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Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

As seen through the pages of Swazi Media Commentary


Vol. 29. January – March 2018

Compiled by
Richard Rooney
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

CONTENTS

Introduction 1
1 Budget and finance 2
2 King’s birthday 66
3 Prisons 82
4 Schools 94
5 Students 109
6 AGOA 114
7 Army 116
8 Crime 119
9 Chiefs 131
10 Governance 134
11 Prime Minister 160
12 Political parties 175
13 Health 180
14 Media 185
15 Police 207
16 Women 233
17 Workers’ rights 238
18 Human rights 243

INTRODUCTION

Swaziland’s public finances are in such a mess that bank statements have been
miscalculated by more than E7 billion. Government Ministries are engaging in
fraud and breaking laws. These are some of the conclusions of the annual

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Auditor’s General report. Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance Martin Dlamini in


the national budget says the kingdom can only spend on priorities. Then, he sets
aside E5.5 million for a retirement home for the unelected Prime Minister
Barnabas Dlamini and another E1.5 billion for a conference centre.
Meanwhile international donors are paying to stop children from
starvation, public servants are protesting for salary increases in line with the cost
of living, and the King is about to take delivery f his second private jet aircraft.
Seven in ten of the population continue to live in abject poverty with incomes less
than the equivalent of US$2 per day.
These are some of the stories in this latest quarterly compilation of posts
from the Swazi Media Commentary website.
The kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III is gearing up to mark his 50 th
birthday which falls in the same year as Swaziland’s 50th anniversary of
Independence from Great Britain. Money intended for retired people and the
disabled has been taken to help pay for the festivities. Public services such as
health and education are grinding to a halt because the government has not paid
bills to suppliers.
Meanwhile, Swaziland continues to repress political dissent and disregard
human rights and the rule of law, the latest international reports on freedom in the
kingdom reveal.
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 BUDGET AND FINANCE

Swazi budget a tale of woes


7 March 2018
Swaziland’s economy is in disarray and the kingdom continues to
fail to raise enough money to pay for its spending, the national
budget reveals.
All government job recruiting will be frozen, Value Added
Tax will go up by 1 percent to 15 percent and there is a plan to try
to impose VAT on electricity tariffs for the first time.
Pensions for people aged 60 and over will be frozen, but E5.5
million is earmarked to buy the Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini a
retirement home. E1.5 billion will be spent on a conference centre
and five-star hotel to house an African Union summit.
Local pension and insurance companies are to be compelled
to invest at least 50 percent of their funds within Swaziland.
Swaziland received a B2 negative credit rating from
international agency Moody’s.
Swazi Finance Minister Martin Dlamini delivered a catalogue
of woes during his budget speech on 1 March 2018. He said he took
his lead when constructing the budget from King Mswati III who
rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Dlamini was not elected to parliament and along with the Prime
Minister, Cabinet ministers and top public servants was appointed
by the King.

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In his speech opening Parliament in February 2018 Dlamini


said the King commanded his government, ‘to prepare a budget that
is based on available resources’. Dlamini said, ‘Government has
conducted a thorough analysis of our expenditure in order to
prioritise only the most pressing concerns.’
He told Parliament, ‘The public sector has grown at a much
faster pace over the years creating significant dependency in the
economy and compromising growth and employment creation. This
has led to the large size of government, increased the wage bill
significantly, and limited the space for social and infrastructure
spending.’
He added, ‘Government spending continues to outpace its
ability to raise enough revenues resulting in cash flow challenges
and accumulation of arrears.’
He said the Government owed E3.1 billion to its suppliers for
goods and services and it was trying to find ways to find money to
repay these debts.
Dlamini added, ‘In recent years, Government has not been
able to raise enough revenues to cover the ever increasing
expenditures, which is a clear indication that the current
Government model cannot be sustained in the medium-term.’ He
announced a freeze on all government recruiting.
He reported the economy in Swaziland was projected to have
grown by 1.9 percent in 2017 from 1.4 percent in 2016. Crop
production which had been hit by drought grew by 17.2 percent in

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2017, but livestock production was ‘significantly reduced due to the


drought’.
He said, ‘There has been a decline in the construction sector
as implementation of various construction projects slowed largely
due to the current fiscal challenges’
Economic performance in 2018 was anticipated to grow by
1.3 percent.
Inflation continues to grow. In 2016 consumer prices grew by
7.8 percent. They increased a further 6.2 percent in 2017.
The cost of food for a kingdom where seven in ten of the
estimated 1.1 million population have incomes of less than the
equivalent of US$2 per day rose 19 percent in 2016 and a further
2.6 percent in 2017. The slowdown in price increases was put down
to improved weather conditions for agricultural production after the
drought.
Transport costs rose 9.6 percent in 2016 and a further 3.9
percent in 2017. Communication costs (mainly phones) rose 4.7
percent in 2016 and by a further 0.4 percent in 2017.
The Finance Minister reported that Swaziland’s ‘current
account’ had a surplus of E8.6 billion in 2017, but this was down
from E9.5 billion in 2016. Export earnings fell by 1.3 percent in
2017 to E24.1 billion. Foreign Direct Investment declined over the
year.
He announced that the government would compel local
pension fund and insurance institutions to invest 50 percent of their

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holdings within Swaziland. At present that figure is 30 percent. He


said government would also reduce the amount of retirement funds
and insurance assets that can be held as cash, ‘in order to encourage
retirement funds and insurance companies to invest in the domestic
economy’.
Swaziland’s official currency reserves fell by 7.8 percent in
2017 to E7.6 billion. ‘This development was mainly due to
inadequate Government revenue to cover public expenses,’ Finance
Minister Dlamini said.
Swaziland has been given a B2 rating (on a scale from A – C)
with a ‘negative outlook’ by international credit rating agency
Moody’s, he said. The poor rating is ‘due to the financial and
economic pressures we continue to face’, he added.
The year ahead in Swaziland is bleak. In line with the King’s
command, Dlamini said, government would spend only on the
‘most critical’ items. He said, ‘In managing the financing, the gap,
Government aims to do the following: a. Monitoring and
controlling all commitments including those of Ministries that had
been previously ring-fenced to avoid unnecessary and wasteful
expenditure with the aim to prioritise critical expenditure; b.
Prioritising payment arrears and aligning them to cash available. c.
Continue exploring the possibility for other sources of funding
including but not limited to utilising excess balances on
Government special accounts.’

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The kingdom is in debt. He said, ‘As of December 2017, total


debt stock stood at E11.51 billion, which is an equivalent of 19.29
per cent of GDP. Of this stock, external debt is at E4.35 billion,
whilst domestic is E7.15 billion.’
Government has taken out loan agreements with among
others; EXIM Bank – China, the Kuwait Fund for Development, the
Saudi Fund for Development, the Arab Bank for Economic
Development (BADEA), the OPEC Fund for International
Development (OFID). The loan agreements are for the following
approved projects; National Referral Hospital, Five Star Hotel,
LUSIP II, Lukhula-Big Bend Road and Lukhula-Siteki Road.
He said, ‘The livelihood of our people continues to be
Government’s priority, with the agriculture sector playing such a
large role in the economy’. He allocated E1.4 billion to the
Department of Agriculture which is less than the E1.5 billion to be
spent on a convention centre and hotel at Ezulwini.
He said the total expenditure for financial year 2018/19 was
estimated at E21.6 billion, a reduction of 1 percent on the previous
year. He added, ‘I am pleased to announce that Government has
been able to deliver on His Majesty’s directive from the Throne
regarding a realistic budget. Government has conducted a thorough
analysis of our expenditure in order to prioritise only the most
pressing concerns.’
As is customary, he did not announce how much of the annual
budget would go to King Mswati for his upkeep and that of his

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Royal Family. The King has at least 13 palaces, fleets of top-of-the


range BMW and Mercedes cars and at least one Rolls Royce. He
has a private jet airplane and is due to take delivery of another
during 2018.
The 2017 budget increased spending on the Swaziland Royal
Household by E200 million to E1.3 billion.

‘Cabinet defies King over budget’


3 March 2018
A newspaper in Swaziland in effect owned by autocratic monarch
King Mswati III has accused the government of defying the King’s
orders over the kingdom’s national budget.
The Observer on Saturday (part of the Swazi Observer group)
said the government ministers defied the King’s ‘command’. It said
a command from the King was ‘usually followed to the letter’.
The Observer is on record saying it will always support the
King. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in a report on
press freedom in Swaziland once called the Observer a ‘pure
propaganda machine for the royal family’.
The Observer reported on Saturday (3 March 2018), ‘In a
move that has been seen as defiance to His Majesty King Mswati
III, Cabinet has delivered a budget that is short of the King’s
command on two major areas that pertain to capital projects.’

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It added the King had given instructions during his speech


from the throne opening Parliament on 16 February 2018 that
certain projects ‘would definitely be undertaken’.
The newspaper added, ‘These projects include the new
Parliament building, which Cabinet has deferred to the future and
the national stadium which has also not been included in the
Budget.
‘Usually a command by the King is followed to the letter
hence it is surprising to a number of commentators how an oversight
like that could occur or the projects have been left on purpose.’
Political parties in Swaziland are banned from taking part in
elections and the King appoints government ministers. The Prime
Minister Barnabas Dlamini has never been elected to Parliament.

Swazi budget gives PM new house


5 March 2018
Swaziland is budgeting to build the Prime Minister Barnabas
Dlamini a retirement house for E5.5m even though members of
parliament rejected the move last year.
The MPs said last year the kingdom was too poor to afford the
house. The money is back on the table this year even though
Finance Minister Martin Dlamini announced in his budget speech
on Thursday (1 March 2018), ‘Government spending continues to
outpace its ability to raise enough revenues resulting in cash flow
challenges and accumulation of arrears.’

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Dlamini was not elected to the office of Prime Minister. In


Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections
and King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch chooses the PM and government ministers.
Dlamini is aged 75 and in poor health. He is widely expected
to retire at the next national election due sometime in 2018.
The house in Thembelihle will have four bedrooms, all with
en-suite bathrooms.
The house is only part of Dlamini’s retirement package. The
Financial Circular No 2 of 2013 sets out his benefits. He will receive
80 percent of his final salary until he dies. In 2013 it stood at
E617,646 (US$51,700). In Swaziland seven in ten of the estimated
1.1 population have incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per
day.
The Swazi taxpayer will contribute the full amount payable to
a medical aid scheme of which the Prime Minister is a member.
They will provide a house and a vehicle of the same status as the
one he has while in office. Dlamini will also ‘be afforded security
in line with the risk profile as determined by the Commissioner of
Police’. He will be provided with a personal assistant.
When the cost of the PM’s house was included in the 2017
national budget, MPs protested that the amount was too much and
should be frozen to a time when the kingdom could afford it.

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Finance Minister Martin Dlamini did not make reference to


the PM’s house in his budget speech, but he did state that the budget
only included ‘the most critical expenditure items’.
He increased Value Added Tax (VAT) by 1 percent to 15
percent and said he was exploring the possibility of putting VAT on
electricity prices. There is already a 15 percent increase in
electricity tariffs due on 1 April 2018. Commentators have said this
will have a big effect on the poor. The Times of Swaziland, the only
independent daily newspaper in the kingdom said the ‘budget robs
the poor’.

Building hotel a budget priority


5 March 2018
The Swaziland Government is to spend E1.5bn (US$125m) this
year building a conference centre and five-star hotel to host the
African Union summit in 2020 that will last eight days.
This is more than the sum allocated to the Ministry of
Agriculture (E1.4bn) or the Ministry of Defence (E1.15bn). It is the
biggest single capital project in Swaziland’s budget this year. Total
capital spending is set at E5.6bn.
It comes as the Finance Minister Martin Dlamini announced
Value Added Tax (VAT) would be increased by 1 percent to 15
percent and a review would be made of the VAT Act to allow
taxation of electricity for the first time. Commentators within
Swaziland say this will have a huge effect on the poor. Seven in ten

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of the estimated 1.1 million population have incomes less than the
equivalent of US$2 per day.
The hotel and conference centre is another project supported
by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch. He believes such buildings add to the
prestige of his kingdom and will make it a First World nation by
2022. He already has an airport named in his honour that cost an
estimated E2.5bn to build but only has one airline using it. King
Mswati III International Airport has been described as a ‘white
elephant’ and a ‘vanity project’ for the King.
Dlamini in his budget speech on Thursday (1 March 2018)
said the government would only spend on ‘the most critical
expenditure items’ this year. He acknowledged, ‘Government
sending continues to outpace its ability to raise enough revenues
resulting in cash flow challenges and accumulation of arrears.’
The hotel and convention centre – popularly known as
ICCFISH - is under construction at Ezulwini. In 2013 when the
plan for the development was announced the cost was estimated at
E1bn. Completion of the work was expected by 2016.
In September 2017 it was reported that King Mswati had
visited Las Vegas in the United States to try to get the Caesars
Palace company (famous for its hotel and casino) to manage the
ICCFISH.
‘The King’s Office Correspondent’, writing at the time in the
Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported

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Caesars Palace management had promised to submit a proposal on


what it would cost to manage the ICC and hotel.
In 2013, when the plan for building was announced the Swazi
Observer reported, ‘The scope of the project include a facility of
international standards with a Swazi theme, a facility to handle up
to 4,500 delegates at a time, trade centre for high value exhibition,
a secure chamber room to take 53 heads of state, 3,500 seat
banqueting hall, restaurants, 1,500 seat theatre, and special holding
rooms.’
The African Union summit is held twice a year in January and
June but by tradition the first meeting is held in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia.
In 2016, King Mswati took about E40m of public funds to
host a lavish Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Heads of State summit at a time when his government was so poor
it could release only E22 million of the E305 million earmarked for
drought relief in that year’s national budget.
See also
KING’S DEAL WITH $18bn BANKRUPT
KING TO PARTY WHILE SWAZIS GO HUNGRY

MPs send budget back for review


6 March 2018

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Members of Parliament in Swaziland have sent the national budget


back to be reviewed because they say it does not meet the needs of
poor people and rural communities.
The budget announced on Thursday (1 March 2018) included
an increase in Value Added Tax by 1 percent to 15 percent and a
review to impose VAT on electricity prices for the first time.
Electricity tariffs are already due to increase by 15 percent on 1
April 2018.
MPs also said that the budget did not adequately finance
Micro Projects and the Regional Development Fund (RDF).
The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (6 March 2018),
‘The legislators agreed that the Minister of Finance should go back
and review the budget together with the House of Assembly
Finance Sessional Committee and the House of Assembly Finance
Portfolio Committee. The reviewed budget is expected to be tabled
by the minister tomorrow in the House of Assembly.’
The call for review is not unusual in Swaziland. Last year
members of the House of Assembly initially rejected the budget,
but then Swaziland’s unelected Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini
forced them to overturn their decision.
He also forced them to abandon a debate on the contents of
the budget in the House of Assembly and instead move discussions
straight to committee sittings.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part

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in elections and the Prime Minister and senior ministers are selected
by the King.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the
King, reported at the time that the Prime Minister ‘minced no
words’ then he told Parliament ‘that nothing would be changed in
the budget’.
The newspaper, described by the Media Institute of Southern
Africa in a report on media freedom in the kingdom, as a ‘pure
propaganda machine for the royal family’ reported the MPs ‘came
back to their senses’ and allowed passage to the Budget Bill.
There are ongoing concerns about the ways national budgets
are made in Swaziland. In a review of the 2016 Swaziland budget,
the US State Department found details were missing about how
money given to the Royal Family was spent. Also hidden was
detailed information about spending on the military, police and
correctional services.
The United States undertakes annual reports on ‘fiscal
transparency’ of governments that receive US assistance to ‘help
ensure US taxpayer money is used appropriately’.
In 2017, Swaziland scored only three points out of 100 in a
global review of its budget in the Transparency Open Budget
Survey produced by the International Budget Partnership (IBP).
While Swaziland scored three points, neighbouring South
Africa scored 89. In an 80-page report IBP revealed that the
Swaziland legislature provides weak oversight of the budget.

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IBP said the Swazi parliament was unable to discuss the


budget properly because it was not provided with sufficient
information. It said the government’s budget proposal should be
available two months before the start of the budget year.

Hostile reaction to VAT increase


6 March 2018
The announcement by Swaziland Finance Minister Martin Dlamini
that Value Added Tax is to rise by 1 percent to 15 percent to put it
in line with neighbour and major trading partner South Africa has
been criticised throughout the kingdom.
South Africa made the change last month (February 2018).
Dlamini said in his budget speech on Thursday (1 March
2018) he also wanted to find a legal way of putting VAT on
electricity charges. Electricity tariffs are already set to rise by 15
percent on 1 April 2018.
The VAT increase will affect people especially the poorest,
commentators in Swaziland said.
When the South African Treasury announced its increase in
VAT it also announced measures to mitigate the impact of the VAT
increase on poor households with above inflation increases in social
grants, partial relief for inflation for the bottom three personal
income tax brackets (for people who do not receive social grants),
a marginal increase in the tax credits for medical aid contributions
and maintaining the 19 zero-rated food items.

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Swaziland’s Finance Minister made no concessions. Dlamini


also announced additional taxation on alcohol and tobacco
products. There are also plans to increase the fuel tax rate by 20
cents from the current E3 and a review of user fees for mobile
phones.
Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) Deputy
Secretary General Muzi Mhlanga said, ‘The cost of living as we
speak is too high for the working class and such hikes are hard
hitting and we are not happy with what was announced by the
minister.’
Federation of Swaziland Business Community (FESBC)
Chief Executive Officer Dudu Nhlengethwa was against the
increase and said businesses had not been consulted.
The Times Sunday newspaper in Swaziland reported (4 March
2018) that the Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) was against
imposing VAT on its charges. The newspaper quoted SEC
Marketing and Corporate Communications Manager Sifiso
Dhlamini saying, ‘Disposable income for the customer has not
increased but is still the same, so there will be an erosion of their
purchasing power if VAT will be added on electricity.’
Interviewed by the Swazi Observer newspaper Swaziland
Revenue Authority (SRA) Commissioner General, Dumsani
Masilela said the increase was rare and inevitable. The Observer
reported, ‘He said it was inevitable because Swaziland had in the
past traditionally been aligned with South Africa where VAT is

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concerned due to structural issues which make it hard for Swaziland


to act unilaterally.’ He added that the SRA had made extensive
consultations on the VAT issue.
The Editor of the Observer on Saturday Alec Lushaba,
writing in his own newspaper, said the increase in VAT meant, ‘that
certain goods and services which are normally accessible to
ordinary members of the society, in particular the poor, will no
longer be available’. He added that social grants (pensions) for
people aged 60 or over had not been increased in the budget.
Swazi Observer Group Managing Editor Mbongeni Mbingo,
writing in the Sunday Observer, (4 March 2018) said the increase
in VAT did not consider, ‘what the implication and impact really is
going to be for an economy that already is on its knees and
obviously, with so much unemployment’.
He added, ‘But, this electricity hike and the decision to impose
VAT on it shows Cabinet’s fragrant disregard for the situation on
the ground.’
Sifiso Sibandze, writing in the Times Sunday, (4 March 2018)
said, ‘The long and short of it is, the budget was meant to further
disadvantage the already disadvantaged – the poor. It is a budget
that will make the poor poorer. Through the budget, government
was legitimising his intention of pick-pocketing the poor.’

Electricity vat rise shelved for now


8 March 2018

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Members of the House of Assembly in Swaziland have voted


against putting a 15 percent Value Added Tax on electricity prices.
It happened during a debate on the national budget on
Wednesday (7 March 2018). In his budget speech on 1 March 2018
Finance Minister Martin Dlamini said government wanted to
review the VAT Act to allow the tax to be added to tariffs. The order
to raise VAT generally by 1 percent to 15 percent goes ahead.
The VAT increases were not well received in Swaziland
where seven in ten of the estimated 1.1 million population have
incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day.
The Times of Swaziland reported Acting Finance Committee
Chairperson Marwick Khumalo in a report said the VAT on
electricity had been deferred pending a cost-benefit analysis to be
undertaken by the Ministry of Finance.
In his budget speech Dlamini had said the VAT increase was
needed to keep the kingdom in line with neighbouring South Africa
which announced its own increase in February 2018.
However, when the South African Treasury announced its
increase in VAT it also announced measures to mitigate the impact
of the VAT increase on poor households with above inflation
increases in social grants, partial relief for inflation for the bottom
three personal income tax brackets (for people who do not receive
social grants), a marginal increase in the tax credits for medical aid
contributions and maintaining the 19 zero-rated food items.

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Swaziland’s Finance Minister made no concessions. Dlamini


also announced additional taxation on alcohol and tobacco
products. There are also plans to increase the fuel tax rate by 20
cents from the current E3 and a review of user fees for mobile
phones.
On Monday, members of parliament in Swaziland sent the
national budget back to the Ministry of Finance be reviewed
because they said it did not meet the needs of poor people and rural
communities.

MPs block Swazi state-radio funds


14 March 2018
Members of parliament in Swaziland have blocked funding to state-
controlled radio because they say they are not being allowed on air.
One said the stations under the Swaziland Broadcasting and
Information Services (SBIS) were being used for ‘character
assassination’.
Nkwene MP Sikhumbuzo Dlamini told the House of
Assembly SBIS had been used to assassinate his character as a
member of parliament.
The Swazi Observer newspaper, which is itself in effect
owned by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported on Tuesday (13 March
2018), ‘He said the national radio station was used to tell people
how he was evil and disrespectful. The message was sent to the

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people in a way to de-campaign him. He strongly blamed the editors


at SBIS for disseminating news meant to humiliate him.’
During a debate, Nkhaba MP Menzi Dlamini wanted to know
if it was still proper for the radio station to be referred to as a
national radio station or should it be the ‘Cabinet radio station’.
The Observer reported, ‘He informed his colleagues how he
was once denied access to the radio station when he wanted to air
an announcement to inform Nkhaba people about an event they
were supposed to attend.’
Maphalaleni MP Mabulala Maseko said as MPs they were
pioneers of development and also coordinated development
activities. So they were supposed to be given access to state media
to talk about developmental issues in their constituencies.
The MPs resolved that they would not release E2 million
(US$170,000) to renovate the SBIS studios.
All radio in Swaziland, except one Christian station that does
not broadcast news, is state controlled. The largest of only two
television stations in the kingdom is also state-controlled.
There is a long history of censorship. 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

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from broadcasting news and information that did not support the
government’s own agenda.
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’.
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 not to use certain stories
such as those about demonstrations by progressives and strike
action by workers. The PM responded by saying editors should

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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 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.
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

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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.

Police block budget protest march


16 March 2018
Police armed with batons blocked a road in Swaziland to stop a
petition rejecting the national budget being delivered to parliament.
Police with guns watched from a distance.
It happened in Lobamba on Thursday (15 March 2018). About
100 members of civil society groups, community organisations and
political parties under the banner of the Swaziland Economic

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Justice Network marched from Somhlolo National Stadium heading


to the Parliament gate.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent newspaper in
the kingdom where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch, reported the march was halted because it
‘would disturb Labadzala’. Labadzala is a group of Royal elders.
The newspaper reported, ‘the participants resolved to march
and force the police out of their way to deliver the petition.
‘However, immediately when they got into the road towards
the traffic circle, the police, who were mostly armed with batons,
formed a line across the road while those carrying guns watched
from a distance.
‘The participants tried to divert from the main road and
marched across the traffic circle but more police officers joined
their colleagues to extend the barrier. Thereafter, the participants
sang provocative political songs while dancing and toyi- toying in
front of police officers.’
A representative of the Clerk to Parliament came out and
received the petition.
The national budget has been controversial for a number of
reasons, mainly because it raises Value Added Tax by 1 percent to
15 percent. A plan to impose 15 percent VAT on electricity prices
for the first time has been shelved pending a review.
Freedom of speech and assembly are severely curtailed in
Swaziland. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

and King Mswati chooses the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers.
Advocates for multiparty democracy have been arrested under the
Suppression of Terrorism Act.
Meetings on all topics are routinely banned in Swaziland and
the kingdom’s police and security forces have been criticised by
international observers. 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 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 [in 2013].’
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.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

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.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

MPs unhappy with PM’s new house


16 March 2018
Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s unelected Prime Minister, is under
fire from members of parliament over a plan to build him a
retirement house costing E5.5 million from public funds.
They said the house was too expensive and the designs alone cost
E1.5 million.
The money was included in the national budget announced
earlier this month.
The Times of Swaziland reported on Wednesday (14 March
2018) that the Prime Minister ‘went as far as including the King’s
name’ in his justification for having the house.
King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in
elections. The King appoints the Prime Minister and senior
government ministers. In Swaziland the King’s word is law and if
he gives a directive it is to be followed without question.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the
King, reported the King, ‘has blessed the site where the house
would be built, the PM told MPs’.
It added, ‘Dlamini also told the MPs that the King had chosen
a site where the house would be built.’
A Royal Commission has already been announced to look into
the salaries and benefits of parliamentarians. The E5.5milion
(US$467,000) budget for the house was left unchanged.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Dlamini is aged 75 and in poor health. He is widely expected


to retire at the next national election due sometime in 2018.
The Prime Minister’s retirement package is set out in Finance
Circular No 2 of 2013. He will receive 80 percent of his final salary
until he dies. In 2016 it stood at E802,854. In Swaziland seven in
ten of the estimated 1.1 population have incomes less than the
equivalent of US$2 per day (about E8,760 per year).
The Swazi taxpayer will contribute the full amount payable to
a medical aid scheme of which the Prime Minister is a member.
They will provide a house and a vehicle of the same status as the
one he has while in office. Dlamini will also ‘be afforded security
in line with the risk profile as determined by the Commissioner of
Police’. He will be provided with a personal assistant.
When the cost of the PM’s house was included in the 2017
national budget, MPs protested that the amount was too much and
should be frozen to a time when the kingdom could afford it.
Finance Minister Martin Dlamini did not make reference to
the PM’s house in his budget speech, but he did state that the budget
only included ‘the most critical expenditure items’.

Swaziland MPs block state-TV budget


17 March 2018
Members of Swaziland’s parliament refused to approve the budget
of state-controlled Swazi TV following years of upheavals at the
station.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

They want an inquiry report from 2016 fully implemented


before they will release E10 million.
It happened in the House of Assembly when MPs were
debating the performance report of the Ministry of Information,
Communications and Technology (ICT).
At present Swazi TV has no chief executive after Bongani
‘S’gcokosiyancinca’ Dlamini’s contract expired in December 2017.
Dlamini headed a station in turmoil. It has failed to submit
audited financial statements to the Auditor General since 2014. A
‘Commission of Inquiry’ was held in 2016 but its results were not
made public.
In April 2016, the Sunday Observer reported, ‘Dlamini was
suspended together with the television station’s Chief Financial
Officer Albert Masuku after reports that the station was going
through a financial crisis as it is operating on a E40 million deficit.’
It said armed police were deployed at the station while an
internal audit was underway.
Once the Commission of Inquiry was finished, Minister of
Information Communication and Technology Dumsani
Ndlangamandla told the Observer on Saturday in January 2017 ‘I
can safely say the organisation was cleared of any mismanagement
of funds, in fact the national broadcaster suffered a huge strain when
their subvention was reduced without any other interventions like
retrenchments or ways of cutting cost of running the national TV.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The newspaper added, ‘Ndlangamandla revealed that the


station had all along been given E47 million and then it was
suddenly given E27 million which was suicidal. The minister said
the station’s running costs per quarter was E6 million for salaries
yet the station needs to cover other costs like content procurement
and other running costs for a functional broadcaster.’
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, III who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch.
Political parties are banned from taking part in elections in
Swaziland and the King chooses the Prime Minister and senior
cabinet posts.
Swazi TV is widely regarded as a propaganda station. In June
2015, a report tabled at the Swaziland Parliament revealed that
censorship at Swazi TV 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, Dlamini, the Chief Executive, 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.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

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 by state-
controlled media.
According to a report in the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in
effect owned by King Mswati, Dlamini said, ‘It was communicated
to the station that any activity outside of government’s calendar
cannot be featured as news and that government’s calendar is sent
monthly by the press officer in Cabinet and it is normally updated
in between.’
In May 2010, Barnabas Dlamini the Prime Minister said
Swazi Television and state-controlled SBIS radio should follow
government policy and do what they were told. He was talking at
an editors’ forum when he reminded his audience that government
had dictated that state media were banned from promoting
gambling activities, including Top Lotto, smoking and drinking
alcohol.
He said the state media had no discretion in the matter.
‘Government’s stance involved is clear, so state-owned media
cannot even use their discretion where this is concerned, but they
are advised to simply ignore all gambling activities. Even if you are
interviewing someone and that person mentions something about
gambling, just cut the interview,’ the Swazi Observer reported him
saying.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Foreign banks ‘might quit Swaziland’


18 March 2018
Foreign-owned banks in Swaziland might leave the kingdom if a
proposed new levy announced by the Minister of Finance Martin
Dlamini goes ahead.
Banks will be expected to pay 2.5 percent of their annual
income to the government of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch.
Standard Bank Chief Executive Mvuselelo Fakudze told a
meeting at Gigi’s Restaurant, Ezulwini on Monday (12 March
2018) banks had parent companies in other countries which would
close their Swaziland operations if profits fell.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King
Mswati, reported that Fakudze said, ‘Government may be forcing
investors which are the parent companies of most of the banks we
have in Swaziland to review their reason of being in the country.
With Swaziland being a small economy, the percentage of what we
give back to our parent companies is far less than what subsidiaries
in other countries are offering, so now the bank revenue levy will
make us even less profitable.’
He said banks had not been consulted on the new levy.
The Swaziland Government owns 25 percent of the shares in
Standard Bank Swaziland Ltd. There are three foreign-owned banks
in the kingdom: Standard Bank, Nedbank and First National. The

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

government-owned Swaziland Development and Savings Bank


went bankrupt due to millions of dollars of unpaid loans in June
1995. Today, the kingdom’s only local bank is SwaziBank.
The total assets of Swazi banks is estimated by the United
States Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs to be
approximately E15.4 billion (US$1.2 billion).

US$632 million error in Govt accounts


4 March 2018
The Swaziland Government’s bank accounts are in such a mess that
balances have been miscalculated by more than E7.5 billion
(US$632.1 million), a newspaper has reported.
The Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland
reported the acting Auditor General Muziwandile Dlamini said
‘huge sums’ of money were unaccounted for.
System and human error have been blamed.
The newspaper reported (4 March 2018), ‘Dlamini, in the
Auditor General’s report for the financial year ended March 31,
2017, listed a litany of problems he uncovered in government’s
accounting records.
‘He highlighted some of these as follows: “Bank balances
were misstated by E7,528,772,278.72 due to non-reconciliation
between the government cash books and bank statements. Some
bank balances were overstated by E2,285,935,191.93 and other
bank account balances were understated by E5,242,837,086.79 thus

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

reflecting an incorrect cash flow position of the Government of


Swaziland at year end.”’
Dlamini said it was impossible to audit the books properly
because he had not been given adequate documents and
information.
This is not the first time Swazi Government accounts have
been found wanting. In November 2016 the Times of Swaziland
reported Treasury Department accounts had a shortfall of E5.1
billion. A forensic report undertaken by Kobla Quashie Consultants
found the shortfall between what was in the bank accounts and other
financial records.
The Times, the only independent daily newspaper in the
kingdom where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch, reported that, ‘this has put the spotlight on
wholly unacceptable banking reconciliation systems at the Treasury
Department’.
The newspaper quoted Kobla Quashie saying, ‘It should be
stated that the amounts noted as differences are so significant that
it renders the annual treasury accounts submitted to Parliament and
other government agencies inaccurate and misleading.’
See also
MINISTER LIFTS LID ON CORRUPTION

Govt ministries in financial mess


10 March 2018

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The annual report from Swaziland’s Auditor General has revealed


widespread financial incompetence across many government
ministries.
Financial accounts are incomplete, billions of emalangeni are
unaccounted for and laid-down rules, guidelines and procedures are
ignored.
The report covers the financial year to 31 March 2017.
Acting Auditor General Muziwandile Dlamini said, ‘Bank
balances were misstated by E7,528,772,278.72 due to non-
reconciliation between the government cash books and bank
statements. Some bank balances were overstated by
E2,285,935,191.93 and other bank account balances were
understated by E5,242,837,086.79 thus reflecting an incorrect cash
flow position of the Government of Swaziland at year end.’
The report details inconsistencies throughout government,
including:
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OFFICE
Disability payments are going to people who do not qualify
and those who are entitled are not getting them because the DPM’s
Office has not developed guidelines on how to distribute grants.
During the three years 2014 to 2016 disability grants amounting to
E12.4 million were disbursed in the absence of guidelines which
should have been created in line with the National Disability Policy
of 2013. Presently, eligibility assessment and screening of disabled
citizens is conducted by social workers. The Auditor General’s

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

report identified non-deserving people from across Swaziland who


received a total of at least E228,720 without proper approval.
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
More than E3 million is unaccounted for by the Ministry of
Education and Training. The report stated that the money was part
of E23 million allocated to the ministry for rehabilitation of schools
that were damaged by storms. Only E20 million was used for the
project, an under-expenditure of 13 percent. Under expenditures,
according to the report, were as serious as over-expenditures
because if funds were not used, development would be retarded and
economic growth negatively affected.
The Ministry also underspent on a project to supply water to
schools. E2 million was approved and released but expenditure only
amounted to E247,000, an under-expenditure of 88 percent.
MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS
Government has lost E1.04 million paying salaries for four
immigration officers who have been suspended from work, three of
them on full pay since June 2014. No information was forthcoming
about their cases and whether criminal proceedings had taken place
against them. In another case the salary of an officer had been paid
for three months after his death.
MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND
ENERGY
A conveyancer defrauded the ministry of E3.29 million by
submitting false information relating to the transfer of legal titles on

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

two properties in 2014. The two properties were valued at E34


million and E21 million but the Registrar of Deeds was told they
were valued at E2 million and E1 million.
The conveyancer who was not named in the report should
have paid transfer duty of E3.29 million but only E20,000 has been
recovered. The Auditor General could not find transfer duty
certificates when auditing the revenue collections by the Deeds
Registry.
STRATEGIC OIL RESERVE FUND: An amount of E35.82
million was transferred from the Strategic Oil Reserve Fund
without following proper procedures. The money was transferred
on 25 August 2016 and based on a 3 percent interest rate it had
earned an interest amounting to E1,077,571 by six months later. The
Auditor General was not given any evidence supporting or
explaining the transfer of the funds even though the public accounts
committee (PAC) had ordered that the Ministry of Natural
Resources and Energy should provide documentation that the
withdrawal and transfer was done with the permission of the
Ministry of Finance. The Auditor General concluded the money
was taken illegally.
MINISTRY FOR TINKHUNDLA ADMINISTRATION
AND DEVELOPMENT
Water project material amounting to E432,033 has gone
missing at Mangcongco Inkhundla. The auditors discovered that
water project materials amounting to E221,033 had remained

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

unused for seven years. The material was kept at an Umbutfo


Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) camp situated in Mangcongco.
This, according to the auditors, indicated that bills of quantities
were not used at every stage of the water project to give appropriate
quantities and to correctly define the extent of work based on
drawings and specifications of the project. The bills of quantities,
according to the report, should have been prepared by an expert
such as a water engineer.
According to delivery notes, the material was acknowledged
to have been delivered. Therefore, the material could have been
stolen after delivery. The report expressed a concern on the weak
controls which existed within the ministry, whereby funds were
released without ensuring that technical experts were involved
when the material was quantified and released. The ministry also
displayed a care-free attitude by not designing a follow-up
mechanism of the project to ensure that the project was executed
and completed properly. The ministry was negligent in taking care
of scarce public funds.
EMPOWERMENT FUND: An amount of E3.67 million for
the Empowerment Fund was used by the Ministry for Tinkhundla
Administration and Development without rules and regulations or
any documented control. The report concluded there was a risk that
the fund could be used for purposes not intended.
Swaziland’s lack of financial prudence has been noted
internationally. Each year the United States reviews governments

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

that receive its assistance help ensure US taxpayer money is used


appropriately and to provide opportunities to dialogue with
governments on the importance of fiscal transparency. The Fiscal
Transparency Report on Swaziland for 2017 stated, ‘During the
review period, budget documents were available to the general
public, including online. While budget documents provided a
general picture of government revenues and expenditures, revenues
from natural resources and land leases were not included in the
budget.
‘Expenditures to support the royal family were included in the
budget but lacked specific detail and were not subject to the same
oversight as the rest of the budget. Information in the budget was
considered generally reliable, and the supreme audit institution’s
reports of the government’s annual financial statements were
published within a reasonable period of time, but some budget items
were not subject to audit.
‘The criteria and procedures for awarding natural resource
extraction licenses and contracts were outlined in law, but the
opacity of the procedures, which involve submitting applications
for licenses directly to the king, cast doubt on whether the
government actually followed the law in practice. Basic
information on natural resource extraction awards was not always
publicly available.
‘Swaziland’s fiscal transparency would be improved by:
providing more detail on expenditures and revenues in the budget,

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

particularly for off-budget accounts, natural resource revenues, and


royal family expenditures; subjecting the entire budget to audit and
oversight; demonstrating applicable laws are followed in practice
for awarding natural resource extraction contracts and licenses; and
making basic information on natural resource extraction awards
publicly available.’

