The state of the media in Botswana
otswana continues to operate
from an economically sound platform but limited
and a somewhat
restrictive access
information environment. The
country certainly hit the headlines on a
sparkly note, with news of the discovery of a 1,111 carat diamond, the second largest ever. But the shine was soon
dulled, with both a slump in world markets and signs of repression which was
particularly felt by civil society. In just
one year, Botswana slid down 6 positions in the World Justice Project (WJP)
Rule of Law Index, now standing at No
45 out of 113 countries studied worldwide, and now ranked at Number 3 out
of the 18 African countries included in
the report. By comparison, in 2012 Botswana was ranked at Number 20 out of
97 countries and Number 1 in Africa. In
other press freedom indices, the country has gone from a rating of “free” to
“partly free”.

The Socio-political and Economic
Botswana is in the midst of the more
subdued period of the electoral cycle
which coincides with a time when the
country’s economy is facing challenges
resulting in cut in expenditure by most
businesses. The implication for this is
that advertising revenue has been reduce, which is the key source of income
for most media businesses in Botswana
and this is a major setback. With the
slump in income, media houses face the
challenge of continuously seeking alternative revenue channels.


So This is Democracy? 2016

Some media houses have demonstrated
resilience following the government’s
decision to stop paying for advertising
from state coffers, for the second year
running. While government maintains
that this is a cost-cutting measure, media professionals are of the view that the
decision was a ploy to influence their
editorial content with the view to making it less critical of the government or
even to stifle the media altogether.

The economic
downturn is real and
has made itself felt.
Cost-cutting or not, the pinch of the
economic downturn is real and made
itself felt when in September, President
Ian Khama lashed out at Zimbabwe’s
92-year-old President Robert Mugabe,
calling on him to step aside without
delay. Khama said that the political and
economic implosion in Zimbabwe since
2000 was dragging down the whole of
Southern Africa and that the instability was damaging Botswana’s efforts to
wean itself off mining – which accounts
for 20 percent of GDP and nearly 60
percent of exports – hampering its efforts
to promote itself as a regional logistics
and services hub.
Botswana is home to an estimated
100,000 Zimbabweans, including 5000
in Botswanan jails. Against this background, Mugabe was absent from Botswana’s independence anniversary celebrations, which the Zimbabwean authorities
put down to a clash in schedules, with
Mugabe having to attend a meeting of his
ruling party’s Women’s League.

Select target paragraph3