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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Swaziland:
Striving for
Freedom
As seen through the pages of
Swazi Media Commentary,
compiled by Richard Rooney

Volume 28: October to Decemberr 2017


SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

CONTENTS

Introduction 2
1 Media 3
2 Army 11
3 Police 13
4 Economy 18
5 Health 22
6 Public servants’ strike 25
7 Schools 29
8 Students 34
9 King Mswati III 39
10 TV Mtetwa dies 44
11 Worker exploitation 47
12 Gender 52
13 Corruption 57
14 Democracy 60
15 Human rights 63
About the author 75
Other publications from Swazi Media Commentary 76
Occasional paper series 77
Previous editions 78

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INTRODUCTION

Swaziland’s economy is in free fall and the infrastructure of the kingdom ruled by King
Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch is crumbling. Government bills go
unpaid and the health service is near collapse. There is no money to pay state pensions to
those who reach the eligible age of 60 this year. Public servants have been on strike and look
certain to do so again in the coming months. Members of the Swaziland Amy with the
support of their commanders have systematically sexually assaulted women. The police
routinely attack civilians and operate outside of the law.
These are some of the stories reported in the latest edition of Swaziland: Striving for
Freedom covering the final three months of 2017 and produced by the Swazi Media
Commentary website.
Swaziland came 50th out of 54 African countries for participation and human rights in a
survey just published. It has got worse over the past five years. King Mswati meanwhile has
been named as the third wealthiest monarch in Africa. He has also been accused of exploiting
child labour on his farming land. A new report says more than 11,000 children in Swaziland
are forced to stay away from school to tend cattle.
Swazi Media Commentary is published online, updated most weekdays. It is operated entirely
by volunteers and receives no financial backing from any organisation. It is devoted to
providing information and commentary in support of human rights in Swaziland.

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1 MEDIA

TV censors public servants’ march


10 October 2017

Two journalists on Swaziland’s state-controlled television almost lost their jobs because they
covered a protest march by public servants.
Swazi TV is only one of two television stations in Swaziland where King Mswati III rules as
sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The public servants were demonstrating against
the government which the King picks himself. They wanted a 9.15 percent pay rise but the
government offered them zero.
The Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland, which is in effect owned by the King,
reported (8 October 2017) a source told them the two journalists were assigned to the march
on 20 September 2017 by an editor but when they returned to the station they were
summoned to see the station’s chief executive officer (CEO).
The newspaper reported, ‘The source went on to claim that on the day of the protest march,
the CEO was not at work but after he was informed that some journalists had gone to cover
the march he rushed to the station where he summoned the reporters.
‘The reporters were allegedly forced to name the supervisor who assigned them to cover the
strike. However, in fear of causing trouble for their superiors the two reporters decided not
to.
‘Reasons given by the reporters for covering the strike was that they wanted to archive the
protest action not to air it. Despite that explanation given by the journalists it is alleged that
their superiors continued grilling them. They were then warned against their action.’ The
newspaper said they nearly lost their jobs.
Swazi TV along with radio in Swaziland is strictly controlled by the Swazi Government.
In June 2015, a report tabled at the Swaziland Parliament revealed that censorship at Swazi
Television was so tight that every month the Swaziland Government issued directives to the
station about what events it should cover.
And, the government had also banned ordinary members of parliament from appearing on the
news programmes of Swazi TV.
At the time, Bongani ‘Sgcokosiyancinca’ Dlamini, the Chief Executive of Swazi TV said the
instructions had been given to the station in advance of the 2013 national elections by then
Minister of Information, Communication and Technology Winnie Magagula.
His revelation was contained in a report tabled by Hhukwini MP Saladin Magagula,
chairperson of the House of Assembly select committee investigating the media ban imposed
on MPs on state-owned media.
According to a report in the Swazi Observer, at the time, Dlamini said, ‘It was communicated
to the station that any activity outside of government’s calendar cannot be featured as news

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and that government’s calendar is sent monthly by the press officer in Cabinet and it is
normally updated in between.’
Swazi TV is one of only two television stations in Swaziland and is under state control. The
other station, Channel S is privately-owned, but has a stated editorial policy to always support
King Mswati.
Censorship of radio and television in Swaziland is rife. In August 2014 Minister of
Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Dumisani Ndlangamandla said the
Swaziland Government would not let up on its control of state radio, He said state media
existed primarily to serve the interests of the state.

In August 2012 the government announced that in advance of the national election in
September 2013 radio would be banned from broadcasting news and information that did not
support the government’s own agenda.
All radio in the kingdom, except one Christian station that does not broadcast news, is state-
controlled.
New guidelines also barred ‘public service announcements’ unless they were ‘in line with
government policy’ or had been authorised ‘by the chiefs through the regional administrators’
or deputy prime minister’s office’.
The guidelines said the radio stations could not be ‘used for purposes of campaigning by
individuals or groups, or to advance an agenda for political, financial popularity gains for
individuals or groups’.
There is a long history of censorship on state broadcasting in Swaziland. Strikes and anti-
government demonstrations are usually ignored by broadcasters. Sometimes live radio
programmes are censored on air. In July 2011, the plug was pulled on a phone-in programme
when listeners started criticising the government for its handling of the economy. Percy
Simelane, who was then the boss of SBIS, and went on to become the government’s official
spokesperson, personally stormed the radio studio and cut the programme.
In April 2011, Welile Dlamini, a long-time news editor at SBIS, challenged the Prime
Minister Barnabas Dlamini at an editors’ forum meeting on why the state radio station was
told by the government what and what not to broadcast. Welile Dlamini said that at the
station they were instructed to spike certain stories such as those about demonstrations by
progressives and strike action by workers. The PM responded by saying editors should resign
if they were not happy with the editorial policies they are expected to work with.

In March 2011, SBIS stopped broadcasting the BBC World Service Focus on Africa
programme after it carried reports critical of King Mswati. In the same month, SBIS failed to
cover the march by nurses that forced the Swazi Government into paying them overdue
allowances.
In 2010, Swazi police told SBIS it must stop allowing people to broadcast information about
future meetings unless the police had given permission. Jerome Dlamini, Deputy Director of
the SBIS said this was to stop the radio station airing an announcement for a meeting that was
prohibited.

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He said, ‘It’s the station’s policy not to make announcements without police permission.’
In 2006, the Minister for Public Service and Information, Themba Msibi, warned the Swazi
broadcasters against criticising the King.
MISA reported at the time, ‘The minister’s threats followed a live radio programme of news
and current affairs in which a human rights lawyer criticised the King’s sweeping
constitutional powers.’

Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, had been asked to comment on a visit by an African
Union (AU) human rights team which was on a fact-finding mission to Swaziland.

‘In response, Maseko said that, as human rights activists, they had concerns about the King’s
sweeping constitutional powers and the fact that he the King was wrongfully placed above
the Constitution. He said they were going to bring this and other human rights violations to
the attention of the AU delegation.
‘Not pleased with the broadcast, the government was quick to respond. Msibi spoke on air the
following day to sternly warn the media against criticising the King. He said the media
should exercise respect and avoid issues that seek to question the King or his powers.
‘The minister said his message was not directed only to radio but to all media, both private
and government-owned. He said that in government they had noticed that there was growing
trend in the media to criticise the King when he should be above criticism and public
scrutiny,’ MISA reported.
Maseko, a long-time campaigner for human rights, was jailed for two years along with Nation
Magazine editor Bheki Makhubu in July 2014 for writing articles critical of the Swazi
judiciary.
See also

NO LET UP ON SWAZI MEDIA CENSORSHIP


BILL LETS KING CONTROL BROADCASTING
BROADCASTING IS NOT FOR THE PEOPLE
GOVT ‘TIGHTENS GRIP ON CENSORSHIP’
GOVT BANS MPS FROM THE RADIO
NEW RADIO CENSORSHIP RULES RELEASED

‘Observer’ names another rape victim


25 October 2017

The Swazi Observer newspaper has once again named a rape victim in violation of her human
rights and journalism ethical codes.
It also disclosed her HIV-positive status.
The Sunday Observer (22 October 2017) reported on a woman it called ‘mentally unstable’.
It named her and published two photographs of her as well as a picture of where she lived and

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of her aunt. It also published a photograph of her youngest daughter. This had her face
blanked out but she would be easily recognisable to people in her community.
The newspaper said the woman had been repeatedly raped by men in her community and was
now HIV-positive.
By publishing the name of the women, the Observer broke Article 15 of the Swaziland
National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) code of ethics on Survivors of Sexual Assault
which states, ‘Journalists shall avoid identifying survivors of sexual assault or any
information that may lead to the identification of the survivor.’
Journalists across the world generally agree that it violates the rights of rape victims to
publish their names without their consent.
This is not the first time the Swazi Observer has named alleged rape victims. In February
2015, it published the names of eight alleged rape victims without their consent.
The Observer published the names as part of a report on the start of a trial of an alleged serial
rapist. In its report the Observer listed the women’s names and details of their attacks in what
it called ‘a sneak preview’ of the case. It gave their names and details of how each attack took
place. The newspaper named one woman and revealed she was a virgin.
In all of the attacks violence including a knife was used. In all cases the alleged rapist did not
use a condom.
When the publication of the report caused an outcry the Observer gave a half-hearted
apology, saying it had made a ‘boo-boo’.
In its apology, the Observer said, ‘Indeed, the only decent thing we could do after mixing up
the rules is to draw our own sword and hang ourselves.’
The editor nor any other journalist involved in the story was disciplined and the women
involved received no compensation. Now, the offence has been repeated it remains to be seen
what action will be taken.
The Swazi Observer newspapers are in effect owned by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland
as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Its journalistic credentials have been called
into question many times. In a review of press freedom in Swaziland, the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA) called the Observer, a ‘pure propaganda machine for the royal
family’.
The Observer regularly breaks Article 1 of the SNAJ code Article 1which deals with people’s
right to information. The article says, ‘The duty of every journalist is to write and report,
adhere to and faithfully defend the truth. A journalist should make adequate inquiries, do
cross-checking of facts in order to provide the public with unbiased, accurate, balanced and
comprehensive information.’
The newspaper is on public record to say that its ‘collective stand as a newspaper is that the
integrity of Swaziland as a democratic State and His Majesty King Mswati III as the
legitimate leader of the Swazi nation, must never be compromised in any way.’

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It also publishes false reports about Asians in Swaziland that are capable of string up racial
hatred. In October 2016, it claimed that 600,000 people in Swaziland are of Asian origin (14
October 2016). A website called countrymeters that constantly updates statistics recorded
Swaziland’s total population at that time as 1,312,881.
That would mean that about 45 percent of the entire Swazi population were of Asian origin.
In fact, every reputable source shows that about 97 percent of Swazi people are African. The
sources include the CIA factbook and indexmundi.

The Observer reported on 14 October 2016 that a parliamentary committee set up to


investigate Asians in the kingdom was told Asian people had occupied, ‘every available
space in the urban areas’. The newspaper did not name the source of this statement.
The Observer reported as if fact that 90 percent of shops in the kingdom are owned by Asian
people (14 October 2016). It said, in Manzini, the main commercial city in Swaziland,
‘almost the entire city is reportedly in the hands of the Indians’ (14 October 2016).
Other reports it made without giving readers evidence included: Asian people are rushing to
acquire Swazi Nation Land to open up small businesses (15 October 2016); wealthy Asian
businessmen are evicting Swazis in massive scales in the areas of Manzini (17 October
2016); Asians are associating themselves with the Swazi Royal Family because it would
secure their investments (17 October 2016).
The constant trashing of Asian people runs against Swazi journalists’ own code of ethics. It
amounts to hate speech. The Swaziland National Association of Journalists in Article 13 of
its code states, ‘Hate speech. (Journalists shall avoid by all means the publication of speech
that might promote hatred, spite and conflict amongst the Swazi or any other nation.)’
Richard Rooney
See also

PRESSURE ON ‘OBSERVER’ OVER RAPE


‘SWAZI OBSERVER’ NAMES ‘RAPE VICTIMS’
‘OBSERVER’ SHRUGS OFF ITS RAPE OUTRAGE

Swazi Govt forces newspaper to close


15 December 2017

Government in Swaziland has closed down a newspaper after it fell foul of one of more than
30 laws in the kingdom restricting the media.
Swaziland Shopping, a newspaper aimed at businesses, was told to close because it did not
conform to the Books and Newspapers Act 1963. The newspaper’s registration under the Act
had been declined by the Swazi Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology
(MICT).

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Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political
parties are banned from taking part in elections and groups advocating for democracy are
banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported on Friday (15
December 2017), MICT said Swaziland Shopping had not submitted a raft of technical
information, including profiles of the staff and their qualifications.
Media censorship in Swaziland is heavy. All broadcast media except one small under-
resourced television station Channel S is state controlled. Channel S has publicly stated it
would always support the King.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa once estimated there were more than 30 pieces of
legislation in Swaziland to restrict operations of the media. They date back to before the
present Swaziland Constitution came into effect in 2005. Although the Constitution allows
for freedom of speech and the media none of these laws have been repealed.
Among the laws restricting media freedom are laws on national security and sedition. The
Official Secrets Act, 1968 prohibits any person who holds office under the Government from
communicating ‘any code, password, sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or
information’ to an unauthorised person. To convict a person under this Act, it is not necessary
to prove that the accused was guilty of any particular act, but merely that ‘it appears, from the
circumstances of the case or the conduct of the accused, that his purpose was a purpose
prejudicial to the safety or interests of Swaziland’.
The Sedition and Subversive Activities Act, 1938 states that a speech or publication is
seditious if it is intended to bring the king, his heirs, successors, or government into contempt
or encourage hatred of them. The Act has been described as a ‘draconian piece of legislation,
the primary purpose of which is to provide for the suppression and punishment of sedition,
that is criticism of the king and the Swaziland government’.
Other laws are about content of newspapers and broadcasting stations. Criminal defamation
remains part of Swaziland’s laws dating back to the Cape Libel Act, 1882 which made it an
offence to publish a defamatory libel: that is to injure the reputation of a person and expose
him or her to hatred, ridicule and contempt.
Swaziland offers specific protection for the person of the Ndlovukati (Queen Mother). The
Protection of the Person of the Ndlovukati Act, 1968 makes it an offence to bring into hatred
or contempt, or incite disaffection or ill will or hostility against, the person of Ndlovukati.
Swaziland has no freedom of information legislation. The Official Secrets Act and other
restrictive practices restrict the media in their efforts to obtain information and report freely
on the activities of government. Access to information from the government and officials
depends on goodwill and contacts rather than on any clearly established rules.
The Obscene Publications Act, 1927 prohibits the importation, making, manufacture,
production, sale, distribution, or public exposure of indecent or obscene material. No
exemption is granted to material of an artistic, literary or scientific nature. The Act does not
define what it means by the terms ‘indecent’ and ‘obscene’.

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Legislation also restricts reporting of law courts. The Magistrate’s Courts Act, 1939 grants
magistrates the power to hold trials in camera or to exclude females, minors and the public
generally ‘in the interest of good order or public morals’.
The Proscribed Publications Act, 1968 is a particularly notorious piece of legislation
impacting on the print media sector. It empowers the Minister for Public Service and
Information to ban publications, ‘if the publication is prejudicial or potentially prejudicial to
the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health’. Two
newly-established publications, the Guardian and the Nation, both with agendas critical of
the government, were closed under this Act in 2001, although the Nation appealed the ban in
the High Court and won its case and continues to publish, but the Guardian closed.
The Cinematograph Act, 1920 controls the making and public dissemination of films, and of
pictures and placards relating to the films. The Act also prohibits films to be made of certain
Swazi cultural occasions and celebrations namely the Incwala Day, the King’s Birthday, the
Umhlanga (Reed Dance) and the Somhlolo (Independence Day) without the Minister’s
written consent. The Minister has an unlimited discretion to grant or to refuse consent.
The Swaziland Television Authority Act, 1983 and the Swaziland Posts and
Telecommunications Act, 1983 regulated television and resulted in a near-monopoly of state-
controlled television and radio in Swaziland. The Board of the Swaziland Posts and
Telecommunication Corporation has sole authority to issue broadcasting licences, which it
hardly ever does. Consequently, there is only one commercial radio station (a Christian
station that does not report news or current events) and no community stations.

Swaziland still a secretive state


5 October 2017

Swaziland government ministries and public institutions remain unwilling to share


information about their activities, a new report reveals.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) named the Ministry of Home Affairs as the
worst offender among many. None of the departments and institutions surveyed had a good
record.
MISA surveyed eight entities. In a report called Transparency Assessment 2017 The
Citizens’ Analysis of Government Openness it concluded, ‘There is still a lot of reluctance
from officials responsible for providing public information to both members of the public and
media practitioners.
‘Worse still, there are no clear lines of communication in most of these public institutions.
Government ministries have hired information or communication officers but these public
officers are paid for doing little in terms of providing information; they do not have the
authority to respond to the queries brought to them. Only the Principal Secretaries in the
government ministries are authorised to respond to the questions directed at the ministries.’
MISA added, ‘Information on the officials designated to liaise with the public and the media
is not even communicated through the websites. The situation is the same in public

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institutions—they do not have officials designated to provide information to information


seekers.’
MISA said Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch, needs a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill to
encourage public institutions to release information to the public and media.
It added, ‘The study results underscore the need for easing access to public information. It is
high time that public institutions go an extra mile and prioritise information dissemination to
the public and through the media. Government ministries should give the information and
communication officers the authority to communicate information to the public and media
because access to information is key to social, economic, political and cultural development.’
The survey is conducted annually and MISA said results of the 2017 study were little
different from those of the previous years.
In 2007, the Swazi Parliament issued a draft bill on freedom of information. The first
objective of this bill was to ‘Encourage a culture of openness, transparency and
accountability in public bodies by providing for access to information held by these bodies in
order to enable every citizen to fully exercise and protect their constitutional right of freedom
of expression.’
To date the Bill has not been passed.
In its 2017 report, MISA said, ‘Swazi citizens continue to be deprived of critical information
through the lack of a right to access public information. This state of affairs is in gross
violation of Article 24 of the Constitution which states that a person has the “freedom to
receive ideas and information”.
MISA Swaziland has mounted an access to information campaign in a strong bid to push for
the passage of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill into law.’
See also

GOVERNMENT SLOW TO GIVE INFORMATION


SWAZILAND NEEDS FREE INFORMATION

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2 ARMY

Recruits ‘bribed their way into army’


9 October 2017

New recruits to Swaziland’s army paid ‘hefty bribes’ for their places, according to a
newspaper report.
This follows an outrage in April 2017 when about 40 new recruits were expelled from the
army because they had cheated on entry tests.
The Observer on Saturday reported (7 October 2017) that new recruits started arriving at
Mbuluzi army barracks last week to join the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) as
the army is officially known.
The newspaper reported sources revealed recruits paid between E40,000 and E50,000 ‘just to
bribe some top army officials to allow them into the army’. In Swaziland, seven in ten people
are so poor they have incomes of less than E28 per day.
The newspaper added, ‘Such exploitations on people that merely want to put food on the
table for their families have in most forums been seen to be exacerbated by the country’s high
unemployment rate.’
A USDF spokesperson denied bribery had taken place.
In April 2017 corruption during army recruitment was exposed by both of Swaziland’s two
daily newspapers. Again allegations were that top army officers were bribed. Families were
reported to have sold livestock and other belongings to get their men in uniform. Those who
were said to have made the bribes were expelled.
The Swazi News reported (29 April 2017) that corrupt practices had been known about for
several years, but this was the first time that recruits had been expelled.
The Times of Swaziland reported that about 40 recruits were expelled when they failed to
prove they used the legal route to be recruited into the military.
The Swazi Observer reported the army said action was taken following complaints from
throughout Swaziland ‘about abnormalities which happened during the recruitment
exercises’.
In February 2017, during the recruitment drive it was reported that several men who tried to
cheat during exercises were tortured by army personnel. The Army was recruiting 495
additional soldiers from across the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch.

