Of the media’s love-hate romance with politicians

Lesotho is never short of overzealous party fanatics, so Scrutator has taken it upon herself to keep them in check, otherwise no one else would.

Last week it was All Basotho Convention youths expressing anger over publication and broadcasting of party leader Ntate Thomas Thabane’s private relationship. They were literally angry on his behalf.

This week Scrutator was equally shocked to hear a colleague telling fellow journalists at a bar that one Democratic Congress (DC) zealot angrily accosted him demanding to know why he had taken a picture of a
visibly ailing Ntate Monyane Moleleki.

The journalist said he does not know the guy but he said he coolly asked him what his problem was first.
Then he further explained to the misguided fanatic that Ntate Moleleki and his family did not find it problematic that his picture, even in his sickly state, could be published because he is a public figure who is used to being in the public eye all the time.

Let me take this opportunity to tell this DC supporter that despite his illness, Ntate Moleleki was in high spirits as usual, cracking jokes with those present, including the journalist who took the picture.
Scrutator wants to advise overzealous party functionaries again this week to get a life and stop worrying on behalf of their leaders.

Talking about Mahaletere, Scrutator thinks allowing the picture of him in a sickly state was a master stroke on his part.

It completely silenced all those noises from skeptics who did not believe it when his lawyers kept telling the courts that the man was unwell.

But even the pictures, without his trademark “mahaletere” (Afro and beard) were not sufficient to convince Moleleki’s haters that the man is really down.
Lesotho Times got numerous calls from readers asking if the paper had not made a mistake of publishing someone else’s picture and captioning Moleleki’s name under it.

The most ridiculous was one caller who argued for five minutes over the phone.
Despite sounding seemingly convinced that the picture was the latest of Moleleki, he still had this to say:
“We heard Moleleki actually poisoned himself in order not to face the courts.”
Indeed, prejudice is like an old skin, it has to be removed bit by bit.

Whatever human beings fear, they tend to give a name, a bad name at that. That undesirable label or name reassures their conscience that hating “that person” should be acceptable.
For anyone to believe a man can poison himself and suffer the pain of sickness thereof would simply be to take things too far.

If for a moment such ludicrous claims could be taken seriously, then Ntate Moleleki’s ability to outsmart his detractors would have clearly become so legendary; going to the extent of intentionally swallowing poison in order to cheat justice.
Clearly, we are a people with a fertile imagination.
Come on Basotho Moleleki, like any other human being, is susceptible to illness. Allow the man to recuperate in peace then he will go to court whenever he needs to so that the law can take its course.

Talking about hate, journalists in Lesotho have an ambivalent relationship with public figures.
Aptly put, the relationship can be characterised as a love-hate rapport.
When it suits them, politicians come groveling to media houses seeking publicity one way or the other, but when the media relays some bitter truth, the same politicians are tempted to censor journalists.
Scrutator has written before about public figures that always seem to be miffed, particularly by the private radio stations and newspapers.

Lately, it was none other than the Speaker of Parliament himself, Ntate Sephiri Motanyane, who did not mince his revulsion with the private media which he accused of sensationalising news so he, therefore, thinks this section of the media should not be given the same access to parliamentary proceedings as the state media.

Sadly, it looks like someone is now trying to persuade the government’s Numero Uno himself, Prime Minister Thabane, that the media are a nuisance in the scheme of things.
Scrutator’s heart sank last week when she saw the premier issuing a statement on television suggesting that any disharmony in the security services sector was a figment of the media’s imagination.
I shall not delve much into the arguments for or against this view.
Suffice to say truth is like pregnancy, one can only hide it for the first few months.
Scrutator’s only concern is that the statements by Thabane, as much as he is entitled to his views as the leader of Lesotho’s government, can be wrongly interpreted by legions of zealous followers to mean the media are simply peddling lies and therefore destabilising the government, which is not the case.

On a different note, Scrutator is wondering how the country can move forward if self-styled seers are allowed to point fingers at hapless villagers, calling them witches yet nothing is done to them.

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