Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu has claimed that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has banned advertising with certain newspapers and radio stations.
The move is likely to hit the country’s media industry hard, financially.
“The Commission along with its Director of Elections (advocate Mpaiphele Maqutu) recently made another blunder when they selected certain few radio stations to publicize the upcoming local government elections’ messages,” Mokhothu said.
“They were biased in their selection of the radio stations as many radio stations with wide coverage like Tšenolo FM, MoAfrika FM, People’s Choice (PC) FM, Harvest FM, and others were left out,” he added.
He challenged IEC to make public the criterion it used to select media houses that it will work with ahead of the local government elections.
IEC’s public relations manager, Tuoe Hantši, told Newsday yesterday that they had decided to disseminate messages for the upcoming local elections through state-owned radios; Radio Lesotho and Ultimate FM, and the community radio stations, including Molisa Ea Molemo based in Berea.
“As the IEC we decided to work with community radios because we thought it will be helpful as these are local government elections and the community radios are closer to the people,” Hantši said.
It is not clear whether IEC expects other media houses that are not going to get any adverts from it to cover the local government elections.
In 2001, the Botswana High Court a government ban on advertising in two newspapers unconstitutional. The court said the ban violated the newspapers’ constitutional rights to freedom of expression.
That was because the Botswana government imposed the ban on the newspapers because, it claimed, they were too critical of the country’s leaders, and it hoped to demonstrate its displeasure about irresponsible reporting and the exceeding of editorial freedom.