leadership and
sector has dominated the political landscape
of Lesotho to
the extent that
mainly South
Africa, through the Southern African Development Community has had to play a
critical interventionist role over the last
few years.
At the beginning of 2016, the SADC
Double Troika Summit handed over a
Commission of Inquiry report to the Lesotho government and tasked it:
• to publish the Report within 14 days
- by February 1, 2016.
• to provide feedback on the implementation of recommendations to
the Chair of the Organ on Politics,
Defence and Security Cooperation
at the meeting to be held in August
At a further meeting held by the SADC
Double Troika Summit in August 2016,
the gov-ernment was further tasked:
• to prepare a roadmap for the implementation of the constitutional, public sector and security sector reforms
and submit a progress report to the
SADC Summit in August 2016.
The reforms contained in the report
were recommended against a backdrop
of issues, namely, attempted coups,
the banning of political parties, a constitutional crisis, attacks on opposition
members forcing them to flee the country and discord between the police and
army and the political leadership over
appointments in the security sector.


So This is Democracy? 2016

To get an understanding of the friction
between the army and the political
leadership, it is important to go back to
Following political tensions and the suspension of the National Assembly over
the controversial change of the head of
the army from Lieutenant General Kennedy Tlali Kamoli to Lieutenant General
Maaparankoe Mahao, an alleged attempted coup d’état forced Prime Minister Tom Thabane to flee to neighbouring
South Africa.
He returned home under the 24 hour
protection of the South African and Namibian security and the guarantee that
under the auspices of the SADC, there
would be a mediation led by South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Based on the mediation, Prime Minister
Thabane called elections in February
2015, a year ahead of schedule.

The Commission of Inquiry requested
the government of Lesotho to undertake
a criminal investigation into the death of
Lieutenant-General Mahao. Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili announced on 20
June 2016 in Parliament, that a criminal
investigation into Mahao’s killing is underway.
The Commission also suggested that
Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli be relieved of his duties as commander of
the LDF and all LDF officers implicated
in cases of murder, attempted murder
and treason be suspended while investigations into their cases proceed in line
with international. According to a report
in the Business Day, Lieutenant Kamoli
was poised to retire on December 1.

A few months after the 2015 General
Elections, leaders of the opposition and
some of their members fled to South Africa, claiming their lives were in danger.
Tension in the country reached its peak
when soldiers were abducted earlier
that year. Midway through the year, the
former commander of the Lesotho Army,
Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao was shot and killed.

There is a lack of
cohesion amongst
media practitioners
on matters of national

It was Mahao’s death that prompted an
intervention in 2015 whereby President
Jacob Zuma appointed a commission
of Inquiry, in his capacity as the chair
of the security organ of SADC. The 10
member Commission of Inquiry, headed
by Botswana Judge Mphaphi Phumaphi
was mandated to investigate the instability in Lesotho and in particular the
circumstances of the murder of Lt. General Mahao.

The media has had to operate in this
politically unstable environment and
has not fared well. Journalists have been
physically attacked, namely the editor of
Lesotho Times, Lloyd Mutungamiri was
shot and injured while his colleague
Keiso Mohloboli is in exile in South
Africa. Blogger and University lecturer
Mafa Sejanamane was also shot at, but
was not injured.

Media houses in Lesotho are faced with
similar challenges as those of surrounding countries. Newsrooms are understaffed and many of those working in
them, lack capacity as they have not
been formally trained. Only a few presenters and print media journalists have
been to short courses while others have
not been trained at all.
The fallout is felt by the public, who
consume news that has been inadequately researched or tune in to current
affairs programmes that are poorly moderated. While phone in programmes are
extremely popular, the lack of moderation skills allows listeners to present unverified information as fact.
The disregard of media ethics and principles has often compromised the media with both the print and broadcasting
media having to issue numerous apologies. MISA-Lesotho faces the challenge
of, on one hand, having to congratulate
the media for operating in a challenging environment and ensuring flow of
information, allowing access to news
and contributing to debates on diverse
political, economic, social and developmental issues. On the other hand it
has to berate the media for its continued
It is undeniable that traditional media
is considered more trustworthy as opposed to news sourced through new media, to the extent that people ensure that
whatever information they get on social
media platforms is only considered true
or accurate if it is verified in newspapers
or broadcast on radio.
One of the major challenges facing the
industry is that the media continues to
remain politically polarised since 2012.

So This is Democracy? 2016


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