By Mutsa Makuvaza
SECURITY forces in sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, eSwatini, have opened gunfire on protesters who have gone on a rampage in Manzini burning down private property and looting from shops. They protesters have also burned down businesses linked to the King.
Tension is escalating in this tiny Kingdom, citizens want King Mswati III to surrender power and allow a democratic government to take over Government.
Swaziland News reports that the protests have turned so violent that journalists had to flee and the Times of Eswatini was forced to shutdown down as angry protestors marched to the newspaper offices on Tuesday morning.
The protestors accuse the newspaper of siding with the King and the Government by hiding critical information regarding the ongoing protests in the country, its editor Martin Dlamini is a Speech Writer for King Mswati.
Members of the royal police and the army who were deployed at the capital city Mbabane on Tuesday had to rush to the Industrial Site to provide security following fears that the protestors were preparing to burn the newspaper’s offices.
Another target of the protesters was Eswatini Beverages where King Mswati owns shares. It has been burned by the protestors.
Tabani Moyo, the Acting Regional Director for the Media Institute for Southern Africa(MISA) said it was unfortunate that the newspaper was forced out of circulation.
“Our position as MISA is that if there are people with grievances with how news are covered within various media platforms, they need to undertake certain procedures so that professionally, the media can address the various issues that would be affecting them.
“They can approach various professional bodies or unions if there are no professional bodies or pressure groups to ensure that the media sticks to ethical and factual reporting” he said.
The MISA Acting Director whose offices are based in Zimbabwe warned political groups against targeting newspapers saying that undermines the right of the citizens to receive information and diverse views on matters to make informed decisions.
“It is unfortunate that protesters have taken this route of blocking or destroying or stopping the circulation of one of the newspapers in eSwatini on allegations that it is supporting the ruling elite” said the MISA Director. – Zimbabwe Voice and Agencies ■