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Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

As seen through the pages of Swazi Media Commentary


Vol. 30. April – June 2018
Compiled by
Richard Rooney
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

CONTENTS

Introduction 2
1 King’s lavish lifestyle 3
2 50-50 Celebration 23
3 Swaziland name change 36
4 Election 41
5 Govt spending crisis 68
6 International aid 82
7 LGBTI 88
8 Police 99
9 Crime 106
10 Media 113
11 Children 123
12 Church 128
13 Unemployment 132
14 Human rights 133
15 Release Amos Mbedzi Campaign 141

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

INTRODUCTION
Swaziland might never be the same again. King Mswati III demonstrated his absolute power
by renaming his kingdom Eswatini. He did this during the so-called 50-50 Celebrations to
mark his own 50th birthday and the half-century of Swaziland’s independence from Great
Britain. The King also made headlines when he wore a watch worth $1.6 million and a suit
beaded with diamonds at his birthday party. His lavish spending is notorious; days earlier he
took delivery of his second private jet, this one costing about $30 million after upgrades.

These were some of the stories published by Swazi Media Commentary over the second
quarter of 2018 and published in this Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Volume 30. While the
King and the Royal Family continued to spend millions on themselves the kingdom’s
economy was in freefall with the government admitting it was broke. Suppliers remained
unpaid and public services ground to a halt. Hospitals were without medicines and
schoolchildren went hungry as food supplies dried up.

Registration for the national elections to take place in September descended into chaos with
reports of inefficiency and corruption. The election board’s claim that 90 percent of the
eligible population signed up to vote was met with scepticism. Political parties are banned
from taking part in the election which is widely regarded outside of Swaziland as bogus. King
Mswati chooses the Prime Minister and Government ministers and no members of the Senate
are elected by the people.

Swaziland saw its first ever LGBTI Pride parade in June. Unwittingly it demonstrated how
conservative and backward Swaziland is. Newspapers took the opportunity to demonise
LGBTI people but despite this the event proved a success.

Laws in Swaziland have been used by the State as weapons against human rights defenders, a
major investigation of the kingdom by the International Commission of Jurists revealed.
Separately, the United Kingdom reported it was to undertake an investigation into human
rights abuses in Swaziland and in its annual report on the kingdom the United States
highlighted, ‘The most significant human rights issues included: arbitrary interference with
privacy and home; restrictions on freedoms of speech, assembly, and association; denial of
citizens’ ability to choose their government in free and fair elections; institutional lack of
accountability in cases involving rape and violence against women; criminalization of same-
sex sexual conduct, although rarely enforced; trafficking in persons; restrictions on worker
rights; and child labor.’

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 KING’S LAVISH LIFESTYLE

King wears watch worth $1.6-million


30 April 2018

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of impoverished Swaziland, wore a watch worth
US$1.6 million to his 50th birthday party. This was in addition to a suit beaded with diamonds
that weighed 6 kg.

Meanwhile, teachers are warning that children may starve because the Swazi Government
cannot afford to pay to feed them. The charity Oxfam called Swaziland the most unequal
country in the world in a report.

Days before his birthday King Mswati took delivery of his second private jet plane. This one,
an A340-300 Airbus had a purchase price of US$13.2 million, but with VIP upgrades it
reportedly cost about US$30 million.
A picture of the King with his watch and suit was published on Facebook by a group that
monitors the spending of the Swazi Royal Family.

King Mswati III with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and one of his 13 wives, Inkhosikati
LaMotsa during at his 50th birthday party. Picture: Swazi Royal Leeches Lifestyle Facebook
page

The watch is a Jacob & Co Grand Baguette timepiece. The Jacob & Co website describes the
watch as, ‘polished 18K white gold invisibly set with 360 baguette diamonds 13.20ct.; five
crowns invisibly set with baguette diamonds 3.50ct.; five sapphire glasses with transparent
anti-reflective treatment; circular satin-finished with hand engraving case back. Dial: Local
time and four time zone dials for New York, L.A., Tokyo and Paris.’

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The website puts the cost of the piece at US$1,620,000, which is about E21 million in local
currency. This is more than the financial aid given to Swaziland each year by the European
Union to pay for free primary school education.

The timepiece in detail with the $1,620,000 price tag. Picture: Jacob and Co website

In Swaziland seven in ten of King Mswati’s estimated 1.1 million subjects live in abject
poverty on incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The King has 13 palaces and
fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars.

Children in Swaziland have been told by teachers to prepare themselves for starvation as the
government failed to deliver free food to schools over the past year. At the heart of the crisis
is the Swazi Government’s inability to pay its suppliers. In the March 2018 Budget, Finance
Minister Martin Dlamini said the government owed E3.1 billion and was trying to find a way
to pay its bills.

As a result of unpaid bills, suppliers have stopped delivering food, and medicines. Electricity
supplies to government offices, law courts, police stations, libraries, media houses, and
border posts have been cut.

In 2017, the global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most unequal country in the world
in a report called Starting With People, a human economy approach to inclusive growth in
Africa that detailed the differences in countries between the top most earners and those at the
bottom.

The Oxfam report stated the government, which is handpicked by King Mswati, ‘failed to put
measures in place to tackle inequality, with poor scores for social spending and progressive
taxation, and a poor record on labour rights’.

The extent of poverty in Swaziland has been reported extensively outside of the kingdom. In
its annual report on human rights in the kingdom, published in March 2017, Amnesty
International said two thirds of the people in Swaziland continued to live below the poverty

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line and that around half the population said they often went without food and water, and
over a third said that medical care was inadequate.

In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people of Swaziland’s
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.

Swazi Cabinet’s gift of gold to King


6 June 2018

The Cabinet of Swaziland / Eswatini gave King Mswati III a ‘luxurious lounge suite trimmed
with gold’ as a gift for his 50th birthday.

The absolute monarch also received cheques worth at least E5 million (US$400,000).
The King’s subjects had been encouraged to deliver gifts to him at Lozitha, one of his 13
palaces, on Monday (4 June 2018).

They were to mark his 50th birthday that fell on 19 Aril 2018. On that day he wore a watch
worth US$1.6 million and a suit weighing 6 kg studded with diamonds. Days earlier he had
taken delivery of his second private jet. This one, an Airbus A340, cost US$13.2 to purchase
but with VIP upgrades was estimated to have cost US$30 million.

Meanwhile, seven in ten of the 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less
than the equivalent of US$2 per day.

Both of Swaziland’s daily newspapers reported the presentations. The Swazi Observer, a
newspaper in effect owned by the King, dominated its front page with a picture of the lounge

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suite presented by the Cabinet. In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in
elections and the Prime Minister and the Cabinet are hand-picked by the King.

The newspaper did not disclose the cost of the suite ‘trimmed with gold’, nor did it say if it
had been bought out of public funds or from personal donations by Cabinet members.
The Observer also published two pages of pictures of presentations to the King. It reported
that MTN Swaziland (until recently the monopoly supplier of cell phone services in the
kingdom) presented him with a cheque for E1.1 million; Macmillan Education Publishers
(which supplies many schools in Swaziland) gave E394,000 and Build It gave E205,000.

The Observer estimated the King received cheques worth at least E5 million in total towards
his birthday celebration which also marked the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence
from Great Britain.

The Times of Swaziland reported people ‘from all age groups, the youngest being a six-year-
old, while the eldest was 75 years old’ went to the palace to ‘shower’ the King with gifts.
It reported, ‘In random interviews the nation shared the same sentiments that presenting the
King with gifts was the sign to show loyalty and appreciation for the Monarch.’

It added the majority of companies and individuals opted to gifts of cattle, ‘while others
preferred valuable items, including sofas, Air fridges and bicycles. There were also items of
sentimental value such as portraits and photographs.’

King gets dining suite made of gold


7 June 2018

The Queen Mother gave King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland / Eswatini, a
dining room suite made of gold for his 50th birthday.
It will go alongside a lounge suite trimmed with gold that he was given by senior members of
his government.

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He also received cheques totalling at least E15 million (US$1.2 million) to help pay for his
birthday celebration that took place on 19 April 2018.

On that day he wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit weighing 6 kg studded with
diamonds. Days earlier he had taken delivery of his second private jet. This one, an Airbus
A340, cost US$13.2 to purchase but with VIP upgrades was estimated to have cost US$30
million.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported for the second day
running on Wednesday (6 June 2018) that many of the King’s subjects visited him at Lozitha
Palace. It reported that the handing over of gifts took six hours to complete.

The King has 13 palaces in impoverished Swaziland. He also owns two private jets and fleets
of top-of-the range Mercedes and BMW cars. His family regularly travel the world on
shopping trips spending millions of dollars each time.

The Observer reported the Queen Mother handed over her gift and said, ‘The dining room
suite is made of gold. You have come of age and you deserve to sit at a table like this.’
The newspaper reported that more than E15 million had been given to pay for the so-called
50-50 Celebration that marked the King’s 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of
Swaziland’s Independence from Great Britain.

At least E1.6 million came from public funds. The Royal Eswatini (Swaziland) Police
Service and Correctional Service gave E300,000 each and the Public Service Pension Fund
gave E1 million.

The Observer reported King Mswati was in ‘a jovial mood as he received the gifts’.

Swazi King and Queens of bling


2 May 2018

It is not only King Mswati III, Swaziland’s absolute monarch, who displays his vast wealth
about his person. His family are the same.

He wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit beaded with diamonds at his 50th birthday
party. He did this while children in his kingdom are on the verge of starvation and are only
kept alive by food donated from abroad.

Days before his birthday King Mswati took delivery of his second private jet plane. This one,
an A340-300 Airbus had a purchase price of US$13.2 million, but with VIP upgrades it
reportedly cost about US$30 million.

The King has 13 palaces and fleets of top-of-the-range Mercedes and BMW cars. Meanwhile
seven in ten of his subjects estimated to number 1.1 million live in abject poverty with
incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day.

The King is not alone in brazenly showing off his wealth. His family are not shy either. King
Mswati has married 15 wives, but with death and defections it is believed the number
remaining might now be 13.

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A Facebook page called Swazi Royal Family Leeches has been monitoring the bling count.
Here are some of its findings.

King Mswati's daughters, Siba, Tiyandza and Sikhanyiso are pictured with a friend on
vacation in Cancun, Mexico. Tiyandza, daughter to King Mswati and Queen LaNgangaza, is
wearing a 47 mm 18K Pink Gold Ballon Bleu De Cartier watch worth US$58,500
(E760,500).

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In the next picture Queen LaFogiyane is wearing a Jacob & Co Fully Iced Diamond watch
that retails at US$120,000 (E1.56 million).

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Queen LaMahlangu has a Jacob & Co Brilliant Skeleton White Gold watch worth US$46,996
(E610,948).

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Princess Sikhanyiso wears a Jacob and Co World Is Yours Five Time Zones 47 mm Diamond
watch with a price tag of US$9,999 (E130,000).

Many of the watches worn by the Swazi Royal Family come from Jacob & Co. In December
2015 the Mail & Guardian newspaper in South Africa reported there was ‘strong evidence’
King Mswati was ‘in business’ with the company’s owner Jacob Arabo, whom it described as
‘a wealthy Uzbekh-American jeweller who has done jail time for lying to federal -
investigators about his alleged links to a multimillion-dollar drug ring’.

The business centred on a gold mining venture in northern Swaziland called Lufafa Mine Pty
Ltd.

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The Mail & Guardian reported, ‘Arabo, known as “Jacob the Jeweller” and the “King of
Bling”, is a purveyor of flamboyant jewellery to clients ranging from the hip-hop industry to
Hollywood and the sporting world through his firm Jacob & Co. He was arrested in 2006 at
his flagship New York jewellery outlet on suspicion of tax evasion and laundering more than
US$270-million in narcotics proceeds for a Detroit-based drug ring called the Black Mafia
Family.

‘Arabo was sentenced by a Detroit court to 30 months in prison for lying to investigators,
fined US$50 000 and ordered to forfeit $2-million to the United States government. He was
released from jail in April 2010.’

The newspaper reported at a ‘consultative conference’ at the Pigg’s Peak Hotel in August
2015, Swazi Minerals Board chairperson Winston Lomahoza told the local media that the
King owned 25 percent of the shares in the Lufafa mine, the government owned 25 percent
and Jacob & Co the remaining 50 percent.

The newspaper reported, ‘This conforms precisely with the requirements of the Mines and
Minerals Act. Lomahoza added that he was “grateful that his majesty had allowed mining to
take place yet again”.’

The King holds 25 percent of all mining shares in Swaziland ‘in trust for the Swazi nation’
but it is widely believed he uses the money from the mining royalties to fund his own lavish
lifestyle. The King does not pay tax.

The Observer on Saturday, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported in January
2016 that the gold mine on Lufafa Mountains, near Pigg’s Peak in the Hhohho region, was
estimated to contain 251,000 ounces of gold, said to be worth more than E4 billion (US$263
million). If that was the case and the mine was worked successfully the King’s share would
be US$65 million.

In October 2017 it was reported the mine had closed after allegations of poor management.

Swazi Royals spend, spend, spend


3 May 2018

King Mswati the absolute monarch of impoverished Swaziland wore a watch worth US$1.6
million and a suit beaded with diamonds to his 50th birthday party.

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King Mswati III in his suit of diamonds and wearing his US$1.6 million watch cuts his
birthday cake. Picture: Taiwanese Presidential Office

Days earlier he had received delivery of his second private jet. This one, an A340-300
Airbus, reportedly cost as much as US$30 million after VIP upgrades.

These are examples of the King’s lavish lifestyle. He has fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and
Mercedes cars and he and his family travel the world in luxury.

Meanwhile, seven in ten of his 1.1 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes less
than the equivalent of US$2 per day.

Media in Swaziland, where political parties are banned, are heavily censored and do not
report on the excesses of the King and his Royal family. Therefore, it is difficult to determine
their full extent, but it has been possible to piece together some of the details.

In 2012 he acquired his first private jet, estimated to cost US$17 million. He refused to say
who had paid for it, leading to speculation that the money came from public funds.

Often, the King abandons his private jet but still travels abroad in luxury. In May 2012 he
went to London to attend a lunch to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The
trip was estimated to cost US$794,500. He took with him his first wife Inkhosikati
LaMbikiza. She wore to the lunch shoes trimmed with jewels that cost £995 (US$1,559). It
would take seven-out-of-ten Swazis at least three years to earn the price of the shoes.

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LaMbikiza’s shoes. Picture : The Daily Beast

The previous year he was in London with a party of 50 people for the wedding of Prince
William and Kate Middlelton, staying at a US$1,000 per night hotel on a trip that was
estimated to cost US$700,000 for the hire of a private jet to take the King and his party from
Swaziland to the UK.

The extravagant spending came just as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) criticised
Swaziland for diverting money that should have been used on education and health to other
spending. As a result of this spending the IMF withdrew its team that was advising the
government on economic recovery from Swaziland.

In 2012 Inkhosikati LaMotsa, the second of the King’s wives, stayed at a Johannesburg hotel
on a personal trip at a cost of US$60,000 a month.

The King has at least 13 wives and they regularly travel the world on lavish shopping trips.
Details are kept from the Swazi people, but it is estimated that the trips take place several
times a year.

In 2016 at least three of his wives went shopping in Orlando, Florida, with an entourage of
more than 100, reportedly spending about US$1 million. The cost of this holiday was
equivalent to the drought relief that the United States was then providing to the drought-
stricken Kingdom.

Reports of the trip prompted Lisa Peterson, the US ambassador to Swaziland, to warn the
Kingdom might not receive further food aid from her country because of the Swazi King’s
‘lavish spending’ on holidays.

News24 in South Africa reported Peterson saying the US had limited funds for drought relief.
She said, ‘When we hear of the lavish spending by the Swazi royal family – especially while
a third of their citizens need food aid – it becomes difficult to encourage our government to

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make more emergency aid available. You can’t expect international donors to give more
money to the citizens of Swaziland than their own leaders give them.’

South African media reported that the queens, their bodyguards, protocol officials, family and
other ‘support staff’ were on the trip that was expected to last eight days.

The City Press newspaper in Johannesburg reported the vacation had irritated diplomats who
were motivating for more drought relief aid for the Kingdom, which was in the grips of its
worst drought in 18 years.

It reported, ‘According to diplomatic sources, meetings were held with the King, where
objections to the holiday were raised.

‘Mswati’s defence was that the vacation had been planned and paid for in advance, and that a
cancellation would result in an unnecessary loss of money.’

As of the end of May 2016, UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – estimated
300,320 people in total in Swaziland (nearly a third of the entire population) were affected by
drought of which 189,000 were children. A total of 200,897 people were food insecure, of
which 90,404 were children. Of these, 8,460 children aged 6 to 59 months were affected by
‘severe and moderate acute malnutrition’.

Meanwhile, the Swazi Government had released only E22 million (US$1.5 million) of the
E305 million earmarked for drought relief in that year’s national budget.

The Florida trip was one of many that were reported in news media across the world, but
largely ignored within Swaziland.

In 2013, several of the King’s wives –travelled to Japan and Australia on a trip estimated to
have cost US$10 million.

In July 2012, some of the King’s 13 wives went on a shopping trip to Las Vegas, where 66
people reportedly stayed in 10 separate villas – each costing US$2,400 per night. The party
were reported by South African newspapers to have travelled by private jet which might have
cost US$4.1 million.

In 2010, a group of the King’s wives went on what was described at the time as ‘another
multi-million-dollar international shopping spree’ to Brussels in Belgium and London, UK.
About 80 other people went on the trip to tend to the needs of the queens.

In August 2009, five of King Mswati’s wives went on a shopping trip through Europe and the
Middle East that cost an estimated US$6 million.

At the time media in Swaziland were warned not to report on the trip because it would harm
the King’s reputation. Media houses were told they would face sanctions, including possible
closure, if word got out. But newspapers and websites across the world followed the story.
The Times of London, for example, reported how the queens went on a shopping spree while
the subjects of King Mswati went hungry. The Australian newspaper said the King ignored
the Swazi poor and the newspaper reminded readers that Swaziland relied on international aid
from the European Union and the United States.

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The previous year in August 2008 when a group of the King’s wives went on a similar
shopping spree ordinary Swazi women were so outraged that they took to the streets of
Swaziland in protest.

The King also spends lavishly. In April 2009, the King bought 20 top-of-the-range armour-
plated Mercedes Benz S600 Pullman Guards cars for his wives at an estimated cost of E2.5
million (about US$250,000) each and said to be capable of resisting an attack with small
arms projectiles, a grenade or other explosive.

At the time of the purchase the King was furious that his subjects had dared to discuss how
much the cars might have cost.

The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, quoted an unnamed
‘source’ saying the purchase price was ‘far less’ than reported. The source did not reveal how
much the King did pay.

The Observer supported the purchase of the cars. It said, ‘Moreover, the status of our Royalty
and the pride and value we attach to the institution of the Monarchy dictates that they project
the correct image that inspires confidence. The cars and their safety features befit that status.
So there is really nothing wrong with the purchase.’

The ‘source’ told the Observer that the money to buy the cars was not from the government.

‘This was not abuse of taxpayers’ money and the money was not transferred from a
government ministry, but these were private Royal funds, the ‘source’ said.

When the Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland, tried to find out where the
money for the cars came from it met a stone wall. The King’s Private Secretary Sam
Mkhombe referred all questions to the King’s Office Chief Officer, Bheki Dlamini. However,
Dlamini said the cars were not purchased through the King’s Office. He could not, however,
explain to the newspaper why they were delivered at the royal residence.

The newspaper said at first he did not want to comment on the issue, but eventually said that
the King’s Office was not responsible for the cars. However, his subsequent comments fell
short of confirming that the vehicles could have been purchased by the King.

‘The King has various accounts that are not run through this office (King’s Office),’ he said.
The sources of the King’s income are kept secret from the Swazi people. In 2009, Forbes
magazine estimated that the King himself had a personal net fortune worth US$200 million.
Forbes also said King Mswati was the beneficiary of two funds created by his father Sobhuza
II in trust for the Swazi nation. During his reign, he has absolute discretion over use of the
income. The trust has been estimated to be worth US$10 billion.

The King also holds 25 percent of all mining royalties in Swaziland ‘in trust’ for the Swazi
nation.

In August 2014 the Sunday Times newspaper in South Africa reported King Mswati
personally received millions of dollars from international companies such as phone giant

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MTN; sugar conglomerates Illovo and Remgro; Sun International hotels and beverages firm
SAB Millerto.

It reported that MTN, which had a monopoly of the cell phone business in Swaziland at the
time, paid dividends directly to the King. He holds 10 percent of the shares in MTN in
Swaziland and is referred to by the company as an ‘esteemed shareholder’. It said MTN had
paid R114 million (US$11.4 million) to the King over the previous five years.

The newspaper also reported that the King was receiving income from Tibiyo Taka Ngwane,
which paid dividends in 2013 of E218.1 million. The newspaper reported ‘several sources’
who said it was ‘an open secret’ that although money generated by Tibiyo was meant to be
used for the benefit of the nation, Tibiyo in fact channelled money directly to the Royal
Family.

Secrecy over cost of King’s new jet


18 April 2018

King Mswati III the absolute ruler of impoverished Swaziland took delivery of his second
private jet on Friday amid secrecy about the true cost of its purchase.

The A340-300 Airbus was flown into King Mswati III Airport with great fanfare just days
before he was due to celebrate his 50th birthday.

Mbongeni Mbingo, Managing Editor of the Swazi Observer Group, newspapers in effect
owned by the King, wrote on Sunday (15 April 2018), ‘The buzz that filled the VIP Airport
was one of sheer excitement as authorities, including those from the King’s Office, marvelled
at the Airbus A340-300 which stood there monstrously.’

He added, ‘It was as if it was a statement of its own, the sheer size of this new state aircraft
fitting the status of the head of state, and justifying the need for the country to go in search of
a plane to cater for His Majesty the King’s international trips.’

King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties
are banned from taking part in elections and opponents are prosecuted under the Suppression
of Terrorism Act.

It has been widely reported within Swaziland and elsewhere that the 17-year-old plane cost
US$13.2 million to purchase from China Airlines in Taiwan. The A340 Airbus is a long-
range wide-bodied passenger plane. Usually, it seats 375 passengers and has a range of
12,400 to 16,700 km (7,700 to 10,400 miles). Following the purchase, the Airbus was
completely refurbished. With the upgrades it could now be worth as much as US$30 million,
but it has not been revealed how much the upgrades cost or where the work was carried out.
It was reported on the website CH Aviation that the plane flew into Swaziland from
Hamburg, Germany.

In 2015, Luftfahrt-Versicherungslosungen AG of Zurich, Switzerland, a specialist aviation


brokerage company, was tasked with finding insurance cover for the aircraft. It reported at
the time the ‘agreed value’ of the plane to be US$15 million. It added, ‘Agreed value at

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inception will be US$15 million increasing to US$30 million during completion work over
the next 11 to 12 months.’

Industry insiders said at the time the refurbishment costs could be more than anticipated by
Luftfahrt-Versicherungslosungen, depending on the degree of luxury the King demanded.
Plans were drawn up to build a state room, a lounge and a royal lavatory on the aircraft.
Similar planes with ‘VIP’ upgrades of their interior were being offered for sale on the
Internet for US$44 million.

A special hangar for the plane is to be built at King Mswati III International Airport at a cost
of E200 million (US$16.6 million), to house the Airbus and the King’s other plane, a smaller
modified McDonnel Douglas DC-9-87, also known as an MD-87. That plane cost US$9.5
million in 2012.

King Mswati has a global reputation for living a lavish lifestyle with fleets of top-of-the-
range BMW and Mercedes cars and a Rolls Royce. The King has 13 palaces and he, his
family, and their entourage take expensive international trips. Meanwhile, seven in ten of the
King’s 1.1 million subjects live in abject poverty on incomes of less than the equivalent of
US$2 per day.

In the week that he took delivery of the plane, Pakistan donated US$1 million to help feed
staving children in Swaziland because the Swazi Government says it cannot afford to do so.
In 2016 the United States announced it would provide US$6.35 million in drought relief. This
was US$1 million less than the deposit paid at the time on the King’s plane. About 300,000
people in Swaziland are still at risk of severe hunger as a result of drought and the
government has declared a state of emergency appealing for international aid donations.

There has been no public discussion on how much it will cost to run the Airbus. Swaziland’s
economy is in the doldrums and in March 2018 ahead of the national budget the King ordered
his ministers ‘to prepare a budget that is based on available resources’. Finance Minister
Martin Dlamini said in his budget speech, ‘Government has conducted a thorough analysis of
our expenditure in order to prioritise only the most pressing concerns.’

It is possible to make an informed estimation on the ongoing costs of the new plane. This is
based on the known costs of the King’s first plane, the much smaller MD-87. Documents
seen by Swazi Media Commentary revealed the jet cost US$9.5 million to purchase in 2012
and at least another US$4.1 million was spent on refurbishments before the King took
delivery.

In 2012 the King’s company Inchatsavane signed an aircraft management operating


agreement with Greek-based Gain Jet Aviation. As part of the deal the King was required to
deposit US$500,000, described as ‘average two months operating costs’ to guarantee future
payments. On this basis the operating costs of the aircraft would be US$250,000 per month or
US$3 million per year. In the six years since the jet has been flying, the operating costs
would have reached US$18 million (about E216 million).

The figure set by Gain Jet Aviation was only an estimate. Another estimate of costs of
operating an MD-87 is available from Conklin and de Decker, Aviation Information.
It has set the total fixed cost of the MD-87 at US$1,124,525 for a year. This works out at
US$93,710 per month.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Fixed costs are the costs that have to be paid even if the plane never flies. Among the fixed
costs it lists are salaries for the pilot, the co-pilot and the flight attendant.

Conklin and de Decker set the variable costs at US$9,736.20 per hour. Variable costs include
fuel, maintenance, landing charges at airports, staff expenses and catering.

The US$250,000 per month or US$9,736.20 per hour anticipated for operating costs might be
underestimates for the true cost of flying King Mswati’s MD-87.

Gain Jet Aviation invoiced the Swaziland Ministry of Foreign Affairs US$312,500 for a
flight in June 2012 from Tokyo (Japan), to Manzini (Swaziland). The flight was spread over
two days and included fuel stops in Danang (Vietnam), Male (Maldives), and Dar Es Salaam
(Tanzania). The total flying time for the journey was 20 hours 50 minutes.

The company billed for a total of US$312,500, which works out at about US$14,880 per
hour.

In August 2014, Gain Jet Aviation invoiced for a trip that was going to take place the
following month over 14 days from Swaziland – Tanzania – Maldives – Malaysia – India –
Egypt – Nice (France) – Cameroon – Swaziland. The total estimated number of flying hours
was 39 hours 35 minutes.

The invoice total was for US$593,750.00, which works out at about US$14,843 per hour.

In 2015 the MD-87 was impounded during legal disputes and the King leased jets for his
travels. Papers filed in a court in Canada revealed he refused to use one jet that had been
chartered for him at a cost of more than US$1 million because it only had one toilet, so, a
second aircraft was chartered for him at a cost of US$1.425 million.

Richard Rooney

Picture: Swazi Observer photograph of King Mswati’s A340-300 Airbus at King Mswati III
International Airport in Swaziland.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

King fines guards for leaking photos


11 June 2018

Members of the security personnel of Swaziland’s absolute King have been fined 29 cattle
after pictures of his multi-million dollar private jet appeared on social media.

Photographs of the wake of the vigil of King Mswati III’s wife Inkhosikati Senteni Masango
who committed suicide in April 2018 were also published online.

The City Press in South Africa reported (10 June 2018) the security guards have also been
ordered to deposit their cellphones in a container when arriving at work so that they do not
take pictures. Another punishment was a new order that they may not sit down at all during
their shifts, which can last for longer than eight hours.

The royal family is guarded by officers from His Majesty’s Correctional Services, Umbutfo
Swaziland Defence Force and the eSwatini Royal Police.

King Mswati III the absolute ruler of impoverished Swaziland / Eswatini took delivery of his
second private jet, an A340-300 Airbus, in April 2018 amid secrecy about the true cost of its
purchase.

It has been described by CNN as ‘one of the world’s largest personal aircraft’.

One of the photographs reportedly of the interior of King Mswati’s private A340 Airbus that
appeared on the Internet

Lavish spending leads to food aid cut


6 May 2018

Countries outside Swaziland are reducing their donations to feed starving children because
they say there is enough money in the kingdom but it is not fairly distributed.

The news comes as reports go global that Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III
wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit studded with diamonds at a party for his 50th

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

birthday. He also took delivery of his second private jet which with VIP upgrades is reported
to have cost US$30 million.

Now, Lucky Ndlovu, the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office Director of Children Services, has
revealed that Neighbourhood Care Points (NCP) across Swaziland are short of food because
donations are drying up.

The Sunday Observer in Swaziland reported (6 May 2018) Ndlovu said the NCPs had no
budget from government.

The newspaper reported Ndlovu saying, ‘There is a lack of support from those who used to
supply the food. Most of the support was from international donors who are now focussing on
other countries which are not classified as middle income countries.

‘The break in the supply resulted from the fact there is a lack of appetite from the
international community as they say we have enough income but it is unfairly distributed to
cushion the poor.

‘Government must come up with programmes that are pro-poor because the international
community is now not willing to support us.’

Ndlovu did not specifically mention the lavish spending of King Mswati who has 13 palaces,
two private jets and fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars. Members of his
family regularly take international shopping trips costing millions of dollars. Meanwhile,
seven in ten of the 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than the
equivalent of US$2 per day.

Children in Swaziland have been told by teachers to prepare themselves for starvation as the
government failed to deliver free food to schools over the past year. At the heart of the crisis
is the Swazi Government’s inability to pay its suppliers. In the March 2018 Budget, Finance
Minister Martin Dlamini said the government owed E3.1 billion and was trying to find a way
to pay its bills.

As a result of unpaid bills, suppliers have stopped delivering food, and medicines. Electricity
supplies to government offices, law courts, police stations, libraries, media houses, and
border posts have been cut.

In 2017, the global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most unequal country in the world
in a report called Starting With People, a human economy approach to inclusive growth in
Africa that detailed the differences in countries between the top most earners and those at the
bottom.

The Oxfam report stated the government, which is handpicked by King Mswati, ‘failed to put
measures in place to tackle inequality, with poor scores for social spending and progressive
taxation, and a poor record on labour rights’.

The extent of poverty in Swaziland has been reported extensively outside of the kingdom. In
its annual report on human rights in the kingdom, published in March 2017, Amnesty
International said two thirds of the people in Swaziland continued to live below the poverty

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

line and that around half the population said they often went without food and water, and
over a third said that medical care was inadequate.

In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people of Swaziland’s
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.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

2 50 – 50 CELEBRATION
Taiwan first guest at King’s birthday
4 April 2018

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen is the only head of state so far to publicly accept the
invitation to visit Swaziland for King Mswati III’s 50th birthday.

Taiwan has already donated US$1.3 million to the cost of 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.

Taiwan has been cosying-up to Swaziland for many years as the kingdom, ruled by King
Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is only one of 20 countries worldwide
that has diplomatic relations with it. Taiwan wants Swaziland to support its campaign to join
the United Nations (UN).

Taiwanese companies have set up textile factories in Swaziland and have become known for
their poor pay and working conditions.

Taiwan also donates aid to Swaziland. It regularly supplies tens of thousands of pairs of
sneakers to women who participate in the annual Reed Dance where ‘maidens’ dance topless
in front of the King. It is also spending E260 million (US$21 million) over five years to
rebuild the out-patient department of Mbabane Government Hospital.

The Taiwan official news agency CNA reported President Tsai Ing-wen would visit
Swaziland with a delegation. ‘During their time in the kingdom, the officials would not only
meet with Swazi officials, but would also inspect many of the medical, agricultural and
educational initiatives that Taiwan has undertaken in the nation,’ it said.

In 2012 after a visit to Swaziland the former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said the country
would ‘conditionally provide assistance’ to the kingdom, but did not publicly reveal what
these conditions might be.

Taipei observers know that to get aid from Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of
China) you have to give it in return international support for its continued diplomatic row
with the People’s Republic of China (‘mainland’ China).

Taiwan is generally not recognised in the international community and is not allowed to sit in
the UN. Taiwan wants to join the UN and Swaziland has a vote that could be used to support
it. Because the People’s Republic of China does not want Taiwan in the UN, few countries
support Taiwan. Those, like Swaziland, that do, get ‘friendship’, usually in the form of
development aid or hotel trips to Taiwan for newspaper editors and politicians.

Taiwan has a policy of buying friendship with developing countries and Swaziland is one of
these ‘friends’.

On his trip, President Ma gave Swaziland 300 notebook computers worth US$300,000 and
1,080 metric tonnes rice worth US$157,400 to help feed the hungry people in Swaziland,
where seven in ten people earn less than US$2 a day.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

In return, King Mswati gave the President a lavish state banquet and a medal.

In 2008, the Taiwanese President visited Swaziland for the 40/40 Celebrations but the trip did
not play well back home. One newspaper columnist Johnny Neihu, writing in the Taipei
Times suspected that King Mswati III had only sent out the invitation to Ma so he could tap
Taiwan for more money.

He wrote, ‘Should Ma attend, the King will probably turn round as everyone is leaving and
ask Ma to help pick up the bar tab, or hit him with a request to help pay for some new gold
brocade cushion covers in the presidential palace, or even worse, buy new shoes for all of his
children and grandchildren.’

Neihu went on to warn the Taiwanese President to lock up his daughters if he takes up the
invitation to visit Swaziland. Or better still, leave them at home.

See also
POOR AND SICK PAY FOR KING’S BIRTHDAY
THE NOT-SO-GENEROUS SWAZI KING
‘SLAVE LABOUR’ AT TEXTILE FACTORY
EXPLOITATION BY TAIWAN TEXTILES
COST OF ‘FRIENDSHIP’ WITH TAIWAN

Taiwan denies $1m gift for King’s party


13 April 2018

Taiwan has denied donating more than a million US dollars to help fund the Swaziland
King’s 50th birthday celebration.

However, a newspaper in Swaziland published a photograph of the cheque being handed


over.

The Central News Agency in Taiwan reported the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied a report
from Swazi Media Commentary that it had paid US$1.7 million towards the 50/50
Celebration on 19 April 2018 that will mark King Mswati III’s birthday and the 50th
anniversary of Swaziland’s Independence from Great Britain. The report appeared on a
number of news sites.

The Taipei Times using the agency report said on Thursday (12 April 2018), ‘Democratic
Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Shih-ying asked Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph
Wu about the allegations during a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense
Committee.

‘“This [the report] is incorrect and absolutely false. We provided only a small amount of
money for a fireworks show at the celebration,” Wu said, without disclosing the actual
amount except to say it was less than the figure mentioned in the blog.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

In fact the figure donated was US$1.3 million. Swazi Media Commentary sourced its report
from the Swazi Observer of 8 February 2018. The report included a photograph of a cheque
for US$1,307,865 (the equivalent of E15 million in Swazi currency) being handed over by
the Taiwanese embassy in Swaziland to the Swazi Minister of Home Affairs Princess
Tsandzile and Minister of Economic Planning and Development Prince Hlangusemphi.
The Observer reported, ‘Taiwan Ambassador Thomas Chen, said the 50th anniversary is an
important milestone in the course of the national development for the country.’

He added, ‘The year 2018 marks the 50th anniversaries of the birth of His Majesty King
Mswati III and the independence of the country. Most Swazis don’t know that in September
1968, the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan sent an envoy to this country to
seal the deal of diplomatic ties between our two countries. For decades, Swaziland has
proved itself Taiwan’s best friend in the African continent, for which the government and the
people of Taiwan are truly thankful.’

Picture from Swazi Observer shows the cheque being handed over by Taiwan Ambassador
Thomas Chen.

‘No Commonwealth heads at 50/50’


17 April 2018

Taiwan, a country not recognised by the United Nations, and Equatorial Guinea, a nation
with one of the worst human rights records in the world, are two countries to publicly
announce they are sending representatives to King Mswati III’s 50th birthday party.

Little has been heard from other countries in the run-up to the event. Meanwhile, it is unlikely
that any heads of Commonwealth countries will attend the so-called 50/50 Celebration.
King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, turns 50
on Thursday (19 April 2018). This years also sees the 50th anniversary of the kingdom’s
Independence from Great Britain. Although that anniversary falls on 6 September, the King
decreed both events should be celebrated on the day of his birthday.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen flew into Swaziland on Tuesday and will hold private talks
with the King while in the kingdom. Taiwan has been cultivating Swaziland for many years
and is a major contributor of aid. Taiwan donated US$1.3 million toward the cost of the

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

50/50 Celebration. Taiwanese textile firms operate in Swaziland and have a poor record on
workers’ rights.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported on Tuesday (17
April 2018) that President Tsai Ing-wen would bring a number of gifts, including five cattle
for the King. Swaziland is one of only 20 countries in the world that has diplomatic ties with
Taiwan. It supports Taiwan’s application to become a member of the United Nations.
The same newspaper reported that Equatorial Guinea Vice-President Teodoro Nguema
Obiang Mangue was also due to attend.

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, known as an international playboy, was found guilty in
France of corruption in 2017 and given a suspended jail sentenced of three years. The
sentence came after a long investigation by French authorities into allegations that Obiang
embezzled US$175 million from his country to buy luxury cars, real estate, and other assets
in France. Those assets have been seized. The sentence included a suspended fine of 30
million euro (US$34.78 million).

In September 2011 Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue visited Swaziland. While he stayed at
the five-star Royal Villas Resort he had his bag stolen – containing US$2.5 million in bank
notes.

Equatorial Guinea is nominally a multiparty constitutional republic but since a military coup
in 1979, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue’s
father) has dominated all branches of government in collaboration with his clan and political
party, the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), which he founded in 1991,
according to a human rights report for 2016 published by the US State Department.
He received a claimed 93.7 percent of the vote in an election in 2016 that was considered
neither free nor fair, the report stated.

The report added, ‘The most significant human rights problems in the country were disregard
for rule of law, including police use of excessive force and torture, denial of freedom of
speech, and widespread official corruption.’

Meanwhile, it is unlikely that a head of a Commonwealth country will attend. The


Commonwealth Heads of State Summit takes place in London this week. A protest against
Swaziland at that event organised by ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa) is planned for 19
April 2018.

In Swaziland, political parties are barred from taking part in elections and the King chooses
the Prime Minister and government ministers. Opposition groups have been banned under the
Suppression of Terrorism Act.

ACTSA said in a statement, ‘The Commonwealth has singularly failed to hold the Swazi
authorities to account. The Commonwealth Secretariat does not appear to have a strategy for
applying pressure on the King. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group must now
review Swaziland’s status and the Commonwealth Secretary General must explicitly support
this action. The Commonwealth’s credibility is on the line.’
More Swazi King’s birthday excesses
6 April 2018

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

People in Swaziland are to be encouraged to give King Mswati III, the kingdom’s absolute
monarch, gifts to mark his 50th birthday – but only after his party is over and dignities have
gone home.

A party costing millions of dollars is being organised at Mavuso Trade and Exhibition Centre
in Manzini on 19 April 2018 and Cleopas Dlamini, Chairperson of the Resource Mobilisation
Committee that is organising it, said, ‘We know that there are those who want to make
specific contributions like birthday gifts to His Majesty; they will have a chance to hand the
gifts to him on a date that will be announced. The date, however, will be after the celebrations
and it will be communicated to the public.’

King Mswati and his family live lavish lifestyles while seven in ten of his estimated 1.1
million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day.
The extent of the King’s extravagance is highlighted at his birthday. In past years he has
received a private aircraft and a fleet of BMW cars as presents.

Meanwhile, ordinary Swazi people have been compelled to give him gifts of cattle.
Last year just as the World Food Program (WFP) revealed that one-in-three people in
Swaziland were ‘in need of emergency food assistance’, media in the kingdom reported that
King Mswati III’s birthday cake took three months to prepare.

The Times of Swaziland reported, ‘All eyes were on the cake that was beautifully displayed in
the front during the garden party at His Majesty’s birthday celebration. Most people were
asking themselves how much time it took the bakers to prepare the cake. The company has
always made it a point that it prepares a beautiful cake every year for His Majesty’s birthday
celebrations.’

The Swazi Observer said, ‘The purple and cream white cake was set on a gold stand that
connected the 49 pieces to make it one and the artistic look was finished off with a gold lion
shaped piece.’

The King, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, marked his
49th birthday while more than one in three of his subjects were kept alive by international
food aid. The WFP reported 350,000 people were in need of emergency food assistance, with
640,000 potentially affected by some degree of food insecurity at the peak of the lean season
(November 2016 - April 2017).

The WFP reported that its efforts to feed Swaziland was underfunded and people might not
get fed in June 2017.

It reported, ‘Chronic malnutrition is a main concern in Swaziland: stunting affects 26 percent


of children under five years. Swaziland is vulnerable to drought in the south east. 77 percent
of Swazis rely on subsistence farming for their livelihoods.’

In 2015, King Mswati hosted a birthday party for himself that cost at least E1.2 million
(US$120,000). According to a report in the Sunday Observer, a newspaper in effect owned
by the King, 35 cattle and 1,000 blankets were also presented to the King. The King’s
subjects, through their chiefs, also contributed 69 cattle, two goats and E5,400 cash.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Observer reported, ‘The dinner was indeed a glamorous event that was attended by Her
Majesty the Queen Mother, Emakhosikati, members of the royal family, chiefs, diplomats,
acting Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala, cabinet ministers, members of parliament and advisory
councils.’

The newspaper said the dinner held at Ebuhleni Royal Residence was mainly sponsored by
the Indonesian Consular and businessman Kareem Ashraf.

In a speech, the King told his admirers that God blessed his party. He said, ‘The nation will
recall that during the evening programme (on April 19) we received blessings from God in
the form of rain. It is our traditional belief that when it rains after a national ceremony it
means God is happy with the whole event.’

In 2013, his birthday party cost US$3.6 million, but Percy Simelane, spokesperson for the
Swazi Government, which is handpicked by the King, said this money did not come out of
the kingdom’s budget for celebrations and national events. He told Voice of America radio,
‘The King’s birthday was privately sponsored this year, as [was] the case last year.’
He did not say who sponsored the event.

Also in 2013, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a banned political
party in Swaziland, reported 32 BMW cars had been delivered to King ahead of his 45th
birthday celebrations.

In 2012, the King was embroiled in a row when he took delivery of a private jet plane, worth
an estimated US$46 million. He claimed that the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 twin-engine jet
was a gift from an admirer, but declined to say who it was. This led to speculation that the jet
had been purchased out of public funds.

The King choses a different area of his kingdom to visit for his birthday celebrations. In 2012
the venue was Shiselweni, Swaziland’s poorest region. Locals were forced to give up their
cattle for the King. At the time, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), a banned
organisation in Swaziland, called for the party to be cancelled.

It said in a statement, ‘Shiselweni is the country’s poorest region, the same area where the
country’s poorest citizens live. Areas like Lavumisa are so poverty stricken that its residents
have at times been reported to be living on poisonous shrubs. Despite this abject poverty in
the region, the King has insensitively decided to throw a lavish birthday party and rub his
stolen riches in the people’s poverty stricken faces.’

In 2014, the King’s birthday party received global attention when world-famous hip-hop and
soul singer Erykah Badu sang for the monarch.

King Mswati’s grip on power in his kingdom is so great that at the time magazine editor
Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko were serving two years in jail for
contempt of court after calling the independence of the Swazi judicial system into question in
articles in a small circulation magazine, the Nation.

Also, seven people were in jail awaiting trial for wearing T-shirts supporting the pro-
democracy group PUDEMO.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

It was against this background that Badu, who in the past had been a vocal supporter of
human rights, sang the King’s praises and gave him a US$100 note as a gift.

See also
KING DEMANDS COWS FROM THE POOR
KING GETS 32 BMW CARS FOR HIS BIRTHDAY
KING PARTIES WHILE CHILDREN DIE

Protest prepared for King’s birthday


7 April 2018

A protest in support of human rights in Swaziland is planned for King Mswati III’s 50th
birthday.

It will be in London on 19 April 2018 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit.


Organisers ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa) said in a statement, ‘King Mswati III,
Africa’s last absolute monarch, is likely to be in the UK for the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting that week. 19 April is actually the King’s 50th birthday – but for many
Swazis the occasion won’t be one to celebrate. Swaziland is deeply unequal and corruption at
all levels is rife. Yet those who peacefully challenge the King and his government face
repression.’

It added, ‘The Commonwealth has singularly failed to hold the Swazi authorities to account.
The Commonwealth Secretariat does not appear to have a strategy for applying pressure on
the King. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group must now review Swaziland’s status
and the Commonwealth Secretary General must explicitly support this action. The
Commonwealth’s credibility is on the line.’

ACTSA said the protest would be outside the Commonwealth Secretariat (Marlborough
House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX) from 11.30 am to 1.30 pm. Swazi diaspora groups
and international trade unionists, among others, would be participating in the protest, it said.
ACTSA, the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, has a long history of advocacy for
human rights in Swaziland. One briefing paper Swaziland’s Downward Spiral: The
International Community Must Act Now warned that Swaziland might plunge into a
protracted crisis unless the international community, including the UK, applied serious
pressure on the Government of Swaziland so that it respected human rights and developed a
genuinely democratic constitution. UNISON and other UK trade unionists have also been
supportive of the development of a Swazi Rural Women’s Charter, which is discussed in
another ACTSA publication Women’s Rights in Swaziland.

The paper reported that King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, was one of the
main reasons why women in the kingdom remain oppressed. ACTSA 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’.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

ACTSA added, ‘The King has demonstrated he is unwilling to change the status quo and
promotes multiple aspects of the patriarchal society.’

See also
UK UNIONS BACK SWAZI RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
KING ‘TO BLAME’ FOR WOMEN’S INEQUALITY
CALL FOR GLOBAL PRESURE ON GOVT

Confused status of Swazi widows


16 April 2018

The Swaziland King has ordered widows to immediately remove their mourning gowns so
that they can take part in his 50th birthday celebrations.
But at the same time it has been confirmed that widows cannot contest the forthcoming
national election.

In Swaziland tradition has it that a widow must wear a mourning gown for two years after the
death of her husband and then go through a cleansing ceremony.

Now, acting Ludzidzini governor Lusendvo Fakudze, who is known as the voice of the King,
has ordered all widows to remove their mourning gowns with immediate effect. The King,
who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, celebrates his 50th
birthday on Thursday (19 April 2018.) So-called 50/50 Celebrations are planned on that day
to mark his birthday and also the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s Independence from Great
Britain that falls on 6 September 2018.

The Ludzidzini governor is also known as the traditional prime minister and has more status
in the kingdom than Barnabas Dlamini the man King Mswati appointed Prime Minister to
lead the cabinet the King also hand-picked.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported on Wednesday (11
April 2018) the order came from the King and was communicated by Fakudze through state
radio.

It reported him saying, ‘Women are expected to down their mourning gowns with immediate
effect. This is done in preparation for the 50/50 celebrations.’

He also said that women who lost their husbands before the 50/50 celebrations were not
expected to wear mourning gowns even after the celebrations.

The order contradicts a separate directive given by Fakudze that widows would not be
allowed to stand in the national election that is due at a date later in 2018 yet to be set by the
King. Fakudze told the Swazi Observer (12 April 2018) they would not be allowed to contest

30
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

the election until they had been in mourning for two years and gone through a cleansing
ceremony.

The newspaper reported, ‘Elections and Boundaries Commission Chairperson Chief Gija
Dlamini also confirmed that women who lost their husbands could register for elections only
after the two-year mourning period and cleansing ceremony.’

Coordinating Assembly for Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO) Communications


Officer Nkosing’phile Myeni said the directive was unconstitutional. Section 28 of the
Swaziland Constitution stated, ‘Women have the right to equal treatment with men and that
right shall include equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities.’

The Swazi Observer reported on Friday (13 April 2018) he also said Section 28 (3) made
provisions for women not to be compelled to observe cultural norms that they did not agree
with. The section states, ‘A woman shall not be compelled to undergo or uphold any custom
to which she is in conscience opposed.’

See also
WIDOWS STILL CAN’T STAND IN ELECTION
PRESIDENT ‘BANNED’ FROM SWAZI SENATE
‘VOTE FOR WIDOW, GET EVICTED’

King waits for gifts from his subjects


2 May 2018

People in impoverished Swaziland are being encouraged to take birthday gifts to the
kingdom’s absolute monarch King Mswati III.

The King marked his 50th birthday on 19 April 2018 with a party for 700 guests. He wore a
watch worth US$1.6 million and a diamond-studded suit to the event where he cut a cake
with 52 layers.

Days before that party he took delivery of his second private jet. This one, an A340-300
Airbus, reportedly cost as much as US$30 million after VIP upgrades.

Meanwhile seven in ten of the 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less
than the equivalent of US$2 per day.

Now, the Swazi Minister of Home Affairs Princess Tsandzile, herself a sister of the King, has
announced ordinary people can take gifts to the Lozitha Royal Palace.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported on Wednesday (2
May 2018), she said, ‘There are no specifications of people or gifts but everyone who has
anything to present to His Majesty for his 50th birthday is expected to be at Lozitha on Friday
[4 May 2018].’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Such tributes are expected each year. In 2015, King Mswati hosted a birthday party for
himself that cost at least E1.2 million (US$120,000). According to a report in the Sunday
Observer at the time, 35 cattle and 1,000 blankets were presented to the King. The King’s
subjects, through their chiefs, also contributed 69 cattle, two goats and E5,400 cash.

The King choses a different area of his kingdom to visit for his birthday celebrations. In 2012
the venue was Shiselweni, Swaziland’s poorest region. Locals were forced to give up their
cattle for the King. At the time, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), a banned
organisation in Swaziland, called for the party to be cancelled.

It said in a statement, ‘Shiselweni is the country’s poorest region, the same area where the
country’s poorest citizens live. Areas like Lavumisa are so poverty stricken that its residents
have at times been reported to be living on poisonous shrubs. Despite this abject poverty in
the region, the King has insensitively decided to throw a lavish birthday party and rub his
stolen riches in the people’s poverty stricken faces.’

In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people of Swaziland’s
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
SWAZI KING AND QUEENS OF BLING
KING WEARS WATCH WORTH US$1.6-million
KING WEARS SUIT BEADED WITH DIAMONDS

Govt shy on cost of 50/50 celebration


7 May 2018

The Swaziland Government is being coy about the cost of the double celebrations in April to
mark King Mswati III’s 50th birthday and the kingdom’s 50 years of Independence.

The so-called 50/50 Celebration took place on 19 April 2018. At a party for 700 guests, King
Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, wore a watch worth US$1.6
million and a suit studded with diamonds. Days earlier he took delivery of his second private
jet which with VIP upgrades is reported to have cost US$30 million.

Reports circulating on social media suggest the cost of 50/50 could have been as much as E1
billion (US$80 million).

The Sunday Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported (6 May 2018) that
the Ministry of Home Affairs would not comment on the total cost of 50/50.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The newspaper reported Ministry of Home Affairs Principal Secretary Steven Masilela
saying ‘people suggesting the event was a drain on the public purse are misleading the nation
at large’.

He would not give the true cost of the celebration but said ‘a large chunk’ of the money used
came from donations from the business community and other institutions. He said Taiwan
had given E15 million.

The newspaper reported, ‘Critics have claimed that the country’s priorities were not in order,
directing public funds to the national event much against the need to address poverty and
inequality.’

In Swaziland, seven in ten of the 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes
less than the equivalent of US$2 per day.

Funding of the event has caused concerns in Swaziland. It was reported that the equivalent of
US$1.7 million (E22 million) of public funds would be used on the event. E1 million of
money intended to support poor and disabled people was donated by the Swaziland National
Provident Fund. Army and police personnel had funds deducted from their salaries.

Nothing to celebrate for most Swazis


Kenworthy News Media, 19 April 2018

Swaziland is one of the world’s most unequal countries, where over ten percent survive on
food aid. Absolute monarch King Mswati is celebrating his and his independent country’s
50th birthday by giving himself a new plane and throwing a huge party.

Today (19 April 2018), Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III begun what
Swaziland’s official tourist website refers to as “lavish celebrations” and “a party fit for a
king”.

The so-called 50/50 celebrations are a combined celebration of Mswati’s 50th birthday and
the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence in September.

King Mswati amongst other things bought himself an A340-300 Airbus that was flown into
the King Mswati III Airport a couple of days ago. The plane is believed to have cost US$15
million.

Food aid and evictions


Many of King Mswati’s subjects can only dream of such opulence. According to the World
Food Programme, about 14 percent survive on food aid from the UN. According to the World
Bank, over 40 percent earn less than US$1.90 a day.

Just days before the celebrations, Pakistan donated 1 million US Dollars to help feed starving
children in Swaziland, according to Swazi Media Commentary. The Swazi government
claimed it could not afford to pay for the food.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Two weeks ago, 61 people in rural Swaziland, including more than 30 children, were left
homeless after their homes were demolished by armed police and bulldozers, Amnesty
International reported. The evictions were carried out in accordance with a court order.
“The affected people were not provided with an alternative accommodation, forcing some of
them to take refuge at a local school. Others slept in the open at the site of the demolitions
with their belongings”, Amnesty International wrote in a press release.

According to the British human rights organisation, “Swaziland has a long history of forced
evictions”.

Robin Hood in reverse


Many ordinary Swazis have been forced to contribute to King Mswati’s celebrations, even
though he is worth an estimated US$200 million.

South African paper eNCA reported, that over $80.000 that had been intended for retired and
disabled people in Swaziland were instead used to help pay for King Mswati’s birthday party.
Judges were also sent a memorandum from the office of Swaziland’s Chief Justice on April
4, where they were asked to make a contribution of a minimum of $160 for the 50/50
celebrations.

Coupless dictatorship
According to government spokesperson Percy Simelane, the 50/50 celebrations are worth
celebrating, however, because of Swaziland’s peaceful history since independence.
“We are politically stable and have never experienced a coup in those 50 years”, he told
online newspaper The Swaziland.

But the so-called peaceful nature of King Mswati’s regime comes at a price, especially for
ordinary Swazis.

The King controls parliament, the judiciary and the economy. Political parties are banned
from taking part in elections. Political activists are beaten up by police. And those advocating
democracy are prosecuted under a terrorism act that Amnesty International has called
“inherently repressive”.

Change through activism and democracy


Even so, people in Swaziland continue to protest. Every year, on the anniversary of
Swaziland’s independence from Great Britain on 6 September, Swaziland’s democratic
movement campaign for democracy through marches, seminars and workshops. This so-
called Global Week of Action is organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front.
Last year between four and five thousand people marched to Swaziland’s parliament to
deliver a petition demanding a people’s government, land reforms, rural development and
affordable health and education.

And as recently as last Friday (13 April 2018), about 2.000 people marched through the
capital Mbabane to protest against poor and worsening living conditions. The march was
arranged by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland.

According to political coordinator of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, Wandile


Dludlu, bringing about democratic change in Swaziland is the only way to improve the
situation for the majority of Swazis.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

“Until Swazis truly own and run their country, celebrations such as 50/50 are just personal
enrichment journeys of the king and his close associates, local as well as international”, says
Dludlu.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

3 SWAZILAND NAME CHANGE

King unilaterally renames Swaziland


19 April 2018

King Mswati III of Swaziland demonstrated on Thursday his ability to rule as an autocratic
monarch by unilaterally renaming his kingdom on his 50th birthday.

His surprise command came during his speech at a celebration that had largely gone
unheralded outside of the tiny impoverished kingdom.

The King wearing a red military uniform spoke at what had become known as the 50/50
Celebration to mark both his birthday and the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s Independence
from Great Britain that falls on 6 September 2018.

The Kings proclamation might prove to be unconstitutional, but he has shown little respect
for the Swaziland Constitution that was adopted in 2005 and came into effect a year later.
The King said Swaziland would now be called ‘the Kingdom of eSwatini’. He had been using
this name for some years, even when addressing international bodies such as the United
Nations, but his kingdom was always known officially as ‘The Kingdom of Swaziland.’
Chris Fitch, one of the few journalists from a global media organisation present at the speech
which was made at the Mavuso stadium in Manzini, Swaziland, reported on the Geographical
website, King Mswati told his audience, ‘As we are aware the name “Swaziland” was
inherited from the British. If we are to give true meaning to our independence, time has come
to give our country a name of its people. It must be said that this process is long overdue,
particularly if you consider how other countries in the region localised their names after
independence.’

Fitch reported, ‘After the modest whistles that greeted most of the King’s
pronouncements, the flag-waving crowd saved their loudest cheers for the declaration that the
country would revert to their indigenous name. “I have the pleasure to present to you,” he
declared, “on this historic day, a new name for the kingdom. Our country will now be called
— the Kingdom of eSwatini”’.

The announcement from the King was widely derided on social media with posters debating
new names for institutions such as the Royal Swazi Police and the University of Swaziland.
Thursday (19 April 2018) and Friday are public holidays in Swaziland so the heavily-
censored media in the kingdom itself have yet to report on the name change, but it is expected
they will give enthusiastic support to the move.

Days before the 50/50 Celebration the King had given himself a birthday present when he
took delivery of his second private jet – this one an A340-300 Airbus – that might have cost
as much as US$30 million, paid for out of public funds.

Seven in ten of his 1.1 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes less than the
equivalent of US$2 per day.

36
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

In Swaziland, political parties are not allowed to contest elections and the King chooses the
Prime Minister and government. He also chooses the heads of the army and police force.
Opposition voices are silenced by the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

See also
SECRECY OVER COST OF KING’S NEW JET
‘NO COMMONWEALTH HEADS AT 50/50’
THOUSANDS PROTEST IN SWAZILAND

No name change yet for Swaziland


21 April 2018

Swaziland has not yet changed its name to eSwatini, despite a public announcement from the
absolute ruler King Mswati III.

There needs to be a legal instrument directing the name change.

This was said by Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Chief Mgwagwa
Gamedze after the King’s speech.

Already, opposition is growing inside the tiny impoverished kingdom to the King’s message.
The Observer on Saturday, a newspaper in Swaziland in effect owned by the King, reported
(21 April 2018), Gamedze saying, ‘We stand guided by the Attorney General on the matter.
With that instrument of a name change, we will then forward same correspondence to the
United Nations, African Union and SADC [Southern African Development Community],
which are the main international bodies. They will then inform their subsequent structures of
the name change. So we expect the process of the name change to start soon with the legal
instrument (gazette), so that we can inform the rest of the world thereafter.’

It is not clear how much discussion will take before the ‘legal instrument’ is issued. King
Mswati 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
government ministers.

It is possible the King would simply make a proclamation, without further discussion. There
is a precedent for this. In 1973 Mswati’s father King Sobhuza II proclaimed that from that
date power in the kingdom rested with the King. He dissolved the democratically-elected
parliament and banned political parties. That proclamation has not been cancelled and
remains in force.

The King’s announcement of the name change was made during his speech on Thursday at a
celebration to mark his 50th birthday and the half-century anniversary of Independence from
Great Britain. It came as a surprise and was made without public consultation.

Criticism of the move will be quiet within Swaziland. Those advocating for democracy face
arrest and imprisonment under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The AFP news agency reported that, ‘Critics of the King, who took the throne in 1986 aged
18, said the move was an example of his authoritarian and wasteful reign in a country that
suffers dire poverty.’

It quoted Alvit Dlamini, head of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress, saying, ‘We see
here King Mswati’s autocratic style. He can’t change the name of the country on his own. He
was supposed to consult the nation.’

AFP reported, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland warned that the process was not
immediate. ‘When the king has made a pronouncement, due process must take its course,’
acting general secretary Mduduzi Gina said AFP. ‘The legislature must initiate a process to
amend the constitution. The change cannot be a knee-jerk reaction.’

Absolute King demonstrates his power


19 May 2018

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, has signed what amounts to a decree to
formalise his unilateral decision to change the kingdom’s name to Eswatini.

It demonstrates how much the kingdom is under his control and signals a reminder that
elections due to be held later this year have no validity.

A Legal Notice No 80 of 2018 was released on Thursday (17 May 2018) confirming the
name-change came into force on 19 April 2017. It was then at an event to jointly mark his
50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence from Great Britain, King
Mswati announced his proclamation.

The Legal Notice states that, ‘reference in any written law or international agreement or legal
document to Swaziland shall be read and construed as reference to Eswatini’.

The King’s announcement in April was received with mixed emotions. The heavily-censored
news media in Swaziland welcomed the move joyously. Meanwhile, critics argued that the
King should not make the change without first consulting the people and parliament.

The King’s decree is a reminder that Swaziland is not a democracy. On Sunday (13 May
2018) voter registration began ahead of national elections later this year. Political parties are
banned from taking part and the King picks the Prime Minister and Government. At past
elections people only got to select 55 of 65 members of the House of Assembly. The King
chose the other 10. At this election there will be an additional four seats for people to vote
for. It has not been announced how many members the King will choose but the Swaziland
Constitution allows him to pick up to ten.

As in previous years, none of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate will be elected by the
people; the King will choose 20 and the other 10 will be chosen by members of the House of
Assembly.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The European Union Election Experts Mission (EEM), one of a number of international
groups that monitored the conduct of Swaziland’s previous election in 2013, made much of
how the kingdom’s absolute monarchy undermined democracy.
In its report it stated, ‘The King has absolute power and is considered to be above the law,
including the Constitution, enjoying the power to assent laws and immunity from criminal
proceedings. A bill shall not become law unless the King has assented to it, meaning that the
parliament is unable to pass any law which the King is in disagreement with.

‘The King will refer back the provisions he is not in agreement with, which makes the
parliament and its elected chamber, the House of Assembly, ineffective, unable to achieve the
objective a parliament is created for: to be the legislative branch of the state and maintain the
government under scrutiny.’

The EEM went on to say the ‘main principles for a democratic state are not in place’ in
Swaziland.

It stated, ‘Elections are a mechanism for the popular control of government and ensure the
government accountability to the people. The King appoints the Cabinet. A vote of no
confidence in the prime minister and government from more than two-thirds of the members
of the House, in October [2012], was easily reversed although the Constitution provides that
in such cases the prime minister shall be removed from office.

‘In this context, an analysis of the legal framework for elections seems quite a redundant
exercise, as the main principles for a democratic state are not in place. Although the electoral
legal framework contains the technical aspects required for the proper administration of
elections, it does not conform to international principles for the conduct of democratic
elections, as it does not respect one of the fundamental rights for participation –the freedom
of association.’

The EEM was not alone in recognising Swaziland as undemocratic. In its report on conduct
of the 2013 election, the African Union (AU) mission called for fundamental changes to
ensure people had freedom of speech and of assembly. The AU said the Swaziland
Constitution guaranteed ‘fundamental rights and freedoms including the rights to freedom of
association’, but in practice ‘rights with regard to political assembly and association are not
fully enjoyed’. The AU said this was because political parties were not allowed to contest
elections.

The AU urged Swaziland to review the constitution, especially in the areas of ‘freedoms of
conscience, expression, peaceful assembly, association and movement as well as international
principles for free and fair elections and participation in electoral process’.

In its report on the 2013 elections, Commonwealth observers recommended that measures be
put in place to ensure separation of powers between the government, parliament and the
courts so that Swaziland was in line with its international commitments.

They also called on the Swaziland Constitution to be ‘revisited’.

The report stated, ‘This should ideally be carried out through a fully inclusive, consultative
process with all Swazi political organisations and civil society (needed, with the help of

39
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

constitutional experts), to harmonise those provisions which are in conflict. The aim is to
ensure that Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal.’

It also recommended that a law be passed to allow for political parties to take part in
elections, ‘so as to give full effect to the letter and spirit of Section 25 of the Constitution, and
in accordance with Swaziland’s commitment to its regional and international commitments’.
In 2015, following a visit to Swaziland, a Commonwealth mission renewed its call for the
constitution to be reviewed so the kingdom could move toward democracy.

The constitutional review has not taken place.

Richard Rooney

Legal Notice No 80 of 2018

40
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

4 ELECTION

Election Board awaits King’s command


19 April 2018

Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Chair Chief Gija Dlamini says he
is waiting for King Mswati III’s command before opening the polls.

King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Although
elections are held every five years international polling observers say they are bogus.
Political parties are not allowed to take part in the election and the King choses the Prime
Minister and cabinet members. Only a man with the surname Dlamini can by tradition be
appointed as Prime Minister. The King is a Dlamini.

The King is in control of Swaziland ahead of the 2018 election and he will be in control after
it, regardless of which individuals the people vote into the House of Assembly.

Political debate is severely curtailed in the kingdom and advocates for multiparty democracy
are regularly arrested and charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act or the Sedition and
Subversive Activities Act.

Chief Gija Dlamini, himself a member of the Swazi Royal Family, told the Swazi Observer, a
newspaper in effect owned by the King, that preparations were ready for the election. All he
needed was the King’s command.

The Observer reported on Wednesday (18 April 2018), ‘He said once the King had given the
required command, they would announce the beginning of registration for elections to the
nation.’

It quoted him saying, ‘All systems are ready for the commencement of the national duty, and
we cannot just announce before we get the King’s command, which will give us the go ahead
to announce dates for registration.’

The election process is surrounded by misinformation. In February 2017 the Observer


reported Dlamini speaking on behalf of the King. It quoted him saying, ‘If any Swazi fails to
register to vote for the upcoming 2018 national elections then they are abandoning their basic
right of choosing their own leader, thus hurting the whole kingdom in the process because
they would be silencing their own voice because voting unites the kingdom and gives all
people a voice and a chance to be counted, but most fundamentally of all, Swazis through
voting, have the right to choose who they feel will lead them to the future.’

Dlamini made the comments at a consultative meeting on civic education for traditional
leaders at Pigg’s Peak on 2 February 2017.

However, he misled his audience and those who read his statement in the newspaper. The
Swazi people have no say in who their leaders are. They are only allowed to select 55 of the
65 members of the House of Assembly, the other 10 are appointed by the King. None of the
30 members of the Swaziland Senate are elected by the people; the King appoints 20
members and the other 10 are appointed by the House of Assembly.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

He also choses senior civil servants and top judges. The elections have no real purpose other
than to give King Mswati a fig leaf of democracy. The Swazi Parliament has no powers. King
Mswati can, and does, overrule decisions he does not like. This was the case in October 2012
when the King refused to accept a vote of no confidence passed by the House of Assembly
on his government, even though he was obliged by the constitution to do so.

After the last election in 2013 a number of groups that had been official observers of the
process reported the election was not free and fair.

The official report of the Commonwealth Observer Mission called for a review of the
kingdom’s constitution. It said members of parliament ‘continue to have severely limited
powers’ and political parties are banned.

The Commonwealth observers said there was ‘considerable room for improving the
democratic system’.

They called for King Mswati’s powers to be reduced. ‘The presence of the monarch in
everyday political life inevitably associates the institution of monarchy with politics, a
situation that runs counter to the development that the re-establishment of the Parliament and
the devolution of executive authority into the hands of elected officials,’ it said.

The report said the constitution needed to be revisited with an open debate on what changes
were necessary.

It added, ‘This should ideally be carried out through a fully inclusive, consultative process
with all Swazi political organisations and civil society (if needed) with the help of
constitutional experts.’

The African Union (AU) also urged Swaziland to review the Constitution, especially in the
areas of ‘freedoms of conscience, expression, peaceful assembly, association and movement
as well as international principles for free and fair elections and participation in electoral
process.’

The AU called on Swaziland to implement the African Commission’s Resolution


on Swaziland in 2012 that called on the Government, ‘to respect, protect and fulfil the rights
to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly’.

