Following revocation of Vodacom Lesotho (VCL) unified licence last week on Thursday, the Lesotho Communications Authority, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mrs. ‘Mamarame Matela has strongly refuted allegations that their decision was politically influenced.

This she disclosed on Lesotho Television (LTV) programme ‘Ts’ets’etha’ on Monday evening where she emphasised that the revocation of the licence was solely based on VCL failing to comply.

She emphasised that the authority is independent though it is answerable to the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology because of being the media regulator.

Commenting on bringing another service provider, she said in November 2019, the National Assembly gave the authority a green light to open licencing to other companies to avoid reliance on a single service provider which has 85% market share.

‘The study which was conducted in 2016/2017 showed that there was Monopoly as VCL has 85% market share so we have opened to demonopolise the situation because if we rely on VCL only with that market share that could negatively affect the country’s economy, If one day VCL decides to close, a huge number of Basotho would be affected but if there are other service providers that would be different’, she said.

The CEO went on to assure Basotho that their monies in M-PESA accounts are safe saying the revocation does not mean total shutdown of all company’s services.

She mentioned that as the authority, their doors are open for talks with VCL especially since the latter has not approached them to say if they are able to pay the fine or not. She however emphasised that if VCL wants to take the legal route without negotiating then it is fine.

Mrs. Matela further explained that LCA does not want to control social media like Facebook, Twitter and others but their content which include hate-speeches, incitement of violence and pornography, saying this is to protect the rights of the people.

She stated that this is to ensure that social media is used in a dignified manner so that they are able to trace whatever is being posted on the social media.

She added that a draft of LCA Internet Broadcasting Rules 2020 under section 38(2) of Communications Act gives the authority the power to control internet broadcasting.

On one hand, LCA Board Chairperson Mr. Motanyane Makara reiterated stressing that LCA works for all Basotho regardless of their political affiliations. He added that consumers use both Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) and VCL despite their political affiliations saying that they work towards protecting the rights of consumers.

‘We are only looking out for Basotho to get services they deserve’, he emphasised.

Meanwhile revocation of unified licence on October 07 came after VCL failed to pay penalty of M40,200 000 which is 30 percent of M134,000,000 fine levied by the LCA.

According to LCA, this is in accordance with Section 47(1)(e) of Communications Act of 2012 read with conditions 7(c) and 8 of the terms of licence. Again VCL had failed to appoint an independent auditor from 2015 to 2019 and showed no remorse on the matter.

However the High Court has on October 09 issued an interim order directing that a decision by the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) to revoke a unified license of Vodacom Lesotho be stayed pending finalisation of an application between the two parties recently filed before the Court.

Source: LENA 13/10/2020



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