Harassment and intimidation of journalists as political instability continues
On 14th September 2017, Acting Communications Minister Thesele Maseribane announced on Lesotho Television that radio station MoAfrika FM would be shut down. Maseribane claimed that he "was advised by security agencies that the radio station was inciting violence and allegedly using hate speech", according to The Post. On 15th November, authorities arrested the owner of MoAfrika station - Candi Ramainoane - on defamation charges. Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said:
"The closure of MoAfrika FM and the arrest today of the station owner, Candi Ramainoane, is nothing more than a witch-hunt aimed at harassing and intimidating the country’s press".
In a separate incident, The Journalist Union of Lesotho has called for an investigation into the harassment and intimidation of journalists during a press conference on 29th August. The press conference was organised by the Lesotho Congress for Democracy Party (LCD) regarding the arrest and detention of the Party's deputy leader Tšeliso Mokhosi and according to the Union, LCD supporters had verbally "attacked and frustrated journalists while on duty".
South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) correspondent Nthakoana Ngatane fled to South Africa after receiving death threats while trying to cover the political unrest in the country. The South African National Editor's Forum (Sanef) issued a statement on 3rd October, expressing its concern over the situation for journalists in Lesotho, saying that "due to the deteriorating security situation, the safety of journalists in the country is under threat".
Media Institute of Southern Africa Lesotho (MISA Lesotho) announced in December 2017 that the cabinet of the government suspended the moratorium on the issuing of broadcasting licenses, which had prevented the establishment of new radio stations. The moratorium was put in place in July 2015, allegedly so that legislative reform in the broadcasting sector could be put in place; however, such reforms never appeared.
Ahead of the 3rd June 2017 general elections in Lesotho, The Southern Times reported a state crackdown on radio stations and threats against journalists. For example, radio station People's Choice FM was taken off the air the day before an opposition rally was to be held. In addition, the state suspended Lentsoe La Basotho newspaper, as it had allegedly published negative commentary on the current government.
3rd tertiary institution in #Lesotho goes on strike to protest late disbursement of student bursaries #HigherEd https://t.co/s8bX1kdpvY— John Aerni-Flessner (@LesothoJohn) September 8, 2017
In September 2017, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology's leadership responded to a student-led strike by suspending classes. Students had built barricades and burned several items to draw attention to their demands for the payment of allowances needed to buy food and pay rent for accommodations. One student commented on the dire situation for students, saying that:
“We can’t learn on empty stomachs and we can’t learn when we have the pressure of landlords demanding their rent. They want their rent now and we do not have it. We are also hungry so we can’t concentrate in class”.
Civic Space Developments