6 August 2008
Nominated scribes in conflict of interest?
By Observer Reporter
JOURNALISTS nominated for the parliamentary elections will not suffer any conflict of interest so long as they do not use the pen and paper to push their agendas.
However, they might also have to resign from the profession if they are to pursue a political career.
Both the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Swaziland as well as the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) said precedence had been set by members of the Fourth Estate who left the profession to join parliament.
“It’s clear the constitution as a supreme document of the land says anyone is eligible to stand for elections, saves for public officers who are required to produce a leave of absence from their employer. This being nomination stage, it’s no issue that journalists are part of the process now.
“The only exception is that they cannot be politicians and journalists simultaneously; they would need to forego the other trade. This is at final stages (secondary elections),” said Timothy Simelane, Secretary General of SNAJ. He said the constitution gave the right of all citizens to participate in the elections.
The same was advanced by Michael Motsa, MISA Swaziland Information Officer.
“We’ve had journalists such as Mahlaba Mamba (former Dvokodvweni MP) who stood for elections and won, thus a precedence was set. We cannot condemn or restrict journalists from standing for elections they can participate but not serve as politicians at the same time. “They have to choose either they remain as journalists or become politicians. In addition, there is no document or authority ethically that prevents or bars journalists from participating in elections,” Motsa said.
However, it is of note that the choice on whether to join politics or not must be made early enough before adversaries become victims of the scribes competing in same constituencies for single positions.
There are already undertones to the effect that the scribes may indiscriminately get back at their adversaries without any restraint. In other societies, it is inscribed in the contracts of employment to protect editorial integrity of media houses. Some journalists were nominated last weekend in the 2008 parliamentary elections such as Mphikeleli Msibi running for the post of MP in Mbabane East constituency, Senzo Dlamini (Lobamba) and Israel Matsebula at Shiselweni II, Rogers Mamba, Qedusizi Ndlovu and others.