MBABANE: Inkhosikati LaMbikiza’s daughter Princess Sikhanyiso, the Information, Communications and Technology Minister allegedly influenced the return of suspended Swazi Observer Managing editor Mbongeni Mbingo to reinforce the media's influence in the midst of political tensions influenced by the youth through the justice for Thabani campaign.
On Friday morning, the Information Minister allegedly held a private meeting with editors in Mbabane that was organised by Mbingo in his capacity as Chairman of the Eswatini Editors Forum, the meeting was ‘boycotted’ by Martin Dlamini, the Managing Editor of the Times of Eswatini.
Martin Dlamini, the Deputy Chairman of the Editors' Forum was quoted by his newspaper, the Times confirming that he boycotted the meeting saying he believed the issues that triggered the meeting were of public interest and as such could not be discussed behind closed doors.
“The reason I asked to be excused from the closed session meeting was because I am of the strong view that the matter to be discussed was a burning national issue that the media could not address with Government behind closed doors”,said the well known editor.
When addressing the editors during the meeting that was closely monitored by this Swaziland News, Princess Sikhanyiso said the eSwatini media had an obligation to defend the country in the midst of political tensions. She said every journalist should conduct an introspection on what he or she was doing to defend the country in the midst of the political crisis triggered by the justice for Thabani campaign.
“The media must vigorously defend the country in the midst of the current situation” ,said the Princess.
It has been widely reported that eSwatini media was highly censored after royalty captured the Eswatini Editors Forum through its Chairman Mbongeni Mbingo who was very close to King Mswati’s wife Inkhosikati LaMbikiza and Tibiyo TakaNgwane Managing Director Absalom Themba Dlamini. Alpheous Nxumalo, the then Swazi Observer Managing Director confirmed to this Swaziland News in an earlier interview that the Tibiyo Managing Director allegedly invited him into a meeting at Royal Swazi Sun where he instructed him to employ Mbingo.
It has been reported that as the political tensions intensify, the Swazi Observer Board of Directors allegedly held an urgent meeting on Friday where the possible return of the suspended editor Mbongeni Mbingo was discussed at length.
A questionnaire was sent to Mbongeni Mbingo, the Swazi Observer Managing Editor however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
Reached for comments, Pius Vilakati, the Spokesperson of the Communist Party of Swaziland(CPS) said the meeting between the Princess and the editors was meant to influence the State controlled media to try and attack the independent media that is seen taking control in the dissemination of information.
“We know the media in eSwatini is fully controlled and that meeting was meant to try and influence the State media to attack the independent media that is seen taking control in the dissemination of information these days” ,said the CPS Spokesperson.
State editor Mbongeni Mbingo was suspended in October 2020, however, in the midst of the current tensions, some Tinkhundla loyalists linked to his clique allegedly intensified lobbying for his return to defend the Tinkhundla system of Governance.
Information Minister Princess Sikhantiso