Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

As seen through the pages of Swazi Media Commentary
Volume 13: January to March 2014

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

INTRODUCTION

Swaziland’s disregard for freedom has received international attention with the United States threatening to withdraw a favourable trading agreement and the jailing on remand of a magazine editor and a writer after they were critical of the kingdom’s judiciary. The US has given Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, until 15 May to make a series of changes that would allow freedom of association and enhance workers’ rights. These include full passage of amendments to the Industrial Relations Act; full passage of amendments to the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA); full passage of amendments to the Public Order Act; full passage of amendments to sections 40 and 97 of the Industrial Relations Act relating to civil and criminal liability to union leaders during protest actions; and establishing a code of conduct for the police during public protests. Failure to comply with these changes would see Swaziland lose the ability to export textile goods to the US without having to pay tariffs under the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA). About 20,000 jobs of textile workers in Swaziland are said to be at stake. Just as Swaziland was exposed by the US, the judiciary, appointed by King Mswati, attacked a small independent monthly magazine, the Nation by arresting its editor Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko for writing and publishing articles critical of the Swazi Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi. They have been charged with contempt of court. The charges caused an international outcry which got louder when Makhubu was taken into court in leg-irons. Both men continue to be held in prison on remand awaiting trial These are just two of the stories covered by Swazi Media Commentary during the first three months of 2014 and now published as part of a collection: Swaziland: Striving for Freedom, Volume 13. This publication documents many of the struggles for human rights that are taking place in the kingdom. In February, police broke up a press conference held by the Secretary-General of the African National Congress (ANC), Gwede Mantashe. Journalists were reportedly ‘frog-marched’ out of the venue. The briefing was to report on a delegation led by Mantashe the day before that met with political parties in the kingdom. Political parties are banned in Swaziland. Swazi Police continued to shoot-to-kill with impunity. Among the instances this year was the case of a plain-clothed policeman who shot an unarmed man in the back killing him while on a public bus. Police later claimed the man had stolen some copper wire.

1

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Elsewhere, police armed with batons assaulted children who complained about conditions at their school. In March, Sikhuphe Airport was finally opened and renamed King Mswati III Airport, confirming the belief of critics that the venture was a vanity project for the King. Despite costing at least E3 billion (US$300 million) to build no airlines have said they will fly into the airport and it remains unused. There are doubts whether the airport has the necessary international licence to allow it to operate. Children continue to have their rights abused in Swaziland. In March it was reported that warders at a juvenile jail in Swaziland stripped naked, handcuffed and beat children in their care. They inserted fingers into girls’ private parts and forced one boy to drink his own urine.

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 is published online – updated most days – bringing information, comment and analysis in support of democracy in the kingdom.

2

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

CONTENTS

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Nation magazine Media freedom and ethics Police shooting and abuse Game rangers shoot-to-kill King Mswati III (Sikhuphe) Airport Human rights Hunger King Mswati III National election Government and Parliament Review of the year: 2013 About the author Books by Swazi Media Commentary Occasional Paper series Swaziland: Striving for Freedom, previous editions

4 11 20 24 28 44 52 56 62 66 69 75 76 77 78

3

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

1 ‘NATION’ MAGAZINE
Editor charged with criticising judge 18 March 2014 A human rights lawyer and the editor of Swaziland’s only political comment magazine have been charged with contempt of court. Lawyer Thulani Maseko and Nation editor Bheki Makhubu were alleged to have written separate articles in the magazine criticising the circumstances surrounding the case of Chief Government Vehicle Inspector, Bhantshana Gwebu. Gwebu had been arrested and charged with contempt of court after he arrested a driver of High Court Judge Esther Ota. Gwebu spent nine days at the Sidwashini Correctional facility before he was released on E15,000 (US$1,500) bail. The arrests highlight the difficulty media have in commenting on current events in Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Makhubu was also convicted in April 2013, along with the Nation magazine publishers, Swaziland Independent Publishers, of ‘scandalising the court’ after two articles criticising the judiciary were published in 2009 and 2010. Makhubu and the publisher were fined a total of E400,000 (US$40,000) by the Swaziland High Court, of which half had to be paid within three days or Makhubu would immediately be sent to jail for two years. Both Makhubu and the publisher have appealed the conviction. The Sunday Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, ran an apology for its own coverage of the Gwebu case, but its editor was not arrested. The apology said, ‘… it is not the intention of the Swazi Observer and its newspapers to disregard the independence of the judiciary, but to be seen to assisting it to uphold the rule of law in the country’.

Swazi editor and lawyer jailed 18 March 2014 Swaziland human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu, the editor of the Nation magazine, have been jailed on remand for seven days on contempt of court charges. The Chief Justice of Swaziland Michael Ramodibedi heard their cases in chambers away from the public. The men’s lawyer Mandla Mkhwanazi called the proceeding a ‘kangaroo court’. The two men are accused of contempt of court for writing articles in the Nation, the only magazine of political commentary in Swaziland, criticising the circumstances surrounding the case of Chief Government Vehicle Inspector, Bhantshana Gwebu. Gwebu had been arrested and charged with contempt of court after he arrested a driver of High Court Judge Esther Ota.

4

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Gwebu spent nine days at the Sidwashini Correctional facility before he was released on E15,000 (US$1,500) bail. Makhubu was also convicted in April 2013, along with the Nation magazine publishers, Swaziland Independent Publishers, of ‘scandalising the court’ after two articles criticising the judiciary were published in 2009 and 2010. Makhubu and the publisher were fined a total of E400,000 (US$40,000) by the Swaziland High Court, of which half had to be paid within three days or Makhubu would immediately be sent to jail for two years. Both Makhubu and the publisher have appealed the conviction.

Amnesty attacks Swazi justice 19 March 2014 Swaziland violated human rights law by arresting and jailing a magazine editor and a human rights lawyer after they criticised the kingdom’s judiciary, according to Amnesty International. It added the arrests were, ‘another shocking example of the southern African kingdom’s intolerance of freedom o f expression’. Amnesty has declared both men ‘prisoners of conscience’. Bheki Makhubu, editor of Swaziland’s monthly news magazine The Nation and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko are being held at Sidwashini Remand Prison in Mbabane, after ‘highly irregular legal proceedings’. Amnesty reported, ‘They were arbitrarily arrested under defective warrants, denied access to their lawyers and remanded in custody after summary proceedings held behind closed doors.’ Mary Rayner, researcher on Swaziland at Amnesty International, said in a statement, ‘These arbitrary arrests and highly irregular legal proceedings amount to judicial retribution rather than justice being delivered, and are further evidence of Swaziland’s intolerance of freedom of expression. It violates international human rights standards and has no basis in Swaziland’s domestic law.’ She added, ‘We consider Bhekithemba Makhubu and Thulani Maseko to be prisoners of conscience, arrested and detained merely for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The Swaziland authorities must release them immediately and unconditionally.’ The two men are accused of contempt of court by writing articles published in the Nation in February and March 2014 that criticised the circumstances surrounding the case of Chief Government Vehicle Inspector, Bhantshana Gwebu. Gwebu had been arrested and charged with contempt of court after he arrested a driver of High Court Judge Esther Ota. Gwebu spent nine days at the Sidwashini Correctional facility before he was released on E15,000 (US$1,500) bail. Amnesty reported, ‘The warrant used to arrest them, issued by Swaziland’s Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi, apparently subverted the normal legal process. The police at Mbabane 5

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom police station, where the men were initially detained prior to their appearance before the Chief Justice, also appear to have been acting under instructions when they denied their lawyers access. ‘Normal criminal procedure dictates the men should have then appeared before a magistrate. Instead, they were taken to the Chief Justice’s chambers for what turned out to be summary proceedings. Their lawyers were not permitted to make any submissions and the Chief Justice went on to remand them in custody without the opportunity to apply for bail. ‘It’s clear that the Chief Justice has a prevailing conflict of interest in this case, and the Swaziland authorities have no grounds on which to hold these men, other than apparent vindictiveness by a powerful public official.’

Support for human rights defenders 20 March 2014 Support for the Swaziland magazine editor and human rights lawyer jailed on remand on contempt of court charges is pouring in from across the world. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for the immediate release of Bheki Makhubu, editor of the Swaziland independent news magazine the Nation, and lawyer Thulani Maseko. Amnesty International has declared both men ‘prisoners of conscience’. Ditshwanelo, The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, which is a member of the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN), called Makhubu and Maesko, ‘two human rights defenders’. Both men have been charged with contempt of court after articles were published in the Nation magazine accusing the judiciary in Swaziland of improper conduct in a case involving Bhantshana Gwebu, the government’s chief motor vehicle inspector, who was arrested after impounding a vehicle used by another high court judge. After a week in custody, Gwebu was released on bail. His case is pending in the high court. CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Sue Valentine said in a statement, ‘These arrests make a mockery of Swaziland's constitution, which is supposed to uphold freedom of expression.’ In a statement Ditshw anelo said, ‘SAHRDN has been monitoring developments in the Kingdom of Swaziland and is alarmed by the serious deterioration of the human rights situation. Arbitrary arrests, detention and malicious prosecution of human rights defenders, including members of the legal profession and journalists continue unabated.’ Amnesty International said, ‘We consider Bhekithemba Makhu bu and Thulani Maseko to be prisoners of conscience, arrested and detained merely for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The Swaziland authorities must release them immediately and unconditionally.’

6

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom In an interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Mary Rayner a researcher on Swaziland at Amnesty International, said the arrests of Makhubu and Maseko had ‘an intimidating effect’. She added, ‘There has been various ways in which the journalists' community and publishing community in Swaziland over a period of years has been subjected to threats and intimidation and seizure of material and using also some of the aspects of the draconian terrorism acts to silence the publication of information and opinion.’

Calls to release jailed critics grow 21 March 2014 More organisations within Swaziland and internationally have joined the chorus of support for the two ‘prisoners of conscience’ who have been jailed on remand accused of contempt of court for criticising the judiciary in magazine articles. Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu, editor of the Nation magazine, were sentenced to seven days in jail ahead of a court hearing scheduled for 25 March 2014. They are accused of contempt of court for criticising judges, including the Swazi Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi, for the way they handled a court case involving Government Chief Vehicle Inspector Bhantshana Gwebu. It was CJ Ramodibedi himself who jailed the two men, described by Amnesty International as ‘prisoners of conscience’. No hearing was heard in open court and Maseko and Makhubu were denied proper legal representation. The US Embassy in Swaziland said it had ‘deep concern’ about the arrest of the two men and added it strongly supported the democratic principles of freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The Law Society of Swaziland said Makhubu and Maseko were irregularly arrested and detained on the instruction of the chief justice. It also criticised the summary manner in which the two were dealt with subsequent to their arrest. In a statement it said, ‘It is the view of the Law Society that every citizen of Swaziland is entitled to the due process of the law which entails the right to legal representation, equality before the law, right to appear in a open court before an impartial judicial officer, a right to a fair hearing, a right to administrative justice and a right to personal liberty, including the right to bail as provided in terms of the provisions enshrined in the Constitution of Swaziland and the founding principles of natural justice.’ Members of a number of progressive organisations attended court last week to support the two men, described by Ditshwanelo, The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, as ‘two human rights defenders’. These included the Swaziland Association of Teachers (SNAT), the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO), the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), the Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO) and Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland (LHRS). 7

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Meanwhile, the international organisation Reporters Without Borders (RWB) said, ‘The arbitrary arrests of Maseko and Makhubu are the latest examples of the persecution that awaits anyone voicing the least criticism of Swaziland’s institutions.’ Lucie Morillon, head of research and advocacy at RWB, said, ‘In a country where the only voices tolerated are those of King Mswati and his government, how much leeway do journalists have to cover and comment on local news developments? None.’ Morillon added, ‘The detention orders that the chief justice himself issued, without any respect for Swaziland’s legal standards, are blatant violations of freedom of expression, motivated by a desire for personal revenge. We call on the authorities to free these two men at once.’ Freedom House also called for the immediate release of Makhubu and Maseko. It said, ‘The Kingdom of Swaziland must uphold the basic rights and freedoms of its citizens and put an end to its sustained campaign to suppress its citizens’ basic right to freedom of expression.’ It added, ‘These arrests, indictments and imprisonment constitute a direct violation of the Swaziland constitution’s section 21, which guarantees a fair trial and the section 24, the right to freedom of expression.’ The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Africa Program Coordinator Sue Valentine said in a statement, ‘These arrests make a mockery of Swaziland’s constitution, w hich is supposed to uphold freedom of expression.’ The International Commission for Jurists (ICJ) said that both men ‘appear to be detained for exercising their right of freedom of expression’. Also calling for the release of the accused are the SADC Lawyers Association, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA).

Editor appears in court in leg-irons 24 March 2014 The Swaziland magazine editor Bheki Makhubu, whose arrest and jailing has sparked an outcry across the world, appeared in court in leg irons for a bail application. Makhubu, editor of the Nation magazine, is charged with contempt of court for writing and publishing articles critical of the judiciary in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as subSaharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer, faces similar charges. Makhubu appeared in the Swazi High Court for a bail application clad in leg irons and was surrounded by armed guards. His application was postponed until 28 March 2014 and he was returned to jail. Maseko is also remanded in custody but has made no application for bail. The Swazi News, an independent newspaper in Swaziland, reported the leg irons were

8

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom removed from Makhubu immediately he entered the accused dock and were replaced after the bail hearing. Makhubu and Maseko were arrested and jailed on remand on 18 March 2014. The arrests of Makhubu and Maseko have been condemned worldwide by judges, lawyers and groups including, Freedom House, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network. Amnesty International has named both men ‘prisoners of conscience.’ King’s paper questions ability of judge 31 March 2014 A Swaziland newspaper has reported criticisms of the competence of a judge at a time when one editor and a writer are in jail awaiting contempt of court charges for criticising the kingdom’s judiciary. The Sunday Observer reported criticisms that Mpendulo Simelane, aged 39, who was appointed to the High Court bench in February 2014, was not properly qualified to be a High Court judge. The Observer is in effect owned by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The King chooses the judges in his kingdom and the article could be seen as an indirect criticism of the King’s decision. Welcome Dlamini wrote in the Observer under the headline Mpendulo Simelane: Is he fit to Judge? ‘However, his [Simelane’s] appointment has been met with a lot of misgivings by the legal fraternity which feels he is not yet ripe for the position. The Sunday Observer has it in authority that even some of the judges are not happy with Mpendulo Simelane being appointed to be part of them.’ He added, ‘An impeccable source within the judiciary said it was well known that Simelane’s appointment had not gone down well with his colleagues even though there was nothing they could do about it. ‘“Some of the judges feel he does not yet qualify to be a judge. As a judge, you have to write judgments that will stand their ground throughout the world. Judgments are important because they become a point of reference for other countries. Is Simelane fit to write such judgments? Some of the judges don’t think so,” said the source.’ ‘Further, said the source: “The judges would have preferred that the post should have been advertised because there are a lot of lawyers and magistrates who are senior and have the necessary qualifications to be appointed judges. With Simelane, he did not compete with anyone for the position. It was sort of a reward.” ‘Constitutionally, a person has to meet one of three requirements in ord er to be appointed judge of the kingdom’s High Court. That person should either have been “a legal practitioner,

9

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom barrister or advocate of not less than ten years practice in Swaziland or any part of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland”. ‘Or, that person should have served as “a judge of a superior court of unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in any part of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland for a period of not less than five years”. ‘Alternatively, that individual should have either been a legal practitioner, barrister or advocate and a judge of a superior court as stated above for a combined period of such practice and service of not less than ten years. ‘Judge Mpendulo Simelane, according to another source within the le gal fraternity, does not meet any of these requirements. ‘“Yes, he was admitted as an attorney 10 years ago but he served for only five years before he was appointed registrar of the High Court and that position cannot be classified as being a legal practitioner,” said the source.’ The publication by the Observer of direct questions about the competence of a judge comes two weeks after Bheki Makhubu, the editor of the Nation magazine and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko were arrested and charged with writing and publishing articles critical of Swaziland Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi. The two men have been remanded in custody awaiting trial. Their arrest has led to an outcry across the world with many human rights organisations calling for their immediate release. Amnesty International has named both men ‘ prisoners of conscience.’ Earlier this year, the Sunday Observer was forced to publish an abject apology after it published a criticism of the judiciary. In its apology the newspaper said. ‘[It] is not the intention of the Swazi Observer and its newspapers to disregard the independence of the judiciary, but to be seen to assisting it uphold the rule of law in the country’.

