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New book delves into Botswana’s journalism

Journalists on privately-owned newspapers in Botswana are doing a pretty good job, but those who work for government-owned media are seen by many people as propagandists.

All journalists in Botswana are hindered in their work by restrictive laws and a government that often refuses to tell people what is going on. These are some of the findings in a new book News in Botswana: themes in contemporary journalism, written by Richard Rooney, associate professor and former Head of the Department of Media Studies at the University of Botswana. It is the most comprehensive book on journalism in Botswana yet published.

Journalism in Botswana is dominated by government-controlled media in both print and broadcasting. Government owns the biggest media houses with the Daily News, Radio Botswana 1 and 2 and Botswana TV. The government also owns the Botswana Press Agency.

Rooney says the government has put considerable resources into the Daily News so it competes unfairly with the independent press. The biggest competitive advantage that the Daily News has is that it does not have normal production overheads, since all these are taken care of from government funds. It also receives hidden government subsidies because it is delivered on government land and air transport as a matter of policy. Unlike private newspapers, the Daily News is delivered free-of-charge to most areas of Botswana and in rural areas it is often the only print media available.

The Daily News competes for advertising and undercuts the rates offered by private media companies. Advertisers prefer the Daily News because they want high circulation to reach the maximum number of people. Private commercial radio stations are also disadvantaged by the government which competes for advertising. Government is the largest employer, business entity and advertiser in Botswana and is not averse to using this to give media it controls commercial advantages and in so doing distort the newspaper market. Rooney says, “Government can and does pull advertising from newspapers it deems to be too critical of its policies and it can coerce companies in the private sector which want to keep in its favour not to advertise.”

News in Botswana: themes in contemporary journalism is available free-of-charge on the Internet at www.academia.edu
In a survey of how media houses support good governance in Botswana, Rooney finds that although freedom of expression is guaranteed in the constitution there are 15 laws in Botswana that can restrict the work of journalists. The worst of these is the Media Practitioners Act of 2008 that allows the government to decide who can and cannot work as a journalist. The Act continues to receive great opposition from media freedom advocates and has yet to be put into operation.

The book reveals that people widely recognise that the Daily News and the state-owned broadcasting outlets have mandates to promote government policy and they favour the coverage of the ruling party the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) over opposition parties. This happens all the time but is especially worrisome at election times when people rely on news media for information about the policies of political parties.

Rooney says that members of civil society in Botswana believe, “The government directly interferes in the editorial content of the Daily News, and engages in unbalanced or propagandist reporting.” He gives an example in 2011 when an article about the Botswana Government giving P1 million to Japan following its devastating tsunami in March 2011 was withdrawn from the Daily News by “higher authorities” as it was felt this would not be welcomed during the then on-going public workers’ strike.

Rooney says some journalists fear the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DISS) that became operational in 2010 because its mandate in defending state security is unclear. People fear the DISS spies on ordinary citizens. Private media in Botswana have reported that employees of government media live in fear that the DISS is monitoring their activities.

There is a big market for newspapers in Botswana and they cater for a wide range of readership needs, from the overtly serious to the decidedly non-serious. However, all newspapers have a common problem, Rooney says. Too many articles originate from government or from staged events and the voices of ordinary Botswana are hardly ever heard in news media, whether newspapers, radio or television.

Rooney’s research suggests a main reason for this is that media houses in Botswana are generally under-resourced, and privately-owned newspapers in particular cannot afford to have large staffs or freelancers throughout the country. They therefore rely on contributors who know that journalists need a constant supply of material to meet their deadlines and therefore go about supplying it. Political parties in Botswana are especially aware of these needs.

He reports on a series of workshops known as the African Media Barometer that asked people what they thought about the quality of journalism in Botswana. They said journalists on privately-owned newspapers were doing a reasonable job but they were hindered by scarcity of resources and deliberate attempts by government officials to withhold information. The lack of resources in media houses means that most content is urban-based with rural areas in effect side-lined by the newspapers.

They said experienced professionals left journalism to enter public relations and communications because they were not growing professionally or were not being paid enough. Rooney reports the workshop participants said reporting in private newspapers was generally fair and was not considered to be “gutter journalism” although accuracy, fairness and balance were sometimes found to be lacking. “Generally, Botswana journalists are not corrupt and have a very high standard of moral integrity,” the workshop participants said. News in Botswana: themes in contemporary journalism, by Richard Rooney. Available to download free-of-charge from www.academia.edu

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Self-taught fashion designer speaks

26th July 2022
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A job, lucrative or not, is a job after all. Sometimes one has to compromise in order to make a living, few people get a job their dream jobs. But once in a while there is an emergence of people who listen to their inner calling to pursue their passion.

The founder and head designer of Butterfly Couture, Chawa July is one of those few people who left their job to pursue their passion. An inspiring fact about July is that she is a self-taught fashion designer, she used to copy patterns from her old clothes until she learnt how to draw them, and she also searched information from the internet to increase her knowledge and skills.

“It all started as a hobby from my love for beautiful dresses and I started adjusting and making clothes for myself. Gradually people around me started to take interest in my craft and the hobby slowly grew into a profitable business,” July said.

The 41 year fashion designer from Molepolole worked her way up in the Procurement space for over 10 years. She worked at Stanbic Bank, Kromberg & Schubert and Clover Dairy as a Procurement supervisor. Her last job before she entered the fashion industry was a Manager for Contacts & Sourcing at a Facilities Management Company.

