Claims from a Swazi newspaper that a German ‘billionaire’ is funding one of Swaziland’s most important pro-democracy NGOs has been hotly denied.
The Swazi News, an independent newspaper in Swaziland, reported that Karl Albrecht, aged 89, had been in the kingdom recently to visit the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO).
Albrecht has a connection with a foundation called Bread for the World, which gives humanitarian aid to help alleviate hunger.
Although the Swazi News headlined its report ‘German billionaire funds local progressives’, nowhere in the story did it actually make the claim that Albrecht was personally funding SCCCO. The newspaper gave no evidence of any kind of funding but there was a passing reference to the work that Bread for the World, does in developing countries.
The report has been swiftly denied by SCCCO. In a letter sent out to its board members yesterday (Saturday 20 March 2010), SCCCO said, ‘While parts of the story are accurate in that we met with a representative of Bread for The World who is a German national he was most definitely not an 83 (sic) year old millionaire.
‘We are not sure why the Swazi News has chosen to fabricate this particular lie but we believe that the intention may be to give credence to the increasing levels of suspicion and hostility being shown to Civil Society by the governing structures. You may remember that a similar story regarding our relationship with Freedom House surfaced about this time last year when the Atibuye Emasisweni campaign was being discussed.’
After complaints to the Swazi News yesterday, SCCCO was advised to write a letter for possible publication to the Times Sunday, the News’ stablemate publication. At the time of writing this blog I have no way of knowing if the letter was published. You can see the original text of the letter here.