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Thursday, 5 May 2016

ONE IN THREE USE INTERNET FOR NEWS


Nearly one in three people surveyed in Swaziland said they got their news from the Internet at least ‘a few times a week’.

One in three also said they used social media for news during the same period.

The figures were released on Tuesday (3 May 2016) by Afrobarometer as part of a World Press Freedom Day report.

Afrobarometer surveyed 36 countries across Africa.

It reported that 32 percent of those surveyed in Swaziland said they used the Internet for news, ‘a few times a week’ or ‘every day’.

It also reported that 33 percent of those surveyed in Swaziland got their news from ‘social media such as Facebook and Twitter’ a few times a week or every day.

Swaziland’s mainstream media are heavily censored. All radio, except one Christian station, is directly controlled by the Swazi Government. One of the kingdom’s two television stations is also under government control.

King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Sahara Africa’s last absolute monarch. He in effect owns the Swazi Observer which is one of only two daily newspapers in the kingdom. He also in effect owns two of the four newspapers that publish at weekends.

Critics of King Mswati’s government have taken to social media in recent years as part of their campaign for multi-party democracy in the kingdom.

Afrobarometer, commenting on the trend for social media use across Africa, reported, ‘Distinct demographic patterns are evident in media use by different groups. In general men, urbanites, youth and the better educated obtain news from all sources more than women, rural dwellers, older people, and the less educated.’

Afrobarometer is a research network that conducts public attitude surveys across Africa on democracy, governance, economic conditions and related matters.

In 2014, a report jointly published by the Media Institute of Southern Africa and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) found young people in Swaziland were turning to social media sites such as Facebook because it allowed them to enjoy ‘the fundamental rights to freedom of expression’ that was denied to them elsewhere in the kingdom.

They also bypassed mainstream media such as television, radio and newspapers in favour of social media. The report called Youth Usage of Social media in Swaziland concluded, ‘The young people have welcomed the emergence of the social media because, among others, it affords them an opportunity not only to inter-act but also enjoy the fundamental right to freedom of expression provided in Section 24 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland adopted in 2005. 

The report added, ‘They can now easily and freely bypass the severely censored mainstream media to access, produce, distribute and exchange information and ideas.

More importantly, the social media has afforded the young people an opportunity to speak in their own voices, not mediated by the mainstream media.

See also

INCREASE IN SUPPORT FOR FREE PRESS
FACEBOOK BYPASSES CENSORED MEDIA
SOCIAL MEDIA FIRST WITH THE NEWS
SOCIAL MEDIA SITES PROMOTE FREEDOM

INCREASE IN SUPPORT FOR FREE PRESS

Nearly six in ten people surveyed in Swaziland said they supported the need for freedom of the media.

The number supporting freedom had increased by 6 percent since 2013.

The figures were contained in a report from Afrobarometer released on Tuesday (3 May 2016) to coincide with World Press Freedom Day.

People were asked whether the media should have the right to publish any views and ideas without government control. A total of 57 percent of people of people asked agreed or very strongly agreed with the statement. This placed Swaziland 13th out of 36 African countries surveyed.

Media in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is heavily censored. The Swazi Government controls the main television channel and all radio that broadcasts news and information. One of the kingdom’s two daily newspapers is in effect owned by the King.

A separate report from Freedom House, also released on World Freedom Day, concluded that media in Swaziland are ‘not free’.

Afrobarometer, which produces reports by social scientists working together across Africa, concluded that support for free media in Swaziland had increased by 6 percent since it last surveyed opinion in 2011 – 2013.

The report suggested that 64 percent of Swazis interviewed believed the media should continually investigate and report on government mistakes and corruption. This placed Swaziland 27th out of the 36 African countries surveyed.

In its report, Afrobarometer said, ‘Investigating government mistakes and corruption is seen as a critical role for the media.’ It asked people in Swaziland how effective were the news media in the kingdom in revealing government mistakes and corruption. A total of 55 percent of people questioned said it was ‘somewhat / very effective’. 

A further 34 percent said it was ’not at all / not very effective’. A total of 11 percent responded, ‘don’t know’. This placed Swaziland 22nd out of 36 African countries for ‘media effectiveness’.

Afrobarometer suggested that changes in the ‘perceptions of media effectiveness’ had improved in Swaziland since the last survey in 2011 – 2013. It reported there had been a 6 percent increase in perception.

When asked whether news media abused its freedom ‘by saying things it knows are not true’, 33 percent of people surveyed in Swaziland said ‘often or always’. This placed Swaziland 16th out of 36 African countries.

Afrobarometer reported that 4 percent more people surveyed in Swaziland thought the media abused its freedom compared to the survey undertaken in 2011 – 2013.

See also

CALL TO END SWAZI MEDIA CENSORSHIP
GOVT HAS TOTAL CONTROL OF TV NEWS
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2015/06/govt-has-total-control-of-tv-news.html

Thursday, 14 April 2016

STUDENT CAMPAIGN AFTER POLICE ATTACK

Students in Swaziland have launched a campaign in support of Ayanda Mkhabela, who was crippled when police drove at her in an armoured vehicle during a university protest.

Doctors have said Mkhabela, aged 23, would never walk again.

Launching the campaign, the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) said it wanted to ensure Mkhabela and her family were compensated for all injuries and losses incurred as a result of the incident.

Mkhabela was one of many students attacked by police at the University of Swaziland Kwaluseni campus on 22 February 2016.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom reported at the time, ‘a Royal Swaziland Police (RSP) Operational Services Unit (OSSU) casspir drove at high speed into a group of about 2,000 students, who, when they realised that the vehicle was not stopping, ran in all directions’. 

Students from different institutions were present at the launch at the Kwaluseni campus of the University of Swaziland, along with prominent trade union members and political figures.

Swazi Police say they are investigating the circumstances of the incident, but students have called for an independent inquiry.

See also 

POLICE ATTACK VICTIM ‘WILL NOT WALK’
STUDENTS UNDER SIEGE BY ARMED POLICE
POLICE FLEE ROOMS AS POLICE ATTACK
BOYCOTTING STUDENTS CLOSE UNIVERSITY

Monday, 11 April 2016

KING ‘STEALS FROM CHILDREN’ TO BUY JET

The best-known of the prodemocracy groups in Swaziland has accused King Mswati III of stealing from children so he could have his own personal jet aircraft.

The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) said the move to buy a A430-300 Airbus for E200,000 (US$13.2 million) was ‘corrupt’ and ‘insensitive’ at a time when about one in four of Swaziland’s 1.3 million population was in extreme danger of hunger because of the prolonged drought in the southern Africa region.

PUDEMO, which is banned in Swaziland where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, said that the US$13.2 million could have been better spent.

In a statement it said, ‘Our view is that it is corrupt, insensitive and arrogance to buy a jet when there is the crisis of drought. There are families who can’t take their children to school. There are university students who cannot afford education. There are farmers who lost everything during the drought. There is 43 percent unemployment. 

‘That money used to buy the jet can pay for 2,500 students to finish their degrees at the university from 1st year to 4th year. The same amount can pay for 42,500 children to start form one up to form five in public schools. So the king decided to steal from 45,000 children to live a luxury life.’

PUDEMO also estimated the money spent on the jet could alternatively, ‘recapitalise farmers with 20,000 new cattle and feed; or build a new fully furnished hospital; or build 40 fully-equipped clinics; or build 35 new fully-furnished schools; or build 10 tar roads in rural areas each 20km.’

The announcement that the money for the King’s jet would be paid from public funds came as Swaziland asked for international aid to help provide US$16 million in drought relief before the end of April 2016.

King Mswati lives a lavish lifestyle. He already owns a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 jet aircraft that cost about US$11 million in 2010, but he considers it too small. The King also has 13 palaces and fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars.
Meanwhile, seven in ten of his subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than USS$2 per day.

KING BUYS JET, UN FUNDS DROUGHT RELIEF

Friday, 8 April 2016

KING BUYS JET, UN FUNDS DROUGHT RELIEF

Just as the Swaziland Government announced it would spend E200 million (US$13.2 million) of public funds on a private jet aircraft for King Mswati III, the United Nations has released US$3.14 million funding to support 95,000 Swazis hardest hit by the current drought.

In February 2016 when it declared a national emergency the Swazi Government said it did not have sufficient money to purchase food and other provisions for the estimated 300,000 people in danger of severe malnutrition. It appealed to the international community for help.

