Friday, April 8, 2011


You can always rely on the Swazi Observer to put the frighteners on the people, whenever the ruling elite demand it.

Today (8 April 2011), reporting the Swaziland PM’s ban on marches next week, in huge letters it proclaimed Participate in protest at your own peril.

This was under the even larger headline ‘WE WILL CRUSH PROTESTS’.

The Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, was claiming to report on yesterday’s announcement that protests planned for next Tuesday are illegal. But instead it was just spouting propaganda.

Nobody – not even Barnabas Dlamini, the increasingly unpredictable Prime Minister – said ‘We will crush protests’. Yet, there it was on the Observer front page in quote marks, making it look like somebody did.

Nor did anyone say ‘Participate in protest at your own peril’. They were both figments of the imagination of the Observer editor.

Under the big headline it ran a story – and ‘story’ is the correct word because a lot of it was just made up – that included these words, ‘Security forces will be deployed to ensure that the protests do not take place and marchers have been warned of dire consequences if they defied the order not to take part in the protests.’

Again, nobody said this. What the PM actually said was that if people took part in the march the law would be enforced, which isn’t the same thing at all.

So, what is the Observer up to? There are two possible explanations. One is that journalists at the Swazi Observer are incompetent and don’t understand the basic rule that a report’s headline must be justified by the words that run below it.

Another explanation is that the Observer is just a mouthpiece for King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. It doesn’t want the king or the governments he handpicks to give up any power to the legitimate demands of the protestors. So, to ensure the King clings to power it will do its best to scare the living daylights out of its readers.

It’s not the first time the Observer has used scare tactics in this way. I wrote on Tuesday how it falsely claimed that children would be in danger if they attended school on 12 April.

The newspaper did it again yesterday when it ran a report with the headline Send pupils to school at own risk – SNAT which claimed that the teachers’ union said parents who take their children to school on 12 April do so at their own risk.

But, nowhere in the report did anyone – union leader, or lay person – say there was a risk. The best the paper could come up with was a quote saying there would be no teachers at school.

Lies, lies and more lies.

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