BOTSWANA government reporters have been warned that they should not think of themselves as reporters but just public servants or information officers if they want to remain in their jobs, writes Bame Piet in Mmegi.

It is said that Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Lesego Motsumi, called a meeting of senior officials at the Department of Information Services instructing the officers that it is the General Orders of the Public Service that should guide them – and not journalism ethics (code of conduct).

Employees, who preferred not to be identified, said that the minister was in the company of Coordinator of Government Communications and Information Services (BGCIS) Jeff Ramsay and his officials.

"We were told that the code of ethics, introduced by the former Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, a few years ago, is irrelevant to us because we are guided by the General Orders," said the employee. The department was recently relocated to the Presidential Affairs and Public Administration ministry, Office of the President (OP).

The officers have also been instructed that they have to do their work according to the ministry's desires that the front page of the Daily News is reserved for the President and the Vice President, whilst ministers will get it in the event there are no news stories about the 'Big Two'.

However, Director of Information Services, Kebareng Solomon, denied that a meeting ever took place between them and the minister. She stated that they are doing their work according to the code of conduct introduced by the Press Council of Botswana as well as Venson-Moitoi's code of ethics. "Nothing has changed," she said.

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