Search This Blog

For more coverage follow us also on Twitter and Facebook


Thursday, 17 August 2017

SWAZI KING WRONG ON CONSTITUTION

King Mswati III, Swaziland’s absolute monarch, mislead when he told a television reporter that the constitution in his kingdom was the will of the people.

In fact at the time the 2005 constitution was being drafted, the International Bar Association, a group invited by King Mswati to make comments, called it ‘flawed’ and ‘a fraud’.

King Mswati said in an interview with the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) uploaded to the Internet on Monday (14 August 2017), ‘When we created the constitution, this constitution which went around the people of this country, every Swazi participated... was invited to come make a submission in terms of how you want to see your constitution of this country, even when the constitution was drafted before it was actually adopted.  It also was to give back to the nation, to read, and everyone was able to be given a chance to make submissions and to comment... this was a process that took some years, so we finally have a product of after nine years of consultation.’

He also said Swaziland was a democratic nation ‘in the sense that it is people driven. It is not a one person state. It is the people saying this is how we want to be governed.’

The King and his supporters have maintained for years that the Swazi Constitution is legitimate and the will of the people. However, the International Bar Association , a group of experienced lawyers, was called in by King Mswati III 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 resulting report called Striving for Democratic Governance was stark in its criticism of both the process of ‘consultation’ on the constitution and the wording of the document itself.

One of the IBA’s main conclusions was that the ‘position and powers’ of some ‘stakeholders’ in Swaziland ‘including the Monarchy’ are in effect ‘actually placed above the Constitution and its principles’.

The IBA studied what was going on during the drafting process, which was controlled by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).

The CRC did not allow the judiciary or NGOs to contribute to the drafting process and ensured that individual Swazi people were interviewed in the presence of their chiefs. As a result the ‘overwhelming’ majority wanted the King to keep all his powers and wanted the position of traditional advisers to the King to be strengthened. They also wanted Swazi customs to have supremacy over any international rights obligations.

The IBA report states, ‘The terms of reference of the Commission did not allow expressly for group submissions, and as apparently they were not entertained, NGOs per se were effectively prevented from commenting. The IBA panel considers that, unfortunately, this in itself deprived the CRC of much valuable input.’

The IBA report goes on, ‘The CRC also faced a number of practical problems. There were disputes between local chiefs, collecting views during the rainy season in Swaziland was difficult, and several Commission members resigned.

‘The extent to which individual Swazis were consulted has also been questioned. The CRC did not keep records of the submissions it received and media coverage of submissions was apparently banned.

‘There is therefore no formal record of how Swazi citizens presented their views and of what in fact they said to the CRC.

‘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.

‘The CRC report states that “there is a small minority which recommends that the powers of the monarchy must be limited” and continued that “an overwhelming majority of the nation recommends that political parties must be banned”.

‘The report concludes that “an overwhelming majority recommends that the system of Government based on the Tinkhundla must continue” and, as well as the ban on political parties being maintained, that the executive powers of the King should be maintained, the position of traditional advisers to the King strengthened, and Swazi customs have supremacy over any contrary international rights obligations.’

In November 2007 the Swaziland High Court ruled that documents pertaining to the drafting process could not be made available for public scrutiny, thereby allowing the ruling elite to maintain the fiction of full consultation.

Under the constitution the monarchy remains above the law and political parties are banned.
Many organisations have called for Swaziland’s constitution to be rewritten to make the kingdom more democratic.

In July 2008 the European Union declined an invitation to monitor the Swaziland national election later that year because, it said, it was clear the kingdom was not a democracy. Later, it suggested a wholesale review of the constitution was in order.

In November 2008 the Commonwealth Expert Team, which had monitored the election called for a review because the elections were not credible since political parties were banned in Swaziland. It said that the review ‘should be carried out through a process of full consultation with Swazi political organisations and civil society (possibly with the support of constitutional experts).’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also

POLL OBSERVERS: REWRITE CONSTITUTION
SWAZILAND PM CONSTITUTION LIES
SWAZIS DID NOT CHOOSE POLITICAL SYSTEM
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2013/04/swazis-did-not-choose-political-system.html

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

SWAZI KING’S UNIVERSITY FLOP

King Mswati III failed in his promise to have a new SADC-wide university up and running in Swaziland before his time as chair of the organisation ends this week (August 2017).

King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, announced in August 2016 after assuming the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that a ‘university of transformation’ taking students from all over the region would open by the time he stood down from the office.

