Botswana MPs seek multilingual news

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

There is need to level the local broadcasting playing field by incorporating other minority languages if the information domain is to be relevant, so says a local Member of Parliament. In view of this, Members of Parliament (MPs) will vote on a motion calling for the introduction of news in languages other than Setswana and English. Botswana has a host of other languages but they are not recognised on both the print and the electronic media.             

The minority language motion which was tabled by Okavango MP Bagalatia Arone requests government to introduce multilingual news broadcasting in all languages with developed orthographies.

Arone said he was aware the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) had continuously opposed the “noble motion without knowing the dangers they are creating for this republic.” He challenged MPs from across the political divide to back the motion.

“I want to challenge the Kalangas, Bakgalagadi, Basarwa and may others on the BDP and opposition side,” he said.

He added that Botswana is a multi-tribal, multilingual country and the name referred to “all of us unless defined in the evil and barbaric manner as the current government seems to understand the situation”.

The MP argued that the essence of a multi-party system was respect of the minority, something that the BDP government had failed dismally to do. He said the current constitution promoted tribalism by listing only eight major tribes to the exclusion of other tribes.

Arone also added that the Botswana’s national anthem should have long been translated into other local languages with developed orthographies.

He said while Section 12 of the Constitution granted freedom of expression, it would not be possible for people from tribes such as BaHerero, BaKalanga, BaHerero, BaSubiya HaMbukushu and BaKgalagadi to do so owing to the discrimination.

However, a BDP minister, Slumber Tsogwane, asked Arone to amend his motion to request government to conduct a feasibility study to determine if they should be read in all languages with developed orthographies.

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