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Monday, 20 October 2014

JAILED EDITOR WINS FREEDOM AWARD

Bheki Makhubu, the Swaziland editor jailed for two years for publishing articles critical of judges has won the Press Freedom Award at the CNN / Multichoice journalism awards.

Makhubu, editor of the Nation, a small-circulation monthly comment magazine, was jailed with Thulani Maseko, a writer and human rights journalist in July 2014. 

The judge’s citation for the award said, ‘Bheki Makhubu is in jail. Where a journalist should not be. One of far too many journalists on the continent.

‘Bheki and his columnist and human rights lawyer colleague, Thulani Maseko, remain in jail facing sedition charges.

‘Their crime: They annoyed Swaziland’s chief justice after penning columns supporting a state clerk who was charged for trying to put right the system that allowed judicial officers to misuse public cars.

‘Their jailing is part the continuum of Swaziland’s long tale abuse of civil rights and free expression. This editor of The Nation, Makhubu is a long-standing practitioner who is known for his fair hand and balanced reporting: even in circumstances where fairness and balance are tough acts.

‘The Nation has become a talisman and assembly point, one of the last, in the fight for democracy in Swaziland.’

Makhubu and Maseko have also been nominated by more than 50 trade unions and civil society organisations from across the world for the 2014 Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Award.

The conviction of the two journalists was condemned by pro-democracy voices across the world. Sue Valentine, Africa Program Coordinator of the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) in Cape Town, said, ‘[The] ruling is an indictment of the thin-skinned Swazi judiciary that serves a monarch and denies citizens the basic right of freedom of expression.’
In a statement she said, ‘We call on authorities in Swaziland to release Bheki Makhubu and Thulani Maseko immediately.’
CPJ reported, ‘CPJ research shows that most of Swaziland’s principal media outlets are controlled by the state or choose to self-censor. King Mswati III owns one of the two daily newspapers and employs the editor of the other as an adviser. Media freedom advocates regard The Nation, which is owned and published by Swaziland Independent Publishers, as the only independent voice in Swaziland.’
Freedom House, in Washington, called the conviction a ‘show trial’. Jenai Cox, program manager for Africa programs at Freedom House, said, ‘The judiciary has become an instrument of repression, as King Mswati attempts secure his grip on power.’
Cox added, ‘After a three-month show trial, Swaziland’s High Court conviction of two of the country’s most prominent human rights activists shows that Swaziland’s court system has lost its last shred of credibility.’
In a statement the organisation said, ‘Freedom House joins opposition groups, civil society organizations and international organizations in demanding authorities swiftly and unconditionally release Maseko, Makhubu and all of Swaziland’s political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.’
See also
 
WHAT CONVICTED JOURNALISTS WROTE
COURT CONVICTS EDITOR AND WRITER

Thursday, 16 October 2014

SWAZI POLICE BAN UNIONS MARCH

Police in Swaziland have banned a proposed march by trade unionists against the government’s banning of their federation saying it is not in the interest of security, peace and public order’. 

The Swaziland Manufacturing and Allied Workers Union (SMAWU), the Swaziland Amalgated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) and Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) had planned to deliver petitions at different government ministries on Friday (17 October 2014).

The police took the decision to ban without obtaining a court order.

On 8 October 2014 the Swazi Government banned all trade union and employers’ federations in the kingdom and said the government would no longer listen to their views on any matters. New amendments to the existing Industrial Relations Act will outline how the federations can apply to be registered.

The trade unions intended to deliver petitions to government ministries to protest the ban.

Police Deputy National Commissioner - Operations Khisimusi Ndlovu told the Swazi Observer, a newspaper owned by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, ‘As a law enforcement and security agency, we have found the declared march not to be in the interest of security, peace and public order, hence it cannot be allowed to take place. 

‘The organisers or others who may wish to join the march in whatever capacity are warned against engaging in such actions.’

ATUSWA Secretary General Wonder Mkhonta and TUCOSWA Secretary General Vincent Ncongwane said they would continue with their proposed march.

The ban also includes the Federation of Swaziland Employers and Chamber of Commerce (FSE&CC) and the Federation of the Swazi Business Community.

See also

OFFICIAL: FEDERATIONS ARE ILLEGAL

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

HUNGER INCREASES IN SWAZILAND

More than three in ten people in Swaziland are undernourished, a new report reveals.

And, unlike many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa where hunger has been decreasing, Swaziland is an exception, the Global Hunger Index reveals.

Swaziland suffered the biggest increase in a Global Hunger Index score among any African country between 1990 and 2014.

The report published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), defines undernourishment as an inadequate intake of food - in terms of either quantity or quality.

The proportion of people who are undernourished more than doubled in Swaziland since 2004–2006 and in 2011-2013 was 35.8 percent of the kingdom’s 1.3 million population or about 455,000 people.

IFPRI reported that since 1990, life expectancy in Swaziland fell by ten years, amounting to only 49 years in 2012.

IFPRI reported, ‘In Swaziland, the HIV / AIDS epidemic has severely undermined food security along with high income inequality, high unemployment, and consecutive droughts. Swaziland’s adult HIV prevalence in 2012 was estimated at 26.5 percent - the highest in the world.’

The latest report underscores numerous previous surveys demonstrating the state of hunger in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Seven in ten of the population live in abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 a day. The King has 14 wives, 13 palaces, a private jet and fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars.

In January 2013 the Swaziland Vulnerability Assessment Committee in a report predicted a total of 115,712 people in Swaziland would go hungry in 2013 as the kingdom struggled to feed its population as the economy remained in the doldrums.

