Sunday, June 16, 2024

Umbrella for Democratic Change needs to get over it: nobody needs BTV to win an election!

With time Botswana Television has gotten worse, not better.

Instead of talking to our aspirations as a nation, the station talks to our base instincts as a people.

For that reason that with time, the station has grown to become a true embodiment of all that has gone terribly wrong with the republic: manifestly partisan, disrespectful of fairness, oblivious to balance and obsessed with those in power at the exclusion of the other contenders for that power.

Instead of behaving like a television station under a democracy, BTV editorial posture has with time assumed all the hallmarks of a news outlet operating in an empire; solely dedicated to covering the Emperor and his courtiers.

We are expected to believe assistant minister in the presidency, Phillip Makgalemele when he says BTV professionals have all the detachment and required independence to practice their craft without undue meddling from their political masters.

That is nonsense beyond the pale.

The reason why BTV has become so irredeemably discredited is exactly because of the kind of political interference that Makgalemele says does not exist.

A few weeks ago the Secretary General of the Botswana Democratic Party wrote an article in a newspaper lamenting the extent to which the private media in Botswana had abandoned its developmental role. In a limited way, Botsalo Ntuane was right. But the article deliberately chose to ignore the circumstances under which such an important media role had come to be cast aside.

The private media in Botswana is at the moment literally fighting for survival ÔÇô we all know how.

And in such a frantic mode to survive, a traditionally defined developmental role is not at all a part of the media’s priorities. At least as a part of his predetermined legacy, the destruction of the once thriving media is an achievement at which President Ian Khama should look back with some measure of pride.

He set out to destroy the private media and in a way has succeeded ÔÇô way better than he has succeeded in improving Delivery or enhancing his definition of Democracy and instilling his version of Discipline.

Ntuane should have gone further and be more specific by pointing out how BTV has effectively become a pawn of a section of the ruling party that has essentially expropriated itself exclusive access to state media. Additionally, there is no evidence to suggest that awash with money to an extent that it is, BTV is in anyway doing a better job fulfilling a developmental role beyond fighting to keep the BDP in power.

This brings us to the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change.

The last two weeks have seen media reports that UDC has reported BTV to the Ombudsman.

As a principle this might very well be correct, but under the circumstances it sounds like Alice in Wonderland.

The reality is that we not living in a fantasy world as dreamt of by UDC. Ours is a monarchist existence that is clothed with fake democratic regalia.

Reporting a discredited BTV to a discredited office of the Ombudsman can in the end only discredit UDC itself.

Umbrella for Democratic Change needs to get over it: nobody needs BTV any longer to win an election.

What UDC should be doing is to wear the news blackout from BTV with pride.

Getting coverage from BTV might induce some measure of contentment for UDC, but all evidence points to the fact that BTV is a discredited outlet and UDC stands to benefit more by itself boycotting BTV and stating that in categorically public terms.

In our criticism of BTV, it is also important that we show some level of fairness to the ruling party.

There is a significant section of the BDP that is as incensed with BTV as the UDC is.

This section of the BDP is as a rule never covered by BTV no matter how hard they try it.

Notwithstanding the money at their disposal, BTV is on a slippery slope and is taking down with it, the BDP. And all electoral results starting 2014 are there to bear this out.

To stem the tide it would require BTV to overhaul its editorial policy stance so that the station can once again become believable.

And until that happens, UDC is advised to look at BTV as an irrelevant relic from the past.

As for the BDP, the sooner they accept BTV is an electoral baggage that it is, the better for them.

For its part the station has to stop being the linchpin of an undercover campaign by BDP Chairman, Mokgweetsi Masisi as he embarks on enhancing his hegemony over the BDP ahead of an ugly contest that is coming his way.

Listening to BTV journalists complain about how they are micromanaged by Masisi and his impetuous team of image makers one cannot help but form an impression that the man has become a defacto Chief Editor of the Station.

Masisi should internalize the simple truth that in its current state, BTV is not good for his political career.

BTV, for their part should accept that acting as Masisi’s crutch can only drag them deeper and deeper into an abyss of gutter journalism.


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