Government has taken the decision to move ahead with the engagement of popular American television personality Steve Harvey to help “capacitate the local creative industry”, despite public outcry.

During this year’s budget speech, government revealed that the proposed allocation for the Ministry if Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration is P1.58 billion.

When responding to the Committee Supply Debate on the budget allocated his Ministry, the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Kabo Morwaeng said part of the funds will go towards paying Steve Harvey to capacitate the local creative industry.

“The process will ensure that Steve Harvey assists our creative industries to grow, it should be noted that there are some people who get offended at the sight of success because they want the government of the day to fail. Our intention is to ensure that young people benefit from this vision of boosting the arts sector and that is why this time around the budget allocated to my Ministry has gone up,” said Morwaeng.

He further told Parliament that some of the funds will be channeled towards the refurbishment of the Mass Media Complex. Morwaeng further said the intention is to develop and grow the Mass Media Complex to accommodate all creative industries.

In 2020 Steve Harvey was awarded the tender by President Mokgweetsi Masisi by direct appointment during the State of Emergency.

Last year the Leader of the Opposition Dumelang Saleshando issued a statutory notice informing the Attorney General of their intention to challenge the direct appointment of Steve Harvey to the multi-million pula tender. Saleshando subsequently told the media that the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) responded to his party’s request and provided the required information to move the application to court.

Media advocacy organizations including the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Botswana) criticized the appointment saying it is was a slap on the face of many hopeful youths with qualifications and skills in the media industry.

In a statement released by Business Botswana – Creative Arts & Media Sector, a similar proposal was brought before President Mokgweetsi Masisi, but there has been no response from the Office of the President (OP) to date.

“In June 2019 we engaged with His Excellency President Mokgweetsi E. K. Masisi and various Government leaders under the auspices of the Creative Community Adhoc Committee and proposed a 10-point plan for jobs and the growth of the creativity and the arts in Botswana. In our plan we made far reaching proposals for the Transformation of the Departments of Broadcasting and Information Services (DB&IS) that is to say BTV, RB2 & Daily News,” reads the statement.

Harvey was invited to Botswana by President Masisi in the run up to the 2019 General Elections to host a youth seminar. While reports suggested that his visit cost government several millions, OP denied that no money was spent on his visit. Masisi has publicly described Harvey as a close friend.

Meanwhile, it is alleged that the (PPADB) this year blocked a P49 million tender to supply and install UHD 4K production equipment at the Botswana Television auditorium in preparation for the project.