The Lesotho Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Lesotho) has slated Minister of Communications, Science and Technology Tšoinyane Rapapa’s statement presented before the National Assembly’s Parliament as untrue.
According to the Chairperson of MISA Lesotho, Nkoale Oetsi-Tšoana, Tšoinyane appeared before the National Assembly moving for the adoption with amendments of the Computer Crime and Cyber security Bill of 2021, as well as the Communications (Subscriber Identity Module and Mobile Device Registration) Regulations of 2021.
He indicated that Rapapa lied before the legislative house when he said he had had consultations with inter alia, MISA Lesotho about the Cyber Security Bill and Communications Regulations of 2021.
“He knew he was lying to parliament when he stated that he had consultation with MISA. We make a plea to him to respect and not tarnish the name and integrity of our institution through falsified assertions. We are here as the governing council of MISA elected by members to run MISA on their behalf and whatever we do we report to them. It would never happen that we could go to such consultations without informing our membership,” he said.
Tšoana said they (MISA Lesotho) are expecting the Minister to come back and work with them on the bill as per the directive of parliament.
“If he does not do that he will leave us no option but to go to parliament and report that he is not listening to the parliament,” he said.
He continued that the Computer Crime and Cyber Security bill was tabled before parliament on March 23, 2021 and Rapapa was not yet the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology.
He indicated that some of the members of parliament pointed the Computer Crime and Security Bill was complicated in many things inclusive of problems that can be anticipated especially when justice has to be served.
He said amongst other reasons the bill was withdrawn because of high fines against people who could find themselves in violation of the bill’s vague precepts, citing as example of the provision of the unexplained illegal interception, for which the fine would be M10 million or 10 years’ imprisonment which he pointed as too cumbersome a fine for persons to whom it is chiefly targeted-media personnel.
“The Minister is targeting the media and wants to see us in prison. If the bill passes, by the time we go for the general elections some of the media personnel will be in prison and that’s what the minister wants,” he said.
According to the Chairman, the Cyber Security Bill affects the media mostly and it is the media that is likely to be most affected and when they are not consulted they will probably get affected.
“We are not against the bill as MISA Lesotho but we are just saying it should be done with us involved and our opinion has to be recognized,” he said.
The National Assembly advised Minister Rapapa to withdraw the bill and go back and make consultations with relevant the stakeholders as stipulated by Section 20 of the National Constitution.
In its report before the National Assembly, the Portfolio Committee on the Prime Minister’s Ministries and Departments, Governance, Foreign Relations and Information Cluster presented their observations that, stakeholders and the public consultations are needed to ensure that all stakeholders’ inputs are included in the Subordinate Law, the systems testing and readiness ensuring that the central database is envisaged has not been thoroughly considered, Consideration of vulnerable population, informal traders and people with disabilities have not been carefully primed and Timeframe for registration of SIM and other processes should be reviewed.
The Committee has therefore recommended that the regulations be dismissed from the National Assembly for the minister to go back and reassess them.