Lesotho’s Communications Minister Keketso Sello made the following speech at MISA Lesotho’s celebration of World Radio Day 2021.
Ladies of gentlemen, only yesterday as I was preparing to come here, I was called to answer by my constituency back home in Hlotse, not in parliament, not in cabinet but on radio.
A civic organisation that demand answers about delays in resolving the delivery of water in Hlotse, trusted a radio station to bring me as member of parliament and my colleague the minister of water to answer to them, regardless of where we were.
This said to me, that radio is not only a medium for communication but a key stakeholder in any democratic dispensation.
It is an honour and priviledge for me to deliver my maiden speech to you as the new minister of communications, science and technology during such an important occassion. An occassion where we celebrate a medium – radio, that has stood the test of time. A medium that has kept its prominence even in the age of never ending discoveries.
I am particularly humbled that with just a few days in office, MISA Lesotho has found it befitting to invite me to make these few remarks. I recall my modest beginnings where radio was the most valuable asset on the kitchen table and how it would always be covered with a pretty cloth to ensure it does not gather dust.
I am grateful that I embrace radio today as a standard accessory in our cars whilst it is also embedded in most of our phones.
This year’s theme radio and resilience in the Covid-19 era comes at an opportune time where we have all witnessed the power of radio in the battle against Covid-19. We have seen first hand how for most people radio has become a close companion. We can atttest to the number of listeners who have called in on our radio programmes to ask this or that relating to Covid-19 and its dynamics.
It is therefore important that we use today’s celebration, to strengthen this medium which has been in existence for over a century. We ought to celebrate our appreciation by amongst others broadcasting trustworthy information and fighting misinformation about the pandemic.
We should not only disseminate information but we should also provide the much needed entertainment during the lockdowns and provide access to distance education to the scores of students whose education has been disrupted.
Today when physical access is almost impossible, as leaders we appreciate the importance of radio to connect with our people. We have harnessed the strengths of radio broadcasts in delivering early warning signals and thus in turn saving a lot of lives.
It is the accessibility of radio that has ensured it keeps its prominence even in the age of never ending discoveries and it is thus the most effective platform for democratic discourse. It presents itself as an arena where all voices can be expressed, represented and heard and it is needless to say still the most consumed medium.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This year’s celebration comes at a crucial time in our history. A time when for the first time we are undergoing media reforms. I should also take this opportunity with most of you here and scores of others attending virtually to inform you that we are just about to embark on another critical journey where the much talked about “draft media policy” will be reviewed by stakeholders in the next week.
Also notably, the Ministry of Communications has almost completed the fm expansion project giving each and every radio station an opportunity to broadcast wherever it wants to broadcast. If this is not the epitome of democracy, I dont know what is. The responsibility now lies with each and every broadcaster to provide basotho whatever their wealth or geographical location, equal access to a wide range of high quality entertainment, information and education.
Bo mme le bo ntate,
Let us rethink our responsibility as broadcasters and steer clear of malicious innuendos that have often become dangerous weapons against the development, peace and stability that the government aspires and which you all have a responsibility to support. Let us begin in earnest, the debates geared towards professionalising our industry.
Let us aggressively engage in debates that will ensure we achieve the sustainable development goals, lets discuss the African Union’s Agenda 2063, let us analyse the gaps that need to be addressed towards achieving our own national reforms, and many others which are geared towards building a solid democracy and the development of our people.
As I conclude, I would be failing in my duties if I do not thank you for your attention and wish you a blessed celebration of World Radio Day and fruitful deliberations of our esteemed panelists.