The Botswana National Front (BNF) this week accused the government media, Radio Botswana, Daily News and BTV, of bias in favour of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
The BNF’s Information and Publicity Secretary, Moeti Mohwasa, this week issued a press statement that “the BNF reiterates its position as stated in its Social Democratic Programme, that the state media should immediately fall under a parastatal body which will be accountable to an independent board and not open to political manipulation.” The BNF demands that such a body be made up of “politically unbiased civilians”, like, for example, judges.
The BNF also spoke against placing journalists working in state owned media houses under the Public Service Act saying the current set up makes journalists promote the interests of the ruling party and, therefore, do not make the political playing field level.
Mohwasa says that the negativity portrayed by the government media affects the build up to the 2009 general elections, making the forth-coming elections unfair, as parties participating in the exercises are supposed to get equal coverage on radio and in newspapers.
The party feels they are being cheated out of presenting their campaign to the nation.
According to the publicity secretary, the party president, Otsweletse Moupo, recently held a press conference to rebut President Ian Khama’s initiatives. Much to the dismay of the BNF, he said, the Botswana Television (BTV), to which many Batswana have access, decided to only show the part where Moupo declared the party’s stand on the Zimbabwe situation.
“These biased tendencies portrayed by the media are worrisome,” said Mohwasa.
Mohwasa’s other example of the government media bias against opposition parties is when announcements of their victory win during the bye-elections in Makopong on the weekend before Sir Seretse Khama holidays, was delayed for more than a week. He said had it been the ruling BDP party, delivery of the news to the public would have been swift.
The bye-elections that were held in Draaihoek/Makopong saw the BNF beating the BDP by 489 votes to 329, with only 6 spoiled ballots.
In percentage terms, the BNF held 59.34 percent, which happened to be 3 percent higher than the BDP when it won the seat in 2004.
The weekend, such electoral success made the party confident of capturing Kgalagadi South from the BDP.
Kgalagadi South is one of the 29 seats that the party is targeting for a win in the 2009 general elections.