Lesotho youth life transformation forum

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In a view to assist youth to take control of their future, the QLife Transformation is to hold a one day forum on the 22nd July, 2016 in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho.

The founder of QLife Transformation, Ms. Qenehelo Tsokeli said, the event will take youth through topics ranging from; Being a Responsible Mosotho in the light of Moshoeshoe I Vision, Self Esteem and Self Worth, Life Skills to Youth and Entrepreneurship.

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Ms. Qenehelo Tsokeli QLife Transformation Founder

Speakers at the forum are all local and will include a Film Producer Mr. Kalosi Ramakhula, Prophetess Masesheke Ntlhakana, the Minister of Health Dr. ‘Molutsi Monyamane, Ts’ita Twins and representatives of financial institutions in Lesotho.

The forum, which according to Tsokeli, will be the first of its kind, is just but one of a planned series of forums.

QLife Transformation was established in 2014 as a non-profit making organisation that provides a range of services including Carer Guidance, Life Skill, Counseling and Personal Transformation.

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Lesotho editor in critical condition after shooting

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New York, July 13, 2016 – Lesotho authorities should launch a credible investigation into the shooting of veteran editor Lloyd Mutungamiri and bring all those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Mutungamiri is in critical condition in a hospital in South Africa, his employer told CPJ today.

An unknown number of assailants shot Mutungamiri, who is the editor of both the Lesotho Times and the Sunday Express, outside his home in the capital, Maseru, as he returned from work the night of July 9, according to news reports. His wife, Tsitsi Mutungamiri, found him on the ground next to his car after the shooting, she told the South African news website the Independent Online. Mutungamiri’s attackers did not rob him, according to press reports.

Police on June 23 interrogated Mutungamiri regarding a news report about the head of Lesotho’s military, according to press reports and the Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network, an advocacy organization. He was released without charge the same day.

Also, Basildon Peta-the CEO of Africa Media Holdings, which publishes the Lesotho Times and the Sunday Express-faces criminal defamation charges in connection with a satirical column about the military published on June 23, according to press reports. Police briefly detained him on July 6 and released him on bail, the reports said. His trial is scheduled to begin on July 19.

“Rather than dedicating their time to harassing the Lesotho Times, we call on authorities to thoroughly investigate the vicious attack on Lloyd Mutungamiri,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “When violence against journalists goes unpunished, the free flow of information is impeded, to society’s detriment.”

International human rights instruments and a growing body of international legal opinion clearly state that defamation laws can have a chilling effect on speech, hampering the right to freedom of expression and the right to be informed. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Pan African Parliament have urged African Union member states, which includes Lesotho, to repeal criminal defamation laws.

According to a report by Amnesty International, Mutungamiri was also charged with criminal defamation for critical reporting in 2014, but the case was never brought to court.

###
CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.
 

Contact:Kerry Paterson
Senior Africa Research Associate
+1 212-300-9031
Email: kpaterson@cpj.org

UNAIDS warns that after significant reductions, declines in new HIV infections among adults have stalled and are rising in some regions

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Globally, new HIV infections among adults and children were reduced by 40% since the peak in 1997. However, new analysis from UNAIDS shows that new HIV infections among adults have stalled, failing to decline for at least five years. The report outlines what is needed to step up prevention efforts

GENEVA, 12 July 2016—A new report by UNAIDS reveals concerning trends in new HIV infections among adults. The Prevention gap report shows that while significant progress is being made in stopping new HIV infections among children (new HIV infections have declined by more than 70% among children since 2001 and are continuing to decline), the decline in new HIV infections among adults has stalled. The report shows that HIV prevention urgently needs to be scaled up among this age group.

HIV prevention gap among adults 

The Prevention gap report shows that an estimated 1.9 million adults have become infected with HIV every year for at least the past five years and that new HIV infections among adults are rising in some regions. The Prevention gap report gives the clear message that HIV prevention efforts need to be increased in order to stay on the Fast-Track to ending AIDS by 2030.

  • Eastern Europe and central Asia saw a 57% increase in annual new HIV infections between 2010 and 2015.
  • After years of steady decline, the Caribbean saw an 9% rise in annual new HIV infections among adults between 2010 and 2015.
  • In the Middle East and North Africa, annual new HIV infections increased by 4% between 2010 and 2015.
  • There have been no significant declines in any other regions of the world.

–       In Latin America the annual number of new adult HIV infections increased by 2% since 2010; New HIV infections declined marginally in western and central Europe and North America and in western and central Africa since 2010; New HIV infections among adults declined by 4% in eastern and southern Africa since 2010, and by 3% in Asia and the Pacific since 2010.

“We are sounding the alarm,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “The power of prevention is not being realized. If there is a resurgence in new HIV infections now, the epidemic will become impossible to control. The world needs to take urgent and immediate action to close the prevention gap.”

The AIDS epidemic has had a huge impact over the past 35 years. Since the start of the epidemic, 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses and an estimated 78 million people have become infected with HIV.

Equity and access for key populations

In 2014, key populations, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients, transgender people, people who inject drugs and prisoners, accounted for 35% of new HIV infections globally. It is estimated that men who have sex with men are 24 times more likely to become infected with HIV than the general population, while sex workers are 10 times more likely and people who inject drugs are 24 times more likely to become infected than the general population. In addition, transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV and prisoners are five times more likely to be living with HIV than adults in the general population

It is essential for key populations to have access to the full range of HIV prevention options in order to protect themselves and their sexual partners from HIV. “Today, we have multiple prevention options,” said Mr Sidibé. “The issue is access—if people do not feel safe or have the means to access combination HIV prevention services we will not end this epidemic.”

Prevention dividend from HIV treatment still to be realized

The report highlights that the major hopes for antiretroviral therapy to have an impact on preventing new HIV infections are starting to be realized, although the full benefits may not be seen for some years.

The Prevention gap report estimates that over half of all people living with HIV, 57%, now know their HIV status, that 46% of all people living with HIV have access to antiretroviral treatment and that 38% of all people living with HIV have viral suppression, keeping them healthy and preventing onward transmission of the virus. This underscores the urgent need for the UNAIDS 90–90–90 targets to be met to realize the full potential of antiretroviral therapy. The 90–90–90 targets are 90% of people knowing their HIV status, 90% of people who know their status accessing antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people on treatment having suppressed viral loads.

HIV prevention funding gap

The reports of rising numbers of new HIV infections are coming as data reveal donor funding has declined to its lowest levels since 2010. International donor contributions dropped from a peak of US$ 9.7 billion in 2013 to US$ 8.1 billion in 2015. Low- and middle-income countries are stepping up to fill the gap, with domestic resources accounting for 57% of the US$ 19.2 billion total funding in 2015.

The report notes that although international funding, the main source of funding for HIV prevention for people at higher risk of HIV, has reduced, some major donors are making bold commitments to ensure that funding reaches the people most affected by HIV. In June 2016, the United States of America announced the launch of a new US$ 100 million Key Populations Investment Fund to increase access to HIV services for key populations.

The current allocation of resources for HIV prevention is falling far short of what is needed. Currently, 20% of global resources for HIV are being spent on HIV prevention. The report indicates that to have maximum impact funding should focus on the location and population approach in order to reach people at higher risk with combination prevention options where they live and work.

Regional HIV prevention gaps

The report details the trajectory of new HIV infections and looks at which populations and which locations are most affected. It also outlines where countries need to make more tailored HIV prevention investments.

In eastern and southern Africa, for example, three quarters of all new HIV infections among adolescents aged 10–19 years are among adolescent girls. Adolescent girls are often prevented from accessing HIV services owing to gender inequality, a lack of age-appropriate HIV services, stigma, a lack of decision-making power and gender-based violence. In 2014, only 57% of countries globally (of 104 countries reporting) had an HIV strategy that included a specific budget for women. It is estimated that worldwide only three in 10 adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 years have comprehensive and correct knowledge about HIV. Reaching adolescent girls and young women, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, will be a key factor in ending the AIDS epidemic.

In eastern Europe and central Asia, 51% of new HIV infections occur among people who inject drugs. More than 80% of the region’s new HIV infections in 2015 were in the Russian Federation. The epidemic is concentrated predominantly among key populations and their sexual partners, in particular people who inject drugs, who accounted for more than half of new HIV infections in 2015. However there is very low coverage of prevention programmes, in particular harm-reduction interventions among people who inject drugs.

In the Middle East and North Africa, 96% of new HIV infections occur among key populations, predominantly among people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men and female sex workers and their sexual partners. However, prevention programmes for men who have sex with men and sex workers rarely receive support from domestic resources or through public services.

In western and central Europe and North America, around half of all new HIV infections occur among gay men and other men who have sex with men and while a significant proportion of resources are being invested for this key population group, prevention efforts are failing to have an impact. Between 2010 and 2014, new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men increased by 17% in western and central Europe, and by 8% in North America.

The report shows the complexity of the AIDS epidemic and how the populations and locations most affected change dramatically across each country and region. It also shows that investments need to be made in effective HIV programmes that are proven to make a significant difference in reducing the number of new HIV infections.

Combination HIV prevention, gaps and opportunities

Compared to 20 years ago when HIV prevention options were limited, there is now a range of options available to suit people’s needs throughout their lives to ensure that they can protect themselves from HIV.

UNAIDS urges countries to take a location and population approach to HIV programming efforts following five prevention pillars, to be delivered comprehensively and in combination:

  • Programmes for young women and adolescent girls and their male partners in high-prevalence locations.
  • Key population services in all countries.
  • Strengthened national condom programmes.
  • Voluntary medical male circumcision in priority countries.
  • PrEP for population groups at higher risk of HIV infection.

Closing the HIV prevention gap

“Science, innovation and research have provided new and effective HIV prevention options, rapid diagnostics and improved treatment for HIV,” said Mr Sidibé. “Investing in innovation is the only way to secure the next big breakthrough—a cure or a vaccine.”

The data in the report, collected from more than 160 countries, demonstrate that enormous gains can be achieved when concerted efforts are made. It outlines that by 2015 some 17 million people had access to antiretroviral therapy, double the number in 2010 and 22 times the number in 2000.

UNAIDS will be calling on implementers, innovators, communities, scientists, donors and others at the 2016 International AIDS Conference, taking place from 18 to 22 July, in Durban, South Africa, to close the prevention gap.

Global summary of the AIDS epidemic in 2015 
Number of people living with HIV Total 36.7 million [34.0 million–39.8 million]
Adults 34.9 million [32.4 million–37.9 million]
Women 17.8 million [16.4 million–19.4 million]
Children (<15 years) 1.8 million [1.5 million–2.0 million]
Number of people newly infected with HIV  Total 2.1 million [1.8 million–2.4 million]
Adults 1.9 million [1.7 million–2.2 million]
Children (<15 years) 150 000 [110 000–190 000]
AIDS-related deaths Total 1.1 million [940 000–1.3 million]
Adults 1.0 million [840 000–1.2 million]
Children (<15 years) 110 000 [84 000–130 000]
Number of people on HIV treatment Total 17 million

[END]

 

Joint Civil Society Statement: Lesotho Authorities Must Protect the Right to Freedom of Expression

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The undersigned organisations condemn the increasing acts of harassment and intimidation against journalists in Lesotho, exemplified by the recent attack against the editor of the Lesotho Times newspaper and the institution of criminal defamation charges against its publishers. We call on the Lesotho authorities to take effective measures to protect the right to freedom of expression and the physical safety of all journalists in the country. In addition, the authorities must expeditiously and impartially investigate the attack and bring those responsible to justice.

On 9 July 2016, Mr Lloyd Mutungamiri was attacked and shot at his house in Maseru, Lesotho. He was taken to Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital where he remains in a serious condition. This attack comes shortly after the publication of a story in the 23 June 2016 edition of the Lesotho Times which referred to an “exit strategy” for current commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli. On the day this article was published, Mr Mutungamiri and the journalist who wrote the story, Miss Keiso Mohloboli, were summoned to the police station, interrogated by police and forced to reveal their sources.

In addition, the publisher of the Lesotho Times, Mr Basildon Peta, has been charged with criminal defamation and crimen injuria in connection with a satirical article about Lt Gen Kamoli which was also published in the 23 June edition of the paper.

The ability of journalists to work safely and without fear of reprisal is paramount to the right to freedom of expression, protected under article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Lesotho is party.  Media freedom is essential to the exercise of this right. The role the media plays in any society is vital in ensuring the free flow of information, including the legitimate criticism of all public figures.

It is deeply concerning that Mr Mutungamiri and Miss Mohloboli were forced to reveal sources for one of their stories. International human rights law recognises the need to protect the confidentiality of journalistic sources because of its importance to the right to freedom of expression. We call on the Lesotho authorities, including law enforcement officials, to desist from using intimidation tactics to force journalists to reveal their sources.

We also note with concern the criminal charges brought against Mr Peta, and condemn the persistent use of criminal defamation laws to stifle, dissent and intimidate journalists in Lesotho. The African Commission and the Human Rights Committee have recognised the disproportionate effect the offence of criminal defamation has on the practice of journalism and have called on states to decriminalise defamation.  The Human Rights Committee has stressed that under no circumstances should a person be subject to imprisonment for defamation. The Lesotho authorities should drop the criminal defamation charges, and if other legitimate charges for an internationally recognised criminal offence are to be brought, must ensure that all fair trial guarantees are respected at all stages of the criminal prosecution.

The authorities have not yet clarified who is responsible for the attack on Mr Mutungamiri. The Lesotho authorities must ensure that a prompt, thorough and independent investigation is carried out and that effective measures are taken to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

These incidents – and particularly the attack on Mr Mutungamiri – constitute serious infringements of the right to freedom of expression in Lesotho. No journalist should operate in fear during the course of their work. We urge the Lesotho authorities to implement effective measures to both protect the safety of journalists and to ensure that there is no impunity for attacks against them. The authorities must send a clear message that such acts are not tolerated.

 Signatories:

amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism

Amnesty International

Freedom of Expression Institute

International Commission of Jurists

Institute for Democracy

Lawyers for Human Rights

Lawyers for Human Rights (Swaziland)

Media Institute for Southern Africa – Zimbabwe Chapter

Media Monitoring Africa

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa

PEN Afrikaans

The Queen of Lesotho hikes up Qeme Plateau

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This morning, accompanied by the Thapoha Hiking Club, the Queen of Lesotho Her Majesty Karabo Seeiso, took a five hour walk with vigor and amazing energy.

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The Queen (in grey hat) charts with some participants on their arrival at Likatola Horse Riding and Adventure.

Started at Ha Moruthoane and ended at Likatola Horse Riding and Adventure, the walk described by some of the club members as one of the one of toughest, comprised of about one hour up and about half an hour down the Qeme plateau.

Qeme plateau is 16 kilometers long stretching from Ha Teko on the north and Ha Mants’ebo on south and it the one where the South African Boers have engraved their victory over Moshoeshoe I in 1868 a year before the signing of the Aliwal North Treaty that defined the current Lesotho borders with the Republic of South Africa.

Besides historical importance Qeme plateau has some Bushmen painting and some rocks that describe the life of it first inhabitants.

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Facebook and Political Participation in Lesotho

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Facebook and political participation in Lesotho

By Tsebo Mats’asa

Abstract

In Lesotho, Facebook has turned out to be a vibrant platform for political participation. Individual members of the public post their political views while on the other hand fanatics of political parties create groups that discuss political issues ranging from, events, official and unofficial decisions to statements by the government and leaders of political parties. There are no daily newspapers in Lesotho and broadcasting sector is unethically run. As a result Facebook has become a daily source of information whose content, most of the time, is received with mixed feelings and varying interpretations among ordinary citizens, political fanatics and their leaders. Lesotho is a country where official information is so limited that citizens depend on roamers and gossip. This makes social media, especially Facebook that this article is about, to be one of the platforms where information is shared daily. While Facebook role as information sharing platform may be acknowledged as a positive, a challenge with information on Facebook is poor credibility and meager authenticity as active sources on the platform are either anonymous or use pseudo names. Despite this challenge, it is however, undisputable that political information posted on Facebook in Lesotho, most of the time turns out to be true and it puts a lot pressure on both the government and political leaders.This article therefore, reveals positive and negative roles that Facebook plays in political participation in Lesotho. It identifies political leaders in Lesotho who are active in Facebook. It also looks at political parties Facebook pages and other Facebook groups that are perceived to be vibrant in the country’s topical issues. The article further assesses individual politicians and political parties use of Facebook to facilitate political conversation on various political issues. It picks up some political issues that are posted, test credibility of the issues by identifying and assessing sources and pages where the issues were posted, and also reflects on reaction of the public and political leaders in Lesotho to the information published on Facebook.

Key words: Lesotho, Social media, Facebook, Political, Participation.

Introduction

In the year 2012, national assembly elections in Lesotho brought about the first coalition government in history. One of the main features of the government was leaking of information to social media, especially Facebook. The government could not handle Facebook’s vibrancy on political issues until the country went for brought forward national assembly elections in February 2015 instead of 2017 as it was supposed to be in terms of the electoral legislation of Lesotho.   The February 2015 national assembly elections brought about another coalition government and daily, Facebook proves to be a platform for conversation on both official and unofficial information by the government and politicians, both in ruling political parties and opposition in Lesotho.