The Government estimated it would need US$16 million in aid before the end of April 2016.

The United Nations said the funding would enable the World Food Programme and UNICEF to provide food and emergency water and sanitation to the 95,000 most vulnerable people.

The European Union in collaboration with the Finnish Red Cross has already said it would donate the equivalent of US$650,000 to assist more than 21,000 people from 4,200 households with food supplies.

King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolution has an international reputation for his lavish lifestyle. He already owns a jet aircraft, but he considers it too small, so he will now get to an A340-300 Airbus built in 2001. It will be purchased from China Airlines in Taiwan.

The King who rules over a population of 1.3 million subjects also has 13 palaces and fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars.

Meanwhile, seven in ten of his subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than USS$2 per day.

See also

SWAZI MPs ABOUT-TURN ON KING’S JET
MONEY FOR KING’S JET, BUT NOT DROUGHT
$12m SPEND ON ROYAL DECOR AT AIRPORT
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2016/03/12m-spend-on-royal-decor-at-airport.html

POLICE ATTACK VICTIM WILL NOT WALK

The Swazi university student who was crushed under an armoured troop carrier when police drove at speed at protesting students was so badly injured she will not walk again.

Ayanda Mkhabela, aged 23, was one of many students attacked by police at the University of Swaziland Kwaluseni campus on 22 February 2016.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported doctors in Port Elizabeth Hospital, South Africa, said she will never walk again.

The police attack happened as students were protesting about delays in registration.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom reported at the time, ‘a Royal Swaziland Police (RSP) Operational Services Unit (OSSU) casspir drove at high speed into a group of about 2,000 students, who, when they realised that the vehicle was not stopping, ran in all directions. 

The Swazi Observer, reported, “The official police version of events was to the effect that Mkhabela tried to climb on the body of the casspir and fell, thus injuring herself.

‘This was said by Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba yesterday afternoon.

‘He denied that the casspir could have been used as a weapon by the police and when he was asked if the officers were qualified to rush a person to the hospital instead of waiting for paramedics considering that Mkhabela had spinal injuries, Mamba said they were trained in first aid and acted due to the emergency of the situation.’

The Swaziland National Union of Students (NSUS), in a statement posted on Facebook, said newspapers had distorted the truth to make the incident look like an accident. 

SNUS said, ‘Truth of the matter is approximately 1,000 protesting students at Kwaluseni UNISWA were targeted by the police casspir which sped to disperse them and as their desire hit our very own desperate Ayanda Mkhabela. Upon knocking her down, as expected the casspir switched off lights and she was taken away, fortunately to hospital.’

See also

STUDENTS UNDER SIEGE BY ARMED POLICE
POLICE FLEE ROOMS AS POLICE ATTACK
BOYCOTTING STUDENTS CLOSE UNIVERSITY
POLICE SHOOT TWO STUDENTS IN HEAD
ARMED POLICE STOP STUDENTS PROTEST
SWAZILAND STUDENT UNREST SPREADS
STUDENTS UNDER FIRE FROM POLICE
SWAZI STUDENTS BEATEN TO PULP
SWAZILAND POLICE ‘SHOOT STUDENTS’
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2010/01/swazi-land-police-shoot-students.html

Thursday, 7 April 2016

SWAZI MPs ABOUT-TURN ON KING’S JET

Swaziland parliamentarians have made an abrupt about-turn over the purchase of a private jet for the kingdom’s autocratic monarch, King Mswati III.
 
They had decided to reject part of the kingdom’s annual budget that would have approved E96 million to be spent on a private jet for the King.

But days later they overturned that decision and have agreed to pay E200 million (US$13.2 million) – more than twice the original amount budgeted for – to China Airlines in Taiwan for an Airbus A340-300, built in 2001.

Unconfirmed reports circulating on the Internet said that King Mswati had refused to sign-off Swaziland’s budget announced in February 2016 unless he got his jet.

On Tuesday (5 April 2016), the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported that the E96 million allocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the jet had been cancelled by the Ministry of Finance.

There had been complaints both inside and outside Swaziland that the money could be put to better use. About 300,000 people in Swaziland are presently at risk of severe hunger as a result of drought.

