In 2015, the Southern Africa Development Community recommended large-scale reforms in Lesotho, including the constitution and information and media law. Lesotho’s media sector and civil society, as well as international donors, should play an active role in informing the development of new laws that may impact the media, freedom of expression or access to information. They should also lobby for a legal framework governing the media in line with international standards.
Government should enact the interim broadcasting code. This, among other things, mandates independent mechanisms for dispute resolution and requires editors to have a relevant journalistic background.
Media organisations should cooperate to establish a self-regulating media body for both broadcast, print and online media based on best-practice examples in the region. Lesotho’s broadcasting sector is currently regulated by the Communications Act, whereas print and online media have no regulatory body.
Media managers in Lesotho need to come together and collectively engage and lobby government on common issues regarding freedom of expression and the safety of journalists.
Media development organisations should help media managers acquire negotiating and advocacy skills in order to engage with the government.
Media organisations in Lesotho frequently employ untrained journalists and fail to provide them with on-the-job training or guidance. This lack of journalism skills leads to poor quality reporting that fails to meet basic professional standards. Media outlets need to support and guide their journalists. Media development organisations should consider developing longer-term projects that incorporate on-the-job mentoring.
Following suspension of a moratorium on issuance of broadcasting by the Government of Lesotho, Quthing Community Radio Station (QCR) has submitted a broadcast license application to Lesotho Communication Authority (LCA) today (24th April 2018). The radio station is one of the three established by MISA Lesotho with financial support from Open Society Initiative in Southern Africa (#OSISA) Access to Information through establishment of Community Radio Stations project.
QCR also known as;
will broadcast in four languages to serve a diverse community of Quthing district.
The district uniqueness in terms of cultural and languages diversity results from its situation as it shares a border with Eastern Cape Province in South Africa.
MISA Lesotho has purposefully chosen Quthing district to contribute towards conservation and protection of languages and culture which are regarded as minority in a dominantly Basotho culture and language in Lesotho.
QCR was tested in December 2017 and it covers radius of 50km. Due to geographical situation of the district the radio also covers some parts of Mohale’s Hoek district.
“We were advised to establish a second community radio station which will be based in Mphaki to cover areas such of Maqokho and Qhoalinyane.” said Annah Shale Chairperson Steering Committee of QCR.
Other community radio stations in the project are at Semonkong in the Maseru district and Mokhotlong district. The other two radio stations are still behind in terms of preparations, but there are studios built on plots allocated by the districts local authorities. It is therefore hoped that they will be on air by end of winter.
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Annah Shale : +266 580 777 71
The use of social media amongst children is a subject that is yet to receive attention in Lesotho. The Media Institute of Southern Africa, Lesotho chapter (MISA Lesotho) under Children in the Media project will on Saturday at 09:45am on People’s Choice FM broadcast a programme on the subject. The programme researched, developed and produced by children who are participants of children in the media project is an interactive discussion on issues such as;
These topics were selected carefully by children in a view to raise awareness amongst their peers and parents. The programme will run for the second time following the 15 minutes programme aired on the same radio station last Saturday 17th March 2018.
The programme is one of the activities in a UNICEF supported project on continued World Children’s Day commemorated every 20th November each year another activity under the project children have conducted a research on the use of social media. The research covered pertinent issues facing children online in Lesotho in the district of Maseru, Mafeteng and Leribe. The study will be unveiled in the next few weeks at an event where children from schools and various organization in Maseru will be invited. Its is hoped that findings of the study will inform the development of children’s projects on varying subjects with regards to use of social media.
MISA Lesotho’s Children in the Media project has been going on since 2011. It started with Focus Group Discussions on coverage of the children media to inform development of some of on-going activities in the project. The Focus Group Discussions were video recorded and shared amongst children in the SADC region.
In 2014, children representing Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia and Namibia participated at the regional conference on Media Reporting on Children in the SADC region where MISA Lesotho was represented by Selloane Saka and Tumelo Mohapi. The project also comprises of production of media including publications produced at country, SADC region and international levels.
In Lesotho children produced Children’s Voice magazine with participating children including World Vision’s, Child Counseling Unit’s and MISA Lesotho’s. In Commemoration of 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) together the children from these organizations produced a special edition of Children’s Voice magazine.
