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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom

As seen through the pages of Swazi Media Commentary, compiled by Richard Rooney
Volume 2: February 2013

Swaziland: Striving For Freedom

INTRODUCTION
Welcome to the second of Swazi Media Commentarys monthly round-up of events in Swaziland, aimed at giving information and analysis to those who support the struggle for freedom in the kingdom. Swazilands forthcoming undemocratic national election dominates this month. King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, in an extraordinary speech at the opening of parliament, quoting a report from the Pan-African Parliament, claimed that the international community thought the Swazi system of governance was so good it should be followed by other countries in Africa. But, in fact, the report said no such thing: it said the opposite, stating that the banning of political parties from elections did not meet regional and international standards and principles for democratic elections. Elsewhere, calls for the election to be boycotted by voters is growing and the main opposition party PUDEMO (outlawed in Swaziland) is asking the international community not to go to Swaziland as election observers. The king has yet to announce the date of the election, but that has not stopped armed state police from stopping people talking about it. About 60 officers invaded a prayer meeting at a cathedral church in Manzini calling it political. Police had no court order or warrant to take the action, but claimed they did not need these: all that mattered was that they suspected a crime would take place. Worshippers had gathered to seek spiritual reflection and guidance from the Bible prior to launching a discussion about the credibility of the election. Elsewhere, Swazilands economy continues to deteriorate, but the government refuses to acknowledge this. In the annual budget delivered this month, Finance Minister Majozi Sithole announced increases in the public sector salaries bill and a cut in taxes. These measures were the opposite of those recommended by the International Monetary Fund, which is seeking to help Swaziland recover from its economic mess so that it becomes eligible for international loans that could support the economy. Swaziland: Striving For Freedom is the second volume of information, commentary and analysis on human rights taken from articles first published on the Swazi Media Commentary blogsite in 2013. Each month throughout the coming year a digest of articles will be published bringing together in one place material that is rarely found elsewhere. Swazi Media Commentary has no physical base and is completely independent of any political faction and receives no income from any individual or organisation. People who contribute ideas or write for it do so as volunteers and receive no payment. Swazi Media Commentary will continue to be published online updated most days bringing information, comment and analysis. Swaziland: Striving For Freedom: Volume 1, January 2013, is available free of charge here.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom

CONTENTS

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Economics and Budget National Election Police Break Up Prayer Meeting Human Rights Education Media Security

3 10 19 26 30 32 39

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1. ECONOMY AND BUDGET


Economy: Impossible to Cut Poverty 6 February 2013 Swazilands economy is still in dire straits despite a U$800m cash windfall received by the government this year from the Southern African Customs Union. And, the financial situation is so bad it will be impossible to reduce poverty in the kingdom, where seven in ten people earn less than US$2 a day. This is according to a report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which stated that government spending continued to be out of control. Salaries for public servants remain one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa and amount to about 15 percent of the kingdoms gross domestic product (GDP). The report, written by Olivier Basdevant, Emily Forrest, and Borislava Mircheva, in their personal capacities, also stated that the kingdoms deficit spending was at about 6 percent of GDP when estimated sustainable levels say it should be at 2 percent of GDP maximum. The report contradicts the Swazi Finance Minister Majozi Sithole who last month (January 2013) said the kingdoms economy was no longer in crisis. I can safely say the economy is now under control. We have survived the worst economic challenges ever, he said at the time. The IMF-published report said current government spending should be channelled towards social priorities or poverty issues. It said social spending in Swaziland was much lower than budgeted by about US$56 million in 2011/12. This meant there was less spending on education and health, including orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), scholarships, and hospitals and schools. The report added, In addition, several investment projects with poverty-alleviating components (e.g., school extensions) were stopped, while other investment projects (e.g., the Sikhuphe airport) were given priority. Sikhuphe, an international airport being built in the Swazi wilderness, using taxpayers money, is widely regarded as a vanity project for King Mswati III. Sikhuphe has been criticised both inside and outside of Swaziland for being expensive and unnecessary. The reports writers said the kingdoms financial position remained vulnerable and inadequate to reduce poverty. The report stated that in future the national budget would need to ensure an adequate allocation to grants for OVC and the elderly. Investment projects should be prioritized according to their expected impact on growth and poverty reduction. This latest report on the impact on ordinary Swazi people of the financial mismanagement of the economy by a succession of governments, all hand-picked by King Mswati, who is sub-

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, follows a detailed analysis published last year (2012) by the United Nations. It stated that the kingdoms financial crisis had worsened poverty by putting an additional strain on the poorest households, especially families affected by HIV and AIDS and young people. The report based on a kingdom-wide survey of 1,334 households in Swaziland suggested that one in four households suffered from rising food prices and loss in labour income and that some families skipped meals for an entire day. It was also found that families had less access to services. In 2011, social grants including the elderly grant, child welfare grant, orphan and vulnerable child education grant, as well as public assistance grant, were suspended or delayed. By August, only about one third of primary school fees for orphans and vulnerable children, part of the governments commitment to roll out free primary school, had been paid. In the health sector, some maternal health services were interrupted and a national HIV prevention campaign was put on hold due to a lack of funds, the UN reported.

See also MINISTER WRONG ON ECONOMIC RECOVERY

Times Lies Over Economic Recovery 7 February 2013 The Times of Swaziland newspaper and the kingdoms Finance Minister Majozi Sithole have combined to mislead the Swazi people about the state of the economy. Under the headline Financial crisis in Swaziland is over IMF, the newspaper reported, It is now official; Swaziland is out of the financial crisis it had plunged into since 2010, the IMF has declared. The paper then allowed Sithole to say, We have no problems with their assessment that we are out of the crisis. But, the IMF never said Swaziland was out of its financial crisis. The Times and Sithole misrepresented a report called Restoring Sustainability in a Global Environment Options for Swaziland that was widely circulated yesterday (6 February 2013) and written by Olivier Basdevant, Emily Forrest, and Borislava Mircheva. It was published by the International Monetary Fund, but the IMF clearly stated at the beginning of the report, The views expressed in this book are those of the authors and should not be reported as or attributed to the International Monetary Fund, its Executive Board, or the governments of any of its member countries. So, no endorsement from the IMF for Swaziland.