Govt ministries broke law on spending


14 March 2018
The offices of the Prime Minister, National Commissioner of
Police, Defence Department and Correctional Services in
Swaziland are among a string of government departments and
agencies that have broken the law by spending tens of millions of
emalangeni on vehicles and transport running costs without
authority.
An Auditor General’s report has uncovered widespread
malpractice that includes fraud and corruption.
The report shows the Prime Minister’s Office overspent its
budget by E2.3 million (or 261 percent); the National
Commissioner of Police overspent by E74.5 million (149 percent),
Correctional Services E19.6 million (199 percent) and Defence
E26.4 million (46 percent).
Other big over-spenders were Home Affairs (264 percent),
Health (178 percent) and the Strategic Oil Reserve Fund (120
percent).

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Muziwandile Dlamini, Acting Auditor General in the annual


report for year ending 31 March 2017, said, ‘Over expenditures
beyond the budget provision and beyond amounts that have been
appropriated by Parliament are illegal and clearly violate the
Appropriation Act as well as Financial and Accounting instruction
0202 (ii).’
At the core of the problem is the Central Transport
Administration (CTA) whose main functions are to purchase,
maintain and dispose of government vehicles and other related
equipment as well as to provide fuel for government vehicles. It also
provides vehicles on short-term hire to government ministries and
departments.
The Auditor General’s report said there was poor record
keeping and rules and regulations were often ignored. ‘As a result,
risks such as theft of fuel and vehicle maintenance parts,
overspending on the budget, funding of authorized expenditure and
fictitious transactions were increased,’ the report stated.
The report highlighted a number of cases of malpractice. In
the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs two vehicles
had been taken out of service in January 2016. The report stated,
‘However, both vehicles mysteriously continued to incur charges
[for fuel and maintenance] up to 1 September 2016. I further
notified the Controlling Officer that the charges were monthly and
were of the same amount each month.’ The costs totalled E46,268.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The report added, ‘I am therefore, very concerned that as it


stands, I am not convinced that the costs incurred were justified and
hence cannot rule out that the costs incurred were for stolen fuel and
vehicle maintenance parts, unauthorized vehicles, abused vehicles
or fictitious transactions. The Controlling Officer neglected his
duty to ensure regular reconciliation of vehicle records with CTA
charges in order to identify and correct anomalies promptly.’
At the Ministry of Defence it was discovered that one Isuzu
vehicle was refuelled with 600 litres at a single fill although its tank
had a maximum capacity of 70 litres.
In an audit of the CTA Trading Account the Auditor General
found E528 million had been spent in 2016-2017 without an
approved budget. ‘The Central Transport Administration has been
incurring expenditure through requests made by the Ministry of
Public Works and Transport to the Ministry of Finance, which then
releases funds without issuing Warrants.
‘The budget to operate the trading account was also not
sanctioned by Parliament, through an appropriation Act, and it was
also not included in the budget of the Ministry of Public Works and
Transport, making it difficult to hold the CTA management
accountable for a budget that they do not control. This may result
in Government spending more money on items that are not
Government priority.’
The Auditor General stated, ‘There was no way the CTA
could be evaluated, in terms of financial performance, to determine

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

whether the CTA provides returns on Government’s investment,


from its trading activities or whether it is becoming a financial drain
on public funds.’
During the audit it was discovered that a total of 1.75 million
litres of fuel, valued at E19.53 million were not accounted for by
CTA. The Auditor General reported, ‘I am concerned that by its
nature, fuel is an attractive item of stores which may be subject to
abuse or theft if not properly accounted for and controlled.’
The CTA has been riddled with corruption for years. In 2013
former General Transport Manager Polycarp Dlamini was
sentenced to seven years in jail for his role in defrauding the
department around E11 million.
In December 2012, Ntuthuko Dlamini, Minister of Public
Works and Transport, told parliament that close to E3 billion of
taxpayers’ money went into investigating corruption at the CTA
dating back to the 1990s. The Times of Swaziland reported, ‘He said
ever since the problems of corruption surfaced at CTA, many
specialists were hired over the years to do forensic audits, but,
unfortunately, crucial recommendations were never implemented.’
In August 2013 when CTA was reported to be running a
deficit of E400 million Dlamini announced it would be converted
into a parastatal like the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications
Corporation (SPTC) and Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC). It
would be led by a Chief Executive Officer and also have a Chief
Financial Officer.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Times reported, ‘Such a transformation is envisaged to


bring about sweeping changes expected to eliminate the many
misdeeds that went on at the CTA, including the disciplinary of
wayward staff.’
The parastatal was to be called Central Transport
Organisation. An Act of Parliament was gazetted in 2013 to allow
this to happen, but to date the change has not gone through.
See also
SWAZILAND ‘RIDDLED WITH CORRUPTION’

Millions ‘wasted’ on luxury vehicles


11 March 2018
The Swaziland Government spent E29 million (US$2.4 million)
buying a fleet of top-of-the-range BMW cars and motorbikes for
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in
2016 that have been left unused ever since.
Member of Parliament Jan Sithole told the House of
Assembly on Thursday (8 March 2018) this demonstrated how the
Government wasted money.
A total of 14 BMW cars and 80 motorbikes were bought for
the summit held in Swaziland when King Mswati III, sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch, was chair of SADC.
The Swazi Observer newspaper reported Sithole saying, ‘We
warned the minister against buying the cars because that would not
make sense. It was much better to rent the cars because the event

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

was to last for only a month.’ He added, ‘Now the cars are parked
and no one has shown interest in buying them.’
The Times Sunday, a newspaper in Swaziland, in September
2017 identified the vehicles as 14 BMW 740i sedans and 80 Honda
NC 750X motorbikes. They were being kept at Matsapha Police
College.
The cars were used to transport foreign dignitaries and the
motorbikes were used by police to provide security.
See also
KINGDOM FAILS SADC DELEGATES
KING TO PARTY WHILE SWAZIS GO HUNGRY

Fraud at Swazi Deputy PM’s office


20 March 2018
The Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in Swaziland is in a financial
mess; money is given to those who do not deserve it and withheld
from those who do, overtime payments have been made
fraudulently and rents not collected.
This is contained in the annual report of the Auditor General.
The DPM Office oversees the kingdom’s national policy that
supports effect delivery of Government services, ‘through a well-
coordinated decentralized system with a special emphasis on a
comprehensive social welfare system, gender mainstreaming,
children issues as well as proactive disaster preparedness’,
according to the report.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Disability grants
The report which covers the year ending March 2017 stated
there are no working guidelines on how to award disability grants
yet the DPM’s Office gave out of E12.46 million (about US$1
million) to the three years ending March 2016.
The Auditor General reported Section 4.3 (iv) of the National
Disability Policy of 2013 required Government to develop
guidelines on how people with disabilities, who live below the
poverty line, will access funds in various development schemes,
including the assessment criteria to qualify for support from the
grant. ‘Presently, eligibility assessment and screening of disabled
citizens are conducted by Social Workers,’ the report stated.
The Auditor General reported, ‘However, without guidelines,
deserving disabled people may be omitted from the list of
beneficiaries whilst undeserving beneficiaries may receive
disability grants.’
It added, ‘Guidelines should include an independent
assessment of the disabled citizens’ health condition, by a
competent medical specialist, so that only eligible persons benefit
from the grant.’
The Auditor General reported E228,720 was paid to non-
deserving beneficiaries without the approval of Social Workers.
There are also weak internal controls in the management of
Welfare Grants. ‘The payment system was able to accept
beneficiaries straight from the communities without involving

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Social Welfare Officers, yet the regulations require that Social


Welfare Officers should authorise eligible beneficiaries,’ the report
stated.
Audit of Payroll
The Auditor General found a number of irregularities with
salary payments. An amount of E16,507.71 was wrongfully paid as
overtime allowances to two ‘undeserving’ accounting officers who
allegedly performed overtime duties at the Trade Fair in 2014. ‘The
original request did not bear the names of the two accounting
officers whilst the one attached to their payments had their names
fraudulently inserted,’ the report stated. Names were also
‘fraudulently inserted’ in a list of payments ‘which had the
endorsement of the Principal Secretary’.
The report also stated, ‘The supervisors of the Trade Fair
duties, at the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, were unaware about
duties that would have required accounting officers to work
overtime during the course of the Trade Fair in 2014.’
The Auditor General stated, ‘I am concerned that
Government’s control measures were intentionally flouted.’
Rent deduction and housing allowance
It seemed some officers who lived in Government houses did
not pay rent which by regulation should be deducted from salaries.
Some who lived in private accommodation did not receive due
allowances. This affected people in a number of grades, including
social welfare officer, messenger, maid and labourer.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Auditor General stated, ‘I raised my concern to the


Controlling Officer that rentals due to government for the housing
benefit may not have been collected, thus subjecting Government
to a loss and furthermore, that Government may have been deprived
of tax revenue in respect of the housing benefit, in cases where the
officers were housed by Government.’
Massive financial mismanagement
The financial mismanagement at the DPM’s Office are not
unique. The Auditor General reported the Swaziland Government’s
bank accounts had been miscalculated by more than E7.5 billion
(US$632.1 million).
The Auditor general reported ‘bank balances were misstated
by E7,528,772,278.72 due to non-reconciliation between the
government cash books and bank statements. Some bank balances
were overstated by E2,285,935,191.93 and other bank account
balances were understated by E5,242,837,086.79 thus reflecting an
incorrect cash flow position of the Government of Swaziland at year
end.’
A string of government departments and agencies have
broken the law by spending tens of millions of emalangeni on
vehicles and transport running costs without authority.
The Auditor General’s report shows the Prime Minister’s
Office overspent its budget by E2.3 million (or 261 percent); the
National Commissioner of Police overspent by E74.5 million (149

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

percent), Correctional Services E19.6 million (199 percent),


Defence E26.4 million (46 percent).
The Auditor General stated, ‘Over expenditures beyond the
budget provision and beyond amounts that have been appropriated
by Parliament are illegal and clearly violate the Appropriation Act
as well as Financial and Accounting instruction 0202 (ii).’

Govt breaks own law on spending


29 January 2018
The Swazi Government ignores the law when spending nearly
E10billion (US$840million) of public money buying goods and
services, according to the Swaziland Public Procurement
Regulatory Agency (SPPRA).
SPPRA Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Musa
Sikhondze said government did not stick to rules laid down in the
Public Procurement Act of 2011 when it came to tendering.
He told a meeting of media that government spent about on
average E10 billion on procurement each year. The Times of
Swaziland reported on Monday (29 January 2018), ‘He stated that
they remained challenged to develop systems that would ensure that
there is value for money as government undertakes procurement
procedures but were challenged by the a number of issues that
include budgetary constraints and being understaffed.’
SPPRA Director Policy, Legislation and Investigations Buhle
Dlamini said out of 92 entities, especially in central government,

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

only three adhered to the procurement act. The newspaper quoted


him saying, ‘At present, we do not know how many tenders are
being issued by government.’
The Times estimated 97 per cent of government institutions
did not stick to the law.
Meanwhile, the United States has once again criticised
Swaziland for the secrecy there is around the national budget. The
State Department’s annual Fiscal Transparency Report for 2017
says there has been ‘no significant improvement’. Swaziland is
ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch.
The report said revenues from natural resources and land
leases were not included in the budget. It added, ‘Expenditures to
support the royal family were included in the budget but lacked
specific detail and were not subject to the same oversight as the rest
of the budget.’
It criticised the role of King Mswati in awarding mining
licences. It said, ‘The criteria and procedures for awarding natural
resource extraction licenses and contracts were outlined in law, but
the opacity of the procedures, which involve submitting
applications for licenses directly to the king, cast doubt on whether
the government actually followed the law in practice.
‘Basic information on natural resource extraction awards was
not always publicly available.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

King Mswati takes 25 percent of all mining royalties in his


kingdom. He is said to hold this money ‘in trust for the nation’ but
in fact uses it to fund his own lavish lifestyle. He has at least 13
palaces in the tiny kingdom with a population of about 1.3 million
people. He has a fleet of top-of-the-range Mercedes and BMW cars
and at least one Rolls Royce. He has a private airplane and is
expected to take delivery of another during 2018.
Seven in ten of his subjects live in abject poverty with
incomes of less than US$2 per day.
See also
U.S. SAYS ‘BUDGET LACKS TRANSPARENCY’

Kingdom gets 3/100 on budget openness


30 January 2018
Swaziland scored a mere three points out of 100 in a global review
of its budget transparency.
The kingdom ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch received zero points in a section on
public participation as there were no opportunities for the public to
engage in budget processes.
The scores are revealed in the 2017 Transparency Open
Budget Survey produced by the International Budget Partnership
(IBP).
While Swaziland scored three points, neighbouring South
Africa scored 89.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

In an 80-page report IBP revealed that the Swaziland


legislature provides weak oversight of the budget. In Swaziland
political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the
Prime Minister, Cabinet and top judges and public servants are all
chosen by the King.
IBP said the Swazi parliament was unable to discuss the
budget properly because it was not provided with sufficient
information. It said the government’s budget proposal should be
available two months before the start of the budget year.
The IBP collaborates with civil society around the world to
use budget analysis and advocacy as a tool to improve effective
governance and reduce poverty.
This is not the first time that budget transparency in Swaziland
has been criticised. The United States State Department in its annual
Fiscal Transparency Report regularly points out the kingdom’s
deficiencies. In its 2017 report it said, ‘Swaziland’s fiscal
transparency would be improved by: providing more detail on
expenditures and revenues in the budget, particularly for off-budget
accounts, natural resource revenues, and royal family expenditures;
subjecting the entire budget to audit and oversight; demonstrating
applicable laws are followed in practice for awarding natural
resource extraction contracts and licenses; and making basic
information on natural resource extraction awards publicly
available.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Swazi politicians’ pay to be reviewed


8 March 2018
In Swaziland seven in ten of the estimated 1.1 million population
have incomes of less than E8,760 per year. In contrast the Prime
Minister who is not elected by the people has a salary more than
nine times as much at E802,854 per year. In addition he gets a car,
a house and five servants paid for by the taxpayer.
King Mswati III of Swaziland has ordered a review of the
salaries of the Prime Minister and parliamentarians ahead of the
2018 national election.
A seven-member Royal Commission has been told to report
to him by the end of March 2018. The review will be similar to one
known as Financial Circular No 2 of 2013 undertaken before the
previous election.
In Swaziland, political parties are banned from taking part in
elections and people only get to select 55 of 65 members of the
House of Assembly. The King who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch chooses the other 10. No members of the Swazi
Senate are elected by the people. The King chooses 20 and the other
10 are elected by members of the House of Assembly.
Salaries for politicians in Swaziland are controversial as many
ordinary Swazi people think they are too high. In Swaziland seven
in ten of the estimated 1.1 million population live in abject poverty
with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day which is
about E24 or E8,760 per year.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Financial Circular No 2 of 2013 details salaries and


allowances. They have since been reviewed upwards annually in
line with the those of the civil service.
As of 2013, the Prime Minister had an annual salary of
E617,646. The Deputy Prime Minister received E555,881. Other
salaries included: presiding officers E494,117; ministers E463,235;
members of parliament E370,588.
Members of parliament also get an allowance for attending
parliament of E350 per sitting. These allowances are not paid to
ministers or presiding officers.
All parliamentarians are entitled to a constituency allowance
equal to 12.5 percent of the basic pay of the member of parliament.
Following election or appointment a once-off settling in
allowance of 15 percent of basic salary is paid to the Prime Minister,
Deputy Prime Minister, presiding officers, ministers, regional
administrators, deputy presiding officers and members of
parliament.
A motor vehicle allowance reimburses parliamentarians for
the cost of their private motor vehicle. It also covers running and
maintenance costs. They can get car loans. The benchmark cost of
vehicles include ministers E800,000; MPs E300,000 (plus E60,000
per year vehicle allowance and E45,000 per year maintenance and
insurance costs).
The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are allocated
official vehicles by the state, a driver and police escorts (including

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

for spouses and dependents) at the expense of Government. Spouses


of the Prime Minster and Deputy Prime Minister are provided with
a pool vehicle and driver.
Utility expenses (electricity, water and municipal rates) of
parliamentarians who are eligible to occupy a government-owned
residence (the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, presiding
officers and ministers) are covered by the Government. The rest of
the politicians are entitled to a utility allowance of 3 percent of basic
salary.
Cabinet ministers are eligible for a housing allowance equal
to 25 percent of their basic salary. MPs are eligible for an allowance
equal to 10 percent of their basic salary.
The Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, presiding
officers, ministers and regional administrators are also entitled to
household assistants paid by the Government. The Prime Minister,
for example, is entitled to one housekeeper, one domestic helper,
one gardener and two drivers.
When they travel abroad in their official capacity, the Prime
Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, presiding officers and ministers
are eligible to fly first class. Regional administrators, deputy
presiding officers and MPs go business class.
All parliamentarians who fail to get re-elected or reappointed
to the new parliament are entitled to a once-of payment equal to
twelve months basic salary.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The above salaries and allowances were as of 2013, they have


been reviewed annually since. In 2014 they received a 6.5 percent
increase. The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily
newspaper in the kingdom, estimated that cabinet ministers were
being paid E526,233.96 per year which was more than some heads
of state in the Southern African development Community (SADC).
In 2014, the PM earned E657,792.96 per year making him the
highest paid head of government in SADC.
By 2016 the Prime Minister’s salary was E802,854, the Times
reported. Other salaries included: Deputy Prime Minister E722,568
and presiding officers 642,300.
See also
SWAZI MINISTERS PAID MORE THAN PM
SWAZI POLITICIANS SPLIT ON PAY CUT

US$90m Swaziland oil project sinks


15 February 2018
A E900 million (US$90 million) oil contract that was awarded
without being tendered has been cancelled by the Swaziland
Government after more than four years.

Kantey & Templer had been contracted to build a ‘Strategic


Oil Reserve’ at Phuzumoya in the Lubombo region. It was to store
up to 170 million litres of fuel.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The project had the enthusiastic backing of King Mswati III


who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch. The King receives 25 percent of all mineral income on
Swaziland which he holds ‘in trust for the Swazi nation’. In reality
he uses the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that includes at least 13
palaces, fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars and a
private jet. He is due to take delivery of a second jet during 2018.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy is in the
process of terminating the contract, the Observer on Saturday
newspaper reported (10 February 2018). It said little progress had
been made.
In October 2013, King Mswati officially launched the
construction of the project at a sod cutting ceremony. He said at the
time, ‘The project that I bring to you today is one that is geared into
transforming lives and take the entire region into higher heights.’
Construction was supposed to take two years and create 300
jobs.
Even though it had already missed its deadline, King Mswati,
during the official opening of parliament in 2016, encouraged
investors to take advantage of the project.
The project was surrounded in controversy. Once completed
the facility would have a 90 million litres fuel capacity to last
Swaziland 90 days. It would store 42 million litres of diesel and 38
million litres of petrol. No independent analysis had been
undertaken to see if this was needed in Swaziland.

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In January 2015, Swazi Media Commentary reported that


media had been excluded from a House of Assembly session where
a special Act of Parliament was passed to allow the Government to
make the payment for the project.
Members of parliament had previously rejected a Bill to
guarantee the payment.
Claims of malpractice circulated in the kingdom and members
of parliament were concerned that the lucrative contract had not put
out to open tender. Media in Swaziland also reported that some
people had registered imposter companies as part of a plan to
destabilise the project.
After a year the project had not started. It emerged that the
company originally contracted to build the project American Tank
and Vessel (AT&V) had withdrawn from the contract.
The reason for the withdrawal of AT&V has not been
explained publicly, but it is believed that the move was permitted
under the terms of the company’s contract.
Then, without public consultation or going through the legal
open tendering process, the contract was awarded to South African
Company, Kantey & Templer Consulting Engineers.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King
Mswati, reported the Natural Resources and Energy Minister
Jabulile Mshwama saying that ‘since His Majesty had already
announced that work had to begin by cutting the sod, her ministry
had been working round the clock that the project kick starts and

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

according to Swazi custom once the King has spoken, things have
to be done.’
She said that Kantey & Templer Consulting Engineers had
previously erected fuel reserve tanks at the King Mswati III
International Airport.
When a Government Bill was first introduced to the House of
Assembly, members of parliament threw it out. The Times of
Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom,
reported, ‘The MPs had tossed out the Bill after concerns had been
raised about why the tender for the construction of the about E900m
facility had not been an open one and they also questioned the
particulars of Kantey & Templer Proprietary Limited (Swaziland)
[a company formed to oversee the project].
‘The MPs had said all government ministries were expected
to adhere to the provisions of the Procurement Act without first
resorting to the single provision in the same Act even when the
requirements of same are not met by the project at hand as it was in
this present case.’
The Times Sunday, an independent newspaper, reported,
‘MPs are unhappy that other companies were not engaged, through
an open tendering system, to bid for the multimillion project.
Suspicion reached high levels when the MPs learnt that a closed
tendering system was used to engage the South African company to
embark on the project. The nature of the suspicions cannot be
repeated for now.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Sunday Observer, another newspaper in effect owned by


the King, reported that individuals were trying to destabilise the
project. It reported, ‘Two prominent individuals identified as being
behind the hijack include a present cabinet minister and a
businessman who also happens to be a former cabinet minister.’
The newspaper reported, ‘An individual close to the project
confided that there is serious lobbying, by those who want a stake
in the project, to have it stalled. “The very same people who wanted
to register impostor companies are the ones who are now lobbying
members of parliament and cabinet ministers to have the project
grounded. They are doing this to serve their own selfish interests.
They want to create bad publicity around Kantey & Templer and
the project in the hope that the tender award would be cancelled,”
the well-informed individual said.’
Senators also questioned the awarding of the tender. The
Observer on Sunday reported, ‘Senator Chief Kusa had also
strongly questioned why the initial company AT&V had suddenly
withdrew from the project and questioned how the whole project
was costed and how the tendered company Kantey & Templer was
eventually awarded tender.
‘Senator Chief Kekela also wondered if the credibility of the
company was considered as the country has experienced a number
of projects that have failed as a result of companies whose profiles
and credibility was not considered. “We have seen companies that
have come and made heavenly promises that have however not

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

come to effect and failed and I must say I do not want to work on
risks here as a risk is dangerous, we should not therefore risk with
the Swazi people,” the Senator said.’
In February 2018, the Ministry of Natural Resources and
Energy told the Observer on Saturday, ‘The contractor [Kantey &
Templer] did not meet the agreed upon timelines and we are
working within the framework of the agreement for the next steps
in this project. It is envisaged that the project will be returned to
tendering in the very near future.’
See also
SWAZI KING FELL FOR US$5bn CON-TRICK

Unpaid bills so Govt lights cut off


7 March 2018
Law courts, police stations, libraries, media houses, border posts
among others in Swaziland were disconnected of electricity because
the government has not paid its bills.
It is estimated that it owes the Swaziland Electricity Company
(SEC) about E15m (US$1.2m). In total the Swazi Government
owes its suppliers more than E3bn.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily
newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported on Monday (5 March
2018), ‘Information gathered is that the places which were affected
by the disconnection included the High Court, most magistrates

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

courts, Swaziland National Libraries, Royal Swaziland Police


(RSP), Ministry of Natural Resources, Swaziland Broadcasting and
Information Services (SBIS), two border posts and the Swaziland
Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) among others. On
Wednesday, power was disconnected in most of the mentioned
places, however, by Thursday afternoon, it had been restored.’
The government has still not paid its bills but is negotiating
payment terms, the newspaper reported.
Finance Minister Martin Dlamini in his budget speech on
Thursday (1 March 2018), said, ‘Government arrears as on
February 1st, 2018 stood at E3.1bn.’ He added ‘Government,
however, acknowledges the accumulation of arrears to suppliers
and has prioritised the management of these.’
Services across Swaziland have been grinding to a halt
because suppliers have not been paid. School have run short of food
for children who rely on it to avoid malnutrition; health centres and
hospitals have run out of medicines and vaccines.
Meanwhile, the budget includes provisions for a E1.5bn
convention centre and hotel and E5.5m for a retirement house for
the Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini.

Unpaid bills: power cut at ministry


27 March 2018

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Swaziland’s Ministry of Home Affairs had its electricity cut off on


Monday (26 March 2018) because it owes ‘millions of emalangeni’
on its power bill, a newspaper in the kingdom reported.
It is not the first government ministry in the kingdom to be
blacked out because of unpaid bills.
The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (27 March 2018),
‘Operations at the ministry came to a halt at around 9am.’
It added, ‘People had to use phone lights to navigate through
the dark offices and hallways of the ministry and they had to use the
stairs as the lifts were not an option under the circumstances.’
The Observer reported, ‘A source asserted that the ministry
owes millions to the Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) and it
is for that reason that the latter decided to cut the power yesterday.’
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Anthony
Masilela told the newspaper, ‘If the power blackout is caused by the
ministry owing the Swaziland Electricity Company then it lies with
the accounts department because I did sign a cheque that was meant
to settle any outstanding balance with SEC and I’m yet to check
with them on what happened.’
Earlier in March 2018, it was reported law courts, police
stations, libraries, media houses, border posts among others in
Swaziland were disconnected of electricity because the government
had not paid its bills.
It was estimated that it owed the SEC about E15m (US$1.2m).
In total the Swazi Government owed its suppliers more than E3bn.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily


newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported at the time power was
restored after a day but the government had not paid its bills but was
negotiating payment terms.
Finance Minister Martin Dlamini in his budget speech on 1
March 2018 said, ‘Government arrears as on February 1st, 2018
stood at E3.1bn.’ He added ‘Government, however, acknowledges
the accumulation of arrears to suppliers and has prioritised the
management of these.’
Services across Swaziland have been grinding to a halt
because suppliers have not been paid. School have run short of food
for children who rely on it to avoid malnutrition; health centres and
hospitals have run out of medicines and vaccines.
Meanwhile, the budget included provisions for a E1.5bn
convention centre and hotel and E5.5m for a retirement house for
the Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini.
See also
CHILDREN ‘SHOULD PREPARE FOR STARVATION’
HEALTH CRISIS: BLOOD SUPPLIES DRY UP
MEDICINE SHORTAGE: FIVE DIE

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

2 KING’S BIRTHDAY 50/50

King’s second private jet set to arrive


12 March 2018
King Mswati III the autocratic monarch of impoverished Swaziland is to take
delivery of a second private jet in time for his 50th birthday in April, it has
been officially confirmed.
Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and
International Cooperation, made the announcement in the House of
Assembly.
The purchase of the US$13.2 million Airbus A340-300 has been
controversial because seven in ten of King Mswati’s 1.1 million subjects live
in dire poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. About
300,000 people in Swaziland are at risk of severe hunger as a result of drought
and the government has appealed for international aid to stop people from
starving.
Now, a special hangar for the plane will be built at King Mswati III
International Airport at a cost of E200 million (US$16.6 million), the
Observer on Saturday (10 March 2018) newspaper in Swaziland quoted
Gamedze saying.
In 2016 when the purchase of the plane was first revealed members
of the Swazi parliament voted to block payment of an E96 million deposit.
They quickly changed their minds and agreed to pay E200 million (US$13.2
million at the then exchange rate) to China Airlines in Taiwan for the Airbus,
built in 2001.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati,
reported at the time (5 April 2016), that the E96 million allocated to the

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the jet had been
cancelled by the Ministry of Finance.
The Observer reported the Ministry of Finance had ‘listened and
cancelled the allocation and the money taken to the Consolidated Funds’.
This would allow it to be spent on other things.
Two days later on Thursday (7 April 2016), the Times of Swaziland,
the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported that
‘following a three-hour long caucus by both Members of Parliament (MPs)
and senators in the Parliament canteen, the latter agreed that the E96m, which
had been frozen by MPs, be released to pay a deposit to China Airlines, based
in the Republic of China on Taiwan.’
The Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, who was not elected to office
but appointed directly by King Mswati, later presented a statement. The
Times reported, ‘[T]he PM said following a Parliament resolution that
government find a solution to ensure that Their Majesties are secured a mode
of travel, they had sent a ministerial subcommittee headed by Chief
Mgwagwa Gamedze, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International
Cooperation, to look at the various options available.’
The Airbus is presently in Taiwan undergoing refurbishment.
Gamedze said it should be in Swaziland in time for the 50/50 celebrations
marking the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence from Great Britain
and the King’50th birthday in April 2018.
King Mswati already has a private jet, a modified McDonnel Douglas
DC-9-87, also known as an MD-87. It cost US$9.5 million in 2012 and at
least another US$4.1 million was spent on refurbishments before the King
took delivery.
The new jet is continually described in media in Swaziland as a ‘state
jet’ but in April 2017 Gamedze told a parliamentary workshop it would be

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

for the use of the King. The Swazi Observer reported at the time that he said
it was possible that the jet might be hired out to other users. The newspaper
reported him saying, ‘It is true that we need money as a country. But we
cannot give this plane to just anyone .We know that many people can afford
to hire it, but the plane will only be given to someone who occupies a status
that is similar to that of the King.’
See also
MPs BLOCK SWAZI KING’S NEW JET

50/50: learn lesson of past disaster


8 February 2018
People in Swaziland are being prepared for the double celebration of King
Mswati’s 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the kingdom’s
independence from Great Britain.
This is being marketed as the 50/50 celebrations. But memories are
short. Ten years ago similar 40/40 celebrations were marred by incompetence
and an enormous spending overrun. It happened at a time of massive cuts in
public spending as Swaziland’s economy spun out of control.
This year (2018) celebrations have been planned for 19 April. A budget
of the equivalent of US$1.7 million has been given by the government. A 13-
member committee has been formed to mobilise funding for the event.
Home Affairs Minister Princess Tsandzile said in September 2017 the
committee was made up of chief executives of private companies and
financial institutions.
The APA News agency reported at the time, ‘The committee will
develop its own terms of reference and will mobilise resources of any kind.
It will also be guided by the ministry in terms of the time frame within which
it is expected to operate.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Princess Tsandzile added that government had also put in place


committees to work on different issues such as raising awareness,
decorations, entertainment and other issues.
King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the
King appoints the Prime Minister and top ministers. Seven in ten of the
estimated 1.4 million population live in abject poverty with incomes of less
than US$2 per day.
In 2008 the cost of the celebrations overran by E32.6 million (about
US$5 million at the then exchange rate). E17 million was budgeted but it
ended up costing ‘at least’ E50.2 million. The exact figure is uncertain.
The celebrations took place at a time when Swaziland was under the
pressure of savage financial cuts, imposed by the International Monetary
Fund, after years of mismanagement of the economy by successive Swazi
governments – all handpicked by King Mswati.
The budhet overrun was revealed in the ‘Comprehensive Project
Completion Report’ (CPCR), written by Luke Mswane, chair of the double
celebrations committee that oversaw the 40/40 celebration that took place on
one day – 6 September 2008.
The CPCR highlighted a catalogue of mismanagement. Next to no time
was made available to set a proper budget for the events and it became
impossible to keep track of the money. At least E1.8 million was spent on
capital projects without any formal written authority.
The CPCR also stated that E500,000 was budgeted for labour costs,
but overtime paid to civil servants amounted to E5 million.
Tellingly, since the world was led to believe that King Mswati’s joy at
his 40th birthday and the independence anniversary was shared by his
subjects, the CPCR report stated that there was actually a lack of interest in

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the event and it was impossible to attract sponsors. They had expected
sponsors to pay E0.8 million but in fact only E104,000 was given.
At the celebration, the King said, ‘I am aware that the world might be
wondering as to why we are so excited in celebrating 40 years of our
independence. The answer is simple, we are celebrating our nationhood and
also thanking God almighty for preserving us as a nation. We are celebrating
the unity, peace, stability and progress that we have enjoyed for the past 40
years.’
In the week before the celebrations police fired tear gas and rubber
bullets at protesters engaged in a two-day strike for democracy.
In his report, the CPCR showed government made many mistakes in
organising the celebration. The project was only launched at the end of
October 2007, less than a year before the celebrations. As a result there was
not enough time for proper planning and proper costing of all the activities
and services that were going to be required before and during the celebrations.
The report also listed problems that arose because nobody was sure on the
rules governing purchasing goods and services for the celebrations.
Meanwhile, the 40/40 celebration proved to be a global public relations
disaster for the King. Instead of praising King Mswati, the international
media coverage of the event showed him as a man out of touch with his
people. He was seen as selfish and greedy. It was estimated at the time that
the celebration might have cost as much as US$10 million (about E70 million
at the then exchange rate).
It was pointed out that while the King lived a lavish lifestyle with at
least 13 palaces, fleets of top-of-the-range cars and a private jet, six out of ten
of his subjects relied on international food aid and four in ten were moving
from hunger to starvation. And Swaziland continued to have the highest rate
of HIV infection in the world.

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Richard Rooney
See also
40/40 CELEBRATION
ANGER AT 40/40 CONTINUES

Students to protest 50/50 celebration


17 February 2018
Students in Swaziland are set to protest against the ‘extravagant spending’ of
the 50/50 celebrations to mark the King’s birthday and the anniversary of
Independence from Britain.
The protest is due to take place on 12 April 2018, the anniversary of
the proclamation that turned Swaziland from a democracy into a kingdom
ruled by an absolute monarch.
In a statement (14 February 2018), the Swaziland National Union of
Students (SNUS) said, ‘The National Executive Committee noted two
upcoming national events in the terms of double celebration (50/50
celebration) and National Elections as projects that has been historically
synonymous with corruption and extravagant spending and depriving the
people fundamental social services in the process. In accordance with the
2018 theme, the NEC resolved to stage a protest on the 12th of April against
extravagant spending and corruption.’
Details of the protest have still to be finalised.
The 50/50 celebrations are to mark the 50th birthday this year of King
Mwsati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, and the 50th
anniversary of Independence from Britain. It has already been announced that
celebrations will take place on 19 April at Mavuso Trade and Exhibition
Centre.

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A budget of the equivalent of US$1.7 million has been given by the


government. The Taiwan Government has donated US$1.3 million.
When similar celebrations took place in 2008 the cost of the so-called
40/40 celebrations overran by E32.6 million (about US$5 million at the then
exchange rate). E17 million was budgeted but it ended up costing ‘at least’
E50.2 million. The exact figure is uncertain.
The celebrations took place at a time when Swaziland was under the
pressure of savage financial cuts, imposed by the International Monetary
Fund, after years of mismanagement of the economy by successive Swazi
governments – all handpicked by King Mswati.
The intended SNUS protest is set for 12 April. This is an important
date in Swaziland as it was on this day in 1973 that King Mswati’s father
King Sobuza II issued a Royal Decree that banned all political parties and put
all legislative, executive and judicial power in the hands of the King. Despite
a Constitution that came into effect in 2006, the Decree has not been
withdrawn.
Protests are held each year on the anniversary of 12 April.

50/50 celebration cash drive starts


12 March 2018
A drive to raise cash to pay for the 50/50 celebrations to mark the anniversary
Swaziland’s independence from Great Britain and the autocratic King
Mswati III’s birthday is underway in the kingdom.
Included in this are advertisements appearing in local media asking for
contributions from ‘the business community, institutions and individuals’ of
up to E1 million and above.
In Swaziland seven in ten of the estimated population have income less
than the equivalent of US$2 per day, which is about E24.

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It has already been announced that a budget of the equivalent of


US$1.7 million has been earmarked by the government for the celebration
due in April 2018.
The 50/50 celebrations are a re-run of the 40/40 celebrations from 10
years ago. Then as now a similar call was put out for funding. Organisers had
expected sponsors to contribute E0.8 million but in fact only E104,000 was
given.
King Mswati who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch called
on ordinary Swazi people to send him their own donations.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King reported
at the time that the King wanted to revive the kwetfula custom in which the
nation submits ‘gifts and donations to Royalty as this is the indigenous way
of life for the Swazi people’.
The newspaper said, ‘His Majesty said such donations were not bribery
to Royalty. He was speaking at Lozitha Palace when receiving gifts and
pledges from the business community and individuals for use during the
40/40 double celebration.’
In what is a deeply corrupt kingdom, the King was anxious to dispel
concerns that these ‘gifts’ might actually be bribes. The Observer quoted the
King, ‘“Even if one was accused of having committed a certain offence, we
would treat the offense and donation on different merits.”
‘His Majesty said people should not misinterpret those who donate to
Royalty as bribing or campaigning for certain political appointments.’
The Observer reported, ‘The King said from time immemorial, Swazis
had adopted a way of life by which a farmer who had harvested from his
crops would separate a portion to donate to the King.’
It added, ‘His Majesty said more donations were still welcome,’ adding
in siSwazti ‘donations to Royalty would never be stopped’.

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The budget for 40/40 overran by at least E32.6 million (about US$5
million at the then exchange rate). E17 million was budgeted but it ended up
costing ‘at least’ E50.2 million. The exact figure is uncertain. This was
revealed in the ‘Comprehensive Project Completion Report’ (CPCR), written
by Luke Mswane, chair of the double celebrations committee that oversaw
the 40/40 celebration.

Police forced to pay for 50/50 jubilee


13 March 2018
Police officers and support staff in Swaziland are being told they must
contribute cash towards the cost of the 50/50 celebration to mark the
autocratic King Mswati III’s 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the
kingdom’s independence from Great Britain.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the
kingdom, reported on Monday (12 March 2018) that Royal Swaziland Police
‘administration’ had made the directive.
It reported, ‘Information gathered was that contributions to be made by
police officers would differ according to ranks and at the bottom are support
staff members who are supposed to fork out E10 each while a recruit would
part with E30.
‘A police officer holding the rank of a constable will have to contribute
E50, E100 for sergeants and E150 for assistant inspectors. Inspectors and
assistant superintendents will contribute E200 and E300 respectively while
superintendents will fork out E400.’
The newspaper reported the directive was received with ‘mixed
feelings’. Some supported the idea and said they would contribute more than
the minimum ordered. Others said it should not have been made compulsory.

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A major celebration is planned for 19 April 2018 at Mavuso Trade and


Exhibition Centre.
A call had already gone out to the business community, institutions and
individuals to make donations of up to E1 million (US$84,000) and beyond.
It has already been announced that a budget of the equivalent of US$1.7
million has been earmarked by the Swazi government for the celebration. The
Taiwan Government has donated US$1.3 million.
When similar celebrations took place in 2008 the cost of the so-called
40/40 celebrations overran by E32.6 million (about US$5 million at the then
exchange rate). E17 million was budgeted but it ended up costing ‘at least’
E50.2 million. The exact figure is uncertain.

50/50 celebration busts budget


15 March 2018
The Swaziland Government has bought a fleet of luxury BMW cars worth
US$7.5 million ahead of the King’s 50/50 celebrations.
The cost of the cars alone bust the US$1.7 million budget the
government allowed itself for the festivities to mark King Mswati III’s 50 th
birthday and the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence from Great
Britain. The Taiwanese Government has donated an extra US$1.3 million but
that still leaves Swaziland US$4.5 million short on the cost of the cars alone.
The Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland where
King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported
(11 March 2018) the cars would be used by the Close Protection Unit which
is responsible for protecting dignitaries.
The newspaper did not say how many vehicles were purchased. It said
the Ministry of Public Works and Transport announced the E89 million
purchase in a report tabled in parliament last week. It said Lindiwe Dlamini,

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Minister of Public Works and Transport, had not responded to questions it


sent to her regarding the purchase.
The cars were bought through the government’s Central Transport
Administration (CTA) which was severely criticised in the Auditor General’s
most recent report for illegally spending millions of emalangeni and not
keeping proper financial records.
The purchase raises questions about the lack of financial control
around the 50/50 celebrations. In 2008 the budget for the 40/40 celebrations
overran by E32.6 million (about US$5 million at the then exchange rate). E17
million was budgeted but it ended up costing at least E50.2 million. The exact
figure is still uncertain. The total cost of the entire 40/40 celebrations was
E39 million less than the cost of the BMW vehicles this year.
In 2010 the Auditor General reported that E1,839,934 was spent
illegally because capital release warrants had not been made. Salary overtime
claims from civil servants amounted to E5 million. The Weekend Observer
newspaper in Swaziland reported (18 December 2010), ‘Civil servants who
had access to claim overtime pay in their various workstations took advantage
of the lax arrangements at the celebrations committee to drain money.’
More than E1 million was spent on providing 14 portable toilets
(E71,428 each) for the three-day event. The Weekend Observer (30 August
2008) reported other sanitary expenses, ‘E173,000 is needed for hiring 10 of
10,000 litre water tanks over the same period. E94,500 is required for 100
bales of toilet paper, whilst E5,500 is needed for 10 of 25 litre liquid soap.
For five boxes of sunlight soap E7,100 is sought, while E7,900 is required for
detergents, amongst other things.’ It estimated more than E2 million was
spent in total on sanitary arrangements.

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A search by Swazi Media Commentary at the time revealed that that


portable toilets could be hired from neighbouring South Africa at a cost
starting at about E500 (US$70 at the then exchange rate) a day.

Thursday, 22 March 2018


Town tidies up for King’s birthday
People in Swaziland have been asked not to urinate in public during King
Mswati III’s birthday celebrations.
It is one of the things Manzini Municipal Council wants as it tries to
mask the poor state of Swaziland’s main commercial city.
It is to host the so-called 50-50 celebrations marking the King’s 50th
birthday and the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s Independence from Great
Britain on 19 April 2018.
A number of foreign dignitaries and tourists are expected to visit
Manzini. In the run-up the Manzini Municipal Council has told its residents
in a flyer, ‘The roads, both surfaced and gravel, will be in the most perfect
condition, there will be no overgrown vegetation along the streets, all traffic
lights will be in good working order, the city will be exquisitely decorated
and all high mast and street lights will be functioning perfectly.’
It goes on to tell residents, ‘There is a number of things you can do.
Let’s get into the 50/50 mood and positively change our behaviour.’
It says the city expects, ‘hordes of tourists from within and outside the
borders’ and adds, ‘It would be a huge blow to have them experience an
unhygienic shopping experience. Therefore, let’s make it a point that our
business premises and our employees meet the acceptable health and hygiene
standards. Even the quality of the food that we sell; let us ensure it’s of the
highest quality. This also applies to informal traders who are selling fruit,
vegetables and other items on the streets and bus rank.’

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It goes on, ‘Make use of the litter bins available on the streets and, by
all means, avoid littering. Council also pleads with the business sector to stop
the illegal practice of emptying their garbage bins into street litter bins.’
It tells residents, ‘No matter how pressed you are, please do not urinate
in public. By urinating in public you do not only risk arrest but bring indignity
to our beloved city.’
The 50-50 celebration centres on King Mswati who rules Swaziland as
sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Although seven in ten of his
estimated 1.1 million subjects have incomes less than the equivalent of US$2
per day, E89 million (US$7.5 million) has already been spent on a fleet of
BMW cars for dignities to ride in.
It is not reported who will foot the bill for the road and other
improvements the Council promises. The celebrations take place at a time of
severe budget restraints. King Mswati has told his subjects money can only
be released for essential spending.

Soldiers forced to pay for King’s party


23 March 2018
Army personnel in Swaziland have been forced to make a contribution from
their salaries towards the cost King Mswati III’s 50th birthday celebration.
Previously, police officers in the kingdom were also made to pay.
Swaziland, where the King rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch, is marking the King’s birthday and the 50 th anniversary of
independence from Great Britain with a so-called 50/50 celebration on 19
April 2018.
According to the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily
newspaper in the kingdom, private soldiers have to pay E100; corporals
E110; lieutenants E270; and generals E600 (US$51).

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Earlier in March it was revealed that police officers were being forced
to contribute. A constable will have to contribute E50, with payments of E100
from sergeants and E150 from assistant inspectors. Inspectors and assistant
superintendents will contribute E200 and E300 respectively while
superintendents, E400.
The money will be used towards paying the US$7.5 million the Swazi
Government will pay for a fleet of luxury BMW cars to transport dignitaries
on the day. The cost of the cars alone bust the US$1.7 million budget the
government allowed itself for the festivities.

Poor and sick pay for King’s birthday


25 March 2018
E1 million intended for retired and disabled people in Swaziland is being
given to King Mswati III to help pay for his 50th birthday party.
The money has been donated by the Swaziland National Provident
Fund (SNPF) for the so-called 50/50 Celebrations on 19 April 2018 to mark
the King’s birthday and the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s Independence
from Great Britain.
King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch. Already all police officers and soldiers in the kingdom have had
money deducted from their salaries to contribute to the celebrations.
The Sunday Observer, a newspaper in Swaziland in effect owned by
the King, reported (25 March 2018) that initially SNPF had pledged E250,000
(US$21,000) towards 50/50 but later upgraded the donation.
The SNPF was established in 1974 as a retirement savings scheme, the
main purpose of which is to provide benefits for employed persons when they
retire from regular employment in old age or in the event of becoming
incapacitated.

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All employers of labour in Swaziland are required by law to become


contributing members of the fund, and must pay a contribution for every
eligible staff member. The employee’s share (one half of the stipulated
amount) is deducted from wages.
Spending on the 50/50 celebrations has already been controversial. The
Swazi Government is to pay US$7.5 million for a fleet of luxury BMW cars
to transport dignitaries on the day. The cost of the cars alone bust the US$1.7
million budget the government allowed itself for the festivities.

Swazi King’s birthday cash ‘looted’


29 March 2018
One of King Mswati’s most prominent lieutenants in Swaziland has said
money intended for his birthday celebration in April is being ‘looted’.
Mbongeni Mbingo, the editor-in-chief of the Swazi Observer group,
newspapers in effect owned by the King, said, ‘We all know that long before
this event takes place, there are people who have already secured the bidding
for the tenders and most of the money isn’t going to be spent on where it
should.’
The equivalent of millions of US dollars will be spent on the so-called
50/50 celebrations to mark the King’s 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary
of Independence from Great Britain. King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-
Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Writing in the Sunday Observer (25 March 2018), Mbingo said, ‘It is
inevitable that this country would want to celebrate such milestones and as
such we have to accept that no matter our fiscal situation, this was going to
happen.’
Swaziland is broke and Finance Minister Martin Dlamini in his budget
speech on 1 March 2018 said the government would only spend on ‘the most

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

critical expenditure items’ this year. He acknowledged, ‘Government sending


continues to outpace its ability to raise enough revenues resulting in cash flow
challenges and accumulation of arrears.’
In his speech opening Parliament in February 2018 the King
commanded his government, ‘to prepare a budget that is based on available
resources’. Dlamini said, ‘Government has conducted a thorough analysis of
our expenditure in order to prioritise only the most pressing concerns.’
Already, the Swazi Government is to pay US$7.5 million for a fleet of
luxury BMW cars to transport dignitaries on the day. The cost of the cars
alone bust the US$1.7 million budget the government allowed itself for the
festivities. The 50/50 celebration lasts one day – 19 April 2018.
E1 million (US$86,000) intended for retirement funds and to help the
disabled has been transferred from the Swaziland National Provident Fund
(SNPF) to help pay for the 50/50 celebrations. All police officers and soldiers
in the kingdom have had money deducted from their salaries to contribute.
Businesses have also been asked to donate.
Mbingo wrote, Swaziland owed ‘it to ourselves to celebrate this kind
of milestone’.
He added, ‘But, does this mean all the extravagance we are about to
witness; the new cars; the uncontrollable expenditure; and the looting that is
taking place already? We all know that long before this event takes place,
there are people who have already secured the bidding for the tenders and
most of the money isn’t going to be spent on where it should.’
He added, ‘The money is about to, if not already, find its way to
corruption, and sheer extravagance is about to be displayed.’
Ten years ago in 2008 Swaziland held 40/40 celebrations. The cost
overran by E32.6 million (about US$5 million at the then exchange rate). E17

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

million was budgeted but it ended up costing ‘at least’ E50.2 million. The
exact figure is uncertain.
The budget overrun was revealed in the ‘Comprehensive Project
Completion Report’ (CPCR), written by Luke Mswane, chair of the double
celebrations committee that oversaw the 40/40 celebration that took place on
one day – 6 September 2008.
The CPCR highlighted a catalogue of mismanagement. Next to no time
was made available to set a proper budget for the events and it became
impossible to keep track of the money. At least E1.8 million was spent on
capital projects without any formal written authority.
The CPCR also stated that E500,000 was budgeted for labour costs,
but overtime paid to civil servants amounted to E5 million.
Tellingly, since the world was led to believe that King Mswati’s joy at
his 40th birthday and the independence anniversary was shared by his
subjects, the CPCR report stated that there was actually a lack of interest in
the event and it was impossible to attract sponsors. They had expected
sponsors to pay E0.8 million but in fact only E104,000 was given.

3 PRISONS

Swazi jail riot over no bread


3 January 2018
Prison inmates in Swaziland reportedly rioted because of food shortages.
They were given sour porridge because there was no bread.
Untrained correctional officer recruits were sent to deal with the
incident at Sidwashini Correctional facility, according to the Swazi Observer
newspaper (27 December 2017).

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The newspaper reported, ‘According to inside sources, the


pandemonium was sparked after the inmates were given sour porridge for
breakfast instead of bread.
‘The inmates were expecting to have bread and tea as is usually the
case on Saturdays but this did not happen.
‘When the sour porridge was served, the inmates rejected it and started
protesting. The situation soon resembled a strike action as the inmates started
singing and toyi-toying.
‘The officers stationed there tried to calm down the irate inmates but
the situation got worse. Off-duty officers were called but they also failed to
restore order amongst the rioting inmates.’
The newspaper said recruits training at HMCS Training College in
Matsapha were ‘hastily organised’ and armed with batons and sent to
Sidwashini.
Deputy Public Relations Officer at HMCS, Mandla Sibiya denied
recruits were involved. He told the newspaper, ‘Nobody was assaulted at
Sidwashini facility. If any inmate was assaulted, I would advise them to
report to the human rights officers stationed there who will in turn take
appropriate action.’

He said the bread shortage occurred because a bakery truck broke down.
Sidwashini was at the centre of controversy during 2017 after
allegations surfaced that prison officers were supplying inmates with alcohol.
In February 2017, the Times Sunday newspaper in Swaziland reported
shortages of food and toilet paper in jails throughout the kingdom. This was
due to the government’s financial crisis, it said.
In May 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC)
questioned the Swazi Government about prison conditions focusing on,

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

‘reports of inhumane prison conditions, including in terms of food shortages


and inadequate sanitary conditions and medical care.’
In 2014 it was reported that more than 1,000 people were in jail in
Swaziland because they were too poor to pay fines for offences such as traffic
violations, theft by false pretences, malicious injury to property and fraud.
The figures revealed that in Swaziland, where seven in ten people live
in abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 per day, 1,053 of 3,615
inmates in Swazi jails were there because they did not have the money to pay
a fine option. This was 29.1 percent of the entire prison population.

Jail inmates ‘beaten frequently’


4 January 2018
A suspect told a magistrate in Swaziland that inmates at the Sidwashini
correctional facility were ‘frequently assaulted’, a newspaper in the kingdom
reported. The Swazi Observer reported (28 December 2017) the suspect
whom it only named as Masuku made a statement ahead of his trial. The
newspaper reported, ‘Court attendants listened in stunned silence as Masuku
informed Senior Magistrate Nonhlanhla Dlamini, that he had been severely
assaulted by warders at Sidwashini correctional facility.

‘He said he suffered bruises on his body due to the heavy beating he
was subjected to by the officers.
‘“Your Worship I have been assaulted by warders at Sidvwashini and
I kindly seek your intervention. Please assist me by asking them to take me
to hospital. I also seek assistance in reporting the officers who abused me to
either the police or the Human Rights Commission so that appropriate action
can be taken against them,” he said.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Observer said, ‘He singled out one officer whom he said had made
it clear that should he report the assault to the magistrate, he would deal with
him when he returned to the facility after the court appearance.’
The newspaper said one of the warders when questioned, ‘sarcastically
told the magistrate that Masuku should behave himself if he wanted to be
treated well at the facility’.
The magistrate told the warders to take Masuku to hospital. Magistrate
Dlamini added, ‘I am also ordering you to stop threatening him by telling him
that you will sort him out if he informs the court that he has been beaten. That
is wrong.’’
The case was adjourned to 5 January 2018.
Sidwashini was in the news in December 2017 when untrained
correctional facility officer recruits were said to have been sent in to help
quell a riot over lack of bread.

See also
PROBE INTO ‘INHUMANE’ JAIL CONDITIONS
PROBE INTO CORRUPTION AT SWAZI JAIL

Jail disturbances across Swaziland


10 January 2018
There are reports of disturbances in jails in Swaziland and inmates are
accused of brutality against warders.
It is claimed that new inmates have formed gangs and warders from
jails across the kingdom have been moved to two institutions at Sidwashini
and Bhalekane to increase security.
One inmate at Bhalekane has asked a court to move him for his own
safety.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

There have been at least two incidents where inmates rioted because
they were served with poor food. This was at Sidwashini and Bhalekane. At
Sidwashini, media in Swaziland report, untrained warders were sent in to help
restore peace. At Bhalekane one warder had to be taken to hospital after an
alleged attack.
His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS), Commissioner General
Isaiah Mzuthini Ntshangase told the Sunday Observer (7 January 2018) the
officer was trying to serve breakfast to the inmates when they kicked the tray
down and assaulted him on the head with an enamel dish.
The newspaper reported Ntshangase saying, ‘The officer was severely
injured and had to be taken to hospital. All this is part of the unlawful
activities that the gang members are currently engaging in. One wonders why
this officer was assaulted because he had not even provoked the inmates; he
was innocently serving them breakfast and they pounced on him.’
He said members of gangs at Bhalekane vandalised property including
beds to make handmade weapons to attack warders.
The Swazi Observer said on Wednesday (10 January 2018) there were
‘widespread reports of brutality’. It said security had been ‘beefed up’ in
facilities, ‘where such acts of violence are rife’.
The newspaper said one inmate through his lawyers was asking the
courts to transfer him to another correctional facility. It said, ‘The inmate
claims he no longer feels safe at Bhalekane and the matter is pending in
court.’
It said warders stationed in institutions around the kingdom such as
Nhlangano and Big Bend had now transferred to increase security at
Sidwashini and Bhalekane.
Meanwhile, five inmates who are believed to be part of the
controversial gang known as the 26s have been charged with common assault

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

after they allegedly assaulted another inmate at Zakhele remand centre. They
allegedly beat him with fists and kicked him before stabbing him with a
toothbrush.
They appeared at Manzini Magistrate’s Court where they said they had
been denied the opportunity to get a lawyer. They were remanded back into
custody.

133 jailed without trial for a year


5 January 2018
At least 133 people have been detained in Swaziland jails without trial for
more than a year, the kingdom’s human rights commission reported.
That is the number of people who have reported their grievance,
Executive Secretary of the Human Rights Commission Linda Nxumalo told
the Sunday Observer (31 December 2017).
The Observer reported Nxumalo saying, ‘One of the key cases that the
Commission has worked on [in 2017] was one dealing with the issue of access
to justice especially for 133 inmates that have been detained for longer than
12 months without trial or sentencing at our already overcrowded correctional
facilities.
‘After its investigations and understanding the bottlenecks, the
Commission has been working with the relevant stakeholders within the
Justice system to address some of the challenges unmasked by the
investigations. Together with the Correctional Services, the Commission is
still working on these cases to ensure that the clients eventually receive
redress as soon as practicable.’
Nxumalo said the Commission was also working with relevant
departments to ‘systematically address the challenges to ensure that the
bottlenecks are addressed so that justice is not delayed’.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Swaziland’s prison system has been under scrutiny or many years by


human rights observers.
Innocent children are jailed almost routinely in the kingdom because
they are considered ‘unruly’ by parents or guardians, but have committed no
crime.
A report submitted jointly to the United Nations Human Rights
Council Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland April-May 2016 by SOS-
Swaziland, Super Buddies, Prison Fellowship and Luvatsi – Swaziland Youth
Empowerment Organisation, gave the example of one child aged 11.
Their report stated, ‘There is a growing trend of child and youth abuse
done by the state and the parents purportedly in “the best interests of the
child”. Children and youths are illegally incarcerated in prison centres by
parents in collaboration with the Commissioner of Correctional Services who
claims that the children are unruly.
‘In one incident, Grace (not her real name) who is a single parent to
John (not his real name) wrote a request letter to the Commissioner of
Correctional Services requesting that John be incarcerated for unruly
behaviour. In the letter, Grace states her concerns that eleven years old John
might not finish school; hence her reason for wanting him incarcerated and
attending the juvenile school at Malkerns Industrial School for
Rehabilitation.
‘Responding to the same letter of request by Grace, the Commissioner
of Correctional Services stated that under normal circumstances, they do not
admit persons who have not been sentenced by the courts and directed therein
through committal warrants.
‘However, the Commissioner agreed to rehabilitate John under the
stated conditions; that the 11 years old John is institutionalised at the juvenile
school for 10 years; there is an order from a presiding officer giving him a

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custodial order of ten years without remission; and that he will cooperate with
His Majesty’s Correctional Services while under its care.
‘With that response, Grace [sic] the letter to a presiding officer who
then wrote a custodial order for the stipulated time and John was admitted to
the juvenile school in 2013. The 11 years old John lodges with other juveniles
who have been charged by the court of law for various crimes they have
committed. Grace pays tuition fees and up-keep fees for John, and she will
continue doing so for the next ten years until 11 years old John is 21 years.
‘This case is one of many, and the children are of different ages and
varying backgrounds. It is only recently that a joint task team comprising of
UNICEF, Prison Fellowship Swaziland, Lawyers for Human Rights-
Swaziland, Save the Children Swaziland working together with the
department of home affairs are exploring means to curb this situation and
probably provide solutions for both the parents and children.’
In 2012, the Times Sunday newspaper in Swaziland reported that Isaiah
Mzuthini Ntshangase, Swaziland’s Correctional Services Commissioner, was
encouraging parents to send their ‘unruly children’ to the facility if they
thought they were badly behaved.
Ntshangase was speaking at the open day of the Juvenile Industrial
School at the Mdutshane Correctional Institution. He told the newspaper,
‘Noticing the strife that parents go through when raising some of their
children who are unruly, we decided to open our doors to assist them.’

The school not only corrected offenders but assisted, ‘in the fight
against crime by rooting out elements from a tender age’, the newspaper
reported him saying. The children, ‘will be locked up, rehabilitated and
integrated back to society’, the Times reported.

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In 2014 it was revealed more than 1,000 people - three in ten of the
entire prison population -were in jail in Swaziland because they were too poor
to pay fines.
In Swaziland offenders are often given the option of jail time or paying
a fine. There were people in jail because they could not pay fines for a range
of matters, including traffic offences, theft by false pretences, malicious
injury to property and fraud.
Figures revealed that in Swaziland, where seven in ten people live in
abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 per day, 1,053 of 3,615 inmates
in Swazi jails were there because they did not have the money to pay the fine
option. This was 29.1 percent of the entire prison population.
Correctional Services Commissioner Isaiah Ntshangase said the
numbers in prison because they could not pay fines was growing.
In July 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC)
interrogated Swaziland which is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch, on a number of prison-related human rights
issues, including food shortages, inadequate sanitary conditions and medical
care.
It also asked the Government to, ‘comment on the allegations that the
president of the (outlawed) political party People’s United Democratic
Movement of Swaziland, Mario Masuku, was denied access to adequate and
independent medical care for complications relating to diabetes throughout
the 14 months he spent in pretrial detention at Zakhele Remand centre and
Matsapha Central Prison.’
The HRC also asked for detailed information about the number of
existing prisons in the kingdom, prison capacity and the number of inmates
and whether there were separate facilities for adults and children. It also asked

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what plans Swaziland had to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other,
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
See also
JUVENILE CENTRE ‘HELL ON EARTH’
KIDS WHO COMMIT NO CRIME LOCKED UP
BOY, 12, JAILED FOR INSULTING GRANNY
BOY, 16, HELD IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
THOUSAND PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR BEING POOR
TRIALS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED: AMNESTY

Man in jail 10 years awaiting trial


24 January 2018
A man in Swaziland has been held in jail for nearly ten years as he awaits
trail.
Sikhumbuzo Mdluli, of Ngwazini in the Manzini region was arrested
and charged with murder in March 2008 and is still in the Sidvwashini
Correctional Facility awaiting trial.
He has asked the High Court of Swaziland to intervene, the Swazi
Observer newspaper reported (18 January 2018).
Mdluli is arguing that Swaziland’s Criminal Procedure and Evidence
Act says if a person does not appear in court after six months awaiting trial
in jail they should be discharged.
The Observer said he was also arguing that ‘his continued deprivation
of liberty’ was a violation of the Swaziland Constitution as he was not getting
a speedy and fair trial before a competent court of law.
He is not the only person jailed for lengthy periods awaiting trial. In
December 2017 Swaziland’s Human Rights Commission reported at least

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133 people had been detained in Swaziland jails without trial for more than a
year, Executive Secretary of the Human Rights Commission Linda Nxumalo
told the Sunday Observer (31 December 2017), ‘One of the key cases that
the Commission has worked on [in 2017] was one dealing with the issue of
access to justice especially for 133 inmates that have been detained for longer
than 12 months without trial or sentencing at our already overcrowded
correctional facilities.’

Man too poor to pay fine sent to jail


27 February 2018
A refugee in Swaziland was sent to jail because he was too poor to pay traffic
fines.
The man, a Congolese, who is under asylum protection in the kingdom,
was convicted of three offences including driving without a licence.
John Dambayi, aged 38, was fined E1,000 (US$86) by Siteki Senior
Magistrate Donald Mavuso with the option of four months in jail. He could
not afford the fine and went to jail.
According to a report in the Swazi Observer on Monday (26 February
2018), Dambayi told the court that he was a refugee who had no source of
income as he was prohibited from engaging in employment.
It is not unusual in Swaziland where seven in ten people live in abject
poverty with incomes less than US$2 per day for people to be sent to jail
because they cannot afford the fine option.
In August 2014 it was reported that more than 1,000 people were in
jail in Swaziland because they were too poor to pay fines. That was nearly
three in ten of the entire prison population.
In Swaziland offenders are often given the option of jail time or paying
a fine. Correctional Services Commissioner Isaiah Ntshangase said at the

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time there were people in jail because they could not pay fines for a range of
matters, including traffic offences, theft by false pretences, malicious injury
to property and fraud.
Figures revealed that 1,053 of 3,615 inmates in Swazi jails were there
because they did not have the money to pay the fine option - 29.1 percent of
the entire prison population.
Ntshangase said the numbers in prison because they could not pay fines
was growing.
See also
POOR CHILDREN IN SWAZI JAIL

Anger over prison service promotions


13 February 2018
The wife of Swaziland’s Correctional Services Commissioner General
Mzuthini Ntshangase is among a number of officers reportedly promoted in
secret.
Nothando Ntshangase, aged 31, was promoted from superintendent to
senior superintendent, and is believed to be the youngest senior
superintendent in the kingdom. She is now second in command at the
Mawelawela facility.
She is one of a number of jail officers who have been promoted in
secret, according to the Swazi Observer newspaper. The newspaper first
reported on 1 February 2018 that promotions ‘had been kept secret from the
preying eyes of the media’. It said that in the past media had been informed
of promotions. This time, it said, ‘The promotions were never shared with the
media as per the norm because previously the media questioned the
promotion of a particular officer, who is also said to be on the current list of
officers promoted.’

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It quoted ‘disgruntled officers’ as sources. It said, ‘The sources say the


officer is young but has been elevated numerous times in what has been
regarded as a “bedroom appointment” as many qualified and qualifying
officers have been disregarded for appointments in favour of the officer
concerned.
‘The officer is said to treated like royalty within the department and is
availed many privileges that even some superiors are not getting.’
In the report it did not name the officer involved.
On 8 February 2018, the Swazi Observer reported, ‘Warder Nothando
Ntshangase, who is wife to Correctional Services Commissioner General
Mzuthini, is among the officers whose promotion has been kept a secret.’
It added, ‘The 31-year-old, who has been with the service for less than
a decade, and has been promoted many a time, assumed her new duties last
week beginning of this month.’ She has been married to the Commissioner
General for eight years.
The Observer quoted an unnamed source. ‘The source further alleged
that the rise by Ntshangase to the rank of Senior Superintendent so quickly
had come as a surprise to many within the department as there were people
who had been in the department for a very long time and they had not even
made it to the rank of sergeant.’

4 SCHOOLS

Schools crisis over Christian teaching


9 January 2018
Swaziland’s schools are in crisis because of lack of funds and teachers, the
kingdom’s Minister of Education and Training Phineas Magagula said.

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About E33 million (US2.6 million) is needed to fund 169 extra teachers
who are needed now that Christianity has become a compulsory subject for
all public schools in Swaziland, the Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (4
January 2018).
There are not enough teachers in Swaziland to teach Christianity. The
newspaper reported Magagula saying they had identified 169 present teachers
who majored in religious studies and history who could teach the Christian
Education Syllabus. He did not say if they had been consulted on a possible
move. It was not reported who would replace the teachers in their present
posts if they did transfer.
The new policy that only Christianity and no other religion could be
taught in schools was announced in January 2017. Previously, the Religious
Education syllabus included Christianity, Islam, Baha’i faith and Swazi
ancestors. The decision reportedly came from the Swazi Cabinet, which is
handpicked by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
There was no consultation with schools.
The move was controversial. Teaching only Christianity could be
against the spirit, if not the letter, of the Swazi Constitution. When the 2005
Constitution was being drafted, it was decided not to insist that Swaziland
was a Christian country. This was to encourage freedom of religion.
In January 2017, Lawyers for Human Rights spokesperson Sabelo
Masuku said although Swaziland was predominantly Christian, the
Government had to consider the Swazi Constitution which made it clear there
was freedom of religious choice.
Nkosingiphile Myeni, Communications Officer of The Coordinating
Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO) in Swaziland, a
network of NGOs, ecumenical bodies and other faith-based organisations,
said at the time, ‘Firstly, government must not forget that in 2005, Swaziland

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entered a new era of constitutionalism. In Section 23 of the Constitution,


liberties including human rights, freedom of conscience and religion are
entrenched. The inclusion of all other religions must be in line with this
constitutional provision to cater for all sectors of society.’
The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) President
Freedom Dlamini criticised the way the new syllabus was introduced. In a
statement he said, ‘Our education system was immediately thrown back into
the dark ages, not that we had ever got out.’
Dlamini added, ‘We don't want to create religious fundamentalists
from our future generation, a predicament that some nations are finding
themselves in today.’
Dlamini said in some schools, especially at secondary level, pupils had
to drop one subject to comply with this order and contrary to the promise by
the ministry that schools were going to have more teachers, most schools had
no teachers posted.
The Observer reported Dlamini saying there were no signs that
teachers would be appointed.
According to the CIA World factbook religion in Swaziland is broken
down as Zionist (a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship)
40 percent, Roman Catholic 20 percent, Muslim 10 percent, other (includes
Anglican, Bahai, Methodist, Mormon, Jewish) 30 percent.

‘No books’ for compulsory Christianity


12 February 2018
Some schools in Swaziland report they have not received text books and other
materials to teach Christianity, a year after the subject was made compulsory
without consultation.

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School principals said they had been promised all the material by
government but they had not received anything, the Swazi Observer reported
on Wednesday (7 February 2018).
It quoted principals in schools in the Manzini region who did not want
to be named. One said schools were compelled to buy pupils bibles. ‘The
pupils informed us that they struggled during the exams as they had no clue
of the exam paper.’
The Observer quoted a principal saying, ‘The Ministry of Education
and Training should strive to provide quality education and address all the
critical issues facing all the schools in the country, rather than for them to
improvise for some schools, while neglecting some.’
The Ministry denied books and materials had not been delivered.
In January 2018 Minister of Education and Training Phineas Magagula
said there was not enough money to fund teaching of Christianity. About E33
million (US2.6 million) was needed to fund 169 extra teachers.
The new policy that only Christianity and no other religion could be
taught in schools was announced in January 2017. Previously, the Religious
Education syllabus included Christianity, Islam, Baha’i faith and Swazi
ancestors. The decision reportedly came from the Swazi Cabinet, which is
handpicked by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
There was no consultation with schools.
The move was controversial. Teaching only Christianity could be
against the spirit, if not the letter, of the Swazi Constitution. When the 2005
Constitution was being drafted, it was decided not to insist that Swaziland
was a Christian country. This was to encourage freedom of religion.
In January 2017, Lawyers for Human Rights spokesperson Sabelo
Masuku said although Swaziland was predominantly Christian, the

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Government had to consider the Swazi Constitution which made it clear there
was freedom of religious choice.
The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) President
Freedom Dlamini criticised the way the new syllabus was introduced. In a
statement he said, ‘Our education system was immediately thrown back into
the dark ages, not that we had ever got out.’
Dlamini added, ‘We don't want to create religious fundamentalists
from our future generation, a predicament that some nations are finding
themselves in today.’
According to the CIA World factbook religion in Swaziland is broken
down as Zionist (a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship)
40 percent, Roman Catholic 20 percent, Muslim 10 percent, other (includes
Anglican, Bahai, Methodist, Mormon, Jewish) 30 percent.
See also
SCHOOLS RELIGIOUS TEACHING SHAKE-UP
RELIGION BAN IN SCHOOLS: PROTESTS GROW
ALL MUST PAY FOR CHRISTIAN LESSONS

School criticised for pregnancy tests


25 January 2018
A school in Swaziland is being criticised by an action group against abuse for
a decision to make girl pupils take pregnancy tests.
Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA)
Communications and Advocacy Officer Slindelo Nkosi said the move was
highly discriminatory.
She was responding in the Swazi Observer on Thursday (25 January
2018) following a report in the newspaper that Siphocosini High School
parents had agreed that girl children should undergo pregnancy tests this year.

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The newspaper said parents thought this was a good idea as it might
save them money in school fees. Girls who become pregnant are forced to
leave school.
The newspaper reported, ‘The most painful part of this situation is that
the fees paid for the pregnants are usually non-refundable hence parents
reached this decision.’
The Observer reported Nkosi saying in itself, the decision was highly
discriminatory and reinforced gender gaps between Swazi girls and boys,
thereby promoting unfair and unequal educational and life opportunities.
Boys who make girls pregnant are not punished.
Nkosi said, ‘Prioritising “saving money” and not enrolling or sending
a girl-child to school due to being pregnant is counterproductive and
detrimental to the lives and future of the affected girls as it increases their
vulnerability to unemployment, violence, poverty, illiteracy, HIV and AIDS
and a myriad of social challenges.’
She added it was also important to recognise that pregnancy could be
a result of several reasons such as rape, which most girls did not report due
to fear of being ridiculed or blamed by friends and family members.
Swaziland Human Rights and Public Administration Commissioner
Sabelo Masuku said the stand taken by the school parents at Siphocosini High
School was new and unknown. The question if there was a violation of human
rights could depend on how the pregnancy tests were done. Masuku also
raised concern on the discrimination and inequality that could be as a result
of the pregnancy tests. A challenge could arise when only the girls were tested
for pregnancy yet boys were not tested for the same thing. He said girls do
not impregnate themselves, but boys were the ones responsible.
In November 2016 it was reported girls Bekezela Primary School in
Lubulini were said to have fallen pregnant ‘due to the poverty levels’. The

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Swazi Observer reported at the time the children were said to have mainly
been impregnated by older men who would promise them food and other
necessities.
See also
SCHOOLGIRLS ‘GIVE SEX FOR FOOD’

Children told ‘prepare for starvation’


1 February 2018
Children in Swaziland should prepare themselves for starvation as the
government once again fails to deliver free food to schools, a school principal
has warned.
At the start of the new year a continuing food crisis is hitting schools
across the kingdom, despite government promises that it had solved the
problem.
At the heart of the crisis is the Swazi Government’s inability to pay
food suppliers.
In the latest twist in the saga the Swazi Observer reported on Thursday
(1 February 2018) that schools relying on government aid – known as the
zondle programme – ‘must brace themselves for starvation as the Ministry of
Education and Training has failed to deliver food to schools on time’.
It said food had been promised by the Minister of Education and
Training Dr Phineas Magagula last year but it had still not arrived in many
schools.
It reported school principals said some pupils were sick and on
medication and depended on the food which was provided at school.
It quoted one principal who wanted to remain anonymous, ‘The pupils
should brace themselves for starvation because there is no available food in
the school, and they have exhausted the food that was left last year.’

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Principals in schools around the Shiselweni region told the newspaper


that some pupils went to school without having eaten anything and relied on
the feeding programme. ‘They cannot stand the long hours on empty
stomachs,’ one said.
Acting Principal at the Ministry of Education and Training Dr
Sibongile Mtshali told the Observer food would be delivered to various
schools soon, but did not specify the exact date of delivery.
The schools hunger crisis has been going on for at least a year. In
August 2017, members of parliament in Swaziland accused the Ministry of
Education and Training of lying in a report on severe hunger in the kingdom’s
schools.
They were told that the crisis was over and that school committees
were stealing food intended for children.
A progress reported tabled to the Swazi House of Assembly by
Minister of Education and Training Phineas Magagula was rejected. The
shortage escalated after the government did not pay its bills to suppliers. The
food includes rice, mealie-meal, cooking oil, beans, and peanut butter.
In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000
people of Swaziland’s 1.3 million population were in need of food assistance.
WFP helped 65,473 of them. It said it was regularly feeding 52,000 orphaned
and vulnerable children (OVC) aged under eight years at neighbourhood care
points. About 45 percent of all children in thought to be OVCs.
It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in
Swaziland aged under five.
See also
‘CHILDREN COULD SOON DIE OF HUNGER’
BAD FOOD POISONS 200 PUPILS
NO FOOD SO SCHOOLKIDS SENT HOME

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HUNGER FORCES SCHOOLS TO CLOSE EARLY

Swaziland schools in chaos


7 February 2018
Schools across Swaziland are in chaos at the start of the new academic year.
Children have been turned away because there are no spaces for them
in classes at High School. This is because the kingdom has in recent years
introduced free primary school education. Now children have graduated there
are not enough places in secondary schools. Parents were reported by local
media to be walking from school to school in unsuccessful attempts to get
their children placed.
Minister of Education Phineas Magagula told the Swazi Observer that
new classes had been built across the kingdom to accommodate the expected
influx of schoolchildren. Magagula was unable to tell media exactly how
many new schools had been opened and how many had been upgraded from
secondary to high school.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has not paid fees to about half
the 650 primary schools in Swaziland. The Times of Swaziland reported
money was being withheld because pupils did not have personal
identification numbers (PINs). The Ministry said to avoid audit queries, it had
to pay fees against a PIN, not a name of a pupil.
Parents have been outraged that some primary schools are charging
top-up fees when the Swazi Constitution and Government policy says
primary education should be free.
Swaziland, is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections
and the King appoints the Prime Minister and top ministers. Seven in ten of
the estimated 1.4 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less

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than US$2 per day. The kingdom’s economy has been mismanaged for
decades.
Swaziland cannot afford to pay for its free primary education policy.
Government pays E580 per child, but this is heavily subsidised by the
European Union (EU). Up to December 2016, the EU had spent a total
amount of E110 million (about US$8 million). In 2015, it reportedly
sponsored 34,012 learners in 591 schools. The EU plans to continue paying
for the school fees until the end of 2018. The EU started funding all first grade
pupils in the whole country in 2011.
The problem does not end at primary level. An investigation by the
Swazi Observer (27 January 2018) revealed that some high schools charged
nearly E9,000 per child per year in top-up fees. It also found (1 February
2018) that some schools were not allowing children, including OVCs
(orphaned and vulnerable children) to attend classes until deposits on fees
were paid.
The Ministry of Education then announced that no school in Swaziland
had been given permission to charge top-up fees because none had made the
necessary formal request to do so. Permission can take up to a year.
In February 2017, nearly E2.7 billion (US$216 million) was allocated
in the national budget for 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). This was 12.4
percent of Swaziland’s total budget.
An organisation called Teach According to Qualification (TEATQ)
reported that the main reason the Teaching Service Commission was not
hiring teachers on a permanent basis was because it could save more than E30
million annually. It estimated there were more than 1,000 teachers on

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contracts. The Legal Notice 147 of 2009, states that contract teachers should
be made permanent after working for two years.

Children across Swaziland are going hungry because the government


has failed to pay suppliers for food to be distributed free in the so-called
zondle programme. This has been going on for more than a year despite
continual promises from government that the crisis has been resolved.
Phephisa Khoza, the editor of the Swazi News, wrote a scathing attack
on the government which ‘has absolved itself of its responsibility to provide
free and quality education to its citizens’.
Khoza wrote (27 January 2018), ‘In the past there has been talk about
limited resources, but this is not the real issue when it comes to public
education. We have heard of teachers being hired but not paid, of crumbling
infrastructure and how some school administrations are operating as
dictators, demanding top-up fees much against government policy.
‘However, they cannot be blamed for their actions as they are forced
into such decisions by government’s failure to provide the essential resources
to enable schools to perform at the maximum level.’
Ackel Zwane, the veteran columnist of the Swazi Observer, wrote (26
January 2018), ‘Since the introduction of Free Primary Education,
government did not mobilise resources to make the programme sustainable,
especially with the anticipation of ever rising numbers at intake.
‘In the same vein, government did not provide for effective teacher
training for the task but instead went to embark on highly ambitious
initiatives such as Religious Education compulsory instead of the sciences
that are responsible for the overall development, including making correct
calculations to avert crises in the education system.

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‘The children are now overcrowded with insufficient teaching aids and
furniture in almost all the public schools.’
‘In some cases, parents offer to assist with the provision of desks just
for the child to squeeze into that tight corner that will be home for the whole
school calendar year without the teacher ever having access to him or her, all
because of overcrowding in the small classrooms.’
See also
END OF FREE SWAZI PRIMARY SCHOOLING

Primary schools grinding to a halt


2 March 2018
Teaching in primary schools across Swaziland is grinding to a halt and some
salaries have not been paid because government has not released funds.
Some schools are unable to buy food for children.
The Swazi Government is refusing to release money because many
children do not have personal identification numbers (PINs); some parents do
not have birth certificates for their children.
The problem has been going on since the school year started in January
2018. Shiselweni, Manzini and Lubombo are among the regions affected,
according to the Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland (25 February
2018).
Government is refusing to pay fees under the free primary education
(FPE) scheme. Government pays E580 (US$48) per child. The newspaper
reported one headteacher saying, ‘Government returned claim forms for
Shiselweni, Manzini and Lubombo because some learners have no Personal
Identification Numbers (PIN). We have so far pushed parents to get birth
certificates for their children. Some did but not for orphaned and vulnerable

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children (OVC) it is not easy since the ministry of home affairs demands
things they don’t have.’
The newspaper reported, ‘The principals stated that they had tried their
best to encourage the parents and guardians to get the PINs for the children
but they faced difficulty at the Ministry of Home Affairs as they said the
requirements needed were nearly impossible to meet. They said what made
matters worse was that though they may be few pupils in the schools who do
not have the PINs the entire school was suffered. Others said even omitting
those without the PINs would not solve the problem. This they said will mean
those pupils would have to be sent home because they would not have
stationery and books as government would only provide for those listed in
the claim forms.’
Swaziland Principals Association (SWAPA) President Welcome
Mhlanga said it was unfair on principals not to release funds to schools as it
was not their duty to register certificates for children but a role of the parents,
guardians and communities.
The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Friday (2 March 2018) that
the need for PINs was a new rule and school principals said they had not been
consulted not given adequate time to prepare.
The newspaper said some parents wanted the matter refereed to King
Mswati III. King Mswati is an absolute monarch and if he says children can
be admitted to school without PINs, the government which is not elected but
handpicked by him, would comply.

Parents want ‘lesbian’ teacher out


28 March 2018
A schoolteacher in Swaziland is being hounded out of her job because parents
think she is a lesbian and a danger to their children.

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It highlights the prejudice members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual,


transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in the kingdom face in their
daily lives.
The Swazi News reported on Saturday (23 March 2018) that the teacher
in a school it did not name in the Shiselweni Region dressed like a man.
The newspaper reported, ‘Interviewed pupils confirmed that they now
have to address the teacher as Mr and no longer Miss, which was the case
before.
‘While the pupils have come to terms with the teacher’s sexual
orientation, the community is having none of it and want her removed.’
The newspaper said parents complained that the teacher being a lesbian
would affect their children. The parents are demanding the teacher be
transferred.
LGBTI people suffer discrimination throughout Swaziland which is a
deeply conservative society ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch.
In June 2017 Swazi Senators threw out a motion to make a report on
access to health facilities for LGBTI people because it was ‘discrimination’
in favour of them.
The Times of Swaziland reported at the time the debate threw the
Senate into ‘chaos’. It said, ‘As they made their submissions, the senators
turned the House into a place of laughter as they would use examples to
describe how LGBTIs engaged in sexual games, which they said was wrong
and put them at risk of infections.’
There is a great deal of prejudice against LGBTI people in Swaziland.
In May 2016, Rock of Hope, which campaigns for LGBTI equality in
Swaziland, reported to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review on

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Swaziland that laws, social stigma and prejudice prevented LGBTI


organisations from operating freely.
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.’

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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.
See also
LESBIAN AND GAY MURDERS IN SWAZILAND
GAY PREJUDICE RIFE IN SWAZILAND
NO RIGHTS FOR GAYS: JUSTICE MINISTER

5 STUDENTS

Students march on government


12 February 2018
University students in Swaziland have boycotted classes and marched on the
government protesting against unpaid and inadequate allowances.
The University of Swaziland (UNISWA) and the Southern African
Nazarene University (SANU) have been affected.
The problem of delayed student allowances is not new as public
services across the kingdom have been hit by the Swazi Government
mishandling of the economy. Hospitals and health centres have run dry of
medicines and blood. Schools are unable to run vital food programs for
starving children and schools are without teachers.
SANU students were due to march and deliver a petition to the
Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Swaziland Higher Education

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Council (SHEC) on Monday (12 February 2018). The petition came after a
class boycott that started at the previous Wednesday and is continuing.
Students at SANU have a number of issues included in their petition
including delayed payment of allowances for first-year students, withholding
of ongoing students allowances, unreasonable allowance reduction, lack of
project allowances, exorbitant fees and poor infrastructure.
Students at UNISWA have also boycotted classes and marched to the
Ministry of Labour and Social Security in protest over delayed and
inadequate allowances. A total of 634 students received their allowances last
Wednesday but this did not end the protests as this did not include students
at UNISWA’s main Kwaluseni campus.
At the end of January 2018 at least 11 students from Swaziland
Christian University were arrested protesting about delays in receiving
allowances and problems over graduation. A local newspaper report said
police fired live bullets during the protest.
Meanwhile, William Pitcher Teacher’s Training College is also closed
indefinitely after a strike over allowances. The students were ordered to
vacate the premises and those who were to be found on the premises were
informed that they would be charged with trespassing.
The Swazi Government always delays payment of allowances at the
beginning of university semesters and this leads to student protests. After the
start of the previous semester in October 2017 armed police entered college
campuses in Swaziland as students across the kingdom ruled by King Mswati
III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch boycotted classes.
Police were at the UNISWA; the private university, Limkokwing; and
also at the William Pitcher teacher training college. Campuses had been
closed and reopened across Swaziland several times since the semester began

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nearly two months previously. The Government had promised to pay all
allowances by the end of September but this had not been done.
The Times of Swaziland reported at the time 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.
See also
UNIVERSITY CLOSED AFTER PROTESTS
POLICE ‘FIRED LIVE BULLETS AT PROTEST’
ARMED POLICE END STUDENT PROTEST

Student protest leaders suspended


18 February 2018
A university in Swaziland has suspended student leaders for ‘misconduct’ for
organising a protest over fees, allowances and poor facilities.
And, all first-year students at the campus in Manzini have been sent
home indefinitely following continued class boycotts.
It happened at the Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU).
The Student Representative Council (SRC) Secretary-General Tiger
Nxumalo and President Zamokuhle Mamba were handed letters of
suspension. Other members of the SRC executive were informed verbally of
their suspension.
The Swazi Observer (16 February 2018) quoted Mamba saying they
had been charged with misconduct and were awaiting a disciplinary hearing.
A spokesperson for SANU said property had been vandalised by
protesting students.
Students at SANU have a number of issues including delayed payment
of allowances for first-year students, withholding of ongoing students

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allowances, unreasonable allowance reduction, lack of project allowances,


exorbitant fees and poor infrastructure. They petitioned the Ministry of
Labour and Social Security and the Swaziland Higher Education Council
(SHEC) on Monday (12 February 2018). The petition came after a class
boycott that started on the previous Wednesday.
There have been class boycotts across college campuses in Swaziland.
Students at the kingdom’s biggest university UNISWA have been protesting
about delays in payment of allowances. The university was closed on
Monday.
SANU has a poor history of student relations. In 2014, they were told
they could not resume their studies following class boycotts in the Faculty of
Health Sciences unless they gave the university the names of strike leaders.
Students were forced to reapply to study and as part of that application
they were told to complete questionnaires which included three questions:
How did the student body resolve to boycott classes in the absence of a
student representative council? Who was responsible for calling all students
out of their classrooms to join the strike? Do you know who were in the
forefront of the strike action / the leaders? Name them.
The students went on strike in a dispute over allowances, poor learning
conditions in the institution, insufficient books in the library and lack of
laboratory equipment for science experiments.

Swazi student leaders suspended


1 March 2018
Student leaders at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) have been
suspended without specific charges being laid following a class boycott over
unpaid allowances.

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A total of 25 students have been suspended including Student


Representative Council (SRC) President Sakhile Ndzimandze and three SRC
Cabinet members.
UNISWA announced the suspensions after two of its campuses
reopened following a two-week shutdown. All the suspended students have
been banned from entering university premises.
The students received a letter from UNISWA Acting Vice-Chancellor
Prof M.D. Dlamini stating they had been suspended from the university with
immediate effect pending investigation.
The Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) Secretary General
Nqubeko Maziya in a statement said, ‘In a very weird fashion, unheard of in
disciplinary procedures and absolutely contrary to law of nature, the Acting
Vice-Chancellor has suspended the students without any specific charges but
with only an assertion that they are suspected to have violated some
provisions of the regulation for student’s discipline.’
SNUS stated that universities and colleges in Swaziland often
suspended student activists. Maziya said, ‘In the main, the management
targets vocal leaders with clarity on students’ issues so that they are not
embarrassed in negotiations.’
The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) in a statement said the
suspensions and ban from university premises violated students’ rights to free
assembly.
Students have been protesting about unpaid allowances which have
now been paid. They are also asking for a review of allowances, scholarships
to be available for all who qualify and they want to be allowed to take part in
decision-making.

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6 AGOA

U.S. restores Swazi trade benefits


3 January 2018
The United States has restored trade benefits for Swaziland that were
withdrawn because of human rights violations, but there is still more work to
be done.
Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch, lost assistance under the African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA) in January 2015 due to concerns over restrictions
on the freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, and expression.
AGOA allows countries to export goods to the United States tariff-free.
Swaziland has not been given a clean bill of health by the United
States. A statement issued by the US embassy in Swaziland said the kingdom
had been reviewed and priorities for the future had been suggested, ‘including
but not limited to eliminating child labour and promoting women’s
protections’.
Swaziland was suspended from AGOA after it failed to meet five
benchmarks, including full passage of amendments to the Industrial Relations
Act; full passage of amendments to sections 40 and 97 of the Industrial
Relations Act relating to civil and criminal liability of union leaders during
protest actions; and establishing a code of good practice for the police during
public protests.
The five benchmarks have still not been fully met, although progress
has been made on passing legislation.
The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) has said it was
good that legislation had been passed but the kingdom still had to implement
them.

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TUCOSWA acting Secretary General Mduduzi Gina, was reported by


the Swazi Observer (28 December 2017) saying they hoped there would be
no hitches when it came to practical implementation of the enacted laws.
The United States continues to have grave concerns about the state of
human rights in Swaziland. In its most recent annual report on the matter
covering 2016, the US State Department 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.
‘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.’
See also
UN PROBES SWAZILAND ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SWAZILAND FAILS HUMAN RIGHTS TEST
SWAZILAND QUIZZED ON TERROR LAW
SWAZI HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD KILLS AGOA
SWAZI TERROR LAW COURT CHALLENGE
SWAZI GOVT FAILS ON POVERTY: OXFAM

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7 ARMY

Naked pregnant soldiers locked up


8 January 2018
Three pregnant soldiers in Swaziland were locked up naked in a guardroom
without water, food or access to the toilet in the latest example of bullying by
the Army.
The ordeal which lasted 12 hours was a punishment for not taking part
in physical exercises, the Swazi News reported on Saturday (6 January 2017).
The women described as ‘heavily pregnant’ said they were no longer
fit to take up intense routine exercises meant for physical fitness. The News
said it happened on 26 December 2017 at the Matsapha Army Barracks.
The News said female officers would not arrest the women and take
them to the guardhouse so male officers were called.
One of the pregnant women told the newspaper, ‘We were shocked to
see male soldiers storming our dormitories where they dragged us and carried
us to the guardroom. It was very humiliating and it was the first of its kind.’
She said the women decided to be naked to deter their male colleagues
from dragging them to the guardhouse.
The News reported, ‘While in the guardhouse they remained naked for
over four hours until some of their friends decided to send them clothes which
they wore for the remaining eight hours while they were still locked in.’
This was the latest example of bullying within the Umbutfo Swaziland
Defence Force as the Army is officially known.
In January 2017, four potential army recruits were tortured for about
90 minutes when they tried to cheat on a run. The punishment included
having to pose like a urinating dog for 20 minutes appears to have been

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officially sanctioned. It contravened the United Nations Convention Against


Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
It happened at Mafutseni during a recruitment exercise. Fifteen men
had to complete a 3.2km run, but four of them were spotted getting into a car
that was to take them close to the finishing line.
The Times of Swaziland, reported at the time that they were caught and
punished for about an hour and a half. They were ordered to do push-ups,
which were followed by sit-ups. They were also ordered to lie on their backs
and face the sun. They were also instructed to ‘sit on an invisible chair’ while
holding their ears with their hands. They were ordered to pose like a urinating
male dog for about 20 minutes.
The Army has also tortured and humiliated civilians in Swaziland. In
September 2015, the Swazi Parliament heard that soldiers beat up old ladies
so badly they had to be taken to their homes in wheelbarrows.
Member of Parliament Titus Thwala said that the women were among
the local residents who were regularly beaten by soldiers at informal crossing
points between Swaziland and South Africa.
In 2011, a man was reportedly beaten with guns and tortured for three
hours by soldiers who accused him of showing them disrespect. He was
ordered to do press ups, frog jumps and told to run across a very busy road
and was beaten with guns every time he tried to resist.
His crime was that he tried to talk to a man whose vehicle was being
searched by soldiers at Maphiveni. The man, December Sikhondze, told the
Swazi Observer at the time, ‘I only asked for a lift but they told me I was
being disrespectful and that I should have waited for them to finish. They
took my cell phone and ordered me to do press ups.’

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In July 2011, three armed soldiers left a man for dead after he tried to
help a woman they were beating up. And in a separate incident, a woman was
beaten by two soldiers after she tried to stop them talking to her sister.
He said that he did more than 50 press ups and he was beaten with guns
every time he asked to rest.
See also
ARMY SEXUAL ASSAULTS AT BORDER POSTS
ARMY STRIPS BUS PASSENGERS NAKED
SOLDIERS INSPECT WOMAN’S PRIVATE PARTS

No sex please you’re soldiers


22 March 2018
Army recruits in Swaziland have been barred from having sex, because their
commander thinks it will make them weak.
Commander Sobantu Dlamini of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence
Force (as the Swazi army is formally known) made the order to more than
1,000 recruits at the army’s headquarters at Phocweni. It was during the final
rehearsal for their passing-out parade.
The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Thursday (22 March 2018)
Dlamini said he did not expect the recruits to embarrass themselves in front
of the army’s Commander-in-Chief King Mswati III by collapsing in soaring
temperatures.
‘This you will achieve by staying sober and abstaining from sex,’ the
Observer reported him saying.
See also
RECRUITS ‘BRIBED THEIR WAY INTO ARMY’
ARMY TORTURES RECRUITMENT CHEATS

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8 CRIME

More crime fears in Swaziland


9 February 2018
Residents in Swaziland are being attacked in their own homes, a local
newspaper reported.
The Swazi Observer said on Wednesday (7 February 2018) that
criminals were ‘brazenly attacking residents in their own houses in suburbs’.
It reported on two break-ins in Coates Valley, Manzini where thieves
attacked a family with bush-knives. A local security company has issued a
warning urging residents to stay alert.
The Observer reported, ‘Some members of the public even suggested
that there is a need to engage in neighbourhood patrols in the affected areas
just like it is done in South Africa. Some members of the public went to the
extent of suspecting that it might be “Amabenjamin Gang” members who
have since moved from Ezulwini area to terrorise Manzini residents.’
This type of crime in Swaziland is not unusual. A report published in
May 2017 by the United States State Department Bureau of Diplomatic
Security called Swaziland’s capital city Mbabane a ‘critical-threat location’
for crime.
Reviewing 2016, it stated street robberies were prevalent and they
happened at all times of the day. Criminals usually brandished knives or
machetes. Swaziland experienced violent deaths on a frequent basis. ‘Some
of the murders have been particularly gruesome,’ the Swaziland 2017 Crime
& Safety Report stated. Rapes occurred ‘frequently’.

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On crime threats, the report stated, ‘The general crime rate is above the
U.S. national average. Although criminals considered Mbabane and Manzini
prime grounds for operation due to the number of people, businesses, and
affluent areas, the rate of crime reported in small towns and rural areas
increased in 2016. There are some local crime gangs but no organized crime.
‘Congested urban areas are particularly dangerous at night; and
occasional daytime larceny has been reported. The presence of pedestrians
should not be taken as an indication of a secure/safe environment. Suspects
have found themselves pursued and beaten by by-standers.
‘Residential burglary and petty theft are the most commonly reported
crimes, with street robberies being the most prevalent. They occur at all
locations regardless of the time. Criminals are generally interested in cell
phones and cash.’
The report added, ‘Criminals usually brandish edged weapons (knife,
machete) and occasionally firearms and will resort to deadly force if victims
resist. The general modus operandi of robbers is to target residences or
businesses that have little/no security measures in place. They will use force
if necessary but rely on the threat of force to commit the act.
‘While the number of murders per capita remains lower than some
African countries, Swaziland experiences violent deaths on a frequent basis.
Some of the murders have been particularly gruesome. Victims have been
found decapitated, and body parts were mutilated or removed. Some are a
result of disputes among criminal groups.
‘Rapes occur frequently and tend to be perpetuated on isolated/desolate
urban and rural areas or roads.’
The response time of Swazi police to incidents is described as, ‘slow,
if at all, unless the police are in the general area where the incident occurred.
Police consider a 30-minute response time adequate, even in urban areas.

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Police are generally willing to assist but often lack transportation and
resources to properly respond to, or investigate, crimes.’
There was a 6.1 percent increase in serious crime in the kingdom in
2016 when compared to 2015, the 2016 Royal Swaziland Police Service
annual report stated. The increase included murder, culpable homicide, armed
robbery, car theft, house breaking and theft, robbery, illegal possessions of
firearms, drugs and terrorism.
In March 2017, the Times of Swaziland reported there was a great deal
of concern in neighbouring South Africa about crime in Swaziland.
The newspaper reported that Swaziland’s main commercial city
Manzini was considered, ‘a haven for International crime kingpins who have
become so sophisticated that they are supplying shops with fake cosmetics
and counterfeit drugs’.
It added, ‘Human trafficking is also a crime regarded as a serious
problem in the country, which led to a Parliament probe being launched
following a high number of nationals from Asian countries being found in the
country without legal documentation while others suspected of obtaining
citizenship illegally.’
The growing of dagga [marijuana] was another crime that refused to
go away, the Times reported.
It added, ‘These incidents suggest that there is a whole lot more
criminal activity taking place than what meets the eye. As a country with one
of the highest expenditure on national security, Swaziland should be a
country no criminal should dare to set foot.’
See also
SWAZILAND A WORLD HOTSPOT FOR CRIME

Swazi Reed Dance deaths court case

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19 February 2018
Three drivers have appeared in court in Swaziland on charges relating to the
deaths of 13 people, mostly children aged 11 to 16, who were being
transported on the back of a truck that crashed going to the Reed Dance in
2015.
Charges range from negligent driving to culpable homicide.
But, nobody who ordered up to sixty girls to travel on the back of an
open truck like cattle has been charged.
The Principal Magistrate David Khumalo at Manzini criticised the
delay in the case coming to trail and said it must be finalised immediately.
The prosecution was not ready and the case was postponed to 14 March 2018.
The deaths caused outrage in August 2015. The exact number of deaths
in the incident is disputed. The Swazi Government said 13 people died; 11
children and two older people who were their supervisors. There was
widespread disbelief in Swaziland that the death toll was so low. The
Swaziland Solidarity Network, a prodemocracy group banned in Swaziland,
citing the Swaziland Defence Force as a source, put the figure of deaths at
38. It later revised this figure to 65, citing medical officials as a source.
The official figures included an 11-year-old girl and seven girls aged
16 or under.
They died when they were loaded up onto the back of a truck used for
conveying building materials. The truck was involved in a road collision on
28 August 2015. They were on their way to the annual Reed Dance or
Umhlanga where they were expected to be among thousands of ‘virgins’ to
dance half-naked in front of the King.
King Mswati came in for heavy criticism after the crash because
journalists were prevented from reporting the event. King Mswati rules

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Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and media are


heavily restricted in his kingdom.
Thousands of young girls from across Swaziland were forced to travel
in trucks standing up in the open back cheek-by-jowl. There was no space to
sit down or even to turn around. Photographs show that at least sixty children
were squashed onto the back of a single truck. Many of the trucks that
transported the girls were usually used to move building materials.
Young girls travel this way every year to attend the Reed Dance where
they are expected to dance topless in front of King Mswati. Media in
Swaziland routinely describe the girls as ‘virgins’ or ‘maidens.’ The King
was 46 years old at the time of the accident.
Media reports of the accident are inconsistent, but it is generally agreed
that the children were thrown from the back of the truck when it was involved
in a collision. Police reported that not all the girls died on the spot.
International media reported that journalists in Swaziland were stopped
from gathering information about the accident.
Media in Swaziland are heavily censored; the Swazi Observer, one of
only two daily newspapers in the kingdom, is in effect owned by the King.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa Swaziland chapter in a report on
media freedom in Swaziland described the Observer newspapers as a ‘pure
propaganda machine for the royal family’.
The Reed Dance, which is also known as Umhlanga, is one of the main
cultural events in Swaziland and it is strongly connected with the King. In
Swaziland reporting negatively about the Reed Dance would be seen to be
the same as criticizing the King.
Femi Falana, a lawyer in Nigeria, later sent a petition to the United
Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Mr. Juan Ernesto Mendez; the UN

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Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and


Consequences, Ms. Dubravka Simonovic; and the UN Special Rapporteur on
Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Mr. Christof Heyns.
Punch, a Nigerian-based news site, reported at the time, ‘The lawyer
said it was particularly insensitive of the Swaziland monarch to have
reportedly allowed the dance festival to proceed despite the news of the
victims’ death.
‘He said it was also condemnable that rather than address the issues of
rights violation, King Mswati III had continued to cover it up by trying to
prevent publication of reports on the incidents.’
According to Punch, the petition read in part, ‘I argue that the annual
Umhlanga Reed Dance itself is unlawful as it has continued to perpetuate
forced marriages, entirely inconsistent with international human rights
standards.
‘I also argue that religion, culture and tradition cannot be used to justify
human rights violations, including violence against women, which is what
the annual Umhlanga Reed Dance constitutes. The continuation of the
Umhlanga Reed Dance also gives rise to other human rights abuses, including
forced marriages.
‘Under international human rights law, states like Swaziland are to be
held accountable if they fail to act with due diligence to prevent violations of
rights such as those highlighted above or to investigate and punish acts of
violence against women and provide effective remedies and access to justice
for victims and their families.
‘By packing the girls onto the back of open trucks, the government of
Swaziland should have reasonably foreseen that this would lead to violation
of their rights to life and human dignity.

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‘In fact, due diligence places a strict standard of conduct upon the
government of Swaziland to protect all individuals within its territory and
subject to its jurisdiction, including the girls and women.
‘I argue that the government of Swaziland has the supreme duty to
prevent acts such as those highlighted above that can cause arbitrary loss of
life such as the unnecessary deaths of these girls.’
See also
DEAD GIRLS ARE VICTIMS, NOT HEROES
DEAD GIRLS TRANSPORTED LIKE CATTLE
‘COVER-UP’ ON SWAZI REED DANCE DEATHS

Another fatal shooting by rangers


17 January 2018
Game rangers in Swaziland reportedly shot dead a man who was handcuffed
in another case that underlines the zero-tolerance, shoot-to-kill policy against
poachers in the kingdom.
The Sunday Observer newspaper reported (14 January 2018) that the
latest shooting involved a man identified only as Zwane. He died on the spot
after being shot in the abdomen at close range while handcuffed by rangers.
It happened at a private farm known as ka Skeepers in Lavumisa. The
newspaper reported two men had been found loitering next to the farm around
1am and in possession of two protected game, namely inyala and a wild bird.
The other man was shot in both legs but survived his injuries and is in
Mbabane Government Hospital awaiting an operation to remove about 13
small bullet pellets of a 12 bore shotgun from his right leg.
The man, Mxolisi Mbhamali, aged 22, of Lavumisa told the newspaper
he and Zwane had been poaching and were outside of the farm when trouble
started.

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The newspaper reported him saying, ‘We were outside of the farm and
inspecting our car which had developed mechanical faults. As we were still
busy with the car, we saw two people approaching us and Zwane whistled to
alert them to assist us with the vehicle. Little did we know that the people we
were alerting were actually farm rangers. There were three of them, two were
carrying guns while the other a sjambok. Zwane was carrying a gun and they
confiscated it from him before handcuffing us.’
The newspaper reported, ‘Mbhamali said while they were still pleading
with the rangers to forgive and let them go, one of them pulled the trigger and
shot Zwane on the abdomen at close range.’
Mbhamali said, ‘Zwane fell into the ground and the ranger turned and
shot me on both legs several times. I rolled on the ground and disappeared
into the thick bushes. I thereafter heard them calling the police on their mobile
phones.’
Shootings by game rangers in Swaziland have attracted international
attention. In 2017 a United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC)
questioned Swaziland about a law that gives game rangers immunity from
prosecution for killing any person suspected of having poached and Survival
International reported Swaziland ‘appears’ to have a shoot-on-sight policy
that allows game rangers to kill suspected poachers.
The HRC asked the Swaziland Government to explain 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 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.

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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 terms of Section 23 (3) [of the Game Act] game rangers are immune
from prosecution for killing suspected poachers and empowered to use
firearm in the execution of their duties and to search without warrant,’
SCCCO told the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on
the Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland in a report.
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.
Commissioner 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.’

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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.’
His comments came after an impoverished unarmed local man,
Thembinkosi Ngcamphalala, aged 21, died of gunshot wounds. He had been
shot by a ranger outside of the Mkhaya Nature Reserve. His family, who live
at Sigcaweni just outside the reserve’s borders, said he had not been
poaching.
Campaigners say poor people are not poaching large game, such as the
endangered black rhinos, but go hunting animals, such as warthogs, as food
to feed themselves and their families. Hunger and malnutrition are
widespread in Swaziland where seven in ten of King Mswati’s subjects live
in abject poverty. Many are forced to become hunters and gatherers to avoid
starvation.
King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch, has given game rangers permission to shoot-to-kill people
suspected of poaching wildlife on his land and protects them from
prosecution for murder in some circumstances.
See also
RANGERS ‘CAN SHOOT TO KILL’
TRUE FACE OF INJUSTICE IN SWAZILAND
KING LETS GAME RANGERS SHOOT-TO-KILL

King’s ‘business partner’ assassinated


15 January 2018
A controversial businessman with links to Swaziland’s autocratic King
Mswati III was assassinated at a petrol station in the kingdom.

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Victor Gamedze was shot twice in the head at the Galp filling station
in Ezulwini on Sunday (14 January 2018).
Gamedze was the chairman of Swazi Mobile, a new telecoms company
in Swaziland. It was surrounded by allegations of corruption and money
laundering. King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch,
was accused of being in collusion with Gamedze and the Zambian President
Edgar Lungu in a deal to establish a mobile phone company in Zambia using
Swazi Mobile as a cover.
Swaziland is a secretive state where media are censored and it is
difficult to uncover the true nature of Swazi Mobile. It is known that the
company was awarded a licence to provide mobile phone services that started
in July 2017. It beat other companies for the contract although it had no
experience in the mobile phone business. Unusually in Swaziland, the
company was swiftly launched only five months after the licence was given.
Within three months of the launch Gamedze told media in Swaziland
the company had a stock value of E1.2 billion (US$98 million).
In June 2017 a report appeared in the newspaper Swaziland Shopping
stating that King Mswati and Gamedze had forced Swaziland’s government
to side-line rival parastatal Swaziland Post and Telecommunications
Corporation (SPTC) from competing with Swazi Mobile. It said King Mswati
and Gamedze had shares in Swazi Mobile.
The African News Agency reported the editor of Swaziland Shopping
Zweli Martin Dlamini received a death threat. It reported Dlamini saying,
‘Shortly after publishing the story, I received a threatening call from
Gamedze that lasted for 20 minutes where he vowed to “deal with me”. Later
Communications Minister Dumsani Ndlangamandla summoned me to a
meeting and told me that the King was not happy with the story and had
ordered that the newspaper should be closed.’

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Swaziland Shopping was closed by the Swazi authorities who claimed


that it had not been properly registered even though the newspaper had been
published since 2014 with no problem.
Dlamini fled to South Africa fearing for his life.
Meanwhile, media in Zambia have been reporting on meetings
between King Mswati and President Lungu to set up a fourth mobile phone
company in Zambia to be owned by the pair using proxies.
Gamedze was murdered in full view at a petrol station on Sunday at
about 7pm. A witness told the Swazi Observer, ‘He started walking towards
his car and then a man, wearing a white cap, followed him towards the car.
When Gamedze was about to open his car door, the man withdrew his gun
and placed it on the side of Gamedze’s head and shot twice. The man didn’t
say a word. He just shot him. Gamedze went down while the man started
walking towards a red VW Golf car which had been parked by the waiting
room on the left side of the road heading to Mbabane.’
The Times of Swaziland reported two men were involved. ‘One of the
gunmen, at close range, aimed the gun to Gamedze’s head and pulled the
trigger. As soon as Gamedze hit the ground, the same gunman again aimed
the gun at another side of his head and fired the second shot,’ it said.
The Observer said, ‘At the scene of the incident, senior Police officer
Mxolisi Dlamini told journalists that the shooting looked like one that was
planned well in advance.’
Police later said suspects linked to the shooting had been arrested while
trying to cross into South Africa through the Lundzi Border post.
See also
SWAZI GOVT FORCES NEWSPAPER TO CLOSE
EDITOR FLEES AFTER DEATH THREAT

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9 CHIEFS

Abused power of Swazi chiefs


31 January 2018
A chief in Swaziland is forcing his subjects to pay for him to have a new car.
Chief Mlotjwa II of KaLiba in the outskirts of Hlatikulu town in the
Shiselweni region has demanded E100 (US$8) contributions from residents,
the Sunday Observer newspaper reported (28 January 2018). In Swaziland
seven in ten people live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per
day.
Chiefs are the local representatives of King Mswati III who rules the
impoverished kingdom as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The
chief wields tremendous power over their subjects and can, for example,
determine whether people are allowed to live in the area, or whether children
can attend universities and colleges. In some cases they decide who lives and
who dies as they are in charge of distributing international food aid to starving
communities. About a third of the population of Swaziland receiving food aid
each year.
The Observer reported, ‘Some of the residents have been questioning
why they should buy the chief a motor vehicle. The residents were allegedly
told to make E100 contributions towards buying the chief’s car.’
It added, one resident complained, ‘We don’t understand why we have
to buy him a car, a personal car for that matter. This is not part of paying
allegiance to the chief.’
The chief’s representative Obert Hlatjwako said residents had been
asked but not forced to contribute.

