Africa-Press – Botswana. An audio clip that has been making the rounds on Facebook also available on the Duma FM Facebook page in which the Minister of Health, Dr. Edwin Dikoloti, appears to blame the poor state of roads for services not reaching remote areas has drawn ridicule.
“Tsela ke yone botshelo mme ke solofela gore Motlotlegi Fedelis otlaa tshwaragana le tona Molale gore ba Leke go bona gore ditsela tse baa di baakanya. Etlaare ga ngwaga o oya bokhutlong abo gona le pharologano ee seng kana ka sepe ee supang gore kopo TSA rona di me TSA reediwa,” said minister Dikoloti.
Although there may be some truth to Minister Dikoloti’s assertion about the poor state of roads, the way he phrased it puts the government in the hot seat because they are also in charge of road upkeep. In Botswana, the Central Government and Local Authorities are in charge of managing and maintaining the nation’s roads.
Less than a fortnight ago, Statistics Botswana (SB) published the Transport & Infrastructure Statistics Report 2021 which indicated that out of the entire Botswana road system which stood at 32,564.3 km in 2021: “Of this length, the Central Government maintained 18,507 kms (56.8 percent) while 14,057.8 km (43.2 percent) was managed by Local Authorities”.
By blaming the poor road network for poor service delivery, Minister Dikoloti dodged arrows and threw Transport and Public Works Minister, Eric Molale, under the bus. However, some contend that blaming poor road conditions is a diversion because roads in remote areas have always been in fairly poor conditions, but services were still reaching those in need.
Minister Dikoloti’s ministry has been under fire during the last few weeks over the shortage of medicines. The Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) noted that the issue of drug and medicine shortage “has been in existence for so many years and of recent years has escalated to a level of being termed a disaster”. The Union also called on minister Dikoloti to push the ministry of health “to a higher level even above the private facilities because most Batswana cannot afford paying for health services and some stay in hard to reach areas”.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) also said the shortage of medical supplies was concerning but vowed to address the issue. “The shortage of drugs and other medical supplies in Botswana is of great concern. We are giving this matter our highest attention. As one of the immediate interventions to address the situation, Government has engaged local private entities and pharmacies to help in distributing essential medicines across the country,” said president Masisi in the SONA.