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World Press Freedom Day

Publishing Date : 08 May, 2018

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Over the past week, the world celebrated the Press Freedom Day.  The Botswana Congress Party acknowledges the invaluable role the Media and the media fraternity have played, using the medium of Freedom of Expression, in their endeavour to promote our democracy, the rule of law, constitutional supremacy and accountability of government.

The oversight role of the 4th Estate, over all arms of government, has played a vital role in exposing the corrupt practice of individuals and organs of the State, that have been allowed to gain traction by a deliberate and systematic exploitation of weak oversight institutions. The media has filled the vacuum left by the lack of independent oversight of government bodies and personnel.

The Media, as a vital component to and of any truly democratic dispensation is an invaluable tool in creating public awareness on the important issues of the day. Without a free and independent media, we as a political party would be severely hampered in furthering necessary debate, awareness and holding those who are guilty of corruption and maladministration to account.

We, as the BCP, acknowledge with gratitude role of the media in exposing the corruption, for almost 10 years, within the DISS. We acknowledge too the role of the media and the awareness they provided the nation into the illicit transfer of funds out of Botswana and the use of tax havens and secret jurisdictions. We acknowledge the role of the media in exposing executive intrusion into the judiciary and for the clarity they provided into the misinformation that surrounded the suspension of four members of the judiciary.

  We acknowledge the role of the media in holding the highest office to account for the abuse of resources and state funds for personal gain. We acknowledge the role of the media in exposing illicit arms deals and abuse of public funds. The list of media exposés into the impunity under which political and administrative leadership would otherwise have hidden behind, are simply too many to list. We, as a representative of the electorate thank you, the media. 

Without the vital role that the media plays, has played and continues to play our democracy would long have disappeared into annals of history. We as the BCP, note with concern the shackles and the constraints under which the media has and continues to operate. These shackles, in the form of deliberate misinformation, legislative constraints and lack of legislative intervention allowing for access to information has caused the role of the media to be substantially undermined.

The veil of secrecy invoked by government and organs of the state, all too often used without any justification, has led to instances where the media is unable to obtain responses from those in authority and hold them to account. Such circumstances cannot be allowed to continue. The public has a right to information. We at the BCP decry misinformation and disinformation as propagated by government and those within the corridors of power that use the lack of access to information to hide their own wrong doings and lack of accountability.

As the Botswana Congress Party, we pledge today, on World Press Freedom Day (2018) that we will promote Freedom of Expression and the vital role the media play in informing the public, a constitutional right, in their capacity as a pillar and unrecognised arm of government: the 4th Estate.

We pledge to create legislation, in conjunction and in consultation with media organisations, practitioners, media rights activists and civil society that will ensure a self-regulated free and independent media. We pledge to provide a framework where it will not be possible to use economic means to stifle and curtail the media. We pledge to provide a legislative framework where access to information is guaranteed and journalists and their sources are protected.

To this end, we will soon relaunch our campaign to have The Freedom of Information Law introduced through our representatives in Parliament.  Though past efforts were defeated by the BDP government, we remain committed to the campaign for a better-informed nation.  We will be consulting other stake holders and will have the Freedom of Information Bill tabled before the end of the year.

Dumelang Saleshando is Botswana Congress Party President



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