Richard Rooney

Shun the bogus Swaziland election


1 May 2018

Commentary

Swaziland has asked other countries to send it money to help pay for upcoming national
elections. It is a request that must be refused. The elections are widely recognised to be
bogus.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The kingdom is ruled by King Mswati III as the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan
Africa.

Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the Prime
Minister and the Cabinet. The PM is always a Dlamini; the King’s clan.
Elections are held every five years 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.

After the last election in 2013, King Mswati appointed nine princes and princesses to the
House of Assembly and the Senate.

King Mswati also appointed four chiefs and one acting chief. In Swaziland chiefs are the
personal representatives of the King in their local areas. They are seen as the eyes and ears of
the king and often delegate his powers to themselves.

He also appointed another 16 members of his Royal Family to top political jobs; effectively
carving up public life in the kingdom in his favour.

The next election is due later in 2018 at a date yet to be set by the King; the present
parliament ends in October.

Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission Chair Chief Gija Dlamini (a half-brother
of the King) said he welcomed financial assistance from abroad. The Swazi Observer, a
newspaper in effect owned by the King, on Thursday (26 April 2018) reported him saying,
‘Even prominent countries like the United States of America seek financial assistance from
other countries at times so we wouldn’t close the door on donor aid towards the elections, but
would gladly appreciate assistance,’ he said.

Democracies would serve the people of Swaziland better by rebuffing calls for assistance.
They should also decline invitations to monitor the election for fairness. Instead, they should
clearly state that the election cannot be considered free and fair under the present political
set-up.

There are precedents for this. In 2008 the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Swaziland
Peter Beck Christiansen said the EU would not be ‘observing’ the election. He was reported
by the Times of Swaziland saying there were ‘shortcomings in the kingdom’s democracy’. He
highlighted that the Prime Minister and Cabinet were not elected by Parliament.

In 2003, the Commonwealth Expert Group declined an invitation to observe the election. In a
letter it stated, ‘We do not regard the credibility of these National elections as an issue: no
elections can be credible when they are for a Parliament which does not have power and
when political parties are banned.’

Indeed, the parliament has no power. The Prime Minister is merely a placeman for the King.
This is no secret. The present Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini is on record saying the
government belonged to the King. The Times Sunday also reported him saying, ‘Government
listens when His Majesty speaks and we will always implement the wishes of the King and
the Queen Mother.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Many organisations have called for Swaziland’s constitution to be rewritten to make the
kingdom more democratic.

In November 2008 the Commonwealth Expert Team, which had monitored the election that
year called for a review of the constitution because the elections were not credible since
political parties were banned in Swaziland.

After the most recent national election in 2013, the African Union (AU) mission called for
fundamental changes in the kingdom to ensure people had freedom of speech and of
assembly. The AU said the Swaziland Constitution guaranteed ‘fundamental rights and
freedoms including the rights to freedom of association’, but in practice ‘rights with regard to
political assembly and association are not fully enjoyed’. The AU said this was because
political parties were not allowed to contest elections.

The AU urged Swaziland to review the constitution, especially in the areas of ‘freedoms of
conscience, expression, peaceful assembly, association and movement as well as international
principles for free and fair elections and participation in electoral process’.

In its report on the 2013 elections, the Commonwealth observers recommended that measures
be put in place to ensure separation of powers between the government, parliament and the
courts so that Swaziland was in line with its international commitments.

They also called on the Swaziland Constitution to be ‘revisited’.

The report stated, ‘This should ideally be carried out through a fully inclusive, consultative
process with all Swazi political organisations and civil society (needed, with the help of
constitutional experts), to harmonise those provisions which are in conflict. The aim is to
ensure that Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal.’

It also recommended that a law be passed to allow for political parties to take part in
elections, ‘so as to give full effect to the letter and spirit of Section 25 of the Constitution, and
in accordance with Swaziland’s commitment to its regional and international commitments’.

In 2015, following a visit to Swaziland, a Commonwealth mission renewed its call for the
constitution to be reviewed so the kingdom could move toward democracy.

Richard Rooney

See also
DAY DEMOCRACY DIED IN SWAZILAND
KING IN TOTAL CONTROL OF HIS KINGDOM
IN PRAISE OF POLITICAL PARTIES

Chorus against Swazi election grows


17 June 2018

44
SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) has joined the growing chorus of international
observers to declare elections in Swaziland / Eswatini undemocratic.

King Mswati III rules the kingdom as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and
political parties are banned from taking part and many political activists are labelled
‘terrorists’ under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Sunit Bagree, Senior Campaigns Officer at ACTSA, writing on the Swaziland Human Rights
Network UK website, said, ‘Local chiefs - who report to Mswati III - have enormous
influence over elections to the House of Assembly, and the King directly appoints two-thirds
of the Senate. Moreover, the King appoints the Prime Minister and he can veto legislation. If
anyone criticises the King then they are breaking the law.’

Bagree wrote, ‘It is therefore unsurprising that the 2013 national elections were condemned
by international observers. For example, the Commonwealth Observer Mission recommended
that the constitution should be revisited “through a fully inclusive, consultative process with
all Swazi political organisations and civil society to harmonise provisions which are in
conflict … to ensure that Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal”.

‘Similarly, the European Union (EU) Election Experts Mission highlighted numerous
breaches of Swaziland’s international obligations and identified a “fundamental problem
[with] the system of government and the respect for the principles of separation of power,
rule of law and independence of the judiciary”’.

Bagree called on the Commonwealth and the European Union to do more to bring attention to
Swaziland and to be more critical of the absolute monarch, King Mswati.

He wrote, ‘Incredibly, the EU’s Ambassador to Swaziland, Esmeralda Hernandez Aragones,


has gone as far as to praise the King’s “wise and strong leadership”’.

Bagree added, ‘Whenever criticised, both the Commonwealth and the EU are quick to point
out that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is highly reluctant to take
action on Swaziland. It is true that SADC has failed to hold Swaziland to account for its
violations of the SADC Treaty. Indeed, Swaziland’s absolute monarch was actually the
Chairperson of SADC for one year from August 2016, during which time he even had the
gall to urge the regional organisation’s leaders “to remain committed to the ideals and
principles of the SADC Treaty”’.

Bagree wrote, ‘Is simply not enough to note that elections in Swaziland are flawed. The
international community must apply strong, consistent and public pressure on Mswati III
using a variety of diplomatic and economic levers. Only then will the King accept the need to
work with all Swazis, including his political opponents, so that the country develops a
democratic constitution and becomes governed by those who are properly elected and truly
accountable. And only then will the citizens of Swaziland have a government that is
committed to rights, equality and development for all.’

Court bid to allow parties in election


28 May 2018

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) is going to the High Court to try to force
absolute monarch King Mswati III to allow political parties to contest the forthcoming
election.

Parties have been banned from running since a royal decree in 1973 established the absolute
monarchy.

SWADEPA wants its party members to openly contest the election due later this year. Under
the present system of ‘Monarchical Democracy’ people are only allowed to stand as
individuals. At the last election in 2013 Jan Sithole the SWADEPA President was elected in
this way to the House of Assembly in Manzini North.

The application is expected to be heard on 20 July 2018.

Elections are held every five years in Swaziland but international observers do not consider
them to be ‘free and fair’ because political parties cannot take part. At past elections people
only got to select 55 of 65 members of the House of Assembly. The King chose the other 10.
At the forthcoming election there will be an additional four seats for people to vote for. It has
not been announced how many members the King will choose but the Swaziland Constitution
allows him to pick up to ten.

As in previous years, none of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate will be elected by the
people; the King will choose 20 and the other 10 will be chosen by members of the House of
Assembly. The King picks the Prime Minister and Government.

See also
U.S. AMBASSADOR ENCOURAGES PARTIES
PARTIES STILL BANNED FROM ELECTION
ONE IN THREE WANT POLITICAL PARTIES
SWAZIS WANT DEMOCRACY - SURVEY
EU TELLS KING: ‘FREE PARTIES’
UK CALLS FOR PARTIES TO BE UN-BANNED

Bill to get women in parliament


29 April 2018

A Bill has been tabled in the Swaziland parliament to ensure 30 percent of members of the
House of Assembly are women. It has taken 12 years to get this far.

Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The
King chooses 10 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly and 10 members of the 30-
strong Senate. Members of the House of Assembly choose the other 20.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Constitution that came into effect in 2006 requires five women to be elected to the
Senate by the House and the King to choose another eight. There have been two national
elections since the Constitution came into effect and the required number of women members
of parliament has not been met.

On representation in the House of Assembly, the Constitution states, ‘The nominated


members of the House shall be appointed by the King so that at least half of them are
women.’

It also requires there are four female members specially elected from the four regions of
Swaziland.

At the last election in 2013 only one woman, Mbabane East MP Esther Dlamini, was elected
to the House of Assembly. The King appointed only three women and no women were
elected from the four regions.

Following the elections, the King filled five of the eight designated seats in the Senate with
women, while the House of Assembly named five women to the Senate.

The Election of Women Members to the House of Assembly Bill was tabled in the House of
Assembly in early April 2018. It is reported that it should become law before the next
national election takes place at a date in 2018 yet to be set by the King.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported on Monday (23
April 2018) that the Bill will force the House of Assembly to elect four women into it, with
one woman coming from each region. This will only happen if that number has not been
elected by the voting public.

The Bill also sets out a procedure for selecting the women members. It makes no reference to
the selection of Senate members.

The move to pass a Bill comes after the King directed parliament to create a legal tool for the
election of women.

Women have always been under-represented in Swazi parliaments. Generally, in traditional


Swazi culture women are treated as minors under the control of their husbands, fathers or
family members.

The percentage of House of Assembly candidates who were women at the 2008 election was
24 percent. The figure fell to 17 percent for the 2013 election.

In a voter education meeting in 2017 held to sensitise chiefs in the kingdom about the 2018
election the Elections and Boundaries Commission was warned not to encourage the
electorate to vote for women for gender-balance reasons.

The Swazi Observer reported at the time Chief Mdlaka Gamedze, said the call by many
organisations to vote for women may lead to interference with the people’s choices.

It reported, ‘Instead, Gamedze urged the EBC team to encourage the freedom to nominate or
elect any member of the society without considering whether it is a male or female.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

It added, ‘Gamedze said the electorate must be free to vote for candidates who they deem fit
to develop their constituencies.’

At the same meeting the Observer reported, ‘Chief Mvimbi Matse reported that some women
were denied the opportunity to contest for the elections by their husbands. Matse said there
have been instances where women were nominated during the first stage but later withdrew
after their husbands instructed them to do so.’

That problem was echoed by women at a voter education meeting at KaGucuka in July 2017.
They said some women in Swaziland were too scared to stand as candidates because their
husbands would be angry and even disown them.

During the 2008 Swazi national election, women who campaigned for women to be elected to
the House of Assembly were branded ‘evil’ by chiefs.

See also
WIDOWS CAN STAND IN SWAZI ELECTION
WOMAN IN PANTS BANNED FROM ELECTION
KING APPOINTS HIS FAMILY TO PARLIAMENT
KING APPOINTS 6 OF HIS FAMILY TO SENATE

Election of women bill stalls


25 May 2018

Evidence is growing in Swaziland that traditionalists do not support a constitutional change


to ensure 30 percent of members of the House of Assembly are women.

It has taken 10 years for a Bill to reach parliament and on Monday (21 May 2018) debate on
it was halted because some members left the house leaving fewer than the necessary quorum
of 30 in place.

During the debate on the Election of Women Members to the House of Assembly Bill,
Mbabane West Member of Parliament (MP) Johane Shongwe said that wives should not
stand for election unless they had the permission of their husbands. His comments were
reported prominently by both of Swaziland’s daily newspapers.

The Times of Swaziland, reported he ‘had some of his colleagues in stitches while others were
seething with anger’.

The Times reported, ‘In his usual funny tone’, Shongwe said he was in favour of passing the
Bill but had an issue with the fact that some of the women who would be nominated would be
people’s wives.

It added, he queried, ‘If I nominate someone’s wife, who will I say gave me the permission?’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland
as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported Shongwe saying, ‘It is difficult for
women to nominate one another in chiefdoms. Therefore, it is advisable for them to get
permission from their husbands. I was nominated by a woman to be where I am right now, to
show that most women would rather nominate a man than another woman.’

The Observer reported, ‘The legislator further said women MPs would sometimes attend
workshops at places far away from their homes. This would mean they would have to go for
days without sleeping next to their husbands at home. MP Shongwe said this could pose a
problem for the husband, especially if his permission was not sought by the wife before
taking the politics path.’

Later, Silindelo Nkosi, Advocacy Officer, for the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse
(SWAGAA), said, ‘This is clear backward thinking. While the rest of the world is advocating
and promoting gender equality, it is rather worrying to have a prominent public figure
making such an irresponsible statement with no shame.’

The Election of Women Members to the House of Assembly Bill will put into legal force the
constructional requirements. It was tabled in the House of Assembly in April 2018 on the
instruction of the King. It is hoped that it would become law before the next national election
due later in 2018.

Registration opens for Swazi election


15 May 2018

Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) says it is fully prepared for the
forthcoming national election. Registration is open and runs to 17 June 2018.

EBC Chair Chief Gija Dlamini has been talking up the election and says he expects people to
‘vote in their numbers’. A date for the election has yet to be announced.

He should hope that there is not a re-run of the chaotic registration process at the last election
in 2013. Across the kingdom people turned up to register at 400 centres only to be turned
away. Excuses given to them ranged from computer equipment not working to polling clerks
not properly trained to perform their duties.

The campaign to sign up voters was sluggish and the EBC struggled to generate interest so
registration was extended by a week.

Eventually, the EBC announced 411,084 people had registered to vote out of the 600,000
people in the kingdom it said were eligible to vote. At the previous election in 2008, the EBC
signed up 88 percent of the eligible 400,000 population. If it signed up a similar proportion in
2013, there should have been 528,000 people on the electoral roll.

A campaign to boycott the election may have affected registration numbers. Political parties
are banned from taking part in elections and the parliament that is selected has no real power
and acts as a rubber stamp for King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

In the past people only got to select 55 of 65 members of the House of Assembly. The King
chose the other 10. This time there will be an additional four seats for people to vote for. It
has not been announced how many members the King will choose but the Swaziland
Constitution allows him to pick up to ten.

As in previous years, no members of the Swazi Senate will be elected by the people; the King
will choose 20 and the other 10 will be chosen by members of the House of Assembly.

There was reported corruption during registration in 2013. The EBC said some people were
offered bribes of E100 (US$10 at the then exchange rate) or E200 to register twice.

The EBC said it did not have enough money to run the election successfully as the Swazi
Government had cut its allocation from E200 million to E100 million. It is claimed that it
could not afford enough staff to monitor the registration of voters across the whole kingdom.
The ability of members of the EBC to do their job was questioned. King Mswati appointed
the EBC in 2008 and at the time many civil society organisations and pro-democracy
campaigners criticised the choices because members were inexperienced. The Swazi
Constitution demands that the EBC chair should be a qualified judge, but King Mswati
appointed one of his half-brothers, Chief Gija Dlamini, who was variously described at the
time as an electrician or electrical engineer, to the post, which he still holds today.

The Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) shortly after the 2008 election reported,
‘Almost all the stakeholders regarded the members of the EBC as royal appointees.
‘Stakeholders did not regard the EBC as independent and believed that the EBC operated
under the instruction of the King. Stakeholders also expressed the view that the EBC was not
representative of society as a whole, but was drawn exclusively from government officials or
members of the aristocracy.

‘Most believed that the Commissioners do not meet the qualifications laid down in the
constitution in Article 90(6): “The chairperson, deputy chairperson and the other members of
the Commission shall possess the qualifications of a Judge of the superior courts or be
persons of high moral character, proven integrity, relevant experience and demonstrable
competence in the conduct of public affairs”’.

Confusion over Swazi voter numbers


26 May 2018

Commentary

As registration for the forthcoming election in Swaziland entered its second week, more than
100,000 had reportedly signed up.

Martin Dlamini, the Managing Editor of the Times of Swaziland, and one of the chief
cheerleaders for King Mswati III, the kingdom’s absolute monarch, called the turnout
‘impressive’. In his column in the newspaper on Friday (25 May 2018) he said it showed
there were ‘potential voters eager to elect new Members of Parliament’.

But he (and we) have no way of knowing if these figures are impressive or not. That is
because we do not know how many people in the undemocratic kingdom are entitled to vote.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

At the start of registration for the last election in 2013 the Elections and Boundaries
Commission (EBC) announced 600,000 people were eligible to vote (but observers
questioned at the time this was an under-estimate of the true figure.) At the election in 2008,
the EBC gave the figure as 400,000.

This time around no figure has been given. It is not even clear what Swaziland’s total
population is. In November 2017, the Swaziland Government announced it was 1,093,238
people, according to the 2017 census. Of these, 562,127 were females and 531,111, males. It
did not give a clear breakdown according to age, but said 35.6 per cent of the population were
of ‘working age’. That would amount to 389,192 people, a far cry from the 600,000 eligible
to vote last time.

The accuracy of the total population count is in doubt. For years, outside organisations had
been estimating the size of the population in Swaziland and recording it as much higher than
1.1 million. The CIA Factbook gave the figure in July 2017 as an estimated 1,467,152
(373,914 higher than the government figure).

The CIA figures breakdown the ages. Unfortunately, it does not state how many are aged 18
and over (the eligible voting age), but it shows the number of people aged 25 and over as
628,935. It also shows 324,495 people aged between 15 and 24. We cannot be certain how
many from this group are aged 18 or over, but an educated guess would be that when added
to those aged 25 and over the number of people eligible to vote is comfortably between
700,000 and 800,000.

Which of the two estimates of the population is more accurate? We cannot say for certain, but
it is on public record that there were many problems collecting information for the 2017
census. In April 2018, long after the census was completed and results announced, the Swazi
Observer reported that enumerators (the people who did the counting) were still owed E1.3
million (US$104,000) in payments. That suggests the census was not run very efficiently.

It matters that we have an accurate figure for the number of people eligible to vote. Elections
in Swaziland are recognised outside the kingdom to be undemocratic. Political parties cannot
take part and people vote under a system of ‘Monarchical Democracy’ that underpins the
King’s place as an absolute monarch. The King and his supporters say that the people of
Swaziland like it that way and there is no need for change.

But that has never been tested. Media are censored and freedom of assembly is limited, so
there has never been an a opportunity to debate whether people are truly happy with the
political system. The turnout at elections is used by the King’s supporters as a way of
measuring this. That is why it is in the interest of the King to spread the message that they are
well supported.

Martin Dlamini, who doubles up as a newspaper editor and an official paid praise singer for
King Mswati, says the 100,000 who have signed up to vote so far is ‘impressive’. But, really
it is not if there are more than 700,000 people able to vote.

At the last election in 2013 the EBC said there were 600,000 people eligible to vote.
Assuming (although it was disputed as being too low) this was an accurate figure, in 2013
414,704 people registered to vote. At the final (secondary) election, 251,278 actually voted.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

That was only 41.8 percent of those supposedly entitled to vote and hardly a ringing
endorsement for the validity of the election.

Richard Rooney

See also
VOTERS SNUB SWAZI ELECTION
VOTING CHAOS AS NUMBERS DON’T ADD UP

Election Board targets fewer voters


2 June 2018

Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) is targeting to register fewer


voters for the forthcoming national election than registered at the last poll in 2013.

EBC Chairman Chief Gija Dlamini said it was targeting 500,000 voters. The Swazi Observer
reported on Friday (1 June 2018) he said, ‘It could be a miracle to have all eligible Emaswati
[Swazi people] turning out for registering but we are expecting the number to reach 80 per
cent.’ If this figure is met, 400,000 people will register. He said 278,888 people had already
registered.

The 400,000 target is fewer than the 414,704 people who registered to vote in 2013.

The Observer reported Dlamini saying the 500,000 figure was based on the population census
undertaken in 2017. However, this figure contradicts an announcement made by the Swazi
Government in November 2017, that the total population was 1,093,238 people. It did not say
how many people were aged 18 or over (the voting age), but said 35.6 per cent of the
population were of ‘working age’. That would amount to 389,192 people.

The Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-
Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, did not report that at the last election in 2013,
Dlamini said the EBC was targeting 600,00 people to register.

He told this to the Voice of America radio on 26 May 2013. When it became clear that the
EBC would not make this target, he denied it had ever been set.

Poor start to voter registration


18 May 2018

With the election registration in Swaziland only days old there is a report of corruption and
another of nepotism. Voting equipment is not available across the kingdom.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday (15 May 2018) an aspiring member of the
parliament who it did not name had been accused of bribing people E50 if they registered at
his chiefdom. He reportedly ferried people in a hired car from Kwaluseni to register at
Ngwane Park. Police are investigating.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The first day of registration on Sunday was marred by confusion. People at many registration
centres across the kingdom were turned away as no registration kits were available.

The Times of Swaziland, reported on Monday several registration centres visited by reporters
were found with only the registration clerks, assistants, and police officers. It reported the
registration kit includes a laptop, scanner, fixed camera, biometric scanner and a printer.
The Times reported Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Communications Officer
Mbonisi Bhembe said they had technological challenges, including software issues and slow
Internet connections.

The problems came despite previous EBC assurances it was ready for the election. It said it
had trained about 600 people to administer the election, mostly during the registration period.
EBC chairman Chief Gija Dlamini told media in April 2018 the trained people were
unemployed students from tertiary institutions and pupils who had just finished high school.
He said the people had been recommended by chiefs.

On Thursday the Swazi Observer reported residents at Mbangweni complained of nepotism


when four people selected to assist in the election were from the same family. It reported
Inkhosatana Gelane, the acting KoNtshingila chief, saying they were ‘loyal and respectful
residents’. The Shiselweni Regional Administrator Themba Masuku is investigating.

The registration process at the last election in 2013 had similar computer problems and there
was reported corruption during registration in 2013. The EBC said some people were offered
bribes of E100 (US$10 at the then exchange rate) or E200 to register twice.

Political parties are banned from taking part in the election and King Mswati III, who rules as
sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, picks the Prime Minister and Government. At
past elections people only got to select 55 of 65 members of the House of Assembly. The
King chose the other 10. At this election there will be an additional four seats for people to
vote for. It has not been announced how many members the King will choose but the
Swaziland Constitution allows him to pick up to ten.

As in previous years, no members of the Swazi Senate will be elected by the people; the King
will choose 20 and the other 10 will be chosen by members of the House of Assembly.
King Mswati has yet to set the date for the election.

Police probe election ‘corruption’


21 May 2018

Police in Swaziland are investigating possible election corruption as voter registration enters
its second week.

A former government minister has been accused of bribing people with promises of food
parcels for their votes.

The Swazi Observer reported on Monday (21 May 2018) that the man who it did not name
and his brother had been offering free meals and transporting people to registration points in

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

the Hhohho region. People had made verbal agreements to vote for the ex-minister when the
election proper begins.
The newspaper reported that police, acting on a tip off, detained and recorded statements
from 17 people. Police continue to conduct investigations to establish the extent of the
alleged corruption, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, registration across Swaziland has been hampered by problems with voter-
registration computer software equipment which is slow in uploading information. This has
happened despite promises from the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) that they
were fully prepared for the election. Software and equipment problems also affected the last
election in 2013.

The EBC reported on Sunday that more than 85,000 people had registered to vote made up of
51 percent men and 49 percent women. The EBC has not announced how many people in
Swaziland are eligible to vote. In 2013 it put the figure at 600,000 of which 414,704
registered and 251,278 people voted. That meant that only 41.8 percent of those entitled to
vote did so in 2013.

Unhappy residents boycott election


23 May 2018

People across Swaziland are boycotting registration for the forthcoming election in disputes
over constituency boundaries.

It follows a reorganisation that increased the number of constituencies, known as tinkhundla,


from 55 to 59.

The latest to declare they will not vote are people in Engwenyameni. They have been moved
from LaMgabhi into Lobamba Lomdzala against their wishes.

The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (22 May 2018) that they felt Lobamba Lomdzala
was too far away and in the past they had contributed greatly to the development of
LaMgabhi and would not now get the benefit.

The newspaper reported they had asked the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to
leave them where they were but nothing had changed.

The Observer reported, ‘In a meeting held last Sunday, the Engwenyameni residents labelled
the Commission “corrupt” as they alleged that they were captured by certain individuals for
their own personal ambition at their expense.’

Engwenyameni is not alone. Elders of the tiny community of Madadeni near Mpolonjeni in
Siteki, which is made up of only 147 homesteads, have said they will boycott the election.
The community is unhappy that residents of Madadeni must now vote under KaShoba
Chiefdom.

The Times of Swaziland reported in April that Madadeni community shares boundaries with
KaShoba and Ngcina Chiefdoms, but it does not recognise either of the two and, instead, it
pays allegiance to KaMkhweli Royal Kraal, which is about 30 kilometres away.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The newspaper reported, ‘However, elders of Madadeni are adamant that they would not be
incorporated into KaShoba because they believe that they are also a chiefdom on their own
right. They have also criticised the EBC for publicly announcing that the community of
Madadeni would now vote under KaShoba without having consulted them.’

Meanwhile, the Swazi Observer reported in April there is a campaign in three constituencies
at Lavumisa to boycott the elections. The newspaper said people are angry at ‘the draconian
laws imposed allegedly by the leadership of the area’.

Lavumisa Chief Gasa WaNgwane’s main royal residence is Qomintaba. There are almost 16
mini-chiefdoms in Lavumisa, all which report to Qomintaba. Constituencies under Lavumisa
include Sigwe, Somntongo and Matsanjeni South.

The Observer reported, ‘There has been instability in the area with some of the residents,
including close family members of the ruling household, questioning GasaWaNgwane’s
leadership style. It is said some of the close family members and residents no longer
participate in activities organised by the leadership.

‘There is now reportedly a bad habit in the area as residents are allegedly influenced by those
scheming against the leadership to boycott the elections. Some want such a decision endorsed
by all the communities under Lavumisa.’

Voting registration in Swaziland continues until 17 June 2018. The date for the election has
not yet been set by King Mswati III who rules as an absolute monarch.

Reports of Swaziland election abuse


24 May 2018

Reports of malpractice in Swaziland’s election registration are many. Soldiers have been
accused of physically intimidating voters, football teams have rejected dubious sponsorship
from an aspiring member of parliament and the kingdom’s Attorney-General has warned
people against declaring they are standing for election.

Mtsebeni residents refused to register for elections after they said they were intimidated by
soldiers. The Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday (22 May 2018) they were forced to do
physical exercises. The newspaper said it happened at the border area of Mtsebeni, under
Gege Constituency, where there are 60 homesteads.

It reported the area’s Indvuna, Khakhayi Hlatshwako, saying there had been disputes with the
Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) and local traditional leaders over where the
registration post should be. Hlatshwako said that at one point soldiers were insulted by
residents over the telephone about their love lives.

The soldiers were said to have ‘tortured’ the area’s residents as punishment.

The Times quoted one community member saying, ‘When we went there to fetch firewood,
the soldiers made us lie down and do intense exercises as punishment even when we had not
done anything.’

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

The Times reported, ‘Other community members said these exercises included the much
difficult jack-knife and push-ups. It was alleged that the age or gender of the people subjected
to the exercises was not considered so even the elderly and women were subjected to same.’

At Maphungwane in the Matsanjeni North Constituency, football teams rejected a E10,000


(US$790) sponsorship from an aspiring member of parliament. The Swazi Observer reported
(18 May 2018) that the sponsorship was in the form of prize money that would be paid at the
end of the football season and after the election had been held.

The newspaper reported the clubs’ representatives questioned the timing of the sponsorship
and rejected the offer. One club boss told the Observer that aspiring MPs had also tried to
manipulate them in the past.

It has already been reported that police in Swaziland are investigating possible election
corruption concerning a former government minister accused of bribing people with promises
of food parcels for their votes.

Residents at Mbangweni complained of nepotism when four people selected to assist in the
election were from the same family. The Swazi Observer reported Inkhosatana Gelane, the
acting KoNtshingila chief, saying they were ‘loyal and respectful residents’. The Shiselweni
Regional Administrator Themba Masuku is investigating.

In an unrelated development, EBC Chair Chief Gija Dlamini said that aspiring MPs would
have to declare how much money they spent on their election in line with the Elections
Expenses Act 2013. The Times of Swaziland reported him saying, ‘A person can be given
money by their friends and relatives to campaign, and in order to ensure that everything is
done in a fair manner, it is important that we request candidates to declare.’

Attorney General Sifiso Khumalo has warned aspiring MPs not to declare yet that they intend
to run as it is against the law. Voter registration is ongoing and is due to end on 17 June 2018.
Khumalo said the election itself had not started. The Swazi Observer on Wednesday (23 May
2018) reported him saying, ‘According to the law there are no elections candidates currently.
Those who were elected in 2013 are currently just Members of Parliament and that’s all. We
cannot then refer to them as contenders for the upcoming elections because that is up to the
electorate. Also as per the law, it is wrong for anyone to declare their interest or lobby people
to vote for them, there is a time for that and that is the campaign period.’

By law candidates can only campaign after primary elections have taken place.

EBC chair Chief Gija said, ‘No individual can nominate himself. Even if you are interested in
contesting for election, it is immaterial as it is the electorate that must be interested in you
and further nominate you for you to qualify to be an elections contender.’

Under the Swazi election process published by the EBC registration is followed by a period
of nominations which take place at chiefdoms. On the day of nomination, the name of the
nominee is raised by a show of hand and the nominee is given an opportunity to indicate
whether he or she accepts the nomination. If he or she accepts it, he or she must be supported
by at least ten members of that chiefdom. The nominations are for the position of Member of

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Parliament, Constituency Headman (Indvuna) and the Constituency Executive Committee


(Bucopho).

The minimum number of nominees is three and the maximum is twenty. The nomination
process takes place in the open, persons are nominated by a show of hand and the nomination
is done by the community. Those nominated then contest elections at primary level.

Primary elections also take place at the chiefdom level and is by secret ballot. During the
primary elections, the voters are given an opportunity to elect the member of the executive
committee (Bucopho) for that particular chiefdom.

Aspiring Members of Parliament and the Constituency Headman are also elected from each
chiefdom. At the end of the primary elections, there should be one candidate for the position
of the Member of Parliament and one for the position of the Constituency Headman who are
going to contest elections at secondary level. The election for the Executive Committee
Member (Bucopho) goes up to the primary level.

It is only between primary and secondary elections that candidates may legally campaign.
The secondary elections take place at the various constituencies. All the nominees at
chiefdom level contest elections at constituency level. The nominees with majority votes
become the winners and they become Members of Parliament or Constituency Headman.

Election votes sold for chicken pieces


29 May 2018

Poverty-stricken textile workers in Swaziland say they have been selling their votes in the
forthcoming national election for cash and chicken pieces.
Sitting members of parliament have sent their agents into factories to buy up votes during the
present registration process.

The Sunday Observer reported (27 May 2018) several textile workers from different firms in
the industrial town of Matsapha said they were willing to sell.

It reported one textile worker saying, ‘Some of the current Members of Parliament have
dispatched their agents to our firm in Nhlangano to buy votes for as little as E50 and chicken
portions.’

It added the textile workers were persuaded to register as residents of the surrounding areas
as opposed to their chiefdoms of origin. In Swaziland, people may register in any
constituency if they have stayed in the area for not less than three months.

‘Since most of the people working in the firms are now renting flats in the neighbouring
constituencies, they are then targeted and persuaded to register to vote within their present
residential areas,’ the newspaper reported.

Swazi King extends voter registration


20 June 2018

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King Mswati III Swaziland’s absolute monarch has extended voter registration in his
kingdom for another 11 days even though the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC)
announced 87 percent of eligible voters had registered by the deadline on Sunday (17 June
2018).

EBC chair Chief Gija Dlamini said the King had done this following reports that there had
been a high turnout on the final day. He did not disclose how many people registered on the
final day.

On the day registration ended the Sunday Observer a newspaper in effect owned by King
Mswati reported the EBC saying that as of 16 June 2018 ‘over 590,000 voters were
registered’.

On Monday after registration closed the EBC announced that 526,073 people had registered
to vote for the election in September, about 70,000 fewer than it had reported previously. The
Swazi Observer, also owned by the King, reported on Tuesday the number registering was
‘unprecedented’. It said it represented 87 percent of those entitled to vote.

At the last election in 2013, 414,704 people registered to vote according to the EBC’s
election report published in 2017. This contradicted the number of 411,084 it had released at
the time of registration.

The EBC said on Tuesday it could not give a date when the voters’ roll would be available
for public inspection but gave no reason.

Doubts Election Board is competent


21 June 2018

King Mswati III the absolute monarch of Swaziland / Eswatini dissolved parliament on
Wednesday (20 June 2018) ahead of the national election amid doubts that the Elections and
Boundaries Commission (EBC) was competent to organise it.

Earlier in the week the King ordered voter registration to be extended for 11 days beyond the
deadline even though the EBC claimed 87 percent of people entitled to vote had registered.
The same thing happened at the previous election in 2013 when registration was extended by
a week.

In both cases the EBC was heavily criticised for its organisation. Registration kits were late
arriving, personnel were poorly trained, equipment failed, planning in general was poor and
there were disputes over constituency boundaries. In 2013 problems continued throughout the
primary and secondary elections and after results were announced.

During the present registration period the EBC issued contradictory figures for the numbers
registering. Eventually, it reported 526,073 out of what it said was a possible 600,000 voters
had registered. In 2013 when registration closed it said 411,084 had registered later revising
that figure to 414,704.

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The EBC did not issue its formal report on the 2013 election until 2017. It still has not
publicly revealed the full results of that election. It named the winners in each constituency
but the votes given to losing candidates has not been published.

In the report the EBC recognised some of its own shortcomings and called for a five-year
strategy and action plan be developed ‘to guide the Commission from one election to another
to ensure a successful and well prepared election’. The report said, ‘A research and
evaluation department needs to be established for the Commission to make informed
decisions on elections. There is an urgent need for the restructuring of the Commission’s
Secretariat to meet international standards.’

