COMMENTARY: Stop harassing journalists

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 22 March 2016   |   By Staff Writer
COMMENTARY: Stop harassing journalists

The arrest and detention of a journalist since last week for obtaining information from a source at the highest office in the land once again reminds us of how much the current administration abhors the private media. The hunter has become the hunted. Notwithstanding that developments in the matter are still unfolding we hasten to state that we are tempted to suspect a witchhunt or a trap set for journalists in an attempt to intimidate them from doing their job. We have in recent years witnessed the escalasting cases of harassment of journalists and raiding of newsrooms in the private media. Some of these cases are still pending before courts while others have been dismissed as baseless. On the same note, a local journalist is living in exile after escaping the wrath of notorious state security agents. Harassment of journalists is clearly calculated to instill fear and prevent them from doing their job, which has been labelled unpatriotic by the highest office in the land.   

 As others say "people who have nothing to hide, hide nothing". In a corupt system the line between coruption and confidentiality is often blurred. Graft busters and state organs charged with rooting out corruption should encourage whistleblowing and agitate for the promulgation of protection of whistleblowers in our population. Such laws will encourage patriotic citizens to continue to leak critical information tha exposes corrupt conduct in our midst. Only corrupt government hellbent on protecting unscrupolous conduct will go to all extends to hide public records, and got to great lengths to reject suggestion for a Freedom of Information Act. We call on the release of the arrested journalist, minus the trumped up charges. 

Kudos to homosexuals

We welcome the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the registration of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO).  The Court of Appeals’ judgment upheld the previous High Court ruling, endorsing the rights of association and expression set out in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Botswana’s own Constitution.  We join LEGABIBO in their calls for non-discrimination of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community. Our societies are stronger when they accept, respect, and value diversity.  We will support Batswana from all backgrounds, orientations, and walks of life in their pursuit for recognition and respect for equality among the populace. 

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Sexual minorities and other marginalised majorities should be given space to belong to any society they want to form. We may not necessarily agree with their lifestyle choices and sexual orientation but they should be allowed to be.The law should never be used to reign in people to rally behind a position.Every citizen has a right to choose.The right to liberty is paramount though it might be offensive to our beliefs. 

Whenever the question of homosexuality arises, it is not that those against it have a problem with two people who consent to do what they want to do; The trouble is that they tend to substitute one of the gay pair for himself and imagine themself in homosexual sex. This is how detractors make themself sick when it comes to this question, and then they project that anger on people who did not ask him to imagine things that do not concern him. Very often, heterosexuals harm themselves with imagination about things that do not concern them. 

Trade unions should make peace

The cliche "When two bulls fight, it is the grass that suffers" was brought into sharp focus midweek when the Industrial court ordered the indefinite suspension of the 2016/17 salary negotiations for public servants and the reconstitution of the bargaining council together with the ammendment of artcile 6 and 7 of its constitution. All this happened as a result of a protracted battle of egos between BOPEU and other public sector unions under the BOFEPUSU amalgamation. It will be a long day before public servants know about the outcome of negotiations to consider their meagre salaries and other conditions of service. 

Quite strange enough, it is abundantly clear that TAWU warned the parties during the promulgation of PSBC constitution of this very same complication. But they were ignored as minorities and the one third threshold requirement was inserted in the document to purge minorities. Curious enough, BOPEU Motsamai openly admits to the media that hatred and the politics of exclusion were deep at play when they closed out some public sector trade unions using the threshold requirement. How sad! The chicks are now coming home to roost and the biggest loser is the workers. 

Another major revelation of the ongoing dispute between trade unions is how ignorant trade union members are regarding the (mis)conduct of their leadership and the decisions they make on their behalf. Trade union members should hold their leadership to account and stop being drawn into rubber stamping self serving decisions.