22 February 2013

Swaziland: Swazi King's Paper Suspends MD

press release

Media reports say Alpheous Nxumalo, managing director of the State-owned Swazi Observer Group of Newspapers, has been suspended.

The Swazi Observer, published by the Swazi Observer Group of Newspapers, on Thursday, 21 February 2013 reported that the Board of Directors gave no reason for Nxumalo's suspension, only saying more information would be forthcoming "pending investigation".

In the media reports, the chairperson of the newspaper group, Sithofeni Ginindza, is quoted as saying "the board was working towards improving the newspapers' operations".

Nxumalo is said to have rushed to the High Court on hearing of his suspension, reportedly delivered to him by letter on Tuesday, 19 February 2013. He successfully obtained a court order allowing him to return to work.

"I was at work during the afternoon after I approached the High Court," he told the Swazi Observer.

Nxumalo is accusing what he describes as a "politically-controlled" board of interference in his work, saying this is what has led to his suspension.

Meanwhile, Andreas Nkabinde, a former finance controller at the newspaper group has been appointed as acting managing director. Ironically, Nxumalo suspended him in July 2012 and gave no reasons for the suspension.

Earlier this year, Nxumalo attracted much criticism after he published a column in the Swazi Observer in which he accused the media and non-government organisations of undermining the authority of the Swazi government and the royal family.

"It is absolutely true that most of the so-called democracy activists find it 'democratic' to insult the heads of state and government in the media as a strategy of democratising Swaziland. It is preposterous and fallacious," he wrote, going on to declare that he "will not submit to a mandate in contradiction with the mandate of the Swazi monarchy and its subsidiary institutions."

The Swaziland Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland) wrote a letter to the newspaper at the time, calling on Nxumalo to elaborate on his unfounded claims.

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