By Nompilo Simanje

to the public but does not include book

Botswana gazetted its Media Practitioners’
Association Bill on 21 June 2022. From the
memorandum, this Bill seeks to achieve the
following objectives:
To establish a Media Practitioners’
Association in order to promote and protect
the freedom and independence of the media.
To ensure the maintenance of high
professional standards by making provision
for the establishment of the Complaints and
Disciplinary Committee which will receive,
investigate and deal with complaints
involving the media.
To provide for the registration of
journalists and media enterprises and the
professional bodies in the media fraternity
Of note is the fact that the Bill is repealing the
existing Media Practitioners’ Act thus also repealing
the existing Media Council and replacing it with the
Media Practitioners Association.
This law also establishes several institutions or
structures in the regulation of the media and
these include the Media Practitioners Board, The
Ethics and Conduct Committee, The Complaints
and Disciplinary Committee and also The Appeals

To begin with, Clause 2 of the Bill is the Interpretation
clause which defines several terms and of note are
the following:
Journalism is defined as the
collecting, writing, editing and presenting
of news or news articles in newspapers and
magazines, radio and television broadcast
including any other electronic means. This
definition encompasses all forms of media
including online media; hence the definition
of a journalism includes online media or
online publishing and blogging.
A journalist is defined as any person
who is recognised as such by the Association
upon the fulfilment of any criterion as may
be set out by the Association. The law is
therefore leaving the definition of journalist
open to interpretation by the Association.
It is MISA’s position that in defining who
should be a journalist the Association should
consult with media stakeholders.
Media means the production of
electronic and print media for circulation

Clause 4 of the Bill provides for the functions of
the Association which include its role to register in
such a manner as may be prescribed, professional
bodies responsible for the training of journalists
and the certification of the competencies of
journalists. The term professional body was defined
as an organisation with members who practice a
profession in which the organisation maintains an
oversight of the knowledge, skills, conduct and
practice of the media profession and includes:
Botswana Editors Forum
Media Institute of Southern AfricaBotswana Chapter
Botswana Press Council
Botswana Media and Allied Workers
The Association is also expected to ensure national
security, public order and public health are
safeguarded in accordance with applicable law. This
provision is concerning as there is a potential that
these principles will interfere with the functions of
the Association.
It is common cause that aspects like national security
and public order have been relied on to unjustifiably
infringe on fundamental rights including access to
information and media freedom.
Providing an obligation on the Association to
safeguard national security and public disorder
is therefore problematic. Such aspects should be
appropriately addressed by applicable laws and
not necessarily through the Media Practitioners’
Association Bill.
It is plausible that in Clause 6 of the Bill, the
Association shall be independent and separate
from the government and that it shall operate
without any political interference or influence. Be
that as it may be, it will be important to ensure that
safeguards are put in place for the realisation of this
clause, including that the Executive should not have
any role to play in the appointment or dismissal of
any of the position holders within the association’s
structures and committees.
This will also include that any appointments should
be done through nominations and interviews open
to the members of the association.
With regards to termination of membership, Clause
8 of the Bill notes that one ceases to be a member
upon failure to pay annual fees, violation of Code
of Ethics, among others. With regards to these two
issues, it is MISA’s position that the annual fees
should be reasonable and within the reach of many.
Further, where a member is alleged to have

Analysis of the Botswana Media Practitioners’ Association Bill, 2022


Select target paragraph3