- The Chief Editor of Swaziland's state-owned 'Swazi Observer' newspaper, Musa Ndlangamandla, has complained of threats on his life following the newspaper's recent campaign against moneylenders or loan sharks who are exploiting desperate Swazis by charging interest on loans which are three times more than the legal interest rate limit.
On 26 April, Mr Ndlangamandla published an article alleging that since the newspaper launched its campaign to end usury lending, he has received threats on his life. He however said he kept standing behind the campaign and added that the threats would not deter or scare him from pursuing the stories further. The following day his staff came out in support of him in published articles.
Mr Ndlangamandla told the Swaziland branch of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland) that he took the threats seriously and has even reported them to the police. He said he was receiving calls from anonymous individuals who were threatening to kill him for running the campaign against loan sharks. Mr Ndlangamandla said he would stand firm against the threats.
In its campaign against the exploitative money lenders, 'The Swazi Observer' roped in commitments from the Mbabane Ministry of Enterprise and Employment and the Ministry of Finance to enforce lending laws which stipulate a 10 percent interest rate. The loan sharks charge between 30 and 40 percent interest on loans, the newspaper had documented.
As the anti-usury campaign of 'The Swazi Observer' continued, the Minister for Enterprise and Employment Lutfo Dlamini vowed to crack down on exploitative lenders. The ministry ran sustained advertisements in newspapers warning loan sharks against breaking the law and sensitising the public about what the law stipulates with regards to interest on loans. However, it later turned out that the Minister's wife herself was a loan shark.
In the midst of the campaign, money lenders claimed that 'The Swazi Observer' staff members, including Mr Ndlangamandla, were their clients. They threatened to cut off loans to 'The Swazi Observer' staff if the campaign continued, according to MISA-Swaziland.
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