Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana, is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on September 30, 1966. Since then, it has maintained a strong tradition of stable representative democracy, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections.
At – a – Glance
President: Ian Khama
Official languages: English, Tswana
National Anthem: Fatshe Ieno La Rona (Tswana)
Media and Freedom of Expression Landscape in Botswana
The Constitution of Botswana does not explicitly touch on press freedom; however, the existence of freedom of expression grants the media such freedom by extension. The media in Botswana is considered one of the freest within the sub region but its lack of true diversity is considered a challenge. For instance, the Communication Regulatory Act bars the establishment of community radio. Therefore, since most of the media outlets are state-owned, the government exerts its control and influence over media content.
According to reports, the government exerts such control through government intelligence agencies, such as the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS). Journalists and media practitioners have reported their suspicion of the DIS tapping their phones and monitoring their communications.
Also, journalists are increasingly facing defamation charges from public officials. In March 2012, Phillip Makgalemele, a state official, won a defamation suit against the private radio station, Yarona FM.
Generally, journalists are able to freely cover news stories and report on them accordingly. However, in recent times, instances of harassment have seen an increase. In September 2012, some journalists were assaulted by defendants at a local courthouse as the police looked on. In Botswana, majority of the media outlets are government owned and thus funded, regulated and monitored by government. For instance, there are only two private radio stations in the country. The constitutionally mandated regulatory body, the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) is tasked with regulating and licensing the media.
Some professional media bodies in the country include the Botswana Journalist Association (BOJA) and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).
For more information on FoE in Botswana, visit: Freedom House