Botswana : Opposition Party Reports State Media To SADC
An opposition political party, Botswana National Front (BNF) has dragged the Botswana Television (BTV), a public broadcaster to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for intervention over claims of unfair treatment by state media in covering the party’s election campaign.
BNF President Otsweletse Moupo signed a complaint letter accusing BTV for failing to air party meetings including the recent one were his party candidates were officially initiated. He said BTV have covered the events, but have since failed to broadcast the footage despite a promise by the Director of Broadcasting Services that all official launches of parliamentary candidates by various political parties will be covered by BTV.
“To our surprise the BTV continues to cover our launches, but has stopped airing them over the national television. We are extremely unhappy about the manner in which the BTV has been covering our rallies. The (ruling) Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has been getting much more coverage than the other parties. All their parliamentary candidates were covered and aired by BTV,” reads the letter.
BNF said the decision by BTV to stop airing launches and campaigns of opposition parties not only gives an overwhelming advantage to the BDP but is a violation of the SADC norms and standards of what constitutes free and fair elections. It also confirmed that expected television and radio debates featuring candidates from different political parties were cancelled without formal notification from the Director of Broadcasting Services after the ruling BDP refused to feature in presidential candidates’ debates set for the eve of elections.
BNF appealed for the SADC intervention based on the National Vision (Vision 2016), SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, Guidelines and Principles for Broadcast Coverage of Elections in the SADC Region and Reporting Elections Broadcasts of Article 19. It asserted that the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections provides in section 2.1.5 for “Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media”.
“We also bring to your attention Articles 3, 4 and 6 of the Guidelines and Principles for Broadcast Coverage of Elections in the SADC region, which is guided by the law of our individual countries and protocols, conventions, guidelines and treaties endorsed, signed and/or ratified by our governments in their desire to ensure the success of democratic processes”, the letter continued.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA