Reporters Without Borders
3 May 2011
Predators of Press Freedom: Swaziland - Mswati III
With an HIV/AIDS prevalence of about 40 per cent, a soaring poverty rate and no viable economy, foreign investors have thrown in the sponge. Swaziland is self-destructing and if there is single person to blame it is clearly King Mswati III. Lacking vision and management abilities, this absolute monarch abuses his royal powers. No rivals are tolerated. Political parties are banned, and what would good they be in a country that has never had democratic elections?
The state-owned media only carry reports that have been checked and approved by the information minister. Independent journalists find it extremely hard to get access to official information. Self-censorship is standard practice and criticising the king is inconceivable. The authorities often remind journalists how to behave, warning those who criticize the government that they could find themselves "accused of supporting terrorism and arrested."
The government forced two journalists, Mfomfo Nkambule of the Times of Swaziland (the only privately-owned newspaper) and Mario Masuku of the Times Sunday, to stop writing their columns in 2009. Several journalists were briefly detained in April 2011 while covering demonstrations calling for the king's removal.