Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA)-Botswana Chapter Chairperson Modise Maphanyane has denied allegations that the organization has closed its offices owing to financial difficulties.
This is after The Botswana Gazette was tipped by sources alleging that the organization had finally collapsed after its financial difficulties caught up with it. The sources also revealed that MISA Botswana Director Buyani Zongwani had resigned, a claim corroborated by Maphanyane.
“MISA offices are not closed as some allege but the only truth I can share as the Chairperson is that the organisation is currently undergoing some serious financial constraints. MISA has not raised enough money to sustain itself,” he explained.
Maphanyane says MISA’s financial situation is so dire that that the organization cannot even afford to pay its staff salaries, a problem he said they could have been helped by the media, “MISA should be able to sustain itself with the media helping out when necessary. But with the media also undergoing their own financial problems, it becomes difficult for them to financially assist us. The advertising ban by government has affected most of them and they continue to struggle financially also,” he said.
Maphanyane however said they were working on ways of soliciting funds internationally and locally in order to normalise the situation to rescue the organization from a total collapse. “MISA-Botswana exists to protect and support the media, journalists who are persecuted and to advocate for the freedom of information. It will be a bad scenario when it closes down and we are currently working hard as the board with the media helping us to correct the situation,” he said, also revealing that the United States Embassy in Gaborone had come on board to help resuscitate the organization and help it with strategies for its future sustenance.
Going forward, Maphanyane said MISA would recruit a “pro-active” Director who would help the organization become financially independent,“ We are not saying past directors were not pro-active; they worked hard for the organisation but from here we need someone who’s primary focus will be on fund-raising so the organisation can sustain itself,” he said.
The organization’s former Director Buyani Zongwani confirmed that he resigned three weeks ago, “I had a three year contract which was coming to an end and I was not willing to renew it though I had an opportunity. The reasons not to renew were partly due to the prevailing financial crisis and my other commitment…”
Zongwani who says he resigned to pave way for new ideas, called on the media to step up their efforts to help the organization stay afloat because its collapse would be a blow to Botswana media. MISA, he said, was important in keeping government in check in its attempt to curtail media freedoms.