Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Gov’t won’t allow live broadcasting of LOO’s response

The government shall not under any circumstances grant the Leader of Opposition (LOO) an exclusive opportunity to have their response to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) or Budget Speech broadcast live.

While provisions have been made for the national broadcasters Botswana Television (Btv) and Radio Botswana (RB1), and private television and radio stations to broadcast the President’s SONA and the Minister of Finance’s Budget Speech, such privileges have not been extended to the LOO when responding to the two.

The above notwithstanding, the LOO cannot make arrangements for their own speech to be broadcast by a private broadcasting institution.

Speaking in Parliament this week Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi said it would be neither advisable nor in keeping with international best practice for individual legislators to organize their own private broadcast coverage.

“If there is to be live coverage of Parliament proceedings, it should be carried out through a common framework that has been arranged for all Members of the House within the capacity of the available services provision,” Molefhi said.

Selebi Phikwe West Member of Parliament Dithapelo Keorapetse had wanted to know if the Minister was aware that Botswana Television (Btv) has, since its inception, covered all SONAs and all Budget Speech presentations live but has never covered responses to the said presentations by the LOO or Leaders of Minority Opposition.

“I am aware of the long standing tradition to broadcast the opening of Parliament including His Excellency the President’s State of the Nation Address and the Budget Speech live on Botswana Television,” Molefhi responded, “However, Btv does not televise the debates on the SONA and the Budget Speech.” In the Minister’s book, the contribution by the leader of opposition to the SONA and the Budget Speech is as good as that of any other MP in the House.  “The practice of not covering the subsequent debates applies to contributions coming from both sides of the aisle. For example, we do not cover the Leader of the House’s summation of the SONA debate or the delivery of individual Committee of Supply speeches.” MP for Gaborone Central Phenyo Butale also wanted to know how far the government was with plans to introduce live broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings.

“Would you remember that in the past presentation of the Budget by your ministry, there was an item that spoke about the introduction of the live broadcast of Parliament, there was money budgeted for that; where is that and how far are you?” Butale enquired to which Molefhi responded, “This consideration is under active discussion within the Office of the President.”

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