The Times Sunday newspaper is under attack again for its reporting of the April 12 Uprising group – this time from the researcher it quoted saying that trying to unseat the Swazi monarchy could be misguided because the king was popular with the masses.
Judy Smith-Hohn said she was misrepresented by the Times Sunday and she is demanding a correction from the newspaper.
The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) publicly criticised Smith-Hohn in a statement yesterday (28 March 2011) that received international attention.
Now, Smith-Hohn has contacted SSN to say she was misrepresented and in fact she supports the SSN view.
In an email to SSN, Smith-Hohn says, ‘The efforts by organisations such as yours towards advancing the democratic agenda in Swaziland are truly commendable, and I regret that the statements attributed to me in the newspaper (without my knowledge or permission) were taken out of context to portray a view that contradicts the message that was conveyed during the course of the interview.’
The Times Sunday had not interviewed Smith-Hohn, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, but had quoted remarks she made to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
In her email to SSN, Smith-Hohn said, ‘The view that I sought to express is that pro-democracy actors in Swaziland do indeed face a number of unique challenges as they strive towards a more democratic and representative political system:
‘1) Royalists have created a so-called constitutional monarchy that in effect gives absolute power to an unelected king who remains staunchly opposed to positive change despite mounting calls for multiparty democracy.
‘2) While Swaziland has attracted increasing criticism from regional bodies, the repressive tendencies of the regime have not attracted as much attention as in the case of Zimbabwe, for example.
‘3) Parliament cannot set national policy nor can it write legislation. This remains the privilege of the king, who appoints cabinet ministers that implement policy, effectively reducing parliament to a rubber stamp institution.
4) Despite a deteriorating economy, corruption remains a problem and the ruling elite continues to spend lavishly – not only costing the government heavily, but also exacerbating socioeconomic decline.
She added, ‘I have sent a letter clarifying my position to the editors at the Sunday Times of Swaziland, requesting that this be posted on their website.’
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