Attacks on the Press
Dubbed "the world's last absolute monarchy," the tiny, land-locked country teetered on the brink of bankruptcy while King Mswati III maintained tight control of news media and opposition voices. The king owned one of the two daily newspapers and employed the editor of the other as an adviser. Radio and television were also controlled by the state. Though Swazis readily accessed South African radio and television, South African newspapers entering Swaziland were carefully screened by authorities: If deemed critical of the king or government, all copies were purchased and destroyed. Self-censorship prevailed in the kingdom, where political parties are banned and
critical voices within civil society and the media were silenced through legal or professional repercussions. Few dared challenge the government; the boards of state-owned companies such as the Swazi Observer Newspaper group kept their editors in check and, in turn, editors ensured that their reporters toed the line. A court sentenced the editor of the independent paper The Nation to a harsh fine in connection with his critical articles. He appealed to the Supreme Court and was free pending the appeal. In a positive development, parliament passed bills allowing for the creation of diverse TV and radio services, including community radio, and a commission to regulate broadcasting.