Last week I reported that the site had been blocked in Swaziland (although it is available everywhere else in the free world).
Nelisiwe Shongwe, Swazi Minister of Information, Communications and Technology, denied knowing anything about the censorship and said the website was probably just experiencing a ‘glitch’ or ‘malfunction’.
The truth is there is no ‘malfunction’, the site has been censored – and that can only be done with the government’s permission.
There is only one cable by which internet in Swaziland connects to the outside world. That is through the line that Swaziland Post and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC), which is responsible to the Swazi Government, owns, and that runs to South Africa. SPTC is controlled by the government, so the government is responsible.
Shongwe says she knew nothing about the blocking. As minster responsible she should have known. If she really did not know then she is an incompetent minister. If she did know but denies it, she is a liar. In any case once she was told the PUDEMO site was blocked, she should have immediately instructed its unblocking.
Shongwe and her friends in the Swaziland Government that controls most of the media in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, are now moving their tentacles onto the Internet. We shouldn’t be surprised by this as the warning signs have been showing for some time.
In August 2010, Shongwe told the senate that the government was looking at laws to control cyberspace.
In July 2010, King Mswati complained about ‘misleading’ information about Swaziland on the Internet.
Blocking freedom of speech is, of course, outlawed by the Swaziland Constitution. But they don’t care about that.