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Office of the President (OP)
Government of Botswana rejects MISA Slander
17/01/12

The Botswana Government Communication and Information Systems (BGCIS), being the body responsible for the coordination of the Government of Botswana’s Public Relations Network, is compelled to respond to the continued publication of false claims by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), which are being circulated in the context of their alleged research into “Most Open and Secretive Government Institutions” and associated “Golden Padlock Award.”
For the record we wish to inform the public, both domestic and international, that MISA has never made any information request to BGCIS in the context of said research.

Further to the above, we note with dismay that the MISA Regional Office in Windhoek, in a report published on its website, nonetheless claims to have recently sent the following questions to BGCIS:

1. Is the BGCIS able to carry its mandate without interference from top government officials like the Presidency?
2. How much time (number of days) does BGCIS takes to respond to questions from the media?
3. How effective is the information given out by BGCIS with regards to helping the media and other stakeholders?
4. As the central government information dissemination point, how much criticism do BGCIS get, and how much credit for doing a good job do they get?

The above questions were certainly never received by us. Had we in fact received them we would have had no hesitation in answering along the following lines:

1. As BGCIS is mandated to speak on behalf of the Government of the Day it is incumbent upon us to seek information and guidance from top officials, including the Presidency, as such the question of interference does not arise.

2. BGCIS aims to achieve a turnaround response time of 24 hours or less. In 2010 our network achieved this target in 92% of recorded cases.

3. Our customers would be in a better position to judge our performance. We can report, however, that our website – www.gov.bw - remains among the local top five, while our regular press circular and other publications have combined circulations in the tens of thousands.
 
4. As with the previous question, it is difficult to quantify public criticism and credit for our work. We do appreciate that we do not as yet have the capacity to fully achieve our customer satisfaction milestones.

Further to the above, we find it absurd as well as dishonest for MISA to accuse us being unwilling to respond to information requests such as the above. We in fact respond to numerous requests from both members of the media and the general public every day of the week. Whenever we cannot respond to a particular enquiry we say so.

We further wish to note that we have in the past sent a full list of BGCIS contacts to MISA. We therefore believe that there is no reasonable excuse on MISA’s part for their false claims of having attempted to contact us. They have our cell numbers and e-mails, and should be fully aware of our physical address.

We also find it hypocritical and absurd that MISA, along with their partners in slander, has also sought to make an issue out of our non-attendance of their so-called “Golden Padlock Award”.

Here we wish to once more note for the record that MISA has in fact never bothered to inform us about, much less invite any member of our senior staff to, the said awards. In September 2011, as in 2010, we only discovered on the eve of their event that MISA had instead invited a number of junior PROs falling under BGCIS to attend. In this respect we make no apology for having instructed the said officers that they should not go to the event, which had been scheduled during working hours, in order to give false legitimacy to a ridiculing award based on bogus research.

We also find it amusing that MISA should take umbrage at our guidance of our own staff on the above matter, when for over a decade now they themselves have promoted a boycott of the SADC Media Awards.

Finally, in the interest of transparency and openness we are pleased to inform MISA that we have nominated their esteemed NGO to be the recipient of this year’s “Plastic Pinocchio Truthiness Award”.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “truthiness” is defined by Miriam-Webster among others as – “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts of facts that are known to be true.” 

 

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