Believe it or not there are some people in Swaziland who believe that SBIS radio is independent and allows freedom of speech.
This is despite ample evidence to the contrary. SBIS (Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Service) is state controlled and as I once was famously quoted saying by the Swazi Observer, journalists who work at SBIS are ‘all propagandists’.
Confirmation that SBIS is under the thumb of government came today (9 October 2008) with the news in the Observer that Government Press Secretary Percy Simelane is to become the new director of SBIS. The present director, Stan Motsa, is to take up a post in the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Communications. The Times of Swaziland said the first Simelane knew about the move was when the Civil Service Commission told him yesterday.
Simelane, who is a controversial ‘spin doctor’ for the government, has spent much of his time telling lies on behalf of the powerful (sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true).
We can hardly expect him to change his tune once he takes up the reins at SBIS. So expect no change at SBIS.
Simelane wasn’t always popular with MPs Those with long memories will remember that in September 2007 he was roundly abused by Swaziland MPs in the House of Assembly who branded him a ‘herdboy’ and unqualified to comment on matters of government, when he tried to defend Swaziland’s poor record of governance.
Those whose memories fail them on this can read about it here.