Botswana: Frontliners First

Gaborone — Government will prioritise Batswana in roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine once it has been procured, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.

Addressing representatives of frontline workers in Gaborone on January 22, President Masisi said once available, administration of the vaccine would start with frontline workers since they were the first line of defence.

President Masisi said the decision to procure the vaccine followed discussions with representative of the World Bank Group, Dr Taufila Nyamadzabo, who explained how the bank had transitioned in the offer of finance capital for borrowing that would prioritise COVID-19.

He also informed representatives of frontline workers that discussions were also about specific terms as to what could be available to Botswana in the event the country sought to access such resources.

President Masisi motivated doctors, nurses and support staff at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) to continue exhibiting professional discipline.

He assured them that government planned to support the facility to become globally recognised for its excellence and quality of service.

Government, he said, recognised their job, which exposed them to the virus.

"I am here to acknowledge you being the representative sample of all frontline workers in Botswana. You held firm to protecting the lives of citizens and residents of this country.

You are the defence force of last resort in this fight," he stated.

At Botswana Police Service (BPS) and Botswana Defence Force (BDF) headquarters, President Masisi said the disciplined forces had shown bravery through their work, which entailed contributing funds from their pockets to government's COVID-19 fund.

"I want to assure you that your work does not go unrecognised. I am here to give thanks for the selfless work you do. COVID-19 was never signed up as part of your deliverables when you joined the disciplined forces, but circumstances and time dictated that as law enforcement agents, you will do the rightful thing," he stated

The President stated that government continued to find a lasting solution, but noted that in the interim, work had to be done such as making regulations that should be enforced.

"I'm aware that you are right in the cold face of the pandemic as you police it and deal with those that do not abide by the regulations," he said.

For his part, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Mr Kagiso Mmusi, said the President's visit was encouraging and that the armed forces would strive to perform to high levels.

The acting police commissioner, Ms Dinah Marathe said they were grateful that the President recognised their work and assured him that the armed forces were ready to serve the country as directed by the President's command.

Meanwhile the Joint Force Chief of Staff, Brigadier Simon Barwabatsile said, through the BDF's operation Direla Setshaba, they were acting as part of the whole government approach in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are also acting within the inter-agency framework, working closely with other agencies," he stated.

He said the joint forces derived their capability from different command and specialists of BDF field hospital at SSKI, which had been set up to augment the health infrastructure available to care for and isolate COVID-19 patients.

Brig. Barwabatsile said operation Direla Setshaba started on March last year through elevating its state of readiness to amber, adding that following the announcement of State of Emergency, the BDF commander elevated the state of readiness until today.

He said the BDF had set up mechanisms that gave them flexibility to remain steadfast and that they remained ready to act as may be required by Commander in Chief.

Source : BOPA

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