The purported R1.5million lawsuit by Ludzidzini Council member Ncumbi Maziya is not only a direct attack on the Times of Eswatini but undermines the citizens’ Constitutional right to information.
Ncumbi Maziya is highly connected in the country, within the judiciary some Judges are his close friends.
While analyzing the letter of demand and the law firm that represents Maziya, it became clear that the Ludzidzini Council member wants to use his powerful network within the judiciary system to cash the R1.5million at the expense of the citizens’ right to information.
We need to understand that in this country, we don’t have a judiciary, sometimes I even ask myself if some of these people who sue the Times of eSwatini are not sharing the money with corrupt Judges.
I am asking myself this question because the Times of Eswatini hardly wins cases despite the fact that the media should be protected by the courts in defense of the Constitutional rights to freedom of expression,opinion and the independence of the media.
I am not suggesting that the media must be allowed to defame people with impunity, the courts have a responsibility to hold journalists accountable and protect citizens from character assassinations.
But again, the justice system must guard against abuse or manipulation of the law to undermine media freedom.
Even before the matter goes to court, Ncumbi has already interfered by instructing the police to hide the file so that he can have grounds to sue the Times.
As journalists, we always compete for stories but we must never allow powerful people to use corrupt means to sue a newspaper because this, I would suggest, would create a precedent that would affect the entire media industry.
Ncumbi Maziya is fully aware that he was reported to the police for allegedly attempting to kill Prince Mlandvo and other Mahlanya residents.
Furthermore, Maziya is aware that he does not have any reputation to protect, he behaves like a lunatic with no respect for others just because he is closer to King Mswati.
The Times journalists contacted him before publishing the story, that the police failed to confirm the case because Maziya is powerful does not mean he was never reported.
While investigating this matter, it transpired that the police opted to open an inquiry and the file was subsequently hidden at the Desk Officer’s office.
The intention was to deny the Times access to information in order to create more grounds for the lawsuit.
Ncumbi Maziya must understand that if he sues the Times over such a truthful story, he is actually challenging the whole media industry, we will popularize this matter for the world to see how powerful people use the courts to silence the media.
The Swaziland News is vibrant because in South Africa it’s not easy to sue a publication media, the independence of the media is protected by the Constitution.
Even in eSwatini, we must expose such tactics by Ncumbi Maziya not only in defense of the Times but the entire media industry.
In conclusion, it is of paramount importance to state that Ncumbi Maziya is corrupt to the core, he looted millions of public funds through corrupt means and now, he is attempting to cash more from the Times just because he can afford lawyers.
Therefore, in this matter, we must defend the Times in principle.
High Court of eSwatini.