World opinion continues to turn against King Mswati III’s regime.
The latest organisation to condemn the lack of press freedom in Swaziland is the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) which yesterday (26 July 2010) attacked Prince Mahlaba, the brother of King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, for threatening with death journalists who reported critically about Swaziland’s ruling elite.
CPJ has rallied behind the media in Swaziland, most of which is either state-controlled or in effect owned by King Mswati.
CPJ reported Mbongeni Mbingo, managing editor of the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, saying the threats were ‘dangerous’ and could not be taken lightly since the prince was a member of a highly influential royal advisory council, Liqoqo (also known as the Swaziland National Council – SNC).
Comfort Mabuza, the National Director of the Swaziland chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa condemned the threats and feared they could incite the public against the journalists. ‘We are in big trouble because his view may be representing that of SNC, which advises the king,’ Mabuza told CPJ. ‘The council is yet to call him to order and we are really concerned about their continued silence.’
CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita said, ‘The government of Swaziland must immediately reject the death threats against journalists by a leading member of the ruling family,” said. “We call on the government to issue a clear and unequivocal statement condemning this murderous outburst and ensuring the international community that Swaziland is committed to the protection of all journalists.’
Prince Mahlaba had told a meeting of the Smart Partnership, ‘I want to warn the media to bury things that have the potential of undermining the country rather than publish all and everything even when such reports are harmful to the country's international image. Journalists who continue to write bad things about the country will die.’
· CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom around the world.