The hostile relationship between the ruling party and the private media might be the factor behind the alleged abuse of the state media by the ruling party. Botswana Democratic Party(BDP)’s Executive Secretary Comma Serema recently attended a workshop sponsored by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) where he revealed that what BDP is doing with the state media is simply good public relations.
Serema said that by using the state media to write positive things about the current ruling party, they are trying to manage their brand, which is the BDP.
Serema said, as the ruling party, they have a responsibility to ensure that they are projecting a good image all the time because of all the negative reporting that comes from the private media.
“Imagine waking up every day to find different newspapers always saying negative things about the country. The private media never reports on anything good that the party or the government does; the only way we could talk about the positive things we do is through the state media,” said Serema.
For well over two years now, opposition parties have been accusing BTV, Radio Botswana and the Daily News of bias towards the ruling party in terms of coverage.
Serema said that this could be because the private media has always shown bias against the ruling party.
The private media, he said, goes out of its way to portray the party in a bad light all the time.
“There was a time before the elections when I picked up a Mmegi paper only to find the front page headline screaming, “Vote Moupo”. I was shocked to say the least. How are we supposed to think that the private media is fair when they write stories like that?” asked Serema.
Addressing a question from University of Botswana (UB) lecturer Thapelo Otlogetswe, in which he was asking about the blackout of coverage about the new party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) by the state media, Serema said that it was because there was nothing of civil interest in the new party.
He said that BMD members go around insulting him and the president but, put on the spot, he couldn’t point out such an instance where they were insulted. He said that the reason they were not receiving any coverage was because their party was brought about by personal vendettas.
“These people have said a lot of bad things,” said Serema.
He, however, said he had no problem with them going around and publicising their new party and its manifesto; he only had a problem with them because they insult people.
Questions were fired at a cornered Serema, asking him to explain what he perceived to be insults because those present said the only thing they have heard the members address the president as was as a dictator, when, in fact, the word dictator is not an insult.