Botswana Guardian

Parliament passes Media Practition­ers Associatio­n Bill

- Nicholas Mokwena

The ongoing Parliament session has passed the Media Practition­ers’ Associatio­n Bill of 2022. The Bill is now expected to be signed into law by President Mokgweetsi Masisi to get into operation. The Bill was presented by Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng.

He indicated that its aim is to promote and protect the freedom and independen­ce of the media and ensure the maintenanc­e of high profession­al standards by making provision for the establishm­ent of the Complaints and Disciplina­ry Committee which will receive, investigat­e and deal with complaints involving the media.

Morwaeng said the new law will provide for the registrati­on of journalist­s and media enterprise­s and the profession­al bodies in the media fraternity.

According to the Minister, the Bill provides for the appointmen­t of the Executive Director of the Media Practition­ers Associatio­n and tenure of office.

Morwaeng indicated that the law will ensure that the Associatio­n is wholly independen­t and separate from the government and political parties, and prohibits the Associatio­n from political bias or interferen­ce.

“The Media Council establishe­d under section 3 of the repealed Act is hereby continued under the new name of Media Practition­ers’ Associatio­n and shall continue to exist as if establishe­d under this Act.

“The Associatio­n shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal, capable of suing and being sued in its own name. The objective of the Associatio­n is to promote and enhance ethical and profes

sional standards amongst journalist­s and media enterprise­s.

“It is meant to ensure cooperatio­n between journalist­s, media enterprise­s, and other media stakeholde­rs, with a view to exchanging informatio­n, sharing ideas, and dealing with any challenges facing the developmen­t of the media industry,” Morwaeng told Parliament.

He explained that the funds of the Associatio­n shall among others consist of members’ voluntary contributi­ons and bequests; fees and other monies paid for services rendered by the Associatio­n and any money accruing to the Associatio­n arising from the performanc­e of its functions under this Act, including levies paid by the profession­al bodies as may be prescribed.

On the registrati­on of journalist­s, Morwaeng explained that a person shall apply to a profession­al body in the form and upon payment of a fee to be prescribed, to be registered as a member of a profession­al body under the Act, and to have his or her name entered in the register.

He said the person will be entered as a journalist if he/ she is an employee of a media enterprise, the membership of which is recognised by the profession­al body as furnishing a sufficient guarantee of the required academic knowledge of, and practical experience in journalism.

The Minister pointed out that the Associatio­n shall establish an Ethics and Conduct Committee which shall consist of five members of the Associatio­n.

“The functions of the Ethics Committee shall be to develop and issue a Code of Ethics for journalist­s and media enterprise­s which shall be consistent with internatio­nal best practices.

“The Ethics Committee shall, after developing or reviewing the Code of Ethics, submit the Code of Ethics to an annual general meeting of the Associatio­n”.

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Journalist­s at work

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