She established her fashion house in October 2019 and it has become synonyms with elegant wedding gowns and exquisite evening wear. July said when designing she is inspired by various aspects such as the client’s personality, the mood of the event and the theme. She further mentioned that every opportunity is to show her craft so she always aims to please.

“Every Butterfly Couture piece must represent the elegance and the creativity the brand is about,” she said. Butterfly Couture has adorned beauty queens; Miss Botswana 2021/2022 Ambrociah Samboko at Miss Universe in South Korea and Miss Botswana 2019,Oweditse Fafah Phirinyane during her reign of which is the highlight of her career. They have also marked their presence in a few fashion events locally and in the neighbouring countries.”

They showcased at The Grand Palm Wedding Expo, Masa Fashion Show, Miss Botswana Fashion Show and Sacunda plus Size Fashion Show. The will also be showcasing at Gabs July Fashion Show on the 15th of July alongside the South African designer, popularly known as the King of glamour David Tlale.

July also identified that one of the challenges they face in the couture is that, it’s a seasonal business. “There are times in the year when the business is great and challenging. Winter in particular, is difficult time to stay afloat as there aren’t as many events that people are inspired to dress spectacularly for,” she said. She further said that her aim is to be a prime couturier of choice in Botswana.

“Craft like your life depends on it because every happy client is 10 more referrals” is what she said when asked to serve a word of wisdom to people hoping to make it in the fashion industry.

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WeekendLife

Gospel awards re-organised

26th July 2022
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The Botswana Gospel Music Awards (BOGMA) and the Annual Gospel Awards (AGA) are said to be no longer in existence and a joint venture project has been put up that will carry out the awarding of gospel musicians.

The new entity has been established as Gospel Music Awards, which is a project at this moment is nearer to dishing out the first Gospel Awards under the leadership of the dissolved entities (BOGMA and AGA). “The difference is the same, it is just that the two projects were run by different minds which had differing objectives,” said the project coordinator, Letsweletse Moshabi when asked what the difference was between the two previous awards.

He added that at this junction their focus is on the future of the gospel musicians and they would like to direct their energies to the new project and forgo the past projects. “The Music market especially the gospel genre is too small and that basically means the very small market was experiencing the imbalance in the supply and demand forces. At that stage, supply was more than the demand so the reason for the joint forces is to allow the supply and demand forces to readjust and form equilibrium,” added Moshabi.

The mandate and objectives of the project are to recognize and award gospel music talent, to create awareness of the Botswana gospel music industry and to create a platform where fellow musicians may exchange ideas and network amongst themselves and approach international markets in cohesion.

The first of these joint awards will be held on the 27th August 2022 at Molapo Showcase under the theme ‘Cohesiveness to Build’ where about 18 categories will be up for grabs.

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Makhadzi, Master KG invade Thamaga

18th July 2022
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The Kumnandi Ekhaya musik festival will be held on the 30th September 2022 at Thamaga village. The event coincides with the release of famous host, Dj Ngwazi’s first album called ‘spring day’ on the 2nd of September 2022.

The Thamaga born and raised Lefika Lushen Kebatlege is a disc jockey and a music producer signed under WanitwaMos Entertainment in South Africa. Famously known as Dj Ngwazi and formally known as DJ superstar, he has really worked hard to become one of the finest export DJs the country has produced. Internationally, he is described as a DJ from South African because of his works with popular music artist Master KG.

Meanwhile, the music festival will feature South African artists, Makhazi, Master KG, Prince Benza and Mthunzi. They will also be joined by some of the big local artists, Franco, Vee Mampeezy, among others.  “The tickets of the concert will be available at Spar stores, webticket and Kings bar. There will be three categories for VIP tickets, the one that goes for P1000, P1500 and P2200,” said the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest promoter Sadie Swartz of Saysay Entertainment.

“We have a new system to tackle the cry of promoters about security at the events. We will have a team of 100 security men, 10 horses and 15 dogs. We also agreed with the police to help with traffic control and no tickets will be sold at the gate to avoid circulation of money which can attract thieves,” said Kagiso Gaodumelwe from All Night Security.

“I started deejaying back in the days when I was still schooling at Kagiso Senior School and I never stopped working towards my career since then. I have a career in South Africa, since 2018 when Master KG took me in and his support as a brother has taken me to places,” said DJ Ngwazi describing his career journey.

“Kumnandi Ekhaya is Zulu language which means ‘go monate ko gae’ in Setswana. The name came about as a way of inviting my South African fans and supporters to my home village Thamaga to come experience the joy that comes with celebrating our freedom and independence. I used isiZulu because it’s the dominant language in South Africa,” explained Dj Ngwazi.

“The concert will be held in an open space which was used for agricultural purposes and we would like to call it ‘Ko Legoleng’. With this concert I want to redeem the dignity of our village because we once had the cases of youth who were terrorizing the community, beating up people in the streets and stealing and these was really a concern in our community because they were tarnishing the village name,” said Dj Ngwazi.

The purpose of this concert is to empower the community of Thamaga and local artist, more especially artist from Thamaga village like, Kgabo Sereto traditional group. There will be a litter picking campaign around the village before the launch of the concert .The sponsors which are already on board are Dladleng Entertainment and Kings bar and there are still more sponsors to be revealed.

”As the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest management, we are going to buy food combos and take them to Thamaga village Kgotla so they can be donated to the less privileged and orphans. Starting from October we will be donating pads to all Junior Schools in Thamaga,” said Dj Ngwazi. Dj Ngwazi’s motivational words to other artist and everyone else; work hard, be patient and be determined.

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