The Board Chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Modise Maphanyane, has lashed out at the government of Botswana for its continued attack on the private press.
In a communiqu├® released last week, Maphanyane said government has, through the state media apparatus, recently launched numerous attacks against the private press.
“These efforts to build a case against the private media were launched under the title of rebuttals throughout the month of June. Government, through its state media, seems to be attempting to build a case to justify an eventual gagging of the private media. The rebuttals clearly seek to discredit the private media, while failing to show what wrongs we have committed. MISA Botswana views this as an attempt to justify a crackdown on the private media,” said Maphanyane.
He said the media is a crucial and indispensable player in a democratic dispensation, adding that freedom of expression and ideas should be allowed to flow without state interference.
“This role is the responsibility of the state media as well, which has, unfortunately, abdicated its role of disseminating balanced information. A democratic society should allow its citizens the opportunity to share different ideas and views.
Without such, Botswana’s image as a democratic state will become a thing of the past. The use of state media to prevent such expression cannot be condoned,” said Maphanyane.
He lamented the fact that the private media in Botswana operates under a very irksome and difficult environment without any information legislation, such that they find it difficult to access information and stands at risk of reporting inaccurately.
“We have long called for a three tier principle of broadcasting environment; where Community, Private and Public (and not government) broadcasting obtain. This would broaden the broadcasting space and create an enabling environment for our media. Instead, government has opted to enact the controversial Media Practitioners Act- a regressive piece of legislation which MISA will continue to fight,” said Maphanyane.
He accused government of continuously using the state media to issue rebuttals without truly challenging the facts reported by the private media.
“What is happening in the state media is a bad practice that could end up disabling the media in its execution of its core mandate of informing the nation,” he said.