The Botswana Media and Allied Workers Union is aware that Gabz FM has taken a decision to suspend 2 journalists namely, Mrs Keikantse Shumba and Mr Reginald Tiro Richardson. The said journalists are both members of BOMAWU with Shumba being its Vice President for Gender Affairs. It is for this reason that the union has found it fitting to categorically respond to the said suspension. It is a considered view of the union that the suspension of the 2 journalists is nothing but a calculated move to intimidate and muzzle members of the Press. This kind of trend has been observed as emerging in Radio Stations in Botswana; where Radio Stations have been placing full liability on journalists for any perceived wrongdoing while exonerating themselves and their managers.The union wants to go on record to state that even in the advent of wrongdoing by any journalist (and we do not think that it exists in the current matter) no Radio Station or media house should be allowed to attempt to divorce itself from the work of a journalist within its employment; throwing them under the bus to save face.
The Botswana Media and Allied Workers Union is very much aware and wants to bring to memory the fact that the government of the day has never been happy with the stellar work of the suspended duo in Reginald and Shumba . This was evidenced through known high level officials of the BDP who are documented as having deliberately stayed away from Gabz FM 2014 Elections Debate because they are of the view that the said journalists are against their party. The suspension is not only politically motivated but demonstrates that the journalists have become victims and sacrificial lambs caught in a bid of private media owners (particularly radio station owners) who want to appease the government of the day to retain their respective broadcast licenses while having no sound editorial policy to follow in their respective stations. We expect that principles of justice, fairness and due process will be followed in case of the suspended journalists. We expect Gabz FM and its management to properly apply their mind and the said principles to the current matter. We wish to remind them, that an injury to one is an injury to all.
The Union is also aware that there are certain Media Houses in the Country which despite being approached by both the union and/or their employees continue to deny their employee the right to join a Trade Union of their choice. Such employees have not waived their right in any employment contract to become members of the Union. We are aware that Yarona FM, the Echo and The WeekendPost Newspaper have flatly refused employees in their ranks to join BOMAWU. We would like to caution the said Media Houses that they are in breach of journalists’ fundamental rights to assemble and associate, and should move with haste to allow their employees to join an indicated union of their choice, BOMAWU. Should that not occur BOMAWU shall have no option but to resort to remedial action against the said media houses.