Republic of Botswana - Office of the President
From: Dr. Jeff Ramsay, Press Secretary
To: Mrs. Amelia Malebane Lopez-Grah, Chairperson
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) - Botswana
cc. Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) - Windhoek
World Press Freedom Committee
Re: Deportation of Professor Kenneth Good on P.I. Status
With reference to your letter to the Permanent Secretary to the President, dated 21st of February 2005, on the above, which we note by the morning of the 22nd of February 2005 had been widely published by your office via the internet, and with further reference to the MISA (Windhoek) Communiqué dated 1/3/05, which has also been widely published via the internet, as well as the almost identical statement issued by the "World Press Freedom Committee", which was widely published on the internet by 28/2/05, we wish to observe the following:
1) H.E. the President has declared Kenneth Good, who is an Australian national, to be a Prohibited Immigrant under Section 7 (f) of the Immigration Act. The matter has since been referred to the High Court, which has yet to rule on it. It would therefore inappropriate for the Permanent Secretary or any other member of the civil service to comment on the declaration in accordance with the sub judice rule. Inevitably and understandably, official inability to speak to the issue has given rise to popular speculation. But, as a Government operating within a legal framework we are bound to withhold comment.
2) In the above context the published assumption by MISA (Windhoek) that "the serving of the order on Professor Good did not achieve its aim of preventing the publication of his critique of presidential and vice presidential conduct" is predicated on mere speculation, which this Government has since dismissed.
3) The further published presumption by both MISA and the "World Press Freedom Committee" that "the president was acting in accordance with Section 93 of the Penal Code" is blatantly dishonest. In this respect we would respectfully remind you and your colleagues that when, in November of 2003, H.E. the President agreed on very short notice to meet with an international delegation claiming to represent a joint campaign of the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), The International Press Institute (IPI), The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Article 19, and The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) on the subject of so-called insult laws, it was pointed out and confirmed that Section 93 of Botswana's Penal Code clearly excludes publications. Section 93's application is, in fact, specifically and narrowly limited to utterances at certain public gatherings. Any violation of Section 93 may, furthermore, result in a fine not exceeding P 400 (about US $ 80). We can therefore only assume that your regional organisation's attempt to falsely link Kenneth Good's deportation order with the above section of the Penal Code is the product of ulterior motive.
4) Finally we note that the same November 2003 meeting also provided H.E. the President with a chance to express his deep concern about some of the then unbalanced accusations that had been levelled against not just the Government but also the people of Botswana over the internet by various international media advocacy NGOs in recent years. In this context he urged the assembled media advocacy organizations in future to avail themselves of Government's position on any matter of concern prior to publication and further promised that his Government would no longer be complacent in responding to exaggerated, false and/or unbalanced allegations levelled at it and/or the citizens of Botswana over the internet.