It added, ‘Education and training of election staff is a major priority.’ It also called for more
funding and said, ‘communication internally and externally within the organization needs to
be improved’.

The problems at the EBC were first identified when it was formed in 2008. The Commission
consists of five members and its chair is Chief Gija Dlamini, a half-brother of King Mswati.
It is supported by a secretariat of 21 people. The commissioners according to the Swaziland
Constitution needed the qualifications of a judge of the superior courts or to be persons of
‘high moral character, proven integrity, relevant experience and demonstrable competence in
the conduct of public affairs’. Chief Gija had been employed as an engineer for 20 years at
the Swaziland Water Services Commission and only one of the commissioners had a legal
background.

In a report on its observation of the conduct of the 2008 election the EISA (Electoral Institute
of Southern Africa) made a scathing critique of the EBC and its relationship to the King. It
stated, ‘Almost all the stakeholders regarded the members of the EBC as royal appointees.
Stakeholders did not regard the EBC as independent and believed that the EBC operated
under the instruction of the King. Stakeholders also expressed the view that the EBC was not
representative of society as a whole, but was drawn exclusively from government officials or
members of the aristocracy.’

EISA added, ‘Most stakeholders were of the view that the EBC was lacking in transparency
and secretive in its operations. They felt that even information that should indisputably have
been in the public domain, such as the election timetable, was given out piecemeal and very
late in the day.’

The Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO) said the way in which
the members were selected ‘shows the executive’s complete disregard for the principles of
parliamentary supremacy’.

SCCCO noted ‘with extreme concern the utter disregard for both the spirit and the nature of
the Swazi constitution in the appointment of members of the EBC’. The Times Sunday in
2008 quoted SCCCO saying, ‘We will not stand idly by and watch our votes be rendered
useless by a system that regards Parliament and elections as mere window-dressing to
appease other states and give the impression of democracy to satisfy international donors.’
SCCCO challenged the legality of the EBC and lack of qualifications of members of its board
in the High Court. The court on a two-to-one majority in March 2009 dismissed the case on a
legal technicality and did not rule on the matter.

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The election takes place on 21 September 2018. Political parties are banned from taking part
and the King chooses the Prime Minister and government. International observers have stated
that elections in Swaziland are not democratic.

‘Ritual killings linked to election’


31 May 2018

There are ‘widespread speculations’ across Swaziland that a number of recent abductions
resulting in mutilations and killings might be related to the ongoing national election in the
kingdom, the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) said.

SWAGAA said, ‘Children, both girls and boys, are especially targeted; however, this does
not mean adults cannot be a target in future. For this reason, all people should remain on high
alert.’

It said in a statement, ‘The fact that there are widespread speculations on whether or not these
abductions are for ritual purposes linked to the upcoming Parliamentary elections in Eswatini
[Swaziland] cannot be ignored.’

Swaziland has a history of abductions and ritual killings in the run-up to national elections
that are held every five years. Voter registration is currently taking place and ends on 17 June
2018. The date for the actual election has yet to be announced.

In June 2017, during a voter-education workshop, Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries


Commission (EBC) called for an end to ritual killings around voting time. It was concerned
about reports of people mysteriously disappearing across the kingdom.

At KaLanga in the Lugongolweni constituency EBC educator Cynthia Dlamini said ritual
murder reports increased during election time. The Swazi Observer reported at the time,
‘Dlamini said this was one belief driven by lunacy which tarnishes the image of the country
in the process. She said the commission condemns such beliefs and called for intensive
investigations against those who would be suspected of ritual killings.’

At the last election in 2013, The Swaziland Epilepsy Association warned that cases of the
abduction of epileptic people always increased during elections. Mbuso Mahlalela from the
association told the Swazi Observer at the time it was common for the vulnerable to be
targeted and abducted. He spoke after a report that a 13-year-old epileptic boy might have
been abducted for ritual purposes.

Before the election in 2008 a march by civil society groups to draw attention to ritual killings
was banned by the government amid fears that it would bring bad publicity to Swaziland and
might embarrass King Mswati III, the kingdom’s absolute monarch, who had spoken out
against the practice.

The Times of Swaziland reported at the time the march had been motivated by the mystery
disappearances and murders of women. Some of these had been found mutilated fuelling
speculating that they were related to rituals.

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Some Swazi people believe body parts can be used as ‘muti’ which is used to bring good
fortune to candidates at the election and help them to win seats in parliament.
In 2008, it was strongly rumoured in Swaziland that the reason why members of the
government wanted to ban discussion on the ritual murders was that some of them had
themselves used ‘muti’ to get elected.

In March 2018, a campaign called ‘Don’t kill us, we are human beings too’ was launched to
raise awareness about people with albinism, a group at particular risk at election time. The
Stukie Motsa Foundation is using social media to dispel the false belief that people with
albinism cleanse bad 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.

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 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.’

See also
PEOPLE WITH ALBINISM WANT PROTECTION
‘MPs USE WITCHCRAFT FOR SUCCESS’
ELECTION: ‘RITUAL MURDERS WILL RISE’

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Fear of ritual killings grows


14 June 2018

Something close to panic has gripped Swaziland / Eswatini as the fear that children will be
kidnapped and ritually murdered has taken hold.

The Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (14 June 2018) that 258 children absconded from
school at Mafutseni Children’s Cup Care Point in fear of being kidnapped and killed.

It reported one of the teachers Zine Mkhwanazi told a meeting of parents children were afraid
to go to the school because of an incident in May where a 16-year-old boy escaped from three
knife-wielding men who had cornered him in a forest and tried to slice his throat in what was
believed to be a ritual murder attempt. The boy escaped and was admitted to hospital.

The newspaper reported Mkhwanazi said what happened scared everyone, more so, because
the attempt on the boy was made at a spot children pass on their way to school.

The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (12 June 2018) that parents were now trailing their
children wherever they go. ‘It is said some of the parents even accompany their children to
Sunday school, just to make sure prowling killers do not go near them,’ it reported. Parents
also go with their children to school.

This has happened after reports, many unconfirmed, that children across Swaziland are being
abducted and ritually murdered. Body parts are then said to be used in muti to create spells to
bring good luck. There is a belief that some people are doing this to help them win seats in
the forthcoming National Assembly election.

The Observer quoted one concerned parent saying, ‘Elections are a curse to some of us as
that’s the period where children go missing. It’s bad that such incidents are now associated
with the elections and it paints a bad picture of the country because in the eyes of the world
we are known as a nation where ritual murders are rife during elections.’

Another parent said, ‘There is fear that when we let our children leave school on their own,
that places them in danger.’

The Times of Swaziland reported on Thursday (14 June 2018) an alleged ritual killer was
assaulted by a mob and set on fire at Mafutseni. It happened after a man made a joke that his
own blood was not fit to be used as muti. A mob singled him out as a ritual killer because he
appeared to have knowledge about how blood was used to make spells. It added the incident
happened about a month after one of the man’s relative went missing.

Civil servants election restriction


13 June 2018

Civil servants in Swaziland / Eswatini who owe government money will be restricted from
standing as candidates in the forthcoming national election in the kingdom.

This was announced by Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Evart
Madlopha.

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The Times of Swaziland reported on Wednesday (13 June 2018) he said civil servants with
study loans, car loans, advanced loans, and other loans from government would be affected.
The newspaper added, ‘He said government was alive to the fact that some civil servants
owed huge amounts which they could not be in a position to pay before the start of the
elections.’

He added civil servants would need to make what he called a ‘convincing commitment’ to
repay the money. There is a fear that if a civil servant was elected they would not repay loans.
At present money for loans can be deducted from salaries.

The Times interviewed President of the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union
(NAPSAWU), Aubrey Sibiya, who called the government position ‘oppressive’ to civil
servants.

Police to vet all election candidates


15 June 2018

Police will vet all candidates in the forthcoming national election in Swaziland / Eswatini.

The kingdom is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Political parties are banned from taking part in the election and people may only stand as
individuals.

The Swazi Observer reported on Friday (15 June 2018) that Chief Gija Dlamini, Elections
and Boundaries Commission (EBC) chair, confirmed, ‘that all persons who will be nominated
would be vetted before the next stage of the elections’.

In an interview he said the vetting would be at police headquarters in Mbabane where the
fingerprints of all candidates would be checked.

‘All nominated candidates will be required to go to police headquarters to be vetted and a


record will then be forwarded to us,’ he told the newspaper.

The paper added, ‘When asked to state the purpose of the vetting process, Chief Gija was not
clear saying that was an issue for the courts.’

Nominations are due to take place on 28 and 29 July 2018 ahead of a final election on 21
September 2018.

Media election reporting to be monitored


8 May 2018

A watchdog is monitoring media coverage of the upcoming election in Swaziland to promote


‘equitable and ethical journalism’.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) intends to publish quarterly reports for
editors and journalists throughout 2018. The national election is due this year at a date yet to
be announced by King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland.

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The elections are undemocratic, political parties are not allowed to take part and the King
chooses the Prime Minister and government minsters.

MISA has already shared guidelines that it said, ‘address the concerns raised by the [past]
election observers about the failures of the media to ensure free, fair and transparent
elections’.

It is not clear how MISA expects the media to ‘ensure free, fair and transparent elections’. It
is true that in a democracy it is generally recognised that at election time the news media play
an important role in informing the public about the intended policies of the political parties.
They offer space for the policies to be discussed and thereby allow the electorate to make
rational decisions on who to vote for.

A range of events are organised by the media and / or the political parties to facilitate this.
Typically, political parties hold media conferences to announce and discuss major policies
they would pursue if elected. A number of other events, including rallies, speeches, visits to
shopping malls, workplaces and ad hoc ‘photo opportunities’ take place. Newspapers and
broadcasting organisation interrogate political party leaders and in some countries debates
among party leaders are broadcast.

These activities are typical in democracies at election time. But, Swaziland is not a
democracy and none of the above applies to the kingdom.

Very little of what would be recognised in a democracy as ‘election campaigning’ takes place
in Swaziland. Political parties are banned and in the tinkhundla / monarchical democracy that
exists in Swaziland candidates are expected, if elected, to represent only the interest of their
local constituents. The consequence of this is that there is no debate about which social,
political or economic policies a new government should pursue. The people in Swaziland are
not appointing a government: that is the prerogative of King Mswati.

After the last election in 2013, Swazi Media Commentary issued its own report on media
coverage. It found that generally, political discussion in Swaziland was severely restricted (it
still is) and in the months running up to the election police and state security forces broke up
a number of meetings designed to discuss the lack of democracy in the kingdom and to garner
support for a boycott of the election.

Consequently, the media in Swaziland only reported the process of the election. In the 2013
election, typically, this meant they covered the registration of voters, the nomination process,
and the numbers of people turning out at the primary and secondary elections.

Campaigning by candidates is outlawed until the results of the primary elections are
announced. Although there was evidence that this law was not consistently enforced it meant
that election campaigning ‘proper’ only took place between 24 August and 19 September
2013.

Broadcast media severely restricted coverage of the election and a directive from the state-
controlled Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS) restricted access to the
airwaves by candidates who had to be approved by the Elections and Boundaries
Commission (EBC) before they were allowed on air.

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There are only two daily newspaper groups in Swaziland and they gave extensive coverage to
the election in terms of space, but it was limited in scope. By far the most important aspect of
the election for the newspapers was to demonstrate to readers the election’s legitimacy. After
previous elections, official election observers reported on deficiencies in the Swazi political
system. Prominent on the list of concerns were the banning of political parties, the lack of
power the parliament has and the autocracy of the Swazi monarchy.

The newspaper and broadcasting houses in Swaziland support the status-quo and it was an
imperative for them to continually show support for the political system of tinkhundla /
monarchical democracy.

There was no subtlety in this. To the newspapers it was the duty of the people to support the
election process because it was the King’s will. On the eve of the secondary election, an
editorial in the King’s own newspaper the Swazi Observer (19 September 2013) put it this
way:
‘It is the measure of the faith of the Swazi people on their system, and on their right to choose
their candidate and usher them straight to parliament. This remains the eighth wonder of the
world!

‘…. As His Majesty has said countless times, we need to vote for the right people tomorrow.
The right people, he has advised, are the selfless individuals who can transform the fortunes
of this country by bringing change.’

Earlier in the election process the Times of Swaziland reported (13 June 2013) Chief Maloyi
of Ensingweni told his subjects it was compulsory for them to vote in the elections.

‘He said participating in the upcoming national elections was compulsory for them because it
was the King’s order that the country should go to elections this year.

‘He said he had heard that some people thought that registering and participating in the
elections was by choice.

‘“I have been told that some of you thought that participating in the upcoming national
elections is for those who like it. That is not true; it is for every Swazi citizen. The only
people who have a choice of participating are foreigners, not you,” he said.’

Newspapers confused readers about the nature of the elections: constantly claiming that they
were to elect a ‘government’, when they were not. The media extolled the virtue of
tinkhundla / monarchical democracy emphasising that this ‘unique democracy’ placed the
individual non-party candidate at the centre of the political process, but at the same time
asserted that in some never-defined way that these individuals would also work collectively
once elected to parliament and form a government. In fact, King Mswati appoints
government ministers and he is not obliged to choose from among the elected members of
parliament when doing so.

The media did at times criticise the efficiency of the election process. Mostly, this was the
shortcomings of the EBC which ran the election.

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The criticisms were always framed in terms of the EBC commissioners letting down the King
by their inefficiencies. No mention was made of the fact that the King appointed the EBC and
Chief Gija Dlamini, one his half-brothers, chairs the commission, even though, in terms of
the requirements of the Swaziland Constitution, he does not have the credentials to do so.
But, by the day of the secondary election both newspaper groups uncritically reported the
EBC’s assertion that all would be well on the day of the secondary elections.

Newspaper coverage of the campaign itself was sparse. Almost certainly a lack of resources
prevented journalists from travelling to all 55 constituencies across the kingdom. However, in
the coverage they did, they showed bias towards favoured candidates. This meant that they
would extol virtues of their favourites, but make no mention of the other candidates standing
against them.

A typical case was Lutfo Dlamini, the outgoing Minister of Labour and Social Security, who
had also held other posts in government, and was known to be a close personal friend of the
Queen Mother Ntombi. He received fawning coverage in the newspapers and many
constituents were quoted in his support. However, in Swaziland, the support of the
newspapers is not enough: Dlamini lost at the secondary election.

Observers, even from within the local media industry, have for many years reported that
journalists in Swaziland have low capacity and this was notable during the election coverage.
Even outside of the election period, media in Swaziland are partisan, inaccurate and generally
unprofessional and they are turning into an irrelevant vehicle for public discussion.
Journalists lack credibility. Content in the Swazi newspaper is compromised by a lack of
professionalism in writing and editing. Interesting news stories are watered down by the
incomprehensible way they are written, leaving the reader confused and bewildered.
Comment articles expose readers to un-researched opinion pieces that have compromised
journalistic standards and some journalists willingly work as propagandists, especially at the
SBIS radio.

All the above was in evidence in the election coverage. Journalists sensationalised news and
often reported as facts, pure conjecture. The day after the election, the Weekend Observer (20
September 2013), for example, reported, ‘about 400,000 voters braved the scorching sun and
went straight to the voting centres to cast their ballots as early as possible’.

This was clearly untrue: the total number of people registered to vote in Swaziland at the
election was 411,084. If 400,000 had voted, the turnout would have been about 97 percent, an
extraordinary figure for an election and even more so when it is known that at the previous
election in 2008, the turnout was only 54 percent.

In fact, the real story about the election turnout was that the EBC did not release the figure.
The newspapers made the same mistake after the primary election, reporting it as a ‘success’,
with ‘overwhelming’ turnouts. (Swazi Observer, 26 August 2013; Times of Swaziland, 29
August 2013).

But, no complete statistics for voter turnout at the primaries was available to the media when
these stories were written (and are still not publicly available), so the reporting had to be
based on a mixture of speculation and wishful-thinking.

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After the secondary election, newspapers were unanimous that the people had voted ‘for
change’. This was based on information that six of eight government ministers standing in the
election were defeated and of the 55 members of the House standing for re-election, 43 lost.
Newspapers reported the election result as if it were a vote of no-confidence against the out-
going government. (Swazi Observer, 23 September 2013; Times of Swaziland, 23 September
2013). But, they provided no evidence for this. The media in Swaziland want it both ways.
On the one hand they say that under Swaziland’s tinkhundla / monarchical democracy system
of government the people elect MPs as individuals who support their constituencies and on
the other they say the people have elected a group of MPs who they believe collectively will
bring them change.

In fact, we cannot know what the people want, because there is nowhere in Swaziland for
them to freely debate the strengths and weaknesses of the present system of governance and
discuss possible alternatives. Certainly, the media do not provide that space.

No media outlet in the kingdom suggested that if people had voted for change it might be a
change in the political system and a move to democracy that they seek. The media would
better serve the people of Swaziland if they led this debate.
Richard Rooney

The full report on the 2013 election coverage is available here


https://swazimedia.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/election-coverage-found-wanting.html

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5 GOVT SPENDING CRISIS

Swazi Govt ‘runs out of cash’


7 May 2018

The Swazi Government has run out of cash and is living hand-to-mouth. It has to wait for the
Swaziland Revenue Authority to put tax collections into its account each Monday before it
can pay bills.

The revelation was made by the Sunday Observer (6 May 2018), one of the newspapers in
Swaziland in effect owned by the kingdom’s absolute monarch King Mswati III.
In March, Martin Dlamini, the Finance Minister announced the Government owed its
suppliers E3.1 billion.

The newspaper reported that the latest cash crisis to become public knowledge involved
mothers who received child maintenance payments through the Deputy Prime Minister’s
Office. This involved fathers who are public servants and have court orders against them for
maintenance payments that are collected through salaries. The Times of Swaziland, the only
independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, had reported that the money had been collected
but not passed on to the mothers. Instead, it had been used by the government to pay debts.
About E600,000 (US$48,000) is reportedly collected for maintenance payments each month.
The Observer reported that payments were being delayed. It said government was ‘living-
hand-to-mouth’ and issuing cheques in ‘dribs and drabs’.

The newspaper reported, ‘According to well-placed Ministry of Finance sources, there is no


money in government’s coffers and the situation has bred a system of wait and see before
cheques are printed.’

It quoted the source saying, ‘Government has no money so what we do is stall printing and
issuing because they will bounce causing embarrassment.’

The newspaper said government depended on the Swaziland Revenue Authority. ‘Every
Monday they sweep money from their collections account into government’s consolidated
funds.’

Although the newspaper reported government waited for funds from the Swaziland Revenue
Authority no mention was made of two other sources of funding. The King holds 25 percent
of all mining royalties and controls Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, a conglomerate that includes,
Dalcrue Agricultural Holdings, Inyoni Yami Swaziland Insurance, Royal Swaziland Sugar
Corporation, Ubombo Sugar Limited, Bhunu Mall, Nedbank Swaziland, Simunye Plaza, The
Swazi Observer, Tibiyo Properties, Maloma Colliery, Parmalat Swaziland, Swaziland
Beverages and Swazi Spa Holdings.

The King holds these ‘in trust’ for the Swazi nation but no records are made public of how
profits are spent. In 2016 it was reported Tibiyo Taka Ngwane had revenues of E239 million
and assets worth E1.8 billion.

Last month Swaziland held so-called 50/50 Celebrations to mark the King’s 50th birthday and

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the half-century anniversary of the kingdom’s Independence from Britain. The Swazi
Government has been coy about the costs of the celebrations.

On 19 April 2018 King Mswati wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit studded with
diamonds at a party for 700 guests. Days before he took delivery of his second private jet.
This one, an A340-300 Airbus had a purchase price of US$13.2 million, but with VIP
upgrades it reportedly cost about US$30 million, paid or out of state funds.

The King also has 13 palaces and fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars. His
wives regularly travel the world on shopping sprees costing millions of dollars. Meanwhile,
seven in ten of the 1.1 million population live in abject poverty on incomes less than the
equivalent of US$2 per day.

In September 2017 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that increased
government spending in Swaziland resulted in the highest deficit since 2010. It said the
outlook for the future of the economy was ‘fragile’ and that the medium term outlook was
‘unsustainable’ without policy changes.

It also said the governance of public entities was poor.

The IMF recommended that the government should contain ‘the bloated government wage
bill’, curb non-essential purchases and prioritize capital outlays.

Swaziland admits it is broke


15 June 2018

Despite finding US$30 million to buy the kingdom’s absolute monarch King Mswati III a
second private plane, earmarking E1.5bn (US$125m) this year to build a conference centre
and five-star hotel to host the African Union summit in 2020 that will last only eight days,
budgeting E5.5 million to build Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini a retirement house, and
planning for a new parliament building that will cost E2.3 billion, the Finance Minister of
Swaziland / Eswatini Martin Dlamini has publicly admitted the kingdom is broke.

He told parliament that there was not enough money to pay public servants’ salaries or to pay
government suppliers and things were set to get worse.

This was despite the government in the March 2018 budget increasing Value Added Tax
(VAT) by 1 percent to 15 percent, increasing electricity tariffs and freezing pensions for
people aged 60 and over.

The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Friday (15 June 2018) that Dlamini highlighted
three main areas of budget spending: salaries (E7.7 billion), transfers to government-
subvented enterprises (E5.8 billion), and statutory expenditure including debt service (E2.3
billion) that added up to E16 billion. This accounted for the total amount of revenue available
to the government, he said.

The newspaper added, ‘The projected cashflow deficit by the end of the present financial year
would be E7.1 billion. As at March 31, 2018, government arrears stood at E3.28 billion.’

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Dlamini said budget projections indicated ‘exponential growth in the arrears,’ the Observer
reported. He added that issuing government bonds to get more cash was unlikely to improve
the situation.

The cash balance at the end of the first quarter of the financial year was expected to be
negative and continue growing, despite the receipt of Southern Africa Customs Union
(SACU) revenue at the start of each quarter.

The Observer reported, ‘Dlamini further mentioned that government’s cashflow position had
an enormous impact on the payment of government’s trading partners, including suppliers
and contractors, as well as government’s overall ability to meet its priority expenditure
obligations such as salaries, debt service, statutory payments and transfers.

‘For the month of June alone, a total of E1.1 billion was required to settle priority expenditure
that could not be postponed. Of this amount, E702 million was for June salaries (including
payment of on-call allowances of E56 million), E363 million was for outstanding deductions
for pensions and cooperatives due in May 2018.’

It added, ‘Dlamini said it was essential that government reduced its spending to financeable
levels by identifying areas for possible cuts and cost-saving.’

Despite the financial crisis King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch, continues to live a lavish lifestyle.

On Monday last week King Mswati received gifts of furniture made of gold and at least E15
million in cheques to mark his 50th birthday that fell on 19 April 2018. On that day he wore a
watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit weighing 6 kg studded with diamonds. Days earlier he
had taken delivery of his second private jet. This one, an Airbus A340, cost US$13.2 to
purchase but with VIP upgrades was estimated to have cost US$30 million.

He also has thirteen palaces and fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars.
Meanwhile, seven in ten of the 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less
than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most
unequal country in the world in a report that detailed the differences in countries between the
top most earners and those at the bottom.

Last week it was reported that children collapsed with hunger in their school because the
government had not paid for food for them. The kingdom had previously been warned to
expect children to starve because the Swazi Government had not paid its suppliers for the
food that is distributed free of charge at schools. The shortage is reported to be widespread
across the kingdom.

Medicines, including vaccines against polio and tuberculosis have run out in many
government hospitals and clinics because drug suppliers have not been paid. 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.

See also
SWAZI BUDGET A TALE OF WOES

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Sick turned away as govt bills unpaid


5 May 2018

The Swaziland Government has not paid medical bills running into millions of dollars in
neighbouring South Africa and as a result sick Swazis are being denied treatment.

South African health institutions stopped giving medical assistance under the Phalala Fund on
19 March 2018, according to a report in the Swazi Observer newspaper on Friday (4 May
2018). More than 100 people have been denied treatment, the newspaper reported.

The objective of the Phalala Fund is to assist deserving Swazi citizens who would otherwise
not have access to specialist medical care to get it either, within Swaziland or ‘in special
circumstances’ outside the kingdom.

Somntongo Member of Parliament Sandile Nxumalo the chair of the parliament select
committee set up in 2017 to investigate the administration of the Phalala Fund said people
would die if government did not attend to the situation as a matter of urgency.

The suspension of services is nothing new. The Phalala Fund has been riddled with
corruption and inefficiencies for years.

In October 2017, the Times of Swaziland reported at least three people had died because they
could not get treatment after services were suspended because bills had not been paid.

At the time the Swazi Government owed E170 million (US$12 million).

Many times in the past South Africa stopped taking patients because of unpaid bills. For
example, in 2014 a Ministry of Health’s Senate Portfolio Committee Report said E40 million
(less than a quarter of the 2017 debt) was unpaid and patients were being refused treatment.

In November 2014, the Accountant General Phestecia Nxumalo reported that the Phalala
Fund had been defrauded of E9 million because single bills had been paid multiple times.

As long ago as 2006 a report published by the World Bank recommended sweeping reforms
of the scheme, but these have not taken place.

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

Also, fees and other prices were not negotiated before treatment and were ‘completely
supplier-determined’.

The report concluded, the fund provided a ‘blank cheque’ for South African doctors and
hospitals: whatever amount they asked is paid for by Government, since it had no choice but
to pay up.

Meanwhile, within Swaziland itself a health crisis continues because the government has not
paid bills for medicines and supplies.

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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
the Queen 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 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.

See also
MEDICINE SHORTAGE: FIVE DIE
DRUG SHORTAGE CRISIS DEEPENS
SWAZI GOVT ‘KILLING ITS OWN PEOPLE’

Patients at risk as govt bills unpaid


17 May 2018

Hospitals across Swaziland have been left without security guards exposing them to criminal
activity because the government has not paid its bills.

Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Simon Zwane confirmed that some companies that
were owed money had withdrawn their staff.

Among those affected were the Hlatikulu Government Hospital in Shiselweni and the
Nhlangano Health Centre, the Swazi Observer reported on Wednesday (16 May 2018).

It reported, ‘At Hlatikulu Government Hospital, a female patient who had intravenous tubes
hanging almost got raped after a stranger sneaked into the female ward.’ There was also a
report of attempted theft in the kitchen.

A police spokesperson told the newspaper officers were patrolling health facilities as part of
their routine duties but had not taken over the jobs of the security guards.

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Zwane told the newspaper the Government was trying to pay at least some of its bills.
Government bills go unpaid across the kingdom. Children have been told by teachers to
prepare themselves for starvation as the government failed to deliver free food to schools
over the past year. At the heart of the crisis is the Swazi Government’s inability to pay its
suppliers. In the March 2018 Budget, Finance Minister Martin Dlamini said the government
owed E3.1 billion and was trying to find a way to pay its bills.

As a result of unpaid bills, suppliers have stopped delivering food, and medicines. Electricity
supplies to government offices, law courts, police stations, libraries, media houses, and
border posts were cut.

Only 12 Govt ambulances in kingdom


19 June 2018

There are only 12 working public ambulances in the whole of Swaziland / Eswatini to serve
1.1 million people as the government fails to maintain them.

It has bought no new ambulances since 2013.

Director of the Emergency Preparedness Response Department under the Ministry of Health,
Masitsela Mhlanga told media there were 20 broken-down ambulances in garages that were
not being repaired.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Friday (15 June 2018) the country was ‘heading for an
imminent peril’.

It reported, ‘Speaking on national radio yesterday morning, Mhlanga said the department was
struggling to reach out to the nation due to the shortage of ambulances.’

It added, ‘Mhlanga said the department suffered a great consequence when the ambulances
were taken to CTA [Central Transport Administration garages] for repairs because they took
too long to return on the road yet there was a high demand for health services.’

He said Swaziland last received new ambulances in 2013 and their service warranties had
now expired.

‘He suggested that government should provide another garage that would specialise in the
ambulances so that the services would not be disturbed by the delays at the State garage,’ the
Times reported.

It added, ‘It was also gathered that another challenge was that at times, the motor vehicles
were not properly fixed which resulted in them developing mechanical faults while
transporting patients.

The Times reported, ‘Last week, it was reported that an ambulance door was tied with
bandages to prevent it from opening while paramedics were ferrying patients to health centres
at Dumako area. “Ambulances operate 24 hours so they should be serviced regularly,”
Mhlanga said.’

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It added, ‘He revealed that some work stations had no ambulances at all yet they were
expected to provide services to the nation. “People are sick, and accidents happen every day
so it is not good for the ministry to run short of ambulances,” he said.’

Media target Swazi police shortages


1 June 2018

Swaziland is so short of resources that police are unable to secure voter registration centres
and do their routine work at the same time, according to media reports in the kingdom.
Police were unable to respond when a five-year-old was abducted and raped because they
were on election duty. Police officers have also been left stranded at registration centres in
the evenings because there are no vehicles available to take them home.

The abduction and rape was reported by the Swazi Observer on 24 May 2018. It said a
toddler was with her mother at Mahlalini, an area in the outskirts of Nhlangano, when a man
grabbed her and disappeared into a thicket where he raped her.

Police were not available. The Observer reported, ‘The mother said police were alerted but
the excuse they gave was that there was no vehicle at the police station as they were all
assigned to the ongoing elections registration process.’

It added, ‘Police spokesperson Superintendent Khulani Mamba confirmed the incident and
further stated that there has been no arrest as the suspect managed to escape when means
were made to apprehend him.’

There have been reports that police officers guarding registration centres in rural areas have
been stranded in the evenings because of lack of transport. The Swazi Observer on Thursday
(31 May 2018) quoted one officer saying, ‘We are mandated to secure the many voter
registration stations around the country, but ever since the registration process began a few
weeks ago, many police officers in remote areas have struggled to get transport back to their
homes in the evenings. This is due to a shortage of police cars, so sometimes we are forced to
use public transportation or hitch hike for lifts in the evening.’

It added, police spokesman Mamba, ‘said the service would ask government to provide more
vehicles as the current number of police cars do not support the demand for a strong police
presence that is required countrywide.’

The newspaper quoted Mamba saying, ‘Also, it is important to mention that while other
police are at the voter registration stations, other police are still doing daily police work, this
means that we are stretched and scattered.’

Swaziland’s National Police Commissioner Isaac Magagula said the reports of vehicle
shortages were not true because police had been supplied with vehicles by the Elections and
Boundaries Commission. The Swazi Observer on Thursday (31 May 2018) reported he said
police needed to be at registration centres because of a fear that ‘progressives’ would disrupt
the election process by ‘defacing ballot papers’ and distributing pamphlets ‘demeaning the
elections to scare voters away’.

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Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Political parties are banned from taking part in the election.

Police to pay for own passing out day


25 June 2018

Police officers in Swaziland / Eswatini have been ordered to pay towards the cost of their
own Police Day and passing out ceremony in July.

Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba


confirmed they would be expected to pay E20 each. As much as E60,000 (US$4,400) would
be collected, the Swazi News reported on Saturday (23 June 2018).

Mamba told the newspaper the money was needed to supplement the money government
gave to the event.

The Swazi News said this had not happened in the past.

Swaziland is broke and the government is living from hand to mouth. Earlier this month
Finance Minister Martin Dlamini told the House of Assembly as of 31 March 2018
government owed E3.28 billion. Dlamini said budget projections indicated ‘exponential
growth in the arrears’.

There have been reports in Swaziland that police do not have resources to carry out routine
duties. Police were unable to respond when a five-year-old was abducted and raped because
they were on election duty, the Swazi Observer reported on 24 May 2018.

Police officers were also left stranded at voting registration centres because there were no
vehicles available to take them home.

Town black-out as Govt bills unpaid


3 June 2018

An entire town in Swaziland is suffering a month-long power cut because the government has
not paid its electricity bill.

As the blackout continues news is emerging that the Swazi Government is no longer able to
pay suppliers and is issuing IOU notes. All new capital spending is reportedly on hold.
The town of Vuvulane has been without power for a month so far, according to the Observer
on Saturday newspaper in Swaziland. It reported (2 June 2018) that the Ministry of Housing
and Urban Development was responsible for paying the bills. It said Vuvulane Town Council
said it had paid the E10,000 a month for electricity supplies but the electricity was no longer
supplied. Tenants of the Town Council are angry because the electricity charge is included in
rents they pay.

Meanwhile, it was reported that government was issuing IOU notes promising future
payment of debts to suppliers. In his budget speech on 1 March 2018 Finance Minister Martin
Dlamini reported the Swazi Government owed suppliers E3.1 billion (US$243 million), but

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according to the Sunday Observer (3 June 2018) he refuted earlier reports this had increased
to E5 billion and said the debt had been reduced to E2.2 billion.

The newspaper also quoted unnamed officials at the Ministry of Economic Planning saying
that all new capital spending in the kingdom ruled by King Mawati III as sub-Saharan
Africa’s last absolute monarch had been ‘put in limbo’. This included projects where tenders
had been awarded.

It reported an employee saying ‘The only tender projects we are involved in are those which
are ongoing.’ It added, ‘Their understanding was to the effect that there would be absolutely
no funding for anything in the short term.

‘They said they were informed of this decision following the weekly principal secretaries’
meeting which is held every Wednesday following cabinet’s Tuesday meetings. The
mitigation measure comes at a time when government is trying to find means of coming out
of a financial crisis which has seen it fail to pay some of its obligations on time.’

Finance Minister Martin Dlamini denied the report and said no decision had yet been made.

There is a financial crisis in Swaziland. Children have been told by teachers to prepare
themselves for starvation as the government failed to deliver free food to schools over the
past year. At the heart of the crisis is the Swazi Government’s inability to pay its suppliers.
As a result of unpaid bills, suppliers have stopped delivering food, and medicines. Electricity
supplies to government offices, law courts, police stations, libraries, media houses, and
border posts have been cut.

In 2017, the global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most unequal country in the world
in a report called Starting With People, a human economy approach to inclusive growth in
Africa that detailed the differences in countries between the top most earners and those at the
bottom.

Swaziland is not a democracy even though national elections are due to take place later this
year.

