Swazi government bans two private publications

Mbabane- Swaziland (PANA) -- Swaziland's emerging private media have come under siege following official clampdown on two publications considered critical of the government and the monarchy.
Information Minister Mntonzima Dlamini has banned the country's only two private publications, The Guardian newspaper of Swaziland and The Nation newsmagazine, published by The Guardian Media Group (Pty) Limited and Swaziland Independent Publishers (Pty) Limited, respectively.
He announced the ban in a gazette dated 4 May.
The two young publications were banned under the Proscribed Publications Act, 1968 which empowers the Minister to proscribe any publication or a series of publications.
In the gazette, Dlamini stated that he was exercising powers conferred on him by Section three, to issue the notice of the proscribed publications Act 2001.
But he erroneously cited the South Africa-based Printing Company, Penrose Holdings Ltd, and the Reproduction Company or PC Positive Printers, as the publishers of the two publications.
Under the Proscribed Publications Act, the Minister "may proscribe any publication dealing with any specified subject or printed, published, manufactured, made or produced by a person.
if the publication is prejudicial or potentially prejudicial to the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health.
" While the reason for The Nation's ban is unclear, The Guardian has ran several scathing reports on the Royal family.
Asked if the ban was prompted by the King's anger, Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini said the King had nothing to do with the closure.
"It must be clear that the King had nothing to do with the closure of the two publications.
The decision was taken by government independently," he said.
Attorney General Phesheya Dlamini also explained that the government would want all publications to comply with the Books and Newspapers Act of 1963.
The Nation was launched in 1997, while The Guardian hit the news stand in February 2001.
Last Friday, the police reportedly confiscated 20,000 copies of The Guardian at the Oshoek border from South Africa.
Editor of The Nation Bheki Makhubu said the printers were to deliver the May issue on Friday.
"I don't know what to do now," he lamented.
Meanwhile, the Swaziland National Association of Journalists, and the Media Institute for Southern Africa, Swaziland Chapter, have condemned the ban on the two publications.

08 may 2001 11:13:00

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