Tax payers may be the biggest losers in the ongoing harassment of government journalists by the Office of the President; it emerged in Parliament this week. Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale disclosed Thursday in Parliament that government has lost six of the seven lawsuits filed by Mass Media Complex employees in the past five years.
“The lawsuits were caused by cases of redeployment and transfers to other Government Ministries, suspension from duty and dismissal from the Public Service”, said Molale. It is almost an article of faith at the Mass Media Complex that government journalist who do not toe the ruling Botswana Democratic Party line are punished by redeployments, transfers and dismissal from the Public Service. Molale disclosed that government won two of the “of the cases against redeployment and dismissal although the dismissal case was subsequently lost on a technicality at the Court of appeal.”
The Minister however told Parliament that it was not possible to quantify the amount spent on the lawsuits because “most of the cases were done by the Industrial Court so there was no order for costs. However, government is awaiting a taxed bill for the case that was lost at the Court of Appeal.” Minister Molale was answering questions from opposition Member of Parliament for Goodhope-Mabule, James Mathokgwane.
The Member of Parliament had asked the minister to state: 1) the number of lawsuits between government and its employees at the Mass Media Complex during the past five years; what caused the lawsuits; the number of cases won by government and the amount spent of these cases including out of court settlements, if any.