MBABANE:Eswatini, a tiny Kingdom where cases of human rights violations, arrests and torture of independent journalists and political activists are rife has hired Vuma Reputation Management to try and portray it in good light in the eyes of unsuspecting investors.
The Kingdom is ruled by King Mswati, an absolute Monarch with Executive, Legislative and Judiciary powers, all major companies are forced to offer large shares to the King and senior members of the royal as insurance for their investments.
King Mswati through Tibiyo TakaNgwane and other entities and individuals holds major shares in all Mines, Eswatini MTN, Eswatini Mobile, the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation among others.
On Friday, the Daily Maverick reported that Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, Finance Minister Neal Rijkenberg and Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Mangqoba Khumalo addressed a Zoom briefing for foreign journalistson Thursday
“It was facilitated by South African-based Vuma Reputation Management, which was hired to help improve the country’s image as a state which stifles political dissent and other freedoms, and where the king has absolute power.Eswatini’s new approach of being a private sector-led economy and an export-driven one means it has to look good to investors, especially to help economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic” the Daily Maverick reported.
It has also been reported that Freedom House scores Eswatini badly in terms of press freedom and note that it has laws such as the Sedition and Subversive Activities and defamation laws that can be used to restrict media.
Political parties are banned in Eswatini and not allowed to contest for elections, however, the Constitution promotes freedom of association but the situation on the ground suggests that it only exists on paper. In 2014, King Mswati’s government arrested Nation Magazine editor Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko for criticizing his Judiciary, they were both charged with contempt of court.
The Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) reported that two editors, Zweli Martin Dlamini of the Swaziland News and Eugene Dube of the Swati Newsweek fled the country, they are wanted by the police for writing critical articles about King Mswati. Phindile Valakati, the Eswatini police Spokesperson had confirmed to SABC that police raided the homes of the editors, this was after police disclosed that they were investigating a case of sedition.