SWAZILAND (28 June 2010) - On 25 June 2010 court messengers attached office equipment belonging to Ingwazi newspaper, a weekly publication launched only last year, forcing operations of the newspaper to ground to a halt. This followed two recent court judgments against the newspaper.

 

 

 

The first judgement was for E58 000 (approx. US $8 000) in respect of damages for defamation of character awarded to an army officer who had successfully sued the newspaper following a story published about him. He won the case at the High Court of Swaziland.

 

The second writ for E6 600 (approx. US $800) was awarded to a former employee of the newspaper who had successfully sued for unlawful dismissal at the Industrial Court.

 

The newspaper’s Managing Editor, Lucky Nzimandze, was quoted in a weekend newspaper saying they were making efforts to stop the auctioning of their equipment by honouring the second writ awarded to their former employee and challenging the other in court as he claimed it was awarded without them being heard.

 

Ndzimandze assured that their newspaper would soon be back in the streets, saying they would resume circulation on 6 July 2010.

 

However, he recently told a weekly newspaper that his publication was experiencing operational problems and was undergoing restructuring.

 

Background

 

Ingwazi is one of five newspapers launched in 2009. However, the majority have since collapsed leaving only two, including Ingwazi, still in operation. The other newspaper is Swazi Mirror, owned by an ex journalist who also doubles as an editor, also published weekly.

 

MISA Swaziland, which advocates for media pluralism and sustainability, regrets the continuous collapse of new print publications which had diversified the limited print media sector in Swaziland currently surviving under a hostile media environment and dominated by only two newspapers, one privately-owned and the other owned by the state. This state of affairs can largely be blamed on a small print media industry, hostile laws and poor business approach by prospective newspaper owners.