Friday, September 25, 2009


Press freedom is once again under attack in Swaziland as a Swazi senator called for a ‘stringent’ law to ‘deal’ with the media.

And the Minister for Information, Communications and Technology Nelsiwe Shongwe has said her ministry was doing something about the concern, but she was not specific.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) reports that Senator Themba Msibi, a former Minister for Information, told a session of parliament that ‘enacting a stringent law will deal with the journalists once and for all’.

Msibi was making a submission during a debate over a newspaper article in which it was said a journalist with the Times of Swaziland misquoted the Senate President, Gelane Zwane, during a previous Senate seating.

He said asking the media to apologise for wrong articles does not help ‘because they will continue doing this. This is not a mistake but they are doing it purposely.’

During the same debate the Senate President Zwane herself verbally attacked the Times' journalist, Arthur Mordaunt, who was also present in Parliament to cover the proceedings.

MISA said an angry Zwane accused Mordaunt of having a vendetta against her and she went on to threaten the journalist.

‘I have been watching you very closely and I have realized that ever since you started writing about me you are always writing negatively. If you want to survive in your journalism career you should immediately stop it,’ Zwane was reported to have said.

She went on to say that had it not been for the fact that she was not an ordinary member of society, she would have already done something to Mordaunt and expressed in SiSwati [the language of Swaziland] something to the effect that she would have already set her ‘dogs’ upon Mordaunt to ‘tear’ the journalist apart.

In a statement, MISA Swaziland chapter said the threats not only constitute a serious attack on press freedom, but it is also plain abuse of parliamentary privilege by the senators.

MISA Swaziland National Director Comfort Mabuza said MISA Swaziland rejects the call by Senator Msibi for a law to regulate the media. He said such a call was out of place and inconsistent with the kingdom’s constitution and the universal principles of media freedom and also goes against a 1997 Parliamentary resolution to have the media regulate themselves.

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