There is a Setswana saying that Lehuha/ letlhoo le apeetswe le lentswe, lentswe la butswa lone la sala. This aptly captures the hatred that Ian Khama has openly espoused against the private media before and throughout his tenure as President of Botswana. Such hatred continues to date, just a few days before he vacates the highest office in the land. When entertaining his friends at some Domkrag function somewhere in Gaborone last week, Khama is reported to have once again made the private media the subject of his incorrigibly lousy and distasteful jokes. That he despises local media, regards local journalists as irritants and only watches BBC and CNN for news content is common cause. We cannot be bothered what he chooses to watch or who he grants interviews to, but we remain committed to inform and enlighten the nation that is Botswana by holding those in public office accountable, including Khama himself as President. It boggles the mind that a whole President would utter falsehoods like that "fake news originates in Botswana. And claim that we have the worst journalists in the world". It is thus not surprising that we often hear politicians making incendiary comments of journalists, calling them unpatriotic and seeking to undermine the Constitution and yet nobody has bothered to take them to task. Contrary to paranoid Khama's claims, the private media does not have an agenda to discredit publicly elected leaders, let alone incoming President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his yet-to-be-appointed cabinet. Khama is not telling the truth. We remain hopeful that Masisi will not buy into such hoghwash, but rather dismiss it with the contempt it deserves. Masisi should ignore Khama's rants and imaginery foes lurking in private media houses.
The freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution, among them the freedom of expression, have always been part of our Setswana culture from time immemorial, hence the saying "Mahoko a kgotla a mantle otlhe and Mmualebe o bua la gagwe gore monalentle a letswe", which calls for open deliberations in public fora. Masisi should ignore advise from Khama and follow his Setswana teachings that "Kgosi thotobolo e olela matlakala", because as a leader the President should be accommodating to divergent views from the nation he leads rather than clutching onto myopic and false believe that cryonism and psycophancy is the only way. Khama's ideas are beyond their sell by date. He is quickly receding into oblivion together with his mundane unsolicited advise. He should just retire into the lap of luxury provided by this country and its people, and stop trying to rule from the grave. His ideas have expired. Equally expired is the Government spin doctor, who instead of facilitating the smooth flow of information from public offices to the public, has now degenerated into a human barricade. Government social media page BWGovernment has of late become the Spin doctor's playground, which he abuses together with other state media like Radio Botswana and Botswana Television, where he frequently peddles untruths under the pretext that he is rebutting some news articles. Him and his ilk should be reminded that they a civil servants, employed by the public to facilitate the smooth running of Government through dissemination of information and implementation of suitable policies to drive this country forward, not to create an kingdom of lies and deceit.
We call on the incoming President to cleanse the public service of such counterproductive misfits and self serving relics, starting with deadwood piled in the Government communication machinery. We cannot afford the regression the public has been subjected to by the outgoing administration, smack in the middle of the Information Era, when Governments the world over are opening up to the public in the name of transparency to deter wrongdoing. In short, we cannot afford to go back to the Stone Age. We are confident that Masisi is very much aware that khudu e nnyela morwadi and he stands to reap immensely if he repairs the damage caused by his poredecessors, to restore sanity and make peace between Government machinery and the private media. By purging private media, promoting secrecy over information held in public offices not only entrenches unaccountability but sweeps corruption, looting and all sorts of crimes under the carpet, away from the public glare and scrutinity. Such secrecy offends Constitutional provisions of freedom of expression, and its corollary access to information through the medium of the media.