MISA Swaziland hosts Media Practitioners COVID-19 sensitization workshop

MISA Chairperson of the governing Council Vusi Sibisi on welcoming remarks

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Eswatini chapter) responded to the COVID-19 outbreak March 20, the aim of the workshop was meant at sensitising local media practitioners was held at the Hilton Garden Inn, Mbabane.

Even though, mandate has been the promotion freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The workshop came at a time when the world was grappling with the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus popularly known as COVID 19.

Speaking during the official opening of the workshop, National Governing Council Chairman Vusi Sibisi said even though they are campaigners of freedom of expression, it was equally important that they equip journalists with skills on how to report on the virus because issuing statements to clear journalists whenever there were violations.  

Official oopening by Acting Minister of Information, Communications and Technology ICT

“We all know that MISA has been defending and promoting freedom of expression and access to information and I applaud them for their swift action in organising this crucial workshop as the Coronavirus is spreading at an alarming rate in other countries,” said the Acting Minister of ICT Senator Manqoba Khumalo during the official opening.

He further stated the critical role played by journalists in the dissemination of accurate information in the wake of this deadly virus. It is important that media practitioners disseminate balanced, factual and credible information on the precautionary measures of the Covid-19.

Mr NNhlabatsi, Epidemiologist, MoH

A few presentations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) were on the overview of the Novel Corona-virus, the current status and countries preparedness and also the surveillance.  During this presentation, media practitioners were challenged to make sure that they make everyone aware of the virus and that they communicate the risk and how people should protect themselves from the virus. That they should equip themselves by getting the accurate information, offer actionable solutions, use trusted voices and counter rumours.

Mostly emphasized was hand hygiene. How washing your hands protects you, your colleagues and your family.  The editors were taught by T. Ndlovu from URC to:

  1. Wash your hands before preparing food
  2. Wash your hands after eating
  3. Wash your hands after using the toilet
  4. Wash your hands after cleaning or using gloves
  5. Wash your hands after blowing nose or coughing

Shongwe assured that all travellers at the points of entries pass through a thermal scanner; – hand-held/ mounted. Passengers presenting having body temperatures with over 38⁰C should be interviewed of their history of travel and are referred to the port health clinic or referred to 977 for follow up by Rapid Response Team (RRT). She said there was also the issuance of surveillance health forms meant at getting to more on traveller’s history, that was done by before immigration officials. She also mentioned that they analyse surveillance health forms for the traveller’s country of origin, and any transit to affected countries and signs and symptoms of diseases if any.

Other presentations were on risk communication and response mechanisation, head of the RRT Masitsela Mhlanga said they were ready to play their part during this hard time. This will be done through tracing, isolation, testing, treating then evacuating patients. They hope that anyone who suspects that they have the symptoms of the virus should call their toll-free line 977 or they should require medical attention at their nearest medical facility.  

The Minister of Health, senator Lizzie Nkosi on her closure of the workshop urged journalist to publish information that comes from the Ministry of Health because any other information could be irrelevant. She also applauded media practitioners for playing their part during these trying times. She then announced that out 27 results were returned to the country and they were all negative. She however warned, it was still early for emaSwati to celebrate because country was still approaching the winter season.

Research has proved that the disease thrives well in cold places and it was for that reason it was prevalent in European since they were in the middle of their winter season.  She called on the media to act responsibly through disseminating information that everyone should understand.  

For more information about Corona Virus visit:

WHO sources:

NCoV website https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

Disease Outbreak News https://www.who.int/csr/don/en/

WHO Travel Advice https://www.who.int/ith/en/



MISA-Swaziland is hosting an emergency sensitization workshop on COVID-19 this Friday 20 March

 P.O Box 681, Mbabane

   Gwamile Street

Arcadia Building

  Tel: (+268) 2404– 6677

  Fax: (+268) 2404-6699

MISA new logo-SWAZI

18th March 2020To:  Editors: Times of Eswatini, Eswatini Observer, Independent News, Swaziland News, The Nation, Eswatini Broadcasting & Information Service  Eswatini TV, Channel Eswatini, Voice of the Church


Date: 20th March 2020

Time: 8:00AM -12:00PM


Dear Editor,

An invitation is extended to your media organization to release at least two (2) journalists to participate in the above emergency workshop.  

With the declaration of Covid-19 as an emergency by His Excellency Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, MISA Eswatini has seen a great need to sensitize local journalists about COVID-19. Playing a public service role to purvey credible information, they need to know the preventative measures put in place by the government following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Hereunder is the list of topics that will be covered during the workshop:

       i) COVID-19 Global Picture

      ii) National Preparedness & Response Plan

      iii) Infection Control in the Newsroom & Home

       iv) Risk Communication

       v) Response Mechanism

       vi) Role of the Media in COVID-19

       vii) COVID-19 Media Plan

We trust your media house will be able to participate in this emergency workshop. Kindly confirm your participation to Nomfundo Shabangu at 24046677, 76484127 or misaswaziland.nd@gmail.com

Yours Sincerely,

Vuyisile S. Hlatshwayo

National Director


ALERT: The media consortium’s concerns on alleged torture of local journalist

The media consortium under the auspices of CANGO has concerns regarding alleged torture and intimidation of a local journalist and editor of an online news platform. Through messages shared and seen in social media, Mr Zweli Martin Dlamini, the publisher and editor of Swaziland News posted in his Facebook account that he has evidence of his own intimidation by the police and subsequent torture. 

Previously, we have engaged the police regarding these allegations.

When we approached the police earlier on to enquire about this matter, it was denied that the alleged torture of Dlamini but confirmed having questioning him.

It would be unfortunate if such allegations have any element of truth. 

Any allegations of torture by the police are regrettable and prohibited by international laws and the Constitution which confers citizens’ rights, including journalists to freely cover and report issues of national interest. 

These allegations also taint the country’s image, including litigation against the Police.

Aggrieved persons also have a right to approach the Courts. 

The media consortium therefore urges the police to desist from harassing the media practitioners in line of duty.

Ours it to advocate for the protection and promotion of freedom of expression and for journalism practice to thrive without fear, favour nor prejudice. 

We call for an independent body to investigate and bring perpetrators to book.

We can advise Mr Dlamini to report his concerns with the Commission of Human Rights. 

By the Chairperson of the Media Consortium

Vuyisile  Hlatshwayo


Swaziland needs to pass Freedom of Information legislation

“Swaziland needs to accelerate the process of passing the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Draft Bill of 2007 into law,” according to a new report by the Media Institute of Southern Africa.


The report on open and secretive public institutions in Swaziland is an annual assessment, based on field research and website analyses, that considers how transparent government departments and agencies are.

This year’s report, in a similar vein to previous editions, offered some good signs but overall the picture is less than flattering.

“It is commendable and promising that all the institutions have provided some kind of response to the information requests,” said the report.

“It has to be pointed out however, that thorough follow up and perseverance was necessary, reminding all the institutions several times to provide the information requested. Government ministries and public institutions still prefer withholding public information rather than releasing it to the media and citizens.”

In recognition of its good practice, the Swaziland Communications Commission was awarded with the ‘golden key’ for being the most open institution from the eight institutions that were surveyed.

Coming in last place was the Central Statistics Office, which was awarded the ‘golden padlock’ for being the most secretive of the institutions that were looked at.

Read the full report here 

The report lists several recommendations:

  • after fully engaging with all stakeholders, Swaziland should adopt a Freedom of Information Bill which provides for access to information, openness, transparency and accountability
  • the Official Secrets Act of 1968 should be repealed because it curtails freedom of information

  • all public institutions should appoint information officers or public relations officers to disseminate information and assist citizens who are seeking information

  • government ministries and departments should be allowed to set up websites independent from the national government site so they are able to update them frequently with relevant and useful information


Taking stock of the media in Swaziland – MISA partners with UNESCO on media development research

MISA-Swaziland | Research
November 18 2014

The below article was originally published on UNESCO’s In Focus news-site.

Freedom of expression was at the heart of discussions at a UNESCO-supported round table on assessing the media landscape in Swaziland, which took place in Mbabane on 30 October. The round table, organized by the Swaziland Chapter of the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA), with funds from UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), marked the start of a comprehensive assessment of the country’s media landscape.

IPDC post_1
Left to right: Alec Lushaba, Chairperson, MISA Swaziland; Mbongeni Mbingo, Chairperson, Editors’ Forum; Annelisa Stoffels, Acting Director, Information and Media Development Department, ICT Ministry

Participants included executive staff from several key media outlets including The Swazi Observer, The Times of Swaziland, Independent News and Voice of the Church, the chairpersons of Swaziland’s main professional associations such as the National Association of Journalists, Editors Forum, the Swaziland Press Club and the Media Workers Union, and representatives of key civil society organizations including the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations and Lawyers for Human Rights, as well as journalism education institutions.

The Government was represented by Annelisa Stoffels, Acting Director of the Information and Media Development Department at the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.

UNESCO Media Development Indicators (MDI) Coordinator Saorla McCabe
UNESCO Media Development Indicators (MDI) Coordinator Saorla McCabe

The purpose of the project, as explained by UNESCO MDI Coordinator Saorla McCabe who travelled to Swaziland for the meeting, is to “engage national stakeholders in a process of constructive dialogue and self-reflection in order to identify the key media development priorities and discuss the most appropriate ways of addressing them.”

There was a wide consensus among participants about the utility of such a study in the Swazi context. Stoffels told the assembly that “the study comes at the right time”, explaining that “it will serve as we redraft the Bills [Books and Newspapers (Amendment) Draft Bill 2007 and Broadcasting Draft Bill 2007] before they go to Parliament.” Alec Lushaba, Chairperson of MISA Swaziland, stated the study would provide a “mirror of the media landscape” enabling the range of stakeholders involved to see where they stand and empower them to act upon the findings in order to together improve the situation of the media in the country.

Lomcebo Dlamini, National Director of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO)
Lomcebo Dlamini, National Director of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO)

In an interview at the end of the meeting, Lomcebo Dlamini, National Director of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO), said: “This is an exciting project. As civil society stakeholders we are looking forward to the findings and to the consultation. We do believe that as Swaziland moves towards being more democratic and more understanding of issues of human rights, this will also generate a better understanding of the role that the media can play. Hence the need to strengthen the media in those areas where the research reveals gaps.”

Mary Pais da Silva, Member of NGO Lawyers for Human Rights (Swaziland), said the study could encounter some challenges, but would still be “very valuable for all of us, all stakeholders, opening up information sharing on the media environment.”

Representatives of journalism training institutions attending the meeting similarly perceived the study as providing a window of opportunity. Kemmonye Kamodi, Head of the Faculty of Communication at the Limkokwing University, expressed the wish that “at the end of this study, Government will rethink its sponsorship of journalism students”, following the suspension of scholarships for journalism students some years ago.

“As much as there may be challenges between Government and journalism, we still need journalists that are well trained so that they can show their professionalism when applying their journalism skills.”

Kamodi went on to say that she hoped that the recommendations of the MDI assessment would blend into the Swaziland Vision 2022, which spells out a number of development objectives to be achieved by Swaziland by 2022, and its accompanying National Development Strategy.

Vuyisile Hlatshwayo, Lead MDI Researcher and National Director of MISA Swaziland

Vuyisile Hlatshwayo, lead researcher for the study and National Director of MISA Swaziland, explained that it was a UNESCO MDI report on Mozambique that inspired him to seek UNESCO’s support in launching a similar study in Swaziland. “Last year when surfing the Net I came across the Mozambique report. After reading it, I saw an opportunity for Swaziland”, said Hlatshwayo. He then spelled out his expectations regarding the study: “It will help the government understand what is wrong with the media situation in the country and will enable us to lobby from an informed position. The key strength of the MDI tool is that it is holistic, covering every aspect of media development.”

A similar view was expressed by Lomcebo Dlamini, SCCCO National Director. “This study comes at a time when there are a lot of issues at stake within our media landscape.”

“There are issues with respect to freedom of expression, where our media are not free to delve into the issues that they need to delve into as they analyze what is happening in the country. There are issues in terms of antiquated legislation and a regulatory framework that is not suited for the needs of the media at this time. What is particularly exciting about this project is that it brings together the various elements that the media need to work on. It is multi-faceted, multi-layered and inclusive of various stakeholders.”

Participants at the round table on assessing Swaziland’s media landscape
Participants at the round table on assessing Swaziland’s media landscape

The round table followed a two-day workshop with the members of the research team to define the modalities of application of the MDIs in the country. The project, which will be inclusive and participatory, will be based on a combination of research methods, including desk-based research, data collection and wide-ranging consultations. It is expected to be completed by May 2015.

The MDIs were endorsed in 2008 by the Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication. MDI-based assessments have to date been completed in 13 countries and are ongoing in another 20 countries across all regions.

For more information about the UNESCO and MISA-Swaziland research project on media development indicators (MDI), contact MISA-Swaziland director and lead MDI researcher Vuyisile Hlatshwayo on misaswaziland.nd@gmail.com 

Click here for more information on UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC)

Click here for more information on UNESCO’s advocacy for freedom of expression

And click here for UNESCO’s approach to media development


So this is democracy? Media freedom in Swaziland continues to come under threat in 2013

MISA-Swaziland’s Annual Statement on the Media for 2013

MISA logo

This article forms part of the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s report on the state of media freedom in the region in 2013 — So this is Democracy? To read this article in PDF click here and to read the regional overview click here

In Swaziland, 2013 saw the continued criminalisation of freedom of expression with the courts imposing a heavy fine on a print editor, and a mob and police physically attacking and harassing journalists who covered protests.

In April 2013, Swaziland Independent Publishers and The Nation magazine editor Bheki Makhubu was convicted of ‘scandalising the court’ and slapped with a hefty fine of E400 000 which was reduced to E200 000 (US$20,000). Judge Bheki Maphalala ordered Makhubu to pay the US$20,000 within three days of his conviction or spend two years in jail.

In the same year, a plain clothes officer pointed a gun at Times of Swaziland photojournalist Walter Dlamini, after he photographed election protesters at the Gege Inkhundla.

In yet another incident, a police officer attacked a Times of Swaziland reporter, Sisho Magagula and ordered him to delete pictures before leaving the scene. Magagula was covering a protest against KoNtshingila Acting Chief Gelane Zwane when the police officer ambushed him. MISA-Swaziland and the Swazi Editors’ Forum sprang into action engaging the national police commissioner Isaac Magagula on the matter. He finally set up a commission of inquiry whose findings have not yet been released to the public.

Click here to download PDF version of this report
Click here to download PDF version of this report

Two weeks into the New Year an angry mob took the law into its own hands when it attacked Swazi Observer freelance journalist Eugene Dube, in Machobeni area in the south of the country. Dube was punched, kicked and assaulted with sticks and other weapons. He sustained serious injuries on his forehead, right shoulder and elbows and his camera was damaged. Dube said he tried to explain he was a journalist, but the mob would not listen.

But it was not year of doom and gloom only in Swaziland as some positive incidences happened during the period under review. For instance, the national elections held in September had Swazis question, for the first time, the Tinkhundla-based system of governance under which the King choses a prime minister and 10 Members of Parliament (MPs) and voters elect 55 MPs from an approved list by the King.

Soon after elections, the African Union (AU) Election Observer Mission called for a review of the system to be brought in line with the fundamental rights of freedom of association and assembly guaranteed in the AU’s African People’s Charter on People and Human Rights.

King Mswati III himself spoke out in support of those exercising their right to freedom of expression when he ordered Royal Swaziland Police (RSP) to stop violating citizens’ rights to freedoms of expression, association and assembly. This was after police violently broke up several civil society and prayer meetings. The King commanded that police allow his subjects to speak, associate and assemble freely, but police seemed to disregard the royal command.

Click here to download a PDF version of this article

Media Landscape
With a population of 1.2 million, the Swazi media sector is small but influential.

There are two major players in the newspaper industry, namely the Times of Swaziland Group of Newspapers and Observer Group of Newspapers. The Times of Swaziland is privately owned by the Loffler family while the Swazi Observer is owned by Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, an investment fund owned by the King “in trust for the Swazi nation”. The former publishes the Times of Swaziland, Swazi News and Times of Swaziland Sunday. The latter owns the Swazi Observer, Observer on Saturday and the new Sunday Observer, which began printing in 2013.

The Nation magazine is a private monthly publication that has a reputation for commenting, without fear or favour, on Swazi affairs. It is well known for speaking the truth to power.

There is another periodical called Agribusiness, which specialises in agribusiness stories. In addition there are other weekly and monthly publications with small print runs that are not widely available and sometimes publish sporadically. One of the private weeklies is the Sunday Independent newspapers which has a business bias.

There is one national television station, Swaziland Television Broadcasting Corporation, a parastatal that is state-controlled. The national radio station, Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services, functions as a government department and nearly all its content is censored. These two broadcasters act as government propaganda mouthpieces. There is one community radio station, the Voice of the Church. However, it has limited reach and is only licensed to broadcast religious content and health information.

A privately owned TV station, Channel Swazi, was established in 2001. It has not added much value in terms of media diversity or independence. Channel Swazi has only survived by outdoing the state-owned broadcasters in kowtowing to the authorities and influential people.

Owing to severe State and self-censorship, when criticism is offered by much of the media it is often offered in defence of the King. Many media practitioners seemingly and subtly criticise the King and government while at the same time defending his name and institution.

State of Print Media
In addition to the three cases enumerated earlier, controversial Swazi Observer Managing Director, Alpheous Nxumalo, vowed not to allow pro-democracy voices to be published in the royal newspaper. He accused the independent media and civil society groups of undermining the stability and prestige of the monarchy.

He said “the so-called democracy activists find it democratic to insult the head of state and government in the media as a strategy of democratising Swaziland”. MISA-Swaziland and SEF challenged him to name and shame the culprits but Nxumalo failed to do so.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 1.56.59 PM

On World Press Freedom Day, on 03 May 2013, MISA-Swaziland led a protest march of print journalists, civil society groups and sympathisers. The protesters, who had masking tapes on their mouths, marched to deliver petitions to the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, and Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

The protesters brought to light media freedom violations in the country. This march bore fruit as King Mswati III and Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini addressed for the first time the freedom of expression issues in public. The PM went a step further ordering the petitioned ministers to respond but they did not.

Another of the positives during the period under review was the reinstatement of suspended Swazi Observer and Weekend Observer editors by the newly appointed Sithofeni Ginindza-led Observer Newspapers Group Board of Directors. Alec Lushaba and Thulani Thwala, controversially suspended under Nxumalo’s directorship, were reinstated eight months later.

Nxumalo accused the pair of continuously publishing stories tarnishing the King’s image by repeatedly ignoring warnings about the negative coverage but Ginindza found insufficient reason for their suspension and reinstated them.

Swazis march for press freedom on May 3, 2013

MISA-Swaziland arranged a meeting for the editors and civil society representatives to iron out their differences and find common ground. Civil society representative Lomcebo Dlamini said media and civil society needed each other and they should work together, understand and appreciate each other’s roles. Martin Dlamini, who is deputy chairperson of the editors’ forum and Managing Director of the Times of Swaziland advised civil society to package their messages in the most palatable language to get it published.

The Media Complaints Commission (MCC) for print media became operational in April 2013. It is currently supported by the two national newspapers, Times of Swaziland and the Swazi Observer. The public can now contact the ombudsman who, along with a panel, decides whether corrective action should be taken or the complaint should be taken to mediation.

MISA-Swaziland is assisting the MCC with its overheads and has offered the MCC Ombudsman working space at its offices.

However, veteran journalist Jabu Matsebula, who is secretary general of the editors’ forum and publisher of the Agribusiness magazine, was appointed the MCC Ombudsman. This has raised concern as his close association with the editors’ forum and his current job as Agribusiness publisher does not inspire confidence in the MCC. There is an urgent need for the MCC Board to find an independent ombudsman.

State of Broadcast Media
Government maintained its vice-like grip on the state-controlled broadcast media. Prime Minister Dlamini insisted that every media worldwide, has its own guidelines regulating how it should operate, and this should be followed by all.

Article 2.2.2 sub-Section (IV) of Public Service Announcement Guidelines for broadcasting says that any announcement ‘that is negative or does not support the Government’s agenda shall not be allowed.’ The government invoked the PSA guidelines not only to suppress dissenting voices but also to suppress the voices of Members of Parliament in the State broadcasters.

The legislators felt the guidelines were meant to frustrate them as they were accused of using radio to campaign. The ban imposed during election campaigns drove MP Masende Zwane to tears as he pleaded with the PM to lift it, claiming it frustrated progress and the free flow of information. MP Zwane was stopped from making public announcements on State radio. The head of government did not budge an inch.

The ban also affected ministers who were told to slow down on the usage of national radio in the lead up to the national elections. According to Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku this was done to avoid a situation where some people would have unfair advantage, because not everyone would have access to national radio. Ministers were only allowed to speak on official business. Even before then, they would have to seek permission from the deputy prime minister’s office. These measures effectively gagged election candidates in the broadcast media, which has a wider reach than print media.

ICT Minister Winnie Magagula, in what appeared to be a vote of no confidence in State media professionals, fired Chairman of the Swaziland Television Authority (STVA) Dr Maxwell Mthembu. According to him, this was through a letter which did not give a specific reason for his dismissal. STVA is responsible for regulating the country’s electronic media. Swazi TV, which falls under STVA, is heavily censored and is widely viewed as a government propaganda mouthpiece. The Minister is responsible for the appointment of the STVA chairperson but can remove the appointee at any time and is not required by law to provide a reason.

On the positive note, the ICT Minister tabled the Swaziland Broadcasting Bill 2013 and the Swaziland Broadcasting Corporation Bill 2013 in Senate in early March 2013. The Swaziland Broadcasting Bill has five objectives. Notably, the Bill provides ‘for freedom of expression through broadcasting.’ It also seeks to regulate ‘sound and television services and provide for the maximum availability of broadcasting to the people through the three-tier system of public, commercial and community broadcasting services.’ In addition, the Bill seeks to contribute to the ‘socio-economic development of society’ and nation building, while ‘strengthening the spiritual and moral fibre’ of the country.

The Swaziland Community Radio Network was launched in July. This marked the beginning of a strong civil society platform that aims to advocate, lobby and mobilise resources for community broadcasting. The six members include Lubombo Community Radio, Matsanjeni Community Radio, Ngwempisi Community Radio, University of Swaziland, Voice of the Church and the Seventh Adventist Church. The community radio network will campaign for the passage of the two broadcasting bills into law.

Another positive development was the granting of a commercial radio licence to a broadcasting company. The Nation magazine reported that Africa Unite FM (AUFM) was awarded the licence on 22 February 2013 despite there being no law to allow them to get it. Stan Motsa, Director of Communications in the ICT Ministry, responsible for radio licensing, issued the licence. AUFM is owned by two Swazi businesspersons, Victor Shongwe and Thandanani Dlamini. They own 35% each while the other 30% may be sold to the public. MISA-Swaziland welcomed the licensing because it would promote media diversity and pluralism.

ICTs and Telecommunications
Swaziland’s Parliament passed two pieces of communication legislations, the Swaziland Communications Commission Bill of 2010 and the Electronics Communications Bill of 2009. This was viewed as victory for the country’s telecommunications industry as the two Bills will liberalise the sector. The Swaziland Communications Bill seeks to establish a Swaziland Communications Commission, provide for the appointment of a Board of Directors and regulatory functions of the Commission with regard to electronic communications, data protection, postal services, electronic commerce and broadcasting. The Bill would also provide for the transfer of regulatory powers and functions of the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunication Corporation to the Commission. The aim of the Electronics Communications Bill is to provide a framework for the development of electronic communication networks and services in Swaziland.

In July 2013, the ICT Ministry looked into drafting the cybercrime laws. The ministry hosted a conference titled “Transportation of SADC Cybersecurity Models Laws in National Laws for Swaziland, 2013”. According to ICT Principal Secretary Sikelela Dlamini, the cybercrime laws are needed in Swaziland to prevent computer hacking, stop internet predators and to clamp down on online pornography. The ministry went on to discuss internet security and regulation as well data protection legislation.

Anti-social or social community?
Anti-social or social community?

Development of Social Media
Social media continues to grow in Swaziland. Facebook is becoming more popular, particularly for people in urban areas and for those who are able to afford the data costs on their mobile phones. But chatting on Facebook remains a luxury for many because 63% of Swazis live below the poverty line.

Among those on online, not many twit as Twitter is not as popular as Facebook, though it is being used more often now than in previous years. There is a clear generational divide, with the older generation more sceptical and critical of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, often viewing such social media as more of a threat than an opportunity. The younger generation, who have grown up with technology, instinctively see the benefits of social media, and are more liberal in the use of platforms. The mobile-based text platform WhatsApp also continues to grow daily.

Despite the challenges associated with social media, abusive and unsavoury material online, the continued growth of social media bodes well for freedom of expression. In many ways it is allowing people to practice their legal right to free speech and media freedom. This is particularly the case when the mainstream media, newspapers, radio and TV, are restricted in what they can disseminate. Younger people are taking control of the content they wish to consume and disseminate.

Click here to download PDF of this report
Click here to download PDF of this report

Conclusions and Projections
While freedom of expression continued to be criminalised in Swaziland, the powers that be for first time commented on the state of freedom of expression and media freedom. King Mswati III, who proclaims to be the number one defender of the Constitution, ordered the royal police to allow people to enjoy their right to free speech although his order was not carried through.

Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini admitted that Swaziland was not perfect but was trying while national police commissioner Isaac Magagula set up a commission of inquiry into the police harassment of journalists in line of duty. In addition, Magagula asked for a training course for the police on the role of the media in society.

All this goes to show that the sown seeds of freedom of expression are beginning to sprout. MISA Swaziland, going by the adage that “it is time to engage not carp”, is optimistic that the Swazi people will one day have access to information which is a natural bridge to freedom of expression and media freedom.

This article is an extract from the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s annual publication on the state of media in the region — So This Is Democracy?

Click here to read about the state of media freedom in other southern African countries where MISA works


Anti-social or social community? How young people use social media in Swaziland

MISA-Swaziland | Research
July 9 2014

A joint research project by MISA-Swaziland and UNESCO
A joint research project by MISA-Swaziland and UNESCO found that as social media grows, so do the opportunities and threats

Nomsa Dlamini (15) is ensconced in a black leather lounge suite, seemingly oblivious to the lively chitchat of her two playful siblings in the spacious living room.

Lost in her newfound fantasy world, her nimble thumbs seem to be the ones doing all the talking, deftly punching the tiny keyboard on her smartphone.

Dlamini’s eyes are glued to its screen as she intermittently stops punching to read postings on her social media accounts, Facebook and Whatsapp. But only the facial expression betrays her feelings as her face beams and twists at times.

Her mother barges into the posh living room to eject this lazy, taciturn teenager out. She is fuming about her daughter’s habit of shirking household chores. She angrily orders her to go to the kitchen to empty the overflowing garbage bin and wash all the dirty dishes in the sink. She also scolds her for having not yet made her bed and washed school uniforms.

Pouring out her heart, she bemoans that the teen is more into social media than her household chores and schoolwork. She complains that she spends a lot of her time on the social media right into the wee small hours.

“Since your dad bought you the smartphone, you’ve no time for the most important things in life,” she barks at her. “You’re always busy social networking to an extent of neglecting your own school work.”

Such is the lifestyle and behaviour of this technology-savvy generation that has been aptly dubbed the ‘technology natives’. To this ‘new community being built via social media’, information sharing and social networking have become second nature.

Anti social of social community?
Anti social of social community?

There has been a raging debate about the effects of social media on the youth, especially the school-going children. At one extreme, there is a group of people which claims that it promotes immoral behaviour. Yet there is another group of people, on the other extreme, which welcomes it as a source of information and ideas.

Hence, the advent of the social media in Swaziland can be aptly described as a mixed blessing.

According to a recent media study conducted by the Swaziland chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), commissioned by the locally-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) National Commission Office, social media has benefits and disadvantages.

The study, The Youth Usage of Social Media in Swaziland, shows that the usage of social media is the most popular social activity among the youth irrespective of their social backgrounds. Facebook, Whatsapp and Mxit stand out as the most popular social network platforms among the youth.

Click here to read the full study

This study concludes that the youth prefer the social media because, among other things, it affords them an opportunity not only to interact but also enjoy the basic right to freedom of expression guaranteed in Section 24 of the Constitution.

Staying connected...
Staying connected…

Much to the delight of the young social media users, the social media has changed the face of the media landscape by making information sharing “easier, faster and quicker.”

For instance, the youth can now easily and freely bypass the severely censored mainstream media – print, radio and television – to produce, distribute and share information and exchange ideas.

Most importantly, social media networks afford them an opportunity to speak in their own voices, not mediated by the mainstream media. The social media has further become an alternative form of information exchange for the young people who are marginalised by the mainstream media.

Social media researchers describe Facebook as an alternative form of media for many people from all walks of life. They can use this empowering force as a source of information relevant to their social lives. The social media has become their reliable source of educational, social, political, economic and cultural information.

Notwithstanding their numerous benefits and advantages, social media continues to have chilling effects on the youth. In the study, the interviewed young people express concerns about immorality perpetuated by corrupt characters via the social media.

This includes posting of pornographic materials, vulgar language, seditious information and character assassination. What is more disturbing, according to them, is that the social media exposes the underage to the immoral information.

Another great disadvantage is the addictive nature of the social media. Social networking and information sharing form an integral part of their social activity in their everyday lives. As the youth regularly spend most of their time on the social networks right into the wee small hours, they are addicted to the social media.

Worse still, the social media has made the youth develop the astonishing antisocial behaviour. The young social media users are no longer sociable. They always keep to themselves while they are busy with their postings.

The other disadvantage is that of the youth exposure to the risk of human trafficking. The social media is fast becoming a vehicle for human trafficking. International crime syndicates entice the youth via the social media to take up fake lucrative job offers in overseas countries, only to discover it is human trafficking when they arrive at their destinations.

These syndicates take advantage of the friendship and trust built instantly over easy communication via the social media.

As much as the social media is critical in the efforts to inculcate into the young people the culture of freedom of expression and media freedom through access to information, it would be amiss to turn a blind eye to its negative effects on the younger generation who are a future of this nation.

This study suggests five things to be done to counter the negative effects of information posted on the social media sites. One of them is to equip the social media users with media and information literacy skill. The second is to educate the social media users about the advantages and disadvantages.

The third is to encourage a dialogue among the social media users about the benefits of the social networks.

The fourth is to teach the youth how to use the social media as a tool of learning.

The last one is to inculcate in the youth the culture of using the social media responsibly to access electronic library information.

Finally, Nomsa and her peers have found a voice in the unfettered social media in the kingdom.

Click here to read the full study

The study was funded by UNESCO and completed by MISA-Swaziland national director Vuyisile Hlatshwayo. The layout of the report was designed and created by MISA-Swaziland advocacy officer Phakama Shili.

20140507-132719.jpgUNESCO logo


‘Unfair for people in power to control how other people should think,’ says jailed Swazi journalist from witness box

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
June 11 2014

Defence lawyers for detained journalist Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko yesterday finished presenting their case at Swaziland’s High Court.

Makhubu and Maseko have been in jail for over 80 days after being charged with criminal contempt of court and remanded into Sidwashini prison for writing opinion pieces criticising the actions of the nation’s judiciary.

Editor of The Nation magazine Bheki Makhubu has now spent over 80 days in jail
Editor of The Nation magazine Bheki Makhubu has now spent over 80 days in jail

Yesterday in court Makhubu, editor of The Nation magazine, was cross-examined by director of public prosecutions Nkosinathi Maseko, who is representing the Crown in the matter.

If found guilty of contempt, “The editor said it would be a damning indictment to the state of the judiciary if a lowly newspaper man like himself” could bring the justice system into disrepute, reported today’s Swazi Observer.

Makhubu said it is “unfair for people in power to control how other people should think,” making reference to controversial chief justice Michael Ramodibedi.

“The veteran scribe said the CJ should know better as an educated man that the public was bound to question [Ramodibedi’s] decisions because he paid with [Swazi] taxpayer’s money,” added the Swazi Observer.

The Times of Swaziland, under the headline ’13 more days in jail for duo,’ said the matter was postponed to June 24 when the court will hear submissions.

As freedom of speech continues to come under threat in Swaziland, the European Union has spoken out against the ongoing detention of Makhubu and Maseko, as well as the arrests and detention of political activists. Today’s Times of Swaziland reported on the EU’s recent statement at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva.

The EU is “very concerned by recent developments in Swaziland that infringe on the rights of expression, opinion, assembly and association”.

The statement continues: “We wish to recall the commitment made by Swaziland under the Cotonou Agreement – the framework for Swaziland’s cooperation with the European Union – to respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights principles which include freedom of association.”

The Times of Swaziland’s editorial from today echoed the EU’s words.

“If we are going to create our own version of democracy, we need to to include a little democracy in it,” said the Times of Swaziland.


Swaziland’s new airport – another side of the story (in pictures)

MISA-Swaziland | e-Forum
March 12 2014

Swaziland, a country of 1.2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, unveiled a new airport last week. However news agency AFP said the $280-million airport is “years away from being operational and has been dubbed a ‘white elephant’ by critics”.

During construction, which began 11 years ago, the airport was known as Sikhuphe Airport. At the opening on Friday 7 March its new name was revealed as King Mswati III International Airport.

King Mswati has ruled Swaziland since 1986.

AFP reported the $280-million cost is “equivalent to almost 10 percent of the impoverished mountain kingdom’s 2012 Gross Domestic Product”.

The article further noted: “Authorities in the sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy hope the airport will help attract tourism and foreign investment. But it has yet to be granted an operating licence by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and no airlines are expected to make use of the airport for years to come, prompting concerns about the viability of the project.”

Some of the more inconvenient facts pointed out by the AFP article were suppressed or glossed over by most of the Swazi media, which does not openly question or directly criticise the actions of the king or the monarchy. Most of the reports that were published gave exaggerated accounts of events.

“His Majesty King Mswati III had everyone in stitches of laughter yesterday when he humourously blasted critics of the new King Mswati III International Airport,” reported the nation’s only privately owned daily newspaper the Times of Swaziland.

“Exuding an extra-ordinary sense of humour and charisma, the King, who was visibly in a jovial mood, literally joked about the criticism that was levelled at the airport when it was at its infant construction stages.”

MISA-Swaziland’s e-Forum went along last Friday to document the opening.

"The new airport, built 70 kilometres (44 miles) away from the capital Mbabane, will eventually be able to handle 300 passengers per hour and its runway can accommodate jumbo jets, officials said." AFP
“The new airport, built 70 kilometres (44 miles) away from the capital Mbabane, will eventually be able to handle 300 passengers per hour and its runway can accommodate jumbo jets, officials said,” reported AFP

Some school children got a lift to the event

Many people came for the opening
The opening of the airport was a popular event: cars queued as they got closer to the gates

Security officials with guns lined the entrance
Security officials with guns calmly mingled with interested bystanders

Not everything was completed in time for the opening

Dignitaries arriving as local residents stroll in
Dignitaries arriving as local residents stroll in

Many people from the surrounding communities came for the airport's opening
Many people from the surrounding communities came for the airport’s opening

The arc at the entrance of the airport wasn't complete for the opening


A security official giving directions to a resident in the car park
A security guard giving directions in the car park

A few cars got stuck in the muddy car park
A few cars got stuck in the muddy car park

The dance group before their performance
The dance group before their performance

Security in front of the VIP section
Security in front of the VIP section

Pre-speech entertainment
Pre-speech entertainment performing in front of the VIP guests

The pre-speech entertainment in the background
Security patrolling the area as pre-speech entertainers perform in the background.

Dignitaries arriving in the distance
Dignitaries arriving in the distance

The crowd waiting for the speeches to begin
The crowd waiting for the speeches to begin

Dignitaries arriving in the distance
Dignitaries arriving in the distance

Parachuters entertained the crowd in the lead up the the speeches
Parachuters entertained the crowd in the lead up to the speeches

The public section of the crowd waiting for the speeches to begin
The public section of the crowd waiting for the speeches to begin

King Mswati III International Airport, formerly known as Sikhuphe Airport
King Mswati III International Airport, formerly known as Sikhuphe Airport

The crowd listening to speeches
The crowd listening to speeches

Men in traditional gear salute the king as some youngsters talk amongst themselves
Men in traditional gear saluting the king’s speech as some youngsters talk amongst themselves

The crowd listening to the king's speech. "Exuding an extra-ordinary sense of humour and charisma, the King, who was visibly in a jovial mood, literally joked about the criticism that was levelled at the airport when it was at its infant construction stages," reported the nation's only privately owned daily newspaper the Times of Swaziland
The crowd listening to speeches

During the king's speech a large part of the audience left their seats to walk over the view the airport...
During the king’s speech a large part of the audience walked over to view the airport…

... but police told the people to go back to their seats, telling them they were not allowed to view the airport until the king had officially opened it
… but police told the people to go back to their seats, telling them they were not allowed to view the airport until the king had officially opened it

It was a hot day and speeches lasted most of the afternoon
It was a hot day and speeches lasted most of the afternoon. “The king said when the project started there were a lot of mixed feelings,” reported the Times of Swaziland


Press Release: MISA’s Women to Watch in 2014

MISA-Regional | Statement
March 8 2014

MISA announces their Women to Watch in 2014

WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA –The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) today announced the first annual MISA’s Women to Watch, to mark International Women’s Day, which is celebrated around the world on 8 March each year.

MISA's women to watch 2014

MISA is honouring 12 dynamic­­ and inspirational southern African women who embody both the official United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2014 – Equality for women is progress for all – as well as the theme designated by non-governmental organisations around the world – Inspiring Change.

The 12 women, who are all under the age of 40, are profiled in an electronic magazine available on MISA’s website, www.misa.org.

MISA Regional Director, Ms Zoe Titus said, “We chose women who we see as rising stars in the region, women whose achievements todate are a promise of more great work to come, making them women to watch.”

“From a beauty queen-turned-UN communications specialist; to an art photographer challenging mainstream ideals of beauty; to a human rights lawyer fighting for freedom of expression, the twelve women profiled in this publication are all contributing, in their own unique and creative ways, to making southern Africa a more conducive environment for media freedom and improving the ability of all people – including the vulnerable and marginalised in our communities – to access their right to freedom ofexpression” said Ms. Titus.

The women profiled in the publication are:    

Alisa Amupolo, a technology entrepreneur from Namibia

Ana Margoso, a newspaper journalist from Angola

Chikondi Mphande, a radio journalist from Malawi

Emma Theofelus, a high school student from Namibia who is the Junior Mayor of the City of Windhoek

Hoyce Temu, a communications specialist and former Miss Tanzania

Jean Chalungama, a radio journalist from Malawi and one of the only female sports journalists in the country

Mboni Masimba, a talk show host from Tanzania

Mwiza Zulu, a teenage radio and television presenter in Zambia

Nellie Kanyemba, a journalist from Malawi

Nontobeko Tshabala, a newspaper journalist from Swaziland;

Nyasha Chingore-Munazvo, a human rights lawyer from South Africa

Solange Dos Santos, a photographer from Mozambique.

The official UN theme for International Women’s Day 2014 is “Equality for women is progress for all,” and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, highlighted the significance of this theme in his annual International Women’s Day message:

“Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support.”

Ms Titus said, “I would add to this that countries with more women in the media have a better chance of reflecting the voices of all members of their populations, of achieving greater participation of women and of providing fair and balanced reporting on women’s issues and rights”.

Download MISA’s Women to Watch in 2014 electronic magazine and read extended profiles of each of MISA’s Women to Watch in 2014 at MISA’s website, www.misa.org

For questions or further information, contact:

Alexandra Peard, Media Freedom Research and Monitoring Coordinator Email: alexandra@misa.org
Tel: +264 61 232975


Jessica Duffy, Media Law and Advocacy Officer Email: Jessica@misa.org
Tel: +264 61 232975


MISA-Swaziland runs training session, generates debate on women’s rights

MISA Swaziland | Training
February 6 2013


Swaziland’s Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland), in partnership with human rights NGO COSPE, is running three training sessions for journalists in February on women’s rights.

The first session was held yesterday in Mbabane, the capital. Six journalists attended the practical training session, where they are encouraged to assert their journalistic independence while searching for real stories in the real world.

MISA & COSPE training session: Journalists Nontobeko Tshabalala (Times of Swaziland) and Noxolo Nkabinde (Swazi Observer) checking their notes after interviewing women at the Mbabane bus rank

“The session started off with morning discussions among the media representatives on women’s issues, they [then] participated in an interaction with the general public on the subject”, reported one of the participating journalists Noxolo Nkabinde, writing in today’s Swazi Observer.

“During the discussion, women’s rights in general were discussed and how they ended up being infringed. This includes abusing women sexually, emotionally, physically and otherwise. It was raised that most women in the country were not even aware of what rights they had,” said Nkabinde.

She added: “Since the training session was practical, all the reporters went out in different directions to interview the public on women’s rights and where they thought they were being infringed. The intention of the exercise and the training was to improve journalists’ understanding of women’s rights and improve their reporting on relevant issues, in a practical environment.”

no beautiful women in parliament
An article written by Swazi Observer journalist Noxolo Nkabinde after the MISA-COPSE training session in Mbabane on Wednesday 6 February, 2014

An article written by Swazi Observer journalist Noxolo Nkabinde after the MISA-COPSE training session in Mbabane on Wednesday 6 February, 2014
An article written by Swazi Observer journalist Noxolo Nkabinde after the MISA-COPSE training session in Mbabane on Wednesday 6 February, 2014

Nkabinde’s colleague at the Swazi Observer, community news reporter Winile Mavuso, also wrote an article that stemmed from the MISA-COSPE training session. Mavuso shone a light on the “mixed feelings” that many people hold toward abortion.

“While the majority of men feel that abortion should not be allowed in the country, there are converted ones who believe that women should have a right to abort if they don’t want the pregnancy.”

An article written by Swazi Observer journalist Winile Mavuso after the MISA-COPSE training session in Mbabane on Wednesday 6 February, 2014
An article written by Swazi Observer journalist Winile Mavuso after the MISA-COPSE training session in Mbabane on Wednesday 6 February, 2014

MISA & COSPE media training on women’s rights: Welcome Dlamini (Sunday Observer), Patrick Myeni (The Nation), Nontobeko Tshabalala (Times of Swaziland), Noxolo Nkabinde (Swazi Observer), Thembika Dlamini (Swazi Observer), Winile Mavuso (Swazi Observer)

MISA and COSPE are running two more trainings in February, one in the commercial capital Manzini, and the other in the smaller rural town of Sitiki.


For comments or queries, please contact:
Vuyisile Hlatshwayo
MISA-Swaziland National Director

Email: misa.nd@realnet.co.sz


‘Life of a Swazi student’ – MISA interns from Limkokwing university launch documentary

MISA-Swaziland Alert
Tuesday 21 January, 2014

Limkokwing University students Bhekilanga Wakhile Kunene and Phesheya Ian Kunene, who have been working as interns at Swaziland’s Media Institute of Southern Africa, launched their documentary — “The life of a Swazi student” — at the premiere screening at Limkokwing on Thursday 5 December, 2013.

The premiere screening of documentary “The Life of a Swazi Student”, made by MISA-Swaziland interns, Bhekilanga Wakhile Kunene and Phesheya Ian Kunene, from Limkokwing University

The packed room of about 5o people, filled mostly with fellow Limkokwing students, applauded the work of Bhekilanga and Phesheya.

The purpose of the documentary, said Bhekilanga, is to “give a voice to students, to hear their side of the story. What is it like being a student? Are they ready for life after university? What causes students to strike and boycott classes? What are the good things happening at university?”

Bhekilanga Wakhile Kunene, co-director and producer of the documentary, speaking at the premiere at Limkokwing University
Bhekilanga Wakhile Kunene, interviewer, co-director and producer of the documentary, speaking at the premiere at Limkokwing University

These are some of the questions raised in the documentary.

The documentary also includes interviews with Limkokwing lecturer Kemmonye Kamodi, former Uniswa student Patrick Myeni, and former minister of labour and social security Lutfo Dlamini.

“The driving motivation behind the film, in addition to giving students a voice, is to foster an ongoing conversation about tertiary education in Swaziland,” said co-director and producer Phesheya.

Co-directors and producers Bhekilanga Wakhile Kunene and Phesheya Ian Kunene being interviewed on Swazi TV before the premiere
Co-directors and producers Bhekilanga Wakhile Kunene and Phesheya Ian Kunene being interviewed on Swazi TV before the premiere

The interns were working at MISA-Swaziland as part of Limkokwing University’s LEAP program. LEAP stands for Limkokwing Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program.

Manager of the LEAP program, Nkosilenhle Masuku, greeted the guests at the premiere and congratulated the students on their hard work.

Alec Lushaba, chairman of MISA-Swaziland, also spoke at the event. He thanked Limkokwing for running the internship program, and said MISA-Swaziland is looking forward to working together on similar projects in the future.

MISA-Swaziland chairman Alec Lushaba thanked Limkokwing for running the internship program and encouraged the students to continue working hard

He added that MISA-Swaziland has seen the interns grow and improve as the internship program has progressed.

The documentary can be seen on YouTube.

Click here to be re-directed to MISA-Swaziland’s YouTube page to watch the documentary.

Or copy and paste this web address into the browser:


For comments or queries, please contact:
Vuyisile Hlatshwayo
MISA-Swaziland National Director

Email: misa.nd@realnet.co.sz


Times of Swaziland journo wins award

MISA-Swaziland Alert
December 3 2013

Times of Swaziland reporter Sithembile Hlatshwayo has won the 2013 Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and Save the Children award for best print news story.

Sithembile Hlatshwayo receiving MISA and Save the Children award in Zambia
Times of Swaziland reporter Sithembile Hlatshwayo receiving her award from Zambian minister of information and broadcasting Mwansa Kapeyo

Her winning story was titled “15-year-old virgin discovers he is HIV positive”. Hlatshwayo was awarded the prize at a ceremony in Zambia on Friday 29 November.

“I believe it came through my hard work and pushing myself to the edge. Being recognised in the SADC region is very big to me, and I will continue to work harder,” said Hlatshwayo in an interview with the Times of Swaziland. Local media said “she felt humbled by the award, and it was the best thing to ever happen in her career as a journalist”.

Swazi Observer managing editor, Mbongeni Mbingo, delivering remarks at the awards in Zambia. Mbingo was part of the regional judging panel for the MISA and Save the Children awards

The award came with prizemoney of R10,000 ($US960).

Times of Swaziland managing editor Martin Dlamini, in an interview with his newspaper, said they were “very proud and happy for Hlatshwayo’s achievement. He thanked the institutions which initiated the recognition towards the media and the role they played in bring out social injustice”.

Dlamini encouraged other journalists to emulate Hlatshwayo’s achievement.

MISA logo

Save the Children

Sthem award
Times of Swaziland story about Hlatshwayo’s award. Tuesday 3 December, 2013

Click on the below links to view stories on MISA-Swaziland’s training and research for the Save the Children project

‘MISA listens to students, trains journalists’

‘Students meet the media in Swaziland’

‘Learning from the children: MISA and Save the Children media training’

‘Media must respect and protect children, says Swazi journalist’

Youth voice absent in Swazi media — MISA research


Policeman points gun at journalist in Swaziland

MISA-Swaziland Alert
September 30 2013

Police beat up protesters and an officer pointed a gun at a journalist on Saturday 28 September in Gege, a southern town in Swaziland near the Bothashoop border-crossing towards Piet Retief in South Africa.

Gege Swaziland
The southern town in Swaziland, Gege, is represented on this map by the red “A”. On Saturday 28 September police beat up protesters and one officer pointed a gun at photojournalist Walter Dlamini. Map source: Google Maps

According to the Times of Swaziland, one of its photojournalists Walter Dlamini, was doing his job — photographing the police bashing protestors — when an “officer pointed a short gun at Dlamini’s face and demanded why he took pictures of the officers who were at work”.

The protestors were not armed — they were trying to deliver a petition to their local leader, said Dlamini in an interview with Swaziland’s Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland).

“It wasn’t necessary for the police to beat the protestors. I saw nothing wrong with the protestors.”

When Dlamini was asked if he thought the policeman would have shot him or whether he was just trying to scare him, the photojournalist replied: “I don’t know, anything can happen.”

The bashing of protestors — who are unhappy with what they believe to be unfair and unfree elections — and intimidation of journalists last Saturday, adds to the growing reality of police repression and muzzling of civil and media freedoms in the southern African kingdom.

Despite assurances and encouragement from the highest authority King Mswati III that his subjects are free to meet and speak as they please, the experience on the ground tells a different story.

The Times of Swaziland editorial on September 30, “Reporting at gunpoint”, asks if there is “freedom of the press in this Monarchical Democracy of ours”? It also asks if “reporters are allowed to go about their lawful business without harassment from law enforcers and government agents”?

As the media is heavily censored in Swaziland, and in many cases reporters will self-censor before any official re-write or deletion is required, journalists and editors are often forced to ask such self-evident questions — is the media free? — as a way of saying: The media is not free.

The Times of Swaziland editorial continues:

“In a shocking incident that will no doubt make the next human rights reports on Swaziland, a plain-clothed police officer pointed his handgun at Senior Photojournalist of the Times SUNDAY Walter Dlamini (who is about as humble and mild-mannered as a man can be) for taking photographs of his colleagues holding and beating a protester behind a police van, demanding that he delete the pictures. Surely the police are taught the first and most basic fire safety rule; do not point a gun at a person unless you mean to shoot. If not, this is criminal negligence. If so, this is harassment and intimidation of the highest order, an implicit threat to the life of the journalist.

“This sorry excuse for a police officer had reason to be worried; he and his colleagues were caught in the act assaulting a protestor who was manifestly not being threatening but was obviously being ‘punished’; being struck on the knee (where permanent damage could occur) with a heavy wooden truncheon by one uniformed brute while two others held him and another watched from a short distance, truncheons dangling in readiness from their hands.

“The casual work-a-day savagery of these police officers and their sense of entitlement to brutalising Swazi citizens with impunity goes a long way to explaining why they would attack with teargas and batons what was a peaceful protest march before their intervention; once again proving the police are responsible for much of the violence that erupts during protests.

“The protesters may not have been in the right to disagree with the election results from Gege, but they certainly had a right to complain about it and their right to life and safety should trump the legal necessity of getting a permit to protest.

“Those officers responsible for this violent assault on the Constitutional Rights of the public and the press must be brought to book publicly, and soon, or our peaceful image as a nation will be proved a sham.”

Times of Swaziland, September 20 2013
Times of Swaziland, September 20 2013

Concerned and worried by continued harassment of journalists by police, MISA-Swaziland together with the Swaziland Editors’ Forum (SFE) met this morning with national police commissioner, Isaac Magagula, to lodge a formal complaint.

The national police commissioner  “unreservedly” apologised to the whole media fraternity and the affected journalists at the Times of Swaziland Group of Newspapers. As a lasting solution to this problem, he suggested organising a training course on the role of media for all the police, from the top brass down to the juniors.

“It would also help if the journalists carry their press cards or wear vests written ‘press’ for identification purposes when covering riots,” he said.

Editor of Times of Swaziland’s Sunday newspaper, Innocent Maphalala, “strongly condemned the action of the police, wondering if this was how the police wanted the world to perceive the kingdom’s Monarchical Democracy”, reported the Times of Swaziland on Monday 29 September.

Phakama Shili, advocacy officer at MISA-Swaziland, said the “inhumane” squashing of protest and threats against the media “should be condemned in the strongest possible terms”.

“Journalism is becoming a dangerous profession in a country that projects itself as peaceful to the outside world,” said Shili.

“If there’s no action taken, journalists may end up being killed. The situation requires urgent attention.”

For comments or queries, please contact:
Vuyisile Hlatshwayo
MISA-Swaziland National Director
Email: misa.nd@realnet.co.sz


Are you free to speak and meet in Swaziland?

MISA-Swaziland Alert
September 18 2013

In August 2013 the leader of Swaziland, King Mswati III, said citizens should exercise their constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of association.

King says speak freely
Weekend Observer front page, August 10-11 2013

Speaking at a ceremony for Swaziland’s police force, the monarch told people not to fear police and to speak your mind.

Section 24 of Swaziland’s constitution protects freedom of speech and freedom of the media.

However, the call by the king to speak freely contrasts with various media and advocacy reports.

A recent article in the Daily Maverick, an online South African news-site, lists the names of people who have been “detained, charged, arrested, jailed this year for their political activities”.

The list of names reads: Musa Dube, Jay Naidoo, Paul Verryn, Alec Muchadehama, Vincent Ncongwane, Nomthetho Simelane, Monk Molapeni, Paliani Chinguwo, Zonke Dlamini, Wonder Mkhonza, Bheki Makhubu, Mfanawenkhosi Mntshali, Derick Nkhambule, Maxwell Dlamini and Amos Mbedzi.

Recent reports by two international advocacy and research groups, Freedom House and Chatham House, raise further concerns about the lack of media and civic freedoms in Swaziland.

At the same police ceremony last month, the king told the audience that Swazis are also free to associate.

King says Swazis free to meet
Swazi News front page, August 10 2013

Section 25 of Swaziland’s constitution protects freedom of assembly and association.

With the national election this Saturday 20 September, Swaziland’s Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland) asks the question: Are people, in reality, free to speak their mind and free to meet with who they want?

You can respond to this question by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page, or by leaving a comment on MISA-Swaziland’s facebook page. Click here to be re-directed to the facebook page.

For comments or queries, please contact:
Mr Vuyisile Hlatshwayo
MISA-Swaziland National Director
Email: misa.nd@realnet.co.sz


Youth voice absent in Swazi media – MISA research

Children and young people’s voices in Swaziland’s media are heard in only 8 percent of the stories that are about them, according to new research by Swaziland’s Media Institute of Southern Africa in partnership with child rights NGO Save the Children.

The country’s two daily newspapers, Times of Swaziland and Swazi Observer, both published Monday to Friday, were monitored by Swaziland’s Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland) from May 22 to June 2, 2013.

Times of Swaziland youth monitoring graph

The Times of Swaziland, during this period, published 42 stories about (or involving) children or young people.

Of those 42 stories about children/young people, only 3 stories (7%) included the voice a child/young person.

Therefore, in the Times of Swaziland from May 22–June 2, children/young people were heard in only 7% of the stories that are about them.

The Swazi Observer, from May 22–June 2, published 30 stories about (or involving) children/young people.

Swazi Observer media monitoring graph

Of those 30 stories about children/young, only 3 stories (10%) included the voice of a child/young person.

Therefore, in the Swazi Observer, children/young people were heard in only 10% of the stories that are actually about them.

In total, when you combine the figures for both Times of Swaziland and Swazi Observer, from May 22–June 2, there were 72 stories about children/young people.

Of those 72 stories about children/young people, only 6 stories included the voice of a child/young person.

MISA child graph

Therefore, for both Times of Swaziland and Swazi Observer, from May 22 to June 2, children/young people were heard in only 8% of the stories that are actually about them. Which means, in 92% of the stories about children/young people, the voice of a child/young person is absent.

This MISA-Swaziland and Save the Children study does not claim to be conclusive or totally representative of the Swazi media. The Swazi television and radio station, both owned and controlled by the state, were not considered in this study.

There are also other newspapers and a monthly magazine that were not considered in this study. The Times of Swaziland Group of Newspapers (in addition to the daily newspaper that was monitored for this study) also publishes a Saturday weekly Swazi News and a Sunday weekly Times of Swaziland Sunday.

And the Swazi Observer Group of Newspapers (in addition to its daily newspaper that was monitored for this study) publishes a weekend edition, Weekend Observer.

