While a lot has been done to expose media freedom violations in Zimbabwe, owing to international media interest in unfolding events in that country, the challenge has been to draw similar global media attention to countries where Western media interest is marginal -- such as Swaziland.
A combination of traditional and modern systems of governance in Swaziland has created serious challenges for journalists, making the exercise of their work extremely difficult. The increasingly intolerant Swazi monarchy has become highly allergic to criticism, and has put in place measures that include pre-publication censorship to ensure that critical stories about it do not see the light of day.
The Swazi culture of not criticising elders, for example, is frequently invoked to silence journalists and the media from exposing the excesses of the monarchy, and journalists who refuse to toe the line are summarily dismissed. Banning of publications that are critical of the monarchy or that give voice to proscribed opposition political groupings and civil society organisations is also not uncommon in Swaziland. A culture of impunity has also pervaded the ruling elite, as evidenced by the brutal suppression of peaceful demonstrations in April this year, and the king's travel to the United Kingdom for the royal wedding in total disregard of the crises at home.
---- From the Mail and Guardian, South Africa, 3 May 2011. To read the full article click here http://mg.co.za/article/2011-05-03-so-near-yet-far-the-quest-for-press-freedom-in-southern-africa