Mmegi Online :: Serema Rejects Freedom Of Speech Accusations
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Last Updated
Friday 15 December 2017, 17:56 pm.
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Serema Rejects Freedom Of Speech Accusations

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) executive secretary, Dr Comma Serema, has slammed those who claim that the government is against freedom of speech and said that such people would be in jail if what they alleged was true.
By Ephraim Keoreng
Staff Writer
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Serema Rejects Freedom Of Speech Accusations








"They would be in jail this evening. We have respect for democratic principles. These people (BAM and BCP) are like a person who looks in the mirror, sees his reflection and says 'this person is not me'," he said. Serema was reacting to accusations by Botswana Congress Party (BCP) vice-president, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswanag that BDP is militarising politics in the country and stifling freedom of expression. The BDP official denied that the administration of President Ian Khama abhors freedom of speech. He said that if indeed the BDP government is restricting freedom of the speech, then the BCP and BAM would not have said what they just said. Speaking at a press conference to launch the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM)/BCP 2009 Manifesto, Gobotswang said that the BDP brought Khama and other senior military leaders into politics and this has now sent the nation into a state of fear. He said that under Khama's presidency, freedom of speech has become a casualty. "Critics of government are muzzled. A liberal BDP Member of Parliament was forced to withdraw remarks he made criticising the draconian nature of the Khama inspired liquor regulations. He was followed by another MP who was punished for expressing concern over the disproportionate militarisation

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of the civil service. This was followed by the passage of the draconian Media Practitioners Act of 2008 in which a Media Council, an external body whose members are appointed by the minister, would control the profession of journalism, a development with grave implications for freedom of the press," he said.

Gobotswanag hailed journalists for putting their lives at risk by reporting on sensitive issues like killings by security agents, which have been going on for sometime. "There have been reports of torture and abductions of suspects by the newly created DIS (Directorate of Intelligence and Security). These actions are contrary to our constitution which declares that Botswana is a sovereign republic, meaning in simple terms that the country is a property of the people, not personal or family property," he said.

The BAM/BCP Manifesto asserts that the bill of rights in the Botswana Constitution guarantees civil liberties to the citizenry and was inspired by the Magna Carta of 1215 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. The manifesto says that the Magna Carta proclaimed that: "No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned ...or in anyway destroyed, unless by lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land".

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