‘Army sexual assaults at border posts’


12 December 2017

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Soldiers in Swaziland have once again been accused of sexually assaulting women at the
kingdom’s border posts.
The latest accusation also says they are charging people to cross at informal border crossings
into South Africa.
The Observer on Saturday reported (9 December 2017), ‘The army troops have been accused
by women of abusing their powers by touching them inappropriately as they lay their hands
on their buttocks just to allow to cross either to South Africa or into Swaziland.
‘Some women when being searched for illegal goods alleged that they are touched almost
everywhere by the male army officers and these informal crossings.’
The newspaper said the inappropriate behaviour takes place ‘almost every day’ around the
Ngwenya informal crossing.
A spokesperson for the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (the official name for the
Swaziland army) denied the allegations.
This was the latest in a number of recent reports of army misbehaviour at borders.
In July 2017 soldiers reportedly forced a bus-load of passengers to strip naked after it crossed
the Mhlumeni Border Gate into Mozambique. Local media reported it happens all the time.
The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported they
were ordered to strip ‘stark naked’ as part of a ‘routine body search’. The newspaper said the
passengers had been on vacation in Mozambique.
In June 2017 it was reported women at the informal crossing situated next to the Mananga
Border Gate with South Africa were made to remove their underwear so soldiers could
inspect their private parts with a mirror. The Swazi Army said it happened all the time.
Soldiers were said to be searching for ‘illegal objects’ using a mirror similar to that used to
inspect the underside of cars.
Once the practice became public knowledge, the Army said it would continue to strip people
and if people did not like it they should stop crossing the border.
See also

ARMY STRIPS BUS PASSENGERS NAKED


SOLDIERS INSPECT WOMAN’S PRIVATE PARTS
ARMY UNREPENTANT ON STRIP SEARCH
ARMY TORTURES RECRUITMENT CHEATS
‘ARMY AMONG MOST CORRUPT IN WORLD’

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3 POLICE

Police ‘beat up two suspects in cell’


9 November 2017

Two men Maswazi Simelane and Fani Simelane accused police in Swaziland of beating them
up badly in the cells.
Fani Simelane told the Mbabane Magistrate he was heavily assaulted all over his body so
badly that the police postponed his court appearance due to his serious injuries, the Swazi
Observer reported on Tuesday (7 November 2017).
‘I was taken to hospital by the police; they must explain why I was admitted in hospital if
they are denying that they assaulted me. They further did not take me to court as they were
scared the court would notice my injuries,’ the newspaper reported Simelane saying.
Maswazi Simelane told the court he was assaulted in one of the rooms at the Mbabane Police
Station. ‘I was handcuffed during the assault and the handcuffs injured me badly.
‘They took pictures of me whilst I was being assaulted. I did not go to court for a week due to
the injuries,’ he said.
The two faced charges of theft of car tyres.
Police denied the alleged assaults. The case continues.
This is only one of a number of reports of police brutality in Swaziland which is ruled by
King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
In August 2017, a security guard told Mbabane court a female police officer sat on his face
and other officers assaulted him after they accused him of stealing motor parts.
In March 2017, A man accused of multiple murders told a court he was tortured by police for
11 days to force him to confess. He said he was suffocated with a tube and assaulted all over
his body, resulting in many serious injuries. The alleged attack was said to have taken place
at Lobamba Police Station, the Manzini Magistrates’ Court was told.
In January 2017, local media reported police forced a 13-year-old boy to remove his trousers
and flogged him with a sjambok, to make him confess to stealing a mobile phone.
In September 2016, women were reportedly ambushed by armed police and ‘brutally
attacked’ by police during a strike at the Plantation Forest Company, near Pigg’s Peak.
In June 2016, a United Nations review panel looking into human rights in Swaziland was told
in a joint report by four organisations, ‘In Mbabane [the Swazi capital], police tortured a 15-
year-old boy after his mother had reported him for stealing E85.00 (US$6). The boy alleges
that he was beaten with a slasher (metal blade tool for cutting grass) and knobkerrie (club) for
five hours. While enduring the pain, he alleges that he was made to count the strokes aloud
for the police to hear. Instead of being charged, the boy was physically assaulted and made to
sit in a chair for thirty minutes before he was sent back home.’

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The report was submitted to the United Human Rights Council Working Group on the
Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland by the Swaziland Multi-Media Community
Network, Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders, Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic
Organisations and Constituent Assembly – Swaziland.
See also

FEMALE COP SAT ON SUSPECT’S FACE


‘HORROR TALE OF SWAZI POLICE TORTURE’
POLICE ‘BRUTALLY ASSUALT’ WORKERS
KING’S PAPER SUPPORTS POLICE TORTURE
MORE POLICE TORTURE IN SWAZILAND

Police shoot woman striker in head


10 November 2017

Police in Swaziland shot a woman in the head with a rubber bullet as they fired on workers
protesting for a pay rise.
They also fired teargas that spread for 100 metres.
It happened at a Poly Pack factory at Ngwenya where workers were asking for a 20 percent
pay rise, according to local meda reports.
In a detailed account the Swazi Observer reported on Friday (10 November 2017), ‘The shot
is said to have been fired by one plain clothed police officer.’
It added the shooting was done, ‘in an effort to disperse the workers from the premises of the
company’.
The woman identified only as ‘Nelly from Motshane’ was taken by ambulance to Mbabane
Government Hospital.
Workers were protesting because management at the company that makes sacks would not
listen to their request for more pay.
Negotiations on the pay increase are reported to have started in July 2017. Two weeks ago
workers were prevented from striking by the Industrial Court. However, members of the
Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA) decided to strike on Thursday after
employers offered a wage increase but only to selected workers.
When workers blocked a company car from entering the premises and set fire to it police,
including members of the Operational Support Service Unit (OSSU), intervened.
The Observer reported, ‘They ended up using teargas, which could be inhaled from as far as
approximately 100 metres away.’
It added, ‘Rubber bullets were also used to remove the workers from near the premises of the
company.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

‘The workers did not want to be dispersed from near the premises as they would regroup,
with an intention of going back from where they were dispersed. The police ended up taking
about 40 workers for questioning. Some are said to have been arrested from nearby
homesteads, where they had run to hide.’
Nelly was reportedly treated and released from hospital, but is one of those workers arrested.
Police in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch, and political parties are banned from contesting elections, often intervene on behalf
of management in labour disputes.
In February 2017, police fired live gunshots and teargas at Juris Manufacturing in Nhlangano
where workers had been locked out during a dispute. There had been a long-running row at
the factory about management style and accusations of racism by one boss in particular.
In September 2016, media in Swaziland reported women strikers were ambushed by armed
police and ‘brutally attacked’ at the Plantation Forest Company, near Pigg’s Peak. Police had
previously used rubber bullets and teargas against the strikers and had fired live rounds to
disperse a crowd.
In 2013, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) reported that Swaziland
was becoming a police and military state.
It said things had become so bad in the kingdom that police were unable to accept that
peaceful political and social dissent was a vital element of a healthy democratic process, and
should not be viewed as a crime.
These complaints were made by OSISA at an African Commission on Human and Peoples'
Rights (ACHPR) meeting in The Gambia on 10 April 2013.
OSISA said, ‘There are also reliable reports of a general militarization of the country through
the deployment of the Swazi army, police and correctional services to clamp down on any
peaceful protest action by labour or civil society organisations ahead of the country’s
undemocratic elections.’
OSISA was commenting on the trend in Southern Africa for police and security services to be
increasingly violent and abusive of human rights.
In particular, OSISA highlighted how the police continued to clamp down on dissenting
voices and the legitimate public activities of opposition political parties prior to, during and
after elections.
In a statement OSISA said in February 2013 a battalion of armed police invaded the Our
Lady of Assumption Cathedral in Manzini and forced the congregation to vacate the church
alleging that the service ‘intended to sabotage the country’s general elections’.
OSISA added, ‘A month later, a heavily armed group of police backed up by the Operational
Support Services Unit prevented members of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland
(TUCOSWA) from holding a peaceful commemoration prayer in celebration of the
federation’s anniversary. In both instances there was no court order giving the police the legal
authority to halt the prayers.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

In 2015, Swaziland was named as one of the ten worst countries for working people in the
world, in a report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
See also

MORE POLICE GUNS AGAINST WORKERS


POLICE FIRE RUBBER BULLETS ON STRIKERS
POLICE FIRE SHOTS AT WORKERS’ PROTEST
KINGDOM ONE OF WORST IN WORLD FOR WORKERS

Swazi Police raids and road blocks


9 December 2017

Police in Swaziland intend to set up security road blocks across the kingdom over the
forthcoming holiday season.
Lubombo Police Commissioner Musa Zwane said there had already been raids on homes and
there would be increased police patrols.
He said this at a crime awareness event held in Siteki on Wednesday (6 December 2017). The
Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as
sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported, ‘Zwane said police will be taking a
robust approach on any acts of criminality that may rear its ugly head during the holidays.’
It added the ‘intensive raids in homesteads’ were ‘aimed at uprooting any criminal elements
from the society’.
The Swaziland police and security forces have been criticised in the past by international
observers. Meetings on all topics are routinely banned in Swaziland. In 2013, the Open
Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) reported that Swaziland was becoming a
police and military state.
It said things had become so bad in the kingdom that police were unable to accept that
peaceful political and social dissent was a vital element of a healthy democratic process, and
should not be viewed as a crime.
These complaints were made by OSISA at an African Commission on Human and Peoples'
Rights (ACHPR) meeting in The Gambia in April 2013.
OSISA said, ‘There are also reliable reports of a general militarization of the country through
the deployment of the Swazi army, police and correctional services to clamp down on any
peaceful protest action by labour or civil society organisations ahead of the country’s
undemocratic elections.’
OSISA was commenting on the trend in Southern Africa for police and security services to be
increasingly violent and abusive of human rights.

16
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

In particular, OSISA highlighted how the police continued to clamp down on dissenting
voices and the legitimate public activities of opposition political parties prior to, during and
after elections.
As recently as September 2017, police stopped a pro-democracy meeting taking place, saying
they had not given organisers permission to meet. It happened during a Global Week of
Action for democracy in the kingdom. About 100 people reportedly intended to meet at the
Mater Dolorosa School (MDS) in the kingdom’s capital, Mbabane.
In 2013, after police broke up a meeting to discuss the pending election, the meeting’s joint
organisers, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy
Campaign (SDC) said Swaziland no longer had a national police service, but instead had ‘a
private militia with no other purpose but to serve the unjust, dictatorial, unSwazi and
ungodly, semi-feudal royal Tinkhundla system of misrule’.
In April 2015, a planned rally to mark the anniversary of the royal decree that turned
Swaziland from a democracy to a kingdom ruled by an autocratic monarch was abandoned
amid fears that police would attack participants. In February and March, large numbers of
police disbanded meetings of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), injuring
at least one union leader.
In 2014, police illegally abducted prodemocracy leaders and drove them up to 30 kilometres
away, and dumped them to prevent them taking part in a meeting calling for freedom in the
kingdom. Police staged roadblocks on all major roads leading to Swaziland’s main
commercial city, Manzini, where protests were to be held. They also physically blocked halls
to prevent meetings taking place. Earlier in the day police had announced on state radio that
meetings would not be allowed to take place.
In 2012, four days of public protest were planned by trade unions and other prodemocracy
organisations. They were brutally suppressed by police and state forces and had to be
abandoned.
In 2011, a group using Facebook, called for an uprising to depose the King. State forces took
this call seriously and many prodemocracy leaders were arrested. Police and security forces
prevented people from travelling into towns and cities to take part in demonstrations. Again,
the protests were abandoned.
See also

SWAZI POLICE NOW ‘A PRIVATE MILITIA’


SWAZILAND ‘BECOMING MILITARY STATE’
POLICE THREAT TO DEMOCRATIC STATE
RIOT POLICE FORCE HALT TO PRAYER
POLICE BLOCK PUBLIC MEETING

17
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

4 ECONOMY

Swazi Government ‘is broke’


19 October 2017

The Swaziland Government is broke and ‘living from hand to mouth’, according to an
independent newspaper in the kingdom.
It has so little money that it relies on tax revenues to pay bills and this has meant that salaries
of public servants have been paid late in recent months.
The Government is taking taxes collected by the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) and
making decisions on how immediately to spend the money.
The Times Sunday reported (16 October 2017) that the SRA collected money daily and
deposited it in the government coffers known as the consolidated fund each week.
The newspaper reported Martin Dlamini, Minister of Finance, said a cash flow crisis surfaces
when there were extraordinary expenses.
The news of the budget crisis came at the same time it was revealed that senior public
servants received an 18.9 pay increase this month. Meanwhile, ordinary public servants have
been told by government they will get no increase at all this year.
The Times Sunday also reported fears that the Swazi Government was not remitting public
servant subscriptions to cooperatives. Aubrey Sibiya, President of the National Public Service
and Allied Workers’ Union, told the newspaper that members of the cooperative were being
told they could not take out loans because they had not paid subscriptions.
‘We suspect that government is not remitting subscriptions,’ the Times reported him saying.
On Wednesday (19 October 2017), it was reported the government had borrowed E1.2 billion
from the Central Bank of Swaziland.
In September 2017 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that increased
government spending in Swaziland resulted in the highest deficit since 2010. It said the
outlook for the future of the economy was ‘fragile’ and that the medium term outlook was
‘unsustainable’ without policy changes.
It also said the governance of public entities was poor.
The IMF recommended that the government should contain ‘the bloated government wage
bill’, curb non-essential purchases and prioritize capital outlays.

Swazi govt fails to pay elderly grants


26 November 2017

The elderly in Swaziland have not been paid pensions because the government does not have
the money.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

This was revealed when about 4,000 people became eligible for the pensions (known as
elderly grants) when they reached the age of 60 and many were turned away when they went
to collect them.
Meanwhile, King Mswati III has had a budget increase that would pay for the new pensions
ten times over.
A media report in Swaziland estimated that the government needed about an extra E20
million (US$1.4 million) to pay for the new pensioners and another E40 million to meet a
shortfall to pay the existing 66,000 people already receiving the pensions.
The Government said it had no budget to pay the new pensions. It has a budget of E282
million for the elderly, but with the reviewed monthly grant, rising from E220 to E400 has
meant that this budget became insufficient, the Observer on Saturday reported (18 November
2017).
The Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini told the House of Assembly there was no money to
pay the grants. The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the
kingdom, reported, ‘Dlamini said these new elderly had not been budgeted for by government
nor was an allocation made by Parliament.’
The newspaper added, ‘He said government was not reneging on its commitment to support
the welfare of the elderly, but was resource constrained.’
Although the government did not provide sufficiently for the elderly in its 2017 budget it did
increase spending on the Swaziland Royal Household by E200 million (US$14 million) to
E1.3 billion. King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
An independent monthly magazine in the kingdom the Nation reported (April 2017), ‘While
the entire budget for King Mswati and the royal household continues to grow in hundreds of
millions of emalangeni every year, social grants for elderly and the physically challenged
showed a very insignificant increase.’
Seven in ten of the King’s 1.3 million subjects have incomes of less than US$2 per day.
The Nation reported the budget increase as ‘mouth-watering’. It said elderly grants had a
‘paltry’ increase. The Finance Minister Martin Dlamini announced in his February budget the
grant would rise from E240 to E400 per month.
The Nation reported, ‘Even health institutions have seen cuts to their budget allocations this
year while the army’s allocation continues to rise unabated even though the country is at
peace. Money for agriculture has also been cut, despite that the country has just come out a
devastating drought and farmers need help to find their feet.’
King Mswati has been criticised outside Swaziland for his lavish spending. He has 13
palaces, fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars and at least one Rolls-Royce. He is to receive a
second private jet aircraft next year.
In the budget announced in February 2017, nearly E2.7 billion (US$216 million) was
allocated to the kingdom’s security forces that comprise the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence
Force (USDF), Royal Swaziland Police Service (RSPS) and His Majesty’s Correctional
Services (HMCS).

19
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

This is more than the E2.2bn allocated to health in the coming financial year and E585
million more than allocated to security in 2016-2017.
Security now takes up 12.4 percent of Swaziland’s total budget of E21.7bn ($US1.66 bn), up
11 percent on last year.
In the calendar year 2014, Swaziland’s military spending was estimated to be US$80.6
million; about the equivalent of US$62 for every person in the kingdom.

