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Opinion: The Level of Censorship in our Public Broadcasters Now calls for Concern.
They say knowledge is power, without knowledge, we are powerless. If this adage is true, then the Eswatini citizens are powerless. In most countries, Television is regarded as the most powerful tool for imparting information or knowledge. In the Kingdom of Eswatini where the media is strictly owned by the state, that is not the case as our public broadcaster Eswatini TV is controlled by politics instead of talent.
The level of censorship and news biasness in our public broadcaster is now insanely ridiculous especially under the leadership of Bongani “Sgcokosiyancinca” Dlamini. Not long ago (Sunday 24, February to be specific), we discovered that a career of an enthusiasm Reporter from Eswatini TV is in limbo following an attempt to broadcast a show on “Depression caused by Tinkhundla System”.
Speaking to Swazi Observer, Eswatini TV’s Corporate Affairs Manager Mncedisi Mayisela said the programme that the reporter was responsible for was called “Kitsi Eswatini” and is aimed at showcasing milestone achieved under the Tinkhundla system of governance.
On another instance that took place in 2017, two journalists from Eswatini TV almost lost their jobs for trying to cover a protest march were workers were demanding a 9.15 percent increment from government. The journalists were allegedly assigned by the station news editor to cover the protest, but upon their return they were summoned into the CEO’s for that assignment. It was alleged that the reporters were even forced to disclose their supervisor who had tasked them.
Now, the thing of our Public Broadcasters picking and choosing version of stories that suits their narrative is troublesome as they destroy the country’s democracy standards thus leading to the public participating on the country’s activities like voting without an informed decision.
The censorship, selective and bias news does not only take place on Eswatini TV but the Eswatini Broadcasting Information and Services (EBIS) too. For example, during the yesterday’s news bulletin, the Eswatini Electricity Company was given a platform to illegalize the proposed strike by the company’s employee without giving them (the employees) a chance to defend their stance.
When the Swaziland National Teachers Union (SNAT) was delivering several petitions to various ministries, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education Sbongile Mtshali issued a statement to EBIS illegalizing those demonstrations as a way of demobilizing the teachers. Her stunt almost worked as the Swazi Observer reported that the demonstration started off slowly siting that it might be because of the PS’s statement.
“It was doubtful that the march would be a success when the workers started assembling at Coronation Park, Mbabane at 9:30am. This, according to some members of the unions who were at the march, was caused by an allegation that Ministry of Education and Training Principal Secretary EBIS 1 FM, saying teachers should not partake in the march” reported Swazi Observer.
The Banabas led government tried and and it would seem like they failed to resurrect the EBIS from its slumber. The Member of Parliament at that time suspended a sum 5 million budget that was allocated to the station as they felt like it is captured and being ran by some people who use it for character assassination.