The latest call for the Swazi Government to ‘monitor’ (ie censor) the Internet came from Senator Vuka Moi Moi Masilela.
Masilela, described by the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, as ‘a known traditionalist’ believes Facebook poses a threat to the king and his kingdom.
According to the Times, Masilela said Facebook had ‘created fear among the Swazi people who have read what is written there, especially about the king’.
The senator said Facebook had a lot of influence as witnessed by the uprisings in North Africa where the social networking site has been used to ‘incite’ people.
‘Even royals are ridiculed in this Facebook. However, this isn’t defended. In the uprisings seen in the North, Facebook has been used to incite people, but we’re quiet about it in the country,’Masilela said.
The senator called upon the prime minister’s office to monitor Facebook and counter whatever negative information on Swaziland is posted.
‘This issue of Facebook is very serious. The government press secretary’s office should have someone always monitoring this site,’ Masilela said.
‘This Facebook is dangerous. We need to monitor and correct the things written there,’ he added.
What really worries Masilela and his kind is that he cannot censor what is written on Facebook. Over the past months there has been an increased activity on Facebook with a number of sites carrying information and comment critical of King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, and the government he hand picks. They are also very much in favour of bringing democracy to Swaziland.
In contrast, the mainstream media in Swaziland is still fearful of the king’s iron fist – witness the self-censorship in the Times Sunday this week, when it ran a number of reports about Friday’s mass protest that had appeared in the international press, but cut out the many critical references they made to the king.
For those who are new to Facebook here are links to some of the most interesting (in no particular order) about Swaziland.
APRIL 12 UPRISING FACEBOOK
UMGOSI ESWATINI Right staff – the return
Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS)
Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC)
Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN)
Swazi Media Commentary
(Apologies to those I’ve accidentally missed out).