Alert / Media Alert

Swaziland has a new newspaper – the ‘Sunday Observer’

MISA-Swaziland Alert
Monday 21 October, 2013

The Swazi Observer Group of Newspapers has a new publication, the Sunday Observer. 

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Swaziland has a new Sunday newspaper

The weekly newspaper first appeared yesterday, Sunday 20 October, 2013, leading with a front page story on newly-elected MP Jan Sithole, a long-standing democracy activist. The headline read: “Changing the system from within: CAN JAN WORK?”

Pages 2 and 3 were dedicated to differing opinions on whether Sithole will be able to usher in a more democratic system. Some in civil society said they will work with him as he pushed for reform inside parliament; others said he stood no chance of effecting any meaningful change — they said “the system” had already “swallowed” him up. By “the system” they mean the current Tinkhundla system of governance — ruled by King Mswati III “in consultation” with the people.

Other leading stories focused on former Swaziland minister of labour Lutfo Dlamini’s one-time dinner with former Libyan leader Muammar Gaghafi, and how Dlamini plans to go into business after not being elected or appointed back to parliament.

Another front-page headline read: “Convicted sodomist back playing with children.”

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Nephew of South African president marries Swazi princess: story in Swaziland’s new Sunday newspaper

Space was also given to the weekend wedding of a Swazi princess, Fikisiwe, to the nephew of South African president Jacob Zuma. The paper reported that the Swazi king, Mswati III, was in attendance at the wedding. It reported the king saying to the Zuma family: “I am not expecting to hear that our daughter has become a punch bag but rather solve problems through dialogue.”

The Sunday Observer has sections on news, sport, opinion, world affairs, and fashion.

In an effort to challenge negative stereotypes of women, the fashion lift-out — called “Scene” — featured a daring photo-shoot of a model in traditional Swazi dress at the notoriously dangerous and misogynous Manzini bus rank.

The debut edition of “Scene” was titled “The Sexuality Issue”. Editor of the fashion lift-out Koko Shanbangu says it “addresses the matters that have been shoved under the carpet”.

Shabangu continues: “A lot of women, myself included, have fallen victim to insults from men on the streets because we were wearing something ‘too short for them’. When does it stop? I was very glad that our cover girl, Sasha Groening, was fearless enough to wear indlamu  (traditional dress) in the middle of the road on a cold Sunday morning!

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Reclaiming the body: Swazi model Sasha Groening on front cover of “Scene”, Sunday Observer’s fashion lift-out. Photo: Peppy Sibanyoni

“We deliberately chose the bus rank area for the shoot because it is the one place that any woman showing a considerable amount of leg steers clear of, to avoid all sorts of slander. The message we hope to send out is that as women, we are not to be objectified.”

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Challenging culture: Swazi model Sasha Groening dressed in tradtional dress at Manzini bus rank. From: “Scene”, Sunday Observer’s fashion lift-out. Photo: Peppy Sibanyoni

The cleverly subversive and thought-provoking photo-shoot is sure to raise a few eyebrows. The photos manage to poke holes in the prevailing culture — considered by many to be male-dominated — by using a big part of that culture: the female traditional dress, which is short and allows for much skin to be seen.

In her editorial Shabangu praised the photo-shoot team, giving special thanks to photographer Peppy Sibanyoni.

The next edition of Sunday Observer will be out next week on October 27.

The Swazi Observer Group of Newspapers is owned by investment fund Tibiyo Taka Ngwane. This fund is controlled by King Mswati III “in trust for the Swazi nation”.

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Swazi model Sasha Groening dressed in traditional dress at Manzini bus rank. From: “Scene”, Sunday Observer’s fashion lift-out. Photo: Peppy Sibanyoni

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Swazi model Sasha Groening dressed in traditional dress at Manzini bus rank. From: “Scene”, Sunday Observer’s fashion lift-out. Photo: Peppy Sibanyoni

Click here to read MISA-Swaziland’s interview with the editor of the Sunday Observer

MISA encourages the new publication to publish contact details of the independent media Ombudsman, click here for more

Click here to read more about the media in Swaziland

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