Saturday, June 22, 2024

Botswana’s media freedom improves under Masisi with a “but” – Reporters Without Borders

Botswana ranked 79, fourteen spots lower than last year, in the 2024 edition of the Press Freedom Index, published annually by Reporters Without Borders. The RSF’s ranking is based on five indicators: political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context and safety of journalists. 

Despite dropping so many spots, RSF notes that since former president Ian Khama left office, “the situation has improved significantly since Mokgweetsi Masisi became president in 2018.” Additionally, RSF states that “Botswana has seen a decline in serious abuses against journalists in recent years.”

RSF point out that the legislative context has largely remained unchanged since 2023, and adds that the economic context has worsened from a score of 50.44 in 2023 to 42.56 in 2024.

They highlight that the small size of the advertising market is dominated by public procurement notices. “Advertising in the media is not regulated and is not allocated equitably but in accordance with the degree to which media outlets toe the government line. State-funded advertising is often misused as a tool for influencing and controlling the many privately owned media that rely on advertising revenue for their survival,” notes RSF.

RSF also note that “The law on access to information has yet to see the light of day” and that “The 2008 Media Practitioners Act was repealed in 2022 and replaced by the Media Practitioners’ Association Act, in order to better protect the media’s freedom and independence. But it contains a provision making it obligatory for a journalist or media to be affiliated with a local organisation, which is seen as discriminatory.”

Published on World Press Freedom Day, the RSF report states that “state-owned media still fall far short of fulfilling their duty to provide a public news service and continue to be under the government’s influence.”

Among other things, RSF highlight that press freedom around the world “is being threatened by the very people who should be its guarantors – political authorities”. 


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