You are on page 1of 89

Swaziland:

Striving for
Freedom
As seen through the pages of Swazi Media
Commentary
Volume 19: June to September 2015

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

CONTENTS

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12

Introduction
King Mswati III
Reed Dance / Umhlanga
Democracy
Democracy leaders freed on bail
Media
Human Rights
Judicial crisis
SADC
Kings Soccer Super Cup
KM III Airport
Plan for inland port
Royal Family
About the author
Other publications

2
3
15
25
35
39
48
59
67
70
77
79
83
84
85

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

INTRODUCTION
King Mswati III, Swazilands absolute monarch, is being dragged through the courts in a case
where he is personally being sued for US$1.5 million damages for his alleged part in the
downfall of a mining operation in his Swaziland. The case which will be played out in the
British Virgin Islands will be the first time the King has personally been sued. In Swaziland it
is not possible to bring any kind of legal action against the monarch.
This is one of the continuing stories from the past three months that has been reported by
Swazi Media Commentary. This compilation brings together posts that originally appeared on
the Swazi Media Commentary website.
A major tragedy took place in August when a number of children (the exact figure is
disputed) were killed in a road accident while being transported to the Kings Reed Dance
where they were expected to dance half-naked in front of him. The accident highlighted the
way that the Kings poverty-stricken subjects are often treated like cattle while the King lives
a lavish lifestyle. On that note, the Kings private jet continues to bring him grief as he tries
to fight a court order compelling him to pay alleged unpaid debts.
The quarter ended on an optimistic note when it was reported that the Commonwealth had
brokered a deal in which the King agreed to meet representatives of the kingdoms civil
society in which were dubbed by outsiders as democracy talks.
Swazi Media Commentary website 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 regularly.

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

1. KING MSWATI III


Swazi King personally sued for US$1.5m
22 September 2015
King Mswati III of Swaziland is to be personally sued for US$1.5 million after the collapse
of the Ngwenya iron ore mine in his kingdom.
The court action will take place in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) because the King is
immune from the law in Swaziland where he rules as an absolute monarch.
The case is expected to shed new light on the way the King does business with foreign
investors and the control he exerts over them.
At one point it is said the King took US$1.5 million from the company running the Ngwenya
mine to buy art work from a New York dealer. He refused to repay the company the money
and it collapsed soon after with the loss of 700 jobs and debts to creditors of about US$4
million.
The court case to be heard in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in BVI has been started
by Shanmuga Rethenam, a businessman popularly known as Shan. In an affidavit to the court
Shan stated that on 30 June 2011 King Mswati (referred to throughout the document as
HMK) granted a seven-year mining lease to SG Iron, which was formerly known as
Salgaocar Swaziland, to mine iron ore dumps left in the Ngwenya mining area by the Anglo
American Mining Corporation in the 1970s.
Twenty-five percent of the shares were issued to the Swaziland Government for no payment;
25 percent went to the King in trust for the Swazi nation, and 50 percent were issued to
Southern Africa Resources Africa Limited (SARL), which was formerly known as Salgaocar
Resources Africa Limited.
In his affidavit, Shan stated, The arrangement by which HMK owned 25 percent of SG Iron
in trust for the Swazi nation is a familiar one in Swaziland. I am aware that HMK owns the
Tibiyo Taka Ngwane and Tisuka Taka Ngwane funds, which account for about half of
Swazilands economy, on that basis. In my experience, HMK takes an active interest in the
commercial success of his investments and commonly issues instructions through his
representatives such as Mr Lutfo [Dlamini] or Mr Sihle [Dlamini], on commercial issues.
Shan stated that SARL provided all the capital, more than US$50 million, and all the
expertise to undertake the iron ore operations at Ngwenya.
He stated, On 6 April 2012, HMK requested through Mr Sihle [the Kings representative on
the companys board] that SG Iron pay him an advanced dividend, which was in effect a
loan of US$10 million. SG Irons directors were given no choice and so, on 16 April 2012,
we resolved to agree to HMKs request and to make the payment of US$10 million. It was

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

HMKs desire to avoid repaying this loan that subsequently led to the collapse of operations
at the Ngwenya mine.
Shan added, In about June 2011, shortly before the mining lease was awarded, I met HMK
in Swaziland. He requested that SARL agree to pay him a personal benefit of US$0.50 per
dry metric tonne of iron ore from the Ngwenya mine exported from Swaziland. SARLs
directors were given no choice and so we agreed to HMKs request. SG Commodities [a
company that trades in commodities] was to be the vehicle through which payments would be
made, and the payments were always directed to third party recipients on HMKs behalf, so
that no payments would be made directly from SARL to HMK. Prior to December 2013,
SARL paid HMK through SG Commodities approximately US$700,000 pursuant to that
agreement.
Shan added, In or about October or early November 2013, I met HMK in Swaziland. He
requested that SG Commodities agree to grant him a loan of US$1.5 million, to be repaid to
SG Commodities out of the payments anticipated to be due to HMK pursuant to his
agreement with SARL. SG Commodities was given no choice and so I agreed on SG
Commodities behalf to HMKs request. On 18 December 2013 Mr Sihle directed SG
Commodities on HMKs behalf to advance the US$1.5 million capital sum by making
payment to a New York art dealer, Metropolitan Fine Arts & Antiques Inc, from whom HMK
had purchased certain artworks.
Shan added that in early 2014 King Mswati told him he was unable to repay his loan from SG
Iron.
In his affidavit, Shan stated, To avoid his repayment obligations, HMK then set about
engineering the collapse of SG Iron and expropriating SARLs investment in Swaziland. On
21 August 2014, Mr Sihle issued an order on HMKs behalf to SG Iron, without consulting or
informing me or anyone else from SARL, to stop all sales of iron ore cargo from the
Ngwenya mine. Mining operations were progressing satisfactorily and there was no proper
reason to issue any such order. Indeed, the immediate result of the order was that perfectly
saleable cargo began to stockpile. The inability to sell cargo cost SG Iron millions of dollars
of working capital and created an artificial and wholly avoidable cashflow crisis.
Shan added, In September 2014, in the midst of the crisis, Mr Sihle demanded on HMKs
behalf that SARL agree to SG Iron writing off HMKs debt to SG Iron, that SARL write off
some of SG Irons US$57,186,022.53 debt to SARL and that SARL inject further capital into
SG Iron. None of the steps demanded by Mr Sihle would have been necessary had HMK
simply permitted the sales of cargo to resume, and would have been pointless since sales
were prohibited, and so SARL refused. Mining operations collapsed shortly thereafter.
Shan added, Mr Sihle told me that HMK had instructed him to shut down SG Iron and to
start afresh, and that if I did anything to retaliate then I would be arrested and an Interppol
[international police] notice would be issued against me.

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Shan added, What happened next illustrates the power of an absolute monarch who exercises
complete control over Swazilands judiciary, as well as its legislative and executive branches
of government. Mr Sihle applied on SG Irons behalf, without consulting or informing me or
anyone else from SARL (and having intimidated me to prevent me from intervening as
described above) to the High Court of Swaziland for orders which had the effect of
destroying SG Iron and expropriating SARLs investment in Swaziland. At HMKs direction,
the court appointed to SG Iron a judicial manager on 10 October 2014, a provisional
liquidator on 16 December 2014and a liquidator on 30 January 2015.
Shan added, The expropriation of SARLs investment is the subject of an ongoing dispute
between SARL and the Kingdom of Swaziland under the Swaziland Investment Promotion
Act (1998) and the Southern African Development Community Protocol on Finance and
Investment (2006).
Shan added, I caused SG Commodities to make payments to Metropolitan [the art dealer]
because HMK, through Mr Sihle, demanded that I do so. I understood that demand to come
with an implied threat that, if HMKs demand was not met, the Ngwenya iron ore mine
project would be placed in jeopardy. SG Commodities therefore also seeks restitution of
those monies by reason of economic duress applied by HMK.
King Mswati III is one of two respondents in the case. The other is Inchatsavane Company
(Proprietary) Limited. King Mswati is described as the sole shareholder in this company.
The case is to be heard in the BVI because that is where SG Commodities is incorporated.
See also
HOW SWAZI KING DESTROYED IRON MINE
MYSTERY OF SWAZI KINGS US$10m LOAN
KING AT CENTRE OF IRON MINE FAILURE
ONLY KING GAINS FROM MINE FAILURE

Swazi King jet dispute back in court


23 September 2015
A court has ordered that King Mswati III of Swaziland cannot sell or dispose of his private jet
until a dispute over his alleged failure to pay a US$3.5 million debt is resolved.
This is part of a long-running legal dispute between Shanmuga Rethenam, who owns a
company called SG Air, and the King.
Rethenam, popularly known as Shan, has succeeded in getting a freezing order from the
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). If the King fails to
comply with the order he faces contempt of court charges and possible imprisonment.

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

SG Air claims that King Mswati owes it the money for repairs and modifications undertaken
to his private McDonnell Douglas DC-9-87 aircraft in 2012. The case was heard in the
Superior Court in Ontario, Canada, in June 2015, when the King won on a legal technicality.
However, pending possible appeals, King Mswati, through a company he owns called
Inchatsavane, was forced to lodge a letter of credit for US$3.5 million with Canadian
lawyers, in case he lost the appeal. The money was due to be released on 15 September 2015.
Since the Canadian court case, the Swazi Government announced it intended to try to lease
out the aircraft, valued at about US$14.5 million, and in turn lease the King a larger, more
luxurious jet, with the possibility of buying it at a later date.
The DC-9-87 is reportedly undergoing repairs in South Africa and one of its engines might be
sent to the United Kingdom for further work. The BVI court freezing order applies to both
South Africa and the UK.
The new freezing order means the King cannot dispose of the aircraft or its engines until the
court case over the alleged debt is resolved.
The court order was made in the BVI because that is where SG Air is incorporated. It is
impossible to take court action against King Mswati in Swaziland, because as the kingdoms
absolute monarch he is immune from the law.
See also
KING WINS JET CASE ON A TECHNICALITY
IMPOUNDED KINGS JET FINALLY RELEASED
SWAZI KING NOT ABOVE LAW IN CANADA

Court confirms King above law


8 September 2015
Swazilands Supreme Court has overturned a ruling that King Mswati III should pay rates for
properties in his name.
In 2014 the Swazi High Court had ruled that the King, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan
Africas last absolute monarch, should pay E571,174.90 (about US$50,000) to the Municipal
Council of Manzini.
Now, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Swazi Constitution states that laws of the land do
not apply to the King and the Queen Mother.
The Sunday Observer, a newspaper in Swaziland in effect owned by the King, reported the
case started in 2012 when the Municipal Council of Manzini took Tisuka TakaNgwane a
royal institution that is a subsidiary of Tibiyo TakaNgwane (also a royal institution) to court

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

demanding payment in rates arrears for a property situated in a portion of Farm 189 situated
in the Manzini District.
The High Court had ruled that property owned by the King was not exempt from payment of
rates if it was held for his private financial profit.
The Supreme Court ruled that in accordance with the kingdoms Constitution, the King was
immune from paying rates on all property owned by him in any private capacity.
Section 10 of the Constitution states The King and Ingwenyama [Queen Mother] shall be
immune from taxation in respect of his Civil List, all income accruing to him and all property
owned by him in any private capacity.
Section 11 of the Constitution also says the King and Ingwenyama shall be immune from (a)
a suit or legal process in any cause in respect of all things done or omitted to be done by him,
and (b) being summoned to appear as a witness in any civil or criminal proceedings.
In June 2015, the Nation, an independent monthly magazine in Swaziland, reported that the
Swazi people were paying more than ever for the upkeep of the King, his 14 wives and vast
Royal Family.
It reported that in 2015, The overall [annual] budget for King Mswati and the royal
household took a significant increase of about 25 percent from E630 million [US$63 million]
to E792 million. This reflects a staggering E162 million increase and accounts for just about
five percent of the overall national budget. This has been the trend for some years.
King Mswati lives a lavish lifestyle with 13 palaces, a private jet aircraft and fleets of
Mercedes and BMW cars. Meanwhile seven in ten of his 1.3 million subjects live in abject
poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.
King gets new jet as his subjects starve
27 August 2015
While Parliament in Swaziland has agreed to purchase a larger private jet for the kingdoms
autocratic ruler King Mswati III that might cost US$30 million, news is circulating in the
kingdom that the government is unable to distribute food aid to the starving rural population
because it cannot afford to run trucks.
Maize crops have failed this year because of a drought that has hit southern Africa. Figures
released in July 2015 suggest that as many as a quarter of the Kingdoms 1.3 million
population are now malnourished.
This week some members of the Swazi House of Assembly threatened to stop attending
parliamentary sessions until the government acted and delivered food to hungry people in
Swazilands rural areas.

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom where media
censorship is heavy, reported on Tuesday (25 August 2015) that Nhlambeni MP Frans
Dlamini told parliament that, as legislators, they no longer had any ideas on how to rescue
the hungry people and wondered why government had stopped the food distributions.
What happened to the food aid and what should we do so that government sees it fit to
conduct food distributions? I do not know if we should leave Parliament and only return once
the food has been distributed, the Times reported Dlamini saying.
The Times reported MPs were told that trucks to ferry food were not available.
A few days earlier the Swazi Parliament agreed to purchase a jet for King Mswati. His
present jet, a MacDonnell Douglas DC-9 jet (also known as MD87), which cost about US$17
million in 2012 is considered to be too small for the monarch to use.
The new jet, which will be purchased on a lease-to-buy contract, might eventually cost as
much as US$30 million.
In Swaziland, political parties are banned from contesting elections and King Mswati, who
rules as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, appoints the government. The King
leads a lavish lifestyle with at least 14 wives, 13 palaces, a private jet and fleets of BMW and
Mercedes cars.
Last week it was reported in a newspaper in Botswana, that Prince Majaha, King Mswatis
23-year-old son, had a watch stolen that was worth US$40,000, the equivalent of 55 years of
income for seven in ten of the Kings subjects, who earn less than US$2 per day.
King Mswatis government has a poor record in helping hungry Swazi people.
In May 2013, international media reported that starving people in Swaziland were being
denied food by the government because it was punishing the kingdoms members of
parliament for passing a vote of no confidence against it.
Food intended to feed destitute families, especially those headed by single women with
children, had been deliberately left to rot in government warehouses, they said. One Swazi
newspaper said, [T]here could be a deliberate ploy at cabinet to systematically starve the
people.
The international news agency IRIN reported the problem was being blamed on bad blood
between members of parliament (MPs) and members of King Mswati IIIs cabinet. This was
after the House of Assembly passed a no-confidence vote in October 2012 against Prime
Minister Barnabas Dlamini, who is both a relative and appointee of the king. The noconfidence vote was later reversed.
The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, in an editorial comment
said, [T]here could be a deliberate ploy at cabinet to systematically starve the people.

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

IRIN reported, Although the country has institutions resembling those in democracies,
Swaziland's parliamentarians do not enact legislation; rather, they approve policies of the
kings appointed cabinet.
But MPs are still responsible to their constituents - voter registration began a few days ago
for this years scheduled elections, although a poll date has yet to be announced. Political
parties remain banned.
Some observers believe the disruption of food supplies was meant as a lesson for the MPs.
Aaron Simelane, a Swaziland-based political commentator, told IRIN, MPs are considered
community development agents by the people who vote ... Swazis want their MPs to bring
roads, jobs and aid to their communities, but MPs have no power to do any of these things.
[The] cabinet has this power.
The people do not know this, and when things arent done they blame MPs, who promise to
deliver this and that to get elected. By withholding food aid, [the] cabinet is teaching MPs a
lesson about power.
Local media in Swaziland reported that hundreds of 50kg bags of beans, mealie-meal and
boxes of cooking oil had been left to rot at the government central warehouse in Matsapha.
IRIN said the spoiled food included, 15,000kg of the staple maize meal, 25,000kg of beans
and 600 cartons of vegetable oil.
The Swazi Observer in an editorial comment stated, [T]ons of donated staples like maize,
beans and cooking oil were deliberately being allowed to rot at a government granary in
Matsapha, while starving people had to contend with the pangs of hunger out there.
We may be forced to agree with the honourables [members of parliament], who are now
claiming there could be a deliberate ploy at cabinet to systematically starve the people and
obliterate them from the face of their army worm-ravaged areas.
The Observer went on to say, Or much sinister still, it is to alienate the present crop of MPs
from their constituents, so they cannot be voted back to parliament, if that was to happen.
Are the hungry people being used to hit back at the MPs for their still-born vote of no
confidence last year? When things happen in this manner, one starts to believe even the most
far-fetched theories, which is why government should avoid such embarrassing situations at
all costs.

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Kings virginity test claims are false


6 August 2015
A Nigerian website has falsely claimed that girls and young women in Swaziland are forced
to undergo public virginity tests before King Mswati III decides whether to take them as his
wife.
The report has brought widespread condemnation from opponents and supporters of the King
alike.
The website called Pulse published graphic pictures on 4 August 2015 that it claimed were of
women undergoing virginity tests.
Although the pictures do show such tests, they do not show Swazi women. The photographs
had previously appeared on a Malaysian-based website in 2009. They were used to illustrate
a report saying thousands of girls in South Africa were queueing up each month to prove
that they are virgins.
It is thought the pictures might date from before 2009, possible as early as 2001.
The Nigerian website Pulse used the pictures to mount an attack on King Mswati. It reported.
Now, photos have been released showing under aged girls being publicly checked to
ascertain that their virginity was still intact.
All this was done in a bid to help King Mswati choose a wife.
One photograph was captioned, Under aged girls publicly undergoing virginity tests before
King Mswati can choose a bride.
The report added, Many consider this barbaric and backward but it seems to be a tradition
the people willingly live by.
The publication of the report caused fury on social media. Many of the writers were not
supporters of King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute
monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and political and civil
rights are severely curtailed in his kingdom.
Even people who oppose the King politically wrote to support Swaziland and its people.
One person wrote, As much as we are against the regime but this is not true and these aren't
Swazis in this picture.
Another person who posted a comment on the Pulse website said, I am no advocate of my
country but this post is b******t.
One reader attacked the writer of the report saying, If you're looking for something to
criticize about this beautiful land, let it be on truth and well established facts.

