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In this first instalment of a three-part series analyst GOSEGO R LEKGOWE scrutinises the Media Act and its constitutionality
At issue in this article is the question of whether certain provisions of the Media Practitioners Act are inconsistent with section 3(b) and 12(1) of the Constitution of Botswana. Section 3(b) read with section 12(1) of the Constitution affords protection to the right to freedom of expression and media freedom. The provisions under challenge are sections 2 read with section 6, sections 10, 11 and 17 of the Media Practitioners Act.
Section 6 provides that a resident media practitioner shall not report or cover any event or occurrence in Botswana unless he or she is registered and accredited by the Executive Committee. Section 10(1) enacts the right to reply, it provides that a media practitioner who publishes a statement about or against a person shall publish a reply from the person in respect of whom the publication is made. Section 10(2) (a) requires that the reply not be published later than two subsequent editions of the publication. A further requirement is contained in section 10(2) (b), which requires that the reply must be published with the same prominence as the original statement published. Finally, section 11 empowers the minister to appoint the Complaints Committee while section 17 empowers the minister to appoint the Appeals' Committee.
In order to determine the constitutional validity of the attacked …