THE head of the South African Development Community (SADC) facilitation team, Justice Dikgang Moseneke, says he will engage the government over its failure to reopen the frequencies of MoAfrika FM radio station which were shut down in August this year.
Justice Moseneke said this at the recent multi-stakeholder national dialogue on the multi-sector reforms in Maseru. The national dialogue, which was attended by leaders of political parties in government and in the opposition as well as other stakeholders, is expected to come up with an agenda for the constitutional, security sector, governance, judicial and media reforms that were recommended in 2016 by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
The three-day event began on Monday and ended on Wednesday.
Justice Moseneke made an undertaking to consult with the government on the MoAfrika issue after the radio station’s manager, Ratabane Ramainoane raised the issue as a “point of order” during the dialogue.
Mr Ramainoane said his radio station was hamstrung in executing its mandate of informing the public, particularly at a crucial time when people needed to be updated about the ongoing national reforms processes.
Justice Moseneke said he had been made to understand by the government that some of the radio station’s frequencies were only closed temporarily to facilitate construction work in areas where they had their transformers and “the (construction) work would be done as quickly as possible”.
“In the Memorandum of Understanding we signed with the government, we raised some issues, not only about MoAfrika (FM), that there should be free flow of information. We were informed that there was construction around MoAfrika’s transformer and government undertook that they would work as quickly as possible to make sure that MoAfrika is back on air,” Justice Moseneke said.
“If that is not so, people who work with me will ask the government what the problem is around MoAfrika. I will attend to that as soon as you give me a report. I will ask the government how far they are,” Justice Moseneke said. He however, did not specify which MOU he was referring to.
Justice Moseneke also took the opportunity to acknowledge the support the SADC facilitation team received from various stakeholders in the build-up to the national dialogue.
“We have had credible support from government. We have had support from the opposition, from former leaders, former prime minister (Pakalitha Mosisili), former Deputy Prime Minister (Mothetjoa Metsing) and others. We have had support from the youth, women and civil society formations. We met with parties in parliament, parties outside parliament in a quest to find an inclusive process which would bring us to where we are today. So, this is our first real fruit of that effort of coming together in order that we may refashion, recast the ideals and objectives of this wonderful nation.
“To the Prime Minister and the Deputy Minister, the Cabinet, I have interacted with you extensively over hours. Sometimes we disagreed and sometimes we agreed. To the leaders of the opposition, I have interacted with you for hours, persuading each other on a wide variety of issues. We from SADC are deeply grateful. We are also aware of the work done by the churches, by the United Nations and the European Union (EU),” Justice Moseneke said.
On his part, the EU ambassador, Christian Manahl, urged the stakeholders to use the dialogue as an opportunity to collaborate in the national interest instead of engaging in competition.
“In politics there is a time for competition and there is time for cooperation. This is not the time for competition, this not the time for breaking and making coalitions. This is the time to come together, to reflect on the past, to find ways to build bridges of understanding and to reconcile.
“This is a time to lay foundations for stable, peaceful, united and prosperous future for the Kingdom. This is an opportunity to bring all the issues to the table that you consider important for this reform process; to air all your grievances and to set the parameters for discussions in the coming days and months. The discussions are ought to be inclusive and participatory,” he said.
Dr Manahl said the reforms could be a turning point away political instability and towards a better performing economy where Basotho are not forced to seek risky jobs in other countries.
“This conference can be a turning point in your history, a turning point to be remembered by future generations, a turning point away from a time of instability of political violence, away from dwindling economy, from a situation where Basotho need to seek work in precarious conditions in South Africa.
“We will support your efforts and we will help you get over the bumps on the road ahead which will certainly come. I pledge my support and that of the European Union for this conference and the rest of the process,” said Dr Manahl.