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Government closes two Lesotho radio stations over criticism

MISA Lesotho Media Alert
10 Feb, 2017
Lesotho's government took two locally owned radio stations, Ts’enolo FM and People’s Choice FM, off air on 9th February, 2017 for allegedly broadcasting material that defamed the prime minister and deputy prime minister.

Three days ahead of the commemoration of the World Radio Day on the 13th February, 2017, two locally owned radio stations, Ts’enolo FM (104.6MHZ) and People’s Choice FM (95.6 MHZ) were cut off air yesterday (Thursday, 9th February, 2017)  by the government of Lesotho.

According to the Principal Secretary of the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Ts’eliso Khomari, the radio stations were cut off for broadcasting material that defamed Prime Minister Bethuel Mosisili and Deputy Prime Minister Mothejoa Metsing.

Station managers of the two radio stations, Khauta Mpeqa and Mshengu Tshabalala respectively, in different interviews, have confirmed broadcasting of a press conference and an interview with Litjobo family.

The Litjobo family that the government complains about comprises of two blood brothers, Refiloe Litjobo and Thuso Litjobo, who about a month ago were members of Mosisili’s led Democratic Congress (DC). Thuso Litjobo was the president of DC Youth League, while Refiloe Litjobo was the Deputy Secretary General of the DC Executive Committee. Both brothers have joined a newly formed Alliance for Democrats (AD) led by Monyane Moleleki who deputised Mosisili in the DC.

The closure of the radio stations came shortly after the Minister of Communication Science and Technology Serialong Qoo dismissed the Litjobo’s statement as a campaign to discredit the Prime Minister and his Deputy.

In a discussion with MISA Lesotho, the principal secretary promised to advise his Minister to reverse the decision to close the two radio stations. Therefore, it is MISA Lesotho’s expectation that the two radio stations will be back on air anytime today. As this alert is issued, the two radio stations were still off air. The permanent secretary met the People’s Choice FM radio’s manager and agreed on re-connection of the radio station to Lesotho National Broadcaster Service (LNBS) today. The permanent secretary told MISA Lesotho that he will have further discussions with the radio stations management to address the government concerns.

The minister’s decision to close the two radio stations is implemented just two weeks following Thaaha Khube FM (97.4 MHZ)) broadcast of program that attracted dissatisfaction from many listeners as being a campaign to discredit King Letsie III for addressing SADC Oversight Committee recently in Lesotho. Despite a lot of noise about the content of the programme, the government did not close Thaaha Khube. It was therefore MISA Lesotho’s advice to the permanent secretary that further discussions regarding content of radio stations’ programme should include Thaaha Khube FM.

It is MISA Lesotho’s firm belief that the government of Lesotho will re-connect the two radio stations to the LNBS antennas today.

For Queries: Contact National Director,  MISA Lesotho at +266 22 320 941 or email: misalesotho@gmail.com

About MISA

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1992. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.

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