On the 6th day of February, 2018 MoAfrika FM received a threatening directive from Broadcasting Disputes Resolution Panel, a tribunal established under section 39 of the Communications Act, 2012, compelling MoAfrika FM to dispatch audio tapes of an ongoing programmes of which is aired on the radio.
MoAfrika FM did seek the legal advice pertaining to legality of the said directive and it was discovered that the said directive is/was issued outside precincts of the Communications Act, 2012 in the following respects:
- Mr A.M. Makara issued the said directive acting alone while the section 39 of the Communications Act provides that a Broadcasting Disputes resolution Panel shall consists of four members.
- Lesotho Communications Authority had made a referral to Broadcasting Disputes Resolution Panel and that referral we are content with because that is what law provides for. The illegality with which MoAfrika FM was discontent with is that it was not afforded a hearing in terms of the law as section 41 (2) (a) of the Communications Act, 2012 makes it a requirement that a licensee whom a complaint has been made will receive notice and an opportunity to respond.
- MoAfrika FM did instruct its lawyers to challenge the legality of the directive issued by Mr A.M. Makara acting alone. The instituted case was allocated reference number CIV/APN/43/2018 and was set to be argued on the 09th day of February, 2018 for interim orders.
- On the 09th day of February, 2018 a judge, Justice Ts’eliso Monapathi, who was on call for that week was approached and he showed that he is not happy as the case has to be allocated in terms of court procedures now that it is opposed. MoAfrika FM lawyers did take the file for allocation and the case was allocated Justice Semapo Peete but the case was removed from him and allocated acting judge.
- The application was argued and prayers sought motivated and that happened while respondents had served only Notices of Intention to oppose the matter. It was during that time that lawyers representing all of the respondents indicated that the case is now academic as the respondents are in possession of the audios demanded by complainants. This Lesotho Communications Authority and Broadcasting Authority stated that they did give away the information they demanded from MoAfrika FM through their directive. And the court indicated that it has no reason to doubt respondents’ submission through their lawyers as the said lawyer are the officers of the court. Lawyer arguing for MoAfrika FM did ask why directive was issued in the first place if the authority was/is in possession of the said audios and he submitted that authority had sinister motives from onset in issuing the said directive judging from the tone of the language used by Mr A.M. Makara.
- The case was thereby dismissed on account that it is moot and full reasons were reserved.
In light if the above developments MoAfrika FM is awaiting full judgment and decided next step to take save to say war against MoAfrika FM is far from over.
Presiding Officere: Mokhesi AJ.
Counsel for MOAFRIKA: Adv Napo Mafaesa, standing for Adv Zwelakhe Mda, K.C.
Counsels for respondents: Advs Rasekoai and Lekobane.