MASERU — Opposition parties yesterday criticised Lesotho Television (LTV)’s coverage of election campaigns saying the state-run broadcaster was favouring the ruling Democratic Congress (DC) party.
All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane told political party leaders at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s boardroom in Maseru that he was not surprised by LTV’s performance.
“I once presided over the Ministry of Communications and we had a subtle policy to give more coverage to government at the expense of others,” Thabane said.
“LTV is afraid of the ruling party and we appeal to the IEC to take charge of this situation with immediate effect.”
Keketso Rants’o, the LCD secretary general, said the party’s Butha-Buthe and Teya-teyaneng rallies were not broadcast despite journalists from LTV covering the two rallies.
“They were only shown as a news item. This goes to show that the DC has been given control of the state broadcaster,” Rants’o said.
Rosa Leneha, the Lesotho Workers’ Party (LWP) secretary general also complained that on two occasions, her party held rallies alongside the DC in Leribe and Thaba-Tseka but theirs were overlooked.
“The DC and LWP went to Leribe and Thaba-Tseka on similar days but on both occasions our rallies were ignored despite notifying LTV about them,” Leneha said.
Meanwhile, an LTV employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Lesotho Times this week that in a meeting last Thursday, field operations director Dyke Sehlooho announced there would not be coverage of rallies by the state broadcaster because “the DC has completed its rallies”.
“We had a meeting on Thursday last week. Dyke informed us that since the DC had completed its rallies, no other parties will be covered this weekend,” the source said.
The source added that Sehlooho told them that his word was final and that he did not expect any questions.
“He was extremely arrogant as he said it, as if he was not even anticipating the possibility that some of the staff could be opposition supporters,” the source said.
But a senior communications ministry official, who declined to be identified, told this paper yesterday that the state broadcaster’s budget was completely saturated.
“Truth be told, you can’t solely blame employees for cutting down on their spending. This has nothing to do with the DC completing its tour,” the official said.
On the question of the LCD complaining of rallies not being broadcast, the official said it was impossible to show them at the same time because “there are just too many of them”.
“So many others have not been broadcast because we can’t do it in one day. We’re yet to broadcast them. Tonight we’ll be broadcasting the LCD’s Qacha’s Nek rally,” the official said.
When contacted for comment last night, Sehlooho declined to comment on the matter saying he was not authorised to speak to media.
“I cannot comment because I am not authorised to speak to the media.
“But the fact of the matter is that there’s no semblance of truth in what you’re asking me,” Sehlooho said.