MBABANE: King Mswati has hired a South African law-firm Brian Kahn Inc Attorneys to deal with this Swaziland News and it’s editor Zweli Martin Dlamini for publishing critical articles about him and his Government.
In a letter sent on 22nd February 2021 and addressed to the editor, the lawyers said they were acting on behalf of the King in his capacity as the Head of State, the eSwatini Government and various Stakeholders being Ministers and other Public Officials.
“The Office and person of His Majesty King Mswati III(the “Head of State”), as well as eSwatini Government and various stakeholders being Ministers and other Public officials(“the eSwatini Government”)(collectively referred to as “our clients” each of whom have rights separate and distinct from the others and any reference to our clients is intended to refer to them disjunctively and conjunctively) have approached Brian Kahn Inc(“BKI”) to Act on their behalf” read the letter in part.
The lawyers stated in the letter that their clients that include King Mswati has been reading and monitoring articles written and published by Zweli Martin Dlamini, the Head editor of this publication. The articles cited in the letter include among others: “King Mswati, Stem Holdings and the multi-billion dagga cold war”, “King Mswati defrauded the Swazi Nation in a multi-billion shareholding deal, to take over Sun International Hotels”, How King Mswati grabbed multi-billion Pension Fund after seizing Tibiyo TakaNgwane and Provident Fund.
“King Mswati normally uses his absolute power to grab shares from giant companies and subsequently appoints his brothers and loyalists to protect his interests in the various entities, no dividends or monies were ever remitted for the benefit of the Swazi Nation” read the letter in part quoting one of the articles published by the editor.
The King through his lawyers demanded that this publication should at least give him three(3) days to respond before publishing anything about him, he said this should be done through the office of the Government Spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini.
When commenting on the latest developments, editor Zweli Martin Dlamini described the decision by the King to run to lawyers as a desperate measure to undermine access to information because he understands that this is threatening his dictatorship rule. He said the King has been suppressing the people by depriving them information through media capture.
“This is just a desperate attempt by the King to try and undermine access to information and freedom of the media but he won't succeed. I kept records of correspondence with Government Sabelo Dlamini where he was contacted several times to respond on articles involving the King and he opted to keep quiet, maybe he thought by refusing to talk, the dissemination of information will stop. We will continue publishing critical articles without fear or favor, the lawyers are free to seek legal redress on his behalf. But I won’t be dictated by the King’s lawyers to wait for three(3) days when seeking responses on stories involving the King, it's within my discretion as the editor to determine a reasonable time. A reasonable time is determined by the nature and urgency of the article, and in this regard, the King’s Spokesperson must learn to engage with journalists and request more time not to keep quiet, hoping that the King will then use taxpayers money to fight the independent media with lawyers” said the editor.
Reached for comments, Ziphozonke Ngubeni, a South African national whose company Avulekhamazulu(PTY) LTD provides website hosting services to the Swaziland News and was also cited in the letter said he will not be told by the King through his lawyers how to provide services to this publication.
"The King is a dictator and thinks he can just come here, hire lawyers and intimidate us, this is South Africa and he is just exposing himself. We provide services to the Swaziland News and we cannot dictate to the editor what to publish, we just provide hosting" he said.
On another note, editor Zweli Martin Dlamini said he had instructed lawyers of the company to handle the matter, however, he maintained that publishing of critical articles will continue without fear or favour.
King Mswati and Swaziland News editor Zweli Martin Dlamini