The only government-run weekly newspaper, Lesotho Today, was closed in February, 2017 by order of the then Minister
of Communications, Science and Technology, Serialong Qoo. The minister,
who was appointed in the dying moments of the 7 political party coalition
led by Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili seemed to
see it as his main duty to silence any
media house which appeared to be unsupportive of the second coalition government.
The then ministry’s Principal Secretary
Ts’eliso Khomari was on record saying
that Lesotho Today was not reporting
government stories in a fair manner. His
statement was taken as a criticism that
the newspaper was providing partisan
coverage in favour of the opposition political parties at that time, especially the
All Basotho Convention (ABC), led by
Dr. Thomas Motsoahae Thabane, who
got the prime ministership post following the 3 June 2017 national assembly
elections. Lesotho Today was still not in
circulation by the end of 2017 although
the staff continues being paid their salaries.
On a negative note for the year in review, police questioned newspaper reporter Billy Ntaote, then of the Lesotho
Times newspaper. In January 2017 he
had published an article where he interviewed a member of an opposition political party. The police had requested he
provide them with a statement regarding the article. However, Ntaote had
referred the police to his editor who in
turn had asked for a written request. This
incident appeared to be an intimidatory
step against the reporter, though for unknown reasons the police did not pursue
the matter further.

Owing to the vibrancy and influence
of radio stations in reporting and agenda-setting that was mainly manifested
through phone-in facilities on many talk
shows, coupled with political polarisation in the country, elections were a
very trying time for the broadcast sector
in Lesotho.
With clear indication that Lesotho would
forgo the third snap elections within a
five-year parliamentary period, the then
ruling 7 party coalition government, out
of panic and desperation in the year
under review, forced the closure of two
radio stations. The People’s Choice FM
and Ts’enolo FM were closed two days
ahead of the World Radio Day commemoration on 23 February.
In an attempt to compel the government
to allow the stations back on air, MISA
Lesotho boycotted the commemoration.
The decision was taken as a result of
what was viewed as an act of betrayal
by the government after talks geared
towards the reconnection of the radio
stations to Lesotho National Broadcasting Service (LNBS). During the talks,
government promised to reconnect the
radio stations, however, the promise was
not fulfilled even after People’s Choice
FM won a Lesotho High Court order to
this effect.
The day was however, commemorated
later, on the 28 February, 2017 when the
two radio stations were once again back
on air.
On 11 August 2017 transmission services for MoAfrika FM were terminated
- from LNBS transmitters rented by most
private radio stations to widen their coverage. The government attributed the
closure to non-payment of LNBS transmitter rental fees by the radio station.

So This is Democracy? 2017


Select target paragraph3