We’re partners for development

We’re partners for development

ELSEWHERE in this issue we carry some interesting comments by Lesotho’s deputy army commander Major General Matela Motobakele on the role of the media in a democratic society.
We found some of the comments quite fascinating.
Where we disagree, we will respectfully say so.

Major General Motobakele was speaking at the official opening of a media course for the security services at Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru on Monday.
Major General Motobakele said the army should consider the media as front-line partners for development.
We acknowledge that this has not always been true. In fact, relations between the Lesotho army and the media have been characterised by subtle intimidation, threats and sometimes outright violence.

The adversarial nature of the relationship between the two critical entities has not always worked for the good of Lesotho; take for instance the negativity that visited the army following the near fatal shooting of Lloyd Mutungamiri.

As the media we are fully cognisant of the important role the army plays in defending Lesotho’s national interests and sovereignty. We would be naïve not to appreciate this critical role.
On the other hand, we are confident that the army also appreciates the important role that the media plays in a democratic society. An informed society is critical to ensure that we have a functional, democratic state.

That is why the media seeks no interference from any quarter so that it can be able to perform this critical duty.
The army and the media must therefore strike a fine balance to ensure these two competing interests are accommodated. It is our hope and expectation that the media training programme went a long way in addressing and smothering some of the misunderstandings.

We must bury that era of hostile antagonism between the army and the media. That is why we think Maj Gen Matobakele’s comments must now come into play. The media is not the enemy. It is a partner for development and progress.

We however respectfully beg to differ with the General when he speaks of a “patriotic media”. What exactly is that?
Is it a media that sees no evil in what the government and its agents such as the army does? Is it a media that turns a blind eye to human rights violations by the army and others in the security services?

We are of the strong opinion that a patriotic media is one that tells truth to power. Our duty as media is to tell it like it is, warts and all. We will however be guided by two major questions: Is it true? Is it in the national interest?

We are aware that Lesotho is only emerging from years that have been marked by bitter conflict. The army, unfortunately, was fingered in some of the shocking human rights violations. This was an army that had gone rogue.

Without a vibrant media that refused to be whipped into line, Basotho and the rest of the international community might never have known what was going on in Lesotho.
But thanks to the media, some of the murderous plans by some rogue soldiers were exposed.
We would like to believe that the LDF is on a firm path towards reform and that never again shall Basotho be subjected to vile threats by their own army.

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