THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has accused its Lesotho chapter’s National Governing council (NGC) of gross incompetence and lack of leadership and corporate governance.
This came out in a damning 2017 report titled So this is Democracy: State of Media Freedom in Southern Africa.
The report alleges that “MISA-Lesotho has faced challenges of poor governance which were evident since March 2017 when it elected a board that lacked leadership and corporate governance” which rocked the organisation with scandals.
It singles out the disrepute brought into the organisation by the deputy chairperson, Nkoale Tšoana and the deputy secretary general, Mr Sechaba Mokhethi, who allegedly led participants to boycott a workshop demanding per diem.
In the incident, Mr Tšoana and Mr Mokhethi are accused of inciting 12 out of 42 participants to boycott a MISA workshop citing their discontent over lack of allowances as the workshop had not budgeted for the stipends.
Mr Mokhethi declined to comment saying that the matter would be better off handled by the Chairperson Mr Boitumelo Koloi while Tšoana could not be reached on his mobile phone.
The report alludes to conflict of interest by NGC members, purportedly in reference to the formation of the MNN Investigative Center of Journalism (MNNCIJ) whose founders are also part of the NGC.
“Conflict of interest among NGC member, in fact a grouping of some of the members had formed an advocacy organisation that capitalised on gaps in MISA Lesotho programming,” the report reads.
It further indicates that NGC also demanded “for sitting allowances for unconstitutional meetings held without collaboration or knowledge of the secretariat. By acting in this manner, the NGC placed MISA Lesotho at risk and the organisation was therefore not likely to get support in driving the media reforms agenda”.
However, one of MISA members who is also a founding member of MNNCIJ, Lekhetho Ntsukunyane, said the report “leaves a bad taste for anyone who has interests of journalists at heart”.
“I am disheartened to say the least. In as much as the report does not single out the name of our center, we have heard that MISA is very uncomfortable with our existence, but we never wanted to believe this because we engaged MISA from the inception stage of this establishment,” said Ntsukunyane.
“The issue of conflict of interest by some of our members who are also in the MISA NGC is also not true, because we started operations long before the NGC was elected.
“If there are issues, I believe there are better ways to deal with them and this is unfortunate if MISA suddenly regards us as their competitor. We are in no way in competition with them and we did not identify any gaps as the report implies.
“This is unfortunate if at all the report is indeed referring to our center. We are MISA members and we believe that somebody has to be taken to task over this report.” concluded Ntsukunyane.
MISA Chairperson, Boitumelo Koloi, said the report painted a bad picture for the organisation.
“Admittedly, the report is bad and paints a bad picture about the organisation, a matter which we are not going to sit back and just wish away. We are already working on it as the NGC,” Mr Koloi said.
“Under normal circumstances, the report ought to have been adopted and endorsed by the NGC together with the Secretariat, but in this case the secretariat did it unilaterally.
“It was not even proof read or amended where there ought to be any amendments, it was just passed without the consent of the NGC and this is a report which might bring negative repercussions on the running of the organisation especially in luring sponsors. We need to do something about it before much damage is done.
“I believe what was done can be reversed before much harm is done.”
MISA Director Mr Tsebo Matšasa could not be reached for a comment until the time of print.