Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

LOBAMBA – Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday demanded that the right to express themselves on state media be restored.
State mediums are the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS) and Swazi TV.

The politicians, during their sitting in the House of Assembly, were at pains that they cannot address their constituencies via the national airwaves ever since they were elected into office. This is because of the Public Service Announcement (PSA) guidelines that were implemented by Cabinet in the previous Parliament.  The incumbent MPs, like their predecessors, felt that this policy, more than anything, was meant to muzzle them.

They formed a five-member select committee with a mission to engage the powers-that-be to free the airwaves.
Hhukwini MP Saladin Magagula, mover of the motion on restoring access to the state media recounted his embarrassment at a recent Micro Projects event in his constituency.

“As a representative of the constituency I had the task of speaking on their behalf, but I was shocked when one of the state mediums refused to interview me as an MP. I had no access at all. I had to find a subordinate to speak on my behalf. Even if there is disaster in my constituency it’s disheartening that I have to get someone to speak on my behalf,” said Magagula.

He cited the United Nations (UN) article 19 on perseveration of fundamental human rights, which he said was explicit on freedoms. He requested that the policy be reviewed by Parliament so that it adhered to the freedom of expression.

Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo began his submission by saying; “Welcome to Parliament.” He said this was not a new matter as it was a huge talking point in the 9th Parliament. He warned MPs that nothing would change if they approached it in this manner. Khumalo stated that he was not sure that Minister of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Dumisani Ndlangamandla, who was expected to take up the Parliament motion, had enough power to change anything.

“This issue needs another strategy – let’s form a committee to work on  it using quiet diplomacy. Complaining about the status quo has the danger of hardening the hearts of those who introduced the guidelines in the first place,” opined Khumalo.
However, Motshane MP Phesheya Hlatshwayo submitted that in his understanding the guidelines did not stop politicians from accessing state media. He said the guidelines were there for a reason. It prevented MPs from promoting themselves in the media.

“Let’s find out who is stopping this access. We are now carrying out our mandate in the constituencies, not campaigning,” he said.
The Minister of ICT, in his response, supported the formation of a select committee which he would work with.
He highlighted that the guidelines were never meant to muzzle MPs but set the procedure, which involves getting authority from the chief of a constituency.      

Comments (2 posted):

vikimpi mngomezulu on 01/08/2014 09:05:25
Open the airwaves for everybody not just for MPs.The airwaves now belongs to people like the stimela gang who repeat greetings to the same people everyday.
Cle.. on 02/08/2014 03:41:34
Ngiyani seconda malunga ami lahloniphekile

Post your comment comment

Please enter the code you see in the image:

: Nation's expectation
Do you agree with MSF that the nation expects the dialogue before elections?