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Meaningless mileage or Covid cook-up?

CONTROVERSIAL CONFERENCE: Top table pic from Sehitwa

BDP Youth gathering divides opinion

Amid a rise in Covid-19 cases in the region, a recent Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) youth conference in Sehithwa village has raised angry eyebrows.

Locals in the area have slammed the 6 March gathering, attended by various high-ranking BDP officials, including the party’s Secretary General, Mpho Balopi, for ‘recklessly compromising public health’.

Quick to air his complaints, area councillor, Petros Tjetjoo insisted the event, held at Ngami JSS hall, was unnecessary and selfish.

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) member noted a council meeting, due to sit that same week, was postponed indefinitely because of rising numbers of Covid-19.

“It is not about them as the BDP. It was so selfish of them to convene when all large gatherings have been suspended due to rising numbers of Covid-19. As it is, our region is more like an epicenter. People are dying every week because of this scourge and that is why I stand here today condemning the BDP’s ill act,” blasted Tjetjoo, who also serves as Deputy Chairperson for Maun Administration Authority (MAA).

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“We expect them to act responsibly. Covid-19 regulations have been created for us all to observe,” continued the pumped-up politician.

Turning his ire on Balopi, Tjetjoo added, “How can a whole Minister come here, gather young people from our area and compromise our health, knowing very well that people are dying in large numbers in our region.”

NOT AMUSED: Petros Tjetjoo

Responding to Tjetjoo’s comments, BDP Youth Wing General Secretary, Otsile Machona dismissed the UDC man’s complaints as ‘someone seeking mileage over nothing’.

“Was he a delegate? What I can confirm to you is that yes the meeting took place. The hall appeared to be full because we observed social distancing, but our numbers were below 50. We observed all Covid-19 protocols, sanitised, wore protecting facial masks and kept the register of attendees,” Machona explained.

Asked why they felt the need to convene with Coronavirus rampant in the North West, Machona hit back, “We have our own reasons, you can’t ask me why people feel the need to go to church for instance!”

For his part, the new BDP Regional Chairperson, Reaboka Mbulawa admitted to having reservations when he first heard about the meeting.

IN DEFENCE: Otsile Machona

“I only came to office last week so at the time I was not in any structure of the party. But I can speak on a personal level because I only knew about the meeting three days earlier. But I did ask them why they felt the need to gather when every weekend we bury our people who have died from Covid-19. I asked them why they could not wait until the pandemic abates because as leaders we need to lead by example. But they promised they will observe all Covid-19 regulations and besides when a party elder have confirmed attendance, I trusted they will do the right thing.”

Last week, Acting Head of District Health Management Team (DHMT), Sandra Maripe, confirmed the district has recorded 48 Covid-19 related deaths since the start of the year.

Putting that into context, in 2020 there was only one fatality recorded.

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The North West currently has 368 active cases, with 12 hospitalised at Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital in Maun while the rest were quarantined.

An additional 1, 282 people were placed on home isolation for monitoring purposes following their close contact with those who have tested positive for Coronavirus.

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