MultiChoice Botswana is not going down without a fight in its race against time waging of war against Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) – a spirited bid to avoid price control by the communications regulator.
In the coming fortnight, MultiChoice will have its fate laid bare by the Court of Appeal which will decide whether BOCRA should regulate the subscription service manager tariffs. MultiChoice subscribers who have been complaining about the high pricing of the subscription service manager are crossing their fingers that the highest court in Botswana endorses Justice Tshepo Motswagole’s High Court ruling which supports BOCRA’s move to control the South African company’s tariffs.
On the other hand it is apparent that MultiChoice sees the move by BOCRA as a financial blow to its pay television business. The South African company has been increasing prices citing high business operating costs and the last year’s High Court decision was seen as a financial impediment by MultiChoice who even threatened to live the country and its strict tariff jurisdiction. While MultiChoice’s chief argument, something which the company still maintains to the Court of Appeal, is that BOCRA’s decision is risky in that it might set precedence for other African regulators.
MultiChoice enjoys a monopoly of multi-channel pay television services across the African continent. The crux of the matter on the MultiChoice versus BOCRA corporate civil case tussle hangs on the interpretation of Clause 13 of the license BOCRA granted MultiChoice Botswana. This Clause which licensed MultiChoice to operate as a subscription service manager in Botswana requires MultiChoice Botswana to amongst other things, submit to BOCRA in writing, a proposal in respect of subscription fees it intends to apply or send tariff increment to the regulator for approval.
Clause 13 is also buttressed by Section 90 of the BOCRA Act which requires all licensed service providers to submit their intended tariffs to BOCRA for approval. MultiChoice’s cry is that BOCRA is trying to abuse Clause 13 or just misinterpreting the language used in the piece of legislation. “We submit that the language of this provision is clear. BOCRA may impose conditions and restrictions on a licensee in relation to its own performance of the activities for which the licence is required. It may set conditions for the performance of those activities and may impose restrictions on them,” argues MultiChoice.
However the pay television giant further says there is nothing in the language of the section to suggest that BOCRA may impose “conditions” on a licensee, which are unrelated to its own conduct, purely to regulate the conduct of a third party. “…BOCRA included clause 13 in MultiChoice Botswana’s licence with the avowed purpose of regulating Multi Choice Africa’s tariffs. That was an impermissible anterior purpose,” argues MultiChoice. MultiChoice Botswana further argues that no BOCRA legislation directly regulates its parent company Multi Choice Africa’s broadcasting activities.
Also the company states that MultiChoice Africa is not directly subject to BOCRA licence regulations, therefore the regulator is trying to impose regulation on MultiChoice Africa’s broadcasting activities which are also MultiChoice Botswana’s. BOCRA emphasizes Mutlichoice compliance to Clause 13 as failing which the subscription business supplier would be operating in Botswana regulatory jurisdiction illegally.
When tackling the argument that BOCRA is trying to impose its legislation on Multhichoice parent company though its Botswana offspring, the regulator dismisses that as a non-started which would not hold water. “….There cannot be no plausible reason to argue that pricing in Botswana must the same as for the rest of Africa because the prices to the various subscribers differ from country anyway. As far as content is concerned, it is clear that local television services are provided through the DStv platform and content can vary from country to country. It appears that MultiChoice as a group is even considering pay-per view services being provided in certain countries,” states BOCRA.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.