The Times of Swaziland has censored a paid advert from a group of pro-democracy groups in the kingdom, because it contains mild criticisms of King Mswati III.
The advert drew attention to a recent rejection by the king of any dialogue with groups advocating democracy in the kingdom where he is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
At first, the Times claimed the advert was illegal, but later privately accepted this was not the case.
What was happening, of course, was self-censorship by the newspaper. As I reminded readers earlier this week, the Times has had a series of run-ins with King Mswati and he has threatened to close down the newspaper group if it criticises him.
The pro-democracy groups who signed the advert were the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organization, the Swaziland Democratic Front and Swaziland Positive Living (SWAPOL).
The advert runs for more than 800 words and there were significant changes made to four paragraphs. A reference to King Mswati acting in an ‘un-Swazi’ way was also cut.
The pro-democracy groups decided not to publish in the Times and will now try the Nation magazine, an independent monthly.
To see the original text of the advert and the changes demanded, click here or below.
Swaziland Advertisement Censorship