The Times of Swaziland misled its readers when it reported that a ‘survey’ in Malawi concluded that Swaziland’s King Mswati III should ‘reject Western democracy’.
No such survey was undertaken.
The Times reported the survey was conducted by what it called ‘Malawi’s leading newspaper’, the Nyasa Times.
It reported one person who took part in the ‘survey’ said, “Mswati, don’t listen to these calls for democracy. These are prophets of doom. Your country is much better the way it is right now. Look at what is happening in Libya.’
The Times of Swaziland reporting suggested that a systematic scientific poll had been conducted among the citizens of Malawi. If the survey had been conducted in this way its ‘results’ might indicate the true feeling of people in Malawi.
In fact, the Times deliberately distorted its story to make it seem that there was general support for King Mswati’s regime in Swaziland. The King rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the government.
What the Times reported as a ‘survey’ was simply email comments made by readers on a news story published online by the Nyasa Times. The story said that the former President of Malawi Bakili Muluzi had visited Swaziland as part of a Commonwealth team to discuss how the kingdom might move towards becoming a democratic state.
The comments were simply the personal views of 12 people who taken it upon themselves to post to the Internet. The Nyasa Times did not claim it to be a survey.
The Times of Swaziland report demonstrates the measures that the media are going to in Swaziland to try to convince the Swazi people that King Mswati’s undemocratic regime has support from outside the kingdom.
The Commonwealth is continuing to pressure Swaziland to democratise and allow political parties to contest elections in the kingdom.
It is also urging a review of the kingdom’s constitution to ensure that the country meets international standards of democracy.
COMMONWEALTH CALLS FOR DEMOCRACY