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UNDER PROTEST: Ministry of Health and Wellness

Did MoH ‘go slow’ lead to increased Covid-19 numbers?
An alleged ‘Go Slow’ by disgruntled Ministry of Health and Wellness staff could have played a part in the recent rise of Covid-19 cases in Botswana.

According to the latest figures, released this Monday, 1, 014 new cases were registered between 31 May and 4 June, bringing the number of active infections to 3, 323.

Speaking to The Voice this week, a highly placed MoH source claimed staff deployed at Port of Entries, Contact Tracing and Contact Management have been working in protest following the suspension of their overtime payments.

At the start of May, the MoH issued a savingram freezing overtime allowances, explaining the funds were being diverted to cover the salaries of temporary Covid-19 response staff.

“Since the communication affected our April and May allowances, people working on ports of entry worked only eight hour shifts. That allowed some of those coming in to go unscreened; people who were Covid-19 positive just passed into the country and there was no contact tracing as those responsible resorted to the eight working hours,” explained the source, adding only those working at Procurement and Logistics were not affected.

“There is a Covid-19 Call Centre made of four people from each Ministry and it is operating 24-hours but only those from MoH were not getting overtime allowance,” continued the insider.

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He further maintained, upset at their cancelled overtime, some employees were not as diligent as normal.

“They would knock off exactly when their shift finished, leaving customers unattended. A lack of motivation also meant they did not perform their duties to the best of their abilities!”

Although the source said government has moved to rectify the situation, he noted it comes ‘a bit late’ as people have already passed into the country unscreened.

For his part, MoH’s Spokesperson, Christopher Nyanga confirmed ‘some’ staff members were not paid overtime allowances.

However, he stressed this was down to ‘due diligence’ concerning the batch of overtime claims.

“The Ministry wanted to do all that was necessary to ensure that the hours that were submitted for overtime claims payment were authorized and duly worked for. This was in view of some gaps that had been identified and needed to be closed to safeguard Government funds. The Ministry regrets the inconvenience this caused to its staff by this otherwise necessary intervention,” he said.

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Regarding preferences given to department of Procurement and Logistics, Nyanga explained, “The delay in payment of overtime claims was not peculiar to some cadres in the Ministry but affected all that such due diligence had to be conducted on. There is no specific cadre that is being targeted, since every case is considered on its own merit to ensure financial discipline in the Ministry.”

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