The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Botswana launched the 2011 report on the ‘most open’ and the ‘most secretive’ government institutions in Botswana last week.
The launch was, however, boycotted by the government public relations departments.
MISA Botswana Chairman, Modise Maphanyane, said at the launch that the ‘Government Secrecy in an Information Age’ report was led by MISA researcher, Romang Mogapi.
Maphanyane said the public bodies hold information not for themselves but are custodians of the public good and everyone has the right to access the information. He added that the movement of PR officers to the Office of the President followed the transfer of government media to the same office when the current Government took office.
Maphanyane said many have read a lot of malicious intent in this development, with some expressing fear that this was an attempt to centralise and control the flow of information in government.
According to Maphanyane, MISA was not supposed to reveal the intention of the research and he expressed unhappiness that parastatals missed the awards, adding that government entities did not show up at the awards.
“They have information on behalf of society and why should they hide away taxpayers’ information?” queried Maphanyane.
The 2011 ‘most open’ and ‘most transparent’ institution award had no one qualifying for it, while the ‘most secretive award’ went to the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS).
The Botswana Government Communication and Information Department (BGCI) Press Secretary, Dr. Jeff Ramsay, told The Telegraph that MISA did not consult government public relations entities about the awards and the launch. Ramsay labeled the awards fraudulent and meaningless to the government.
Ramsay stated that the Office of the President learnt about the awards from junior officers the same day the awards were conducted.
“I instructed all the government public relations departments not to show up at that event because there was no formal invitation to my office,” said Ramsay.
Ramsay said that MISA has no point to conduct secretive research without consulting the government. He said government employees have no right to use government time to attend MISA activities. Ramsay said they did not attend the same MISA event last year.
“I don’t see any transparency in these awards and they are totally irrelevant to the government,” said Ramsay.
He, however, said the OP doors are open for MISA to clean up the mess they did, and added that they are ready for reconciliation. He stated that his office never received any phone call and email from MISA concerning the launch and the awards.