Since its inception, Botswana’s public broadcaster, Btv, has never veiled its political support of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), sparking suspicion the institution was born to promote and hoist the flag of the party to the exclusion of other opposition parties.
On more than one occasion it never escaped the eye of the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) to notice Btv was designed ostensibly to favour BDP and the situation is vividly exposed during election campaigns.
BCP Information and Publicity Secretary, Dumelang Saleshando, says BCP has been keeping an eagle’s eye on the motives and duties of Btv and has deduced that the institution is politically biased against opposition parties.
“With five by-elections scheduled to be held on 15 March, Botswana television has clearly decided to get involved in the campaign by favouring the Botswana Democratic Party in the campaign process. In the previous election campaigns, Btv has refused to disclose circumstances under which coverage for political parties may or may not be availed. However, it is common knowledge that the BDP is availed unlimited coverage for its political activities while the opposition is systematically sidelined with the hope that the nation will be hoodwinked into believing that the BDP is the only credible contender for elections,” Saleshando notes.
Saleshando cites recent incidents that unravel Btv’s wanting and undesirable motives under the leadership of Communications, Science and Technology minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.
“BDP conducted its two rounds of primaries in Palapye and Btv covered both events. It is also worth noting that the reports of the two primary elections were screened within 24 hours of the results being announced. When the BCP conducted its primaries for the constituency, Btv was requested to cover the results outcome. The television station did not honour the request.”
Saleshando laments the lack of professionalism and fairness on the part of Btv management, which he said compromises the credibility of “our electoral process. Elections can never be free and fair when the state television promotes the campaign of one political party to the exclusion of others.”
On a more positive note, he said that the BCP central committee resolved on February 16 that a party news letter be launched. The first edition will be published during the month of March.
“The publication will be done every 3 months and increase in frequency and volume as the elections approach. We trust that this will be an effective way of informing our members and the society at large about the activities undertaken by the party in the light of the boycott by Btv and other government press agencies. We will continue to pursue more innovative ways of communicating the party’s message to the potential voters,” Saleshando.