Har­vest FM up for grabs

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

Har­vest FM owner ‘ Malich­aba Lekhoaba has de­cided to sell her ra­dio sta­tion be­cause she is tired of fight­ing the govern­ment.

Ms Lekhoaba told the Le­sotho Times that it was with “a heavy heart” that she had de­cided to sell the pop­u­lar sta­tion — a pro­ject she started in 2003 “from noth­ing”.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Lekhoaba, govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to ap­proach the Le­sotho Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­ity (LCA) about Har­vest’s pro­gramme aired on the morn­ing of 5 Jan­uary 2016, could re­sult in the clo­sure of the sta­tion.

How­ever, Ms Lekhoaba be­lieves the com­plaint, lodged by Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili’s Political Ad­vi­sor, Fako Likoti, was “per­sonal”, hence her de­ci­sion to sell the sta­tion to save its work­ers from un­em­ploy­ment.

Ms Lekhoaba on Mon­day told the Le­sotho Times: “I have de­cided to sell the ra­dio sta­tion to the next avail­able buyer. Maybe if I sell, there will be no threats to the sta­tion and the lives of the 18 em­ploy­ees who de­pend on it to earn a liv­ing will be saved. I don’t be­lieve the govern­ment has a prob­lem with the sta­tion but does have a per­sonal vendetta against me as an in­di­vid­ual.

“Dr Mo­sisili’s govern­ment has been fight­ing Har­vest FM since 2007. The sta­tion was then be­ing ac­cused of giv­ing the op­po­si­tion All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) a plat­form to broad­cast its cam­paigns be­fore the gen­eral elec­tions to the ex­tent that it was sus­pended and put off air for months.

“It has not been an easy de­ci­sion to make be­cause to let go of a pro­ject you started out of noth­ing, is not a joke. I sac­ri­ficed and started from scratch be­cause I was pas­sion­ate about bring­ing Chris­tian pro­grammes to the na­tion.

“Even though it has grown so big and into what I had not even imag­ined it could be­come, I am proud the ra­dio sta­tion and its pro­grammes at­tract so many Ba­sotho. It is no longer my pas­sion alone and my thing as it used to be, but some­thing sup­ported and loved by Ba­sotho at large.”

Mean­while, Dr Likoti on 5 Jan­uary 2016 wrote to the LCA ask­ing the reg­u­la­tory au­thor­ity to take “stern” mea­sures against Har­vest FM fol­low­ing a pro­gramme the sta­tion had aired that morn­ing.

The pro­gramme in ques­tion was an in­ter­view with Lehloenya Ma­hao — fam­ily spokesper­son and brother to slain for­mer Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der Lieu­tenant- Gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

Lt-gen Ma­hao was shot dead by the mil­i­tary on 25 June 2015, al­legedly while re­sist­ing ar­rest for sus­pected mutiny, with the killing spark­ing out­rage both in Le­sotho and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Dur­ing the broad­cast, Mr Ma­hao de­nied claims by the Pop­u­lar Front for Democ­racy (PFD) that the party had helped fund his brother’s fu­neral. The PFD is one of the seven par­ties in the coali­tion govern­ment along­side the Demo­cratic Congress (DC) led by Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili, Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD), Le­sotho Peo­ple’s Congress (LPC), Ba­sotho Congress Party (BCP), Mare­mat­lou Free­dom Party (MFP) and Na­tional In­de­pen­dent Party (NIP).

How­ever, Dr Likoti claimed in the let­ter of com­plaint to the LCA that Mr Ma­hao falsely al­leged dur­ing the pro­gramme that the govern­ment had pro­vided M100 000 to fund Lieu­tenant-colonel Tefo Hashatsi’s court case. In the case lodged be­fore the court in Oc­to­ber 2015, Lt-col Hashatsi is seek­ing to nul­lify a South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into Lt-gen Ma­hao’s killing for al­leged bias. Lt-col Hashatsi says the com­mis­sion, led by Jus­tice Mpapi Phumaphi of Botswana, had made him look like the prime sus­pect in LtGen Ma­hao’s killing when he ap­peared be­fore it in Septem­ber 2015.

Lt-col Hashatsi on 14 Jan­uary 2016 also lodged a com­plaint with the LCA re­gard­ing the Har­vest FM in­ter­view, ar­gu­ing he had not been in­vited to the pro­gramme to de­fend him­self against Mr Ma­hao’s fund­ing al­le­ga­tions.

In his let­ter to the LCA, Mr Hashatsi said: “I am the only Tefo Hashatsi, a ci­ti­zen of Le­sotho, who has lodged a case be­fore the High Court of Le­sotho in re­la­tion to mat­ters per­tain­ing to is­sues em­a­nat­ing from Phumaphi’s com­mis­sion. In so do­ing, I ex­er­cised my con­sti­tu­tional right in terms of Sec­tion 22 of the con­sti­tu­tion of Le­sotho of 1993. I am the one who is in­cur­ring all the costs aris­ing from that lit­i­ga­tion, not the govern­ment of Le­sotho or any­one on my be­half, as al­leged by Har­vest FM.

“I did not serve a copyy of this com­plaint on the li­censee against which­hich the com­plaint is be­ing filed to avoid un­nec­es­sary mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tions with the ra­dio. Humbly, the au­thor­ity may kindly file it on my be­half if nec­es­sary.”

Asked if Har­vest FM had re­sponded to the LCA ul­ti­ma­tum to “showw cause” why it should not be charged for al­legedly leg­edly con­tra­ven­ing broad­cast­ing rules, Ms Lekhoaba on Mon­day said: “I will sub­mit the first rep­re­sen- tation to­mor­row (Tues­day) y) be­cause the dead­line is 21 Jan­uaryy 2016, while I will sub­mit the other one on Mon­day next week be­cause thee dead­line is 29 Jan­uary 2016.”

Me­dia In­sti­tute of south­ern Africa (MISA) — Le­sotho Di­rec­tor, Tsebo Matšasa, said he was aware of the Har­vest FM case when asked by the Le­sotho Times if the or­gan­i­sa­tion was do­ing any­thing to help the sta­tion.

“I am aware of the he com­plaints lodged to the e LCA by Dr Likoti and d Lt-col Hashatsi. I willl not com­ment on claims that the govern­ment has a per­sonal fight against Mrs Lekhoaba a be­cause I don’t know about that,” Mr Matšasa said.

“But what I would urgege Mrs Lekhoaba to do is seek le­gal ad­vice on the mat­ter.”

Mr Matšasa also ap­pealed to me­dia prac­ti­tion­ers to be care­ful as they per­form their du­ties.

“the law in Le­sotho is not favourable to the me­dia, so prac­ti­tion­ers must be very care­ful of what they pub­lish or say on ra­dio or TV,” Mr Matšasasa said.

Re­peated at­tempts to o get a com­ment from Dr Likoti were fruit­less.

Har­vest FM owner ‘Malich­aba Lekhoaba.

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