Har­vest FM in hot wa­ter over Ma­haos

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

ONE of the coun­try’s pop­u­lar ra­dio sta­tions, Har­vest FM, has landed in hot wa­ter af­ter air­ing a pro­gramme which of­fended the govern­ment this week.

The govern­ment has since writ­ten to the Le­sotho Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­ity ( LCA), which is re­spon­si­ble for li­cenc­ing all ra­dio sta­tions, ask­ing it to in­ter­vene and take “stern” mea­sures against sta­tion. The de­vel­op­ment could see the sta­tion’s op­er­a­tional li­cence be­ing with­drawn.

The pro­gramme in ques­tion was an in­ter­view the ra­dio sta­tion held with Lehloenya Ma­hao, fam­ily spokesman and brother of slain for­mer Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

Mr Ma­hao ap­peared on one of Har­vest FM’S morn­ing pro­grammes hosted by Puse­letso Mphane to re­fute claims by the Pop­u­lar Front for Democ­racy (PFD) that it had helped fund his slain brother’s fu­neral.

The govern­ment claims Mr Ma­hao falsely al­leged in the pro­gramme that Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili’s coali­tion had pro­vided M100 000 to fund a court case by Lieu­tenant-colonel Hashatsi in which the LDF Spe­cial Forces com­man­der is seek­ing to nul­lify a South­ern Africa De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) in­quiry into, among other things, his brother’s killing.

Af­ter the pro­gramme, Har­vest FM owner ‘ Malich­aba Lekhoaba said she re­ceived a let­ter signed by Prime Min­is­ter’s Political Ad­vi­sor, Dr Fako Likoti, in which he asked the LCA to take “stern ac­tion” against her ra­dio sta­tion.

Dr Likoti’s let­ter, dated 5 Jan­uary 2016, was ad­dressed to the Le­sotho Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­ity’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Tšeliso ‘Mokela and was also copied to Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Khotso Let­satsi and Har­vest FM man­age­ment.

Ms Lekhoaba said she signed a de­liv­ery book to ac­knowl­edge re­ceipt of the let­ter from a mes­sen­ger from the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice who de­liv­ered it to her of­fice.

The let­ter, head­lined “Har­vest FM’S non con­sul­ta­tion with govern­ment on per­ti­nent is­sues” partly read: “To­day, 5 Jan­uary 2016, the above ra­dio sta­tion hosted one Mr Lehloenya Ma­hao on its morn­ing pro­gramme.

“Mr Ma­hao made a claim that (the) Le­sotho govern­ment paid M100 000 to­wards Mr Hashatsi’s case. The pro­gramme con­vener even urged Mr Ma­hao to re­peat on air this se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tion with­out get­ting govern­ment’s side.

“This fal­la­cious state­ment was rubbed on lis­ten­ers with­out the pro­gramme con­vener even es­tab­lish­ing the truth about this.

“This ma­li­cious al­le­ga­tion was there­fore en­ter­tained by Ms Mphana with­out even try­ing to es­tab­lish the truth.

“It has be­come a com­mon cause that Har­vest FM has be­come one of the ra­dio sta­tions that has em­barked on a cam­paign to de­monise and cast neg­a­tive as­per­sions against the govern­ment of Le­sotho.”

“It is on this ba­sis that we ask your good of­fice to take stern mea­sures against the ra­dio sta­tion.”

Ms Lekhoaba was nev­er­the­less adamant that her sta­tion had done noth­ing wrong.

“The is­sue of M100 000 doesn’t ap­pear any­where in the pro­gramme. In any event, if Dr Likoti felt that he wanted to re­spond to what­ever claims spread by the Ma­haos, he could have de­manded the same plat­form to re­spond to the mat­ter.

“I am won­der­ing why Dr Likoti opted to is­sue out such a let­ter with­out first de­mand­ing his right of re­ply.”

Ms Lekhoaba said she had not heard any fur­ther com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the au­thor­i­ties since the let­ter was dis­patched.

She none­the­less em­pha­sized that she was “not sur­prised” by the de­vel­op­ment.

“I am not sur­prised. This used to hap­pen a lot dur­ing the pre­vi­ous regime of the cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter (Dr Mo­si­sisli) be­fore the 2012 gen­eral elec­tions. Govern­ment of­fi­cials would lodge so many com­plaints against Har­vest FM pro­grammes re­sult­ing in sev­eral sus­pen­sions of our sta­tion,” Ms Lekhoaba said.

“Now that they are back in power, they have re­sumed their on­slaught.”

Mr Let­satsi backed Dr Likoti’s protes­ta­tions and launched his own broad­side at Har­vest FM.

Mr Let­satsi told the Le­sotho Times this week that the Har­vest FM broad­cast had been aimed at “spread­ing ha­tred and sow­ing divi­sions within the so­ci­ety”.

He said it was rep­re­hen­si­ble for the me­dia to pro­vide a plat­form for Mr Ma­hao to claim that the govern­ment was fund­ing Lt-col Hashatsi, with­out pro­vid­ing the govern­ment with an op­por­tu­nity to re­spond. He said ra­dio broad­casts must be well re­searched and bal­anced for the ben­e­fit of lis­ten­ers. Then again, Mr Let­satsi said, he had been dumb­founded by the pro­gramme and as the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for the me­dia, he would con­sider lodg­ing a com­plaint against Har­vest FM to the LCA.

“I could not un­der­stand the mo- tive be­hind such a pro­gramme. The Broad­cast­ing Act is clear that se­ri­ous dis­ci­plinary ac­tion must be taken against a ra­dio sta­tion broad­cast­ing such pro­grammes,” Mr Let­satsi said.

Mean­while, Mr Ma­hao said his fam­ily was in­fu­ri­ated by the PFD’S claims that it had con­trib­uted gro­ceries and a cow to­wards the burial of his brother Lt Gen­eral Ma­hao.

The PFD first made the claim at a press con­fer­ence in Septem­ber last year.

The party’s deputy leader, Tha­bang Kholumo, who also serves as the Education cation and Train­ing deputy min­is­ter r in the coali­tion govern­ment, re­peated epeated the same claims in a ra­dio in­ter­view nter­view last week.

Mr Ma­hao said if the PFD could uld prove that it had in­deed deed made such con­tri­bu­tions, tions, then his fam­ily would be will­ing to giveive the party a re­fund. But the fam­ily was sure that no such con­tri­bun­tri­bu­tion had d been made and nd ac­cused thehe PFD of mak­ing ing the claims as a “pub­lic­ity seeking­ing ges­ture”.

The “un­founded, in­sen­si­tive ive and in bad taste” te” claims by the PFDD were also a des­per­ate te at­tempt to en­dear the he party to the mul­ti­tudes des of Ba­sotho who were ere dumb­founded by Lt-gen Ma­hao’s death, hee said.

“We must make it clear that as the fam­ily we have been en un­able to es­tab­lish­b­lish how and to whom they (the PFD) made their much vaunted con­tri­bu­tion. To take to pub­lic plat­forms to an­nounce that one made con­tri­bu­tions to a fu­neral is un­known in Ba­sotho cus­tom,” he said.

“We are, there­fore, left with the con­clu­sion that, if in­deed the PFD made a con­tri­bu­tion, they seem un­able to live with it in their con­science. The fam­ily has re­solved to help ease their con­science. We in­vite them to bring what­ever proof of the con­tri­bu­tion they made and we shall re­fund it with­out any qualms what­so­ever.”

Lehloenya Ma­hao.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.