Monday, May 27, 2024

Botswana Television is a national disgrace

When Botswana Television (Btv) was established some years ago, many of us were happy that finally, we would no longer have to rely on foreign television stations for edutainment.

Btv was supposed to be our national pride. The station, so we thought, was going to reflect, or in fact, beam the true picture of us as a nation.

We had thought, finally, Batswana in all corners of the country were going to be in touch with national issues through Btv. In other words, those living in, say the northern part of the country, would easily know what is happening in the southern part of the country. We thought, perhaps naively, that the station was named Botswana Television because it was a national asset.

We thought Btv was for all Batswana regardless of their political and social affiliation and association. We thought Btv was not named BDP TV for the simple reason that it did not belong to that party.

How foolish we were to have all such thoughts.

It is now disheartening and painfully shameful to note the unbecoming behavior displayed by political pushers disguised as civil servants at the Mass Media Complex.

The servants mandated with running the national station arrogantly have no regard for the mandate on which the Btv was founded for. The situation at Btv is so pathetic that even the members of staff are so demoralized and there is no longer any sense of pride in working for the national station.

Journalists have been turned into mere puppets who no longer report on matters of national interest but are only limited to covering stories that are deemed favourable to the ruling elites.
Promotions are also said not be based on merit and meticulous service but rather on how one relates, personally and not professionally, to their supervisors.

Btv has lost many talented journalists who could no longer withstand the frustrations dished out by the station management. I am told there is not a single staff member who is not paging through newspapers in search of job advertisements.

Just recently some Btv journalists were kicked out without any explanation. They were given letters which indicated they had been transferred, not to other departments within the ministry but to different ministries altogether. They were given new posts which they had no training on.

How do you take reputable journalists like Doreen Moapare, Lentswe Chibane and Christopher Nyanga and make them administrators at ministries with no links whatsoever to the media fraternity, without their consent.

Almost all the talented and professional Btv staff members who worked at the station since its inception have resigned to join the corporate world, mostly as public relations practitioners and many of them were not lured by greener pastures per se but rather the kitchen was just too hot for them.

Some of them have made it clear they left the station not because they did not like journalism but only because they were never allowed to practice journalism. Actually anyone can work at Btv because all they need to do is to take instructions from their bosses on what and how to report. I would say they were never allowed to practice journalism because they were not at liberty to report independently without extreme censorship on their stories.

In fact it is said most of the stories that Btv journalists cover never reach our living rooms because they are guillotined. If a story is deemed unfavorable to the influential members of the ruling elite it is then shelved, for good.

So appalling is the situation that influential members of the society can, apparently, make a call to have a story that they don’t want stopped from being broadcast, just like that.

A few days back we received reports alleging that Btv management stopped the recording of a program that was to centre on constitutional reforms just because the BDP had not sent a representative. As to why the Btv management believes any debate without the participation of the BDP is not worth the broadcast baffles me. It is utter disrespect to the other panelists who wasted their time going to the Btv studios only to be told the recording of the program had been halted.

A BDP spokesperson is reported as having said they could not send a representative because the party has not yet taken any stance on constitutional reforms. That is fine and reason enough. What is not fine though is, why would BDP’s lack of readiness make those who are ready to share their stance suffer? It must have been so embarrassing for the poor panelists who went to the Btv studios, had their faces powdered then lights, camera and no action.

Btv management should learn to differentiate between BDP and government matters. The only difference between the BDP and other political parties is that at the moment the custodianship of government is with the BDP and that does not necessarily mean it can never change hands.

I therefore wonder if Btv management would be happy to be sacked from their jobs in the event of government being bestowed on another party. Their conduct is depictive of people under the illusion that, just because BDP is in power, they are therefore employed by the BDP. What they foolishly seem to forget is, BDP is here today but it can be out tomorrow whereas government and its employees, them included, will still be there even in the event of another political party taking over power.

Btv management seems not to be alone in thinking that everything that belongs to government belongs to the BDP. During their campaigns prior to the general elections, some grown up men and women in the BDP were fond of making crazy statements in regard to what belongs to the BDP.

My four-year-old son knows that government revenue does not belong to any particular party and as such, any party that takes over the reigns, automatically takes with it the national purse and holds it on behalf of the owners, being the nation of this country.

Government money belongs to all Batswana regardless of their political affiliation. It is therefore frustrating to hear grown up politicians telling people that if they don’t vote for the BDP they will suffer because other political parties do not have the money to govern this country.

I thought Mr Matambo was in charge of the nation’s revenue while Mr Dada is in charge of the party’s money, which only BDP members are entitled to have a share on. Perhaps we should take such statements as warnings of looting yet to come. Maybe should they lose power, our leaders are going to take the national purse with them and leave nothing for the incoming party to carry out government mandate.

I mean, what else can explain such uninspiring and unintelligent statements?

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