By Maleshoane Ratsebe
The Lesotho Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) launched an Election Reporting Pledge on its premises in Maseru on Saturday in the presence of the Lesotho Communications Authority ((LCA), the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and MISA regional delegates.
The pledge, which aligns with MISA’s vision of promoting access to information, freedom of speech and freedom of expression in Lesotho binds and encourages journalists in the country to ethically, objectively, and impartially report the upcoming election with maximum professionalism.
“Elections are a critical ingredient to democracy and it is very important that election reporting is handled with utmost professionalism,” said Mr Nizam Goolam, the LCA acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
He pointed out that any unprofessional reporting of elections may lead to destabilisation of peace and security of the country, that are so desired for Lesotho. Mr Goolam further undertook that LCA will support the media the best way they can to ensure the broadcasters are well capacitated on election reporting, ahead of the National Assembly elections slated for October this year. “I re-affirm my commitment to ensure that all broadcasters are capacitated with the tools to handle the coming elections professionally,” said Mr Goolam.
The LCA, in partnership with MISA Lesotho, has held several capacity-building workshops for journalists since last year, on different media training areas, including election coverage. The pledge, signed by the media practitioners who attended the launch, will be packaged and distributed to relevant media houses in an effort by MISA Lesotho and LCA to promote professional coverage and reporting during the elections.
For his part, Mr Golden Maunganidze – the chairperson of MISA Regional applauded MISA Lesotho, adding: “We must move with the times and bridge the complex issues of the past, such as legacy media demands, and emerging issues such as expression in the digital age.” MISA Lesotho’s Chairperson, Mr Nkoale Oetsi Tšoana, National Director, Mr Lekhetho Makhanya Ntsukunyane, together with the IEC Public Relations Manager, Mr Tuoe Hantši, also raised significant points about the pledge, indicating the document would be used as a guiding tool for reporters ahead, during and post the elections.
Prior to the launch, MISA Lesotho also held an annual general meeting for this year, where a score of the Institute’s members gathered at the premises to be briefed on the work that MISA Lesotho has done in previous year. On Friday, the three-member MISA Regional delegation, led by Mr Maunganidze, conducted a capacity-building session for MISA Lesotho staffers, jointly with the National Governing Council (NGC).