The editor of Swaziland’s only independent comment magazine is before the High Court because he published an article that ‘questioned the wisdom’ of King Mswati III.
This was revealed by the Swazi Attorney-General Majahenkhaba Dlamini on day two of the trial for contempt of court of Bheki Makhubu, editor of the Nation magazine.
Dlamini told the court yesterday (7 February 2012) that articles published in November 2009 and February 2010 impeached the wisdom of the King in his choices in appointing judges and the Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi.
‘The ordinary reader could not help but insinuate that there was an impeachment of the King’s wisdom in his appointment of the judge concerned,’ local media report Dlamini saying.
King Mswati is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and freedom of speech in his kingdom is generally curtailed. All news broadcast on radio and television is state-controlled and one of the two groups producing daily and weekend newspapers in the kingdom is in effect owned by the King.
Makhubu’s monthly magazine, the Nation, is the only source of journalism within Swaziland that consistently advocates for freedom in Swaziland and against the regime dominated by King Mswati.
In the High Court, Attorney-General Dlamini said Makhubu’s articles ridiculed the Chief Justice in his capacity as judge. He alleged that this amounted to personal abuse and was therefore a contempt of court.
‘There is freedom of expression [in Swaziland] but we’re saying there are limitations,’ Dlamini told the court.
Judgment was reserved for 29 February 2012.
EDITOR CONTEMPT OF COURT CHARGE