In an effort to ensure compliance to its regulations, the Botswana Communications regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has drawn up enforcement guidelines which are to come into effect April 2016.
The guidelines are basically intended to provide clarity, consistency and transparency in the way that BOCRA is going to enforce administrative sanctions. The new rules bar all media houses from being used by political parties as the government is on the move to control all media with check up balances of all their activities.
“BOCRA has done its spade work and realised that it is good practice across the world not to allow political influence in local broadcasting sector. BOCRA is part of the industry and has responsibility to ensure that all media houses operate within set rules and regulations. It has no reason to curtail the growth of the industry,” said Aaron Nyelesi, BOCRA Deputy Director of Corporate Communications.
The ruling party in Botswana has got control over all state broadcasters and barring other parties would be an infringement to freedom of expression
These measure have not been received well by some media. A group of radio stations have requested the Media Institute of Southern Africa to intervene on their behalf.
“As the National Director of Botswana chapter of Media Institute of Southern Africa, we have realised that there were some discrepancies that we felt needed to be dealt with. The first one was Article 27 which bars political party from broadcasting. The ruling party in Botswana has got control over all state broadcasters and barring other parties would be an infringement to freedom of expression,” said Buyane Zongwane.
BOCRA on the other hand have defended their action pointing out it is their duty to regulate all media without compromising their progress.
Formerly, Botswana Telecommunication Authority has since included in its scope all broadcasting operations except those that are owned and run by the Government.