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Don't shoot the messenger

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It is no secret that we are in the midst of a judicial crisis and  have been for over two years.
The crux of the matter is simply the question of whether or not the people of Swaziland trust their Judiciary to do right by them.


The significance of Bheki Makhubu’s sentence is that it is now abundantly clear that those responsible for maintaining the reputation of the Judiciary will not entertain this question any longer.

Instead, they will impose their own interpretation of the situation; that everything is fine, normal even.


But everything is not normal and it is far from fine.

We respect, and have respected, the status of our judges as being ‘above reproach’. We understand that one cannot question judgments without undermining the integrity of the courts.

This does not, however, apply to questioning the administration of the courts. The courts and court officials are not above the law, nor are they infallible.


They are not immune to the human failings which we all experience and, as a result, they can exercise bad judgement on occasion. This is understandable; but only as long as there is a real, tangible sense that, in general, they are getting things right.

This sense is missing on the streets and it is the role of the media to lift these concerns from street level to the heights upon which the judges sit.


When the populace – the ‘consumers’ of judicial services - begin to question whether this is happening, then it is time for the Judiciary to take stock and take steps to reassure the public.

These steps have not been taken. Instead, the Judiciary is earning a reputation on the streets of not tolerating criticism. 


In the context of the repeated failure to address the people’s concerns about fairness and transparency in the Judiciary, the decision to fine the editor of The Nation magazine E400 000 (or be jailed) can only be interpreted as an attempt to put a lid on complaints; to restrict the confidence of the Swazi people to speak up when they see a problem so that, together, we can fix it. Shooting the messenger is the best way to ensure that problems are never reported; thus remaining unresolved.




 - Don't shoot the messenger? In Swaziland the messenger and the message are one and the same thing. Which is why most people keep quiet even when they have something important to share or to say. Because of that fear of the messenger being confused with the message, a lot of things go unsaid which explains why this country hasn't developed much in the past 5 years. This kind of fear is found in a police state. Have we somehow become a police state? I mean if people who are debating issues openly run the risk of being arrested, what do you call that? I should warn the debate teams in High Schools all over the country to make sure they get police clearances each time they attend a school debate. I say this because they often do debate on general political matters which is a no-no in Swaziland.
April 22, 2013, 2:37 pm, Justice For ALL


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