Government accused of media clampdown
Publish date: 09 October 2017
Issue Number: 746
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
A media rights group has accused the Botswana Government of being aggressive and intolerant towards the media, as a hearing against a privately-owned newspaper begins tomorrow (Tuesday). The Lobatse High Court will hear a case in which the Attorney-General is seeking to interdict the Sunday Standard from publishing information relating to investigations by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crimes. The case concerns the constitutionality of section 44 of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act, which states that any person, who without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, publishes details of an investigation, shall be guilty of an offence. Modise Maphanyane, spokesperson for Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Botswana, told News24 that although media freedom was enshrined on the country’s Constitution, it was not effectively reflected in practice. The report notes that questions are being raised regarding the country's reputation of being an oasis of democracy in Africa. According to The Washington Post, the long-ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has resorted to desperate strategies to retain power. Private radio stations broadcast leaked recordings of BDP politicians discussing the inclusion of ruling-party campaign managers in Cabinet meetings and using fake Facebook accounts to discredit critics.