The King, in effect owns the group which is part of the Tibiyo Taka Ngwane that he controls ‘in trust for the nation’, but uses as a source of personal finance.
The six-member board includes two members of his family and one chief. In Swaziland, where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, chiefs owe their positions to the King’s patronage.
The Swazi Observer group has been called a ‘pure propaganda machine for the royal family’ by the Media Institute of Southern Africa in a report on the lack of press freedom in Swaziland.
The board of directors has been in place since 2013 and will sit until 31 October 2018.
In a report in the Swazi Observer on Thursday (26 November 2015) Chair of the Board Sthofeni Ginindza was reported saying, ‘Bayethe Wena Waphakathi. That’s all we can say as a board and thank the King for showing confidence in the board and ours is to continue with our mandate to ensure that our newspaper remains independent in its presentation of news.’
Despite Ginindza’s statement on ‘independence’, the Swazi Observer group has made no secret that it exists to support King Mswati and his so-called traditionalists.
On 1 March 2010, Musa Ndlangamandla, the then editor-in-chief of the Swazi Observer group, wrote in his own newspaper, ‘But our collective stand as a newspaper is that the integrity of Swaziland as a democratic State and His Majesty King Mswati III as the legitimate leader of the Swazi nation, must never be compromised in any way.’
On 8 January 2011, Alec Lushaba, then editor of the Weekend Observer and now editor of the Sunday Observer, wrote in his own newspaper, ‘We commit ourselves into respecting and observing the institution of the Monarchy by ensuring that all publications with regard to Their Majesties are factually, culturally and traditionally correct. The sensitivity of the institutions demands that all facts be checked or verified with the traditional structures and/or have been in direct consultation with Their Majesties.’
The full board of the Swazi Observer group is: Sthofeni Ginindza, Prince Mandla Roland Dlamini, Senator Princess Phumelele Dlamini, Chief of Ezulwini Mashampu Sifiso Khumalo, Dumsile Lavumisa Sigwane and Simanga Zibuse Simelane.