At regional level the children contributed some articles from Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia and Zambia to produce In The Zone regional children’s magazine. At international level the same children produced Junior Report.
Following a two year long MISA Lesotho’s advocacy, the five months old coalition government of Lesotho has suspended a moratorium on issuance of broadcast licenses.
The suspension that paves a way for establishment of three community radio stations by MISA Lesotho with a financial support of Open Society Initiative in Southern Africa (OSISA) in the districts of Mokhotlong, Maseru (Semonkong) and Quthing was announce by the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology Joang Molapo, (pictured above).
“In its sitting of two weeks ago, the cabinet of the government of Lesotho has suspended moratorium on issuance of licenses”, so said Molapo at the launch of MISA Lesotho website on Tuesday 12th December, 2017, an occasion held during the Lesotho Council on NGOs’ week in Maseru.
The moratorium was issued in July, 2015 under pretext that it allows for legislation reforms regime in the broadcasting sector. As the moratorium is suspended, there is no legislation reformed, the fact that puts the government reason for over two suspension of issuance of licenses in doubts.
Along with the three community radio stations to be established under MISA Lesotho project, there were also two other radio stations that have waited for licenses for some time now and once they get on air the number of radio stations in a two million population Lesotho will rise to 26.
Local editors and journalists with interest on children news met with children to discuss ways in which the media can best report kids stories.
Participants who are members of MISA Lesotho’s Children in Media project told editors and journalists that their issues are well covered.
“I don’t listen to local radio stations anymore because they are irrelevant to my life” so said Mokhali Shale a child participant at a breakfast meeting held in Maseru on the 14th December, 2017.
“All we need is training and parental guidance to conduct radio programmes.” So said another child Tlotliso Seakhoa, adding that as children they have a lot to say and parents should speak on their behalf.
The meeting was officiated by UNICEF Lesotho representative Dr. Nadi Albino and the Minister of Social Development, Matebatso Doti who ordered editors present to provide a clearly defined strategy on reporting children stories by 1st January, 2018.
The minister said the media is strategically positioned to help the government make informed decisions and policies in the implementation of Children’s Protection and Welfare Act of 2011. The Act’s section 14 guarantees Right of Opinion and the minister argues that it is only when the media provides enough space to children that the right will be enjoyed.
The meeting was organized by MISA Lesotho with a financial support of UNICEF Lesotho and is part of a series of activities that the gathered children will implement until March, 2018 in continued commemoration of World Children’s Day.
Upcoming event will be conducting of a mini survey on the Use of Social Media Among Children whose report will inform development of country wide project of the use of social media among children.
Children in the Media Project began in 2010 with children focus group discussion which led to magazine called Children’s Voice. Along with Children’s Voice magazine the children contributed articles to In the Zone newsletter which was a Southern African Development Community (SADC) region children publication with writers from Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa.
We are very excited! MISA Lesotho has launched an entirely new website to better serve the freedom of expression community in southern Africa.
We’ve spent weeks completely reworking how our new site is organised so it’s much simpler to navigate and find what you’re are looking for. We’ve also overhauled the design to make it easier on the eye.
Plus you can now visit our website from your mobile, tablet or computer – whatever works best for you.
Here’s what you can discover on lesotho.misa.org.
Who we are. Learn about our board, the governing council and our staff. Find out how to become a member and how and where you can contact us.
Issues we address. Explore the topics we focus on, such as freedom of expression and media freedom monitoring. To make the site more straightforward to use, each issue is regularly updated with media alerts, news and statements on that topic.
News. Browse this section for articles, analysis, reactions and statements about freedom of expression, access to information and online privacy in Lesotho. We use text, video and infographics to help you better understand what the issues are. Keep up to date on the state of media freedom in Lesotho with our media alerts recording violations and victories.
Media Directory. Find contact details of media outlets in Lesotho from community broadcasters to newspapers and media training organisations.
Resource Centre. Explore our extensive collection of reports, legislation and publications related to freedom of expression and access to information in Lesotho and the region. To make it even easier for you, we’ve grouped some of the resources together into topic headings.
We’ll be adding fresh content regularly, so don’t forget to keep coming back to see what’s new.
Tell us what you think
We’d love to hear what you think about our new website. Get in touch and share what’s great, what we can improve and what you’d find useful.