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The authors do not say the financial crisis in Swaziland is over. They say the opposite. Commenting on the management of the economy (on page 49 of the report), they say, The current economic policy stance in Swaziland is unsustainable over the medium term. On current trends, the fiscal position is likely to deteriorate further, reflecting uncontrolled spending coupled with a projected decline in Southern African Customs Union (SACU) transfers over the medium term. Given that external budget financing from donors has not been secured yet and domestic financing is limited, the government is not expected to be in position to repay all its arrears in 2012/13, despite the higher SACU transfers. The financing gap could nonetheless be filled with credible policies aimed at reducing the wage bill by E300 million, thus restoring confidence in fiscal policy. There seems to be a concerted effort by Finance Minister Sithole and the Times to mislead the Swazi people and the international business community that the financial crisis in the kingdom is over. Last month (January 2013), the Times Sunday published an interview with Sithole in which he said the IMF had been shocked by the kingdoms economic resurgence having spelled doom for the country a long time ago. Sithole claimed receipts of E12.2 billion (US$1.1 billion) due this year to Swaziland, mostly from SACU, meant, I can safely say the economy is now under control. We have survived the worst economic challenges ever. Media in Swaziland took him at his word all broadcast news in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, is state-controlled and one of the two national newspaper groups is in effect owned by the king. But, once news travelled beyond the Swaziland borders, economists, bloggers, journalists and expert observers on the kingdom pointed out the truth: nothing had changed with the economy. Swaziland is tied with Somalia as having the worst performing economy in Africa and the government continues to have one of the highest public sector wage bills per capita in subSaharan Africa. It cannot fund health and social welfare projects, but continues to waste millions of emalangeni bankrolling King Mswati, his 13 wives and a Royal Family so large, no one is sure how many members it has. On that occasion Sithole was forced to climb-down and admit the economy had not recovered. The Weekend Observer, one of the Swazi kings newspapers, reported him saying the receipts from SACU and money collected internally from taxes did not necessarily mean that the kingdom had overcome its financial woes but only that this came as some form of relief. The Observer reported that Sithole granted the newspaper an interview after, Commentators from outside our border, also said the ministers pronouncements were not in tandem with the obtaining situation on the ground.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom IMF Confirms Economy in Trouble 21 February 2013 Information just released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirms that Swazilands Finance Minister Majozi Sithole lied when he said the kingdoms economy had recovered. Last month (January 2013), Sithole said that receipts of E12.2 billion (US$1.1 billion) due this year to Swaziland, mostly from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), meant, I can safely say the economy is now under control. We have survived the worst economic challenges ever. Then, earlier this month, the Times of Swaziland newspaper falsely reported in a headline, Financial crisis in Swaziland is over IMF. It said, It is now official; Swaziland is out of the financial crisis it had plunged into since 2010, the IMF has declared. The paper then allowed Sithole to say, We have no problems with their assessment that we are out of the crisis. But, it was not true. The IMF had never said such a thing. Now, this week, the IMF published one of its regular assessments of the state of Swazilands economy, based on information gathered after a visit to the kingdom. The IMF reported the Swaziland economy will be unsustainable over the medium term and subject to significant downside risks. It said there needed to be upfront expenditure cuts, including on the wage bill. The IMF said that in the recent past the government had repaid some of its debt but this was partly achieved through cuts in education, health, and other poverty-alleviating spending. To underline the fragile state of the economy, the IMF said, Swazilands economic prospects remain difficult and that, without credible and comprehensive fiscal adjustment and structural reforms, the current fiscal and external position will be unsustainable over the medium term and subject to significant downside risks. Sithole has yet to respond publicly to the news. Kings Vanity Comes before The Poor 23 February 2013 An extra E220 million (US$73 million) is to be spent in the coming year on Sikhuphe International Airport, dubbed King Mswati IIIs vanity project. Meanwhile, only E125 million is to be spent on free primary education in Swaziland. The Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Education Fund, set up to help mainly children whose parents had died from HIV-related illness, gets E170.5 million.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom And, elderly people are to get an increase of only E20 per month in their subsistence grant, taking it up to E220. These figures were announced on Friday (22 February 2013) by Swazi Finance Minister Majozi Sithole when he delivered the annual budget speech to the Swaziland Parliament. Last year, the Swazi Government allocated E1.2 billion toward the cost of Sikhuphe. It is now impossible to accurately compute the total cost of the airport, including the building of access roads and a rail link, but the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, in 2010 estimated it could be as much as US$1 billion. Sikhuphe is an on-going project to build an international airport in the wilderness in Swaziland. Since the idea for the airport was first raised by King Mswati, who rules as subSaharan Africas last absolute monarch, more than 10 years ago independent observers have called it a waste of resources. As long ago as 2003, the International Monetary Fund said itshould not be built because it would divert funds away from much needed projects to fight poverty in Swaziland. About seven in ten of King Mswatis 1.1 million subjects live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day. Meanwhile, the king has a lavish lifestyle, including a personal fortune, once estimated by Forbes magazine to be US$200 million, 13 palaces, a private jet and fleets of top-of-the range Mercedes and BMW cars. No needs analysis was ever made to see if the airport was needed. Swaziland already has an underused airport at Matsapha, close to both the kingdoms capital, Mbabane, and its main commercial city, Manzini. Reacting to the news of the additional funding of Sikhuphe, Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) Director Solomon Dube unwittingly revealed that nobody knew whether the airport would attract passengers. Asked by the Swazi News if SWACAA had identified airlines to operate the airport, Dube said, We are talking to some including Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airline and various Gulf airlines. What remains now, is a study on where do Swazis want to fly to. Critics of Sikhuphe, who have dubbed the airport King Mswatis vanity project, have argued for years that there is no potential for the airport. Major airports already exist less than an hours flying time away in South Africa with connecting routes to Swaziland and there is no reason to suspect passengers would want to use the airport at Sikhuphe as an alternative. Completion of the airport has been delayed for years. King Mswati had announced it would be open in time for the FIFA World Cup, played in neighbouring South Africa in 2010, but it did not happen. Sithole said in his budget speech the airport would open this year. Dube told the Swazi News, SWACAA had received an order from government to complete the project soon.

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The newspaper quoted him saying, His Majesty must rest assured that the order will be carried out. See also PROOF: KINGS AIRPORT POINTLESS IMF REPORTS GOVT ECONOMIC FAILURES SIKHUPHE AIRPORT IS TOO SMALL

Swazi Budget Snubs IMF Advice 23 February 2013 Swazilands Government is on a collision course with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after announcing extra spending on public service salaries and tax cuts for workers and companies. The decision announced by Swazi Finance Minister Majozi Sithole in his budget speech on Friday (22 February 2013) also puts the kingdom at odds with global banks which it must rely on for loans. In his speech to the Swaziland Parliament, Sithole announced a budget totalling E13.1 billion (US$1.9 billion), of which E5.2 billion (40 percent) would go on public sector salaries. This is an increase in salaries of E600 million on the previous year. Last year (2012), public sector unions took to the streets in protest against the government when it told them workers were expected to take salary cuts of up to 10 percent. Instead, unions wanted a 4.5 percent increase in salaries to meet the rising cost of living. Sithole expects to get E7.1 billion as receipts from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) in the coming financial year and end up with a budget deficit of E397 million. With the new increases the Swaziland Government salaries bill would amount to 86 percent of its total income if SACU receipts were excluded from the calculation. Sithole also announced income tax cuts that would put an estimated E300 million back in the pockets of taxpayers and a cut of 2.5percent in Corporation Tax for companies. These moves put the Swazi Government at odds with the IMF which has been trying to help Swaziland out of the mess that has been created by successive governments, handpicked by King Mswati III. Swaziland has failed to secure loans from the World Bank and the African Development Bank because it cannot show that it can run its own economy sensibly. The IMF has told the Swaziland Government that to secure its confidence it must reduce the public sector wage bill and find ways to increase non-SACU revenue through raising extra taxes and collecting them more efficiently than they have in the past. At the same time, the IMF says, Swaziland should be more careful in the way it spends what money it has, avoiding unnecessary capital projects and putting resources into projects that

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom help poor people. Sitholes budget does the opposite of that. He announced two capital spending projects, an international conference centre and a millennium hotel, both costing E80 million. In addition, a further E220 million is to be spent on the discredited Sikhuphe International Airport, dubbed by critics a vanity project for King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as subSaharan Africas last absolute monarch. The cost of these unnecessary capital projects contrast to the spending announced by Sithole on pro-poor projects. Only E125 million will go to free primary education; E170.5 million to the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Education Fund, set up to help mainly children whose parents had died from HIV-related illness; and grants for the elderly will rise by only E20 per month to E220. The IMF has yet to respond publicly to the budget announcement, but only this week it released one of its regular reports about the state of the economy in Swaziland. The IMF reported the Swaziland economy will be unsustainable over the medium term and subject to significant downside risks. It said there needed to be upfront expenditure cuts, including on the wage bill. The IMF said that in the recent past the government had repaid some of its debt but this was partly achieved through cuts in education, health, and other poverty-alleviating spending. To underline the fragile state of the economy, the IMF said, Swazilands economic prospects remain difficult and that, without credible and comprehensive fiscal adjustment and structural reforms, the current fiscal and external position will be unsustainable over the medium term and subject to significant downside risks.

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2. NATIONAL ELECTION
Swazi Election Will Be a Fraud 3 February 2013 By Richard Rooney (This article first appeared in Pambazuka News 24 January 2013 Issue 614) The tiny kingdom of Swaziland in southern Africa is getting ready for a national parliamentary election this year, amid expectations that the outcome will be a fraud on democracy. All political parties are banned in the kingdom where King Mswati III is generally considered to be the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa. Elections are held every five years. At the last vote in 2008, the Commonwealth Election Team, which has global experience monitoring national elections, declared that the voting was so badly flawed Swaziland needed to rewrite its constitution, if it ever wanted to ensure that Swazilands commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal. In a report on the elections it said: It is widely accepted internationally that democracy includes the right of individuals to associate with and support the political party of their choice. It added: Yet in practice this right currently does not exist. The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) also denounced the poll because political parties were not allowed to take part. Mary Mugyenyi, the head of the PAP mission, said at the time: The non-participation of political parties makes these elections extraordinary from any others but we hope with time things will change. The European Union declined even to send a delegation to monitor the election, declaring that it could not be free and fair if political parties were banned. In 2008 Peter Beck Christiansen, the EU Ambassador to Swaziland, told a press conference there were, shortcomings in the kingdoms democracy. He said: It is noted that the Prime Minister is not elected by Parliament. He added: The same applies to Cabinet Ministers, theyre not appointed by Cabinet. He also said: Its clear that the [Swazi] constitution has some shortcomings. Following the election, the International Commission of Jurists criticised the Swaziland Supreme Court for siding with the Swaziland state and confirming a constitutional right to ban political parties in the kingdom. In January 2012, Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in Page 10

Swaziland: Striving For Freedom the Swaziland Government, confirmed that there would be no changes from previous years to the way the national elections would be run and political parties would remain banned. King Mswatis supporters dismiss criticisms that the kingdom is un-democratic, saying Swaziland has a unique democracy. This is built on a system of 55 Tinkhundla (local councils) and all candidates for election are required to stand as individuals and if elected personally represent the ordinary people in their local constituencies. There are two chambers of parliament, the House of Assembly and the Senate. Of the 65 members of the House, 10 are chosen by King Mswati and 55 are elected by the people. In the Senate, King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people. Despite, the claims that ordinary Swazi have representation in parliament, King Mswati is in complete control of his kingdom. Last August, at the Sibaya Peoples Parliament (a quaint idea of democracy where people turn up at a cattle byre and voice their opinions on topics of concern to them) speakers overwhelmingly called on the government to resign, citing its inability to control an economy spiralling out of control as a major reason. In October, the House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in the prime minister and cabinet. In such circumstances the constitution requires the monarch to sack the government (he has no discretion in the matter), but King Mswati ignored this and put pressure on the House to re-run the vote, this time ensuring that it did not have the required majority to pass. Members of the House did as they were told and the government continued in office. A number of prodemocracy groups have called for a boycott of this years election. These include the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and the Swaziland United Democratic Front, which describes the Swazi system of governance as illegitimate, unpopular and a mockery to democracy. King Mswati has yet to set a date for the election. He has sole say over its timing. In 2008 he kept people waiting for most of the year before declaring the poll would be in September, leaving only three days for people to declare their candidacy and there was no voters roll to determine who was eligible to vote. While we await the election, the king continues to live a lavish lifestyle. He has 13 palaces, one for each of his wives, and owns fleets of BMW and Mercedes Benz cars and a private jet aircraft. Forbes magazine estimated that he has a personal fortune of US$100 million. Meanwhile, seven in ten of the 1 million population of Swaziland live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 a day. Swaziland also has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. Call for Observer Boycott of Election 4 February 2013 The main opposition group in Swaziland, the banned Peoples United Democratic Party (PUDEMO), has called for international election observers to boycott this years national poll because political parties are outlawed.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom Mario Masuku, President of PUDEMO, said, We are calling on countries not to respect the outcome of these elections and we want the international poll observers to boycott the election because no election shall be free in the absence of political parties. Masuku told the Voice of America the election was a charade and a mockery of democracy and an affront to Swazis. He said the balloting does not allow Swazis to freely choose their representatives. He said members of PUDEMO were unlikely to participate in the vote. We are on a campaign right now to boycott the national election, to call for a true dialogue towards a national constitution that is truly democratic, Masuku said. Elections are held every five years in the kingdom where King Mswati III rules as subSaharan Africas last absolute monarch. King Mswati has yet to tell his subjects the date of this years election. Following the last election in 2008, the Commonwealth election monitoring team declared that the voting was flawed and urged Swaziland to rewrite its constitution, if the kingdom wanted to ensure that Swazilands commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal. The Commonwealth poll group issued a report saying it is widely accepted internationally that democracy includes the right of individuals to associate with and support the political party of their choice Yet in practice this right currently does not exist [in Swaziland]. In January 2012, Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in the Swaziland Government, confirmed that there would be no changes from previous years to the way the national elections would be run and political parties would remain banned. King Mswatis supporters dismiss criticisms that the kingdom is un-democratic, saying Swaziland has a unique democracy. This is built on a system of 55 Tinkhundla (local councils) and all candidates for election are required to stand as individuals and if elected personally represent the ordinary people in their local constituencies. There are two chambers in the Swazi parliament: the House of Assembly and the Senate. Of the 65 members of the House, 10 are chosen by King Mswati and 55 are elected by the people. In the Senate, King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people.

Student Leader Calls For Poll Boycott 4 February 2013 Swazilands best known student leader Maxwell Dlamini has called for a boycott of the kingdoms national election due this year, unless political parties are unbanned. Dlamini, President of the Swaziland Nationals Union of Students (SNUS) told Africa Contact, We will not partake in these undemocratic elections in Swaziland unless political parties are unbanned. We seek to intensify our boycott.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom Kenworthy News Media reported, Dlamini, who has himself been tortured and harassed by Swazi security forces and has currently been on trial for over a year in a case of possessing explosives also said that SNUS were mobilizing against the Swazi elections, both at home and abroad. He said, We as the youth of Swaziland commit ourselves fully to mobilise all young people and the generally oppressed people of Swaziland not to partake in these elections. We also call on the international community to shun the [Swazi] Tinkundla elections and call for King Mswati III to unban political parties and respect fundamental human rights. Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. There are two chambers in the Swazi parliament: the House of Assembly and the Senate. Of the 65 members of the House, 10 are chosen by King Mswati and 55 are elected by the people. In the Senate, King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people.

Vote Buying at Swazi Election 14 February 2013 Digital cameras and cellphones are to be banned from polling stations in Swazilands national election in a bid to clamp down on voter corruption. The Swazi Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) said it was a common trick at election time for voters to take a photograph of their ballot paper to later prove to a candidate they had voted for them as promised. In return the candidate paid them. Local media in Swaziland reported Chief Gija, Chair of the EBC, said police would be on the lookout for voters who take electronic gadgets to voting booths. The date of the election has yet to be announced by King Mswati III, who rules the kingdom as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. Election: Ritual Murders Will Rise 14 February 2013 There are fears in Swaziland that the number of ritual murders will increase this year ahead of the national election. 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 it was common that during the time of elections the vulnerable were targeted and abducted. He warned that people who were known to suffer from the illness should be taken care of, particularly during the time of elections.

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Mahlalela was speaking after a report that a 13-year-old epileptic boy might have been abducted for ritual purposes. The number of ritual murders increases during election year. Before the last election in 2008 a march by civil society groups to draw attention to the problem was banned by the government amid fears that it would bring bad publicity to Swaziland and might embarrass King Mswati III, who had spoken out against the practice. The Times of Swaziland reported at the time that 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. 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. See also MORE ANGER OVER SWAZI MARCH BAN

King in Control Election Meaningless 16 February 2013 King Mswati III misled his subjects when he told them this years national election was an opportunity for them to shape the kingdoms future. King Mswati, who rules as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, said in a speech at the opening of the Swazi Parliament on Friday (15 February 2013), Elections are a vital tool through which citizens exercise the right to be heard and freely choose their own representatives in the government of the country. In fact, the people of Swaziland do not get a chance to elect a government because all political parties are banned. The present Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini was not elected by the people, but directly appointed by the king. This was also the case with all the previous prime ministers of Swaziland since 1973 when the kings father Sobhuza II abolished the parliament that was in place since independence in 1968 and began to rule by decree. Most cabinet ministers, including Majozi Sithole, the Swazi Finance Minister for more than 10 years and the man who has overseen a decade of economic ruin in the kingdom, are not elected by the people, but appointed by the king. Even if the Swazi voters wanted to get rid of their government, they have no way of doing so legally.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom In his speech the king went on to tell his subjects, This year will mark yet another opportunity for every eligible Swazi to meaningfully and dutifully go to the polls so as to be part of shaping the political and socio-economic dispensation of the Kingdom of eswatini [Swaziland]. But, the election is not meaningful. There are two chambers of parliament, the House of Assembly and the Senate. Of the 65 members of the House, 10 are chosen by King Mswati and 55 are elected by the people. In the Senate, King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people. Despite the claims that ordinary Swazi have representation in parliament, King Mswati is in complete control of his kingdom. Last August, at the Sibaya Peoples Parliament (where people turn up at a cattle byre and voice their opinions on topics of concern to them) speakers overwhelmingly called on the government to resign, citing its inability to control an economy spiralling out of control as a major reason. In October 2012, the House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in the Prime Minister and cabinet. In such circumstances the constitution requires the monarch to sack the government (he has no discretion in the matter), but King Mswati ignored this and put pressure on the House to re-run the vote, this time ensuring that it did not have the required majority to pass. Members of the House did as they were told and the government continued in office. Elections are held every five years in Swaziland. At the last vote in 2008, the Commonwealth Election Team, which has global experience monitoring national elections, declared that the voting was so badly flawed Swaziland needed to rewrite its constitution, if it ever wanted to ensure that Swazilands commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal. In a report on the elections it said, It is widely accepted internationally that democracy includes the right of individuals to associate with and support the political party of their choice. It added, Yet in practice this right currently does not exist. The European Union declined even to send a delegation to monitor the election, declaring that it could not be free and fair if political parties were banned. In 2008 Peter Beck Christiansen, the EU Ambassador to Swaziland, told a press conference there were, shortcomings in the kingdoms democracy. Prodemocracy advocates have called for a boycott of this years election. The Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), the best-known of the banned political parties, has called on international election observers to snub invitations to monitor the election. Mario Masuku, President of PUDEMO, told Voice of America radio earlier this month, We are calling on countries not to respect the outcome of these elections and we want the international poll observers to boycott the election because no election shall be free in the absence of political parties. King Mswati has yet to set the date of the election.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom King Wrong on Election Support 18 February 2013 King Mwsati of Swaziland seriously misled his subjects and the international community when he said that the Pan African Parliament (PAP) observers at the national election in the kingdom in 2008 had said, Africa has a lot to learn from the Swazi electoral system. In fact nowhere in the official PAP report is anything remotely like that stated. Instead, it listed seven challenges Swaziland faced in its elections, putting the banning of political parties in the kingdom top of its concerns. This did not meet regional and international standards and principles for democratic elections, PAP reported. King Mwsati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. The king made the comments in his speech opening the Swazi Parliament on Friday (15 February 2013). He said, It was encouraging to note from the Pan African Parliament observer mission, which went on to state in its mission report, that Africa has a lot to learn from the Swazi electoral system. Rather than praise Swaziland in the way King Mswati claimed, the PAP mission recorded seven challenges Swaziland faced in the 2008 election. (i) Political parties were not permitted to contest in the elections. This restriction infringes on the rights of those citizens wishing to participate in elections through political parties and does not meet regional and international standards and principles for democratic elections. (ii) There is no provision for campaign funding for candidates. This results in an unfair financial advantage of wealthier candidates over poorer candidates especially women. (iii) There was little if any civic education for voters by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC). (iv) We recognise measures taken by government to ensure 30 percent representation of women in the parliament. However we note that cultural norms militate against womens participation in the elections. (v) In some constituencies voting did not take place as court cases on the primary elections were still pending. (vi) The recording of the voters registration number on the ballot paper counterfoil has the potential to compromise the secrecy of the vote. (vii) Counting of votes takes place at constituency centres on the day after voting. Ballot boxes are stored overnight which may create room for manipulation. The report went on the make the following recommendations: (i) Election stakeholders including the EBC and civil society organisations should conduct voter education on elections.

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(ii) The people of Swaziland should resolve through voting in a national referendum, the issue of political party participation in elections. (iii) More measures should be put in place to empower women to compete in elections. (iv) Campaign funding should be provided in order to encourage and promote the participation of all worthy candidates in the election. (v) Recording the voters registration number on the ballot paper counterfoil should be stopped in order to guarantee secrecy of the ballot. (vi) The electoral authorities should consider the use of translucent ballot boxes in order to enhance transparency. (vii) Counting of votes should take place at the polling stations immediately after voting in order to enhance transparency and credibility of the results and expedite the announcement of the election results. There is a concerted effort by King Mswati and his followers to misrepresent the election this year in Swaziland as democratic, when it is not. In his speech to parliament the king also claimed that the national election was an opportunity for his subjects to shape the kingdoms future. But, the election is not meaningful. There are two chambers of parliament, the House of Assembly and the Senate. Of the 65 members of the House, 10 are chosen by King Mswati and 55 are elected by the people. In the Senate, King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people. King Mswati is in complete control of his kingdom. In October 2012, the House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in the Prime Minister and cabinet. In such circumstances the constitution requires the monarch to sack the government (he has no discretion in the matter), but King Mswati ignored this and put pressure on the House to re-run the vote, this time ensuring that it did not have the required majority to pass. Members of the House did as they were told and the government continued in office. Royals Wrong on Women at Election 19 February 2013 Swazilands Indlovukazi (the mother of the king) has joined a growing chorus of misinformation about the kingdoms forthcoming undemocratic national election. She called upon all Swazi women to participate in the election and said she would be happy if they dominated top positions during the upcoming national elections. The Times of Swaziland reported her saying the active contribution of women was critical to ensure sustainable and effective development of the nation. But, while one of the top Royals is telling women they are valued, the kings behaviour tells a different story. The Swazi Constitution states that 30 percent of the members of parliament

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom should be women. But the king has ignored this and declined to appoint enough women to parliament. In Swazilands election only 55 of 65 seats in the House of Assembly are chosen by the people. King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, chooses the other 10. He also chooses 20 of the 30 seats in the Senate. The other ten seats are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. No members of the Senate are elected by the people. If the constitution were followed there should be 32 women spread across the two houses of parliament. At the last national election in 2008 only seven of the elected 55 members of the House of Assembly were women and the king appointed a further two to the House and seven to the Senate, making a total of 16. If the king truly believed that the active participation of women was critical to the development of the kingdom he had ample opportunity to do something about it. This misinformation from the Indlovukazi is part of a growing trend in Swaziland to misrepresent the election as democratic and meaningful. Already the king has been exposed in the international media (but not in Swaziland) for misrepresenting opinion about the credibility of the 2008 election. He told the Swazi Parliament that the Pan African Parliament (PAP) had praised the kingdom for the way it ran its election and put Swaziland forward as an example for the rest of Africa to follow. In fact, the PAP said no such thing. Instead it said the election did not meet regional and international standards and principles for democratic elections, because political parties were not able to take part. In a report on the 2008 election the PAP also said women were disadvantaged because cultural norms militate against womens participation. It recommended, More measures should be put in place to empower women to compete in elections. King Mswati also misled people when he opened the Swazi Parliament on Friday (15 February 2013). He said, Elections are a vital tool through which citizens exercise the right to be heard and freely choose their own representatives in the government of the country. But, in Swaziland the people do not choose the government: King Mswati does that. In 2008, he chose Barnabas Dlamini to be PM, even though Dlamini had not been elected by anybody. Most of the government, including Majozi Sithole, who has been Finance Minister for more than 10 years overseeing an economy in ruins, are also selected by the king. The people of Swaziland have no way of selecting a government or of sacking it if it wishes. King Mswati is in complete control of his kingdom. In October 2012, the House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in the Prime Minister and cabinet. In such circumstances the constitution requires the monarch to sack the government (he has no discretion in the matter), but King Mswati ignored this and put pressure on the House to re-run the vote, this time ensuring that it did not have the required majority to pass. Members of the House did as they were told and the government continued in office.

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3. POLICE BREAK UP PRAYER MEETING


Police Break Up Democracy Prayers 16 February 2013 Swaziland armed state police closed down a peaceful prayer meeting held by prodemocracy activists at the catholic cathedral in Manzini this morning (Saturday 16 February 2103).

Picture by Mary Pais shows police breaking up the prayer meeting at the Our Lady of Assumption cathedral in Manzini. The prayer at Our Lady of Assumption was attended by Bishop Paul Verryna and Mafika Dlamini from the South African Council of Churches, as well as priests and pastors from the Swaziland Council of Swaziland Churches and the Concerned Church Leaders. It had been jointly organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). Swazi organisers had kept the venue for the prayers secret in anticipation of a raid by police. The prayer coincided with the recent launch of SUDFs and SDCs campaign for a peoples government and the call of for a boycott of the undemocratic nation election in Swaziland later in the year. In a media statement earlier this week organisers said, The powerful and irresistible aspiration that our people have for liberation constitutes one of the principal signs of the times which the Church has to examine and interpret in the light of the Gospel. In the press release the two organisations stated that they believed the aims of the campaign for a peoples government were widely supported in Swaziland and internationally. As we launch a nation-wide campaign for a people`s government we know that we have the support

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom of the vast majority of the oppressed and marginalized people of our beloved country Swaziland and those in solidarity with us around the globe, they said. Police Say Prayers Were Political 17 February 2013 Swaziland police say they broke up a prayer meeting at the Manzini Cathedral because the congregation wanted to sabotage the kingdoms forthcoming election. Charles Tsabedze, the police Manzini Regional Commander, said, We heard that the prayer was aimed at strategizing logistics that will be used to sabotage the national elections. About 60 armed police forced their way into the Our Lady of Assumption cathedral yesterday (16 February 2013) while a prayer meeting was taking place. They broke up the prayers giving the congregation seven minutes to vacate the building. The prayer was jointly organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). It had originally been scheduled to take place at the Bosco Skills Centre in Manzini. The venue was changed to the cathedral at the last minute after organisers realised the police intended to block people entering Bosco. Earlier in the week organisers in a public statement had said the prayer would be part of their campaign for a peoples government and would call for a boycott of the national election in Swaziland later in the year (2013). Tsabedze told local media in Swaziland that prior to the prayer meeting police met with organisers and told them that the event would not be allowed to take place. We told them that we would not allow the prayer to take place at Bosco Skills Centre or any other place within Manzini, the Times Sunday reported him saying. After the police broke up the meeting the organisers issued a statement. The prayer was aimed at launching our nationwide campaign for a people`s government using peaceful means and in a language that every Swazi understands; Religion. The security forces were up in arms well before the date for the prayer and intimidated and harassed the workers at the venue at which the prayer was to be held. As such, we had to abandon the Bosco Skills Centre at the last minute and try to find an alternative venue. As early as 07.00hrs, the police were all over the town of Manzini with a large concentration being around the Bosco Skills Centre, Salesian and St. Theresas schools, Caritas and the Catholic Church; these being in close proximity to each other. Prodemocracy activists were turned away from the Bosco Skills Centre and threateningly told to go pray in their homes and patronisingly told that today is a Saturday and therefore not a day of worship.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom The activists and the ordinary Swazi defiantly regrouped under the leadership of the SUDF/SDC and proceeded to seek refuge at the Catholic Church and they were welcomed and the Cathedral availed to them to hold their prayer. However, the police came swooping in and ensured that this plan too was thwarted. The church was completely surrounded and invaded and the police threatened everyone telling them to vacate or else. Bishop Paul Verryna intervened with at least a closing prayer, but mid-way he was told his time is up and he should shut up and everyone was forcefully herded out of the church. Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, holds elections every five years. No political parties are allowed to take part and ordinary Swazi people are only allowed to elect 55 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly: the rest are chosen by the king. In the Senate, King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people. The king also chooses the prime minister and senior government ministers. Parliament has no powers. In October 2012, the House of Assembly passed a vote of noconfidence in the Prime Minister and cabinet. In such circumstances the constitution requires the monarch to sack the government (he has no discretion in the matter), but King Mswati ignored this and put pressure on the House to re-run the vote, this time ensuring that it did not have the required majority to pass. Members of the House did as they were told and the government continued in office. King Mswati has yet to announce the date of the election. Raid on Prayers Unconstitutional 18 February 2013 Armed police broke up a prayer meeting at a cathedral in Swaziland without a court order or a warrant. And, they contravened the Swazi Constitution in doing so. About 60 police officers broke up the prayers at the Our Lady of Assumption cathedral in Manzini on Saturday (16 February 2013). Police spokesperson Inspector Khulani Mamba said they were acting on information that the prayers were a meeting to plan to disturb forthcoming national elections. When we see a crime happening, we dont need a court order, Mamba told local media. The prayer meeting was organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). Human rights lawyer Mandla Mkhwanazi said the police action violated the kingdoms constitution which guaranteed freedom of religion.

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Police regularly break up meetings in Swaziland without court orders or warrants and have in effect became arbiters of who can and cannot meet. In 2011, a reported 250 police forced a prayer meeting at the Lutheran Church to be cancelled. Police at the time said they banned the prayer using their own discretion under the Public Order Act of 1963. In August 2011, armed police invaded the Swazi High Court to break up a meeting of lawyers who gathered to discuss their on-going campaign to get Michael Ramodibedi, the Swaziland Chief Justice removed from office. Police routinely break up peaceful demonstrations organised by progressive movements, such as the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) and the African United Democratic Party (AUDP). In April 2011 armed police blocked off the city of Manzini to stop people entering to take part in a prodemocracy protest. Police also picked up people and drove them into the countryside where they were abandoned to make their own way home. This was to prevent them taking part in political action. In May 2010 the Swaziland Prime minister Barnabas Dlamini, who was not elected to office, but personally-appointed by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, made it clear that he was in charge of the kingdoms police force and would use it against democracy activists. Dlamini, who has an international reputation as an enemy of freedom and democracy, was explaining why dozens of police invaded the funeral of democracy activist Sipho Jele. Officers tore up pictures of the deceased man and confiscated banners belonging to opposition group, the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO). Dlamini said police would break up gatherings and make arrests even if no crime had been committed. The police just needed to believe that a crime might be committed. Dlamini told the meeting that police suspected crimes would be committed at Jeles funeral so they broke it up. Dlaminis remarks at a gathering of the kingdoms senior media people contradicted comments by Swaziland Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula that the police were a service to the people of Swaziland and would treat people as clients and with respect.

Christians Condemn Prayers Raid 18 February 2013 Swaziland is now a police state, according to the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church in the kingdom.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom This follows the raid by 60 armed police on Saturday (16 February 2013) to break up a prayer meeting held by democracy supporters. The police had no warrant or court order and acted against the Swazi Constitution. Christians condemned the police action which took place at the Our Lady of Assumption Catholic cathedral in Manzini. The Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) in a statement said the raid broke Chapter 111 S 23 (2) of the constitution that reads: Except with the free consent of that person, a person shall not be hindered in the enjoyment of the freedom of conscience, and for the purposes of this section freedom of conscience includes freedom of thought and of religion or belief, and freedom of worship either alone or in community with others. The JPC said, Here are peace loving people wanting to pray for their country and the prayer is thwarted by members of the Royal Swaziland Police. The JPC said it could not be denied that Swaziland was now a police state. The trouble started on Saturday after police broke up the prayer meeting organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). The prayers were to be held to support a campaign to show that national elections due in Swaziland this year were undemocratic. Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. The people are only allowed to select 55 members of the House of Assembly and no members of the Senate. Political parties are banned and the King choses the Prime Minister and senior government ministers. In Swaziland, King Mswati lives in opulence with 13 palaces, fleets of Mercedes and BMW cars and a private luxury jet. His 1 million subjects, meanwhile, live in abject poverty. Seven in 10 earn less than US$2 a day. The JPC said, Excessive economic and social disparity between individuals and peoples of the one human race is a source of scandal and militates against social justice, equity, human dignity as well as social and international peace. South African Council of Churches in a statement said, No one must be fooled to think that the God of the People of Swaziland is deaf and dumb to their daily cry for bread, salt, sugar and water. They too wish to come out of poverty and enjoy the freedom that they work hard and struggle for. We call upon those in authority to read the signs of time and begin to act in a direction popular to Gods way and the demands of the suffering people. The Manzini Cathedral Parish Administrator Father Pius Magagula called the police raid a barbaric act was carried out before our esteemed visitor from South Africa Methodist Church Bishop Paul Verryn. He said it was shameful for the church.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom The Swazi Observer newspaper quoted him saying, In the entire world over, the Roman Catholic church has always been a safe haven for any person in need of shelter or safe keeping. It is only in this country that the Church is not accorded the respect it has always enjoyed.

Police No Right to Disrupt Prayers Sunday 24 February 2013 About 60 armed Swazi police broke up a prayer meeting before it had even started, claiming that the law had been broken. This happened last week (16 February 2013) in a school hall at Salesian in Manzini. Police claimed the people attending were not present for prayers, but had gathered together to plot against national elections due to be held in Swaziland sometime later this year (2013). This, police said, allowed them to break up the meeting without a court order or a warrant. Police spokesperson Inspector Khulani Mamba, said they were acting on information that the prayers were a meeting to plan to disturb forthcoming national elections. When we see a crime happening, we dont need a court order, Mamba told local media last week. But, Musa Hlophe, the coordinator of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisation (SCCCO), one of the best known NGOs in the kingdom, says, nothing had happened at the meeting to give police cause to stop it. Writing in his regular column in the Times Sunday newspaper in Swaziland, Hlophe gave details of what happened when the police arrived. He wrote, In a school hall at Salesian in Manzini (not a church) a meeting was organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign. They called it a Prayer for Multiparty. It was publicly advertised as open to all. The Royal Swaziland Police obviously saw the advertisement and decided to please their political masters by not allowing it. They claimed the meeting was called to plan how to disrupt the upcoming national elections. What law did the police say these people broke? Even more importantly, where is the police evidence to even suspect a crime? Dissent and even peaceful disruption or defiance are not crimes. Therefore, planning them cannot be a crime either. Either way, the police charged in and demanded that the private meeting be broken up. Faced with such a show of force, the organisers reluctantly agreed to these demands. They then thought that by moving to a church, they would be protected. They did so.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom The Swazi Police reacted by finding the new meeting and invading it again, this time forcing the people out within seven minutes. Did the police not see that this would lead to a bigger problem for their masters? The Highest Authorities in the land including, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), Minister of Justice and those above them, have all spoken very clearly in international meetings like the United Nations and the African Union, that protest meetings are allowed in Swaziland. They often say they can ban certain public rallies because they think they are a danger to the public. That cannot be the case here since the meeting was of a small number of people in a private area. So the Swazi Police now raid a church to stop a few people protesting against a system they see as being undemocratic? I was going to say the protesters were forced to leave the hall but I would be wrong. They had not even started to protest or even to plan their protest. They had merely gathered together and were yet to speak. The Police found them guilty of crimes before they had opened their mouths. I have talked to the people who were there. They were certainly intending to open debates on whether the national elections that we expect in August 2013 should be contested or boycotted but I am yet to see a crime in that. They wanted to get their campaign off on the right foot by seeking spiritual reflection and guidance from the Bible. There is not yet a declared law in Swaziland against having a different opinion, yet our police treat it as a crime. Officially, there is no reason to stop anyone organising a protest but the Swazi police greet peaceful dissidents with brute force, rubber bullets and batons.

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4. HUMAN RIGHTS
So Poor, Woman Has to Eat Cow Dung 1 February 2013 Poverty is so grinding in Swaziland that some people, close to starvation, are forced to eat cow dung in order to fill their stomachs before they can take ARV drugs to treat their HIV status. In 2011, newspapers in Swaziland reported the case of a woman who was forced to take this drastic action. Once the news went global, apologists for King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, denounced the report as lies. Now, a video obtained by Think Africa Press reveals the hardships faced by the woman and more generally the poverty in Swaziland under King Mswati. The video tells the story of Sophie Magagula, living in Siteki. She struggles with abject poverty as well as HIV. The video was made in 2011 and 2012. Magagula explains that she needs to have food with her anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, but with food scarce, she was forced to eat anything she could find - including cow dung - to continue her course of medication. The video shows her mixing the cow dung in readiness for eating. Magagula says she had rely on help from people from far off places who provided food and clothing for her family, but she still struggles and needs to regularly travel vast distances to reach the clinic. The video reports that many like Magagula are struggling in Swaziland. It says the king has been repeatedly criticised for leading a lavish lifestyle while his people suffer. Only last week an official report from within Swaziland estimated that one in ten people in the one million population of Swaziland would not get enough food this year and would go hungry. A total of 115,712 people face food shortages in 2012/2013, according to the Swaziland Vulnerability Assessment Committee. The number has increased by 88,511 from 2011. In July 2012, Nkululeko Mbhamali, Member of Parliament for Matsanjeni North, said people in the Swaziland lowveld area had died of hunger at Tikhuba. See also SWAZI HIV PATIENTS EAT COW DUNG NO MONEY FOR AIDS, BUT THE KINGS OK SWAZI POOR HAVE TO EAT ANIMAL FEED

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Ex-Kings man Attacks Progressives 5 February 2013 Musa Ndlangamandla, the former chief editor of King Mswati IIIs newspapers in Swaziland, has launched an attack on the prodemocracy movement in the kingdom saying it was squabbling, egocentric and lining its own pocket. His attack was first published in the Sunday Independent newspaper in South Africa on 27 January 2013, and has now been circulated on the Internet by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, a group that says it is committed to deepening democracy, protecting human rights and enhancing good governance in the region. Ndlangamandla came to prominence in January 2012 when he was sacked from the Swazi Observer after he lost a power struggle with the Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini. Ndlangamandla expected King Mswati to back him but was wrong-footed and the king sided with Dlamini, the man he had appointed Prime Minister in contravention of the Swazi Constitution. For more than a decade Ndlangamandla had been a trusted aide to King Mswati, travelling all over the world at the kings side, writing his speeches and praising him to the hilt in the Observer newspapers. Ndlangamandla made it clear in his newspapers that they would never publish anything critical of the king. As soon as he was sacked Ndlangamandla tried to reinvent himself as a champion of democracy, saying that he was a force in the struggle for freedom in the kingdom as a friend of the prodemocracy forces and claiming he lost his job because he was too close to the kings opponents. King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. In his article Ndlangamandla claimed that prodemocracy forces had not been able to react to the financial crisis that has hit Swaziland in the past two years. He wrote, Despite support from the ANC and COSATU for their agenda for political reforms, a seemingly out-of sorts, squabbling and egocentric group of prodemocracy proponents in Swaziland was caught either napping or lining its pockets, until the Southern African Customs Union bailed the kingdom out of its immediate financial difficulties. However, having accused prodemocracy supporters of lining their pockets he offered no evidence to support this assertion, something editors at the Sunday Independent last month and now OSISA failed to rectify. In his article Ndlangamandla went on to quote Themba Masuku, the Swazi Deputy Prime Minister, saying that King Mswati was guided by the wishes of the majority concerning his kingdoms political direction, saying there was overwhelming support for the king and his system of governance. What he did not say was that at present all political parties are banned in Swaziland and sham elections are due later this year at a date to be announced by the king.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom There are two chambers in the Swazi parliament: the House of Assembly and the Senate. Of the 65 members of the House, 10 are chosen by King Mswati and 55 are elected by the people. In the Senate, King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people. The king also choses the Prime Minister and the government. Ndlangamandla allowed Masuku to falsely say that political parties were allowed to contest the forthcoming national election. He was also allowed to say that Swaziland did not have a problem with human rights. This flies in the face of evidence supplied by independent observers. In 2011, the US State Department reporting on human rights in Swaziland, said, The three main human rights abuses were police use of excessive force, including use of torture and beatings; a breakdown of the judiciary system and judicial independence; and discrimination and abuse of women and children. Other significant human rights problems included extrajudicial killings by security forces; arbitrary arrests and lengthy pretrial detention; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly, and association; prohibitions on political activity and harassment of political activists; trafficking in persons; societal discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community; harassment of labor leaders; restrictions on worker rights; child labor; and mob violence. In general, perpetrators acted with impunity, and the government took few or no steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses. In its annual report on Swaziland for 2012, Amnesty International said, Arbitrary and secret detentions, unlawful house arrests and other state of emergency-style measures were used to crush peaceful anti-government protests over several days [in 2011]. See also DEPUTY PM MISLEADS ON HUMAN RIGHTS SACKED EDITOR IS NO HERO

Swazi Coalition is Ten Years Old 8 February 2013 One of Swazilands most significant prodemocracy organisations has reached its tenth birthday. The Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO) was launched in 2003 after the Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini refused to be bound by decisions of the law courts. That led to a judicial crisis and all the Appeals Court judges resigned in protest. Musa Hlophe, the SCCCO coordinator from the start, has been reflecting on the past ten years of the organisation.

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Hlophe said Dlamini felt he was above the law. We found that we had nobody to speak up for us. Political parties were banned. Trade Unions had done some great work in mobilising the people but were stopped by the law from speaking about matters that were not to do with the social and economic conditions of their members, he wrote in one of his regular weekly columns for the Times Sunday newspaper in Swaziland. He added, So we all came together along with lawyers, journalists, gender activists and many others and formed a Coalition where, we hoped, our collective voice could be heard as the voice of reason against the government and traditional authorities irrational and selfserving actions. Our vision was that we would try, as organisations that served ordinary Swazis, to achieve together that which we had not achieved alone. We wanted a country where we were seen as proper citizens, not just lowly subjects. We wanted a government where the MPs were elected on their policies not through bribery. On the face of it, he wrote, SCCCO had not been much of a success in the past ten years. Last year, Dlamini, who is once again Prime Minister after a spell out of office, refused to respect a properly constitutional Vote of No Confidence in the Swazi Parliament. He now is happy to say that he respects neither the courts nor Parliament. But Hlophe is not despairing. One of the things that has definitely changed in the last 10 years is the international image of Swaziland. The government was keen to tell the world that it was a peaceful nation with full support for its Tinkhundla system of governance and that there were no voices of dissent or opposition. Now the government finds itself on what is known as the special paragraph of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which is a serious indication of the worlds concern at the lack of respect for workers rights. It has also found itself receiving strong criticism from the United Nations on its Human Rights Record. The Commonwealth has appointed a special envoy to investigate the country and report back. The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights has made findings against us as well. The world has woken up to the fact that while Swaziland has all the symbols of democracy, the reality is far from it. So in the 10 years that we have been operating we have seen some progress especially in the international arena. But we, the Swazi people, need to become much more active in working for the country we want. It is only when you, the ordinary citizens tell our leaders that you have had enough of their antics that they will listen.

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5. EDUCATION
PM Wrong on Education Standards 14 February 2013 Swazilands Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has misled us by claiming that the kingdoms education standard ranks high in the world. He also claimed in a government press statement that the standard of education in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, has always been outstanding. He was reacting to news that a Swazi team of children had come second in the World Schools Debate Championships. But, everything Prime Minister Dlamini said was not true. In fact, the standard of education in Swaziland is so poor the kingdom is not able even to meet its own employment targets. A report called The Education System in Swaziland, written by Mmantsetsa Marope and published by the World Bank in 2010, demonstrated that what is called the education, training and skills development sector (ETSDS) (that is preschool, schools, colleges and universities) was inadequate to supply people capable of working in a modern economy, especially where skills in technology and innovation were needed. The current ETSDS is not sufficient to support national development aspirations and goals, accelerated and shared growth, and global competitiveness, the report stated. Among the key weaknesses in the education sector are low attendance at schools and colleges, inequalities of access and inefficient use of resources. The report went on, Access is limited across all levels of the ETSDS. Current levels of access are inadequate to supply the right threshold and mix of skills required to meet national and regional labor market demands, to support accelerated and shared growth, and to make Swaziland globally competitive. Access is particularly low from the secondary level upwards, the very levels which are proven to be essential for the supply of knowledge workers required to attract foreign direct investors (FDIs). The report states , An estimated 74 percent of children of eligible age are not enrolled in junior secondary education, and 88 percent are not enrolled in senior secondary education. It adds, The situation is somewhat better for the primary level where only 16 percent of children of eligible age are not enrolled. See also ILLEGAL SWAZILAND PM CRACKS DOWN SWAZI P.M. EXPOSED ON TERROR ACT SWAZI PM: I CONTROL THE MEDIA

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom Government Chase Students beyond the Grave 14 February 2013 The Swaziland Government intends to pursue people beyond the grave to make sure they repay their student scholarships. It does not matter if they die, the government will make sure someone pays up on their behalf, Ministry of Labour and Social Security Principal Secretary Nomathemba Hlophe said. Hlophe said that the government would chase the money down from the witnesses who had endorsed students signatures on their scholarship agreement forms. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, reported today (14 February 2013) Hlophe told state-controlled radio that all monies issued as scholarship loans would be recovered. The newspaper reported, Asked how government would deal with issues of those who had already passed on, Hlophe said they were going to follow the agreements that were signed between government and the scholarship beneficiaries in as far as the payment was concerned. Hlophe said the ministry had the names of people who witnessed signatures when students signed their scholarship forms. She claimed this signature also meant that the witnesses would be responsible for the repayment of scholarship loans should there be a default for any reason.

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6. MEDIA
Times Attacked Over Nude Photo 4 February 2013 The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) has joined the growing chorus of condemnation of the Times Sunday newspaper after it published a nude picture of a woman blackmail victim. The womans former boyfriend had published naked pictures of her on social network sites and had sent them to her work colleagues and others who knew her. This was after their relationship broke down and the couple argued over money. The Times Sunday interviewed the Zimbabwean man at length and published his story and included one of the pictures he was circulating. It blurred out the womans face, breasts and private parts, but published a second picture of her in which she could be clearly identified (despite a small black strip printed across her eyes) and gave enough details of her workplace to make identification easy. Now, SWAGAA has said in a letter published by the newspaper, The Times Sunday stooped to a new low by publishing the blackmail picture of the Swazi UK Embassy employee last Sunday. The methods the Spiteful Zimbabwean used to retaliate against a girlfriend over financial disagreements were certainly distasteful but what was even more distasteful was the fact the newspaper played right into his hands. By publishing a private photo, the newspaper helped to spread his evil intent to damage this womans reputation - and her life. SWAGAA is extremely disappointed in the newspapers decision to publish this photo. The Times Sunday is guilty of thoughtlessly inflicting pain for a brief moment of titillation and has breached the ethics of responsible journalism. Citizens of Swaziland deserve better than this. SWAGAA joins the Swazi Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Swaziland chapter, and numerous readers of the newspaper in attacking the newspaper for its sensationalist journalism. The ICT Ministry in a statement said it was horrified by the publication of an indecent photograph. It went on, Chapter Three of the Constitution protects Swazi Citizens from inhuman or degrading treatment, and further confers respect for rights of family, women and children. The Preamble of the Code of Ethics as adopted by Swaziland National Association of Journalists, clearly states that its members must adhere to highest ethical standards, professional competence and good behaviour, in carrying out their duties.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom It further states that while the public expects the media to play their watchdog role, they shall do this with a high sense of responsibility, without infringing on the rights of individuals and society in general. MISA supported the Ministry stance. It said in a statement, MISA-Swaziland is the first to decry the endemic censorship in the kingdom, however on this issue, we acknowledge the position of government. The ICT ministry may not have the finest record on matters of freedom of speech, but MISA-Swaziland must give credit where it is due. The government is invoking the media code of ethics and the Constitution as it was meant to be invoked: to protect people from degrading and inhuman treatment. The Swazi Observer newspaper also reported University of Swaziland journalism lecturer Maxwell Mthembu and Swaziland Consumers Association Chairman Bongani Mdluli had called for the Sunday Times to issue an apology. The Times Sunday told its readers in a statement published in the newspaper yesterday (3 February 2013), Publication of the story and blocked picture in question was a result of a decision to show what some people will do in the name of love. The story was meant to be a warning to both men and women to be careful, even if they are in love. It made no reference to criticisms that it had broken the code of ethical conduct and the Swazi Constitution. See also TIMES SUNDAY ENCOURAGES BLACKMAIL

Swazi King Predatory Media Censor' 11 February 2013 Swazilands King Mswati III has been named as one of the worlds most predatory censors in a media freedom report just published. Reporters Without Borders (RWB) says King Mswati is among a group of six heads of state who are members of an exclusive club of authoritarian African leaders, some eccentric, others stern, who hold their countries in an iron grasp and keep a firm grip on news and information. In the report on world press freedom, Swaziland is placed at 155 among 179 nations in the world. RWB secretary-general Christophe Deloire said, It is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom The report tells us nothing new. Human Rights Watch reported in February 2012 that Swazi Journalists and the media faced continued threats and attacks by the authorities and that selfcensorship in media was widespread. In a report it said, The government has passed draconian security legislation such as the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act, which severely curtails the enjoyment of freedom of expression, among other rights, and allows for extensive imprisonment without the option of a fine if one is found guilty. The act has been used to harass activists and conduct searches of their homes and offices. An overview of press freedom in Swaziland published by Swazi Media Commentary to mark World Press Freedom Day in May 2012 highlighted two main themes of media freedom in Swaziland: censorship of the mainstream journalism and government attempts to silence social media, such as Facebook. Most mainstream media in Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, are state controlled. Censorship on state TV and radio is common and one of Swazilands two daily newspapers is in effect owned by King Mswati. The Times of Swaziland is only one independent newspaper group in the kingdom and this censors itself when reporting about the Swazi royal family. Its publisher Paul Loftler is on record saying that Swaziland does not need democracy. See also PRESS FREEDOM: NOTHING TO CELEBRATE

Times Censors Critical report on King 13 February 2013 The Times of Swaziland newspaper has misled its readers by censoring a report on the kingdom by international business consultants that criticised King Mswati III for the political crisis that has stagnated the economy and said protesters were calling for the king to give up his power as an absolute monarch. The report said that if banned political parties were allowed to contest this years national election and they won a majority of seats, it is possible that the king would respond by revoking the constitution and trying to rule by decree. The Times reported today (13 February 2013) that international consultants KPMG Services Proprietary Limited had issued a gloomy report on the kingdoms prospects from 2012 to 2016. According to the newspaper, KPMG predicted prodemocracy protests would take place in Swaziland over the coming year. This is what the Times reported KPMG saying, Although the protests have been sparked by the fiscal crisis, they reflect a range of deeper-rooted issues: the mismanagement of public money and governments stubborn resistance to calls for democratic reform.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom But this is what KPMG actually said, Although the protests have been sparked by the fiscal crisis, they reflect a range of deeper-rooted issues: the extravagance of the royals and the political elite, the mismanagement of public money and the governments stubborn resistance to calls for democratic reform. Top of the list for the reasons behind protests in Swaziland were, according to KPMG, the extravagance of the royals. But, this was not the only distortion the Times made. It went on to say, The report states that in line with the democratic reform, the protesters had demands mainly being a switch from the Tinkhundla voting system under which political parties were not allowed to contest elections to a multiparty system. The resignation of Cabinet and the unconditional return of all political exiles are the other demands which the report cites, and it states that such demands have been allegedly resisted by government. But in fact, the KPMG report actually said there were six demands. The Times did not give its readers the full list, which was, the downgrading of the powers of the king, Mswati III (these include the appointment of the Prime Minister, the cabinet and key advisory committees); a change in the political order from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy; less spending by the royals and the elite; the resignation of the cabinet; and the unconditional return of all political exiles. So far, the king has stubbornly resisted these demands. The Times went on to say, The report states that pro-democracy groups were divided on whether to continue boycotting elections under the Tinkhundla system of governance, which is a strategy that has had very little impact. But what KPMG actually reported was, Pro-democracy groups are divided on whether to continue boycotting elections under the tinkhundla system a strategy that has had little impact. If these groups were to win a majority at the next parliamentary election, it is possible that the king would respond by revoking the constitution and trying to rule by decree. KPMG also said there were modernists who might do well at the election if parties were allowed to take part. If the modernists seemed likely to win a majority the risk of voterigging would be significant, as the royalists remain deeply averse to relinquishing power, it said. This is not the first time the Times of Swaziland group of newspapers has deliberately mislead its readers about international criticism of King Mswati, who rules as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. On 21 October 2012 the Times Sunday published a report about a petition sent by a group in the United Kingdom called the Swaziland Vigil to the UK Prime Minister David Cameron. According to the Times Sunday, the petition read in part, Exiled Swazis and supporters urge you to put pressure on (the Swazi government) to allow political freedom, freedom of the press, rule of law, respect for women and affordable AIDS drugs in Swaziland. The newspaper inserted the words the Swazi government into the petition to make it seem that it was Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini and his cabinet that was being criticised.

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In fact, the petition sent to Cameron actually read, Petition to the British Government: Exiled Swazis and supporters urge you to put pressure on absolute monarch King Mswati III to allow political freedom, freedom of the press, rule of law, respect for women and affordable AIDs drugs in Swaziland. The Swaziland Vigil made it very clear that it was criticising absolute monarch King Mswati III. The Times Sunday deliberately distorted the petition to deflect criticism away from King Mswati. The Times of Swaziland is scared of King Mswati and knows that if it criticises the monarch he will close it down. In April 2007 the Times Sunday published a minor criticism of King Mswati, sourced from an international news agency. The king went ballistic and told the Times publisher Paul Loffler he would close the paper down unless people responsible for the publication at the paper were sacked and the newspaper published an abject apology to the king. These things were done. The Times Sunday and other media in Swaziland constantly mislead their readers and audiences about how King Mswati is viewed outside his kingdom. In May 2012 there was widespread criticism against King Mswatis invitation to join a lunch in London to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth IIs reign. There were street demonstrations in London against the king and prodemocracy campaigners drew attention to the lack of freedoms in Swaziland and the lavish lifestyle the king enjoys, while seven in ten of his subjects languish in absolute poverty, earning less than US$2 a day. Inkhosikati LaMbikiza one of the kings 13 wives who accompanied him to the lunch wore shoes costing 995 (US$1,559), the equivalent of more than three years income for 70 percent of Swazi people. The total cost of the Kings trip was estimated to be at least US$794,500. The Times Sunday, reported at the time that Inkhosikati LaMbikiza had rave reviews from the Daily Mail newspaper in London for her dress sense, but omitted to say the same newspaper also reported, Guests from controversial regimes include Swazilands King Mswati III, who has been accused of living an obscenely lavish lifestyle while many of his people starve. There was similar criticism a year earlier in April 2011 when King Mswati went to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The Times newspaper in South Africa reported at the time, The controversial absolute monarch, whose country is ranked among the poorest in the world, spent much of this week playing hide-and-seek with prodemocracy demonstrators tailing him across London. The king was forced to change his hotel to avoid pickets. The Swazi media failed to report any of this, but did say that King Mswati had been welcomed by business people in the UK. See also THE STATE OF SWAZI JOURNALISM 2013 TIMES MISLEADS ON KINGS LONDON VISIT

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom Social Media Sites Promote Freedom 22 February 2013 More people than ever before are using social media sites such as Facebook to oppose the undemocratic regime in Swaziland. Research just published shows that people use the Internet to communicate with one another and share information and ideas about the campaign for democracy, bypassing the Swazi mainstream media which is heavily censored. People who live inside the kingdom and those abroad join in the debates and share information about activities designed to bring attention to the human rights abuses in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. The research, published in Ecquid Novi African Journalism Studies, looked at a number of blogs, Facebook sites and a Google discussion group to study what they were publishing and see how people used them to share information. Young people in Swaziland have been using the Internet not only to interact with one another but also using Facebook to influence opinion with a view to effecting change in Swaziland and voice their anger at the established ruling regime. A survey of some of the most active sites showed they contained information about prodemocracy activities in Swaziland such as protest marches, the delivery of petitions to government ministries and strikes. Unlike the mainstream media in Swaziland these sites also published material critical of King Mswati and the royal family. The report suggests that the sites appear to have relatively small, but seemingly highly committed, participants as originators and / or readers. The report suggests that the social media sites have extended opportunities for people to share information and commentary about the need for democratic change in Swaziland, but they have not necessarily been an empowering force. It is clear that social media sites have extended the public sphere to offer opportunities for a wider range of people both in the country and outside it, to produce, distribute and exchange information and commentary about the kingdom especially in the context of the need for political change. People speak in their own voices and are not mediated in the way mainstream media are in Swaziland. However, the research suggests, There is little evidence that social media sites are capable of becoming vehicles for actual change in Swaziland. It uses the example of the April 12 Uprising Facebook group from 2011 that had clearlystated objectives to encourage an uprising in Swaziland along the lines of those witnessed during the Arab Spring of 2011.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom Despite a large interest online in the groups postings, it was unable to turn its aspirations for uprising into actual action on the streets. The research speculates it was possible the April 12 Uprising Facebook site may have generated unrealistic excitement and anticipation on the part of the general population who became mere spectators, while the bulk of those who had generated the Facebook hype resided outside the country and could not coordinate activities on the ground to actuate their cyber aspirations. The research concludes by suggesting the uprising failed because the factors necessary for revolution in Swaziland were absent. Among such conditions are that the regime must appear irredeemably unjust or inept, and must be viewed as a threat to the countrys future, and that the political elite should be alienated from the state to the extent that they are no longer willing to defend it. In addition, broad-based mobilisation across social-economic classes must follow; and international powers must either refuse to step in and defend the government or prevent it from using maximum force to defend itself. See also FACEBOOK IN SWAZILAND: THE STATS GOVERNMENT THREATENS FACEBOOK CRITICS SWAZI POLICE TRACK FACEBOOK USERS

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7. SECURITY

Top Brass Get Bullet-proof Cars Monday, 25 February 2013 Swazilands three national security chiefs are to join a growing number of the ruling elite in the undemocratic kingdom to receive bullet-proof cars. Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) Commander Lieutenant Sobantu Dlamini, Royal Swaziland Police (RSP) Commissioner Isaac Magagula and His Majestys Correctional Services (HMCS) Commissioner Isaiah Mzuthini Ntshangase are each to receive BMW 2013 X5 cars at a total cost of E4 million. They join about 20 members of the Swazi Royal family, headed by King Mswati III, who already have top-of-the-range Mercedes S600 Pullman Guard cars that can withstand an armoured missile assault. Local media in Swaziland have been reporting that the latest three cars are ready to be delivered from Germany next month (March 2013). But, nobody is saying why the security chiefs need bullet proof cars. Ntshangase did however tell the Times of Swaziland that being a security force boss required a special car owing to the nature of the position. Magagula told the newspaper he did not mind if government saw it fit to buy them the BMW X5s. He said certain positions needed certain cars for their status. When the BMW X5 Security plus was launched in 2009 it was described by the manufacturers as being capable of withstanding an attack from the AK 47, the worlds most widely-used assault gun. It also has an amoured passenger cabin, bullet-resistant glass and an intercom system allowing communication with persons outside the vehicle without having to open doors or windows. The BMW X5s are small beer compared to the 20 armoured military style Mercedes Benz S600 Pullman Guard cars King Mswati got in 2009 to be used by his wives. They were each valued at valued at 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. One website described the car as The car of choice for up-and-coming dictators. At the time of the purchase the king was furious that his subjects had dared to discuss how much the cars might have cost.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom 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 did not care how much the cars cost. 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. Remember that there is a budget for Royalty in Swaziland as is the case elsewhere in the world. Even the biggest democracies have such budgets, the source said. King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. Seven in ten of his 1.1 million subjects live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 a day. The king, whom Forbes magazine in 2009 estimated had a personal fortune of US$200 million, has 13 palaces, a private jet, a Rolls Royce car and a fleet of BMW cars, in addition to the Mercedes.

See also SWAZI KING'S GRENADE-PROOF CARS COST OF SWAZILAND KINGS NEW CARS

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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 presently teaches at the University of Botswana, Gaborone.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom Publications from Swazi Media Commentary available online free-of-charge

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 Africas 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 kingdoms broadcasting cannot be made until it becomes a democratic state.

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Swaziland: Striving For Freedom Publications from Swazi Media Commentary available online free-of-charge

BOOKS

2013. The beginning of the End? 2012, a year in the struggle for democracy in Swaziland This compilation of newsletters from Africa Contact in collaboration with Swazi Media Commentary contains an assortment of news, analysis and comment covering the campaign for freedom in Swaziland throughout 2012. These include the Global Action for Democracy held in September; campaigns for democracy spearheaded by trade unions and students and the continuing struggle for rights for women, children, gays and minority groups.

2012. The End of the Beginning? 2011, a year in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland This book looks at activities in the freedom movement in 2011. It starts with a section on the unsuccessful April 12 Uprising followed by separate chapters looking at events in each month of 2011, including the Global Week of Action held in September. They also highlight the numerous violations of rights suffered by the poor, by children, by women and by sexual minorities, among others, in the kingdom.

2011. Voices Unheard: Media Freedom and Censorship in Swaziland. This volume of pages from Swazi Media Commentary focuses on media freedom and censorship. It starts with some overview articles that set out the general terrain, moving on to look at repressive media laws. Other sections of this book relate the daily threats journalists in Swaziland face when they want to report, but are not allowed to.

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