MISA Lesotho, LCN lock horns

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By Nicole Tau

Media Institute of Southern Africa Lesotho chapter (MISA) has taken a tough stance against the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (LCN) general reprimand of the media.

MISA said called LCN’s claims were not only baseless and deceptive but added the civic groups’ umbrella body’s “demeanour is dismissive and disrespectful”.

The MISA offices were packed to capacity with journalists and MISA members from other media fraternities eager to hear MISA’s viewpoint on the shots thrown at the media sector by LCN, putting its legitimacy and integrity into doubt.

Beginning with its statement, MISA expressed its discontent with LCN painting all media fraternity members with the same brush, stating that “it felt hard-done not by the sector but by a few known media organizations,” in this case referring to MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism and NewsDay Newspaper.

“While it is quite commendable for LCN to show and act in solidarity with fellow affiliates and or partners in the same struggle, it leaves much to be desired for that to be done at the expense of other sectors and in particular to smudge the sacrosanct stance of the media,” said Secretary-General, Palesa Maharasoa her statement.

MISA Chairperson, Nkoale Oetsi Ts’oana wanted to emphasize that they were in no way implying that any Media House did something wrong, saying that “I’ve read the stories by MNN and NewsDay because I did not want them to say that media did this while it is just these two… I’ve read their stories and they reported well. I confirm. I’ve looked at their articles”.

MISA advised that before launching a sabotage campaign against the entire media sector, persons who are dissatisfied with any media house’s reporting should discuss their issues with the respective media houses, as well as MISA Lesotho for any applicable sector counsel.

MISA noted that the recent claims against the media sector by LCN are “branding the sector as unreliable and undermining it in the eyes of the public that it serves”.

Prior to the conference, MISA Lesotho governing council held a meeting with and hosted by LCN to reach a mutual understanding and a conclusive way forward; however, the meeting was not only attended by mere foot soldiers from LCN and not executive management, but MISA alleged that “members of the LCN basically stormed out of a meeting they were actually hosting”.

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane, MISA’s National Director, who was present at the meeting, said when LCN was asked to make a public statement withdrawing its initial accusations against the media sector, LCN said its position had not been deliberated on the matter, and then its representatives in the meeting began leaving the meeting until only the person who chaired that meeting, Sofonea Shale, was left and was in shock.

“They did not only disrespect the media in that statement but they also disrespected us when we sat down with them for peace talks,” MISA co-opted governing council member, Boitumelo Koloi said.

MISA, as an advocate for media freedom and freedom of expression, voiced deep worry in its statement issued yesterday that LCN has shown opportunism in their destructive statement of March 2nd, calling it “not just distasteful but simply unseemly and too far-reaching”.

In its statement dated 2nd  of March 2022, LCN berated media reportage on the Transformations Resource Centre (TRC) Executive Director, Tsikoane Peshoane, calling it inaccurate and intentionally damaging reportage, causing the organization (TRC) to unfair and unwarranted public scrutiny.

“In the normal operations and indeed in the fair and good media practice, errors, mistakes and inaccuracies in the reports are acknowledged and dully retracted. Where such huge allegations about an advocacy organization are done, realized but ignored, there is a concern. Could this be a deliberate move to undermine TRC in the face of the public that it serves, the donor partners and its membership?” read LCN’s statement.

Ts’oana stated that the media and the public should not be distracted by the LCN allegations and focus on the issues at the TRC.

“Actually, they wanted us to lose focus. They wanted us away from the issues at TRC so that we can focus on them.

“Well, they must know that we are smarter than them when it comes to media… Who at LCN knows anything about media for them to have the audacity to tell us that our reporting is rubbish? So we were disrespected by mere persons?” asked Ts’oana.