Swaziland senators are so worried that the truth about the Swazi Royal Family is getting out to the wider world they want to censor the Internet.
And top of their list of victims is Facebook, the social networking site.
Swaziland’s Minister of Information, Communication and Technology, Nelisiwe Shongwe told the senate that the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is looking at laws to control cyberspace.
Shongwe was reacting to complaints that Swazi reporters were leaking information to the South Africa media that was censored in Swaziland.
Although they didn’t say so out loud, they were referring to the recent sex scandal involving the 12th wife of King Mswati, 22-year-old Nothando Dube, (also known as Inkhosikati LaDube) and Ndumiso Mamba, the (now former) Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister.
Media in Swaziland have been banned from reporting this, but South African newspapers and Internet sites all over the world have published news and comment on their alleged adultery.
One senator, Ndileka Dlamini, rather sinisterly called on the Swazi Government to ‘deal’ with any local reporter found to be leaking ‘sensitive news’.
She called for a sense of ‘patriotism’ from journalists.
‘They must learn to respect the country and know that what they are doing is wrong. They must know that action will be taken against them for doing such,’ the Times of Swaziland quoted Dlamini saying during a senate debate.
Senator Khephu Cindzi shared similar sentiments and asked the minister if social networking sites could be regulated to protect the country’s image.
There must be control on things like Facebook because it is being abused. They discuss sensitive issues anyhow, he said.
In response Shongwe said the senators’ concerns were justified. ‘It is true that sometimes the content is not good to be publicised and, besides, children use these sites. As part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) we are looking at cyber laws to protect ourselves from such things,’ she said.
I flatter myself that I am one of the culprits complained of. So in the spirit of freedom of the media I invite any Swaziland senator to defend their position on the Swazi Media Commentary Facebook site. Senators just click here.