There has been a lot of talk in Swaziland recently about the need for the government to set up a public relations (i.e. propaganda) unit to counter the ‘bad press’ the kingdom is getting in the international media.
By ‘bad press’ supporters of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, mean information about the lack of democracy and human rights in the kingdom.
In fact there is no ‘bad press’ worth talking about in the mainstream / commercial media.
As research I did previously showed, the news media outside of Swaziland are not much interested in what is going on in, what to them, is an irrelevant little country somewhere in Africa. (Click here and here to see the research).
That research was conducted in 2007 and nothing much has changed since. Swaziland does make the news when something the media sees as ‘exotic’ happens – the Reed Dance, where tens of thousands of ‘maidens’ dance bare-chested in front of the king, is an example.
What has changed in the past couple of years has been the growth of sites on the Internet exposing the lack of human rights in Swaziland (you’re reading one now). Among such sites are the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) forum; SSN on Facebook; SSN on wikispaces; the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) (where supporters have set up a party site, a wikispaces site, a news site; and a Free Mario Masuku site); the Swaziland National Union of Students; Mfomfo Nkhambule’s blog; S1ka; and the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations.
Apologies to anyone I’ve accidentally missed out.
The people who supply information to the world on these sites are spreading the message and not the mainstream media.
The Swazi Government can set up as many ‘public relations’ units as it likes, but it will make no difference. We know the truth and we shall go on telling it.