10

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

2 MEDIA FREEDOM AND MEDIA ETHICS
More media self-censorship over King 13 January 2014 Once again Swaziland’s Times Sunday has censored itself and misled its readers about international criticism of King Mswati III. It misreported a CNN report about US President Barack Obama’s criticism of Swaziland and its king, who rules the kingdom as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Obama was speaking at the tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela. The Times was reporting a commentary written by Frida Ghitis and published online by CNN, the international cable news channel. The Times, which is part of the only newspaper group in Swaziland that is not controlled by the King, reported that Ghitis said Freedom House, an international human rights organisation, described Swaziland as a ‘failed state’. But, that is not what Ghitis actually wrote. She said Freedom House called Swaziland a ‘failed feudal state’, which is something quite different. By deliberately changing the sense of the statement, the Times deflected the criticism away from the King. The newspaper also did not report that Ghitis also referred in her article to ‘dictators and their right-hand men’ who were present at the tribute to Mandela. Ghitis wrote, but the Times did not report, ‘It included the likes of Swaziland Prime Minister [Barnabas] Sibusiso Dlamini, representing the small kingdom described by Freedom House as “a failed feudal state,” where the king uses photos of beautiful girls to attract tourists, “distracting outsiders from Swazila nd's shocking realities of oppression, abject poverty, hunger and disease.” ‘Freedom House says that in the past 40 years, “two despots have used Swaziland for their personal purposes while ignoring the needs of the Swazi people and their legitimate rights to have a say over how they are governed and how the country's resources are used” -- the very antithesis of Mandela’s struggle.’ This is not the first time the Times Sunday has deliberately distorted the news to mislead its readers about criticism of King Mswati. In 2012, it distorted a story about UK Prime Minister David Cameron and freedom and democracy in the kingdom, to deflect criticism away from the King. The newspaper carried a report saying that Cameron had responded to a petition from the Swazi Vigil, a prodemocracy group in the UK.

11

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom 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. In fact, the petition sent to Cameron in May 2012 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 Swazi Vigil made it very clear that it was criticising ‘absolute monarch King Mswati III’. 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 Mswati’s invitation to join a lunch in London to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s 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 King’s 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 King’s trip was estimated to be at least US$794,500. The Times, the companion paper to 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 Swaziland’s 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 PAPER DISTORTS STORY TO PROTECT KING

12

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Top judge attacks press freedom 28 January 2014 Swaziland’s Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi has attacked the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper and forced it to apologise ‘unreservedly’ after it published criticisms of his handling of a contempt of court case. But, although the Times of Swaziland has been gagged, international observers continue to criticise Ramodibedi for his actions. One article published by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA ) called the case, ‘the end of the road for the rule of law in Swaziland’, the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The contempt of court case involves Bhantshana Gwebu, the Swazi Government’s chief vehicle inspector. Mantoe Phakathi, wrote on the OSISA website, ‘In the latest shocking display of his utter contempt for the rule of law, Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi sent Gwebu to prison for seven days for contempt of court on January 20 - having refused him the right to legal representation.’ Phakathi added, ‘On Saturday January 18th, Gwebu - in his role as chief government vehicle inspector - charged and arrested, Vusi Tsela, for driving a government vehicle without authority. Now, Tsela happens to be the official driver for High Court judge, Esther Ota, and he had taken her to one of the elite schools in Mbabane so that she could buy her children's uniforms before classes resumed on January 21st. ‘When Gwebu pounced and demanded to see the official documents that allowed Tsela to drive the car to this school on a Saturday, he discovered that Tsela did not have the right papers. He subsequently charged him and impounded the car, while Ota pleaded that she was on her way to court because she was the duty judge for the weekend and had just needed to run some personal errands before going to work. ‘Needless to say, this affront to the judiciary could not be stomached - well not by Chief Justice Ramodibedi.’ Gwebu was rapidly issued with a warrant of arrest and handed himself in to police on Monday January 20. Phakathi wrote, ‘With astonishing speed - particularly given the glacial pace of many cases in Swaziland - Gwebu appeared before Ramodibedi in his chambers at the High Court on the very same day. And was then immediately taken off to jail, pending his hearing a week later.’ Phakathi added, ‘Meanwhile, Ramodibedi himself is facing impeachment c harges in his home country, Lesotho, where he was suspended from his position as Court of Appeal president. So it sadly comes as no surprise that Ramodibedi has bypassed the law in this latest case. Despite his position as the head of the judiciary, the law seems to be something that he can take or leave - depending on who is involved. Clearly, he believes that there is a group of

13

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom powerful, influential people - not just the King and his mother - who are above the law of the land. ‘But it still doesn't entirely explain why Gwebu is languishing for doing his job. The charges against the driver could easily have been dropped. Gwebu could have been given a talking to behind closed doors. But it’s worth remembering that Gwebu once impounded Ramodibedi’s official car for allegedly abusing it. Perhaps this is partly pay-back time for that.’ Journalist Ackel Zwane wrote in the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, ‘In his bravery Bhantshana went ahead to even seize Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi’s vehicle while he was on an outside trip. Surely this did not please the giant legal eagle and this time around the warrant of arrest was issued by the grand CJ.’ When the Times of Swaziland ran a version of the story on its website, it attracted a number of critical comments from readers. Ramodibedi then demanded his apology from the newspaper, which is the only daily newspaper in the kingdom free of direct monarchical control. In a front-page apology, that was not published online, the Times called the readers’ comments ‘contemptuous’. The newspaper said we, ‘unreservedly apologise to the Honourable Chief Justice, as well as Her Ladyship Judge Ota and to the entire Judiciary.’ Journalists who criticise the judiciary are not tolerated by the judges in Swaziland. In April 2013 Bheki Makhubu the editor of the monthly magazine the Nation was convicted of criminal contempt of court after publishing two articles criticising the judiciary. He was fined E200,000 (US$22,000) by the High Court and told if he did not pay within three days he would immediately go to jail for two years. His sentence is on hold pending an appeal to the Swaziland Supreme Court. Commenting on the Gwebu case, the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Swaziland chapter, said, ‘It is unclear if it was a specific comment that sparked the apology and retraction, or whether it was several of the comments. It is also unclear whether political pressure was put on the Times of Swaziland to issue the apology.’

See also OSISA: JUDGES ATTACK PRESS FREEDOM

Cops halt ANC leader media briefing 12 February 2014 Police in Swaziland broke up a press conference on Wednesday (12 February 2014) held by the Secretary-General of the African National Congress (ANC), Gwede Mantashe. Journalists were reportedly ‘frog-marched’ out of the venue at Lugogo Sun, Ezulwini, by police.

14

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said the meeting was to brief the media about a delegation led by Mantashe the day before that met with political parties in the kingdom. In a statement, the SSN said, ‘Under the auspices of the Socialist International, the ANC delegation had robust and candid discussions with the Ngwane Liberation Congress, the Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) and Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).’ All political parties are banned from taking parts in elections in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. PUDEMO is also banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, as is SSN. Reports on social media from people at the press conference said the Swazi police banned the press conference for ‘security reasons’. International media, including the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), were among the media excluded.

King keeps tight grip on media 12 February 2014 King Mswati III continues to keep a tight grip on news media and opposition voices in Swaziland, a report on journalism freedom in the kingdom just published reveals. The King, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, ‘owned one of the two daily newspapers and employed the editor of the other as an adviser. Radio and television were also controlled by the state,’ the report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) stated. ‘Though Swazis readily accessed South African radio and television, South African newspapers entering Swaziland were carefully screened by authorities: If deemed critical of the king or government, all copies were purchased and destroyed,’ CPJ said. ‘Self-censorship prevailed in the kingdom, where political parties are banned and critical voices within civil society and the media were silenced through legal or professional repercussions. ‘Few dared challenge the government; the boards of state-owned companies such as the Swazi Observer Newspaper group kept their editors in check and, in turn, editors ensured that their reporters toed the line.’ The CPJ reported two editors, Alec Lushaba and Thulani Thwala, were reinstated in March 2013 after being suspended by their employer, the Swazi Observer, the newspaper owned by the King. ‘The editors were accused of “negative coverage” and failure to follow the company’s mandate, which includes “upholding the social and cultural values of the Swazi nation.” The king is seen as the embodiment of these values, CPJ reported. Lushaba and Thwala had published critical stories about the king, including a June 2011 article about Swaziland's alleged attempts to secure a loan from South Africa, which was 15

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom believed to cause embarrassment to the king, according to the managing director of Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, the royal entity that owns the Swazi Observer Newspaper group. See also TOP JUDGE ATTACKS PRESS FREEDOM OSISA: JUDGES ATTACK PRESS FREEDOM CHIEF JUSTICE THREATENS MEDIA ‘ONLY 1 IN 4 FREE TO SPEAK OPENLY’

Paper banned to spare king’s blushes 25 March 2014 A South African Sunday newspaper was banned from Swaziland because it published an article that might embarrass King Mswati III. Swazi Police confiscated from newspaper distributors all copies of the Sunday Sun tabloid within Swaziland when it was realised it carried a report about the 18-year-old beauty contest contestant who the King had chosen to be his 14th wife. The ban on the paper that is usually widely available in the kingdom happened on 22 September 2013, but was not widely reported at the time. It has come to light in a report on human rights in Swaziland recently published by the US State Department. The State Department report did not reveal that the article in question gave details of the private life of Sindiswa Dlamini. The Sunday Sun report said the woman it nicknamed ‘Naughty Sindi’ previously had affairs with two of King Mswati’s sons, Prince Majaha and Prince Bandzile, who are both in their early twenties. One unnamed source told the newspaper, ‘Sindi has dated both these boys. She’s a party girl used to having fun.’ Another informant told Sunday Sun, ‘Sindi is no virgin. She drinks and smokes a lot and has tattoos on parts of her body I cannot mention.’ One source told the newspaper, ‘She is only doing it [marrying the king] because she comes from a poor background.’ The media in Swaziland never report about the king without his permission. King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. This was not the first time the media in Swaziland have refused to keep its readers informed about the Swazi Royal Family. In August 2010, the world’s media were excited by the case of Swaziland Justice Minister Ndumiso Mamba and King Mswati’s 12th wife, 22 -year-old Inkhosikati Nothando LaDube. This was after pictures appeared of Mamba hiding in a bed before his arrest at Royal Villas, a hotel at Ezulwini just outside Mbabane, where he was said to have had regular adulterous meetings with LaDube. The City Press in South Africa reported at the time that when police pounced, ‘in a desperate effort not to be found out Mamba cut into the base of the bed and slid in – but police ordered him out and Mamba, 16

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom dressed in a brown suit, was soon taken into custody’. He was later forced to resign from the government and the Senate. At the time the City Press was also restricted from selling in Swaziland. It was reported at the time in African media that Swaziland security forces were instructed to buy all copies of the newspaper that were on sale in the kingdom. The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported at the time that a man was arrested in Manzini as he tried to get a photocopy of a report in City Press, but did not tell its readers what the report contained. The newspaper did report that a plain clothed police officer had apparently overheard him requesting that a story contained in the City Press be photocopied. The man was alleged to be a member of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), the youth wing of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO). Both organisations are banned in Swaziland and both have been branded ‘terrorist entities’ by the state. He was taken to a police station and interrogated by officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). His house was also raided so police could get the original City Press newspaper. ‘Swazi Observer’ names ‘rape victims’ 19 February 2014 The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, committed one of the biggest sins against journalism ethics by publishing the names of eight alleged victims of rape without their consent. The Observer published the names as part of a report on the start of a trial of an alleged serial rapist. In its report the Observer listed the women’s names and details of their attacks in what it called ‘a sneak preview’ of the case. It gave their names and details of how each attack took place. The newspaper named one woman and revealed she was a virgin. In all of the attacks violence including a knife was used. In all cases the alleged rapist did not use a condom. By publishing the names of the women, the Observer broke Article 15 of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) code of ethics on Survivors of Sexual Assault which states, ‘Journalists shall avoid identifying survivors of sexual assault or any information that may lead to the identification of the survivor.’ Journalists across the world generally agree that it violates the rights of rape victims to publish their names without their consent. The Observer has been under attack for its lack of journalism standards in the recent past. In a review of press freedom in Swaziland, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) called the Observer, a ‘pure propaganda machine for the royal family’.

17

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom The Observer regularly breaks Article 1 of the SNAJ code Article 1which deals with people’s right to information. The article says, ‘The duty of every journalist is to write and report, adhere to and faithfully defend the truth. A journalist should make adequate inquiries, do cross-checking of facts in order to provide the public with unbiased, accurate, balanced and comprehensive information.’ The newspaper is on public record to say that its ‘collective stand as a newspaper is that the integrity of Swaziland as a democratic State and His Majesty King Mswati III as the legitimate leader of the Swazi nation, must never be compromised in any way.’ ‘Observer’ shrugs off its rape outrage 21 February 2014 The Swazi Observer, the newspaper that published the names of eight victims of alleged rape and gave details of their attacks, has called the outrage a ‘boo -boo’. On Tuesday (18 February 2014) it published across its front page and two inside pages details of a court case involving an alleged serial killer. It published the names of the women, something that contravenes journalism ethics across the world. It called its report ‘a sneak preview’ of the court case. The newspaper gave their names and details of how each attack took place. It named one woman and revealed she was a virgin. In all of the attacks violence including a knife was used. In all cases the alleged rapist did not use a condom. On Friday (21 February 2014), in a tiny piece, the Observer said it had made a ‘snafu’ by publishing the names. It made an unreserved apology, but tried to pass off the outrage against the women as an understandable error and said it was ‘caught with our guard off’. But that is not true. This was not some minor mistake like spelling someone’s name wrong. This was evidence that at the Swazi Observer they don’t know what they’re doing. The report would have been seen by the original reporter who wrote it, a sub editor (copy editor) whose job it is to check for mistakes, possibly a headline writer, a news editor, and the editor. Not one of these ‘journalists’ spotted the mistake. Not to publish the names of victims of rape is one of the first things a student journalist learns in school. But not one of the Observer journalists who saw the story on its way from the reporter’s computer keyboard to the published page realised anything was wrong. In its apology the Observer wrote, ‘We believe this expression of regret or apology appropriately matches the scale of the error.’ No it does not. What disgusting indifference the Observer has shown to the women it has terrorised. 18

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The Observer went on. ‘Indeed, the only decent thing we could do after mixing up the rules is to draw our own sword and hang ourselves’. But that has not happened. No one has resigned. Instead, they have asked their readers for forgiveness. But, why should they give them that? They have the right to expect at least the minimum level of competence from the newspaper. But, they have not got that. The editor should resign and if he does not, King Mswati III who in effect owns the paper should sack him. Then the newspaper should contact the women involved and ask how many millions of dollars they must pay them in compensation? Pressure on ‘Observer’ over ‘rape’ 28 February 2014 The Swazi Observer has not said if it will pay the eight alleged rape victims it identified financial compensation. Meanwhile, an international media ethics watchdog, iMediaEthics, has joined the growing outcry against the newspaper that later apologised to the women but shrugged the incident off as a ‘boo-boo’. iMediaEthics has written to the Observer demanding an explanation or its huge lapse in media ethics. It also wants the newspaper to respond to a call from Swazi Media Commentary for the editor to resign. The intervention comes after the Observer published the names of the victims as part of its coverage of the start of a trial of an alleged serial rapist. The newspaper named the women and gave details of how each of them was allegedly attacked. After an outcry by readers the Observer published an apology to the women but said it had made a ‘boo-boo’ and a ‘snafu’ by naming the women. It did not say whether it would pay the women compensation for publishing their names. The newspaper has not announced that it will discipline the editor or other staff member for the error. Unlike in Swaziland, in many countries it is a serious offence to name alleged rape victims. For example, in England an editor would be taken before a judge on a contempt of court charge. The women named by the newspaper are all too poor to be able to afford to take the Observer to court. However, if they had been able to, the compensation that the paper, in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, might be required to pay out could be enough to bankrupt it. iMediaEthics, under the headline Seriously? 8 Rape Victims IDed, Error called a 'BooBoo', said it had written to the Swazi Observer to ask if any of the victims complained or threatened legal action. 19

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

3 POLICE SHOOTINGS AND ABUSE

Swazi Police shoot-to-kill on bus 11 February 2014 A plain-clothed policeman shot an unarmed man in the back killing him while on a public bus in the latest of a catalogue of police killings in Swaziland. The man had allegedly stolen some copper wire before boarding the bus, travelling from Siteki, in eastern Swaziland to Manzini. The Times Sunday newspaper reported the driver of the bus Majahonke Zikalala saying, ‘the man was attempting to force his way out of the bus, the police officer shot him in the back, near the spine… the man fell on the floor after which he was handcuffed while he bled’. He died of his injures at the scene. The killing is the latest in a long line of shootings by police in Swaziland who are thought to be following a shoot-to-kill policy. In March 2013, Swaziland police shot a man dead in front of his 11-year-old child as he held his hands up in an attempt to surrender to them. Thokozani Mngometulu, aged 31, was killed as he got out of his car at his homestead in Dlakadla, in the Shiselweni region of Swaziland. Thokozan i’s family, who also witnessed the killing, say he was shot in the pelvis at close range by a police officer. In June 2012, a serial rapist suspect Bhekinkhosi Masina, popularly known as Scarface, was shot by police as they cornered him for arrest. Police say they only shot him in the thigh and he unexpectedly died of his injuries. The Times of Swaziland newspaper later revealed he had been shot six times, including in the head and back. In a separate incident, a mentally ill man, Mduduzi Mngometulu, aged 34, was shot seven times by police and died of his injuries. He had four holes in his stomach, one in the leg and two bullet wounds on the left side of his chest. These are not isolated incidents in Swaziland where police have a growing record of killing or maiming suspects before arrest. The cases have largely gone unreported outside of the kingdom itself. In one example, police executed a suspect, Thabani Mafutha Dlamini, at Nkwalini in Hlatikulu in the presence of his colleagues and home boys in what local media called ‘cowboy style’. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported the incident in December 2011 saying, ‘Police had previously warned the mother of the dead man to “budget for funeral expenses” as they intended to remove him. He was said to be on a police “wanted list”’. Dlamini was unarmed. In a separate case in February 2011, a Swazi policeman shot Mbongeni Masuku, described in 20

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom media as a Form IV pupil, in the head in what was later described as ‘an execution-style killing’. The killing happened outside a bar in Matsapha, an industrial town in Swaziland. Masuku’s uncle Sigayoyo Maphanga said Mbongeni had been dragged out of his car by police. He told the Swazi Observer, a policeman whom he named, ‘shot my nephew at the back of the left ear and he fell on the ground with blood oozing from his mouth and ears. We were all shocked and angered by such brutality from police officers.’ In a separate case in May 2011, Mathende Matfonsi was shot dead by police while he was attending a field of dagga, inside the remote forests of Lomahasha near the border with Mozambique. His family accused the police of ‘cold-blooded murder’. Matfonsi was shot dead at Ebhandeni, the same area where Nkosinathi Khathwane had previously been shot dead by soldiers at night. The police told residents that Matfonsi fired at them and they shot back. The family said he was unarmed. In March 2010, police shot a man as he was trying to surrender to them. This time the victim, Mncedisi Mamba, did not die. His mother, Thoko Gamedze, said Mamba had his hands up and was surrendering to police, but they shot him anyway. It is not only crime suspects who get shot at. In June 2013, police fired live bullets and teargas as children protested against alleged corruption at Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini Police were called after school pupils boycotted classes. Local media reported police were armed with rifles and pistols. Gun shots were fired at the pupils after police drove them away from the school, but they tried to return. Legitimate protestors are also targets. In February 2012, a woman at a protest march in Siteki, called by vendors and transport operators over plans by the town hall to move the local bus rank, was shot in the hand as she walked away from police. Reports said she was only 2 metres away from police when they fired. Police in Swaziland also shoot innocent bystanders. In May 2012, a student was shot in the leg by police as they tried to break up a protest at the Limkokwing private university in Mbabane. The 23-year-old was not part of the protest and was caught in crossfire, according to human rights activists in the kingdom.

Swazi Police investigate own killings 17 February 2014 Swaziland’s Police Commissioner has promised an investigation into police shootings after six people were killed in separate incidents in the past three months.

21

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Police Commissioner Isaac Magagula told local media the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions would be the investigators. The announcement came after an unarmed man was shot dead in cold blood on a public bus by a plain clothed police officer. Police later said the man had stolen copper wire before boarding the bus. The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported Magagula said the investigation would ascertain whether police had broken any law. The newspaper reported, ‘Since December [2013], police have shot and killed six suspects in different incidents in the country. The latest case is that of a passenger who was shot dead by a plain clothes police officer in a bus which was from Siteki. ‘On December 12, police shot and killed two suspects in the Built It heist which occurred last year. In January, the police shot and killed one suspect in a dramatic car chase with theft suspects at Ngogola. Also in the same month, two suspects, who were wanted for a string of robberies, were shot and killed by the police.’ Observers of Swaziland have for a number of years identified a shoot-to-kill policy by police and armed forces in the kingdom. In the past the Swazi Police have claimed they have investigated killings, but no officer has ever been prosecuted. No independent inquiry has ever been held into police killings. In 2010, following a spate of police shootings, the commission chair Rev. David Matse of the Swaziland Human Rights and Public Administration Commission pleaded with the police and army to ‘consider the law before shooting at suspects’. He said even if a person is escaping from lawful custody, other means of arresting that person can be attempted before the suspect’s life is considered expendable. ‘When it has been necessar y to take life, let there be proof that all other remedies were exhausted and that there was no other alternative,’ he said.

Another police attack on children 5 March 2014 Swaziland Police have once again assaulted children who complained about conditions at their school. This time they were armed with batons when they attacked pupils and detained about 100 of them in classrooms in Mbabane. It happened after the students boycotted classes after they were denied the opportunity to take part in sporting activities by their school. Local media reported about 100 Mbabane Central High School pupils were detained by police for hours for allegedly leading their colleagues into wildcat class boycott. 22

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

‘Some of the pupils were beaten by the police officers who did not even want to hear what the pupils were complaining about’, the Swazi Observer reported. The students ‘ran around the school whilst police chased after them dragging them back to class’. The Times of Swaziland reported, ‘Police chased the pupils and assaulted them as they ordered them to go to class. The action forced the pupils to run helter-skelter, with most of them jumping through windows as they evaded the advancing police officers.’ The school said they suspended sporting activities because too many students were failing exams and needed to focus more on their studies. Police in Swaziland often overreact when dealing with school students. In June 2013 police fired live bullets children boycotted classes in protest against alleged corruption at Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini. Gun shots were fired at the pupils after police drove them away from the school, but they tried to return. In 2011, Police reportedly assaulted pupils of Mbukwane High School after the children took part in a demonstration. The Observer reported police went to the homes of the pupils, took them to the police station where they were interrogated ‘before being beaten up’. One parent told the newspaper, ‘The police were moving from home to home in search of those children they thought were ringleaders. My son was among those who were taken to the police station. I had to take my child to hospital after the beating.’ In the same year, 12 schoolchildren at Kubongeni High School, accused of being leaders in a class boycott, were beaten up by police officers with batons, in their own school, in front of the school’s principal. The pupils were called individually into the school’s staffroom where the police officers and their principal were. Pupils said they were then assaulted with batons and fists. Local media reported the school became suspicious that the pupils were about to organise another boycott, so the police were called. See also SWAZI POLICE SHOOT-TO-KILL POLICE SHOOT TWO STUDENTS IN HEAD POLICE SHOOT INNOCENT BYSTANDER SWAZI GUN COPS ENDANGER CHILDREN POLICE SHOOT AND KILL MENTALLY ILL MAN POLICE ‘SHOT ACCUSED RAPIST IN HEAD’ POLICE KILL SUSPECT ‘IN COLD BLOOD’ POLICE SHOOT AS CHILDREN PROTEST SWAZI POLICE ASSAULT SCHOOL KIDS PUPIL LEADERS BEATEN BY POLICE SWAZI COPS FIRE LIVE BULLETS AT KIDS

23

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

4 GAME RANGERS SHOOT-TO-KILL
King lets game rangers shoot-to-kill 20 January 2014 King Mswati III of Swaziland has given game rangers permission to shoot-to-kill people suspected of poaching wildlife on the monarch’s land and protects them from prosecution for murder in some circumstances. Ted Reilly, the chief executive of Big Game Parks (BGP), which runs the major national parks in Swaziland on behalf of the King, holds a Royal Warrant to allow him to shoot-tokill. He has had this for at least ten years. In 2004 Reilly appeared in a documentary produced by Journeyman Pictures in which he spoke of his relationship to the King and showed his warrant on camera. The documentary commentator said, ‘He [the King] gave Ted a Royal Warrant t hat allowed him to arrest and if necessary shoot-to-kill the poachers.’ The commentator added, ‘The Royal Warrant, still in force today, protects rangers from prosecution for murder as long as the poacher draws his weapon first.’ Reilly said, ‘It is the biggest honour that you could possibly imagine.’ Reilly showed the documentary makers a specially-made fort with gun turrets, where rangers can hide to shoot at poachers. He also showed surveillance towers. ‘From here, we go out, we launch attacks,’ he said. On camera, Reilly said the automatic weapons his rangers used against poachers, ‘are much smaller than the AK-47, but are equally as devastating. You don’t survive one of those shots if it hits you properly.’ Reilly told the documentary, ‘Our guys aren’t to be messed with. If they [poachers] come after rhino they’re going to get hurt, and if he gets killed or maimed, well, you know, who’s to blame for that?’ In a post on its own website as recently as 30 October 2013, BGP said, ‘a zero tolerance towards poaching must be exercised’. This news comes as an impoverished unarmed local man, Thembinkosi Ngcamphalala, aged 21, died of gunshot wounds last Sunday (12 January 2014). He had been shot by a ranger outside of the Mkhaya Nature Reserve. His family, who live at Sigcaweni just outside the reserve’s borders, said he had not been poaching. BGP owns and manages Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and Mkhaya Nature Reserve. It also manages Hlane National Park, the kingdom’s largest protected area, held in trust for the Nation by the King, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolut e monarch. 24

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Swaziland has a long history of killings by rangers of local people. Campaigners say poor people are not poaching large game, such as the endangered black rhinos, but go hunting animals, such as warthogs, as food to feed themselves and their families. Hunger and malnutrition are widespread in Swaziland where seven in ten of King Mswati’s subjects live in abject poverty. Many are forced to become hunters and gatherers to avoid starvation. International attention has focussed on the many human rights violations committed against local people who live close to the King’s game reserves. A report on human rights in Swaziland published by the US State Department said that on July 10 2010, in Mlawula ‘rangers shot and killed Lucky Matsenjwa, who was suspected of poaching. Matsenjwa reportedly was unarmed’. It also reported, ‘On April 10 [2010], police stopped approximately 50 persons from traveling to the kaShoba constituency to discuss the problem of violence by game park rangers against alleged poachers.’ In 2008, a young Swazi man, Musa Gamedze, was hunted down and executed in broad daylight at his home, in full view of his children. The campaign group Friends of the Earth reported at the time that eyewitnesses said the man who fired the fatal shot was a manager at a local private game reserve. The manager was accompanied by three police officers. Musa Gamedze was part of a community that was forcibly evicted, without compensation, by BGP from land they had lived on for more than four decades. Friends of the Earth is also campaigning against the Game Act 1991 which allows game rangers, ‘to arrest without a warrant any person suspected upon reasonable grounds’ to have been poaching on a reserve. The rangers can make arrests up to one mile from the boundary of the game reserve. Ted Reilly, the chief executive of BGP, was described by Inter Press Services as, ‘One of the architects of the Game Act’. In its 2012 report on human rights in Swaziland, Amnesty International said a Swazi parliamentary committee had investigated alleged brutality by game rangers against suspected poachers. Its conclusions and recommendations to parliament listed nine incidents of deaths and injuries against game rangers and 33 against suspected poachers. ‘Some suspected poachers injured by game rangers were then prosecuted under the Game Act (as amended). No game rangers were prosecuted for fatal or non-fatal shootings. The committee recommended urgent reform of clauses in the Game Act (as amended), which could be interpreted to “condone brutality towards suspect poachers”,’ Amnesty reported. There are numerous incidents involving rangers shooting local people. One reported by international media in 2011concerned a 16-year-old boy who was shot in the back by a ranger. The teenager, who as a minor cannot be named, told the AFP news agency he and two friends were walking outside the perimeter of the southern Mkhaya Reserve when rangers gave chase. He said they shot him in the back. ‘I am angry. If only they could have warned us first maybe I would have understood,’ he told AFP. 25

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

BGP spokesman Mike Richardson told AFP the shooting occurred after dark inside the park. Rangers could not be certain if the boys were armed. AFP reported at the time, BGP has a close relationship to Swazi Royalty that goes back to the 1960s. ‘The parks provide the royal clan with a steady supply of animal pelts for the many traditional ceremonies that mark the Swazi calendar. ‘King Mswati III has entrusted the company to enforce Swaziland’s anti-poaching law to protect “royal game”,’ AFP reported. In April 2010, Swazi lawyer Thuli Makama won a prestigious environmental award, the Goldman Environmental Prize, for her work exposing the extra-judicial killings of suspected poachers by game rangers. Makama, head of the Swazi environmental group Yonge Nawe, told the BBC at the time the problem of rangers ‘overstepping’ their powers occurred mostly in private game reserves. ‘We are seeing incidents where people are being pursued to their homes,’ she said. ‘Where people are taken from their houses and all sorts of things are done to them.’ Makama said while researching a documentary about local communities, she discovered at least 20 cases of suspected poachers who had been killed or maimed. Makama said suspected poachers should be arrested and ‘taken through the due process of law. There are many illegal acts that should not mean you are tried, sentenced and executed at the scene.’

Police chief backs shooting poachers 3 February 2014 Swaziland’s Police Commissioner Isaac Magagula says rangers are allowed shoot people who are hunting for food to feed their hungry families. This comes at a time of great concern about the apparent ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy that game rangers have adopted. A number of Swazi people have been killed when following their traditions of hunting small animals. King Mswati III of Swaziland has given game rangers permission to shoot-to-kill people suspected of poaching wildlife on his land and protects them from prosecution for murder in some circumstances. Ted Reilly, the chief executive of Big Game Parks (BGP), which runs the major national parks in Swaziland on behalf of the King, holds a Royal Warrant to allow him to shoot-tokill. Now, Commissioner Magagula has publicly stated, ‘Animals are now protected by law and hunting is no longer a free-for-all, where anybody can just wake up to hunt game whenever they crave meat.’

26

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom He told a meeting of traditional leaders in Swaziland, ‘Of course, it becomes very sad whenever one wakes up to reports that rangers have shot someone. These people are protected by law and it allows them to shoot, hence it would be very wise of one to shun away from trouble.’ This news comes as an impoverished unarmed local man, Thembinkosi Ngcamphalala, aged 21, died of gunshot wounds last month (January 2014). He had been shot by a ranger outside of the Mkhaya Nature Reserve. His family, who live at Sigcaweni just outside the reserve’s borders, said he had not been poaching. BGP owns and manages Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and Mkhaya Nature Reserve. It also manages Hlane National Park, the kingdom’s largest protected area, held in trust for the Nation by the King, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Swaziland has a long history of killings by rangers of local people. Campaigners say poor people are not poaching large game, such as the endangered black rhinos, but go hunting animals, such as warthogs, as food to feed themselves and their families. Hunger and malnutrition are widespread in Swaziland where seven in ten of King Mswati’s subjects live in abject poverty. Many are forced to become hunters and gatherers to avoid starvation.

See also SWAZI COPS LET MAN BE EXECUTED RANGERS ‘CAN SHOOT TO KILL’ TRUE FACE OF INJUSTICE IN SWAZILAND

27

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

5 KING MSWATI III (SIKHUPHE) AIRPORT
Flights of fancy at King’s airport 8 January 2014 Solomon Dube, Director of the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA), took a flight of fancy this week when he claimed that The Royal Swazi National Airways Corporation (RSNAC) will fly to 10 countries from Sikhuphe Airport, which has yet to be opened. Dube told local media that RSNAC, which at present has no aircraft and no routes, would fly to nine destinations in Africa and one in Asia. The Times Sunday newspaper said the airline ‘will fly to destinations such as the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Rwanda, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Botswana among others’. The newspaper quoted Dube saying the Swazi Government had signed ‘Bilateral Air Service Agreements’ with the destination countries. The Times reported, ‘Dube said the signing o f the accord meant that the Swaziland airline, which also used to be called Lijubantsendzele, will fly to these countries and also the destination countries airlines would also fly into Swaziland.’ But, either Dube is not telling the full truth or the Times has made a blunder. This is because ‘Bilateral Air Service Agreements’ are accords that allow aircraft of one nation to fly over airspace of another: they do not mean that airlines automatically have rights to land at airports and run commercial routes into the country. Sikhuphe is the airport that for the past 10 years has been under construction in a Swazi wilderness, about 80 km from the kingdom’s capital, Mbabane. Despite claims over the past years that international airlines are keen to fly into Sikhuphe, no agreements have been signed. No independent study on the need for Sikhuphe Airport was ever undertaken and the main impetus behind its construction has been King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as subSaharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. He believes the airport will lend credibility to his dream to make Swaziland a ‘First World’ nation by 2022. This is not the first time SWACAA has claimed a false success for Sikhuphe. The date for the airport’s opening in 2010 was missed and has been put back a number of times since. In November 2013, SWACAA said the airport was now completed and operational, but no flights have been in or out since. Also in November 2013, SWACAA confirmed that the Swazi Government was ready to recreate the RSNAC and would set about purchasing a 100-seater jet, at a cost estimated by the Times of Swaziland of E700 million (US$70 million). This compares to the E125 million

28

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom budgeted for free primary school education in Swaziland this year. It is not clear where the money to buy the aircraft would come from. If Dube is correct and RSNAC is set to fly to 10 destinations, the airline would probably need a minimum of 10 aircraft to service the routes. For that to happen, assuming that the estimated cost of the aircraft is accurate, Swaziland would have to spend about E7 billion on aircraft. Such a sum of money would bankrupt the kingdom. To put the cost in context earlier this week the Central Bank of Swaziland announced that the kingdom’s Gross Official Reserves were E8.24 billion at the month ended November 2013. Media reports in Swaziland suggest the cost of Sikhuphe has been about E3 billion so far from an initial budget of E500 million. As long ago as 2003, the International Monetary Fund said Sikhuphe should not be built because it would divert funds away from much needed projects to fight poverty in Swaziland. About seven in ten of King Mswati’s 1.3 million s ubjects live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day. There is no obvious need for the new airport. Major airports already exist less than an hour’s 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. Swaziland’s present airport at Matsapha only carries about 70,000 passengers a ye ar. Swazi King’s airport has no taxiway 21 January 2014 It is increasingly difficult to believe a word the Swaziland Government says about the kingdom’s Sikhuphe International Airport. The airport is being built in a wilderness about 80 km from the Swazi capital, Mbabane. In November 2013, it was announced that it was completed and ready to open as soon as King Mswati III gave the word. Now, the Times Sunday newspaper in Swaziland has reported, ‘Just when it was declared ready for use, it was discovered that there was no taxiway.’ It added, ‘Contractors are now busy constructing the taxiway.’ However, it has been known for at nearly three years that the airport had no taxiway. In February 2011, Swazi Media Commentary revealed this and reported that without a taxiway the airport would not be able to handle large numbers of planes taking off and landing, thereby severely limiting the number of passengers and amount of cargo the airport could handle if it ever opened. To handle large numbers of passengers, the airport needs to be able to get planes to fly off quickly and land quickly. Once one plane is safely on the ground after landing it drives out of

29

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom the way on the taxiway to allow another plane to land or take off on the runway it has just vacated. But, with no taxiway, once a plane has landed it will have to back up along the runway to take passengers to the terminal, thereby blocking the runway for any other plane wanting to land or take off. The Times in its report quoted Prince Hlangusemphi, Minister of Economic Planning and Development saying the taxiway was not on the original plan for the airport. He said the taxiway would be completed ‘very soon’. Then, he said, the airport could be officially opened by King Mswati. When that date will be has not been announced. Sikhuphe has been under construction for at least 10 years. The date for the airport’s opening in 2010 was missed and has been put back a number of times since. In November 2013, the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) said the airport was now completed and operational, but no flights have been in or out since. The Sikhuphe project has been the subject of much misinformation from the King, the government he hand picks, and civil aviation officials in Swaziland. They regularly announce new deadlines for completion and opening of the airport, but these dates come and go and Sikhuphe remains unfinished. No explanations for the missed deadlines are usually given. When they are they often relate to claims that ‘bad weather’ hampered construction work. No independent study on the need for Sikhuphe Airport was ever undertaken and the main impetus behind its construction has been King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. He believes the airport will lend credibility to his dream to make Swaziland a ‘First World’ nation by 2022. Despite claims over the past years that international airlines are keen to fly into Sikhuphe, no agreements have been signed. In November 2013, SWACAA confirmed that the Swazi Government was ready to recreate the defunct Royal Swazi National Airways Corporation (RSNAC0 and would set about purchasing a 100-seater jet, at a cost estimated by the Times of Swaziland of E700 million (US$70 million). This compares to the E125 million budgeted for free primary school education in Swaziland this year. It is not clear where the money to buy the aircraft would come from. SWACAA said RSNAC would fly to 10 destinations in Africa and Asia. Observers estimated RSNAC would probably need a minimum of 10 aircraft to service the routes. For that to happen, Swaziland would have to spend about E7 billion on aircraft. Such a sum of money would bankrupt the kingdom. To put the cost in context the Central Bank of Swaziland has estimated the kingdom’s gross official reserves were E8.24 billion at the month ended November 2013.

30

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Media reports in Swaziland suggest the cost of Sikhuphe has been about E3 billion so far from an initial budget of E500 million. As long ago as 2003, the International Monetary Fund said Sikhuphe should not be built because it would divert funds away from much needed projects to fight poverty in Swaziland. About seven in ten of King Mswati’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day. Critics of Sikhuphe have argued for years that there is no potential for the airport. Major airports already exist less than an hour’s 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. Swaziland’s present airport at Matsapha, situated near a main road between Swaziland’s capital city Mbabane and the kingdom’s commercial centre, Manzini, only carries about 70,000 passengers a year. As recently as October 2013 a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Sikhuphe International Airport was widely p erceived as a ‘vanity project’ because of its scale and opulence compared with the size and nature of the market it seeks to serve. In June 2013 an engineer’s report was published by to the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa saying the structure of the airport was defected and large jet airlines would not be able to land,

Airport terminal can't handle traffic 23 January 2014 It could take a passenger landing on an aircraft at Swaziland’s new Sikhuphe International Airport nearly two hours to get through the terminal, official figures from the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA ) suggest. A SWACCA advertisement appearing in the Time s of Swaziland on Tuesday (22 January 2014) said that Sikhuphe would be able to accommodate ‘fully laden Jumbo Jets and other large aircraft’. Among the aircraft listed were the Boeing 747, the Boeing 777 and the Airbus 340. The same advert said, ‘The 7,000 sq m passenger terminal can handle and process about 300 passengers per hour.’ What it did not say was that aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and 777 could have at least 400 and more than 550 passengers when fully loaded. This means it could take at least two hours to load and offload passengers on a single flight. If two aircraft landed in a single hour it would be nearly impossible to deal with the passenger numbers. The figures add further weight to criticism that Sikhuphe International Airport, which is costing an estimated E3 billion (US$300 million) to build in a wilderness about 80km from the Swazi capital, Mbabane, is not viable. 31

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

No international airline has announced it has agreed to use Sikhuphe, however, the advertisement said, ‘Two airlines have confirmed operations at Sikhuphe.’ It did not name them, but did say there would be flights to Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town in South Africa and to Maputo in Mozambique. Sikhuphe has been under construction for at least 10 years. The date for the airport’s opening in 2010 was missed and has been put back a number of times since. In November 2013, SWACAA said the airport was now completed and operational, but no flights have been in or out since. This month, Prince Hlangusemphi, Minister of Economic Planning and Development admitted that no taxiway had been built to allow aircraft to move around the airport after landing. He said the taxiway would be completed ‘very soon’. Then, he said, the airport could be officially opened by King Mswati III. As recently as October 2013 a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Sikhuphe International Airport was widely perceived as a ‘vanity project’ because of its scale and opulence compared with the size and nature of the market it seeks to serve. In June 2013 an engineer’s report was published by to the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa saying the structure of the airport was defected and large jet airlines would not be able to land, No independent study on the need for Sikhuphe Airport was ever undertaken and the main impetus behind its construction has been King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. He believes the airport w ill lend credibility to his dream to make Swaziland a ‘First World’ nation by 2022. In 2003, the International Monetary Fund said Sikhuphe should not be built because it would divert funds away from much needed projects to fight poverty in Swaziland. About seven in ten of King Mswati’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day. Swaziland already has an airport at Matsapha, which carries an estimated 70,000 passengers a year. Press attack on airport ‘corruption’ 3 February 2014 One of Swaziland’s few independent newspapers launched a scathing attack on a senior government civil servant after he refused to answer questions about the controversial Sikhuphe airport. The airport, which was due to open in June 2010, but is still not completed, is at the centre of corruption allegations relating to contracts and tenders. 32

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The Times Sunday reported that it had attempted to get Bertram Stewart. Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, to answer questions relating to concerns about tenders awarded worth about E12 million (US$1.2 million), but he refused to answer questions. The newspaper reported (2 February 2014), ‘There was also the issue of five fire trucks valued at about E15 million. These were bought in South Africa in 2009, in anticipation of Sikhuphe being in operation by 2010 when South Africa hosted the World Cup. The heavy duty vehicles remained unused for a long time, resulting in two of them developing mechanical faults. ‘We questioned all these things and more. Now we are looking into the issue of maintaining the airport.’ The newspaper published a report without Stewart’s comments, saying he hung up the phone on its reporter. It later reported, ‘He never wants to be bothered by journalists. He has said quite a few times that he is not accountable to us. We do not understand how that happens because we are not only journalists but citizens of this country. We are taxpayers. If he is not accountable to us, who is he accountable to?’ The Times Sunday added, ‘Last Sunday, we continued with our exposes of the wrongs going on at Sikhuphe International Airport. This First World facility is one of the Millennium Projects that have cost over E3 billion in the last decade or so. The budgeted amount was initially E500 million but, for various reasons, it hit the E3billion mark. ‘We questioned all these things and more. Now we are looking into the issue of maintaining the airport.’ The Times Sunday editor Innocent Maphalala told his readers, ‘I was surprised, therefore, when he appeared on both Channel Swazi and Swazi TV to deny a story we published last Sunday. ‘There the PS was, holding three microphones while the television reporters, who probably had not read the story themselves, watched. Yes, they were watching because they did not ask him even one question. Bertram was practically speaking to himself. It was more of a statement than an interview with the TV reporters. ‘He was “shocked” that we could even write about something regarding Sikhuphe without consulting either him or Percy Simelane [the government’s official spokesperson]. The newspaper reported that Stewart ‘featured prominently in most deliberations involving the airport contracts’. Stewart has not always been so silent over Sikhuphe. Swazi Media Commentary has reported many times that he had continually mislead the public about Sikhuphe airport and in particular about its readiness to open.

33

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom He told the public that it would be ready to open before the start of 2013. It was not and it did not. In October 2010, Stewart said the airport would be open by the end of that year. It was not. Stewart was at it again in February 2011, when he confidently told media the airport would be completed by June 2011. It was not. He also said a number of top world airlines (that he declined to name) were negotiating to use Sikhuphe. Nothing happened. He returned to the theme two months later in April 2011 when this time he said the airport would be open by December 2011. But still no airport. Media reports in Swaziland suggest the cost of Sikhuphe has been about E3 billion so far from an initial budget of E500 million. ‘Corruption hit’ airport set to open 11 February 2014 The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, is reporting that the controversial Sikhuphe Airport will open in March. The airport, known outside of Swaziland as the King’s ‘vanity project’, was originally scheduled to cost E500 million. Now, it is reported to be E2.5 billion (US$250 million) over budget and its opening, if it goes ahead, will be at least four years behind schedule. Sikhuphe has been mired in controversy in recent weeks as allegations of corruption in the awarding of contracts have surfaced. Last month the Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland, reported officers from the Anti-Corruption Commission and Auditor General offices were separately investigating how money allocated for construction of the airport was spent since 2003 when the project was launched. On Tuesday (11 February 2014), the Observer reported plans are going ahead for the King to officially open the airport. It quoted ‘impeccable sources’ saying, ‘different companies have already been awarded tenders for the decoration and catering during the event that is scheduled for early next month [March 2014].’ Sikhuphe has been under construction for at least 1 0 years. The date for the airport’s opening in 2010 was missed and has been put back a number of times since. In November 2013, the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA ) said the airport was now completed and operational, but no flights have been in or out since. Last month, Prince Hlangusemphi, Minister of Economic Planning and Development, admitted that no taxiway had been built to allow aircraft to move around the airport after landing. As recently as October 2013 a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Sikhuphe International Airport was widely perceived as a ‘vanity project’

34

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom because of its scale and opulence compared with the size and nature of the market it seeks to serve. To date no international airlines have publicly expressed an interest in flying into Sikhuphe. In June 2013 an engineer’s report was published by to the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa saying the structure of the airport was defected and large jet airlines would not be able to land, In 2003, the International Monetary Fund said Sikhuphe should not be built because it would divert funds away from much needed projects to fight poverty in Swaziland. About seven in ten of King Mswati’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day. King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. King’s airport: ‘no flights for three years’ 24 February 2014 It may take up to three years before int ernational airlines use Swaziland’s Sikhuphe Airport that is set to open on 7 March 2014. If they decide to use it at all. No airlines have signed agreements to fly in and out the airport that is estimated to have cost at least E3 billion (US$300 million) to build and is at least four years behind schedule opening. Critics have dubbed the airport a ‘vanity project’ for King Mswati III. The King, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, will conduct the opening ceremony himself, but global dignitaries are not expected to attend. It has been known for some years that airlines are not willing to use Sikhuphe once it opens. And, if there had been interest from airlines outside Swaziland, it would take them at least three years before they could be ready to use the airport. Sabelo Dlamini, the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) Marketing and Corporate Affairs Director, revealed in June 2012 that it could take three years for an airline to actually start using the airport once it had decided to do so. ‘Normally, airline operators need about three years to prepare for such an exercise.’ He said at the time that Swaziland had approached three potential airlines, which he declined to name, and they were ready to operate at Sikhuphe. Nothing has happened since Dlamini made his statement in 2012 and no airline outside Swaziland has announced it will use Sikhuphe. Dlamini also revealed in 2012 that no agreement had been reached with Swaziland’s neighbours South Africa and Mozambique about which routes planes would be allowed to take in and out of Sikhuphe. Again, no announcement has been made that this issue has been resolved.

35

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom The only airline expected to use the airport is Swazi Airlink, which presently flies out of Swaziland’s existing airport at Matsapha. Airlink is a joint venture between the Swazi Government and South African Airlines and flies one route into Johannesburg. In February 2013 Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s Prime Minister, said, ‘Swazi Airlink will have to use Sikhuphe as it will be our international airport.’ However, in 2011 Airlink had said it did not want to use Sikhuphe, preferring to stay at Matsapha. There is no news on what will happen to Matsapha Airport after Sikhuphe opens. Matspaha is an underused airport situated minutes away by road from Manzini, Swaziland’s commer cial capital. It is also close to Mbabane, the Swazi capital. Sikhuphe, meanwhile, is in the wilderness of eastern Swaziland, about 80km from Mbabane. Critics of Sikhuphe, who have dubbed the multi-million dollar airport project ‘King Mswati’s vanity project’, have argued for years that there is no potential for the airport. Major airports already exist less than an hour’s flying time away in South Africa with connect ing 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. As long ago as 2003, the International Monetary Fund said Sikhuphe should not be built because it would divert funds away from much needed projects to fight poverty in Swaziland. About seven in ten of King Mswati’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day. Meanwhile, the King lives 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. Fanciful opening of King’s airport 7 March 2014 King Mswati III of Swaziland said that one day planes will land at the newly-opened Sikhuphe Airport at a rate of one per second. He was making a speech at the opening ceremony for the airport, dubbed by critics as a ‘vanity project’ for King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. To date, no airlines have signed up to use the airport which has been built in the wilderness of eastern Swaziland, about 80km from the kingdom’s capital Mbabane. It is not clear when the first commercial flight will use Sikhuphe.

36

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Sikhuphe which has cost an estimated E3 billion (US$300 million) so far to build was opened four years behind schedule. Originally the cost of construction was expected to be E500 million. In the past few weeks allegations of corruption in the awarding of contracts have surfaced. In January 2014 the Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland, reported officers from the Anti-Corruption Commission and Auditor General offices were separately investigating how money allocated for construction of the airport was spent since 2003 when the project was launched. King Mswati said Sikhuphe was a ‘First World facility’. This was in reference to his stated aim to make Swaziland a ‘First World’ nation by 2022. At present 70 perc ent of King Mswati’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 a day. Swaziland also has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. In 2003, the International Monetary Fund said Sikhuphe should not be built because it would divert funds away from much needed projects to fight poverty in Swaziland. King Mswati said the airport was not an extravagance but important development infrastructure. However, there are doubts that the airport is fit-for-purpose. In June 2013 an engineer’s report was published by to the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa saying the structure of the airport was defected and large jet airlines would not be able to land, There are also doubts about the size of the passenger terminal. One estimate suggested it might take a passenger landing at Sikhuphe two hours to get through the terminal. This was based on official figures from the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA ) that said the terminal would be able handle and process about 300 passengers per hour: which is roughly half the number of passengers on a fully-laden Boeing 777 plane. King’s airport has no licence 12 March 2014 Swaziland’s Sikhuphe Airport, now called the King Mswati III Airport, has yet to be granted an operating licence by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and no airlines are expected to make use of the airport for years to come, a global news agency has reported. This was kept from the Swazi people on Friday (7 March 2014) when King Mswati officially opened the airport, which critics have dubbed his personal vanity project. The airport has cost E3 billion (US$300 million) so far to construct and no airlines have signed up to use the airport. In 2013 a report from IATA said Sikhuphe was widely perceived as a ‘vanity project’ because of its scale and opulence compared with the size and nature of the market it seeks to serve. King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, was defensive in a speech opening the airport. He recalled that many observers outside his 37

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom kingdom thought building an airport in what he called ‘a jungle’ was a joke. Sikhuphe is about 80km from the Swazi capital Mbabane in a wilderness on the tip of eastern Swaziland. The Observer on Saturday, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported, ‘The King stated unflinchingly that the airport was not a joke as some pessimists had already hinted that the country does not need such extravagance. He said the completion and commissioning of the airport had proved all doubting Thomases wrong.’ The newspaper quoted the King saying, “I recall that even members of parliament were totally against this project and dismissed the idea as a joke (emaswidi). Akusiwo emaswidi lawa bekunene (this is not a joke),” emphasised the King to a round of applause and a reverberating shout of Bayethe [hail to the King!].’ The newspaper said, ‘One thing was clear throughout the King’s address that he was extremely passionate about the project and that it was very close to his heart.’ King Mswati announced that he had decided to name the airport after himself, which many will argue confirms critics’ belief that the airport is a personal vanity project. Seven in ten of his 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 a day and his kingdom has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. In his speech the King made many references to his belief that the airport would help Swaziland become a ‘First World’ nation by 2022. The King added, ‘The nation will agree with me that we have all been looking forward to this day because the new airport comes with multiple benefits for the general populace. We welcome you all to this new jewel for the Kingdom of eSwatini. Such a project is not a showoff but an important development tool.’ He did not reveal that the airport does not have an operating licence from IATA. The international news agency AFP reported this, adding no airlines were expected to make use of the airport for years to come, ‘prompting concerns about the viability of the project’. AFP reported, ‘The project is years away from being operational and has been dubbed a “white elephant” by critics.’ Airport move will ‘bankrupt Airlink’ 14 March 2014 Swazi Airlink, the only airline lined up to use the new King Mswati III Airport in Swaziland, would go out of business if it is forced to move, an independent study revealed. Swazi Airlink at present runs a service from Swaziland’s Matsapha Airport to Johannesburg. But the airline, which is a joint venture including the Swaziland Government, has been told it must leave Matsapha and operate out of the new airport, formerly known as Sikhuphe. Matsapha is ten minutes’ drive from Swaziland’s commercial capital, Manzini, but Sikhuphe is about 70 km away in the wilderness in the east of the kingdom.

38

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom A 2009 study commissioned by Airlink found air travellers would rather drive to Johannesburg than take the trek to fly from Sikhuphe. Business Report newspaper in South Africa quoted the study, ‘The road journey takes three hours including a stop at the border post. Total travel time from Matsapha, including getting to the airport, waiting, flying, going through customs and retrieving baggage at Johannesburg and taking ground transport to the destination is on average three hours 30 minutes. ‘From [King Mswati III airport] the journey in each direction will take four hours 20 minutes. This will make air travel from a morning or a day trip unviable as the time taken for travel will amount to eight hours 40 minutes, whereas road travel will take six hours. The study added, ‘With 60 percent of passengers on this route being point-to-point travellers, it is estimated that as much as 40 percent of these passengers and 20 percent of connecting passengers, or 32 percent of current passengers, will opt for road travel. “The risk of a move to [King Mswati III Airport] is unpa latable considering that in a realistic scenario the business will run at a loss… leaving the business unsustainable and an inevitable failure.’ At present Matsapha has about 70,000 passengers a year. King Mswati III Airport needs 400,000 passengers a year to break even. In 2013, the Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, who was unelected by the people, but personally appointed by King Mswati, told newspaper editors, ‘Swazi Airlink will have to use Sikhuphe as it will be our international airport.’ After the official opening of the airport on 7 March 2014, Solomon Dube, Director of the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA), told local media Swazi Airlink had specifically asked not to operate from the airport for now. He said Swazi Airlink had to first notify its customers about the move. He said he was not sure when Airlink would relocate to the new airport. Meanwhile, no international airline has expressed interest in using the airport which has cost an estimated E3 billion (US$300 million) so far to build. The airport has been dubbed King Mswati’s ‘vanity project’ by critics. King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The King has 13 palaces and a personal fortune once estimated by Forbes Magazine to be US$200 million. Meanwhile, seven in ten of his subjects live in abject poverty with an income of less than US$2 a day. Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. King’s airport lacks disaster plan 14 March 2014 Medical services in Swaziland could not cope if a plane crashed at the kingdom’s new King Mswati III Airport, putting the lives of hundreds of passengers at risk.

39

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom This was first pointed out nearly four years ago, but the problem of the kingdom’s inadequate medical services has not been addressed. Safety at the airport is one of the many issues ignored by King Mswati who, as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, who is the driving force behind the airport’s construction. No needs analysis was done before building of the airport started in 2003 and no business plan exists for the operation of the airport. No commercial flights in or out of the airport are likely to take place in the foreseeable future as no local or international airline has signed up to use the airport, which has cost an estimated E3 billion (US$300 million) so far to build. The airport, formerly known as Sikhuphe, was officially opened by King Mswati on 7 March 2014. Musa Hlophe, the coordinator of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO), first raised the question of safety in November 2010. Writing in his regular column in the Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in the kingdom, he asked what would happen if an aircraft with (say) 400 passengers on board crashed at the airport? He wrote, ‘Assuming that we expanded our country’s ambulance fleet to 200 and each one was able to get to Sikhupe within one hour, how could our hospitals manage with hundreds of extra patients in one day? The closest hospital will be Good Shepherd at Siteki which is not exactly state of the art and the nearest major hospitals are in Manzini and Mbabane. They are already all on their knees, struggling to cope with our current crises of TB, HIV&AIDS. ‘Do our hospitals have a plan to cope with maybe 400 foreign people all needing bed spaces urgently? Do we have enough doctors and nurses trained in accident and emergency and most importantly do we have the necessary medicines, equipment and blood for this level of disaster? In a country that cannot even supply its own citizens with the proper drugs to prevent a child dying from rabies because of the bite of one dog - I doubt it. I doubt they could cope with fifty people never mind four hundred. ‘Sikhuphe’s business model to attract major foreign passenger carriers is already flawed because of the competition from four other regional airports within half a day’s drive Kruger National in Mbombela (Nelspruit), Maputo in Mozambique, King Shaka in Durban and, of course, OR Tambo in Johannesburg. But what really stands out for me, as someone who has worked for businesses for a long time, is what little proper risk analysis has gone on here. Can you imagine an airline that wanted to carry rich western investors and tourists that would risk the lives of hundreds of its passengers? Can you imagine them ignoring the lack of medical systems, equipment, personnel or facilities to cope with even a relatively minor crash that required treatment of only a quarter of their passengers and staff?’ ‘If we adapt our medical systems to meet this need, will we take resources away from our families who are living with and dying from HIV&AIDS? So I ask a question that does not seem to have been considered in public before. How will the disaster plan for Sikhupe affect the provision of health care for the rest of us? Will the health budget be diverted from the families of our sick and dying to allow for the imagined needs of strangers who will only stay a few hours in our country? Has Minister Xaba and his team even considered it - have they thought it through? What do they say to the foreign investors?’

40

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom ‘Swazi prince took airport bribe’ 17 March 2014 Musa Ndlangamandla, a former speechwriter and praise singer for King Mswati III, has accused a member of the Royal Family and a top civil servant of pocketing bribes worth up to E4 million (US$ 400,000) during the construction of Swaziland’s new airport. Ndlangamandla, who was at one time editor-in-chief of the Swazi Observer group of newspapers, which are in effect owned by the King, also alleged a major contractor was paid twice to build the runway at the King Mswati III Airport that was officially opened on 7 March 2014. Ndlangamandla, who now works for the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa, made his accusations in his Facebook page. He called for an investigation into the way contracts for the building of the airport, formerly known as Sikhuphe, were made. The airport has cost E3 billion (US$ 300 million) so far to build. It opened more than four years behind schedule and no airlines have signed up to use it. No needs analysis was undertaken before the project started and no business plan exists now that it has opened. The airport is widely seen outside of Swaziland as a vanity project for the King, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. On his Facebook page Ndlangamandla called for the following:  a forensic audit by a reputable international firm on the project, from inception to the selfie. I suggest you involve the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Global Financial Integrity.  a judicial commission of inquiry to study the report of the audit, hold public hearings on how the money was spent, how the costs escalated from R500 million to R3 billion, who benefitted from corrupt and fraudulent practices and how ill-gotten gains can be recovered to the state.  investigate a princely minister [member of the Swazi Royal family] and a PS [principal secretary] who received underhand payment. One PS received a payment of E4 million.  investigate former and current officials of the institutions and contractors that dealt with the project - whether from Swaziland or elsewhere in the world.  investigate double payment to Inyatsi for construction work on the runway, first R200 million in 2009 and another R200 million in 2011.  how much of the SACU receipts, donor and other funds which were meant for education, health and other viable projects were diverted to the airport project.  the judicial commission should also be led by a judge of unquestionable integrity and preferably who is not in the local bench.  to study all reports about the technical integrity of the project especially the apron and runway. Ndlangamandla added, ‘The judicial commission should have power to order prosecution of all and anyone found to have receive ill-gotten gains. To strip anyone of any immunities that 41

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom may render them non prosecutable or above the law. Have the full power, authority and sanction to subpoena anyone, everyone and all types of evidence they may require to further the objectives of the commission.’

‘King’s airport still has no licence’ 20 March 2014 Swaziland’s new King Mswati III Airport is not fully licensed to operate, despite claims from the kingdom’s civil aviation authority that it is. The Regional Director of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Meshesha Belayneh, has told the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) in South Africa that Swaziland still needs to follow due process before the ICAO can issue a licence for the new airport. OSISA published this information nearly two weeks after the airport, previously known as Sikhuphe, was officially opened by King Mswati on 7 March 2014. Doubts were first expressed by the global news agency AFP that the airport was not fully licensed. Following this, Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) Director General Solomon Dube was quoted by the Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland, ‘The new airport is fully licensed.’ Dube told the newspaper, which is in effect owned by King Msw ati, ‘We could not have let the King open something that is illegal.’ Dube said all the necessary paperwork had been signed and endorsed. He added that ICAO Regional Director Belayneh was himself present at the official opening which, ‘meant that everything was in order’. Dube said the licensing of the facility meant it was ready for use by the public. Even after opening the airport, which so far has cost an estimated E3 billion (US$300 million) to build, and was completed at least four years behind schedule, remains controversial. No commercial planes have flown to the airport and no airline has formally announced that it intends to use the airport. In an analysis of the airport’s future, OSISA said there were still many serious questions about the sustainability of the airport, ‘including when will it open for business, how will it lure additional airlines to use its services, how will it compete with the airports in Johannesburg and Maputo, and will it ever get close to its full capacity of 360,000 passengers each year - which is more than five times as many as currently used by the existing airport at Matsapha’. King Mswati has repeatedly said he wants Swaziland to be a First World nation by 2022. OSISA said, ‘While the King's critics find the idea of transforming Swaziland into a developed state and economic powerhouse within eight years laughable, especially given the fact that almost two-thirds of the population still live below the poverty line, Mswati can now 42

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom point to the (long overdue) airport as proof that the country is moving in the right direction regardless of whether the airport ever attracts the desired traffic or justifies its vast costs.’ It went on, ‘By finishing its construction, he has proved some of his detractors wrong since many people believed that it would never be finished. ‘But here are many other criticism and questions to answer - and no sign that they will be at the moment. For now, the King Mswati III International Airport - as its name suggests - will continue to be viewed by most Swazis as the monarch's biggest vanity project rather than (as he clearly believes) his crowning glory.’

See also PROMISE TO OPEN KING’S AIRPORT BROKEN NEW NATIONAL AIRLINE A WASTE OF MONEY KING’S AIRPORT ‘WILL BE UNUSABLE’ KING’S AIRPORT NOT READY UNTIL 2016 PROOF: KING’S AIRPORT POINTLESS DOUBTS OVER PROSPECTS FOR AIRPORT PRESS ATTACK ON AIRPORT ‘CORRUPTION’ AIRPORT TERMINAL CAN'T HANDLE TRAFFIC

43

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

6 HUMAN RIGHTS
Human rights abuser visits kingdom 23 January 2014 Journalists in Swaziland were blocked from taking photographs of the human rights abuser, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, when he arrived to visit King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The president arrived in the kingdom this week with a delegation of more than 50 people, including investors who were looking for business opportunities. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported, ‘The media was initially turned back from the airport as it was stated that orders were that no pictures be captured of the president’s visit to Swaziland. ‘A protocol officer only referred to as Shongwe approached journalists who were taking pictures of those present at the airport and informed them to stop at once. ‘“I have been instructed to tell you that you aren’t allowed to take pictures of this private visit so please delete what you have,” Shongwe warned. ‘As he addressed the journalists, more than 12 police officers came threateningly and surrounded the group of perplexed journalists and closely monitored the situation. Shongwe later retracted his statement and stated that his superiors had changed their minds, allowing media houses to report on the visit.’ King Mswati has a close relationship with the President of Equatorial Guinea. It was reported in January 2012 that the King had done a deal with the President to import crude oil into his kingdom. Thembinkosi Mamba, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy, said at the time the Swazi Government had plans to build its own refinery so that, in future, crude oil would be brought directly to Swaziland for refinement and separation, thereby, cutting down on costs. Swazi Media Commentary reported at the time that the deal looked to be something special the King had dreamt up. In the past, as with the US$5 billion power plant deal that turned out to be a con-trick, the King had bypassed his parliament and made deals on his own initiative. At the time of the oil refinery deal, Obiang’s regime had been labelled one of the world’s most corrupt by international rights groups. Transparency International ranked Equatorial Guinea 168th out of 178 countries for its efforts in tackling corruption. Human rights abuses in Equatorial Guinea are well documented. The US State Department, in a report on Equatorial Guinea published in May 2012, revealed, corruption and impunity continued to be big human rights problems in Equatorial Guinea. 44

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

‘Security forces extorted money from citizens and immigrants at police checkpoints. T here was no internal investigation unit within the police, and mechanisms to investigate allegations of abuse were poorly developed.’ It added, ‘security forces sometimes committed abuses with impunity. The government did not maintain effective internal o r external mechanisms to investigate security force abuses.’ Lawyers in the country report arbitrary arrests. ‘Lawyers did not have access to police stations and could not contact detainees while they were held there; police superintendents when interviewed stated they did not see the need for or advisability of such access. In 2012, newspapers in Swaziland suppressed news about Mbasogo during his visit to Swaziland when instructed to do so by a Swazi Government minister. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Swaziland Chapter reported in its annual review on media freedom, ‘In January 2012, Minister of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), Winnie Magagula held an impromptu meeting with all [print] editors , where she told them they must positively report the visit of Equatorial Guinean President, Teodora Obiang Nguema Mbasago. ‘The newspapers heeded her directive: all the media houses waxed lyrical about the expected socio-economic benefits to be reaped from a questionable oil deal. ‘The editors suppressed President Mbasago’s negative stories of graft and repression that were run by the international media. In fact, the Swazi Observer was forced to apologise for a cable news item published by SAPA (South African Press Association) that negatively exposed the President.’ See also VERY CRUDE SWAZILAND OIL DEAL SWAZI GIFT FROM HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERS

Swaziland faces human rights probe 17 February 2014 The United States is to investigate Swaziland’s record o n human rights and if it finds the kingdom is not respecting them, it will cancel a vital trade agreement. The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) reported, ‘The United States remains deeply concerned about the Government of Swaziland’s lack of measurable progress on workers’ rights issues, particularly protection of freedom of association and the right to organize, its use of security forces and arbitrary arrests to intimidate peaceful demonstrations, and the lack of legal recognition for union federations.’ Now, it is launching a full-scale inquiry into Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

45

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom The first part of the inquiry should be completed in May 2014 and if Swaziland fails the human rights test the United States will withdraw the preferential trading rights which give the kingdom benefits under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA). In a media statement USTR said, ‘In May 2014, the US Government will conduct an interim AGOA eligibility review of Swaziland to assess whether it has made measurable progress on the protection of internationally recognized worker rights. The results of this review will be reflected in a recommendation to the President regarding Swaziland’s continued AGOA eligibility.’ Under the AGOA, the US grants duty-free access of specific products, including textiles and clothing, from African countries to its market. AGOA contains specific criteria that countries must meet to enjoy the benefits of AGOA, including criteria related to internationally recognized workers’ rights. In 2013, Swaziland exported US$ 49.749 million worth of apparel to the US, showing a decline of 16.88 percent over exports of $59.855 million made in 2012, according to the Major Shippers Report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Swaziland has a history of attacking workers’ rights. It has banned the workers’ federation, the Trades Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), broken up its meeting and harassed and arrested its leaders. In September 2013, Swazi state police arrested all members of an international panel of experts who were due to meet to debate the role of trade unions in Swaziland. The meeting due to take place in Manzini was to be chaired by Jay Naidoo, founding General Secretary of COSATU and former Minister of Communications for South Africa. In December 2013, the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) supported workers in Swaziland and called for AGOA benefits to be withdrawn from the kingdom.

US pressure for Swazi reforms 24 February 2014 The United States has made it perfectly clear to Swaziland: make democratic reforms by May or lose a preferential trade agreement. An estimated 20,000 Swazi people could lose their jobs in the textile industry if the US acts. But, we should not expect King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, to care: every time in the past the international community has told him to democratise the kingdom, he has ignored them. There’s no reason to suppose this time will be different. The United States has given Swaziland until 15 May 2014 to make significant changes to laws in the kingdom that restrict political and workers’ rights. At stake is Swaziland’s continued ability to export textile goods to the US without having to pay tariffs under the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA). 46

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

US Ambassador to Swaziland Makila James told local media that Swaziland had been given eight years to comply with the requirements but nothing significant had happened. Now, things had to change. ‘We are not negotiating. The terms are clear,’ she told the Observer Sunday newspaper. The Observer reported, ‘Listing the conditions, she said they include full passage of amendments to the Industrial Relations Act; full passage of amendments to the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA); full passage of amendments to the Public Order Act; full passage of amendments to sections 40 and 97 of the Industrial Relations Act relating to civil and criminal liability to union leaders during protest actions; and establishing a code of conduct for the police during public protests.’ She added that there needed to be greater accountability of the police force in Swaziland. ‘There is a need to give police better guidance so they can do proper law enforcement.’ The Observer estimated that if AGOA benefits were removed from Swaziland 20,000 jobs would be lost in the textile industry as firms moved out of the kingdom to other countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region that continued to have preferential tariff agreements with the US. The US has been criticising the lack of democracy in Swaziland for several years. In a public statement in April 2013, the US Embassy in Swaziland said it had ‘deep concern’ about the way police engaged in ‘acts of intimidation and fear’ against people seeking their political rights. The statement came after armed police, acting without a court order, barricaded a restaurant in Manzini to stop people attending a public meeting to discuss the national election in Swaziland. The US embassy said it had deep concern about the manner in which representatives of political organisations and lawyers for human rights were treated by police. The police blockade of the restaurant took place on 12 April 2013 and was intended to mark the 40th anniversary of the Royal Decree in 1973 by King Sobhuza II that tore up the constitution and allowed the king to introduce any law he wished and to change existing ones. The decree has never been rescinded and his son, Mswati III today rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch. The US embassy said it was, ‘[C]oncerned that a group of people were prevented from entering a restaurant, where they had planned to hold their meeting and were forcibly removed from the premises by police’. The statement added that the 2005 Swaziland Constitution guaranteed freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. It further said Swazi security forces had a duty to protect the rights of citizens to, ‘communicate ideas and information without interference’.

47

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom This was not the first time the US embassy in Swaziland has criticised the Swaziland ruling regime. A year earlier in April 2012 it said, ‘We urge the Swazi government to take the necessary steps to ensure the promotion and protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Swazi citizens as outlined in the Swazi constitution, including freedom of conscience, of expression, of peaceful assembly and association, and of movement.’ The statement went on, ‘The United States government is deeply concerned about increasing infringements on freedom of assembly, as evidenced by the recent actions taken by Swazi security forces to prevent peaceful citizens from gathering for a prayer meeting on Saturday, April 14 in Manzini as well as reports of those same forces preventing people from gathering in groups of more than two people in Manzini and Mbabane on April 11 and 12.’ There is little expectation that Swaziland will comply with the latest US requirements. In the past King Mswati has refused to make democratic reforms in return for assistance. In 2011 he refused to accept a R2.4 billion (US$ 240 million) donation from South Africa to help his bankrupt kingdom and avert a humanitarian crisis because it had demands for democratic reform attached.

Swazi PM human rights smokescreen 7 March 2014 Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini is trying to divert attention away from the kingdom’s appalling human rights record by claiming opponents are telling lies. Dlamini was reacting to news that the United States will no longer allow Swaziland to have trade benefits under the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) unless it makes substantial improvements in its treatment of workers and political opponents. Swaziland has been given until 15 May 2014 to make the changes. Dlamini told the Swazi House of Assembly this week that the United States had been lied to by Swazis who wrote letters with false information about the kingdom. ‘These Swazis report false matters stating that there was no freedom of assembly among other freedoms,’ the Times of Swaziland reported him saying. But, what he did not say was that the issue of human rights violations in Swaziland is not new. US Ambassador to Swaziland Makila James told local media recently that Swaziland had been given eight years to comply with the requirements but nothing significant had happened. The United States wants Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, to implement the full passage of amendments to the Industrial Relations Act; full passage of amendments to the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA); full passage of amendments to the Public Order Act; full passage of amendments to sections 40 and 97 of the Industrial Relations Act relating to civil and criminal liability to union leaders during protest actions; and establishing a code of conduct for the police during public protests.

48

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom James said that there needed to be greater accountability of the police force in Swaziland. ‘There is a need to give police better guidance so they can do proper law enforcement.’ Local media in Swaziland estimated at least 20,000 jobs could be lost in the textile industry if the benefits of AGOA are lost. AGOA allows Swaziland to export goods into the United States without having to pay tariffs. This is not the first time that Prime Minister Dlamini has falsely claimed there are no problems with human rights in Swaziland. When he was reappointed PM by King Mswati in 2013 he claimed, ‘Government will ensure that the justice system is administered swiftly and efficiently and maintenance of law and order will be secured in accordance with the highest human rights standards.’ Dlamini was personally reappointed Prime Minister by King Mswati. He has never been elected to public office by the people. In his previous three terms as PM, Dlamini rode roughshod over the rights of the Swazi people sending police and security forces to break up any prodemocracy activities in the kingdom. International organisations have over the past year highlighted numerous human rights abuses. In July 2013, AfriMAP, a group that monitors and promotes good governance, reported, ‘The current form of governance in Swaziland is a complete anathema to the conventional wisdom that prevails in almost all AU [African Union] member states, and certainly in SADC [South African Development Community]; the issue of dictatorships, absolutism and total state control of the citizenry is a forgotten and unacceptable notion; which is why Swaziland government must realize that it cannot delay political reforms, since it will only undermine its credibility, delay progress, economic and social development of the very people it is supposed to uplift and protect.’ A report on human rights in Swaziland, published in 2013 by the US State Department revealed, ‘The three main human rights abuses [in 2012] were police use of excessive force, including use of torture, beatings, and unlawful killings; restrictions on freedoms of association, assembly, and speech; and discrimination and abuse of women and children. ‘Other human rights problems included arbitrary arrests and lengthy pretrial detention; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; prohibitions on political activity and harassment of political activists; trafficking in persons; societal discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and persons with albinism; harassment of labor leaders; child labor; mob violence; and restrictions on worker rights. ‘In general perpetrators acted with impunity, and the government took few or no steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses.’ In May 2013, in its annual report on Swaziland Amnesty International reported rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly continued to be violated in the kingdom. There were also ‘arbitrary arrests and excessive force used to crush political protests,’ the report stated, and ‘torture and other ill-treatment remained a persistent concern’ in Swaziland. 49

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Amnesty noted that in May 2012 the African Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution ‘expressing alarm’ at the Swazi Government’s failure to implement previous decisions and recommendations of the Commission relating to the rights of freedom of expression, association, and assembly. These violations included the use by police of, ‘rubber bullets, tear gas and batons to break up demonstrations and gatherings viewed as illegal’. In April 2013, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) reported that recently Swaziland police and state security forces had shown ‘increasingly violent and abusive behaviour’ that was leading to the ‘militarization’ of the kingdom. OSISA told the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) meeting in The Gambia, ‘There are also reliable reports of a general militarization of t he country through the deployment of the Swazi army, police and correctional services to clamp down on any peaceful protest action by labour or civil society organisations ahead of the country’s undemocratic elections.’ In April 2013, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC), two organiastions campaigning for democracy in the kingdom, in a joint statement said police in Swaziland were now a ‘private militia’ with the sole purpose of serving the Royal regime. This was after about 80 armed officers broke up a public meeting to discuss the lack of democracy in the kingdom.

Jail warders sexually assault kids 31 March 2014 Warders at a juvenile jail in Swaziland stripped naked, handcuffed and beat children in their care. They inserted fingers into girls’ private parts and forced one boy to drink his own urine. The revelations at Malkerns Industrial School follow reports in 2013 that warders at the same juvenile jail assaulted children systematically for more than five hours. The latest revelations are contained in an inspection report called Malkerns Industrial School Students Violence Probe which was leaked to the Observer on Saturday newspaper in Swaziland. The newspaper reported there was violence at Malkerns Industrial School on 18 June 2013, when one of the boys fought and stabbed another offender with a sharpened toothbrush. The newspaper reported, ‘The aggressor was instantly beaten without a hearing and all boys known to be his friends were handcuffed and beaten in the still of the night.’ It added, ‘The next morning all teachers were ordered to conduct a strip search, apparently an order coming from the commissioner himself who is alleged to have said ‘uma kufanele, isende lomntwana alibanjwe’ (squeeze their testicles).’ The Observer said the investigation reported there was sporadic use of force at the juvenile industrial school dormitories, ‘which is protected by the head -teacher and remains unreported mainly because the administration also participates in the violence’. 50

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom The Observer reported that female correction officers, ‘inserted their fingers into the girls’ private parts using one glove on all the students, exposing them to risks of contracting infectious diseases’. The newspaper also reported that one child, ‘was beaten such that he urinated and was later forced to drink his urine. ‘“I drank it because of the beatings I received,” the boy reportedly said. Another child said, ‘My hands and testicles were pressed by the officers who were wearing their boots I thought they were killing me. My only sin was that they found tattoos on my body.’ The Observer reported another child said, ‘I was bleeding from the ears after I was kicked all over the body by the officers.’ This is not the first time violent behaviour by warders has hit the headlines. In 2013 it was reported that children at the industrial school were systematically assaulted for more than five hours by warders. Some of the children were forced to strip naked for beatings by the officers who used belts, sneakers, open hands and feet to assault them all over their bodies. The Swazi News newspaper reported at the time that 15 officers were involved and more than two thirds of the 430 pupils at the school were assaulted from 8.30 am until after 2.00 pm, during one day. One child interviewed by the newspaper said, ‘They were using belts, open hands and an All Star (sneaker). We were ordered to strip naked before being assaulted all over the body, indiscriminately.’ The attack was also described by another as being worse than police torture known as ‘lishubhu’. Another said, ‘Besi bulawa (we were being murdered).’ When asked why they were assaulted, one pupil responded, ‘Watsi lomunye thishela basi faka luvalo (one of the teachers told us that they were instilling fear).’ The pupils said they did not report the matter to the police because they feared being victimised.

See also KIDS WHO COMMIT NO CRIME LOCKED UP BOY, 12, JAILED FOR INSULTING GRANNY

51

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

7 HUNGER
Govt wastes US$100m meant for poor 29 January 2014 The Swaziland Government has wasted more than US$100 million that was meant to help poor people in rural areas, a new auditor-general’s report has revealed. The money was supposed to be used for projects to alleviate poverty under the Rural Development Fund (RDF), which is administered by the Swazi Ministry for Tinkhundla. Instead, the money was squandered on useless goods that were left idle and unused. Media in Swaziland reported that an Auditor-General’s report said as a result more than E1 billion (US$100 million) has been wasted since the RDF was set up in 1999. Muziwandile Dlamini from the office of the Auditor-General revealed that some constituencies made orders for items that ended up not being utilised. Dlamini said audits conducted in some constituencies had revealed the problem and now more constituencies would be audited. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported Dlamini saying in some cases, items were ordered and not delivered while in other times the wrong items were delivered and then ended up not being utilised by the constituencies. Dlamini said this was a clear indication that some constituencies initiated projects that were not required, but they did so just for the sake of doing something. Dlamini added failure to coordinate and plan for their projects was often the cause for collapse of the projects initiated by tinkhundla. Tinkhundla is the political system used in Swaziland that bans all political parties from contesting elections and places power in the hands of King Mswati III, who rules as subSaharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Seven in ten of the King’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day. The King is reported have a personal fortune estimated at US$200 million. He has 13 palaces, one for each of his wives, a private jet airplane and fleets of Mercedes Benz and BMW cars.

Hunger is fault of government 10 January 2014 King Mswati III of Swaziland incorrectly told his subjects that ‘hard work and prayer’ would stop hunger in the kingdom.

52

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom In a speech when dispersing regiments at the end of the Incwala ceremony, the King ‘noted that not every Swazi enjoyed a good livelihood but this could be overcome through hard work and prayer’, the Sunday Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King reported. He said, ‘There should be no poverty in the country but every person’s prayers and wishes should come to fruition’. ‘As you go back to your respective homes, go and plough the land so that we can have a bumper harvest. Because we want to achieve first world status, we need to first have plenty of food.’ The Observer reported. ‘The king’s speech when dispersing the regiments is h is first in the New Year and normally sets the tone for the country and gives the direction in which the nation needs to drive towards.’ The King’s call for prayer to overcome hunger is at odds with the evidence that shows government policies are largely to blame for the food crisis in Swaziland. King Mswati, as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, handpicks the Prime Minister and members of the government. Exactly one year ago (January 2013),the Swaziland Vulnerability Assessment Committee in a report predicted a total of 115,712 people (one in ten of the population) in Swaziland would go hungry in 2013 as the kingdom struggled to feed its population as the economy remained in the doldrums. The report said problems with the Swazi economy were major factors. The kingdom was too dependent on food imports and because of high price inflation in Swaziland people could not afford to buy food. About seven in ten people in Swaziland live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 a day. This was not an isolated statement. In 2012, three separate reports from the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the Institute for Security Studies all concluded the Swazi Government was largely to blame for the economic recession and subsequent increasing number of Swazis who had to skip meals. The reports listed low growth levels, government wastefulness and corruption, and lack of democracy and accountability as some of the main reasons for the economic downturn that led to an increasing number of hungry Swazis. The Swazi Government was also accused in May 2013 of deliberately withholding food donated from overseas as aid from hungry people as a policy to induce them to become disaffected with their members of parliament and blame them for the political situation in the kingdom. Newspapers in Swaziland and abroad reported the government wanted to punish the kingdom’s MPs for passing a vote of no confidence against it. It was also revealed that the Swaziland Government had sold maize donated as food aid by Japan for hungry children in the kingdom on the open market and deposited the US$3 million takings in a special bank account.

53

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom A report in July 2013 called The Cost of Hunger in Africa, which was prepared by the government of Swaziland working together with World Food Programme, found that around 270,000 adults in the kingdom, or more than 40 percent of its workers, suffered from stunted growth due to malnutrition. As a result, they were more likely to get sick, do poorly in school, be less productive at work and have shorter lives. 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 denounced the report as lies. But, a video obtained by Think Africa Press revealed the hardships faced by Sophie Magagula, living in Siteki. In the video Magagula explained that she needed 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 showed her mixing the cow dung in readiness for eating. In July 2012, Nkululeko Mbhamali, Member of Parliament for Matsanjeni North, said people in the Swaziland lowveld area had died of hunger at Tikhuba. In a New Year statement released on Tuesday (7 January 2014) the Prime Minister of Swaziland Barnabas Dlamini supported the King’s words on poverty. He said, ‘In line with the strategy presented by His Majesty, the Administration’s Five Year Pr ogramme of Action, that will be presented to Parliament following the Speech from the Throne 2014, will focus on our making more, and growing more, as well as increasing the provision of services such as tourism. And where we identify edible products for export we will aim to add value wherever possible in order to raise the financial return from our entry into the global supply chain.’ ‘Starvation’ to hit Swaziland 7 February 2014 People in rural Swaziland are about to die of hunger, a newspaper in the kingdom has reported. The Swazi Observer visited the village of KaMbhoke in the Shiselweni region and described it as a ‘valley of death’. Rains have been scarce this season and crops have failed and now, the newspaper reported, food has run out. The newspaper reported one unnamed elderly woman saying, ‘We are starving, literally starving my child. Just like most of the kitchens in this community right now, there is absolutely no food.’

54

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom The newspaper also quoted Simon Mdluli, the locally elected representative of the area, saying, ‘Somebody is really going to die.’ He said people in the area had nothing to put on their table. The newspaper described the whole area as ‘poverty stricken.’ Mdluli told the Observer, ‘Everybody is calling me to their homes just to watch helplessly as their loved ones, especially children and those on retroviral treatment [for HIV] reel in pain because of hunger.’ People in KaMbhoke had in the past received rice from Taiwan as part of the international food aid, but this had now been used up. Poverty and hunger is widespread in Swaziland where seven in ten of the 1.3 million population earn less than US$2 per day. The extent of near-starvation in the kingdom is unknown. It is rare for news media in Swaziland to visit rural areas to investigate. International media are also ignorant of the true extent of hunger in Swaziland. They rarely report on the kingdom and when they do they tend to concentrate on stories of the fabulous wealth of King Mswati III, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The King has a personal fortune estimated by Forbes magazine to be US$200 million. While his subjects exist in abject poverty he has 13 palaces, a private jet and fleets of top-of-the range BMW and Mercedes cars. Last month (January 2014) it was reported that the King was extending one of his palaces and homes and a school would have to be demolished to accommodate it. He is also reported to be building an underground bunker. In a New Year message to his subjects, King Mswati said that ‘hard work and prayer’ would solve hunger in his kingdom. In January 2013, the Swaziland Vulnerability Assessment Committee in a report predicted a total of 115,712 people (one in ten of the population) in Swaziland would go hungry in 2013 as the kingdom struggled to feed its population as the economy remained in the doldrums. The report said problems with the Swazi economy were major factors. The kingdom was too dependent on food imports and because of high price inflation in Swaziland people could not afford to buy food. This was not an isolated statement. In 2012, three separate reports from the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the Institute for Security Studies all concluded the Swazi Government was largely to blame for the economic recession and subsequent increasing number of Swazis who had to skip meals.

See also GOVT ‘DELIBERATELY STARVING PEOPLE’ CORRUPTION ‘LEADS TO STARVATION’

55

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

8 KING MSWATI III

Call for SADC military to unseat king 3 January 2014 Communists in Swaziland have called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to consider ‘all options’, including military intervention, to bring down King Mswati III’s autocratic monarchy. The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) said SADC ‘intervened militarily in Lesotho in 1998 to restore democracy and prevent a coup’ and should consider doing the same in Swaziland. In its New Year message, the CPS said, ‘They should be doing their utmost to bring down the regime and support a transition to democracy. This is not the time for mealy-mouthed and meaningless protestations about “stability”. SADC intervened militarily in Lesotho in 1998 to restore democracy and prevent a coup. It should consider “all options” when it comes to the Mswati regime, whose brutal ruination of our people and country is worse than the oppression from which Lesotho emerged.’ Swaziland is the only non-democratic nation in the SADC group. King Mswati rules under a Royal Decree made by his father King Sobhuza II in 1973 and never rescinded. In September 2013, the kingdom held national elections, but political parties were banned from taking part. Only 55 of the 65-member House of Assembly were elected by the people: the other 10 were appointed by King Mswati. None of the 30-strong Swaziland Senate was elected by the people. King Mswati chooses the Prime Minister and members of the government and other senior political posts. The full results of the September 2013 election have yet to be released to the public. CPS in its statement said, ‘The absolute monarchy remains in a state of permanent desperation to secure ready cash to keep itself in place. As the last 12 months have shown, Mswati’s regime is clinging to power by very precarious means. ‘It attempted to hoodwink the outside world that it is in reality a “monarchic democracy” by holding bogus elections to renew Mswati’s support base, while ensuring that no political parties or party platforms were wholly excluded from the process.’ CPS added, ‘The regime has no legitimacy at home and precious little abroad. There is no thriving economy in the country to sustain the monarchy and its quasi-feudal ruling class for much longer. ‘Despite this, the CPS and other pro-democracy forces were appalled to find SADC and the Commonwealth giving their blessing to Mswati’s election scandal. The SADC countries have anyway continued to sit and do nothing about the disgrace of the Mswati regime. They and others timidly push for meagre “reforms” to make the regime seem less odious.

56

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom ‘They should be doing their utmost to bring down the regime and support a transition to democracy.’ CPS called for the unbanning of all political parties and organisations as a ‘crucial first step towards creating a new democratic dispensation and dismantling the monarchic autocracy’. It also called for pressure to be put on King Mswati’s financial resources.

See also NO TOP PARLIAMENTARIANS WERE ELECTED

God is like King Mswati: Govt minister 13 January 2014 Swaziland’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Sibusiso Shongwe said God operates in the same way as King Mswati III – ‘in a monarchical way’. He also said King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, was chosen by God. ‘It is God’s desire to see the people of Swaziland loving their monarchy. This is because God himself operates in a monarchical way,’ he told officers during a t our of the correctional facility’s criminal mental health centre and the correctional college in Matsapha on Friday (10 January 2014). ‘The reason God’s eye is closer to the Kingdom of Swaziland is that we are a platform of showing the world how the Almighty God wants the world to be ruled,’ he said. Shongwe was not elected to government; like all ministers in Swaziland he was appointed by the King. The Observer on Saturday, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported, ‘He said he was a minister because of the King, hence he would like to represent him everywhere he goes.’ Shongwe asked officers from the correctional service to give themselves to God in order to be able to do their work without a problem, the newspaper reported. He said officers must be born again in order to deal with convicts. He said they must always remember that breaking the law is demonic. It is not only Shongwe who believes King Mswati is chosen by God: the King himself thinks the same. In August 2013 King Mswati said he had received a vision from God in which he was told to change the name of the undemocratic political system of tinkhundla that governs the kingdom to ‘monarchical democracy’. This was not the first time King Mswati said he had received a vision from God. In 2011, the King said God spoke to him through a TV remote control.

57

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom It happened at the Lozitha Palace, near Mbabane. At the time the king told his subjects about his ‘miraculous experience’. The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported in October 2011, ‘His Majesty saw a miracle yesterday when he was preparing a sermon [to preach to a group of evangelical Christians.] The King said a remote control lay at the centre of a coffee table but something mysteriously brought it down. ‘He said there was no person or wind that could have brought it down. The King said he realised that God was with him. It was Him who brought the remote control down.’ Reverend Jonas Dlamini, one of the king’s preachers, said, ‘The king preached to us. He was filled with the light of the Lord when he told us that God had given him a sign when he was getting ready to meet us. He said a TV remote on his table dropped to the floor with no one touching it and that is how he knew God was communicating with him.’ It is common for apologists of King Mswati who controls a kingdom where political parties are banned and seven in ten of his 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, while he has 13 palaces and a fortune once estimated by Forbes Magazine to be US$200 million, to say he is chosen by God. The Swazi Observer newspaper, a stablemate of the Observer on Saturday, in October 2009 told its readers in an article written by the then editor-in-chief Musa Ndlangamandla: King Mswati III is ‘ordained by God to lead his people’.

See also KING BELIEVES HE IS CHOSEN BY GOD

Homes, school to go to extend palace 28 January 2014 Five homes and a school will have to be destroyed to make way for the expansion of one of King Mswati III’s 13 palaces. King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is extending his Lozitha Palace, near the Swazi capital Mbabane. Electricity lines are also being moved because they will now fall within the boundary of the King’s palace. One of the homes to be moved houses a 92-year-old man. All the properties affected are on Swazi Nation Land. King Mswati holds all Swazi Nation Land ‘in trust’ for the Swazi people. The Times of Swaziland, the only daily newspaper independent of the King’s direct control, reported that the King’s Office is presently erecting a ‘concrete boundary’ to the palace. It described the new building as a ‘Royal fort’. It reported Sihle Dlamini, Estate Manager of the King’s Office, saying the expansion of the palace had been sanctioned by King Mswati. 58

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

He said the affected families would be relocated, but he could not say where to. King Mswati, who rules over a population of 1.3 million subjects, has 13 palaces, one for each of his wives. Meanwhile, seven in ten of his subjects live in abject poverty earning less than US$2 per day. The King, who was once estimated by Forbes Magazine to have a private fortune of US$200 million, has a private jet airplane and fleets of Mercedes and BMW cars. He and his wives regularly take luxury trips abroad. In March 2013 it was reported that Swaziland taxpayers were being forced to spend E2.2 million (US$240,000) on a guardhouse at Lozitha Palace to house more than eight soldiers around the clock and it will connect to an underground bunker. Principal Secretary in the Ministry of National Defence and Security, Andrias Mathabela, refused to disclose the purpose of the bunker. In a commentary on last year’s national budget, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), a group campaigning for democracy in the kingdom, said, ‘King Mswati remains by far the biggest financial drain to the Swazi state. Despite siphoning public funds into private investments, and running Tibiyo Taka Ngwane [a conglomerate of companies he holds in trust for the Swazi nation] as his private investment company, he continues to use public funds to finance his lavish lifestyle and that of his ever increasing family.’ SSN said a total of E256 million (US$37 million) was used each year as ‘royal emoluments’ and was, ‘shared between his wives, children, his half-brother and their mothers, and other relatives of the royal family’.

See also MASSIVE GUARDHOUSE TO PROTECT KING

Chief forces subjects to greet King 19 February 2014 A chief in Swaziland has told his subjects they have no rights when it comes to attending ‘traditional’ ceremonies involving the King: they have to go. The instruction by Chief Malambule of Mbilaneni that he will force people to turn out to greet and celebrate King Mswati III confirms suspicions that Swazi people might not be as keen to support the monarch as his supporters insist. King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and there are several ‘traditional’ cultural ceremonies where people are expected to celebrate him. Chief Malambule was quoted by the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, saying, ‘As long as I am still the ruler here, all of you are expected to participate in all activities such as the cultural events of the kingdom and this is a must.’ 59

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The newspaper said the chief ‘who seemed to be seething with anger’ told about 400 of his subjects who attended a mass meeting he had called to address them, ‘that he expected no one to claim he or she had a right to participate or not to participate in important national duties’. Chief Malambule was angry that so few of his subjects had attended the Incwala ceremony in December 2013. Incwala is a controversial annual ceremony in which the King goes into seclusion. His supporters call the ceremony a ‘national prayer’, but some Christian leaders have labelled it ‘un-Godly’ and ‘pagan’. The Observer quoted him saying, ‘No one should claim he or she has a right to decide if he or she attends these ceremonies. I am expecting all the boys to attend ceremonies such as Lusekwane and Incwala. ‘I found myself having nowhere to hide during the recent Incwala when I had to identify a group of tingatja which was expected to accompany me. I found that less than four of the boys attended and I turned a laughing stock to other chiefs whose boys came in numbers.’ Chief Malambule fined each homestead in his chiefdom with boys who did not attend E20, about one day’s income for seven in ten of Swaziland’s population. Another of the major ‘traditional’ cultural ceremonies where people are pressured to attend is the Reed Dance or Umhlanga, which takes place each year, usually in August or September. Here ‘maidens’ dance half naked in front of the King. Thousands attend (although the actual numbers are contested), but there have been reports in past years of girls being coerced into attending by their chiefs and the girls’ families can be victimised if they do not go. Sponsors, keen to gain the King’s approval, have also offered gifts, such as sneakers, to those who dance before the King. Musa Hlophe, a regular columnist for the Times of Swaziland, one of the few newspapers in the kingdom not owned by King Mswati, commented after one Reed Dance that many of the girls who attended went because it was their only chance to get a decent meal. Chief Malambule’s attack on his subjects demonstrates that chiefs in Swaziland have enormous powers over their subjects, because they are appointed by King Mswati III. Traditionally they lead a band of area elders. They can decide who lives where and some have been known to banish people from their homes for not obeying rules. Sometimes chiefs demand tithes from their subjects such as a beast or money. In November 2013, the newly-appointed Chief Ndlovula of Motshane threatened to evict nearly 1,000 of his subjects from grazing land if they did not pay him a E5,000 (US$500) fine, the equivalent of more than six months income for many. He said his subjects had illegally built homes on land put aside for grazing.

60

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Chiefs also settle disputes such as over land, accusations of witchcraft, and wandering livestock that harm someone’s crops. Many also settle criminal disputes that probably should best be left to magistrates. Chiefs are given stipends by the national treasury, but not salaries, and community members pay their allegiance to chiefs by weeding and harvesting their fields, and constructing the traditional mud and thatch huts usually found at chiefs’ homesteads. In Swaziland chiefs do the king’s bidding at a local level. People know not to mess with the chief because their livelihood depends on his goodwill. In some parts of Swaziland the chiefs are given the power to decide who gets food that has been donated by international agencies and then the chiefs quite literally have power of life and death in such cases with about a third of the population of Swaziland receiving food aid each year. Chiefs can and do take revenge on their subjects who disobey them. There is a catalogue of cases in Swaziland. For example, Chief Dambuza Lukhele of Ngobelweni in the Shiselweni region banned his subjects from ploughing their fields because some of them defied his order to build a hut for one of his wives. Nhlonipho Nkamane Mkhatswa, chief of Lwandle in Manzini, the main commercial city in Swaziland, reportedly stripped a woman of her clothing in the middle of a Swazi street in full view of the public because she was wearing trousers against his orders.

61

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

9 NATIONAL ELECTION
Silence on Swazi election result 10 February 2014 King Mswati III, of Swaziland, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, has claimed that the national election held in his kingdom last September was ‘highly successful’. What he did not say was that nobody can know whether this statement is true or false because he never released the full election results. King Mswati was praising the system of democracy in his kingdom, known as ‘monarchical democracy’, where all political parties are banned from taking part in elections. He only allows his subjects to choose 55 members of the 65-seat House of Assembly: he appoints the remaining 10. None of the members of his Senate House are elected by the people. The King appoints 20 members and the other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. Once the members of the House of Assembly and Senate are in place King Mswati chooses a Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and senior political figures. None are elected by the people. King Mswati opened his Swazi Parliament on Friday (7 February 2014) and said, ‘We wish to thank the nation for going out in their numbers to elect a new government in a highly successful election. This was a true demonstration of monarchial (sic) democracy where people get to vote for people of their choice to serve the nation. ’ He added, ‘The turnout from registration to the secondary elections was impressive in producing the members of parliament that we have here today. ’ However, full results of the election held in September 2013 have not been released. The Swaziland Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), which ran the election, announced the names of the winners at each of the 55 constituencies in the House of Assembly promptly after voting took place on 20 September 2013, but only gave the number of votes cast for 45 of them. No figures were given for the losing candidates and the total number of voters taking part in the election has never been revealed. In the run up to the vote prodemocracy groups urged a boycott of the election and there has been speculation within the kingdom that this was effective. It is important for King Mswati that there is seen to be a high voter turnout. Only weeks before the election, he announced that Swaziland’s tinkhundla system of democracy would in future be known as a ‘monarchical democracy’. He said this would be a partnership between himself and the people. The turnout at the election might be seen as a referendum on how much his subjects support him. At the previous election in 2008 only 47.4 percent of the estimated 400,000 Swazi people 62

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom eligible to vote did so. The Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) in its report on that election attributed the low turnout to a campaign for a boycott of the election by progressives in Swaziland. It reported on the 2008 election, ‘The best indication we have of whether the boycott was a success or not is the voter turnout rate.’ Following the 2013 election, the Weekend Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported the turnout of people on election day was ‘about 400,000’. However, official figures from the EBC stated that only 411,084 Swazis living in Swaziland had registered to vote, which would have meant if the newspaper was correct the turnout would be 97.3 percent. In the week following the election the Swaziland Democratic United Front suggested the turnout might be as low as 80,000. The Swaziland Communist Party put the figure at 100,000. The power wielded by King Mswati was criticised by two independent international groups which observed the Swazi election in 2013. Both the African Union and the Commonwealth Observer Mission suggested the kingdom’s constitution should be reviewed to allow political parties to contest elections. The Commonwealth Observer Mission added that, ‘The presence of the monarch in the structure of everyday political life inevitably associates the institution of the monarchy with politics, a situation that runs counter to the development that the re-establishment of the Parliament and the devolution of executive authority into the hands of elected officials.’ Swazi voters snub ‘King’s democracy’ 25 February 2014 Fewer than 270,000 people voted at the Swaziland national election in 2013: only 44 percent of those entitled to do so. The percentage turnout was lower than in the previous election in 2008. The low turnout casts doubts on claims by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, that his subjects support what he calls his kingdom’s ‘unique democracy’. Political parties are not allowed to take part in elections and most of the political groupings in Swaziland that advocate for democracy have been banned under the King’s Suppressio n of Terrorism Act. The Swazi people are only allowed to select 55 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly, the other 10 are appointed by the King. None of the 30 members of the Swaziland Senate are elected by the people: the King appoints 20 members and the other 10 are appointed by the House of Assembly. Neither the House of Assembly nor the Senate are independent of King, who can, and does, overrule decisions he does not like. 63

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom The people do not elect the government; the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers are handpicked by the King. Immediately before the national election in September 2013, King Mswati announced that the political system in Swaziland that had until then been called tinkhundla would in future be known as ‘Monarchical Democracy.’ He said this would be a partnership between himself and the people. The supporters of King Mswati saw the election as a way for the Swazi people to endorse the King’s version of democracy. At the same time prodemocracy gr oups urged people to boycott the election. The full results of the election have not been made public by King Mswati. This is not unusual in Swaziland where ordinary people are starved of information about the Royal Family and how the government is run. Information about the turnout in September’s election slipped out in a report from the African Development Bank. In its Southern Africa Quarterly Review and Analysis for the fourth quarter of 2013, the Bank devotes a mere seven lines to the election but manages to reveal, ‘Swaziland held its parliamentary elections in September 2013 and the voter turnout was 65 percent.’ If that was the case it means that about 267,000 of the 411,000 people who registered to vote actually did so. It also means that only 44.5 percent of the 600,000 people Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) said were entitled to vote did so. This compares to the 47.4 percent of people entitled to vote in the previous election in 2008 who actually did so. At that election 189,559 people of the 400,000 entitled to vote did so. The vote for the 2013 election contradicts King Mswati, who in a speech at the opening of parliament in February said, ‘We wish to thank the nation for going out in their numbers to elect a new government in a highly successful election.’ It also exposes the Weekend Observer newspaper, which is in effect owned by the King and is considered to be a propaganda operation for the monarchy. Immediately after the vote in September it reported the turnout of people on election day was ‘about 400,000’ which would have equated to a turnout by voters of about 97 percent. It is impossible to tell whether the low turnout in the 2013 election was in support of the boycott call by prodemocracy advocates. It could easily have been because ordinary Swazi people saw no point in voting as it would change nothing in their lives. The power wielded by King Mswati was criticised by two independent international groups which observed the Swazi election in 2013. Both the African Union and the Commonwealth Observer Mission suggested the kingdom’s constitution should be reviewed to allow political parties to contest elections. The Commonwealth Observer Mission added that, ‘The presence of the monarch in the structure of everyday political life inevitably associates the institution of the monarchy with

64

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom politics, a situation that runs counter to the development that the re-establishment of the Parliament and the devolution of executive authority into the hands of elected officials.’ Whatever the reason for the low turnout in the 2013 election, King Mswati and his supporters can no longer claim with justification that the Swazi people wholeheartedly support the political system in Swaziland.

See also PM TELLS MPs THEIR DUTY IS TO KING KING APPOINTS SIX OF HIS FAMILY TO SENATE AU WANTS REVIEW OF SWAZI CONSTITUTION

65

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

10 GOVERNMENT AND PARLIAMENT
MPs want to be immune from arrest 12 March 2014 Some members of the Swaziland Parliament say they should not be arrested if they break the law because they are ‘Very Important People.’ They are particularly aggrieved that police officers have been arresting them for what the MPs call ‘petty crimes’. This emerged from the kingdom’s Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs portfolio committee. The Swazi Observer reported, ‘As dignified citizens, members of parliament have declared they do not want to be arrested on the streets for petty crimes.’ The newspaper added, ‘According to the MPs, it was very embarrassing for them to be held on the streets for petty crimes because as legislators, they would not run away from the hands of justice.’ The Observer said, ‘They said once one became a member of parliament, they fell under the category of very important persons (VIPs) and it would be a shocker to have someone in this category run away from his or her crime because they were known.’ It added, ‘Of major concern from the legislators was the fact that some of the police officers who were found on roadblocks did not even recognise who they were with regards to their status. ‘They alleged that they were treated in a bad way such that one felt embarrassed that being an MP did not even accord them any status.’ A police spokesperson told the newspaper that for the time being police would continue arresting individuals found to be on the wrong side of the law, regardless of their position. The Observer, which is in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as subSaharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported, ‘According to the constitution, only His Majesty the King and the Queen Mother are above the law.’

Swazi Govt humiliated in high court 30 January 2014 The Swaziland Government was forced into a humiliating climb down at the High Court when it could not provide evidence that the chief government vehicle inspector Bhantshana Gwebu should be held in prison pending trial on a contempt of court charge because he was a trade union member and therefore might run away to evade trail.

66

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Gwebu had been sent to prison for seven days on remand by the Swazi Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi for contempt of court. He was accused of unlawfully detained High Court Judge Esther Ota, who was being chauffeured in an ‘authorised’ government vehicle, near Sifundzani. Gwebu believed the judge was not on official business and therefore should not have been using a government car. The Government opposed bail at a hearing at the High Court on Wednesday (29 January 2014). The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) wanted Gwebu held in prison until his trial date because he was a member of the trade union, the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU). The DPP claimed to the court that NAPSAWU had ‘politicised’ the case and the union would help Gwebu to evade trial. It also submitted that if released on bail Gwebu might ‘disturb the public order or undermine public peace and security’. But, when High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala asked the prosecution to supply evidence and clarify how the case had been politicised and how NAPSAWU could assist Gwebu to evade trial, it could not. It then formally withdrew the allegations. Local media reported Judge Maphalala saying it was the duty of the court to dispense justice to all without fear or favour. He said the Crown submitted that Gwebu was a flight risk because he was in association with a union, NAPSAWU. The judge noted that Gwebu surrendered to the police after a warrant of his arrest had been issued. ‘It is also common cause that the union in question is legally recognized in the country,’ he said. He added, ‘There is further no evidence, at all, that the union has hijacked and politicised the case. The union is duty-bound to assist its members. The allegations made by the Crown are misleading.’ Advocate Norman Kades for the DPP withdrew the allegation and Judge Maphalala released Gwebu on E15,000 (US$1,500) bail. Gwebu had been in prison for nine days awaiting the bail hearing, which had been delayed because the DPP claimed it was not ready to proceed with the case. The DPP was forced into a second climb down when the prosecution claimed that the papers for the Crown were drafted hastily as they did not have sufficient time. Judge Maphalala, however, informed him that this was not true as they had six days to prepare their papers. The case involving Gwebu has received international attention because of the way he was charged with contempt of court by the Swazi Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi. Gwebu had been refused legal representation. Gwebu, in his role as chief government vehicle inspector, had charged and arrested, Vusi Tsela, for driving a government vehicle without authority. Tsela is the official driver for High 67

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Court judge, Esther Ota, and, it was reported that he had taken her to one of the elite schools in Mbabane on a Saturday so that she could buy her children’s uniforms before classes resumed. Gwebu’s case is that Tsela did not have the right papers to allow him to drive the car for that trip, so Gwebu subsequently charged him and impounded the car. Ota said that she was on her way to court because she was the duty judge for the weekend and had just needed to run some personal errands before going to work. It has also been reported that Gwebu once impounded Chief Justice Ramodibedi’s official car after he allegedly abused it. Observers say Ramodibedi’s actions in charging Gwebu for contempt of court this time might be ‘pay-back’ for that.

68

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

11 REVIEW OF 2013
2013: Year of repression in Swaziland 3 January 2014 This past year saw national elections in Swaziland, but rather than heralding an opportunity for free and open debate about what kind of government the people wanted, the Swazi state continued to repress the population, using armed police and security forces to clamp down on political discussion. Throughout the year prayers were banned and meetings disrupted. Democracy leaders were harassed, arrested and charged with sedition for wanting to talk about democracy in Swaziland. A preview of 2013, published by Swazi Media Commentary in January, looking forward to the expected national election (it eventually took place in September 2013) noted, ‘King Mswati rules as Swaziland sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and the “parliament” that will come into effect after the election is simply his plaything. He chooses the Prime Minister, the cabinet and most of the people who will sit in the Senate or House of Assembly. He has control of the judiciary and despite a “constitution” that came into effect in 2006 that purports to offer his subjects a Bill of Rights he enjoys complete control. No decisions can be taken without his permission. ‘As a consequence, political parties are banned and freedoms of speech, the media and association are severely curtailed. Seven in ten of the king’s one million subjects live in abject poverty earning less than US$2 a day, while he has13 palaces and a private fortune of at least US$200 million. ‘The US State Department reporting on human rights in Swaziland in 2011 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.”

There were no improvements on human rights in Swaziland in 2013: here is a month by month summary of repression in Swaziland. January Opponents of the Swaziland national election could face a charge of treason, Mzwandile Fakudze, deputy chair of the Elections Boundaries Commission (EBC), told the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati. In Swaziland, treason carries the death penalty. 69

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

February About 60 Swaziland armed state police closed down a peaceful prayer meeting held by prodemocracy activists at the catholic cathedral in Manzini. It had been jointly organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). The prayer coincided with the launch of SUDF’s and SDC’s campaign for a people’s government and the call of for a boycott of the undemocratic nation election in Swaziland later in the year. Police, acting without a court order, said they broke up the meeting because the congregation wanted to sabotage the kingdom’s forthcoming election. Swaziland’s King Mswati III was named as one of the world’s most predatory censors in a media freedom report published by Reporters Without Borders (RWB). King Mswati was 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’. Swaziland ws placed at 155 among 179 nations in the world. Swaziland’s three national security chiefs joined a growing number of the ruling elite to receive bullet-proof cars. Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) Commander Lieutenant Sobantu Dlamini, Royal Swaziland Police (RSP) Commissioner Isaac Magagula and His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS) Commissioner Isaiah Mzuthini Ntshangase were reported to be in line to each receive BMW 2013 X5 cars at a total cost of E4 million (U$400,000.) 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. March Two men who threw stones at the car of Qethuka Dlamini, one of King Mswati III’s official ‘praise singers’, were jailed for 11 years and nine years. One of the men is said to have told Dlamini he detested him for working closely with the king. The European Union (EU) told King Mswati he must allow political parties to operate in his kingdom. It said it was important that international principles of democracy were upheld in Swaziland, where the king rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The call came at the end of a two-day visit to Swaziland by an EU delegation. The Industrial Court backed the government and declared the kingdom’s only labour federation illegal. It said that the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) was improperly registered. The row over the legality of TUCOSWA had been continuing since shortly after it was formed in March 2012, following the amalgamation of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL). TUCOSWA became embroiled in controversy after it declared it would not support the national election in Swaziland this year. A ‘battalion of police officers,’ without a court order, stopped a prayer meeting in Swaziland’s main city Manzini, claiming it was illegal. The police, carrying batons, took control of the Caritas Centre and stopped a commemoration prayer called by TUCOSWA. Riot police later arrived to ensure that no prayers took place. 70

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

April The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) condemned Swazi police for their ‘increasingly violent and abusive behaviour’ that was leading to the ‘militarization’ of the kingdom. It said in a report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) meeting in The Gambia things were so bad in the kingdom that police were unable to accept that peaceful political and social dissent is a vital element of a healthy democratic process, and should not be viewed as a crime. About 80 armed police, acting without a court order, blocked a public debate to mark the 40th anniversary of the Royal Decree made by King Sobhuza II in 1973 that turned Swaziland from a democracy to a kingdom ruled by an autocratic monarchy. The SUDF and the SDC, the joint organisers of the meeting, said police told them the meeting, ‘presented a threat to national security’. Local embassies, church leaders, community organisations, the local and international media were among those invited to attend the meeting. State security forces raided the homes of democracy activists and made arrests after Wonder Mkhonza, the National Organizing Secretary of the banned political party the People ’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), was charged with sedition after being allegedly in possession of 5,000 pamphlets belonging to PUDEMO. Student leader Maxwell Dlamini was charged with sedition because he allegedly tried to organise a meeting to discuss the forthcoming elections in the kingdom. He was alleged to have been one of the organisers of a rally at the Msunduza Township on 19 April 2013 (the same day as birthday celebrations were taking place for King Mswati III elsewhere in the kingdom). May Police refused to allow women in Swaziland to march in protest against gender-based violence. They told the women they could not march because police and the local chief did not want any noise ahead of the election soon to be held in the kingdom. The march at Siphofaneni was to protest at an incident in the area when a wife was paraded naked for three kilometres by her boyfriend after he accused her of being ‘promiscuous’. Police across Swaziland prevented leaders of the campaign for democracy in the kingdom from attending May Day celebrations. Mario Masuku, president of the banned PUDEMO, was taken in by police after he refused to obey instructions not to leave his house. Muzi Mhlanga, the secretary general of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) was also illegally placed under house arrest by police. They had neither a court order nor warrant. Earlier in the week the Swazi Industrial Court banned TUCOSWA from organising May Day activities. The court said TUCOSWA was not a legally-recognised labour organisation. June Armed police stopped a youth group from holding an election workshop at a local church. The workshop organised by the Swaziland Youth Empowerment Organisation, also known as Luvatsi, was due to be held in Sidvokodvo. The police had no warrant or court order, but 71

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom were acting on instructions of their station commander, local media reported. The workshop was to cover the election due in Swaziland this year, human rights and democracy. Police fired live bullets and teargas as children protested against alleged corruption at their school. It happened at Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini when police were called after school pupils boycotted classes. Local media reported police were armed with rifles and pistols. Gun shots were fired at the pupils after police drove them away from the school, but they tried to return. Three members of the pro-democracy group SWAYOCO charged with sedition for carrying a banner at an election rally in Swaziland reported they had been beaten up while in the Sidvwashini Correctional Facility awaiting trial. They told magistrates they feared for their safety. July Police in Swaziland were caught spying on the kingdom’s members of parliament. One officer disguised in plain clothes was thrown out of a workshop for MPs and one MP reported his phone has been bugged. The revelations came as international organsations criticised the way police and security services are used by the ruling elite in Swaziland to undermine opposition to the regime headed by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. August Swazi security forces monitored some of the candidates nominated to contest the Swaziland national election because they were members of a political party. The Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) reported that some of its members, who were nominated earlier this month were being scrutinised by state security forces. September Musa Dube, deputy general secretary of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), was arrested and charged with sedition for possessing and distributing leaflets published by the CPS at Kakhoza in Manzini as part of a campaign to boycott the election being held this month in the kingdom. People in Swaziland were prevented from freely discussing issues in the run up to the election, a report from polling observer, Election Network which operates under the Swazibased Coordinating Assembly of Non-governmental Organisations (CANGO), said. ‘Civil society meetings were crushed, including prayer meetings.’ It added, ‘With no enjoyment of the rights to access information and also exchange information, freedom to associate, freedom of movement and freedom of speech it has become difficult for citizens to canvass issues.’ Vincent Ncongwane, secretary general of the banned union federation TUCOSWA, was arrested at his office by at least 10 police officers to stop him taking part in a democracy march. Police took him to his home where he was put under house arrest. The march was part of a week of campaigning in Swaziland and abroad to draw attention to the lack of democracy and human rights in the kingdom.

72

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Swazi police, acting without a court order or warrant, arrested all members of an international panel of experts, including Jay Naidoo, former Minister of Communications for South Africa, who were due to meet to debate the role of trade unions in Swaziland. They were expected to highlight the role and responsibility of trade unions and civil society in fighting against the violation of fundamental rights in Swaziland. Swaziland’s police chief Isaac Magagula said the panel was trying to cause ‘anarchy and instability’ in the kingdom. In another clampdown on free speech ahead of the election, a sugar cane farmer was charged with sedition for allegedly making unfavourable comments about King Mswati. Allen Nkululeko Mango, aged 48, of Manzini, was alleged to have made comments against the King near the offices of Vuvulane Town Board. The charges said that Mango, ‘wrongfully and unlawfully made comments which brought hatred or contempt against the King of Swaziland, King Mswati III so that he can be hated by his subjects at Vuvulane.’ October None of the major office holders in King Mswati’s new parliament in Swaziland was elected by the people. The Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the President and Deputy President of Senate were all appointed by the King. In addition King Mswati appointed six members of his own family to the Senate and a further six to the House of Assembly. Commonwealth observers called for Swaziland’s Constitution to be rewritten after they concluded the kingdom’s national election in September was not entirely credible. The call came in the official report of the Commonwealth Observer Mission which said members of parliament ‘continue to have severely limited powers’ and political parties were banned. It called for King Mswati’s powers to be reduced. Fewer than one in four people in Swaziland said they were completely free to say what they think, new research published by Afrobarometer showed. That put Swaziland 29th out of 34 African countries surveyed. November A newly-appointed chief in Swaziland threatened to evict nearly 1,000 of his subjects from grazing land if they did not pay him a fine the equivalent of more than six months income for many. Chief Ndlovula of Motshane told residents if they do not each pay a fine of E5,000 (US$500) their homes would be destroyed. In Swaziland seven in ten people earn less than E20 a day. The chief stands to make about E5 million if the fines are paid. He said his subjects illegally built homes on land put aside for grazing. Children in Swaziland were being used as forced labour to tend the fields of King Mswati, an international report on human trafficking said. Chiefs in rural areas who represent the monarch, ‘may coerce children and adults—through threats and intimidation—to work for the king,’ the report from the US State Department revealed. The report also said, ‘Swazi girls, particularly orphans, are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude in the cities of Mbabane and Manzini, as well as in South Africa, Mozambique, and the United States.’

73

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom Swaziland police, acting without a warrant or court order, broke up a screening of a documentary The King and the People which was critical of King Mswati III and detained the owner of the studio. The screening at the Christian Media Centre in Manzini had been organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front. About 50 people had gathered to watch the documentary. Armed police raided the dormitories at the Kwaluseni campus of the University of Swaziland (UNISWA), teargasing students and arresting and beating their leaders. It followed peaceful complaints from students about the end-of-semester examinations that were taking place. Later, armed police stood guard outside examination halls as the UNISWA Administration attempted to hold the exams. December About 30 armed police broke up a church service held to mourn the death of Nelson Mandela. The service at the Lutheran Church in Manzini was organised by SUDF. It wanted to mourn Mandela and also to draw attention to the lack of democracy in Swaziland. Two thirds of Swazi people want the kingdom to become a democracy, research published this month revealed. And, they want to choose their own leaders, ‘through honest and open elections’. They also strongly disapprove of allowing King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch, to decide on everything in Swaziland. The research was conducted by Afrobarometer. Three months after the national election in Swaziland took place the full final results have not been published.

74

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

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

75

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.

76

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

OCCASIONAL PAPERS SERIES
No. 1. 2013. Cynicism Eats Away at Swaziland Journalism: The State of Swazi Journalism, 2013 One thing that shines out about journalists and their editors in Swaziland is the deeply cynical way they operate. Swazi journalists claim to be upholders of fine ethical traditions of honesty and inquiry, but instead they are often publishing lies or playing with readers’ emotions to boost company profits. This article explores the state of newspaper journalism in Swaziland, a small kingdom in Africa, ruled over by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Editors are deliberately misleading their readers by publishing material that is intended to provoke controversy and reaction, even though they know it also contains lies. This is done in order to boost profits for owners. No. 2. 2013. Swaziland Broadcasting Not For The People A review of broadcasting in Swaziland that demonstrates through research that radio in the kingdom only serves the interests of King Mswati III and his intimate supporters. All other voices are excluded from the airwaves. The paper contrasts a ‘public broadcasting service’ with ‘public service broadcasting’ and demonstrates that changes in the kingdom’s broadcasting cannot be made until it becomes a democratic state. No. 3. 2013. Swaziland Media Need Code of Conduct for Covering Elections A review of how media have covered past elections in Swaziland highlighting a number of areas for improvement. The paper includes a suggested code of ethical conduct that Swazi journalists can adopt in order to improve performance. No.4. 2013. Swaziland Press Freedom: The case of Bekhi Makhubu and the Nation magazine In April 2013 Bheki Makhubu the editor of the Nation magazine and its publishers, Swaziland Independent Publishers were convicted of ‘scandalising the court’ after two articles criticising the judiciary were published in 2009 and 2010. The purpose of this paper is to bring together details of the story so far (May 2013). It is an attempt to bring under one cover all the available information on the case in order to assist those people in the future who might need a quick ‘primer’. No.5. 2013. Media Coverage of Swaziland Election 2013. A review of media coverage of the Swaziland national election, most notably in the only two newspaper groups in the kingdom, and at international media. It notes that generally newspapers in Swaziland ignored the real issue, that of the non-democratic nature of the elections, and concentrated instead on trying to justify the governance system to their readers.

77

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM
PREVIOUS EDITIONS

Volume 1, Jan 2013, is available free of charge here. Volume 2, Feb 2013, is available free of charge here. Volume 3, March 2013, is available free of charge here. Volume 4, April 2013, is available free of charge here. Volume 5, May 2013, is available free of charge here. Volume 6, June 2013, is available free of charge here. Volume 7, July 2013, is available free of charge here. Volume 8, August 2013, is available free of charge here. Volume 9, September 2013, is available free of charge here Volume 10, October 2013, is available free of charge here Volume 11, November 2013, is available free of charge here Volume 12, December 2013, is available free of charge here

78

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Swazi Media Commentary
Containing information and commentary about human rights in Swaziland Click Here

79

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful