Political oppression intensifies when the media decides to bend and praise the oppressor instead of protecting the people by exposing injustices perpetrated by those in power against the powerless.
Perhaps, let me clarify that democratically, the media should be the voice of the voiceless and that means it must advocate for justice for those whose voices and rights have been oppressed by the rich and powerful.
Indeed, one of the basic principles and values of public administration is transparency and the media has an obligation to foster a culture of openness and accountability of public power in the interest of the people.
It should be noted that where the media has been captured and or surrendered its powers to demand accountability from the authorities, the rights of the people are violated with impunity and this might results to disorder and or chaos.
I once had a tea meeting with a highly respected Judge of the High Court who is very close to me and asked him to share his views on how a journalist should conduct his or her duties in the interest of the public and this is what he said:
“The duty of a journalist is almost similar to that of a Judge, you are expected to defend the poor and the vulnerable while upholding the principles of natural justice”.
Worth-noting is that the Judge was subsequently persecuted for delivering a judgement that defended the rights of a poor man who was persecuted by Mswati and by so doing, he earned my respect by practising what he advised me to do throughout my journalism career.
It should be noted that we were both in eSwatini about 10 years ago when the Judge shared this advice, now both of us are outside the country after being persecuted by the oppressive government.
This means defending the powerless either as a journalist or a Judge comes with a heavy price, you must be ready to suffer in defense of justice.
Citizens of this country have suffered for years under this oppressive government and one of the perpetrators is the media that blinded the people with false information while portraying Mswati as a wise King with a vision.
It is important to state that Mswati is and was never a wise King, he has been hiding behind written speeches and everytime he addresses the Nation without reading from a piece of paper, he exposes his real character. This means no matter how the State controlled media tries to paint him as a wise King, the truth and reality on the ground will always triumph over any propaganda that seeks to mislead the people with regards to what is happening in this country.
Without condoning the conduct of security officers who continue to shoot and kill civilians in this country, the conduct of the media suggests that it is complicit to the oppression.
It should be noted that journalism is very powerful than any military weapon, only one journalist who decide to stand for the truth can change the conduct of thousands of security officers and liberate a country.
It is therefore cowardice of the highest order that professionals who hold the power of the pen can decide to submit and surrender to oppression.
The power of journalism comes directly from the power of the people, an independent journalist can survive even if an oppressive regime can disown him as a long as the people are on his or her side because political power and dictatorship come and go.
This means any journalist who stands with the people has a sustainable journalism career but those who support a dictator will lose credibility in the eyes of the masses.
In conclusion, it is important to remind journalists that as the media, we have an obligation to promote the calls for democracy and liberate the people. Democracy complements media freedom and enhances access to information for a free and democratic society.
Journalists should be the voice of the voices.