MASERU — Popular radio station People’s Choice FM (PC FM) is in a serious financial crunch because its bank accounts have been frozen.
The four accounts held with Standard Lesotho Bank were frozen about four months ago at the instigation of Mohau Thakaso, who claims to be the station’s majority shareholder and executive chairman.
For the past three years Thakaso has been fighting court battles to gain control of the station he claims to have founded and funded.
He claims that he owns 51 percent of the station and should therefore control its board and operations.
He has also dragged fellow shareholders, directors and managers to court over allegations of corruption, misappropriation of funds and perjury.
Thakaso’s nemesis-in-chief Motlatsi Majara, the station’s other shareholder, resigned as managing director on Monday saying he was tired of the infighting at the station.
The four accounts were suspended after Thakaso alleged in court papers that he as the executive chairman of the station had not approved their signatories.
He also alleged that money was being spirited out of the accounts by directors and managers.
As a precautionary measure Standard Lesotho Bank decided to freeze the account pending resolution of the ownership dispute that has dragged on for the past four years.
But that decision has starved the popular station of much needed cash.
The station is now struggling to pay its wages as well as other overheads like rentals.
Operations too have been grounded.
Majara told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that the situation at the station was dire.
“In the end I just had to quit because it had become too much for me,” Majara said on his decision to throw in the towel.
He said what makes the situation worse is that while big corporate clients keep depositing money into the accounts there is no way the management can access it to run the station.
“The station is making some money but it has no access to it.”
Majara said the situation had become so desperate that managers now have to keep the cash paid by small advertisers in a safe.
“When we have accumulated some small amounts we pay for our overheads.That is how we are getting along,” said Majara who is now serving his two-months notice as managing director.
Majara said the station had lost out on potential investors because of the infighting.
“There have been many investors who have shown interest in investing in the station but as soon as they realise that the shareholders are fighting they just shy away.”
The station’s growth has also been hampered by the infighting.
So have been the station’s events.
Majara said he was particularly worried that in his battle to regain control of the station Thakaso has now started destroying it.
What hurts the most, Majara said, is that Thakaso is not open to the idea that he might actually be wrong on some issues.
“He disputes everything. To him everything is wrong. He is always right. He disputes my shareholding and my position as the managing director,” Majara said.
“He disputes everyone’s position. He disputes everyone’s shareholding. How do you resolve a problem with a person who disputes everything?”
The station’s future looks bleak, Majara added.
Majara revealed that he was now planning to sell his 25 percent stake in the station so he could invest in other projects.
He also plans to resign from the board.
Thakaso said he had only heard from other people that the station was on the brink of collapse because its accounts had been suspended.
He however said there was nothing he could do because “that is what happens in situations when a company has been hijacked”.
“These people have taken over the company by force. There is a dispute of ownership.”
Thakaso said Majara’s resignation did not make a difference “because he was suspended in July 2009”.
“I don’t know who he is fooling. Even his claim that he will sell his 25 percent is delusionary because he does not have those shares. He sold those shares a long time ago and there is nothing left for him.”