The following is a statement from the Swaziland Solidarity Network concerning the announcement from Swaziland’s state radio that it will only broadcast announcements about forthcoming meetings if they have police approval.
STATE BROADCASTER GAGS UNIONS:
23 June, 2010
The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) recently fell victim to the Swazi government’s latest attack on press freedom. The Times of Swaziland newspaper reports that the state owned radio station, the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Service (SBIS), recently refused to announce a statement issued by SNAT for a forth coming teachers’ meeting because it had not been approved by police.
Senior personnel at the radio station allege that they always required big organisations have their announcements to be accompanied by police approval, despite the fact that this requirement has never been enforced ever since the radio station was established. The reason given for this sudden twist in policy, according to the radio station’s management, is to ensure that it does not announce meetings that have not been approved by the police.
This requirement has never been formally communicated to the relevant organisations and smacks of government’s continued suppression of all entities linked in any way with pro-democracy movements in the country. Due to the fact that this new requirement does not formally exist on paper, it is unclear, for example whether it affects other “big organisations” such as churches and soccer clubs who do call mass meetings from time to time. As yet, however, none of these organisations have reported having been asked to provide proof that their meetings have been sanctioned by police before being announced.
The Swaziland Solidarity Network wishes to advise the Swazi government that unions must always be free to publicise their meetings without undue requirements needed. We call upon all unions and governments in the Southern African region to help the Swazi government understand that this type of thing is not done in a normal society.
Issued by the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]