Disband National Emergency Command Centre

Disband National Emergency Command Centre

On March 18, the coalition government identified ‘Manthabiseng National Convention Centre as a designated the National Emergency Command Centre (NECC). The NECC was not established through an act of Parliament or gazette. In fact it is an illegal structure intentionally designed to siphon public funds.

On Monday I came across a document titled “NECC recommendation on nationwide lockdown,” in which the NECC released its recommendations to the government on how the country must fight the risk of being exposed to COVID-19. Their recommendation is simple, the poor masses of our people must suffer another two weeks of lockdown.

They argued that the “NECC is frustrated in executing its mandate because it does not have the decision-making powers in especially to direct resources (personnel, health materials and financial resources.”
I am glad Prime Minister Thabane did not listen to them but rather moved the nation to the next stage where the economy of this country can be revived. The Prime Minister said non-essential businesses can start but must adhere to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on COVID-19 safety measures.

I understand that they are frustrated in executing their mandate because they don’t have decision-making powers. But can they please give us the reasons why they failed to fulfil the following promises:
Government promised M800 per factory worker but to date they have not disbursed a cent. This money was meant to subsidise rent for factory workers, April has passed and even on the 1 May (Workers Day) the government failed to apologise for its failed promises.

The masses of our people who are very poor have had a very difficult April. They have gone to bed hungry. The government has failed to feed them. I thank God for business people who graciously gave food parcels to the poor. Their numbers were very small and my government needed to complement and strengthen that work.

Failure to procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The Command Centre said they needed only two weeks to procure PPE but unfortunately two weeks have passed and nothing has been procured. The first batch of equipment we received as a donation from Jack Ma was stolen by government officials.

Nothing has been done to punish the perpetrators of this crime. If government officials have stolen this equipment, then they must be brought to book. Those who committed this horrific crime must be brought to justice. It is horrific because it denies frontline workers (nurses, doctors and other medical experts) the chance to protect themselves as they work with victims of COVID-19.

The Matekane Group of Companies, Lets’eng Diamonds and the Ministry of Agriculture provided testing facilities and equipment but to date testing has not happened. We have only tested less than 30 people in South Africa. Apparently the NECC is busy writing testing protocol.
The NECC was so insensitive about the condition of Basotho stranded in South Africa. They are yet to act on it, when people are no longer desperate. I wish they could speed up the process of delivering services to the needy.
The NECC is uncoordinated and unfocused because it’s chairperson and key ministers are fighting political battles instead of the pandemic. They are using the NECC to steal public funds and fund their political campaigns.
The NECC would like to argue that this nation needed a lockdown extension because the unlawful structure has failed to do anything in the past one month. They argue that they lack the authority to manage COVID-19 crisis. They continue to motivate their argument by admitting they are uncoordinated and are lacking focus.

Their argument for the extension is to do work, which was supposed to have been done a long time ago but this work does not get done.
The NECC is an unlawful structure that takes away our livelihoods, funds and rights through lockdowns. They desperately wanted the lockdown extended. At what cost? Seriously this is costing us an arm and a leg.
They are getting risk allowances from limited public funds and enjoying wonderful meals that cost M620 a day. Why is it costing us so much money to maintain an illegal structure that is doing nothing?

As I conclude, it is clear that I do not see how NECC is helping this country. It has brought a lot of confusion and has been used as a tool to steal public funds.

Some argue that the NECC should not be gazetted because it has operated illegally for a while and did nothing besides eating free food and threaten whistle-blowers. I agree with these people and wish the government could disband the NECC.

Besides, why gazette a parallel structure to what is proposed in the disaster management act? All they need to do is draw regulations to ensure there is alignment with the existing public health order. 

We have a national structure that should always stand ready to manage and coordinate efforts and resources during and ahead of a natural disaster. The structure is housed in the Prime Minister’s Office to ensure easy access to power and resources when needed.

I also recommend outsourcing some services to non-governmental organisations and private companies which could bring necessary skills on project management, logistics and community mobilisation. The Independent Electoral Commission does an excellent job in delivering credible, free and fair elections through outsourcing from the private sector and NGOs.

Ramahooana matlosa

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