B The state of the media in Botswana otswana continues to operate from an economically sound platform but limited press freedom 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 Context 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. 32 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.