Thursday, August 5, 2021

MP wades into fight between DIS and ex-freelancers demanding outstanding payment

Never one to watch action from the ringside, the Francistown West MP, Ignatius Moswaane, is wading into the fight between the Department of Information Services (DIS) and its former freelancers whom the former owes.

As Sunday Standard reported a fortnight ago, DIS tied itself up in knots with a contract that committed it to paying youth freelancers it had engaged across the country for work submitted – not work published as is the norm internationally. Upon realising that mistake but without immediately correcting the contract, DIS paid for work published and not submitted as the contract stated. When alerted about this discrepancy, Lucky Doctor, a Francistown-based freelancer, fought tooth and nail and at one point engaged a lawyer. Ultimately, DIS caved in. Others who also worked on the Youth Freelancers Programme and had signed the same contract learnt about this settlement. They now also want to be paid wage arrears that could cumulatively run into millions of pula.

On November 17, Moswaane wrote the Office of the President permanent secretary responsible for state media a letter in which he reminds the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration about the money it owes its former youth freelancers.

He writes: “Please be advised that the matter was handled by both the former Minister [of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration] Hon Nonofo Molefhi and the current Assistant Minister Hon [Meshack] Mthimkhulu, who promised that all owed freelancers will be paid their dues, it is now surprising that the Department of Information Services is acting against the resolution of the Ministry has changed its stance by engaging legal advisors on a matter that’s already solved. Government made a commitment in Parliament promising to pay all the affected freelancers and up to date nothing has been done, only one Lucky Doctor has been paid.”

Appended to the MP’s letter is another by 31 ex-freelancers who request the PS “to intervene and help us get paid as soon as possible.” Hinting bad faith on DIS’ part, the freelancers allege that Doctor was “secretly paid.”

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