Friday, May 8, 2009


What follows is something that journalist like to call ‘unconfirmed reports’ and ordinary folk call ‘rumours’. If any reader has more information, please let me know.

Swaziland’s King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has demanded that Martin Dlamini, managing editor of the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper the Times of Swaziland, and Mbongeni Mbingo, editor of the Times Sunday, both be sacked for publishing reports that the king had bought up to 20 top-of-the-range Mercedes cars at a cost of about 2.5 million US dollars (E25 million).

The king has also demanded that Vusi Sibisi and Mfomfo Nkhambule both be dropped as columnists by the Times.

We know that Nkhambule has been dropped because he has said so publicly. Martin Dlamini said at the time he was not forced to drop Nkhambule, he did so because the Times was undergoing routine changes with regards to content.

I hear that Times publisher Paul Loffler was hauled before the king and told to produce invoices to back up his story about the cars and then he was forced to apologise when he couldn’t. These apologies appeared in both the Times and the Times Sunday.

What we do know as fact is that King Mswati has intimidated the Times group before. In 2007 it was forced to make an apology or face immediate closure after it repeated a news agency report that was critical of the king.

Nkhambule gained international attention for his articles that appeared each Monday in the Times and were largely critical of Swaziland’s ruling elite, including the king. He was hauled in by Swaziland’s state police and threatened with torture if he continued to criticise the king. He was later dropped from his traditional regiment, threatened with banishment from his homeland, and his family was threatened because he refused to be silenced.

Mbongeni Mbingo, made headlines himself in 2007 when a Swaziland Senate select committee cleared him of contempt of parliament for an article he had written critical of parliamentarians. The committee said he had a right to free speech protected by the constitution.

If any reader has more information email me

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