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Botswana : BNF’s statement about BTV

D 20 juillet 2011     H 04:58     A Botswana National Front     C 0 messages

As the BNF, together with other opposition parties, we have always maintained that BTV is being used to promote the interests of one party, the BDP and its government. It has also been used to divide the nation and portray the government opponents in bad light. BTV by all intents and purposes is supposed to operate as a national television service though ever since it started operations it has never done so. Lately it has stooped so low that it is difficult to distinguish whether it is performing that mandate or it is now an in-house production company of the BDP and its government.

Contrary to a number of guidelines and protocols, BTV is giving coverage to events that promote the interests of the BDP. This trend never stops and it ultimately has a bearing on the outcome of the elections because the voters are bombarded with the government propaganda while its opponents are shunned. Which is why we have always maintained that our elections are free but not fair. Preparations for General Elections don’t start next year or just before the next general elections, they started immediately after announcement of the 2009 elections.

This worsening situation at BTV has made us, together with other opposition parties, to boycott the programme Matlhoaphage until the station commits itself to fair and objective reporting. The Nation, as it is becoming a daily occurrence, was subjected to a night’s dose of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government propaganda by the notorious BTV news bulletin on Wednesday 22nd June. On reading what the nation was told was a statement from government, BTV put some clips which had a picture of the BNF president, Cde Duma Boko. There was also a newspaper cutting of an article on a rally that he recently addressed. The statement the nation was told, was saying that there was an opposition party whose statements were threatening the life of the President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

Why our leader’s picture was put there when the article was talking about the threat to Khama’s life is baffling. It is common knowledge that our leader and indeed the party is one of Khama’s fiercest critics. It will be wrong for the BDP government to expect us to be its praise singers particularly when it is blunder prone. Our criticism no matter how sharp it has been, has always been within the confines of the law and is not personal but out of principle. Journalism 101 tells you that before you input or say anything about anyone, you should give him/her the opportunity to comment. It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to tell you that this vitriol in the form of gutter journalism was aimed at our leader, but true to its character, BTV didn’t bother to get our comment.

As an unapologetic and unrepentant leftist party with working class bias, it is natural that we will be on the side of the public service strikers, in the face of onslaught by the neo-liberal BDP, IMF and like-minded organizations. Our commitment and respect for civil liberties, democracy and justice will not allow us to keep quiet when members of the security establishment harass and instill fear in our society and cause havoc.

We made noise, which probably made the BDP uncomfortable when John Kalafatis and others were killed execution style. All these killings (about 14 in number) by security agents took place between 2008 and 2011. This coincided with the time when President Khama took office and we had expected his government to give this “disease” the same kind of attention that it has given to the fight against alcohol abuse. This has left us worried.

The BNF doesn’t understand where the threat on the life of President Khama mentioned by BTV comes from. We can only guess. The party will never stoop that low as to threaten the life of Khama. We believe in robust debate over national issues. BTV, Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS), BDF Military Intelligence, Government Communication Information Services (GCIS) should look elsewhere if they are worried about the safety of the president. We will be one of the first to defend President Khama or any other citizen of this country if his/her life is threatened. Threatening the livelihood of other people is not our style.

It is this conviction that made us agree with the Law Society when it said that if the killers of John Kalafatis were not tried in a court of law, it will refer the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC comes in where there are human rights violations either by government or elements within it. What we will not be intimidated from saying is that the BNF will not hesitate to take such matters with the ICC. We thought the BDP government will be supportive of such a move after saying that they will arrest and hand over Al Bashir to the ICC if he came to Botswana .

The news item on BTV is a ploy by the BDP to intimidate us. The BDP is playing the same card and this is like a scratched record. It is not the first time that this strategy is used. In the past, BNF was falsely and conveniently accused by the BDP of planning to “go to the Bush” in a bid to topple the government when in fact they knew this not to be true. This was then followed by harassment of its leaders by the Special Branch, a

Precursor of the DIS.

Like in the past, the aim is to cultivate hatred against the BNF, opposition parties and opponents of government. This is a naked and disingenuous strategy to pave the way for brutal dictatorship. It aims to prepare the nation for eventual harassment and justification of such action by security elements. It seeks to portray critics of the government as unpatriotic, peddlers of hatred and instability. The anticipation is that this will have a chilling effect. The spin-doctors at the Office of the President should know that we will not be intimidated from making legitimate criticism of the BDP government. We do not even need their guidance as to how we should do it.

What is under threat currently is the livelihood of this country and not the life of the President. If there was a real threat, the ever exuberant DIS and some elements within the police service would not have hesitated to make arrests. This we all know.

Moeti Mohwasa

BNF Information and Publicity Secretary