MBABANE: Journalists had to flee and the Times of Eswatini was forced to shutdown down as angry protestors marched to the newspaper offices on Tuesday morning.
The protestors accuse the newspaper of siding with the King and the Government by hiding critical information regarding the ongoing protests in the country, its editor Martin Dlamini is a Speech Writer for King Mswati.
Members of the royal police and the army who were deployed at the capital city Mbabane on Tuesday had to rush to the Industrial Site to provide security following fears that the protestors were preparing to burn the newspaper\'s offices.
Reached for comments, Paul Loffler, the owner and Managing Director of the Times of Eswatini said he was in a meeting and asked to be called later, he did not elaborate whether issues surrounding the ongoing crisis that forced the newspaper to temporary shutdown were discussed during that meeting.
“Please call me later Zweli, I’m in a meeting” he said.
It took about four(4) hours for this Swaziland News to get pictures of the real situation within the newspaper premises as offices and other surrounding properties were consistently patrolled by the military.
At about 1300hours on Monday, the parking space had no single vehicle and sources within the publication had started confirming that there newspaper will not be circulating on Tuesday.
“Protestors came in large numbers and the newspaper was forced to close, journalists had to run for cover, everyone was sent home and the newspaper will not be in circulation tomorrow(Tuesday)” said the source.
Reached for comments, Tabani Mayo, the Acting Regional Director for the Media Institute for Southern Africa(MISA) said it was unfortunate that the newspaper was forced out of circulation.
“Our position as MISA is that if there are people with grievances with how news are covered within various media platforms, they need to undertake certain procedures so that professionally, the media can address the various issues that would be affecting them. They can approach various professional bodies or unions if there are no professional bodies or pressure groups to ensure that the media sticks to ethical and factual reporting” he said.
The MISA Acting Director whose offices are based in Zimbabwe warned political groups against targeting newspapers saying that undermines the right of the citizens to receive information and diverse views on matters to make informed decisions.
“It is unfortunate that protesters have taken this route of blocking or destroying or stopping the circulation of one of the newspapers in eSwatini on allegations that it is supporting the ruling elite” said the MISA Director.
On Tuesday morning members of the military seized control of the capital city Mbabane, chaos erupted as protesters demands democratic reforms calling upon King Mswati to surrender power.
Citizens started questioning the reporting of the Times on Facebook and other online media platforms after the publication started publishing articles in favour of Government, this was after Princess Sikhanyiso, the Information Minister summoned editors at Hilton Hotel where they asked to sabotage information regarding the ongoing protests.
Times of Eswatini offices in Mbabane