Masisi-gate: Ruling by deception!

SHARE   |   Sunday, 20 July 2014   |   By Ephraim Keoreng

Journalism relies mostly on investigations. In fact investigative journalism is the solution to the development and growth of journalism as a profession that exists to serve the public. Therefore the journalist, who taped Mokgweetsi Masisi's speech under the guise of being a Botswana Democratic Party member and shared it with the public, did nothing wrong.

If indeed this person is a journalist, he or she did well. The journalist deserves an award. The role of journalists in a society is very clear; to serve the public through information that will help people make informed decisions that can have a meaningful impact on their lives. Journalists have a duty to the public.

The public - which gives power to the rulers, to govern the country every five years - needs to be informed of the good and bad things that those in power are doing. Journalists are duty bound to report on the excesses of the people who are supposed to act in the interest of the ruled who gave them the mandate. Masisi is not an ordinary member of parliament. He is a full minister, though acting, after being redeployed from the all-powerful position of Minister of Public Administration and Presidential Affairs. Now he is an acting minister of education. He is in short, responsible for ensuring that Botswana produces the best minds who can later become the country's future leaders.

He is also, by virtue of being a member of the cabinet, President Ian Khama's advisor. As chairman of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party's communications sub-committee, he addressed his party colleagues and told them that the best strategy is to use deception and dupe the unaware public, using fake names to infiltrate them and invade their privacy and get to know their secrets, all through social networks like Facebook. Now when a leader says this we should be concerned. The nation should be concerned. And the media, as the gate-keepers, the watchdogs who are at the behest of the public to keep watch and provide checks and balances over those in power, cannot sit idle or look the other way when people like Masisi plot to deceive our citizens. It does not matter that it was a private meeting for BDP members meant to strategise for elections. No, it doesn't matter. What matters is that what was said in that room does not augur well for this our great republic. It is vitriol and threatens the very moral fabric of our society. It stinks because it is dirty. If a leader sits down and plots to do harm to fellow men and women in the country, should you just keep quiet and say, nnyaa nna ga di nkame? No. Then you will be a bad citizen.

You should tell against leaders like Masisi who hatch sinister plans against their people. People need to be informed so that they are ready against such an onslaught as one planned by Masisi in that room. In journalism, the notion of public interest is very important. Public interest supersedes all other interests. We cannot have such a high profile cabinet minister, who is supposed to be honourable, plotting to do evil against his fellow citizen all in the name of political gamesmanship. Is this the best ideas that he has to better advance and market his party and ensure they win elections? It points to desperation. It makes one wonder if the ruling party suddenly is not confident that they will win elections. Masisi admits that he was caught plotting this evil. But just when you think he will be apologetic for his actions, he goes out of his way to display arrogance of a typical leader drunk in power. He says they have identified the journalist who leaked the tape and also reported the matter with the editor concerned. They also intend to go to the Press Council and MISA to register their complaints against the said journalist.

What makes him think that the reporter was wrong in leaking the tape? Masisi should know that the media will not look the other way when he or any leader in the ruling party or opposition plans to deceive or harm this republic. As much as he loves his party, we also love this republic and its people. It is interesting that he says it is politics and that they will use anything to win elections. Why then is he worried that someone has leaked his evil plot? What is Masisi crying about here? That he has been exposed for his deceitfulness or that now his evil plot has been leaked? Surely he can go back to that room and plan a good and clean idea of how to retain his party in power. In fact there is an easy way around this – to deliver good governance and fully fulfil the aspirations of the electorates and they will be retained. No need to tell lies and create evil plots. One does not even excuse his audience – the BDP leadership – that appears to embrace his trickery. Is this how they are ruling this republic? If that is the case, we are doomed!