LESOTHO has been urged to strengthen its media bodies to enable them to effectively fight for the rights of the country’s media.
Southern African Editor’s Forum (SAEF) chairperson Wille Mponda said his organization would help Lesotho revive its national editors’ forum which should then assume full affiliation to SAEF.
The local chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) also needed to be strengthened to put it in good stead to represent the media.
This all came out at The African Editors Forum (TAEF)’s Freedom of Expression Festival 2019 at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru this week.
The two-day festival ended yesterday. It attracted journalists, artistes, educationists, activists and policy makers from across Africa. The festival was supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and MISA.
Discussions at the festival included topics on state of freedom of expression on the African continent, media advocacy in southern Africa, the role of media in the advent of information, communication technology (ICT) and the fourth industry revolution. The participants also discussed Lesotho’s ongoing reforms agenda and the ancillary role of the media in that process.
Mr Mponda said since its inception 15 years ago, SAEF had established networks through which journalists and editors could share stories.
He said the solidarity and safety of journalists in Lesotho could be achieved through the strengthening of MISA and the Lesotho National Editors’ Forum.
“These organisations must be strengthened in support of media freedom and freedom of expression,” Mr Mponda said.
African journalists should unite in solidarity in the face of challenges they faced from repressive regimes across the continent.
“It is sad for SAEF to observe that African countries like Zambia that were once at the forefront in liberating other countries like South Africa are now on an onslaught against media freedom,” Mr Mponda said.
Acting Communications, Science and Technology minister Moeketsi Majoro, said the festival had come at an ideal time when Lesotho was dealing with the multi-sector reforms.
“A vibrant and professional media in the country is critical. The media is an important pillar of democratic consolidation efforts of any country Lesotho included,” Dr Majoro said.
Acting MISA national director Lekhetho Ntsukunyane said Lesotho was on a journey to reshaping its media landscape.
“We hope that this forum will help make our vision even clearer,” Mr Ntsukunyane said.