Both the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, and the Swazi Observer, which is in effect owned by the King, reported on 31 August 2016 that King Mswati told the SADC heads of state summit held at Lozitha, ‘This initiative will give new hope and opportunity to our youth and our women. The intention is to have the first intake of students prior to the 37th SADC summit in 2017.’

That summit is about to start and the university remains a pipe-dream.

On Monday (14 August 2017) the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation reported the King saying about the university, ‘We are still looking at strategies and all that in terms of mobilising resources.’

The King and the media in Swaziland that enthusiastically and uncritically reported his initial statement, gave no indication of where the money would come from for the project, who would teach at the university, what academic programmes it would run, and how programmes would be administered.

The University of Swaziland (UNISWA), the kingdom’s largest and oldest university, has been unable to start teaching first year students this academic year because the government has delayed in awarding scholarships. Over many years students have been protesting against cuts in scholarships and lack of resources.

Shortly after his announcement of the new university the King said it would be hosted by Limkokwing University, a private institution which has come under fire for its poor standards.
 
According to its website, Limkokwing in Swaziland only offers ‘associate degrees’ which are at a level below Bachelor degrees and in many universities are known as diplomas.

In June 2012, Bandile Mkhonta, Head of Human Resource for Limkokwing in Mbabane, Swaziland, told local media that of 53 professional staff at the university only one had a Ph.D doctorate. A Ph.D is usually considered by universities to be the minimum qualification required to be given the rank of senior lecturer.

Limkokwing in Swaziland had no staff at professor rank and no record of conducting scholarly research.

The failure to deliver the university is one of a long line of broken promises made by the King. In November 2009, King Mswati announced a plan partly financed from in the oil state of Qatar to build an E35bn (US$4.8bn at the then exchange rate) ‘world class facility’ that would store at least a three-month supply of fuel for Swaziland. It did not happen. 

In November 2012 the king returned from a trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Taiwan, claiming that he had secured Taiwanese investment to build a pharmaceutical plant, a food processing plant, a bottled water plant, a cosmetics plant and a granite and marble venture – which, according to a report in the Times of Swaziland newspaper, were expected to create more than 3,000 jobs. It has not happened. 

In April 2009 King Mswati III announced the building of a multi-billion emalangeni Swazi City, financed by international money and comprising a 25,000 sq m shopping, entertainment and ‘wellness’ centre ‘to rival the world’. There would be a Science and Technology Park, a hi-technology industrial Site and an expansion of the Matsapha Industrial Site. It would be completed by 2012, creating 15,000 new jobs. It did not happen. 

In October 2009 the government the King handpicked promised an E1.5bn ‘facelift’ for the Swazi capital city Mbabane. That money would buy a civic centre and a shopping mall, described at the time as a ‘fully fledged state of the art 21st Century Civic Centre befitting a country’s capital city’. Work was expected to start in June 2010 and take three years to build. It did not happen.

In October 2010, the Swazi Government announced its ‘fiscal adjustment roadmap’ to save the kingdom’s economy. This would include attracting investment to create, ‘between 25,000 and 30,000 new jobs’ in the private sector. These jobs have not materialised. 

In 1998 King Mswati was said to have teamed up with pop singer Michael Jackson to bring a ‘Netherland-style’ theme park to Swaziland.


See also

KING’S NEW UNWORKABLE UNIVERSITY
ABSOLUTE KING TAKES CHAIR OF SADC
‘DICTATOR KING NOT FIT TO CHAIR SADC’
KING TO PARTY WHILE SWAZIS GO HUNGRY

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

SWAZI POLICEMEN ‘RAPE SEX WORKERS’

Swaziland’s police chief Isaac Magagula has denied his officers use sex workers without paying. His comment came when he said prostitutes were an ‘infestation of our cities’.

Police have been clamping down against female sex workers across the kingdom. At least 30 have appeared in court and been given jail sentences or fines.
 
In a statement published in Swazi media on Sunday (13 August 2017) National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula said it was wrong to say that sex workers, ‘are targeted because of sour grapes that police officers are failing to pay for services rendered’.

He did not state that police officers did not use the services of prostitutes. Prostitution is illegal in Swaziland.

There is a lot of evidence that policeman in Swaziland use prostitutes. One of the few surveys done on female sex workers listed police officers among their ‘commonest clients.’

Separately, in 2010, Alec Lushaba, then editor of the Weekend Observer newspaper in Swaziland, wrote, ‘In a country known for its skyrocketing HIV and AIDS rates, conservatism, Christianity and traditional mores, it may come as a surprise that the abuse and rape of sex workers in Swaziland at the hands of police is a growing and widespread problem.

‘Sex work, known as one of the oldest trades, is still illegal in the country, yet sex workers have reported targeted campaigns of rape and violence at the hands of Swazi police.’

In an article published by Gender Links, Lushaba wrote, ‘A recent report by Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAAGA), in partnership with other local organisations, noted: “It is not just that they are arrested, to a greater or lesser degree they are forced by police to comply with demands for free sex or sex in exchange for not being arrested.”

‘27 percent of the sex workers have at some point been arrested by state police for loitering. 60 percent of those arrested end up being sexually and physically abused by the police.’

See also

SWAZI POLICE RAPE SEX WORKERS
POLICE DRIVE AGAINST SEX WORKERS

Monday, 14 August 2017

NO RULE OF LAW IN SWAZILAND

The European Union Ambassador to Swaziland Nicola Bellomo has severely criticised the legal system in the kingdom ruled by autocratic monarch King Mswati III. He said even a child could be made a judge.

Bellomo who is soon to leave Swaziland told the Nation Magazine the rule of law did not prevail in Swaziland.

The Nation, an independent magazine of comment in a kingdom where censorship and self-censorship is rife, reported (August 2017), ‘The judiciary in this country has yet to find its footing and earn the respect it once had. It is a mess, right now. But, at least, there’s an acknowledgement that there is still a lot of work to do to get the country's judicial system on the right track. A country that has the kind of judicial system we have, where even a child can become a judge, cannot attract investment.’

The Nation called Bellomo’s comments ‘a scathing attack at the judiciary’.

The magazine reported Bellomo saying, ‘On the rule of law, there are structural problems beyond the political issues. If you have courts with ten judges who can hardly meet the expectations of the country, then you have structural issues. 

‘Then of course you have issues with the judges, like the one who was allowed to sit on the bench and yet did not qualify. That is something shocking for a rule of law country.’

Bellomo is not the first to draw attention to Swaziland’s broken legal system. In February 2016, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) reported King Mswati III’s absolute monarchy in Swaziland ‘ultimately is incompatible with a society based on the rule of law’

The report, Justice Locked Out: Swaziland’s Rule of Law Crisis, called on Swaziland’s Constitution to be amended to bring it in line ‘with regional and universal international law and standards, in particular on the separation of powers and respect for judicial independence.

An international mission investigated Swaziland following the attempted arrest and the impeachment of former Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and the arrest of the Minister of Justice Sibusiso Shongwe, two High Court judges Mpendulo Simelane and Jacobus Annandale and High Court Registrar Fikile Nhlabatsi in April 2015. 

The report stated the judicial crisis was ‘part of a worrying trend of repeated interference by the Executive and of the Judiciary’s inability to defend its independence, exacerbated by apparent strife within the ruling authorities of Swaziland.  

‘Swaziland’s Constitution, while providing for judicial independence in principle, does not contain the necessary safeguards to guarantee it. Overall, the legislative and regulatory framework falls short of international law and standards, including African regional standards.’

It added, ‘The mission found that some members of the Judiciary have exercised their mandate with a lack of integrity and professionalism. In particular, former Chief Justice Ramodibedi failed to protect and defend the institutional independence of the Judiciary, and played a reprehensible role in undermining both the institutional independence of the Judiciary and that of individual judges in Swaziland. 

‘He also presided over, or was involved in the case allocation of, legal proceedings in which he had a personal interest or in which he acted at the apparent behest of members of the Executive, further undermining the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary.  

‘Based upon its independent research, including its consultations with various stakeholders, the fact-finding mission determined that this latest crisis has served to expose already existing divisions within and between the Judiciary and the Executive.  The consequence has been an abuse of the justice system to settle political scores, further damaging the independence of the Judiciary in the process.  

‘Overall, the events that triggered the international fact-finding mission are both a reflection of a systemic crisis and potentially a contributing factor to its deepening further. In light of its findings, this report includes the fact-finding mission’s recommendations for reform to the Crown, Executive and Legislature, the Judiciary, the legal profession, the international community and civil society, which it considers will strengthen the rule of law, respect for human rights and access to justice and effective remedies in the Kingdom of Swaziland.’

See also

JURISTS: DEEP FLAWS IN LEGAL SYSTEM
SWAZI JUDICIAL CRISIS: KING’S WORD IS LAW
SWAZI JUDICIAL CRISIS: FULL CHARGES

Saturday, 12 August 2017

POLICE DRIVE AGAINST SEX WORKERS

Police have clamped down on sex workers operating on the streets of Swaziland. At least thirty have been given jail sentences with the option of a fine.

The arrested women say they have to do this work as they are unemployed and will go hungry.
The move has caused  the Swazi police chief to defend his officers’ action, saying they are only upholding the law.

Towns including the Swaziland capital Mbabane and the main commercial city Manzini have been targeted.

The arrested sex workers were give jail sentences of four months with the option of an E400 fine. In Swaziland seven in ten people have incomes less than E26 a day.

Lawyers for Human Rights in Swaziland said the arrests of the women was discriminatory because only the women and not their male clients were targeted. The arrests contravened the Swaziland Constitution which stated all people were equal under the law.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday (8 August 2017), ‘Well-known human rights lawyer Sipho Gumedze pointed out that the Crimes Act, in terms of which the sex workers were charged, was a legislation that was enacted during the dark years when black people were still considered subhuman by the colonial white settlers.’

National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula responded to media criticism of the police action. The Swazi Observer on Tuesday quoted him saying, ‘As long as laws prohibiting prostitute activities in the land are still there, don’t blame us when cracking the whip as it is our mandate to see to it that such laws are enforced.’

Manzini South Constituency Member of Parliament Owen Nxumalo who is also the Minister of Public Services told the Times of Swaziland newspaper that women could be helped away from prostitution through the Regional Development Fund.  ‘We have a fund that is aimed at alleviating poverty among the constituents and it can be accessible to them instead of engaging in sex work, which will end up being a drain to the country financially,’ the newspaper quoted him saying. 

In May 2017 it was reported that poverty-stricken parents of girls as young as fourteen were giving them to soldiers for sex in exchange for food.  

In July 2016 it was reported that women temporary employees at Swaziland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) had been forced to have sex with their bosses to keep their jobs.

 
See also

SOLDIERS SEX FOR FOOD WITH GIRLS, 14
SEX FOR JOBS CLAIM AT STATS OFFICE
http://swazimedia.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/sex-for-jobs-claim-at-stats-office.html

Friday, 11 August 2017

POLICE SHOOT-UP ‘DRINK-DRIVER’S’ CAR

At least 15 armed police officers in Swaziland shot at an suspected drink-driver leaving his car riddled with more than 20 bullet holes, a newspaper in the kingdom reported.

According to the Times of Swaziland (8 August 2017) the police chased a BMW sedan. The newspaper reported the driver Wandile Bhembe, aged 30, saying he had not seen the traffic cops because they had the headlights of their cars switched off. It happened in Manzini, Swaziland’s main commercial city.

He said he heard gun shots. ‘When I looked back, I saw vehicles being driven without lights on and people shooting at my car. Realising that my life was in danger, I sped off and the cars pursued me until I got to the Ngwane Park bridge,’ the Times reported Bhembe saying.

A bullet burst one of his tyres, he lost control of the car and it crashed into a tree.

The Times reported, ‘At the time, the team of uniformed police officers parked their vehicles and allegedly used their pistols to break the vehicle windows.’

The Times reported Bhemebe saying, ‘While trying to open the door and preparing to get off, the cops dragged me into a nearby drainage and severely assaulted me all over the body using fists, kicks and open hands.’ 

Bhembe ended up in hospital with injuries all over his body, especially to his head, mouth and chest, the Times reported.

Swazi police have a long history of shooting civilians in the kingdom where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

In November 2015 they shot a man at close range after he overturned rubbish bins and then ran away from them. The Times of Swaziland, reported at the time that a 21-year-old man had been suspected of throwing rubbish in the road and pelting vehicles with stones. The newspaper said, ‘he was shot by police at close range after refusing to board their vehicle’.

In October 2015 police fired guns and teargas at workers engaged in a legitimate protest against employment conditions at the Zheng Yong Garment factory in Nhlangano. 

A plain-clothed policeman shot an unarmed man in the back killing him while on a public bus in February 2014. The man had allegedly stolen some copper wire before boarding the bus, travelling from Siteki, in eastern Swaziland to Manzini. The Times Sunday newspaper reported at the time the driver of the bus Majahonke Zikalala said, ‘the man was attempting to force his way out of the bus, the police officer shot him in the back, near the spine… the man fell on the floor after which he was handcuffed while he bled’. He died of his injures at the scene.

In March 2013, Swaziland police shot a man dead in front of his 11-year-old child as he held his hands up in an attempt to surrender to them. Thokozani Mngometulu, aged 31, was killed as he got out of his car at his homestead in Dlakadla, in the Shiselweni region of Swaziland. Thokozani’s family, who also witnessed the killing, say he was shot in the pelvis at close range by a police officer.

In June 2012, a serial rapist suspect Bhekinkhosi Masina, popularly known as Scarface, was shot by police as they cornered him for arrest. Police say they only shot him in the thigh and he unexpectedly died of his injuries. The Times of Swaziland newspaper later revealed he had been shot six times, including in the head and back.

In July 2012, a mentally ill man, Mduduzi Mngometulu, aged 34,
was shot seven times by police and died of his injuries. He had four holes in his stomach, one in the leg and two bullet wounds on the left side of his chest.

These are not isolated incidents in Swaziland where police across the kingdom have a growing record of killing or maiming suspects before arrest. The cases have largely gone unreported outside of the kingdom itself.

In one example, police executed a suspect, Thabani Mafutha Dlamini, at Nkwalini in Hlatikulu in the presence of his colleagues and home boys
in what local media called ‘cowboy style’. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported the incident in December 2011 saying, ‘Police had previously warned the mother of the dead man to “budget for funeral expenses” as they intended to remove him. He was said to be on a police “wanted list”’. Dlamini was unarmed.

In a separate case in February 2011, a Swazi policeman shot Mbongeni Masuku, described in media as a Form IV pupil, in the head in what was later described as
‘an execution-style killing’. The killing happened outside a bar in Matsapha, an industrial town in Swaziland. Masuku’s uncle Sigayoyo Maphanga said Mbongeni had been dragged out of his car by police. He told the Swazi Observer, a policeman whom he named, ‘shot my nephew at the back of the left ear and he fell on the ground with blood oozing from his mouth and ears. We were all shocked and angered by such brutality from police officers.’ 

In May 2011, Mathende Matfonsi was shot dead by police while he was attending a field of dagga (marijuana) inside the remote forests of Lomahasha near the border with Mozambique. His family accused the police of ‘cold-blooded murder’. Matfonsi was shot dead at Ebhandeni, the same area where Nkosinathi Khathwane had previously been shot dead by soldiers at night.

In March 2010, police
shot a man as he was trying to surrender to them. This time the victim, Mncedisi Mamba, did not die. His mother Thoko Gamedze said Mamba had his hands up and was surrendering to police, but they shot him anyway.

It is not only crime suspects who get shot at. In June 2013, police
fired live bullets and teargas as children protested against alleged corruption at Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini Police were called after school pupils boycotted classes.

See also


POLICE SHOOT SURRENDERING MAN
SWAZI POLICE ‘MURDER’ SUSPECT
POLICE ‘EXECUTE’ SUSPECT IN STREET
SWAZI POLICE SHOOT-TO-KILL AGIN
POLICE SHOOT AND KILL MENTALLY ILL MAN
 
POLICE ‘SHOT ACCUSED RAPIST IN HEAD’
POLICE SHOOT-TO-KILL ON BUS
POLICE KILL SURRENDERING MAN
TEXTILE PROTEST: POLICE FIRE GUNS
SWAZI POLICE SHOOT-TO-KILL
‘HORROR TALE OF SWAZI POLICE TORTURE
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2016/09/horror-tale-of-swazi-police-torture.html

Thursday, 10 August 2017

SWAZI SCHOOLS HUNGER CONTINUES



Members of parliament in Swaziland have accused a government ministry of lying in a report on severe hunger in the kingdom’s schools.

They were told that a crisis that has continued all year was over and that school committees were stealing food intended for children.

A progress reported tabled to the Swazi House of Assembly by Minister of Education and Training Phineas Magagula was rejected. The shortage escalated after the government did not pay its bills to suppliers. The food includes rice, mealie-meal, cooking oil, beans, and peanut butter. 

Magagula said on Monday (7 August 2017) that food had been delivered to about 800 primary and high schools in the kingdom. He said government had failed to reach all schools because they could only get eight trucks instead of the 20 needed.

The Swazi Observer reported on Wednesday, ‘The ministry also expressed concern in the manner in which the food was stolen in schools. The report blames school committees for this but this was something that was not accepted by the MPs. A majority of the MPs rejected the report presented by the minister.’ They said no evidence had been given to prove the accusation.

It was reported that 60 percent of schools had closed early for the second term because of food shortages.

In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people of Swaziland’s 1.1 million population were in need of food assistance. WFP helped 65,473 of them. It said it was regularly feeding 52,000 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) aged under eight years at neighbourhood care points. About 45 percent of all children in thought to be OVCs.

It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in Swaziland aged under five. 

See also

‘CHILDREN COULD SOON DIE OF HUNGER’
BAD FOOD POISONS 200 PUPILS
NO FOOD SO SCHOOLKIDS SENT HOME
HUNGER FORCES SCHOOLS TO CLOSE EARLY
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2017/02/hunger-forces-schools-to-close-early.html