10

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

King Mswati is often criticised in the international media and on the Internet for his lavish
lifestyle. He has a private jet aircraft, fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars and 13 palaces. He
regularly travels in opulent style across the world.
Meanwhile, seven in ten of his 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes less
than US$2 a day.
U.S. cable says King imbalanced
30 July 2015
The US Embassy in Swaziland said King Mswati III was not intellectually well developed
and is not a reader. It also called him imbalanced.
The comments about the Swazi King came from Earl Irvine in February 2010, when he was
the US Ambassador to Swaziland.
In a confidential cable to Washington released by Wikileaks, Irvine said King Mswati, subSaharan Africas last absolute monarch, had a lack of wisdom.
Quoting an informant, Irvine wrote the king was not a reader, and would not review
documents left for him. [The informant] called the king not intellectually well-developed,
and contrasted his poor educational background with his father Sobhuza II, who was educated
at Lovedale College in South Africa alongside future leaders of South Africas African
National Congress (ANC).
Irvine wrote, Essentially a bastard outsider to the royal family, King Mswati III was plucked
from relative obscurity when members of the royal family could not come to an agreement on
a successor to King Sobhuza II.
After Mswati III was selected to be the next king, a posthumous marriage of Sobhuza II to
Ntombi [the Queen Mother] was quickly arranged, according to our interlocutor.
Irvine wrote, Unlike in his early years, the king now identifies and pushes specific projects,
and will look to replace ministers or employees who are unable to provide progress on those
projects.
Irvine quoted his informant calling King Mswati imbalanced. He gave an anecdote to
illustrate this. The king, [the informant] said, invited about 40 officials and advisors to a
basement in one of his palaces, where they all sat on the floor to attend to him. King Mswati
III turned up the heater, which warmed the floor first, until the temperature in the room
reached about 40 degrees Celsius, and told inconsequential stories to those gathered while
they sweated, merely to show them he was in power.
Irvine also reported that the kings mother had a sexual affair with Lutfo Dlamini,
Swazilands former Foreign Minister.

11

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

And the Queen Mother Ntombis associations with men had undermined the power she had
to influence King Mswatis decision-making.
Irvine called the cable he wrote to Washington Witchcraft and More: A Portrait of
Influences on King Mswati III.
In the cable Irvine said, traditional leaders, superstition, and members of the royal family
were the major influences on the king. His ministers, however, remain his servants.
Irvine wrote, The kings wives opinions matter to the king, especially his third wife,
LaMbikisa, who has an advanced degree and is the only wife to whom the king proposed.
Irvine goes on, King Mswati III believes in muti (traditional medicine used to cast spells or
curses), and attempts to use muti to attack the king are taken seriously.
He wrote, In 1989 Prince Mfana Sibili was accused of high treason when he allegedly used
muti to try to take away the kings powers. When a foreign judge, brought in to hear the case,
dismissed it after hearing the charges, a traditional court was installed to convict the prince.
He said that muti people hold great sway within the royal family, and that the king must eat
and drink whatever they give him during traditional ceremonies, particularly when in
seclusion. If they are unhappy with the direction the king is taking the country, then the king
has cause to worry.
Irvine went on Although Queen Mother Ntombi is considered by many observers to be a
powerful figure within the royal family, [name of informant] indicated that her authority has
been undermined by her associations with men, including the then Foreign Minister Lutfo
Dlamini.
Irvine wrote, Mswati III uses the investment company African Alliance to move his money
around internationally.
The informant indicated that the king has become more decisive during his years in office,
especially where his interests are at issue, and he views ministers and officials who tell him
he cannot do something as cowards.
Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini is the kings loyal hangman, Irvine wrote, an
assertion that suggests that the king placed absolute trust in Barnabas.
Instead of looking to influence the king, the Prime Minister acts as the king's steadfast
servant, a relationship that dates back to a suicide attempt by Barnabas in 1990 or 1991.
According to [informants] in an unsuccessful attempt kept secret from the public, Barnabas
tried to commit suicide after his involvement in a corruption scandal during his tenure as
Minister of Finance became known.
As part of making amends to the king, Barnabas reportedly prostrated himself before the
king, giving himself over as the kings servant.
12

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Swazi Kings budget rises by 25pc


29 July 2015

The budget for Swazilands King Mswati III and his family has increased by 25 percent and
now makes up five percent of the overall national budget for Swaziland.
These figures that are never debated in the Swazi Parliament or in the kingdoms mainstream
media have been published by the Nation magazine, a small circulation monthly publication.
The magazine reported that for the year 2015/16, every budget of the royal household,
except for the subvention to the Kings Office, reflects a generous increase.
The Nation report has been uploaded to the Internet.
The Nation reported, The overall budget for King Mswati and the royal household took a
significant increase of about 25 percent from E630 million [US$63 million] to E792 million.
This reflects a staggering E162 million increase and accounts for just about five percent of
the overall national budget. This has been the trend for some years.
Government increased the Royal Emoluments and Civil List by 21.9 percent from E279
million last year to E340 million. This reflect an increase E61 million.
The Swazi National Treasury, a royal unit responsible for national courts and advisory
committees such as Liqoqo, the idle Border Restoration Committee and others, has its budget
handsomely increased by E77 million from E200 million. This is a 38.9 percent increase.
Government further increased budget for construction of State houses by E13 million from
E131 million to E144 million. This is an increase of about 10 percent. The state houses are
mainly palaces for the royal household. This budget has become a common feature in the
national budget.
The budget for link roads to royal residence has been increased by E5 million from E25
million last year to E30 million this year. This reflects a 20 percent increase. The status of the
project has never been publicly disclosed. This is another budget that has become a common
feature in the national budget.
Government cut down subvention to the Kings Office by E3.4 million from E5 million to
E1.6 million. This is a decrease of about 68 percent. A budget of E252 million has been made
for the link road to KMIII Airport and to Hlane.
At the opening of the KMIII airport last year (2014), government blew over E5 million on a
bash for the royal project.
The Nation magazine is edited by Bheki Makhubu, who along with writer and journalist
Thulani Maseko, were released from jail on 30 June 2015 after serving 15 months for
contempt of court after writing and publishing articles critical of the Swazi judiciary.

13

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The magazine has a long-standing reputation for covering stories about people in power in
the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati, who is an absolute monarch.
The Nation reported, The budget for the royal household is not debated in parliament. Not
because there is any law against it but simple because it is considered unSwazi and a taboo
for commoners to discuss anything pertaining to the esteemed family.
Parliament is also in the dark as to how the funds are used as audited reports are only for the
eyes of the king.
The magazine said Parliament just approves what the government, which is handpicked by
the King, has budgeted.

14

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

2. REED DANCE / UMHLANGA


Swazi Reed Dance: truth from abroad
26 August 2015
The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, is very excited that
the US cable news network CNN might be covering the Umhlanga or Reed Dance on
Monday (31 August 2015).
The newspaper, described by the Media Institute of Southern Africa Swaziland chapter as a
pure propaganda machine for the royal family, reported on Wednesday (26 August 2015)
that a well-placed source that it did not name, said, The Reed Dance is regarded a huge
event internationally, so it is no surprise that international media like CNN is interested.
This will also be a good thing for Swaziland as it is accessible in many countries worldwide, all eyes will be on the reed dance.
The Observer then went on to report that CNN can be accessed by over 900 million people
in the United States alone, a statement that is clearly false since the entire population of the
United States is only 325,527,595. Indeed, in 2014, the number of viewers of CNN in the US
during prime time each day was only 515,000 on average.
It is not yet clear if CNN will be at the Reed Dance.
The purpose of the Swazi Observer article was to try to talk up King Mswati III, who rules
Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. Each year he holds the Reed Dance
in which young women and girls who are supposedly virgins dance bare-breasted in front of
the King. Media reports in Swaziland suggest that about 90,000 maidens have registered to
take part in this years event.
Journalists at the Swazi Observer seem not to have noticed that international media cover the
event each year. Unlike their counterparts in Swaziland who work under extreme conditions
of censorship when reporting about the King, they tend to report the Reed Dance in context.
That means should CNN and other international news organisations attend the Reed dance we
can expect them to report that King Mswati witnessed bare-breasted maids in their tens of
thousands dance before him. They will also report (unlike their Swazi colleagues) that the
King has at least 15 wives and some are younger than his own children. They will report that
the King lives a lavish lifestyle, with palaces, a private jet aircraft, fleets of BMW and
Mercedes cars and he likes to travel in luxury abroad.
They will report that in Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections
and that the King choses the government. They will also remind their audiences of the human
rights abuses that regularly take place in Swaziland, including the jailing of journalists and
trade union leaders.

15

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

They will also report that seven in ten of his 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, with
incomes of less than US$2 per day; that Swaziland has the highest level of HIV infection in
the world and that many people in the kingdom will this year starve unless they receive food
aid donated by people who live in multi-party democracies.
We can be assured that they will report in this fashion, because that is how the uncensored
international media always report when they visit Swaziland.
The journalists at the Swazi Observer might regret it very much if CNN does turn up.
Swazi Reed Dance: illegal whippings
27 August 2015
Police in Swaziland have warned random men not to loiter near camps housing tens of
thousands of supposed virgins during the forthcoming Reed Dance or Umhlanga ceremony.
In the past men found in such situations have been illegally whipped.
About 90,000 young women and girls have reportedly registered to take part in the ceremony
which concludes on Monday (31 August 2015) when they will dance half-naked in front of
King Mswati III, who is sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch.
The women and girls are reportedly virgins and form a regiment known as Imbali.
The warning came from Police Information and Communications Officer Assistant
Superintendent Khulani Mamba. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King
Mswati, that has been extensively covering the Reed Dance, reported Mamba saying, The
police will be there at the national event from the beginning to the end to ensure safety of the
public and of the maiden. We would like to advise the public on a number of things such as
appealing them to drive with caution on the roads as the Imbali will be marching.
The maidens are also expected to be well-behaved while camped for the event so random
men are also warned against being found loitering next to the camps where they will be
sleeping, as tindvuna [overseers] have also warned.
The police officer and media did not report what the consequences would be for men found
loitering. There is huge secrecy surrounding events such as the Reed Dance, since they are
the mainstays of Swazi traditional culture.
However, in 2007 the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the
kingdom, broke the secrecy when it reported on the mass whipping of young men during the
Reed Dance.
The Times reported on 5 September 2007 that the traditional authorities who were given the
responsibility of supervising the maidens systematically detained and whipped young men
who were caught at night trying to get close to the young women.

16

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

In a report starkly headlined, 27 men whipped at Reed Dance, the Times reported that the
men were caught, whipped, and temporarily detained after invading the camp where the
maidens were staying.
The whipping was not an isolated incident and the Times reported that some men were
whipped on Saturday and others on Sunday. It seemed that the detention and whipping of
unwelcome visitors was an agreed method of discipline among those tasked with supervising
the maidens.
The Times report quoted Muzi Dlamini, one of the men responsible for supervising the
maidens, saying that the men were taken to a small tent. They were beaten with sjamboks
and sticks. We were disciplining them and I must say they deserved such a punishment.
He spoke about two separate occasions when men were detained and beaten. After we had
detained these boys, there were no more visits from strangers. Indeed it worked for us, he
said.
The whippings highlighted an issue with Swazi culture. In traditional custom in Swaziland,
the punishers may have been entitled to act in the way that they did, but in Swazi law they
were not. There was at least a case for Dlamini and the others who helped him beat the boys
to face prosecution for assault.
The whipping of the boys and men was not an isolated incident of violence at that years
Reed Dance. On 4 September 2007 the Times reported that one of the senior overseers of the
maidens, Ntfonjeni Dlamini, assaulted a group of maidens with a stick. He hurt two of them
so badly, the Times reports, that they had to go to Lobamba Clinic, where one of them was
treated for injuries to her right leg and bruises all over her body. The other was reported to
have bruises all over her body and was bleeding on her back.
Four other maidens were also thrashed, but were not as badly injured.
The Times followed up the story the following day (5 September 2007) reporting that the two
women had reported Ntfonjeni Dlamini to the police. The Swaziland Action Group Against
Abuse also commented about the wrongfulness of beating children.
In an editorial comment, the Times said, Ntfonjeni Dlamini seems to believe he holds the
right to beat up anybodys child for no apparent reason. It called on traditional authorities
to take strong action against the blemishing of the Reed Dance, which it described as a
colourful event and an opportunity for Swaziland to make a bit of money from tourists.
As well as the two stories already mentioned the Times also gave an account (5 September
2007) of eight stabbings in isolated incidents at the Reed Dance. The newspaper reported that
those stabbed were involved in brawls over girls.

17

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

In September 2014, the Times reported that more than 30 maidens were given a serious
hiding for delinquent acts during the Shiselweni Reed Dance ceremony, a localised version
of the main Reed Dance, held at the Mbangweni Royal Residence.
Most of the girls, who were caned by their headmen, were beaten for not participating in the
main event, while they left their respective homes under the pretext that they were going to
the Reed Dance ceremony.
The Times reported, It was discovered that while the girls were being punished by the
headmen, some got seriously injured as they tried to run away. Most of them were treated by
paramedics, who attended to their case overnight (Saturday).
One girl reportedly had spent a night with a male companion.
Cancel Reed Dance after deaths
29 August 2015
A rights organisation in Swaziland has called on King Mswati III to cancel the Reed Dance
due to take place on Sunday (30 August 2015) and Monday out of respect for the dozens of
girls and young women who were reportedly killed in a truck accident on the way to the
celebration.
The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SNN), which is banned in the kingdom where King
Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, made the call in a statement
after it was reported at least 38 people were killed in a crash along the Mbabane to Manzini
highway.
The girls and young women were among 90,000 maidens who were travelling to take part
in the annual Reed Dance at which women and girls described as virgins dance half-naked
in front of the King.
The SSN said 38 people had been killed and 20 seriously injured in the accident on Friday.
The dead and injured had reportedly been travelling on the open back of a truck.
In a statement the SSN said, The least that the Royal Family can do at this moment is to
cancel this years Reed Dance and admit its responsibility in this horrific accident by helping
these families bury their children.
The SSN said inside sources had reported that media in Swaziland which is heavily
censored had been barred from reporting extensively on this accident.
It said, What saddens our network is the fact that the loss of life was avoidable. To begin
with, carrying people in trucks is against traffic laws. Moreover, the drivers of these trucks
clearly did not have any concern for the human lives they were carrying: They were clearly
negligent.

18

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

This is not the first incident where young girls have been injured on royal assignments; our
network once reported how a truck accident was concealed by the Royal Family by falsely
claiming that unknown people had thrown rocks at a truck full of young girls.
We hope that the families of the deceased girls will hold the Royal Family accountable for
the deaths of their children.
International media reported on Saturday (29 August 2015) that 38 people had died but social
media in Swaziland was awash with speculation that the figure might be much higher. There
was a general feeling that the regime of King Mswati could not be trusted to tell the truth on
the number of deaths as this would reflect badly on the King.
Late on Saturday, Eyewitness News in South Africa reported the death toll had risen to 65.
Cover-up on Swazi Reed Dance deaths
31 August 2015
There is deep suspicion in Swaziland that King Mswati IIIs regime is not telling the truth
about the number of deaths in the Reed Dance road smash on Friday (28 August 2015).
Official police figures put the number of deaths at 13, but one pro-democracy group has said
it is as high as 65.
Police initially were reluctant to give any information about the accident on the main
Mbabane to Manzini highway at Matsapha. Reports circulated on the Internet that journalists
had been prohibited from reporting the incident.
The news was first broken on Friday by the Swaziland Solidarity network (SSN), a group
banned in Swaziland where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute
monarch. The SSN said the number of deaths was 38.
The Associated Press (AP) later reported SSN spokesperson Lucky Lukhele saying members
of the Swaziland Defence Force alerted the rights group to the accident and gave the number
of deaths.
By Sunday, the SSN was reporting the death toll had risen to 65. Lukhele told the Anadolu
Agency that 38 girls had been killed instantly on Friday when the trucks they were travelling
in collided with another vehicle.
And on midnight Saturday, we received information that another 27 girls had died in
hospital, Lukhele added.
He told the Daily Telegraph, a UK-based newspaper, According to our reports from military
and medical officials, at least 65 girls were dead by midnight on Saturday.
The girls were travelling on the back of open trucks in a convoy. They were on their way to
attend the Reed Dance where tens of thousands of topless virgins dance in front of the King.
19

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

According to reports in Swazi newspapers, a car or a van hit the back of one truck which
resulted in a pileup. The dead were reportedly thrown from the back of the truck which was
usually used for transporting building materials and some were said to have been hit by oncoming cars.
Police spokesperson Assistant Superintendent Khulani Mamba told the Observer on Sunday
newspaper in Swaziland that not all the girls died on the spot.
By Monday, police were insisting that the death toll was no higher than 13. It released some
details, but no names, of the dead. The youngest was 11 years old and seven were aged 16 or
under.
Reports circulated on social media all weekend that the figure was greater than 13 and that
scores of children had been taken to hospital, some to South Africa. The Observer on Sunday,
quoting government sources, reported that at least 66 girls, including the 13 dead, had been
taken to Raleigh Fitkin Memorial hospital.
It was confirmed by international media that there was a clampdown on journalists who tried
to report news of the deaths.
The Daily Telegraph, a UK-based newspaper, on Saturday quoted Bheki Gama, a freelance
journalist who was at the scene of the accident. Gama disputed the governments claims that
only 13 people had died.
The Telegraph reported, He said paramedics had told him that dozens of young women had
died at the scene or on the way to hospital.
He said he saw at least five bodies strewn across the on-ramp, which was covered with
blood.
It was absolutely terrible, he said. There were bodies everywhere. The tar was covered
with blood. Many of the bodies had been collected by the time I arrived.
The Telegraph added, Mr Gama said the government blacked out coverage of the accident
and is refusing to release information to journalists.
The AP also reported, Press photographers were prevented from taking pictures at the scene,
said a Swazi journalist who insisted on anonymity for security reasons. However some people
managed to take photographs of the aftermath of the crash with their cell phones.
The Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), the best-known of the banned
opposition groups in Swaziland, reported in a statement on Sunday that hospital sources had
said 40 people had died. It added the figure, was given with the caution that there is a lot of
secrecy involved with giving out numbers of those that have passed on because there is an
order circulating that there should be minimum reporting on the matter.

20

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), the PUDEMO youth wing, called on the
government, to provide full disclosure on how many people died and assist the families
locate their loved ones.
It said, It is not acceptable that the nation can engage in public speculation and contradicting
media reports on the number of deaths or those injured. Government must put the nation into
confidence and make full disclosure as a sign of accountability and transparency.
Dead girls transported like cattle
3 September 2015
The young children who died in a traffic pile-up on their way to Swazilands Reed Dance
were packed into the back of a truck like cattle, photographs of the event reveal.
The girls were forced to stand up in the back of an open truck cheek-by-jowl. There was no
space to sit down or even to turn around. Photographs show that at least sixty children were
squashed onto the back of a single truck. Many of the trucks that transported the girls were
usually used to move building materials.
Tens of thousands of young girls from across Swaziland were forced to travel in similar
trucks to attend the Reed Dance where they were expected to dance topless in front of
Swazilands King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. Media in
Swaziland routinely describe the girls that dance for the 46-year-old king as virgins or
maidens.
Reuters news agency has released photographs of trucks used to transport girls to the Reed
Dance. They are similar to the one that transported the children to their deaths.
The crash happened on Friday (26 August 2015) evening. Media reports of the accident are
inconsistent, but it is generally agreed that the children were thrown from the back of the
truck when it was involved in a collision. Police reported that not all the girls died on the
spot.
The exact number of deaths in the incident is disputed. The Swazi Government said 13
people died; 10 maidens and three older people who were their supervisors. There is
widespread disbelief in Swaziland that the death toll was so low. The Swaziland Solidarity
Network, a prodemocracy group banned in Swaziland, citing the Swaziland Defence Force as
a source, on Friday put the figure of deaths at 38. It later revised this figure to 65, citing
medical officials as a source.
The official figures include an 11-year-old girl and seven girls aged 16 or under.
Media in Swaziland are heavily censored; the Swazi Observer, one of only two daily
newspapers in the kingdom, is in effect owned by the King. The Media Institute of Southern
Africa Swaziland chapter in a report on media freedom in Swaziland described the Observer
newspapers as a pure propaganda machine for the royal family.
21

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

International media reported that journalists in Swaziland were stopped from gathering
information about the accident. The Reed Dance, which is also known as Umhlanga, is one of
the main cultural events in Swaziland and it is strongly connected with the King. In
Swaziland reporting negatively about the Reed Dance would be seen to be the same as
criticizing the King.
Welcome Dlamini, a senior reporter on the Swazi Observer, confirmed on his Twitter account
that only official statistics were used in compiling the report on the accident.
(Below) A photograph issued by Reuters. The caption reads Maidens riding in the back of a
dump truck arrive before the last day of the Reed Dance at the Ludzidzini royal palace in
Swaziland.

Dead girls are victims, not heroes


4 September 2015
The 13 people, mostly children, who were killed in a traffic accident on their way to
Swazilands Reed Dance were victims, not heroes.
Yet, the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, is trying to deflect
criticism away from the King by telling its readers that these young lives were lost, for King
and country. They were in the service of the nation defending Swazi cultural heritage.
The truth is different. The girls died because they, and thousands more like them, were forced
to travel on the back of unsafe open trucks, jammed together cheek-by-jowl and unable to sit
or move. In civilized countries cattle are transported in better conditions.
There were at least sixty people on the back of one truck when it was involved in a collision
on an open road on 28 August 2015. The victims were thrown from the back of the truck.
Many died on the spot; some reports state that some were hit by oncoming vehicles. If the
girls had been travelling in a bus they would almost certainly have escaped death.

22

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The girls, reported in Swazi media to be virgins or maidens, were on their way to the Reed
Dance, where they were expected to dance bare-breasted in front of King Mswati III, who
rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. The youngest maiden to die
was 11 years old.
The deaths (and the numbers that died is still disputed, at least 65 might be the true figure)
were unnecessary. The girls should have been given safe transportation, but to do so would
have meant hiring buses which would need to be paid for.
The King could afford to pay for safe transportation. He, with his 14 wives and vast Royal
Family, lives in extreme luxury with 13 palaces, a private jet aircraft, and fleets of BMW and
Mercedes cars.
Meanwhile, seven in ten of his 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less
than US$2 per day. Last month, it was reported in Botswana that one of the Kings sons,
Prince Majaha, aged 23, had a watch worth US$40,000 stolen from his hotel room. The cost
of the watch equals about 55 years income for seven in ten Swazi people.
The King uses the annual Reed Dance in a cynical attempt to influence international opinion
into believing that he is an adored father of his kingdom, but his state which does not allow
political parties to contest elections and has banned all opposition groups has been criticised
by all the worlds major human rights observer groups.
Emotions are running high in Swaziland, where the Kings regime holds total power and any
voices raised against him are silenced. Even so, dissenting voices are being heard, most
notably on social media.
Mainstream media outside Swaziland have questioned why the girls were forced to travel in
such terrible, and unsafe, conditions. In South Africa they are reviewing their own methods
for transporting people to similar cultural events.
Now, the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, is trying to deflect
criticism away from the King by declaring that the dead girls were heroes of Swaziland.
Fanyana Mabuza, a leading cheerleader for King Mswati, wrote on Thursday (3 September
2015), [I]t cannot be denied that they [the girls who were killed] were on national service
and like true cultural activists, died in the propagation of values that make us who we are.
Mabuza added, Hence, these women, as young as they were, could be said to have died
protecting or defending this cultural heritage, passed down to this nation from many eons
ago.
The observer has been described by the Media Institute of Southern Africa Swaziland chapter
as a pure propaganda machine for the royal family
Mabuza then goes on to suggest that future generations of children would want to follow the
same fate as those who were killed.
23

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Mabuza wrote, Naturally, the deeds performed by heroes whether glorious or villainous
(depending on which side of the fence you sit) should be celebrated and documented for
posterity. Future generations must know of their deeds so they could wish to emulate them.
Mabuza added, Just like the parents of some of the girls expressed their gratitude that their
children were being recognised for dying for the king and country, a fitting monument for
them could further enhance their legacy, while also demonstrating that as a country, we fully
honour those who die in service of this nation.
No public inquest into the circumstances of the accident has been announced. The King has
made no public statement about the causes of the accident. The Swazi Government, which is
not elected, but handpicked by the King, has not announced an inquiry into the accident.

24

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

3. DEMOCRACY
Commonwealth calls for democracy
5 July 2015
The Commonwealth has sent a special envoy to Swaziland in a bid to get the absolute
monarch King Mswati III to democratise his kingdom.
The former Malawi president Bakili Muluzi is leading a team on a visit to Swaziland from 5
to 10 July 2015.
King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. Political parties
are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the government and top judges.
The Suppression of Terrorism Act is used to suppress any attempt to discuss the need for
democratic change.
The Commonwealth is pushing for the unbanning of political parties in Swaziland. It made a
recommendation for this to happen after the 2013 nation election, but it has been ignored.
According to media reports in Malawi, Muluzi said he would hold discussions with a wide
array of stakeholders, including the King, the Kings government ministers and civil society.
Commonwealth observers called for the Swazi Constitution to be rewritten after they
concluded the kingdoms national election in September 2013 was not entirely credible.
They said members of parliament continue to have severely limited powers and political
parties are banned.
The Commonwealth observers said there was considerable room for improving the
democratic system.
In a report they said the Constitution needed to be revisited with an open debate on what
changes were necessary.
It added, This should ideally be carried out through a fully inclusive, consultative process
with all Swazi political organisations and civil society (if needed, with the help of
constitutional experts.
It said, The aim is to ensure that Swazilands commitment to political pluralism is
unequivocal.
See also
POLL OBSERVERS: REWRITE CONSTITUTION

25

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

No let-up in call for democracy


12 July 2015
The Commonwealth is to continue to pressure Swaziland to democratise and allow political
parties to contest elections in the kingdom.
It is also urging a review of the kingdoms constitution to ensure that the country meets
international standards of democracy.
This was confirmed during a week-long visit by a Commonwealth mission to Swaziland.
The chair of the mission the special envoy Bakili Muluzi told media on Thursday (9 July
2015) that after the last Swazi national election in 2013, Commonwealth observers made a
number of recommendations and he hoped to ensure that these recommendations were in
force in time for the next election, due in 2018.
King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. Political
parties are banned by the kingdoms constitution from taking part in elections. Groups that
advocate for multi-party democracy are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
In its report on the 2013 elections, the Commonwealth observers recommended that measures
be put in place to ensure separation of powers between the government, parliament and the
courts so that Swaziland was in line with its international commitments.
They also called on the Swazi Constitution to be revisited.
The report stated, This should ideally be carried out through a fully inclusive, consultative
process with all Swazi political organisations and civil society (needed, with the help of
constitutional experts), to harmonise those provisions which are in conflict. The aim is to
ensure that Swazilands commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal.
It also recommended that a law be passed to allow for political parties to take part in
elections, so as to give full effect to the letter and spirit of Section 25 of the Constitution, and
in accordance with Swazilands commitment to its regional and international commitments.
See also
POWER STAYS WITH KING WORLD MEDIA

26

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

King to meet democracy groups


21 September 2015
King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, is being forced to hold talks with prodemocracy groups, according to an unconfirmed report circulating on the Internet.
Until now, the King has resisted all attempts to democratise. Political parties cannot take part
in elections and opposition groups are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
According to a report written by Musa Ndlangamandla, a former editor-in-chief of the Swazi
Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, a meeting will take place on 30
September 2015.
Ndlangamandla is a former aide to King Mswati and has good contacts among the Kings
supporters.
Ndlangamandla wrote, That Mswati has agreed to the meeting is nothing short of
astonishing. Even though the countdown has begun to what could be described as a summit,
albeit behind closed doors, the general public has not yet caught on to this development in a
country where the media tend to stay away from political developments that could cause
controversy.
He said the meeting would be chaired by Commonwealth Special Envoy to Swaziland,
former president of Malawi Bakili Muluzi. The Commonwealth has been applying pressure
on Swaziland to democratise and lift the ban on political parties. It also wants the constitution
reviewed ahead of the next elections in 2018.
He reported that pro-democracy groups would be represented by 15 delegates.
King wont meet democracy leaders
25 September 2015
All the major figures in Swazilands pro-democracy movement have been excluded from socalled democracy talks with King Mswati III on Wednesday (30 September 2015).
The Commonwealth had brokered talks between the King, who rules Swaziland as subSaharan Africas last absolute monarch, and groups wanting multi-party democracy in the
kingdom.
At present political parties cannot take part in elections and groups advocating for democracy
are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, where media
are severely controlled, reported on Friday (25 September 2015) that the Peoples United
Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) President Mario Masuku; Second Vice Secretary General
27

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Mphandlana Shongwe; Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) Coordinator Wandile


Dludlu; Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) President Quinton Dlamini and
Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) Secretary General Maxwell Dlamini were among
those who were excluded from the team of 15 to meet the King.
The newspaper reported, This is despite the fact that the meeting was facilitated to give these
well-known leaders of the political formations a platform to voice their concerns to the King.
The idea of hosting such talks was conceived during meetings between the leaders of the
political formations and Commonwealth Special Envoy to Swaziland, former Malawi
President Dr Bakili Muluzi.
The newspaper reported that the names of people taking part in the talks had been leaked.
The Times reported, It was gathered that the seasoned and controversial activists have been
ordered out of the team and replaced.
It added, This publication was made aware of the people who will meet the King, however,
when most of the members of the team were called last night, they declined to comment,
citing the tension within the team.
See also
PUDEMO ON DEMOCRACY TALKS WITH SWAZI KING

Now, PUDEMO says it will meet King


29 September 2015
Swazilands best-known opposition group the Peoples United Democratic Movement
(PUDEMO) will take part in talks with King Mswati III on Wednesday (30 September 2015),
despite a report that its leaders had been banned from attending.
PUDEMO said in a statement it had always been willing and available to meet both the
King, who is an absolute monarch, and the government which the King personally appoints.
Swaziland is a secretive society and no official announcement has been made about the
meeting which has been brokered by the Commonwealth.
A report on 25 September 2015 in the Times of Swaziland, the kingdoms only independent
daily newspaper, said that PUDEMO leaders Mario Masuku and Mphandlana Shongwe had
been banned from taking part. It is believed that fifteen representatives of Swazi civil society
will meet the King.
PUDEMO in a statement said it would attend the meeting, although it was not stated who
would represent the organisation.

28

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

In its statement dated 27 September 2015, widely circulated on social media and later picked
up by newspapers in Swaziland, PUDEMO said, We fully support a genuine negotiation
process and we are clear about the kind of dialogue that must take Swaziland forward. It must
be a dialogue rooted in the full respect for certain preliminary conditions, which are key to a
lasting and meaningful dialogue; there must be a total removal of all laws that militate against
political freedoms and the rights to organise and associate with any political organisation. In
particular the removal of the ban on political parties and Suppression of terrorism law is key
to this process.
In front of his Majesty we will reiterate our core demands for a peaceful transition [from
absolute monarchy to democracy]:
Immediately drop all political charges against the leadership of the movement;
Immediately unban of political parties so that our member parties can be part of the process;
Convening of an all-inclusive and genuine National Dialogue Forum to discuss the
modalities towards the ultimate drafting of the countrys democratic constitution;
Creation of an environment conducive to effective genuine negotiations through the removal
of all laws that militate against free political activity, the rights to organise and associate on
the basis of political views and interests. In this regard, the removal of the Suppression of
terrorism Act and other such laws remain a major condition;
Independent judiciary and media and end of state brutality through the police and the army;
Unconditional return of all exiles and the full and effective participation of all the people in
the process leading towards the putting in place of a new and democratic system in the
country;
A new constitution;
Multiparty elections with political parties registered, contesting and with full mandate to
constitute government.
PUDEMO is one of a number of prodemocracy groups banned in Swaziland under the
Suppression of Terrorism Act. In Swaziland political parties are not allowed to take part in
elections.
Swaziland not democratic, say Swazis
15 September 2015
Only seven in a hundred Swazi people say they are very satisfied with the way democracy
works in Swaziland.
And, more than half (51 percent) of the people in Swaziland do not think the kingdom is a
democracy or it is a democracy with major problems.
29

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

This is despite the insistence of King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan
Africas last absolute monarch, that he heads a monarchical democracy.
The findings were part of a survey just published by Afrobarometer.
Nearly six in ten people (59 percent) said they were not at all free to say what they think.
And nearly three-quarters (73 percent) said they were not at all free or not very free to join
any political organisation they wanted.
In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses
the government. Organisations that advocate for multi-party democracy are banned under the
Suppression of Terrorism Act.
The survey was conducted in April 2015 within Swaziland. Its results will encourage those
who say that Swazi people are not satisfied with the absolute monarchy in Swaziland and
want a new democratic state.
Supporters of King Mswati which include all the news media in the kingdom often say that it
is only people outside the kingdom who want change and that the Swazi people themselves
are satisfied with the way things are.
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude
surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues across more than
30 countries in Africa. It conducts face-to-face interviews.
This is not the first time Afrobarometer has found a desire for democracy in Swaziland. In
2014in a report called Let the People Have a Say it said more than six people in ten in
Swaziland said they were not satisfied with the way democracy worked in the kingdom.
The research surveyed 34-countries in Africa and asked a series of questions about what
people thought about democracy and how democratic they thought their own country was.
But, only in Swaziland were researchers not allowed to ask a question about whether people
rejected one man rule. In its report Afrobarometer said this was because a near-absolute
monarch resists democratization in the kingdom.
A total of 22 percent of people said they believed non-democratic governments can be
preferable to democracies.
Even though political parties are banned from taking part in elections, 70 percent of people
strongly disapproved of one-party rule.
Dissent in Swaziland is often put down by police and state forces, but 86 percent of people
rejected military rule for Swaziland.

30

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Swazi Government wrong on Constitution


21 September 2015
The Swaziland Government has rejected a report from a group of internationally respected
researchers that found only seven in one hundred Swazi people were very satisfied with the
way democracy works in the kingdom.
Percy Simelane, the official Government spokesperson, said the research was designed to
tarnish the image of the Swaziland.
King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, political
parties cannot take part in elections and groups advocating for multi-party democracy are
banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
Research published by Afrobarometer showed that 59 percent of the people did not think they
could freely express what they thought. It also showed that about 51 percent of the population
doubted the kingdom embraced the tenets of democracy.
Voice of America (VoA) reported, Spokesman Percy Simelane says it is obvious that the
survey was conducted to tarnish the reputation of the kingdom and not intentioned to help
Swazis, who he says support the monarchical governance as enshrined in the constitution.
VoA also reported Simelane saying, Even before the elections, two years ago, the King and
the government allowed the people to say whether or not they still wanted to continue with
the way the constitution says we should. And the people said they still want the constitution
followed to the letter.
However, no such constitutional review took place. The Swazi people have not been
consulted on the constitution since it came into force in 2005.
The writing of the constitution itself was controversial. The International Bar Association , a
group of experienced lawyers, was called in by King Mswati in 2003 to comment on the first
draft of the constitution. It called the process flawed and reported that one critic went so far
as to call it a fraud.
The IBA pointed out that the judiciary and non-government organisations (NGOs) were not
allowed to take part in the consultation before the constitution was written. Also, individuals
were interviewed in front of their chiefs so were not free to say what they really thought
about the powers of the King and what he and his followers like to call Swazilands unique
democracy, the Tinkhundla system.
IBA said the consultation did not allow for groups to make submissions and incomplete
records were kept of the submissions that were made so, IBA said, there was no formal
record of how Swazi citizens presented their views and of what in fact they said.
On top of this the IBA reported that the Swaziland media were not allowed to report on the
submissions.

31

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Furthermore, information was elicited in a highly charged atmosphere. Individuals were


reportedly asked, in the presence of chiefs, whether they wanted to retain the King and
whether they preferred political parties, IBA said.
See also
SWAZIS DID NOT CHOOSE POLITICAL SYSTEM
PEOPLE UNHAPPY WITH SWAZI DEMOCRACY
THE TRUTH ABOUT MONARCHICAL DEMOCRACY

Two years on: poll result still not known


7 August 2015
Nearly two years after the national election in Swaziland took place in September 2013, the
full results have not been released.
The election was widely criticised by international observers as not free and fair at the time.
The Commonwealth and the African Union separately called for the Swazi Constitution to be
rewritten.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. Political
parties are banned from taking part in the election and the King chooses the government.
The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), which ran the election, promised shortly
after the poll to release the full results, but it did not.
The EBC 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 in any of
the constituencies and the total number of voters taking part in the election has never been
revealed.
This raises the spectre of election fraud because in order to determine the number of votes
cast for the winner in each constituency the election officer should have counted the votes
cast for all the candidates.
Only 55 members in the 65-seat House of Assembly are elected by the people. King Mswati
appoints the other 10. None of the kingdoms 30 senators are elected by the people.
The parliament has no real powers and is widely considered outside the kingdom to be a figleaf to protect King Mswati from criticism that he runs Swaziland as a personal fiefdom.
In the run up to the vote prodemocracy groups urged a boycott of the election and following
the poll there was speculation within the kingdom that this had been effective.
32

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

It was important for King Mswati that there was seen to be a high voter turnout. Only weeks
before the election, he announced that Swazilands 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 was seen by some as a referendum on how much his subjects
supported him.
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.
On 3 August 2015, Edgar Hillary, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, reported
to the Swazi Parliament that there was division at the EBC.
The Swazi Observer reported him saying this had jeopardised operations of the institution
and as a result, the 2013 elections report had still not been finalised.
See also
POLL OBSERVERS: REWRITE CONSTITUTION
KING IS IN CONTROL - ELECTION MEANINGLESS

Attempted coup in Swaziland


3 July 2015
The Swaziland Parliament attempted a coup-dtat in the kingdom, the Swazi Observer
newspaper reported on Friday (3 July 2015).
It happened when the Swazi House of Assembly suspended its Speaker Themba Msibi after a
number of allegations surfaced, including that he had been part of a plot to oust Prime
Minister, Barnabas Dlamini.
The House of Assembly set up a select committee to investigate the allegations.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch, but the House of Assembly
by-passed the King in taking its action.
Alec Lushaba, the editor of the Sunday Observer, wrote in the Swazi Observer, a newspaper
in effect owned by King Mswati, Clearly, this was a coup-de-tat (sic).
33

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

A coup dtat is defined as a sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting
in a change of government illegally or by force.
The Swazi Observer was described by the Media Institute of Southern Africa in a 2013 report
on press freedom in the kingdom as a pure propaganda machine for the royal family.
It is widely considered to be the voice of King Mswati III.
After a four-hour meeting the House of Assembly referred the matter of the Speaker to the
King.
Lushaba wrote, Parliament which this week after a four hour caucus finally resolved to make
presentations to the appointing authority [the King], had undermined his authority.
Lushaba wrote, For a moment, the MPs forgot that they were Swazis and failed to respect
the institution of the Monarch, which is vested with authority to appoint and remove people
from office.
Msibi was appointed Speaker by the King following the national election in 2013. Political
parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King appoints the government, top
political officials and top judges.
Lushaba added, Parliament must be fined 10 cattle for bringing the name of the King and
country into disrepute in its handling of the Speaker issue.
See also
SWAZI HOUSE SPEAKER SUSPENDED

34

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

4. DEMOCRACY LEADERS FREED ON BAIL


Democracy leaders freed from jail
14 July 2015

Two prodemocracy leaders in Swaziland Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini who have
been in jail on remand for more than 14 months were granted bail by the Swazi Supreme
Court on Tuesday (14 July 2015).
Masuku is president of the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and Dlamini
secretary-general of PUDEMOs youth wing, SWAYOCO. Both organisations are banned
under the kingdoms Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA).
Both men were arrested at a May Day rally in 2014 and charged with sedition under the STA.
They are accused of making statements in favour of the PUDEMO.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch.
Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses government
members. All prodemocracy activities are banned.
The European Union in Swaziland reported on Tuesday that Masuku and Dlamini were
finally released on bail that day following their appeal against the High Courts decision to
repeatedly deny them bail.
The EU reported on its Facebook page, The two who were arrested in May 2014 on charges
of sedition and terrorism and had remained in detention since, were granted bail after the
Crown said it was not opposing the appeal.
However, this was not before the Supreme Court judges expressed displeasure at the lengthy
detention of the two yet bail was a constitutional right.
The two were then released on E12 000 (US$1,200) bail each with E3 000 (for each)
payable in cash and the rest as surety.
Their release was met with jubilation from family and friends as well as PUDEMO members
who immediately burst into political struggle songs and toy-toyed in celebration within the
High Court premises.
In May 2015 European Parliament members called on King Mswati to free all political
prisoners in the kingdom or face the prospect of economic sanctions.
See also
FREE POLITICAL PRISONERS: EURO MPs
JAILED DEMOCRATS NOW IN ISOLATION

35

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Release of leaders changes nothing


16 July 2015
Prodemocracy campaigners say the release of two of their leaders Mario Masuku and
Maxwell Dlamini on bail after 14 months on remand in jail does not prove things are
changing in Swaziland.
The two men were awaiting trial on sedition charges after making prodemocracy statements
at a May Day rally in 2014.
The Swazi Supreme Court released them on Tuesday (14 July 2015). But Masuku, President
of the Peoples United Democratic Party (PUDEMO) and Dlamini, Secretary-General of
PUDEMOs youth wing SWAYOCO, must still stand trial for their alleged offences.
The two men have also had strict bail conditions placed on them and are unable to address
public gatherings while out on bail.
PUDEMO and SWAYOCO are among a number of organisations banned in Swaziland under
the Suppression of Terrorism Act. King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas
last absolute monarch.
The release of Masuku and Dlamini was met with jubilation in some quarters, but other
responses have been more measured.
The Foundation for Socio Economic Justice Swaziland, said in a statement, The two human
rights defenders and political activists in being arrested flagged out a gross violation of the
right and freedom of association and expression which are still being prevented by one of the
bail condition in not allowing them to address in public gatherings.
The Swaziland National Union of Students, of which Dlamini is a former president, said it
welcomed the release of the two leaders. It added, We remain firm to our fundamental
objectives that is the realisation of democracy in our country, where every citizen will have
the freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association where all Swazis will be
equal in front of the law and every citizen in the of our forefathers will have equal
opportunities.
PUDEMO said in a statement, The release of President Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini,
which follows that of the two prisoners of conscience in journalist Bheki Makhubu and
human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, must not be interpreted to mean the end of an era. The
cosmetic judicial reforms and changing of faces must not deceive our people to mean things
are in order either. This is not a solution. A solution to the problems of our country is the
introduction of a constitutional multiparty democracy, end to dictatorship and the unjust laws
such as the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
SWAYOCO, in a statement, said, There is nothing to celebrate when our leaders are out on
bail with such stringent conditions that are in serious contravention of the very Tinkhundla
constitution which guarantees the freedom of expression and assembly. The condition to
36

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

the effect that these two leaders cannot address public gatherings can only serve as an
indication that there is a bigger problem in Swaziland. This must be addressed now.
PUDEMO, in a statement, also praised democracy-loving peoples of the world for
supporting the call for democracy in Swaziland.
It said, Ever since the arrest of President Masuku and Maxwell, scores of people all over the
world have joined the people of Swazilands call for the release of the two leaders, alongside
other political prisoners in Swaziland. We thank the international community for being with
us in the call for the release of the duo, and by extension the call for a democratic Swaziland.
Specifically we thank the practical support and solidarity from organizations and
governments namely The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the South
African Communist Party (SACP), the African National Congress, the European Union (EU),
the US government, the Danish and Norwegian governments as well as the entire civil
society movement across the world.
See also
RELEASED INTO THE BIG SWAZI PRISON

PUDEMO leader defies bail condition


22 July 2015
Mario Masuku, President of the banned Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO),
has defied a condition of his bail and addressed a public gathering.
Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini, Secretary-General of the PUDEMO youth wing,
SWAYOCO, were released on bail on 14 July 2015 after serving 14 months on remand on
sedition charges.
One of the conditions of their bail was that they did not address public gatherings. They had
been arrested in May 2014 for allegedly making public statements in support of PUDEMO.
Masuku spoke at a special service at the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in his
home area, Makhosini.
He gave an account of life in prison.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland
as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, reported, When he took to the pulpit, the
congregants were filled with joy as both young and old welcomed him with applause.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom reported,
Masuku told the congregants that he would not compromise his values and ideologies in fear
of being punished.
37

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

PUDEMO is one of a number of prodemocracy organisations in Swaziland banned under the


Suppression of Terrorism Act. In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in
elections and the King chooses the government and top judges.

38

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

5. MEDIA
Court ruling changes nothing
1 July 2015
The Swaziland magazine editor Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko
had their jail sentences overturned by the Supreme Court after immense international
pressure, but this will not change the judicial system in the kingdom.
The pair were convicted and sentenced to two years in jail for writing and publishing articles
critical of the Swazi judiciary.
On Tuesday (30 June 2015) the pair was released by the Supreme Court after judges ruled
their conviction by the High Court was unsupportable. They had been in jail since March
2014.
Now, two of the groups involved in the campaign to free the two men are warning that the
overturning of the conviction does not mean the judicial system has changed in Swaziland.
King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch and he picks the top
judges. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King choses the
Prime Minister and the government. Groups that campaign for democracy are banned under
the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
Reacting to the release of Makhubu and Maseko, Sharan Burrow, International Trade Union
Confederation General Secretary, said, Their release just a couple of weeks before the end of
their prison sentences should not be seen as a sign of progress in Swaziland. International
pressure has helped get them released early, and needs to be sustained to bring about respect
for fundamental rights in Swaziland, which is one of the worst countries for violations against
workers rights.
Pressure came from all over the world, including the United Nations and the European
Parliament. Amnesty International had named the two men prisoners of conscience.
In June 2015, The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) called for the
immediate release of the two men and said they should be paid adequate compensation,
enforceable by law.
Organisations within Swaziland and Africa as well as outside the continent demanded the
release of the two who wrote and published articles in a tiny-circulation monthly magazine
the Nation, critical of the Swazi judiciary and the then Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi.
One of these groups, the Swaziland Solidarity Network, in a statement called the judiciary, a
tool of oppression of Mswatis government. As long as the king remains an absolute
monarch, there will never be any judicial independence in the country.

39

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

It added. This capitulation by the despot king is a direct result of the political pressure he has
received from the Mass Democratic Movement, international institutions and foreign states.
Without this pressure the two would still be languishing in prison. We therefore take the time
to acknowledge the moral, financial and political support from those institutions.
Ramodibedi was sacked from his post on 17 June 2015 after a Judicial Service Commission
hearing found him guilty of abuse of power. Ramodibedi left Swaziland for his home
country of Lesotho. A warrant for his arrest has been issued in Swaziland.

See also
SUPREME COURT FREES JAILED WRITERS

Jurists slam Swaziland over jailings


8 August 2015
The arrest and detention, trial, conviction and sentencing of two journalists in Swaziland
involved multiple violations of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland, the African
Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair
Trial in Africa and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a report from the
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has concluded.
Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu, were subjected to unlawful and arbitrary arrest and
detention, including violation of their right to legal counsel and their right to a public
hearing, the hard-hitting 112-page report concluded.
Maseko and Makhubu gained international attention when in 2014 they were sentenced to
two years in jail after writing and publishing articles in the Nation magazine that were critical
of the Swazi judiciary.
They were released by the Swazi Supreme Court on 30 June 2015 after they had served 15
months of their sentences.
The ICJ reported, All aspects of the trial, including pre-trial proceedings before the Chief
Justice and the trial judge, involved violation of the right of all defendants to a hearing by an
impartial tribunal. The defendants were improperly convicted, in violation of the right to
freedom of expression.
Even had the convictions been proper, they were sentenced to disproportionately severe
sentences, particularly in the case of the sentences of two years imprisonment of Mr Maseko
and Mr Makhubu.

40

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The ICJ added that although the Supreme Court set aside the conviction it remained the case
that Makhubu and Maseko, were arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, including because from
the legitimate exercise of their freedom of expression.
See also
FREE POLITICAL PRISONERS: EURO MPs

Bogus survey supports Kings power


3 August 2015
The Times of Swaziland misled its readers when it reported that a survey in Malawi
concluded that Swazilands King Mswati III should reject Western democracy.
No such survey was undertaken.
The Times reported the survey was conducted by what it called Malawis leading
newspaper, the Nyasa Times.
It reported one person who took part in the survey said, Mswati, dont listen to these calls
for democracy. These are prophets of doom. Your country is much better the way it is right
now. Look at what is happening in Libya.
The Times of Swaziland reporting suggested that a systematic scientific poll had been
conducted among the citizens of Malawi. If the survey had been conducted in this way its
results might indicate the true feeling of people in Malawi.
In fact, the Times deliberately distorted its story to make it seem that there was general
support for King Mswatis regime in Swaziland. The King rules as sub-Saharan Africas last
absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King
chooses the government.
What the Times reported as a survey was simply email comments made by readers on a
news story published online by the Nyasa Times. The story said that the former President of
Malawi Bakili Muluzi had visited Swaziland as part of a Commonwealth team to discuss how
the kingdom might move towards becoming a democratic state.
The comments were simply the personal views of 12 people who taken it upon themselves to
post to the Internet. The Nyasa Times did not claim it to be a survey.
The Times of Swaziland report demonstrates the measures that the media are going to in
Swaziland to try to convince the Swazi people that King Mswatis undemocratic regime has
support from outside the kingdom.
The Commonwealth is continuing to pressure Swaziland to democratise and allow political
parties to contest elections in the kingdom.
41

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

It is also urging a review of the kingdoms constitution to ensure that the country meets
international standards of democracy.
See also
COMMONWEALTH CALLS FOR DEMOCRACY

False claim of Obama support for King


3 August 2015
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, has falsely claimed
the US President Barack Obama is fully behind and endorses the Kings pledge to
personally rid Swaziland of AIDS.
King Mswati, attracted derision in the international arena in February 2015 when he told the
Swazi Parliament I wish to assure the nation that I will personally see to it that the First
World Swaziland is HIV and AIDS free.
The Observer reported on Monday (3 August 2015), President Barack Obama is fully behind
His Majesty King Mswati IIIs pledge and commitment to have an AIDS free Swaziland by
2022.
It said President Obama made the statement in a speech to the Africa Union in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia, on 28 July 2015. But, in fact, the President made no reference to King Mswati in his
speech.
In a wide-ranging speech the president drew attention to the need to rid Africa of HIV / AIDS
and an initiative of the United States to target teenaged girls, which included working in
Swaziland. But he did not endorse King Mswatis pledge to personally rid his kingdom of
AIDS by 2022.
The Swazi Observers attempt to claim support from the President hid the fact that much of
his speech was devoted to the need for democracy in Africa.
King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas only absolute monarch, political
parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the government and top
judges.
In part of his speech that went unreported by the Observer, President Obama said, I believe
Africas progress will also depend on democracy, because Africans, like people everywhere,
deserve the dignity of being in control of their own lives. We all know what the ingredients
of real democracy are. They include free and fair elections, but also freedom of speech and
the press, freedom of assembly. These rights are universal. Theyre written into African
constitutions.

42

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights declares that every individual shall have
the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being. From Sierra Leone, Ghana,
Benin, to Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, democracy has taken root.
He added, Yet at this very moment, these same freedoms are denied to many Africans. And
I have to proclaim, democracy is not just formal elections. When journalists are put behind
bars for doing their jobs, or activists are threatened as governments crack down on civil
society then you may have democracy in name, but not in substance.
And I'm convinced that nations cannot realize the full promise of independence until they
fully protect the rights of their people.
See also
MEDIA BACK KINGS FALSE HIV PROMISE
SWAZI KINGS HIV PLEDGE IN RUINS

New false claim of support for King


11 August 2015
The Observer on Sunday, a newspaper in Swaziland in effect owned by King Mswati III,
misled its readers when it reported that neigbouring South Africa was considering adopting
the kingdoms political system.
King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. His newspaper
has been making concerted efforts recently to mislead its readers that the King and his
undemocratic regime has support from outside the kingdom when it does not.
Last week it claimed that US President Barack Obama had backed the Kings statement that
he would personally rid Swaziland of AIDS by 2022. No such support had been given.
In the latest misinformation the Observer reported that civil rights groups in South Africa
were advocating for a change in the republics electoral system, to incorporate a
constituency-based method.
The Observer added, This is the same system of government practised in Swaziland and
described in the kingdoms constitution. In Swaziland the system of government is called
tinkhundla.
In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections. Only 55 members in
the 65-seat House of Assembly are elected by the people. King Mswati appoints the other 10.
None of the kingdoms 30 senators are elected by the people. The King chooses the
government.

43

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

At Swazilands most recent national election in September 2013, international observers


reported the poll was not fair. The Commonwealth and the African Union separately called
for the Swazi Constitution to be rewritten.
Nobody in South Africa is advocating that this system. Nonetheless, the Observer quoted
Swaziland Government Press Secretary Percy Simelane wishing the South Africans well, as
they push for the electoral reform.
The newspaper reported Simelane saying, The destiny of South Africa is in the hands of its
people. Unless asked to assist, we shall not interfere nor influence their decision with a
comment save to wish them all the best in whatever they want.
Unlike in Swaziland, where people who wish to discuss the kingdoms electoral system are
harassed and arrested, in South Africa political debate is allowed.
At present in South Africa there are open discussions taking place about the suitability of the
present system of proportional representation. Some people are saying that a system where
people are elected to represent a single area or constituency might be better.
Nobody in the debate is advocating that political parties should not take part in elections, or
that the head of state should personally select members of parliament or the government, as is
the case in Swaziland.
Call to end Swazi media censorship
29 September 2015
Lawyers in Swaziland and an international human rights group have jointly called for media
freedom in the kingdom to be respected.
In a submission to the United Nations they also call for an end to media censorship in the
kingdom.
They also call for more independent newspapers and media houses to be allowed to operate
in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch.
The call comes jointly from CIVICUS, a global network of civil society organisations and
activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world, and
Lawyers for Human Rights (Swaziland) (LHRS), a non-partisan group of lawyers that
advocates for the respect of human rights and promotes good governance, the rule of law and
democracy.
The report is to the United Nations Human Rights Councils Working Group on the
Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland that is to investigate Swazilands record on human
rights next April and May 2016.
The report listed a number of media freedom violations in Swaziland over recent years.

44

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

In the report they stated the Swazi Government, which is not elected but appointed by the
King, strictly controls freedom of expression and the media.
They added, Reporting on royal and political matters is severely restricted. Further, regular
threats emanating from senior government officials and the royal family to journalists also
lead to government censorship and self-censorship by the media further curtailing democratic
freedoms.
The report detailed a number of media freedom violations.
It stated, On 28 April 2014, Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi threatened the Managing
Editor of the Swazi Observer, Mbongeni Mbingo over reports on court proceedings in the
case involving the editor of Nation magazine Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer
Thulani Maseko.
In the 30 March 2014 edition of the newspaper, Mbongeni expressed concerns that Bheki
and Thulani were in jail even though the prosecuting team had not concluded its
investigations. The Chief Justice ordered Mbongeni to stop reporting on the case and warned
that he would be subjected to the same fate as the accused.
The Swazi Observer is owned by King Mswatis business holding Tibiyo taka Ngwane but
the newspaper had been reporting regularly on the case. After the threats from the Chief
Justice the newspaper adopted a more cautious approach in its reporting on the case.
On 17 April 2013, Bheki Makhubu, editor of Nation magazine was found guilty of contempt
of court for scurrilous abuse of the Chief Justice based on articles he wrote in November
2009 and February 2010 in which he criticised Swazi Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi.
One of the articles commended Justice Thomas Masuku for his views in cases which focused
on the evictions of Swazis from lands held by the King in contrast to views held by two other
Supreme Court Judges. The other article criticised Justice Ramodibedi over comments he had
made. Bheki Makhubu was handed a fine of E200,000 (approximately US$14,750) and
informed that he would serve a two year jail term if he failed to pay the fine within three
days.
On 30 May 2014, he won an appeal with the Supreme Court and the sentence was reduced to
three months fully suspended on condition that he is not convicted of any offence of
scandalising the court for a period of three years.
On 17 and 18 March 2013 human rights defender Thulani Maseko and journalist Bheki
Makhubu were arrested and charged with scandalising the judiciary and for being in
contempt of court after they published articles critical of the Swazi judiciary.
In February 2014, Thulani wrote an article in the Nation magazine titled where the law has
no place and in March 2014 Bheki wrote an article titled speaking my mind. Both articles
were critical of the arrest of government vehicle inspector Bhantshana Vincent Gwebu.

45

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Thulani Maseko is a member of the Lawyers for Human Rights (Swaziland) and Southern
Africa Human Rights Defenders Network. Bheki Makubu is a journalist and editor of Nation
magazine. They were both sentenced to two years in jail on 25 July 2014 without bail. On 30
June 2015 the Supreme Court ordered the release of both journalists on the basis that they had
not received a fair trial.
The Supreme Court argued that the trial judge was one of the persons criticised in the
articles and had not recused himself from the case.
On 15 January 2014, the government-controlled Swazi Observer newspaper suspended its
editor Thulani Thwala and weekend editor Alec Lushaba after they were accused of failing to
adhere to the mandate of the newspaper by publishing negative news stories about the King.
The journalists were accused of failing to heed several warnings not to publish damaging
reports about the King. Prior to the suspension, they published reports indicating that the
Swazi government had solicited a financial bailout from South Africa. Eight months after
their suspension, the Board of Directors of the Swazi Observer Newspaper Group reinstated
them.
The Swazi Observer newspaper is controlled by the Tibiyo Taka Ngwane conglomerate,
which is owned by the King. News items published are highly censored.
In January 2012, Musa Ndlangamandla was relieved of his duties as Chief Editor of the
Swazi Observer newspaper after publishing interviews in his Asikhulume column of leaders
of pro-democracy movements in Swaziland.
Prior to that he had published a report about the expropriation of state land by Prime Minister
Sibusiso Dlamini. The police confiscated his computer and in February he was forced to flee
to South Africa after attempts by security forces to arrest and charge him under the
Suppression of Terrorism Act.
On 11 April 2012, Tumaole Mohlaoli and Meshack Dube, journalists from the private South
African television channel e-TV, were detained by the Swazi authorities at a road block in
Oshoek and their passports and equipment were seized after the authorities accused them of
not having the proper accreditation to cover events commemorating the 39 th anniversary of
King Sobhuza IIs 1973 decree which outlawed political parties in Swaziland.
CIVICUS and LHRS made the following recommendations to the UN working group.
The environment in which the media operates in Swaziland should be opened up to allow the
registration and operation of more independent newspapers and media houses.
The government should stop using the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act and the
Suppression of Terrorism Act to impede media freedoms.
Swazi authorities should respect and fulfil the right to freedom of expression and stop the
practice of intimidating and persecuting journalists using unlawful legal processes.

46

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Journalists and media representatives should be protected by the law at all times.
Public figures should stop threatening journalists and desist from interfering in state-owned
newspapers.
Obsolete laws that restrict freedom of expression such as Sedition and Subversive Activities
Act Suppression of Terrorism Act should be reviewed and repealed.
The Swazi authorities should stop censoring the contempt of newspapers and refrain from
interfering in the editorial policies of newspapers to eliminate censorship.
See also
GOVT HAS TOTAL CONTROL OF TV NEWS

47

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

6. HUMAN RIGHTS
Huge Swaziland state security
2 July 2015
More than one in three of the government workforce in Swaziland is employed in the police
or security services, figures recently released reveal.
King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch, is the Commander-in-Chief of
the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF), holds the position of Minister of Defence,
and is the Commander of the Royal Swaziland Police Service (RSPS) and His Majestys
Correctional Service (HMCS).
He presides over a civilian Principal Secretary of Defence and a Commanding General.
In 2014, about 35 percent of the government workforce was assigned to security-related
functions.
The RSPS is responsible for maintaining internal security. The USDF is responsible for
external security but also has domestic security responsibilities, including protecting
members of the Royal Family.
The HMCS is responsible for the protection, incarceration, and rehabilitation of convicted
persons and keeping order within HMCS institutions. HMCS personnel, however, routinely
work alongside police during protests and demonstrations.
This has been revealed in the United States Department of State report on human rights in
Swaziland for the year 2014.
There are thought to be more than 35,000 people on the government payroll in Swaziland.
The report stated, While the conduct of the RSPS, USDF, and HMCS was generally
professional, members of all three forces were susceptible to political pressure and
corruption. There were few prosecutions or disciplinary actions taken against security officers
accused of abuses.
Reviewing 2014, the report stated, There were credible reports of use of excessive force by
community police and security forces during the year. For example, on July 21, the Times of
Swaziland reported that on July 13, three Malindza community police beat to death a
mentally challenged man who had escaped from the National Psychiatric Center. The three
were arrested, jailed, denied bail, and awaiting High Court trial at years end.
The Times of Swaziland of July 28 reported that during the first week of July correctional
services officers from Big Bend correctional facility re-apprehended an escaped prisoner,
beat him, and locked him overnight in a truck as punishment for escaping. The inmate died,
reportedly due to lack of medical attention and exposure to the cold.

48

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The report also said the Swazi Government permitted very limited monitoring of prison
conditions.
Independent monitoring groups found it difficult to access prison facilities during the year,
and none issued public reports. The government routinely denied prison access to local
human rights organizations, African Union Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
Pansy Tlakula, and foreign diplomatic representatives.
The report added, Authorities generally did not allow journalists inside prisons. On April 12,
the HMCS denied visitation rights to six journalists from different media houses seeking to
visit incarcerated Nation magazine editor Bheki Makhubu and stated visitors must obtain
permission from the commissioner of correctional services. Several international NGOs
attempted to obtain permission without response from the commissioner.
There were also arbitrary arrests in Swaziland.
The report stated, Although the constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention,
police arbitrarily arrested and detained numerous persons, primarily to prevent their
participation in public protests. For example, on August 30, the Times of Swaziland
newspaper reported police detained 25 residents of KaLuhleko for three days for their
opposition to the authority of a certain chief. Residents, including persons over the age of 71,
alleged police tied their hands and legs to benches and covered their heads for three days.
The judiciary in the kingdom was not independent.
The report stated, The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, but the
Kings power to appoint the judiciary on recommendation of the Judicial Services
Commission limits judicial independence.
The judiciary was generally impartial in nonpolitical criminal and civil cases not involving
the Royal Family or government officials. In cases involving high-level government officials
or Royal Family members, however, outcomes in favor of these individuals were
predetermined.
High Court judges who exercised a degree of independence were sidelined and blocked from
ruling on political cases, including human rights cases.
See also
TRIALS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED: AMNESTY
SWAZI HUMAN RIGHTS WORSEN: AMNESTY

49

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Swaziland resembles a police state


16 July 2015
A report published in King Mswatis newspaper saying Swaziland needs to double the size of
its police force to meet international standards is wide of the mark.
In fact, the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati as an absolute monarch and criticised in the
international community as a police state, needs fewer police if it is to meet the standards in
Africa.
The Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (16 July 2015) that the current ratio in Swaziland
stands at one police officer for every 500 people in Swaziland. It said the correct ratio for
international standards should be one for every 250 people.
The figure was given at workshop to discuss the Royal Swaziland Police strategic plan 20162020. No evidence was given to support these figures. If the statistics are true it would mean
the Swazi police force would need to double in size to meet international standards.
In Swaziland they tend to make it up as they go along when it comes to identifying police
needs in the kingdom.
For example, in 2013 Swazilands Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini and his press secretary
Percy Simelane were unable to agree on the number of police in Swaziland.
Dlamini told newspaper editors at a meeting that there was one police officer to every 700
people in Swaziland, but the figures were supposed to be one officer to every 200 people.
This, he said, meant that Swaziland needed to employ more police to avoid compromising
security. He said Swaziland must not reduce the security budget.
However Simelane told the Times of Swaziland the accepted international ratio was one
officer to every 400 people (half the number the PM came up with).
To try to sort out the confusion, the Times published figures from the 2012/2013
Establishment Register from the Ministry of Public Service that showed the kingdom had
4,329 police officers.
It also found that the Central Statistical Office for the year 2012/2013 put the population of
Swaziland at 1,055,506.
Based on these figures, the ratio of police officers to people in Swaziland was one officer to
244, the newspaper concluded.
The figure supplied by the Times contradicted the Prime Ministers claim in Swaziland there
was only one officer to 700 people.
The Times went on to say that based on Simelanes claim that there needed to be one officer
for every 400 people, in Swaziland the police service was overstaffed by 1,690 officers.

50

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

But Dlamini and Simelane were both wrong. A United Nations- published report
International Statistics on Crime and Justice demonstrates there is no global average ratio
for police to population. However, it shows in Africa, the median average number of police
officers to population is 187 officers per 100,000 people.
If that figure applied to Swaziland there should be 1,973 police officers in the kingdom, not
the 4,329 there are, according to the Establishment Register. To meet the average for Africa,
Swaziland would need to sack 2,356 officers.
People in Swaziland are suspicious of the motives in demanding more money be spent on
increasing police numbers. Swaziland has been criticised for resembling a police or military
state.
In 2013,the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) reported that 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 the country through
the deployment of the Swazi army, police and correctional services to clamp down on any
peaceful protest action by labour or civil society organisations ahead of the countrys
undemocratic elections.
Again in 2013, after police broke up a meeting to discuss the pending election, the meetings
joint organisers, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland
Democracy Campaign (SDC), said Swaziland no longer had a national police service, but
instead had a private militia with no other purpose but to serve the unjust, dictatorial,
unSwazi and ungodly, semi-feudal royal Tinkhundla system of misrule.
See also
SWAZI POLICE NOW A PRIVATE MILITIA
SWAZILAND BECOMING MILITARY STATE

Botswana support for Swazi freedom


22 July 2015
Botswanas National Front has called for political parties in Swaziland to be unbanned.
Swaziland is the only country in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
where political parties are banned.
In Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch,
political parties are banned by the kingdoms constituion from taking part in elections. The
King chooses the government and top judges.

51

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Parties and other oganisations that advocate for democracy are banned in the kingdom under
the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
The Botswana National Front (BNF) has pledged solidarity with banned political
organisations in Swaziland. It said the banning of political was the same as total suppression
of freedom of association.
Swaziland also has a number of people in jail for peacefully opposing the present
undemocratic system.
In May 2015, the European Parliament called for all political prisoners in Swaziland to be
freed. The Swazi Government denies there are any political prisoners in the kingdom, saying
that the only people in jail are those who have broken the kingdoms laws.
Duma Boko, BNF president, who is also the leader of coalition of opposition parties in
Botswana, said, We stand with the people of Swaziland in their quest for democracy, in their
quest for justice and human rights.
We stand with them solidly and we pledge our support to them. We call on the Swazi
government to open the democratic space and enable political parties to contend in different
view-points, to participate in the political market space of ideas.

See also
FREE POLITICAL PRISONERS: EURO MPS

Human rights documentary airs on TV


31 July 2015
The documentary, Swaziland: Africas last Absolute Monarchy, which reports on human
rights abuses in the kingdom is to be aired on national Danish television channel DR2 on
Sunday 2 August 2015 at 11 pm, local time.
It was written and directed by Tom Heinemann and Produced by Borgen & Heinemann
(2015).
The documentary, part of the series A Heart That Never Dies features Bheki Dlamini.
A summary of the documentary released by the programme makers says, Bheki Dlamini is a
young, political activist from the tiny African country, Swaziland. He spent almost four years
in imprisonment for something that he didnt do. Shortly after his release he had to flee his
country.

52

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

This was because he wore a t-shirt demanding democracy and political reforms which is
considered an act of terrorism in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas
last absolute monarch.
The programme makers say Bheki is just one out of many others that are harassed, tortured
and jailed, including editors, lawyers and political opponents of the Kings regime.
Swaziland Africas last absolute monarchy premired in May 2015 in Copenhagen. It has
been submitted to several film festivals, including the Al Jazeera International Documentary
Film Festival and Movies That Matter.
Bheki Dlamini is the President of the Swaziland Youth Congress, the youth wing of
PUDEMO. He currently lives in exile at a secret location in South Africa. The Swazi polices
torture of him by way of severe beatings and suffocation torture was mentioned in Amnesty
Internationals 2011 Annual Report.
Tom Heinemann has won the Danish Outstanding Investigative Journalist of the year award
twice, and has been runner up for Journalist of the year in Denmark three times. In 2007 he
won the Prix Italia in the current affairs selection.
TUCOSWA wins human rights award
5 August 2015
The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), the workers federation banned in
the kingdom because it supported calls for democratic change, has been awarded a
prestigious international human rights award.
The George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award in 2015 recognized, the courage
and persistence of Swazilands workers in demanding their rights in one of the worlds most
autocratic countries.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. Political
parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the government.
Earlier in 2015, Swaziland was named among the top ten worst countries in the world for
workers rights, in a report published by the International Trade Union Confederation
(ITUC).
The AFL-CIO workers union in the United States reported that in recent years, Swazilands
monarchical government has become increasingly repressive.
It added, As legal and physical attacks on Swaziland workers and their allies became more
frequent, TUCOSWA remained resolute in its support for worker rights, standing up for its
right to exist, and to support human rights activists illegally harassed and imprisoned.

53

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

TUCOSWA has stood for democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Through
persistent efforts and support from unions worldwide, TUCOSWA won its recognition battle
in May 2015, but continues to face hurdles in the way of making legal standing a reality.
TUCOSWA was formed in 2012 when the Swaziland Federation of Labour, the Swaziland
Federation of Trade Unions, and the Swaziland National Association for Teachers merged. It
was refused registration and legal standing for three years.
Swaziland lost its preferential trading rights with the United States under the Africa Growth
Opportunities Act (AGOA) because of its consistent refusal to make promised policy reforms
that would recognize freedom of assembly, speech, and organization and curtail the broad
discretionary authority that police use to disrupt union activities and arrest civil society
activists including union leaders, journalists, student leaders, and political dissidents.
See also
KINGDOM IN WORLDS TOP WORST FOR WORKERS
SWAZI HUMAN RIGHTS WORSEN: AMNESTY
LEGAL CHALLENGE TO SWAZI TERROR LAW

Swazi Global Week of Action launch


18 August 2015
Organisations campaigning for multi-party democracy in Swaziland will stage an
international campaign next month (September 2015).
Protests will be conducted both inside Swaziland and in South Africa.
The Global Week of Action for Democracy in Swaziland that will be in the first week of
September. The event is held each year.
King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. Political
parties are barred from taking part in elections and organisations campaigning for democracy
are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. No members of the Swaziland Senate are
elected by the people and the King chooses the government. In June 2015, Swaziland was
named among the ten worse countries in the world for workers rights.
Provincial secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in
Mpumalanga, Fidel Mlombo, told a media conference, We are going to lead protest actions
inside Swaziland from the 1st to the 4th September. There will be protest actions inside
Swaziland as a build up for the ultimate Mother of All battles that will be held on the 9th of
September 2015.
Communist Party of Swazilands General Secretary, Kenneth Kunene, said, The world must
be fully aware that Swazi suffering also requires support. The isolation of the regime will

54

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

make sure that (King) Mswati does not breathe, because the more he breathes, the country
suffers, because he thinks he can manipulate the world by claiming there is a process towards
democratisation in Swaziland, yet theres much repression.
Mlombo added, We call on the world to isolate Swaziland and its autocratic monarchy
through sanctions. We further demand that a conducive environment be created for genuine
political dialogue regarding the future of Swaziland.
Repressive Swazi laws still in place
7 September 2015
Human rights organisation Amnesty International used the 47th anniversary of Swaziland
independence on Sunday (6 September 2015) to highlight the use of repressive laws by the
government in the kingdom.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch.
Amnesty in a statement highlighted how the Swazi regime used pre-independence laws to
crack down on dissenting voices.
It said, The Swazi government is continuing to use repressive laws, including the 1938
Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act) and the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act
(STA) as a tactic to silence its critics and suppress their rights to freedom of expression,
association and peaceful assembly.
In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections and all groups that
advocate for multi-party democracy have been branded terrorist organisations under the
STA.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty Internationals Director for Southern Africa, said, It is ironic
that as Swaziland celebrates 47 years of independence from Britain it continues to use
legislation to shut down dissenting voices used by the colonial regime for the same purpose.
Swazi authorities must stop persecuting human rights defenders and political opponents in
the country and allow them to carry out their work without harassment and intimidation.
Critics of King Mswatis regime are put in jail or face other forms of harassment, including
persecution and surveillance. The government is also misusing its criminal justice system to
criminalize and stigmatise their activities, imposing charges like contempt of court or
sedition, Amnesty said.
Mario Masuku, leader of the banned opposition party, the Peoples United Democratic
Movement (PUDEMO), and 13 other political activists continue to face prosecution under
these repressive laws, Amnesty said.

55

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The rights organisation highlighted the cases of Mario Masuku and youth leader, Maxwell
Dlamini, who spent more than a year in prison after being arrested at a workers day rally on
1 May 2014. Mario Masuku was denied access to adequate and independent medical care,
which he needed urgently, throughout his 14 months in detention.
Human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, is also currently facing charges under the SSA Act.
Although he was released in June 2015 after serving 17 months in prison for contempt of
court, sedition charges were re-instated in September 2014 after first being raised against him
in 2009. Amnesty International considered him to be a prisoner of conscience as he was
imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his rights.
Swazi Terror Act trial put on hold
11 September 2015
The High Court case in Swaziland to test the legality of the kingdoms laws that repress
freedom of speech and association was started and adjourned this week.
The Suppression of Terrorism Act 2008 (STA) and the Sedition and Subversive Activities
Act 1938 (SSAA) were on trial in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan
Africas last absolute monarch.
The two acts have been extensively used by King Mswati and the Swazi Government that he
handpicks to stifle opposition to the regime. In particular it targets individuals and groups
who advocate for multi-party democracy.
Political parties are not allowed to contest elections and parties and groups that advocate for
democracy are banned under the STA.
The Swaziland High Court began a two-day hearing on Tuesday (8 September 2015). On the
second day the case was adjourned because there was not enough time to hear the case fully.
It has been rescheduled for 8 and 9 October 2015.
Advocates against the two acts are arguing that they are unconstitutional as they infringe the
right to free expression. They say the definitions of terrorism and sedition are too vague
and can be applied at times when people have legitimate rights to speak or act.
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre, which monitored the court hearing said, This hearing
was a consolidation of four separate cases each of which involved criminal charges in terms
of these laws which had been brought against activists who had expressed opinions against
the Swazi governmental system. What characterized the activities that led to these charges
was that they were all peaceful.
The case is highlighting Mario Masuku, President of the Peoples United Democratic
Movement (PUDEMO) and Maxwell Dlamini, Secretary General of PUDEMOs youth wing,
SWAYOCO. They were arrested and charged with sedition, subversion and terrorism after
participating at a May Day celebration in 2014. They were accused of supporting PUDEMO,
56

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

which had been banned under the STA. They were in pre-trial detention for nearly 15
months, before the Supreme Court released them on bail in July 2015.
Ahead of the court hearing, Jeffrey Smith of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, who is a
close observer of Swaziland, wrote, To be sure, Swaziland is not the peaceful, bucolic
backwater that its authorities wish to present to the world. Like many architects of repressive
regimes the world over, Swazilands King Mswati III in power since 1986 banks on the
presumption that the world will not notice, or make a fuss about, the widespread human
rights abuses taking place under his direction not to mention his notoriously profligate and
wasteful spending, while nearly 50 percent of his subjects live in chronic poverty.
The overall situation is so toxic that Swaziland recently became one of only three countries
which have not undergone a military coup to have their African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA) eligibility revoked due to unresolved human rights concerns. The
other two countries are The Gambia and South Sudan not exactly the best of company.
King Mswati has, over the years, increasingly and brazenly clamped down on human rights
in Swaziland, conveniently capitalizing on a state of emergency that was first declared in
1973 by his father, King Sobhuza II. In effect to this day, the state of emergency banned
public protests and political parties, later deeming the main opposition movement a terrorist
organization, a pretext that has been repeatedly used to harass, intimidate and imprison
outspoken critics and would-be challengers to royal authority. Indeed, despite Swazilands
outward veneer as a peaceful enclave of traditional African values, the kingdom is home to
a widespread culture of fear that pervades every conceivable facet of society.
Swazi soldiers torture old ladies
29 July 2015
Swaziland soldiers beat up old ladies so badly they had to be taken to their homes in
wheelbarrows, a member of the Swazi parliament has reported.
Titus Thwala said that elderly women were among the local residents who were regularly
beaten by soldiers at informal crossing points between Swaziland and South Africa.
Thwala said the soldiers made people do push ups and other exercises.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported
Thwala made his comments in parliament to the Minister of National Defence and Security
Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze.
The newspaper reported Gamedze saying, If that happened we are sorry and it will not
happen again.
This was not the first time soldiers in Swaziland have been accused of beating and torturing
people. A man was reportedly beaten with guns and tortured for three hours by soldiers who
accused him of showing them disrespect.
57

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

He was ordered to do press ups, frog jumps and told to run across a very busy road and was
beaten with guns every time he tried to resist.
His crime was that he tried to talk to a man whose vehicle was being searched by soldiers at
Maphiveni.
The man, December Sikhondze , told the Swazi Observer in 2011, I only asked for a lift but
they told me I was being disrespectful and that I should have waited for them to finish. They
took my cell phone and ordered me to do press ups.
He said that he did more than 50 press ups and he was beaten with guns every time he asked
to rest.
The incident was one of many examples of soldiers being out of control in Swaziland. The
Army, in effect, has a shoot-to-kill policy. In May 2011, three unarmed South African men
were shot dead by Swazi soldiers when they were caught trying to smuggle four cows from
Swaziland into the Republic.
In July 2011, three armed soldiers left a man for dead after he tried to help a woman they
were beating up. And in a separate incident, a woman was beaten by two soldiers after she
tried to stop them talking to her sister.
Soldiers have been out of control in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan
Africas last absolute monarch for a very long time. In January 2010 they were warned that
their attacks on civilians amounted to a shoot to kill policy and this was unconstitutional.
There have been many accounts of soldiers killing or beating up civilians, including a coldblooded murder of two women accused of smuggling a car across the border with South
Africa; a man who had five bullets pumped into his body after being beaten to a pulp; an
attack on sex workers after three soldiers refused to pay them for their services; an attack by a
bus load of soldiers on a security guard after he asked them to move their vehicle; and five
drunk soldiers who terrorised two boys, smashing one of them to a pulp.
See also
SWAZI ARMYS IDEA OF PEACE
ROUGH JUSTICE FOR SEX WORKERS

58

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

7. JUDICIAL CRISIS
Ex-Swazi Chief Justice report leaked
25 July 2015
Swazilands sacked Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi was generally corrupt and acted in a
highly disreputable way, an official report leaked to a South African newspaper has
revealed.
Ramodibedi was sacked by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas
last absolute monarch, after three charges of abuse of office were found against him.
Ramodibedi had barricaded himself in his home in the Swazi capital Mbabane for 38 days
after an arrest warrant was issued.
Eventually, the Swazi Judicial Service Commission (JSC) heard a case against Ramodibedi in
his absence and found him guilty.
The charges were:
1. Abuse of office In the allocation of the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) matter
which was heard to hear a case brought by Ramodibedi against the SRA for taxing his
gratuity to the amount of E128 000 (US$12,800).
2. Abuse of office In the hearing of the Impunzi Wholesalers (PTY) Ltd v The Swaziland
Revenue Authority, in which it is alleged wealthy businessmen offered judges E2 million to
help them win their case against the SRA involving the importation of goods into the
kingdom.
3. Abuse of office in order to achieve an ulterior motive In the hearing of the Estate Policy
matter, where it is alleged Ramodibedi appointed three acting High Court judges to hear the
case when their terms of office had expired.
The Mail and Guardian newspaper revealed a report by the Swazi Judicial Service
Commission (JSC) which has not been officially released also said Ramodibedi had
threatened to shoot at police if they tried to arrest him at his home.
The JSC report found Ramodibedi:

Had a generally corrupt relationship with the former Swazi justice minister,
Sibusiso Shongwe, who has also been sacked and charged with corruption. When Shongwe
was arrested, investigators found a high court file relating to the application for a warrant of
arrest against him. Evidence tendered in a bail application revealed that the file had been
given to Shongwe by the registrar of the high court on the instruction of the chief justice, the
JSC noted;

59

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Appointed another judge, Mpendulo Simelane, to hear Ramodibedis personal


dispute with the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) over the taxation of a gratuity,
knowing Simelane was conflicted. His aim, it says, was unlawfully to obtain a judgment in
his favour from the [SRA] in an amount of R128 800;
Acted in a highly disreputable way by reinstating an application in an estate policy
dispute, although it had been withdrawn. His aim was to serve the interests of Shongwe, a
respondent. He had also allowed Shongwe to address the judges presiding over the matter;
and
Employed all delaying tactics to stall the impeachment process, including bringing
four court applications aimed at forcing the commission JSC to recuse itself.
The JSC also criticised Ramodibedis role in presiding over a dispute between the SRA and
Impunzi Wholesalers over duty on imported blankets, while he was in conflict with the
revenue authority.
The newspaper reported that Shongwe told him a wealthy businessman was willing to hand
over R2 million (US$200,000) R200,000 for Simelane, R500,000 for Ramodibedi and the
balance for the minister if we can help them win the case.
Ramodibedi allegedly insisted Simelane should be part of the supreme court bench that was
to hear an appeal in the matter. This was despite the latters protests that he was not eligible
for appointment to the supreme court.
Following the JSC hearing King Mswati fired Ramodibedi on 17 June 2015.
Ramodibedi who is a native of Lesotho was allowed to leave Swaziland following his sacking
and is now believed to be living in Ladybrand in the Free State, South Africa. The arrest
warrant was subsequently reissued.
See also
SWAZI CHIEF JUSTICES HISTORY OF ABUSE

Ex-Justice Minister arrested again


24 August 2015
Swazilands former Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Sibusiso Shongwe has been
arrested on charges of corruption and extortion.
Shongwe who was sacked from his job in April 2015after being arrested on corruption
charges is alleged to have committed the offences while still a Cabinet minister.

60

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

He was charged with Sandlane Zwane, a businessman. Shongwe is charged on six counts
including extortion, corruption and obstruction of justice.
The two appeared before Mbabane Principal Magistrate Nondumiso Simelane on 19 August
2015. Later, they were allowed bail at E50,000 (US$5,000) each.
Shongwe is currently also on bail on separate charges under the Prevention of Corruption
Act, including defeating or obstructing the course of justice, fraud and theft.
According to a report in the Swazi Observer newspaper the charges are as follows
Count 1(Accused 1 and 2)
The accused are guilty of contravening Section 42 (1) (a) read with subsections (2) (a) (i),
(b)(i) and (iii), (c) and (d) as read together with Section 35 (1) of the Prevention of
Corruption Act No. 3 of 2006.
In that upon or during the period between the months of October 2014 to March 2015 and at
near Mbabane in the Hhohho Region, the said accused acting individually and/or jointly and
in furtherance of a common purpose did unlawfully demand and/or accept money amounting
to E62 000 (US$6,200) from Jose Emidio Rodrigues for their benefit and through their illegal
and dishonest manner amounting to the abuse of their respective positions of authority and
violation of their legal duties or set of rules in a design to achieve an unjustified result and
amounting to an improper inducement of the said Rodrigues to give them the said amount of
money and thus did thereby contravene the provisions of the said Act.
Count 2(Accused 1 and 2)
The accused are guilty of contravening Section 42 (1) (a) read with subsections (2) (a) (i),
(b)(i) and (iii), (c) and (d) as read together with Section 35 (1) of the Prevention of
Corruption Act No. 3 of 2006.
In that upon or during the period between the months of October 2014 to March 2015 and at
near Mbabane in the Hhohho Region, the said accused acting individually and/or jointly and
in furtherance of a common purpose did unlawfully demand and/or accept money amounting
to E600 000 from Jose Emidio Rodrigues for their benefit and through their illegal and
dishonest manner amounting to the abuse of their respective positions of authority and
violation of their legal duties or set of rules in a design to achieve an unjustified result and
amounting to an improper inducement of the said Rodrigues to give them the said amount of
money and thus did thereby contravene the provisions of the said Act.
Count 3 (Accused 1 Only: Shongwe)
The accused are guilty of contravening Section 30 (1) (a) and (b) read with subsections (c)
(i), (d)(i) and (iii), (e) and (f) as read together with Section 35 (2) of the Prevention of
Corruption Act No. 3 of 2006.

61

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

In that upon or during the period between the months of October 2014 to March 2015 and at
near Mbabane in the Hhohho Region, the said accused being a politician did unlawfully
demand and/or accept or agree and/or offer to accept money amounting to E60 000 from Jose
Emidio Rodrigues for his benefit in order to assist the said Emidio Rodrigues with his
criminal case and through his illegal and dishonest manner amounting to the abuse of his
position of authority and violation of legal duties or set of rules in a design to achieve an
unjustified result and amounting to an improper inducement of the said Rodrigues to give him
the said amount of money and thus did thereby contravene the provisions of the said Act.
Count 4 (Accused 1 Only: Shongwe)
The accused are guilty of contravening Section 30 (1) (a) and (b) read with subsections (c)
(i), (d)(i) and (iii), (e) and (f) as read together with Section 35 (2) of the Prevention of
Corruption Act No. 3 of 2006.
In that upon or during the period between the months of October 2014 to March 2015 and at
near Mbabane in the Hhohho Region, the said accused being a politician did unlawfully
demand and/or accept or agree and/or offer to accept money amounting to E60 000 from Jose
Emidio Rodrigues for his benefit in order to assist the said Emidio Rodrigues with his
criminal case and through his illegal and dishonest manner amounting to the abuse of his
position of authority and violation of legal duties or set of rules in a design to achieve an
unjustified result and amounting to an improper inducement of the said Rodrigues to give him
the said amount of money and thus did thereby contravene the provisions of the said Act.
Count 5 (Accused 1 and 2)
The accused are guilty of crime of Extortion.
In that upon or during the period between the months of October 2014 to March 2015 and at
or near Mbabane in the Hhohho region, the said Accused 1, who was at all material times the
Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs for the Kingdom of Swaziland acting
individually and/or jointly and in furtherance of a common purpose with Accused 2 did
unlawfully and intentionally inspire fear in the mind of Jose Emidio Rodrigues who was and
still is an accused person in a pending criminal trial by threatening and informing him that a
judgment to find him guilty and a custodial sentence was already in place, unless the said
Jose Emidio Rodrigues paid the said accused Money amounting to E600 000 thereby
unlawfully and intentionally extorted E62 000 and obtained from the said Jose Rodrigues.
Count 6 (Accused 1only: Shongwe)
The accused is guilty of crime of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of Justice.
In that whereas one Jose Emidio Rodrigues is an accused and Fraud in High Court Case
No.242/2013 which is pending and to the knowledge of the accused, the said Jose Emidio
Rodrigues was so charged, the said accused did on or around the months of November 2014January 2015 and at Mbabane, Unlawfully and with the intent to defeat or obstruct the course
of justice, request the Director of Public Prosecutions to drop the charges against the said
62

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Jose Emidio Rodrigues and turn him into a state witness and whereas when the said accused
made the said request, he purportedly made it on behalf of Rodrigues, when in fact he had not
been so instructed as aforesaid but was on his own unlawful mission. In the premises the said
accused did commit the crime of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
See also
SWAZI EX-JUSTICE MINISTER TOOK BRIBE

Anti-Corruption deputy charged


24 August 2015
One of Swazilands top anti-corruption officers has been charged with corruption.
Anti-Corruption Commission Deputy Commissioner Lillian Xolile Zwane faces four charges.
She has been released on bail.
According to a report in the Swazi Observer on Monday (24 August 2015) the charges are as
follows:
Count 1
The Accused is guilty of contravening Section 16 (a) read with (b) of the prevention of
Corruption Act No. 3 of 2006. In that upon or during the period between the month of March
2012 to April 2012 at or near Mbabane in the Hhohho region, the said accused acting
individually and or jointly in the furtherance of a common purpose with others did unlawfully
obstruct officers from Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) in the execution of their duties of
pursuing an investigation against the accused thus did hereby contravene the provision of the
said Act.
Count 2
The accused is guilty of contravening Section 42(1) (a) read with subsection (2) (a) (i), (b)
(i) and (iii),(c) as read together with Section 35 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act no3
of 2006.
In that upon or during the period between the months of March 2012 to April 2012 and at or
near Mbabane in the Hhohho region, the said accused did unlawfully demand or accept and
or agree or offer to accept an advantage of having an investigation against her for
corruption allegation stopped, for her benefits and through her illegal and dishonest manner
amounting to abuse4 of her position of authority and violation of her legal duties or set of
rules in a design to achieve an unjustified result of having an investigation against her
stopped and thus did hereby contravene the provision of the said Act.
Count 3

63

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The accused is guilty of contravening Section 24 (2) as read together with section 35 (1) of
the Prevention of Corruption Act no 2 of 2006.
In that upon or during the period of March 2012 to April 2012 and or near Mbabane, Hhohho
region, the said accused being a public official did unlawfully divert money amounting to
E55 193.25 belonging to the Anti Corruption Commission (a government agency) which
money the said accused controlled by virtue of her position as the Deputy Commissioner, to
various local print media for purposes unrelated to the purpose for which that money was
intended for, in causing to be published a press statement on a matter personal to her and
designed to serve interest of the accused , for her benefit and thus did thereby contravene the
provision of the said Act.
Count 4
The accused is guilty of crime of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct
the course of justice. In that the said accused did unlawfully and with the intent to defeat or
obstruct the course justice in that whereas: On or about July 2011 and at Mbabane in the
Hhohho district , the then Anti Corruption Commission Commissioner Justice H.M. Mtenga,
SC having dully appointed a panel of investigators to undertake an investigation on
allegation of corruption against the accused; And whereas the accused or about March 2012
and or near Mbabane in the Hhohho district caused to be stopped the said investigation and
announced that she had been cleared of the allegation which were a subject matter of the
investigation. Whereas this information was to the accused knowledge illegal and false and
that she had not been cleared from all investigation and the investigation was unlawfully
stopped. In the premises the said accused defeat or obstruct or attempt to defeat the course of
justice.
Top man at Justice loses his job
25 August 2015
The Principal Secretary in Swazilands Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs,
Thembinkhosi Mamba, has lost his job after being charged with corruption.
Mamba was due to sign a new two-year contract. Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini
said on Monday (24 August 2015) the contract would not now be renewed.
Mamba was charged after he was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) along
with two women, Zanele Dlamini, a businesswoman and the ministrys Senior Accountant
Tivelele Shongwe. They are alleged to have acted corruptly in violating the Procurement Act.
The charges relate to the awarding of a tender valued at more than E1 million (US$100,000)
to a company allegedly directed by Zanele Dlamini.

64

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

King blocks judges independence


28 September 2015
King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, stands in the way of the kingdom
having independent judges, an international group of jurists has stated.
In a submission to the United Nations, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) called
for an overhaul of laws and regulations in Swaziland to take power away from the King.
A United Nations group is to investigate Swazilands record on human rights next April and
May 2016.
Ahead of that investigation, the ICJ which is composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers
from all regions of the world has submitted a report in which it reviewed the state of the
kingdoms judiciary over the past few years.
The report to the United Nations Human Rights Councils Working Group on the Universal
Periodic Review of Swaziland stated that King Mswati had too much influence in the
appointment of judges.
The ICJ stated, The judges appointment process continues to pose a threat to judicial
independence and impartiality. The Constitution of Swaziland provides that the judges are
appointed by the King after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
The King has the ultimate and final say in respect of the appointments to the bench.
Moreover, the composition of the JSC and the appointment of its members undermine
confidence in the independent discharge of its mandate, including the consultative role in the
appointment of judges. The JSC is chaired by the Chief Justice, and in addition comprises
two legal practitioners, the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission and two other persons.
All of these individuals are appointed by the King.
The ICJ added, In addition, some recent judicial appointments have given rise to concern
about the lack of qualification of those appointed. Certain appointments have been publicly
questioned by Swazilands legal practitioners and by the Law Society.
The appointment of contract judges, by the King upon request of the Chief Justice, also
serves to undermine the security of tenure of judges, and it places the contract judges at risk
of manipulation by the Crown and the judicial hierarchy.
The ICJ called for an overhaul of the legal system in Swaziland. The authorities of
Swaziland must immediately review the laws and regulations pertaining to the JSC with a
view to bringing them in line with regional and international law and standards, including by
removing the Crowns [the Kings] control over the JSCs composition, it said.

65

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

It said this would allow for public, transparent and fair appointment and removal processes of
judges, including public announcement of any vacancies in the judiciary, and ensuring the
full participation of all concerned stakeholders.
The ICJ also noted that King Mswati was personally immune from the law. It stated that in
2011, the then Chief Justice Ramodibedi issued a Practice Directive ordering the nonregistration of lawsuits that challenge the King directly or indirectly, effectively barring
access to justice in any case against corporations, companies, trust or any entities in which
the King owns shares or has an interest.
In Swaziland, political parties are not allowed to contest elections, the King chooses the
government and no members of the kingdoms Senate are elected by the people. Groups that
advocate for multi-party democracy have been banned under the Suppression of Terrorism
Act.
See also
JURISTS SLAM SWAZILAND OVER JAILINGS

66

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

8. SADC
Autocratic Swazi King to chair SADC
17 August 2015
King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, is to take over the chair of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC).
In Swaziland political parties are barred from taking part in elections and opposition groups
are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. The King chooses all government
ministers and can and sometimes does veto decisions made at the Swazi Parliament.
SADC has 15 member states. Swaziland is the only one where political parties are banned.
SADC states that its objectives are to achieve development, peace and security, and
economic growth, to alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples
of Southern Africa, and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration, built
on democratic principles and equitable and sustainable development.
King Mswati has been criticised internationally for his lavish lifestyle. He has at least 13
palaces, a private jet and fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars. Meanwhile nearly seven in ten
of his 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, with incomes of less than US$2 per day.
King Mswati will take up the role as chair in 2016. Meanwhile, he is expected to take the role
Deputy Chairperson during the 35th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government
being held in Gaborone, Botswana, between 17 and 18 August 2015.
Swazilands Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Chief
Mgwagwa Gamedze, told the Observer on Sunday, a newspaper in Swaziland in effect owned
by the King, said, Being Chairman is a big stage and comes with immense responsibilities as
the country will be responsible for drafting the SADC agenda.
See also
SWAZI HUMAN RIGHTS WORSEN: AMNESTY
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH ON SWAZILAND

SADC urged to act on Swazi rights


17 August 2015
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) should take concrete steps to
improve respect for human rights in Swaziland, Human Rights Watch said.
Heads of state of the SADCs 15 members meet on 17 and 18 August 2015 in Gaborone,
Botswana, for their 35th summit.
67

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Human Rights Watch said in a statement, SADC member states have taken little action to
ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law in all southern African countries despite
identifying peace, security, and the promotion of human rights as key concerns within the
region.
Swaziland is the only member of SADC where political parties are banned from taking part
in elections. King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch and he
chooses members of the government. Opposition groups are banned under the Suppression of
Terrorism Act.
Human Rights Watch said, In Swaziland, human rights conditions and respect for the rule of
law have deteriorated significantly. Restrictions on political activism and trade unions, such
as under the draconian Suppression of Terrorism Act, violate international law, and activists
and union members risk arbitrary detention and unfair trials.
The independence of the judiciary has been severely compromised, as exemplified by the
grossly unfair trial of Bhekithemba Makhubu, the prominent editor of the countrys monthly
news magazine the Nation, and Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer. Both were sentenced
on 25 July 2014, to two years in prison on contempt of court charges, then released on 30
June 2015.
On 17 June [2015] King Mswati III fired Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi for serious
misbehavior following allegations of abuse of office and corruption. While that step wont
end corruption or ensure respect for the rule of law, it presents an opportunity for change and
for Swazilands authorities and its African neighbors to demand an independent
judiciary.
Human Rights Watch said In recent years, SADC governments have taken retrogressive
steps on rights, weakening and undermining the SADC tribunal and its mandate for human
rights protection. In May 2011, SADC leaders dissolved the tribunal as it was then formed
and in August 2014 adopted a new protocol for a tribunal that would be stripped of the
authority to receive complains from individuals or organizations in the region. A proposed
new tribunal will rule only on disputes between member states.
Action to strengthen the SADC human rights tribunal is a litmus test for its commitment to
human rights, said Dewa Mavhinga, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
SADC leaders should change course and restore the tribunals power to receive and rule on
human rights cases from individuals in member states.
Stand up to Swazi King, unions urged
17 August 2015
Trade unions across the southern African region have been urged to stand up to Swazilands
autocratic King Mswati III in an attempt to bring democracy to the kingdom.

68

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Southern African Development Community (SADC) unions have been told they should put
the King on the spot.
King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch; political parties
are barred from taking part in elections; opposition groups are banned and dissidents arrested
under the Suppression of terrorism Act. The King chooses the government.
Workers rights are suppressed. In June2015 the kingdom was named among the top ten
worst countries in the world for workers rights, in a report published by the International
Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
The Southern African Trade Union Coordinating Council, meeting in Gaborone, Botswana,
heard that King Mswati was resisting pressure to introduce democratic changes. The Sunday
Standard newspaper in Botswana reported this week (16 August 2015), Henry Malumo from
Action Aid International said that all forms of pressure that have been brought to bear on the
kingdom have not yielded positive results. On such a basis, he suggested that it was time to
change track.
The Standard reported him saying, Everybody knows what is happening in Swaziland but
unfortunately the government doesnt feel the heat. It is time to put the King himself on the
spot. It doesnt have to be the people of Swaziland themselves, but us.
The newspaper reported, Malumo said that in solidarity with their Swaziland counterparts,
some South African trade unionists were urging the Congress of South African Trade Unions
(Cosatu) which is closer to the African National Congress, to put pressure on the kingdom.
The South African government is the one that is sustaining the kingdom, he said.
See also
KINGDOM IN WORLDS TOP WORST FOR WORKERS

69

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

9. KINGS SOCCER SUPER CUP


Public funds to support Kings Cup
5 July 2015
Nearly E6 million of public money is to be pumped into the controversial football tournament
in Swaziland created to honour the kingdoms absolute monarch King Mswati III.
The Swazi Ministry of Sport, Culture and Youth Affairs has been given E5.8 million
(US$580,000) by government to fund the so-called Kings Super Cup.
The money will be diverted to the tournament scheduled for 18 July 2015 that features two of
South Africas top clubs, the Orlando Pirates and the Kaizer Chiefs.
The money has been diverted from a number of government departments in the cash-strapped
kingdom, where seven in ten of the 1.3 million population have incomes of less than US$2 a
day.
According to local media in Swaziland the money will have to be repaid after the tournament,
but this would only be possible if the event is a financial success.
The winner of the tournament will reportedly take E1 million prize money. The cheapest
tickets will be E250, which is out of the reach of most Swazi people.
Meanwhile, one of the groups opposing the tournament on the grounds that it would be seen
as supporting the King who has been criticised globally for the poor human rights in his
kingdom, has promised what it calls a revolution in Swaziland if the tournament goes
ahead.
The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) was widely reported in South African media saying
it had underground plans to dispatch a revolution if the South African clubs went ahead.
Lucky Lukhele, the SSN spokesperson, was reported saying All systems are in place
underground and overground in South Africa and in Swaziland should they [Pirates and
Chiefs] decide to ignore us.
He added, Our revolution will not be peed on by ignorant people. We have a network of
people who are helping us and we are ready for anything.
See also
CALL TO BOYCOTT KINGS SOCCER CUP
SWAZI KINGS CUP TICKET PRICES SKY HIGH
CAMPAIGN TO STOP KINGS CUP SPREADS

70

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Organisers talk-up Swazi Kings Cup


12 July 2015
Organisers of the football tournament arranged to honour Swazilands autocratic monarch
King Mswati III expect 20,000 spectators to attend from outside the kingdom.
They expect a further 10,000 of the Kings subjects from Swaziland to attend.
This was reported by the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati
himself.
Tickets costing a minimum E250 (US$25) are presently on sale, even though more than
seven in ten of the Kings 1.3 million subjects have incomes of less than US$2 per day. It
would take most Swazi people more than a month to earn the price of a ticket.
The tournament called the Kings Super Cup is to be held on 18 July 2015. Two of South
Africas top football sides, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates have agreed to play in the oneday competition.
This is the first time the tournament has run and organisers say the competition is to honour
the King.
In Swaziland King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. Political
parties are banned from taking part in elections and pro-democracy campaigners are arrested
under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
A campaign is running to attempt to persuade the two South African clubs not to take part in
the tournament because it would be seen as supporting the King who has been criticised
globally for the poor human rights in his kingdom.
Campaigners say if the clubs took part in the tournament it would be a mockery to the many
activists that have died at the hands of the government and those who are presently
languishing in jail for having dared to talk against the atrocities obtaining in Swaziland.
The Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), in a statement said, Almost 70
percent of Swazi citizens live under the poverty line of less than a dollar a day, while Mswati
IIIs preoccupation is buying private jets, luxury cars and touring the world with his throng of
wives at the expense of the Swazi people.
The tournaments Public Relations Officer, Dumsani DU Sibandze was reported by the
Swazi Observer saying 10,000 tickets would be made available to local soccer fans while the
rest would be sold to South Africa and neighbouring countries.
The tournament will take place at the Somhlolo National Stadium, which the newspaper
reported would accommodate 30,000 spectators on the day.
71

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

It was previously reported that E5.8 million (US$580,000) had been taken from various
government ministries to fund the tournament.
Elderly unpaid as cash goes to soccer
17 July 2015
As E5.8 million (US$580,000) of public money is diverted to underwrite King Mswati IIIs
personal soccer tournament, news is emerging from Swaziland that elderly people have not
been paid their state pensions.
The money, which is paid every three months, should have been delivered on 10 June 2015.
The pensions, worth E240 a month and known as elderly grants are given to people aged 60
and over. They are paid in lump sums of E720 quarterly.
If the E5.8 million diverted from a number of government departments to underwrite the
controversial Kings Super Cup had been used to pay the grants, more than 8,000 could have
been paid.
In Swaziland seven in ten of the population have incomes of less than US$2 a day. For many
elderly people the grants are their only source of income.
Earlier this month (July 2015), it was revealed that the Swazi Ministry of Sport, Culture and
Youth Affairs had been given E5.8 million to support the Super Cup, which is the initiative of
King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. The
money had been diverted from a number of other government departments.
Two of South Africas top teams, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, are taking part in the
tournament on 18 July 2015.
Swazi Kings Cup flops with fans
19 July 2015
King Mswati IIIs vanity soccer tournament was a flop with fans as the national football
stadium at Somhlolo was under a third full.
Organisers had claimed 10,000 Swazi fans would attend and another 20,000 would come
from outside the kingdom.
In fact, when the tournament that included two of South Africas top soccer clubs took place
on Saturday (18 July 2015), fewer than 10,000 spectators were in the ground.
The attendance figure was reported by the Sunday Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by
King Mswati himself. It reported, An estimated 30,000 supporters was expected to be part of
this much anticipated tournament but the games attracted a crowd of less than 10,000.

72

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Media, which is strictly controlled in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan
Africas last absolute monarch, had been reporting for the past three weeks that the soccerloving Swazi people would flock to the tournament.
The tournaments Public Relations Officer, Dumsani DU Sibandze had previously been
reported by the Swazi Observer, a newspaper also owned by the King, saying 10,000 tickets
would be made available to local soccer fans while the rest would be sold to South Africa and
neighbouring countries.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, had reported
ahead of the tournament that, major hotels within Ezulwini has been sold out as the Kings
Super Cup draws a number of visitors to the country. This proved to be false reporting.
The newspaper had also reported designated borders between Swaziland and South Africa
would have their hours of operation extended to accommodate the influx of soccer fans.
The competition, which ran for the first time this year, included the Kaizer Chiefs and
Orlando Pirates from Soweto, South Africa. Two local soccer teams also took part in the
tournament.
The competition was said by organisers to be in honour of King Mswati.
It was previously reported that E5.8 million (US$580,000) had been taken from various
government ministries to fund the tournament.
Tickets for the tournament cost a minimum E250 (US$25). In Swaziland seven in ten of King
Mswatis subjects live on less than US$2 a day.
Prior to the tournament a campaign ran to try to persuade the two South African clubs not to
take part in the tournament because it would be seen as supporting the King who has been
criticised globally for the poor human rights in his kingdom. In Swaziland, political parties
are banned from taking part in elections and pro-democracy campaigners are arrested under
the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
The Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), in a statement said, Almost 70
percent of Swazi citizens live under the poverty line of less than a dollar a day, while Mswati
IIIs preoccupation is buying private jets, luxury cars and touring the world with his throng of
wives at the expense of the Swazi people.
Swazi Kings Cup a financial disaster
20 July 2015
King Mswati IIIs vanity soccer tournament that flopped with fans may have cost millions of
emalangeni from public funds.

73

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

At least E5.8 million (US$580,000) had been diverted from government department budgets
to underwrite the cost of the tournament, but it is unlikely that all this money will be
recovered.
Fewer than 10,000 spectators attended the Kings Super Cup at Somhlolo National Stadium
on Saturday (18 July 2015), although organisers predicted 30,000 people from Swaziland and
abroad would attend.
The E5.8 million that was diverted from government departments to the Ministry of Sport,
Culture and Youth Affairs might be an under-estimate. The Times of Swaziland, the only
independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported the figure might have been higher.
This was denied by Swazi Government spokesperson Percy Similane. The money was
considered a loan and was expected to be repaid from income generated from the
tournament.
Not all costs and income for the tournament are publicly available, but what is available
suggests the tournament was a financial disaster.
To break-even financially, the tournament would need to generate E5.8 million to repay
government departments, plus a further E1 million, which was widely reported to be the prize
money available to the contesting teams.
In addition to this E6.8 million, the four participating clubs, which included the Kazier Chiefs
and Orlando Pirates, two top teams from South Africa, would presumably require fees to
play. The cost of this has not been made publicly available.
In addition to this, there would have been incidental costs for opening up the stadium and
paying workers on the day. There were also undisclosed costs ahead of the tournament for
such as publicity.
It is impossible to make accurate calculations for all of these costs, but even at a conservative
estimate that the tournament needed to recoup only E6.8 million (the government loan plus
the prize money), the income for the tournament falls far short.
It was widely reported in the Swazi media that fewer than 10,000 spectators attended the
tournament. Reports on social media after the tournament finished suggested that many
spectators were allowed to enter the stadium free-of-charge when it was realised attendance
was so low and the King, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute
monarch, would be embarrassed.
Assuming that 10,000 people did attend and they all paid the E250 entrance fee; there would
have been E2.5 million generated (assuming that none of the cash receipts were stolen on the
day).
The E2.5 million is still E4.3 million short of the E6.8 million combined cost of loans and
prize money.

74

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Other reported income for the tournament comprised E750,000 in sponsorship from
companies and individuals, including Inyatsi Construction, Stefanutti Stocks and Kukhanya
Construction.
This leaves E3.55 million still to find.
Tickets to attend a dinner prior to the tournament at which King Mswati was guest of honour
cost E15,000 per table. It was not publicly reported how many tickets were sold, but it would
need 236 tickets to be sold to meet the E3.55 million, shortfall.
Other income for the tournament came from DSTV, the satellite TV channel that broadcasts
SuperSport. The fee paid to broadcast the tournament has not been publicly disclosed, but it
was unlikely to be high. The matches were broadcast on SuperSport 4, which is not a
premium channel and does not require viewers to pay a premium fee to receive. The channel
generally broadcasts local soccer from countries across Africa, which has little appeal to
viewers across the continent.
It is unlikely, therefore, that the fee for broadcast went too far in recovering the missing
E3.5 million.
Other income included the E550 each vendor at the tournament was required to pay in order
to set up stalls.
Ahead of the tournament, the Kings Super Cup was widely reported inside Swaziland and
abroad to be the personal idea of King Mswati.
The Kings Super Cup, which ran for the first time this year, was controversial from the start.
Prodemocracy campaigners called on the South African clubs to boycott the tournament as it
would be seen as supporting King Mswati, who has a poor record on human rights.
Political parties are not allowed to contest elections and opposition groups are banned under
the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
Public funding for Swazi Kings golf
14 August 2015
Following the financial disaster of the Kings Super Cup football competition that may have
lost millions of emalangeni in public money; King Mswati III of Swaziland is now
plundering more state funds to sponsor his own golf tournament.
On Thursday (13 August 2015) it was announced that the Kings Golf Tournament would be
sponsored for E1.2 million (US$120,000). Among the sponsors are the parastatal Swaziland
Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) and the state-owned Swaziland
Electricity Company.
Hardly anyone in Swaziland plays golf. Seven in 10 people live in abject poverty with
incomes less than US$2 a day.
75

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The Kings Golf Tournament is in its 11th year and generally is an opportunity for King
Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch, to get
favourable publicity in the international media.
The main sponsor of the tournament with E350,000 is MTN, the cell phone company that has
a monopoly of business in Swaziland. It secured this favourable position by giving King
Mswati 10 percent of its shares in its Swaziland subsidiary. It is reported that MTN paid
E114 million (US$11.4 million) to the King over the past five years.
SPTC has put E280 000 into the golf tournament this year, which is an increase of E30,000
on 2014. Swaziland Electricity Companys sponsorship amounted to E150,000.
The Kings Super Cup football tournament held on 18 July 2015 received E5.8 million of
public money, taken from the budgets of a number of government departments. It was
intended the money would be repaid from receipts on the day, but only about 10,000
spectators turned up.

76

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

10. KM III AIRPORT


Swazi King snubs his own airport
31 July 2015
King Mswati III of Swaziland has so little faith in the new international airport that has his
name that he does not use it.
Instead, he travels in his private jet from Matsapha, the airport that closed to make way for
the King Mswati III International Airport (KM111) that was built in a wilderness about 70
km from any major town.
Matsapha remains open from 08.00 to 17.00 Monday to Friday to service the Kings needs
and also to be available for any emergencies.
The Airport closed to commercial airlines in September 2014, when KM111 became
operational.
The information is contained in a report from the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority
(SWACAA).
According to the Observer on Sunday, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati the
airport also accommodates the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) Air Wing, but, in
most cases now services royal movement as Their Majesties and members of the royal family
use it as seen during their departures and arrivals.
The newspaper also reported, The only planes that frequently use the airport are local ones,
which according to information gathered, are those from the Flight Academy based at the
airport, the army and those from Simunye, Big-Bend, Ngonini and Usuthu forests.
Meanwhile, KM111 (formerly known as Sikhuphe) only has three commercial flights a day
leaving the airport, taking a maximum of 150 passengers a day to Johannesburg, South
Africa.
The airport, considered a white elephant and vanity project for King Mswati who rules as an
absolute monarch cost an estimated E2.5 billion (US$250 million) to build.
See also
U-TURN ON SUCCESS OF KINGS AIRPORT
KING PARTIES WHILE CHILDREN DIE

77

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Bid to talk-up Kings failed airport


18 September 2015
In another attempt to deceive people that Swazilands King Mswati III (KM3) International
Airport is a success, plans have been announced to build a glittering city in the area nearby.
The airport, formerly known as Sikhuphe, was opened in March 2014. The construction cost
was estimated to be US$250 million, but fewer than 150 passengers a day fly out of the
airport, which is built in a wilderness. Only one airline uses the airport for a route to
Johannesburg in neighbouring South Africa.
Now, Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) Director General Solomon Dube has
told businesspeople that there are plans to establish a city near the airport. In its report on the
matter, the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, called it a glittering
plan. It reported on Friday (18 September 2015) the plan would include, opportunities such
as hotels, hospitals, malls and other permanent structures which can be found in cities will be
available.
The talking-up of the airport is nothing new. By any objective criteria, the airport has been a
failure, but it was the brainchild of King Mswati III himself who rules Swaziland as subSaharan Africas last absolute monarch and this failure is ignored within his kingdom.
The airport was built in an attempt to support the Kings claim that his kingdom would be a
First World nation by 2022. At present seven in ten of the 1.3 population live in abject
poverty, with incomes of less than US$2 a day.
The city is not the only recent grandiose plan to be announced in Swaziland. Last month
(August 2015), the Swazi Government, which is unelected and handpicked by the King,
announced its support for a US$3 billion scheme to build a seaport in the landlocked
kingdom connected to the coast of Mozambique by canal.

78

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

11. PLAN FOR INLAND PORT


Swaziland to build US$3bn shipping port
19 August 2015
The Government of Swaziland, an impoverished African nation with no coastline, has backed
a plan to build a shipping port which will cost an estimated US$3 billion.
The scheme follows the completion of an international airport, built in a wilderness that
cost an estimated US$250 million to construct. Fewer than 150 passengers fly out of the King
Mswati III Airport at Sikhuphe on any given day.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati who is sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch.
Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King appoints members of
the government.
The airport, dubbed a vanity project by aviation experts and the port are part of the Kings
effort to turn his kingdom into a First World nation by 2022.
At present, seven in ten of the 1.3 million population live in abject poverty with incomes of
less than US$2 per day. Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world and this
year it is estimated that at least one-third of the population will need international food aid to
avoid starvation.
Meanwhile, the King has 13 palaces, a private jet aircraft and fleets of BMW and Mercedes
cars, which he shares with his 14 wives and vast royal family.
The plan is to build a 26-kilometre canal from the Mozambican sea to Mlawula, where the
port will be constructed on 15 to 20 hectares of land.
Media in Swaziland report it will cost an estimated E30 billion (US$3 billion).The Times of
Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom where most news media are
censored, reported the plan was confirmed by Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade
Gideon Dlamini.
The Times reported him saying, At government level, we are fully behind the project and we
are giving it undivided support. The project owners had done presentations to Cabinet and we
interrogated it and found that it is a wonderful one. Following Cabinets realisation that the
project is good and viable, Prime Minister [Barnabas] Sibusiso Dlamini then tasked the
different concerned ministries to start working together with the project owners straight
away.
The ministries involved are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade,
Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs and the Ministry of Housing and Urban
Development.

79

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

The plan is headed by Moses Motsa, who is often described in the Swazi and South African
media as a billionaire, but it is not clear in which currency he holds his billion.
The Times reported, Dlamini went on to say that each of the ministries had been given
specific responsibilities that are in support of business magnate Moses Motsa and his
partners. One of the most critical issues that the business proprietors need to be assisted in is
having an agreement with the Mozambican Government as the port will be established
through a canal coming from the Indian Ocean from the Republic of Mozambique.
In this regard, Dlamini said, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
was assigned by the PM to engage with Mozambique with the aim of reaching an agreement
over accessing the sea.
The Times reported Motsa saying the port would harbour big vessels and with docking for up
to four ships at once.
Doubts over Swazilands US$3bn port
26 August 2015
Serious doubts have been raised about a plan to build a seaport in Swaziland, which has no
coastline.
The Swazi Government earlier this month (August 2015) announced its support for a canal
and port to be built linking Mlawula in Swaziland with the Mozambique coast. The port is
planned for 15 to 20 hectares of land. The government also said a 26-kilometre-long canal
would be built. The entire project is expected to cost at least US$3 billion.
Now, the Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique has reported that the plans are badly
thought through.
It reported on Tuesday (25 August 2015), First, no point on the coast is a mere 26 kilometres
from Mlawula. As the crow flies, the nearest point on the Mozambican coast is over 70
kilometres from the site of the proposed port.
Furthermore, as anyone who has driven from Maputo to Swaziland can testify, the land rises
steeply. Canals are fine for transporting goods over flat terrain - but if there are hills in the
way, locks must be built, dramatically increasing the costs. Building a canal with a system of
locks capable of holding ocean-going vessels would be a massive engineering undertaking.
Such an operation is also entirely unnecessary.
Swaziland's main trading partner is South Africa. Over 90 percent of Swaziland's imports
come from South Africa, and about 70 percent of its exports go to South Africa. So for the
great bulk of Swazi trade a canal through Mozambique is simply irrelevant, as a glimpse at a
map should show Moses Motsa and the Swazi government.
The rest of Swaziland's trade, for example with Europe or the United States, can be easily
handled by the port of Maputo. There are already reasonable rail and road links between
Swaziland and Maputo.
Upgrading these would certainly be much cheaper than building an inland port.
80

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

It added that the Mozambican Government has not yet commented on the Swazi plan and do
not seem to have been consulted on the possibility of a canal going through its territory.
The new information casts serious doubts on the Swazi Governments ability to comprehend
the complexity of the project.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom where most
news media are censored, had reported the plan was confirmed by Minister of Commerce,
Industry and Trade Gideon Dlamini.
The Times reported him saying, At government level, we are fully behind the project and we
are giving it undivided support. The project owners had done presentations to Cabinet and we
interrogated it and found that it is a wonderful one. Following Cabinets realisation that the
project is good and viable, Prime Minister [Barnabas] Sibusiso Dlamini then tasked the
different concerned ministries to start working together with the project owners straight
away.

Swazi Govt stands by flawed port plans


7 September 2015
The Swaziland Government has confirmed that it has not consulted with neighbouring
Mozambique on a plan to build a US$3 billion port and canal linking that countrys coast to
Swaziland.
And, Minister of Commerce Industry and Trade Gideon Dlamini said the project would be as
successful as the US$250 million King Mswati III (KMIII) International Airport.
He meant this to highlight that the seaport would be a success, but the KMIII flies fewer than
150 passengers out of the kingdom on any given day.
Dlamini was interviewed by the Sunday Observer, a newspaper in Swaziland that is in effect
owned by King Mswati, after the plan for the port received international scorn. When the
government announced the plan in August 2015 it said a 26-km canal would link a proposed
seaport at Mlawula in the Lubombo region with the Mozambique coast. However, it was soon
pointed out that the distance to the coast was more than 70 km. Swaziland has no coastline of
its own.
In his interview, Dlamini conceded that they had miscalculated the distance. He also told the
newspaper that the Swazi Government had not consulted with Mozambique about digging a
canal through its territory.
The seaport and canal in the landlocked kingdom has been criticised outside Swaziland as
another vanity project for King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last
absolute monarch. The KMIII Airport, formally known as Sikhuphe, was built on the
instructions of the King, without benefit of a needs analysis. It has proved to be a disaster
since it was formally opened in March 2014. Only one airline uses the airport, and that is
partly owned by Swaziland.
No other commercial airline has publicly said it is interested in using the airport.
81

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Dlamini in his interview with the Observer also said the new seaport would be superior to
ports in both Maputo in Mozambique and Durban in South Africa. The initial announcement
said the Swaziland port would be capable of handling four ships at a time.
Dlamini was reported by the Observer saying, The problem with the Maputo and Durban
ports is their shallowness. These two ports are not deep enough to handle heavy ships and we
have received reports that there are ships that face difficulty docking in these ports because
they are not deep enough, he said.
Dlamini added, The proposal for our seaport shows that it will be very deep and this would
enable bigger ships that cannot dock in both Maputo and Durban to come here. The seaport
that we will have will be of first world status and will have better facilities compared to
Maputo and Durban. The deeper the seaport the better and ours will be better than Maputo
and Durban.

82

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

12. ROYAL FAMILY


Swazi Prince and the US$40,000 watch
24 August 2015
News that a Swazi Prince was robbed in a hotel room has exposed something of the lifestyle
of King Mswati IIIs family.
Prince Majaha, aged 23, was with his father in Gaborone, Botswana, when he went on a
drinking spree.
The Voice newspaper in Botswana reported he took a woman, which the newspaper describes
as a street vendor, and a man to his hotel room to continue drinking. When he woke up next
morning, the newspaper reported, they had stolen US$5,000 in cash and items, including an
iPhone 5 valued at US$500 and a Rodger Dubuis watch, worth US$40,000.
If the valuations reported by the Voice are correct, the watch on its own is worth the
equivalent of nearly 55 years income for more than seven in ten of his fathers subjects, who
earn less than US$2 per day.
The newspaper did not report why the prince was carrying US$5,000 in cash; the dollar is not
the currency of Botswana.
King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africas last absolute monarch. Political parties
are not allowed to contest elections and freedoms of association and speech are severely
curtailed in the kingdom.
In July 2015, it was reported that the budget for King Mswati and his family had been
increased by 25 percent and now made up five percent of the overall national budget for
Swaziland.
Prince Majaha once made international news when it was reported that King Mswati, aged
45, was to marry a 19-year-old, one-time beauty pageant contestant Sindiswa Dlamini. It was
reported that the bride had once dated the Kings son, Prince Majaha.
See also
SWAZI KINGS BUDGET RISES BY 25 PERCENT

83

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.

84

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.

85

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 Africas last absolute monarch. Editors
are deliberately misleading their readers by publishing material that is intended to provoke
controversy and reaction, even though they know it also contains lies. This is done in order to
boost profits for owners.
No. 2. 2013. Swaziland Broadcasting Not For The People
A review of broadcasting in Swaziland that demonstrates through research that radio in the
kingdom only serves the interests of King Mswati III and his intimate supporters. All other
voices are excluded from the airwaves. The paper contrasts a public broadcasting service
with public service broadcasting and demonstrates that changes in the kingdoms
broadcasting cannot be made until it becomes a democratic state.
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.

86

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

SWAZILAND: STRIVING FOR FREEDOM


PREVIOUS EDITIONS

Volume 13: Jan 2014 to March 2014, is available free of charge here
Volume 14: April to June 2014, is available free of charge here
Volume 15: July to September 2014, is available free of charge here
Volume 16: October to December 2014, is available free of charge here
Volume 17: January to March 2015, is available free of charge here
Volume 18: April to June 2015, is available free of charge here

OTHER VOLUMES
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

87

Swaziland: Striving for Freedom

Swazi Media Commentary


Containing information and commentary
about human rights in Swaziland
Click Here

88