Ultimate FM station manager kicked out

MASERU — Ultimate FM station manager Lerato Tsósane has been kicked out of the youth radio following the station’s brief closure after a labour dispute last month.

Tsósane was reassigned to Lesotho Television which falls under the Ministry of Communications’ department of broadcasting on April 15, two weeks after the incident that forced the station to go off air for about 12 hours.

The state-run broadcaster went off air on April 1 after dismissing nine of its presenters over academic qualifications. 

Management at the station had told the presenters that they were only interested in employing people with university degrees or diplomas in broadcasting and journalism.

The matter was however resolved after the intervention of Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing who ordered that the presenters be reinstated.

The Lesotho Times understands that the authorities at the ministry were not happy with the way Tsósane had handled the matter.

Highly placed sources said Tsósane failed to draft a job description policy for the Ultimate FM workers.

This was after the government’s finance department had asked the   communications ministry why Ultimate FM presenters were not employed on a permanent basis.

Labour law stipulates that one should not be employed on a temporary basis for more than six months.

The ministry had explained that it was because the radio station’s structures did not make room for presenters without college diplomas and degrees.

It was however agreed that the structures would have to be reviewed to accommodate even those who did not have university qualifications.

The station manager was given a six-month allowance from October 2008 to March 2009 to prepare a job description policy by the finance ministry.

The policy was supposed to deal with aspects of radio presenting and specific requirements for the jobs.

According to the source the finance ministry had made it clear that if the draft was not done by March 31 it would not approve the hiring.

The source said: “They made it clear that they would suspend the salaries as they did not officially appear on the government pay-roll.

“But Tsósane sat on her laurels, not taking into consideration the fact that people’s jobs were at stake. She was encouraged time and again by her immediate colleagues to produce the document within the specified time frame but she never did it.

“The confusion brewing within the station was partly due to her failure to execute her duties accordingly.”

On April 1, the presenters reported for work as usual but they were chucked out by the management which told them that they were no longer employed by the station. 

The presenters then reported the matter to the communications minister who called an urgent meeting and ordered that the presenters be immediately reinstated.  

They were given their jobs back after lengthy talks and the reassurance that they would not be subjected to the embarrassment they suffered again.

The source added that a legal adviser was called to draft a contract which stipulates among other things that the presenters would work for six months after which they will be called for auditions.

The auditions, which have to be done before September, will be supervised by a committee consisting of personnel from the communications ministry’s human resources and information departments as well as national news agency LENA and Radio Lesotho.

The committee will make recommendations to the Ministry of Public Service and the Public Service Commission on who is and is not employable.

Phillip ‘Neko has since taken over the management of Ultimate FM as Tsósane’s successor.

Before his appointment he was the news editor at the station.

Among the presenters who work at Ultimate on loan from Radio Lesotho and hold college qualifications are Lesaoana Lesupi, Tello Leballo and Pearl Ocansey.

Ntsotiseng Ralengau, formerly of LENA, is employed as the sub-editor.

The rest were people hired on a regular basis to do commercials and announcement voice-overs.

This was not the first time that the station had gone off air.

Ultimate FM’s first broadcast was in 1998 under the name Highlands Radio, launched by the then communications minister Monyane Moleleki.

Moleleki’s successor, Mnyane Mphafi, however shut it down after only a week of broadcasting.

It was revived by former communications minister and current All Basotho Convention leader Tom Thabane in 2006.

Tsósane could not be reached for comment as she was said to be on leave.

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