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Briefing paper

BP60: Batswana support press freedom and critical speech

15 Apr 2015

Botswana has been known for its tolerance of freedom of speech and independence of the media. Tswana traditional society was based on freedom of speech where individuals could state their views without fear. This freedom of speech, which was coincident with free press, was encapsulated in the maxim “Mmualebe o bua la gagwe” (every person has the right to his or her own opinion).  how do ordinary Batswana feel about freedom of speech and of the press?  Batswana overwhelmingly express support for media and individual freedoms. This suggests that freedom of expression – both personal and collective – is regarded by the Batswana as an essential attribute of a functioning democracy.  Despite recent government attempts to suppress the media and individual freedoms, Batswana have remained firm in their commitment to these freedoms.  These findings were revealed by the recent Afrobarometer survey of a representative sample of 1200 adult Batswana conducted in October 2008 by faculty from the Departments of Political and Administrative Studies, Sociology and Statistics at the University of Botswana.