SWAZILAND INTRODUCTION Following the promulgation of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland, including a Bill of Rights, in 2005, the onus is now on the Swazi Government to create an enabling environment within which all citizens can fully enjoy the inalienable human rights of the constitutional dispensation. From a media perspective, this involves reforming a battery of 32 media-restrictive laws which a 2003 Media Law Audit found to be inconsistent with the Constitution. This also involves enacting new media laws to easily and faultlessly implement the provisions of the supreme law of the land. In accordance with Chapter 3 of the Constitution, which provides for the Protection and Promotion of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, the then Ministry of Public Service and Information, (now the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology) went on to formulate an Information and Media Policy aimed at eradicating information poverty within the estimated 1.2 million Swazi population. Only a free flow of information enables citizens to make informed choices and decisions about critical social, economic, political and cultural development issues. Following the introduction of the 2005 Information and Media Policy, another important legislative development occurred aimed at easing access to public information- information in the custody of public officials who often withhold it, forgetting they hold such information on behalf of the public. To this end, the then Ministry of Public Service and Information crafted six media bills. One of them was the 2007 Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill which sought to foster openness and transparency through access to information. It was well received by media practitioners. However, ten years down the line, accessing public information remains extremely difficult in the Kingdom. Worse still, the 2007 Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill is collecting dust on the shelves in an office in the ICT Ministry. There seems to be no political will whatsoever to promulgate a freedom of information legislation even before the dissolution of Parliament1 in the build up to the 2018 Elections. Swazi citizens continue to be deprived of critical information through the lack of a right to access public information. This state of affairs is in gross violation of Article 24 of the Constitution which states that a person has the ‘freedom to receive ideas and information’. MISA Swaziland has mounted an access to information campaign in a strong bid to push for the passage of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill into law. Rationale and ReseaRch PaRaMeteRs The aim of this particular study is to evaluate the openness and transparency of Swazi public institutions since the adoption of 1 The King dissolves the Parliament prior to the parliamentary elections held every 5 years. 74 the Constitution in 2005. It is hoped that this will support an on-going access to information campaign which MISA Swaziland has embarked upon for the last three years. Its findings are expected to convince the lawmakers to enact the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Law, which allows access to public information. Conducted between July and August2017, this study focused on four ministries and four public companies in the Kingdom. The following public institutions were surveyed: 1. Ministry of Home Affairs 2. Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology 3. Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs 4. Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs 5. Small Enterprises Development Company 6. Swaziland Energy Regulatory Authority 7. Swaziland Railway 8. Swaziland Tourism Authority SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS Category 1: Website analysis • • • • • All four ministry websites surveyed are hosted by the government website (gov.sz) and the only distinguishing factor is the set of pictures shown in the upper section. Of the eight institutions surveyed, only three public institutions have social media pages such as Facebook and Twitter. Of the eight websites surveyed, only one had a professional organisational structure (Swaziland Railway). All the eight websites did not feature their budgets; their budgets are found in the National Budget. Only the Swaziland Tourism Authority’s website did not focus on its internal operations but served as a marketing tool. Category 2: Requests for information • • • • • Of the eight surveyed public institutions, only three managed to answer the information requests which were hand delivered. Two ministries and one public institution provided answers to the questions. Despite re-submitting the request for information to Swaziland Railway upon request, the institution failed to answer the questions. None of the eight public institutions acknowledged receipt of the information requests. When called three times, five public institutions promised to give answers to the questions at a later stage but claimed to be busy with other things in the meantime. All of these institutions failed to provide answers to the requests for information.