Botswana President Ian Khama has vowed retribution against members of his Botswana Democratic Party who publicly attack the governing faction. Khama said his newly-formed communications and disciplinary committees will monitor the media for critical comments from party members and perpetrators will face consequences, to a state-owned local newspaper. The president's media crackdown is yet another sign that the southern African nation is slipping away from democracy.
Khama said attacking the Botswana Democratic Party in the media will encourage party fraction and strengthen the opposition in upcoming elections. The Botswana president also warned that members who speak ill of his regime are in violation of the party's constitution.
“There are those who still tend to comment negatively about the party in papers, on Facebook and on the radio,” Khama told members of his Botswana Democratic Party on Friday, according to Daily News. “If we become intolerant and divisive, it will lead to the losing of seats at elections as happened last year in some constituencies.”
Khama’s warning came as Botswana’s sterling reputation as a stable African democracy begins to rust. The country has long touted success in maintaining a democratic government since declaring its independence from British rule in 1966. But the Botswana Democratic Party, which has never lost an election, has been accused of political violence, rigging elections, abusing state resources, intimidating public sector workers and harassing opposition members and journalists.
Privately-owned radio stations have leaked recordings of Botswana Democratic Party members talking about using fake Facebook accounts to discredit their critics. Khama, who took office in 2008, has also defamed an opposition candidate and leader of a rival tribe ahead of the 2014 general elections, igniting tensions between ethnic groups. Shrinking government revenue and slowing economic growth in Botswana, the world’s largest diamond producer, have further fractured the governing party, the Washington Post reported.