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