Information Services Director, Marea Leshongwane shocked mourners at a fallen journalist, Benjamin Shapi’s funeral on Saturday when she launched a veiled verbal attack on former President Ian Khama and the previous administration.
In a speech characterized by an undercurrent of aversion towards her previous bosses and fondness for the current Masisi administration, Leshongwane said that in the past, all Office of the president employees looked ugly because of depression.
“We were always serious and emotionally ill. Recently someone told me that they thought all Office of the President employees were ugly. The same person has said that these days we are beautiful and glowing and it means something that has been troubling us is gone. My juniors are happy and excelling at their job. Even when we make mistakes and the Permanent Secretary to the President calls us to order we are not scared to lose our jobs. I personally have been emotionally ill for years and I don’t know what exactly healed me but what I know for sure is that I was healed last year,” said Leshongwane taking a veiled jab at Khama’s administration.
Continuing her tirade against Khama, Leshongwane further noted that during the former president Festus Mogae and the late Ketumile Masire’s era state media journalists were free to interact with private press scribes and even join Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Botswana, with their colleagues from the private media without fear of persecution.
She went further to reveal that during the previous administration Government media journalists used to discuss their oppression and depression amongst themselves in hushed tones.“ We were demotivated and not productive at work,” the department of information boss confessed to a murmur from the mourners, with some complaining that she was being irrelevant and abusing the podium to attack Khama unnecessarily.
The Director however obliviously went on to caution journalists not to abuse their newfound freedom under the new dispensation.
Calling for journalism to uphold journalistic ethics high standards of the trade at all times, Leshongwane chided those she perceived to be causing chaos in the in country by writing stories that divide the nation.
She also advised reporters who had thronged fallen Botswana Press Agency journalist Benjamin Shapi’s funeral, to unite and rescicitate Press Club and MISA in order improve their profession.
Urging reporters to take a leaf from Shapi who was hailed for accurate and balanced and factual reporting, instead of peddling untruths, Leshongwane said
“ There was quality journalism during President Mogae and President Masire’s era. I don’t know what happened but we must all go back there to those high standards of journalism. We know some of you are bought to cause trouble. One day you will be exposed. Stop accepting brown envelopes. Let’s not be used by people to push their agendas. We are free now let’s focus on our mandate and stop causing trouble,’ she added