This article was developed from October to December 2015 and it focuses on;

  1. Facebook usage by individual subscribers to participate in political discussions on a range of issues published daily,
  2. Activism of individual political leaders and political parties on Facebook.
  3. Facebook groups that lead active political discussions and issues they discuss,

On the other hand, the article explores opportunities that Facebook brings in enhancing political participation without risking victimization particularly in those political issues that exposes political leaders’ weaknesses in terms of decisions they make especially in the politically destabilized environment that Lesotho has been facing since 2012 to date.

Methodology

Review Facebook usage in Lesotho to find out the following;

  1. How active are politicians and political parties on Facebook?
  2. How active are Facebook groups in facilitating political discussions?

How active are politicians and political parties on Facebook in Lesotho?

The table below shows thirty three (33) politicians who are on Facebook with one or more accounts. Some of them are not in parliament, but are active politicians who contested the recent national assembly elections. For differing types of Facebook accounts I looked at the following;

  1. Number of friends
  2. Number of fans
  3. Number of members
  4. Updates Frequency (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly or more than six month to a year)

Table 1: Politicians with Facebook accounts in Lesotho

Politician No. of FB accounts No. Friends No. Likes No. Members Updates Frequency and brief notes
1.     ‘Molotsi Monyamane 1 4,957     Weekly
2.     Temeki Ts’olo 1 28     Monthly
3.     Lebohang Totanyana 1 5,000     Daily
4.     Thuso Litjobo 1 4,993     Weekly
5.     Refiloe Litjobo 3 4,907 397   Weekly,

One of his accounts is private

6.     Monyane Moleleki 3   14,308

1,132

118 More that six months to a year
7.     Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili 8 4,981

110

3,809

1,186

470

434

272

42

Daily on one account while others are updated quarterly or more than six months to a year
8.     S’khulumi Ntsoaole 2 2,636 7,176   Daily
9.     Samonyane Ntsekele 1 4,999     Weekly
10.  Letlotlo Molahlehi 1 444     Weekly
11.  Khotso Letsatsi 4 4,991

323

3

12

    Weekly on one account. Other accounts are updated between monthly and quarterly
12.  Joshua Setipe 2 722 3,639   Monthly
13.  Mokherane MCT Tsatsanyane 2 5,000 1,798   Weekly
14.  Keketso Taung Rants’o 1 2,301     Weekly
15.  Mophato Monyake 1 1,484     Monthly
16.  Thomas Motsoahae Thabane 7 2,399 11, 852

4,700

10,576

171

147

17

Monthly
17.  Thesele Maseribane 1 5,000     More than a quarter to a year
18.  Joang Molapo 2 4,992   236 Weekly
19.  Ponts’o Sekatle 2   470   Quarterly updated and one account is private
20.  Ts’eliso Mokhosi 3   12

95

  Quarterly updated and one account is private
21.  Ntlhoi Motsamai 1   135   Quarterly
22.  Mpeo Moiloa 1 84     Quarterly
23.  Kabelo Mafura 1 37     Quarterly
24.  Tlohang Sekhamane 2   537

9

  Monthly
25.  Ralechate Mokose 1 134     Quarterly
26.  Selibe Mochoboroane 3 4,982

8

65   Monthly
27.  Liteboho Kompi 2 747 298   Monthly
28.  Thabang Kholumo 1 120     Quarterly
29.  Machesetsa Mofomobe 7 4,955

22

106

46

69

  Daily
30.  Moeketsi Alexis Hanyane 2 344

698

    Monthly
31.  Molise Ts’ele 1 4,861     Daily
32.  Ts’eliso Lesenya 1 1939     Daily
33.  Sello Maphalla 1 734     Daily

On the table above it is observed that none of the Facebook accounts established have a “blue tick mark”. As a result those politicians with more than one Facebook accounts, it is not clear as to which account is “authentic”.

However, according to the table above, Dr. Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili who is also the Prime Minister of Lesotho and the leader of Democratic Congress(DC), is the Lesotho politician with eight (8) Facebook accounts. He is followed by a tie of seven (7) accounts by Thomas Motsoahae Thabane who is the opposition leader in the Lesotho parliament and also the leader of All Basotho Convention (ABC), and Machesetsa Mofomobe who is not in parliament, but the spokes person of the Basotho National Party (BNP), one of the opposition political parties in the country’s parliament. Other politicians have a minimum of one (1) to a maximum of four(4) accounts.

