Posted by: africanpressorganization | 12 January 2009

Swaziland / Newspaper columnist harassed, apologizes to King



Swaziland / Newspaper columnist harassed, apologizes to King


MBABANE, Swaziland, January 12, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On 12 January 2009, Mfomfo Nkambule, a popular columnist with the privately-owned Times of Swaziland newspaper, succumbed to persistent harassment from state police and traditional authorities and publicly apologized to King Mswati III for his series of articles published recently which were highly critical of the King and his leadership style.


After being warned by the police to mind his language, Nkambule, a former Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament, was last week further summoned by his traditional chief who questioned him on is motive in writing the critical articles. Feeling the pressure, Nkambule wrote in his column on Monday 12 January 2009 apologizing to the King.


Nkambule, chairperson of a political party known as Inhlava, wrote in his open letter to the King: “With the greatest respect and humility may I apologize unreservedly for the unnecessary anxiety and stress caused by the articles that have been published over the past 16 months.


“I know what the lion is capable of doing when it is angry or threatened. I do not want to test your patience. I feel very comfortable when you are not angry. When you are not angry you give me the freedom and courage to think broadly, put my thoughts on paper to influence my fellow countrymen and be myself….”


In his entire column, Nkambule stayed away from controversy as much as possible in an obvious intention to appease the authorities. Many had expected Nkambule to be defiant and continue with his criticism which many read as fair. Nkambule’s move to succumb to pressure sums up the fear that Swazis have when it comes to exercising their right to freedom of expression. MISA-Swaziland notes that vocal voices are quickly silenced through intimidation and harassment.


SOURCE : MISA Regional Secretariat


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