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The half a Million Pula Covid-19 team

Whats so special about the six? Asks Govt enclave comms team

An ad-hock Covid -19 Communications team that was created to support the govt Task Force Team gobbles up a whopping half a million pula a month from government coffers, The Voice can reveal.

Much to the shock of the Ministry of Health’s communications full time staff and Botswana Government Communications and Information System team, each of the six marketing and communications experts, one graphics designer and a social media content manger that were roped in from the private sector are paid, P54 000 a month each, The Voice can confirm.

The team, which comprises of communications specialists, Anno Tshipa, Kago Mmopi, Sipho Showa, and member of the Botswana Democratic Party’s strategic team and social media guru, Michael Hall are alleged to have been clandestinely roped in to lead the COVID-19 communications.

Information gathered by this publication has indicated that the new team was recruited to help with Corona virus updates and report compilation for the Task Force team.

“This is something that all government public relations officers can do and were effectively doing unless there is something special about those people that we don’t know of,” complained a source from the government enclave who went on to question where the government public relations units had failed in handling COVID- 19 matters to warrant such extravagant spending.

“This is just a scheme to pay back some people for favours and at the same time loot government,” said the disgruntled public servant.

However, another highly placed government official who didn’t want to be named for fear of victimisation defended the new communication team saying they have brought efficiency and proficiency to the government enclave.

“The team was recruited when the government’s communication team couldn’t deliver timeously what was expected from it,” he said.

They specialise on COVID-19 updates and manage social media updates and responses from the public. They also design all the adverts and communications in general,” said their defender.

The Voice has established that each member gets paid P1 800 per day and they work 30 days in a month, which brings their salaries to P54 000 each.

“The team’s task was to relieve the government communication team and this new one works until late at night and if it was not for their input, the public could be getting wrong information or getting it very late,” claimed the source much to the chargrin of angry government employees who complained bitterly that it was unfair for the six people from the private sector to earn twice.

Although this has caused some divisions, the Task Force Team Coordinator, Dr Kereng Masupu has maintained the need for the team saying it was assembled on recommendation after careful consideration of their track record.

“For the record and without singling out individuals as the Task Force operates as a cohesive unit, it comprises, amongst others, standing and adhoc members whose expertise includes medical experts in clinical medicine/infectious diseases/clinical & analytical epidemiology; statisticians, actuarial scientists & disease modelling experts; medical laboratory scientists; information technology experts; operations personnel, communications experts, procurement specialists and administrators among others. Because the Ministry of Health & Wellness is the leading implementing arm of government (among all other government functions), Task Force experts work with experts and senior officials at MOHW in order to achieve disease management and control,” said Masupu in response to a questionnaire from The Voice.

Asked about the remuneration, Masupu only said, ” Such matters are between them and the entity.”

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