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Botswana: BTV in Factitious Tangle With BDP Factions?

State television, Btv, has been accused of involvement in Botswana Democratic Party's (BDP) factional wars. This followed a story Btv carried last Friday about the recent launch of the ruling party's Maun West parliamentary candidate, Tawana Moremi. The footage captured the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and another BDP activist Gomolemi Motswaledi, who were not the main speakers.

The two are associated with the Kwelagobe-Kedikilwe faction, while the powerful Department of Broadcasting Services falls under Venson-Moitoi's ministry. Other prominent party officials who addressed the rally were BDP Secretary General, Jacob Nkate and Chairman Daniel Kwelagobe.

However, they were not mentioned in the news item. Nkate was the guest speaker who launched Tawana, the main event at the rally. In fact, Btv perpetrated an improbable mistake when it referred to Motswaledi as the BDP Secretary General.

Motswaledi is known to be interested in contesting the Secretary General's position at the next BDP congress. Sources say Btv's failure to acknowledge Nkate and its dubious reference to Motswaledi as the substantive Secretary General was a deliberate manoeuvre calculated to prop up Motswaledi's campaign for the position.

When contacted, a fuming Nkate said he read sabotage in the whole affair. In fact, Nkate, who is also the Minister of Education and Skills Development, says he intends to lodge a formal complaint with Btv.

The Director of Broadcasting Services, Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo, says Nkate has raised his concerns with him. Kaboeamodimo's explanation is that when the story of the launching of Tawana was packaged for broadcasting, the title of BDP Secretary General was "erroneously" assigned to Motswaledi.

The error, he says, was subsequently corrected in Btv News in English at 9pm. "We tendered our apology," Kaboeamodimo says in his written response in which he also denies that Btv is aligned to any BDP faction or political party.

"Our mandate as broadcasting services is quite clear; we inform, educate and entertain the nation," he says. With regard to coverage of political events, Kaboeamodimo says they do their best to provide all newsmakers with a fair opportunity to be heard. "You will have seen this in recent Btv News with regard to party political activities," he says.

Mmegi/The Reporter

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