Mmegi Online :: Unions accuse state media of taking sides on strike
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Last Updated
Friday 22 September 2017, 15:45 pm.
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Unions accuse state media of taking sides on strike

Union officials have accused government media of taking sides in the ongoing strike by civil servants. Labour leaders have also accused the official media of spreading government propaganda.
By (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Unions accuse state media of taking sides on strike








Since the strike started or even in the run-up to the walkout, the government media has been ignoring the unions while giving extensive coverage to government officials. Over the weekend, Botswana Television (Btv)'s roving reporter Gloria Kgosi, was in her element as she interviewed government officials about the strike by members pf the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU).  Some of the officials that she interviewed on television included the Permanent Secretary to the President Eric Molale and Acting Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe.

Radio Botswana also conducted interviews with senior government officials about the strike and not union officials.

One of the officials, who was on the panel that was being interviewed, was the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi. A footage of President Ian Khama at Kgotla meeting and commenting about the looming strike, was also repeated on Btv over the weekend after the 7 am news bulletins.   Even on the first day of the strike, Btv did not interview union officials.  One of the employees of the Broadcasting Services, said he had complained to his colleagues about this biasness. 

But on the other hand, South African television station, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) reported extensively about the strike on Monday. SABC interviewed one of the union officials, Andrew Motsamai and the assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Patrick Masimolole.

The man who has been appointed as the unions' spokesman for the industrial action, Goretetse Kekgonegile, said they are aware of the snub by the government media.  Kekgonegile said both the state radio and television stations have never called them for interviews, while on the other hand they have been interviewing government officials. 

He said this is unfortunate because the government media is financed

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from taxpayers' money.  The union official finds this not only unfair but also unethical. "It is very unethical an unconstitutional," charged the union official, adding that the move was also discriminatory.  "This is all corruption," he said. 

Kekgonegile said the government media have not only been snubbing them but also spreading government propaganda.  He accused Btv and Radio Botswana (RB) of sending a wrong message deliberately about the strike.

He said fortunately their members are conversant with what is happening on the ground.   For them, the struggle continues. He said during the Tuesday 7 am news bulletin on Radio Botswana, one of the Cabinet ministers was quoted as saying everything was going well at the Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole. But Kekgonegile said one of the members, a striking medical doctor, said contrary to what the minister was saying, things have come to a standstill at the Molepolole based hospital. 

He said the government media want to portray a picture that the strike is not successful. Kekgonegile said even though the government is giving them a cold shoulder there are means of disseminating information about the strike.  He said they instead receive positive coverage from the South African radio stations and television channels. The unionist said local radio stations and newspapers are also reporting the truth about the strike.

Kekgonegile said contrary to what the government media have been portraying, the strike which is only in its third day, is already hitting hard on the government.  He claimed that yesterday, all the government clinics in the country were closed. When contacted for comment, the deputy Permanent secretaries for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo and Dr Jeff Ramsay did not take calls on their mobile phones.

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