Friday, July 12, 2024

Mosepele / Masisi bromance sets tongues waging

The National Covid-19 Taskforce Deputy Coordinator Professor Mosepele Mosepele’s constant appearance behind President Mokgweetsi Masisi has raised questions about the nature of their relationship.

The Deputy Coordinator has remained a constant feature in President Masisi’s travelling entourage both domestically and regionally over the past couple of months.

The sudden bromance between the two follows President Masisi’s refusal to accept Mosepele’s sudden resignation from the Task Force earlier this year. Details of their subsequent meeting that resulted in the Deputy Coordinating making an about-turn on his resignation have never been made public.

Sunday Standard can however reveal that part of Mosepele’s decision to resign was because of clashes with the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Epidemic Intelligence Service system operations in the Botswana Covid-19 pandemic.

Sources close to the Office of the President say Professor Mosepele, an epidemiologist and Professor of Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease, was persuaded to stay by President Masisi and now doubles as Botswana’s Covid-19 epidemic intelligence service point man and is constantly part of the president’s entourage to gather international intelligence on the pandemic.

Following the Covid-19 outbreak, a number of countries have followed the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Epidemic Intelligence Service system. The World Health Organisation has also set up its own epidemic intelligence hub. “The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in the global systems for pandemic and epidemic intelligence,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists.

“Viruses move fast. But data can move even faster. With the right information, countries and communities can stay one step ahead of an emerging risk and save lives.”

Global systems were currently “insufficiently prepared” to handle the risks posed by outbreaks, mutations of existing pathogens, extensions of diseases to previously unaffected populations, and diseases jumping species from animals to humans, he added.

“There’s a clear need for a stronger global early warning alert and emergency response system with improved public health intelligence,” he said. “Better data and better analytics are key for better decisions.”

A number of Batswana are however reading another meaning into Masisi and Mosepele’s apparent close relationship. They have simply joined the dots and another possible scenario emerged, that Mosepele may also be the president’s private doctor. This theory has not been helped by the Office of the President’s reluctance to disclose the identity of Masisi’s personal doctor.

In fact, so determined is the OP to keep details of the President’s medical staff a secret that Press Secretary to the President Batlhalefi Leagajang pulled all stops to divert attention from the matter following Sunday Standard inquiries.

Leagajang stopped short of calling the inquiry invasive and falling outside of what he deems to be in the interest of the nation. “Disclosing the President’s doctor is not only a breach of privacy but of his personal security. Look back into the archives and tell me if the personal physicians of any former President have ever been disclosed. That will assist you in assessing whether this qualifies as a story of national interest or not,” the clearly incensed Press Secretary indicated in his response.

Although it was never officially disclosed, Dr. Joseph Makhema was widely believed to be former President, the late Sir Ketumile Masire’s personal physician. Former presidents’ Festus Mogae and Lt Gen Ian Khama’s physicians were also never publicly disclosed.

“The President is entitled to travel with anyone he chooses both on his domestic and international trips. That can be a private citizen, a traditional leader, business person or a civil servant. As you rightly said, Professor Mosepele is the Deputy Coordinator of the Presidential Task Team so his presence around the President is very relevant. In all the region al trips that Professor Mosepele accompanies the President in, he always engages his counterparts in those countries to exchange notes on the fight against COVID 19 and he always reports to the Ministry of Health and Wellness and this has been found to be very helpful to the countries involved,” Leagajang also said in response to Sunday Standard enquiries.

While he always addresses the media before boarding the presidential jet OK1 for his trips President Masisi has never acknowledged Professor Mosepele’s presence as part of his entourage.

It was only, conveniently, following Sunday Standard enquiries that the President saw it fit to acknowledge the Deputy Covid-19 Task Force Coordinator’s presence as part of his crew for his one-day visit to the Kingdom of Lesotho last week. He said Mosepele was joining the crew as part of his Task Force responsibilities.

President Masisi recruited Professor Mosepele from the University of Botswana where he was Acting Deputy Dean, Research and Graduate Education in the Faculty of Medicine. He was also an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease, and Head of Medicine in the Faculty.

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