• Partners with govt to procure vaccines • Mining powerhouses join forces with govt • Govt reported to have initially rejected offers

Managing Director of Boteti Diamond Mining Company, Naseem Lahri

Although the government, through the Ministry of Health and Wellness is said to have rejected an initial offer by mining companies to help finance procurement and rollout of more COVID-19 vaccines, talks to that effect are currently underway, The Business Weekly & Review has established.

This was confirmed by both Lucara Diamond Corporation and Debswana Diamond Company in interviews this week.

Responding to an email enquiry from The Business Weekly & Review on whether it had helped to procure any vaccines for the country, the Managing Director of Boteti Diamond Mining Company, Naseem Lahri, responded: “Lucara Botswana has gone into collaboration with other private sector companies to form a partnership with the Government of Botswana.”

Lucara owns Boteti Diamond Mining Company, which in turn wholly owns Karowe Diamond Mine. “This partnership intends to facilitate the procurement of vaccines and the seamless and smooth rollout of vaccinations,” Lahri said in a written response. “Discussions are still at the initial stages. Currently, no offers and decisions have been made.”

She emphasised that Lucara is committed to the partnership and helping the country fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

At mining giant Debswana, the Corporate Affairs Manager, Agatha Sejoe, answered:  “We can confirm that Debswana is currently involved in engagements with industry partners regarding the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout. These engagements are intended to explore a possible approach towards supporting government in this undertaking.

It is important to note that these conversations are still at a preliminary stage, hence there has not been any offers made to government on Debswana’s part nor a subsequent rejection as a result. We wish to further emphasise that this is a private public industry initiative.”

Sejoe added that where feasible, Debswana will continue being a strategic partner to the government.

By press time, the Chief Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Doreen Motshegwa, had not responded to this publication’s questions about an offer for vaccines from the private sector and whether a similar offer was made before.