It was about time

On Tuesday, Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi appeared before the press for the first time since he was appointed to number two position almost 12 months ago.

Although this was not a state event but the ruling party one, it was the first time he called a press conference since declaring war on private media in the run-up to 2014 general elections.

At that time, he was Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. Prior to that, Masisi regularly held press briefings to update the nation about progress made in poverty eradication and other government programmes.

Masisi’s predecessor, Ponatshego Kedikilwe also regularly held press briefings on government projects. A noble gesture for both men, especially in the face of President Ian Khama’s protractd local media snub.

What was strange about Masisi’s press conference this week was the length of time it took – more than two hours. It was so because the vice president had a lot in his bag that he was under pressure to share with the public. Among the issues was his party’s loss of the weekend Lobatse Boswelatlou by-election and government’s poverty eradication programme.

He wanted to dismiss recent reports about the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general’s plan, explain his own recent trip to the United Nations and other matters. In the end, some journalists left before the end of the proceedings because the affair was just overloaded.

Our humble advice to the powers that be is that, as in other countries, have a schedule of press briefings for the President, VP and the rests of the executive, to address pertinent issues regularly and timely. The current state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. Just four months ago, at the height of loadshedding, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi travelled to the Republic of China to discuss among others, the poor state of Morupule B Power Station which was built by a Chinese company. To our surprise it was the Chinese Embassy in Gaborone that shared the contents of Venson-Moitoi’s meetings when she arrived home. To this day, she has not bothered to brief the public, through the media, of what transpired in that state sanctioned visit. These are some of the things that make many people wonder what is going on within the Government Enclave. We appeal to the Vice President to cultivate a culture of information sharing and accountability among his cabinet colleagues. The first step to accountability is to be able to share information with the Press. We hope that as we say goodbye to 2015 and welcome 2016, we will witness a more accountable cabinet next year and in many more years to come.

Editor's Comment
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