There must be a lot of people in Swaziland baffled about what’s happened to Lutfo Dlamini.
And the Swazi media are mainly to blame for this.
As readers to this blog know, Lutfo Dlamini, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Phesheya Dlamini, Swazi Ambassador to Kuwait, were picked up on Thursday (13 January 2011) by senior police officers and taken to see Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister.
Both Lutfo Dlamini and Phesheya Dlamini were sacked from their jobs. Both are heavily involved in a corruption scandal centred on missing money that the Kuwaiti Royal Family sent to King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
But the Swazi media refuse to tell the Swazi people this. Instead the media either say nothing, or like the two newspaper groups in the kingdom, claim to their readers that there is some mystery to the meeting.
The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned and edited by King Mswati, even reported ‘Staff at Lutfo’s ministry was left bemused by the “invasion” of the police and wondered what the minister had done to be “visited” by senior police officers who looked mean.’
The Weekend Observer today (15 January 2011), plays a dirty trick on its readers. It knows full well why the Dlamini twins were called to Thursday’s meeting, but it claimed in a report that Phesheya Dlamini might have been called to see Barnabas Dlamini, because the PM holds a grudge against Phesheya because, in 2003, while Swaziland’s Attorney General, he sent an SMS text message to Barnabas Dlamini telling him that the king had sacked him from the premiership. The Observer suggests that Barnabas has been biding his time all these years to get back at Phesheya.
There was no need for all this media deceit, because three days previous to the police visit; it had been revealed across the globe that Lutfo Dlamini and Phesheya Dlamini, were implicated in the Kuwaiti corruption.
Of course the Observer won’t tell the Swazi people any of this. We know, because Alec Lushaba, editor of the Weekend Observer told us last week, that the Observer newspapers won’t report anything about the Swazi Royal Family without the King’s permission. Permission in this case was clearly denied.
If we accept that the Observer is simply a propaganda rag for King Mswati, why did it bother to report the meeting at all? By turning the events of this week into a mystery it not only deceives its readers, but it shows utter contempt for them.
The Observer hit new depths (even by its own low standards) and managed to turn the political crisis into a fashion show. Instead of levelling with the Swazi people about what was going on, it chose to publish 380 words on how the participants arrived at the meeting and what they were wearing.
I do not lie to you.
So, we learnt that ‘top lawyer’ Musa Dlamini arrived ‘clad in a navy blue suit blended with a white shirt. The blazer was on his left hand while the other hand was in his pocket’.
Ambassador Phesheya Dlamini ‘was in traditional attire’.
Minister of Justice David Matse, ‘looked conservative in a green suit’.
The star of the show Lutfo Dlamini was in ‘white attire (trouser and shirt) with brown shoes’.
The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, didn’t do much better. It too mistook the crisis for a fashion show, but decided to feature fewer models in its catwalk commentary.