Thanks to our partners
We’d like to thank Deutsche Welle Akademie, a German media training organisation, for all their fantastic technical and editorial support in helping launch our new website. We are also grateful to Germany’s Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development for their help in funding the project.
In 2015, MISA Lesotho, supported by Open Society Initiative in Southern Africa (OSISA), started assisting three communities to establish their own radio stations in a view to catalysing vibrancy in information exchange and debate for community development.
The project covering Mokhotlong, Semonkong and Quthing communities is, however, being frustrated by a moratorium on the issuance of broadcast licenses granted two years ago.
In each of the communities, the community members’ commitment is evident in that in Mokhotlong and Semonkong the project was allocated a plot where MISA Lesotho has constructed and completed studios. In the district of Quthing, the office of the District Administrator gave a house that was converted to a complete studio.
Equipment for the three radio stations was bought a year and half ago and it is yet to be installed because no broadcasting license has been granted.
The project was supposed to have ended in March, 2017. Due to the moratorium, the donor has agreed to a no-cost extension until March 2018 banking on the promise of the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Joang Molapo to suspend the moratorium by first quarter of the 2018.
In Lesotho, there are laws that include sections protecting freedom of expression and the media. However, major weaknesses in the laws include that media and journalists’ rights and freedoms may be taken away in the interest of defence, public safety, order, morality and health. Some of the current legislation has limitation clauses that are argued to be incompatible with internationally accepted standards.
Despite the growth and vibrancy of the media sector in Lesotho, it is jeopardised by presence of insult and criminal libel laws, which were outlined by some studies as disproportionate in terms of international standards on legitimate limits of freedom of expression.
Defamation laws are criminalised which necessitate regulatory reform process that seeks to shape development through enabling critical debate. Existing laws are based on archaic colonial or dictatorial-era laws that inhibit public participation in the development of the country.
Individual journalists and media houses are regularly harassed and threatened by various state agencies. Apart from MISA Lesotho’s So This is Democracy? report, there is no comprehensive documentation by any government agency of the various incidences which endanger freedom of expression and media.
As a result, media policy advocacy initiatives in Lesotho have continued for a decade without positive response by the government. Specifically, despite advocacy efforts, the adoption of a Media Policy, the enactment of Media Law and the passage of Access and Receipt of Information Bill by MISA Lesotho have remained unsuccessful since Lesotho held its first democratic elections in 1993.
The media is becoming evidently vibrant and putting a lot of pressure on the state. As a result, this poses a potential danger to use the existing laws against the media and individual citizens.
Regulatory media reform process is long overdue in Lesotho. The country’s media laws must be compatible to internationally accepted standards to level the media playing grounds for conducive civic participation in development.
This process must be supported by comprehensive research that exposes the dangers of the existing laws in practical terms on freedom of expression and media. The research should be in-depth and seek to gather oral and written evidence in relation to the use of existing oppressive laws to media in Lesotho through review of media reports and interviews with victims, ordinary citizens and societal leaders.
The research would inform review of the laws and develop civil society and government engagement strategy to guide drafting of amendments to laws so that they are friendly to freedom of expression and media.
While policy advocacy campaigns have not been successful over the years, this is an opportune time for success as the government of Lesotho has been directed by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiries to undertake legal reforms as a means to stabilise the country.
Besides the legal reforms recommended by SADC, media reforms in Lesotho will contribute to accelerated localisation and implementation of UNESCO’s resolution on the post 2015 Development Agenda which emphasises on freedom of expression; universal access to knowledge and its preservation; and free, pluralistic and independent media, both offline and online. The resolution describes these as indispensable elements for flourishing democracies and to foster citizen participation.
The legal reforms process has started with security sector. This makes the legal reform project an urgent matter. As a result the project on media legal reforms should be implemented within a time frame of SADC recommended legal reform by the Government of Lesotho.
The need for media capacity building in Lesotho is evident. The sector needs more than just training but also intensive on-job guidance on a short-term and long-term basis. Capacity building should target both editors and journalists for print, broadcast and online media with well packaged skills development content as well as the sector’s legislation to instil professionalism and a culture of adherence to ethics.
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.
The following are three objectives that this project was designed to achieve;
The expected results of this project were: