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‘Swazi journos to blame for falling standards’

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By Njabulo Dlamini - THE SWAZI OBSERVER-04-Sep-2009

UNIVERSITY of Swaziland (UNISWA) journalism lecturer Dr Maxwell Mthembu has called upon local journalists to do a self-introspection.

Dr Mthembu said journalists were partly to blame for the status quo on issues of censorship and like matters because they had 'messed up' many times in their work.

"They have messed up the profession through insulting members of society who have no right of reply. There are also several inaccuracies in their (journalists') reporting, taking of sides, passing innuendoes, etc. "The journalism profession in Swaziland has really gone to the dogs," he said.

The Journalism lecturer was speaking at Royal Swazi Spa's banqueting arena when presenting a paper on 'Censorship, media and freedom of expression in Swaziland'. This was during the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Regional AGM which commenced yesterday and ends tomorrow. He alluded though, as per earlier assertion by MISA Swaziland National Director Comfort Mabuza and Information Officer Michael Motsa that censorship was both self-imposed and external forces were at play in it.

"There is no powerful media in Swaziland hence the urgent need for new publications to serve the interests of the public. There are also cultural restraints to press freedom such as respect, equality being out of question and legislation that stifles freedom (of expression).

"Amongst the legislation which could prove a threat to press freedom is the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 and Electronic Records and Evidence Act of 2009. Another hindrance to freedom of expression in the media is fear as journalists are uncertain what would happen to one's family, spouse, etc. after pursuing a particular story," he said.

Being a Swazi the repercussions had far reaching consequences as one could be summoned even at chiefdom level if accused of pursuing a certain line of thinking. The other threat to media freedom he made mention of was journalists being on the pay pocket of private financiers.

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