Media and elections

Report: Coverage of women candidates in the 2017 national assembly elections

Report: Coverage of women candidates in the 2017 national assembly elections

“During the 2017 National Assembly Elections, the media did not do well as regards granting women candidates who contested the elections.” So reveal MISA Lesotho study on Coverage of Women Candidates in the 2017 National Assembly Elections is out.

“There were no clearly-articulated plans by the observed media houses that were geared towards granting women a platform to canvass their elections campaigns visa-a-visa their male counterparts, who by virtue of being on the helm of their political parties NECs, stool at a vantage point”.

According to study, generally women political candidates in Lesotho suffer coverage of the media for varying reasons, including;

  • Political campaigns being led by the male political leaders thereby seeing no need to have women candidates specific campaigns
  • Women candidates absence of communication strategy for individual candidates as opposed to political party general communication strategy
  • Lack media houses policies on coverage of women candidates coupled with absence of journalists interested in the subject
  • Limited capacity on the use of new media which is visible in the very low level use of social media platforms by women candidates.

In summary the study recommends that media houses should have;

  • Gender equality as part of the editorial policy with MISA Lesotho supporting media houses to formulate editorial policies with gender equality content
  • Promotion of female journalism and editorship whereby an effort to promote female journalists and editors who will be trained to cover women
  • A specific project for media empowerment is necessary to explore ways in which female politicians can be empowered on effective use of the media along side training of female journalists and editors.

The study that is available at MISA Lesotho on request covers newspapers, radio stations and social media platforms since 1st May to 15thJune, 2018

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Local government election reporting workshop 2017

To contribute to transparent, accountable and credible holding of local government elections as tenants of peace and stability, MISA Lesotho trained 42 journalists to cover local government elections held in Lesotho on 30th September, 2017.

The training was held immediately before the elections.

The content was guided by the local government act and the media code along with relevant, media/related issues in electoral reporting. The training content was designed to help journalists appreciate the importance of effective reporting about the local government system beyond local government elections.

It was generally agreed that the media need go beyond reporting to education that influences people’s attitudes and behaviour on various life issues.

At the end of the training, participants were empowered to report on the electoral process in a manner that add value and credibility to the elections results thereby contributing to maintenance of peace in Lesotho.

Specific objectives

The following are three objectives that this project was designed to achieve;

  • Build the capacity of journalists on reporting local government elections
  • Contribute to transparent, accountable and credible holding of local government elections as tenants of peace and stability that elections should bring about
  • Ensure quality reportage of local government elections to promote the electorate’s confidence in the results

Expected results

The expected results of this project were:

  1. The training of 40 journalists representing print and electronic media in Lesotho
  2. A two-day residential training
  3. A wide media coverage of September 30 local government election in Lesotho

12 radio stations broadcast election live and simultaneously

In the elections held on 3rd June, 2017 to elect members to the National Assembly, MISA Lesotho, with the support of Open Society Initiative in Southern Africa, embarked on a rather innovative election reporting project. The project comprised of training journalists to provide live election coverage which was broadcast simultaneously by 12 radio stations throughout Lesotho.

The live election broadcast involved 40 journalists – four in each of the 10 districts of Lesotho – who reported from MISA Lesotho’s broadcasting studio.

The simultaneous radio broadcast was accompanied with by the portal where audio and video reports are available.

Participating radio stations were: People’s Choice FM, Harvest Radio, Radio Maria,  Jesu ke Karabo Radio, KEL radio, Radio 375 Fm, Ts’enolo FM, Space Age Radio, Mafeteng Community Radio, Butha Buthe Community Radio, DOPE Community Radio, and Thaba Tseka Community. The team also has reporters from Lesotho News Agency, Ultimate Radio, Moeletsi oa Basotho Newspaper, The Post Newspaper, Lesotho Television and Radio Lesotho.

This type of election broadcast was first done during 2015 elections with nine stations participating.

Owing to turbulent political situation under which the 2015 elections were held, media houses in the country were overwhelmed and ended up taking clear political lines which compromised voters’ freedom to make independent political choices through unbiased reports.

The 2017 live election reporting project was designed to ensure that a team of journalists trained on the media’s electoral code were able to report independently and credibly rather than reporting in a politically polarised manner.

