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MBABANE – Does the Broadcasting Code draft seek to ban the electronic media from airing programmes on church healing?

The newly-developed code states in Article 4.1.17 that claims pertaining to matters of health, cures, curing and/or healing are not permitted.
In most cases, pastors are the ones who preach about healing and miracles, which they say are performed by Jesus Christ through them.
Eswatini has four main electronic media houses – Eswatini Broadcasting and Information Services (EBIS), Eswatini TV, Voice of the Church and Channel YemaSwati.

Bishop Steven Masilela, the President of the Eswatini Conference of Churches, expressed disapproval of this clause, pointing out that the church, as a key stakeholder, would engage the Eswatini Communications Commission (ESCCOM) over the matter.

He said the Conference would have embraced the Code if it sought to address the claims of false healing, which they were also against, but restricting the church from talking about healing would be totally wrong.

Masilela said there were extremists in Christendom who picked one factor of the gospel and abused it.

Jesus’ christ healing

He mentioned that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a package, as it involves healing, adding that its founder made it clear that he had come so that people could have life in abundance.
“Jesus healed thousands of people in His ministry and apostles followed suit. Therefore, it would be wrong of the Commission to introduce a clause that will prohibit the church from making healing claims, particularly when these claims are found to be genuine and true,” he said.

Other interest groups were deliberately not contacted because ESCCOM has stated that a copy of the proposed decision document is available on its website at www.sccom.org.sz and at the Commission’s offices at North Wing 4th Floor, Sibekelo Building, Mhlambanyatsi Road, Mbabane.
The provisions of Section 32 of the ESCCOM Act, 2013, allow for stakeholders and interested persons to make comments on proposed decisions of the Commission.

The public is hereby invited to submit their written representations on the proposed decision to publish the Eswatini Communications Broadcasting Code herewith by the Commission.
It is said that written representations with regard to the proposed decision must be submitted to the Commission not later than 5pm on August 28, 2020 by post to Eswatini Communications Commission, P.O. Box 7811 Mbabane, hand delivered or electronically to legal@esccom.org.sz.

diverse interpretations

Another issue that has a potential to trigger diverse interpretations and wider reactions pertains to the intended or proposed prohibition of the practice of communicating with the dead.

It is said that no broadcasting service provider station shall broadcast a programme that promotes the practice of necromancy (the supposed practice of communicating with the dead, especially in order to predict the future).
Necromancy is sort of a magic practice.
According to Article 4.1.20, no broadcasting service provider station should be used to advertise the services of a witchdoctor or giving directions to people to visit a certain witchdoctor.

If the Code passes in its original form, no person shall use a broadcasting service provider station to use witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment, conjuration, knowledge of an occult or crafty science to tell fortunes, recover stolen property; give luck and wealth, cast out misfortunes or curing certain diseases.
Reads Article 4.1.22: “No broadcasting service provider station shall broadcast a programme that promotes the practice of necromancy (the supposed practice of communicating with the dead, especially in order to predict the future).”

EmaSwati’s belief

EmaSwati hold the belief that the spirits of the dead continue to dwell in the natural world and have the power to influence the fortune and their fate.
In fact, the belief in the existence of the spirit of the dead is a universal worship that is practised in various parts of the world and diverse cultures.
A source said as much as there existed a thin line between necromancy, spiritism and ancestor worship, the three practices derive their power and influence in one principle – communicating with the dead.

ESCCOM also seeks to ban the broadcasting of claims that future events may be predicted, other than as a matter of opinion.
Claims to make contact with deceased persons are not permitted, according to the Code.
It is stated that Article 4.1.18 that no broadcasting service provider shall promote the use of witchcraft.
 “No broadcasting service provider shall host a witchdoctor for purposes of promoting his/her witchcraft practices,” reads Article 4.1.19.

Lawyers, doctors
remain banned

The Code states that it is unethical and not allowed for certain professions to advertise. They are physicians, lawyers, dentists, osteopaths, chiropractors, herbalist, traditional doctors, occultists, optometrists and others of a similar nature.


The Code says material unsuitable for children should not be shown before 11pm and after 3:30am. It is said that the transition from family-oriented to adults only programming during the watershed period of 11pm shall be gradually executed. For subscription and pay per view services, mechanisms put in place to protect children must be clearly explained to subscribers.

It is also mentioned in the Code that broadcasters are responsible for advertising material transmitted by their stations and must therefore ensure that all advertisements are lawful, honest, decent, and truthful and conform to the rules of fair competition.

ESCCOM’s Director-Strategy and Economic Regulation Lindiwe Dlamini said it would be wrong of her organisation to comment at this stage. She said ESCCOM has opened public comments on the issue.

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