Attack on journalists misguided and uncalled for

IT is every Mosotho’s democratic right to protest and voice their concerns on issues affecting them.

This is exactly what the coalition of taxi operators, trade unions, concerned youths in tertiary institutions and other civil society groups did two weeks ago.

And there is nothing wrong with that. Their grievances indeed are worthwhile and need to be addressed.

This was the reason why they asked the prime minister to intervene as their last hope in resolving such national issues.

All what the demonstrators strove for was for their grievances to be resolved.

The setback is where the demonstrators start rioting, damaging property and most remarkably, when they start attacking journalists.

This was a very dim-witted decision by the demonstrators and I denounce it!

One would expect that since the prime minister didn’t show up to personally take the petition, Lesotho Television would try to find the reasons behind that decision.

But the station focused more on the damages done by the protesters, which was not a bad thing to do.

Regarding damages LTV was even able to get opinions from senior police officers.

I think LTV should have done the same with our prime minister to get his side of the story because those people were angered by his decision to snub them.

All we can do now is to speculate as to why he didn’t show-up.

I am just concerned because what kind of leader can refuse to meet the people he leads?

And again why should matters of protocol apply to some Basotho and not others? I have in mind the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) women’s league and other LCD members who marched to State House to show their support the prime minister.

There was no protocol that was required then; the prime minister gladly met those Basotho who had come to “show him support”.

I cannot understand why he failed to do the same with the representatives of taxi operators, trade unions, concerned youths in tertiary institutions and others from the civil society.

I expected the LTV to give us his side of the story.

But I must admit that I don’t know the policies governing LTV therefore I have no right to blame journalists or LTV authorities for that.

The Sunday Express of November 13-19 under the heading “Protesters attack journalists” reported that two journalists from Lesotho Television had been attacked.

I am deeply saddened by that barbaric attack on journalists.

If indeed the demonstrators turned violent after Mosisili declined to personally accept their petition why would they want to vent their anger at an LTV news crew and not the person who angered them? Demonstrators had every right to be angry but they should be angry against the right persons and also in the right manner at the right moment.

If protesters felt uncomfortable with the presence of the LTV journalists why didn’t they march to LTV offices and lodge their grievances with the station’s authorities?

It is neither Ntšiuoa Sekete nor Tšiu Setho’s fault that LTV would not broadcast the event “as is always their custom” as alleged by the demonstrators.

Every media house has its own policies regarding what they regard as “news”. And journalists are not the ones responsible for setting up such policies.

It would therefore be very unfair as well as unfortunate for political mobs to attack journalists when they are doing their job.

What the demonstrators did was a sin against free media and deserves to be slammed, especially when such unfortunate deed happens in a democratic country.

I am not referring just to the attack on the two LTV journalists who were attacked.

Many journalists from different media houses are also suffering physical and verbal attacks in the line of duty.

This is a call, not only to those demonstrators who attacked journalists, but also to some people who have the unacceptable tendency of undermining journalists and harassing them for daring to stand up to authority.

God bless Basotho and Lesotho.

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