“Why do they want to start with us”- Tshimoyapula Cllr
While thousands of Batswana anxiously wait for covid-19 vaccine rollout , residents of a small village in the Central District have rejected efforts to get them vaccinated ahead of everybody else.
The Covid 19 vaccine roll out which was planned to begin quietly in the dusty village of Tshimoyapula in the Central District on Monday, March 22nd has hit a snag after the area Councillor, Katholo Tapologo expressed suspicion on reasons why they were the first on the list and successfully rallied villagers to shun the AstraZeneca vaccine from India.
Despite the Arm Ready campaign, the vaccine rollout was met with stiff resistance as The Botswana Patriotic Front councillor for Tshimoyapula/ Majwanaadipitse ward refused to be the first one to be jabbed.
Information gathered by this publication has indicated that Tapologo was supposed to be the first on the line for the injection followed by the village chief, Lenkagetse Keipheditse, followed by eight tribal leaders.
Speaking in an interview, Tapologo said, “It is true there were questions that I raised as I suspected a sinister motive behind the decision to start with us. We don’t even have high Covid 19 cases and we don’t have a single registered covid 19 death in our area.”
“Segwenegwene sene se logilwe mme re ganne,” (There was a sinister plot hatched but we have foiled it) he said.
As the day set for vaccination approached, the village leadership called the Minister of Health and Wellness, Edwin Dikoloti who promised to come back to them with answers on why they got prioritized for the vaccine but never did.
The councilor then escalated the community concerns to the area Member of Parliament, Baratiwa Mathoothe who has confirmed that he too was suspicious of the motive to start the roll out in his area without his knowledge.
“Why is the President and his vice not leading this roll out to motivate the whole nation. Why did they break the normal protocol of using the office of the District Commissioner and the MP for government projects and chose to clandestinely target the councilor instead? Asked Mathoothe.
“I tried to engage the Minister, of Health and Wellness, Edwin Dikoloti instead of coming forth to allay our fears he has been avoiding me,” said Mathoothe.
The MP however noted that their concerns did not mean they were against the vaccine but simply wanted proper communication and transparency around the roll out.
30 000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by India arrived in the country two weeks amid speculations that frontline workers such as Health care workers, Botswana Defence Force and Directorate of Intelligence and Security employees would be prioritised during the rollout.
Efforts to get a comment from Dikoloti did not bear fruit as the minister cut several phone calls from this reporter.