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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

SWAZI NEWSPAPER WAS BOMB TARGET

Swazi police have unearthed a plot to bomb Swaziland’s Swazi Observer newspaper.


The newspaper which is in effect owned by King Mswati III, was the intended target of bombers, who when thwarted by security at the newspaper’s offices, attempted instead to blow up a bridge.


Two of the men were killed when the bomb exploded prematurely on 20 September near King Mswati's palace at Lozitha, outside Mbabane, the capital city.


According to the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Swazi police claim one of the survivors of the bomb blast, Amos Mdedzi, a South African from Limpopo, confessed before a magistrate that he and his friends were on a mission to bomb government structures, including the Observer newspaper offices in Mbabane.


According to police, the man said they failed to gain entry into the targeted areas because of tight security. They then consoled themselves by bombing the overhead bridge.


In a media release, MISA says the Observer was targeted because it was a pro-government media.


Observer chief executive Myzo Magagula was quoted in the local media as having expressed shock at the act, but said they were not aware that they were targeted for bombing.


MISA says bombings in Swaziland have become a common thing as progressive forces step up pressure to force the kingdom to democratise. Close to 10 bombing incidents have occurred in the past few months but there had been no loss of life until this latest incident.

Monday, 29 September 2008

NO FREEDOM OF MEDIA IN SWAZILAND

The Swaziland constitution that came into force in 2006 and ‘guarantees’ freedom of the media has had no real effect.


This is a major conclusion of my latest academic research article just published.


Before the constitution was passed there were more than 30 anti-media laws in existence in Swaziland and although the constitution should have made these obsolete, in effect, they remain in force.


These anti-media laws make the environment hostile for the media. The laws and the general cultural climate in Swaziland leads to lack of growth in the media industry, harassment and intimidation, strained relationships and mistrust between government and the media, weakened media organisations and lack of professionalism.


Certain cultural values continue to foster a climate of silence, in which those in authority are not questioned. These limit the freedom of the media to engage in important debates, for example about what may be done to tackle the kingdom’s high levels of poverty and HIV AIDS, spiralling corruption, poor economy and lack of international confidence.


Experiences to date suggest that the ruling elites in Swaziland have no interest in change. At present they control access to most of the media in Swaziland and can decide what does and what does not get talked about. This helps to a large extent to keep them in power and there is no reason to suppose that they will give up this power willingly anytime soon.


The research published in the latest edition of Global Media Journal (Africa edition) is available free of charge by following this link.


Sunday, 28 September 2008

SWAZI INTERNET CON-TRICK UPDATE

The post I wrote on Wednesday (24 September 2008) exposing the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) for misleading customers into thinking that a new Internet service it is set to provide was high speed broadband may have touched a few nerves.


The public relations people at SPTC went into hiding when the Times Sunday newspaper went in search of the truth.


This what the Times Sunday reported today (28 September 2008)


Broadband—at what speed?

By MANQOBA NXUMALO


MBABANE—Questions have been raised about the broadbrand service introduced by the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC).


Broadband Internet access, often shortened to just broadband, is high-speed internet access—typically contrasted with dial-up access over a modem. Most people welcomed news that finally SPTC would be providing broadband because it is virtually difficult to get an internet connection in Swaziland, especially during peak hours on week days.


The only objection so far came from the association of internet service providers.


Dial-up modems are generally only capable of a maximum bitrate of 56 kbit/s (kilobits per second) and require the full use of a telephone line—whereas broadband technologies supply at least double this speed and generally without disrupting telephone use.


SPTC Corporate Affairs Manager Lindiwe Dlamini was this week quoted saying broadband will bring world markets to the homes of Swazis and that this new infrastructure has an economic spin-off for both small and big business.


She said it would also assist in government’s decentralisation process as it will provide more connectivity to rural areas and enable them to perform work that’s being done in offices in Mbabane, for instance.


However, this newspaper’s investigations have found that a speed of 128kbps is not a ‘broadband’ connection. In fact it is just a little bit faster than what we already have. In Swaziland top speeds on the Internet is about 30kbits, and our reliable source said this new speed is an improvement but it won’t deliver SPTC’s claim.


"Nowhere in the world would 128kbits be described as ‘broadband’," continued the source.


In the United Kingdom, departed UNISWA lecture Professor Rooney noted, companies that claimed an internet connection of 200 kbits (vastly more than SPTC offers) was ‘broadband’ were discredited. Even then, five years ago, ‘broadband’ was generally considered to start at 500kbits.


"Today, a typical broadband connection in the UK would be in the region of at least 2 000kbps (or 2mb). In some areas of the country it is possible to get connection speeds of 8,000kps (8mb). These figures make SPTC’s claim of 128kbps look ridiculous," said Prof. Rooney.


SPTC’s Lindiwe Dlamini was called for comment but this newspaper was told she was locked in a meeting on Friday. A lady who identified herself as Hleliwe said she would call back this reporter when Dlamini, but by the time of compiling this report, she still had not returned the call.



Link

http://www.times.co.sz/News/1760.html

See also

SWAZILAND’S INTERNET CON-TRICK


Saturday, 27 September 2008

SWAZI CORRUPTION FIGHT STALLS

Swaziland’s only independent newspaper the Times of Swaziland has hit out at the lack of government will in tackling corruption.


In a hard-hitting editorial comment published yesterday (26 September 2008) the Times accuses successive prime ministers in Swaziland of never intending to prosecute people for corruption. It is estimated that the government loses E40 million (nearly 6 million US dollars) each month to corruption in Swaziland.


The comment comes after the paper discovered that the re-launched Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been hampered in its investigations by uncooperative government departments. Some ACC investigators have been threatened with assault while carrying out their duties.


The lack of transport and hostility from suspects add to the problem the ACC faces tackling corruption.


Commissioner Michael Mtegha has admitted to the Times (26 September 2008) that he and his team are not moving at the pace they would prefer.


The present ACC was established by the Prevention of Corruption Act 2006. It employs about 30 people who started working in April 2008.


Mtegha told the Times it could not find adequately trained staff to mount investigations.


He said the ACC Investigations Department did not get support from government offices during investigations ‘and in some instances outright hostility and threats of bodily injury from suspects’.


The Times said that the ACC believed ordinary people needed to be educated about what corruption was and have set up a public education section to help in this.


‘The rural community perceives corruption from different dimensions,’ the Times reported Mtegha saying.


‘For example, if they lose a case in our courts, especially traditional courts, they immediately think that the court was corrupt and report such cases to the Anti-Corruption Commission. They are unable to discern what corruption is in the Prevention of Corruption Act.’


At present 23 cases of corruption are being investigated by the ACC.


In its editorial the Times says, that there were ‘outrageous transactions’ for King Mswati III’s recent birthday party the ACC should be at its busiest.


The paper said, ‘Swazis have been quiet for too long and to such a level that government thinks we are fools. We long dismissed the ACC as a farce but we were promised otherwise.


‘There is nobody in office today to answer for this as acting prime minister is globetrotting with the king, but whoever is to assume the role of Prime Minister should expect no holiday on questions regarding the (non) operations of ACC. There is no looking to the new MPs to help get this unit fully operational because if it were able to do its job from the beginning, some of them would not be legislators as we speak.’