Mbabane: Exposés are to the effect that the split at the Eswatini Broadcasting and Information Services (EBIS), began when ex-Director at the station, Percy Simelane, took over the reins.
This is carried in the report tabled on Monday, by the House of Assembly Select Committee headed by Gege Member of Parliament, Musa Kunene. The Select Committee was tasked to investigate allegation of maladministration, nepotism and corruption at ETV and EBIS.
Clause 2.2 (III) as presented by Witness (A) said the more pronounced schism among the staff started when Simelane came through to the EBIS. “This division was more obvious between the broadcasting and the newsroom staff and their treatment,” said the witness, adding that the next aspect to be affected by this was the awarding of international trips. It was said that previously, the trips were alternated between the two sections (newsroom and broadcasting), however, it seemed that Simelane was granting the trips exclusively to the newsroom section.
Witness (A) further stated that the current Deputy-Director, Gcinangaye Tsabedze had exacerbated the situation of awarding international assignments in a divisive and discriminatory manner and had explained this away by saying that she had been instructed to do so by the then Prime Minister, the late Dr Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini.
“This created even more discontentment and bad blood among the staff at EBIS where some staffers were constantly on trips and some never or rarely got awarded any trips,” said the witness. The trips were said to have had a financial component which benefitted a member of staff who got assigned to a work trip, which then was the cause of the disgruntlement.
The Witness said that even the Ministry of Information, Communication (ICT) was roped in to address the staff on this issue and promised that it would bring a resolution to the matter but had not done so to date. “The biggest concern herein is that the Deputy- Director has her own faction that she is assigning onto these trips, which position still obtains to this day,” states the report.
Everyone has their job description – Percy Simelane
Called to respond, the retired ex-Director neither confirmed the report nor disputed it but mentioned that when he was still a reporter at the then SBIS a broadcaster was sent to the UN Summit to cover the international event but instead of filing stories for local consumption the broadcaster collected the speeches that were delivered and brought them home after a week. Simelane said she asked him to develop the stories from them (speeches) but he refused as they didn’t make sense to him.
Simelane further mentioned that when he assumed office in 2008 he discovered that everybody could go to cover international assignments involving the Head of State, however, informed by the ethics of journalism he then only assigned practicing journalists from the newsroom while leaving out the broadcasters to execute their duties elsewhere as per their job description. “This was all to induce continuity of announcing and programme production,” said Simelane, adding that he explained this to the staff in one of their meetings and responded to every question they posed on the issue.
“Around that time the station was visited by former International Media Expert Edward Moyo with whom my staff raised the same issue of leaving behind the broadcasters on international assignments, and he told them that it was the responsibility of practicing journalists to cover news as it broke around the world,” said the ex-Director.
Simelane said even the Journalists’ Union which has a membership of about one (1) million journalists will attest that media practitioners should stick to their job descriptions, which is different.
On a parting shot, Simelane reiterated that journalism is the science of reporting news as it breaks around the world on a daily basis and not just international assignments.
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