The arduous journey of establishing and legalising a policy that would represent the best interests of a free media has finally reached a desirable and much-anticipated end, this after the adoption of the National Media Policy by the National Assembly in Maseru yesterday 29 November 2021.
The journey towards this grand goal was begun in May 1997 by a group of media personnel including practitioners, educators, advocacy agents and other stakeholders in an effort to ensure a free media able to fully achieve its mandate in community service for contribution towards national development. At face value, it had looked like the adoption of the policy would have not been much of a hurdle as the policy is an all-encompassing tool that will ensure professionalization and the smooth running of media affairs.
However, what was to follow was long periods of strife, advocacy, lobbying and intense fighting for the due adoption of the policy by different stakeholders with MISA Lesotho (then Media Institute of Lesotho-MILES) at the forefront. Minister after minister in the information portfolio or communication as it later became known, promised to see the policy adopted in their time but none lived up to their promise until now when the policy is adopted by National Assembly.
The Lesotho Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Lesotho) is elated at the news which marks a new page for the media in a democratic dispensation. It is truly a worthwhile fight that you as media practitioners in your various ways, have fought alongside other stakeholders interested in seeing the development of this noble calling and profession.
Our fore-bearers, who departed from this earth before physically seeing the fruits of their toil, should be smiling from heavenly places, while those still with us must be filled with immense pride and jubilations at the news of the adoption of the National Media Policy.
MISA Lesotho commends all stakeholders who worked tirelessly to ensure that today we celebrate this long-overdue milestone especially the government for eventually acceding to the will of the people of the industry and the National Reforms Authority for spearheading this final leg of the journey.
It is MISA-Lesotho’s hope that all relevant parties will continue to demonstrate patronage and political will to ensure the ultimate fruition of the National Reforms Agenda with a particular focus on the Media Reforms.
It is further MISA-Lesotho’s fervent hope that all the other elements of the Media Reform, as well as other pieces of legislation which have been gathering dust for over two decades (like the policy) such as the Access and Receipt of Information Bill of 2000, will also see the light of day in the near future to truly testify the Sesotho adage which says “Mamello e tsoala katleho” (perseverance breeds success).
MISA awaits the passage of such laws as the Media Law and to see a day when other pieces of legislation repressive and draconian to media practice as well as those too archaic to facilitate the enjoyment of freedom of expression and of the media to be duly repealed. A call is extended on members of the sector, to continue their support for the National Reforms agenda because it is the nation’s last hope towards the emancipation of the country from long-drawn periods of surfing through troubled waters.
MISA Lesotho heartily encourages the NRA as it continues to chart the way towards the finalisation of the National Reforms and to the relevant portfolio committees of parliament to continue to be the nation’s hope by ensuring the continued smooth passage of all pieces of legislation contained in the reform’s agenda.
MISA Lesotho further extends a special message of appreciation to the different National Governing Councils (NGC) of the organisation for their astute leadership and unwavering support and focus towards seeing this grand goal come true.