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Open Letter to MISA Lesotho and all mainstream media houses: Prioritise and protect mainstream media

Business

For many years Lesotho media has been scrutinised for many reasons, one being unprofessionalism.

We have seen efforts being made to ensure there is some sense of professionalism among media practitioners, and we saw some success with the passing of the media policy before the 10th parliament term ended.

Yes, the reforms process is not yet concluded but we are hopeful that with the pressure mounting, once the process is wrapped up, media, which was identified as a factor in Lesotho’s instability, will be reformed too.

I am writing this letter to ask that in the absence of the Editors Forum, journalists union/association, MISA Lesotho should address this issue immediately.

There is a new animal called RFP Media, which seems to be enjoying preference during national events. I call it an animal because I first took time to look at its legality as a mainstream medium and there is no such.

RFP media is a PR department from the Revolution for Prosperity political party.

Its relationship with the government is strong I acknowledge, but why are they given priority over the tax-paying mainstream media whose mandate to the nation is clear?

RFP media presence at national events started when Prime Minister, ntate Ntsokoane Samuel Matekane took the reins.

They are seen shooting, interviewing and even partaking in asking questions during PRESS conferences. Whose agenda are they running?

In my humble view, the RFP media team’s work is done and dusted now that their preferred candidate has won, and is now the COUNTRY’s leader.

All RFP ministers including the Prime Minister DO NOT BELONG TO RFP, but the nation at large, thus it is only fair that their campaigning team be restricted to constituency coverage and not issues of national interest.

I am writing this plea looking at the volatile environment we are operating under. If such a door can be left open, we are simply inviting media teams of the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and Alliance for Democrats (AD) to also join the fray.

We are leaving a door open for media teams of opposition parties to demand the same space, and if that is to happen, how are we going to professionalise this beloved industry of ours? How are we going to be able to root out the politicians masquerading as journalists and fuelling hate for the sector?

We are not seeing a glossy political party like RFP for the first time, and if we wish to succeed in developing, it is always best to follow those who are far more advanced than us.

South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) is the biggest political party in South Africa yet its media team knows its boundaries, limited to wards, councils and MECs and not national issues.

When President Ramaphosa has national successes or blunders, the ANC media team stays out of it, they do not even attend his press conferences because they know their limitations, and they know and respect the role that the mainstream media ought to be playing.

In my humble view, what RFP is currently doing is probably innocent and an oversight on their part, but if left unresolved, we are leaving a fertile ground for a far problematic media sector for generations to come.

MISA Lesotho and all members of the mainstream media, let us sober up from the new political dawn and remember our position in society – we are not supposed to be spectators who are star-stricken by the gloss-  we are a voice to the voiceless, we are the fourth leg of the executive, we hold those in power accountable hence our fight for freedom.

I hope in the extreme near future, this issue will be dealt with, and I and my media house will not be victimised for looking out for a professional and organised media sector Lesotho needs.

Yours sincerely

Lerato Matheka – Managing Editor of Newsday newspaper.

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