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MEC engages media in party manifesto

by Lesotho Times
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Movement for Economic Change (MEC) Leader, Selibe Mochoboroane

’Marafaele Mohloboli

MOVEMENT for Economic Change (MEC) leader Selibe Mochoboroane says the media can make or break any organisation or government hence the need for a constructive relationship with the fourth estate.

Addressing a breakfast meeting with representatives of various media organisations in Maseru this week, Mr Mochoboroane said the MEC was crafting a media policy that would be included in the fledgling party’s manifesto ahead of the 3 June 2017 elections.

Lesotho will hold its third polls in five years after the Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili-led coalition government lost a parliamentary no-confidence vote on 1 March 2017 sponsored by a four-party opposition alliance.

The alliance, which consists of All Basotho Convention (ABC), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho had proposed AD leader Monyane Moleleki to replace Dr Mosisili upon the success of the no-confidence vote.

However, King Letsie III proclaimed 3 June 2017 as election day on 6 March 2017 after dissolving parliament at the advice of Dr Mosisili. Prominent lawyer Advocate Haae Phoofolo King’s Counsel and BNP deputy leader Joang Molapo have since challenged the dissolution of parliament in the constitutional court.

Mr Mochoboroane formed the MEC last month after parting ways with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) of which he was secretary-general.

Prior to leaving the LCD, Mr Mochoboroane had been suspended by party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing for mobilising support for the MEC while still being part of the governing coalition party.

Despite joining the political fray only last month, the MEC leader has expressed confidence that the party would win the elections outright and hence contest on its own.

In his remarks to the assembled media practitioners, Mr Mochoboroane said inclusivity would be the buzzword for his party’s manifesto, adding that the media would be no exception.

“Our manifesto needs to be inclusive and we need to get your input as the media because we perceive you as important stakeholders now and after the 3 June 2017 snap elections,” he said.

“We decided to use a bottom-up approach of engagement instead of imposing ourselves on you.”

Mr Mochoboroane, who was Communications minister during Lesotho’s first coalition government led by ABC leader Thomas Thabane, said continual engagement with the media was critical in forging a constructive relationship.

“Even though I was once a Communications minister, and could think that I have knowledge of your expectations, I am aware of the fact that the situation changes with time and your interests might have also changed,” he said.

“The media is a very powerful tool that can make or break a person or even a government. It is, therefore, only fair that we hear what you have to say because other than being practitioners, you also form a part of the society.”

This was echoed by MEC spokesperson, Napo Moshoeshoe, who stressed the invaluable role the media plays in informing the electorate in a democratic dispensation.

“We regard the media as a stakeholder and therefore thought it wise to consult you in coming up with our manifesto,” he said.

Among the issues raised by the media was the need for journalists’ safety and rights to be protected while investigating and reporting on the corrupt activities of people in power.

They urged the MEC to ensure that no media houses were blacklisted from receiving advertising as was the case with previous governments.

The media practitioners also called for training opportunities to be granted to private media journalists and not just those from state institutions. They also called on the inclusion of private media journalists in official government trips.

Media Institute of Southern Africa Lesotho chapter officer, Boitelo Rabele, also called for the lifting of a suspension on radio licensing, saying it deprived many sections of society access to information.

 

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