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Youth league storms TV station

(MISA/IFEX) - The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Youth League stormed the public broadcaster Botswana Television (BTV), complex on 9 August 2009 in protest against the broadcaster's refusal to cover the party's rallies. Security officials had to be called in to help protect the station and its staff.

The youth league allegedly got agitated after BTV refused to cover the launching of the party's parliamentary candidates. It accused BTV of refusing to cover the opposition party's rally despite earlier assurance that the event would be covered by the national broadcaster. BCP youth league representative Lothi Manyapetsa confirmed that the party was surprised after realizing that no BTV news crew turned up and that no apology was offered. The youth league decided to seek an explanation from BTV news editor Gloria Kgosi, but to no avail. Manyapetsa said the youth league made calls to the station but Kgosi persistently dropped the phone calls.

The youth league threatened to carry on further protests against BTV and added that state-owned media has always given preferential treatment to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Because of this, the BCP Youth League has vowed not to accept the results of the upcoming 2009 general elections.

In another attempt, the Botswana National Front (BNF), another opposition party, decided to drag BTV to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for intervention over claims of unfair treatment by state media in covering the party's election campaign. Civil society groups have also been calling for BTV to be turned into a public broadcaster that is independent of direct government control. Of late, there also has been concern that the recent appointment of a former senior police officer to head BTV was a deliberate move to suppress the opposition party news coverage.

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