Swazi Govt running out of money


8 December 2017

Swaziland’s public spending is so out of control the kingdom has to rely on income from a
customs union to pay public service salaries, but it is not enough, Finance Minister Martin
Dlamini told Parliament.
The admission comes as hospitals go short of vital medicines, children go hungry at school
and elderly peoples’ pensions go unpaid. Meanwhile the budget for King Mswati III who
rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch increases.
Dlamini reported in his md-year budget review on Wednesday (6 December 2017) that the
Swazi Government was at least E2.5 billion (US$180 million) in arrears by the end of July
2017.
He told the House of Assembly that this did not include E619 million which government had
been operating on a cash flow deficit at the end of the second quarter, up to September 2017.
He said the funding gap was projected to increase to E4.5 billion by the end of the financial
year, 31 March 2018, the Times of Swaziland reported.
He said the kingdom relied on money from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU)
receipts as a revenue source for the budget. The newspaper reported him saying, ‘Despite its
volatility, SACU has now become the only reliable source of payment of civil servants
salaries.’
The newspaper added, ‘He said it was worth mentioning that even with the higher than
average SACU receipts for 2017 which stood at E7.1 billion, government was unable to meet
the entire wage bill obligations through this source of revenue.’
The money from SACU was only enough to cover 2.5 months of salaries in each quarter, he
said.
The Swazi Government which is not elected by the people but handpicked by King Mswati
has lurched from one financial crisis to another for many years. In the past few months it has
not paid bills for medicines and food for schoolchildren which has resulted in great hardship
among King Mswati’s 1.3 subjects. Seven in ten live in abject poverty with incomes of less
than US$2 a day.
In November 2017 it was announced there was not enough money to pay people who reached
the age of 60 this year their elderly grants (pensions).

20
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

In February 2017 King Mswati’s budget was increased by US$14 million.


In October 2017 it was reported that the Government was broke and ‘living from hand to
mouth’ and public servants’ salaries had been paid late in recent months.
The happened as it was publicly revealed that senior public servants received an 18.9 pay
increase that month. Meanwhile, ordinary public servants had been told by government they
would get no increase at all this year. A dispute between workers and Government over this
continues.
Also in October 2017, it was reported the government had borrowed E1.2 billion from the
Central Bank of Swaziland.
In September 2017 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that increased
government spending in Swaziland resulted in the highest deficit since 2010. It said the
outlook for the future of the economy was ‘fragile’ and that the medium term outlook was
‘unsustainable’ without policy changes.
It also said the governance of public entities was poor.
The IMF recommended that the government should contain ‘the bloated government wage
bill’, curb non-essential purchases and prioritize capital outlays.
See also
SWAZI KING’S BUDGET INCREASES US$14 MILLION
THREAT TO LIFE AS GOVERNMENT DOESN’T PAY BILLS
U.S. SAYS BUDGET LACKS TRANSPARENCY
SWAZILAND: MASSIVE ‘SECURITY’ SPENDING
SWAZI MPs REJECT NATIONAL BUDGET
BUDGET NEGLECTS ELDERLY, FAVOURS PM
ELDERLY STAY POOR AS KING GETS MORE
‘CHILDREN COULD SOON DIE OF HUNGER’
PUBLIC SERVANTS PAY STRIKE ‘ON WAY’

21
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

5 HEALTH
Swaziland nurses on ‘go-slow’
21 October 2017

Nurses across Swaziland are taking part in a ‘go-slow’ and picketing as their relationship
with government has broken down.
It comes after hundreds of nurses marched to petition the Prime Minister on Wednesday (18
October 2017).
Nurses believe they have been victimised over incidents at health facilities that are not their
fault. At the centre of the dispute is the Emkhuzweni Health Centre where they say nurses
were unfairly singled out and blamed when a birth delivery went wrong in 2015.
They say the Swazi Government has failed to respond to their concerns a number of times.
Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) President Bheki Mamba said patient
services would be affected at all the health facilities across the kingdom.
See also

NURSES STRIKE OVER DRUG SHORTAGES


DRUG SHORTAGE CRISIS DEEPENS
UNPAID NURSES AND STAFF STRIKE
SWAZI HEALTH OFFICERS’ STRIKE THREAT

Shortage of HIV drugs for babies


24 October 2017

A shortage of drugs in government health facilities in Swaziland has left hundreds of new-
born babies of HIV-infected mothers exposed to the virus.
The Ministry of Health said there was a breakdown in communication and that the nevirapine
syrup is stuck in central stores.
Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA) Deputy Secretary General Gcinaphi Pateguana told the
Sunday Observer (22 October 2017) newspaper in Swaziland there were reports of shortages
of a number of drugs, including nevirapine, from across the kingdom.
The Observer reported, ‘Last month the country had a shortage of drugs and supplies used in
the administration of health services. In the list of medicines reported to have run out of stock
in public hospitals was nevirapine syrup, which is administered to HIV-positive mothers and
babies to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
‘The Sunday Observer understands that this medication ran out for almost a month in the
entire country’s government hospitals.’
The newspaper added no alternative drug was given to the mothers.

22
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Ministry of Health Chief Pharmacist Fortunate Bhembe said there had been distribution
challenges in September, which led to drug shortages in hospitals.
She told the newspaper this was mainly due to a breakdown in communication between the
health facilities and the Central Medical Stores (CMS).
‘Another challenge she cited was lack of communication between health facilities, as they
could have shared or loaned each other the medication while awaiting their orders.’
Bhembe said Swaziland had not run out of medication.
However, the newspaper reported, ‘On the case of nevirapine, she said she was not aware of
any facility that reported shortages during the mentioned period and only learnt of such from
the newspaper report.’
There has been continuing shortages of drugs at public health facilities in Swaziland over the
past year because the Swazi Government has not paid its suppliers. In September 2017 it was
reported there were shortages of drugs for a range of illnesses and conditions including
epilepsy, hypertension, diabetes, ulcers and treatments for HIV positive people.
Also hospitals and clinics did not have alcohols and spirits used in disinfecting apparatus,
bandages and gloves.
The shortage of drugs has been ongoing in Swaziland for years. The government which is
handpicked by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch, often fails to pay its bills to suppliers.
In June 2017, Swazi Senator Prince Kekela told parliament that at least five people had died
as a result of the shortage of medicines in Swaziland.
At the time it was reported that about US$18 million was owed to drug companies in May
2017 and they had suspended delivery of medicines until bills were paid.
In 2014, at least 44 children died and many hundreds were hospitalised during an outbreak of
diarrhoea. The Ministry of Health said it could not afford readily-available drugs. Then, the
Government spent US$1.7 million on top-of-the range BMW cars for itself.
At present, Swaziland faces an outbreak of malaria and at least four people have died and
hundreds have been affected.

People die as Govt bills go unpaid


27 October 2017

Hundreds of lives are being put at risk and at least three people have died because the
Swaziland Government has not paid its bills to South African medical service providers.
This has led to health facilities refusing to accept patients under the Phalala Fund. According
to the Times of Swaziland newspaper on Thursday (26 October 2017), the Swazi Government
has unpaid debts of E170 million (US$12 million).
Patients on both the Phalala scheme and the Civil Servants Medical Referral Scheme are
affected, according to the newspaper.

23
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

According to the Swaziland Government, The objective of the Phalala Fund is to assist
deserving Swazi citizens who would otherwise not have access to specialist medical care to
get it either, within Swaziland or “in special circumstances” outside the kingdom.
The newspaper said in the present financial year (2017/18), 455 Phalala Fund patients and
130 civil servants had been referred, several suffering from cancer.
There is nothing new in this situation. The Phalala Fund has been riddled with incompetence
and corruption for many years. Many times in the past South Africa stopped taking patients
because of unpaid bills. For example, in 2014 a Ministry of Health’s Senate Portfolio
Committee Report said E40 million (less than a quarter of the present day debt) was unpaid
and patients were being refused treatment.
In November 2014, the Accountant General Phestecia Nxumalo reported that the Phalala
Fund had been defrauded of E9 million because single bills had been paid multiple times.
As long ago as 2006 a report published by the World Bank recommended sweeping reforms
to both funding schemes, but these have not taken place.

The report said ‘only a tiny segment’ of the Swazi population benefitted from the large
medical subsidy the government paid. It said there were no cost-effective guidelines so the
fund could be used on patients who were too sick to benefit from treatment.

Also, fees and other prices were not negotiated before treatment and were ‘completely
supplier-determined’.
The report concluded, ‘Thus the two funds provide a “blank cheque” for South African
doctors and hospitals: whatever amount they ask is paid for by Government, since it has no
recourse but to pay up.’
It also said that management of the funds were poor and it was easy to mistakenly pay bills
more than once “due to multiple reminder billings”.’
The report recommended that as far as possible medical care should take place within
Swaziland rather than outside using both public and private health facilities and investment
should be made to make this happen.
See also

SWAZI GOVERNMENT ‘IS BROKE’


THREAT TO LIFE AS GOVERNMENT DOESN’T PAY BILLS

24
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

6 PUBLIC SERVANTS’ STRIKE

Top public servants’ pay rises revealed


1 November 2017

Details have been published of the scale of the salary increases top public servants in
Swaziland have received. It comes as ordinary public workers have been told by Government
it cannot afford to give them any cost of living adjustment this year.
The new salary rates are contained in ‘Establishment circular number 2 of 2017’, dated 6
August 2017. The Sunday Observer newspaper (29 October 2017) published details. It said
75 senior government officials within various ministries and cabinet offices got increases at a
cost of E2.9 million (US$210,000).
It reported, ‘Among the list are 13 ambassadors or high commissioners’ posts which are the
highest paid in the list as they moved from grade F2 to F3 which is E569,646 annum
followed by 27 undersecretaries and four regional secretaries who had been upgraded from
F1 to F2. The position of undersecretaries and regional officers (RO) had been re-graded by
the Ministry of Public Service from F1 scale which had been cited as an anomaly because it
rendered them earning a similar amount as their subordinates or less in some cases.
‘As of this month the basic salaries of the administration under-secretaries increased from the
annual of E462,929 to E550,303 which translate to a monthly basic salary of E38,577 to
E45,858 which is an increment E7,281, while that of the undersecretaries and schools
manager in the Ministry of Education increases from E35,684 to E43,226. Those of regional
officers is expected to increase from E17,690 to E38,067.’
In Swaziland, seven in ten of the 1.3 million population live in abject poverty with incomes
less than US$2 a day.
Last week Swazi public servants struck for a day and presented a petition to the Prime
Minister’s Office. They want a 9 percent pay increase.
See also

SWAZI GOVERNMENT ‘IS BROKE’


TV CENSORS PUBLIC SERVANTS’ MARCH
NURSES STRIKE OVER DRUG SHORTAGES

Swazi public servants to strike


22 October 2017

Public servants across Swaziland are expected to strike on Tuesday (24 October 2017) in an
ongoing pay dispute.

25
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Swazi Government has said it cannot afford to pay any increase at all, while public
servants want more than 9 percent as a cost of living adjustment.
It comes after news that senior public servants will be given increases that, according to the
Times of Swaziland newspaper, could be as much as 115 percent in some cases.
The Times in an editorial comment lastTuesday (17 October 2017) called this a ‘reckless use
of taxpayers’ money’. It said the pay increases for senior officers had been kept ‘secret’ from
rank-and-file workers.
The Swazi Government is broke and earlier this week it was reported it was living ‘hand to
mouth’. It has failed to pay bills to its suppliers and as a result schoolchildren have gone
without food and hospitals have run out of vital medicines.
The Times is the only independent daily newspaper in Swaziland which is ruled by King
Mswati III as an absolute monarch. Political parties are barred from competing in elections
and opposition groups have been banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
In its editorial the Times said giving the increase to senior public servants was a ‘heinous act
by government’ and was ‘worse than an insult, not just to the unions but also to the hundreds
of businesses still waiting for their paycheque for services rendered’.
The main public sector workers unions involved, the Swaziland National Association of
Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel
(SNAGAP), Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA) and the National Public Service and Allied
Workers Union (NAPSAWU) have called members to strike and march to the Ministry of
Public Services.
Unions and the government have been called to the Industrial Court on 3 November 2017 to
try to find a solution to the dispute.

Public servants across kingdom strike


24 October 2017

A strike and mass march by public servants in Swaziland is expected to take place on
Tuesday (24 October 2017) in the latest round in a pay dispute.
They will march to the Ministry of Public Service before going to the Prime Minister’s
Office.
For the first time the kingdom’s main union confederation the Trade Union Congress of
Swaziland (TUCOSWA) will take part in the protest.
Workers want a 9 percent cost of living wage rise but the Swazi Government has offered
zero. Last week newspapers in Swaziland reported that senior public servants had been given
salary increases that could be as much as 115 percent in some cases.
Unions taking part include the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union
(NAPSAWU), Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) and the Swaziland
Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU).

26
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

New public servants’ pay strike ‘on way’


25 November 2017

Swaziland’s only independent newspaper group is predicting a national strike of public


servants after the kingdom’s Industrial Court dismissed an application for a pay increase.
Unions involved include the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland
Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP), Swaziland Nurses
Association (SNA), and the National Public Services and Allied Workers Union
(NAPSAWU).
The Swazi News, part of the Times of Swaziland, the only independent newspaper group in
Swaziland where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch,
reported on Saturday (25 November 2017) a union leader saying a strike would be
‘devastating to the public’.
The unions grouped together as the Public Sector Associations (PSAs) asked for a 9.15 cost
of living pay adjustment, but later reduced this to 7.85 percent after the government said it
would not pay an increase because it could not afford to.
A dispute has been dragging on for weeks. On Friday the Industrial Court dismissed the
PSAs’ application to determine the cost of living adjustment matter because deadlock had
been reached in negotiations with the government. It said the court had no jurisdiction and it
was up to the two parties to approach the Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration
Commission.
The newspaper reported the court acknowledged that the PSAs believed strike action was an
option.
The newspaper added, ‘SNAT Secretary General Zwelithini Mndzebele said since they were
at a deadlock, the only option available under normal circumstances would be to strike, the
effects of which would be devastating to the public.
‘Among other things, Mndzebele said if the associations were to strike, investors would have
to consider the security of their loans and the investment they have made in the country.’
The unions held a one-day strike in October when they marched to the Ministry of Public
Service and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Although ordinary public servants have been told there is no money for them, new salary
scales for senior public servants have been announced. They were contained in
‘Establishment circular number 2 of 2017’, dated 6 August 2017. The Sunday Observer
newspaper (29 October 2017) published details. It said 75 senior government officials within
various ministries and cabinet offices got increases at a cost of E2.9 million (US$210,000).
It reported, ‘Among the list are 13 ambassadors or high commissioners’ posts which are the
highest paid in the list as they moved from grade F2 to F3 which is E569,646 annum
followed by 27 undersecretaries and four regional secretaries who had been upgraded from
F1 to F2. The position of undersecretaries and regional officers (RO) had been re-graded by

27
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

the Ministry of Public Service from F1 scale which had been cited as an anomaly because it
rendered them earning a similar amount as their subordinates or less in some cases.
‘As of this month the basic salaries of the administration under-secretaries increased from the
annual of E462,929 to E550,303 which translate to a monthly basic salary of E38,577 to
E45,858 which is an increment E7,281, while that of the undersecretaries and schools
manager in the Ministry of Education increases from E35,684 to E43,226. Those of regional
officers is expected to increase from E17,690 to E38,067.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

7 SCHOOLS

School ‘turns poor children away’


4 November 2017

Parents at a primary school in Swaziland want the principal to quit after turning poor pupils
away.
It happened at Mkhuzweni Primary where Principal Zanele Dlamini is reported to have
excluded children from school because they could not afford school uniform, a white T-shirt,
shoe polish and maintain a clean haircut.
The Swazi Observer reported on Friday (3 November 2017) that more than 100 angry parents
demanded the principal to resign within seven days or they would ‘take the law into their own
hands’.
The school committee had arranged for parents to meet Dlamini who had only recently joined
the school.
The newspaper reported, ‘The parents minced no words as each stood up to condemn the
principal and her deputy for chasing away their children from school.’
It reported one parent saying, ‘It is hurtful, you don’t have humanity and sympathy for our
children. The former headteacher Mavundla understood our situation and our poverty, we are
not working hence we cannot even afford to feed the children how much more shoe polish?’
The deputy head teacher and the principal denied mistreating the pupils.
Poverty among schoolchildren is widespread in Swaziland. In September 2017, it was
reported that poverty was forcing girls to drop out of school and become sex workers.
The Times of Swaziland reported the girls could not afford school fees or uniforms, so some
dropped out. Others stayed at school but also worked as prostitutes.
The newspaper featured Gija Emkhuzweni High School at Piggs Peak. The Times reported,
‘It has been revealed that even pupils in lower classes at the school are engaging in such
trade, with most of them blaming the high poverty levels as the main reason.’
In Swaziland, nearly seven in 10 of the kingdom’s 1.3 million people have incomes of less
than $US2 a day. Meanwhile, King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch lives a lavish lifestyle, with at least 13 palaces, fleets of top-of-the-
range Mercedes Benz and BMW cars and at least one Rolls Royce. He has a private jet
airplane and is soon to get a second.
See also

SWAZI CHILDREN’S RIGHTS ABUSED


POVERTY FORCES GIRLS INTO SEX WORK

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

‘School guards fondle girls’ breasts’


6 November 2017

Girls at a Swaziland school say they are forced to have intimate body searches before they go
to classes. Male guards touch their breasts and vaginas, they say.
In happens on a daily basis at Dvokolwako High School, the Observer on Saturday
newspaper reported (4 November 2017).
It reported one girl saying, ‘The security man demanded to do thorough body search,
teasingly touching my breasts claiming I’m hiding a phone in my breasts and he even touched
my private parts saying we hide them in our undies.’ Other pupils reported similar
experiences.
The girls’ complaints were confirmed by vendors who worked outside the school gates.

Dvokolwako High School Principal Sabelo Sibandze ‘laughed off’ the allegations, the
newspaper reported.
See also

TRUE HORROR OF SWAZI GIRLS’ LIVES


SEX VIOLENCE A ‘NATIONAL DISASTER’

Children fear beatings, miss school


3 October 2017

Some children in Swaziland are dropping out of school because they fear being beaten by
their teachers.
Ministry of Education and Training Inspector of Schools Hubert Dlamini spoke at a meeting
of senior officials of the Ministry of Education and Training and Save the Children Swaziland
in Piggs Peak.
The Swazi Observer (28 September 2017) reported him saying, ‘Children are scared of going
to school in this day and age, in the past children never dropped out of school in Grade One,
but now UN [United Nations] has confirmed that this anomaly is happening in Swaziland.
‘The truth is, children are afraid of going to school where their self-esteem is being constantly
ridiculed by corporal punishment or verbal abuse from teachers, who are failing to connect
with their pupils. In the past, teachers would connect with all pupils, but now we see teachers
only connecting with intelligent pupils, this is wrong and forever injures a child’s
development.’
Corporal punishment was banned in Swazi schools by the Ministry of Education and Training
in 2015, but caning continues. There are many reports from across Swaziland that pupils have
been brutalised by their teachers.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Teachers have now been warned they must abide by the ban. Schools Inspector Gugu
Dlamini, speaking at the Mphundle High School, said the ministry was worried by reports of
pupils getting injured at school, a place where they are expected to be kept safe.
The Swazi Observer on Friday (29 September 2017) reported, ‘She emphasised that the
ministry decided to ban corporal punishment as a way to prevent such incidents where a pupil
would be injured.
‘Dlamini said it appeared that some teachers were frustrated by personal issues, and would
vent their frustrations on the children, injuring them in the process. “Teachers must just stop
this brutality at once and avoid incidents where the ministry will then be dragged to court
after a pupil has been injured,” said Dlamini.’
The Ministry of Education and Training is conducting workshops for schools inspectors
across the kingdom in what it calls ‘positive discipline’ as an alternative to corporal
punishment.

Swazi Govt sued over school beating


13 October 2017

The Swaziland Government is being sued for E2.5 million (US$185,000) after a child was
maimed by a teacher who was dishing out corporal punishment.
It comes after a series of cases of excessive and illegal beatings have been reported in the
kingdom.
Former Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Training Pat Muir told a
workshop that the parents of the child in Northern Hhohho was suing the Ministry of
Education and Training. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Wednesday (11 October
2017) he said, ‘Today, I am reminded of a parent in Northern Hhohho who is currently suing
government under the ministry of education and training about E2.5 million. This is because
the teacher punished and maimed a child.’
The newspaper said, ‘He added that the Ministry of Education and Training has a number of
cases in all regions of the country where teachers have been accused of assaulting pupils
under the banner of corporal punishment.
Muir was speaking at a workshop on ‘positive discipline’ designed to sensitise ministry
officials on alternatives to corporal punishment which was banned in Swaziland schools in
2015.
He did not give details of the cases but there are a number on public record. As recently as
September 2017 it was reported that an 11-year-old boy from Ekuphakameni Community
Primary School in the outskirts of Hlatikhulu lost an eye when a cane his schoolteacher was
using to illegally beat other pupils broke and splintered.
In 2011, a 10-year-old girl at kaLanga Nazarene Primary school was blinded for life in her
left eye after a splinter from a teacher’s stick flew and struck it during punishment. She was
injured when her teacher was hitting another pupil, with a stick which broke.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Another pupil in Swaziland was thrashed so hard that he later collapsed unconscious and had
to be rushed to a clinic. Six pupils at Mafucula High school were thrashed with 20 strokes of
a ‘small log’ because they were singing in class. It was reported that the boy who became
unconscious was not one of those misbehaving, but he was flogged nonetheless.
In September 2015, the Times of Swaziland reported a 17-year-old school pupil died after
allegedly being beaten at school. The pupil reportedly had a seizure.
In March 2015, a primary school teacher at the Florence Christian Academy was charged
with causing grievous bodily harm after allegedly giving 200 strokes of the cane to a 12-year-
old pupil on her buttocks and all over her body.
In 2011, it was reported girls at Mpofu High School were being flogged by teachers on their
bare flesh and if they resisted they were chained down so the beating could continue. They
were said to have been given up to 40 strokes at a time. The Swazi Observer newspaper
reported at the time the children said ‘that when they are beaten, they are made to strip naked
on the lower body so that the teachers can beat them on bare flesh’.
One girl told the newspaper, ‘The teachers make us lie on a bench whereby if you are a girl
you lift your skirt so that they can beat you on bare flesh, if you resist you are chained to the
bench.’
Muir told the workshop which was hosted by the Save the Children Swaziland at the Pigg’s
Peak Hotel the ministry was working towards eradicating all violence at schools, as well as
addressing the negative impact that corporal punishment had on children, who started to hate
school.
He said, ‘As a ministry, we have noted that corporal punishment acts as a barrier that keeps
children away from school, and our job is to remove that problem in order to achieve the
targeted 100 per cent child education goal. Currently, we are training educational officers on
positive disciple, unfortunately we still have many of our officers who are not well versed
about positive discipline because they are strong believers in the proverbial saying, “spare the
rod spoil the child”, but during teacher preparation in teaching college, the ministry of
education and training never taught a teacher how to beat children.’

Head teacher charged in beating case


14 November 2017

A male head teacher of a school in Swaziland has been arrested and charged for allegedly
beating an 18-year-old female pupil on the buttocks with a black pipe.
The Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday (14 November 2017) that the woman who it did
not name was beaten because she had not had her hair cut as instructed by the school.
In Swaziland corporal punishment is banned in schools. As an 18-year-old the woman is
legally an adult.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The newspaper, the only independent daily in the kingdom, reported she was left with
‘serious injuries’ to her buttocks and hand. She attended Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM)
Hospital for treatment. It allegedly happened at Lozitha High School.
Corporal punishment is widely used in schools although it was banned in 2015. In October
2017 it was reported the Swaziland Government was being sued for E2.5 million
(US$185,000) after a child was maimed by a teacher who was dishing out corporal
punishment.
Former Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Training Pat Muir told this to a
workshop on ‘positive discipline’ designed to sensitise ministry officials on alternatives to
corporal punishment. He also said that the Ministry of Education and Training had a number
of cases in all regions of the country where teachers have been accused of assaulting pupils
under the banner of corporal punishment.
As recently as September 2017 it was reported that an 11-year-old boy from Ekuphakameni
Community Primary School in the outskirts of Hlatikhulu lost an eye when a cane his
schoolteacher was using to illegally beat other pupils broke and splintered.
See also

CANE BANNED IN SWAZI SCHOOLS


BOY LOSES EYE IN ILLEGAL SCHOOL BEATING
TEACHERS BEAT BOYS ON NAKED BUTTOCKS

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

8 STUDENTS

Armed police enter college campuses


4 October 2017

Armed police once again entered college campuses in Swaziland as students across the
kingdom boycotted classes in protest against unpaid government allowances and poor
educational standards.
On Monday (2 October 2017) a police officer was badly injured when a stun grenade he held
exploded in his hand.
Police were at the kingdom’s state university, the University of Swaziland (UNISWA); the
private university, Limkokwing; and also at the William Pitcher teacher training college.
Campuses have been closed and reopened across Swaziland several times since the semester
began nearly two months ago. The Government had promised to pay all allowances by the
end of September but this had not been done. Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III,
who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is in financial crisis. Bills to suppliers
remain unpaid and government health facilities have run out of drugs.
At UNISWA, which reopened after the administration sent students home following a class
boycott, students were told that the mid-semester break and reading week had been cancelled
in order to make up for lost time. The university has banned the Student Representative
Council (SRC) from holding meetings.
The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (3 October 2017), ‘Sakhile Ndzimandze who is the
Secretary General for the dissolved SRC informed students about the latest developments
saying that the university decided to send them home for raising genuine concerns and have
again called them back to class. He said they were worried that none of their concerns
including allowances were addressed but instead the university added petrol into a blazing
flame.’

The William Pitcher Teacher Training College was closed on Monday after students
boycotted classes. College administrators immediately issued a memorandum informing them
that they should vacate the premises. Armed police were called to escort students from the
college.
The Times of Swaziland reported that an officer from the riot squad the Operational Support
Service Unit (OSSU) injured his hand at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology
when a stun grenade prematurely went off.
It said, ‘There were fears that the officer might have had his hand chopped off, judging from
the intensity of the blast. It went off as some students stood near the institution’s gate while
others were singing and chanting by Ka-Sonny Shopping Complex.’
Last week the Swaziland College of Technology (SCOT) was closed after student protests.
The Swaziland Christian Medical University remains closed after the Ministry of Education
ruled did not meet approved standards.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

See also

ARMED POLICE END STUDENT PROTEST


STUDENTS ARRESTED AT COURT HOUSE
SWAZI STUDENT LEADERS ARRESTED
POLICE ‘TORTURE’ STUDENTS IN CELLS
PROTESTS CLOSE SWAZILAND UNIVERSITY

Police drop student leader charges


3 November 2017

Criminal charges against student leader Sibusiso Siyaya have been withdrawn. He had been
charged with obstructing police when he went to Malkerns police station to inquire about the
well-being of students who had been arrested during a protest.
It happened in September 2017. At the time voice recordings emerged of police threatening
Siyaya, who was President of the Student Representative Council at the University of
Swaziland.
On Wednesday (1 November 2017) he appeared at Malkerns Circuit Court to be told charges
had been dropped. He told the Swazi Observer newspaper on Friday no reasons were given to
him.
In September 2017 it was reported that police threatened to beat-up Siyaya at Malkerns police
station.

The incident was captured on voice recorder and details published in a national newspaper.
Siyaya made a phone call while in the reception area of the police station and the call was
recorded.
The Sunday Observer newspaper reported (10 September 2017) many voices of police
officers can be heard on the tape. At one point a policeman asks Siyaya, ‘Why are you here?
What do you want here? Who called you? We will beat you,’
The newspaper reported, ‘[V]oices of a group of people believed to be police officers hurl all
sorts of insults and ridicule him. The upper voice heard is believed to be that of a male police
officer who hurls a vernacular insult directed to Siyaya that cannot be repeated for ethical
reasons.’
Siyaya was arrested and charged at the station with obstructing police in the course of their
duty. He appeared at magistrates court the following day and was released on bail of E2,000
(US$150). In Swaziland, seven in ten people are so poor they have incomes of less than US$2
a day.
At the time other students said they had been tortured by police while in holding cells.
Following the dropping of charges, the Observer reported Siyaya said he ‘was shocked
because his arrest exposed him to humiliation and abuse by the police’.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Other students arrested at the protest have been bailed to appear in court on 12 December
2017.
See also

POLICE BEATING THREAT CAUGHT ON AUDIO

College ‘fines’ protesting students


5 November 2017

Students at a college in Swaziland are being forced to pay E1,000 to get their certificates and
diplomas if they do not attend a graduation ceremony.
It is reported this is to prevent a boycott at the Good Shepherd Nursing College where
students have been protesting about poor standards.
The Observer on Saturday newspaper in Swaziland reported (4 November 2017), ‘The
nursing students are alleged to have been told by the college authorities in no uncertain terms
that its either they pay E350 or graduate in absentia but their transcripts and certificates will
cost them E1,000 (about US$70) when they collect them.’
In Swaziland, seven in ten of the kingdom’s 1.3 million population have incomes of less than
US$2 a day.
The graduation has already been postponed twice and is now scheduled for 17 November
2017.
The newspaper reported one student saying, ‘The institution must stop treating students as
children and treat them as sane people. Our life was miserable in there, we did not even know
who issues instructions as everyone was doing as she/he pleases.’
Another said, ‘We lacked learning material such as books until we left the institution, we
were even told they cannot wait for us to leave the institution because we are troublesome.’

Swaziland’s Black Wednesday recalled


13 November 2017

The fourteenth of November marks the anniversary of the time Swaziland soldiers invaded
the University of Swaziland and according to independent witnesses beat students with
sickening brutality.
It happened in 1990 and each year on or about this day students and others commemorate the
events.
Dr. Joshua Mzizi, a theology lecturer at UNISWA at the time (and now deceased), called the
event which became known as Black Wednesday a ‘sceptic sore’ in the history of UNISWA.
In an account that appears in the book Religion and Politics in Swaziland he recounts that ‘a

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

combined army of young soldiers and the police were ordered to flog students at the
Kwaluseni campus.
‘The students were beaten under the pretext that they had refused to vacate the campus after
the Senate had ordered that it be closed.’
Students had begun boycotting classes on 12 November in protest of a lack of faculty
lecturers, poor food conditions, and the suspension of a popular young sociology lecturer for
promoting democracy in Swaziland, according to another eyewitness, Michael Prosser, a
professor from the United States who was working at UNISWA.
In Mzizi’s account, ‘A great number of students had assembled in the library where they
thought no one in their right senses would disturb their peace. But their action was perceived
as potentially volatile; hence the safety of the library and the entire campus could not be
assured.’
Mzizi writes one version of events was that students threatened to burn the library down but
another was that they were peaceful and non-threatening.
Mzizi personally witnessed events. He wrote, ‘The brutality of the armed forces was
sickening to say the least. There was blood and torn limbs, all inflicted on defenceless and
fleeing students.
‘Students were chased from the library via the front of the administration building to the main
car park where another bunch of blood-thirsty soldiers kicked them with boots, batons and
guns to escort them to the gate.’
Prosser also witnessed brutality He wrote an account on his own webpage, ‘The young
soldiers broke into the library and the student hostels, dragging students out, beating both
men and women with their night sticks on their arms and legs, and forcing them to run a
gauntlet toward the front gate while the soldiers gave them sharp blows.
‘The soldiers taunted the students: “We’ll beat the English out of you.” They were especially
vicious toward the women. The soldiers had been stationed that day at the high school next
door to the campus and drank lots of beer before they attacked the campus, making them
even more violent than otherwise so likely.
‘A neighbor warned us that at 10pm, soldiers would search our houses and arrest any students
found there or on campus. Two Canadian families and I, in a caravan of three autos, took 11
frightened Swazi students in the three cars to the front gate to take them to safety.
‘With a gun pointed at the first driver’s cheek, he got permission from the guard to leave the
campus with the students. In the swirling rain, lightening, and thunderstorm, we took the
students to safe shelters. When we returned to campus late in the evening, two soldiers were
posted all night in the back and in the front of our houses.
‘With some students, I drove to the nearby hospital where more than 120 students had
received emergency treatment. We visited more than a dozen badly injured students. We
learned that soldiers possibly had injured as many as 300-400 and had killed perhaps as many
as two-four students.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

In 1999 the Inter Press Service (IPS) looked back at the events. It called the student action a
‘rebellion’ that ‘became a seminal event that signalled a new generation’s political
consciousness’. It was, IPS said, ‘a dawning political awareness born from a confluence of
historical forces then sweeping the world and the Southern African region’.
The IPS report quoted Manzini lawyer Lindiwe Khumalo-Matse, a university student at the
time, saying, ‘The reason why soldiers were called in was because government
saw our protest as a political uprising.’
In 1990, one of the Swazi Government’s most draconian measures, a 60-Day Detention Law,
was still in force, permitting authorities to lock up anyone they saw as a threat to public
order. All political protestors were designated as such threats.

The violence that ensued after soldiers swept through campus has been a sensitive subject
with government ever since. A commission of enquiry had its report secreted away for years,
with a bowdlerized version finally released to the public in 1997.
People in Swaziland were shocked by the brutality. Particularly offensive was one newspaper
photo depicting a young woman carried out of the library between soldiers ‘like a slaughtered
pig’, according to a letter writer to the Times of Swaziland.
The Times Higher Education Supplement, a newspaper in the UK, later reported, ‘In the
ensuing melee several students were crippled for life, hundreds injured and one woman
successfully sued the government for an out-of-court settlement of E225,000 for the loss of
an eye.’
Mzizi wrote, ‘The painful part is that the children of the nation were brutally beaten by the
security forces, they very people who were supposed to protect them.’
He added, ‘Since we know that security forces are under the state, we still wonder who
exactly ordered them to pounce on defenceless students.’
Mzizi concluded, ‘The memories of 14 November 1990 will never be wiped away. They will
linger on until Domesday.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

9 KING MSWATI III

Mswati is third wealthiest king


11 October 2017

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, has been named the third wealthiest
King in Africa by an international business website.

Business Insider reported that he has a net worth of US$200 million. In a short report, it said,
‘King Mswati III has often been criticized for his lavish lifestyle, with many local and
international media outlets accusing him of living an extravagant life, while his people
languish in poverty.’
The wealth of the King who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has been the
subject of speculation outside of Swaziland for years. He rules over a population of about 1.3
million people and seven in ten of them live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2
a day.
In 2014 Forbes magazine reported the King had a personal fortune of US$50 million, but this
did not include the estimated US$140 million he holds through the conglomerate Tibiyo
TakaNgwane, that he supposedly ‘holds in trust’ for the Swazi nation.
King Mswati owns 13 palaces, a private jet airplane, fleets of Mercedes and BMW cars and at
least one Rolls Royce, while the majority of his subjects rely on some form of food aid to
avoid hunger. At least 40 percent of the working population is unemployed.
Forbes, in an analysis of the richest monarchs in Africa reported that the King was ‘more
well known for his relationships with women (he had at least 15 wives at the last count), and
for his flamboyant parties’.
Forbes reported, ‘The King is one of Africa’s wealthiest royals. His personal net worth is at
least $50 million, based on the annual $50 million salary that he is paid out of government
coffers.
‘He also controls Tibiyo TakaNgwane, an investment holding company that owns stakes in
sugar refining giants Ubombo Sugar and Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC), dairy
company Parmalat Swaziland, spirits manufacturer Swaziland Beverages and hotel chain
Swazi Spa Holdings. The company has assets worth over $140 million, but he holds it in trust
for the people of Swaziland.’
This was not the first time Forbes reported on the King. In 2012, Forbes named King Mswati
as one of the top five worse rulers in Africa.
It added, ‘He lives lavishly, using his kingdom’s treasury to fund his expensive tastes in
German automobiles, first-class leisure trips around the world and women. But his gross
mismanagement of his country’s finances is now having dire economic consequences.
Swaziland is going through a severe fiscal crisis.
‘The kingdom’s economy is collapsing and pensions have been stopped. In June last year, the
King begged for a financial bailout from South Africa.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

In 2009, Forbes named King Mswati among the top 15 wealthiest royals in the whole world.
In February 2011 the Mail & Guardian newspaper in South Africa reported King Mswati also
had US$10 billion that was put in trust in King Mswati’s name for the people of Swaziland
by his father, King Sobhuza II.
In 2015, a report from the United States government concluded there was no oversight in the
kingdom on how the King, his 15 wives and vast Royal Family spent public money.
See also

KING DIVERTS WEALTH FROM HIS SUBJECTS


KINGDOM’S WEALTH STAYS WITH THE KING
KING MSWATI SPENDS AND SPENDS
CALLS TO PROBE KING’S WEALTH

King makes another university promise


16 October 2017

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland, has declared a small teacher-training
college will become a university, repeating a promise previously made and broken in 2013.
He told the Ngwane Teachers’ College graduation ceremony in Shiselweni on Thursday (12
October 2017) it would be declared a university in 2018 to coincide with Swaziland’s 50th
anniversary of independence from Great Britain.
The decision appears to have been made on the spur of the moment without consultation with
the Ministry of Education and Training.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported, ‘His Majesty
pointed out that every year he visited the college, the students and staff told him of their wish
that the institution be elevated to university status.
‘“Every time we come here we get the same request that the institution be elevated to a
university.
‘“I heard you again today when rendering your entertainment stating that the institution is
ready for such an elevation.
‘“While one group was performing and touched on this issue I asked Dr Mahlalela how far
the process to elevate the institution and he told me it was very advanced and it would be
concluded soon hence I declare that in 2018 this institution will no longer be a college but a
university,” his Majesty declared.’
He added, ‘In 2018 the country will be celebrating the jubilee hence it is important that the
progress made on the ground reflects that we have been independent for 50 years.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

‘“Those that are involved in the negotiations and planning process of this must therefore
speed track it,” His Majesty said.’
The King and others did not report that a similar promise had been made to Ngwane
Teachers’ College in 2013. It was announced it would become a university in 2014.
The Times of Swaziland reported at the time that College’s Principal Amos Mahlalela and
University of Swaziland (UNISWA) Vice-Chancellor Professor Cisco Magagula made the
announcement at that year’s graduation ceremony.
The college is small and in 2013 Magagula said it had graduated 3,764 since the college was
formed. This was in 1983.
This year, 292 students graduated; all with diplomas. At present it has 52 lecturers and only
two hold Ph.D doctoral degrees. According to the official website of the Swaziland
Government from 1989 to date the college offers a three-year Primary Teachers Diploma
(PTD) programme. About 90 percent of the students in the college are sponsored by the
government.
This is not the first announcement the King has made regarding the creation of a university.
In August 2016, he declared a ‘university of transformation’ serving the whole Southern
African Development Community would be established in Swaziland within a year. It did not
happen.

