14 February 2013
Reports from Mbabane say Dr. Maxwell Mthembu, Chairperson of the Swaziland Television Authority (STVA) has been fired. It appears no reason for the dismissal has been given.
Mthembu, a Journalism and Mass Communication lecturer at the University of Swaziland, confirmed to the Swaziland Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland) that he received a letter outlining his dismissal on January 25, 2013 but no specific reason has been given.
He is also a former chairperson of MISA-Swaziland.
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 propaganda mouthpiece for government and the royal family.
It is understood that the Minister of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) 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. The minister currently holding the portfolio is Winnie Magagula.
According to Mthembu, the letter from the minister invoked the Public Enterprises Unit Act of 1989. He also pointed out that although the dismissal was unexpected, he would have appreciated if the minister had called him directly and give a reason.
Swazi-TV Chief Executive Officer, Bongani Dlamini, said only Magagula could comment on this matter. However, Magagula was unavailable for comment.
Principal secretary in the ministry of communications, Sikelela Dlamini, told MISA-Swaziland that while Magagula was the best person to speak to, “the Act doesn’t require the minister to give a reason”. It was not immediately clear whether Dlamini was referring to the STVA Act of 1983 or the Public Enterprise Unit Act of 1989.
MISA-Swaziland is concerned that the chairperson of the state-broadcaster – which many believe should be converted into a public broadcaster – can be dismissed without reason. MISA-Swaziland further calls on minister Magagula to cite the relevant Act, specify the exact article she invoked and give convincing reasons for the Mthembu’s dismissal.
For comments or queries, please contact:
Vuyisile Hlatshwayo, MISA-Swaziland National Director