BY CEDRIC SWANKA
There are no plans for full time employment and training for the best performing freelance journalists, in Government`s Department of information Services under the Youth Freelancers programme, Parliament has learnt.
The Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi shared with Parliament this past week that “the ministry neither has plans to permanently employ the best performing freelancers nor to train them as the ministry recruits unemployed graduates from the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) database whenever there are vacant posts.”
When answering questions from Member of Parliament for Francistown West, Ignatius Moswaane regarding the Youth Freelancers programme, its inception, intake and costs incurred.
“The Youth Freelancers programme started in the 2010/11 financial year. A total of Five Million Eight Hundred and Forty-Six Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty-Nine Pula (P5 846 739) has been spent on the programme since its inception up to January 2019,” Minister Molefhi said.
The Minister further said “One million Pula (P1 000 000) has been budgeted for under the programme in the 2019/2020 financial year. The intention is to continue with the programme.”
The Minister of Presidential Affairs was quick to defend Government and state no contractual malpractices were done to freelancer contracts over the course of the program. Minister Molefhi said “The ministry is aware that the programme has been running for more than five years. It is not true that the department is in breach of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) it signed with the freelancers.”
“The MoA was amended in November 2016 with the assistance of the Attorney General’s Chambers to read that, “The freelancer shall receive one payment for material published, that is, whether published online or in hardcopy. It should be noted that this is standard practice in the media industry internationally.”
“The intake process since inception was that the department placed an advert in the DailyNews Paper which ran for a minimum of 14 days followed by shortlisting of candidates as per the advert requirements, interviews, issuance of appointment letters and signing of contracts,” Minister Molefhi said.
The Member of Parliament for Francistown West had tabled motions in Parliament regarding if the Minister for Presidential Affairs is aware that the freelance journalism programme has been running for more than five years now. Whether the ministry has any plans to permanently employ the best performing freelancers and take them for further training. The 2019/2020 budget proposal for the programme to name a few.