Following attacks on journalists by the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president, Sidney Pilane, the Botswana Media and Allied Workers Union (BOMAWU) and Editors Forum took drastic action on Tuesday to boycott the party’s activities.
Pilane first took pot shots at the media after the party’s violent Bobonong congress. On Tuesday morning, after his Matshekge Hills Senior Secondary School elected leadership was endorsed at the congress re-run in Lobatse, he returned to a radio interview to launch another attack on journalists.
Before then, in Lobatse, Pilane refused an interview with a reporter from The Voice after he “jokingly” threatened to bomb the paper.
We understand that the Advocate may not have the tools of public and media relations, and therefore, is unaware that his public outbursts against the media may not only hurt his political career but also his party. In a way, it already has. Following Pilane’s outbursts, and the media boycott of the BMD, the party was forced to cancel a presser planned for yesterday. Now the party has been denied an opportunity to share with the public resolutions and actions of the weekend congress. Advocate Pilane has to accept that he has erred. Like all Batswana, he does have a right to air his views. But as a leader, he has to be careful what he says, for his words carry weight and therefore can pose a danger to those journalists he attacks.
Dialogue amongst Pilane, his party and the media practitioners is the way forward. It is undeniable that these are key players in building democracy and should all be allowed to play their roles freely. It is our hope that Rre Pilane will do the right thing, liaise with
As regards Mmegi, Pilane rubbished one of our stories regarding plans to cook their membership registry so as to bolster their power within the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) congress. What Pilane should know is that we fully stand by the story. His attack on the story in particular makes us wonder whether the politician does not want the media to report what he does not want. As one of the most experienced legal brains, Pilane knows proper channels to be followed when aggrieved by the media. If the report is false, he can approach the editors and have a rebuttal published. Then there is the Press Council of Botswana route, where he can lodge a complaint and if found to have published falsehood, the newspaper concerned will have no choice but to publish an apology. The final route is that of the Courts. The Pilane debacle also should make journalists take stock. For too long now, there has been public outcry on unprofessional behaviour of some in our media. It is important that journalists divorce their political affiliation from their work to maintain integrity and fairness. We also appeal to BOMAWU and the media houses to continue doing their best in nurturing the reporters to maintain credibility of our media houses.
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
– Albert Einstein