become an important day for activists
and citizens. It provides them with a
platform to debate media issues guided
by the WPFD theme.
Swazis enjoyed their right to free speech
on this day. They openly criticised media capture by the state and powerful
individuals. Editors and journalists interacted with the public and explained the
media’s role. Police did not come to harass those who attended the gathering.
Gearing up to transform the media environment, the Information and Media
Development Unit addressed the absence of a broadcasting and media policy by hosting a three-day Broadcasting
and Media Policy Indaba. South African
regulatory media and film bodies came
to share their experiences with local
media players and stakeholders. After
the three-day conference, the ICT minister requested the participants to elect
members to the Swaziland Broadcasting
and Media Policy Technical Committee.
Its task was to compile a broadcasting
and media policy and MISA Swaziland
was included in the newly formed Swaziland Broadcasting and Media Policy
Technical Committee.
MISA Swaziland’s efforts to promote
freedom of expression and media diversity had paid off in the year under review.
A new mobile network operator, Swazi
Mobile, was launched in July 2017. This
was welcomed by cellphone users as it
ended the 19-year-monopoly of Swazi
MTN. Users enjoyed cheaper call rates
as a result of the competition in the telecoms industry.

The year saw the revival of two weekly
newspapers and new entrants into the
print sector. Publishers of the Swazi
Mirror and Ingwazi News re-launched
their publications. Swaziland Newsweek newspaper and Zion Magazine
were launched, and this increased the
number of newspapers in the country to
nine and magazines to three. Swazi citizens now had multiple media platforms
which was a positive move towards diversity and plurality.
But inasmuch as there were positive developments, there were also setbacks.
Against the media’s role of advancing
peaceful, just and inclusive societies, the
editor of Independent News published
an inflammatory commentary, seen to
be stirring up hatred against the lesbian,
gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex
(LGBTI) community. He called for the
‘hanging’ of the LGBTI members on cultural and moral grounds. To address this
LGBTI issue, MISA Swaziland sought
funding to conduct research on media’s
portrayal of the LGBTIs. This in turn was
to pave way for the Gay and Lesbian
Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
Media Reference Guide. However, this
media research did not materialise because of financial constraints.
The managing editor of Swaziland Shopping published serious allegations of
corruption among editors themselves.
He alleged that a businessman had captured the editors. He also accused the
current crop of journalists of revealing
their sources in exchange for bribes. He
claimed that the same businessman had
hired a hitman to silence him for his exposé.

So This is Democracy? 2017


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