Social-media use in Botswana has doubled over the past five years despite considerable misgivings about some of its possible negative effects, the latest Afrobarometer survey shows.
According to Afrobarometer latest survey, “more than a third of Batswana now use Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, or other social media every day as sources of news. Most citizens praise social media as helping make them better informed, more effective citizens, but most also believe it makes people more susceptible to false news and intolerance.”
Overall, the results show that Batswana are divided as to whether social media is good or bad for society. “But a majority favour protecting unrestricted access”. According to the findings, more than one-third (34%) of Batswana say they use social media every day to get news, almost twice as many as five years ago (18%).
“Daily use of social media for news is significantly higher amongst citizens with post-secondary education (65%), the youngest respondents (53% of those aged 18-26), and urban residents (50%) (Figure 2). Six out of 10 rural residents never use it.”
Amongst the 73% of Batswana who say they have heard of social media, most say it makes people more informed about current events (91%) and helps them have more impact on political processes (77%). At the same time, large majorities believe that social media makes users more likely to believe false news (81%) and more intolerant of people with different political opinions (65%).
Overall, Batswana are almost evenly divided as to whether social media is good (35%) or bad (30%) for society. “But people who say unrestricted access to social media should be protected outnumber, by 52% to 38%, those who say it should be regulated because it’s dividing Batswana,” the survey results show.
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life. Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018, and Round 8 surveys are currently underway. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice.
The Afrobarometer national partner in Botswana, Star Awards Ltd., interviewed a nationally representative, random, stratified probability sample of 1,200 adult Batswana in July-August 2019. A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. Previous surveys were conducted in Botswana in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2017.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Land Management, Water & Sanitation Services, Ms Bonolo Khumotaka has appealed to Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) customers to pay their outstanding water bills.
She said this will help the Corporation to recover costs and ensure it continues to operate without hindrance. Speaking to members of the media this week, Khumotaka revealed that during the COVID-19 lockdown WUC was only able to collect around P50 million from utility fees instead of the usual P150 million. She observed that this is a whooping P100 million deficit in revenue collection during the month of April 2020.
When COVID-19 intensified President Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi instructed WUC to suspend its process of disconnecting water supply for defaulting customers. President Masisi indicated that the decision was imperative and necessary to enable Batswana to comply with COVID-19 protocols and requirements. Batswana are encouraged to maintain general cleanliness especially the washing of hands and sanitization.
The Permanent Secretary reiterated that the Water Authority was therefore suffocating from overwhelming operating costs that are not recovered. “We encourage all those who can pay their water bills to do so, this will enable us to continue servicing the country with the much needed water during this period of COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary further noted that it is crucial for WUC customers to pay their bills so that the Corporation recovers costs and keeps its workforce. “Distributing water is very expensive, because we have to maintain our pipes and pumps to keep water supply afloat. We appeal to Batswana to meet us half way, even if its paying half of the bill, it is very much welcome,” she pleaded.
Khumotaka further added, “The Corporation is employing Batswana, so for us to avoid cutting costs and coming to drastic decisions such as laying off some employees, it is important that we recover costs from Batswana who can afford to pay their bills. We have come up with new payment platforms, including digital and cell phone payments methods to make it easy for our customers to pay,” she advised.
Khumotaka said on a monthly basis, Botswana needs 10.5 million cubic meters of water, but currently the country only provides around nine million cubic meters. Meanwhile responding to concerns that WUC was relatively ineffective in delivering water to Batswana, Khumotaka said Government was currently formulating a decentralization policy in which Central Government would be relieved of some duties and mandates.
Concerns from rural settlements are that since public water supply services migrated from Local Government (Councils) to Central Government (Water Utilities Corporation) delivery has been relatively poor. “The policy will inform Government of which services to take to Local government, water supply is one of those under review,” she said.
Some Dikgosi across the country have expressed their desire and eagerness to have Paramount Chiefs who had joined politics return to their traditional roles and occupy their seats in Ntlo Ya Dikgosi (NYD). This development, they believe, will boost the integrity of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, which has lost spark over the years.