Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dr.J.Ramsay,Deputy Permanent Secretary (Media) Ministry of Communications,Science and Technology-Bench Mark Foundation Report Malicious and Defamatory

source: Republic of Botswana (30/9/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 25 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
“Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline”

C6) 25/9/09: Press Statement from Dr. Jeff Ramsay, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Media) Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology - "Bench Mark Foundation Report Malicious and Defamatory'

It has come to my attention that a South African NGO calling itself “The Bench Marks Foundation” has this week launched a report entitled “DeBeers, Botswana and Control of a Country” which contains a false and defamatory allegations against myself and others.

In particular, pages 19-20 of the said report lists instances it alleges demonstrate “a gradual whittling away of democracy and rising intolerance” in our country, including at the top of page 20:

“The sacking of the editor of Mmegi newspaper, Mr. Mesh Moeti, in October 2005 after a visit by Presidential spokesperson, Jeff Ramsay. Moeti’s sin was that he voiced the “need for a strong opposition to keep the ruling party in check.”

The obvious insinuation is that Mr. Moeti was dismissed as the editor of Mmegi following an intervention by myself on behalf of the Government of Botswana.

This is absolute rubbish!

On no occasion have I ever visited either Mmegi or any other private news publisher seeking the dismissal of any employee, much less Mesh Moeti.

In this respect I find the report's allegation insulting to the reputation and integrity not only of myself as a public servant, and to the Government I am proud to work for, but also that of Mmegi, a publication not known to kowtow to authority, and indeed of the independent private press of Botswana as a whole.

The very idea that Mmegi or any other local publication could ever be dissuaded from advocating for a strong opposition, or that public servants would be expected to officially object to the same, is ludicrous to anyone familiar with either this country's media environment or public service.

On a personal level, I am all the more offended by this falsehood given that I have known Mr. Moeti for some two decades as a professional colleague who I have always had the deepest respect for both as an individual and as a media practitioner who I have worked with on past occasions.

Further to the above, I am not aware that Mr. Moeti was ever “sacked” from Mmegi. It has always been my understanding that he voluntarily left the publication.

I also note with wonder that in making its false allegation the report’s authors cite as their source a supposed 2003 publication about an event that they nonetheless claim took place in 2005!

I must place on record that at no time did the authors of the scurrilous report ever contact me to confirm their allegation, which I therefore regard as being nothing less than an act of outright malice on their part.

Finally, it saddens me to see supposedly Christian institutions in a neighbouring country apparently associated with such a devilish report, whose text reveals blatant contempt for our Lord’s commandment to not bear false witness.

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