In terms of number of friends that politicians make on Facebook, Lebohang Thotanyana of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) who is also the Minister of Mining, Mokherane MCT Tsatsanyane who is a parliamentarian under the ABC political party, Thesele Maseribane, a leader of the BNP and former Minister of Gender, Sports and Recreation, and Khotso Letsatsi who is the current Minister of Communications, Science and Technology come first with 5,000 friends each. They are followed by nine (9) other politicians, including Mosisili and Thabane with between 4,907 and 4,999 friends. Temeki Ts’olo, a parliamentarian under ABC who is also the former Minister of Trade and Industry is the lowest with 28 friends.

With regard to number of fans who follow our politicians on Facebook, Monyane Moleleki who is the Minister of Police and also DC political party’s deputy leader has the highest number of 14,346 likes followed by Thabane with 12,212 while in one of his accounts he still has a high of 10,576 likes. S’khulumi Ntsoaole who is ABC political party member and former Minister of Trade and Industry comes third with 7,176 likes. Ts’eliso Mokhosi who is a Minister of Defense and a Secretary General of LDC though with two (2) Facebook fan pages, scored lowest with 95 likes.

Table 2 : Political Parties with Facebook accounts

Political Party No. of Facebook accounts No. Friends No. of Likes No. of members  
1.     All Basotho Convention 7 126 2,440

2,373

1,432

6,318

1,160

1,475

 
2.     Democratic Congress 4     2,240

386

856

124

 
3.     Basotho National Party 2   661

39

   
4.     Basotho Democratic National Party 1   14

658

83

87

18

 
5.     Basotho Congress Party 1   21

 

   
6.     National Progressive Party 1   2    
7.     Lesotho Peoples Congress 4 787 9

3

8

28

 
8.     National Independent Party 1   66    
9.     Popular Front for Democracy 1   6    
10.  Marematlou Freedom Party 2   35 125  
11.  Lesotho Workers Party 1   1    
12.  Basotho Batho Democratic Party 1   11    
13.  Basotho Democratic National Party 1   14    

Like it has been observed on table one, on table two Facebook accounts of the political parties captured do not have a “blue tick mark”. As a result in terms of authenticity it is not clear whether accounts founds are official pages of the political parties in Lesotho.

The table above places ABC on the first position with seven (7) Facebook accounts. DC and LCD come second with a tie of four (4) Facebook accounts. On third position are BNP and Marema-tlou Freedom Party (MFP) with two (2) accounts each.

In terms of friends that political parties make on Facebook, LCD has a high of 787 friends followed by ABC with 126 friends. Other political parties accounts registered zero friends.

With regard to fans following ABC with three fan pages comes first with ‘likes’ ranging between 1432 and 2440. BNP and Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP) with two fan pages each come second with friendship following ranging from 39 and 661, to 14 and 658 fans. Other political parties fan pages have attracted as little as 1 to 66 fans.

Looking at Facebook groups’ membership ABC with three (3) accounts, comes first with members ranging between 1475 and 6318. On second place is DC with four (4) groups, has membership ranging between 124 to 2240 members. Other political parties Facebook groups have a membership of as little as eight (8) to 125 members.

How active are Facebook groups in facilitating political discussions on Lesotho?

Table 3: Facebook groups that post political issues as at end of October, 2015

Name Membership Public / Closed / Community / Interest
1.     COUNT-DOWN TO ELECTIONS 2015, 16 OR 17 17, 719 Closed
2.     COUNT-DOWN TO ELECTIONS 2020, 25 or 30 14, 065 Closed
3.     COUNT-DOWN TO ELECTIONS 2015,2017 TO 2020 4,065 Closed
4.     COUNT-DOWN TO ELECTION 2015, 16 or 18 158 Closed
5.     PHUMAPHI PASSEVIL (SADC) COMMISSION OF INQUIRY…LIVE 11,014 Public
6.     PAKALITHA MOSISILI FANS ALL OVER LESOTHO & RSA 6,420 Closed
7.     Behind Thomas Thabane, Thesele Maseribane and Keketso Rantso our Leaders 4,446 Closed
8.     Talla via Puseletso nd Thhomas Thabane, Bohle ba baratang 1,180 Closed
9.     VOTE FOR CONFIDENCE TO DR TOM THABANE 4,045 Closed
10.  VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE to Prime Minister Mosisili 870 Public
11.  TS’ENOLO FM RADIO 104.6 3,555 Public
12.  TS’ENOLO FM RADIO 104.6 16,995 Closed
13.  Harvest fm 98.9MHZ (Tsa mabatooa) 15,146 Closed
14.  Harvest fm 98.9 Mhz (Rise ‘n Shine 13,619 Public
15.  Harvest fm 98.9 MHZ (Tsa mabatooa) 18,150 Closed
16.  HARVEST FM 4,225 Secret
17.  HARVEST FM 15,707 Closed
18.  MOAFRIKA FM RADIO DAILY NEWS 9,861 Closed
19.  MOAFRIKA FM RADIO DAILY NEWS 16,061 Closed
20.  Mafeke-Feke (moafrika) 5,090 Closed

