A row is brewing between media houses in Swaziland and the Swazi Observer newspaper group, which is in effect owned by King Mswati III. Last Friday (11 January 2013), Observer managing director Alpheous Nxumalo wrote in his own newspaper accusing Swazi media of undermining traditional authorities in Swaziland and by extension the king himself.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa, Swaziland chapter, has already issued a statement demanding that Nxumalo gives evidence to back his accusations.
Now it has written to S'thofeni Ginindza, Chairman of the Observer Group of Newspapers (below) demanding a written letter with answers from Nxumalo or failing that 'we demand an apology within 14 days'.
14th January 2013
Mr. S'thofeni Ginindza
Observer Group of Newspapers
P.P. Box A
RE: MANAGING DIRECTOR'S COLUMN ARTICLE - I SUBMIT
As a media freedom watchdog organisation, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Swaziland Chapter registers its grave concerns at the following serious allegations made by Mr. Alpheous Nxumalo, as Managing Director of Swazi Observer, in his column titled The Diplomat on Friday last week:
I also agree with the observation that the media in Swaziland may be and is being turned into an object for donors, activist and NGOs, who seem to have a voice and right to vent their rage and intimidation.
The media has been used as lillipads to attack the government and other subordinate institutions with impunities. This has all been done in the name of freedom of the press.
I submit that media freedom should not be an instrument for subversive manipulation of society. The freedom of the media should not be an instrument for unleashing insults and disrespect but to educate/inform the public while promoting mutual respect and mutual responsibility. It should not be an instrument to undermine legitimately constituted authority.
I submit today that as a Swazi patriot, I will not submit to those brutal and heartless cabals, who subvert the national institutions such as the monarchy and the government in order to advance the agenda of radicalising the Swazi nation against bukhosi nahulumende weMaSwati.
I agree with F.W. de Klerk that all revolutionary forces sought to overthrow incumbent Governments by mobilising the masses, by making countries ungovernable, by fermenting strikes, by involving churches, trade unions and civil society in their campaigns; by using propaganda to destroy the image and undermine the confidence of governments; by eliminating opposition through the use of terrorism and intimidation and by applying underhand and dirty political tactics to distract their perceived enemies.
All these are perpetrated through the media and other avenues.
Media freedoms without media responsibilities are media witchcraft (butsakatsi).
These pawns destroy the infrastructures, bomb bridges and government institutions, maliciously damage property, insult the Monarchy, vilify the national flag and intimidate political figures and even violently attack their homes with petrol bombs. Violence will never democratise Swaziland. Insulting the monarchy and radicalising the Swazi nation against the institutions of the Monarchy, will never Democratise Swaziland.
Some of us are better off sitted at home than being 'pawns' or 'political zombies' through which certain political forces and elements serve their compromised and perverted mandates.
We view the above as serious allegations against the media and NGOs to be made by a senior executive of a national newspaper which serves the nation. As a media NGO, we also take an exception to such unfounded allegations.
Mr. Chairman, you may have heard of our journalism mantra Name and Shame Them. We, MISA Swaziland, implore you to tell the Swazi Observer Managing Director Alpheous Nxumalo to substantiate and clarify his allegations. Let him name and shame the sponsored 'pawns', lillipads, media and NGOs pushing the terrorist agenda. As a media watchdog organisation and our partners, we are ready to weed out the corrupt people from the NGOs and media houses with his assistance.
We demand a written letter with answers from Mr. Nxumalo. Failing which we demand an apology within 14 days.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Vuyisile S. Hlatshwayo