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He then demanded that the newspaper reveal the names of the people
who had made the complaints.
Chiefs in Swaziland have a long history of abusing their subjects. In
November 2017 it was reported about 20 families in Mvutshini in the
Southern Hhohho region, were fined E900 each (US$64) for not attending
community meetings and paying homage to their chiefdom.
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.’
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.
See also

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CHIEF PUNISHES RESIDENTS WITH FINE


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

‘Chief unleashes drunken militia’


23 February 2018
A chief in Swaziland has been accused of unleashing ‘an army of drunken
militia’ to beat up a group of community leaders.
Chief Ndlaluhlaza of Bulandzeni did this to stop a dispute among his
subjects, the Observer on Saturday newspaper in Swaziland reported (17
February 2018).
The newspaper reported, ‘The group of militia said to be from
Buhlebuyeza Royal Kraal and were imbibing on alcohol, hurled insults to the
inner council after heavily assaulting them. The chief’s militia group is
alleged to have also unleashed a reign of terror on residents, including the
inner council leaders with their local leader Indvuna Dzingalive [Magagula],
who is now nursing a broken arm.’
It said the incident was alleged to have happened in Mavula, near
Sihhoye on Sunday 11 February 2018.
The Observer reported, ‘The militia group came with one mandate;
that of assaulting anyone who was at the gathering for blessing newly
installed people, in an area reserved for small community businesses.’

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It said, ‘The uncompromising militia came armed with spears and


wooden rods whereby they first visited the home of the indvuna at
Timbondvweni, demanding to know from his wife his whereabouts.
‘The militia is said to have been transported on a van belonging to the
chief. After failing to get the indvuna they went for umfana wendvuna
(assistant/trustee) John Magagula.’
The newspaper added, ‘The militia allegedly pounced on the
unsuspecting inner council and without communicating anything, started
assaulting the members and others at the community gathering. They were
assaulted with wooded rods and fists. It is said people ran helter skelter as the
militia were baying for blood, assaulted everyone, including the elderly.
The Observer added, ‘Police are alleged not to have not set foot in the
area to record a statement from the people who were assaulted and injured.
Even during the time when they were given the RSP [Royal Swaziland
Police] forms for them to be admitted in hospital, no statements were
recorded.’
In Swaziland Chiefs are the local representatives of King Mswati III
who rules the impoverished kingdom as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch. The chief wields tremendous power over their subjects and can, for
example, determine whether people are allowed to live in the area, or whether
children can attend universities and colleges. In some cases they decide who
lives and who dies as they are in charge of distributing international food aid
to starving communities. About a third of the population of Swaziland
receiving food aid each year.

10 GOVERNANCE

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King controls Swaziland parliament


19 March 2018
King Mswati III, Swaziland’s absolute monarch, will pronounce on whether
E250 million will be spent on designs for a new parliament building that will
itself cost E2.3 billion (US$192 million).
The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Themba Msibi revealed the
matter had been ‘brought before His Majesty’s attention’.
This is significant because in Swaziland the King’s word is law. Once
he pronounces on a topic no further discussion is allowed. It also
demonstrates that the Swazi government and parliament which is made up of
a House of Assembly and a Senate has no real powers in the kingdom.
Political parties are not allowed to contest elections and the King
chooses the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers. In Swaziland, people only
get to select 55 of 65 members of the House of Assembly; the King chooses
the other 10. No members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people; the
King chooses 20 and the other 10 are selected by members of the House of
Assembly.
There has been disagreement among Swazi parliamentarians about a
budget for a new parliament building. It is estimated to cost E2.3 billion. The
building plans alone are said to cost E250 million.
By contrast the health budget for the coming year in Swaziland is E2
billion; Defence is E1.5 billion and Agriculture, 1.4 billion.
The kingdom’s economy is in freefall. In his speech opening
Parliament on 16 February 2018, King Mswati said he wanted a realistic
budget ‘based on available resources’. He also gave a list of projects,
including a new parliament building, that he said must go ahead.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the
kingdom reported on Thursday (15 March 2018), ‘The matter has become a

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hot potato after MPs raised concerns why there was no money allocated
towards the construction of the Parliament building yet the King had clearly
pronounced himself on the project during his speech from the Throne last
month.’
The Times Sunday reported on 11 March 2018 that a report of the
Finance Sessional Committee on why the project had stalled stated, ‘The
project costs an amount to the tune of E2.3 billion which is the total annual
budget for the capital expenditure hence the proposal to defer it, until proper
and due diligence has been done on the project.’
It added E50 million had been budgeted for the project in 2017-2018
but the funds had not been used.
This is not the first time King Mswati has pronounced on a topic of
controversy. In 2012 during a long-running and bitter schoolteachers’ strike
the King commanded it should end and all teachers who had been dismissed
during it be reinstated. This was against the wishes of the Cabinet.
However, there was a delay in implementing the King’s command and
it was thought the Cabinet was defying his order. The Prime Minister
Barnabas Dlamini was anxious to set the record straight.
At the time, the Times Sunday reported him saying government
belonged to His Majesty and it took instructions from him to implement them
to the letter, without questioning them.
He told the newspaper, ‘Government listens when His Majesty speaks
and we will always implement the wishes of the King and the Queen mother.’
The PM said Cabinet’s position on the matter was that it respected His
Majesty’s position on all matters he spoke about.
He said Cabinet just like the nation, heard what the King said and his
wishes would be implemented.

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Timothy Velabo Mtetwa, the then acting Ludzidzini Governor,


otherwise known as the ‘traditional’ prime minister, said no one had a right
to further deliberate on an issue that the King had already pronounced on.
The Ludzidzini Governor is considered in traditional Swazi society to
be more important than the nominal Prime Minister. The Governor is said to
speak for the King and his word is law.
Mtetwa told local media, ‘My understanding of Swazi culture and
etiquette is that the King’s word is final. Once the King issues an order
regarding anything, the order has to be implemented by the relevant
structures.’
He told the Times of Swaziland, ‘It doesn’t matter which position you
could be occupying, the truth is no one is allowed to defy the King’s order.
There is no exception to this long held Swazi cultural ethic.’
Richard Rooney
See also
WE MUST OBEY THE KING – SWAZI PM
‘THE SWAZILAND KING’S WORD IS LAW’
GOVT BOWS DOWN TO KING’S ORDER

King in total control of his kingdom


29 March 2018
Analysis
The Swaziland Attorney-General’s announcement that the conflict within the
three arms of government in the kingdom is ‘normal’ and there cannot be a
separation of powers between them is irrelevant because all power rests with
the absolute monarch, King Mswati III.
The political structure in Swaziland exists only to deliver on the King’s
wishes. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections, the prime

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minister and government ministers are appointed by the King and the
monarch is above the Constitution.
Attorney-General Sifiso Khumalo made his comments because for
many years there has been conflict in Swaziland between the three branches
of government: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. In simple
terms, the executive is responsible for the day-to-day running of government
and is headed by the prime minister. The legislature is parliament made up of
the House of Assembly and the Senate and is responsible for enacting and
amending the law and controlling the money necessary to operate the
government. The judiciary interprets and makes judgements about the law.
Members of Parliament who make up the legislature have complained
from time to time that the Prime Minister (the senior member of the
executive) interferes in their work and he should keep out of their business.
The Attorney-General wrote an opinion to the prime minister and this
was revealed in detail in the Observer on Saturday (24 March 2018), a
newspaper in effect owned by the King. The newspaper reported, ‘He made
it clear in his opinion that separation of powers is not possible – neither in
theory nor in practice.’
But the Attorney-General misses the point. Separation of powers is a
democratic concept, and Swaziland is not a democracy. In a constitutional
democracy there are three separate branches each of which has defined
abilities to check the powers of the others, thereby protecting the interests of
the citizen. There are no ‘citizens’ in Swaziland, everybody is a subject of the
King.
Lawyers can debate amongst themselves whether or not Section 64 of
the 2005 Constitution that states ‘the supreme legislative authority of
Swaziland vests in the King as head of state and shall be exercised in

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accordance with the provisions of this Constitution’ confirms the King as an


absolute monarch; but in reality the King’s word is law.
The King chooses the prime minister, the cabinet and top judges. It is
unlikely that he personally spends much time on this, but he does ensure that
those who are chosen accept his right to rule. There is no secret that those he
appoints recognise this. For example, in 2012 during a long-running and bitter
schoolteachers’ strike the King commanded it should end and all teachers
who had been dismissed during it be reinstated. This was against the wishes
of the cabinet.
However, there was a delay in implementing the King’s command and
it was thought the cabinet was defying his order. The prime minister Barnabas
Dlamini was anxious to set the record straight. At the time, the Times Sunday
reported him saying government belonged to His Majesty and it took
instructions from him to implement them to the letter, without questioning
them.
He told the newspaper, ‘Government listens when His Majesty speaks
and we will always implement the wishes of the King and the Queen mother.’
The PM said Cabinet’s position on the matter was that it respected His
Majesty’s position on all matters he spoke about.
He said Cabinet just like the nation, heard what the King said and his
wishes would be implemented.
The prime minister has given here the perfect description of an
absolute monarchy: ‘government belonged to His Majesty and it took
instructions from him to implement them to the letter, without questioning
them’.
The King considers himself to be above the Constitution. This was
clearly demonstrated in October 2012 when the House of Assembly passed
a vote of no confidence in the Government with 42 members in favour, six

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against and two abstentions. This total was more than the three-fifths of all
members of the House required for S68 (5) of the Constitution to kick in.
This clearly states that where a resolution of no confidence is passed
on the cabinet by three-fifths of all members of the House the King ‘shall
dissolve Cabinet’. The King did not and instead instructed the House of
assembly to vote again and support the government which it meekly did.
The King also appointed the PM in 2008 in contravention of S67 (1)
of the Constitution that states, ‘the King shall appoint the Prime Minister from
among members of the House’, but Barnabas Dlamini was not a member of
the House and had not been elected to any office. The King simply decided
to ignore the Constitution and put his own man in the job.
The judiciary in Swaziland are not independent from the King. In 2016
the International Commission of Jurists said that the King’s absolute
monarchy, ‘ultimately is incompatible with a society based on the rule of
law’. It said in a report called Justice Locked Out: Swaziland’s Rule of
Law Crisis, Swaziland’s Constitution must be amended to bring it in line
‘with regional and universal international law and standards, in particular on
the separation of powers and respect for judicial independence’.
The report was published after an international mission investigated
Swaziland following the attempted arrest and the impeachment of former
Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and the arrest of the Minister of Justice
Sibusiso Shongwe, two High Court judges Mpendulo Simelane and Jacobus
Annandale and High Court Registrar Fikile Nhlabatsi in April 2015.
The report stated the judicial crisis was ‘part of a worrying trend of
repeated interference by the Executive and of the Judiciary’s inability to
defend its independence, exacerbated by apparent strife within the ruling
authorities of Swaziland.

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‘Swaziland’s Constitution, while providing for judicial independence


in principle, does not contain the necessary safeguards to guarantee it.
Overall, the legislative and regulatory framework falls short of international
law and standards, including African regional standards.’
So there you have it; the three branches of government are all
controlled by the King, there is no need for a separation of powers because
they have no power.
Richard Rooney
See also
JURISTS: DEEP FLAWS IN LEGAL SYSTEM
SWAZI JUDICIAL CRISIS: KING’S WORD IS LAW
GOVT NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE REVERSED
KING PROVES CONSTITUTION IS WORTHLESS

MPs say anti-corruption body ‘corrupt’


21 March 2018
Members of Parliament in Swaziland have suspended the budget of the Anti-
Corruption Commission (ACC) because they say the organisation is itself
corrupt.
They want a select committee to investigate alleged wrongdoings.
They blocked a budget of E13.1 million (US$109,000) until a report is
delivered. The ACC comes under the Ministry for Justice and Constitutional
Affairs.
It happened at the Swazi House of Assembly on Friday (16 March
2018). The Observer on Saturday reported MPs were concerned that the
contract for ACC Commissioner Thanda Mngwengwe expired at the end of
January 2018 but he still seemed to be at work and using a Mercedes Benz
ML worth E1.2 million supplied by the ACC, plus a rented car.

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According to the Observer, Nkwene MP Sikhumbuzo Dlamini ‘said


there was a lot of corruption going on within the ACC. He mentioned that it
was one department where they did what they liked with taxpayers’ money.
What was disturbing, according to the Mkwene MP, was that Minister for
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Edgar Hillary was watching the corrupt
practices allegedly done by Mngwengwe and his alleged partners in crime
within the ACC.’
The newspaper added, ‘The minister indicated that the matter
of Mngwengwe’s contract was still under consideration by the relevant
authorities.’
In December 2017, the ACC issued a report suggesting that 79 percent
of 3,090 people interviewed in a survey believed that corruption within
government was ‘rife’.
The survey suggested that corruption was perceived to take place
mostly in rural councils. The perceived major causes of corruption were
poverty (58 percent), unemployment (54 percent) and greed (41 percent).
The survey was conducted by the Swazi Ministry of Justice and
Constitutional Affairs through the ACC.
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.’
See also

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SWAZILAND ‘RIDDLED WITH CORRUPTION’


ARMY PROBES SELF OVER CORRUPTION
‘ARMY AMONG MOST CORRUPT IN WORLD’
ANTI-CORRUPTION DEPUTY CHARGED

President ‘banned’ from Swazi senate


21 February 2018
Swaziland’s Senate President Gelane Zwane has been ‘banned’ from
attending parliament for up to two years because she is a widow in mourning.
Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula has met a similar
fate.
Magagula was stopped from attending the opening of parliament on
Friday (16 February 2018).
The two senior politicians have been caught up in Swazi tradition
which dictates that a woman should mourn her husband for two years and in
that time must stay away from public office and not be close to the King and
his mother. King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch.
Zwane confirmed to the Times of Swaziland newspaper that she would
be staying away from parliament where she is leader of the Senate. It is also
speculated that she will not be eligible to stand in the national election due
later in 2018, nor can she be appointed to any official position until two years
have elapsed. Her husband Michael was cremated last week.
Meanwhile, Magagula was stopped from attending the official opening
of parliament where King Mswati made his annual speech from the throne.
Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Paul Dlamini told her not to attend. She
separated from her husband Enock Mfanyana Magagula in 1994 and he died
last year.

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The Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland reported (18 February


2018), ‘Magagula revealed that the DPM also informed her not to come close
to any royal residence, Parliament and anywhere where Their Majesties were
present. The minister said when she queried Dlamini on the suspension she
was told it was according to Swazi culture.’
The newspaper added, ‘She stated that she would follow the directive
by the DPM seeing as he was her elder and she was socialised into
obedience.’
The DPM said Magagula could continue her duties as a minister.
The issue of Swazi culture and mourning contradicts Section 28 of the
Swaziland Constitution which guarantees that women have the right to equal
treatment with men, including equal opportunities in political, economic and
social activities.
Women in Law in Southern Africa Swaziland Chapter Director Colani
Hlatshwayo told the Sunday Observer mourning culture put women at a
disadvantage. She said Swaziland had signed United Nations’ treaties that
encouraged women to participate in politics.
Simangele Mtetwa, who is responsible for gender issues in the Trade
Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), told the Swazi Observer (19
February 2018) the action against Magagula was, ‘Totally unacceptable, and
I condemn it in the strongest terms it deserves. This paints a gloomy future
for all women in the country.’
She added if the authorities were serious about the development of the
kingdom such practices needed to stop because they were discriminatory in
their nature.
There was a major row at the election in 2013 when Dumisani Dlamini
a chief’s headman in Ludzibini, an area ruled by Chief Magudvulela a former

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Swazi Senator, threatened people would be banished from their homes if they
nominated Jennifer du Pont, a widow, for the upcoming election.
The Times Sunday reported at the time, ‘[Dlamini] warned that those
who would nominate her should be prepared to relocate to areas as distant as
five chiefdoms away. Her sin was that she attended the nominations only a
few months after her husband died.’
The newspaper reported, ‘He said she should still be mourning her
husband.’
The Times reported Du Pont did not wear standard black mourning
gowns and was dressed in a blue wrap-around dress known as sidvwashi.
Enough people in the chiefdom defied Dlamini and Ms du Pont was
duly nominated.
In April 2017, Elections and Boundaries Commission commissioner
Ncumbi Maziya told a voter education meeting at Bulandzeni Chiefdom that
women in mourning had a constitutional right to stand for election.
However, the Swazi Observer (3 April 2017) reported, ‘He said a
person wearing a mourning gown was not allowed to be near His Majesty the
King. If a certain constituency elected a person in such a situation, it was
highly possible that the woman could not attend the Parliament opening
event, where the King would also be in attendance. Maziya said that was
when a woman would have to exercise conscience by at least standing by the
gate of Parliament, to avoid being near the King.’
See also
‘VOTE FOR WIDOW, GET EVICTED’

Too long wait seeking Swazi justice


Kenworthy News Media, 2 February 2018

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Trying to complain and demand an investigation into having been beaten up


and threatened by security police in Swaziland via the UK Foreign Office
takes its time. In my case seven and a half years and counting, writes
Kenworthy News Media.
Me and my colleagues were detained by police without charge, beaten,
threatened, denied any legal representation, food, drink, or visits to the toilet
during a five hour ordeal at Manzini Regional Police Headquarters, in
Africa’s last absolute monarchy Swaziland.
The UK Foreign Office assured me recently that my case, ongoing
since September 2010, “is still open with us”, and that the they will be
contacting the Swazi authorities and “following a regular review of your case
between those in Swaziland and our teams in London, including specialist
legal advisors.”
“You may be aware waiting for a response can be extremely slow,” the
email concluded. Indeed I am.
Poor human rights record
When you read the foreign travel advice for Swaziland on gov.uk, you
are told that “most visits are trouble-free” but that “you should avoid rallies,
demonstrations and gatherings as these can be dispersed forcefully by the
police.”
Even though I knew of the poor human rights record of Swaziland’s
government and police forces, I was therefore not worried about going on a
project monitoring visit for my employer, Danish solidarity organisation
Afrika Kontakt.
I was there with two colleagues during the democratic movement’s
first Global Week of Action, an annual event organized by the democratic
movement of Swaziland to coincide with Swaziland’s Independence Day on
September 7.

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‘This is Swaziland’
But when around fifteen plain clothes police officers burst through the
door of our partners office, knocking me to the ground, throttling and beating
my two Danish colleagues and two Swazi partners, it was obvious that we
were not going to have what the FCO refers to as a “trouble-free visit.”
The police continued to terrorize and intimidate us at the police station.
I was elbowed in the stomach a couple of times, one officer told us that we
would “never return to your country. You will die here. This is Swaziland,
not Denmark.” Officers threated our Swazi partners with torture by simulated
drowning. All requests for water, food, a lawyer or being allowed to use the
bathroom were refused.
At one point the four of us stood in the yard of the police station, one
of the Swazi partners being beaten up behind us. Fifty or so police officers
were standing menacingly in front of us forming a crescent. They had
truncheons, firearms and full riot gear, so we thought we were going to get a
severe beating. Luckily our Swazi partners managed to talk them out of doing
so.
During our interrogation, by eight officers, we were again threatened
and wrongly accused of financially supporting PUDEMO, a political
movement fighting for a constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy.
But also a movement that is banned under Swaziland’s Suppression of
Terrorism Act, an act that Amnesty International refers to as being
“inherently repressive.”
Pressure paid off
Luckily, I had managed to send a short mail to our office back in
Denmark that the police were coming for us, moments before they barged
into the office. Our office had, unbeknownst to us, replied that if we didn’t

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answer their mail within five minutes they would contact the Danish Ministry
of Foreign Affairs and the Swazi Consulate, which they did.
Behind the scenes, the Ministry had been piling the pressure on the
Swazi authorities for our release. It paid off, as the police who had until now
been terrorizing us all of a sudden starting behaving nicely towards us.
Eventually they drove us to the airport so that we could catch our plane to
South Africa. We were told never to return to Swaziland.
There were probably two immediate reasons for the unprovoked attack
by the police in retrospect. Firstly, that the police wrongly believed that we
were to take part in the protest marches in connection with the Global Week
of Action together with the many other mainly South African foreigners, most
or all of whom were also detained and/or deported.
Secondly, we had spent around fifteen minutes at a seminar at the
Tum’s George Hotel listening to a lecture about the history of the democratic
movement in Swaziland. When around a hundred police officers arrived, and
some of the South African’s who were attending the seminar started leaving
through the back door, we decided to join them.
Apparently, the police subsequently arrested the forty-five people who
remained and had been very angry that we had left.
‘No response’
When I contacted by Foreign Office, to complain about our treatment
at the hands of the Swazi police, I was told a week later that the FCO “take
all allegations of mistreatment against British nationals very seriously.” The
FCO would “raise the allegations” with the Swazi authorities and “ask for an
investigation to be conducted and the perpetrator(s) brought to justice.”
Two months later, I was informed that the FCO had not received an
answer to its request and that the High Commission would “raise the

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allegations directly with Swazi government officials in January,” when


visiting Swaziland.
In 2011, 2012 and 2013, I received emails from the FCO, saying that
they had had “no response” to their inquiries, but that they would be
“repeating our request for an investigation to your allegations.” In 2016, I
was told that “we have to-date no new information on the investigation.”
Being white is newsworthy
I talked to the Times of Swaziland on the phone from the airport before
we left Swaziland. They published a couple of articles about the incident. I
also called Amnesty International once back in Denmark. They mentioned
our ordeal in their 2011 International Report, as did the US Department of
State in their 2010 country report of Human Right Practices.
We also contacted the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The
Minister for Development Cooperation, Søren Pind, replied that he was
“worried about the human rights situation in Swaziland. Denmark has
officially raised the matter with Swaziland emphasizing that we are seriously
worried about these events. At the same time we have stressed that we
obviously expect the authorities to investigate this matter thoroughly.”
The incident also made many of the Danish national papers, the two
national TV channels and several international newspapers.
Learning experience
I have been to Swaziland several times since 2010 on project visits
without serious incident, as have my colleagues. Being a white visitor with a
burgundy passport, I can afford to see the incident as a learning experience –
the kind of experience that people in Swaziland and in other countries around
the world experience every day, only much, much worse and often with a lot
less media coverage.

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Like Sipho Jele, who was beaten to death by police for wearing a t-
shirt with a PUDEMO-logo. Or Bheki Dlamini, Maxwell Dlamini and the
many other Swazi activists who have been tortured and end up spending
months and years in prison, detained without facing a judge, eventually to be
either released, kept on bail or sentenced on trumped up charges.
The Global Week of Action has continued as an annual event even
though the police routinely assault those who dare take part in the event. Last
year thousands of Swazis marched through the capital Mbabane to deliver a
petition which calls for democracy and socioeconomic justice to the
government.
See also
SWAZI POLICE BRUTALITY: EYEWITNESS
POLICE INTIMIDATION: NEW EVIDENCE
POLICE BRUTALITY: NEW TESTIMONY

Kingdom’s unlikely governance award


26 January 2018
Swaziland has been given an award for ‘its contribution to peace,
development and good governance’ by a group with links to the cultish
Unification Church despite being ranked 34 out of 54 countries in Africa on
governance by the world-renowned Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
The group making the award was the Universal Peace Federation
(UPF). The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati
III, who rules the kingdom as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch,
reported on Thursday (25 January 2018) that Swaziland won ‘the gold award’
at the UPF’s First Africa Summit.
No further details of the award were given. The award is surrounded
in mystery. A website created by UPF to publicise the ceremony that took

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place in Dakar, Senegal on 18-19 January 2018 had pages headed ‘program’
and ‘press kit’ but the pages were blank.
The Observer reported, ‘The UPF leaders expressed their support for
the country’s Vision 2022 and confidence that Swaziland can be a world
leader in peace-building and model country for promoting peace,
development and prosperity for its people.
‘They expressed their desire to meet Their Majesties and to mobilise
resources and investments to support the country in its vision. Other
dignitaries from outside Swaziland also recognised and congratulated the
country for its efforts in promoting peace.’
It reported Zombodze Emuva MP Dr Titus Thwala received the gold
award on behalf of the kingdom.
The award for good governance comes as a surprise because Swaziland
was ranked 34 out of 54 countries for overall governance in the 2017 Ibrahim
Index of African Governance produced by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. It
received a score of 55.8 out of a hundred for rule of law. Other scores out of
a hundred included: judicial independence (21.3); freedom of expression
(22.8); civil liberties (33.3); and freedom of association and assembly (12.5).
The UPF was founded by Rev Sun Myung Moon who also created the
Unification Church, popularly known as ‘the Moonies’.
After he died in 2012, the Daily Telegraph, a right-wing newspaper in
the United Kingdom reported in an obituary, ‘Moon, a South Korean multi-
millionaire businessman, discovered his vocation as the “second Messiah” in
1936, when he claimed to have met Jesus Christ on a Korean hillside,
recognising Him from His picture. Jesus informed Moon that He had been
unable to complete His mission on earth due to unforeseen circumstances, so
Moon (Jesus went on) had been chosen to succeed Him and to establish the
Kingdom of Heaven upon Earth.’

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It added, ‘Moon gave every impression of believing his own sermons,


and his blend of hard-sell Christianity and Eastern mysticism proved
particularly appealing to the idealistic progeny of affluent Westerners, who
were encouraged to hand over their worldly goods, reject their biological
parents and accept the Moons as their “true parents”.’
It said, ‘Moon engendered widespread hostility among parents,
alarmed at the changed personalities of their converted children. Some
mounted lawsuits accusing Moon of practising brainwashing, and there were
reports of cult members being kidnapped and de-programmed by “cult-
busters”.’
The Telegraph obituary said, ‘While Moon’s adoring followers were
persuaded to part with their worldly goods and were sent out unpaid on fund-
raising missions, Moon was ferried round in chauffeur-driven limousines,
took fishing holidays on his 50ft luxury cabin cruiser and lived in a
sumptuous New York property modelled on a Korean palace. The source of
Moon’s original capital remained a mystery, but the fact that the church’s
dedicated workers received no wages certainly contributed to his success. In
2008 one estimate put Moon’s personal wealth at about $990 million.’
In an obituary, the New York Times reported, ‘As his church grew more
prominent in the 1970s and ’80s, it became embroiled in lawsuits over
soliciting funds, acquiring property and recruiting followers. Defectors wrote
damaging books. From 1973 to 1986 at least 400 of the church’s flock were
abducted by their family members to undergo “deprogramming,” according
to an estimate by David G. Bromley, a professor of sociology at Virginia
Commonwealth University and an expert on Mr Moon. The church denied
that it had brainwashed its followers, saying members joined and stayed of
their own free will.’

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It added, ‘In the late 1970s, Mr Moon came under the scrutiny of
federal authorities, mainly over allegations that he was involved in efforts by
the South Korean government to bribe members of Congress to support
President Park Chung-hee. A Congressional subcommittee said there was
evidence of ties between Mr Moon and Korean intelligence, and that the
church had raised money and moved it across borders in violation of
immigration and local charity laws.
‘Then, in October 1981, Mr Moon was named in a 12-count federal
indictment. He was accused of failing to report $150,000 in income from
1973 to 1975, a sum consisting of interest from $1.6 million that he had
deposited in New York bank accounts in his own name, according to the
indictment.’
Moon was convicted the next year of tax fraud and conspiracy to
obstruct justice and sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was assigned to
kitchen duty.
See also
SWAZILAND BOTTOM FOR PARTICIPATION
SWAZILAND GOVERNANCE APPALLING

Youth election workshop banned


19 March 2018
A workshop in Swaziland on the forthcoming election was banned because it
was deemed illegal.
More than 30 young people and community leaders from across the
kingdom were turned away from the Castle Hotel in Mbabane on Friday (16
March 2018). The workshop was reportedly supported by the Elections and
Boundaries Commission and the Swaziland National Youth Council.

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The Sunday Observer reported (18 March 2018) ‘The organisers of the
event said they had received instructions from labadzala who could not be
named that they should cancel the seminar because they had not obtained
permission for hosting it.’ Labadzala refers to Royal elders.
Elections are due in 2018 at a date yet to be set. King Mswati III rules
Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties
are not allowed to contest in elections and people and groups that advocate
for democratic reform are prosecuted under the Suppression of Terrorism
Act. The King chooses the Prime Minister and top government ministers. In
Swaziland, people only get to select 55 of 65 members of the House of
Assembly. The King chooses the other 10. No members of the Swazi Senate
are elected by the people; the King chooses 20 and the other 10 are elected
by members of the House of Assembly.
Freedom of assembly is severely curtailed in Swaziland, especially in
the run-up to elections. In 2013, before the most recent election, armed police
stopped an election workshop organised by the Swaziland Youth
Empowerment Organisation, also known as Luvatsi, at a Pentecostal Church
in Sidvokodvo. The police had no warrant or court order, but were acting on
instructions of their station commander, local media reported.
This was not the only example of people being prevented freely
discussing issues in the run up to the election. The NGOs Election Network
which operates under the Swazi-based Coordinating Assembly of Non-
governmental Organisations (CANGO) and which observed the polls said in
a report, ‘Civil society meetings were crushed, including prayer meetings.’
It added, ‘With no enjoyment of the rights to access information and
also exchange information, freedom to associate, freedom of movement and
freedom of speech it has become difficult for citizens to canvass issues.’

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An election rally organised by the Swaziland Youth Congress


(SWAYOCO) at Msunduza Township, Mbabane, in April 2013 was broken
up by police and organisers charged with sedition. Swazi Police
Commissioner Isaac Magagula had warned SWAYOCO in advance that his
officers would stop any attempt at meeting.
In a statement carried by media in Swaziland the police chief said, ‘As
a police service and organ of state responsible for internal security and
maintenance of law and order, we wish to state it in no uncertain terms that
the political rally planned by SWAYOCO for April 19, 2013 will not be
allowed to take place.’
He added, ‘[I]t is unthinkable that an event whose agenda includes
sabotaging the forthcoming national elections can be allowed to take place.’
SWAYOCO is the youth wing of the People’s United Democratic
Movement (PUDEMO), the best-known opposition group in Swaziland. Both
have been branded ‘terrorist’ organisations and banned by King Mswati’s
government.
See also
PARTIES STILL BANNED FROM ELECTION
COURT FIGHT TO UN-BAN PARTIES
WHY SWAZILAND ELECTION IS BOGUS

Terror Act appeal back to court


9 March 2018
Swaziland’s Supreme Court has reinstated an appeal from the government
against a High Court ruling that parts of the Suppression of Terrorism Act
and the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act are unconstitutional.
It had been tabled for October 2017 but the government’s
representatives did not attend.

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The Swazi Observer reported on Wednesday (7 March 2018) that


Supreme Court Judge Phesheya Dlamini ruled there had been an error at the
time and he reinstated the case at a date yet to be set.
Both Acts have been used by successive governments of King Mswati
III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch to
stop advocates for democratic reform. Political parties are banned from taking
part in elections and the King chooses the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and all
senior judges.
In September 2016, Swaziland’s High Court ruled that sections of the
Suppression of Terrorism Act and the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act
were unconstitutional.
Judges ruled that the Acts contravened provisions in the Constitution
on freedom of expression and freedom of association.
The ruling was delivered after years of campaigning to have the Acts
overthrown.
Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer; Maxwell Dlamini, Swaziland
Youth Congress secretary-general; Mario Masuku, president of the People’s
United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and Mlungisi Makhanya,
PUDEMO secretary-general, brought four actions against the Swazi state.
Responding at the Swazi High Court were the Prime Minister, the
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Director of Public
Prosecutions and the Attorney General.
Justice Mbutfo Mamba and Justice Jacobus Annandale ruled that
various sections of the Acts were inconsistent with the Constitution. They
said S14(1)(b) of the Constitution, ‘guarantees and declares freedoms of
conscience, expression and peaceful assembly and association as
fundamental human rights’.

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The applicants had been charged with offences under the Suppression
of Terrorism Act because they are members of PUDEMO which is a banned
pro-democracy organisation in Swaziland. The judges’ ruling stated, ‘They
were found wearing T-shirts and berets of such organization and also
chanting its slogans.’
The judges also stated that the Act did not describe what a terrorist
was. ‘Generally speaking, most of the offences criminalized as terrorist acts
in the Act are covered by ordinary criminal law,’ they stated.
The judges stated the fact that the applicants had been charged for their
involvement with PUDEMO, ‘is plainly a matter that affects or impacts on
their right to freedom of association and opinion.
‘For whatever reason, their views on the policies, aims, ideals and
objectives of PUDEMO have drawn them to it. The wearing of any apparel
of paraphernalia associated with PUDEMO, may or may not, depending upon
the particular circumstances of the case, be said to be a crime under the Act.
‘The bottom-line in these proceedings, however, is that their
association, involvement with this organization or entity has resulted in them
being charged under the Act. In a word, they have been told, PUDEMO is a
specified [banned] entity, and your belonging to it or chanting its slogans and
wearing its apparels is a crime in terms of the Act.
‘Clearly, their rights to freedom of association and opinion are
adversely affected by this.’
The judges also stated that the law or regulations that declared
PUDEMO a banned entity interfered with the constitutional right to freedom
of association, but such rights were not absolute and they may be subject to
certain restrictions or limitations.
The judges stated that the applicants who were members of the banned
PUDEMO were, ‘declared, in effect, terrorists or at least persons engaged or

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involved in terrorist acts or criminals before they are given the opportunity to
be heard on the issue. This cannot be right. It is against the rules of natural
justice or procedural fairness or administrative justice that a person be
condemned before he has been given the opportunity to be heard on the issue
under consideration.’
A third High Court Justice Nkululeko Hlophe made a dissenting
judgement.
See also
SCRAP SWAZI TERROR ACT – AMNESTY
NO AMNESTY IN ‘TERROR’ CASES
SWAZI TERROR ACT STOPS FREE SPEECH
‘OPPOSITION TO KING IS TERRORISM

King wants land back from S. Africa


5 March 2018
One of the newspapers of autocratic Swaziland King Mswati III is pressing
for action for the kingdom to claim large parts of South Africa, including the
capital Pretoria, for the Swazi people.
The Sunday Observer said (4 March 2018) ‘some Swazis’ believed now was
the right time to reclaim land ‘lost’ to South Africa during the Colonial era.
The newspaper reported the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in
South Africa, ‘successfully moved a motion of land expropriation without
compensation, which has since sparked wide spread debate over Swaziland’s
pursuit of reclaiming its lost land from South Africa.
‘Some Swazis believe that this is the right time for South Africa to
consider giving back some parts of the country taken during colonial era.’

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Swaziland has already formed a Border Determination Special


Committee (BDSC) which the King wants to negotiate with South Africa
over returning land occupied by people of Swazi descent.
The Observer reported, ‘According to the BDSC, the old map of
Swaziland showed that South Africa’s administrative capital of Pretoria and
larger portions of the Gauteng, Limpompo and KwaZuluNatal Provinces
belong to the Swazi nation.’
The newspaper said it was unable to contact BDSC chairman Prince
Guduza for comment.
In March 2017 the BDSC met with newspaper editors in Swaziland to
press its case. The Observer on Saturday, another newspaper in effect owned
by the King, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported at
the time that the committee, ‘revealed that its mandate as directed by the King
is to recover all the Swazi land lost during the colonial era, both on the east,
west, south and north which goes as far as Pretoria and the Limpopo
province.’
The newspaper reported the BDSC told the meeting that the presently
landlocked kingdom should stretch to the Indian Ocean and include parts of
modern-day Mozambique.
The BDSC was promoting what it called ‘Pan-Swazism’, the
newspaper reported. This was ‘to instil a sense of belonging to all Swazis
even outside the current borders of Swaziland’.
It added, ‘The Pan-Swazism is of the assertion that it is globally
accepted that Swazis have King Mswati III as their king and that this is true
even to Swazis that are living in the Republic of South Africa.’
Lutfo Dlamini, a member of the committee, reportedly said the Swazi
King was rightly accepted as the leader of all Swazis.

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Thabiso Masina, the committee’s ex-officio member from the Attorney


General’s office, said land was lost to the Swazis as a result of concessions
to the white settlers around the 1840s. He said no Swazi king had in fact
signed the land away.
The Observer reported him saying the Swazis were never defeated in
war to warrant for the nation to relinquish any of its land.
The BDSC said there was already a draft agreement between
Swaziland and South Africa that they would solve the land dispute amicably.
See also
‘HELP END SWAZI ABSOLUTE MONARCHY’

11 PRIME MINISTER

Swazi PM’s false claim to be a doctor


16 February 2018

Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini calls himself a ‘doctor’


although he has no such qualification.
A ‘doctor’ is someone who has a certified medical qualification or a
Ph.D (doctor of philosophy) or similar (D.Litt, for example) that has been
earned by publishing a substantial record of research. Barnabas Dlamini –
sometimes known as Sibusiso Dlamini – has none of these.
Dlamini drew attention to his ‘doctor’ title in his just-published
autobiography. He signs himself as ‘Dr’ in letters and is called ‘Doctor’ on
the Swaziland Government’s official website.
However the truth is he has no such qualification.

