Sunday, May 10, 2009


Mfomfo Nkhambule, the Swazi dissident dropped as a columnist by the Times of Swaziland, has been speaking about the role of the media in the kingdom.

Nkhambule who gained international attention with his comments about Swaziland’s ruling elites, and in particular King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, used a speech at a World Press Freedom Day gathering to draw attention to the way the press are cowed by the king.

He said, ‘It is assumed that the interests of the king are the interests of the Swazi people. Everybody else in Swaziland is a messenger (PM, cabinet, MPs, Committees, Parastatals and their Boards).’

He said the king and the leadership of Swaziland works on the guiding principle that ‘a Swazi should live in ignorance and in ignorance he should die’. This is done to maintain the current political set-up, he said

He went on, ‘the king is the only one who exercises choice in this kingdom in as far as the utilization of the country’s resources is concerned’.

He said media practitioners who bring this to the attention of the reader or listener are rebuked in a covert manner for being irresponsible.

‘In the case of Swaziland, the attention of the media should be on government (especially for anything bad) and other committees appointed by the king and not or never on the king, who has all the power and money in Swaziland to facilitate the transfer of power to an informed majority, so that it is able to address its concerns without fear or favour.’

He went on, ‘When the king decides, for reasons best known to himself, to put the constitution aside in order to meet certain objectives that are known to himself, the masses should not be told that His Majesty is in the wrong, but it should be Minister so and so or, that particular committee has ill-advised the king.’

He said when the king unconstitutionally appoints a prime minister (as he did with Barnabas Dlamini, the present PM) members of the press are not allowed to bring this to the attention of the people.

Instead journalists write about church, football, school children and sex, and not about what Swaziland needs to do as a nation to help itself.

He said, ‘Anybody writing to inspire Swazis to believe in themselves is a danger to the leadership because we should all look up to the king even for things that we can do much better than the king.’

For the full text of the speech click here.

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