Botswana government convened a meeting of public relations (PR) officers in government departments, late last month to find out why information flow is constricted.
This follows complaints by the media and civic society that government is increasingly carrying out business in secrecy and that the media was increasingly finding it difficult to solicit information.
The public relations officers are a new phenomenon having been appointed recently. Writing in an editorial, leading Botswana national newspaper, Mmegi, says this process would, "go a long way in addressing the problem of constricted information flow."
Mmegi however commented further to say that the PR Officers should be empowered with information in their ministries.
"While PR offices have been created, the major problem is that they are not empowered to know what is happening in their departments. Public relations officers should not just be for window dressing. They should provide a comprehensive service. It is a well-known fact that in Botswana, information flow is very constricted. A lot of information is held by different government departments," wrote Mmegi.
While the move by the government is applauded, concerns still remain on the implications to the media of the Media Practitioners Act passed at the end of 2008. The controversial law provides for a statutory media body as well as punitive measures for breaching an imposed media code of conduct.
For further information on the Media Practicioners Act, see http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99910
.Article published courtesy of IFEX.