As it has been shown on table 3 above, there are four Facebook groups with the names COUNT-DOWN TO ELECTIONS 2020, 25 or 30, COUNT DOWN TO ELECTIONS 2015, 16 or 17, COUNT DOWN TO ELECTION 2015, 16 OR 18 and COUNT DOWN TO ELECTIONS 2015,2017 TO 2020. In no doubt two of the groups have big membership and that may also evidenced how influential they are in posting political issues in Lesotho especially the capital city Maseru where there is higher number of internet subscribers. Comparative analysis of the COUNT-DOWN TO ELECTIONS groups reveals they compete on issues to point of plagiarizing content and it is not easy to say who is the authentic author on some issues.

Example one

On the 27th October, 2015 the post below was posted by both Jackson Jonkomane, at 18 hours on COUNT-DOWN ELECTIONS 2020, 25 or 30 and Makhaola Qalo on COUNT-DOWN ELECTIONS 2015, 16 or 17:

“Tse hlahang ka Tsoelike li supa hore sechaba sa lebatooa leo se lla ka mokhethoa oa sona hore o ba nehelletse ka masole a ba khakhatha bosiu le mots’eare.

Khoba e ngoe ke ea hore joale le mokhethoa, ha a sat la lebatooeng ho tla utloa litaba tsa lebatooa. Joooooooh!”

Loosely translated:Information from Tsoelike points out that the electorate of that constituency is complaining that their parliamentarian has sent soldiers to assault them night and day.

 Another behavior of the parliamentarian is that he does no longer visit the constituency to get information. Joooooooh!”

At 22hours 30 minutes there were 12 likes and16 comments on Jackson Jonkomane version of the above captured post on the COUNT-DOWN 2020, 25 or 30 group. At the same time Makhoala Qalo’s post on the COUNT-DOWN 2015, 16 or 17 group received 104 likes and 51 comments.

With regard to Jonkomane’s post of the sixteen (16) comments made only three (3) disagreed with the post, while of the fifty-one (51) comments on Qalo’s post, only two disagreed with the post.

One of the comments was an update on the post by Makhaola Qalo where he/she reported that the army was alleged to have killed one person at Sehlaba-thebe area at a village of Ha Chabana. It further alleged that some of the victims were issuers of babeise (animal registration papers) and one of them who was a resident of Mosenekeng village was reported to have fled to the neighboring town of Matatiele in the Republic of South Africa.

Tsoelike constituency’s parliamentarian is the Lesotho Prime Minister Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili. Much as on the post above he was not identified by name, for the people of Lesotho, especially political fanatics, it was clear that the post was about him and it sought to expose a challenge in his constituency. Therefore, if the comments on both posts were anything to go by, the COUNT-DOWN ELECTIONS 2020, 25 or 30 groups is dominated by members of congress political ideology while majority of the COUNT-DOWN ELECTIONS 2015, 16 or 17 group membership comprised of national political ideology.

