MBABANE: King Mswati’s Government has ordered all mobile operators to shutdown social media as security forces intensified the shooting of protesting civilians in the capital city, Mbabane on Wednesday.
This comes shortly after this publication exposed a letter written by Information Minister Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini who, through the Communications Commission, directed all mobile operators to shutdown social media citing national security.
“It has come to Government’s attention that social media is being used irresponsibly to spread misinformation contributing to the violent attacks and events around the country. As Government, we have an obligation to restore peace and order to bring a stop to the violence currently taking place”, reads the letter signed by Minister Princess Sikhanyiso and directed to Mvilawemphi Dlamini , the CEO of the Communications Commission.
Efforts to reach CEO Mvilawemphi Dlamini proved unsuccessful at the time of compiling this report.
Reached for comments earlier, human rights lawyer Sibusiso Nhlabatsi described the conduct of Information Minister Princess Sikhanyiso as unlawful.
“The internet is used as a medium of communication and people are using it to communicate with their relatives. Now,if you close it, you are depriving them their right to communicate freely. Furthermore, the internet and social media are used as a line of defense for the people because whenever they are attacked by the security forces, they take pictures and expose them. So the decision to shut down the internet by the Minister is unlawful”, said the human rights lawyer.
Government Spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
When this publication contacted MTN Eswatini Spokesperson Mandla Luphondvo on Wednesday, he confirmed that a message has been circulated to their customers informing them regarding the decision from the regulator to shut down Facebook.
“Yello Valued Customer, Please note that MTN received a directive from the regulator to suspend access to Facebook until further notice and the directive has been implemented. We regret the inconvenience caused”, reads a message sent to MTN customers.
Police arrive in Mbabane to shoot protesting civilians.