The Lesotho government has cut advertising in two media houses, Public Eye newspaper and Harvest FM, writes Mzimkhulu Sithetho.

The decision was taken at cabinet level, a senior official working in the prime minister’s office has said.

All government departments have been instructed immediately to stop advertising with the two.

A senior officer in the tourism ministry (which advertises most in the newspaper) has said that authorities were angered by Public Eye’s negative reporting about government.

Communications Minister and government spokesperson, Mothetjoa Metsing recently criticized newspapers and radio stations that he said were out to discredit government because they were financially supported by the opposition party, the All Basotho Convention.

He was speaking at a press conference, adding that some media houses were living on sensation and that they were preoccupied with the wrong idea that negative reporting was a prerequisite for attracting advertisements from organisatons.

The directive to stop advertising with the two media immediately was signed on June 11 2007, and is signed by a T Masao. It is addressed to directors, heads of projects, sectional heads and copied to principal secretaries, deputy principal secretaries, financial controllers and assistant administrative officers.

The note states: “I am directed to inform you that requests for advertising services on Public Eye and Harvest FM should stop with immediate effect. Grateful for your usual cooperation.”

It was issued two days after government lost a case against Harvest FM.

The radio station had sued the ministry of tourism for the cancellation of a permit to use the Manthabiseng Convention Centre for the celebration of the station’s fourth anniversary on 9 June.

The station manager, Mrs Malichaba Lekhoaba, had received a telephone call from the manager in the tourism ministry informing her that the Manthabiseng hall was not available for the station’s event as earlier planned.

Reasons were not given for the cancellation, according to filing affidavits in the high court.

When Lekhoaba asked for reasons, she was told that it was a government decision. The station successfully filed an urgent application for a High Court interdict preventing the ministry from stopping the radio’s use of the centre.