Chaos disrupts NRA proceedings
BICKERING between the National Reforms Authority (NRA) chairperson, Pelele Letsoela, and media sector committee chairperson, Nkoale Oetsi, have continued to disrupt the Authority’s proceedings.
This time, the squabbles forced the NRA to shelve the tabling of the media sector committee’s report during the Authority’s 17th ordinary meeting in Maseru on Wednesday.
This after Mr Letsoela ordered that the media sector report be presented by Sithetho Mthimkhulu who has been roped into the media sector committee as an expect to assist the deliberations. Mr Letsoela cited that due to the “instability in the media sector committee”, it was best for Mr Tšoana to step aside from presenting the report.
“Because of the instability within the media sector committee, the NRA has decided that their report be presented by the expert (Mr Sithetho),” Mr Letsoela said.
However, Mr Tšoana refused to leave the podium resulting in commotion from the floor with some cheering Mr Tšoana for his stance while others supported Mr Letsoela.
The commotion continued for several minutes until Mr Letsoela adjourned the meeting for 10 minutes.
After the adjournment, Mr Tšoana still refused to leave the podium leading Mr Letsoela to instruct police officers who were present at the meeting to expel the former based on Rule 8.2.2 of the NRA rules of procedure.
It reads: “The chairperson or committee chairperson may call for the assistance of the police to restore order on the premises or to remove a member from the sitting if he or she refuses to leave the meeting after the ruling”.
After some deliberations with other members of the NRA, Mr Letsoela then decided that the media sector report presentation be suspended until further notice.
“I have been advised by other members to suspend my decision to expel him (Tšoana) from the premises and also advised to suspend the media sector presentation and introduce the next committee to table its report,” Mr Letsoela said.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times after the suspension of the presentation, Mr Tšoana accused Mr Letsoela of contravening the regulations by appointing Mr Sitheto to present his committee report.
“I am in this committee to represent media and Ntate Sitheto doesn’t represent the media in this committee, he is just an expert. Regulations are clear that the report shall be tabled by the committee chairperson.
“There has been worries that media issues are not being handled well in the NRA and that became clear today when the Authority’s chairperson expelled me from the meeting. I don’t know where the report that he (Mr Letsoela) is saying should be tabled by Ntate Sitheto came from. I don’t know where they got it because I haven’t submitted our report to Mr Letsoela,” Mr Tšoana said.
Mr Tšoana said the fights were part of a long-standing feud between him and Mr Letsoela.
“Some of the media committee members connived with the chairperson in a bid to remove me from the media sector committee chair ship but we asked the courts to intervene and there was an interim court order that ordered that I continue doing my job.
“He (Mr Letsoela) has that order with him but he doesn’t want to talk about it,” Mr Tšoana said.
The suspension of the media sector committee’s report is also proof that media issues are not regarded as important.
“It is worrying that our presentation has been suspended and that means we are once again delaying the process to reform the media. We need to be very vigilant when approaching this issue because it is clear that this is not a serious issue to the NRA chairperson,” Mr Tšoana said.
Tšoana was one of the 12 NRA members who took Letsoela to court last month accusing him of unilaterally and unlawfully renewing contracts of NRA chief executive officer, Mafiroane Motanyane, his deputy, Tšiu Khatibe and other NRA officials. The contracts had expired in September and October 2021. Mr Letsoela allegedly extended them to an unspecified date in 2022.
The NRA is tasked with spearheading the multi-sector reforms process. However, the reforms process risks being derailed by the factionalism.
The 17th ordinary meeting ran from Tuesday to Thursday. The media sector committee’s report is now likely to be tabled in the 18th ordinary meeting. The dates of the meeting are yet to be announced.