Botswana: New BTV Line-Up Annoys Reteng

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The recent introduction of a new lineup of news bulletins at state-owned BTV has left multicultural coalition of Botswana advocacy group - RETENG - disappointed because no indigenous language, besides Setswana, was given a slot.

Professor Lydia Nyati-Ramahobo, the secretary general of RETENG lamented that the government is not willing to listen to those who want to promote other indigenous languages. She said they have tried to approach government on the use of more indigenous languages in the state media but they have been given the merry-go-round with nobody willing to talk about the issue. In a letter dated April 15, 2008 RETENG called for a meeting with the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, who is in charge of state media.

In response, Venson-Moitoi advised the organisation to address its request to the University of Botswana (UB) Language Advisory Board and the Ministry of Education who are responsible for language development. "The Ministry of Communications Science and Technology only implements the recommendations from above mentioned institutions," Venson-Moitoi replied.

Ramahobo revealed that their investigations at UB found that the board the minister talked about is non-existent. "We have been tossed around. We were scheduled to meet with the Ministry of Education but they cancelled the meeting at the last minute," she said. She thinks a majority of people in the country are non-Setswana speakers, hence the introduction of other languages in state media will be of great benefit.

Attempts to get a comment from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture were unsuccessful, as the principal public relations officer Keneilwe Segopolo declined an interview on the grounds that she is not a policy maker but a mere civil servant. The director of Broadcasting Services Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo could not be reached because he has been in meetings since last week. He promised to call back but never did.

Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone) 26 September 2008