Broadcasting Services

Government Votes Against Changing Botswana TV

Botswana's Vice-President, Mompati Merafhe has told Parliament that converting the Department of Information and Broadcasting Services (DIBS) from state to public media is not negotiable as it would depict the present administration with a dim view.

Merafhe stressed that "DIBS as a government sector must continue to inform the people about government issues the way it is. We cannot surrender this department to a foreign body, because of its legitimate function to communicate with Botswana; therefore we can't write it off. If we do, we will be qualified to be classified as idiots." 

The Vice President disclosed that there have been "many appeals" to carry out radical changes at DIBS, including handing it over to the private sector. To emphasise his aversion to the very idea of change at DIBS, Merafhe repeatedly said the issue was not negotiable. 

In the legislature, most Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MPs opposed the motion while several opposition MPs complained of poor coverage by DIBS, especially Btv and Radio Botswana. The Minister of Education, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, said she would prefer a government-appointed board to operate the department.  

The member representing Tonota, Pono Moatlhodi (BDP), had earlier referred to a newspaper article that labelled MPs as zombies saying that it was 'offending'. He accused the newspaper of "dirty journalism" and the offending piece as "a nasty article" and advised that serious action is taken against the private media. Moatlhodi was pointed to the fact that the article in question was a column, so, the newspaper could not be held accountable for it. 

 Speaker, Margaret Nasha, however, agreed with her colleague, Moatlhodi. She branded the article as nasty.  Despite the highly partisan debate, it is surprising to the legislators that this columnist's piece of work was favoured by the opposition parties whose MPs called the critics to stop accusing the columnist as he wasn't present to defend his stance.

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