The canning of Matlhoaphage, the popular Sunday political magazine program that used to air on Botswana Television (BTV) before the 29th June 2015 continues to be a hot topic of contention riling opposition members.
The last episode of the program aired on the 28th of June 2015. Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale explained in parliament late last week that Matlho-a-phage like any other current affairs television program at BTV is under review.
Molale stated that current affairs programs “are being reviewed as part of a continuous improvement effort, in which we periodically review all content showed on Botswana Television in order to improve our programming and I must say that having concluded that process, we have realised that it requires some funding.”
He continued to state: “we are therefore going to be budgeting for that for the coming financial year; therefore the bulk of improvements will be budgeted for that for the 2017/2018 financial year.” Molale also added that it will also determine if there is need to feature political parties as part of the overall programming.
Molale also denied an assertion made by Member of Parliament for Francistown South constituency, Wynter Mmolotsi that BTV has become ‘Tsholetsa Television’ as for two consecutive days recently; three different BDP activities were broadcast albeit without any opposition newsreel showing at the time.
He stated that BTV is a national television that broadcasts all activities. Responding to a parliamentary question on the production costs for Matlho-a-phage and an alternative to the canned program, Molale shot back: “The issue at hand here is reviewing of programs as an effort to continuously improve what our customers demand, including political customers, and I have not said we have canned Matlho a Phage indefinitely.
I said as part of that programming, it will determine whether we require continuing with it or not? Unfortunately I cannot give any figures here madam speaker that is another issue that we can provide.”
Asked how BTV is ensuring a plurality and diversity of views without Matlho-a-phage, Molale shot back: “It is the choice given the circumstances under which the review is being done that determines whether we terminate or we continue with the review whilst the program is running.
In this instance, we found it prudent to terminate temporarily the program. Secondly, as I said, BTV airs a whole host of program the whole day, and therefore we have quite a diverse and demanding audience.”
Therefore, that is what warranted the need for this review, and I cannot with any degree of certainty say that program will be brought back or not, but for your information, what we are doing is that some of the popular programs on BTV are youth programs, and that is why we are opening together in collaboration with my neighbor(Thapelo Olopeng), a second BTV channel so that probably will give space to other programs that probably you need more than any other that will be aired on BTV 1.”
On another matter related to BTV, Molale also acknowledged receiving a petition from opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change. Molale however refused to disclose what action he has taken or will take, only stating, “I have said, and I shall repeat that, I have noted the contents therein and that is what I can say because the question was what I have done about the issue. I have noted it.”
When probed again, he went further: “I know what I do in my Ministry and when I receive whatever that I receive from my clients, my customers, I do note it and act as and when that compels me to do. So I say I have noted that and that is what I can say, whether anybody alleges that I am irresponsible, it is up to them, it is their own opinion but I have taken note of the contents of the petition.”
Sometime in June this year, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kebonye Moepeng told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the station’s decision makers at times cancel production of some programs to make way for others saying that she was not aware of any academic papers and even complaints by political parties that informed such decisions. She however said that sometimes people complain to BTV staff about the quality of its programming.
Moepeng however responded that she is quite happy and impressed with the broadcaster’s content and said that a recent study by Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has rated it high. Meanwhile, Committee member and MP for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse shredded the quality of State broadcaster Botswana Television (BTV) describing it as apathetic.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.