Tuesday, August 9, 2022

MISA Botswana gets new National Director

The newly-appointed National Director for the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Phenyo Butale, has expressed commitment to breathe a new lease of life into the media fraternity at this critical time in the history of Botswana.

Butale succeeds Thapelo Ndlovu, who left three months ago, however the position has been held by Mpho Mothabane.

In an interview, Butale said he is enthusiastic and feels he is the right man for the job. He has assumed the post at a time a strong voice on media freedom and access to information has never been as pronounced as it is currently.

“I will continue to lobby for media freedom which continues to be under threat,” said Butale. “Media is conduit through which freedom of expression can be achieved in Botswana.”

He said he will continue lobbying for the repealing of the fiercely contested Media Practitioners Act.

The act requires media practitioners to register and be accredited with the council and the journalism profession can still be criminalised through stringent fines and imprisonment.

“The repealing of this act will accord media practitioners to fully and freely execute their watchdog role,” he said.

Amongst the issues he will look into during his term of office, Butale said he seeks to address the absence of a 3-tier broadcasting system that allows for public, community and commercial broadcasting in the country.

He criticised the current existence of a state owned broadcaster saying, “We want to increase the number of voices in the media and limit the involvement of the state in the running of the media to pave way for democracy.”

In addition, he emphasised the need for self regulation in media practitioners as it is the best way forward.

“I believe media practitioners are able to regulate themselves. Many countries are doing this don’t see why we cannot do it,” he said.

Butale promised to ensure that MISA fully executes its mandate of ensuring freedom of the press and freedom of information.

MISA Botswana is a member of the regional nongovernmental organization, which seeks to foster free, independent and diverse media throughout Southern Africa in the services of democracy and development as stated in the Windhoek declaration and the African Charter on Broadcasting through monitoring, research, policy lobbying and advocacy and distribution of information.

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