For every P3 million or more that the Ministry for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration spends per annum in advertising in the Daily News - government gave a paltry P8, 092.06 to each private house.
In fact to say government spent P8, 092.06 in advertising in private media is an exaggeration as not all private media houses benefitted the same for the 2018/19 financial year. Acting Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Dr Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi told Parliament before it went on a Christmas break that the ministry does not have a specific budget to sustain jobs created in the private print media.
However, the advertising and publicity budget in the ministry has been allocated to amongst other things, pay for advertising by the ministry in any media house. She said that for the 2018/2019 financial year a total of P5,469, 920 was credited to the ministry for advertising and publicity purposes.
For the past 12 months from December 1 2017 to November 31 2018, the ministry spent a total P3,209, 556 - 80 for advertising in the print media. From this amount P3,112, 452 were spent on the Daily News, whilst P97,104.80 was spent on the private media. Moitoi was answering a question asked by Specially elected Member of Parliament Reatile Mephato who had asked the minister to state the annual budget under her ministry to support different print media houses, through advertising to help them sustain jobs they have created, if any, and to provide a monthly breakdown of expenditure towards each print media house for the past 12 months.
In a supplementary question Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central, Dr Phenyo Butale asked what, historically, has been the ratio of the amount that the ministry spends on private print media vis-à-vis on Daily News in terms of the advertising budget.
“I want to put it to you that there has been a drastic drop, which drastic drop is linked to your attempt to kill the print media, which you know very well is dependent on government for adverting and survival,” said Dr Butale.Moitoi said she believes the MP has the information as he said he knows “more than I do. I do not have the proportions and ratios that he is talking about. If he wants me to give them to him, I would have to go back to the office and the substantive ministry.”
Another supplementary question came from Member of Parliament for Kanye South Abram Kesupile. “I ask, given the fact that government has a moral responsibility to see to it that the print media succeeds, would you be amenable to a suggestion that you invert the numbers that you have just given to us, the P3 million to the private print media, the P97 000 to the Daily News?
Moitoi answered that, “We are talking about responsibilities here. If I may hazard an answer, everybody has a responsibility, if we are talking about media and government; the latter does have a responsibility to help the media grow. “The media does have a responsibility to educate, inform and entertain. Now the questions we can ask and spend the whole afternoon debating is whether we are all doing our responsibilities and carrying them out to the satisfaction of all the parties and I suppose that is a debate maybe we should engage in,” she said.