Political parties are banned from contesting elections and groups advocating for democracy
are banned as ‘terrorists’ under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. Media are severely
censored and freedom of assembly is curtailed. Elections are held every five years in
Swaziland but 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.

King eats off gold, children starving


8 June 2018

In the week that King Mswati III the absolute monarch of Swaziland / Eswatini received
dining room and lounge furniture made of gold as birthday gifts it is reported that children
collapsed with hunger in their school because the government had not paid for food for them.

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The kingdom had previously been warned to expect children to starve because the Swazi
Government had not paid its suppliers for the food that is distributed free of charge at
schools. The shortage is reported to be widespread across the kingdom.

The Times of Swaziland, reported on Thursday (7 June 2018) that at least eight children had
collapsed through hunger at of KaKholwane Primary School.

It reported the school’s headteacher Smangele Mtsefwa, saying it was because of a lack of
food at the school.

The Times reported, ‘Yesterday morning, she said a Grade II pupil soiled herself after she
experienced severe stomach cramps due to hunger, while others bled through their nostrils.’
The newspaper added, ‘In most cases, she said pupils complained of hunger, adding that they
had gone without a meal for two days.’

The Times reported, ‘Mtsefwa said those in lower grades were more prone to falling ill, while
pupils in the senior classes slept on their desks.’

‘She said the school kitchen had been locked since the beginning of the term and they were
not preparing any meals for the pupils.’

On Monday King Mswati received gifts of furniture made of gold and at lest E15 million
(US$1.2 million) in cheques to mark his 50th birthday that fell on 19 April 2018. On that day
he wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit weighing 6 kg studded with diamonds.
Days earlier he had taken delivery of his second private jet. This one, an Airbus A340, cost
US$13.2 to purchase but with VIP upgrades was estimated to have cost US$30 million.

Meanwhile, seven in ten of the 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less
than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most
unequal country in the world in a report that detailed the differences in countries between the
top most earners and those at the bottom.

In February 2018, children in Swaziland were warned to prepare themselves for starvation as
the government once again failed to deliver free food to schools. The Swazi Observer
reported at the time 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 (a third of the
population) 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 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.

Chaos as Govt fails to pay school fees


26 June 2018

The Government in Swaziland / Eswatini has failed to pay primary school fees for grade one
pupils leading to chaos across the kingdom.

The European Union (EU) pays the government the fees but they have not been passed on to
the schools, the Observer on Saturday newspaper in Swaziland reported (23 June 2018). The
second term of the school year is just coming to an end.

The Swaziland Constitution requires that all primary school children receive free education.
The Observer reported headteachers and principals across Swaziland said they were in huge
debts and unable to pay suppliers. It said the problem was with the government which faced
financial challenges. It reported one school principal saying education in the kingdom would
continue to deteriorate if the situation did not improve. Teacher morale is low. Because of a
lack of government funding children are going without free meals at school and this is often
the only meal they get.

Schools across Swaziland have been in chaos since at least the start the year. High schools as
well as primaries have been affected. Children were turned away from high schools because
there were no spaces for them in classes. This was because the kingdom has in recent years

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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.

In January 2018 the Ministry of Education refused to pay school fees to about half the 650
primary schools in Swaziland 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 are also 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 1.1 million population live in abject
poverty with incomes less 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.

The Swaziland national budget has been mismanaged for years. Swaziland is broke and the
government is living from hand to mouth. Earlier this month Finance Minister Martin
Dlamini told the House of Assembly as of 31 March 2018 government owed E3.28 billion.
Dlamini said budget projections indicated ‘exponential growth in the arrears’.

Despite the funding crisis, the Swazi Government still found US$30 million to buy the King a
second private plane. It has also earmarked E1.5bn (US$125m) this year to build a
conference centre and five-star hotel to host the African Union summit in 2020 that will last
only eight days and it has budgeted E5.5 million to build Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini a
retirement house. There are also plans for a new parliament building that will cost E2.3
billion.

Pensioners march to stop ‘looting’


18 April 2018

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Public service pensioners marched through the streets of the Swaziland capital on Tuesday
(17 April 2018) to protest at plans by the unelected government to ‘loot’ their pension funds.
They were led by the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) with the Trade
Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) and
representatives of other trade unions. They delivered petitions to government ministries in
Mbabane, and to parliament at Lobamba.

They want a decision to take their Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) under government
control reversed.

In Swaziland, King Mswati III rules 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
other top ministers. Advocates for democracy are prosecuted under the Suppression of
Terrorism Act.

Pensioners fear money in the PSPF will be misused by government. On Friday the King took
delivery of an A340 Airbus, his second private jet. It was paid for out of public funds and
may have cost as much as US$30 million. The King also has 13 palaces and fleets of top-of-
the range BMW and Mercedes cars.

Meanwhile, 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.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported on Wednesday the
pensioners said the PSPF was ‘now at risk of being depleted by government’. It added they
said ‘government will find it easy to loot the pensioners’ money’.

In a separate development, the Swazi Government intends to compel insurance companies


and retirement funds in the kingdom to invest at least 50 percent of their funds in Swaziland.
At present, the requirement is 30 percent.

Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) Chief Executive Officer Sandile Dlamini
told local media as at December 2017 total assets held by retirement funds and insurance
companies were E32 billion (US$2.66 billion), with less than E5 billion invested locally.

In his budget in March 2018 Minister of Finance Martin Dlamini said foreign-owned banks in
Swaziland would be expected to pay 2.5 percent of their annual income to the government.
This prompted warnings from the banks that they might leave the kingdom.

Swaziland’s economy is in freefall and has been for many years. Government increased
Value Added Tax by 1 percent in the budget. State pensions for people aged 60 and over
were frozen, but E5.5 million was 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.

Finance Minister Dlamini listed a catalogue of problems during his budget speech on 1
March 2018. He said he took his lead when constructing the budget from the King who in his
speech opening Parliament in February 2018 commanded his government, ‘to prepare a
budget that is based on available resources’.

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Dlamini 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.

The cost of food in the kingdom 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 a 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.
Swaziland has been given a B2 rating (on a scale from A – C) with a ‘negative outlook’ by
international credit rating agency Moody’s, Dlamini said. The poor rating is ‘due to the
financial and economic pressures we continue to face’, he added.

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6 INTERNATIONAL AID
Spotlight on Swazi international aid
14 May 2018

More information than ever before about the lavish spending of King Mswati III, the absolute
monarch of impoverished Swaziland, has been made public (outside the kingdom) in recent
weeks, raising questions about where the money comes from.

Now, Swazi Media Commentary turns a spotlight on the amount of international


development aid the kingdom receives and how this helps divert funds away from much
needed work to help the poor and disadvantaged and towards the Swazi Royal Family.
In April 2018 at a party to mark both his 50th birthday and the anniversary of Swaziland’s
Independence from Great Britain, King Mswati wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a
suit weighing 6 kg studded with diamonds. Days earlier he had taken delivery of his second
private jet. This one, an Airbus A340, cost US$13.2 to purchase but with VIP upgrades was
estimated to have cost US$30 million.

Meanwhile, seven in ten of the population estimated at 1.1 million people live in abject
poverty on incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day.

In 2017, the global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most unequal country in the world
in a report called Starting With People, a human economy approach to inclusive growth
in Africa detailing the differences in countries between the top most earners and those at the
bottom. The Oxfam report stated the government, which is handpicked by King Mswati,
‘failed to put measures in place to tackle inequality, with poor scores for social spending and
progressive taxation, and a poor record on labour rights’.

In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people of Swaziland’s
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 Swaziland are thought to be
OVCs. It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in Swaziland aged
under five.

While his subjects go hungry King Mswati and his family live lavish lifestyles. He has 13
palaces and fleets of expensive cars. He and his 13 wives and children wear watches worth
tens of thousands of dollars each. His wives regularly take international shopping trips
costing millions of dollars. Meanwhile, Swaziland takes money from overseas to fund its
development projects, many of them directed at the poorest people in the kingdom.

Between 2011 and 2015 Swaziland took US$507 million (E6.24 billion) in external
assistance from other countries. Of this, US$140 million came from the United States (28
percent of the total) and US$123 million from the European Union (24 percent of the total).
Other main donors were Taiwan (US$74 million) and the United Nations (US$59 million).
Combined, the total external assistance accounted for 17.6 percent of Swaziland’s domestic
revenue. The EU’s assistance covers a range of areas, including education, health, water and
sanitation among others. The US only assists in areas of health. The health sector receives the
largest amount of aid, followed by agriculture and infrastructure.

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A report written by Klaus Stig Kristensen and published by Afrika Kontakt (Africa Contact)
in 2017 stated, ‘The EU and US finance these sectors, freeing up funds for the government of
Swaziland to spend on an unnecessary defence/security sector that consumes an increasing
amount of the national budget.

‘They thereby alleviate funds for the government of Swaziland to be spent on vanity capital
projects [such as the King Mswati III International Airport] and unnecessary defence that
consumes an increasing amount of the national budget.

‘If sustainable socio-economic development is to take place in Swaziland, it is essential that


the government of Swaziland takes the lion’s share of the responsibility and prioritizes its
budget accordingly.’

The report stated that in Swaziland almost 6 percent of the national budget is spent on the
Royal Family and 12.4 percent on the security sector, while only 3.3 percent is spent on
agriculture, ‘the engine that is supposed to pull the rural population out of poverty’. It added,
‘This is a strange budget prioritization considering that the majority of Swazis live below the
poverty line.

In the March 2018, the budget for the Royal Family spending (the civil list) was increased by
E1 million to E394 million. At the same time value added tax (VAT) was increased by 1
percent. Local media did not comment on the King’s increase but did report the budget as an
attack on the poor.

King Mswati’s personal spending also diverts money away from much-needed development.

The sources of the King’s income are kept secret from the Swazi people. In 2009, Forbes
magazine estimated that the King himself had a personal net fortune worth US$200 million.
Forbes also said King Mswati was the beneficiary of two funds created by his father Sobhuza
II in trust for the Swazi nation. During his reign, he has absolute discretion over use of the
income. The trust has been estimated to be worth US$10 billion.

The King also holds 25 percent of all mining royalties in Swaziland ‘in trust’ for the Swazi
nation.

In August 2014 the Sunday Times newspaper in South Africa reported King Mswati
personally received millions of dollars from international companies such as phone giant
MTN; sugar conglomerates Illovo and Remgro; Sun International hotels and beverages firm
SAB Millerto.

It reported that MTN, which had a monopoly of the cell phone business in Swaziland at the
time, paid dividends directly to the King. He holds 10 percent of the shares in MTN in
Swaziland 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 newspaper also reported that the King was receiving income from Tibiyo Taka Ngwane,
a conglomerate he controls ‘in trust for the Swazi nation’, which paid dividends in 2013 of
E218.1 million. The newspaper reported ‘several sources’ who said it was ‘an open secret’

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that although money generated by Tibiyo was meant to be used for the benefit of the nation,
Tibiyo in fact channelled money directly to the Royal Family.

In 2016, Tibiyo paid dividends of E188.5 million and had assets valued at E1.8 billion.
Tibiyo TakaNgwane investments include Dalcrue Agricultural Holdings, Inyoni Yami
Swaziland Insurance, Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation, Ubombo Sugar Limited, Bhunu
Mall, Nedbank Swaziland, Simunye Plaza, The Swazi Observer, Tibiyo Properties, Maloma
Colliery, Parmalat Swaziland, Swaziland Beverages and Swazi Spa Holdings.

Earlier in May 2018, Lucky Ndlovu, the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office Director of Children
Services, revealed that Neighbourhood Care Points (NCP) that feed the hungry across
Swaziland were short of food because donations were drying up.

The Sunday Observer reported Ndlovu saying, ‘There is a lack of support from those who
used to supply the food. Most of the support was from international donors who are now
focussing on other countries which are not classified as middle income countries.’
He added, donors believed Swaziland had enough money but it was not being directed
towards the poor.

‘Government must come up with programmes that are pro-poor because the international
community is now not willing to support us,’ he said.

EU money pays for lavish Swazi king


16 May 2018

European Union taxpayers’ money is being used to finance the lavish lifestyle of Swaziland’s
Royal Family, an investigation has revealed.

This happens while seven in ten of the 1.1 million population live in abject poverty.

Money given to develop Swaziland’s sugar industry ends up in the pocket of King Mswati III
who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. In April 2018 at a party to mark
both his 50th birthday and the anniversary of Swaziland’s Independence from Great Britain,
King Mswati wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit weighing 6 kg studded with
diamonds. Days earlier he had taken delivery of his second private jet. This one, an Airbus
A340, cost US$13.2 to purchase but with VIP upgrades was estimated to have cost US$30
million.

The report from Danish NGO Afrika Kontakt (Africa Contact) called The European Union
in Swaziland: In support of an Authoritarian King? says EU money ‘benefits the Royal
Family greatly’ and undermines democratic forces in Swaziland.

The EU spent 120 million Euros (US$144 million; E1.76 billion) to improve the
competitiveness of Swaziland’s sugar industry in the ten years up to 2017. Sugar accounts for
almost 60 percent of the agricultural output and 16 percent of employment in the kingdom.
The sugar industry in Swaziland is dominated by Tibiyo TakaNgwane, a royal investment
company that the King holds ‘in trust for the Swazi nation’. Tibiyo owns 50 percent of the
Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC) and 40 percent of Ubombo Sugar Ltd (a
subsidiary of the South African-based Illovo company), the industry’s major players. Tibiyo

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also has stakes in sugar estates and haulage companies and has a 30 percent share in
FINCORP, which provides loans to small-scale sugar farmers with interest rates above 20
percent.

Afrika Kontakt said the Swaziland sugar industry mirrored Swazi society by being largely
owned by the Royal Family through various companies and investment funds, and by the
royal chiefs playing an important role.

It added the purpose of EU funding was to increase the competitiveness of the sugar industry.
‘However, a large percentage of the funds have benefitted the two major sugar millers RSSC
and Ubombo Sugar Ltd, and their major shareholder the royal investment company Tibiyo
TakaNgwane.’

It said that EU funding had helped subsistence farmers, but had also enriched chiefs through
the payment of royalties and Royalty-affiliated haulage companies.

Afrika Kontakt said Tibiyo’s ownership in RSSC secured it a dividend payment of E98
million (US$8 million) in 2015-16. Ownership of Illovo paid out E15 million as dividend in
2012-13. Illovo is no longer listed so it is impossible to find information about more recent
payments.

Afrika Kontakt reported Tibiyo is controlled by King Mswati III and Freedom House has
reported it is an open secret in Swaziland that the Royal Family uses the fund to pay for
personal expenses. The Managing Director of Tibiyo A T Dlamini is a former Prime Minister
and the board consists of several members of the Royal Family.

Tibiyo’s annual accounts are sketchy. For example in 2015, E49 million – almost half the
total expenses – were budgeted under ‘sundry expenses’ without further clarification. Afrika
Kontakt reported this was ‘a sign that funds which are supposed to aid the public are being
used by fund managers and/ or the Royal Family in an underhand manner’.

Afrika Kontakt said, ‘The sugar industry in Swaziland is structured so that external assistance
[from the EU] to the industry ends up benefitting the last absolute monarch in Africa.’

It added this support for the Royal Family undermined the democratic forces in the kingdom.
Swaziland is not a democracy. Political parties are banned from contesting elections and
groups advocating for democracy are banned as ‘terrorists’ under the Suppression of
Terrorism Act. Media are severely censored and freedom of assembly is curtailed. Elections
are held every five years in Swaziland but 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.

After the last election in 2013, King Mswati appointed nine princes and princesses to the
House of Assembly and the Senate.

The Afrika Kontakt report stated, ‘By continuing to support these sectors, without raising
demands from the Swazi Government to prioritize its citizens’ well-being over the lavish
lifestyle of its monarch, it is essentially EU taxpayers’ money that finances the lavish
spending of the monarchy.’

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After the most recent national election in 2013, the African Union (AU) mission called for
fundamental changes in the kingdom to ensure people had freedom of speech and of
assembly. The AU said the Swaziland Constitution guaranteed ‘fundamental rights and
freedoms including the rights to freedom of association’, but in practice ‘rights with regard to
political assembly and association are not fully enjoyed’. The AU said this was because
political parties were not allowed to contest elections.

The AU urged Swaziland to review the constitution, especially in the areas of ‘freedoms of
conscience, expression, peaceful assembly, association and movement as well as international
principles for free and fair elections and participation in electoral process’.

In its report on the 2013 elections, the Commonwealth observers recommended that measures
be put in place to ensure separation of powers between the government, parliament and the
courts so that Swaziland was in line with its international commitments.

They also called on the Swaziland Constitution to be ‘revisited’.

The report stated, ‘This should ideally be carried out through a fully inclusive, consultative
process with all Swazi political organisations and civil society (needed, with the help of
constitutional experts), to harmonise those provisions which are in conflict. The aim is to
ensure that Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal.’

It also recommended that a law be passed to allow for political parties to take part in
elections, ‘so as to give full effect to the letter and spirit of Section 25 of the Constitution, and
in accordance with Swaziland’s commitment to its regional and international commitments’.
In 2015, following a visit to Swaziland, a Commonwealth mission renewed its call for the
constitution to be reviewed so the kingdom could move toward democracy.

There is concern in Europe that not enough is being done to press for democracy in
Swaziland. In May 2015, the European Parliament voted for the release of all political
prisoners in Swaziland and called for the kingdom to be monitored for its human rights
record.

A statement issued by the European Parliament said, ‘Parliament considers the imprisonment
of political activists and the banning of trade unions to be in clear contravention of
commitments made by Swaziland under the Cotonou Agreement to respect democracy, the
rule of law and human rights, and also under the sustainable development chapter of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement, for
which Parliament’s support will depend on respect for the commitments made.’

The resolution was passed by 579 votes to six, with 58 abstentions.

See also
EU UNDERMINES FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY
HUMAN SUFFERING AND SWAZI SUGAR
FREE POLITICAL PRISONERS: EURO MPs

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King’s $1.6m watch equals 6 months’ aid


18 June 2018

As King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland, wears a watch worth US$1.6 million
and a suit beaded with gold weighing 6 kg, the World Food Program has said it cannot raise
the US$1.1 million it needs to feed starving children in the kingdom.

King Mswati turned 50 in April 2018 and wore the watch and suit at his birthday party. Days
earlier he took delivery of his second private jet, a A340 Airbus, that after VIP upgrades
reportedly cost US$30 million. He received E15 million (US$1.2 million) in cheques, a gold
dining room suite and a gold lounge suite among his birthday gifts.

In a report published at the end of May 2018, the World Food Program said it needed
US$1.13 million for the six months to November. It reported that due to lack of funds it had
to halt indefinitely the Food by Prescription programme that assists people living with HIV
and TB. The programme offers nutrition assessments, counselling and support services to
24,000 malnourished people receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART), treatment for TB,
prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) services, as well as support to their
families through a monthly household ration.

The report said despite its status as a lower middle-income country, 63 percent of Swazis
lived below the national poverty line. Chronic malnutrition is a main concern and stunting of
growth affects 26 percent of children under the age of five. The HIV rate in Swaziland is 26
percent of the population between the ages of 15-49. Life expectancy is 49 years, and 45
percent of children are orphaned or vulnerable.

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7 LGBTI
First LGBTI pride in Swaziland
25 June 2018

Deeply conservative Swaziland / Eswatini is to see its first-ever LGBTI pride event on
Saturday (30 June 2018). The state police in the kingdom controlled by King Mswati III, sub-
Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has granted permission for it to take place.

Homosexual acts are illegal in the tiny kingdom of 1.1 million people where most of the
population live under a feudal system isolated in rural areas.

Traditionalists, led by the King who has 15 wives, are antagonistic to LGBTI (lesbian, gay,
bisexual transgender and intersex) people and say their lifestyles are ‘unSwazi’.

The pride event was officially launched on Friday (22 June 2018). US Ambassador to
Swaziland Lisa Peterson told the launch the event was a call to respect the human rights of all
people.

The event is organised by Rock of Hope an advocacy group for LGBTI people. Its Advocacy
and Communication Officer Melusi Simelane said the event was a day of freedom of
expression.

The event is at the Prince of Wales Stadium, Mbabane, starting at 9 a.m.

There is a long history of discrimination against LGBTI people in Swaziland. Pitty Dludlu
told the annual Joshua Mzizi Memorial Lecture held in Ezulwini in December 2017 they
faced a number of issues that included access to health care without stigma and prejudice.
She said police and health care workers were the worse abusers of LGBTI people.

In a review of human rights in Swaziland in 2017 the US State Department noted, ‘Societal
discrimination against LGBTI persons was prevalent, and LGBTI persons generally
concealed their sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTI persons who were open
regarding their sexual orientation and relationships faced censure and exclusion from the
chiefdom-based patronage system, which could result in eviction from one’s home.

‘Chiefs, pastors, and government officials criticized same-sex sexual conduct as neither
morally Swazi nor Christian. LGBTI advocacy organizations had trouble registering with the
government.’

It added, ‘On July 23 [2017], a third-year University of Swaziland student committed suicide,
reportedly because he found himself isolated after his family rejected him due to his sexual
orientation.’

In May 2016 Rock of Hope reported to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review on
Swaziland that laws, social stigma and prejudice prevented LGBTI organisations from
operating freely.

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The report, presented jointly with three South African-based organisations, stated, in
Swaziland sexual health rights of LGBTI were not protected and there was inequality in the
access to health care.

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.’

HOOP (House of Our Pride), a support group for LGBTI people, reported to the United
Nation in 2011, ‘It is a common scene for LGBTI to be verbally insulted by by-passers in
public places. [There is] defamatory name calling and people yelling out to see a LGBTI
person’s reproductive part are some of the issues facing LGBTI in Swaziland.’

See also
PARENTS WANT ‘LESBIAN’ TEACHER OUT
LESBIAN AND GAY MURDERS IN SWAZILAND
SWAZI MINISTER LIES TO UN ON GAYS

Secretive group attacks Swazi LGBT


30 April 2018

A secretive hate group is fighting to stop Swaziland having its first ‘gay pride’ parade.

It has launched an online petition against the march organisers the Rock of Hope.

The group calls itself Parents of Eswatini (Parents of Swaziland). It launched a petition on the
CitizenGo website. The petition appears to originate in Germany.

The petition uses hate speech to describe what it calls the ‘LGBT lifestyle’ [Lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender].

It attacked the Rock of Hope for ‘promoting homosexuality’.

Rock of Hope in a statement published online said its mission was ‘to build a society in
Swaziland that is free from the stigmatization, discrimination and the oppression of gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender people this also include prisoners and sex workers who fall

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under the listed categories. The organization through its activities aim to create a very strong
and proud society of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the entire kingdom of
Swaziland.’

The march is due to be held in June 2018.

CitizenGo started in Spain in 2013 as a project of an organisation called HazteOir. It now


claims to have millions of supporters in more than 50 countries, according to the Open
Democracy website.

It reported, ‘HatzeOir was founded in 2001. [In 2017], a team of investigators in Spain traced
links between the group and “El Yunque”, a mysterious secret society that allegedly has cells
across Mexico and the US mobilised to “defend the Catholic religion and fight the forces of
Satan though violence or murder”, according to Mexican investigative journalist Alvaro
Delgado. Previously, in 2014 a judge dismissed a claim by HazteOir disputing links between
the groups.

‘CitizenGo describes itself as “pro-family” and a defender of life, family, freedom, and
dignity. Madrid lawyer Ignacio Arsuaga, reportedly the great-grandson of the late dictator
General Francisco Franco, sits at the helm of both it and HatzeOir,’ the website reported.
The Political Research Associates website reported, ‘CitizenGo has a variety of longstanding
ties to right-wing organizations and right-wing efforts around the globe.’

It added, it operated primarily through an online petition platform ‘to push an anti-LGBTQ,
anti-abortion agenda’.

King’s newspaper hates LGBTI people


22 June 2018

A report in the Swazi Observer comparing LGBTI people in Swaziland / Eswatini to child
molesters and people who have sex with animals was hate speech. It lied to the newspaper’s
readers and broke the Observer’s own code of ethical reporting standards.

The report on Thursday (21 June 2018) concerned a proposed LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, intersex) Pride event due to take place on 30 June 2018. It is being organised by
Rock of Hope and is the first of its kind. It has received international support.

The newspaper, in effect owned by King Mswati III sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute
monarch, reported the Pride had been met with ‘anger and despair’ by people within
Swaziland and talked of a letter from ‘concerned parents’ against the event. It did not tell
readers that the letter was an online petition from an organisation previously exposed as hate-
mongers. No person from Swaziland was quoted in the report.

The report gave details of the letter that demonised LGBTI people and said they were a
danger to children.

The report was hate speech and broke Article 13 of the Swaziland National Association of
Journalists code of conduct which states, ‘Hate speech: ‘Journalists shall avoid by all means

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the publication of speech that might promote hatred, spite and conflict amongst the Swazi or
any other nation.’

Hate speech is a type of speech or writing which can do any of the following: deliberately
offend, degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against someone based on
their race, ethnicity, profession, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. It
can be aimed at an individual; or racial, ethnic, religious or other group. Such speech
generally seeks to condemn or dehumanize the individual or group; or express anger, hatred,
violence or contempt toward them.

The group writing the petition calls itself Parents of Eswatini (Parents of Swaziland). It
published it on the CitizenGo website. The petition appears to originate in Germany.

In April 2018 Swazi Media Commentary exposed the website as a hate group. CitizenGo
started in Spain in 2013 as a project of an organisation called HazteOir. It now claims to have
millions of supporters in more than 50 countries, according to the Open Democracy website.
It reported, ‘HatzeOir was founded in 2001. [In 2017], a team of investigators in Spain traced
links between the group and “El Yunque”, a mysterious secret society that allegedly has cells
across Mexico and the US mobilised to “defend the Catholic religion and fight the forces of
Satan though violence or murder”, according to Mexican investigative journalist Alvaro
Delgado. Previously, in 2014 a judge dismissed a claim by HazteOir disputing links between
the groups.

‘CitizenGo describes itself as “pro-family” and a defender of life, family, freedom, and
dignity. Madrid lawyer Ignacio Arsuaga, reportedly the great-grandson of the late dictator
General Francisco Franco, sits at the helm of both it and HatzeOir,’ the website reported.
The Political Research Associates website reported, ‘CitizenGo has a variety of longstanding
ties to right-wing organizations and right-wing efforts around the globe.’

It added, it operated primarily through an online petition platform ‘to push an anti-LGBTQ,
anti-abortion agenda’.

Richard Rooney

‘Observer’ steps up LGBTI hate campaign


26 June 2018

The Swazi Observer group of newspapers is running a hate campaign against LGBTI people.

Over three days it has published articles prominently calling LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender and intersex) people ‘a curse’ and ‘evil’ and likening them to child sex molesters
and people who have sex with animals.

The reports which appeared on Thursday (21 June 2018), Friday and Sunday contained hate
speech and broke Article 13 of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists code of
conduct which states, ‘Hate speech: ‘Journalists shall avoid by all means the publication of
speech that might promote hatred, spite and conflict amongst the Swazi or any other nation.’
Hate speech is a type of speech or writing which can do any of the following: deliberately
offend, degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against someone based on

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their race, ethnicity, profession, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. It
can be aimed at an individual; or racial, ethnic, religious or other group. Such speech
generally seeks to condemn or dehumanize the individual or group; or express anger, hatred,
violence or contempt toward them.

The Swazi Observer is in effect owned by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland / Eswatini as
sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The newspaper gave space to a witchdoctor and a bishop of a Swazi Zionist church to vilify
LGBTI people and to attack a Pride event that is to take place on 30 June 2018.

The hate-filled coverage of LGBTI people in Swaziland newspapers is not confined to the
Observer. The Times of Swaziland group, the only other mainstream newspaper in the
kingdom, has published similar articles in the past.

What the newspapers have in common is that they allow fundamentalist Christians to set the
agenda on what it means to be an LGBTI person. They mainly concentrate on vilifying gay
men.

What the newspapers ignore is that modern scientific evidence shows sexual identity is
natural and not some kind of learned behaviour and that LGBTI people do not pose a threat to
society.

J Michael Bailey of the University of the Northwestern University, United States, and
colleagues reviewed the available scientific research on the subject for the academic journal
Psychological Science in the Public Interest in 2016 and concluded that there was
considerably more evidence that sexual orientation is caused by the genetics of a person than
by a person’s life experiences. In simple terms, people are born homosexual.

They concluded the most often talked about social causes of homosexuality, that people are
recruited by adult homosexuals or homosexuality is caused by poor parenting, is generally
not the case. They also conclude there is no good evidence that homosexuality increases
where societies are tolerant.

They also conclude that same-sex activity appears to have existed throughout human history
and in most cultures, including throughout Africa. Claims that same-sex activity is absent in a
particular culture are “often demonstrably false, even when the culture does not have the
words to describe such activity”. They conclude that same-sex activity in Africa was
observed from the earliest recorded times, which means it was in Africa before the European
colonialists arrived and is not imported from the West.

They also conclude that same-sex interactions are common throughout hundreds of animal
species so it is not something specific to humans.

Newspapers in Swaziland need to be careful about taking at face value opinions from people
whose intention is to discredit LGBTI people. Sections of the church have been at the
forefront of this. Editors might usefully question the motives of such writers. They should
always question them and insist that the opinions they print are based on established
information and not on hearsay, rumour or prejudice.

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They would also be advised to consider that there are many LGBTI people in Swaziland and
therefore among their readers (or potential readers) and they have the right to have their lives
and views represented in the news media just like anyone else.

Richard Rooney

NGO snubs LGBTI, what will funder say?


27 June 2018

One of the best known human rights groups in Swaziland / Eswatini has snubbed the LGBTI
Pride festival saying it is against Biblical teaching, putting it at odds with a major funder.

The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) issued a statement saying it would
not support Swaziland’s first Pride because the event, ‘is completely against our creator Lord
Jesus’ plans for His people in being together as man and woman’.

The statement attributed to Community and Advocacy Officer Silindele Nkosi was published
in the Swazi Observer on Tuesday (26 June 2018).

SWAGAA is a non-governmental organization in Swaziland best known for the work it does
on gender-based violence. Among its stated values are ‘non-discrimination’ and ‘respect for
all human rights and gender equality’. It does not say it only works with Christians.

SWAGAA’s anti-LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) stance puts it at odds
with one of its major funders, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
(PEPFAR). It states, ‘PEPFAR stands firmly and unequivocally with and for key populations.
These groups include gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject
drugs, sex workers, transgender persons, and prisoners.’

It adds, ‘PEPFAR’s programs support the creation of non-stigmatizing environments that


protect human rights.’

PEPFAR pays for a number of projects in Swaziland and funds the position of education
officer at SWAGAA.

The Pride event which takes place on Saturday 30 June 2018 is billed as a day of free
expression to celebrate diversity.

The Observer reported Nkosi said SWAGAA would not support LGBTI Pride ‘because the
ideas from which it stemmed from were against the beliefs that the organisation hold’.
Nkosi said SWAGAA would continue to offer services to LGBTI people.

Police spokesperson condemns LGBTI


28 June 2018

The chief police spokesperson in Swaziland / Eswatini Superintendent Khulani Mamba has
said that LGBTI people will not be tolerated in the kingdom and should not be given a
platform.

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He said, ‘We say no to homosexuality, this country will not tolerate the LGBTI [lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, intersex] community,’ the Times of Swaziland reported on Wednesday
(26 June 2018).

His comments came after the Swaziland Police gave permission for the first-ever LGBTI
Pride event to take place in the kingdom on Saturday (30 June 2018).

Mamba made his comments from the pulpit in Ezulwini during annual prayer services on
Sunday, the Times reported. It described Mamba as a ‘prophet’. It added he spoke in a
personal capacity and not as a police superintendent.

Meanwhile, the Swazi Observer is standing by its report that contained hate speech, despite
criticism. Over the past week it and its companion newspaper the Sunday Observer have
published three prominent articles that called LGBTI people ‘a curse’ and ‘evil’ and likening
them to child sex molesters and people who had sex with animals.

The articles broke Article 13 of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists code of
conduct which states, ‘Hate speech: ‘Journalists shall avoid by all means the publication of
speech that might promote hatred, spite and conflict amongst the Swazi or any other nation.’

After the first article appeared on Thursday (21 June 2018) the Swaziland Human Rights
Network UK condemned it saying, ‘the spirit and text of the article is homophobic and
divisive and goes against the basics of journalistic ethics of accuracy and fair reporting. The
article makes a false equivalence between the gay and lesbian community and paedophilia,
bestiality and rape’.

In a statement published on its website it said, ‘The falsehoods raised in this article are not
only homophobic but also indicative of a particularly desperate and divisive anti-gay and
lesbian agenda by the Swazi Observer.’

Later, Goodwill Mathonsi the group’s coordinator wrote an email of complaint to the
Observer editor Thulani Thwala saying it had broken four articles in the code of ethics,
including hate speech.

Hate speech is a type of speech or writing which can do any of the following: deliberately
offend, degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against someone based on
their race, ethnicity, profession, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. It
can be aimed at an individual; or racial, ethnic, religious or other group. Such speech
generally seeks to condemn or dehumanize the individual or group; or express anger, hatred,
violence or contempt toward them.

In his response, Thwala did not address the matter of hate speech. He wrote, ‘Rule number
one of journalism to balance views was achieved. Since we live in a free country it is every
person’s right to frown upon anything.’

He wrote, ‘I am certain you are aware that we cannot force people to see things the way we
do no matter the circumstances. I cannot guarantee special treatment for any groupings.’

Swazi Media Commentary also sent an email of complaint to the editor of the Swazi
Observer but received no reply.

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The Observer does give special attention to one group: the monarchy. It is in effect owned by
King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. In a
report on press freedom in the kingdom the Media Institute of Southern Africa called the
Observer a ‘pure propaganda machine for the royal family’.

In January 2011 Alec Lushaba who today is editor of the Observer on Saturday wrote in the
Weekend Observer about the newspaper’s values. He said, ‘We commit ourselves into
respecting and observing the institution of the Monarchy by ensuring that all publications
with regard to Their Majesties are factually, culturally and traditionally correct. The
sensitivity of the institutions demands that all facts be checked or verified with the traditional
structures and/or have been in direct consultation with Their Majesties.’

‘Observer’ misreports police on LGBTI


29 June 2018

The Swazi Observer newspaper misled its readers when its reported that the Swaziland police
had ok’d an LGBTI event in the kingdom.

The misreporting led to confusion and the police making a forceful statement in clarification.
Police blamed the Rock of Hope which is organising the event for the error.

Rock of Hope in a statement said, ‘We did not say or intend to imply that the police have
endorsed Rock of Hope or the upcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI) Pride
event.’ It added, ‘They are not associated with our organisation and neither did they sanction
our intended event.’

The problem started when the Observer’s Saturday edition (23 June 2018) published a story
with the headline ‘Police ok gay march’. However nowhere in the story did the newspaper
give evidence to support the headline. It did not quote the police nor Rock of Hope saying
police had given support.

This led to confusion and the Hhohho Regional Police Commissioner Charles Tsabedze
wrote a strong letter to Rock of Hope. He called Rock of Hope dishonest and said it ‘gave the
impression that we gave authority that the event should go ahead’.

Tsabedze said police had agreed to provide security and traffic control. He added, ‘We wish
to categorically point out that we are not associated with your organisation and neither did we
sanction your intended event.’

He did not mention the misreporting of the police’s position by the Swazi Observer, a
newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s
last absolute monarch.

LGBTI Pride organiser Melusi Simelane told the Daily Beast the police had been ‘incredibly
welcoming, supportive, and professional’.

The Beast reported, ‘He added, “up until a media report saying they had ‘OK’d’ the event.
Then somewhere within the police leadership there was alarm, and we were called into a

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meeting to be told that the police can’t be seen to support anything at all, that all they would
do was provide security as for any other event. Really, they’ve been great.’

The Beast reported police told Simelane they were receiving ‘a lot of threats’ from people
wanting to attack Pride marchers.

The Pride which takes place on Saturday 30 June 2018 is the first LGBTI event of its kind in
Swaziland. The Observer has over the past week published three articles demonising LGBTI
people likening them to child sex monsters and people who have sex with animals.

King’s newspaper gives LGBTI support


26 April 2018

In an unprecedented and unexpected move in Swaziland, one of King Mswati III’s


newspapers has published a supplement that offered support for LGBTI people.

Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch,
is fiercely traditional. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people are
discriminated against in all walks of life and their relationships and acts are outlawed.
The Sunday Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, devoted much of its
SCENE supplement, aimed at young adults, to the topic last week (22 April 2018).

Nokwanda Sibandze, who edited the supplement wrote, ‘SCENE set out, as usual, to find
people who are proud and open about being gay or even being lesbians. And to our
misfortune, most of them could not speak out on the issue as they had their reservations on
why they are not comfortable enough to share their story with the rest of the country.

‘I would honestly say this was one of the hardest and saddest issues I had to do as people in
the LGBT[I] community shared why they were not comfortable to share their story.

‘Some said they have been bullied just because of their sexual orientation while others simply
said they are not accepted by their family members so they would not be able to be part of the
issue.’

Sibandze added, ‘Some were brave enough to share their story and pictures as well. Melusi
Simelane, who is an activist for the rights of people in the LGBT[I] community, shared his
story and views on the issue. Melusi is also a world traveller who attends meetings and global
seminars that speak on rights of LGBT[I] people in the world. He is the communications
officer at Rock of Hope and continually strives and fights for the rights of his peers in the
country.

‘We also talked to Luyanda Mndzebele a young man who is proudly gay. He says it is not
fair that they have to be accepted when everyone else is said to be living right.
‘We also discuss same sex parenting. As many same sex couples wish and also look forward
to having their own children in the future.’

The supplement is unusual because generally LGBTI people are vilified in Swaziland and
subjected to abuse in their daily lives and from police and medical workers.

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Pitty Dludlu, a member of the LGBTI community, told the annual Joshua Mzizi Memorial
Lecture held in Ezulwini in December 2017 they faced a number of issues that included
access to health care without the stigma and prejudice.

The Observer on Saturday reported at the time, ‘Dludlu further decried the service they are
subjected to in the hands of the police and health care workers as the worse abusers of the
LGBTI community. The abusive situation is worse at the bus terminal station to the LGBTI
community.

‘Other challenges are that they are denied scholarship due to their sexual orientation. Dludlu
further pointed that “qualified transgender community are unemployed as they are told point
blank that there is no need to proceed with an interview once they see their sexual orientation
and told embarrassingly that they don’t hire such people”’.

In a review of human rights in Swaziland for 2017, just published, the US State Department
noted, ‘While colonial-era legislation against sodomy remains on the books, no penalties are
specified, and there were no arrests. The government asserted that same-sex relationships and
acts were illegal but did not prosecute any cases during the year.

‘Societal discrimination against LGBTI persons was prevalent, and LGBTI persons generally
concealed their sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTI persons who were open
regarding their sexual orientation and relationships faced censure and exclusion from the
chiefdom-based patronage system, which could result in eviction from one’s home.

‘Chiefs, pastors, and government officials criticized same-sex sexual conduct as neither
morally Swazi nor Christian. LGBTI advocacy organizations had trouble registering with the
government. One such organization, House of Pride, was under the umbrella of another
organization that dealt with HIV/AIDS. It was difficult to determine the extent of
employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity because victims
were not likely to come forward, and most LGBTI persons were not open regarding their
sexual orientation or gender identity.

‘On July 23, a third-year University of Swaziland student committed suicide, reportedly
because he found himself isolated after his family rejected him due to his sexual orientation.’
There is a long history of discrimination 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 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 were not protected and there was inequality in the
access to health care.

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.

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‘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.’

HOOP (House of Our Pride), a support group for LGBTI people, reported to the United
Nation in 2011, ‘It is a common scene for LGBTI to be verbally insulted by by-passers in
public places. [There is] defamatory name calling and people yelling out to see a LGBTI
person’s reproductive part are some of the issues facing LGBTI in Swaziland.’

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8 POLICE
Police strip and flog theft suspect
27 April 2018

Two community police officers in Swaziland stripped a man naked, tied him to a tree and
flogged his bare buttocks with sticks until they bled profusely.

It happened at Malindza after they had accused him of stealing pots from his grandfather’s
house. They were helped by one of his female cousins.

This was not the first time community police have been in the spotlight for their actions. In
2014 three Malindza community police beat to death a mentally challenged man who had
escaped from the National Psychiatric Centre.

The Swazi Observer reported on Wednesday (25 April 2018) that Dumisani Joma, aged 24,
had taken a pot from his aunt’s house without consent, following a family dispute.

The newspaper reported the community policeman and his cousin later went to find him at a
neighbour’s home.

It reported, ‘They accused him of stealing pots from his grandfather’s house. Joma said
without being given any moment to explain his side of the story, the men and woman grabbed
and forced him out of the homestead.

‘Along the way, he was tied with ropes and further stripped naked in full view of members of
the public.

‘“They then took me home where I was tied against a tree before taking turns to assault me
with sticks,” he said. Joma said the beating continued until he bled profusely on his buttocks.’
Sikelela Dlamini, aged 60,, Mbhodze Lukhele, aged 64, and Thantazile Mtshali, aged 21,
were later each sentenced at Swazi National Court to seven months in a correctional facility
with an option to pay a E700 (US$56) fine.

The community police operate in rural Swaziland and are supervised by traditional chiefs
who are local representatives of King Mswati III, Swaziland’s absolute monarch. They have
the authority to arrest suspects concerning minor offenses for trial by an inner council within
the chiefdom. For serious offenses suspects should be handed over to the official police for
further investigations.

There are concerns that some community police officers in Swaziland overstep their
authority.

In March 2018 a court heard that three community policemen 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.

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In 2013 community police in Mvutshini banished two men from their community in
Swaziland because they were gay. The men, one aged 18 and the other 21, had moved from
the Lubombo region to stay with the aunt of one of them.

In 2011 community police in Kwaluseni reportedly threatened to murder democracy activist


Musa Ngubeni if he was released on bail pending trial on explosive offences. Residents
accused the community police in the area of being involved in criminal activities.

The Weekend Observer newspaper reported at the time that some community police officers
had been discovered to be involved in cattle rustling and others with stolen exhibits
confiscated from thugs in the area. They were entrusted with the responsibility of taking the
exhibits to the police station, but they instead kept some for personal use, a resident told the
newspaper. In a third instance, another community policeman defrauded a resident of an
undisclosed sum of money using the name of a police officer from Sigodvweni.

See also
POLICE GANG-RAPE SCHOOLGIRL
COMMUNITY POLICE BANISH GAY MEN
KWALUSENI POLICE ‘ARE CRIMINALS’

High Court hears of ‘police torture’


31 May 2018

A former hotel supervisor told the Swaziland High Court police tortured her to try to make
her confess to theft.

She said she was handcuffed, beaten, suffocated to near death, and threatened with hanging.
She complained later to the local police commander but felt nothing was one about her
complaint, so she went to court.

Phindile Mndzebele is claiming E750,000 (US$60,000) in damages from the Royal Eswatini
[Swaziland] Police Service.

She told the High Court was she was the house-keeping manager at the Lugogo Sun hotel
when a items and cash were reported stolen from a room. Police accused her of the theft and
took her in a police vehicle to a forest up a mountain.

The Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (31 May 2018) that she denied being involved in
the theft. Five officers were alleged to have forced her to sit on a grass mat and her hands
were cuffed and she was suffocated three times. She was told the assault and suffocation
would not stop until she soiled herself. One officer said she would hang if she did not give up
the stolen items.

The ordeal ended when the police officers were called away to other duties.

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The High Court was told doctors examined Mndzebele and found her muscles were swollen
as a result of the assault on her back. She also had to attend daily counselling.

Reports of police torture are common in Swaziland. The International Commission of Jurists
(ICJ) in a report on Swaziland published in May 2018 stated the Swazi State, ‘continues to be
either actively involved in, or turn a blind eye to, torture’.

It added, ‘Reports of suspects dying in police custody, workers assaulted by state police,
suspects shot and killed by the army, as well as suspected poachers tortured and killed by
game rangers and private farm owners have come to characterize law enforcement in
Swaziland.

‘Amnesty International reports that, in June 2015, a Mozambican national living in


Swaziland, Luciano Reginaldo Zavale, died on the day he was arrested on allegations that he
was in possession of a stolen laptop. In August 2015, independent forensic evidence indicated
that he did not die of natural causes. An inquest was established to investigate the death, but
its findings have never been made public.

‘In February 2016 at the Kwaluseni campus of the University of Swaziland, a student of the
University, Ayanda Mkhabela, was run over by an armoured police vehicle during a student
protest and left paralysed. The Commissioner of Police publicly announced that he would
institute an investigation within the police service. As at the end of 2017, no public
investigation had been undertaken into the incident. The Commissioner of Police had not
made public the findings of the internal investigation.’

The ICJ said there was generally no independent mechanism for investigating abuses
committed by the police.

It added, ‘The students involved in the protest have instituted legal proceedings in respect of
damages. The Government is defending the action.’

The ICJ added, ‘Recent situations paint a gloomy picture about the treatment of persons in
custody. A former Member of Parliament, Charles Myeza, has added credence to the serious
allegations of torture at Bhalekane Correctional Facility, revealing in court papers that
officers also treated him in an inhumane way. Myeza, who was serving a custodial sentence
at the facility, alleged that he was stripped naked, smacked on the buttocks and had his
genitals squeezed by officers, in furtherance of a common purpose to violate his right to
dignity. The former Member of Parliament is currently suing the Government.’

‘Police beat man close to death’


12 June 2018

Community police officers in Swaziland / Eswatini attacked a man described as ‘mentally


disturbed’ and beat him close to death, a newspaper in the kingdom reported.

The Swazi Observer on Tuesday (12 June 2018) said five officers at Ngoloweni in Sandleni
were accused of beating a 44-yearod man after claims that he attempted to rape a girl aged
six.

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The newspaper reported police and local residents ‘pounced on him and without saying
much, he was handcuffed and heavily assaulted with sticks. He was also slapped and kicked
all over the body.’

The Observer described the man as ‘mentally disturbed’ with ‘speech challenges’.
Police said they were investigating the incident.

‘Police set suspect’s genitals on fire’


24 June 2018

Community police officers in Swaziland / Eswatini tortured a ‘mentally challenged’ man by


setting his genitals on fire and beating him with iron rods to make him confess to committing
ritual murders, a newspaper reported.

It happened at Ngogola, a remote area of Siphofaneni, the Observer on Saturday newspaper


in Swaziland reported (23 June 2018). It said the man was left for dead at the gate of his
homestead.

It reported, ‘The mentally challenged suspect was subjected to their unorthodox torture
routines to force him to confess, where the suspect was made to sit on a thorny aloe tree,
beaten with all sorts of iron rods and [they] set fire to his genitals to force him to confess to
be behind the ritual killings in the area.’

It added, ‘The tortured suspect is reported to have been beaten to a pulp by the community
police before he was made to confess to be behind the killings.’ The regular police have
reportedly taken the suspect into care.

The media in Swaziland have been publishing lurid reports from across the kingdom of
children being abducted to be ritually murdered so their body parts can be used in making
muti potions that are said to bring luck. It is reported that there has been an increase in ritual
killings ahead of a national election due in September 2018. Little hard evidence has been
reported that the killings have actually taken place.

Police fire stun grenades at protest


29 June 2018

Four protesters were injured on Friday (29 June 2018) in Swaziland when police opened fire
with rubber bullets and stun grenades during a workers’ protest against government policies,
international news agencies reported.

AFP reported, ‘Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at about 500 protesters, as well as
using water cannon and wielding batons, as demonstrators threw stones at officers.’ Reuters
put the number of protestors at 2,000.

It happened in Mbabane, the kingdom’s capital.

Reuters reported they marched against poor service delivery, alleged misuse of state pension
funds and a proposed law to charge citizens who marry foreigners.

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AFP reported, ‘The demonstration organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland was
over accusations that millions of dollars have been removed from the national pension fund
by the government of King Mswati III, one of the world’s few absolute monarchs.

‘Parliament instituted the probe into the alleged scandal, but it was later halted.’

AFP reported trade union leader Bheki Mamba told protestors, ‘We were marching
peacefully until this unfortunate incident by police.

‘The injured comrades have been rushed to hospital. We assured the police that we are not
confrontational.’

Freedom of speech and assembly are severely curtailed in Swaziland. Political parties are
banned from taking part in elections 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 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 Mbabane.

In 2013, after police broke up a meeting to discuss the pending election, the meeting’s joint
organisers, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy
Campaign (SDC) said Swaziland no longer had a national police service, but instead had ‘a
private militia with no other purpose but to serve the unjust, dictatorial, unSwazi and
ungodly, semi-feudal royal Tinkhundla system of misrule’.

In April 2015, a planned rally to mark the anniversary of the royal decree that turned
Swaziland from a democracy to a kingdom ruled by an autocratic monarch was abandoned
amid fears that police would attack participants. In February and March, large numbers of
police disbanded meetings of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), injuring
at least one union leader.

In 2014, police illegally abducted prodemocracy leaders and drove them up to 30 kilometres
away, and dumped them to prevent them taking part in a meeting calling for freedom in the
kingdom. Police staged roadblocks on all major roads leading to Swaziland’s main
commercial city, Manzini, where protests were to be held. They also physically blocked halls
to prevent meetings taking place. Earlier in the day police had announced on state radio that
meetings would not be allowed to take place.

In 2012, four days of public protest were planned by trade unions and other prodemocracy
organisations. They were brutally suppressed by police and state forces and had to be
abandoned.

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In 2013, just before the national election in Swaziland, 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].’

Swaziland is due to hold its next election in September 2018.

See also
POLICE SHOOT WOMAN STRIKER IN HEAD

Two critical after police attack


30 June 2018

Two people are critically ill in hospital after police in Swaziland / Eswatini attacked
demonstrators.

Police blocked an injured person from being taken for treatment, local media reported.
The Observer on Saturday reported two people were ‘reported critical after some severe
bashing from the no nonsense police security’.

It happened on Friday (29 June 2018) in the kingdom’s capital Mbabane during a protest
march to deliver a petition organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland
(TUCOSWA) against government policies.

The Observer reported, ‘Majembeni Thobela, a security guard hired by the Swaziland
Security Services, was one of the marchers who received the worst beatings and was
reportedly left unconscious.’

It added, ‘Thobela was severely beaten by the police using batons, kicks and fists in a
confrontation which was started by disagreements on which route to take when going to
deliver their petition to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Offices.

‘Police reacted to the confrontation by spraying water on the marchers using their water
cannon.

‘Thobela was left covered with blood on his face from head injuries.’

The Observer reported, ‘Police watched a helpless Thobela as he talked until he collapsed in
front of their line.

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‘First aid was later applied to him by other marchers immediately after the confrontation had
calmed.’

The Swazi News reported, ‘the protestors had to push and shove the police who were blocking
them from taking the injured man into the ambulance’.

The Observer reported, ‘The police did not even bother to rush their victim to hospital despite
that he was oozing blood and lay on the floor.’

It added, ‘As the pushing and shoving for passage to the DPM’s office ensued, a police
casspir water tanker started to spray the protestors and followed with stun grenades when
they saw that the marchers retaliated with stones.’

The marchers ran for safety, ‘with police heavy on their pursuit beating everyone on sight
with batons’.

The Observer reported, ‘Other marchers were cornered and severely assaulted by the police.’
Gcebile Ngcamphalala is reported to have suffered a fracture when she was whipped by
officers whilst trying to jump over a fence.

Reuters and AFP news agenices reported police using rubber bullets and stun grenades
against the protestors.

Swaziland Police spokesperson Assistant Superintend Phindile Vilakati confirmed the


incident which left Thobela oozing with blood, but denied the injury was caused by police.
The Observer reported Vilakati saying Thobela’s injury was as a result of the flying stones
from the marchers.

‘We don’t carry stones, but batons. This was an unfortunate incident caused by marchers
failing to adhere to the agreed route. We are at times forced to use minimum force to enforce
compliance with the rules,’ she said.

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9 CRIME
Man 9 years in jail without trial
26 April 2018

A murder suspect in Swaziland, who has been in jail for the past nine years without being
tried, has filed an urgent application at the High Court to be released.

He had been granted bail in 2009 but could not afford to pay it.

Fana Shongwe from Ndlalambi in the Hhohho region was arrested in September 2009 and
charged with murder and arson. He is currently kept at the Sidvwashini Correctional facility.

His case has similarities to that of Sikhumbuzo Mdluli, of Ngwazini in the Manzini region
who was arrested and charged with murder in March 2008 and is also reportedly at
Sidvwashini awaiting trial.

The Swazi Observer reported on Wednesday (25 April 2018) that Shongwe wanted the High
Court to order his release. It reported that in 2009 he was granted bail by the High Court
fixed at E50,000 (US$4,070) and was ordered to pay E15,000 cash with the rest being in
form of a surety.

It quoted him saying, ‘I was not able to pay the bail as I could not afford and as such I have
been in custody from the date of arrest to the date of the present application.’

His lawyer submitted that Shongwe’s incarceration without trial violated the Swaziland
Constitution.

Shongwe’s case is similar to that of Sikhumbuzo Mdluli, of Ngwazini in the Manzini region.
It was reported in January 2018 that he had been arrested and charged with murder in March
2008 but had not been sent for trial. He has asked the High Court of Swaziland to intervene.

The pair are not the only people jailed for lengthy periods in Swaziland awaiting trial. In
December 2017 Swaziland’s Human Rights Commission reported at least 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 at the time, ‘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.’

A report just published by the US State Department into human rights issues in Swaziland for
2017 stated, ‘Lengthy pretrial detention was common. Judicial inefficiency and staff
shortages contributed to the problem, as did the police practice of prolonging detention to
collect evidence and prevent detainees from influencing witnesses if released. There were
instances in which the length of detention equalled or exceeded the sentence for the alleged
crime.’

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Man jailed 9 years no trial, gets bail


27 April 2018

The man kept in a Swaziland jail for nine years awaiting trial has been released on bail.
Fana Shongwe who is charged with murder appeared at the Swaziland High Court on
Thursday (26 April 2018) where Judge Mbutfo Mamba released him.

Shongwe’s case made international news. He had been arrested and charged in 2009 and was
offered bail at E50,000 with E15,000 in cash with the rest as surety. He could not afford to
pay.

His trial date has yet to be set.

Judge Mamba said, ‘Mr Shongwe, it is unfortunate that such happened to you, it should not
have happened to anyone, it is not the law that failed you, but the people entrusted to execute
the law failed you, you are going home today as you will be released,’ according to a report
in the Swazi Observer on Friday (27 April 2018).

The newspaper reported, ‘Justice Minister Edgar Hillary expressed annoyance in the manner
Shongwe’s matter has been handled. He assured that something was being done to correct the
problem.’

At least 133 people in Swaziland have waited more than a year in jail without coming to trial,
according to Swaziland’s Human Rights Commission.

A report just published by the US State Department into human rights issues in Swaziland for
2017 stated, ‘Lengthy pretrial detention was common. Judicial inefficiency and staff
shortages contributed to the problem, as did the police practice of prolonging detention to
collect evidence and prevent detainees from influencing witnesses if released. There were
instances in which the length of detention equalled or exceeded the sentence for the alleged
crime.’

See also
133 JAILED WITHOUT TRIAL FOR A YEAR

Court fines woman, 78, for ‘disrespect’


16 May 2018

A 78-year-old woman in Swaziland was sentenced to nine months in prison with an option of
a fine for ‘disrespecting’ local leaders.

She had refused to attend a meeting called by the traditional authorities at KaLanga.

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The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Wednesday (16 May 2018) that Tobhini Dlamini
appeared before the Swazi National Court where she faced a charge of contravening the
Swazi Law and Custom.

‘She was alleged to have wrongfully and intentionally disrespected the traditional authority of
KaLanga Umphakatsi by refusing to attend a meeting after she was summoned,’ the
newspaper reported.

She had been accused of selling Swazi Nation Land to people wanting to build homesteads.
In Swaziland, Swazi Nation Land is under the control of King Mswati III, who rules as sub-
Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Court President Chief Ndlondlo Tsabedze sentenced her to nine months jail with the option of
a E900 (US$70) fine.

Chiefs in Swaziland are appointed by King Mswati and wield tremendous power over their
subjects. They 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 receive food aid each year.

Chiefs can and do take revenge on their subjects who disobey them. There is a catalogue of
cases in Swaziland. For example, Chief Dambuza Lukhele of Ngobelweni in the Shiselweni
region banned his subjects from ploughing their fields because some of them defied his order
to build a hut for one of his wives.

Nhlonipho Nkamane Mkhatswa, chief of Lwandle in Manzini, the main commercial city in
Swaziland, reportedly stripped a woman of her clothing in the middle of a street in full view
of the public because she was wearing trousers.

In November 2013, the newly-appointed Chief Ndlovula of Motshane threatened to evict


nearly 1,000 of his subjects from grazing land if they did not pay him a E5,000 (about
US$500 at the time) fine, the equivalent of more than six months income for many in
Swaziland.

In March 2017 the Swazi Observer reported the EBC told residents during a voter education
exercise at Engwenyameni Umphakatsi, ‘it was not acceptable have elected politicians to
behave as if they were above community leaders’.

It added, ‘Chiefs remain superior to any other person in communities as they are the
administrative arm of His Majesty King Mswati III.’

See also
BULLYING CHIEFS RULE IN SWAZILAND

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Murder on the rise, says police chief


1 June 2018

Murders in Swaziland are on the rise and cases of armed robberies and sexual violence are
being reported ‘with a disturbing level of frequency and regularity’, the kingdom’s police
commissioner said on Wednesday (30 May 2018).

On average 61 women were reported raped each month and there were 180 aggravated
murders since January 2017 (an average of 10 per month), Isaac Magagula told a crime
prevention awareness campaign at Nkhaba.

Magagula also said 227 armed robberies were reported in the same period.

His comments came on the same day that separately the United States in its annual report on
crime and safety in Swaziland labelled Mbabane, the capital city, a ‘critical-threat location’.
Magagula said, ‘At this Campaign, we must state that murder cases are on the rise with cases
of aggravated murders, armed robberies and sexual violence being reported with a disturbing
level of frequency and regularity.’

He added that the majority of murders occurred in drinking spots and bars.

The Swazi Observer reported (31 May 2018), ‘He said the police service will be robust in
conducting raids and ensuring that illegal drinking spots are closed and that bars operate
within the parameters of their licenses.’

The Police Commissioner spoke about the number of ritual killings that had taken place in
Swaziland in the run-up to this year’s national election. People reportedly have been killed so
their body parts can be used in ‘muti’ to bring good luck.

The Observer reported, ‘He said since 2017 to-date five cases that can be associated with this
belief have been recorded with the most shocking incident being the one that unravelled at
Mafutseni over the weekend, where a 16-year-old boy had his throat slit in a suspected ritual
murder attempt.’

The Times of Swaziland reported on Thursday (31 May 2018) Magagula stated that there
were 1,046 rape cases reported in the past 17 months.

It added, ‘The national commissioner stated that the most harrowing, are the cases where
young children and elderly women are subjected to the horror of rape. “Also mindboggling
are cases where biological fathers rape their own daughters, which is incomprehensible to say
the least,” Magagula said.’

The crime prevention campaign took place on the same day the United States released its
annual report on crime and safety in Swaziland. As in past years it labelled Mbabane as a
‘critical-threat location’. The report is aimed at US diplomats visiting the kingdom.

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The Bureau of Diplomatic Security reported, ‘The general crime rate [in Swaziland] is above
the U.S. national average. Although criminals consider 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 continues to increase. Urban areas are particularly
dangerous at night, and the presence of pedestrians should not be interpreted as an indication
of a secure/safe environment.

‘Residential burglary and petty theft are the most commonly reported crimes. They occur at
all locations regardless of time. Criminals are generally interested in cell phones and cash.
Most break-ins occur at homes without security guards and/or centrally monitored home
alarm systems.’

It added, ‘Criminals usually brandish edged weapons (knives or machetes), but the use of
firearms has steadily increased in the past few years. While criminals generally rely on the
threat of force to commit crimes, they will resort to physical, to include deadly, force if
victims resist.’

The report added, ‘Police response time to incidents is slow when compared to the U.S.,
unless the police are in the general area where the incident occurred. Police consider a 30-
minute response time adequate, even in urban areas. Police are generally willing to assist but
often lack transportation and resources to properly respond to, or investigate, crimes.’

See also
MORE CRIME FEARS IN SWAZILAND
SWAZILAND A WORLD HOTSPOT FOR CRIME

Swaziland in fear of witches


4 June 2018

Police in Swaziland fired rubber bullets and teargas to keep a ‘mob’ of 200 people from
attacking an elderly women they accused of practising witchcraft.

It was one of many cases in the kingdom where people have reacted in fear against supposed
witched.

It happened at Esthomo, a squatter camp near Malkerns, after the 66-year-old woman, her
husband and an assistant, were alleged to have performed a ‘ritual.’

Both of Swaziland’s two national daily newspapers published detailed accounts of the attack.
The Swazi Observer reported on Friday (1 June 2018) 200 community members turned
violent and ‘bayed for blood’.

The Observer reported that a woman neighbour described as a ‘prophet’ had a ‘vision’ that
something was not right at the compound where they lived. The newspaper reported she went

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to investigate and found one of them ‘performing a ritual involving sprinkling water in
between the litany of stick and mud houses that complete the compound’. The prophet raised
the alarm and woke other residents.

The Times of Swaziland reported a resident saying the elderly woman was seen half-naked
and carrying a bucket.

The Observer reported at least one hut was set on fire. It added, ‘According to a source close
to the matter, the mob made it clear that they were after the old woman as they alleged it was
not the first time she performed her witchcraft acts around the compound.’

The Observer reported a source saying, ‘The community members wanted to kill the
suspected witches.’

The newspaper said police arrived ‘armed to the teeth’ and rescued the woman.
The Times reported that she was taken to Malkerns Police Station and residents were asked to
go to the station to make statements. It added that police told residents that the elderly woman
would be released and allowed home.

It quoted a source saying, ‘The community members responded by protesting at the police
station and by the public road. As they were becoming rowdy by throwing rubbish on the
public road while singing protest songs, the police fired several teargas canisters and rubber
bullets to disperse them.’

It added, ‘After being dispersed by the police, the sources said the community members
regrouped later on and stormed the elderly woman’s home where they allegedly attacked her
husband. They also vandalised property, including their bedroom.

‘Meanwhile, the sources revealed that some community members rolled big logs of fallen
trees to the road leading to the woman’s home in a bid to block the police cars from reaching
the place.

‘Later on, the sources said the police arrived and rescued the man from the crowd by firing
more teargas canisters and rubber bullets towards the crowd. Thereafter, the man was also
taken to the police station.’

Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba


confirmed the incident and said the police were investigating.

Fear of witchcraft is widespread throughout Swaziland and there are many cases of suspected
witches being attacked and even killed.

In January 2018 a mob cracked open the skull of a 27-year-old man killing him at Dlangeni
in Hhukwini Inkhundla. He was hacked with bush knives after being accused of being a
wizard.

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In February 2018, the Swazi High Court was reportedly ‘in panic’ when an owl was seen in
the building in daylight. ‘The bird drew the attention of everyone who came to court, more so
because it is known of its bad omen and some Swazis associate it with witchcraft,’ the Swazi
Observer reported at the time. The Times of Swaziland reported, ‘Chairman of the
Witchdoctors Association Makhanya Makhanya, dismissed claims that the owl was just
flying by like any other bird.’

Also in February 2018, two schools separately were ‘gripped’ by fears of witchcraft,
according to the Times of Swaziland. The schools were St Michael’s, based in the kingdom’s
hub and Enthandweni Primary, near Sikhuphe in the Lubombo.

The newspaper reported, ‘At St Michael’s High School, a prayer session was quickly
convened after a pile of sand with a substance, which looked like vomit, was discovered in
one of the offices under one of the cabinets, while at Enthandweni primary, some teachers are
uncomfortable after seeing their head teacher, a self-confessed Zionist, dressed in her church
garb, walking past the school to her place of abode.

‘What further has the teachers in jitters was the discovery of a white substance at the doorstep
to one of the classrooms.’

It reported Makhanya, Chairman of the Witchdoctors Association, ‘noted that something was
amiss’.

It added, ‘Starting with Enthandweni Primary, Makhanya said the discovery of the whitish
substance means that the teachers suspect one another of practising witchcraft. “Some believe
that salt can be used to neutralise muti while some believe that they would be cleansed by
sprinkling chicken blood.”

‘He said these rituals were usually performed after people had consulted witchdoctors who
would advise them on what to do after liaising with ancestors.

Makhanya said it should be noted that sometimes witchdoctors were economical with the
truth and this resulted in people getting into conflicts.’

See also
‘RESIDENTS MURDER ELDERLY WITCH’

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10 MEDIA
‘No media freedom in Swaziland’
28 April 2018

There is no media freedom in Swaziland, according to the latest annual report from Reporters
Without Borders.

The kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch,
stands at number 152 out of 180 in the world ranking.

In a report just published RWB stated the kingdom, ‘prevents journalists from working freely
and obstructs access to information. No court is allowed to prosecute or try members of the
government, but any criticism of the regime is liable to be the subject of a prosecution.

‘For fear of reprisals, journalists censor themselves almost systematically. In January 2018,
an investigative journalist had to flee to South Africa after being threatened in connection
with an article revealing the King’s involvement in an alleged corruption case. His newspaper
was closed on the King’s orders.’

The report was referring to the case of Swaziland Shopping and its editor Zweli Martin
Dlamini. It concluded there was ‘no media freedom’.

Also just published is the US State Department review of human rights in Swaziland for
2017. It states that the Swazi Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, ‘but the
King may deny these rights at his discretion, and the government severely restricted these
rights in prior years’.

It added, ‘Officials impeded press freedom. Although no law bans criticism of the monarchy,
the prime minister and other officials cautioned journalists against publishing such criticism
with veiled threats of newspaper closure or job loss.’

The report stated, ‘The law empowers the government to ban publications if it deems them
“prejudicial or potentially prejudicial to the interests of defence, public safety, public order,
public morality, or public health.” Most journalists practiced self-censorship. Journalists
expressed fear of judicial reprisals for their reporting on some High Court cases and matters
involving the monarchy.’

The report stated, ‘Broadcast media remained firmly under state control. Most persons
obtained their news from radio broadcasts. A controversial ministerial decree prohibiting
MPs from speaking on the radio was apparently lifted. The government noted the decree had
never been enforced. There was no instance, however, in which an MP had violated it.
Despite invitations issued by the media regulatory authority for parties to apply for licenses,
no licenses were awarded. Stations practiced self-censorship and refused to broadcast
anything perceived as critical of the government or the monarchy.’

Swazi Govt sluggish on media reform


4 May 2018

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The Government in undemocratic Swaziland takes one step forward and two steps back in its
attitude to media freedom, a leading pressure group said.

It has held talks with a newly-created media consortium seeking the right to freedom of
expression and access to information and at the same time continued to censor broadcasting
and blocked freedom of information legislation.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa in its annual report on media freedom in Swaziland
just published called the creation of the Swaziland Media Consortium (SMC) a major step
forward. SMC has eight member bodies from journalists and media workers and non-
government organisations.

In its review of 2017, MISA said SMC had met with Dumisani Ndlangamandla, Minister of
Information, Communication and Technology, to discuss legislation around freeing
broadcasting and introducing a freedom of information bill.

MISA reported, ‘The Minister also stressed the urgent need to address media development
issues, access to information and dropping standards of journalism.’

Drafts of broadcasting legislation has been around since at least 2013 and the Freedom of
Information and Privacy Bill since 2007.

In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections and King Mswati III
who rules as an absolute monarch chooses the Prime Minister and government.

He also has a firm grip on broadcasting and most printed media in the kingdom. MISA
reported, ‘In the year under review, the management of the state broadcasters perfected state
media capture. In between the programmes and news bulletins, public information officers
working at the radio channel [SBIS] played SiSwati interludes extoling the benefits of living
in a monarchy and featured songs portraying the King as the most benevolent ruler. There is a
clear perception that dissenting voices cannot be aired in the state-controlled broadcaster.’

At a party for his 50th birthday on 19 April 2018 King Mswati wore a watch worth US$1.6
million and a suit studded with diamonds. Days earlier he had taken delivery of his second
private jet aircraft which with VIP upgrades was reported to have cost US$30 million. He has
13 palaces, fleets of top of the range Mercedes and BMW cars and he and his family take
shopping trips abroad that cost millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, seven in ten of the population, estimated at 1.1 million people live in abject
poverty on incomes less than the equivalent of US2 per day.

MISA is not the only group to review media freedom in Swaziland over the past year. The
latest annual report from Reporters Without Borders said there was no media freedom in
Swaziland. It ranked the kingdom 152 out of 180 in the world ranking.

In its report RWB stated the kingdom, ‘prevents journalists from working freely and obstructs
access to information. No court is allowed to prosecute or try members of the government,
but any criticism of the regime is liable to be the subject of a prosecution.

‘For fear of reprisals, journalists censor themselves almost systematically.’

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The US State Department in its review of human rights in Swaziland for 2017 stated that the
Swazi Constitution provided for freedom of speech and press, ‘but the King may deny these
rights at his discretion, and the government severely restricted these rights in prior years’.
It added, ‘Officials impeded press freedom. Although no law bans criticism of the monarchy,
the prime minister and other officials cautioned journalists against publishing such criticism
with veiled threats of newspaper closure or job loss.’

Journalists say they are under threat


25 May 2018

Seven in ten journalists interviewed by UNESCO in Swaziland said they had faced attempts
from politicians or advertisers to interfere with what they were writing.

Meanwhile, there is evidence that journalists in private media are not only compromised by
politicians but also ‘brown envelope journalism’ where media practitioners are given money
or other financial benefits to push or hide information or stories.
Practitioners in state-run media have no editorial independence and are considered civil
servants and are expected to abide by government orders.

The findings are contained in Assessment of Media Development in Swaziland, the most
comprehensive report ever published on journalism and development in Swaziland.

UNESCO reported that in a survey journalists were asked, ‘Have you ever been faced with
attempts by external actors (whether political or commercial) to interfere in the editorial
content of an article or programme that you’re working on?’ A total of 65 percent of the
journalists interviewed answered ‘Yes, more than once.’ Another 5 percent answered, ‘Yes.’
A further 15 percent had no answer to the question.

UNESCO reported the number of respondents who had no answer, ‘may suggest that some
respondents might have been responding with caution out of fear of reprisal.’

It added, ‘These results suggest lack of editorial independence in both private and state media
and two recent cases illustrate this. In 2014, the government interfered with the editorial
independence of the privately-owned Times of Swaziland as well as the state broadcaster. The
government ordered the former, Times of Swaziland, to retract a story about the spending of
E208 million (US$20,800,000) by the authorities reportedly sourced from Principal Secretary
in the Finance Ministry, Khabonina Mabuza, to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in
Parliament.

‘In another case, the management of the state broadcaster suspended information officer,
Thandiswa Ginindza, from air after she broadcast a live interview with the Chairman of the
Ministry of Labour and Social Security and Member of Parliament, Jan Sithole, on the
country’s disqualification from benefitting from the USA’s African Growth Opportunity Act
(AGOA). A controversy surrounded the number of benchmarks that Swaziland required to
meet before being reinstated as a beneficiary. But the main reason for her suspension was that
MPs are banned from using the state broadcaster.’

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UNESCO also reported that in an interview, Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civil


Organisations (SCCCO) Director, Lomcebo Dlamini, ‘observed that the editorial
independence of the private media is not only compromised by political pressure but also by
“brown envelope journalism” where media practitioners are given money or other benefits to
push or hide information or stories.’

It quoted Vuyisile Hlatshwayo, National Director of Media Institute of Southern Africa,


Swaziland chapter, who said even in the private media editorial independence was
compromised by editors and media owners who had ‘a cosy relationship’ with the
government and big corporations. ‘The private media owners and editors ingratiate
themselves with big corporations that reciprocate with handing out freebies to the editors and
journalists. Such tendencies not only compromise the editorial independence of the media but
also contravene Article 3(1) of the Code of Ethics for Journalists which states that:
“Journalists should not accept bribes or any form of inducement to influence the performance
of his/her professional duties,”’ UNESCO reported.

It also reported that Swazi TV and radio ‘are effectively departments of the civil service and
government mouthpieces acting more as a vehicle for development’.
It added, ‘broadcast journalists are considered civil servants first and journalists second. As
they are employed as information officers, they are part of the civil service and are thus
expected to abide by the Government General Orders.

‘As government information officers they are expected to censor disruptive or critical
information likely to compromise national security and frustrate government’s realisation of
socioeconomic development goals, which clearly contravenes the spirit of editorial
independence.

‘In addition, the ICT [Information, Communications and Technology] Ministry has invoked
the Public Service Announcement (PSA) Guidelines to control the state broadcasters. These
guidelines bar all Swazi citizens, irrespective of their status, from airing their opinions on the
radio and television stations before their opinions have been cleared by their chiefs.’

See also
TV CENSORS PUBLIC SERVANTS’ MARCH
BROADCASTING IS NOT FOR THE PEOPLE
GOVT ‘TIGHTENS GRIP ON CENSORSHIP’

Editor wants media freedom inquiry


17 April 2018

Zweli Martin Dlamini, the editor who had his newspaper closed down by the Swaziland
Government before he fled to neighbouring South Africa, has called for an international
commission of inquiry into how the state has captured the media in the kingdom.

The media, even those not directly owned and controlled by the government, have become a
‘propaganda machine for the state,’ he said.

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Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Political parties are barred from taking part in elections and pro-democracy groups have been
banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. Freedom of expression and assembly are
severely curtailed.

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.

Dlamini wrote in The Swaziland News, an online newspaper he has launched from South
Africa, that government has banned members of political parties from being interviewed by
the media in Swaziland.

He wrote, ‘This does not only undermine the right to information but [is] a gross violation of
journalistic norms and ethical standards. It is not our duty as the media to promote or
discredit the current system of governance but we need to give a voice even to political
parties as part of our mandate to inform the public.’

‘The fundamental principles and values of journalism suggests that the media should
independently disseminate accurate information to enable citizens to make informed
decisions regarding issues that impact their welfare either politically, economically, socially
or otherwise. It is therefore unjust for the Swazi government to turn the media into its
propaganda machine that seek to mislead the public that the current system of Governance is
democratic when the situation on the ground suggests that citizens of the country are
oppressed.’

Dlamini said journalists were being intimidated. ‘Traditional leaders are quick to analyse
articles and describe them as unSwazi or in conflict with the unwritten Swazi Law and
Custom thus forcing editors to be fined cattle as an apology to the King. This tendency of
using the name of the King to intimidate the media has promoted corruption with impunity in
the public administration and it is slowly turning Swaziland into [a] lawless State.’
He added, ‘The continuous attack of the media by the government of Swaziland by arresting
journalists and closing newspapers that publish critical articles about those in power
demonstrates the need for the international community to start questioning the way our
country is governed.

‘It would be commendable for international human rights organisations to call for the
establishment of a Commission of Inquiry whose terms of reference should include
investigating the media capture.’

Dlamini owned and edited Swaziland Shopping, a newspaper aimed at businesses, that was
forced to close in December 2017 because its registration under the Books and Newspapers
Act 1963 had been declined by the Swazi Ministry of Information, Communication and
Technology (MICT). This happened even though the newspaper had been publishing since
2014.
Dlamini fled to South Africa after a tip-off that he was to be arrested because he had upset the
powers in the kingdom with articles in the newspaper critical of people close to King Mswati.

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See also
‘EDITOR FLEES AFTER DEATH THREAT’
SWAZI GOVERNMENT FORCES NEWSPAPER TO CLOSE
JOURNALISTS ‘SCARED TO DO THEIR JOBS’
GAMEDZE ‘BOUGHT NEWSPAPER EDITORS’

Censorship total at Swazi state media


27 May 2018

The extent to which state media in Swaziland is censored to control people’s understanding
of what is going on in the kingdom, has been revealed by UNESCO.

The news agenda is manipulated in favour of absolute monarch King Mswati III. No
opposition to the government is allowed on the airways and media practitioners in state-run
media are civil servants first and journalists second, it reported.

In Swaziland all radio stations except one that does not report news is state-controlled. The
largest of two TV stations in Swaziland is also state-controlled.

The report, Assessment of Media Development inSwaziland, is the most comprehensive


study of journalism and development in Swaziland ever published.

The report stated, there is a ‘lack of editorial independence in the state-controlled broadcast
media’. It added, ‘Swazi TV and radio are effectively departments of the civil service and
government mouthpieces acting more as a vehicle for development.

‘In the case of the SBIS, which operates the radio station, the broadcast journalists are
considered civil servants first and journalists second. As they are employed as information
officers, they are part of the civil service and are thus expected to abide by the Government
General Orders.

‘As government information officers they are expected to censor disruptive or critical
information likely to compromise national security and frustrate government’s realisation of
socioeconomic development goals, which clearly contravenes the spirit of editorial
independence.

‘In addition, the ICT [Information, Communications and Technology] Ministry has invoked
the Public Service Announcement (PSA) Guidelines to control the state broadcasters. These
guidelines bar all Swazi citizens, irrespective of their status, from airing their opinions on the
radio and television stations before their opinions have been cleared by their chiefs. Thinly
veiled as public announcement guidelines, the PSA guidelines regulate all operations and
activities of the state broadcasters.’

It said no PSA is allowed on air, ‘that is negative or does not support Government’s agenda’.

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UNESCO reported, ‘According to the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services


Code of Conduct and Operational Procedures of 1987, all state events and occasions which
involve the presence of the King, Indlovukazi (Queen Mother) and Prime Minister shall
receive priority coverage.

‘Article 3 of the same code stipulates that SBIS is a national radio station fully supported by
the government and therefore broadcasters must abide by the policies and should not allow
their political affiliations to intrude into broadcast messages.’

UNESCO reported this was contrary to international standards on public service


broadcasting, ‘which caters for all people irrespective of their social or economic status in
society. It provides programming for everyone; be it the general public or minority
audiences.’

Broadcasting, UNESCO reported, should be, ‘A meeting place where all citizens are
welcome and considered equals. It is an information and education tool; accessible to all and
meant for all, whatever their social or economic status.’

Govt spies on private internet sites


24 April 2018

The Government in Swaziland has been monitoring private online communications for some
years without legal authority, a new report discloses.

These include internet blogs, email and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and
internet chatrooms.

Telephone conversations have also been monitored.

This is reported by the United States in a review of human rights in Swaziland, just
published.

The revelations add weight to anecdotal evidence circulating in the kingdom ruled by King
Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are barred from
taking part in elections and prodemocracy groups are banned under the Suppression of
Terrorism Act.

The report from the US State Department looked at events in 2017. It stated, ‘There were
credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without
appropriate legal authority.’

It referred to a document called the Private and Cabinet First Quarter Report of 2015, in
which, ‘the government press office stated that authorities monitored internet blogs, email,
and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and internet chat rooms’.

The US report added, ‘Members of civil society and prodemocracy groups reported the
government monitored email, Facebook, and internet chat rooms, and police monitored
certain individuals’ telephones.

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‘Individuals who criticized the monarchy risked exclusion from the patronage system of the
traditional regiments (chiefdom-based groupings of men dedicated to serving the King) that
distributed scholarships, land, and other benefits. Both undercover and uniformed police
appeared at labor union, civil society, arts, and business functions.’

The report stated that in Swaziland, ‘The law severely restricts free speech and gives police
wide discretion to detain persons for lengthy terms without trial or public hearing. Those
convicted of sedition may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

‘The King may suspend the constitutional right to free expression at his discretion, and the
government severely restricted freedom of expression, especially regarding political issues or
the royal family.’

It added, ‘Most journalists practiced self-censorship. Journalists expressed fear of judicial


reprisals for their reporting on some High Court cases and matters involving the monarchy.
Daily newspapers criticized government corruption and inefficiency but generally avoided
criticizing the royal family.’

Radio and television stations, it stated, ‘practiced self-censorship and refused to broadcast
anything perceived as critical of the government or the monarchy’.

In March 2018, Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini hinted the 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 Swazi Observer reported (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 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.

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 III, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch. The Government threatened the online activists with prosecution.

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.

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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.

See also
PM HINTS AT SOCIAL MEDIA RESTRICTION
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

Swazi Govt hides from the public


9 May 2018

People in Swaziland cannot access critical information from government and there is no
political will in the kingdom for this to change, a report on media freedom concluded.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) said a law to allow access to information had
been drafted in 2007 but had been ‘left to gather dust on the shelves’.

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 chooses the Prime
Minister and government ministers. There are few opportunities in Swaziland for people to
engage in free and open debate.

MISA in its annual report on media freedom So This Is Democracy? Said, ‘Swazi citizens
continue to be deprived of critical information through lack of legislated access to public
information, the lifeblood of national development.’

It added this violated the Swaziland Constitution which states a person has ‘freedom to
receive ideas and information’.

Each year MISA in Swaziland investigates government departments and other public
institutions to discover how well they share information.

In its most recent report in 2017 it named the Ministry of Home Affairs as the worst offender
among many. None of the departments and institutions surveyed had a good record.
MISA surveyed eight entities. In a report called Transparency Assessment 2017 The
Citizens’ Analysis of Government Openness it concluded, ‘There is still a lot of reluctance
from officials responsible for providing public information to both members of the public and
media practitioners.

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‘Worse still, there are no clear lines of communication in most of these public institutions.
Government ministries have hired information or communication officers but these public
officers are paid for doing little in terms of providing information; they do not have the
authority to respond to the queries brought to them. Only the Principal Secretaries in the
government ministries are authorised to respond to the questions directed at the ministries.’

MISA added, ‘Information on the officials designated to liaise with the public and the media
is not even communicated through the websites. The situation is the same in public
institutions—they do not have officials designated to provide information to information
seekers.’

It added, ‘The study results underscore the need for easing access to public information. It is
high time that public institutions go an extra mile and prioritise information dissemination to
the public and through the media. Government ministries should give the information and
communication officers the authority to communicate information to the public and media
because access to information is key to social, economic, political and cultural development.’
The survey is conducted annually and MISA said results of the 2017 study were little
different from those of the previous years.

MISA Swaziland has mounted an access to information campaign in a strong bid to push for
the passage of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill into law.’

See also

MEDIA ELECTION REPORTING MONITORED


SWAZILAND NEEDS FREE INFORMATION
GOVERNMENT SLOW TO GIVE INFORMATION

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11 CHILDREN
Children who suffer in Swaziland
24 April 2018

News that a father in Swaziland tied his 11-year-old daughter to a house pillar and thrashed
her with a pipe until she became unconscious shines a focus on the constant ill treatment of
children in the kingdom.
He did it as a punishment because she had arrived late home from school.
UNICEF the global children’s organisation estimates nearly nine in ten children in Swaziland
suffer ‘violent discipline’.
In a report of a national survey published in August 2017, UNICEF stated ‘violent discipline
in the home, which includes physical punishment and psychological aggression, affects more
than 88 per cent of all children in Swaziland.
‘The study findings also reveal that sexual violence and bullying affects 38 percent and 32
percent of children in Swaziland, respectively. The study found that children experiencing
one type of violence were more likely to experience other types of violence.
‘One staggering statistic to emerge from the data revealed that for every girl child known to
Social Welfare as having experienced sexual violence, there are an estimated 400 girls who
have never received help or assistance for sexual violence.’
UNICEF reported one of the ‘drivers’ of violence against children was Swazi culture. It
stated, ‘The widely accepted notion of keeping family matters private to protect the family or
community over the individual was repeatedly cited as a driver of violence and was also
found to be a factor dissuading individuals from intervening when they suspect a child is
abused.’
Article 29(2) of the Swaziland Constitution 2005 states ‘a child shall not be subjected to
abuse or torture or other cruel inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment subject to
lawful and moderate chastisement for purposes of correction’. The Children’s Protection and
Welfare Act 2012 however provides for ‘justifiable’ discipline.

Corporal punishment was banned in Swazi schools by the Ministry of Education and Training
in 2015, but caning continues. There are many reports from across Swaziland that pupils have
been brutalised by their teachers.
In a debate in the Swazi Parliament in March 2017 members of parliament called for the cane
to be brought back into schools. The MPs said the positive discipline adopted in schools was
causing problems for teachers because they no longer knew how to deal with wayward
pupils.
There had been 4,556 cases of ‘severe corporal punishment’ of children in Swaziland’s
schools over the previous four years, Star Africa reported in March 2016.
Corporal punishment is everywhere in Swaziland. In 2014, more than 30 girls were thrashed
with a cane because they did not dance half naked in front of Swaziland’s King Mswati III.

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They were beaten so badly some needed treatment from paramedics. The girls, described in
local media as ‘maidens’, were expected to take part in a ‘Reed Dance’ at Mbangweni Royal
Residence in the Shiselweni region of the kingdom.
In October 2017 it was reported the Swaziland Government was being sued for E2.5 million
(US$185,000) after a child was maimed by a teacher who was dishing out corporal
punishment.
In 2011, Swaziland was told by the United Nations Human Rights Periodic Review held in
Geneva it should stop using corporal punishment in schools, because it violated the rights of
children.
The United Nations Human Rights Periodic Review received a report jointly written by Save
The Children and other groups that corporal punishment in Swazi schools was out of control.
The report highlighted Mhlatane High School in northern Swaziland where it said pupils
were ‘tortured’ in the name of punishment.
In 2005 The International Save the Children Alliance published research into Swazi
children’s experiences of corporal punishment.
In a survey, 20 percent of children reported being hit with a hand and 59 percent of children
reported being beaten with an object at school during a two-week period. In schools, children
are most often hit with the hand, sticks, canes, sjamboks and blackboard dusters.
Children reported being subjected to corporal punishment at school due to making a noise or
talking in class, coming late to school, not completing work, not doing work correctly, failing
tests, wearing incorrect uniform items, dropping litter, losing books or leaving them at home.

See also
CHILDREN FEAR BEATINGS, MISS SCHOOL
CANE BANNED IN SWAZI SCHOOLS
TEACHERS BEAT BOYS ON NAKED BUTTOCKS

‘Dad rapes daughter, 16, to test virginity’


22 May 2018

A father in Swaziland raped his 16-year-old daughter to test that she was still a virgin, a court
has been told.
It is a stark illustration of the way women and girls are treated in the kingdom where
traditional law allows husbands to rape their wives and condones men having sex with
children.
The Times of Swaziland reported on Monday (21 May 2018) that the 46-year-old man from
the Lubombo region in the east of the kingdom made a statement to a judicial officer at Siteki

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Magistrates Court. He said he had argued with his daughter because he thought she had been
sleeping with boys. He asked if she was still a virgin and she told him she was.
The newspaper reported, ‘However, the man confessed that he did not believe his daughter,
hence he suggested that he should test her virginity. He unashamedly told the judicial officer
that he allegedly forcefully had sexual intercourse with his daughter as a way of “testing” her
virginity.’
He was charged with aggravated rape and an unrelated drug offence and remanded by
Lubombo Magistrates Court until 1 June 2018.
The case came to light as Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) reported that
parents were the main perpetrators of violence in the home. It said that of 332 cases reported
in March and April 2018, 43 percent involved mothers or fathers. It added, females continued
to be more vulnerable and exposed to abuse.
Women and girls are vulnerable in Swazi culture. In 2013, a 317-page document called The
Indigenous Law and Custom of the Kingdom of Swaziland (2013) was presented to King
Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. It said that
under Swazi Law and Custom a husband can legally rape his wife or his lover. Under Chapter
7, which addresses offences (emacala) in Swaziland, rape is said to be committed only if the
woman forced is not the man’s wife or lover.
In 2015, a report from a US organisation ABCNewspoint stated that Swaziland had the fourth
highest rate of rape in the world. It said there were 77.5 registered cases of rape among
100,000 people.
Four in six married women interviewed in the street in Mbabane by the Swazi News in
October 2017 said their husbands had the right to rape them. Some wives said their husbands
deserved sex whenever they wanted.
Rape and sexual abuse of children is common in Swaziland. In 2013, Unicef reported that
one in three girls in Swaziland were sexually abused, usually by a family member and often
by their own fathers - 75 percent of the perpetrators of sexual violence were known to the
victim.
Many men in Swaziland believed was all right to rape children if their own wives were not
giving them enough sex. In 2009, men who were interviewed during the making of the State
of the Swaziland Population report said they ‘“salivate” over children wearing skimpy dress
codes because they are sexually starved in their homes.’
See also
PRINCESS'S ‘SOLUTION’ TO MARITAL RAPE

Teachers cane every pupil at school


23 June 2018

Teachers reportedly caned every pupil in a school in Swaziland / Eswatini for poor
performance.

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The Times of Swaziland published the accusation on Friday (27 June 2018). It said each pupil
at Mbuluzi High School was given three strokes.
It said, ‘When the school was visited, some pupils were heard screaming while others peeped
through the windows in one of the classrooms where the activity took place. Some pupils
were seen rubbing their buttocks while others wept bitterly as they left the classroom.’
It added, ‘Other learners were seen limping as they returned to their various classrooms.
Speaking to their classmates in sign language, the pupils indicated that they were given three
strokes each. These were the pupils who awaited the same punishment outside the
classroom.’
The Times said pupils reported they were punished for poor performance. ‘They alleged that
the whole school was punished by the teachers who were working collectively,’ it said.
Corporal punishment in schools in Swaziland was banned in 2015 but it is still used widely.
As recently as September 2017 it was reported that an 11-year-old boy from Ekuphakameni
Community Primary School in the outskirts of Hlatikhulu lost an eye when a cane his
schoolteacher was using to illegally beat other pupils broke and splintered.
In August 2017 it was reported that boys at Salesian High, a Catholic school, were forced to
take down their trousers and underwear to be beaten on the naked buttocks.
In May 2017 pupils at Lubombo Central Primary School in Siteki were thrashed because they
did not bring enough empty milk cartons to class.
In March 2017 children at Masundvwini Primary School boycotted classes because they lived
in fear of the illegal corporal punishment they are made to suffer. Local media reported that
children were hit with a stick, which in at least one case was said to have left a child
‘bleeding from the head’.
In August 2016 an eight-year-old schoolboy at Siyendle Primary School, near Gege, was
thrashed so hard in class he vomited. His teacher reportedly forced classmates to hold the boy
down while he whipped him with a stick. It happened after a group of schoolboys had been
inflating condoms when they were discovered by the teacher.
In June 2016 the school principal at the Herefords High School was reported to police after
allegedly giving a 20-year-old female student nine strokes of the cane on the buttocks. The
Swazi Observer reported at the time, ‘She was given nine strokes on the buttocks by the
principal while the deputy helped her by holding the pupil’s hands as she was made to lie
down, said the source.’
In September 2015 the Times reported a 17-year-old school pupil died after allegedly being
beaten at school. The pupil reportedly had a seizure.
In March 2015 a primary school teacher at the Florence Christian Academy was charged with
causing grievous bodily harm after allegedly giving 200 strokes of the cane to a 12-year-old
pupil on her buttocks and all over her body.
In February 2015 the headteacher of Mayiwane High School Anderson Mkhonta reportedly
admitted giving 15 strokes to a form 1 pupil for not wearing a neck tie properly.

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In April 2015, parents reportedly complained to the Ndlalane Primary School after a teacher
beat pupils for not following his instruction and shaving their hair.

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12 CHURCH

Pastors told ‘you are sex molesters’


15 April 2018

Some church leaders in Swaziland abuse their female congregants, a workshop in the
kingdom was told.

They take advantage of young girls and women and devise ways of making them ‘fall for
them’. They also commit adultery.

A police officer also told pastors they behaved like ‘monsters’ and beat up their wives.
Pastor Joseph Mazibela Dlamini told a dialogue facilitated by the Shiselweni Crime
Prevention unit and Nhlangano AIDS Training and Counselling Centre (NATICC) at
Bethesda Church that some pastors, ‘were doing wayward things in the name of being
leaders’.

The Swazi Observer reported on Wednesday (11 April 2018), he said, ‘There are some of us
who take advantage of the situation of our church members and abuse them.’

The newspaper said, ‘Dlamini said there were church leaders who after noticing a needy
member, would come forward and pretend to save that member when in actual fact, they had
hidden agendas.’

It quoted him saying, ‘We abuse our members in particular the females. There are some of us
who are failed by our flesh and when we notice a needy female, we pretend to be there for her
when we know very well that we expect that woman to offer herself to us.

‘There are situations where young girls in our churches look desperate and then a pastor
would think of a plan to make her fall for him. They approach these women and buy them
clothing and all that. We commit adultery with our members taking advantage of the situation
they are facing.’

Another speaker, Pastor Jabulani Sikhondze, said church leaders were custodians of the
gospel and should live a clean life. The Observer reported, ‘He said it was worrying that
these days that church leaders were implicated in scandals with others even ending up in
courts.’

At the same meeting Inspector Fanyana Dlamini, who is in charge of the Domestic Violence
and Child Protection in the Shiselweni region, told the pastors, ‘Some of you are monsters.
There are those of you who are wife bashers in our midst.’

The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (10 April 2018) she said ‘Some of you take to the
pulpit knowing very well that they do not live the life they preach to the congregants. We
have dealt with several cases of church leaders who abuse their wives in different forms. We

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have attended to cases touching on church leaders who are of double standards. Some of you
are also molesters with the victims being members of the church.’

Fanyana Dlamini also told the meeting that the the Shiselweni Domestic Violence and Child
Protection department had attended to 1,025 cases of abuse in just a year. These included
sexual, emotional and financial abuse.

Dlamini said, ‘Some of those implicated were church leaders. As a department, we often
attend to cases where the pastor is the culprit.’

See also
PASTOR AND THE PRYING SWAZI PRESS
SWAZI MORALISTS ATTACK WIDOW

Church ‘to restore moral fibre’


5 April 2018

A Swaziland church is to spend millions of emalangeni on a campaign to ‘restore moral fibre’


to the kingdom.

Apostle Justice Dlamini of the Worship Centre Church will take the campaign to all four
regions. E2 million (US$170,000) is to be spent.

Apostle Dlamini is a fierce critic of Incwala, an annual traditional ceremony that has King
Mswati III at its centre. He has called Incwala ungodly and witchcraft.

The Swaziland Gospel Transformation Campaign was announced on Good Friday (30 March
2018). The Times of Swaziland reported Dlamini saying, ‘The Worship Centre is determined
to help in transforming the lives of the Swazi nation. We have built a structure, now it is time
to build the lives of people. We are adamant that in 20 years’ time, we will see the emergence
of a society that is responsible, with people who love one another and [do] not kill each
other.’

Apostle Dlamini, as plain Pastor Dlamini, has been a controversial figure in Swaziland for
many years. He has been criticised for his intolerance of other faiths, particularly Muslims.
In 2007, he announced he had prayed to God for the deaths of two journalists in Swaziland
who had written and published an article critical of him.

But, he is mainly remembered for his attacks on Incwala. In 2002, Swazi police raided
Channel S, the only privately-owned television station in the kingdom, and confiscated a
videotape containing a sermon that had been termed by the Swazi government as ‘threatening
the foundations of the kingdom’.

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The Media Institute of Southern Africa reported at the time the footage was of a sermon
broadcast nationally and regionally (throughout the Southern African Development
Community). It reported, ‘During the sermon, Pastor Justice Dlamini, of the Swaziland
Association of Christian Ministries (SACM), suggested that some of the cultural practices in
the country are “ungodly”. Dlamini was referring to the Incwala, an annual cultural
celebration.’

MISA’s Swaziland chapter condemned the raid on the television station, saying that it was
unwarranted and impinged on Swazi citizens’ freedom of expression. It reported that Dlamini
had suffered harassment by policymakers in the kingdom, ostensibly in the name of
protecting culture and the monarchy.

MISA added, ‘In Swaziland, the state is embodied in the person of the sovereign himself,
King Mswati III, the 16th king from the House of Dlamini, which has ruled the Swazis since
the 1500s. Swazis do not distinguish between the nation and the man, and while the King is
not considered divine, he is the central figure of the month-long sacred Incwala
(kingship/harvest) ceremonies, held when the first fruits ripen in summer.

‘During the Incwala, tens of thousands of Swazis in traditional attire converge on the Queen
Mother's village and petition the national ancestral spirits to endow the King with wisdom,
and the nation with good rains and fortune.’

The Swaziland Conference of Churches was summoned before labadzala, the traditional
elders of Ludzidzini Royal Residence, in 2009 after Pastor Dlamini preached against Incwala.
Mbongeni Mbingo, writing in the Times Sunday in August 2009, said, ‘Pastor Justice appears
to have stoked the fires by telling Christians that Incwala is unholy and that there is
witchcraft practiced at the ceremony. It was during a national prayer held at the Somhlolo
Stadium where he had been invited by the Conference of Churches, no doubt because not
only is he a man of God, but he is a pastor who has stood firm in his teachings and beliefs.
Mbingo added, ‘He has made it clear he does not believe the Incwala is a national prayer,
obviously something we are certain would infuriate the traditional leadership of this country.’
Mbingo wrote, ‘But the traditional authorities, especially the Ludzidzini council, has reacted
with shock, dismay and anger, first summoning the pastor to appear before it so as to explain
what exactly he meant, and then proceeding to summon the Swaziland Conference of
Churches.

‘The idea of course, and the impression, is that Pastor Justice is wrong to criticise the
Incwala—and therefore he must be dealt with. Pastor Justice, so far, has refused to bow to the
lunacy and did not respond to the summons, and has so far, chosen not to respond to the
criticism levelled against him.

‘But the Ludzidzini Council does not want to encourage a debate around the issue of the
holy-ness or not of a ceremony we have come to call our national prayer.

‘This is why Pastor Justice has spoken out against this, because he argues it should not be
referred to as a national prayer, because it is not, further describing it as witchcraft.

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‘Obviously, it should be expected that such statements would ruffle many people’s feathers,
but really, should it then be that the Ludzidzini Libandla would rather not have a debate
around the issue?

‘It appears to me that the traditional authorities would be happier if this topic was never even
entertained, and that anyone who does so then invites the wrath of the authorities—which is
nonsense of course.’

See also
SWAZI KING IN SECRETIVE CEREMONY
ILLEGAL TO POSSESS INCWALA SONGS
SWAZI KING AND BESTIALITY RITUAL

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13 UNEMPLOYMENT

Govt issues misleading jobless figures


23 May 2018

The Swaziland Government is misleading people about the rate of unemployment in the
impoverished kingdom.

Media reported on Tuesday (22 May 2018) an announcement from Minister of Labour and
Social Security Winnie Magagula that the number of people with jobs was now 288,044 from
a current labour force of 373,869. The figures, the Times of Swaziland reported her saying,
were based on a 2016 survey. They were an improvement on 2013/14 figures, she said. If
correct, this means 85,825 people were unemployed.

The Times reported she said, ‘I would like to take this opportunity to applaud all stakeholders
that worked hand in hand with government to provide more jobs in the kingdom. We are
highly grateful that the employment rate has been increased by five per cent.’

But, the figures are inconsistent with another issued by the Swazi Government. In October
2016 – the same year as the just-published survey – the Ministry of Sports, Culture and
Youth Affairs reported 280,000 or 42.6 percent of the 668,000 people aged between 18 and
24 were unemployed.

The latest CIA Factbook on Swaziland puts the 2016 unemployment rate in the kingdom at
28 percent, but says the labour force was estimated to be 427,900. That would make the
number of unemployed 119,812, or nearly 34,000 more than the government count.
Seven in ten of the estimated 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less
than US$2 per day.

In a 2015 survey by Afrobarometer reported that one in two Swazis (53 percent) said that
unemployment was one of the most important issues government should address, compared
to 42 percent in 2013 who stated the same. Education (23 percent), poverty (23 percent),
water supply (22 percent), infrastructure/roads (19 percent ), health (18 percent ) and
corruption (17 percent) were the top seven issues Swazi people said they wanted government
to prioritise.

See also
SWAZIS CAMP OUT TO BEG KING FOR JOBS

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14 HUMAN RIGHTS
The day democracy died in Swaziland
5 April 2018

As attention in Swaziland is diverted towards King Mswati III’s 50th birthday on 19 April
2018, one week earlier marks the 45th anniversary of the date the kingdom stopped being a
democracy and became an absolute monarchy.

On 12 April 1973 King Sobhuza II proclaimed a Royal Decree after he objected to his
subjects electing members of a political party that was not under his control. He tore up the
kingdom’s constitution that had been in place since Swaziland gained independence from
Britain in 1968. Even though Swaziland adopted a new constitution in 2006, the kingdom,
now ruled by King Mswati III, remains an absolute monarchy.

In his decree King Sobhuza announced, ‘I have assumed supreme power in the Kingdom of
Swaziland and that all Legislative, Executive and Judicial power is vested in myself.’
He added, ‘The Constitution is indeed the cause of growing unrest, insecurity, dissatisfaction
with the state of affairs in our country and an impediment to free and progressive
development in all spheres of life.’

He also said, ‘All political parties and similar bodies that cultivate and bring about
disturbances and ill-feelings within the Nations are hereby dissolved and prohibited.’

He said, ‘Any person who forms or attempts or conspires to form a political party or who
organises or participates in any way in any meeting, procession or demonstration in
contravention of this decree shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to
imprisonment not exceeding six months.’

Political parties remain banned and the King choses all members of the government and the
judiciary. He also chooses 10 members of the House of Assembly, allowing his subjects to
select the other 55 members. No members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people.

According to the Swaziland United Democratic Front, one of the more vocal opposition
groups on Swaziland, ‘The decree criminalised political activity, saw the banning of political
parties and the introduction of a system of governance benefitting a few elites and their
cronies; all at the expense of the majority of Swazi’s who continue to languish in poverty,
underdevelopment and perpetual neglect.’

In 2013, Swaziland’s Attorney-General Majahenkhaba Dlamini said there was no need to


annul the Royal Decree.

He was reacting to a report in the Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland,


that traditionalists stopped the decree being repealed when Swaziland’s Constitution came
into force in 2006. He said the Constitution in effect annulled the Royal Decree.
According to the Times Sunday ‘influential traditionalists’ feared Swaziland ‘could become a
republic if this law was repealed’.

The newspaper said preparations to abandon the Royal Decree in 2005 were far advanced and
a gazette had been drawn up.

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The newspaper quoted one of the traditionalists, Brigadier General Fonono Dube, who was a
member of Liqoqo, an advisory council to the King, saying, ‘There was no way we could
have revoked a law that establishes the country. We couldn’t have allowed the authorities of
the country to annul the decree because that would have turned the country into a republic.
We don’t need a president in Swaziland. We need the King.’

The Times reported, ‘The argument by the traditionalists to keep the decree in the statutes
was that it was the “heart” of the country and its repeal was tantamount to killing the whole
country, – the whole government machinery, thus depriving authorities of powers to govern
the kingdom.’

The anniversary of the Royal Decree is marked by pro-democracy advocates in Swaziland. It


is usual for the State police and armed forces to intervene. The Suppression of Terrorism Act
2008 makes it illegal to campaign for democracy.

In 2015, for example, activities to mark the 12 April anniversary were abandoned amid fears
that police would attack participants. The US-based Solidarity Center reported, ‘Swaziland’s
union movement cancelled a planned rally over the weekend after concerns the police would
break up the gathering as they have multiple times in the past several weeks. In February and
March, large numbers of police disbanded meetings of the Trade Union Congress of
Swaziland (TUCOSWA), injuring at least one union leader.

‘Two weeks ago, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) gathered for a
prayer service, when a large number of police showed up and sought to disrupt the event,
physically injuring the union’s secretary general in the process, according to union leaders.
Union members refused to be intimidated and carried on their service, say union leaders,
adding that the government is increasingly prohibiting workers from meeting or publicly
speaking out.’

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 April 2013, on the 40th anniversary of the Royal Decree, armed police and state security
forces in Swaziland broke up a series of events, including meetings, prayers and a rally,
which had been called to debate the political situation in the kingdom.

In 2012, four days of public protest were planned by trade unions and other prodemocracy
organisations. They were brutally suppressed by police and state forces and had to be
abandoned.

In 2011, a group using Facebook, called for an uprising to depose the King Mswati III. State
forces took this call seriously and many prodemocracy leaders were arrested. Police and
security forces prevented people from travelling into towns and cities to take part in
demonstrations. Again, the protests were abandoned.

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See also
SWAZILAND STATE ‘TERRORISES’ ITS PEOPLE
SWAZILAND ‘BECOMING MILITARY STATE’
RIOT POLICE FORCE HALT TO PRAYER

Swazi law used against human rights


30 May 2018

Laws in Swaziland have been used by the State as weapons against human rights defenders, a
major investigation of the kingdom by international lawyers revealed.

‘There is a growing perception that the law, in particular the law of sedition, defamation,
public order and anti-terrorism is systematically used to target human rights defenders
(HRDs) and legitimate pro-democracy campaigners,’ the International Commission of Jurists
(ICJ) reported.

It stated, ‘As far back as 1990, the Sedition and Subversive Activists Act 1938 (SSA) and the
King’s 1973 Proclamation to the Nation were used against HRDs and legitimate pro-
democracy campaigners. Leaders of the pro-democracy banned political opposition, the
Peoples’ United Democratic Movement, were charged and tried for high treason for having
convened a meeting to discuss the political problems in the country,’ it stated in a report
called Achieving Justice for Gross Human Rights Violations in Swaziland - Key
Challenges.

It added, ‘This approach has continued, with Amnesty International recently concluding that:
“Legislation continued to be used to repress dissent”. In 1994, members of the Swaziland
Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) and the Swaziland Communist Party were arrested and
charged under the Sedition Act for being in possession of seditious placards. They were also
charged under the King’s Proclamation for holding either a demonstration or a political
meeting without the prior written consent of the Commissioner of Police. The High Court
found them not guilty on the sedition charge, but convicted them on the contravention of
Decree No. 13 of the King’s Proclamation.

‘In 2001, the leader of the People’s United Democratic (PUDEMO), was charged with two
counts under the Sedition Act, accused of allegedly making statements that were seditious. At
the close of the Crown’s case he was acquitted and discharged of the first count, and called to
his defence on the second count. He was later acquitted on the second count as well. The
judiciary proved to be able to exercise its judicial function independently and impartially
without fear or favour. In 2005, a group of HRDs and legitimate pro-democracy campaigners
were charged under the sedition law for allegedly committing acts of violence against the
State. In the bail application they told the court that, while in custody, they had been
subjected to torture and cruel and degrading treatment by State security agencies.

‘The court ordered that “the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland in liaison with the
Minister responsible for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, urgently, in the interest of justice

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and in the national interest, establish a commission of enquiry into the allegations that are
before court concerning torture and denying basic human rights enshrined in our
Constitution, to investigate and to report publicly the outcome within a reasonable time”.

‘Despite the court’s order, no such commission was set up and no report was made. The
HRDs were released on bail and to date [May 2018] the matter has not been called for trial.
Neither the applicants nor the DPP have made any follow-up on the order for an inquiry,
albeit that nothing prevents the applicants from instituting contempt of court proceedings for
the Minister’s failure to give effect to the court order.

‘In 2008, following a spate of bombings of some Government buildings and some tinkhundla
centres, the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2008 (STA) was enacted. As soon as the Act
entered into force, PUDEMO and three other organizations were listed as terrorist
organizations under section 28 of the STA.

‘In the same year, its leader Mario Masuku was charged under the STA and, alternatively,
under the SSA. In September 2009 he was acquitted and discharged by the High Court of
Swaziland, because the State failed to prove the its case.

‘Also in 2008, human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko was arrested and charged under the
SSA. He was released on bail and subsequently filed an application to the High Court
challenging the constitutional validity of the SSA having regard to the Bill of Rights’
guarantee of the right to freedom of expression and opinion.

‘This case was consolidated with others that challenged the same law, together with the
Suppression of Terrorism Act. In 2009, another member of the listed PUDEMO,
Mphandlana Shongwe, was charged under the STA for shouting a slogan “Viva PUDEMO,
viva SWAYOCO” at a civil society meeting. At his first appearance before the High Court,
he was released on bail. To date, his case has not been called for trial.

‘In May 2014, Mario Masuku (leader of the PUDEMO) and Maxwell Dlamini (student leader
and member of the PUDEMO youth league, the Swaziland Youth Congress, SWAYOCO)
were charged under the SSA and STA for having addressed workers on Workers’ Day in
Manzini, and shouting slogans in support of PUDEMO, an organisation listed as a terrorist
organisation under the STA. Initially denied bail, they were kept in pre-trial detention from
May 2014 until July 2016. They were eventually granted conditional bail and released by the
Supreme Court, one of those conditions being that they should “refrain from addressing
public political gatherings pending finalisation of the criminal trial”. Although the Order was
made by consent, its effect was that, for as long as they were awaiting trial, these pro-
democracy campaigners were deprived of their rights to freedom of speech, assembly and
association and to take part in the discourse of public affairs.

‘Also in 2014, a group of seven members of the PUDEMO were arrested and charged under
the STA and the SSA. They, as well as Maxwell Dlamini and Mario Masuku, filed separate
applications at the High Court to challenge the constitutional validity of the SSA and the
STA. All the matters challenging the constitutional validity of the two pieces of legislation
were consolidated and heard by a full bench of the High Court, which, in September 2016,
delivered its judgment. The relevant provisions of the SSA and STA were held to be
unconstitutional and were set aside.

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‘Although the Government noted an intended appeal against the judgment, it failed to file the
appeal as required by the Rules of the Supreme Court. On 21 November 2017, the Supreme
Court struck off the matter and ordered that it should not be reinstated unless with the leave
of the Court. On 5 December 2017 the Government filed an application for reinstatement.
The application for leave was heard on 13 February 2018. The Supreme Court’s reserved
judgment allowed the appeal to be reinstated, finding that: “…the importance of the matters
arising from the appeal and form the view that it would leave a bitter after taste in the Court’s
palate for such serious matters to be decided by default as it were, due to the confusion that
seems to have reigned at the office of the Attorney-General”.

‘The persecution through the law and prosecution of HRDs and legitimate prodemocracy
campaigners continue unabated, even in the face of recommendations of the UN’s Universal
Periodic Review (UPR) process. Although, in both the 2011 and 2016 UPR of Swaziland, the
Government accepted recommendations to fully align the SSA and STA with the Constitution
of Swaziland and the State’s obligations not to impede the right to freedom of expression,
association and assembly, it has failed to do so.’

The ICJ report added, ‘In 2017, the Government of Swaziland amended the STA and
repealed the Public Order Act (POA). The amendments to the STA are very cosmetic, while
the new POA is comprehensive. Under section 28(1) of the POA, the Minister responsible for
national security and the Police Service (the Prime Minister) has published the Code of Good
Practice. Although the requirement of a permit for holding public gatherings and processions
has been dispensed with in favour of a notice procedure, the local authority and/or the
Commissioner of Police have the power to prohibit an intended gathering.161 Given the wide
discretionary powers of the National Commissioner of Police to prohibit events,162 there is
concern that such prohibition is may be applied in an arbitrary, unnecessary and/or
disproportionate manner, contrary to international human rights standards on the regulation
and policing of gatherings.’

See also
SWAZILAND FAILS HUMAN RIGHTS TEST
SWAZILAND QUIZZED ON TERROR LAW
SWAZI HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD KILLS AGOA

UK to probe Swaziland human rights


5 June 2018
The UK Government is to investigate human rights violations in Swaziland / Eswatini.

This comes after a meeting between Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials and
human rights organisations.

The Swaziland News website reported the Swaziland Human Rights Network raised issues
about Swaziland’s violation of international charters. Activists want the kingdom ruled by
King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch referred to the
Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group which deals with persistent and serious violators of
the Commonwealth’s shared principles.

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A national election is due later in 2018 but political parties are banned from taking part. Pro-
democracy groups are branded ‘terrorists’ under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Although the UK has previously given little practical help to assist change in Swaziland it has
highlighted that the kingdom is not a democracy. In a report in 2013, the FCO stated that
although there was a parliament, ‘there is no effective democracy’.

It added, ‘The King has the power summarily to appoint and dismiss ministers, all
parliamentary candidates require the approval of their chief (who is dependent on the
monarch for wealth and power) and while political parties are not forbidden, they are banned
from participating in elections. All candidates must run as independents.’

The FCO called on Swaziland to allow multi-party elections, but this was rejected by the
Swazi government.

The report added, ‘Swaziland continues to suffer from a range of governance problems which
adversely impact human rights and inhibit the country’s social and economic development
and its ability to attract much-needed foreign investment. The judicial system has suffered
repeated crises; the Suppression of Terrorism Act has been used to prevent legitimate
expression of political views; peaceful protests have been disrupted and in some cases
excessive force used against protesters. The absence of clearly documented land rights has
prevented small farmers from developing their land. Efforts to amend Swaziland’s laws to
prevent domestic violence and to improve the legal status of women have made little
progress.’

Human rights violations in Swaziland have also been highlighted by the United States. In its
annual report on the kingdom for 2017 it stated, ‘The most significant human rights issues
included: arbitrary interference with privacy and home; restrictions on freedoms of speech,
assembly, and association; denial of citizens’ ability to choose their government in free and
fair elections; institutional lack of accountability in cases involving rape and violence against
women; criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct, although rarely enforced; trafficking in
persons; restrictions on worker rights; and child labor.

‘With few exceptions, the government did not prosecute or administratively punish officials
who committed abuses. In general perpetrators acted with impunity.’

See also
SWAZILAND REPRESSES POLITICAL DISSENT
SWAZILAND CIVIL LIBERTIES WORSEN
UN PROBES SWAZILAND ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SWAZILAND FAILS HUMAN RIGHTS TEST

Evictions: Amnesty calls for support


16 April 2018

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Amnesty International has sent out an urgent call to people across the world to protest against
the forced evictions from their homes of families in Swaziland.

Dozens of people, including 33 children, were left homeless after their homes at Embetseni in
Malkerns town were demolished using bulldozers in the presence of 20 armed police.

Amnesty said the evictions were in violation of international human rights standards. It called
on people to contact Barnabas Dlamini, the Swaziland Prime Minister, to protest.

In a statement it said four homesteads with 61 people, including 33 children, were forcibly
evicted from a farming area. It said, ‘Representatives of a private farming company that owns
the land together with the Sheriff of the High Court of Mbabane and armed local police
officers were present during the demolition of the homesteads. They arrived in the morning
and told the families to remove their belongings from their homes if they did not want them
destroyed during the demolition. Afterwards, bulldozers demolished the four homesteads.’
The Swazi High Court had in July 2017 ordered their eviction.

Amnesty added, ‘In violation of international human rights standards, residents of the
homesteads were not given adequate advance notice of the eviction and were not provided
with alternative housing thus rendering them homeless, and at risk of other human rights
violations.’

Amnesty asked supporters to write calling on the authorities to ensure that the forcibly
evicted families are given adequate alternative housing as a matter of urgency in respect of
their right to adequate housing; urging them to end forced evictions and ensure that evictions
are carried out in strict compliance with international and regional human rights standards.

See also
AMNESTY'S CALL FOR ACTION IN FULL
BULLDOZERS MOVE IN TO EVICT FAMILIES
COURT ORDERS HOMES DESTROYED
HOMES DESTROYED FOR KING’S VANITY PROJECT

King makes poor use filthy water


25 April 2018

Poor people in Swaziland get their water from a pond surrounded by human filth because
clean water has been diverted to be used solely by one of King Mswati III’s 13 palaces.
It is happening at Mazamazama in the Shiselweni region, the Swaziland News reported on
Monday (23 April 2018).

The pond is only a few metres away from the royal palace. The online newspaper reported,
‘The water crisis within the area exists despite the availability of a bore that cannot be
utilized by the residents as it was strictly reserved to provide water to the King’s Palace.’

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King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. He has 13
palaces and he and his family live lavishly. Last week he took delivery of a private A340
Airbus jet that with upgrades reportedly cost about US$30 million. At his 50th birthday party
on 19 April 2018 he wore a suit weighing 6 kg that was beaded with diamonds. His cake had
52 layers. Meanwhile seven in ten of his 1.1 million subjects have incomes less than the
equivalent of US$2 per day.

Lucky Mkhwanazi, described by the newspaper as the ‘Constituency representative’, was


quoted saying, ‘The new borehole cannot be used to provide clean water to the residents as it
is strictly reserved for the Palace.’

One resident told the newspaper, ‘Now we are sharing water with animals and during the
rainy season human waste is washed towards the ponds. During the winter season, the water
source went dry such that it takes nearly three hours to fill a 20 litre container.’

The newspaper quoted Shiselweni Regional Administrator Themba Masuku saying, ‘I would
like to assure the residents that the King remains a visionary leader who wants his people to
have access to clean water. As a result we have established water schemes even in other areas
within the Shiselweni region. We therefore appeal for cooperation from the residents as we
work towards developing their areas.’

See also
POLICE BEAT CROWD HUNGRY FOR FOOD
SWAZI KING WEARS SUIT OF DIAMONDS

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15 RELEASE AMOS MBEDZI CAMPAIGN


Police stop protestors at border
12 May 2018

PUDEMO President Mario Masuku stopped by police at the Swaziland border.


Picture: PUDEMO Facebook page)

Leaders of Swaziland’s political opposition were stopped from crossing the border into South
Africa to join a protest against the holding of political prisoners.

The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) said police told them that an order
to bar them from crossing the border had been issued but did not say by who and how it was
drafted.

The Observer on Saturday newspaper in Swaziland reported those stopped had authentic
travelling documents.

PUDEMO President Mario Masuku was among those stopped at the Ngwenya border
crossing on Friday (11 May 2018). On the other side at Oshoek about 300 South African
trade unionists and others had assembled to protest the imprisonment in Swaziland of Amos
Mbedzi and other political prisoners.

PUDEMO is banned in Swaziland where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch, and political parties cannot contest elections.

Mbedzi, a South African, was sentenced to 85 years and six months in jail (with 25 years to
be served) in Swaziland in 2012 after conviction by the Swaziland High Court on five
charges including sedition and murder.

He had been arrested following an attempt to blow up a bridge near the Lozitha royal
residence in September 2008. Two people with him died from injuries caused when the bomb
exploded prematurely.

There was heavy police presence at the border while the protests went on the other side for
about two hours.

Meetings on all topics are routinely banned in Swaziland. In 2013, the Open Society Initiative
for Southern Africa (OSISA) reported that Swaziland was becoming a police and military

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state. It said things had become so bad in the kingdom that police were unable to accept that
peaceful political and social dissent was a vital element of a healthy democratic process, and
should not be viewed as a crime.

These complaints were made by OSISA at an African Commission on Human and Peoples’
Rights (ACHPR) meeting in The Gambia in April 2013.

OSISA said, ‘There are also reliable reports of a general militarization of the country through
the deployment of the Swazi army, police and correctional services to clamp down on any
peaceful protest action by labour or civil society organisations ahead of the country’s
undemocratic elections.’

OSISA was commenting on the trend in Southern Africa for police and security services to be
increasingly violent and abusive of human rights. In particular, OSISA highlighted how the
police continued to clamp down on dissenting voices and the legitimate public activities of
opposition political parties prior to, during and after elections.

As recently as September 2017, police stopped a pro-democracy meeting taking place, saying
they had not given organisers permission to meet. It happened during a Global Week of
Action for democracy in the kingdom. About 100 people reportedly intended to meet at the
Mater Dolorosa School in the kingdom’s capital, Mbabane.

In 2013, after police broke up a meeting to discuss the pending election, the meeting’s joint
organisers, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy
Campaign (SDC) said Swaziland no longer had a national police service, but instead had ‘a
private militia with no other purpose but to serve the unjust, dictatorial, unSwazi and
ungodly, semi-feudal royal Tinkhundla system of misrule’.

In April 2015, a planned rally to mark the anniversary of the royal decree that turned
Swaziland from a democracy to a kingdom ruled by an autocratic monarch was abandoned
amid fears that police would attack participants. In February and March, large numbers of
police disbanded meetings of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), injuring
at least one union leader.

In 2014, police illegally abducted prodemocracy leaders and drove them up to 30 kilometres
away, and dumped them to prevent them taking part in a meeting calling for freedom in the
kingdom. Police staged roadblocks on all major roads leading to Swaziland’s main
commercial city, Manzini, where protests were to be held. They also physically blocked halls
to prevent meetings taking place. Earlier in the day police had announced on state radio that
meetings would not be allowed to take place.

In 2012, four days of public protest were planned by trade unions and other prodemocracy
organisations. They were brutally suppressed by police and state forces and had to be
abandoned.

In 2011, a group using Facebook, called for an uprising to depose the King. State forces took
this call seriously and many prodemocracy leaders were arrested. Police and security forces
prevented people from travelling into towns and cities to take part in demonstrations. Again,
the protests were abandoned.

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Release Amos Mbedzi Campaign


10 May 2018

Amos Mbedzi, a South African, was sentenced to 85 years and six months in jail (with 25
years to be served) in Swaziland in 2012 after conviction by the Swaziland High Court on
five charges including sedition and murder.

He had been arrested following an attempt to blow up a bridge near the Lozitha royal
residence in September 2008. Two people with him died from injuries caused when the bomb
exploded prematurely.

Since then a campaign to free him has been continuing. Below is a statement detailing the
background to the campaign issued by a consortium of 16 organisations.

RELEASE AMOS MBEDZI


The 20th of September 2008 was a major turning point in the political history of the kingdom
of Swaziland. It was the beginning of the most oppressive stage in the decades-long
oppressive executive monarchy, which has turned the country into a pauper state maintained
by using some of the most oppressive tactics known to humankind. On that day, two of the
most vocal and dedicated members of the People’s United Democratic Movement
(PUDEMO) lost their lives in a tragic bomb blast which still today evokes deep emotions
from either side of the political divide. One of the two survivors of that tragedy, Amos
Mbulaheni Mbedzi, now stands convicted and sentenced of 5 counts, ranging from being in
the country illegally, to the ludicrous one of the double murder of his friends and comrades,
Musa “MJ” Dlamini and Jack Govender.

POLITICAL CONTEXT
To fully understand the Mbedzi trial and why it was not conducted according to the due
process of the law one has to first appreciate the political context within which the September
20 tragedy took place and how the country’s authorities perceive it. Swaziland is a tiny
country with a population of a little over a million. Once earmarked to be part of the South
African Republic, it maintained autonomy by seeking protectorate status within the British
Empire. Once the British decided to reform the empire, Swaziland was granted its
independence in 1968, alongside other neighbouring countries such as Lesotho and
Botswana.

Leaving behind a largely uneducated, disenfranchised and underdeveloped population, the


British left behind a very fertile political climate for dictatorship. And thus it was that, despite
a period of five years of relative democracy, the king of Swaziland in 1973 dissolved
parliament, outlawed all political activities, banned all political parties and ruled by decree
commonly known as the 1973 Royal Decree, most possibly the worst piece of legislation
worldwide. This state of emergency was to be later loosened in 1978, when the king felt that
he had consolidated his influence and quashed all opposition. These minor reforms amounted
to the birth of a rubber stamp parliament, which is effectively the king’s political distraction,
a coliseum of sorts where economically ambitious Swazis go to deliberate on policies and
laws that the king has already approved.

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Only two thirds of this parliament is elected via a constituency based model where aspiring
politicians can only run as individuals. The remaining third of the parliament seats are filled
by the king’s appointees. From this parliament, which comprises two houses – Senate and
House of Assembly – the king appoints the cabinet and Prime Minister, who always comes
from the king’s Dlamini clan, meaning that he – always a male – is descended from Royalty.
The king also appoints all senior civil servants, the Secretary to cabinet, Principal Secretaries,
Under Secretaries and heads of departments. Naturally, he also appoints head of the army, the
police commissioner, and the commissioner of the Correctional Services. The judiciary is
also his personal domain as he appoints the Chief Justice, all judges, the Director of Public
Prosecutions and the Attorney General. To sum it up, the king in Swaziland is all three arms
of government; he is the executive, the judiciary and the legislature. To speak of “separation
of powers” in such a scenario is therefore an illusion. This very powerful position is
maintained by a promotion of a dogmatic and almost obsessive interpretation of culture,
custom and tradition.

The tools of promotion are the media – which is severely biased towards the monarchy - the
school curriculum and the rural aristocratic system which leaves the average Swazis
vulnerable to the whims of chiefs and village headmen who owe their power to the king.
When these elements of persuasion fail, the Royal Swaziland police and the Umbutfo
Swaziland Defence Force (Umbutfo means king’s regiment) and His Majesty’s Correctional
Services are always at hand to make sure that maximum force is used to make the people toe
the line. Such a political environment is correctly described as autocratic. The fact that the
system of governance has produced a high rate of poverty, unemployment and HIV deaths
per capita that has led to sincere and consistent opposition from numerous groupings, all
of which have had to bear with the suppressive nature of this system. It is also a system
which has attracted opposition from outside the country.

SOLIDARITY
Over the years, with the increasing popularity of mass communication tools and the efforts of
Swazis, the world has come to know of king Mswati’s autocratic rule. This has led to citizens
of democratic countries taking up the issue with their governments and also providing
political solidarity to those inside the country who fight against this oppressive government.
Amos Mbedzi and Jack Govender are examples of such citizens. Jack Govender was a
founding member of the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN], a network of progressive
organizations based in South Africa who give support to the struggle against Mswati’s
tyranny. Amos Mbedzi was to join later as the network progressed. As members of the South
African Communist Party (SACP) and the MKMVA (uMkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans
Association), they both formed a close friendship with Musa “MJ” Dlamini, a member of the
banned Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO). This friendship was founded on
solidarity and the sharing of political and tactical knowledge.

LOZITHA TRAGEDY
It is therefore not surprising that the three were together on that ill-fated last journey into
Swaziland on the 20th of September 2008. They were three men who had over the years built
a solid bond based on mutual trust and shared political perspectives. While Dlamini
and Govender lost their lives, Mbedzi was the one left behind to face the wrath of King
Mswati’s anger and fear of democracy. This wrath has been evident in the manner in which
the law has been raped in order to ensure that Mbedzi is convicted of serious crimes that he
did not commit. With the conclusion of Mbedzi’s trial, and the absurd conviction of murder,
what the world can conclude within reason is that:

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1. Mbedzi certainly did enter the country illegally. He has pleaded guilty to this and after
four years in jail, he has served more than the maximum sentence for this crime.
2. In Swaziland he was in the company of dissidents, in the person of Musa Dlamini, a
prominent Swazi lawyer and revolutionary who formed the Swaziland Chapter of Lawyers
for Human Rights, and Jack Govender.
3. MJ and Govender were killed by a bomb blast while in a car that they were travelling in.
Mbedzi was seriously injured by the same blast.
4. After miraculously surviving the blast he was taken to hospital by a kind stranger who
saw him while on his way to Mbabane. He was taken from hospital the same night and
immediately arrested by the police before being treated for his wounds.
5. Mbedzi did not know Swaziland. He had been brought there by his late friends and they
knew their way around the country.

Despite all evidence pointing out to the contrary, the state has found him guilty of the
following:

1. Unlawfully and with a subversive intention, attempting to damage the Lozitha bridge by
placing and assembling explosive devices. He pleaded not guilty to this charge.
2. Unlawfully entering and remaining in Swaziland without a valid passport or a valid entry
permit. He pleaded guilty to the charge.
3. He unlawfully and intentionally killed Musa Dlamini. He pleaded not guilty to the
charge.
4. He unlawfully and intentionally killed Jack Govender. He pleaded not guilty to the
charge.
5. He unlawfully possessed explosives without a license or permit. He pleaded not guilty to
the charge.

OBJECTIVE JUDGMENT
An objective opinion of this judgment should, at worst, conclude that Mbedzi had entered the
country illegally in the company of men who had ulterior motives against the state and failed
to report his knowledge of a conspiracy to commit a crime. The question of placing
and assembling explosives is farfetched when one considers the fact that he survived the
blast, meaning that the explosives were not in his possession when they were triggered. There
is also no evidence proving that Mbedzi had ever held these explosives.

The most contradictory part of this biased and unprofessional judgment is the fact that the
state on one hand has convicted Mbedzi of having had the intention of damaging the Lozitha
Bridge by placing and assembling explosive devices on it. On the other hand, he has
also been convicted of intentionally using those same explosives to murder his friends. The
motive for this bizarre murder is not stated, which is typical of bogus murder
charges. Moreover the prosecution fails to at least narrate how Mbedzi’s motive suddenly
switched from subversive bombing of a bridge to the murder of his friends in the middle of a
national highway that he was seeing for the first time. The Swazi state’s perceived murderer
committed this offense in the middle of a highway in front of at least one witness, who it
is alleged had been part of the group. He had absolutely no clue where he was, was
disoriented and afraid after the blast and had no mode of transport to take him from the scene
of the crime to escape his premeditated murder. To further discredit the state’s bogus charge,
Mbedzi remained on the road while severely injured until he got a lift from a stranger who

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was passing by. His primary concern even then was receiving medical treatment for his
wounds, rather than escaping back to his country. These are not the actions of a murderer.

MSWATI AS PROSECUTOR AND JUDGE


On the of 5th of September 2012, the date on which Mbedzi was due to be sentenced for his
alleged crimes, Mbedzi’s lawyer, in a thinly veiled statement, made it clear that the judge was
acting on the king’s orders and the sentence would reflect the king’s anger at Mbedzi. As
stated above, the judge, Bheki Maphalala, like all judges, is the king’s appointee. In his
personal capacity he is also a member of the king’s regiments, who swear upon initiation to
follow the king’s command above everything else.

The prosecutor, Sikhumbuzo Fakudze, was less subtle. He stated that the nation was looking
upon the courts to see to it that the institution of the monarch is protected and justice served
in the case involving Mbedzi. In a tone filled with scorn and sarcasm, he went further to say,
“The nation is eagerly awaiting the matter of the ‘freedom fighter’ who believes he knows
better than Swazis and hence seeks to bring democracy to Swaziland.”

As the prosecutor did not submit any evidence of a survey he did to gather the nation’s views
on the case, one has to wonder which this nation that he is talking about is? The answer is
clear, King Mswati III, in the eyes of his appointed defenders, is the equivalent of the nation
and he wants this “dissident” punished.

TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE
There are few cases in the country where justice and the law have been disregarded as much
as in the Mbedzi case. With this judgment the judge has set the tone for another show-down
with the court of appeal. The court of appeal, which is comprised of a bench of more learned
judges who are more concerned about their professional reputation than their short careers in
Mswati’s state, has in the past rejected politically charged judgments of the lower courts and
upheld those that the state hoped it would reject. In one such instance, the king cast aside
all pretences of respecting the rule of law and ordered the police to disregard the court’s
judgment.

As Mbedzi will definitely appeal this conviction, we hope that the judges of the Supreme
Court of Appeal will have as much courage and respect for justice as they would their
profession as those who have preceded them.

ON THE MIS-TRIAL OF AMOS MBEDZI


Amos Mbedzi has been in jail since September 2008. At that time the Director of Public
Prosecutions (DPP) was Mumcy Dlamini, wife to Attorney General (AG), Majahenkhaba
Dlamini. The Justice System in Swaziland is such that the office of the DPP and that of the
AG are independent of each other. Whilst the AG deals with civil cases brought against the
government, the DPP’s office deals with public prosecutions on behalf of the state, but it is
mandated to consult the Attorney-General in relation to matters where national security may
be at stake. The DPP took it upon herself to prosecute Mbedzi. As the case continued, King
Mswati appointed her as a High Court judge. Today we have a situation where the wife of the
Attorney General of Swaziland is also a Judge. Therefore, whilst we would have ordinarily
called for a fair trial, it is clear to everyone that the possibility of Amos Mbedzi receiving a
fair trial under this state of affairs is minute.

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Further, Justice Maphalala is well known for his involvement in a group commonly known as
the Kenya 6. He was once trained in Kenya, as part of a group of people known as the Kenya
6, as an intelligence operative to destabilize the activities of progressive formations, including
those of the ANC. His credentials as a loyal servant of King Mswati are well known as he is
also part of the King’s regiment. Hence, his close connections to royalty are unquestionable.
Therefore, it is not possible that Mbedzi, or any political prisoner thereof, can receive a fair
trial in Swaziland, more especially if Justice Maphalala presides.

SAVE AMOS MBEDZI


After being found guilty of all counts, Amos Mbedzi was on the 17th of September 2012
sentenced as follows:
1. Murder of his friend Musa Dlamini – 25 years
2. Murder of his friend Jack Govender: 25 years
3. Unlawful possession of explosives – 15 years
4. Sedition – 20 years
5. Unlawful entry into Swaziland: 6 months
According to the judge the sentences shall run concurrently.

When one makes an honest analysis of the judge’s case, it becomes clear that the Swazi
courts will apply just about any type of punishment that King Mswati orders them to impose.
We have seen how charges have been concocted just so that he could be denied his freedom.
The whole world heard exactly King Mswati’s command, when he had called the nation at
his royal kraal in 2008, when he stated clearly that the justice system should show no mercy
for dissidents in Swaziland. It follows, logically, that Swaziland courts will not enforce any
sentence that is less than that which King Mswati desires.

It is in that light that we plead with all citizens of the world, primarily those in Swaziland and
South Africa, to demand the release of Amos Mbedzi. The South African government, the
tripartite alliance and all South African citizens cannot rest on their laurels while a citizen of
their country is subjected to a kangaroo court and sentenced of crimes he did not commit.

All people who believe in democracy must cast aside all the lies spread by the royal family
and see this for what it is; a political case that is being dressed up as a normal criminal case.
A political case can only be solved by political pressure; as we have seen from the judgment,
the due process of the law has not been followed. It is therefore up to us to apply that political
pressure on the king for Mbedzi’s release as he has already served time for entering the
country without legal documents. This is a desperate plea to save the life of an innocent man
because it is obvious there is no room for a fair trial in Swaziland under these conditions.

Issued by the following organizations:


African National Congress [ANC]
South African Communist Party [SACP]
Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU]
People's United Democratic Movement [PUDEMO]
Communist Party of Swaziland [CPS]
African National Congress Youth League [ANCYL]
Young Communist League of South Africa [YCLSA]
Congress of South African Students [COSAS]
South African Student Congress [SASCO]

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South African National Civic Organization [SANCO]


South African Council Of Churches [SACC]
Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]
National Health and Allied Workers Union [NEHAWU]
Communication Workers Union [CWU]
World Federation of Trade Unions [WFTU]
Southern Africa Litigation Centre [SALC]

See also
AMOS MBEDZI FULL JUDGEMENT

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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.

He edits a weekly email newsletter with news from and about Swaziland, compiled in
collaboration with Africa Contact, Denmark (www.afrika.dk) and sent to all with an interest
in Swaziland - free of charge. To subscribe mail to: SAK-Swazinewsletter-
subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk

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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
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.

No. 3. 2013. Swaziland Media Need Code of Conduct for Covering Elections

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

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.
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
Volume 27: July to September 2017 is available free of charge here.

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SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM

Volume 28: January to March 2018 is available free of charge here.

Swazi Media Commentary

Containing information and commentary in


support of human rights in Swaziland

Click Here

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