rather than public information”. In the mid-1990s, the Law Reform Commission
drafted the Access and Receipt of Information Bill, but successive governments
have refused to table this in parliament, as they believe it to be “a waste of time”.
In the absence of legislation specifically regulating print and broadcast media,
the Government falls back on archaic or restrictive laws to keep media in check
- specifically the Internal Security (General) Act of 1984, under which numerous
journalists have been arrested for sedition. Other acts that impact negatively on
the media include the Printing and Publications Act, the Official Secrets Act
(1967), the Public Service Act (2005), the Emergency Powers Order of 1988, the
Obscene Publications Proclamation of 1912, the High Court Act of 1978 and the
Lesotho Telecommunications Authority Act of 2000.
There have been a number of attempts to formulate media policy since the mid1990s. During a consultative conference in 1997, media stakeholders adopted a
policy that MISA had drafted beforehand. The Prime Minister and Information
Minister who had backed the policy were later replaced, and their successors did
not take the policy forward.
Instead, government drafted a new policy some years later which was subsequently
merged with the MISA draft policy. It is believed that the policy is somewhere
between the Ministry and the Cabinet. In the meantime, government adopted
a Communications Policy in 2008, which deals with the regulation of the
broadcasting, telecommunications and postal sectors. Again, government
held consultations, and civil society participated, but few of their views were
incorporated into the policy. The policy paves the way for a Communications Act,
which will have major implications for the broadcasting sector. The Act is yet to
be passed.
There is a glaring absence of substantive and adequate broadcasting legislation
meant to regulate the broadcasting industry. The Lesotho Communications Act of
2000 provided for the establishment of the Lesotho Communications Authority
(LCA), which is supposed to be an independent and transparent body responsible
for crafting rules and regulations for licensing of broadcasters. However, no such
regulations have been set in place. Moreover, the board of the LCA works on a
patronage system with appointees chosen for their close connection to government
officials. The licensing of broadcasters is an ad hoc process, in which the Minister
has the final say.
The new Public Meetings and Processions Act, which is about to be signed into
law, requires members of the public to notify the police of a meeting or public
gathering two weeks in advance. The meeting may only go ahead if police approval
is given in the form of a license.
Prior to the 2007 general elections, citizens and the media discussed issues fairly
openly, but now the majority of people have become subdued and are not as vocal
as they used to be. When citizens choose to speak out on issues, it is via phone-in



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