The Lesotho chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is working towards the launch of a community radio station, writes Mzimkhulu Sithetho.

According to MISA-Lesotho’s Information & Communication officer, Thabang Matjama, the community radio station will be set up in the area of Mafeteng. It will belong to the people of the area, and broadcast their issues such as stock theft, local government and others that pertain to that particular community.

Matjama says residents will have to craft a constitution and elect a management board for the station.

According to MISA, the station will have to work laterally and horizontally by engaging people in the area, shifting from the commercial radio stations’ normal way of reporting that focuses on ministers and top government officials as news sources.

According to MISA, the grassroots people hardly have their vices heard in the mainstream media, but there are issues that pertain to them that warrant media attention.

The new radio will be an alternative voice that will ensure equitable information dissemination to a large section of society.

Matjama says MISA will pass on the station to the people after it has stabilized both managerially and financially. It is a pilot project, he says:  “Then other community radio stations must emerge that will ensure that people get their voices heard right from their communities.”

The initiative is financially sponsored by the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization in Lesotho – (UNESCO Commission).

MISA provides technical support for the establishment of the radio station, fulfilling one of its key functions, that of ensuring a pluralistic and diverse media in the country.

Licensing of the station is currently under way and the launch is expected next year once all processes leading to the station’s formation are completed.

On November 03-07, 2008, MISA trained various groups within the Mafeteng region where the radio station will be located.

Lesotho has registered rapid growth of the broadcast media with ten radio stations being set up since 1997. Some are church-owned, others commercial and two are the state-run Radio Lesotho and Ultimate FM.