“The free press is the mother of all our liberties and of our progress under liberty.”
— Adlai Stevenson
The Swazi media operate in an environment where many civil and political rights are curtailed. Swaziland is an absolute monarchy. Political parties are banned and the King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, exercises ultimate authority over the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The constitution protects freedom of expression and media freedom, but these rights mean little in practice. Journalists are routinely intimidated and obstructed when accessing information.
Self-censorship in newsrooms is high and public debate about sensitive political issues is rare. Though the government is criticised in the media, criticism of the monarchy is completely off-limits. Interrogation of traditional structures is virtually non-existent. In the 2012 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index Swaziland ranked 144th out of 179 countries. For a full discussion of media freedom in Swaziland see Richard Rooney’s ‘Swazi Media Commentary’ blog.
MISA’s vision is an environment where media freedom is fully realised: where journalists can perform their critical function without threats and intimidation, where media owners can operate without fear of being shut down or dragged to the courts for offending those in power. MISA wants a pluralist and thriving media environment where diverse voices are routinely heard.
To this aim, MISA documents all media freedom violations and issues alerts within Swaziland and to the international community. See the Media Alerts section of this website.