Example two

On the same groups there is a subscriber bearing the name of Makhaola Qalo. On the COUNT-DOWN ELECTIONS 2020, 25 or 30 group this subscriber seems to be criticizing the national political ideology and striving to get subscribers belief on congress political ideology. On the 27th October, 2015 at 12 hours Makhaola Qalo made the following post;

“CHIEF MASERIBANE O HEMA MOLLO KE KHALEFO

Likhaiki li supa ha morena e moholo oa Manyatseng, Ladybrand ebile e le moetapele oa BNP monghali Maseribane a siile phutheho ka lehare maobane thapama Grandberry guesthouse ke khalefo. Ba neng ba motliselitse litaba ba ile ba tlameha ke ho kopa mochaufa o mongo a hae Upper Thamae mane hore a mpe a moletsetse a mo kokobetse habane ba se ba ts’oha hore o tla inkela molao matsohong. Sena se tsoaloa ke ha ane a utloa hore eo a mosiileng e le molisa oa mansi le thepa ea bona monghali Joang Molapo a se a hana ha romelloa chelate ea rent ea BNP Center mane. Monghali Molapo o tlalehoa a se a sa thaba ka tsela eo Chief a sebelisang chelate ea mokha ka teng. Ntlha ea pele eo a llang ka eona ke hore chelate joale e bonahala e reka le bo ausi ba bangata haholo, e leng se sa amoheleheng ho hang. Che kannete monghali Molapo ona le ntlha mona. TO BE CONTINUED.”

Loosely translated: CHIEF MASERIBANE BREATHES FIRE WITH ANGER

Tools point out that the big chief of Manyantseng, Ladybrand who is also a leader of BNP mr. Maseribane did leave a meeting yesterday afternoon at Grandberry guest house with anger. Those who a had brought him information were forced to request his concubine at Upper Thamae to phone and to calm him down because feared he would take law into his hands. This resulted from information that the one he had left to oversee the nationals and their property mr. Joang Molapo refused to sent money generated from rent of the BNP Center. Mr. Molapo is reported to be not happy anymore because of the way the Chief is using the political party’s funds. The first point that Mr. Molapo is not happy about is that the money seems to be buying too many girls, which is not acceptable at all. Indeed mr. Molapo has a point here. TO BE CONTINUED”

This post received 16 likes and 91 comments. 78 comments disagreed with the post, while 48 describe the author as a “fake” and not the real Makhoala Qalo on the COUNT-DOWN TO ELECTIONS 2015, 16 or 17 group.

FINAL NOTICE:

Dear Members,

After a serious introspection last night, having taken all your advices and suggestions, cognizance of the original intend of the group, I have come to a sober conclusion that I will go ahead with the closure of the group. I am doing this reluctantly but in life there comes a time where one have to make a decision unpopular as it may appear, as long as it is in the interest of all of us.

I am aware that this move will not go well with most of us. I have requests from people I love and respect not close the group but looking at this holistically, my decision to close it supersedes all other reasons not to close it.

Maobanyana mona ho bile le post e hobosang Ntate Letsatsi ka ntho tse personal ha hona setho le se seng se ileng sa nthusa ho tsoela ka mathe ketso eo, maoba mona le hangata ho bile le setho se beileng a deframed image ea ntate Metsing moo ekang ke noha le teng ha hona setho le seseng seileng sa nthusa ho khalemela setho sa ketso tseo. Ke maobane feela ha ke bona eka setho se seng se roaka ntate Mosisisli ke leka ho se khalema…ho fapana le ho nhlalosetsa context ea post eo ke ha litho li nhlasela le teng few members came to my rescue . Ha eso e ba sepheo saka hore ebe group ena e bonahala eka ke platform ea ho hobosa ba mmuso o litulong.

In light of the above,yes it’s final I am closing the group . I respect all of you and wish you well in the groups you will decide to join.

Kea Leboha

Received 66 likes and 235 comments.

Example three

On the 25th October, 2015 a subscriber named Lebenya Lebakeng posted this on COUNT-DOWN TO ELECTIONS 2020, 25 or 30 group;

Opposition leader Tom Thabane was seen in Bloem town with LCS officers. There had been a leak of info. Former PM wants Scott escape from prison. He strongly urged those officers that he will pay a huge amount of money. M9m if they could do that. The same amount could stil be theirs if they can as well kill Scott. This man seem to hate Metsing who is the second bigger partner in 2nd coalition in the mountanous country. Moleleki who is the deputy of the famous Pakalitha Mosisili is another person whom Thabane hate so much. Will Thabane escape a strong criticizm that he is facing due to his connections with Scott? Brigadier Mokaloba of LDF mentioned former PM to have failed an attempt of killing a Free State girl for purposes of mutilations…

The post received 10 likes and 38 comments in three days. Out of the captured comments, only six (6) disagreed with the comment. Some comments were angry to a point of using vulgar language. It was clear from the comments that most of the people who commented were the supporters of national political ideology.

This article will be continued within two weeks. In the meantime, for queries please email me at maseruan@gmail.com