Lesotho’s weekly private newspaper, Public Eye, has suspended employees’ salaries after the government withdrew all advertising, writes Mzimkhulu Sithetho.

The newspaper’s editor, Bethuel Thai, said he was told of the order in early June. The paper relies on advertising for 85% of its income.

When Thai asked to see a copy of the order, they all referred him to government secretary Tlohang Sekhamane, who confirmed that the government had taken this decision but said no written order existed.

The paper did later obtain a copy of a message from the local government ministry's human resources department to project and section chiefs, which said: “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.”

The note was circulated as a directive to all government departments as a memorandum. The decision was taken at cabinet level.

The newspaper and the radio station have been critical of government policy.