Swazi editor Zweli Martin Dlamini has fled to South Africa after he received death threats, following a story he wrote about Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III’s alleged shady dealings in the telecommunications industry, the Source media outlet reported.
Zweli, the editor of independent business newspaper, Swaziland Shopping, wrote and published an article last June about new telecommunications company Swazi Mobile, owned by King Mswati III and run by local businessman Victor Gamedze.
According to the Source, the editor stated in his article that the pair had forced Swaziland’s government to side-line rival government parastatal company SPTC from competing with Swazi Mobile – a new company that the king and Gamedze as well as other high ranking officials, including Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, own shares in.
The Source claimed SPTC was ordered to switch its fixed line phones (landlines) and data components to make way for South African phone company MTC, which Mswati and the prime minister reportedly have shares in.
“Shortly after publishing the story, I received a threatening call from Gamedze that lasted for 20 minutes where he vowed to ‘deal with me’. Later Communications Minister Dumsani Ndlangamandla summoned me to a meeting and told me that the King was not happy with the story and had ordered that the newspaper should be closed,” Dlamini said.
Swaziland Shopping was subsequently closed by the Swazi authorities who claimed that it wasn’t properly registered even though the newspaper had been published since 2014 with no problem.
Dlamini further claimed that he also learnt that there had been a warrant issued for his arrest.
A close ally of Gamedze is also alleged to have told Dlamini that the businessman wanted him dead because he had revealed secrets about Swazi Mobile, the Source reported.
Dlamini subsequently fled to South Africa fearing for his life.
Swaziland is ranked 152th in Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 World Press Freedom Index.