It should be noted that if these weekend newspapers were included in the study, the number of child and young people’s voices may have increased. The weekend papers often feature more ‘human interest’ stories with a youth focus. The weekend newspapers also, from time to time, include child-focused supplements or lift-outs. If these supplements were included in the study it is likely the percentage of youth voices would have increased slightly.

The monthly magazine The Nation was not included in the study. It publishes mostly analytical articles on political, social and economic issues, and rarely publishes stories specifically about children or young people. It does not profess to write youth-focused stories. Therefore, if The Nation was included in the study it is reasonable to suggest there would be few (if any) stories about or involving young people, and so, it follows there would be few (if any) voices of young people.

The research considered 11 editions (between May 22–June 2) of each daily newspaper, Times of Swaziland and Swazi Observer. Despite this being a relatively small research sample, the almost non-existence of child and young people’s voices raises questions about the bigger picture:

  • Why are children and young people not being heard in the Swazi media?
  • What can be done to give children and young people a voice in the media?
  • And what can be done to make sure this ‘youth voice’ is conveyed in a sincere and meaningful way?

This research also raises several questions about the general standard or journalism in Swaziland. In short, if a journalist was writing a story about you, would you expect that journalist to get a comment from you? Or at least try to make contact to tell you what was going to be said about you in a public forum?

You may forgive a reporter if, from time to time, due to lack of time or other work pressures, they do not get your opinion (or your facts) when writing a story about you.

But, in the case of children and young people: if the media, writ large, write 72 stories in 11 days about you and only ask for your comment 7 times, then, as a group, you may be somewhat concerned. The thought that children and young people do not have much say over their lives in the first place only perpetuates this concern. ‘Children are seen and not heard’, is a phrase that could be used to describe this study.

The loser in this scenario — beyond the children and young people themselves — is the reading public. The public are getting ill-informed, misleading and shallow stories: stories consistently ‘about’ people or topics but rarely delving into the hard questions; hardly ever seeking the facts or comments from the people who are most affected by the story — the children and young people themselves.

What are MISA and Save the Children doing to train journalists and to help give children and young people a voice in the Swazi media?
We are running practical training sessions for journalists, where they meet with young people to hear their stories. Earlier this year MISA-Swaziland ran 3 of these sessions and trained 10 journalists.

The journalists, in groups of 3 or 4, travelled to 3 schools and spoke with about 50 students. The journalists then wrote stories that accurately reflected the voice of those young people.

Many stories were published by the newspapers that the journalists work for. In this sense, the theory and practice of the training came together, all centred around the genuine voice of the young people.

Click on the links below to read more about the MISA-Swaziland and Save the Children training program:

MISA listens to students, trains journalists

Students meet the media in Swaziland

Learning from the children: MISA and Save the Children media training

Media must respect and protect children, says Swazi journalist

Times of Swaziland journo wins child reporting award

Save-the-Children logoMISA Regional office logo

For comments or queries, please contact:
Vuyisile Hlatshwayo
MISA-Swaziland National Director
Email: misa.nd@realnet.co.sz


Media must respect and protect children — Swazi journalist

Ian Lwazi DlaminiThis article, by Swazi student and journalist Ian Lwazi Dlamini, forms part of a series on media and children. Ian wrote this article for MISA-Swaziland after attending a recent MISA and Save the Children training session on ethical media reporting of children.

“The press has great power to affect the lives of millions of people. Like any other powerful institution, it must be prepared to listen to complaints, to explain its decisions to readers and viewers, and to acknowledge and correct mistakes.” (Media Law, U.S. Department of State).

The press provides its readers, viewers and listeners with diverse information, presented as news stories and news analysis. In gathering and presenting news stories involving a child, the press should have more than an interest in protecting the child’s rights, but should have a responsibility. The primary role of the press is not to publish child abuse stories; the primary role of the media is to protect children’s rights.

The first job of a news reporter is not producing a front-page story that reflects the interests of his media house, but it is producing a story that reflects the interests of the public. Amongst other media responsibilities, the press should adhere to the following three media ethics, two of which are outlined in the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) Code of Ethics.

1. Social Responsibility

a) Approach – when reporting news, it is the responsibility of the press to use an approach that protects the child’s rights rather than making sensational headlines. The press should collect and disseminate information that answers the who cares? and the what now? questions. As case studies let us consider one child abuse story published by the local press which does not pass this test and one South African story which does.

#5_Swazi news article for child media training
How not to report child abuse. Times of Swaziland, December 10 2012

On December 10 2012, the Times of Swaziland published a child abuse story about a nine-year old who was raped. The story’s lead reads, “Two elderly men allegedly had sexual intercourse with a nine-year old girl on different occasions and paid her E1 afterwards”. The approach used in story showed that the news in the story wasn’t the ‘rape’ but the E1 paid afterwards.

On November 16 2012, the Mail & Guardian published a story about sexual abuse at school as ‘a pandemic’. The story’s lead reads, “War must be waged against the pandemic of sexual violence and the sexualisation of South Africa’s pupils, civil society said this week”. Although the story is about a workshop, the approach used in the story answers the who cares? and what now? questions.

#8_Swazi news article for child media training
How to report child abuse. Mail & Guardian, November 16 2012

Instead of sensationalizing how pupils sell sex videos and how they offer sex for taxi rides, the story deliberates on how the conference resulted in possible solutions. The approach used was ‘solving the problem’ instead of ‘sensationalizing the problem’. It is the responsibility of the press to use an approach that benefits and meets the public’s interests.

b) Pictures – Article 15 (1) of the SNAJ Code of Ethics, stipulates that “journalists should avoid identifying survivors of sexual assault or any information that may lead to the identification of the survivor”. This is a crucial way of protecting, not only children rights, but every survivor’s rights, regardless of the age. Using the two mentioned publications, correct application of Article 15 (1) will be put to the test. The picture used by Times of Swaziland is a full photo of the survivor who only has part of her face hidden. The photo’s caption reads, “The nine-year-old girl (L) who has been sexually abused by two men who paid her E1, sitting with her grandmother and aunt”.

Photo in Times of Swaziland, December 10 2012
Is this ethical? Times of Swaziland, December 10 2012

On the other hand, Mail & Guardian uses a photo of a child tightly holding onto a doll as if her life depends on it. Her face is not just ‘hidden’ but is not shown in the photo. The photo doesn’t look like the one of the victim but like a picture of some child. The photo caption reads, “Rights group Section27 is working on six cases in schools in three provinces involving rape and coercive sex”.

Photo in Mail & Guardian, November 16 2012
A better way to use photos. Mail & Guardian, November 16-22 2012

2. Accurate Reporting

a) Truth – Jane Kirtley, writer of the earlier quoted book, Media Law, believes that “the press must seek truth and report it. It must be tireless in seeking and achieving accuracy. The press must never knowingly publish a falsehood”.

A story about a toddler who survived her father’s murder attempt was published by the Swazi Observer and Times of Swaziland (June 4 2013). On June 20 2013, the Swazi Observer reported that a South African Gospel artist had ‘awarded’ a bursary to the toddler.

Two days later, the same publication, in the entertainment section, reported that groceries worth E3, 000 ($US300) had been given to the three-year old toddler’s family by the Gospel artist. In addition, the artist had offered to audition the mother of the toddler the following weekend during upcoming auditions because “she said she could sing”.

The mother of the survivor (and me) were shocked to read this news. As a person I knew and visited regularly those days, I verified that more than half of what had been published was falsehood (as Kirtley puts it). No bursary was awarded to the toddler, groceries bought amounted to less than E200 (I’m a witness) and the mother was never invited to auditions (who would leave her injured child in hospital and go to music auditions anyways?).

The South African Gospel artist might have given the journalist the information published by Swazi Observer but the journalist didn’t adhere to Article 1 (2) of the SNAJ Code of Ethics which stipulates that “A journalist should make adequate inquiries, do cross-checking of facts in order to provide the public with unbiased, accurate, balanced and comprehensive information”.

b) Secondary trauma – According to Article 18 (3) of the SNAJ Code of Ethics, journalists should endeavour to avoid reporting on information that will result in secondary trauma. Because of published falsehood, the mother of the toddler suffered great trauma. It is the responsibility of the press to protect survivors from secondary trauma by not publishing inaccurate stories and/or doing irrelevant follow-up stories.

3. People’s Right to Information

a) Educating and Persuading function of the press – The press has a responsibility to educate the public about children’s rights as well as persuade the government and the public at large to protect these rights. This can be achieved, amongst other ways, by answering the who cares? and what now? questions in the news stories and analyses published.

Apart from reporting on sexual abuse at school as ‘a pandemic’, the Mail & Guardian educated the public about a “wonderful policy on how schools should deal with this”. Through its headline, it also persuaded the public “to do something” which answers the who cares? and what now? questions.

b) The mirror function of the press – The press has a responsibility to be a true reflection of its society. MISA Swaziland, in partnership with Save the Children (International) ran a media project on ‘children and the media’ in June 2013 which involved research on the media, training of journalists and discussions with youth people.

Preliminary results from the research shows that while newspapers in Swaziland often write stories about children and young people, these stories rarely capture the actual voice of young people or children. Mostly, it is politicians, civil servants, NGO leaders and police who are talking about, or on behalf of children in the media, rather than the children themselves.

MISA Swaziland’s research presents the ‘facts-gap’ that the Swazi press should close through providing a space or time for children to talk about abuse, their rights and protection. The facts-gap can also be closed by surveys conducted by the press as well as detailed analysis of data available with Swazi courts and/or NGOs dealing with child abuse. The surveys and research will also enable the press to know the interests of the people: what they want to listen to or read about.

c) The Watch Dog function of the press – “As an American judge once wrote, the default position for the press is to publish. Government should bear the burden of justifying any restraints. This formula preserves the watchdog role of the press and facilitates government’s accountability” (Media Law, U.S. Department of State). The big question is, Who watches the watch dog? This question is answered differently by different countries but the most reasonable answer says the press should watch (or regulate) itself, with help, of course, from readers and viewers.

Article 29 (1-7) of the Constitution of Swaziland stipulates rights of the child. As a watchdog of society, it is the duty of the press to ensure that these rights are respected by both the public and the government. The government uses the constitution as a tool for governance. The press must use it as a tool for accountability.

If the government has deprived children any of their rights, it is the responsibility of the press to challenge assumptions, to question authority, and to seek the truth. The press has the crucial function to monitor and protect the rights of children as well as to persuade parliament to enact laws that provide a good support system. It is the responsibility of the press to monitor and report on the making, implementation, launching and evaluation of the laws. And, of course, the press should always strive for honesty and accuracy in its reporting.

With the power to influence the lives of so many people, the press must work to protect children — while also informing, educating and persuading the public to do the same.

MISA and Save the Children media training. From L-R: Ian Lwazi Dlamini (student and journalist), Koliwe Majama (MISA project coordinator), Siphiwe Nkambule (Super Buddies youth magazine)
MISA and Save the Children media training 21 June 2013. From L-R: Ian Lwazi Dlamini (student and journalist), Koliwe Majama (MISA project coordinator), Siphiwe Nkambule (Super Buddies youth magazine)

Click on the headlines below to read more about the MISA-Swaziland and Save the Children media project

Students meet the media in Swaziland, by Zwelihle Sukati

Learning from the children, by Patrick Myeni

MISA listens to students, trains journalists, by MISA-Swaziland


MISA helps generate debate on women’s rights

As part of an election coverage training program, the Media Institute of Southern Africa in Swaziland, in partnership with human rights organisation COSPE, took five journalists into the field to ask women about the upcoming national vote, as well as many other topics…

Mourning gowns headline

What rights do women have when mourning a loved one? Should they be allowed to wear clothes that signify the passing of a husband? Should the authorities ban such clothing? If women do decide to wear mourning gowns, does this mean they forgo certain rights such as being able to address a public crowd? How easy is it for women mourning their husband to register for an upcoming election? How widespread is discrimination against widows?

