Bravo BOMAWU, beware the hurdles!

13th September 2016
Ernesto's Briefs


By Ernest Moloi -

Thanks Lord’ a mercy! Local newshounds have taken control of their vocation and profession. Hopefully, standards will improve. The bar will be raised.

The society will be mirrored as it is. And reporters, lens men and women, broadcasters and producers will no longer compete for attention in the public space.With a watchdog to police the watchdogs, we can all brace ourselves for improved service. We hope to read well researched stories, to watch television programmes that are enlightening, as well as listen to radio programmes that are informative and provocative.  

All these are within reach all thanks to the tenacity of the profession’s Young Turks who had the audacity to believe and refused to be brow-beaten into submission by naysayers and agents of darkness, who thrive under the prevailing conditions. We wish Botswana Media and Allied Workers Union (BOMAWU) well in its journey.The task ahead is onerous.

The first hurdle will be dealing with the press corps itself, to orientate it along a common ethos, that characterise the Fourth Estate throughout the world; that is to create a reporter whose only allegiance is to the truth and nothing else but the truth. It’s going to be a steep climb given the advent of social media.Back in the days this was easily manageable through a peer review mechanism operated by the Press Club using some of its committees, such as Education and Ethics. But today reporters and editors lash at each other sometimes even using unspeakable curse words! It will be the duty of BOMAWU to strip such transgressors of their press cards as a form of punishment.

BOMAWU is not reinventing the wheel. It is continuing a process that started a long time ago with Botswana Journalists Association (BOJA). It was this BOJA that actively lobbied Government to ratify the International Labour Conventions to allow associations to form Trade Unions. It was BOJA that first developed a Constitution for Botswana Media and Allied Workers Union with Motumise law-firm.The process hit a brick wall at registration when a majority of the practitioners wouldn’t buy into the project because it was erroneously perceived that BOJA was a ‘one-man’ body. As we enter this new epoch let’s be careful not to denigrate our predecessors by misrepresenting their deeds.

The records are there for all and sundry to peruse; to learn how BOJA was instrumental in the formation of Southern African Journalists Association and even served in its executive; how BOJA was in the forefront of the formation of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).Some of the men and women from that glorious era such as Douglas Tsiako and Metlhaetsile Leepile are alive to attest to this truth. Indeed, our best wishes go to the Young Warriors who have taken up the baton to lead the profession to its rightful destiny, where it can be a symbol of respect and honour not shame and rebuke. We hope and pray they will be able to resuscitate some of those defunct institutions and affiliate with international journalists’ bodies. Good luck!

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