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OPINION:Editors Forum Chairman Mbongeni Mbingo lectured ignorant new Parliamentarians about media self-regulatory mechanism,MP Welcome Dlamini offside.

Wednesday, 29th November, 2023

Welcome Dlamini,the newly elected Mbabane East Member of Parliament(MP) must understand that, now he doesn’t have the power of the media to control narratives, that prerogative rests with journalists and editors.

Dlamini was heading the Times,one of the key and influential media entities in the institution of the Fourth Estate and now,he is a Member of Parliament(MP) with Legislative powers.

The Mbabane East MP told Parliamentarians that,the State must regulate the media because the media failed to regulate itself for over twenty(20) years, this is a very unfortunate statement from a former journalist who was the President of the Eswatini National Association of Journalists(ENAJ).

While serving as the President for journalists,what did Dlamini do to ensure that,the proposed self-regulatory framework is implemented?.

Eswatini Editors Forum(EEF) Chairman Mbongeni Mbingo articulated very well what caused the delay,indeed attempts were made to self-regulate the media and the process is ongoing.

MP Welcome Dlamini must understand that,the media is not about us.Therefore,we need to develop and create a solid foundation that will ensure that future journalists operate in a free political environment and disseminate information as per the media’s constitutional mandate to inform, demand accountability and hold those in power accountable.

It is very unfortunate that Dlamini opted to tell MPs that, the self regulatory was delayed by media squabbles particularly between the Times and Observer.

The truth is;these are competing media entities with different political, business interests and agendas.

The agenda of the Eswatini Observer is about protecting the interests of Government,the Monarchy and the Tinkhundla system.

On the other hand,the Times agenda is to promote and protect the interests of capitalists that’s why you will never see a ‘white businessman’ being exposed by the Times because it’s owner Paul Loffler is among a huge network of capitalists.

But the Times and Observer have a common interest and that is; to protect the Tinkhundla system because the Times is benefiting from government through adverts worth millions while the netwok of capitalists linked to the Times could be traced to the corridors of power with Neal Rijikernberg serving as Minister of Finance.

Eswatini Observer Managing Editor Mbongeni Mbingo was absolutely right when he told MPs during the ongoing induction that the delay was caused by conflicting interests but,he did not elaborate, some of these elements cannot be understood by a layman until he owns a media company or becomes an editor.

The conflicting interests in the ownership of the media is not an issue at all but, what is important is the “balancing of interests”, the media must work together and self-regulate without disregarding the principles of media pluralism and diversity.

MP Welcome Dlamini, as a former journalist from  the Times that is perceived to be independent, ought to have understood the ‘technicalities’ around the media self-regulatory mechanism.

But alas,Mbongeni Mbingo, the editor of the State owned Eswatini Observer demonstrated leadership this time and defended the media and this,is commendable.

The media is a very important institution that informs and capacitate the thinking of members of the society,we must be very careful when we address issues involving the media,it’s not about us but the people.

Personally, I was impressed with Mbingo’s submissions when he told MPs that,the media is owned by different people including government so,sometimes,they are conflicting interests around the media ownership.

This demonstrated maturity on the Editors Forum Chairman’s side because in leadership, even before you regulate the media,you must first understand the dynamics around media ownership and how you can develop or enhance the ‘public interest’ principle by balancing the common interest for all media entities and self-regulate.

It’s possible to regulate the media but,of course’, without tempering with the independence of other media entities whose existence is in line with the principles of media pluralism and diversity.

OPINION:Editors Forum Chairman Mbongeni Mbingo lectured ignorant new Parliamentarians about media self-regulatory mechanism,MP Welcome Dlamini offside.
Editors Forum Chairman Mbongeni Mbingo(C) and Senator Linda Nxumalo and Manzini CEO Lungile Dlamini.