Mmegi Online :: This Is Toilet Journalism
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Last Updated
Friday 21 July 2017, 15:54 pm.
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This Is Toilet Journalism

The full text of the responses to The Patriot they decided to abbreviate in their paper
By (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: This Is Toilet Journalism








1. When I was a teenager during the 1970s there was a dirty game that boys at high school used to play. If you did not like someone, or you saw another boy cozying up to a girl that you had a crush on, you would use the first opportunity that you got to go to the toilet to  quickly scribble an insult on the wall directed at your perceived rival. It gave the perpetrator momentary gratification. I guess it still happens. It is called toilet journalism. Nowadays the euphemism, graffiti, is used to refer to this phenomenon.

2. It came to me as a shock to learn that your newspaper has degenerated to that level. Over the past two weeks, The Patriot on Sunday, published two stories purporting that Methaetsile Leepile and Titus Mbuya are fronting for businessman, Seyed Jamali, to clandestinely buy the Mmegi Group of companies.

3. Needless to say, that the said stories betray your lack of understanding and appreciation of how companies operate. But your biggest problem is your reliance on jaundiced informants (who are known to us) who fraudulently twist and turn facts to project themselves as victims when in actual fact they are charlatans.

4. You have treated a speculative story as a factual account. Even though the assertions you make about us have not been tested, you state them as fact. The headline of your first story, which appeared in the May 26th edition, had an exclamation mark at the end, as if to say "gotcha!" Obviously, the intention was to flatter your informants and deceive the public. You relied on what your informants told you and published it as the Gospel truth without giving us the right to reply.

5. Your reporter, Sakarea Makgapha, gave himself away last Friday night as he panicked while he tried to elicit a comment from Mr Leepile for the second story, just as you were taking your paper to bed. It was your attempt to validate the story which is a figment of your fertile imagination. You did that in order to assuage your troubled conscience because if you are a self-respecting journalist you knew that you were being dishonest. Unfortunately for you Leepile denied you that satisfaction.

6. Your scurrilous attack on us cannot go unchallenged lest it passes as fact. Without compromising the integrity of our company by divulging privileged information in such brazen manner as your informants did, we would like to set the record straight as follows:

*In March this year some shareholders of Mmegi Investment Holding (MIH) made an announcement through the Company Secretary to the effect that they were selling their shares. As in any private company in Botswana MIH shareholders occasionally sell or buy shares among themselves. Like in most companies when such shares are being traded they are offered first to fellow (existing) shareholders. If there are no takers among existing shareholders then the shares can be offered to non-shareholders.

*The largest proportion of shares that were on offer were those owned by Mmegi Publishing Trust (MPT), a membership organisation comprising people who are shareholders in MIH and non-shareholders alike. The Trust was founded by Patrick van Rensburg and Leepile in 1987.

*Your informants, including your Managing Editor, Bapasi Mphusu, were among the six (6) of us who signed up for the shares that were being offered for sale. The MPT shares have been apportioned proportionately to all the shareholders who bid for them. This is a glaring omission in your story. In your two articles you mention Leepile and I as the only beneficiaries of the MPT shares. This is a deliberate distortion because the purpose of your storyline is to misinform the public. You are feeding into your handlers' charade.

*The whole process of selling and buying of shares was administered by the MIH Company Secretary, a competent professional with many years of experience who has carried out such an exercise on behalf of MIH many times in the past, with distinction.

*You would have noticed that your informants are not complaining about any administrative defects with the process, although when it suits them they do. That is not surprising, because they willingly and knowingly participated in the process. Instead, they accuse Leepile and I of being used as "proxy" by Jamali without substantiating their claim with facts. If your informants are genuinely aggrieved by the process, or by our action, they should stop crying and

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go to court for redress.

*From bullet (1) above it would be clear to you that Jamali cannot buy MIH shares because he is not a shareholder in the company. We hold no brief to speak on his behalf. In your first article you quoted Jamali unequivocally denying your allegation that he was "buying" Mmegi. You chose to believe what your informants told you and ignored Jamali's story and continued to do so in your second article published last Sunday.You persistently peddle this lie because it reinforces your handlers' narrative.

*We challenge your paper and your preeminent informants to prove that Jamali, whom I personally admire as an entrepreneur, is behind the sale especially that you seem to be making this assertion with absolute certainty.In your desperate attempt to make a connection, in your last article, you state that payment was made through a law firm that has "at some point represented Jamali on corruption charges against him". For your information, Advocate Efan Khan of Lerumo Mogobe Legal Practitioners, who is our transaction advisor, is Leepile's lawyer of many years. Advocate Khan is currently representing Leepile in the ongoing Phumaphi vs Leepile case which is before the High Court.

*Leepile and I come a long way with Mmegi. We have empowered many Batswana including your informants by enabling them to become shareholders in MIH. We invited them to come and invest in the company because we believed at the time that in our endeavour to help build democracy in Botswana through the fourth estate it was important to have a critical mass of like-minded people who could make a meaningful contribution towards this national project.

*It is still our intention to empower our fellow compatriots.  As a matter of fact, just before the announcement to sell shares was made in March the two of us, and other colleagues, tried to bring together some of the minority shareholders in MIH to pool their resources together so that they could buy, as a consortium, a substantial portion of the shares on offer. But all this was in vain. We therefore, cannot apologise for our intention to increase our stake in MIH.  In as much as we would not stop any shareholder to increase their shares in the company and have control if they can, we expect other shareholders to respect our right, as shareholders, to do likewise.

*In conclusion we respectfully implore you, and your staff, to be professional. Firstly, you yourself, Mr Editor, were an employee of Mmegi just over six months ago. Before you even settle in your new job you allow yourself to be used by faceless people to settle scores in a conflict that you do not understand.Can you really be trusted to be impartial in all this? I do not think so. And this is the problem with your story. You got so excited by the fact that your former employer appeared to be embroiled in controversy. You threw caution and all ethical considerations out of the window and dipped your snout into the feeding frenzy because your handlers' course gives you vicarious satisfaction. I put it to you that you are complicit in the conspiracy to malign us.

Lastly, as stated above your own Managing Editor, Bapasi Mphusu, is a shareholder in MIH.The least you should have done is to make that disclosure/disclaimer in your two articles so that whoever reads your story knows, beforehand, that your boss has a vested interest in the story, and then they could decide whether to believe it or take what you are saying with a pinch of salt. For Mphusu and his friends to use privileged information that they receive from MIH as shareholders to peddle lies about the Company and attempt to extort sympathy from unsuspecting members of the public in the way that they are doing is not only reprehensible but treacherous, to say the least.

7. We take it that this sets the record straight. Between Leepile and I, we have over 50 years experience under our belt as journalists at the highest level. We speak with authority on matters regarding the media in this country. We treat the allegations that you level against us as being very serious and tarnishing to our image. We hope that in future when you make such spurious allegations about us you will afford us the right to reply before you publish.

Thank you.
Titus Mbuya

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