See also

KING’S NEW UNWORKABLE UNIVERSITY


SWAZI KING’S UNIVERSITY FLOP

King ‘exploits forced child workers’


23 November 2017

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, has been named in an global report on
human trafficking for forcing children to work in his fields.
One organisation has called this modern day ‘slavery’.
It is not the first time the King has been criticised for using forced labour.
The annual Trafficking in Persons Report for 2017 from the United States State Department
stated it had been reporting conditions in Swaziland for the past five years. It said, ‘Swazis
are culturally expected to participate in the seasonal weeding and harvesting of the King’s
fields and those who may refuse are subject to coercion through threats and intimidation by
their chiefs.’
A report Child Labor and Forced Labor from the US Department of Labor looking at 2016
stated penalties imposed by chiefs included ‘evicting families from their village and
confiscating livestock’.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

King Mswati was at the centre of an international controversy in January 2015 when Swazi
Media Commentary revealed that schools in Swaziland were forced to stay closed after
Christmas so children could weed the King’s fields. As many as 30,000 children were
thought to have missed schooling as a result.
The Global Slavery Index for 2016 reported that the Swazi Government ‘attempted to
backtrack on its intentions when its use of unpaid child labour was reported by international
media’.
See also

SWAZI GOVT MISLEADS ON CHILD LABOUR


KIDS FORCED TO WEED KING’S FIELDS

‘Secretive’ gold mine closes


12 October 2017

A gold mine in Swaziland opened by King Mswati III promising more than 400 jobs has been
closed after allegations of poor management.
The Lufafa Gold Mine (now known as Lomati) at Hhelehhele in the Hhohho region was in
February 2016 reported to have more than two million tonnes of ore which could contain
about 15,000 kilograms of gold. It had an estimated value of more than E4 billion (US$263
million). Twenty-five percent of this would be held by King Mswati ‘in trust’ for the Swazi
nation. Lufafa Managing Director Mihla Dlamini said at the time there was enough gold to be
dug for a period of 35 years.
Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Jabulile Mashwama said on Monday (9 October
2017) the mine had been shut down after concerns were raised by different stakeholders
about the running and administration of the company.
The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday this was revealed by the Minister during the
ministry’s first quarter portfolio committee debate. The newspaper added, ‘The minister said
there had been an enquiry into the running of the mine after which it was resolved that it had
been closed down while the company tries to put its house in order.
‘“Following a number of negative reports about the mine, the ministry took it upon itself to
visit the mine and look into its running, upon arrival we realised there was a lot wrong and
we had an enquiry look into it,” she said.
‘The minister said the findings from the enquiry showed that there was a lot wrong hence the
decision to shut down the mine so that the company could put their house in order.
‘“We have been informed by the company that they have changed management for the
effective running of the mine and further resolve the problems which were identified during
the enquiry,” she said.’
The mine reportedly will reopen before the end of October 2017.

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When the King officially opened the mine in February 2016, he said it would bring 400 jobs
at the mine and in the community. The Observer on Saturday newspaper reported (27
February 2016), ‘The King said he so wishes that the gold mine would perform well in order
to bring more opportunities since he has seen for himself that the directors have demonstrated
a good working leadership.’
The mine was shrouded in secrecy. At the opening ceremony journalists were prevented from
taking pictures by security forces and Minister of Natural Resources, Jabulile Mashwama.
The Nation magazine on its Facebook page said this created, ‘suspicion about the extraction
of the mineral in the country’.
The Nation reported, ‘Sources told The Nation that the directors of [the mining company] did
not want pictures of the mine to be published “for security reasons”. Journalists were only
allowed to photograph the event at the entrance of the mine, where a tent was pitched for
King Mswati to meet the local community, and at the reception held at Pigg’s Peak.’
Before the opening, in June 2015, the Observer on Saturday reported its journalists were
barred from entering the Lufafa premises.
The newspaper reported at the time, ‘The reason for barring the Observer on Saturday team
could not be established as security personnel from For Him Security Services only declared
that the authorities had instructed them not to allow anyone inside the premises. Even efforts
to get the security to speak to the authorities and inform them it was the Observer on
Saturday team that wanted an audience with them to ascertain how much ground the
company had covered concerning the opening of the mine, but the very same answer was
forwarded to the team that the authorities at the mine still did not want the team to enter the
premises.’
See also

GOLD MINE ADDS TO SWAZI KING’S WEALTH


SWAZI KING’S PERSONAL GOLD RUSH

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

10 TV MTETWA DIES

Swazi King’s right-hand man dies


18 October 2017

TV Mtetwa, the right-hand man to King Mswati III the absolute monarch of Swaziland, and a
fierce opponent of progression in the kingdom has died aged 93.
Mtetwa who was known as the ‘traditional prime minister’ had more power than the actual
PM. He advocated for girls as young as fifteen to be forced into marriages, thereby
supporting paedophilia (sex with children).
He threatened opponents of King Mswati that they would burn, if they did not do as they
were told. He relentlessly worked to limit free speech and criticism of the King.
TV Mtetwa – real name Timothy Velabo – was Acting Governor of the Ludzidzini Royal
Residence. This meant when he spoke he was considered to be speaking for the King. The
power in Swaziland rests with King Mswati and his mother. Political parties are banned from
taking part in elections and the King choses the Prime Minister, top ministers and judges.
Critics of the King are labelled terrorists by the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
Although a constitution was passed in 2005 giving the appearance that Swaziland had many
traits of a modern state, in reality tradition and culture takes precedence over laws. Mtetwa
was the ultimate authority on traditional law and custom in the kingdom.
Mtetwa was quick to pint this out in 2012 when he said it was acceptable for girls aged 15 to
take part in traditional marriage known as kwendzisa if their parents agreed and the child
wanted to.
Mtetwa said this knowing that in 2012 the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act had been
passed in Swaziland which made it illegal to engage in sexual relationships with girls under
the age of 18.

The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) said at the time most of these so-
called marriages were forced on the girl and sometimes it happened after she had been raped
or fallen pregnant. SWAGAA, in a media statement, said, ‘What is most disturbing is the
fact that most of these “marriages” are forced, with the young girls having little or no say in
being married to much older men.
‘The situation is often forced because the family wants to receive payment and if sexual
relations have occurred (usually forced upon the girl), the family wants to save face. We have
seen tragic stories in the newspaper recently involving these types of marriages, from girls
being forced to marry after being raped, to getting pregnant and dropping out of school, to
attempting suicide.’
It added, ‘What these young girls are enduring in the name of “traditional marriage” is a
human rights violation. Swaziland has signed the Human Rights Declaration and the
Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Children’s Protection and Welfare Act of 2012

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received assent from King Mswati III to protect the lives and dignity of all children in
Swaziland.
‘Protecting young Swazi girls from traditional marriages that they don’t want is a matter of
principle. It is not a complicated legal issue; it is simply a matter of upholding human rights
and Swazi law.’
One of Mtetwa’s duties was to travel the length and breadth of Swaziland threatening dire
consequences to people who dared to defy the King’s wishes. For example, in 2014 he told
the King’s subjects in kaLuhleko they ‘will burn’ if they continued to criticise the King’s
appointment of a local chief.
In April 2014, the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported
Mtetwa and a delegation from the King visited kaLuhleko where it said ‘Bhekwako Dlamini
had been mobilising the people to snub meetings called by the newly appointed Chief
Zulwelihle Maseko, ‘who was blessed by Their Majesties last June’.
The newspaper reported, ‘His Majesty roared through Ludzidzini Governor Timothy Velabo
Mtetwa commonly known as TV.
‘“It has gotten to the attention of His Majesty the King and the Queen Mother that there is
something irregular happening here and that is why we are here today,” he said to deafening
silence.
‘“There is a bad habit that has come to the attention of the authorities that there are some
people who still choose to defy the chief and do not recognise a man who has been appointed
by the King. Where have you ever heard of that? This is the person who has been chosen to
take over from Mfanwenkhosi Maseko and I have been sent by His Majesty to order that
there be complete silence in this place,” said the tough talking Mtetwa.’
The Observer reported Mthethwa warned that people who did not adhere to the directive
issued by the King ‘will burn’.
Mtetwa was against free speech. Many times he pronounced that King Mswati’s word was
final – on every topic. For example, in 2015, King Mswati introduced a football tournament
that failed to attract enough supporters and made a huge financial loss.
Controversy surrounded the E9 million (about US$900,000) sponsorship of the Ingwenyama
Cup tournament by the government parastatal Sincephetelo Motor Vehicle Accident Fund
(SMVAF). SMVAF exists to compensate victims of road accidents.
A range of critics said the amount of sponsorship was too much to spend in a kingdom that
was battling with poverty and a drought. Seven in ten of the King’s 1.3 million subjects live
in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.
Mtetwa announced that ‘members of parliament, [cabinet] ministers and whoever’ must be
silent on the matter.
The Observer on Saturday (21 November 2015) reported Mtetwa said people must stop
discussing the topic, ‘because the lion has already roared on the matter’. The newspaper
reported Mtetwa, ‘emphasised that it was wrong for people to publicly talk about what the
King has already pronounced and set in motion’.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The newspaper added, ‘Mtetwa said since time immemorial it had been a traditional norm
that no one speaks after the King had spoken.’
The newspaper said, ‘He warned all critics to guard against being seen to be going against
pronouncements made by the King.’
Mtetwa died on Monday (16 October 2017) in a hospital in South Africa after a long illness.
See also

KING’S MAN SUPPORTS CHILD BRIDES


KING’S WORDS BLOCK FREE SPEECH
‘THE SWAZILAND KING’S WORD IS LAW’
‘COUP D’ÉTAT TAKEN PLACE’ - KING’S MAN

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

11 WORKER EXPLOITATION
Bosses silence Swazi jail warders
20 October 2017

The staff association representing Swaziland’s jail warders has been banned from meeting
because it is asking too many questions about how the prison department works.
The Commissioner General of His Majesty’s Correctional Services Isaiah Mzuthini
Ntshangase reportedly said the Correctional Staff Association was a ‘hindrance’ and took up
too much time.
The Observer on Saturday newspaper in Swaziland reported (14 October 2017) the
association had been banned from meeting across Swaziland.
It reported one staff member saying, ‘Staff Association members are being victimised and
petty crimes are being plotted against them by all means. We are scared to voice out our
challenges as no meeting is sanctioned by the commissioner general where we can discuss
our concerns as officers.’
The newspaper added that some staff members had been stopped from contesting the
forthcoming local government elections, although they are legally entitled to do so. They
received letters saying this was because of their work as prison officers and representatives of
the staff association.
The Observer on Saturday also reported that the staff association had been blocked from
meeting ‘because it is viewed as a rebellious faction for their continued questioning of
wrongs within the department’.
It added, ‘The Staff Association is seen as a body that has been vocal on issues that led to the
International Labour Organisation (ILO) clauses being implemented to the contentious
Correctional Bill that has recently been passed.
The Observer on Saturday reported, ‘The Correctional Staff Association is a body of
representatives for correctional officers that is alleged to have questioned the proceeds of the
Correctional staff canteens, the non-availability of audited statements of the staff canteens,
the total takeover of the entity by the commissioner general and disregarding the entity’s
constitution. The rampant looting of the canteen proceeds has seen retired officers demanding
a share.’
See also

PROBE INTO ‘INHUMANE’ JAIL CONDITIONS


PROBE INTO CORRUPTION AT SWAZI JAIL
JAILERS SEX ASSAULT ON MALE INMATES

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Worker put in oven as punishment


4 October 2017

A bakery worker in Swaziland was put in a bread oven for an hour by his supervisor after he
fell asleep on the job, a newspaper in the kingdom reported.
The alleged incident happened at Prime Bakery, Mbabane, according to the Swazi Observer
on Wednesday (4 October 2017). It said the employee had been found sleeping on the job
during a night shift and a week later during a day shift he was put in the oven as punishment.
The man, who asked for his name to be withheld, reportedly said, ‘It is true that I was
questioned inside the oven by my supervisors for sleeping at work. I don’t want to get into
the details of the matter but I have never felt so much heat in my life.’
The Observer added, ‘Other employees interviewed confirmed the incident and expressed
how stunned they were.’
Muaaz Mansur, a director of the company told the newspaper, ‘I doubt something of this
nature occurred as it is plain cruel and I don’t want to believe all my supervisors would let
something like this happen.’
This treatment of a worker in Swaziland is not unique. In July 2016, two junior workers at a
KFC [Kentucky Fried Chicken] fast-food outlet in Manzini were locked in a walk-in freezer
by two of their managers. They were released after an hour by fellow workers who heard
screams for help. The matter was reported to the Commission of Labour under the Ministry
of Labour and Social Security and the two managers were eventually transferred to other
branches of KFC after disciplinary hearings.
See also

BOSSES DEMAND SEX FROM WORKERS


KINGDOM IN TOP 10 WORST FOR WORKERS

Swazi sugar workers exploited


2 October 2017

The Swaziland Sugar Association which has celebrated its 50th anniversary misled the world
when it congratulated itself but ignored the suffering of workers in the industry.
Sugar in Swaziland is controlled by the conglomerate Tibiyo TakaNgwane which is supposed
to hold a number of business for the benefit of the Swazi people.
Tibiyo Managing Director Absalom Dlamini told a banquet that 16,000 people were
employed in the sector and this was ‘one of the most remarkable accomplishments in the
sector in the past 50 years’.
The Swazi Observer newspaper, which is also owned by Tibiyo, reported on Friday (29
September 2017), ‘He said the benefits have spilled over to indirect beneficiaries including
spouses, children, parents and relatives of the people employed in the value chain.

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‘Also, Dlamini said the sugar industry has made inroads in building capacity for many
Swazis to take up highly specialised positions in the sector, including at leadership and other
decision making levels.’
His remarks were far from the truth as a report published in 2016 by the International Trade
Union Confederation (ITUC) demonstrates.
The report called King Mswati’s Gold showed that the absolute monarch of Swaziland uses
sugar profits to finance his own lavish lifestyle. Sugar cane production has brought about
more human suffering than development in Swaziland. Many people have been evicted and
the general conditions in the sugar industry are atrocious, the report concluded.
As Peter Kenworthy reported in October 2016, Swaziland’s main export commodity is sugar,
the so-called ‘Swazi gold’. With a population of only 1.3 million people, Swaziland is
nevertheless the 4th largest sugar producer in Africa. Sugar production accounts for almost
60 percent of Swaziland’s agricultural output and 18 percent of Swaziland’s GDP. The
biggest market for Swazi sugar is the European Union (although the duty-free and quota-
guaranteed access to the EU market will end in 2017).
According to Manqoba Nxumalo, who authored the report, one would therefore expect that
the wealth generated from sugar sales would lead to improving living standards for the Swazi
population.
‘But as our research was able to prove, it is only a feeding ranch for the royal family. Sugar
has been the primary locomotive by which they have mutated from a backward aristocracy to
a new comprador class,’ says Nxumalo.

According to the report, the problems all lead back to a 1973 royal decree that banned
political parties, criminalized political activism and vested all power in the King, thereby
transforming Swaziland from a thriving constitutional democracy to royal dictatorship.

The decree thus created an absolute monarchy that was able to use its control over
Swaziland’s wealth through companies such as Tibiyo Taka Ngwane to control the nation,
the report concludes.
King Mswati is the sole trustee of Tibiyo, which was initially created as a national trust.
Today, however, ‘income from Tibiyo’s present worth around US$ 2 billion supports King
Mswati … Like Mswati, Tibiyo is immune from taxation.
World sugar production has doubled in 30 years, and Mswati – who Forbes estimates has a
personal wealth of around US$200 million – has become personally rich from Swazi sugar.
The thousands of workers who produce the sugar, on the other hand, have seen little of this
wealth.
King Mswati, as the sole trustee of Tibiyo, is both a head of state and a businessman unfairly
competing with local and foreign businesses. The workers, who work in Tibiyo-aligned
companies, on the other hand live in squalor and abhorring conditions, especially in the sugar
industry.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

King Mswati, and his father Sobhuza before him, have evicted and forcefully relocated
villagers from their lands without compensation to make way for Tibiyo-controlled sugar-
cane fields, the report says.
So being employed on one of the large-scale Tibiyo-owned farms as a returning seasonal
worker or casual employee has become a necessary alternative to working one’s own fields,
although it is a hard and accident-prone job where chemicals such as roundup used to destroy
weeds also destroys the people employed to spray the weeds.
According to the report, casual employees make an average of US$5.32 per day – hardly
enough to pay for school fees for their children or, proper food or medicine – and are not paid
for overtime. They also receive no pension benefits or medical aid.
As unemployment levels in Swaziland are over 40 percent, and the alternative to a job is
poverty and often starvation, many Swazis do not complain.
But sugar cane farmers in the impoverished area of Vuvulane have decided that enough is
enough. According to the report, there is an ongoing battle between sugar cane farmers in the
area and the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation.
In February 2016, 22 Vuvulane farmers were evicted from lands that they and their families
had tended since 1963 by Vuvulane Irrigated Farms and the Swaziland Sugar Corporation.