The Observer reported the Ministry of Finance had ‘listened and cancelled the allocation and the money taken to the Consolidated Funds’. This would allow it to be spent on other things.

Two days later on Thursday (7 April 2016), the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported that ‘following a three-hour long caucus by both Members of Parliament (MPs) and senators in the Parliament canteen, the latter agreed that the E96m, which had been frozen by MPs, be released to pay a deposit to China Airlines, based in the Republic of China on Taiwan.’

The Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, who was not elected to office but appointed directly by King Mswati, later presented a statement. The Times reported, ‘[T]he PM said following a Parliament resolution that government find a solution to ensure that Their Majesties are secured a mode of travel, they had sent a ministerial subcommittee headed by Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, to look at the various options available.’

The newspaper reported, ‘The balance for the Airbus A340-300, which has been identified, will be paid up in the 2017-2018 government financial year. 

‘The PM said the jet to be used by Their Majesties for international trips was a long range and, therefore, it did not have to make fuelling stops every now and then.’

King Mswati already has a private jet that has been the subject of a legal dispute in both Canada and the British Virgin Islands.

Reporting on the about-turn by MPs, the Times said, ‘The MPs approved the motion and said they had not released the money because government had failed to bring feedback on the King’s jet and instead had just made an unexplained E96 million under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs budget allocation for the 2016/2017 financial year.’

See also

MPs BLOCK SWAZI KING’S NEW JET

LATEST ON SWAZI FREEDOM STRUGGLE

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland, has once again been at the centre of events in his kingdom. His refusal to recognise there was a drought crisis and hundreds of thousands of his subjects were at risk of hunger set back relief efforts by many months.

The King’s vast wealth was in the spotlight when it was reported he could make US$65 million with the reopening of a gold mine in his kingdom. The King supposedly holds mineral royalties ‘in trust for the nation’ but in fact he uses such monies to finance his personal lavish lifestyle that includes 13 palaces, fleets of Mercedes and BW cars and a private jet.
Elsewhere it was reported that new rules if they come into force would censor what could be taught at the University of Swaziland, where King Mswati is Chancellor. The university was told it should not ‘teach things which could be detrimental to the wellbeing and image of the country’.
King Mswati III’s absolute monarchy in Swaziland ‘ultimately is incompatible with a society based on the rule of law’, a report into the kingdom’s judicial crisis and published by the International Commission of Jurists concluded.
These are some of the stories from the past three months that have been reported by Swazi Media Commentary. A new compilation called Swaziland Striving for Freedom, vol 21, January to March 2016 is available free of charge on the Scribd website.
This compilation brings together posts that originally appeared on its website.
Swazi Media Commentary website 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 regularly.
See also
SWAZI KING IN WORLD’S SPOTLIGHT


MPs BLOCK SWAZI KING’S NEW JET

Members of the Swaziland Parliament have blocked a move to pay E96 million (about US$6.4 million at the present ever-fluctuating exchange rate) for a jet plane for the kingdom’s autocratic monarch King Mswati III.
 
The money had been allocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the kingdom’s annual budget announced in February 2016.

In February 2016 the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported the E96 million was set aside for a jet for the King after members of the parliament, many of them appointed by the King, urged the Swazi Government to consider buying the King a plane to replace the DC-9 jet (also known as an MD-87) which he already has. It has been the subject of legal disputes in both Canada and the British Virgin Islands. 

Once news of the intended spending was made public outside of Swaziland the King came in for heavy criticism. Swaziland is in the grip of a drought crisis and in February the Swazi Government declared a national emergency and said the kingdom would need E248 million (US$16 million) before the end of April 2016.

The King has a reputation for lavish spending. He already owns a private jet aircraft and fleets of Mercedes and BMW cars. He also has 13 palaces in his kingdom where seven in ten of his 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.

It is reported that about 300,000 (one in four of the King’s subjects) need drought relief with rural people in danger of severe malnutrition.

The Star Africa news site reported that Swazi legislators felt the allocation of money for the jet, ‘is a waste of resources as there are other options that can cost far less.’

See also

SWAZI KING’S DROUGHT BLUNDER
MONEY FOR KING’S JET, BUT NOT DROUGHT
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2016/03/money-for-kings-jet-but-not-drought.html