These are some of the questions raised during a recent election coverage training for journalsits, run by the Swazi chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland), a press freedom NGO, and COSPE, a human rights NGO.

L-R. Maureen LittleJohn (Swagga), Patrick Myeni (freelance journalist), Joseph Zulu (Swazi Observer), Winile Masinga (Swazi Observer), Kwanele Dhladhla (Times of Swaziland), Nontobeko Tshabalala (Times of Swaziland)
L-R. Maureen LittleJohn (Swagaa), Patrick Myeni (freelance journalist), Joseph Zulu (Swazi Observer), Winile Masinga (Swazi Observer), Kwanele Dhladhla (Times of Swaziland), Nontobeko Tshabalala (Times of Swaziland)

On Tuesday 21 May, MISA-Swaziland and COSPE staff, aided by Maureen Littlejohn from the Swaziland action group against abuse (Swagaa), welcomed five journalists to the MISA office in Mbabane, the capital, for a morning discussion and training session on how to improve election coverage reporting.

This was the second ‘on-the-job workshop’ — a mixture of theoretical training and practical work — in a series of twelve sessions in the lead up to the national elections, scheduled for August 2013.

The focus of the training sessions, in addition to improving election coverage, is assisting journalists so they can report on women’s issues in a more ethical manner. Beyond the fact that 80 percent of sources in the Swazi media are male voices, stories about women are often reported in an insensitive way.

Click here to see the Swaziland journalists’ code of ethics. Article 5 speaks directly to respecting people’s privacy and dignity.

After the morning discussion and training at the MISA office, the journalists split into two groups and went off to find stories, putting into practice the principles (from the SADC election guidelines and Swagga’s suggestions on ethical gender reporting) that had just been discussed.

The Manzini region of Swaziland
The Manzini region of Swaziland

People were interviewed and stories were found.

Swazi Observer reporter Winile Masinga & Times of Swaziland reporter Kwanele Dhladhla interviewing residents in Mafutseni
Swazi Observer reporter Winile Masinga & Times of Swaziland reporter Kwanele Dhladhla interviewing residents in Mafutseni

In the town of Mafutseni, in the Manzini region,  Times of Swaziland reporter Kwanele Dhladhla and Swazi Observer’s Winile Masgina asked residents a range of questions about women’s rights and the upcoming elections.

Dhladhla interviewed a resident who told him about the discrimination she faced when mourning the loss of her husband. The Mafutseni woman suggested to the Times of Swaziland that perhaps the custom of wearing mourning gowns — kuzila — should be banned to protect women from the accompanying stigma.

“Since last year August I have been unable to actively participate during community meetings because I was in mourning gowns. Each time the chief convened a meeting, I was expected to sit alone under a tree about 60 metres from where the rest of the residents meet,” said the Mafutseni resident.

Kwanele Dhladhla's article in Times of Swaziland after the MISA-COSPE training day
Kwanele Dhladhla’s article in Times of Swaziland after the MISA-COSPE training day

Times of Swaziland front page, Wednesday 22 May, the day after the MISA-COSPE training
Times of Swaziland front page Wednesday 22 May, the day after the MISA-COSPE training

This front page news story, discovered during the MISA-COSPE training day, generated a public debate about women’s rights and discrimination.

Click here to read the full article online at the Times of Swaziland website.

The Times of Swaziland also dedicated prime column space to the issue, writing an editorial examining the story and providing some background and perspective.

Times of Swaziland editorial about the women's rights, Wednesday 22 May, 2013
Times of Swaziland editorial about women’s rights, Wednesday 22 May, 2013

The Lubombo region of Swaziland
The Lubombo region of Swaziland

While one group of reporters were uncovering stories in Mafutseni, the other group  were in the town of Mambane — in the eastern Lubombo region — where they spoke with several women about daily life in the area as well as getting their thoughts on the upcoming elections.

Times of Swaziland reporter Nontobeko Tshabalala wrote these stories from her day in Mambane…

Times of Swaziland reporter Nontobeko Tshabalala's article after the MISA-COSPE training
Times of Swaziland reporter Nontobeko Tshabalala’s article after the MISA-COSPE training

Nontobeko Tshabalala's article in Times of Swaziland
Times of Swaziland reporter Nontobeko Tshabalala’s article after the MISA-COSPE training

MISA-Swaziland and COSPE will be running 10 more on-the-job training days for Swazi journalists before the national elections in August 2013.

The next training day will be held on Tuesday May 28.

The aim for the whole project, over the 12 sessions, is to expose about 30 journalists to this type of training. Print journalists from the two daily newspapers, Times of Swaziland and Swazi Observer, and also the monthly magazine The Nation, will receive the first round of training. If all goes to plan, there are thoughts to also involve editors, students, and radio and TV reporters.

The trainings, essentially, are about three things: good journalism; election coverage; and ethical reporting of women’s issues.
MISA believes that good and thorough journalism — by the mere fact of it being good and thorough — will also make for interesting election coverage news. Moreover, good and thorough journalism will also be ethical journalism.

COSPE, an italian-based human rights NGO, is funding the project. MISA-Swaziland are providing the training.

COSPE logocopy-cropped-misa-banner.png

Photo on frontpage of post taken by Maureen Littlejohn


Journalists march for media freedom

MISA-Swaziland Alert
6 May 2013 

On a sunny May 3, World Press Freedom Day, journalists and civil society members marched through the streets of Swaziland’s capital, Mbabane, and delivered a petition to the Minister of Information, Communication, and Technology and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. The marchers were calling for media freedom.

Walking the talk...
Walking the talk…

About 40 silent protesters with white sticky tape stuck across their lips, were sending a message to Swaziland’s leaders: they are not free to speak their minds. The tape across the mouth was a clear signal that censorship and self-censorship in the southern African country are rife.

Members of the public were clearly interested in what was happening, several workers put down their tools to gaze upon the silent walkers.

A banner held at the front of the marchers read: “World Press Freedom Day: Safe to Speak, Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media.”

Several protesters were holding placards. “Allow more newspapers!” “Suffocate debate and we all lose.” “Speaking is not criminal.”

Swaziland’s Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland) played a central role in organising the march.

The Swazi News on Saturday 4 May reported MISA-Swaziland national director, Vuyisile Hlatshwayo, as saying he was “happy that media practitioners made their voices heard”.

MISA-Swaziland chairman Alec Lushaba (R) presenting the media freedom peition to ICT principal secretary Bheki Gama
MISA-Swaziland chairman Alec Lushaba (R) presenting the media freedom peition to ICT principal secretary Bheki Gama

Hlatshwayo went on to say MISA-Swaziland will continue to “fight for the creation of an open society where journalists can freely practise their trade without any hindrances”.

Chairman of MISA-Swaziland Alec Lushaba delivered the petition to the principal secretary of ICT Bheki Gama, who received it on behalf of minister Winnie Magagula.

Lushaba also delivered the petition to ministry of justice under-secretary Siboniso Masilela, who received it on behalf of minster Mgwagwa Gamedze.

The petition, written by MISA-Swaziland and supported by many civil society groups and citizens, calls for the removal of all legislation that restricts media freedom. It also urges government to ensure the Broadcasting Bill 2013, currently before parliament, “provides for the maximum availability of broadcasting to the people by permitting for public, commercial and community broadcasting”.

MISA-Swaziland chairman Alec Lushaba (R) presenting the media freedom petition to ministry of justice under-secretary Siboniso Masilela

Other points in the petition call for more support for journalism students; more assistance and encouragement for editors and journalists to overcome self-censorship; and for journalists and citizens alike to expose more cases of censorship.

MISA-Swaziland defines self-censorship as the act of stopping oneself from reporting on something they know to be in the public interest; and censorship is where information and stories are not allowed to print because they are inconvenient, even if that story or information is true.

The march came hot on the heels the controversial sentence handed down to Swazi editor Bheki Makhubu, who was recently ordered by the high court to pay E200,000 ($US21,000) within three days or else go to jail for two years.

Makhubu, editor of monthly magazine The Nation, wrote two articles that were critical of the judiciary in 2009 and 2010.

These articles, said high court judge Bheki Maphalala, “scandalised the courts”.

The prominent editor appealed the decision – staying all court proceedings – and will likely hear more from the courts in November 2013.

The sentence against Makhubu has sent shock waves through Swaziland’s media fraternity, with many commentators and international human rights organisations condemning the judge’s decision.

During the evening of May 3, after the march, MISA-Swaziland hosted a public debate at the Mbabane Theatre Club. Seventy people came along to hear a free-flowing discussion about the lack of media freedom in Swaziland.

Vuyisile Hlatshwayo, MISA-Swaziland National Director
+268 76156605


The African Media Barometer (AMB) is an in-depth and comprehensive description and measurement system for national media environments on the African continent. Unlike other press surveys or media indices the AMB is a self-assessment exercise based on home-grown criteria derived from African Protocols and Declarations such as the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa (2002) by the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights. The instrument was jointly developed by fesmedia Africa, the media project of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in Africa, and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in 2004.

The AMB is an analytical exercise to measure the media situation in a given country which at the same time serves as a practical lobbying tool for media reform. Its results are presented to the public of the respective country to push for an improvement of the media situation using the AU-Declaration and other African standards as benchmarks. The recommendations of the AMB reports are then integrated into the work of the 19 country offices of the FES in sub-Saharan Africa and into the advocacy efforts of other local media organisations such as MISA.

Download the file above to continue reading the AMB Eswatini 2018.

Newspaper editor flees Swaziland for second time after arrest and police torture

Zweli Martin Dlamini, the editor of the Swaziland News, has fled Swaziland (eSwatini) for the second time after being arrested and tortured by police who accused him of sedition.

Dlamini told South Africa Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) Media Monitor programme on Sunday (8 March 2020) police raided his home after he published articles in the online newspaper that were critical of King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch.

Dlamini said police raided his home at about 5.30 am with a search warrant and took away his laptop and electronic gadgets. He said they took a photograph of his four-year-old son and asked which preschool he attended.

Dlamini was then taken to Mbabane police station where 20 officers were waiting for him. They questioned him about an article he wrote in the newspaper headlined ‘King Mswati’s speech is actually a lie from the throne’ which criticised the King’s speech at the opening of parliament on 31 January 2020. They also questioned him over an article: ‘Buganu: Who gave the King power to call our wives for a sex ceremony.’

Dlamini said in his interview, ‘They [police] said now that I am before them I must forget about my rights.’

Zweli Martin Dlamini

He added, ‘They then suffocated me with a plastic bag. They tied me up.’
He was released after about eight hours. He told SABC he left Swaziland to get a medical check-up following the police assault. He said he did not feel safe to return to the kingdom.

He said he thought King Mswati had a hand in his arrest and the King had pressurised police to deal with him over his articles.

On 7 February 2020, The Swaziland News reported Dlamini was being harassed and receiving death threats from King Mswati’s first born daughter Princess Sikhanyiso, who is the  Minister of Information Communication and Technology.