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He was awarded an honorary ‘doctor of laws’ by the state-run


University of Swaziland (UNISWA) in 2008. The University has King
Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch, as its Chancellor. Dlamini was not elected Prime Minister; he was
personally appointed by the King.
Honorary doctorates are not ‘real’ doctorates; in other words, being
awarded an honorary doctorate is not the same as earning an actual doctorate.
By convention, recipients of honorary doctorates do not use the title ‘Dr.’ The
title should not be used to further a career or be put on a resume. Honorary
awards are designed to draw attention to the university bestowing the honour,
since it ties them to the recipient.
Many receivers could paper a room with their doctorate scrolls: former
US President Barack Obama has at least 13; Bill Clinton, at least 16. In 1996,
Nelson Mandela received eight honorary degrees in a single day in London,
UK.
There is a twist in the tail. Dlamini’s ‘doctorate’ was awarded by
UNISWA, but no student has ever graduated from the university with a
doctorate degree.
The level of educational achievement at the university was so low that
there were doubts that it should be called a ‘university’ at all. In 2006, just
before it awarded Dlamini the doctorate, 49.7 percent of UNISWA’s 1,370
students who graduated received certificates and diplomas, while 49.2
percent got bachelor degrees. Hardly anyone studied for graduate
qualifications: that year, 14 students received masters degrees while only 51
students were studying for master degrees in the whole university. A
university is supposed to be an institution of higher learning; UNISWA’s
statistics made it look more like a tertiary college. This situation has
improved slightly since Dlamini was awarded his honorary doctorate.

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The awarding of honorary doctorates and degrees is controversial. In


1996, Long Island University’s Southampton College awarded an honorary
Doctor of Amphibious Letters to Kermit the Frog for his work in education
and in raising environmental awareness. Even though there were those who
did not agree with the idea of bestowing the honour on a puppet, Kermit
accepted the award and did indeed give an acceptance speech.

Richard Rooney
See also
NOW IT’S DOCTOR KING MSWATI

PM share dividends under scrutiny


28 February 2018
Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini stands to be paid E150,000
(US$13,000) from a company that has shares in controversial cell phone
company MTN Swaziland.
Dlamini in his recently-published autobiography claimed to own 0.1
percent of the investment holding company Swaziland Empowerment
Limited (SEL) which has 19 percent shares at MTN Swaziland, the Sunday
Observer newspaper in Swaziland reported (25 February 2018).
The Observer calculated the Prime Minister was expected to get an
estimated E23,856, before taxes this financial year. It estimated the PM, who
is not elected but appointed by absolute monarch King Mswati III, had been
paid ‘about E150,000 in total since March 2016’.
In Swaziland seven in ten of the population live in abject poverty with
incomes less than E23 per day.
Until July 2017 when Swazi Mobile launched, MTN was a monopoly
provider of cell phone services in the kingdom.

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King Mswati is a major shareholder in MTN Swaziland. The Sunday


Times in Johannesburg reported in July 2014 he holds 10 percent of the shares
and is referred to by the company as an ‘esteemed shareholder’. It said MTN
had paid E114 million (US$11.4 million at the then exchange rate) to the
King over the previous five years.
The Sunday Times reported that at the time MTN had a monopoly in
Swaziland and was used by 57 percent of the population. It said MTN was
able to keep prices high, citing the cost of 300 megabytes of data in Swaziland
as E149, while in South Africa the same amount of data cost E79.
Prime Minister Dlamini’s holdings in SEL have been a matter of
controversy for years. As long ago as 2011, Musa Holphe, a human rights
campaigner and journalist, highlighted that Dlamini’s holdings in MTN
might be a conflict of interest since he was also a key decision maker in the
affairs of MTN’s only rival for telephone services, the parastatal, Swaziland
Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC).
Writing in the Times Sunday, a newspaper in Swaziland, (26
September 2011), Holphe said, ‘Since SEL’s main, if not its only, investment
is MTN Swaziland it is important to understand that the value of the SEL
shares will be slashed if anything happens that affects MTN’s profitability.
‘This government has been at the centre of many decisions that affect
the ability of SPTC to properly compete with MTN.
‘Each government decision seems designed to hamper SPTC and
enable MTN to continue its monopoly and unfairly increase the wealth of its
shareholders which as we now know includes the private wealth of the prime
minister.
‘It is shocking to see how much money is generated by MTN and that,
in spite of the grinding poverty of the majority of us; vast riches are still
secretly flowing into the pockets of the elite.’

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He added, ‘He may say that it is all perfectly legal but that is the wrong
test. Compliance with the law is a minimum standard not a maximum.
‘Leaders must be held to higher standards. Even if what the PM does
is perfectly legal, we should still be asking, is it honourable, decent and wise?
Is it moral?
He added, ‘Corruption is like pregnancy – you cannot be a little bit
pregnant and you cannot be a little corrupt. You either are or you are not. It
is time to tackle corruption properly and declare all interests openly.
Ministers with interests must excuse themselves from any decision-making
that affects those interests not just the major ones.’
In 2009, Earl Irvine, then US Ambassador to Swaziland, wrote a
confidential cable (later published by Wikileaks) in which he said the King
operated in his own financial interest. Part of the cable said, ‘Royal politics
and King Mswati’s business interests appear to have caused the ouster of
Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) CEO Tebogo Mogapi and halted
parastatal Swaziland Post and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC)
from selling the MTN shares it owns to raise money for a Next Generation
Networks (NGN) cell phone project.
‘Industry and press observers privately indicated that the King, who
already owns many MTN shares, had wanted to purchase the MTN shares
himself at a cheaper price than the buyer, MTN, was offering SPTC.
‘Government officials later prevented the sale, and recently did not
renew the work permit for CEO Mogapi, a South African citizen, apparently
in retaliation for his role in the transaction, as well as the CEO’s reported
decision to oppose government efforts to use the MTN network for electronic
surveillance on political dissidents.’
The cable went on, ‘The government’s halt of parastatal SPTC’s sale
of MTN shares demonstrates the impact the King’s and other influential

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individuals’ private business interests can have on business transactions in


Swaziland.
‘Government officials would likely prefer a more malleable Swazi
CEO at MTN who would cooperate more fully with royal and government
wishes.’
A research article written by Ewan Sutherland of the University of the
Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, and published in December
2014 in the Communicatio academic journal, explored telecommunications
in Swaziland and concluded there was no competition for mobile phones in
the kingdom and ‘the monarch and his cronies are financially tied to Swazi
MTN, seeking to neuter the state-owned SPTC. The government has no
concern for consumers, service delivery or economic growth, with the King
and his prime minister looking after their personal financial interests.’
Sutherland wrote, ‘[I]t is difficult to see how any investor could have
confidence, unless it had the sovereign on their side and, more likely, in their
pocket.
‘The monarch has a significant and lucrative investment in the
principal operator, with the effect of confusing and confounding an already
feeble system of governance. The opaque profit-seeking of the King conflicts
with the purported aspiration to good governance of telecommunications
markets and the interests of his subjects. In a constitutional monarchy,
arrangements can be made to keep the investments of a monarch separate
from politics, allowing for transparency, accountability to parliament and the
avoidance of interference with governance (e.g., Japan and the Netherlands).
‘A feudal monarchy knows no such distinction, there are no conflicts
of interest for ministers, regulators and directors – they obey their king. It
echoes the problems of Morocco, where its king has private interests in

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telecommunications, has ministers sit on the supervisory board of the state-


owned operator, and he appoints the regulator and is head of the judiciary.’
See also
DOES PM HAVE A FORTUNE FROM MTN?
KING LIVES LAVISHLY ON FIRMS’ DIVIDENDS

True life of Swazi Prime Minister


6 February 2018
Swaziland’s unelected Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has published the
first volume of his autobiography. It runs for 500 pages and more books are
promised.
Unsurprisingly newspapers such as the Swazi Observer which is in
effect owned by King Mswati III, the absolute monarch who appointed
Dlamini to office with the order to attack democrats who wanted political
parties to be able to contest elections, was full of praise for the book.
The Observer on Saturday (3 February 2018) reported, ‘Dlamini
disclosed during the launch of his book that he was inspired to write the book
by the absence of a significant number of similar accounts by prominent
public figures in Swaziland.’
Dlamini who is a very sick man turned 75 in May 2017. Informed
readers (that is those who don’t rely solely on the censored and self-censoring
news media in Swaziland) will not bother to buy the book which retails at
E300 (US$25). Most people in Swaziland where seven in ten of the 1.3
million population have incomes of less than US$2 per day would not be able
to afford it even if they wanted to buy.
It is not worth buying the book because it is a dishonest account of
Dlamini’s life. The book fails to remind readers that Dlamini has been
involved in a questionable business deal that netted him millions of

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emalangeni. He was also involved in a dubious land deal and was only saved
from a formal inquiry by the personal intervention of the King.
Barnabas Dlamini was also humiliated on the world stage in 2010
when he accepted an international award for his ‘humanitarian work’ from a
known con-man.
And, he has a record as an anti-democrat who has advocated that his
opponents be tortured.
In 2015, the Times Sunday reported (10 May 2015) that Fusini
Investments (Proprietary) Limited, directed by the Prime Minister and two
others, bought land for E93,120 from government in 2005, which by then had
generated a profit of E7.4 million (US$740,000 at the then exchange rate): a
profit of more than 800 percent.
The PM’s company sold the land to the Public Service Pension Fund
(PSPF), a public organisation that was established in 1993 for the
management and administration of pensions for government (public sector)
employees.
Prime Minister Dlamini has a history of involvement in questionable
land deals. In 2011, he and others escaped scrutiny on land deals after the
direct intervention of King Mswati.
They had bought Swazi nation land for themselves at what a select
committee report later called ‘ridiculously cheap’ prices and ‘tantamount to
theft of State property’.
In late December 2010 it was revealed that Dlamini, his deputy, and
four cabinet ministers were at the centre of a land purchase scandal.
Dlamini, who constantly claims he wants to stamp out corruption in
the kingdom, was allowed to buy government-controlled land at half price,
netting himself a E304,000 (US$43,000 at the then exchange rate) saving.
Themba Masuku, the then Deputy PM and four ministers each received

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discounts of between 30 and 50 percent on their purchases. None of these


people were elected to the Swazi Parliament – all were appointed by the King.
The politicians were allowed to purchase the so-called ‘crown land’
(which is owned by the King on behalf of the Swazi nation) in the Swazi
capital Mbabane without having to compete with other would-be buyers.
They were given the land at below market value, in effect cheating the Swazi
people out of the money.
Two of the ministers who took advantage of this scam were members
of the Swazi Royal Family, which is headed by King Mswati, sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The ministers involved were Minister of Natural Resources and
Energy, Princess Tsandzile; Minister of Economic Planning and
Development, Prince Hlangusemphi; Minister of Home Affairs, Chief
Mgwagwa Gamedze; and the Minister of Agriculture, Clement Dlamini.
The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily
newspaper, reported at the time that the Prime Minister made the biggest
killing. He was allocated ‘a portion of land measuring 6,084 square metres.
He paid E304,000 for the land after it was discounted from the initial price of
E608,000. Effectively, he was granted a 50 percent discount.’
In total the land was sold at about E1 million less than it was worth,
the Times estimated.
Former government ministers also benefited from the land purchase
scandal. They included two members of the Swazi Royal Family. Prince
David received a 50 percent discount on land worth E97,000 allocated to him.
Prince Mbilini also received land, but the exact details of his windfall were
not known, the Times reported.
It was believed that at least nine former ministers were also given land
at discounted prices.

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It later emerged that the Swazi Cabinet, which was hand-picked by the
King, approved the land purchase. This, in effect, meant they approved a plan
that allowed themselves to save hundreds of thousands of emalangeni on the
land scam.
It was later revealed that the Prime Minister and the others were not
eligible for discounts on the land because such discounts were only available
to poor people. In Swaziland seven in ten people have incomes of less than
US$2 per day.
Prince Guduza, Speaker of the Swaziland House of Assembly, rebuked
Barnabas Dlamini, the Prime Minister, for ‘interference of the highest order’,
after the Swazi Parliament decided to set up a seven-member select
committee to investigate the land deals and he called MPs in to see him ‘one-
by-one’ to try to get them on his side.
The whole land deal scandal reached a climax in May 2011 when
Dlamini took Prince Guduza, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, to court
to stop a debate about the PM’s irregular land deals taking place.
He succeeded in getting a High Court order to stop parliament
debating the land issue and publication of a select committee report into the
affair. The House of Assembly ignored the court and debated anyway.
The select committee report described the conduct of Lindiwe
Dlamini, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, in the deals as corrupt
and treasonous.
The report stated that the authority for land deals was
unconstitutionally taken away from the King’s Office, by Lindiwe Dlamini.
‘The act of the minister was not only unconstitutional but also seriously
undermined the authority and sovereignty of the office of the Ingwenyama
[the King] and was therefore treasonous,’ the report stated.
The report made more than 20 findings, including:

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That the Minister for Housing and Urban Development [Lindiwe


Dlamini] acted unconstitutionally and with total disregard of the Crown
Land Disposal regulations of 2003, which were promulgated in line with the
provisions of the Crown Land Disposal Act of 1911.
That the cabinet ministers concerned used their positions to gain unfair
advantage over other Swazis who had applied for the land many years ago,
by-passing the Crown Land Disposal Committee in the process.
The Prime Minister and the Minister for Natural Resources and
Energy [Princess Tsandzile] bought the land at ridiculously low prices. The
most disturbing aspect is that the Prime Minister was awarded the certificate
to develop his portion and designs approved without having paid for the plot
and records show that he only did so on February, 22 2011, long after the
Select Committee was appointed.
That the current administration has no respect for the constitution, as
there are many laws that deal with land issues and until now they have not
been aligned with the constitution.
That the Attorney General was never consulted on this land deal.
That the allocation of land to ministers through a cabinet decision was
unlawful and it smacks of an element of personal aggrandisement since such
action is not supported by any legal instrument. Receiving a housing
allowance on the one hand and on the other hand apportioning crown land
to oneself, is tantamount to theft of State property.
That, as a custodian of State assets and property, by virtue of its
position in government, cabinet had no legal right to take a collective
decision on the allocation of land to ministers, even worse, that in the process
it violated the Constitution, 2005.

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In June 2011, King Mswati confirmed his status as an absolute


monarch when he ordered the House of Assembly and the Senate to stop
discussing the land scandal. He said he would decide what would happen to
the land.
The King’s decision to intervene was kept private and the media were
excluded from a joint meeting of the House of Assembly and Senate at which
the King’s dictate was given.
Dlamini then instructed the media in Swaziland to stop discussing the
land deal. He said, ‘His Majesty said the issue should be put to rest. It means
the matter has been concluded because the King’s word is a command and
the law. I take it that it is over and I hope journalists will take it as having
been concluded. There is no need for journalists to keep bringing this matter
up and spicing it. It has to be taken out of the news,’
Parliament was informed by both its presiding officers (Speaker Prince
Guduza and Senate President Gelane Zwane) that the King had ordered the
PM to withdraw his court action regarding the land issue and that the land in
question would be returned to government ownership.

Dlamini is a human rights’ abuser


Dlamini has a poor human rights record going back more than a
decade, but he is known to be close to King Mswati. In October 2012, the
House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in Dlamini and his
government and according to the Swaziland Constitution the King was
obliged (he had no discretion in the matter) to sack the PM and government.
King Mswati did not do so and instead put pressure on the House of
Assembly to reverse its vote.
Dlamini has been appointed four times by the King to be PM of
Swaziland. His record shows him as a hard man with little regard for human

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rights. He supports the King in his desire to stop all dissent and brand
oppositions as ‘terrorists’.
When introducing Dlamini as the PM in 2008, King Mwsati told him
publicly to get the terrorists and all who supported them. Dlamini set about
his task with zeal. He banned four prodemocracy organisations.
His Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini told Swazis affiliated
with the political formations to resign with immediate effect or feel the full
force of the law. Under the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA), enacted the
same year Dlamini came to power, members and supporters of these groups
could face up to 25 years in jail.
Under the draconian provisions of the STA, anyone who disagrees with
the ruling elite faces being branded a terrorist supporter.
The Attorney General stressed that the government was after
supporters of the banned organisations. Supporting an organisation, he said,
‘includes associating with such banned formations or aiding materialistic
through provision of commodities such as food and weapons.’
This happened at a time when the call for democracy in Swaziland was
being heard loudly both inside the kingdom and in the international
community.
The Dlamini-led Government clamped down on dissent. In 2011,
Amnesty International reported the ill-treatment, house searches and
surveillance of communications and meetings of civil society and political
activists. Armed police conducted raids and prolonged searches in the homes
of dozens of high profile human rights defenders, trade unionists and political
activists while investigating a spate of petrol bombings. Some of the searches,
particularly of political activists, were done without search warrants.
In 2010, Dlamini publicly threatened to use torture against dissidents
and foreigners who campaigned for democracy in his kingdom. He said the

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use of ‘bastinado’, the flogging of the bare soles of the feet, was his preferred
method.
Dlamini told the Times of Swaziland newspaper he wanted, ‘to punish
dissidents and foreigners who come to the country and disturb the peace’.
But Dlamini’s abuse of human rights did not start with his appointment
in 2008. He was a former PM and held office for seven and a half years until
2003. While in office he gained a reputation as someone who ignored the rule
of law.
In 2003, he refused to recognise two court judgements that challenged
the king’s right to rule by decree. This led to the resignation of all six judges
in the Appeal Court. The court had ruled that the king had no constitutional
mandate to override parliament by issuing his own decrees.
In a report running for more than 50,000 words, Amnesty International
looked back to the years 2002 and 2003 and identified activities of Dlamini
that, ‘included the repeated ignoring of court rulings, interference in court
proceedings, intimidating judicial officers, manipulating terms and
conditions of employment to undermine the independence of the judiciary,
the effective replacement of the Judicial Services Commission with an
unaccountable and secretive body (officially known as the Special
Committee on Justice but popularly called the Thursday Committee), and the
harassment of individuals whose rights had been upheld by the courts.’

Barnabas Dlamini falls for Humanitarian Award con-trick


In October 2010, Barnabas Dlamini travelled to the Bahamas to receive
an international award for his ‘humanitarian’ work, even though it had been
revealed to be a con-trick.
He received a medal from a known con-artist called Rudy King. At the
centre of the scandal was an organisation called World Citizen Awards

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(WCA) headed by King. The Swazi Government had put out a press release
saying WCA was to honour Dlamini for the work he was doing for human
rights.
The Swazi Media Commentary (SMC) website went to the Internet and
found the website for WCA. On there was a list of trustees who were said to
be the backbone of the organisation. Each person listed had a reputation as
advocates for human rights and it seemed odd that they would vote to give
Dlamini a medal.
SMC emailed each of the trustees and within hours received a reply
from one of them that said he was the victim of a hoax. It turned out that none
of the trustees had ever heard of WCA and certainly were not supporters.
The Associated Press (AP) news agency took up the story and realised
that the WCA was a sham organisation consisting only of a website and an
accommodation address.
Once the AP story hit the Internet, journalists in the Bahamas who
knew Rudy King of old ran reports about his background as a con artist.
But Barnabas Dlamini still flew at Swazi taxpayers’ expense across the
world to collect his medal.
Later, he defended accepting the award by saying Rudy King was
respected in Swaziland and had been ‘in and out of the country since the
century began’.
He told a news conference that the media ‘had sung his praises’ when
he wanted to open an office in Swaziland.
Dlamini also said King had previously awarded his medal to other
Swazi luminaries.
He said, ‘In 2005 he gave an award to a prince (David), gave a medal
to Prince Guduza in 2007 and to the prime minister in 2008, so what is the

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difference now in 2010? His history in Swaziland is rich. This is the fourth
medal he has presented to Swazis but now the focus is on 2010.’

Richard Rooney

See also
SWAZILAND PM IN LAND SALE SCANDAL
SWAZI PM UNDER THE COSH
SWAZI PM ‘FACES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE’

12 POLITICAL PARTIES

Court fight to un-ban parties


20 February 2018
Political parties in Swaziland are to go to court to force King Mswati III’s
regime to allow them freedom of assembly and to take part in the national
election due later in 2018.
King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch. At present political parties advocating democracy in the kingdom
are banned as terrorists. The Swazi Constitution does not allow any political
parties to contest elections.
The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO); the
Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) and the Ngwane National
Liberatory Congress (NNLC) have joined forces to take the government to
court.

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A national election is due at a date to be set by the King but under the
kingdom’s constitution only individuals are allowed to be candidates.
Swaziland’s previous election in 2013 was considered ‘not free and
fair’ by a number of international organisations, including the
Commonwealth Observer Mission and African Union which called separately
for a review of the kingdom’s constitution. It said members of parliament
‘continue to have severely limited powers’ and political parties were banned.
In 2008, the EU declined an invitation to observe the honesty of the
Swaziland elections because of ‘shortcomings’ in the kingdom’s democracy.
In 2013, the EU which is a major donor of aid to Swaziland told King
Mswati he must allow political parties to operate in his kingdom as it was
important that international principles of democracy were upheld in
Swaziland.
In October 2012, the United Kingdom also called for political parties
to be un-banned in Swaziland.
In 2015 an independent survey showed more than one in three Swazi
people wanted political parties to be allowed in the kingdom. This was even
though all debate on democratising the kingdom is ruthlessly crushed by
King Mswati’s state police and security forces. Meetings called to discuss
democratic change are routinely disrupted by police and prodemocracy
activists are jailed. No news media in Swaziland support political parties.
Afrobarometer reported that in Swaziland 36 percent of people
questioned agreed with the statement, ‘The Swazi Constitution should be
amended to allow for the existence of political parties in our country.’ A total
of 58 percent agreed with the statement, ‘The constitutional ban on political
parties has served our country well and should therefore be maintained.’
More than six people in ten people said they were not satisfied with the way
democracy worked in the kingdom.

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In a 2013 survey Afrobarometer reported two thirds of Swazi people


wanted the kingdom to become a democracy and they wanted to choose their
own leaders ‘through honest and open elections’.
See also
SWAZILAND POLITICAL PARTIES: THE FACTS
THE CASE FOR POLITICAL PARTIES
SWAZIS WANT DEMOCRACY - SURVEY
EU TELLS KING: ‘FREE PARTIES’
UK CALLS FOR PARTIES TO BE UN-BANNED

U.S. Ambassador supports parties


26 February 2018
The United States Ambassador to Swaziland Lisa Peterson has spoken out in
support of banned political parties in the kingdom where King Mswati III
rules as an absolute monarch.
Parties are not allowed to contest for elections and people and groups
that advocate for democratic reform are prosecuted under the Suppression of
Terrorism Act.
International organisations such as the European Union and
Commonwealth routinely declare that Swaziland’s elections are not free and
fair because parties are banned from taking part. After the last election in
2013, the Commonwealth Observer Mission and African Union separately
called for a review of the kingdom’s constitution to un-ban parties.
The King chooses the Prime Minister and top government ministers.
Peterson spoke at a meeting of editors on Friday (23 February 2018).
She said polling suggested that people in Swaziland did not support political
parties. She said, ‘For me that speaks to people not seeing what a political

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party can do for them. You need to build understanding and policy of
advocacy at the grass root level so that you can get a number of people
thinking in a similar manner.’
She said political entities that supported parties in Swaziland needed
to work on the ground to change people’s minds about the value of political
parties. ‘Each party or grouping needs to go about it in the way that works
best,’ she said.
She added, ‘That plays a part in getting every average Swazi to
understand why a political parties might be useful.’
Three political parties have already announced their intention to seek
a court ruling to un-ban parties ahead of the election due some time in late
2018. They are the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO); the
Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) and the Ngwane National
Liberatory Congress (NNLC).

U.S. Ambassador encourages parties


13 March 2018
Democracy advocates in Swaziland should put forward policies that would
attract people to support political parties, the US Ambassador to the kingdom
said.
Explaining why political parties were needed was not enough, Lisa
Peterson told a meeting on multiparty democracy, good governance and
human rights at the Happy Valley Hotel, Ezulwini, on Saturday (10 March
2018).
Peterson said a poll conducted in 2015 by Afrobarometer had
suggested about 36 percent of those questioned supported political parties in
Swaziland.

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King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute


monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the
King chooses the Prime Minister and senior ministers. Advocates for
democracy continue to be arrested under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Peterson said many people in Swaziland did not support political


parties, ‘in part because they lack experience with what parties can
accomplish and how advocacy can succeed.
‘In addition to the various efforts the parties have underway, they need
to be paying particular attention to this part of the equation. Because if a
person living in a small village does not understand how a party can help him
approach local leaders on an issue such as youth unemployment, the answer
to that poll question is going to continue to go against the multiparty option.
‘You also should not fall into the trap of thinking that simply
explaining to people why parties are important, or holding a march to rally
public opinion, will move the needle more in your direction.
‘People need to experience policy advocacy in order to appreciate the
advantages of a coalition. Otherwise, they will carry on doing things the way
they always have, perhaps believing that no action can really make a
difference.
‘People have a tendency to want to stay with something they know,
even if it’s not working well, because they fear that a change will bring
something worse. This is as true in the United States as it is here. But if you
show them how advocacy is done, if you highlight for them their civic
potential, you will have made an incredible investment in the country’s
future. And through this investment, attitudes toward the multiparty question
are sure to improve.’

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Swaziland faces an election in 2018. Swaziland’s most recent election


in 2013 was considered ‘not free and fair’ by a number of international
organisations, including the Commonwealth Observer Mission and African
Union which called separately for a review of the kingdom’s constitution to
allow political parties to compete.
In 2008, the European Union declined an invitation to observe the
honesty of the Swaziland elections because of ‘shortcomings’ in the
kingdom’s democracy.
In 2013, the EU which is a major donor of aid to Swaziland told King
Mswati he must allow political parties to operate in his kingdom as it was
important that international principles of democracy were upheld in
Swaziland.
In October 2012, the United Kingdom also called for political parties
to be un-banned in Swaziland.
Three political parties have already announced their intention to seek
a court ruling to un-ban parties ahead of the next election. They are the
People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO); the Swaziland
Democratic Party (SWADEPA) and the Ngwane National Liberatory
Congress (NNLC) have joined forces to take the government to court.

13 HEALTH

Swazi hospitals ‘run out of vaccines’


4 January 2018

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Health facilities in Swaziland have reportedly run out of vaccines against


polio and tuberculosis in the latest in a long-running shortage of medicines in
the kingdom, due to non-payment of bills by the government.
New-born babies have been put at risk, according to a media report.
The Observer on Saturday reported (30 October 2017) the crisis
surfaced in September 2017 when some health facilities ran out of the drugs.
The newspaper said now Swaziland’s busiest hospital the Raleigh Fitkin
Memorial in Manzini had been without the vaccines for the whole of
December.
The shortage of medicines is rife in Swaziland where King Mswati III
rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The Swazi Government
that is not elected but hand-picked by the King has failed to pay bills of drug
suppliers.
The Government continues to maintain there is no shortage, but reports
on the ground suggest otherwise.
In June 2017, Senator Prince Kekela told parliament that at least five
people had died as a result of the drug shortages. About US$18 million was
reportedly owed to drug companies in May 2017.
As ordinary people died the Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini revealed
that King Mswati and his mother paid for him to travel to Taiwan for his own
medical treatment. Dlamini was not elected PM by the people of Swaziland.
He was personally appointed by the King, as were all other government
ministers and top judges in the kingdom. None of Swaziland’s senators are
elected by the people.
Dlamini celebrated his 75th birthday in 2017. The Swazi Observer, a
newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported (5 June 2017), ‘The
Prime Minister said he was grateful that when Their Majesties were informed

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about his ailment in April, they responded hastily and ordered that he be taken
to the best doctors in Taiwan, Taipei.
‘“Their Majesties gave orders that I go to the best and well experienced
doctors in Taiwan. I am now looking forward to turning 76 years and I thank
God for keeping me safe,” he said.’
The nature of his illness has not been publicly revealed.
King Mswati lives a lavish lifestyle with at least 13 palaces, a private
jet aircraft with another due to arrive in 2018, and fleets of top-of-the-range
BMW and Mercedes cars. Meanwhile seven in ten of his 1.2 million subjects
live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.
See also
MEDICINE SHORTAGE: FIVE DIE
DRUG SHORTAGE CRISIS DEEPENS
SWAZI GOVT ‘KILLING ITS OWN PEOPLE’
HEALTH CRISIS: BLOOD SUPPLIES DRY UP

Health crisis: blood supplies dry up


31 January 2018
Swaziland’s blood shortage crisis is continuing. It is one of a number of crises
afflicting health in the kingdom.
The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (30 January 2018) that blood
stocks fell during December 2017 because donors were typically children
who gave donations through their schools.
It reported a family of a man suffering from bone marrow deficiency
who feared he might die due to the blood shortage.
Deputy Director of Health Dr Velephi Okello confirmed to the
newspaper that there was a shortage. The Observer reported her saying, ‘Our

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donors are mainly school going children hence when schools close there are
fewer donations coming in which resulted in the shortage.
‘Also, during the December holidays, there is a high demand for blood
at the exact same time when the donors are not easily accessible.’
She added, ‘We will start our campaigns now that the schools have
opened and we hope soon the shortage will be a thing of the past.’
The blood shortage crisis has been going on since at least June 2017.
At that time the Ministry of Health turned to inmates in correctional facilities
for blood but the news agency APA reported some people were against this
‘as they said it was against certain standards’.
Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch, has been gripped by a health crisis for a number of
years. Much of it has been caused by the government’s failure to pay drugs’
suppliers.
Early in January 2018 health facilities were reported to have run out of
vaccines against polio and tuberculosis and new-born babies were being put
a risk.
In June 2017, Senator Prince Kekela told parliament that at least five
people had died as a result of the drug shortages. About US$18 million was
reportedly owed to drug companies in May 2017.
As ordinary people died the Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini revealed
that King Mswati and his mother paid for him to travel to Taiwan for his own
medical treatment. Dlamini was not elected PM by the people of Swaziland.
He was personally appointed by the King, as were all other government
ministers and top judges in the kingdom. None of Swaziland’s senators are
elected by the people.
Dlamini celebrated his 75th birthday in 2017. The Swazi Observer, a
newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported (5 June 2017), ‘The

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Prime Minister said he was grateful that when Their Majesties were informed
about his ailment in April, they responded hastily and ordered that he be taken
to the best doctors in Taiwan, Taipei.
‘“Their Majesties gave orders that I go to the best and well experienced
doctors in Taiwan. I am now looking forward to turning 76 years and I thank
God for keeping me safe,” he said.’
The nature of his illness has not been publicly revealed.
King Mswati lives a lavish lifestyle with at least 13 palaces, a private
jet aircraft with another due to arrive in 2018, and fleets of top-of-the-range
BMW and Mercedes cars. Meanwhile seven in ten of his 1.2 million subjects
live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.

Swazi doctors suspend strike


3 February 2018
Doctors, nurses and other health workers in Swaziland have suspended strike
action after winning a court order against the government.
They are protesting a new circular that slashed their stand-by and on-
call allowances. On Wednesday (1 February 2018) the Swazi Industrial Court
suspended the order. It will return to court on 9 February.
The circular ended standby allowances and standardised on-call
allowances. Health workers said they had not been consulted on the changes.
Government said the new order would save E50 million a year (US$4.2
million) from the health budget.
Health workers had decided not to undertake on-call duties. This
decision was suspended following the Industrial Court decision.

Swazi health workers back in court


11 February 2018

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Doctors, nurses and health workers in Swaziland have forced the government
to reconsider a decision to cut their on-call allowances. They had threatened
a boycott.
The Swaziland Nurses Association had approached the Industrial
Court on urgent basis. The A lawyer for the Swazi Government told the court
on Friday (9 February 2018) it would negotiate on the matter. The case will
resume in court on 9 April 2018.
The government had issued a circular that cut on-call allowances to
save E50 million (US$4.2 million) a year from the health budget. Health
professions were not consulted before the announcement.

Doctors’ on-call row back at ministry


18 February 2018
Swaziland’s Industrial Court has told the government to negotiate with
doctors and health workers in a dispute over cuts in on-call and call-out
allowances.
The Court dismissed an application from the doctors and health
workers to strike down a directive from government that would cut incomes
by up to 50 percent.
Industrial Court Judge Abande Dlamini referred the matter to the
Ministry of Labour and Social Security. Should the matter not be resolved
there it will be returned to court, the Swazi Observer reported on Friday (16
February 2017).
The court action came after doctors and health workers threatened to
boycott on-call and call-outs.

14 MEDIA

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Journalists ‘scared to do their jobs’


7 January 2018
Journalists in Swaziland cannot do their jobs properly because they fear
people in authority, a leading media academic in the kingdom said.
Dr Maxwell Mthembu from the University of Swaziland said
journalists were scared to report matters affecting the public and to hold
government accountable; especially on decisions involving reckless spending
and poor investments of the public funds, the Sunday Observer newspaper
reported (17 December 2017).
Mthembu was speaking at a workshop hosted by World Vision.
The newspaper reported Mthembu said, journalists’ and editors’ worst
enemy was fear of those in authority, and fear of the unknown. He said this
resulted in the media failing to execute their watchdog role, and being a voice
of the voiceless in society.
He told the audience of journalists, ‘We fear the unknown, we fear
those in authority; whatever challenges we face in society are there because
you who have been entrusted with the responsibility of being the voice of the
voiceless fear writing stories on things that affects the public.’
Media freedom is constantly under attack and censorship is rife in
Swaziland where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch.
There are only two daily newspapers in Swaziland and one – the Swazi
Observer – is in effect owned by the King. The state controls nearly all
broadcasting.
The law is used to attack freedom of speech. Thulani Maseko, a long-
time campaigner for human rights, was jailed for two years along with Nation

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Magazine editor Bheki Makhubu in July 2014 for writing articles critical of
the Swazi judiciary.
In 2015, Lawyers for Human Rights (Swaziland) and CIVICUS, an
international human rights group, in a submission to the United Nations
jointly called for media freedom in the kingdom to be respected and for more
independent newspapers and media houses to be allowed to operate.
The report listed a number of media freedom violations in Swaziland.
It said the Swazi Government, which is not elected but appointed by the King,
‘strictly controls freedom of expression and the media’.
They added, ‘Reporting on royal and political matters is severely
restricted. Further, regular threats emanating from senior government
officials and the royal family to journalists also lead to government
censorship and self-censorship by the media further curtailing democratic
freedoms’.
The report detailed a number of media freedom violations.
It stated, ‘On 28 April 2014, Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi
threatened the Managing Editor of the Swazi Observer, Mbongeni Mbingo
over reports on court proceedings in the case involving the editor of Nation
magazine Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko.
‘In the 30 March 2014 edition of the newspaper, Mbongeni expressed
concerns that Bheki and Thulani were in jail even though the prosecuting
team had not concluded its investigations. The Chief Justice ordered
Mbongeni to stop reporting on the case and warned that he would be
subjected to the same fate as the accused.’
On 17 April 2013, Bheki Makhubu, was found guilty of contempt of
court for ‘scurrilous abuse of the Chief Justice’ based on articles he wrote in
November 2009 and February 2010 in which he criticised Swazi Chief Justice
Michael Ramodibedi. On 30 May 2014, he won an appeal with the Supreme

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Court and the sentence was reduced to three months fully suspended on
condition that he is not convicted of any offence of scandalising the court for
a period of three years.
The joint report added, ‘On 15 January 2014, the government-
controlled Swazi Observer newspaper suspended its editor Thulani Thwala
and weekend editor Alec Lushaba after they were accused of failing to adhere
to the mandate of the newspaper by publishing negative news stories about
the King.
‘The journalists were accused of failing to heed several warnings not
to publish damaging reports about the King. Prior to the suspension, they
published reports indicating that the Swazi government had solicited a
financial bailout from South Africa. Eight months after their suspension, the
Board of Directors of the Swazi Observer Newspaper Group reinstated them.
‘The Swazi Observer newspaper is controlled by the Tibiyo Taka
Ngwane conglomerate, which is owned by the King. News items published
are highly censored.’
Younger people reportedly are bypassing censored media. In 2014, a
report jointly published by the Media Institute of Southern Africa and the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
found young people in Swaziland were turning to social media sites such as
Facebook because it allowed them to enjoy ‘the fundamental rights to
freedom of expression’ that was denied to them elsewhere in the kingdom.
See also
GOVT HAS TOTAL CONTROL OF TV NEWS
NO LET UP ON SWAZI MEDIA CENSORSHIP
INCREASE IN SUPPORT FOR FREE PRESS
JOURNALISTS JAILED TO DETER OTHERS

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US BACKS CONVICTED SWAZI JOURNALISTS


JUDGE RESTRICTS PRESS FREEDOM

Swazi King’s henchmen threaten to kill editor


Kenworthy News Media, 6 January 2018
Swazi editor Zweli Martin Dlamini has fled to neighbouring South Africa
after he received death threats. He had written a story about absolute monarch
King Mswati III’s shady dealings in the telecommunications industry, writes
Kenworthy News Media.
Last June, editor of independent business newspaper Swaziland
Shopping Zweli Martin Dlamini wrote and published a story about new
telecommunications company Swazi Mobile, owned by King Mswati III and
run by local businessman Victor Gamedze.
The punchline of the story was that the pair had forced Swaziland’s
government to side-line rival government parastatal company SPTC from
competing with Swazi Mobile – a new company that they and other high
ranking officials, including the Prime Minister, owns shares in.
In 2012, SPTC had been ordered to switch of its fixed phones
(landlines) and data components to make way for South African phone
company MTC, which Mswati and the Prime Minister also had shares in.

