Press freedom paramount
However, in spite of the huge role that that the press, like all throughout the world, plays in developing our economic and political landscape, the Lesotho Union of Journalists, recently lamented the lack of a Code of Conduct for all journalists.
This is despite the fact that since previous governments and the incumbent one have been promising they will at least launch a comprehensive media policy.
This unfortunately leads our scribes and other journos to tread in unchartered territory if they do not have a reference point, domestically, to effectively discharge their huge mandate to this nation.
To its credit, the National University of Lesotho (NUL) under the Institute of Extra Mural Studies (IEMS) offers an accredited tertiary education in mass communication.
At least, aspiring newsmen and journalist as well as established ones can broaden their horizons to carve a niche in this profession for themselves.
There is also the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) — Lesotho Chapter that seeks to promote the profession and uphold and protect the interests of the journos. As to whether it is efficiently discharging its mandate the jury is still out.
For instance, I have only felt its impact hugely during the national election which are inevitably critical in the way the exercise is conducted and the direction the country is steered post-election.
The critical role that the press plays in the political and economic landscape of the country cannot be over-emphasized. It calls on the government and other stakeholders, owing to our small but vibrant media, to act as catalysts in promoting and diversifying the press so that it impacts hugely in a positive fashion to our destiny as a nation.
They ought to realize that the press can either break or create a nation such as in Burundi, years ago. It is on occasions like the WPF Day that the critical importance of the press ought to be brought to the fore.
By launching a comprehensive media policy and code of conduct that respects, diversifies and protects and ensures a vibrant and diverse press that is independent and robust, then not only government and Basotho can benefit hugely but also all the other stakeholders can benefit.
The press is the vital cog that keeps our economic, educational, competitiveness, and religious wheel turning for the better. It keeps
everybody informed and abreast of developments that can benefit the rest of the nation. We need to invest as a nation in the press so that all our vital resources can be harnessed efficiently.
The legislative and institutional capacities are already in place to promote and uphold the right to freedom of expression as enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
All stakeholders across the spectrum ought to optimize the WFP Day and the press for the betterment of this nation. Gone should be the days when they perceive the press to be the enemy of their agenda.
We ought to realize, including all stakeholders, that WFP Day and a robust informative press promotes healthy rigorous debate on issues of national importance. Promoting the WFP Day, respecting, and promoting “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms” is a vehicle for national transformation, democracy and socio-economic development.