Swaziland: Pressure groups demand access to state media

On 12 January 2009 Swaziland's pressure groups comprising political parties, trade unions and other civic organizations petitioned the Prime Minister, Sibusiso Dlamini, to demand a number of things including access to state media. Pressure groups are currently banned from state media. 

In their petition delivered after a march through the streets of Mbabane, the capital city, the organizations demanded that every citizen of Swaziland should be allowed equal access to the three state media organisations, namely the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS), Swazi TV and the Swazi Observer newspaper.

They said the current ban imposed on progressive formations to access these state-controlled media was unacceptable and violated the constitution which guarantees freedom of expression.

The organizations further called upon government to ensure that the independence of these state-controlled media houses was guaranteed. They also demanded the return of two popular radio programmes in which members of the public were allowed to air their views on issues. The phone-in programmes were taken off air after some members of the public raised issues which did not go down well with authorities.

MISA-Swaziland has constantly lobbied the government and managers of the state-controlled media houses to give equal access to every citizen of Swaziland. MISA National Director, Comfort Mabuza, was recently on air protesting the scrapping off of the popular phone-in programmes and requesting their return. He also appealed for equal access to state media by all citizens of Swaziland in the spirit of freedom of expression.


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