We, at the BDP, would not normally respond to opinions or views as expressed by members of the public as we understand and respect their right to do so. However, it is compelling to do so in the case of most of the articles written by Sonny Serite. It appears a trend is emerging in which The Telegraph and Mr Serite choose to embark on a not so usual approach or style within the ethical bounds of journalism. Their articles are largely personal attacks on the leadership of the BDP.
Recently The Telegraph of 21 July 2010 carried an article which had a collection of insults and abusive language attacking the persons of the Vice President and His Excellency, The President. In a previous article on The Telegraph of 10 March 2010, Mr Serite refers to the Vice President in derogatory terms or language unbecoming of a young person about elders. Besides, Mr Serite is an employee of Water Utilities Corporation, which is a parastatal and by extension is a public officer whose behavior should reflect basic decorum.
The BDP is a party of ideas, policies, programmes and projects on a national development agenda. We appreciate and welcome dialogue on serious issues. We therefore challenge Mr Serite and The Telegraph to serve as a fountain of wisdom by raising the level of political discourse and desist from engaging in hurling obscenities.
It concerns us if in the process of analyzing issues as Batswana we totally miss out on the fundamental principles of ‘BOTHO’ to an extent of bad mouthing the Presidency in terms we find unacceptable. Yes, there is freedom of expression but this goes beyond any level of tolerance by any normal person.
There is really nothing interesting or educating in articles of this nature except demonstration of anger and a good collection of insults and signs of disrespect to the leadership of this country. There is no harm in one writing to the media on anything that he/she wishes to educate and in the worst case scenario (unfortunately) de-educate the people about. The bottom line is that people and this nation at large will judge our character, pattern of behavior and how we relate to others through a number of ways including the way we relate and or communicate our views.
There are many ways of expressing one’s views in a polite, dignified manner without using derogatory sentiments. The media should demonstrate its commitment to freedom of expression and tolerance by being mindful of the fact that not all readers agree with their views.
We do not wish to pretend or suggest that Batswana should always agree with all decisions or policies of Government. We nonetheless expect them to exercise their right in a morally acceptable manner that we all know we are capable of. The importance of the formation of DIS has been thoroughly dealt with in the past by the relevant organs of Government as such no attempt will be made to do so here. The Presidency respects, at all times, the independent audit findings of the Office of the Auditor General and in doing so has and continues to carry out instructions or recommendations meant to improve Government accountability in utilizing public funds. The office of the President and all its departments are subjected to the rules of the Public Audit Committee of Parliament like all other government ministries and departments. And like all ministries they too are obliged by law to respond correctly to all queries raised by the Auditor General.
We admit there was general suspicion in the establishment of DIS, but the law setting DIS up was thoroughly debated and passed by Parliament. The Act is not a BDP law but a statutory document constitutionally produced by the authority set up to do so.
We reiterate our commitment to freedom of expression for all and especially for the media. All we ask is that the right be exercised as expected in the constitution and that due respect to other people’s rights to privacy and their right to a reply are also considered.
As a Sovereign State we abide by international standards and conventions which express the right to state parties sovereignty. Zimbabwe is one of our neighbours who from time to time we dialogue on issues of common concern.
Let us as a Nation at all times live responsibly by respecting each other even when we differ in opinion.
*KGATHI is Chairperson of the BDP Culture and Publicity Committee