Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Here’s more evidence that journalists will not get an easy ride under the new Swaziland Prime Minister, Barnabas Dlamini.

Last week I wrote that Dlamini refused to answer questions from journalists after he announced the names of the members of King Mswati III’s new cabinet, The Times of Swaziland editor Martin Dlamini also wrote about how Dlamini liked to control the work of journalists the last time he was Prime Minister from 1996 – 2203.

Now comes news that on Wednesday (29 October 2008) Swazi journalists were kicked out of a meeting in which the newly-elected and appointed Members of Parliament discussed their pay. The journalists had been allowed to cover the earlier discussions, but when the legislators began to discuss their pay, the media was shown the door.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) reported last week (31 October 2008) that the Clerk at Table, Ndvuna Dlamini, who was chairing the proceedings, told the journalists that they would not be allowed to cover the part in which the parliamentarians would be discussing their salaries. The journalists were then asked to leave the meeting.

The meeting had been called to orient the new parliamentarians about parliament procedures and code of conduct. The 95 MPs and senators are each expected to receive in excess of E25,000 (about 3,000 US dollars) per month in salaries, excluding sitting allowances.

The MISA Swaziland chapter views the expulsion of the journalists from the MPs’ meeting as ‘a serious violation of the public’s right to know and freedom of the press’.

MISA says, ‘The MPs will be paid from the public purse and the public had a right to know on how much the MPs would be getting from the public funds. Therefore, the action to expel journalists from such a session was uncalled for.’

Evidence from his previous time in office tells us that the new Prime Minister has no respect for the rule of law. This time around he has already said that he is out to get the ‘terrorists’ and those who support them.

We should read from this that he doesn’t trust anyone who disagrees with him. The media in Swaziland are in for a tough time.

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