is made up of Permanent Secretaries.
The two centres of powers in the Covid-19 fight are said to be causing division and confusion at the Government Enclave and the PIC Force feels that they have been reduced to rubber stampers of the decision of Presidential Covid-19 Task Force.
Ebineng has now been demoted and sent to the Office of the President as deputy coordinator of Government Implementation and Coordination Office. Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Wellness David Tshere – MP for Mahalapye West – has expressed concern over the leadership instability at the MoHW.
“We need continuity and stability in leadership at the ministry as we fight the pandemic but what is happening now is worrisome. Since I joined Parliament in 2019 they have been five PSs and two cabinet ministers,” regretted Tshere.
Tshere, who is also a Hospital Engineer by profession, said that another challenge is that most of those who have been appointed as PS in the ministry have no background on health issues thus making it difficult for them to come up with proper turnaround strategies.
“I have realised that those who are trying to fix things at the ministry, especially issues of procurement are kicked out and we can’t continue like that if we want to fix our health system,” said the worried Tshere.
Information gathered by this publication has revealed that the Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Edwin Dikoloti and Director of Health Services are said to be on the line as they are viewed as distraction.
“We will not be surprised if there is cabinet reshuffle and Dikoloti is moved to another ministry and the director is also transferred,” revealed the source.
Highly placed sources have revealed that the relationship between Ebineng, Director of Public Health and the Taskforce led by Dr Kereng Masupu is not cordial.
Ebineng joins Solomon Sekwakwa, Dr Morris Sinvula, Baile Moagi, Dr Malaki Tshipayagae and Minister Dr Lemogang Kwape who left the ministry after allegedly differing with the Covid19 Presidential Task force.
“The Covid19 Presidential Task force has become too powerful and gives instructions to the PS and Director of Public Health which is totally the opposite of what is supposed to happen,” revealed the source at the Office of the President.
Ebineng, who was transferred from the Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development to the Ministry of Health and Wellness as permanent secretary last year June is said to have questioned the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment worth over P600 million, which was done last year.
“Though P675 million was spent on procuring PPEs last year, there is dire shortage of them in the hospitals. He was told that P70 million will be spent in procuring more,” revealed the source, adding that officials at MoHW led by Ebineng expressed concern over what they believed was misuse of public funds.
Most of the PPEs that were claimed to have been procured at over P600 million – it has been established – were part of donations from international donors.
The MoHW has reasoned that Covid-19 is no longer an emergency pandemic but now a health issue and called for the enacting of a Covid- 19 Act which will come up with its health protocols.
“If we still treat Covid-19 as an emergency and want to respond in a crisis mode as opposed to the normal situation and therein lies the charm for corruption in Covid-19 containment effort as we are witnessing it now,” revealed an official at MoHW.
Recently the leader of the Opposition Dumelang Saleshando called on government to dismantle the Task Force as it causes confusion.
“Recently when we asked about the issuance of the travel permits officials at Ministry of Health and Wellness said they don’t know anything and referred us to the Office of the President who then directed us to the Covid-19 Presidential Task force,” he said, adding that there is need to have one government department dealing with the pandemic.
“The changing of hierarchy Willy nilly at the ministry while we are in the middle of the pandemic is worrisome. This is also going to affect the renewal of contract of nurses who have been employed on contract basis to help in the fight against the pandemic,” said Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) President Obonolo Rahube.