November 24, 2003

Freedom of expression in jeopardy?

The removal of a popular morning phone-in programme that allowed listeners to express their views on national issues from the national radio has caused massive protests after announced its suspension.

With Botswana preparing for general elections next year, and with the polls having been a popular topic in the programme, opposition parties assume that Boyce Sebetela, the Minister for Communication, Science and Technology had suspended the programme after realising that it was not favouring the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). The Media Institute of South Africa (MISA) also condemned Sebetela's decision and called on the government to re-instate the programme.

The government however has dismissed suggestions of alleged fears that the programme is being used by opposition parties and factions within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party to attack the president ahead of the elections. Sebetela has also indicated that Botswana Television would stop covering political parties, including the ruling party, except for special political events such as political conferences, because of constraints on capacity. (Business Day, Johannesburg/African Church Information Service)

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