By Theko Tlebere
Some few months ago I made an unapologetic review on the establishment of the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) while the CEO was still Mr. Khasipe. Today we have a new CEO by the name Dr Litabe and it seems the shenanigans of Nacosec are mounting day in day out. To tell the truth I was tempted to title this article “Government is shooting blanks”, but I remembered that governments in Lesotho never take criticism positively. So today I decided to make a microscopic review on the work of Nacosec since the appointment of the new CEO. The idea is simply to narrate how the work of Nacosec is not only affecting the numbers that we are having today but also how it impacts badly on the performance of the current government.
Fortunately I have said it before that Nacosec was perfunctorily established, and it is not by any chance different from the previous National Command Center. The government spokesperson Thesele Maseribane attested to my views recently when he could not respond to questions about Nacosec from a radio presenter on a clip that circulated on social media some days ago. I further listened to the current CEO of Nacosec on a recent interview on National Television and was perplexed when she boldly said that she would advise government to have a lockdown for another remorseful two months. Allow me to say I really have no intentions to rubbish or character assassinate the current CEO but I want us to look at their(organisations’) current activities since Majoro’s government announce a fourteen day lockdown. The diligence about this phenomenon is that while Nacosec advises the executive, it has never been crystal clear on what will the government and or Nacosec be doing during the lockdown as mitigation measures.
First I want to talk about procurement of oxygen, Intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and personal protective equipment (PPEs) for health facilities across the board. It is not clear whether the bickering between Nacosec and government officials still exists, but it doesn’t make any sense why health facilities do not have oxygen, and its only today that the committee of ministers had summoned the suppliers of oxygen. When government initiated the lockdown it was in the pretext that more people are dying and mortuaries are full, but two weeks down the line the situation is still the same because Nacosec cannot procure oxygen tanks or even make means to have oxygen in health facilities. It’s shameful for an institution like Nacosec to expect Basotho to adhere to the covid-19 regulations while they are not doing anything about the situation of lack of oxygen tanks in health facilities. On a daily basis names of people we know become statistics of covid-19 because of lack of oxygen in health facilities, and that makes it prudent to conclude that Nacosec is shooting blanks.
I was further exasperated by the fact that since the former CEO of Nacosec indicated the number of ICU beds we have in the country, the issue of ICU beds still exists. If my memory serves me right at the time Mr. Khasipe said as a country we have only thirteen ICU beds in the country in exception of the beds at the Mamohato referral hospital. Apart from the ones that have been bought by the private sector it means Nacosec is encouraging people to test and go to health facilities that they know very well that they don’t have ICU beds and there is no oxygen. For a second there one wonders why would you advice government as Nacosec to have a two weeks lockdown while after two weeks the situation remains the same, there are still no beds all over the country. On this one again, Nacosec is shooting blanks.
I remember very well when the former Prime Minister Ntate Thabane made headlines for embarrassing us on National television that he did not even know what PPEs meant, but continued to boldly say his government would procure them. Apart from the ones that have been donated to us as a country by our friends internationally, health workers are still complaining that the few equipment that they received earlier has depleted. What this means is that there is a bunch of people who wake up every day and go to work at Nacosec, but they never think about procuring PPE for health workers and all front liners. Indeed there may be reasons and valid reasons for that matter from Nacosec for why there is no PPE but I don’t really care about any flashy reasoning that they may impose, they are all shooting blanks.
One last shenanigan from Nacosec is their recent spree of going into villages and testing people for covid-19 using the rapid testing. The idea of testing people is so noble that for a second there I nearly gave Nacosec a round of applause, but alas when reality hit home I realized they were shooting blanks again. Let’s argue that in a village of Motimposo’s magnitude, Nacosec is likely to get positive people who are asymptomatic and those who are really sick and either needs to be hospitalized or needs to be isolated so they don’t infect others. How on earth will that happen while there are no isolation facilities organized by Nacosec? How on earth will they achieve hospitalization because they are the ones who told us hospitals are full, there are no beds? Does it mean the theory that what Nacosec simply wishes to achieve is to have increasing numbers so that more donations come our way? I think Nacosec is shooting blanks on this one also and they should rather go back to the drawing board and do it properly. The future is Now!