Botswana President accused of anti media sentiments

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Botswana president Ian Khama has been roundly accused by the media for not being friendly since he took over in April.

Reports say Khama has been at ease meeting ordinary people in the dusty streets, listening attentively as people related stories about their humble lives, but he has chosen to snub the media.

Since he took over, Khama has never addressed a press conference. Even when he was Vice President, Khama never addressed a press conference and he rarely grants interviews, reports say.

When he was still the commander of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Khama did not tolerate the private press.

He even banned newspaper delivery vehicles from entering the army camp. At some stage, Khama said he did not read local newspapers.

At his inauguration in April, he raised concern about the use of abusive language in public discourse, defamation, slander and false statements in the media. He said these were some of the social problems in the society that need to be addressed.

The executive director of Media Institute of South Africa (MISA) Botswana, Thapelo Ndlovu says Khama does not want to have anything to do with the local media. He said this shows that the president is not media friendly.

“We are concerned that if the media does not have access to the president, what about the ordinary people?” he asked. He said the president does not have a media liaison officer, adding that Ramsay is no longer the presidential spokesperson. He said this means that Khama does not have anyone to advise him on media relations.

The government spokesman, Jeff Ramsay said only Khama’s private secretary would be in a better position to tell when the president is going to address the media.

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