• as Matsha tragedy divides Parliament
Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi's new found love for posting selfies on social media got him into trouble on Monday when he was criticised by some MPs for violating the right of Matsha students who posed with him for pictures when he visited victims of the Friday tragic accident. Masisi, together with the Assitant Minister of Education Fidelis Molao on Monday took to facebook and posted pictures they took with students of Matsha in different places.
While Masisi took the pictures from some facilities where the injured students are hospitalised, Molao had gone to address the school about the accidents before indulging in selfies and posting on facebook. Masisi and the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Eric Molale were on Monday afternoon forced to defend the former's decision to take pictures with victims of the Matsha tragedy and post them online following objections from other legislators. While the opposition camp accused the ruling party of hypocrisy and trying to act sympathetic when the harm is already done, the ruling party on the other hand scolded the opposition and accused them of self-serving tendencies and trying to score cheap political points by using the Matsha tragedy to put the government in bad light.
Molale defended visits to hospitals by top government officials and political figures as the right thing to do and just what the ailing students need to feel better. But all hell broke loose when Gabane/Mmankgodi MP Pius Mokgware accused Masisi of trampling the rights of the injured students and violating the Children’s Act by posting their pictures/faces on social media. “How is taking selfies with sick students and posting them online and on national television compassionate?” Mokgware asked.
He then went on to accuse Masisi of using the tragedy for political mileage by trying to portray himself and the ruling party as compassionate and caring for the ailing students while in actual fact they could have done more to abate the accident. This was however not long before Molale took to Masisi’s defence. According to Molale it was difficult for Masisi as a public figure to decline picture opportunity with members of the public. However when he was told that it was actually Masisi who took ‘selfies’ and posted them on his official Facebook page, Molale said the Vice President could not have done it without permission from the students’ parents and that it was either the student themselves yearned for the photo opportunities. The Deputy Speaker Kagiso Molatlhegi had to intervene to close the debate.
When delivering a report for the Matsha tragedy Molale failed to provide detailed information because investigations are still on-going. He however stated that the policy of government is to transport students in buses. “This investigation will include why a truck was used in this instance. The investigation will therefore leave no stone unturned,” Molale assured Parliament. According to Molale, as of 15th November 2015, a total of 109 students, as well as the driver and his assistant remain admitted at Scottish Livingstone Hospital, Princess Marina Hospital, Bokamoso Private Hospital and Gaborone Private Hospital. Adding that three students were attended to at Letlhakeng clinic and discharged while four students had earlier disembarked at Tshwaane before the accident occurred. He said a follow-up health programme including psycho-social support and rehabilitation has been put in place for all the students.
Five students died on the spot while two others were certified dead upon arrival at Takatokwane clinic on the day of the accident which happened about a kilometer west of Dutlwe village, at around 14:00hrs when the truck they were travelling in overturned. “Madam Speaker, given the magnitude and severity of the accident Government has decided to cover funeral expenses and to provide the necessary psycho-social support to all the affected families,” he told Parliament.