The Director of Information and Broadcasting Services, Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo continues to insist that his department is not biased in farvour of President Ian Khama and the ruling Botswana Democratic Party central committee in the current conflict between the barata-phathi faction and the president.
Kaboeamodimo denied any bias towards Khama and the BDP central committee, saying that they only aired the central committee press releases because they were asked to do so.
“Unlike the BDP central committee, the barata-phathi never came to us to seek coverage. Had they done so, we would have accorded them the same opportunities,” he said.
On Wednesday, BDP central committee member, Tebelelo Seretse, went live on state radio, during the Masaasele program, to elaborate the central committee’s stance in the ongoing standoff with barata-phathi.
However, callers were not given an opportunity to call in and ask her questions about the goings on at the ruling party, a development which irked many Batswana.
Kaboeamodimo, however, insists that callers were not accorded the opportunity to question Seretse because management at broadcasting services had thought that callers would be more interested in the issue of looming food price hikes ahead of the 2010 South Africa World Cup.
”We felt that the issue of food security is more important than the crises at the BDP,” he said.
But, even after the state broadcaster announced the issue of impending food price hikes as the topic of the day, caller after caller phoned in to express disappointment that they had not been accorded the opportunity to question Seretse.
Masaasele presenter, Mmoloki Mothibi, had a tough time explaining that the topic of the day was about food security during the World Cup and not the BDP fiasco. He even earned himself the wrath of some of the callers, who accused him of bias, as he had in the past gleefully welcomed discussions on the internal feuds of opposition political parties.
A weary Mothibi could only explain that such questions should be forwarded to his superiors as he has no control over the national broadcaster’s content.
Batswana in general have also accused the state media of bias, saying that it is unfair for them to air only the views of the BDP central committee and not those of the barata-phathi.
“We want to hear both sides of the story. This one sided coverage is nothing but bias,” said Eric Motse of Block 5. He said that the government is very much alive to the fact that many Batswana depend on the state media; which has a wider range of coverage, for news on the latest developments in the country.
Another resident of Block 5, Keitseng Keitseng, says that he now understands why opposition parties in the country have always been complaining about the state media’s biased coverage.