Media waging a disastrous war!

The pen is mightier than the sword, we are told. The local media is intent on training their guns on one of the opposition parties, the BCP, and the onslaught is unrelenting. The mood and the politics in the country is ‘regime change.’

The social media, the daily press, BOFEPUSU official statements, sing from the same hymnbook. The recent Good Hope-Mabule bye-election results have significantly upped the noise: ‘BCP should join the Umbrella or the party will be history.’ With the ruling party stubbornly on the saddle by means foul and fair, the media role in the battle for ‘regime change’ seems irrepressible. With the state media four-square behind the ruling party applause of the private media ‘regime change’ role seems pertinent.

The private media qualifies to be the voice of the voiceless. The voiceless Botswana masses, denied  voice by their substandard political knowledge and MPs and Councilors who aren’t up to scratch, one appreciates the private media enthusiasm for  trying to find a niche in the political set-up for itself. However in the multiparty democracy scenario in which the media operates, where checks and balances are only stipulated between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, the media must carefully determine its role and not overshoot its moving target, in the whirligig of the dynamics of local politics. The Enthusiasm and impatience shouldn’t blur its focus and vision.

Though the media is expected to be the voice of the voiceless this doesn’t imply they have to intervene in tones inconsistent with what is reasonable and acceptable. To begin with, the media is at all times expected to be objective in the analysis of events taking place and report truthfully without prejudice. The  media loses credibility if it reports half-truths that lead to inaccurate and irrelevant analysis. One is absolutely amazed how the media analyses what the social media calls bokopano of the opposition parties, what the private media calls ‘joining the Umbrella.’ Is it in the norm that an independent political party can join another? And why has the media interpreted the collapse of talks on 22/12/11 as a ‘pull-out’ from the talks by BCP? Why didn’t the media question lack of inner-party democracy when it transpired that the BCP was the only party which consulted the membership after the collapse of the talks? There was never a pull-out from the ‘umbrella,’ except  a commendable inner-party democracy exercise by BCP; why wasn’t  it high-lighted? Some sarcastic observer has opined: “Editor is a person employed by a newspaper whose business is to separate the wheat from the chaff and to see that the chaff is printed!’ That’s what happened  with the four-party communiqué distributed to all the media houses on 22/12/11! Was the watchdog watching or unconcerned!


Institutional  media memory should be alive to the fact that every-time leaders of political parties waive inner-party democracy a split results. It was so when Philip Matante ,Deputy President of the BPP tried to impose a unilateral decision on the BPP. The BPP 1 and BIP were born; when Dr Kenneth Koma tried to dictate to his central committee, the BCP was born and the BMD was formed when the president of the BDP dictatorially rejected the results of the democratic election results of a new central committee in 2009. Shouldn’t our watchdogs of the democratic process be alive to this?

Instead the media were interested in the BOFEPUSU chorus: “Punish the BCP!” Again we now see the media suddenly wide awake to the ‘join theme’ just because the UDC has retaken the Good Hope-Mabule constituency in a bye-election and the BCP is seen to have performed dismally. Nothing was said about the BCP win in the two council bye-elections recently!

Indeed the ruling party is reeling from the mess of its 50-year misrule; it’s wobbly,  e ya denga denga in Sebirwa.  It does need to be finished off.  Why must the BCP be sacrificed in the process, when its policies are the only ones which put Domkrag’s to shame? Any political party that overlooks and eschews inner-party democracy, courts an unmitigated disaster of splitting any contrived government at the earliest opportunity. In trying to banish a government fond of manipulating the constitution to stay in power indefinitely, why do we want to make a potential prospective good candidate for government a guinea pig in the process? If the BCP believes it holds the ideal policy for Batswana, who has the right to say nay, under a democratic dispensation? Does the press function of keeping an eye on the democratic political process imply dictation of terms to political parties as how the game has to be played? A two-party government system, shouldn’t be imposed, it must come through a process of elimination through  an un-predetermined process. Shall we condemn individuals for dictatorship without condemning groups and institutions for the same tendency?

My opinion mustn’t be construed as objecting to BCP ‘joining’ though it cannot stop me from expressing puzzlement how it can happen. Otherwise I completely subscribe to BCP policy of cooperating with likeminded political parties and other organisations to achieve a dispensation that can bring prosperity, happiness and pride to Batswana.

What I shall detest to the grave is for anybody, any group, any party to coerce others by blackmail, trickery or intimidation to join anybody! Batswana, their organisations must be allowed to exercise their freedom and voluntarily join or co-operate with whoever they choose! Will be exalted to see and experience a stable union of liberal democrats, nationalists, social democrats and socialists cooperating to fix the mess left by the departing conservative autocrats!

Editor's Comment
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