Five hours were broadcast in total:

  • 2nd June 2017, 5 – 6 p.m. Reporting focus: assessment of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) readiness; where polling stations equipped with necessary electoral material, equipment and staff in terms of the law; the feeling of political party agents and general feeling of the electorate; level of security in and around polling stations.
  • 3rd June 2017, 7 – 8 a.m. Reporting focus: assessment of punctuality and commencement of voting process; voter turnout; level of calmness and general environment at the polling stations; presence of local and international observers and other stakeholders such as the media, researchers.
  • 3rd June 2017, 1 – 2 p.m. Reporting focus: assessment of IEC efficiency in rolling out the electoral process; voter turnout compared to the voter roll; and general environment since morning.
  • 3rd June, 2017, 5 – 6 p.m. Reporting focus: assessment of general environment throughout the day; views of the general public, observer missions, and other strategic stakeholders in the electoral process.
  • 4th June, 2017, 7 – 8 a.m. Reporting focus: electoral results and assessment of level of acceptance among political leaders; general environment.

The project provided more than just media coverage. Rather it provided focused reporting with highest observance of relevant laws. Immediate reaction of the live simultaneous broadcast was evident during and after the elections where media reports as well as local and observer mission declared the media’s role as having been professional and having contributed to the peaceful holding of the elections.

This was not the case in the year 2012 and 2015 when the media was slammed of being politically polarised and unprofessional which warranted intervention beyond training. The audio and video broadcast during the 2017 live election reporting were also posted on to a portal created especially for the project.

Review of 2015 election reporting and peace building project

Review of 2015 election reporting and peace building project

In September 2015, MISA Lesotho held a workshop to review the progress and impact of its Media Peace Building and Conflict Reporting Now project. In addition to reviewing progress, the meeting, which was funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), analysed the impact made through the intervention and discussed potential issues for follow-up.

The one-day meeting was held at Lehakoe Recreation and Cultural Centre and drew 40 participants from both private and public media.

During the review process, attendees at the meeting agreed that media reporting during the 2015 elections was of a high ethical standard. The quality of reporting was also aided by MISA’s strong coordination, as it had deployed 30 trained journalists throughout the country. The election reports were carried live and simultaneously on nine radio stations throughout the country.

However, following the elections it appears that there has been regression in reporting quality. This is attributed to the fact that those journalists who were reporting on the 2015 elections are not currently responsible for political reporting in their respective media houses. It has become clear that the scope of the training would have to be extended to include more journalists and also ensure that MISA Lesotho is enabled to continue its coordination efforts.

The Media Peace Building and Conflict Reporting Now project jointly funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the UNDP in Lesotho, was a five-month intervention strategy to prepare journalists to report more effectively during the February 2015 elections. The project ended in June 2015.

Other exciting capacity building initiatives took place during the year including a five-day training workshop on investigative journalism in October.

The UNDP has also indicated its further support for more interventions to improve post-election capacity building of Basotho journalists.

For more information, please contact:

Tsebo Mats’asa, National Director

MISA Lesotho

Tel: + 266 2232 0941


MISA Lesotho

MISA Lesotho’s message to the media ahead of 2015 elections

MISA Lesotho’s message to the media ahead of 2015 elections

Having followed the unfolding of events after the February 2015 elections in the mountain kingdom, MISA Lesotho held an extraordinary meeting in July to reflect on the state of the media following the political and security events in the country. As an advocacy organisation with a primary interest in promoting media freedom, it is justified that MISA Lesotho would issue a statement that focuses on the sector. Our views in the statement below are informed by our daily monitoring and involvement within the sector.

Since the emergence of turbulences in the Lesotho democratic space, the media in the country has been reporting on, and informing the people of Lesotho, on various issues in and surrounding the situation. This is an acknowledged role of the media and MISA Lesotho in this regard encourages the sector to continue doing its duty with dedication and vigour as it is only when the sector strives to be at the centre of events that people of Lesotho will be in a position to not only make informed decisions, but also work towards attainment of peace and stability in the country.

It is with this in mind that MISA Lesotho appeals to other sectors of the society, especially the Government of Lesotho, to do all that is within its powers to bring about a media friendly environment in Lesotho in order for the sector to do its noble duty effectively.

With regard the media freedom, MISA Lesotho’s assertion is that during this political and security situation, there is freedom despite some media houses not observing media ethics, thereby abusing such freedom. This, however, does not erase worrying information regarding possible arrest of some media practitioners in relation to the alleged mutiny within the ranks of the Lesotho army and reports of journalists fleeing the country over alleged threats by security agents.

What is clear is that the political and security situation is not favourable in Lesotho and this warrants that the media should be professional in the way it conducts its business. We therefore appeal to all media practitioners to always observe and adhere to media ethics. It is only when we exercise high standards of journalism that we can safe Lesotho. We have a role to play and that is to continue providing information without fear or prejudice based on journalistic principles and standards.

MISA Lesotho affirms its commitment to protecting and promoting media freedom in Lesotho.

May God Protect Lesotho and Its Beautiful Nation!

For more information, please contact:

Tsebo Mats’asa, National Director

MISA Lesotho

Tel: + 266 2232 0941


MISA Lesotho