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….but nothing political about sourcing the vaccines

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the ‘Covid-19 vaccine’ deal to Government, The Voice’s SHARON MATHALA sat down with the SKI Khama foundation Chief Executive Officer (CEO)- Mogomotsi Kaboeaone to discuss the subject which has been a talking point over the week

Q. What has kept you busy since leaving your government job until your appointment as the CEO of the foundation?

A. I left government office when I was deputy permanent secretary after I was retired by the authorities at the time.

I then spent a lot of time focusing on writing before Khama asked me to help him set up the foundation as he wanted to continue the livelihood programmes he had started as President.

Q. And you really started the foundation with a bang following the recent announcement that you have secured Covid-19 vaccines for Botswana; can you take us through that process?

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A. We are part of this country and economy and we are as much affected by the Covid-19 as every Motswana is.

We are aware that there was declaration from government that there were challenges in acquiring vaccines.

As a foundation we couldn’t just fold our arms, Covid-19 is not a government problem, so we used our networks to say we have reached crisis point and we need help.

We were privileged to get commitment and that if we met the requirements they (the US based KKM Global Group LLC) will put aside 4 million doses to become available to our country. We then approached Government on Monday.

Q. When did the process start since you only made Government aware on Monday under a strict five day response period?

A. I don’t remember the exact date but it ran over a period of two months. These types of deals are not an overnight job.

Q. Why did you engage Government only after sealing the deal?

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A. We did not want to approach the Government with an unconfirmed promise.

Our position was that we must present to government something concrete.

Q. Most of your critics believe this is a publicity stunt and that you are taking advantage of Batswana’s misery for your own mileage, perhaps political mileage.

A. We did not have that in mind, and I must repeat, we wanted to approach the Government with a concrete offer.

Q. It is an open secret that the chairman of your foundation, former President Ian Khama does not see eye to eye with the current Government. It is then obvious that whatever the other party does, it is viewed with skepticism…

A. That is a fair assessment and it is a reality that we all know. As far as the foundation is concerned this is not a political entity.

We should not allow our political differences to come into play. I mean if (Satar) Dada was allowed to assist Government with his house as the treasurer of the BDP, why can’t someone else from a different political party also offer help to the Government.

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This is not the time for political grand standing. The issue of Khama and Masisi is a matter for a separate conversation.

Q. Does this then mean that the chairman of your foundation is willing to work with his political rival- President Masisi? I ask this because they were failed attempts before for them to meet at the table.

A. We have already presented an offer to Government, that on its own means our chairperson is very clear that this has nothing to do with politics.

Q. Or maybe that vaccine can’t be sold to individuals but only to Government.

A. No, it was only because Government declared that there is a need to find vaccines.

And we did so because it comes down to the nature of your relationship with the international world.

It comes down to your legacy as a leader, your proven track record in terms of supporting livelihoods of people.

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Q. So in essence you are saying the international community might be of the view that our current President is lacking in that regard?

A. I am not saying that.

Q. But how is it possible for a whole Government to fail, for lack of a better word to convince suppliers, and only for one man to succeed?

A. I don’t know what has happened with our president in terms of his relationships with the international community.

How is it that all our neighbors have been able to acquire vaccines and it has not been that easy for us?

It becomes difficult to not then conclude that how you do things, who you relate with and their view on how you do things has a bearing on whether those people think you deserve to be assisted or not.

Q. Government has been given five days to respond or show some sort of commitment, and if they choose not to- what is next for your foundation.

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A. I cannot predict what will happen but all I can say is that this is an emergency and there is no cost to life.

I’ll tell you that at the peak of HIV/AIDS everything was done to source funds to purchase ARVs.

I remember at the time that the bill came up to about P100 million and the figures we have seen in the quotation is way less than that.

Q. Can you confirm if the figure that has been given to Government is a little higher than the normal price?

A. It is higher yes and although I am no expert in the field it maybe because there is agency fees and commission.

Read the full interview on our online platform

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