Botswana Editors Forum (BEF) says it has observed the continued hostility by political parties towards the media.
BEF has indicated following its call on political parties to declare their stance on laws deemed to be oppressive to the media industry that none has done so. The statement by BEF comes following reports that Botswana Police forwarded the controversial ‘Tholwana Borethe’ docket to Directorate of Public Prosecution for action.
The DPP has revealed that it is currently studying the docket and would decide whether to prosecute or not after assessing the case. BEF had wanted political parties to make their stance known on laws such as Sedition, Media Practitioners Act, National Security and the failure to enact a Freedom of Information law.
“Our position remains the same as BEF. We have observed that while parties do not want to say out their positions on these laws, increasingly all political parties are growing hostile to the media and getting closer and closer to the ruling BDP and its government,” said BEF Chairman Spencer Mogapi in an interview with this publication.
Mogapi stated that in the meantime their international campaign continues. He indicated that they continue to appraise their international partners about the state of media in Botswana, the risk faced by journalists as a result of unfriendly laws. “We have urged the editors being investigated to continue to cooperate with authorities,” Mogapi stated.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in August last year filed a complaint with the police for investigations and possible prosecution of journalist who knowingly published articles that are false regarding ‘Tholwana Borethe’ Report.
Botswana Police in November invaded media houses and rounded up Editors to question them on alleged false reporting made in their publications. According to the police they were investigating the alleged false reports following a complaint by opposition parties.
The meetings were held at Police Headquarters in Gaborone and chaired by Assistant Commissioner Mokuedi Mphathi. Five media houses - Botswana Guardian; Sunday Standard, Business Weekly and Review, Botswana Gazette and Mmegi Newspaper had their editors summoned to Police Headquarters at the government enclave.
Attorney Dick Bayford represented the other three media houses while Kgosietsile Ngakaage represented Business Weekly and Review. BCP had complained that reports circulating in the media suggesting that Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) was eavesdropping on their phone conversations was instilling fear. According to information gathered the complainants are not happy that the DISS is interfering in politics.
BCP made a report to the police following an alleged conversation recording by DISS between the then BCP Youth League President Tumiso Rakgare and former BCP Secretary General Kentse Rammidi.