Despite the posturing, indications are that all is not well at the state run Botswana Television (Btv).
It has emerged this week that journalists are crying foul over lack of professionalism and a creeping culture of verbal abuse, intimidation, blackmail and threats of a transfer.
Frustrated by the state of affairs at Btv, at least eighteen government journalists have reported the matter to the permanent secretary in the ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, demanding immediate intervention.
So serious is the situation that the concerned employees have also forwarded the letter to the Office of the Ombudsman, Ofentse Lepodisi, and their Union, Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU).
At the centre of the complaints is the director of Broadcasting Services, Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo, and one Gloria Kgosi. The two are accused of ‘unethical practises/procedures as well as hostility and verbal abuse’.
Deputy Permanent Secretary, Jeff Ramsay has confirmed that his office is also seized with matter.
“We have endured extremities of individual mockery, insults, intimidation and threats…making BTV News & Current Affairs section unbearable to work at. Mr Kaboeamodimo has consequently failed to address this matter and continues to give Ms Kgosi the leeway to harass us with vulgar and inhumane treatment, ever since she joined the TV section from Radio Botswana, late 2008, where she was serving on a part-time basis,” said the employees.
They take issue with Kgosi’s appointment as Editor and further contend that she was appointed to the position before she could master news reporting and gathering.
The employees state that Kgosi is not competent to be Editor because she does not possess the requisite educational qualifications.
“We want to make it clear to you madam and your office, that when Ms Kgosi joined BTV News, petty as it may sound but true, she did not have the educational qualification backing her appointment to the position of Editor, which is quite a senior position and has always been for persons on D4 scale and up. Ms Kgosi, to this date, has no basic educational requirements for the position of reporter (Assistant Broadcasting Officer) let alone Editor, but she continues to enjoy responsibilities of her appointment. We believe this should not happen in a government which prides itself free of corruption and nepotism,” the employees state in their complaint letter.
The aggrieved reporters claim that their efforts to seek a resolution to their concerns has led to the redeployment of their former colleagues, Lentswe Chibane, Doreen Moapare, Oesi Thote, Christopher Nyanga, to name a few.
“Gloria Kgosi has since been given editorial powers to decide, with no consultation, the business of the day and to decide who should do what, at what time…and we strongly believe that this directly gives her power to insult, mock and threaten us. She and the director have since approached some of us, to spy on fellow reporters…and the reward for this has been external trips, promotions and immunity over transfers/deployments,” they claim.
The employees say they want a one on one interview with the Permanent Secretary to substantiate their claims.
They also want a probe on Kgosi’s appointment and why she accelerated from B scale to C3 in less than a year. The group claims that there is a ploy to move Kgosi to D4 scale.
They further want action to be taken against Kaboeamodimo and Kgosi for the alleged abuse and insults in the work place. Furthermore, this daring group of journalists wants an experienced reporter to be appointed to the position of Editor.
Government, however, is not prepared to discuss these damning allegations.
Government spokesperson, Ramsay confirmed that the ministry had indeed received the complaint from the journalists at Btv.
“We have received some communications but we will be dealing with them in accordance with proper process and procedure,” revealed Ramsay. “I don’t want to go into any details as you might know these issues are internal,” he added.
The employees have given the ministry fourteen days to respond.