Gaps in gov’t comms as Sesinyi exits


After almost three years as Permanent Secretary, Government Communications in the Ministry for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Andrew Sesinyi’s contract came to an end.

A communicator of note, Sesinyi’s exit has been visible with multiple communication errors and gaps especially with regard to the recent health of President Mokgweetsi Masisi. The lapses in government communications started late last year after Sesinyi departed and the private media was not invited to a major function such as the recent swearing in ceremony of members of the Commission of Inquiry on Constitutional Review which was held on the Christmas eve. Following that, on the third day of 2022, a press release was issued from the Office of the President by Acting Permanent Secretary. ‘Governmnet Communcations’ John- Thomas Dipowe informing the nation that President Mokgweetsi Masisi had tested positive for COVID-19. It was puzzling how the two words, Government and Communications were misspelt. Dipowe further announced that though the President had no symptoms, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane would act in his (Masisi's) capacity.

There was then speculation that the President could have been unwell as he had been previously on isolation as a contact but did not appoint anyone to act on his behalf. In an effort to dismiss the rumours, a follow up statement was written by Dipowe on January, 6, 2022 announcing that Masisi continued to be on self isolation and that he still had no symptoms. That time around, Dipowe had altered the name of his office - Acting PS, Botswana Government Communications and Information Systems A day before Dipowe’s second press release, it emerged that Masisi was in Mozambique in the last week of December where he held meetings with his counterpart Filipe Nyusi in Cabo Delgado province.

Nyusi and his wife had tested positive leading to Masisi and First Lady Neo Masisi who had accompanied him to Mozambique to also test for COVID-19. Masisi’s depature to Mozambique had not been communicated to the public as it's the norm. On January 11, Dipowe informed members of the public that Masisi had completed his self isolation and that he has since resumed duty. That was almost 24 hours confusion in the country on whether Botswana was leaderless as Acting President Slumber Tsogwane had left the country for Malawi the previous day.

There had been a long debate on social media involving lawyers on what was to happen when the Acting President was out of the country and nobody else was announced as new Acting President. Even when Dipowe’s press release finally came, it was not clear whether Masisi had resumed duty immediately when Tsogwane boarded OK1 as that was not communicated. Meanwhile, even though there is speculation that Sesinyi could have left over a rift with some of his colleagues, the communicator par excellence has since denied any bad blood. “The end of my service as PS- GC was requested by me and graciously acceded to by the government.

I have an amazingly warm and interactive relationship with the President and his team, and that will continue as service to my country outside formal employment. I can confidently describe Masisi as my friend, and one who regards me and respects me as his elder brother - and treated me that way - without prejudice to ensuring supervision and delivery of service by me as an employee,” he said. Sesinyi also said he is not a young man and so it should not be surprising that he would request to discontinue the rigours of formal employment in such a hyperactive post. “There's absolutely no underlying rancour or discord in my decision to leave and government’s acceptance thereof.

I initiated it even though there was evidence that my services were still appreciated. It was a personal decision,” he said.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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