The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) has accused the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, of following a pro government agenda.
The Times published an editorial comment today (18 March 2011), ahead of the mass demonstration in Swaziland to call for the government to resign, asking the police and security forces to refrain from violence. It warned Swazi workers not to let outside groups it called ‘enemies of our country’ to hijack the protest.
In a statement, SSN says, ‘In response to an editorial comment by the Times of Swaziland, we would like to highlight a few facts:
1. The government of Swaziland is opposed to today's mass protests. Not only have they stated this publicly but they have sent their armed forces to harass known activist and unionists.
‘It is therefore lunacy to imagine that these armed guards will smile & silently allow an illegal march to occur.
‘We are left wondering how an unarmed population would even dream of provoking armed forces.
‘2. Ever since the very first North African uprising, the newspaper has blatantly blacked out all news, articles and letters relating these to the situation in the country. On the contrary, it willingly distorted information about Swaziland's April 12 Uprising movement.
‘This movement at no time claimed to own or even be behind today's protests. It is stupidity to warn workers not to allow their protests to be "hijacked" by the movement because the same people who are organizing the uprising are worker and students themselves.
‘You cannot separate the two. This is not what you can say of some unaffected faceless Tinkhundla apologists sitting in air conditioned offices and intellectually masturbating about an issue that they have not even given themselves the time to investigate.
‘3. It is telling that while international newspapers have gone out of their way to question the members of this uprising, the newspaper directly at the place of action has never done this. Why?
‘4. When all is said and done Swazis are sick and tired of this failed Tinkhundla government and its wasteful king. No amount of mediocre tabloid attempts to distort the truth about the united goal of Swazis to dump the current regime into the dustbin of history will work
‘There are no bystanders or objective observers in this national assignment. The suggestion that such a thing exists can only come from those who have a conservative agenda.
‘As a result of this foolishness by the newspaper, we urge protesters to burn copies of it today in public.’
‘TIMES’ CALLS FOR POLICE RESTRAINT