Motswakae calls it a day

14 Nov 2023

One year shy of four full decades of service to the nation, veteran journalist,  Ms Daphne ‘Daph’ Motswakae hands over the baton and walks away from the only job she has known all her working life.

   When dawn breaks on her first day in retirement on Thursday,  Ms Motswakae will, contrary to her daily routine of the past 39 years, lay back and look on to creating a new routine that will become her new normal going forward.

As she leaves the employ of the Department of Information Services (IS), pulling the curtain on a long and illustrious career that was both challenging and gratifying, she harbours no regrets, but is happy to have had the opportunity to be of service to the nation.

With her lengthy service, Ms Motswakae has witnessed first-hand, the evolution of the department and that of the entire public service, from an era where public officers worked with rudimentary and very limited resources, to today’s where resource limitations are less glaring as they were then.

“We worked with the bare minimum of resources, but still, our service to the nation remained constantly above par. Our motto was ‘Loyalty to the country,’” she quipped, emphasising how public officers then, driven by the spirit of patriotism, felt duty-bound to put the interests of the country before their own.

In what was then the Department of Information and Broadcasting (DIB), the shortage of personnel – specifically reporters – saw drivers and messengers assume reporting duties in addition to their own, acts that were driven by the same spirit of ‘Country First,’ and it was out of that setup that many from that era became household names, especially in Radio Botswana’s newsreel programme, Tatediso ya Dikgang.

“Going an extra mile to get work done was not an occasional thing, it was our culture,” Ms Motswakae said. “That was why drivers and messengers could report, and we gladly taught them how it was done because there was no room for selfishness as we all had a common goal of moving the country forward.”

Having seen her work as a reporter evolve from the days of typewriters and fax machines as mediums of writing and submitting work, Ms Motswakae is in awe of how technology has changed the daily work of newsgathering and dissemination.

Internet connectivity has not only improved the speed with which reporters can submit their stories, but has also enhanced the quality of their work as they can now conduct research at the click of a button with no need to visit physical libraries.

Having had the opportunity to cover the country’s presidents in different countries during her days as a reporter, Ms Motswakae attributed her successful handling of the assignments to her grounding at the former DIB, where she gained the prowess of reporting for both print and broadcast media.

“There were trips where I would be the sole reporter assigned to travel with the president, and because it was something that we did everyday, I would have no challenges taking pictures and reporting for both radio and the newspaper. Performing all those duties everyday made me a true all-rounder,” she remarked.

Assuming the role of Bureau Chief - Northern Region in 2005 marked the highlight of her career as she now assumed managerial responsibilities that included employee mentorship and overseeing staff welfare, and the management of the region’s resources.

To former deputy director, Mr Epena Ngatangue, Ms Motswakae’s character is admirable.

“She is ethical. Though her husband was in politics, there was never a point where she displayed any form of bias when she edited stories. This spoke volumes to her integrity as a public officer,” he said. Mr Ngatangue, a retiree himself, also remembers his former colleague as an astute manager who was firm, fair, honest and hard-working.

“When she was in Francistown, her region excelled in the production of stories, and was in a league of its own,” he said.

Other traits that he feels constantly shone forth about Ms Motswakae were her ability to handle difficult employees as well as her overall maturity.

The latter made her his first point of call when he found himself in sticky situations be it about work or personal matters.

Another retired former colleague, Ms Kebaeditse Baitlotli similarly shares fond memories of Ms Motswakae and describes her as orderly and highly-organised.

Ms Baitlotli, who was housemates with Ms Motswakae when they were both pursuing further studies in South Africa from 2009 to 2011, enjoyed their stay together primarily because the latter, despite being her boss back at work, was ever quick to apologise and make amends whenever they had differences in which she was in the wrong.

To BOPA Sport reporter, Ms Anastacia Sibanda, Ms Motswakae leaves an indelible mark in her life as she reinforced in her the values of patience, hard-work and meticulousness at work.

“Before I met her, word had it that she was strict and simply difficult to work with, but when I got to know her better after her transfer from Francistown to Gaborone, I realised that Mma Motswakae was simply results-oriented. You produce the results she wants, she won’t bother you!” she said. Ms Sibanda will also remain enchanted by her retiring boss’s easy-going nature.

“Mma Motswakae is forever jolly and always wears a smile on her face. The other thing that I am going to also miss her for is her dancing. That lady can dance, she dances even when there is no song playing. I am going to miss her,” she says.

Those that she shares her life with outside of work also speak highly of her love for everyone, humility and hard-working nature.

In Zwenshambe, an in-law Ms Sejo Mabutho describes Ms Motswakae as a confidante and a strong support system for her and her family.

“Since she joined this family, she has been nothing but a source of joy for us,” she said.

A church-mate from Salvation for Christ International Ministries, Ms Tebogo Mmolawa loves Ms Motswakae’s infectious character, and admires her love for dancing during church services.

As she heads home, Ms Motswakae, who opted for a career in journalism having been drawn in by the rarity of the profession at the time, will be joining her husband in farming and pursuit of other business interests. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Keonee Majoto

Location : GABORONE -

Event : FEATURE

Date : 14 Nov 2023