Such forced evictions have led to farmers storming Tiboyo-run farms, in an attempt to ensure
their livelihoods and the burning of vast areas of Tibiyo-run sugar cane fields in connection
with another round of evictions.
See also

MORE WORKERS JOIN SUGARCANE UNION


HUMAN SUFFERING AND SWAZI SUGAR
KING EXPLOITS SUGAR WORKERS

Electricity workers defy court, strike


7 November 2017

Electricity workers in Swaziland defied a court order on Monday (5 November 2017) and
went on strike in a dispute over pay bonuses.
Many parts of the kingdom were reportedly left without power.
Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) workers in the Swaziland Electricity Supply
Maintenance and Allied Workers Union (SESMAWU) are complaining that bonuses owed
over the past two years are unpaid.
The Industrial Court banned the strike saying that SEC employees provided an essential
service.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The strike took place without the backing of the SESMAWU leadership. It started at 9 am
and reportedly ended at about 3pm.
The SEC is a parastatal that is controlled by the government of King Mswati III who rules
Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The Swazi Government has halted all bonus payments in about 50 public enterprises,
including the University of Swaziland (UNISWA), Swaziland Railway, Public Service
Pension Fund (PSPF), Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) and Swaziland Water Services
Corporation (SWSC).

Electricity workers win pay strike


8 November 2017

Electricity workers in Swaziland won their dispute over unpaid pay bonuses after striking for
fewer than two days.

Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) workers are expected to be paid within days. The
bonuses had been owed from the past two financial years.
The strike by members of the Swaziland Electricity Supply Maintenance and Allied Workers
Union (SESMAWU) started on Monday (8 November 2017). There were widespread
electricity blackouts across the kingdom.
Workers defied an Industrial Court order not to strike. The court ruled strike action illegal
because SEC employees were deemed to be essential workers.
The strike went ahead despite leaders of SESMAWU asking them to call it off or be in
contempt of the court.

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12 GENDER
Sex Bill highlights culture issues
14 October 2017

Women’s rights campaigners in Swaziland appear to have won a small victory on the Sexual
Offences and Domestic Violence Bill (SODV).
A report to the Swazi House of Assembly recommended scrapping four clauses in the Bill
that dealt with incest, unlawful stalking, abduction and flashing.
In the Bill, stalking was defined as loitering near, contacting a person in anyway; including
but not limited to telephone, mail, fax email or through use of technology. Any intimidating,
harassing or threatening act against a person whether or not involving violence or a threat of
violence was also defined as stalking.
The clause that defined flashing as the exposure of or display of genital organs and female
breasts among others was said to seriously undermine the Swazi tradition of dressing
(imvunulo) and other practices. Each year thousands of bare-breasted women dance in front
of King Mswati III at the Reed Dance.
The clause on incest, described as an act of sexual penetration or attempts with a person’s
offspring or sibling, parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece was said to be too
broad-ranging. The committee report said there were already laws that covered these
offences.
An outcry developed on the streets and in the pages of the kingdom’s only two daily
newspapers when it was said that the clauses went against traditional Swazi culture.
In an editorial comment, the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily
newspaper, said, ‘If MPs go ahead with this, they ought to be aware that they are just about to
officially brand Swazi culture as a tool to suppress women and girls in this country. This is
not an image we wish for ourselves when the world is pushing aggressively for gender
equality and the protection for women and girls.’
Within a week the clauses were reinstated. The future of the SODV Bill is unclear since
parliamentary procedure might mean it cannot be discussed again until next year. The SODV
Bill in one form or another has been going through parliament since 2009.
The controversy has once again highlighted the abuses that women and girls suffer under
Swazi traditional law and custom.
In 2013, a 317-page document called The Indigenous Law and Custom of the Kingdom of
Swaziland (2013) was presented to King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch. It said that under Swazi Law and Custom a husband can
legally rape his wife or his lover.
Under Chapter 7, which addresses offences (emacala) in Swaziland, rape is said to be
committed only if the woman forced is not the man’s wife or lover.

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In 2015, a report from a US organisation ABCNewspoint stated that Swaziland had the fourth
highest rate of rape in the world. It said there were 77.5 registered cases of rape among
100,000 people.
Rape and sexual abuse of children is common in Swaziland. In 2008, Unicef reported that
one in three girls in Swaziland were sexually abused, usually by a family member and often
by their own fathers - 75 percent of the perpetrators of sexual violence were known to the
victim.
Many men in Swaziland believed was all right to rape children if their own wives were not
giving them enough sex. In 2009, men who were interviewed during the making of the State
of the Swaziland Population report said they ‘“salivate” over children wearing skimpy dress
codes because they are sexually starved in their homes.’
In 2009, a study of Swazi cultural practices, funded by the United Nations Population Fund,
found, ‘In Swazi culture, decision making has traditionally been a male prerogative. Family
planning decisions, therefore, lie with the man.
‘Women report that they have been subjected to continuous child birth by their husbands or
in-laws against their will.’
Another cultural factor is a preference (which is sometimes made into a demand by in-laws)
for a woman to bear a boy child. Unwanted pregnancies result as the birth of a girl child is
immediately followed by an effort to have a male heir who by traditional law is of the only
sex that can lead a family into its next generation.
So strong are these beliefs, coupled with an antipathy toward condom use, that AIDS
prevention efforts directed at women haven’t made much headway, according to the report.
In the study, Swazi men strongly defended the practice of kungena, whereby a widow
becomes the wife of the deceased man’s brother; a practice that health groups say spreads
HIV. Swazi men also defended polygamy as a cultural necessity.
But men also lamented cultural practices they said could stop the spread of HIV, like
kuhlawula, whereby men or boys who impregnate unmarried women are fined five cows by
their community elders, are no longer enforced.
Several Swazi customs were once in place to ensure that young people stayed chaste until
marriages. At the time, marriages were usually arranged between families as forms of
alliances. Until the traditional ceremony was completed, young people were not allowed to
have sex.
One taboo was the people did not engage in sex outside their age groups. Boys were subject
to ridicule by their contemporaries if they were known to sleep with older women.
Now, Sugar Daddies and Sugar Mamas are common. It is not even sexual attraction that
draws the youngest of the partners to such relationships, but the lure of money.
In previous Swazi generations, girls’ sexual debuts were delayed through such customs as
umcwasho, when all the nations’ girls of certain ages were forbidden to engage in sex for
designated periods.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Wives say husbands can rape them


23 October 2017

Four of six married women interviewed by a newspaper in Swaziland said their husbands had
the right to rape them.
The Swazi News reported on Saturday (21 October 2017) some wives said their husbands
deserved sex whenever they wanted.
The newspaper did street interviews in the Swazi capital Mbabane. It did not say how this
was done but the women appeared to have been chosen at random.
A Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Bill is stalled in the Swazi Parliament
because traditionalists object to four clauses about incest, unlawful stalking, abduction and
flashing.
The newspaper reported, ‘With or without their consent, some women believe their husbands
have a right to “rape” them.’
It added, ‘The reason given by four women out of the six interviewed was that part of their
wifely duties was to provide sex to their husbands at all times.’
One woman said she had to give her husband ‘unlimited access to sex’ to stop him seeking
pleasure elsewhere.
The Swazi News reported, ‘The women were of the view that their husbands should not be
arrested because they were breadwinners.’
Section 151 of the SODV makes it clear that a marital relationship will not provide a defence
against any offence.
Silindelo Nkosi, the Communication and Advocacy Officer for Swaziland Action Group
Against Abuse (SWAGAA), told the newspaper that forced sex within a marriage was
recognised by international conventions that Swaziland had signed as a crime.
However, the SODV Bill runs counter to tradition and culture in Swaziland, where King
Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The Indigenous Law and
Custom of the Kingdom of Swaziland, a document from 2013 that clarifies traditional law
states that rape is committed only if the woman forced is not the man’s wife or lover.
It is not known how man husbands force themselves on their wives but recorded figures on
rape have shown Swaziland to have the fourth highest rate of rape in the world. In 2015, a
report from a US organisation ABCNewspoint stated there were 77.5 registered cases of rape
among 100,000 people.
In traditional culture in Swaziland women are owned by their men (husbands or fathers). In
2015 a survey conducted in Swaziland suggested four in 10 women believed a husband was
justified in beating his wife because he was the head of the household.
The APA news agency said at the time a demographic health survey called the Multiple
Indicator Cluster Survey Comparative Report gave a number reasons for wife-beating
which included; ‘if she refused to have sex with him, if she argued with him, if she went out
without telling him, if she neglected the children and if she had sex with other men’.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

APA reported, ‘Silindelo Nkosi, the Communication and Advocacy Officer for Swaziland
Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) said, “These beliefs of justifying abuse have
increased to the worst rate resulting in more young women dying in the hands of their lovers
or husbands.”’
It added, ‘Clinical Psychologist Ndo Mdlalose describes this as an abusive mentality where
men also tend to claim they are correcting their women by beating them.’
In June 2008 it was reported that the National Democratic and Health Survey found that 40
percent of men in Swaziland said it is all right to beat women. The same year, the United
Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) found that the status of some women in Swaziland is so
low that they are practically starved at meal times, because men folk eat first and if there is
not enough food for everyone, the women must go without.
See also

TWISTED SWAZI MEN RAPE CHILDREN


IN SWAZILAND, CHILD RAPE NOT UNUSUAL

Rise in gender-based violence


5 December 2017

More than 10,500 cases of gender-based violence were recorded in Swaziland in 2016,
according to figures just published.

Most cases were said to have been committed by relatives or intimidate partners, according to
statistics from the National Surveillance System on Violence, published in the Swazi
Observer on Tuesday (5 December 2017).
The total number of reported cases of gender-based violence in 2016 was 10,504 an increase
of 58.6 percent from the previous two years. This prompted the newspaper which is in effect
owned by King Mswati III, the kingdom’s absolute monarch, to say, ‘we have become a
violent nation’.
Of the reported victims 73 percent were females and 27 percent males.
The report is one of a number that highlights the suffering woman face in Swaziland.
In 2015 a survey conducted in Swaziland suggested four in 10 women believe that a husband
was justified in beating his wife because he is the head of the household.
The APA news agency said at the time a demographic health survey called the Multiple
Indicator Cluster Survey Comparative Report gave a number reasons for wife-beating which
included; ‘if she refused to have sex with him, if she argued with him, if she went out without
telling him, if she neglected the children and if she had sex with other men’.
APA reported, ‘Silindelo Nkosi, the Communication and Advocacy Officer for Swaziland
Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) said, “These beliefs of justifying abuse have

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increased to the worst rate resulting in more young women dying in the hands of their lovers
or husbands.”’
The world famous medical journal, the Lancet in 2009 reported that one in three girls in
Swaziland had experienced sexual violence by the age of 18, according to a study.
Sexual violence was defined as forced intercourse; coerced intercourse; attempted unwanted
intercourse; unwanted touching; and forced touching.
The most common perpetrators of the first incident of sexual violence were men or boys from
the girl’s neighbourhood or boyfriends or husbands. Over a quarter of all incidents of sexual
violence occurred in the respondent’s own home, with a fifth occurring at the home of a
friend, relative or neighbour.
In June 2008 it was reported that the National Democratic and Health Survey found that 40
percent of men in Swaziland said it is all right to beat women. The same year, the United
Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) found that the status of some women in Swaziland is so
low that they are practically starved at meal times, because men folk eat first and if there is
not enough food for everyone, the women must go without.
Women, who under traditional Swazi law are treated as children and are in effect owned by
their husbands or fathers, were expected to live lives devoted to their men and families. A
report on the State of the Population in Swaziland said that Swazi women were responsible
for childbirth, raising the children and taking care of the entire family.
Women are expected to give their husbands sex on demand and those who refuse have been
blamed for men who rape children.

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13 CORRUPTION
Local election corruption claim
17 October 2017

A veteran journalist in Swaziland has slammed the organisation of the upcoming municipal
elections in the kingdom, suggesting voting will be rigged.
Ackel Zwane, writing his weekly column for the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect
owned by King Mswati III the absolute monarch in Swaziland, pointed to ‘rampant
corruption’.
Zwane wrote on Friday (13 October 2017), the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC)
which runs the election had disregarded the Swazi Constitution that requires it to set up
appropriate rules and monitor elections in Swaziland.
‘Since their commissioning the EBC has done nothing but recite certain clauses about the
voting process instead of creating institutions that will protect citizens from all forms of
rigging and make elections truly meaningful and not just a scramble for unearned positions of
power.’
Zwane said there was persistent infighting at the EBC and ‘the consequences are
devastating’.
The elections are due to take place on 28 October 2017.
On 4 October 2017, the Swazi parliament was told there was confusion about whether the
EBC or the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development was running the election.
Zwane said voter registration had been corrupted. ‘The first and most abhorring loophole is
the control and monitoring of the voters’ roll. In this case prospective candidates drive scores
of nonurban persons to the registration centres and the system cannot detect whether those
people indeed come from the various wards.
‘For instance in Ward 5 in Manzini voters would be coming from Sicewlini, Makholweni,
Nkhundleni, Ticantfwini, Mphembekati, Mntfwanenkhosi, Mpholi, Magwaza, Mkhulamini,
Mbekelweni and Ludzeludze yet the ward is only to produce a candidate from Murray Camps
and Sikhunyana constituencies.
‘Show me any system to verify in the voters’ roll if all those registered indeed come from the
designated wards.’
He added, ‘This tradition also translates into the national election whereby people are taken
from wherever to register and vote for particular candidates that offer them goodies at the
end, if not outright vote purchasing.
‘These registered votes are often rewarded with endless rounds of cold beers, roast chicken
(chicken dust) and tripe in exchange for the candidate to earn sitting allowances, attend
breakfast meetings and officiating in such auspicious events as distribution of new litter
collection bins for the duration of the political term.’

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On 20 September 2017, the Swazi Observer reported the inspection of the voters’ roll had
been extended because of doubts that they were accurate. It was claimed some people had
been wrongly registered as voters in some towns and cities.
In October there were complaints that in most cases photographs of voters did not appear on
rolls alongside names as expected.
Zwane said voter education was poor and candidates and voters alike did not understand what
they were expected to do and corruption was rife. He said many councillors did not live in the
areas they represented.
‘We are aware of rampant corruption resulting from lack of policing municipality
management systems,’ he added.
‘This culture has resulted in both rent and rates payers being marginalised and their interests
neglected as those voted into office have no interest of the urban dweller or of urban life
whatsoever. If any watchdog organisation could invest its energies in finding out how much
property councillors have on Swazi Nation Land as opposed to urban property the results
would be shocking.
‘Most of the councillors have their homes in Lwandle, Ticantfwini, kashali, kaKhoza,
Mpolonjeni, Mvutjini, Mantjolo, Esitibeni, Nkoyoyo with only titimela for rent in Ngwane
Park, Skom or Msunduza, the urban area.’

Corruption in Swazi Government ‘rife’


13 December 2017

Public perception in Swaziland is that corruption within Government is ‘rife’, according to a


new survey just published.
About 79 percent of 3,090 people interviewed said this in a survey conducted by the Swazi
Ministry of Justice and Constitution Affairs through the Anti-Corruption Commission.
The Observer on Saturday newspaper (9 December 2017) published some of the survey’s
results. It said, ‘Within the private sector and chiefdoms the respondents agreed that there
were elements of corruption there, 36 percent and 29 percent concurred respectively.’
It added, ‘The survey states that the rural councils, bobandlancane (imiphakatsi) is where the
corruption is perceived to be.
‘The report states that perceived major causes of corruption are poverty (58 percent),
unemployment (54 percent) and greed (41 percent).
‘It is agreed that corruption comes in these following forms; giving and receiving bribes is
high at 73 percent, abuse of power at 66 percent, misuse of public funds at 44 percent and
misuse of public assets and facilities is at 40 percent.
The survey said that corruption was also evident in education, transportation, civic groups,
town councils, manufacturing, construction and the media.