Dlamini had previously fled to South Africa in fear of his life in 2018. He had received death threats from a local businessman and his newspaper Swaziland Shopping was shut down by the Swazi government.

See also

Exiled editor Zweli Martin Dlamini to return to Swaziland https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2018/11/exiled-editor-zweli-martin-dlamini-to.html

King’s multi-billion fraud, corruption documents hidden in Times emails

Saturday, 29th February, 2020

By Zweli Martin Dlamini

MBABANE:King Mswati’s multi-billion fraud and corruption documents has been found hidden in the email servers of the Times of Eswatini, a once independent newspaper that was subsequently captured by the royal family.

The documents that forms part of correspondence between Shanmuga Rethenam, the former Chairman of the now defunct Salgaocar Mine and Innocent Maphalala, the then Times Sunday editor further expose how King Mswati defrauded the Nation in a multi-billion mineral deal after he transferred over R100million($10million) to the Bank of America via his personal account number 0240037517401, held at Standard Bank Swaziland.The money was transferred to the account of Mcafee&Taft, its purpose could not be ascertained in the midst of this investigation. 

It has been disclosed through the emails, that Maphalala was pursuing a story in the midst of the conflict between the King and businessman Rethenam over the controversial Ngwenya Mine and the private jet that was later impounded in Canada, however, the documents never reached the public domain.

According to the documents, the R100million bank transfer came shortly after Shanmuga ,King’s Private Secretary Sihle Dlamini and Mbuso Dlamini, the then Secretary to Cabinet  who were representing the King in the Salgaocar Board of Directors held a meeting on 16 April 2012 at Dalriach in Mbabane where a resolution to transfer the money from Salgaocar to the King’s private account was signed. 

These financial documents currently hidden in the email servers of Times newspaper suggests that King Mswati allegedly defrauded and manipulated mineral resources for his own benefit in complete violation of the Minerals Act that empowers him to hold mineral shares in trust for the eSwatini Nation.

Reached for comments, Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) in the King’s Officer said the matter was very sensitive and far above his jurisdiction, he asked if the government Spokesperson has been contacted for a comment.

“This is a very serious and sensitive matter, what was wrong with the transaction? What’s the comment of the Government Spokesperson, have you contacted him?” said the King’s Officer CEO.

This publication forwarded questions to Sabelo Dlamini, the Acting government Spokesperson, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report. 

But Lucky Lukhele, the Spokesperson of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said the mere fact that the emails have been found hidden by the Times confirmed that the newspaper was no longer independent.

“The Times should be ashamed of themselves for hiding this information. We have noted that if its someone they hate like the PUDEMO President they would go all out and even claim that he was building Inkandla but if it’s the King, they would hide under the phrase ‘the information cannot be printed due to its sensitivity’” said the SSN Spokesperson.

Lukhele further said the King has always been involved in dealings of transferring public funds for his own benefit with impunity.

“What should be known is that the King has always been doing this thing as long as he can remember. We all know that he has never worked anywhere yet he is now  regarded as one of the richest Monarchies in Africa” he said. 

Innocent Maphalala, the former Times Sunday editor said as far as he can remember they published series of articles about Shan, however he did not specify why the financial transactions of the King were blocked from reaching the public domain.

“Even though I might not be aware which of these emails you are referring to, we wrote series of articles about Shan” he said.

But an independent investigation by this Swaziland News uncovered that on or around 31stMarch 2015, Shanmuga Rethenam received a questionnaire from the Times and in the emails, the newspaper had claimed to be working towards exposing the King. It was then that Shanmuga responded with the documents that he forwarded through the assistance of his lawyer William Kirtley. 

“Please find enclosed the proof of transfer of USD10 million to King personal account at Standard Bank Swaziland” read the responses from Shan directed to the Times.

In the midst of this investigation, this publication sent questions to Times Managing Director Paul Loffler via a text message, however, he responded through his then Human Resources Manager Siphiwe Mdluli who asked that the emails be forwarded to her before making any comment. 

“Kindly forward the emails so we can analyze them and respond accordingly” she said.

But the Times Human Resources Manager later joined the fast lane and avoided responding to questions from this publication. But sources alleged that Mdluli recently resigned from the newspaper hence the emails were also forwarded to Times editor Martin Dlamini who represents the interests of the King in the media and also work as Deputy Specialist Political Affairs in the King’s Offices.

Efforts to reach businessman Shanmuga Rethenam proved unsuccessful at the time of compiling this report as he did not respond to whatsap messages from this publication.King’s multi-billion fraud,corruption documents hidden in Times emails
A proof of over USD9,500 000.00 transferred by King Mswati to the Bank of America


Richard Rooney

Yesterday at 11:51 AM ·

Some of this story has resurfaced after five years. Here is the original from Swazi Media Commentary
20 November 2015

Documents revealed publicly for the first time on Friday (20 November 2015) confirm that King Mswati III of Swaziland personally paid US$9.5 million for a jet aircraft in 2012.

The government that he handpicked had publicly said the jet was donated by ‘development partners’.

The sale and purchase agreement contains the signature of King Mswati as the purchaser.

King Mswati, who rules the tiny impoverished kingdom of Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has been at the at the centre of a public row over the purchase of the jet.

Last Friday (13 November 2015) the Mail and Guardian (M&G), a South-African based newspaper published details of the aircraft purchase on its website.

Most of the M&G report was not new. In April 2015, the Swazi Media Commentary website revealed details behind the purchase. It reported that the King’s own company Inchatsavane paid the US$9.5 million cost of the McDonnel Douglas McDonnell Douglas DC-9-87 (also known as an MD-87). Later, a further US$4.1 million was spent on refurbishing the plane.

The Sale and Purchase Agreement for the plane dated 18 April 2012 stated the purchaser as Inchatsavane Company (Pty) Ltd. The agreement describes Inchatsavane as a ‘limited company formed under the law of Swaziland under certification of incorporation No 581 of 2010.’ The company’s office address is given as ‘1st Floor, Ellerines Building, Swazi Plaza, [Mbabane], Swaziland.’

King Mswati’s signature appears on the document as ‘sole shareholder / owner’ of the company. For the first time Swazi Media Commentary has released a copy of the document online.

The seller is given as Wells Fargo Bank Northwest, National Association, ‘not in its individual capacity but solely as owner trustee’.

A Bank of America Wire Transfer dated 26 April 2012, shows US$9.5 million dollars was transferred from the account of ‘His Majesty King Mswati III’, bank account number 0240037517401, at the Standard Bank Swaziland Ltd, Stanbic House, Swazi Plaza, Mbabane, Swaziland.

Swazi Media Commentary has also released online a copy of the bank transfer.

The money was transferred to McAfee and Taft escrow account in the United States. An ‘escrow’ account is a bank account for keeping money that is the property of others.

Under US law funds wired to an escrow account must come directly from the purchaser and not a parent, subsidiary, related company, officer, governor or director. King Mswati personally signed the escrow agreement. Swazi Media Commentary has for the first time released a copy of this document online.

What is not clear is where King Mswati got the money to pay for the jet. In 2012, the Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, who was personally appointed to office by the King, said on government-controlled radio that the King had been given the jet as a birthday gift, ‘from development partners and friends of the King, to be used by their majesties for travels abroad’.

The Swazi Government denied public money had been used to buy the jet. Government spokesperson Percy Simelane was reported by the BBC saying the jet was a gift to the King from, ‘people already involved in the social and economic development of the country’.

There has been speculation that the jet was donated by Kuwait, but if this was the case it has not been explained why the oil-rich state made the gift and what it expected in return.

In April 2012, the Swazi Government categorically denied that the plane was donated by the Kuwait Government.

It issued a statement saying, ‘It is true that His Majesty the King received a gift in the form of a Mcdonnell DC-9 Aircraft for his and the Queen Mother’s travels abroad on engagement on national interest.

‘It is also true that the sponsors of this magnificent gift, exercising their rights, elected to remain anonymous.

‘It is not true that the Kuwait Government or countries and companies mentioned in the South Africa media purchased the aircraft for His Majesty the King or contributed in any form whatsoever towards this present.’

Seven in ten of the King’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, with incomes of less than US$2 per day, three in ten are so hungry they are medically diagnosed as malnourished and the kingdom has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world.

See also


http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/…/kings-company-at-centre-of…swazimedia.blogspot.comPROOF: SWAZI KING PAID FOR HIS JET

Independent journalism remains the lifeblood of democracy

Sunday, 23rd February, 2020

By Zweli Martin Dlamini

Independent journalism whose fundamental objective is to hold those in power accountable to the people remains the lifeblood for a free and democratic society.

Indeed, absolute power without accountability manifests to dictatorship and this subsequently result to social, economic and political hardships that impacts the society. It should be noted that the inclusion of the right to information in the Constitution of 2005 was actually meant to foster a culture of transparency, openness and good governance. This is in line with the fundamental values and principles of public administration that promotes accountability of public power. 

Journalism should not be manipulated to promote or advance the corrupt interests of those in power, but its core mandate is to disseminate accurate information to the public to enable citizens to make informed decisions regarding issues affecting their welfare, be it politically, economically, socially or otherwise. 

The perception in this country suggesting that questioning or criticizing the King on issues of  vital public interest, amounts to disrespect does not only demonstrate the lack of understanding with regards to the core duties of journalists but a complete violation of the constitutional right to information.

Democracy cannot exist without an independent media that acts as the voice that represents the interests of the people in line with the basic principle of journalism. Power belongs to the people and those entrusted with positions of significant trust including King Mswati should be accountable to the public on the grounds that those public institutions are funded through taxes collected from the people. 

It is therefore based on these grounds that journalists always owe the public the truth on issues of public interests. Democracy comes with the Bill of Rights that promotes freedom of expression and the media should be at liberty to question or criticize government including the Head of State in accordance with the principles of accountability of public power. The term “public power” means power belongs to the people and those entrusted to exercise it should never be immune to criticism and assume that they own the people.

It should be noted that any traditional or cultural norm suggesting that those in power own the people amounts to political madness and should not be tolerated in any democratic society. Journalism is guided by internationally recognized principles and standards and its core mandate is to provide information to the public and demand accountability in the public administration.

In conclusion, it is of paramount importance to mention that journalism should not be branded with simohlwana suggesting that the media should always be loyal to the King, journalists should always be loyal to the truth. 

Transparency a long way off in secretive Eswatini (Swaziland): 2018 report

Withholding public information from information-seekers by government and public institutions appears to be the rule rather than the exception in Eswatini, formerly Swaziland.

It is an open secret that a culture of secrecy still exists within the government and public institutions. As a result, public complaints of lack of access to information held by government and public entities abound.


Of the eight public institutions that were assessed and evaluated for this particular study, the poorest performing institution and winner of the 2018 Golden Padlock Award for the most secretive public institution in Eswatini is the Ministry of Agriculture.

Actions do not match the words of the officials designated to receive and respond to information requests in government and public institutions. This research concludes that a majority of them still find it hard to get rid of the deep-rooted culture of secrecy in the course of their duties. This becomes evident when seven out of the eight public institutions surveyed failed to respond to the researcher’s information requests.

The award presentation at MISA Swaziland for the most open institution in Eswatini

The best performing public institution and winner of the 2018 Golden Key Award for the most open public institution in Eswatini is the Municipal Council of Mbabane.

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Issued by MISA Swaziland
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