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Swazi editors reinstated after eight month suspension

The board of directors at the Swazi Observer Newspaper Group have reinstated controversially suspended editors, Alec Lushaba and Thulani Thwala. The reinstatement comes eight months after the pair was suspended by the then managing director of the group, Alpheous Nxumalo, for allegedly not following the founding mandate of the newspaper group.

The pair was accused of continuously publishing negative stories about King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarchy. They are said to have ignored repeated warnings about the 'negative coverage' with the final straw being their newspapers' coverage of attempts by Swaziland to secure a (Emlangeni) E10-billion (approximately US$1-billion) bailout from the government of neighbouring South Africa.

“This [the coverage] was not only sensational, but very damaging in the light of the political tensions it would create and was also a source of embarrassment to His Majesty,” remarked Absalom Themba Dlamini, maging director of Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, King Mswati III's conglomerate which owns the Swazi Observer Newspaper Group.

However, a statement issued last week by the board chair, Sthofeni Ginindza, said “there was no sufficient reason for the suspension of the Swazi Observer (daily) and Weekend Observer editors.”

The Swaziland Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland) has commended the reinstatement of the editors.

“The job security of journalists should be respected just like all other professionals who are treated with dignity and held in high esteem. The unjustifiable suspension and dismissal of journalists in media houses should be strongly condemned when it happens,” MISA-Swaziland said in a statement.

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