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Corruption in Swaziland is not new. In June 2017, the Open Society Initiative for Southern
Africa (OSISA) reported the kingdom, which is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch, was riddled with corruption in both private and public places.
It said, ‘The results of grand corruption are there for all to see in the ever increasing wealth of
high-level civil servants and officers of state.’
It added, ‘For a long time the police, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce,
Industry and Trade as well as the Department of Customs and Excise have often been
implicated in corrupt practices.’
It gave many examples including the case of the government propaganda organisation
Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Service (SBIS) where E 1.6 million (US$120,000)
was paid to service providers for the maintenance of a machine that was neither broken nor in
use. The officer who authorised the bogus job cards has since been promoted and transferred
to another government department.
The report called The effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies in Southern Africa stated,
‘This type of behaviour is common albeit covert and therefore difficult to monitor as goods
and services are undersupplied or rerouted for personal use. The results of grand corruption
are there for all to see in the ever increasing wealth of high-level civil servants and officers of
state.’
It added, ‘It has been suggested that Swaziland has no less than 31 millionaires who are
junior government officials. In 2005, the then minister of finance Majozi Sithole estimated
that corruption was costing the Swazi economy approximately E40 million a month.’
See also

SWAZILAND ‘RIDDLED WITH CORRUPTION’


ARMY PROBES SELF OVER CORRUPTION
‘ARMY AMONG MOST CORRUPT IN WORLD’

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14 DEMOCRACY

EU sugar-coats absolute monarchy’s bitter pill


27 November 2017

By Kenworthy News Media


European Union-support for Swaziland’s monarchy-controlled sugar industry undermines the
fight for democracy, even though it nominally benefits smallholders, says a new report from
a Danish solidarity organization.
A new report from Afrika Kontakt commends the EU for supporting Swaziland’s sugar
industry, which benefits thousands of smallholder growers of sugar cane. The problem is,
however, that the smallholder growers are also left vulnerable by sugar price fluctuations and
transport costs, as well as by the corruption and undermining of the fight for democracy, that
EU-support for Swaziland’s sugar industry, healthcare and education systems allows.
The report is based on extensive research in Swaziland, including field studies and interviews
with most actors in Swaziland’s sugar industry.
Support ends up in king’s pocket
Despite Swaziland being a small country with a population of just under 1.3 million; it is
nevertheless Africa’s fourth largest sugar producer. The sugar industry employs 16 percent of
the adult population in a country where unemployment is close to 30 percent, and is thus the
country’s most important industry.
Swaziland is not a democracy by any definition of the word, even though elections are held
every five years, the report insists, but in fact an absolute monarchy. The country spends
more money on security than health, and six percent of its budget goes towards maintenance
of the king’s household. It is also the most unequal country in the world, with the highest
HIV-prevalence and the lowest life expectancy in the world.
“There are strong political powers that have little or no interest in changing the undemocratic
nature of Swaziland. Support to the sugar industry, in the way that it is currently conducted,
will therefore unavoidably and primarily end up supporting the royal family and thus
undermine the democratic forces in the country,” the report says.
Demand democratic reform
As one of Swaziland’s main trading partners, who spends millions of Euros every year on
development aid to Swaziland, the EU is actually in a position to demand democratic change
in Swaziland, however, one of the authors of the report, Klaus Stig Kristensen from Afrika
Kontakt says.
“Swaziland is a de facto dictatorship and it is difficult to ensure that international support
doesn’t end up lining the pockets of King Mswati and his family. Tough measures are needed
to avoid this, including demands for democratic reform and monitoring of these
demands. And if these demands not met there should be consequences, such as suspending
development aid to Swaziland,” says Kristensen.

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His report recommends that the EU support the democratic movement fighting for change,
including illegal political parties, unions and right-based groups.
The EU should also demand that Swaziland, as a country without external enemies, spends
less on security and more on the welfare of its impoverished population, and condemn
Swaziland’s lack of compliance with its international rights-based obligations.
Afrika Kontakt has run development projects with Swazi civil society organisations for a
decade.
See also

SWAZI SUGAR WORKERS EXPLOITED


MORE WORKERS JOIN SUGARCANE UNION
HUMAN SUFFERING AND SWAZI SUGAR
KING EXPLOITS SUGAR WORKERS
SUGAR STRIKERS WIN PAY INCREASE
POLICE CLASH WITH SUGAR STRIKERS

Why Bother with a Country Like Swaziland?


13 December 2017

By Sunit Bagree, Senior Campaigns Officer at Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA)
ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa) Swaziland is a small country but that does not make it
unimportant. The international community should apply serious pressure on the King’s
regime so that it respects human rights and develops a genuinely democratic constitution.
Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan are experiencing some of the worst human rights crises in
Africa. In all three countries, civilians are constantly and deliberately targeted by belligerents.
Countries where civilians are not getting systematically burnt, shot or blown up tend to get
much less attention – even if serious human rights violations are still taking place. And if
these countries are small then they are hardly ever spoken about.
Take Swaziland, whose ruler, King Mswati III, is Africa’s last absolute monarch. As my
organisation, Action for Southern Africa, outlined in a paper published last year, civil and
political rights are consistently denied in the country. Political parties are banned from taking
part in elections, the largest opposition party is proscribed under anti-terrorist legislation, and
the King has a firm grip on the government and judiciary. Swazi political activists and human
rights defenders frequently endure harassment, threats and violence. The latest (November
2017) Mo Ibrahim Foundation Index of African Governance confirms this analysis, placing
Swaziland 50th out of 54 countries for ‘participation and human rights’.
Moreover, as a result of mismanagement and corruption, the economy is in a dire state. An
estimated 64% of the population lives below the poverty line, and a recent study by the
Brookings Institution names Swaziland the most unequal country in the world in terms of
income distribution. On top of this, Swazis face the world’s highest HIV/AIDS prevalence.
Yet the King does not seem to want to give up his taste for palaces, private jets, sports cars
and expensive shopping trips.

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Certain laws and cultural norms severely discriminate against women and girls. As a result,
many of them face social, economic and political marginalisation. Some women are trying to
organise and mobilise to claim their rights, but they receive little support from external
actors. Indeed, the international community has not sufficiently engaged with
authoritarianism and human rights abuses in Swaziland. Unsurprisingly, this often leads
progressive forces within the country to believe that Western countries and multilateral
institutions condone the actions of the King and the elites close to him.
At times, foreign actors have actually caused harm. For example, inviting Mswati III to the
Queen’s diamond jubilee celebratory lunch in 2012 conveyed the impression that the UK
endorsed the Swazi monarch. The following year, a Commonwealth observer mission
monitoring Swaziland’s elections recommended that the constitution be revisited, which was
ironic considering that the Commonwealth helped the country to develop its undemocratic
constitution in the previous decade. As for the European Union (EU), its aid to the country
has long been criticised for lacking political nous and as a result providing opportunities for
the Government of Swaziland to ignore its obligations to its citizens.
It is true that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union
(AU) have done little to challenge Swaziland’s ruler. Appallingly, Mswati III was even the
chairperson of SADC until recently. Yet this is no excuse for democratic nations outside of
Africa or multilateral institutions that advocate democracy to ignore their responsibilities.
Only 7% of Swazis feel free to join any political organisation according to a survey published
at the end of last year. The international community should offer greater financial, technical
and diplomatic support to those within the country who are seeking to build a strong and
united movement to transform their society in favour of democracy and human rights.
In addition, the likes of the UK, Commonwealth and EU need to apply significant external
pressure on the King to complement internal action for change. For example, if the EU was to
withdraw Swaziland’s trade preferences as the US has done (although it is disappointing that
the US may soon reverse this decision), it would send a powerful message to the regime.
Similarly, subjecting Swaziland to international monitoring and accountability mechanisms,
such as the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the Special Procedures of the
United Nations Human Rights Council, would help to keep Swaziland in the spotlight.
The UK and wider international community tend to start paying serious attention to countries
that they perceive to be ‘unstrategic’ only after things have become really bad in those
countries. This is both morally wrong and unpragmatic. Swaziland is a small country but all
of its approximately 1.4 million people deserve leaders that are elected and accountable just
as much as anyone. And if Swaziland descends into a full-blown crisis then the cost to the
region and beyond will be huge compared to what can and should be done now.
See also

UK UNIONS BACK SWAZI RIGHTS CAMPAIGN


CALL FOR GLOBAL PRESURE ON GOVT

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15 HUMAN RIGHTS
Swaziland fails human rights test
22 November 2017

Swaziland came 50th out of 54 African countries for participation and human rights in a
survey just published. It has got worse over the past five years.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation reported its Index of African Governance on Monday (20
November 2017). Swaziland which is ruled by King Mswati Iii as sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch, scored a total 48.9 out of 100 in a range of four areas of governance.
Swaziland got a score of 24.6 out of 100 in participation and human rights.
The annual report did not detail the kinds of human rights abuses taking place in Swaziland
but these have been well documented elsewhere.
The United States State Department in its annual report on human rights in Swaziland
published in 2017 stated, ‘The principal human rights concerns are that citizens do not have
the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot;
police use of excessive force, including torture, beatings, and unlawful killings; restrictions
on freedoms of speech, assembly, and association; and discrimination against and abuse of
women and children.’
It added, ‘Other human rights problems included arbitrary killings; arbitrary arrests and
lengthy pretrial detention; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; prohibitions on
political activity and harassment of political activists; trafficking in persons; societal
discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex
community and persons with albinism; mob violence; harassment of labor leaders; child
labor; and restrictions on worker rights.’
Human Rights Watch in its report on events in Swaziland in 2016 stated Swaziland,
‘continued to repress political dissent and disregard human rights and rule of law principles in
2016. Political parties remained banned, as they have been since 1973; the independence of
the judiciary is severely compromised, and repressive laws continued to be used to target
critics of the government and the king despite the 2005 Swaziland Constitution guaranteeing
basic rights.’
In May 2017 the global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most unequal country in the
world. The report called Starting With People, a human economy approach to inclusive
growth in Africa detailed the differences in countries between the top most earners and those
at the bottom.
In 2014 the United States withdrew trading privileges from Swaziland under the Africa
Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) because the kingdom had not fulfilled all the requirements
of the programme, including respect for human rights.
The US wanted Swaziland to implement the full passage of amendments to the Industrial
Relations Act; full passage of amendments to the STA; full passage of amendments to the
Public Order Act; full passage of amendments to sections 40 and 97 of the Industrial

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Relations Act relating to civil and criminal liability to union leaders during protest actions;
and establishing a code of conduct for the police during public protests.
Amnesty International in April 2015 renewed its criticism of Swaziland for the ‘continued
persecution of peaceful political opponents and critics’ by the King and his authorities using
the Suppression of Terrorism Act and the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act.
It said the Swazi authorities were using the Acts, ‘to intimidate activists, further entrench
political exclusion and to restrict the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression,
association and peaceful assembly.’
See also

SWAZILAND QUIZZED ON TERROR LAW


SWAZI HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD KILLS AGOA
SWAZI TERROR LAW COURT CHALLENGE
SWAZI GOVT FAILS ON POVERTY: OXFAM

LGBTI Swazis face daily abuse


11 December 2017

LGBTI people in Swaziland are subjected to abuse in their daily lives and from police and
medical workers, a meeting on human rights in the kingdom was told.
Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people are also harassed and stigmatised
and some are denied educational scholarships because of their sexual orientation.
Pitty Dludlu, a member of the LGBTI community, said this during the annual Joshua Mzizi
Memorial Lecture held in Ezulwini.
The Observer on Saturday newspaper reported (9 December 2017), ‘Dludlu appealed to the
nation to embrace all individuals in their own skin than to label them with numerous name
tags. Dludlu further said as a minority group in Swaziland they face a number of issues that
include access to health care without the stigma and prejudice they are subjected to.’
The newspaper added, ‘Dludlu further decried the service they are subjected to in the hands
of the police and health care workers as the worse abusers of the LGBTI community. The
abusive situation is worse at the bus terminal station to the LGBTI community.
‘Other challenges are that they are denied scholarship due to their sexual orientation. Dludlu
further pointed that “qualified transgender community are unemployed as they are told point
blank that there is no need to proceed with an interview once they see their sexual orientation
and told embarrassingly that they don’t hire such people”’.
There is a long history of discrimination against LGBTI people. In May 2016, Rock of Hope,
which campaigns for LGBTI equality in Swaziland, reported to the United Nations Universal
Periodic Review on Swaziland that laws, social stigma and prejudice prevented LGBTI
organisations from operating freely.

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The report, presented jointly with three South African-based organisations, stated, ‘In
Swaziland sexual health rights of LGBTI are not protected. There is inequality in the access
to general health care, gender affirming health care as opposed to sex affirming health care
and sexual reproductive health care and rights of these persons. HIV prevention, testing,
treatment and care services continue to be hetero-normative in nature only providing for
specific care for men born as male and women born as female, thereby leaving out trans men
and women as an unprotected population which continues to render the state’s efforts at
addressing the spread and incidence of HIV within general society futile.’
The report added, ‘LGBTIs are discriminated and condemned openly by society. This is
manifest in negative statements uttered by influential people in society e.g., religious,
traditional and political leaders. Traditionalists and conservative Christians view LGBTIs as
against Swazi tradition and religion. There have been several incidents where traditionalists
and religious leaders have issued negative statements about lesbians.
‘Human rights abuses and violations against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender and intersex population continue to go undocumented, unreported, unprosecuted
and not addressed.’
It added, ‘There is no legislation recognizing LGBTIs or protecting the right to a non-
heterosexual orientation and gender identity and as a result LGBTI cannot be open about their
orientation or gender identity for fear of rejection and discrimination. For example, the
Marriage Act, only recognizes a marriage or a union between a man and a woman. Because
of the absence of a law allowing homosexuals to conclude neither marriage nor civil unions,
same-sex partners cannot adopt children in Swaziland.’
The report made seven recommendations to the Swazi Government, including to review laws
that undermine LGBTI persons’ rights in particular and human rights in general especially as
they conflict with the Constitution; and to ensure prosecution of State agents who commit
human rights violations against LGBTI individuals and their organizations.
HOOP (House of Our Pride), a support group for LGBTI people, reported to the United
Nation in 2011, ‘It is a common scene for LGBTI to be verbally insulted by by-passers in
public places. [There is] defamatory name calling and people yelling out to see a LGBTI
person’s reproductive part are some of the issues facing LGBTI in Swaziland.’
See also

SENATE SNUBS LGBTI HEALTH REPORT


LESBIAN AND GAY MURDERS IN SWAZILAND
SWAZI MINISTER LIES TO UN ON GAYS
GAY PREJUDICE RIFE IN SWAZILAND
COMMUNITY POLICE BANISH GAY MEN
NO RIGHTS FOR GAYS: JUSTICE MINISTER

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Chief punishes residents with fine


27 November 2017

Residents in Swaziland have been fined for not attending community meetings and paying
‘homage’ to their chief.
About 20 families have been affected in in the Southern Hhohho region, according to a
newspaper report in Swaziland.
It happened at Mvutshini where 20 homesteads were fined E900 each (US$64) ‘for not
attending community meetings and not paying homage to the Ezulwini chiefdom,’ the
Observer on Saturday reported (25 November 2017).
In Swaziland seven in ten people live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per
day.
The newspaper added, ‘They were also given at least seven days to each settle the amount or
they would face the wrath’ of the main chiefdom at Ezulwini where Sifiso Mashampu
Khumalo is chief.
In Swaziland chiefs are appointed by King Mswati III, who rules the kingdom as sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch. Chiefs are considered to be his direct representative and they
have enormous power over their subjects. In June 2017 Chief Somtsewu Motsa of
Lushishikishini threatened too banish all single mothers from the area he rules over to ease
the burden to the community of children born out of wedlock.
The Observer on Saturday (17 June 2017) said Chief Somtsewu Motsa had called a meeting
of all ‘single mothers, pastors and those known to have impregnated girls without marrying
them’. The newspaper reported, ‘Reliable sources said the traditional authorities were
threatening to evict anyone to be seen to defy the chief’s order.’
This was not an isolated incident. It is through chieftaincies that the King maintains control of
his people and chiefs do his bidding at a local level. People know not to get on the wrong side
of the chief because their livelihood depends on his goodwill. In some parts of Swaziland the
chiefs are given the power to decide who gets food that has been donated by international
agencies. The chiefs quite literally have power of life and death in such cases with about a
third of the population of Swaziland receiving food aid each year.
Chiefs can and do take revenge on their subjects who disobey them. There is a catalogue of
cases in Swaziland. For example, Chief Dambuza Lukhele of Ngobelweni in the Shiselweni
region banned his subjects from ploughing their fields because some of them defied his order
to build a hut for one of his wives.
Nhlonipho Nkamane Mkhatswa, chief of Lwandle in Manzini, the main commercial city in
Swaziland, reportedly stripped a woman of her clothing in the middle of a street in full view
of the public because she was wearing trousers.
In November 2013, the newly-appointed Chief Ndlovula of Motshane threatened to evict
nearly 1,000 of his subjects from grazing land if they did not pay him a E5,000 (about
US$500 at the time) fine, the equivalent of more than six months income for many.

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Chiefs are given stipends by the national treasury, but not salaries, and community members
pay their allegiance to chiefs by weeding and harvesting their fields, and constructing the
traditional mud and thatch huts usually found at chiefs’ homesteads.
See also

KING'S DEFIANT SUBJECTS 'WILL BURN'


CHIEF FORCES SUBJECTS TO GREET KING
CHIEF’S THREAT TO EVICT 1,000 PEOPLE
BULLYING CHIEFS RULE IN SWAZILAND
CHIEF MAKES WOMAN IN PANTS STRIP

Forced child labour rife in Swaziland


16 November 2017

A new report that more than 11,000 children in Swaziland are forced to stay away from
school to tend cattle is only the tip of an iceberg in child exploitation in the kingdom.
A draft Report on Child Labour In Herding In Rural Areas of Swaziland published in the
Times of Swaziland on Thursday (16 November 2017) revealed 11,329 children between the
ages of eight and 17 were not attending school because they were engaged in herding. Of
these, 1,917 were aged between eight and 12 years.
Children reported they were kept away from school because parents or guardians could not
afford school fees or they had to work to help pay family debts.
But the report failed to uncover the full extent of forced child labour in Swaziland where
King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
A report on forced child labour in Swaziland from the United States Department of Labor
covering 2016 identified what it called ‘categorical worst forms of child labour’ widespread
in the kingdom as livestock herding, domestic work, farming and market vending.
It said Swaziland was ‘complicit in the use of forced child labour’. It concluded Swaziland
made ‘no advancement’ because ‘local chiefs continued to force children to engage in
agricultural and domestic work.
‘Penalties for refusing to perform this work included evicting families from their village and
confiscating livestock.’
The Department of Labor said Swaziland had signed a number of international conventions
on child labour but they had not been enforced.
The report said children were being trafficked outside the kingdom to neighbouring countries
such as South Africa, ‘for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor in agriculture and
domestic work’.
It also said some Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland and become victims of human
trafficking and are forced to conduct street work and herd livestock. Lubombo and Manzini
were said to be the worst regions for forced child labour.

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The report said, ‘Swazi children have become increasingly vulnerable to the worst forms of
child labor due to the high prevalence of HIV, low economic growth, and high poverty
levels.’
See also

SWAZI CHILDREN’S RIGHTS ABUSED


SWAZI GOVT MISLEADS ON CHILD LABOUR
US EXPOSES CHILD SEX TRADE

Number of reported abuse cases rises


31 October 2017

The number of abuse cases reported in Swaziland is on the increase.


