Media freedom in Swaziland has been dealt a severe blow as the Times of Swaziland, the country’s only independent newspaper, has transformed itself to being a mouth piece and spy tool for the Monarch.
In what is the most shocking media scandal in recent time, the Times of Swaziland has sacrificed its integrity and credibility at the alter of Royal appeasement by selling out one of its journalist Ntokozo Magongo to the police for critisizing the Royal establishment during a private conversation with a colleague at the Times of Swaziland.
The Times of Swaziland, that has spawned respected and legendary journalists such as Mashumi Thwala, James Dlamini, Phiwokwakhe Ngidi, Vusi Ginindza, Bheki Makhubu to name a few, has degenerated to becoming a playground of royal moles and snitches to the detriment of ethical journalism.
The SDP has been reliably informed that well known royal lackey and self proclaimed Times of Swaziland Royal Correspondent, Senzo Dlamini - the same journalist who whilst employed by the Times of Swaziland defied all journalistic codes of conduct, campaigned and participated in the 2008 Tinkhundla elections only to lose and come back to join the Times of Swaziland as a journalist - called the Royal police to arrest sports journalist Ntokozo Magongo after the latter made comments critical of the current political establishment in a private conversation at the newspaper's kitchen.
The police arrived at the offices of the Times of Swaziland offices armed to the teeth and took Magongo for interrogation for making unsavoury comments about the Monarch. His matter has now been taken to his parents and community.
The SDP is shocked that the Times of Swaziland collaborated with Senzo Dlamini by permitting the arrest of a hard-working and ethical journalist for comments made during a private discussion; whilst no retribution (at least publicly) is being meted out at Mr. Dlamini for leaking private and inconsequential information, which brings the image and reputation of the Times of Swaziland into disrepute.
The Times has in the recent past made questionable decisions that indicate the continued degeneration of journalistic ethical standards one of which was permitting Qalakaliboli Dlamini to continue as a columnist even though he wrote an outright homophobic column and should have been discontinued as a columnist not merely suspended.
To exacerbate matters, The Times is losing credible journalists at an alarming rate. It should concern the owner of this legendary institution, Mr. Loffler, why the Times is now left with a bunch of unethical journalists like Senzo Dlamini and Maqhawe Nxumalo as News Editor. Mr Nxumalo too has long proclaimed that he is anti-democratisation and pro-Monarch, meaning he is not capable of being objective in his delivery of news that is important in the building of an informed, vibrant and empowered citizenry in Swaziland. Mr. Nxumalo’s articles pronouncing his position on democracy, Tinkhundla and the monarchy date back to the time when he was a columnist for the Times SUNDAY during Vusi Ginindza's time as editor, and his views have not changed, which means he is not objective and will always publish stories to promote the Tinkhundla system and demonize the pro-democracy movement. This today is the state of the media in Swaziland, where all genuinely independent journalists have left the profession and only royalists posing as journalists occupy positions of power in the media hierarchy.
The SDP therefore calls upon the Times of Swaziland to explain publicly why they sold out their own employee, Ntokozo Magongo as well explain what they are going to do about Senzo Dlamini for creating an environment of fear in the newsroom as journalists will now fear critisizing the royal family and writing articles critical of the royal establishment.
The newspaper's newly appointed Managing Editor, Mr. Martin Dlamini, must do this to prove that he won't use the newspaper to prove he is still beholden to the Monarch for appointing him as head of SMART Partnership Secretariate or to prove his loyalty to the King. We trust Martin to be one of the few journalists with credibility that can restore the image of the Times of Swaziland.
The SDP also calls upon MISA to investigate this story so that they can protect other journalists who may face similar harassment or worse persecution. We must all defend the independence of journalists and journalism as a profession from royal vultures like Senzo Dlamini.
Statement issued by Swaziland Diaspora Platform.
Twitter handle: @swazidiaspora
Contact: Ntombenhle Khathwane
Thursday, 20 September 2012
Friday, 7 September 2012
PRESS STATEMENT 07 SEPTEMEBR 2012 – FORWARD TO A PEOPLE’S GOVERNMENT
The Swaziland Diaspora Platform would like to congratulate the people of Swaziland as led by the Swaziland United Democratic Front and Swaziland Democracy Campaign in clearly defining what they want for themselves and future generations as captured in the People's Charter.
As a blueprint of a future that can only be achieved through a people-centric democratic system, the People's Charter is both an important and urgent milestone, and the Swaziland Diaspora Platform reiterates its support of the pro-democracy movement.
It could not have come at a better time as the World Economic Forum released it's 2012 - 2013 Global Competitiveness Report on 6th September 2012 as well; which placed Swaziland at 136th out of 144 countries, eight places from the bottom. The report paints a grim picture of Swaziland, the picture is one of a country in regression that will soon be classified as a failed state if the people do not take ownership. The People's Charter is a clear declaration of what the people of Swaziland want, how they will achieve it and importantly, that they will own it.
Although categorised as a Middle-Income economy, the inequality is so skewed that 63% of Swazis are categorised as poor, an anomaly created by poor government policies. The current government policies ensure that 10% of the population own 60% of the economy whilst neglecting delivery on health and education. Swaziland's competitiveness on higher education is ranked at 125th out of 144 countries and 135th out of 144 countries for health and primary education.
Only a People's Government can change things around and ensure that the middle-income classification of Swaziland reflects equal distribution of resources to all 1.2 million Swazis.
We would like to challenge all Swazis to stand up and fight for democracy in Swaziland. People of the world have shown that they are willing to support us not just in words but in action too. The demonstrations held in Togo, Senegal, Congo, Germany, South Africa and the UK in solidarity with the Swazi struggle show that our voices are being heard all over the world and it does not do our cause any good if we keep bickering and fighting over turfs while our people are dying in this silent genocide.
As the Diaspora community we have left our comforts, we no longer lament about the situation back at home or at worse Facebook our frustrations, instead we have taken the road less travelled and are acting for change. We continue to see ourselves as a neutral platform that will relentlessly fight for unity amongst all those fighting for democracy in Swaziland.
However, we are under no illusion that such unity shall be built mechanically, instead it shall be a product of our collective will to fight together in the trenches. We therefore would like to welcome the People's Charter as a new dawn, a uniting glue that must rally all society for democratic change.
The SDP remains committed to working with all forces for change in Swaziland regardless of race, sex, religious and political affiliations. As the SDP we shall wave high the flag of the People's Charter, champion it wherever we go as well as defend it as it now a pact through which we shall hold any future government accountable. No more shall we sign a blank cheque to any government without concrete deliverables.
Forward to a People's Charter!!!
Forward to the voices of the oppressed!!!
Forward to the voices of the rural women and ex miners!!!
Forward to the implementation of the concerns of the disabled and minority groups!!!
A new Swaziland lurks in the horizon.
The Swaziland Diaspora Platform