Death threats
“Shortly after publishing the story, I received a threatening call from
Gamedze that lasted for twenty minutes where he vowed to ‘deal with me’.
Later Communications Minister Dumsani Ndlangamandla summoned me to
a meeting and told me that the King was not happy with the story and had
ordered that the newspaper should be closed,” Dlamini says.

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After Swaziland Shopping was closed, Dlamini says he learnt that the
police had a warrant for his arrest and that he would be poisoned in prison. A
close ally of Victor Gamedze also told Dlamini that the businessman wanted
him dead because he had revealed secrets about Swazi Mobile.
Dlamini says he subsequently fled to South Africa because he feared
for his life.
And Swaziland’s police forces certainly do have a record of torturing
– and occasionally murdering – those who challenge the King’s rule, as
documented by Amnesty International and other human rights organisations.

No media freedom
The Swazi government have claimed that Swaziland Shopping was
closed because it was not properly registered under the colonial-era Books
and Newspapers Act of 1963, even though the newspaper has been published
since 2014. The police also refuted that Dlamini was on the police “wanted
list.”
Swaziland is however renowned for its government fabricating stories
and its lack of media freedom, especially in regard to stories about King
Mswati and his family and friends.
Swaziland is ranked 152th in Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 World
Press Freedom Index. There is “no media freedom,” the NGO says.
According to a 2014 report by African Media Barometer, journalists in
Swaziland “face routine intimidation by the state.”
In 2007, King Mswati ordered the Times Sunday to print an apology
and sack those responsible for a critical story about him, or he would close
down the paper. In 2009, the editor of the Swazi Observer, owned by the king,
nearly lost his job for writing about the King’s luxury cars. And in 2014 the

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Times on Sunday editor was summoned by the King and told that stories
relating to his property did not belong in the newspaper.
Victor Gamedze has also been known to threaten journalists who
publish critical stories about his business dealings. In 2016, he allegedly
assaulted a journalist from the Swazi Observer and ordered another fired
because they wrote unfavourable stories about him and his football team.
International community must act
“In Swaziland, the media is being held hostage and been turned into
spies for the state,” Zweli Martin Dlamini says. “For the calls for democracy
to intensify, the media must be liberated so that the international community
can know what is happening in Swaziland.”
Secretary General of the Media Workers Union of Swaziland, Sicelo
Vilane, insists that the charges against Dlamini are fabricated and should be
dropped, and that the international community must act against the lack of
freedom of speech in Swaziland.
“No-one is allowed to report freely and Swaziland is one of the major
violators of media workers’ rights, freedom of speech and -expression. Why
are they not questioning the action of Mswati’s government?,” Vilane says.
See also
SWAZI GOVERNMENT FORCES NEWSPAPER TO CLOSE

Gamedze ‘bought newspaper editors’


30 January 2018
Newspaper editors in Swaziland were on the payroll of murdered
businessman Victor Gamedze, Zweli Martin Dlamini the exiled editor of
Swaziland Shopping has said.

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Dlamini fled to South Africa after a tip-off that he was to be arrested


because he had upset the powers in the kingdom where King Mswati III rules
as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
His newspaper has been closed down by the Swazi Government. The
reporting style of the Swaziland Shopper had also been criticised by the
Swaziland Editors’ Forum.
In an interview with South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper
published on Friday (26 January 2018), Dlamini said, ‘The editors’ forum
was captured by Victor Gamedze. Almost all the editors were on his payroll.
You know the Guptas in South Africa? It was like that. The reason they were
saying they are unhappy is that I was writing about somebody they regarded
as untouchable. So when I exposed the guy, he would go back to them to
complain.’
The Mail & Guardian reported, ‘The Swaziland Shopping published
its last edition in December. Dlamini never got to publish his last major
scoop: a sensational story detailing how Gamedze was plotting to assassinate
Mswati, which was distributed instead on social media. The story was long
on speculation but short on evidence and, just days after it was made public,
Dlamini was warned to get out of dodge.
‘A month after Dlamini fled the country, Gamedze was shot dead in
broad daylight, at a petrol station, where he had stopped to grab a cup of
coffee.
‘The murder rocked Swaziland’s political elite to its core. Gamedze
was no ordinary businessperson. His connections went all the way to the top,
to the king, and he used these to build himself a business empire. He ran the
controversial Swazi Mobile and presided over Mbabane Swallows,
Swaziland’s biggest football club. His wealth and his social status should
have made him untouchable, but also made him plenty of powerful enemies.’

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The Mail & Guardian reported that Gamedze was ‘especially


controversial’. It quoted one anonymous ‘senior editor’ saying, ‘Victor had
captured the media. He had a very low opinion of the media, believed it was
too powerful, and he wanted everyone to write what he said. He had the
ability to call and stop stories from being published.’
The Mail & Guardian reported, ‘One example: in 2014, Gamedze
assaulted Baphelele Kunene, a journalist with the Swazi Observer, in front of
the paper’s managing editor. Although Kunene reported the assault to the
police, they took no action. Another newspaper, which reported on the
assault, had its distribution of that edition disrupted.’
See also
KING’S ‘BUSINESS PARTNER’ ASSASSINATED

Court ‘attacks journalist ethics’


13 January 2018
Media freedom advocates in Swaziland have criticised the kingdom’s top law
officer for demanding a photojournalist give evidence for the police in a court
case.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) described the move by
the Director of Public Prosecutions as an attack on the journalism profession.
Photojournalist Simon Shabangu of the Swazi Observer is being forced
to give evidence on behalf of the police against two school teachers who are
charged with a public disorder offence during a protest march in Mbabane in
February 2016. Shabangu took photographs of the demonstration and the
newspaper published some of them.
Mbabane Magistrates Court has issued subpoena compelling Shabangu
to testify.

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Vuyisile Hlatjwayo, Director of MISA – Swaziland, said forcing


Shabangu to give evidence on pictures he took while in the line of duty would
compromise the ethics of the journalism profession.
On Thursday (11 January 2018) the Swazi Observer reported him
saying, ‘Not only that, members of the public would lose confidence in
journalists if the state would be allowed to call them at any time to give
evidence on activities undertaken while in the line of duty.
‘This also has the potential of setting journalists against the public
since people will no longer call the media to their events for the fear that they
(journalists) would in turn testify against them in court. This is a very bad
precedent we should all frown upon.’ he said.
The case continues in February 2018.

Warders physically attack journalist


13 February 2018
Swaziland prison warders attacked a journalist in a public street when he took
photographs of them travelling in the backs of overcrowded vehicles.
It happened near Kwaluseni. Swazi Observer photographer Lucky
Simelane was on his way to cover a job for the newspaper when he saw a
convoy of two vans and a truck of officers from His Majesty’s Correctional
Services.
The Swazi Observer reported on Wednesday (7 February 2018), ‘The
correctional services officers who were travelling in an overloaded truck and
two vans caught the attention of the public as they were packed like sardines
in the truck and vehicles.’
Simelane decided to take photographs.
The newspaper said, ‘While everyone was surprised as to why the two
cars had suddenly stopped in the middle of the road about 10 correctional

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officers from both cars sprang out asking why the journalist was taking
pictures.’
The officers started grabbing the camera from the journalist who was
still seated inside his car.
The Observer reported, ‘More officers came to the car which was
transporting the photojournalist and a reporter. Soon the road turned to a sea
of green as officers blocked the vehicle demanding that the photo journalist
hand over his camera.
‘Some officers went to the extent of trying to snatch the camera from
the journalist however the journalist held on to the camera as it was also
strapped around his neck making it hard for the officers to take it.’
The car with the journalists sped off.
His Majesty’s Correctional Services is one of three arms of state
security in Swaziland which is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch. The others are the Umbutfo Swaziland
Defence Force (USDF) and the Royal Swaziland Police Service (RSPS).
In 2013 a Swaziland police officer pointed a gun in the face of a
newspaper photographer to try to force him to destroy pictures he had taken
of police beating up a protestor. Walter Dlamini, of the Times Sunday, had
taken photos at Gege where police had broken up a peaceful protest march
by youth in the area. They were protesting against alleged irregularities at the
recent election.
The Times Sunday reported at the time, ‘Dlamini’s only sin was taking
pictures of some police officers who were mercilessly beating a protestor,
who was only identified by his name Brother next to a police vehicle. The
officer pointed a short gun at Dlamini’s face and demanded why he took
pictures of the officers who were at work.

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‘The intervention of his colleague Mduduzi Magagula saved the day


as the officer was informed to stop interfering with the work of journalists.
He left in a huff as the reporters told him that the pictures they had taken
would not be deleted.’
In an editorial comment, the paper’s companion title, the Times of
Swaziland, said, ‘The casual work-a-day savagery of these police officers and
their sense of entitlement to brutalising Swazi citizens with impunity goes a
long way to explaining why they would attack with teargas and batons what
was a peaceful protest march before their intervention; once again proving
the police are responsible for much of the violence that erupts during
protests.’
Police later apologised.

PM admits forcing newspaper closure


15 February 2018
Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has said a newspaper in the
kingdom was closed down because it published reports critical of his
government.
He told a Cabinet retreat at the Pigg’s peak Hotel, ‘As the government
we have seen people who are desperate to criticise us as their public servants
at every opportunity. In the past we saw a certain news editor write only on
government’s faults.’
The Swazi Observer reported his comments on Tuesday (13 February
2018). It said, ‘Dlamini said the editor in question would write volatile
articles published in a certain newspaper every Monday resulting in the
newspaper in question eventually being shut down for a period of time.’

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The newspaper said, ‘The PM said by writing such scathing articles,


the editor caused his newspaper to be shut down and this was unfortunate
because a lot of innocent people suffered for one man’s mistakes.’
It added, ‘Although he did not mention names the only newspaper that
was closed and later opened was the Swazi Observer. It was closed in 2000
during a time where Dr Dlamini was the PM.’
The PM’s comments come less than two months after the Swaziland
Shopping newspaper was forced to close by government. It said it had not
registered with Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology.
This happened even though the newspaper had been publishing since 2014.
It happened after the newspaper published a story about King Mswati III, the
absolute monarch in Swaziland, and his business dealings. Editor Zweli
Martin Dlamini fled to neighbouring South Africa after he received death
threats
The story of the Observer’s closure in 2000 is an example of how
media censorship in Swaziland works. The Observer was (and still is) owned
by a conglomerate called Tibiyo Taka Ngwane headed by King Mswati but
this did not stop it being closed.
It was closed after it published a series of stories critical of Prime
Minister Barnabas Dlamini the then Prime Minister and Edgar Hillary the
Police Commissioner.
Mandla Magagula, wrote in the Nation magazine, an independent
comment magazine in Swaziland, in April 2000, ‘The events which led to the
sudden closure of the Swazi Observer tell a tale of high drama which could
easily have come from a movie script. As the newspaper tried to live up to
the principles of good journalism, political figures came down on the editorial
team like the wrath of God and when they reached a deadlock closed it down.’

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According to Magagula, the main characters in the drama were the


Prime Minister, the Commissioner of Police, the managing director of Tibiyo
Taka Ngwane A. T. Dlamini; and the Attorney General, Phesheya Dlamini.
The problem for the Observer started when the newspaper’s managing
editor and his reporters refused to divulge the sources for stories the Observer
had published.
The first was when the newspaper carried a story about the bombings
of the Deputy Prime Minister’s office and the Mahlanya Inkhundla, saying
that police were poised for a breakthrough arrest. When the story appeared
the police commissioner claimed the Observer had interfered with a police
investigation.
The second was a report based on a letter written by Edgar Hillary who
was seeking the assistance of the South African Special Police Squad in the
investigation of a millionaire from Manzini, who was on the run in South
Africa.
The International Press Institute (IPI) at the time reported, ‘On the day
the article appeared, [the managing editor] was summoned to Hillary’s offices
where the journalist was once again reprimanded for the article and asked
again to reveal his source.
‘The following day, [the managing editor] was summoned yet again to
Hillary’s office for a meeting with Hillary and two other policemen. Speaking
to MISA-Swaziland, [the managing editor] said that the second meeting
amounted to a mini court session. He was called names such as a “bullying”
and “irresponsible” journalist and was warned not to write any “rubbish” that
could be published at a later date. He was also asked for the letter and for him
to reveal his source, which he declined to do. At the end of the meeting he
was warned that he could face criminal charges or face a High Court order
because of his actions and his refusal to disclose his source.

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‘[The managing editor] along with his news editor were summoned to
the offices of the Attorney General, where they were once again pressured to
give in to the demands of the police commissioner. The two were again asked
to hand over the letter in question.’
The third story was when the Observer called the Prime Minister ‘a
liar’ after he said he had left the Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister out of a
delegation to open the new embassy of the Republic of China because
government had no money. The Observer discovered that China had funded
the trip.
The fourth was a story about cow dung that involved the Speaker of
the House of Assembly.
The fifth was a story that an influential millionaire had plotted to have
the prime Minister sacked.
The Swazi High Court turned down an urgent appeal from the Attorney
General to force the newspaper to divulge its sources. Magagula reported that
the ‘Attorney General personally went to Observer House [the offices of the
Observer] and delivered the documents relating to the application with the
dire warning that the newspaper would either divulge its sources or [the
managing editor] and his two reporters would be locked up.’
A source told Magagula, ‘The Attorney General was all pomp and
majesty until [the managing editor] brought him back to earth with the
warning that this brazen harassment could attract unpleasant international
repercussions. The AG stormed out of the newspaper offices without another
word.’
After the police commissioner, Edgar Hillary had failed to get the
newspaper to disclose his sources, A. T. Dlamini, the managing director of
Tibiyo intervened on behalf of Hillary.

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According to Magagula, the role of A. T. Dlamini ‘is particularly


reprehensible because he showed himself to be a double-talker’. He had
previously encouraged staff at the Observer to report ‘without fear or favour
because he believed in editorial independence. But here he was harassing his
top editorial executive.’
When the journalists refused to divulge their sources, King Mswati III
was consulted and, according to Magagula, he was ‘seemingly persuaded that
the only way out of the quagmire was to close the newspaper’.
The IPI reported at the time, ‘The board of directors of the entire Swazi
Observer group of papers announced on 17 February that the paper was being
shut down. Chairman of the Board Timothy Nhleko called in the entire staff
and in a one-minute address announced that the paper was being closed
immediately and that everyone should vacate the premises.
‘In a written statement, the management said the closure was due to
restructuring and financial reorganisation. However, MISA sources said that
at a strategic planning meeting sponsored by the board and shareholders in
the previous week, a five-year plan had been drawn up for the paper.
According to the source, there was no indication of financial difficulties at
the paper. Reliable sources in Swaziland claim that the order to close the
newspaper came verbally from the King.’
See also
SWAZILAND POLICE RAID MAGAZINE
CLOSURE THREAT TO ‘TIMES’

Police go after TV licence dodgers


22 February 2018

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

A team of 26 police officers and 10 prosecutors in Swaziland is poised to


force people to buy licences to watch the heavily-censored state-controlled
television.
TV Licence Consortium Project Manager Modicai Donga said
inspections would be of residential and business premises. In Swaziland a
person with a television set or video recorder needs a licence by law.
There are only two television channels in Swaziland: one is
commercial; the other, Swazi TV is state-run. Satellite television bought by
subscription is also available in the kingdom where King Mswati III rules as
sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. People are required to have
licences even if they never watch Swazi TV.
Censorship at Swazi TV is so tight that every month the Swaziland
Government issues directives to the station about what events it should cover.
This was revealed in a report tabled at the Swaziland Parliament.
Bongani ‘Sgcokosiyancinca’ Dlamini, the Chief Executive of Swazi
TV said the instructions had been given to the TV 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
in 2015. It was investigating a 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 and that government’s calendar is sent
monthly by the press officer in Cabinet and it is normally updated in
between.’

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Dlamini also said there was a ban on MPs appearing on the news. He
said the ban had meant to stop MPs appearing on TV during the run-up to the
September 2013 national election. In Swaziland, political parties are banned
from taking part in elections and all candidates stand as individuals. The ban
was not lifted after the election.
Swazi TV is one of only two television stations in Swaziland. The other
station, Channel S is privately-owned, but has a stated editorial policy to
always support King Mswati.
Government also controls all radio in the kingdom (except one
Christian station that does not broadcast news) through the Swaziland
Broadcasting and Information Service (SBIS).
Censorship of radio and television in Swaziland is not new. 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.
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

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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 March 2011, SBIS stopped broadcasting the BBC World Service
Focus on Africa programme after it carried reports critical of King Mswati.
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.
He said, ‘It’s the station’s policy not to make announcements without
police permission.’
See also
TV CENSORS PUBLIC SERVANTS MARCH
BILL LETS KING CONTROL BROADCASTING

PM hints at social media restriction


31 March 2018
Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has hinted his government
might try to restrict access to social media.
He told Senators there was nothing police could do ‘at the moment’
about posts on sites such as Facebook. The Prime Minister and his
government have a long history of threatening social media.

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The Swazi Observer reported on Wednesday (28 March 2018), ‘The


premier told the senators that all countries in the world were concerned on
whether social media was good for development or not.’
He was speaking during a debate about how video footage showing the
murder of businessman Victor Gamedze who was shot dead in a petrol station
appeared on social media.
The newspaper reported, ‘The premier said it was unfortunate that
social media was a very complex phenomenon, which no single person or
organisation could control.’
It added, ‘However, the prime minister said there were many positives
of social media. It enables people to communicate easily at lower costs and it
also enables people to do business internationally. But he warned that abuse
of social media could lead to devastating effects.’
The Swazi Government has a history of hostility to social media. In
2011, Dlamini said it was important to keep information published on
Facebook away from the Swazi people. ‘If such stories from these websites
then make it to the newspapers and radios, then the public at large will start
to think there is some truth in the story yet it was just malicious gossip,’ the
Times of Swaziland reported him saying at the time.
He was commenting after information about a cabinet minister had
appeared on social media.
The Swazi Observer also reported at the time, ‘Dlamini said
government did not have any measures to control the internet but relied on
the support of the media which assists by shying away from information
published or sourced from the internet.’
In the run up to April 2011 a group used Facebook to try to drum up
support for an ‘uprising’ for democracy in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati

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III, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The Government


threatened the online activists with prosecution.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), in a statement in
March 2011 said, ‘On 25 March 2011, Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso
Dlamini assured Senators in Parliament that his government would track
down, arrest and prosecute one Gangadza Masilela, whose Facebook postings
have been critical of the status quo in Swaziland and the leadership in the
country. Masilela, who is believed to be using a pseudonym, has a large
following on his Facebook page. Parliament recently urged the government
to do something about Masilela as his Facebook postings were deemed too
critical of the country’s leadership.’
It added, ‘Having seen the uprisings in the Arab world where these
social networks have been used to mobilize people to rise up and demand
political changes from their governments, the jittery Swazi government is
taking no chances and is trying to track down those calling for the Swazi
uprising.’
In May 2011, the Times of Swaziland reported Swaziland had specially
‘trained officers’ to track down people who used Facebook to criticise the
Swazi Government. Nathaniel Mahluza, Principal Secretary at the Ministry
of Information Communication and Technology, said the government was
worried by what the newspaper called ‘unsavoury comments’ about the
kingdom being published on the internet.
In March 2012, Swaziland’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional
Affairs Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze said he would use the law against people
who criticised Swaziland on the internet. He told the Swazi Senate that he
would use what he called ‘international laws’ to bring the internet critics to
task. He was reacting to concerns from Senators that the internet sites showed
‘disrespect’ to the King.

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Academic research published in 2013 suggested that people in


Swaziland used the Internet to communicate with one another and share
information and ideas about the campaign for democracy, bypassing the
Swazi mainstream media which was heavily censored. They debated and
shared information about activities designed to bring attention to the human
rights abuses in the kingdom.
The research suggested, ‘It is clear that social media sites have
extended the public sphere to offer opportunities for a wider range of people
both in the country and outside it, to produce, distribute and exchange
information and commentary about the kingdom – especially in the context
of the need for political change. People speak in their own voices and are not
mediated in the way mainstream media are in Swaziland.’
In 2016, Afrobarometer reported nearly one in three people surveyed
in Swaziland said they got their news from the internet at least ‘a few times a
week’. It also reported that 33 percent of those surveyed got their news from
‘social media such as Facebook and Twitter’ a few times a week or every
day.
In 2014, a report jointly published by the Media Institute of Southern
Africa and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation (UNESCO) found young people in Swaziland were turning to
social media sites such as Facebook because it allowed them to enjoy ‘the
fundamental rights to freedom of expression’ that was denied to them
elsewhere in the kingdom.
They also bypassed mainstream media such as television, radio and
newspapers in favour of social media. The report called Youth Usage of
Social media in Swaziland concluded, ‘The young people have welcomed the
emergence of the social media because, among others, it affords them an
opportunity not only to inter-act but also enjoy the fundamental right to

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freedom of expression provided in Section 24 of the Constitution of the


Kingdom of Swaziland adopted in 2005.’
The report added, ‘They can now easily and freely bypass the severely
censored mainstream media to access, produce, distribute and exchange
information and ideas.
See also
ONE IN THREE USE INTERNET FOR NEWS
SWAZI PEOPLE SPEAK UP FOR THEMSELVES
GOVERNMENT THREATENS FACEBOOK CRITICS
SWAZI POLICE TRACK FACEBOOK USERS
FACEBOOK TELLS TRUTH MEDIA WON’T

15 POLICE

Police ‘brutally attack’ drinking den


3 January 2018
Police in Swaziland attacked people at an illegal drinking den with guns and
whips in what a local newspaper called, ‘the truest form of brutality’. It
happened in the Ezulwini area. The Observer on Saturday reported (23
December 2017) police attacked one well-known illegal shebeen arriving in
unmarked cars at about 10 pm. ‘Gunshots were heard with the sizeable
number of police officers literally going out of their way to assault the patrons
hitting them randomly with whips (tinsilane) and fists,’ it said.
It added, ‘Most patrons were forced to run helter-skelter into the thick
of night in a panic and in the process getting hurt by barbed wires on the
fence.’

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The newspaper reported that usually when police raided shebeens they
just confiscated the alcohol.
The Observer reported, ‘According to onlookers and victims who have
lived to tell the tale, the over 30 police officers who were armed to the teeth
with guns and whips, clad in their navy uniform that worked well for them in
the dark as they were not easily spotted until they pounced on their
unsuspecting prey, they just emerged from nowhere.’
The newspaper said similar raids had taken place across Swaziland.
Residents at a shebeen in Sidwashini said they had also been ordered to
surrender illegal immigrants.
In December 2017, it was reported that police intended to take ‘a robust
approach on any acts of criminality that may rear its ugly head during the
holidays’.
Police brutality is commonplace in Swaziland where King Mswati III
rues 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.

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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.’
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
SWAZI POLICE RAIDS AND ROAD BLOCKS
SWAZI POLICE NOW ‘A PRIVATE MILITIA’
SWAZILAND ‘BECOMING MILITARY STATE’
MORE POLICE TORTURE IN SWAZILAND

Policeman ‘sold fake driver licences’


6 January 2018
A police officer in Swaziland sold fake driving licences, a court in the
kingdom was told.

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A traffic cop in Manzini, Swaziland’s main commercial city, took


E2,500 (US$200) for a fake document.
Hloniphile Gule appeared before Mbabane Principal Magistrate Fikile
Nhlabatsi after having been charged with driving a car without a valid
licence.
The Swazi Observer reported (29 December 2017) that Gule told the
court that she obtained the document from a traffic police officer in Manzini
in 2003 after paying him E2,500 in cash. She said she did not know the
licence was a fake.
The newspaper reported her saying, ‘I started driving lessons in 2003
and after a few months, my driving instructor said I was now ready to get a
drivers licence. He took me and four others to the Manzini Police Station
where we met a traffic police officer. The officer instructed all four of us to
give him E2,500 each and wait outside the police station.’
She said the officer who was dressed in full police uniform gave
licences to all five of them.
Gule pleaded guilty to the offence and asked for leniency. She was
sentenced to one year imprisonment with a fine option of E2,000. The
sentence was suspended for one year on condition she was not found guilty
of a similar offence.
People in Swaziland believe corruption in the kingdom is rife, a survey
published in December 2017 found. 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 survey suggested that the perceived major causes of corruption
were poverty (58 percent), unemployment (54 percent) and greed (41
percent).

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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 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.’
See also
SWAZILAND ‘RIDDLED WITH CORRUPTION’
CORRUPTION IN SWAZI GOVERNMENT ‘RIFE’

Police shoot man, he ‘commits suicide’


14 January 2018

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Police in Swaziland say a murder suspect committed suicide by taking poison


after they shot him in the ankle while chasing him.
It happened in Makhungutja after local residents claimed that police
had not done enough to catch the alleged killer Bheki Dlamini.
The Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (11 January 2018) that
Dlamini had been on the run since 30 December 2017 following an incident
where he allegedly stabbed a woman to death at Malkerns.
The newspaper said that residents of Malkerns protested outside the
local police post, demanding that the police take the matter seriously since
the accused person was known to be in the area. The police raided the
homestead in Makhungutja at 5am on Tuesday where the suspect was
believed to be hiding.
The Observer reported the suspect saw the police vehicle approaching
and fled.
It added, ‘The police fired warning shots trying to stop the suspect. It
is alleged that the suspect didn’t stop.
‘Police are said to have then shot the accused in the ankle. however, it
is said even after he was shot the accused ran back to the homestead where
he was hiding and hid in one of the houses.
‘Seeing that he was cornered the accused is alleged to have taken
weevil tablets and ended his life.
‘It is believed that the accused had been carrying the weevil tablets
with him in his backpack.’
The newspaper said that the person who was living with the deceased
said he never saw any weevil tablets.
Police Information and Communication Officer Khulani Mamba
confirmed to the Observer that a suspect who was wanted for murder

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committed suicide by taking weevil tablets after he was shot in the ankle by
police during a raid at the homestead where he was hiding.
Police in Swaziland have a long history of shooting suspects in unusual
circumstances.
In August 2017 Siboniso Brian Mdluli, aged 22, who police wanted in
connection with armed robbery was reportedly killed at point blank range in
‘cowboy style.’ His family demanded an inquiry saying Mdluli was
assassinated by trigger happy police officers for no apparent reason.
In November 2015 police shot a man at close range after he overturned
rubbish bins and then ran away from them. The Times of Swaziland, reported
at the time that a 21-year-old man had been suspected of throwing rubbish in
the road and pelting vehicles with stones. The newspaper said, ‘he was shot
by police at close range after refusing to board their vehicle’.
A plain-clothed policeman shot an unarmed man in the back killing
him while on a public bus in February 2014. The man had allegedly stolen
some copper wire before boarding the bus, travelling from Siteki, in eastern
Swaziland to Manzini. The Times Sunday newspaper reported at the time the
driver of the bus Majahonke Zikalala said, ‘the man was attempting to force
his way out of the bus, the police officer shot him in the back, near the spine…
the man fell on the floor after which he was handcuffed while he bled’. He
died of his injures at the scene.
In March 2013, Swaziland police shot a man dead in front of his 11-
year-old child as he held his hands up in an attempt to surrender to them.
Thokozani Mngometulu, aged 31, was killed as he got out of his car at his
homestead in Dlakadla, in the Shiselweni region of Swaziland. Thokozani’s
family, who also witnessed the killing, say he was shot in the pelvis at close
range by a police officer.

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In June 2012, a serial rapist suspect Bhekinkhosi Masina, popularly


known as Scarface, was shot by police as they cornered him for arrest. Police
say they only shot him in the thigh and he unexpectedly died of his injuries.
The Times of Swaziland newspaper later revealed he had been shot six times,
including in the head and back.
In July 2012, a mentally ill man, Mduduzi Mngometulu, aged 34, was
shot seven times by police and died of his injuries. He had four holes in his
stomach, one in the leg and two bullet wounds on the left side of his chest.
These are not isolated incidents in Swaziland where police across the
kingdom have a growing record of killing or maiming suspects before arrest.
The cases have largely gone unreported outside of the kingdom itself.
In one example, police executed a suspect, Thabani Mafutha Dlamini,
at Nkwalini in Hlatikulu in the presence of his colleagues and home boys in
what local media called ‘cowboy style’. The Swazi Observer newspaper
reported the incident in December 2011 saying, ‘Police had previously
warned the mother of the dead man to “budget for funeral expenses” as they
intended to remove him. He was said to be on a police “wanted list”’. Dlamini
was unarmed.
In a separate case in February 2011, a Swazi policeman shot Mbongeni
Masuku, described in media as a Form IV pupil, in the head in what was later
described as ‘an execution-style killing’. The killing happened outside a bar
in Matsapha, an industrial town in Swaziland. Masuku’s uncle Sigayoyo
Maphanga said Mbongeni had been dragged out of his car by police. He told
the Swazi Observer, a policeman whom he named, ‘shot my nephew at the
back of the left ear and he fell on the ground with blood oozing from his
mouth and ears. We were all shocked and angered by such brutality from
police officers.’

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In May 2011, Mathende Matfonsi was shot dead by police while he


was attending a field of dagga (marijuana) inside the remote forests of
Lomahasha near the border with Mozambique. His family accused the police
of ‘cold-blooded murder’. Matfonsi was shot dead at Ebhandeni, the same
area where Nkosinathi Khathwane had previously been shot dead by soldiers
at night.
In March 2010, police shot a man as he was trying to surrender to them.
This time the victim, Mncedisi Mamba, did not die. His mother Thoko
Gamedze said Mamba had his hands up and was surrendering to police, but
they shot him anyway.
It is not only crime suspects who get shot at. In June 2013, police fired
live bullets and teargas as children protested against alleged corruption at
Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini Police were called after school pupils
boycotted classes.
See also
POLICE KILLING FAMILY DEMAND ANSWERS
‘POLICE EXECUTE MAN COWBOY STYLE’
POLICE SHOOT SURRENDERING MAN
SWAZI POLICE ‘MURDER’ SUSPECT
POLICE ‘EXECUTE’ SUSPECT IN STREET
SWAZI POLICE SHOOT-TO-KILL AGAIN
POLICE SHOOT AND KILL MENTALLY ILL MAN
POLICE ‘SHOT ACCUSED RAPIST IN HEAD’
POLICE SHOOT-TO-KILL ON BUS
POLICE KILL SURRENDERING MAN
SWAZI POLICE SHOOT-TO-KILL

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Police keep mum and baby in jail


2 February 2018
A woman and her baby were held in a police cell overnight in Swaziland
along with at least 10 other students who are saying they were beaten up by
police.
The students from Swaziland Christian University (SCU) had been
arrested and detained for allegedly vandalising property and disturbing
classes at Saim Christian High School on Wednesday (31 January 2018).
They had been taking part in a protest march about unpaid allowances.
Fellow students protested at the magistrates court in Mbabane, the
Swazi Observer reported (2 February 2018). It said, ‘The students are said to
have been battered by the police and one of them sustained a tear on the left
ear.’
The newspaper reported Students Representative Council (SRC)
president Thabani Mkhwanazi, ‘said they are saddened by the brutality they
encounter at the hands of the police because they are passively portraying
their frustration while police are armed with heavy guns and an aggressive
approach to matters’.
It quoted him saying, ‘We have been exposed to too much brutality at
the hands of the police and we demand answers on why they are this
aggressive to defenceless students who are simply making known their
grievances through a passive protest.’
The mother, who the newspaper did not name, was reportedly kept in
a cell with her baby overnight. The newspaper called this ‘an unbelievable
episode’.
Ntswaki Khumalo, a third year nursing student, who also spent the
night in a police cell at Mbabane police station, told the newspaper they were

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arrested by police during the protest action and bundled into the back of a
police van and sent to the police station.
The newspaper reported, ‘Upon arrival, they were placed into holding
cells where a contingent of about seven police officers allegedly came into
where they were kept and started assaulting them.
‘She said at some point the police hit them with the back of an R4 rifle
while they continued hitting them with open hands across the face.
‘They said after the brutal lashing, their friends and colleagues arrived
at the police station to see them and give them food they had bought but only
to be told that they would not be allowed to see them as they would be
provided with police food.
‘Students said that the cell they were in had dirty blankets and reeked
of urine and other disgusting things such that they now fear that the baby may
have contracted some diseases as they were not even able to change its
diapers. This, they said, was due to the fact that they were not allowed access
to running water.’’
Deputy Chief Police Information and Communication Officer
Assistant Superintendent Phindile Vilakati denied that students from SCU
spent the night in jail with a baby. She could not confirm or deny allegations
of police brutality and assault.
This was not the first run in between police and students at SCU. In
September 2017 armed riot police broke up a peaceful vigil by students
outside the Ministry of Education and Training when they were seeking to
get their closed university reopened.
Armed police from the Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU)
gave the students 10 minutes to disperse. The OSSU is known for its violence
and the students led by executives of the university’s student representative
council decided to march away.

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SCU was closed in August 2017 following an investigation by the


Swaziland Higher Education Council (SHEC). According to a 40-page
report, SCU, a private university in a joint venture with the Swazi
Government, did not have the required funding to continue. There were also
issues among others about the suitability of learning resources such as the
library and the relevance and quality of its courses.
The university which specialises in medical-related courses had an
enrolment of 916 students in the past academic year.
In 2015, when SCU was in financial crisis and could not pay salaries,
the university blamed the Swazi Government for not giving it money it had
promised.
In February 2015, it was reported that armed police raided the
university’s campus after students boycotted classes. They were protesting
about a shortage of lecturers and inadequate teaching facilities.
It was also separately reported that 25 female students from the
university had been raped in the previous year. Students blamed the
university for not providing them with secure accommodation.
See also
POLICE ‘TORTURE’ STUDENTS IN CELLS
ARMED POLICE END STUDENT PROTEST
STUDENTS ARRESTED AT COURT HOUSE
SWAZI STUDENT LEADERS ARRESTED

Police ‘fired live bullets at protest’


5 February 2018
Police in Swaziland have not denied a newspaper report that they fired live
ammunition during a student protest.

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Students from Swaziland Christian University were protesting about


delays in receiving allowances and problems over graduation.
Students marched in protest on Wednesday (31 January 2018) and at
least 11 were arrested for damaging property and causing a disturbance.
The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Friday (2 February 2018),
Deputy Chief Police Information and Communication Officer Assistant
Superintendent Phindile Vilakati, ‘said she could not confirm or deny
allegations of police brutality and assault’.
It added, ‘When Vilakati was asked if it was true that one of their
officers ordered that live rounds of ammunition be used instead of teargas
and rubber bullets against the protesting students, she said what happens
during police operations was something that was to be decided by those
officers on the ground.’
Students, including a mother and her baby were arrested and put in
police cells overnight pending a court appearance. Students later accused
police of brutality.
Police in Swaziland have been known in the past to fire live
ammunition during legitimate protests. In February 2017 they fired warning
gunshots at civilians when kombi drivers and conductors brought traffic to a
standstill at Mvutshini by blocking the highway and stopping public
transport. They were protesting about an alleged corrupt traffic police officer.
Also in February 2017 police fired warning gunshots as University of
Swaziland students marched with a petition to the Ministry of Labour and
Social Security to protest about late payment of their allowances.
Again in February 2017 they fired live gunshots and teargas at workers
at Juris Manufacturing in Nhlangano when workers were locked out in a
dispute over allegations that management planned to purge the staff of
‘troublesome elements’.

