Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, who humiliated himself and the kingdom earlier this month by accepting a ‘humanitarian’ medal from a conman, is set to embarrass himself again on the international stage.
This time Dlamini thinks he is so powerful that he can censor a South African newspaper. He is annoyed because City Press from Johannesburg published an article in its edition on Sunday (17 October 2010) criticising the Swazi Government and its running of the economy.
The City Press reported that Dlamini and the Minister of Finance Majozi Sithole had travelled to Washington ‘cap in hand’ to request financial assistance from the World Bank. Dlamini was also annoyed that the newspaper published a comment from Mario Masuku, President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), an organisation banned in Swaziland.
Questioned in the Swaziland parliament yesterday, Dlamini said, ‘We will deal with this. We have prepared a statement and we will see to it that the newspaper will publish our response.’
I assume that when he says the newspaper ‘will publish our response’ he means the statement will appear as a paid advertisement; because that’s the only way he can ensure its publication (always assuming that the City Press decides to accept it).
There is no other way Dlamini can force the City Press to publish his statement. He must remember that it is only in Swaziland where he has control over the majority of the news media. He is editor-in-chief of the state-run radio, SBIS, and state-run TV, Swazi TV. The Swazi Observer and its companion the Weekend Observer are both in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, so are under Dlamini’s cosh.
But outside of the kingdom it’s a different matter. He has no power over the South African media and I look forward to the City Press telling him to take a running jump.
But the fact that Dlamini actually believes that he can control the foreign press demonstrates how out of touch with reality he is.
I look forward to hearing him explain to MPs why it was the City Press wouldn’t publish his statement.