operate are: The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime
Act, which bars the director from giving information on any person
who is being investigated; the Public Service Act and the National Security Act, which make accessing information by journalists
very difficult; the Official Secrets Act and the Cinematography Act
Under the Cinematography Act, all film scripts must be submitted
to the minister responsible for the media for approval (in theory,
this would even apply to the videoing of private functions). Any
deviations from the original script and changes to be made during
the production process must similarly be submitted and await the
minister’s permission before they can be implemented.
MISA has long been pressing for this Act to be scrapped but it still
remains in place, even though it is impossible to implement. It is
presently being used in conjunction with the Anthropological Research Act. One panelist said she was recently expected to apply for
permission under both laws even for doing research on broadcasting
in the country. It was established that almost any kind of research
involving human subjects requires previous permission from the Office of the President (OP) – especially if the researcher intends to
interview government officials as well.
Both Acts are proving to be a nightmare as all stages of the filming
are being controlled. They were used two years ago against two
journalists who wanted to cover a story on refugees. This confirmed
that the Cinematography and the Anthropological Research Act are
being applied together – especially in the case of research in regard
to Basarwa or San people.
Besides the fact that all these pieces of legislation could lead to the
media in Botswana practising self-censorship for fear of being on
the wrong side of the law, the situation is made worse by the many
far-reaching powers given Botswana’s President under the Constitu4

African Media Barometer - Botswana 2007

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