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INTERPOL RED ALERT: State journalists intimidating Swazis to refrain from fighting for freedom.

Tuesday, 29th November, 2022

The chronology of events before the political unrest suggests that state-controlled journalists have been intimidating Swazis with a series of articles.

At some point, the government, through the office of the Attorney General(AG),Sifiso Khumalo,drafted a bill and then leaked it to the captured media.

The Cybercrime Bill carried a fine of R10million for anyone who might be found guilty of spreading misinformation on social media,the discretion to decide and identify misinformation was vested upon the government.

It should be noted that even though the captured media was reporting on issues that might be classified as factual, the truth is that this was a collaboration between Mswati’s government and the media with an alleged intention to intimidate citizens and strengthen dictatorship.

Information is power and for all these years, the State controlled media has been manipulating the minds of the people to embrace oppression and refrain from challenging Mswati.

The government drafted a bill, and the media quickly reported about it, ignoring the fact that some contents of the bill were a gross violation of human rights, particularly freedom of expression.

It is the duty of journalists to report and then analyze issues to enlighten the public.

The media is further obligated to defend the interests of the public.But in this country,I remember reading an article about the R10million fine, the author started the story with the line, “Sinani shaca!"

As a writer myself, it became clear to me that the purpose of the article was to intimidate people from sharing stories reported by online publications.

Before the political unrest, the public played a significant role by sharing critical stories in WhatsApp groups,where they debated and engaged on public issues.

Thereafter, after being empowered with information from the independent media, the people decided that they didn’t want Mswati to be in power and delivered petitions in demand for democratic reforms.

The political unrest resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians, but the captured media is not putting pressure on government, demanding the arrest of soldiers and police officers who killed civilians.

Instead, their main focus is to paint a picture suggesting that gunmen are only targeting security officers and the agenda now is to influence the arrest of the Solidarity Forces.

It is clear that state journalists were captured to suppress the people; some reporters are afraid to report about Mswati who killed civilians in fear of being killed or arrested by the government.

As a result, they are now targeting the Solidarity Forces, colluding with the government to influence and ensure that freedom fighters are monitored by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).

The captured media is not saying anything about the thousands of soldiers,warders and police who killed civilians; instead,they are busy focusing on freedom fighters who are fighting for their rights.

Journalists must remain independent and fair in their reporting; it’s a pity that the state planted intelligence officers to work in the media so that Mswati’s government can source information easily.

State journalists know the consequences of writing critical articles about Mswati;so they avoid writing about him.

Instead of liberating themselves from Mswati, they are now proving a point to the King by targeting anyone who dares raise a voice against the oppressive Tinkhundla regime.

I am reminded of one journalist, Alec Lushaba, who traveled with King Mswati to overseas countries with taxpayer money.

But instead of questioning Mswati,who loots public funds, he would consistently monitor an independent journalist and leaders of the pro-democracy movement who are not getting any cent from public coffers.

Journalism was founded to monitor those in power and ensure the transparency and accountability of funds, among others.

But in this country, we have a captured media that monitors the people to ensure that they remain oppressed.

In one of the articles, Alec Lushaba wrote that Students’ President Colani Maseko, who was almost killed by soldiers, was injured during a confrontation with the army.

How can an unarmed university student be in a confrontation with the military?.

Like Russia and Ukraine, soldiers are expected to engage in a confrontation with other armed soldiers not citizens.

What were the soldiers doing at the University of eSwatini (UNESWA) because they were supposed to be at the barracks waiting to protect civilians or citizens from foreign state enemies?

In conclusion,it is important to monitor each and every article written by the state-controlled media that seeks to oppress the people; action must then be taken because the media is governed by ethics.

The pro-democracy movement must use those ethics to hold the media accountable.

 INTERPOL RED ALERT: State journalists intimidating Swazis to refrain from fighting for freedom.