Botswana: Masimolole against language diversity in broadcasting

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Aug 29 13:38:50 UTC 2006

Nasha, Masimolole Query Community Radio

Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)
August 28, 2006

By Lekopanye Mooketsi

The MP for Mogoditshane, Patrick Masimolole, has rejected the introduction
of community broadcasters as he said they are going to ignite chaos. "I
don't support community broadcasting because some people will be using
them to promote tribalism. Community radio stations will destroy our
national unity," he said. The Mogoditshane legislator said this when he
was contributing to the ongoing debate in Parliament on the draft Botswana
Broadcasting Policy, which, amongst others, calls for the introduction of
community broadcasters. He said community radio stations should be left

Masimolole, who was an observer at the recent Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC) elections, blamed broadcasting as one of the factors that fuelled
anarchy in that country. Even ethnic groups, he said, could use community
radio stations to oppress other tribes. "I feel community radio stations
should be left out," he appealed.  Masimolole said there is no capacity to
monitor community radio stations in the areas where they will be
operating. "If Stephen Corry can fund a radio station, do we have the
capacity to monitor it?" he asked.

"We won't have the capacity to monitor them". Masimolole, who once worked
at Radio Botswana, suggested that it should be turned into a public
broadcaster. He said currently there is no public broadcaster. He told
Parliament that a public broadcasting service should be for the public and
not for the government. The legislator said local content should be
encouraged in government-funded radio stations. Masimolole said he was
against language diversity as he insisted that Setswana has always been a
unifying language. He said people from all over the country have been
benefiting from government programmes broadcast in Setswana.

"If I had my way, I wouldn't go ahead with community radios until proper
monitoring mechanisms were put in place," said Specially Elected MP and
Minister of Local Government, Margaret Nasha. Community broadcasting, she
warned, could be very dangerous if it is not monitored. "Who will monitor
a radio station which is operated by Roy Sesana?" Nasha asked. She said
people could use community broadcasters with interests other than those of
the community. Nasha, a retired radio journalist, said community radio
stations are supposed to be issue based, adding that that the question of
language is just a coincidence. However, she expressed fear that community
radio stations could be used by people to promote religion.

She warned that there was nothing more dangerous than religion. Religion,
she said, could be used to build a nation as well as to divide it. Nasha
is also concerned about the influence of outside forces. She added that
people with ulterior motives could influence the communities. She said she
supported the clause which specifies that the mandate to establish a
community radio station should come from the community itself. Nasha
expressed concern about donors who would fund community broadcasters. She
indicated that there would be no funding without strings attached.


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