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In October 2016 police fired gunshots at protesting students at the


Limkokwing university in Mbabane. At least four students received ‘serious
injuries’ during disturbances, according to the Times of Swaziland, the
kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper.
In August 2016 riot police fired shots over the heads of striking
workers outside the Plantation Forestry Company who were protesting for an
increase in pay of the equivalent of 35 US cents per hour.
In October 2015 police fired shots and teargas at protesting textile
workers at the Zheng Yong Garment factory in Nhlangano. They were
protesting against the behaviour of security guards.
In June 2013 police fired live bullets and teargas as children protested
against alleged corruption at Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini.
See also
SWAZI POLICE FIRE AT STUDENTS
TEXTILE PROTEST: POLICE FIRE GUNS
POLICE SHOOT INNOCENT BYSTANDER
SWAZI GUN COPS ENDANGER CHILDREN

Brutal police attack caught on video


14 February 2018
Police officers in Swaziland have been caught on video brutally attacking a
woman. One uses a stone to repeatedly assault her.
This is not the first time police have assaulted civilians in the kingdom
ruled by King Mswati III who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland published stills (11
February 2018).
The newspaper reported the incident happened at Lukhula on Monday
5 February 2018. Two traffic officers based in Siteki were involved. The

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Observer reported the officers who it named only as Mkhwanazi and


Simelane were, ‘seen forcefully shoving a woman, Phum’lile Maseko into a
police sedan. During the scuffle, officer Mkhwanazi picks up a stone to
brutally assault the defenceless Maseko repeatedly.
‘In an agonising voice, Maseko is heard screaming uyangilimata,
akusimi! (you are hurting me, it is not me) while the police officer
continuously assaults her and ordering her to let loose of his police uniform’s
jacket. Maseko is holding on to Mkhwanazi’s jacket for dear life, refusing to
get into the police car.
‘At first, before assaulting her, the officer attacked her with fists
several times. After realising that she is not letting go of his jacket, the officer
bends down to pick up a nearby stone and goes on to use it as a weapon.
‘Onlookers are heard in the background shouting for him to leave the
woman alone, screaming that she had done nothing wrong. Despite this, the
police officer continues to hit her hard with the stone.
‘But, they then realise they are being filmed by use of a cellphone, and
they quickly shift their focus to the person recording the incident and Maseko
finally manages to escape from the clutches of these brutal officers.
‘In the skirmish, both Maseko and the person recording the incident,
identified as Thabiso had their phones extensively damaged by the officers.’
Maseko told the newspaper she was at Lukhula to sell grilled mealies
to passengers and on-goers.
The Observer quoted Maseko saying, ‘While I was watching the police
pushing and shoving Celimpilo Mashaba, a quantum conductor I came close
to the scene to watch the drama.’ The newspaper reported police said his
vehicle was wrongly parked.
The newspaper added, ‘One of the police officers approached her
across the road and allegedly dragged her to where the sedan was parked. The

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traffic cops were accusing Maseko of opening a door of the police sedan and
in doing so letting Mashaba out of the vehicle.’
The Observer reported, ‘Not only do the cops smash the phone on the
ground, they are also heard hurling expletives, calling Mashaba by his
mother’s private parts, and onlookers are heard shouting at the police officer
and also telling Mashaba to go open a case against him.’
Maseko said she suffered injuries to her hand, bruises and some chest
pains.
This is not the first case of police assaulting civilians in Swaziland. In
December 2017, police attacked people at an illegal drinking den at Ezulwini
with guns and whips in what The Observer on Saturday at the time called,
‘the truest form of brutality’.
‘Gunshots were heard with the sizeable number of police officers
literally going out of their way to assault the patrons hitting them randomly
with whips (tinsilane) and fists,’ the newspaper said. It added, ‘Most
patrons were forced to run helter-skelter into the thick of night in a panic and
in the process getting hurt by barbed wires on the fence.’
In August 2017, at least 15 armed police officers shot at an suspected
drink-driver in Manzini leaving his car riddled with more than 20 bullet holes.
The Times of Swaziland reported at the time the driver Wandile Bhembe, aged
30, said he had not seen the traffic cops because they had the headlights of
their cars switched off. The Times reported Bhemebe saying, ‘While trying
to open the door and preparing to get off, the cops dragged me into a nearby
drainage and severely assaulted me all over the body using fists, kicks and
open hands.’ Bhembe ended up in hospital with injuries all over his body,
especially to his head, mouth and chest, the Times reported.

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Also 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, 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.
See also
POLICE SHOOT UP ‘DRINK-DRIVER’S’ CAR

Police ‘smuggling at border post’


14 February 2018

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Police officers in Swaziland have been accused of illegally smuggling


mealie-meal into the kingdom from South Africa.
A police car was spotted taking at least 15 bags of 12.5 kg meal across
the border at Ngwenya-Oshoek, the Sunday Observer newspaper in
Swaziland reported (11 February 2018). There is a 20kg quota for individuals
to import the meal which is also known as corn meal or maize meal.
The newspaper said one of its own reporters witnessed a police car
being loaded with mealie-meal and an officer driving through the border post,
‘without formality, save for the driver greeting officers manning the South
African entry point’. It happened on Wednesday 7 February 2018 at about
11.20 a.m.
The car was later seen delivering mealie-meal to Mbabane Central
High school.
The newspaper reported, ‘A police officer admitted that some superiors
or those with authority to drive vehicles used them to buy mealie-meal on a
regular basis, which they suspect is resold locally.’
The Observer quoted an unnamed police officer saying, ‘They buy in
bulk, which I suspect is not for personal consumption because they buy
several bags at a time in any case.’
Police are investigating.
There have been a number of allegations of police corruption in
Swaziland. In June 2017, National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula
announced an investigation into reports officers helped to smuggle illegal
foreigners into the kingdom.
In December 2017, Mbabane Magistrates Court was told of an officer
selling fake driving licences.

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In June 2017, people in Mahlangatsha accuse armed police of


forcefully taking away the marijuana (known locally as dagga) that they had
illegally farmed and selling it.
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.’
See also
SWAZI POLICE CORRUPTION PROBE
‘POLICE STEAL ILLEGAL DRUGS TO SELL’

Police fire nine live shots at bar


7 March 2018
Two police officers in Swaziland fired nine live bullets at a bar that was open
after hours.
It is one of many incidents of police firing around civilians who have
committed no crime.
It happened at Pholani Bar in Pigg’s Peak. The Swazi Observer
newspaper reported on Monday (5 March 2018) that the police officers fired
‘warning shots’ in the air.
The newspaper reported ‘well-placed sources’ saying, the police
officers had gone to the bar to try and close it as its official operating time

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had elapsed. The bar was supposed to close at midnight but because it was
the end of the month and customers had money to spend it stayed open.
The Observer reported, ‘While trying to close the bar, one of the police
officers then decided to try and arrest an unruly individual who was
disturbing the peace.
‘This did not go down well with the patrons because the individual then
called his friends who surrounded the police officer. The mob then told the
police to retreat and drive off and the policeman heeded the warning and
drove away in haste while some started throwing beer bottles at the retreating
police van.’
The newspaper added, ‘[A]s some charged towards the police officers,
they had to fire warning shots in the air to ward off the angry mob.’
This is one of number of incidents in which police have fired live
bullets. In January 2018 police reportedly they fired live ammunition during
a protest by students from Swaziland Christian University about delays in
receiving allowances and problems over graduation.
In February 2017 they fired warning gunshots at civilians when kombi
drivers and conductors brought traffic to a standstill at Mvutshini by blocking
the highway and stopping public transport. They were protesting about an
alleged corrupt traffic police officer.
Also in February 2017 police fired warning gunshots as University of
Swaziland students marched with a petition to the Ministry of Labour and
Social Security to protest about late payment of their allowances.
Again in February 2017 they fired live gunshots and teargas at workers
at Juris Manufacturing in Nhlangano when workers were locked out in a
dispute over allegations that management planned to purge the staff of
‘troublesome elements’.

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In October 2016 police fired gunshots at protesting students at the


Limkokwing university in Mbabane. At least four students received ‘serious
injuries’ during disturbances, according to the Times of Swaziland, the
kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper.
In August 2016 riot police fired shots over the heads of striking
workers outside the Plantation Forestry Company who were protesting for an
increase in pay of the equivalent of 35 US cents per hour.
In October 2015 police fired shots and teargas at protesting textile
workers at the Zheng Yong Garment factory in Nhlangano. They were
protesting against the behaviour of security guards.
In June 2013 police fired live bullets and teargas as children protested
against alleged corruption at Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini.

Police fire during student roadblock


15 March 2018
Armed police in Swaziland fired rubber bullets and arrested eight students
when they put a rubbish skip in the middle of a road during a protest.
It happened at Limkokwing University, Mbabane.
Students were protesting about poor wi-fi internet connections. It was
part of a continuing protest against poor teaching and facilities.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati
who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported
on Thursday (15 March 2018) students put a ‘litterbin’ in the road near a
market which caused motorists to slow down and ‘gingerly negotiate’.
The newspaper reported, ‘This prompted police to spring into action
and fire warning shots aimed at dispersing the rowdy students.’ It added
students were ‘shocked to the core’.

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Students were protesting that internet facilities had been poor for a long
time and they were unable to meet deadlines to produce assignments.
The university has since been closed indefinitely.
Limkokwing is the private university that was chosen by King Mswati
to house his University of Transformation to take students from across the
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region. The King became
chair of SADC in August 2016 when he pledged the university would be
operating by August 2017. Nothing substantial happened and the plan
remains stalled.
Limkokwing, part of an international group of campuses, has been
controversial since it opened in Swaziland in 2011. Students and education
commentators have highlighted the poor quality of courses, staff and
resources. Limkokwing in Swaziland only offers ‘associate degrees’ which
are at a level below Bachelor degrees and in many colleges are known as
diplomas.
In 2016, a Swaziland parliamentary committee investigated the
standard of qualifications held by academic staff at the university after
students petitioned that many lecturers only held Bachelor degrees and had
just themselves qualified from the university.
At that time fees for each Swazi student was E8,000 (US$577) a year
for tuition. The government added an additional E33,700 as accommodation
and meal allowance and E9,000 as a book allowance.
Educational standards at Limkokwing are lower than those at other
universities, including the University of Swaziland. It does not require
students to have qualifications in the English language. In June 2012, Bandile
Mkhonta, Head of Human Resource for Limkokwing in Mbabane, told local
media that of 53 professional staff at the university only one had a Ph.D
doctorate. A Ph.D is usually considered by universities to be the minimum

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qualification required to be given the rank of senior lecturer. Limkokwing in


Swaziland had no staff at professor rank and no record of conducting
scholarly research.
The Swazi Observer reported Mkhonta saying Limkokwing had fewer
Ph.Ds because it was a ‘non-conventional’ university whose curriculum was
mainly based on practice than theory.
The university was launched in Swaziland only after an intervention
by King Mswati. In June 2011, it emerged that the university’s founder Tan
Sri Dato Lim Kok Wing had a meeting with King Mswati and convinced him
that Swaziland needed a new university – and Limkokwing should be it.
He persuaded the King that low-level courses in such subjects as
Graphic Designing, TV & Film Production, Architectural Technology,
Advertising, Creative Multimedia, Information Technology, Event
Management, Business Information Technology, Journalism and Media,
Public Relations and Business Management, would help Swaziland which is
mainly an agricultural society to prosper.
Once the King gave his support nobody in his kingdom stood in its
way. Limkokwing started in Swaziland illegally because an Act of Parliament
was needed to set up a university, but Limkokwing was allowed to start
without parliament’s approval.
In 2013, the university awarded King Mswati an honorary doctorate in
‘human capital development.’
The cash-strapped government that was seeking ways to save money
on higher education at the kingdom’s established University of Swaziland
offered Limkokwing US$2 million a year it could not afford for scholarships
for up to 800 students.
Soon after Limkokwing opened, students began protesting that they
were not getting their allowances and there were no textbooks and too few

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laptops. There were at least 20 protests, class boycotts and closures during
the first year after it opened. Police used teargas and rubber bullets against
protesting students. One student was shot in the leg.
In October 2016 police fired gunshots at students at Limkokwing and
at least four students received ‘serious injuries’ during protests about the poor
quality of teaching at the university and inferior facilities.
There have been numerous protests at Limkokwing, and across other
campuses in Swaziland, against government for not paying allowances on
time.
See also
STRIKE AT SWAZI KING’S SADC UNIVERSITY
NEW SWAZI UNIVERSITY SUBSTANDARD
KING FELL FOR BOGUS UNIVERSITY

Police must not beat suspects: court


21 March 2018
A Principal Magistrate in Swaziland told police they must not assault
prisoners in custody.
David Khumalo made his comments at Manzini on Monday (19 March
2018) after a suspect appeared in court with injuries all over his body. He
ordered that he be taken to hospital for treatment before going back into
custody.
The Swazi Observer reported, ‘The Principal Magistrate warned that
accused persons are citizens of the country and they have rights too. He said
they have a right to assist police with investigations but they cannot be forced
to do that by being assaulted.’
Police denied assault.

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Blessing Bakhe Maseko, aged 22, of Madonsa, informed the court


through his attorney that he was heavily assaulted with a sjambok a while
inside police cells, the Observer reported.
The newspaper said Maseko stripped his T-shirt inside the courtroom
to show the fresh scars he sustained as a result of the alleged beatings he
received from the police officers.
The Observer reported, ‘Explaining the bruises which were all over the
accused person’s body, the attorney stated that Maseko has been left with
injuries on his left shoulder, his back and is also bleeding through his ears.
So severe is the torture purportedly carried out by police on the suspect who
was in holding cells such that the suspect now prefers to be kept at
correctional remand facilities as opposed to police custody.’
Maseko had been arrested with four other suspects on robbery charges.
There are numerous reports of police torture in Swaziland. 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 at Ngwenya police station 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

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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.’
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.
They also reported the case of Phumelela Mkhweli, a political activist
who died after an alleged assault by police after they arrested him.
The report also stated, ‘In April 2011, a 66-year-old woman was
confronted by three police officers regarding the wording on her t-shirt and
headscarf. The police allegedly pulled off her T-shirt, throttled her, banged
her head against the wall, sexually molested her, kicked her and threw her
against a police truck.
‘The US Department of State reported on many allegations of torture
and ill-treatment by police; including beatings and temporary suffocation
using rubber tube tied around the face, nose, and mouth, or plastic bags over
the head,’ the report stated.
See also
‘HORROR TALE OF SWAZI POLICE TORTURE’
POLICE ‘BRUTALLY ASSUALT’ WORKERS
MORE POLICE TORTURE IN SWAZILAND

Police gang-rape schoolgirl

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24 March 2018
Three community policemen in Swaziland gang-raped a 17-year-old
schoolgirl at knifepoint and forced her boyfriend to watch. One of them
recorded it on his cellphone.
The teenager was in her school uniform while she and her boyfriend
walked to a river after a school athletics competition.
The community policemen told them they were on patrol to make sure
none of the pupils committed any offences during the athletics competition.
Three men appeared at Manzini Magistrates’ Court charged with rape
and assault. In a detailed account of their ordeal the Times of Swaziland
reported on Friday (23 March 2018) that the pair were subjected to beatings.
The teenager was then raped by all three community policeman and they
ordered her boyfriend to have sex with her, which he was unable to do.
The schoolgirl told the court, ‘They boldly told us about their position
in the community, that they were community police members.’
The three pleaded guilty to rape and assault. The newspaper did not
report their sentence.
See also
KWALUSENI POLICE ‘ARE CRIMINALS’
SWAZI POLICE ‘PERVERTED MORALITY’
COMMUNITY POLICE BANISH GAY MEN

16 WOMEN

New drive for Swazi women’s rights


20 March 2018

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The European Union in Swaziland is funding a multi-million emalangeni


three-year project to advocate for and support women’s rights in the kingdom
where many are legally treated as children.
It is called Supporting Women Empowerment & Equality in Swaziland
(SWEES) and will be implemented by the Coordination Assembly of Non-
Governmental Organisations (CANGO) in Swaziland.
EU Ambassador in Swaziland Esmeralda Hernandez Aragones told a
launch meeting at the Sibane hotel in Ezulwini on Friday (16 March 2018)
the project aimed to create an enabling environment for the protection and
promotion of women and girls’ rights in Swaziland.
The Swazi Observer reported, ‘The ambassador said high levels of
gender-based violence, poverty which bears the face of a woman, HIV/AIDS
as well as lack of enabling legal framework to protect and promote women’s
rights continue to persist in excluding women’s meaningful participation in
communities.’
A sum the equivalent of E3.7 million (US$308,000) will be made
available.
Women remain oppressed in Swaziland and a main reason for this is
King Mswati III who rules as an absolute monarch, according to report on
women in the kingdom published in 2016.
ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa) reported that despite claims that
Swaziland was a modern country, ‘the reality is, despite pledges and
commitments, women continue to suffer discrimination, are treated as
inferior to men, and are denied rights.’
ACTSA added, ‘The King has demonstrated he is unwilling to change
the status quo and promotes multiple aspects of the patriarchal society.’
In a briefing paper called Women’s Rights in Swaziland ACTSA
said, ‘Swaziland has a deeply patriarchal society, where polygamy and

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violence against women are normalised, deeply unequal cultural and religious
norms, and a male monarch who is unwilling to make any change. All this
contributes towards the daily discrimination faced by women.’
Among discriminations against women highlighted by ACTSA were
the high levels of girls dropping out of school. ACTSA reported, ‘Cultural
gender norms dictate that women and girls provide the bulk of household-
related work, including physical and emotional care. As a result, girls are
under pressure to drop out from school, especially where there are few adults
available to care for children and the elderly, for example, in child-headed
households.’
ACTSA also highlighted that women lacked the legal rights to
administer their own assets. It reported, ‘Most married women are denied
equal status as legal adults: they cannot buy or sell property or land, sign
contracts or conduct legal proceedings without the consent of their husbands.
Many widows, denied the right to own land, are forced from their homes.’
Women also have few chances to find jobs. Swaziland was ranked
150th out of 188 countries in the world in the Gender Inequality Index,
ACTSA reported. ‘Men control household resources and thus women remain
dependent. This often results in women seeking alternative avenues for
income, including transactional and commercial sex,’ it said.
Some of the statistics on ‘life as a female in Swaziland’ quoted in the
report include:
One in three girls experience sexual violence before they reach the age
of 18 (Amnesty International, 2010);
31 percent of women are HIV-positive (UNAIDS, 2014);
70 percent of female sex workers are HIV-positive (AVERT, 2015);
Early and forced marriage is ‘normal’ (Amnesty International, 2010);
Marital rape is legal (Amnesty International, 2010);

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Out of 65 delegates in the House of Assembly, only four are women (6


percent) (Department of Gender and Family Affairs, 2014).
See also
RISE IN GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
SEX BILL HIGHLIGHTS CULTURE ISSUES
SHOCKING LIVES FOR SWAZI WOMEN
WIVES SAY HUSBANDS CAN RAPE THEM

Kingdom’s confused law on abortion


28 March 2018
A 19-year-old woman in Swaziland was arrested by police in her hospital bed
after being admitted for attempting an abortion.
The case highlights the difficulties women face in the kingdom where
abortion is illegal in almost all circumstances. Performing, receiving or
participating in an abortion carries a maximum sentence of life
imprisonment.
The teenager had used drugs in an attempt to induce an abortion,
according to a report in the Swazi Observer newspaper on Friday (23 March
2018). She has since appeared in court where sentencing was postponed.
Because abortions are illegal in Swaziland it is difficult to say
accurately how many are performed in the kingdom. In October 2012 more
than 1,000 women were treated for abortion-related complications at a single
clinic in the Swaziland’s second city Manzini, according to the Family Life
Association of Swaziland (FLAS), a family planning organization.
According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social
Affairs, abortion is prohibited in Swaziland except in cases of necessity but
there is disagreement about what constitutes a case of necessity.

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‘The majority position of commentators is that a case of necessity exists


only when an abortion is performed to save the life of the pregnant woman.
However, it is possible that a case of necessity need not be so serious and that
an abortion could be performed in cases of serious threat to both physical and
mental health, foetal defect and rape. There is no case law on this issue in
Swaziland,’ the report stated.
The Swazi Constitution provides that abortion might be allowed on
medical or therapeutic grounds, including where a doctor certifies that
continued pregnancy will endanger the life or constitute a serious threat to
the physical health of the woman; continued pregnancy will constitute a
serious threat to the mental health of the woman; there is serious risk that the
child will suffer from physical or mental defect of such a nature that the child
will be irreparably seriously handicapped.
However, no law exists to put the constitutional provisions into effect.
The UN report stated there were no legal provisions dealing with the
professional qualifications required to perform an abortion, the place where the
procedure must be performed or the period during pregnancy when an abortion
can be performed. There is evidence that illegal abortions take place frequently
in Swaziland.
The UN stated, ‘Induced abortion is a particularly significant problem
among teenage girls. Faced with the prospect of an unwanted pregnancy,
many teenage girls resort to abortion to avoid expulsion from school.
Unmarried teenage women are more likely to have unwanted pregnancies
because of the barriers they face in obtaining contraceptives. For example, it
is reported that health workers often require proof of the husband’s
authorization before dispersing contraceptives, even though this is not a legal
requirement.’

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In November 2012 the IRIN news agency reported that 16 percent of


all women deaths in the government hospital in Mbabane that year were the
result of botched abortions. It said that this figure was only those cases that
were reported, there were certainly other deaths unreported.
IRIN reported that in 2011 three Swazi nurses were arrested and given
15 years for assisting in terminations.
‘They were helping the poorest of the poor, women who are truly
desperate and who cannot do what most Swazi women do who need an
abortion. Most women just travel across the border to South Africa,’ Alicia
Simelane, a Manzini healthcare worker and midwife, told IRIN.
‘Also, there are the scared little girls, the rape survivors and the
survivors of incest who dare not talk about their experiences to anyone.
Counselling hardly exists for such girls in Swaziland. Then there are the
women who have seven children and a husband who refuses to wear a
condom, and they cannot bear to have more children. These are desperate
women, and they will go to anyone who they think will help them,’ she said.
In the absence of legal abortions, mothers are suspected of practising
infanticide. Local media reports of new-borns found dead in isolated areas
are commonplace.
In 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva
recommended that Swaziland adopt laws allowing voluntary abortions.
See also
WOMEN SILENCED ON ABORTIONS

17 WORKERS’ RIGHTS

Textile workers want minimum wage

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25 January 2018
Textile workers in Swaziland are campaigning for a basic minimum wage
and for many of them that would mean doubling their income.
Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) members want
a wage of at least E3,000 (about US$250) per month. At present, it is reported
most textile workers earn between E1,300 and E1,500 per month.
They are supported by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland
(TUCOSWA).
Textile workers are among the most exploited in Swaziland, where
King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. 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).
In July 2014 a survey of the Swazi textile industry undertaken by
TUCOSWA revealed workers were subjected to harsh and sometimes
abusive conditions, many of the kingdom’s labour laws were routinely
violated by employers, and union activists were targeted by employers for
punishment. More than 90 percent of workers surveyed reported being
punished by management for making errors, not meeting quotas or missing
shifts. More than 70 percent of survey respondents reported witnessing verbal
and physical abuse in their workplace by supervisors.
In its report on human rights in Swaziland in 2013, the US State
Department said wage arrears, particularly in the garment industry, were a
problem. It said, ‘workers complained that wages were low and that
procedures for getting sick leave approved were cumbersome in some
factories. The minimum monthly wage for a skilled employee in the industry
- including sewing machinists and quality checkers - was E1,128 (US$113 at

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the time). Minimum wage laws did not apply to the informal sector, where
many workers were employed.
‘The garment sector also has a standard 48-hour workweek, but
workers alleged that working overtime was compulsory because they had to
meet unattainable daily and monthly production quotas.’
In September 2014 hundreds of workers at Tex Ray were affected by
poisonous chemical fumes at the factory in Matsapha. Many needed hospital
treatment and the factory was closed for several days.
See also
EXPLOITATION BY TAIWAN TEXTILES
MINISTER RAIDS TEXTILE FACTORY
SWAZI TEXTILE PAY STRIKE ILLEGAL
SWAZI GOVT AIDS TAIWAN EXPLOITATION

Workers sacked for joining union


26 March 2018
Trade unionists in Swaziland are reporting that a textile factory has sacked
workers for wanting to join a union.
The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) said
Taiwanese-owned company Far East Textiles in Matsapha also threatened to
stop workers’ pay and closed down a factory.
In a statement circulated on social media on Thursday (22 March 2018)
ATUSWA said, ‘Just for joining our organization and for showing interest to
join ATUSWA the company unleashed terror to the workers by threatening
not to pay their wages, closing down the factory and dismissing those
suspected to have joined the union.’

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It added the company tried to coerce workers to beat up union officials


and organisers and when they would not it sent management to take
photographs of all those seen interacting with the union.
ATUSWA has asked the Swazi Department of Labour to intervene.
Textile workers are among the most exploited in Swaziland, where
King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. 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).
ATUSWA is campaigning for a minimum wage of at least E3,000
(about US$250) per month. At present, it is reported most textile workers
earn between E1,300 and E1,500 per month. They are supported by the Trade
Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA).
In July 2014 a survey of the Swazi textile industry undertaken by
TUCOSWA revealed workers were subjected to harsh and sometimes
abusive conditions, many of the kingdom’s labour laws were routinely
violated by employers, and union activists were targeted by employers for
punishment. More than 90 percent of workers surveyed reported being
punished by management for making errors, not meeting quotas or missing
shifts. More than 70 percent of survey respondents reported witnessing verbal
and physical abuse in their workplace by supervisors.
In its report on human rights in Swaziland in 2013, the US State
Department said wage arrears, particularly in the garment industry, were a
problem. It said, ‘workers complained that wages were low and that
procedures for getting sick leave approved were cumbersome in some
factories. The minimum monthly wage for a skilled employee in the industry
- including sewing machinists and quality checkers - was E1,128 (US$113 at

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the time). Minimum wage laws did not apply to the informal sector, where
many workers were employed.
‘The garment sector also has a standard 48-hour workweek, but
workers alleged that working overtime was compulsory because they had to
meet unattainable daily and monthly production quotas.’
In September 2014 hundreds of workers at Tex Ray were affected by
poisonous chemical fumes at the factory in Matsapha. Many needed hospital
treatment and the factory was closed for several days.

Unions plan three months of protests


26 March 2018
Labour unions in Swaziland are planning three months of protest against
government over a range of issues including tax increases, the minimum
wage, social welfare programmes and unfavourable labour laws.
It starts on 13 April 2018 with a mass march organised by the Trade
Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) to deliver petitions to
government ministers.
The protest will take place less than a week before the so-called 50/50
Celebrations designed to mark the King’s 50th birthday and the 50th
anniversary of the kingdom’s Independence from Great Britain. King Mswati
III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
TUCOSWA Deputy Secretary General Muzi Mhlanga was reported by
the Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland (25 March 2018) saying the
demonstration was just the beginning and more protests were to be staged if
their demands were not met.
‘We are beginning on the 13th of April. We have been writing to the
different ministries concerned and they have not responded while others have

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provided unsatisfactory responses. For instance, we wrote a letter to the


Ministry of Natural Resources alerting them that we were against the hike on
electricity tariffs and we are not happy with their response, just like several
other ministries,’ he said.
Mhlanga said more protests would be staged in three consecutive
months; June, July and August.
See also
SWAZI POLICE BLOCK WORKERS’ PROTEST
PUBLIC SERVANTS PAY STRIKE ON WAY
SWAZI GOVERNMENT ‘IS BROKE’

18 HUMAN RIGHTS

Swaziland represses political dissent


24 January 2018
Swaziland continues to repress political dissent and disregard human rights
and the rule of law, the latest international report on freedom in the kingdom
reveals. Human Rights Watch in its review of 2017, just published, adds the
independence of the judiciary is severely compromised and repressive laws
continue to be used to target critics of the government and King Mswati III,
who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The report states, ‘In September, King Mswati told the United Nations
General Assembly in New York that Swaziland is committed to peace and a
decent life for all. He said his government grants every citizen an opportunity
to voice their views in order to constructively contribute to the social,
economic, cultural, and political development of the country. He failed to
mention, however, the recently passed amendments to the Public Order Act,
which allow critics of the King or the Swazi Government to be prosecuted,

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and upon conviction be fined E10,0000 (US$770), imprisoned for two years,
or both for inciting “hatred or contempt” against cultural and traditional
heritage.’
The amendments to the Public Order Act grant sweeping powers to the
national commissioner of police to arbitrarily halt pro-democracy meetings
and protests, and crush any criticism of the government.
Human Rights Watch states, ‘Restrictions on freedom of association
and assembly continued. The government took no action to revoke the King’s
Proclamation of 1973, which prohibits formation and operations of political
parties in the country. The police used the Urban Act, which requires
protesters to give two weeks’ notice before a public protest, to stop protests
and harass protesters.’
King Mswati is above the law, Human Rights Watch states. ‘The
constitution provides for equality before the law, but also places the King
above the law. A 2011 directive, which protects the King from any civil law
suits, issued by then-Swaziland Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi after
Swazi villagers claimed police had seized their cattle to add to the king’s
herd, remained in force in 2017.
‘The Sedition and Subversive Activities Act also remained in force in
2017. The act restricts freedom of expression by criminalizing alleged
seditious publications and use of alleged seditious words, such as those which
“may excite disaffection” against the King. Published criticism of the ruling
party is also banned. Many journalists told Human Rights Watch that they
practice self-censorship, especially with regards to reports involving the king,
to avoid harassment by authorities.’
Earlier this month (January 2018), Freedom House in its own review
of human rights in Swaziland during 2017 declared the kingdom to be ‘not
free’. It said civil liberties had deteriorated in the past year. Freedom House

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reported, ‘Swaziland’s civil liberties rating declined from five to six due to
increased government infringements on religious freedom and freedom of
private discussion.’

Swaziland civil liberties worsen


18 January 2018
Civil liberties in Swaziland have deteriorated in the past year, a leading global
freedom group has reported.
Freedom House reported, ‘Swaziland’s civil liberties rating declined
from five to six due to increased government infringements on religious
freedom and freedom of private discussion.’
The organisation said this in the Freedom in the World 2018 report just
released. On a scale from one to seven where seven is the least free,
Swaziland scored 6.5 on freedom; seven on political rights and six on civil
liberties. It scored 16 out of 100 in total and Freedom House reported
Swaziland was ‘not free’.
It has yet to release a detailed report on human rights in Swaziland for
the past year. Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch.
Freedom House is not the only organisation to issue annual reports on
freedom in Swaziland. The United States State Department in its most recent
report published in 2017 and covering 2016 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.

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‘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.
See also
KING MISLEADS UN ON SWAZI FREEDOM
JAIL FOR DEFACING PICTURE OF KING
UN PROBES SWAZILAND ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SWAZILAND FAILS HUMAN RIGHTS TEST
SWAZILAND QUIZZED ON TERROR LAW
SWAZI HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD KILLS AGOA
SWAZI TERROR LAW COURT CHALLENGE
SWAZI GOVT FAILS ON POVERTY: OXFAM

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Campaign to educate on albinism


30 March 2018
A campaign has started in Swaziland called ‘Don’t kill us, we are human
beings too’ to raise awareness about people with albinism.
People in Swaziland with the skin condition live in fear of their lives
as some traditional healers, witchdoctors and others use their body parts in
spells to bring good luck.
The Stukie Motsa Foundation is now using social media to dispel the
false belief that people with albinism cleanse back luck and bring fortune to
people.
There have been concerns in Swaziland for years that people with
albinism have been targeted and murdered. Witchdoctors use the body parts
to make spells that they claim bring people good luck. Sport teams have also
been known to use spells to bring them good fortune during matches.
Witchdoctors’ services are especially sought after by candidates contesting
parliamentary and local elections. An election is due in Swaziland later in
2018.
In January 2017, the Director of Public Prosecution’s office in
Swaziland told witchdoctors in the kingdom to stop murdering people for
body parts. The witchdoctors, also known as tinyanga, were advised to go to
the Ministry of Health for body parts, such as bones.
During the national elections in Swaziland in 2013, people with
albinism lived in fear that their body parts would be harvested by candidates
seeking good luck.
Independent Newspapers in South Africa reported at the time, ‘In the
past [people with albinism], who lack the skin pigment melanin, as well as

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epileptics have been specifically targeted, prompting the police to set up


registries.
‘In 2010, the killing and mutilation of [people with albinism],
including in one instance the decapitation of two children in Nhlangano,
prompted panic.’
In August 2013, Independent Newspapers quoted an academic at the
University of Swaziland, who did not want to be named, saying, ‘Ritual
killings to achieve elected office are a natural outgrowth of a government
based not on rationality or democratic principles but on superstitious beliefs.
‘The Swazi king claims power through an annual Incwala festival
where a bull is brutally sacrificed and mysterious rituals occur, and this sets
the tone. No one knows how office-holders are appointed in Swaziland. It’s
all done in secret, without recourse to merit or any rhyme or reason, so this
fuels irrational beliefs.
‘Ritual murder has long been part of Swazi life.’
At present, a Swazi traditional healer is in police custody in South
Africa for allegedly killing two children from Vosman near Witbank, one of
them living with albinism. The South African Deputy Minister for Social
Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said the killing of people living
with albinism by people believed to be Swazis has become a national crisis
in her home country.
The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (27 March 2018), ‘The
deputy minister said she wanted to know what Swaziland was doing to stop
the killing of people living with albinism. She also stated that some of these
people were quitting their jobs and schools in fear of being kidnapped.’
Albinism affects the production of melanin, the pigment that colours
skin, hair and eyes. It's a lifelong condition, but it doesn't get worse over time.
People with albinism have a reduced amount of melanin, or no melanin at all.

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This can affect their colouring and their eyesight. Albinism is caused by
faulty genes that a child inherits from their parents.
See also
PEOPLE WITH ALBINISM WANT PROTECTION

Destitute poor risk death by poisoning


23 March 2018
Destitute people in Swaziland are putting their lives at risk from food
poisoning by eating contaminated processed meats.
Certain brands of processed meats have been banned in Swaziland
following a widespread outbreak of listeriosis in neighbouring South Africa.
At least 183 people have died in that country.
After the Swazi Government ordered a ban some people disposed of
potentially-infected meats in open veld or public dumpsites.
It is reported that unemployed people who depend on what they can
scavenge from dumping sites have been collecting ‘stacks’ of the food,
including polony and Russians (frankfurters) to eat. The Swazi Observer
reported on Monday (19 March 2018) that the poor who work in gangs called
Kamdodi were not aware of the dangers they faced.
It reported, ‘This placed the kamdodi gang’s lives in danger of
contracting the disease because they consumed the banned products
suspected to be contaminated with listeriosis.’
The Swazi Ministry of Health had advised people to burn or bury
potentially-contaminated food.
Hunger is widespread in Swaziland. In a report in May 2017, the World
Food Program estimated 350,000 people in Swaziland were in need of food
assistance. WFP helped 65,473 of them. It said it was regularly feeding
52,000 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) aged under eight years at

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neighbourhood care points. About 45 percent of all children in Swaziland are


thought to be OVCs.
It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in
Swaziland aged under five.
See also
BAD FOOD POISONS 200 PUPILS
HUNGRY SWAZIS WILLINGLY EAT DOG FOOD
HUNGER INCREASES IN SWAZILAND
SWAZI GOVT FAILS ON POVERTY: OXFAM

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 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

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

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.

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.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

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.

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom previous editions

Volume 1, Jan 2013, is available free of charge here.


Volume 2, Feb 2013, is available free of charge here.
Volume 3, March 2013, is available free of charge here.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Volume 4, April 2013, is available free of charge here.


Volume 5, May 2013, is available free of charge here.
Volume 6, June 2013, is available free of charge here.
Volume 7, July 2013, is available free of charge here.
Volume 8, August 2013, is available free of charge here.
Volume 9, September 2013, is available free of charge here
Volume 10, October 2013, is available free of charge here
Volume 11, November 2013, is available free of charge here
Volume 12, December 2013, is available free of charge here
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.
Volume 22: April to June 2016 is available free of charge here.
Volume 23: July to September 2016 is available free of charge here.
Volume 24: October to December 2016 is available free of charge here.
Volume 25: January to March 2017 is available free of charge here.
Volume 26: April to June 2017 is available free of charge here

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Swazi Media Commentary

Containing information and commentary in


support of human rights in Swaziland

Click Here

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