The temperature in the dispute between traditional authorities in Swaziland and the official government has been raised by the Chairman of the King’s Advisory body Liqoqo who said a ‘coup d’état’ had taken place against the monarch.
Prince Logcogco said that state-controlled radio and television in Swaziland had refused to broadcast a press conference hosted by the ‘traditional’ Prime Minister Timothy Velabo Mtetwa.
During the conference Mtetwa lambasted the government for not obeying King Mswati III’s instructions on ending a five-week-long teachers strike in the kingdom. The king ordered all teachers to return to work and told the government to enter into discussions to settle the dispute. The teachers went back to work, but the government refused to reinstate teachers who had been sacked for striking, thereby seeming to defy the king.
In Swaziland, where King Mswati is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, the king’s word is law and nobody is allowed to disagree with him. Mtetwa said as much in his press conference.
Now, Prince Logcogco has told the Swazi News, one of the few media outlets in the kingdom not under government control, that SBIS radio and STVA television were ordered not to broadcast Mtetwa’s criticism of the government.
Mtetwa has the official title of Ludzidzini Acting Governor, but he is commonly known as the ‘traditional Prime Minister’. He is said to speak for the king and is considered to be more powerful than the nominal Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini.
Prince Logcogco told the Swazi News a ‘government official’ who he chose not to name ordered the radio and TV not to broadcast Mtetwa’s comments. He is reported saying, ‘They were merely ordered by a known person under some threat of harm. To me it is the culprit who must face trial for a case of treason. These institutions belong to the state. What was done is a coup. He must be punished. It will set a wrong example to let such an act go unpunished.’
He said that Mtetwa was conveying a message from the monarch at the press conference. ‘Consider further that SBIS and STVA are state institutions. If the blocking of the broadcasts is not a criminal act punishable as treason, then Swaziland has had a successful coup,’ the newspaper reported him saying.
Later, Chief Executive of the Swaziland Television Authority (STVA) Bongani ‘S’gcokosiyancinca’ Dlamini said all enquiries regarding the gagging of Mtetwa should be directed to the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology, which controls broadcasting in the kingdom.
WE MUST OBEY THE KING – SWAZI PM
‘THE SWAZILAND KING’S WORD IS LAW’