MISA-Botswana would like to express utmost disappointment with Parliament’s recent failure to support a motion by Selibe Phikwe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse, calling for the repeal of the 2008 Media Practitioners Act (MPA).
Reports indicate that the motion was defeated along party lines, with ruling party members predominantly voting against and opposition MPs voting in support of the motion.
MISA is particularly surprised and concerned by this turn of events following indications by President Mokgweetsi Masisi that his administration was willing to look into the bill among many other issues- towards improving government relations with the private media, particularly promoting media freedom.
We don’t believe that there is any reasonable justification whatsoever for the failure by the majority to support the motion that called upon the repeal of the draconian Media Practitioners Act. The failure to pass the motion shows a lack of commitment for the support of media freedom.
The effect of the failure by Parliament to repeal the MPA means that a dark and ominous cloud in the form of the MPA continues to hang over the heads of media practitioners. Preservation of the status quo means that the media legislative environment continues to be a chilling and hostile one.
Press Freedom is an indispensable hallmark of any democratic society, and many younger countries that appreciate the role of the media have gone the extra mile to create a legislative environment that is conducive for media practitioners to do their work. Botswana on the other hand continues to cling to legislation that is purposively designed to frustrate the media in their work...
It is deeds, rather than words unsupported by action, that are the true indication of commitment for the support of media freedom. We therefore call upon Government to demonstrate its commitment to creating an environment that is friendly to the exercise of media freedoms by taking steps to bring about the immediate repeal of the Media Practitioners Act (2008) . We also encourage the Government to continue openly engaging the media on issues of its role and viability in a democracy such as ours.
MISA Botswana National Director