Swaziland’s Kingdom rulers are in the final stages of drafting laws which will ban online users from ever criticising King Mswati on Facebook and Twitter. Swaziland which has a population of 1.3 million with just over 50,000 Facebook users and just around 95,000 internet users, has of late faced offline and online protests by the country’s citizens over King Mswati’s governance style.
The kingdom is worried after 2011 protest where Swazis too to the streets in to demand democracy and a solution to the nation’s deepening financial problems. The urgency to have such a censorship law has been hastened after this week’s report by the United Nations indicating that Swaziland faces a fiscal crisis in addition to persistent poverty, high unemployment and an HIV/Aids epidemic.
Mgwagwa Gamedze, Swaziland justice minister, said in an address to the country’s senate
We will be tough on those who write bad things about the king on Twitter and Facebook”.
A senator in the Kingdom, Thuli Msane, said the government is finalising an online censorship law. The kingdom’s labour unions and university students are reportedly planning major protest against the new censorship laws in the next few weeks.
King Mswati who assumed the monarch’s throne in 1986 aged only 18, rules the world’s only absolute monarch. Swaziland is a 4,420 square kilometres of land-locked country with great hilly scenery.
The king is married to 14 wives whom he got to chose from the annual reed dance.