The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Publicity committee has resorted to using the cellular phone as an organizing tool to have their members flood the air-waves during radio call in debates on the Freedom of Information Bill.
When Gabz FM hosted Presidential Affairs Minister Mokgweetsi Masisi this week to debate the bill and opened the debate to public call ins, the BDP publicity committee dispatched bulk SMS messages to party loyalists organizing them to collective political action in a bid to turn the tide of opinion in their favour.
Committee member, Macdonald Peloetletse, this week sent out SMS messages to party members mobilizing them to phone Gabz Fm and defend the BDP position on the Freedom of Information Bill.
His SMS message read: “Tune to Gabz FM NOW. Minister Mokgweetsi Masisi. Topic Freedom of Information Bill. Call 3956962 or send sms to 14962 to defend the BDP. Letsema a letswelele. Please democrats make those calls.”
Peloetletse warned that “We are starting to remove those who don’t call at all as these messages are costly.” There are fears that the smart mobbing campaigns by the BDP may shift the locus of the public sphere in the debate from a diverse group of commentators to a group of party members who are part of the network.
Minister Masisi is trying to stop parliament from debating the Freedom of Information Bill that was tabled by the Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central who is also the Leader of the Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA -Botswana Chapter) recently met MPs and legislators were reported to be unhappy that the Bill had taken too long before being brought to Parliament.
It is understood that minister Masisi said he wanted further discussions with stakeholders; but the MPs rejected his plea saying the executive’s attitude is to frustrate private members Bills.
In the last sitting of Parliament, the Bill was adjourned after Masisi objected to certain clauses, especially on disclosure of information to the public.