This ideological conflict along party
lines was clearly evidenced during a
programme run by the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho in 2015.
In preparation for the National Assembly
elections of 2015, MISA Lesotho invited
politicians to the programmes that were
run under the Capacity Building On
Broadcasters Peace Building and Conflict Reporting programme. Some politicians refused to attend programmes on
certain radio stations alleging that these
media houses supported their political

Traditional media is
considered a more
trustworthy source of
Radio stations like Ts’enolo FM, MoAfrika FM and Thahakhube FM mostly
featured politicians from the Congress
Party while People’s Choice FM, Harvest
FM and Radio Spes Nostra enjoyed the
vibrant participation of national ideology political parties. This has not changed
over the last few years.
With regard to the print media, the rivalry between two competing papers
reached a peak when Newsday carried
a story on the alleged closure of the
Lesotho Times. On the other hand the
Lesotho Times’ Scrutator - in his satirical column suggested that the Newsday
proprietor should consider opening a
carwash as his newspaper has indications of political polarisation.


So This is Democracy? 2016

The lack of cohesion amongst media
practitioners on matters of national interest has been detrimental and explains
why advocacy campaigns on media policy and legal issues are not receiving the
government’s attention.
In September last year the Minister of
Communication, Science and Technology issued an indefinite moratorium
on the issuing of broadcasting licenses.
The rationale put forward for the moratorium, is that allowances need to be
made for legal reform but these reforms
have not been discussion let alone taken
place. There is a strong belief amongst
analysts that the moratorium is a political ploy to stop the licensing of more radio stations as it is a vibrant media platform which is extremely popular.
Up until the moratorium, the Lesotho
Communication Authority (LCA) issued
twenty-four (24) broadcasting licences.
There are currently 18 radio stations on
air, of which:
• 2 are state owned; Radio Lesotho
and The Ultimate Radio, there are
• 4 community stations: Mafeteng
Community Radio, Thaba-Tseka
Community Radio, T Mafeteng
Community Radio and Botha-Buthe
Community Radio,
• 4 church-owned: Radio Spes Nostra,
K.E.L Radio, Voice of God FM and
Jesu ke Karabo FM and
• 8 privately-owned: Harvest FM,
MoAfrika FM, People’s Choice FM,
Thahakube Fm, MXXL Radio,357
FM, Molisa ea Molemo FM and
Ts’enolo FM.
Radio Lesotho has nationwide coverage
on FM and medium wave, followed by
MoAfrika FM which covers almost 75
percent of Lesotho on FM and the rest
of the radio stations cover the lowlands.
Community Radio stations cover not
more than a radius of 50KM.

Print media comprises of 9 weekly newspapers but there is still no daily newspaper. Lesotho Today/Lentsoe La Basotho
is state-owned, Moeletsi oa Basotho is
church-owned and the rest are privately
owned; Lesotho Times Newspaper, The
Post, Newsday, Sunday Express, Public
Eye, Informative and Mosotho. The circulation of most of these newspapers is
confined to Maseru and lowland towns
in Lesotho.
Basotho have access to Facebook,
WhatsApp and Twitter. Facebook is the
most popular with most of the youth and
working class community of Lesotho
having either an account or a page, or
both. Facebook also has vibrant groups
who provide commentary and up-dates
on varying political and developmental
issues. WhatsApp is popular platform
for mobile phone users either for one on
one conversation as well as chat groups.

Media Freedom
The contestation between the government, army and police has often spilled
over and has a detrimental effect on
the media in the form of threats, criminal defamation and physical attacks.
The editor of Lesotho Times Lloyd Mutungamiri was shot by unknown people at his home. His workmate Keiso
Mohloboli is currently in exile in South
Africa. Blogger and University lecturer
Mafa Sejanamane was also shot at. To
date there have been no arrests in any
of the cases.
In March 2016, over 300 members of
the public calling themselves the Concerned Citizens of Lesotho, took to the
streets “to rescue media freedom” in
a protest they headlined as #HANDSOFFMEDIA.

Five members of the group then presented a petition to the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology
Khotso Letsatsi and the Minister Kimetso
Mathaba in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Amongst a number of issues the petition
requested the Government of Lesotho to
observe Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the provision of Africa Charter on Human and
People’s Rights and further stated that
the Minister:
• Follow proper legal channels and
procedures in cases of misconduct.
• Allow freedom of expression by refraining from acts of intimidation
against media houses and journalists.
• Allow access to opposition parties
to Radio Lesotho and Lesotho Television by opposition parties
• Ensure implementation of the communications policy.

Since the year 2000 MISA Lesotho has
been advocating for the passage of the
Access to Information Bill of 2000. There
have also been discussions around the
review and adop-tion of a media policy.

Complaint against the media
On the May 13, 2016, a local human
rights organisation. Transformation Resource Centre (TRC), filed a complaint
with the Broadcasting Dispute Resolution Panel (BDRP) against Ts’enolo FM
radio and requested an intervention regarding the radio station’s programme
called Lititimi which was aired on April
30, 2016. According to the TRC, Mr. Author Majara, a guest on the programme
made statements that “were detrimental
to the good image of the Centre”. TRC
wanted Ts’enolo FM to provide them
with a recording of the programme, -

So This is Democracy? 2016


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