The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) said reported cases in September
2017 were 11.4 percent up on the previous month.
In a monthly report it said the total number of cases reported to it was 127 compared to 114
in August. People were either sexually, physically, financially or emotionally abused, or
suffered neglect. The Manzini region had the highest number of abuse cases with 68; Hhohho
had 48; Lubombo, five; and Shiselweni, four.
According to the report, emotional/verbal abuse continues to record the highest number of
cases; followed by neglect, physical, sexual and financial.
There were 81 female and 46 male clients and 82 male perpetrators and 43 female
perpetrators, the report stated.
The report added parents were the main perpetrators of violence and the home was where
most reported cases of abuse took place.
In August 2017, a UNICEF report revealed nearly nine out of ten children in Swaziland
suffered violent discipline in the home, nearly four in ten suffered sexual violence and one in
three were bullied. UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) reported that much of this
was kept secret within the family.
UNICEF said according to national data, violent discipline in the home, which includes
physical punishment and psychological aggression, affected more than 88 percent of all
children in Swaziland. The study findings also revealed that sexual violence and bullying
affected 38 per cent and 32 percent of children in Swaziland, respectively.
See also

CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT SWAZI CHILDREN


9 IN 10 KIDS SUFFER VIOLENCE AT HOME
CHILD VICTIMS IN HALF OF ABUSE CASES

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Refused ID card for bad hairstyle


6 October 2017

Some people in Swaziland have been refused national identity cards because of their
hairstyles.
It happened at a time when schoolchildren across the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III as
sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, queued for IDs following a new rule that they
had to have them to sit examinations.
Officials at BMD [registration] offices refused to take photographs of applicants they
considered had inappropriate hairstyles, the Swazi Observer reported on Friday (6 October
2017).
The newspaper said, ‘They said they were told by one of the officers that if they had
hairstyles, they had to fix them and return to the BMD offices with their natural hairstyles.’
One boy interviewed by the newspaper had a Mohawk hairstyle, which he wanted to appear
on his ID. The newspaper quoted him saying, ‘I am here for my ID and have this hairstyle
that I want to appear in my ID because it defines who I am.’
Home Affairs Principal Secretary Anthony Masilela told the newspaper, ‘We usually advise
people against doing hairstyles because that might compromise the natural appearance on
their ID cards. If they insist on being photographed with their hairstyles, no one can prevent
them from doing that.’
People in Swaziland have been discriminated in the past because of their personal choices. At
the last national election in 2013. Mana Mavimbela, aged 18, drew international attention to
the undemocratic poll when she tried to have herself nominated to stand in the primary
election for the House of Assembly. The official presiding officer, employed by the Elections
and Boundaries Commission refused to allow her to do so because she was dressed in jeans.
Mavimbela was not the only woman discriminated against at the nominations because she
was wearing pants. Fakazile Luhlanga of Ndvwabangeni in the Mhlangatane constituency
was also not allowed permission to nominate a candidate as she was wearing cargo pants.
Local media reported Luhlanga saying she was told that she was dressed like a man and
would be a bad influence to the community members as they would want to emulate her.
Some chiefs across Swaziland imposed a ban on women wearing trousers, shorts or mini-
skirts at nomination centres. Chief Petros Dvuba of Mpolonjeni in Mbabane, the kingdom’s
capital, said people who would be going to the nominations should dress properly and show
respect as it was King Mswati III’s exercise. He told local media, ‘Even those who have
relaxed hair should cover their heads when going to that place.’
In a separate incident away from the election, Nhlonipho Nkamane Mkhatswa, chief of
Lwandle in Manzini, the main commercial city in Swaziland, reportedly stripped a woman of
her clothing in the middle of a street in full view of the public because she was wearing
trousers.

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Also, three women in Dvokolwako in Swaziland were summoned by ‘traditional authorities’


for wearing trousers after elders in the area had banned them. One woman said someone
reported her after she was spotted wearing jeans as she was walking to the shops. Another
woman was said to be wearing pants at her home when she was charged.

Game rangers shoot-to-kill again


15 November 2017

Game rangers in Swaziland shot dead a man hunting food for his family and wounded
another in the latest example of the kingdom’s ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy against poachers.
The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Wednesday (15 November 2017) the men begged
for their lives but the rangers shot them anyway.
It happened near Somntongo in Lavumisa. The dead man was named as Caiphas Mpisi
Zwane. The newspaper said he was in a hunting expedition with a friend Mxolisi Tebe
Mbhamali on 10 November 2017.
The newspaper said, ‘It is said they were seen trespassing by rangers who then followed them
as they were leaving with game that they had already killed.
‘Zwane was gunned down by the rangers while his friend also got shot but he managed to
flee with the bullets lodged in one of his legs.’
The Observer said that following the recent drought that killed livestock people have been
hunting game to survive and have been trespassing onto private land.
The newspaper said the two were spotted by rangers but it was too late for them to flee.
It added, ‘Having managed to apprehend the two poachers, it’s unclear what actually then led
to the rangers decided to shoot them.
‘The two tried to reason with the rangers where they asked for forgiveness, but the rangers
opened fire, hitting the target.’
It said, ‘Reports are that as the rangers opened fire which thundered all over the area, their
bullets hit Zwane on the thigh and also riddled him near the stomach, killing him instantly.’
Other bullets hit Mbhamali on one of the legs but he managed to escape.
Police are reported to be investigating the incident.
In May 2017 it was reported that game rangers shot dead a ‘mentally challenged’ man they
suspected of poaching at Inyoni Yami Swaziland Irrigation Scheme (IYSIS), Sihhoye. The
Swazi Observer reported at the time rangers shot the man who had lived all his life on the
roadside and was known to the rangers who assaulted him and ‘finished him off as he ran for
dear life’.
The newspaper called it ‘cold blooded murder’.
It came at a time when a United Nations’ group was questioning Swaziland about a law that
gives game rangers immunity from prosecution for killing any person suspected of having

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poached and just after Survival International reported Swaziland ‘appears’ to have a shoot-
on-sight policy that allows game rangers to kill suspected poachers.
The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) questioned
the Swazi Government about the Game Act (No. 51/1953) as amended in 1991, which gives
conservation police personnel (game rangers) immunity from prosecution for killing any
person suspected of having poached, in line with the Covenant, and to train game rangers in
human rights.
In April 2017, Survival International wrote to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on
Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, saying Swaziland ‘appears’ to have a shoot-
on-sight policy that allows game rangers to kill suspected poachers.
In its letter it said, ‘We say “appears” because usually the policy is not defined by any law, or
even written down. As a consequence, nobody knows when wildlife officers are permitted to
use lethal force against them, and it is impossible for dependents to hold to account officers
whom they believe to have killed without good reason.’
Stephen Corry, Survival International Director, said the shoot-on-sight policy directly
affected people who lived close to game parks and guards often failed to distinguish people
hunting for food from commercial poachers.
There has been concern in Swaziland for many years that game rangers have immunity from
prosecution and can legally ‘shoot-to-kill’.
In 2016, the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO) reported to a
United Nations review on human rights in Swaziland, ‘There are numerous cases where
citizens are shot and killed by game rangers for alleged poaching as raised by community
members in several communities such as Lubulini, Nkambeni, Nkhube, Malanti, Sigcaweni,
and Siphocosini.’
In January 2014, Swaziland’s Police Commissioner Isaac Magagula said rangers were
allowed to shoot people who were hunting for food to feed their hungry families.
Magagula publicly stated, ‘Animals are now protected by law and hunting is no longer a free-
for-all, where anybody can just wake up to hunt game whenever they crave meat.’
He told a meeting of traditional leaders in Swaziland, ‘Of course, it becomes very sad
whenever one wakes up to reports that rangers have shot someone. These people are
protected by law and it allows them to shoot, hence it would be very wise of one to shun
away from trouble.’
See also

RANGERS ‘CAN SHOOT TO KILL’


TRUE FACE OF INJUSTICE IN SWAZILAND
KING LETS GAME RANGERS SHOOT-TO-KILL

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Thursday, 26 October 2017


Ex-MP sues for ‘jail assault’

A former member of the Swaziland parliament is suing the kingdom’s jail services, alleging
he was assaulted while an inmate at a correctional facility.

Charles Myeza says officers at the Bhalekane Correctional Centre squeezed his private parts
and smacked his buttocks.
He is not the first former inmate at Bhalekane to allege to have been assaulted in this way.
Myeza has filed a claim at the Swazi High Court and with another former inmate is seeking
E600,000 (US$44,000) damages.
The Sunday Observer newspaper (22 October 2017) in Swaziland revealed some of the
contents of Myeza’s letter of demand against His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS),
seven correctional facility employees, the Commissioner General Mzuthini Ntshangase, the
National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula and the Swaziland Government.
It concerns an alleged incident at Bhalekane on 12 July 2017 at about10-11pm by law
enforcement officials who raided dormitories.
The letter reads, ‘As such the client was stripped naked, smacked on the buttocks and had his
genitals squeezed by officers, in furtherance of a common purpose to violate the right to
dignity.
‘Such wrongful conduct was conducted by the officers acting in the furtherance of a common
purpose with the commissioner of the Correctional Services and acting within the scope of
their employment herein, the conduct herein attracts vicarious liabilities herein.’
Myeza is not the only former inmate at Bhalekane to allege being sexually abused by
warders. In August 2017 the Sunday Observer reported three former inmates alleged they
were stripped and had their genitals groped. One said a warder pulled the pubic hair on his
testicles.
Warders were searching inmates for illegal drugs, the newspaper said.
One former inmate told the newspaper he had been kicked in the head by one of the officers.
‘He kept on banging my defenceless head on the ground with his soccer boot. I begged for
mercy and he told me that I do not deserve mercy since I was there (jail) to pay for the crimes
I committed,’ he said.
In July 2017, the newspaper reported an entire dormitory of prisoners was ordered to strip
naked during a drug search.
The newspaper reported, ‘The officers proceeded to search their dorms for narcotics (dagga)
and money. “They were wearing surgical gloves, ordered us to strip naked and face the wall
as they wanted to do a strip search and they wanted things like dagga, cigarettes and money;
which we thought was normal,” he said. “However they then started to smack us on our
buttocks,” [a former inmate] said, adding how this was closely followed by the use of fists.
‘“I had my private parts squeezed like one does when milking a cow,” he said.’

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The HMCS has denied all the allegations.


See also

JAILERS ‘SEX ASSAULT’ ON MALE INMATES


PRISONERS STRIPPED NAKED, ASSAULTED

8 in 10 Swazi elderly are in poverty


10 December 2017

More than 80 percent of women aged 60 and over and 70 percent of men in Swaziland live in
poverty, according to a new report.
This comes at a time when the Swazi Government has run out of money and cannot pay
elderly grants (pensions) to all people in that age group.
The figures are contained in the National Strategy and Action Plan to End Violence in
Swaziland: 2017 to 2022.
About seven in ten of Swaziland’s 1.3 million population live in abject poverty defined as
having incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The report said poverty among
people aged 60 or over was highest compared to other age groups.
The Swazi Observer newspaper on Thursday (7 December 2017) quoted the report, ‘Whilst
the elderly are now receiving social grants, they continue to be subjected to other forms of
abuse as they are neglected by family members, abused physically and emotionally within
society.’
The findings come as the Swazi Government which is not elected by the people but
handpicked by King Mswati III who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch said
it could not afford to pay elderly grants to people who reached the age of 60 this year. About
4,000 people are affected.
A media report in Swaziland estimated that the government needed about an extra E20
million (US$1.4 million) to pay for the new pensioners and another E40 million to meet a
shortfall to pay the existing 66,000 people already receiving the pensions.
The Government said it had no budget to pay the new pensions. It has a budget of E282
million for the elderly, but with the reviewed monthly grant, rising from E220 to E400 has
meant that this budget became insufficient, the Observer on Saturday reported in November
2017.
Although the government did not provide sufficiently for the elderly in its 2017 budget it did
increase spending on the Swaziland Royal Household by E200 million (US$14 million) to
E1.3 billion. The increase was ten times the amount needed to pay for the new elderly grants.
King Mswati lives a lavish lifestyle, with at least 13 palaces, fleets of top-of-the-range
Mercedes Benz and BMW cars and at least one Rolls Royce. He has a private jet airplane and
is soon to get a second.

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Rights newsletter’s 500th edition


25 October 2017

A weekly newsletter supporting human rights in Swaziland has published its 500th edition.
The Swaziland Newsletter which is compiled by Africa Contact, Denmark, in collaboration
with Swazi Media Commentary is sent free-of-charge by email.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Political parties are not allowed to contest elections and opposition groups that advocate for
democracy have been banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. Journalists have been
jailed for writing articles critical of the ruling powers.
Advocacy group across the world including Amnesty International and Freedom House have
consistently called on the King, who handpicks the Prime Minister and government ministers,
to allow freedoms of speech, assembly and association. The King has been estimated by
Business Insider to have a personal wealth of US$200 million, while seven in ten of his 1.3
million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.
The newsletter supports those who want to see a democratic Swaziland. Richard Rooney, a
former associate professor and head of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department
at the University of Swaziland, who edits the newsletter, said, ‘The newsletter consistently
reports on the failures of King Mswati and his government to uphold the rule of law and the
denial of basic rights to all sections of the Swazi population, including women, children,
political activists, trade unionists, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and LGBTI
people.’
The 500th edition contains reports about the death of one of Swaziland’s foremost
traditionalists and human rights violator; the public servants’ campaign for just salaries;
poverty-stricken workers demanding the resignation of a cabinet minister; corruption at the
forthcoming local elections; a controversial Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill that
traditionalists want to gut; and a report that government is being sued for allowing illegal
school beatings.
The newsletter is available by email here
SAK-Swazinewsletter-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk
See also

SWAZILAND UPDATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS


A DECADE OF NEWS AND VIEWS
HUMAN RIGHTS YEAR-END REVIEW
PROGRESS TO SWAZI DEMOCRACY?

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Rooney was associate professor at the University of Swaziland 2005 – 2008, where he
was also the founding head of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department.
He has taught in universities in Africa, Europe and the Pacific. His academic research which
specialises in media and their relationships to democracy, governance and human rights has
appeared in books and journals across the world.
His writing regularly appears in newspapers, magazines and on websites. He was a full-time
journalist in his native United Kingdom for 10 years, before becoming an academic.
He has published the blog Swazi Media Commentary since 2007 and also has other social
media sites that concentrate on human rights issues in Swaziland.
He holds a Ph.D in Communication from the University of Westminster, London, UK.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Publications from Swazi Media Commentary available online free-of-charge

BOOKS

2013. The beginning of the End? 2012, a year in the struggle for democracy in
Swaziland

This compilation of newsletters from Africa Contact in collaboration with Swazi Media
Commentary contains an assortment of news, analysis and comment covering the campaign
for freedom in Swaziland throughout 2012. These include the Global Action for Democracy
held in September; campaigns for democracy spearheaded by trade unions and students and
the continuing struggle for rights for women, children, gays and minority groups.

2012. The End of the Beginning? 2011, a year in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland

This book looks at activities in the freedom movement in 2011. It starts with a section on the
unsuccessful April 12 Uprising followed by separate chapters looking at events in each month
of 2011, including the Global Week of Action held in September. They also highlight the
numerous violations of rights suffered by the poor, by children, by women and by sexual
minorities, among others, in the kingdom.

2011. Voices Unheard: Media Freedom and Censorship in Swaziland.

This volume of pages from Swazi Media Commentary focuses on media freedom and
censorship. It starts with some overview articles that set out the general terrain, moving on to
look at repressive media laws. Other sections of this book relate the daily threats journalists in
Swaziland face when they want to report, but are not allowed to.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

OCCASIONAL PAPERS SERIES

No. 1. 2013. Cynicism Eats Away at Swaziland Journalism: The State of Swazi
Journalism, 2013

One thing that shines out about journalists and their editors in Swaziland is the deeply cynical
way they operate. Swazi journalists claim to be upholders of fine ethical traditions of honesty
and inquiry, but instead they are often publishing lies or playing with readers’ emotions to
boost company profits.

This article explores the state of newspaper journalism in Swaziland, a small kingdom in
Africa, ruled over by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Editors are
deliberately misleading their readers by publishing material that is intended to provoke
controversy and reaction, even though they know it also contains lies. This is done in order to
boost profits for owners.

No. 2. 2013. Swaziland Broadcasting Not For The People

A review of broadcasting in Swaziland that demonstrates through research that radio in the
kingdom only serves the interests of King Mswati III and his intimate supporters. All other
voices are excluded from the airwaves. The paper contrasts a ‘public broadcasting service’ with
‘public service broadcasting’ and demonstrates that changes in the kingdom’s broadcasting
cannot be made until it becomes a democratic state.

No. 3. 2013. Swaziland Media Need Code of Conduct for Covering Elections
A review of how media have covered past elections in Swaziland highlighting a number of
areas for improvement. The paper includes a suggested code of ethical conduct that Swazi
journalists can adopt in order to improve performance.
No.4. 2013. Swaziland Press Freedom: The case of Bekhi Makhubu and the Nation
magazine
In April 2013 Bheki Makhubu the editor of the Nation magazine and its publishers, Swaziland
Independent Publishers were convicted of ‘scandalising the court’ after two articles criticising
the judiciary were published in 2009 and 2010. The purpose of this paper is to bring together
details of the story so far (May 2013). It is an attempt to bring under one cover all the available
information on the case in order to assist those people in the future who might need a quick
‘primer’.
No.5. 2013. Media Coverage of Swaziland Election 2013.
A review of media coverage of the Swaziland national election, most notably in the only two
newspaper groups in the kingdom, and at international media. It notes that generally
newspapers in Swaziland ignored the real issue, that of the non-democratic nature of the
elections, and concentrated instead on trying to justify the governance system to their readers.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM


PREVIOUS EDITIONS

Volume 13: Jan 2014 to March 2014, is available free of charge here
Volume 14: April to June 2014, is available free of charge here
Volume 15: July to September 2014, is available free of charge here
Volume 16: October to December 2014, is available free of charge here
Volume 17: January to March 2015, is available free of charge here
Volume 18: April to June 2015, is available free of charge here
Volume 19: July to September 2015 is available free of charge here.
Volume 20: October to December 2015 is available free of charge here.
Volume 21: January to March 2016 is available free of charge here.
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Volume 23: July to September 2016 is available free of charge here.
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Volume 25: January to March 2017 is available free of charge here.
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OTHER VOLUMES
Volume 1, Jan 2013, is available free of charge here.
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Volume 8, August 2013, is available free of charge here.
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Volume 12, December 2013, is available free of charge here

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Swazi Media Commentary

Containing information and commentary


about human rights in Swaziland

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