2003 Documented Cases – Botswana

NOVEMBER 12, 2003

Radio Botswana

Communications, Science, and Technology Minister Boyce Sebetela suspended the phone-in segment of "Masa-e-sele" (Morning has broken), a popular morning program on state-run Radio Botswana.

According to the independent weekly Mmegi (The Reporter), Sebetela said that the phone-in program had "lost direction and was out of touch with journalistic etiquette." He also called the program "one-sided," according to the local chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). The African Church Information Service quoted Sebetela as saying that he had stopped "this program because bad language was flowing from callers." In an interview with the United Nation's IRIN news agency, Sebetela said that the program had been suspended because the anchors were not knowledgeable enough to discuss "important technical information like the pay structure of government and voter apathy."

However, local journalists suspect that the segment of the show was suspended because the ruling Botswana Democratic Party saw it as too critical of the government in the run-up to general elections, scheduled for 2004. According to MISA, after President Festus Mogae's State of the Nation address on November 10, "Masa-a-sele" invited listeners to comment on his speech on-air. Local journalists say that people who called in criticized the president and the ruling party.

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