A war of words has erupted between the Acting Director of the Botswana Network on Ethics Law and HIV-Aids, Uyapo Ndadi, and the coordinator of the National Aids Coordinating Agency, Christopher Molomo, over Ndadi’s utterances that Vice President Mompati Merafhe recently imposed the logo and byline of the national prevention campaign at a recent National Aids Council meeting.
Ndadi recently wrote a scathing letter to the media, lambasting Merafhe for imposing the approval of the logo for the national prevention campaign, despite solid and sound counter arguments from some sitting members.
At a meeting that sought to approve the branding of the campaign, Ndadi, together with other stakeholders, are said to have raised arguments to the effect that the byline, Tsaya Tshwetso (Take a decision to prevent), does not have a punch-effect as it is not a call to action to ensure zero new infections by 2016. They argued that the logo should instead bear the byline Tsaya Kgato (take action to prevent), which is a rather commanding clarion call for individuals to take action now and not in the future.
“Although the Vice-President felt that our suggestion is too philosophical, and decided to move for Tsaya Tshwetso, other stakeholders in the room felt that the move was undemocratic, since it was not voted upon,” said Ndadi.
These statements apparently irked Molomo, who moved swiftly to counter his allegations, insisting that there was nothing undemocratic and imposing about Merafhe’s decision on the adoption of the logo and the byline.
“The matter in question was thoroughly discussed before adoption and those with varying degrees of reservations were allowed to air their views, which were discussed in the most professional way and under a cordial atmosphere,” he said.
He added that while Ndadi was among those who explicitly expressed a different opinion, a consensus was eventually reached by the majority.
Molomo agrees that there was no voting by a show of hands, but insists that the Chairperson explicitly checked whether or not members were for adoption, and there was an explicit utterance of agreement.
In an interview with The Telegraph on Monday, Ndadi shot down Molomo’s statements, saying that a vote was crucial, especially because not all people who attend NAC meetings have the power to vote.
“It is wholly incorrect that my view was shared by a few because all those who stood up to speak were in support of my view. The fact is that NAC meetings are attended by a lot of people, some of them without voting rights. How do you gauge support by asking people to shout? Any Jack and Jill, even those without voting rights, could shout at the top of their voices and mislead the chair into thinking that the NAC has endorsed the campaign.
We do not know if the explicit utterances of agreement came from members with voting rights. This in itself was a major flaw,” said Ndadi.
He said that the chairman did not ask the house if there were any dissenters, further insisting that voting by utterances is unfair and undemocratic.
Molomo also said that Ndadi could have exercised his democratic right to ask for a vote if he felt that one was needed, adding that there is no reason to doubt that this could have been allowed, as is the nature of NAC meetings.
But Ndadi laughed off Molomo’s statements saying that after the vocal endorsement of the campaign, the matter was declared closed and there was nothing that they could do.