esotho’s media freedom was on shaky
ground in 2014 as
the country suffered
unrest, culminating
with Prime Minister
Thomas Thabane fleeing to South Africa
at the end of August.
He fled the capital, Maseru, just before
Lesotho Defence Force soldiers, led by
army commander Lieutenant-General
Tlali Kamoli, attacked his official residence and military units surrounded
government and police buildings.
In this environment we saw no progress
towards much needed legal reforms to
depoliticise state-owned media and prevent government censorship. Instead,
Lesotho’s state of media freedom seems
to have backtracked nearly four decades, with increased polarisation of the
broadcasting sector along political lines
and Lesotho’s one year old Broadcasting
Dispute Resolution Panel proving to be
crippled by a weak legal framework and
lack of financial independence.

No progress on media law reforms
Against a backdrop of political instability and uncertainty, Lesotho’s long
awaited media reforms continued to
stall in 2014.
The package of reforms are the result of
almost one and a half decades of discussions between government and media
professionals. They were almost passed
in 2010 but instead, Cabinet refered
them back to the Ministry of Communications.
The reforms would have depoliticised
government-owned media outlets, re-

moved statutes allowing government
censorship in the name of ‘national security’ and asssited in the decriminalisaton of speech by moving many slander
and libel cases out of the courts and into
an arbitration system.

Political unrest stalls access to
information advocacy
Despite the Media Institute of Southern
Africa Lesotho chapter’s (MISA Lesotho)
intensive lobbying and advocacy campaign to pass the Access and Receipt of
Information Bill, Lesotho is still without
any access to information (ATI) law. The
Lesotho Law Reform Commission drafted the Bill in 2000 but it still remains to
be approved by Parliament.
Supported by the Open Society Initiative
in Southern Africa (OSISA), MISA Lesotho collected more than 10,000 signatues in 2014, on a petition to pass the ATI
Bill into law. Sadly, the political unrest
and worrying signs of instability in the
government prevented us from submitting the petition to the Minister for Communication, Science and Technology,
Selibe Mochoboroane.
Mochoboroane was fired but backed by
his political party, which is one of three
in the coalition government. He refused
to vacate the office, placing a dark cloud
over media legal reforms at the government and civil society levels and bringing to a halt recent strides made by access to information advocacy.

Broadcasting dispute resolution
panel hampered by lack of
In July 2013, MISA Lesotho reported

So This is Democracy? 2014


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