Thursday, July 7, 2022

Khama courting trouble with his soup-kitchen service – MP

Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi does not approve of President Ian Khama personally serving food to people because that has potential to taint the image of the presidency.

Where food has been provided at his public engagements, Khama has, of late, been taking up a position in the serving line to ladle out soup. It would seem that the MP cringes with shock each time he watches Btv and sees the president filling up a train of plates with soup. So, on Tuesday he asked the Ministry of Health “whether the soup that His Excellency the President dishes at kgotla meetings is inspected before it is given to people; if so, who inspects it?”

First off, the Assistant Minister of Health, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri clarified that his ministry doesn’t inspect the soup as, in line with provisions of the Food Control Act, “food inspection is the mandate of the respective councils in the areas of their jurisdiction.” Councils fall under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

“Therefore, if there is any reason for any foods to be inspected, it would be the responsibility of authorised officers in the respective councils,” Matlhabaphiri said.

That notwithstanding, the minister assured parliament that the soup “is freshly prepared on site, involving the community visited and it is prepared from garden vegetables (such as potatoes, tomatoes, onions, green and red pepper) and meat.”

Explaining this rather unusual question to Sunday Standard, Mmolotsi said that the image of the presidency would be greatly and tragically compromised if the soup that Khama serves turns out to be contaminated.

“What if there is a tragedy similar to India’s a few days ago?” he posed.

A few days ago (July 16 to be precise) 23 Indian schoolchildren served lunch of soya beans, vegetables and rice through the government’s feeding programme died a few hours later. It was later discovered that the food had been contaminated with pesticide.

“What explanation would the president give if people that he serves food also suffer the same fate? As head of state is he is not supposed to be serving food in the street especially that that food, as has now been confirmed, is not inspected,” Mmolotsi said.

In a hypothetical scenario where he is at an event where he is offered this food, the MP says that he would refuse it “but I wouldn’t urge others to do the same thing.” However, “others” excludes those whom he has “full control over.”

“I wouldn’t let members of my own family eat the food because I don’t where it is from and how it was prepared. Nowadays anything is possible with food. We often hear of people suffering food poisoning eating bad meat at a funeral,” he said.

However, he would have no problem with Khama giving out hampers of raw food for beneficiaries to cook at home for themselves.

The MP also expressed concern about the president’s time management.

“At a time that the country is besieged with far too many problems, he finds time to serve food at kgotla meetings,” he said.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper