An editor and a human rights journalist were jailed in Swaziland for two years after writing and publishing articles in a tiny-circulation magazine critical of the kingdom’s judiciary. The case of Bheki Makhubu and Thulani Maseko is the most serious attack on freedom in the kingdom in living memory. The case caused outrage across the world and the two men have been nominated for an international Human Rights Defenders Award.
Elsewhere, the media in Swaziland where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, continue to be fiercely controlled. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King was forced into making a humiliating apology after it wrote about his latest (believed to be the 15th) bride. Elsewhere, Minister of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Dumisani Ndlangamandla, reminded the King’s subjects that broadcast media existed primarily to serve the interests of the state.
These are just two of the stories from Swaziland from the past three months published by Swazi media Commentary and brought together in this latest edition of Swaziland: Striving for Freedom, Volume 15. It is available free-of-charge on scribd dot com.
This publication documents many of the struggles for freedom presently taking place in Swaziland; including a legal crisis as lawyers take on the judges; industrial disputes for better pay and working conditions. Hundreds of women workers at a textile factory were exposed to poisonous fumes and some were denied medical treatment because they were too poor to pay. Young girls were flogged because they did not attend a ceremony at which they were expected to dance half-naked in front of the King.
Swazi Media Commentary has no physical base and is completely independent of any political faction and receives no income from any individual or organisation. People who contribute ideas or write for it do so as volunteers and receive no payment.
Swazi Media Commentary is published online – updated most days – bringing information, comment and analysis in support of democracy in the kingdom.