Swazi editor flees to South Africa after critical story on King Mswati

FILE PICTURE: Swaziland's King Mswati III accompanied by his wife greets staff of the Taj Hotel on May 11, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Esa Alexander)

After receiving death threats from King Mswati III, Swazi editor Zweli Martin Dlamini has fled to SA.

Swazi editor Zweli Martin Dlamini has fled to South Africa after he received death threats, following a story he wrote about Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III’s alleged shady dealings in the telecommunications industry, the Source media outlet reported.

Zweli, the editor of independent business newspaper, Swaziland Shopping, wrote and published an article last June about new telecommunications company Swazi Mobile, owned by King Mswati III and run by local businessman Victor Gamedze.

According to the Source, the editor stated in his article that the pair had forced Swaziland’s government to sideline rival government parastatal company SPTC from competing with Swazi Mobile – a new company that the king and Gamedze as well as other high ranking officials, including Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, own shares in.

The Source claimed SPTC was ordered to switch its fixed line phones (landlines) and data components to make way for South African phone company MTC, which Mswati and the prime minister reportedly have shares in.

“Shortly after publishing the story, I received a threatening call from Gamedze that lasted for 20 minutes where he vowed to ‘deal with me’. Later Communications Minister Dumsani Ndlangamandla summoned me to a meeting and told me that the King was not happy with the story and had ordered that the newspaper should be closed,” Dlamini said.

Swaziland Shopping was subsequently closed by the Swazi authorities who claimed that it wasn’t properly registered, even though the newspaper had been publishing since 2014 without problems.

Dlamini further claimed that he learnt that there had been a warrant issued for his arrest.

A close ally of Gamedze is also alleged to have told Dlamini that the businessman wanted him dead because he had revealed secrets about Swazi Mobile, the Source reported.

Dlamini subsequently fled to South Africa fearing for his life.

Swaziland is ranked 152th in Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

– African News Agency (ANA)




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