Newspaper editors in Swaziland were on the payroll of murdered businessman Victor Gamedze, Zweli Martin Dlamini the exiled editor of Swaziland Shopping has said.
Dlamini fled to South Africa after a tip-off that he was to be arrested because he had upset the powers in the kingdom where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
His newspaper has been closed down by the Swazi Government. The reporting style of the Swaziland Shopper had also been criticised by the Swaziland Editors’ Forum.
In an interview with South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper published on Friday (26 January 2018), Dlamini said, ‘The editors’ forum was captured by Victor Gamedze. Almost all the editors were on his payroll. You know the Guptas in South Africa? It was like that. The reason they were saying they are unhappy is that I was writing about somebody they regarded as untouchable. So when I exposed the guy, he would go back to them to complain.’
The Mail & Guardian reported, ‘The Swaziland Shopping published its last edition in December. Dlamini never got to publish his last major scoop: a sensational story detailing how Gamedze was plotting to assassinate Mswati, which was distributed instead on social media. The story was long on speculation but short on evidence and, just days after it was made public, Dlamini was warned to get out of dodge.
‘A month after Dlamini fled the country, Gamedze was shot dead in broad daylight, at a petrol station, where he had stopped to grab a cup of coffee.
‘The murder rocked Swaziland’s political elite to its core. Gamedze was no ordinary businessperson. His connections went all the way to the top, to the king, and he used these to build himself a business empire. He ran the controversial Swazi Mobile and presided over Mbabane Swallows, Swaziland’s biggest football club. His wealth and his social status should have made him untouchable, but also made him plenty of powerful enemies.’
The Mail & Guardian reported that Gamedze was ‘especially controversial’. It quoted one anonymous ‘senior editor’ saying, ‘Victor had captured the media. He had a very low opinion of the media, believed it was too powerful, and he wanted everyone to write what he said. He had the ability to call and stop stories from being published.’
The Mail & Guardian reported, ‘One example: in 2014, Gamedze assaulted Baphelele Kunene, a journalist with the Swazi Observer, in front of the paper’s managing editor. Although Kunene reported the assault to the police, they took no action. Another newspaper, which reported on the assault, had its distribution of that edition disrupted.’
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