The report said problems with the Swazi economy were major factors. The kingdom was too dependent on food imports and because of high price inflation in Swaziland people could not afford to buy food. About seven in ten people in Swaziland live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 a day.

This was not an isolated statement. In 2012, three separate reports from the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the Institute for Security Studies all concluded the Swazi Government was largely to blame for the economic recession and subsequent increasing number of Swazis who had to skip meals.

The reports listed low growth levels, government wastefulness and corruption, and lack of democracy and accountability as some of the main reasons for the economic downturn that led to an increasing number of hungry Swazis.

The Swazi Government was also accused in May 2013 of deliberately withholding food donated from overseas as aid from hungry people as a policy to induce them to become disaffected with their members of parliament and blame them for the political situation in the kingdom. Newspapers in Swaziland and abroad reported the government wanted to punish the kingdom’s MPs for passing a vote of no confidence against it.

It was also revealed that the Swaziland Government had sold maize donated as food aid by Japan for hungry children in the kingdom on the open market and deposited the US$3 million takings in a special bank account.

A report in July 2013 called The Cost of Hunger in Africa, which was prepared by the Government of Swaziland working together with World Food Programme, found that around 270,000 adults in the kingdom, or more than 40 percent of its workers, suffered from stunted growth due to malnutrition. As a result, they were more likely to get sick, do poorly in school, be less productive at work and have shorter lives.

Poverty is so grinding in Swaziland that some people, close to starvation, are forced to eat cow dung in order to fill their stomachs before they can take ARV drugs to treat their HIV status.  In 2011, newspapers in Swaziland reported the case of a woman who was forced to take this drastic action.

In July 2012, Nkululeko Mbhamali, Member of Parliament for Matsanjeni North, said people in the Swaziland lowveld area had died of hunger at Tikhuba.

See also

GOVT ‘DELIBERATELY STARVING PEOPLE’
CORRUPTION ‘LEADS TO STARVATION’
FEAR OF MASS HUNGER IN SWAZILAND

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

OFFICIAL: FEDERATIONS ARE ILLEGAL

Trade union and business federations have not been banned in Swaziland, but they are illegal, according to Winnie Magagula, the kingdom’s Minister of Labour and Social Security.

Her statement has led to confusion in the kingdom and condemnation from trade unions and pro-democracy organisations across the world.

On 8 October 2014 Magagula called a press conference and without first informing the organisations concerned announced that the Swazi Government would not recognise the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), Federation of Swaziland Employers and Chamber of Commerce (FSE&CC), Federation of the Swazi Business Community (FESBC) and the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA).
  
Local media reported Magagula saying, ‘All federations are non-existent in terms of the Industrial Relations Act and should stop operating immediately until the amendment of the Industrial Relations Act has been passed by Parliament.’

She added the amendment would outline the qualification or criteria for eligibility to be registered as a federation.

The Government of King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has been in conflict with the trades unions in the kingdom for many years. It has failed to properly recognise the legitimacy of TUCOSWA and this is one of the reasons Swaziland has been expelled from membership of the lucrative African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) that allows goods from the kingdom to be imported into the United States tariff free.

The announcement that TUCOSWA was banned was criticised across the world, by organisations including Freedom House, the Trades Union Congress, UK, the International Trade Union Confederation and the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said the ban was disappointing and of great concern.
‘The role of employer and trade union federations is important in any developing economy and they play a key role in not only representing their members but also providing input into the labour market debates,’ it said in a statement.

Following the outcry, Magagula, defended her action and said the federations had not been banned.

She said, ‘We did not ban anyone, we only issued a statement that stopped them from partaking in our activities, where they would sit and engage government on a number of issues touching on the general welfare of workers. The federations are unlawful and do not exist according to the Act, however, they do exist outside the legislation.’

‘KING’S MINE’ OWES $4m, 700 JOBS LOST

Salgaocar, a mining company in Swaziland half-owned by King Mswati III, has suspended operations, owing creditors approximately E42 million (US$4.2 million).

An application has been filed in the Swazi High Court to place the company under provisional judicial management. It is reported that 700 jobs could be lost.

Salgaocar Swaziland began operations in October 2011 in controversial circumstances.

Salgaocar, an Indian-based global conglomerate, was granted a licence to mine iron ore at Ngwenya in Swaziland, within a protected area inside the Malolotja Game Reserve, despite fears that its work would pollute the water supply of many rural people and also the population of Mbabane, the kingdom’s capital.

But, the licence was granted and a company called Salgaocar Swaziland was formed with 50 percent of it owned by Swaziland, according to MetalBulletin, an industry journal. 

In Swaziland, King Mswati III is an absolute monarch and he keeps all mineral royalties in trust for the nation. In practice, he chooses how the money is used and it is mainly spent to finance his lavish lifestyle that includes 13 palaces, fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars and high-class international travel for himself, his 14 wives and other members of the Royal Family.

Salgaocar Mozambique Chief Executive Officer Ron Herman said in 2010  that he expected 200 million tonnes of ore to be extracted. Salgaocar Swaziland Chief Executive Officer Sivarama Prasad Petla said Swaziland would get a royalty of 50 US cent per tonne. 

On this basis the King stood to get US$100 million.

Now, it seems the prospects for the company might have been over-stated.

In documents filed at the Swazi High Court the company’s Director Sihle Dlamini said in December 2013, the price of iron ore started to fall ‘and this impacted negatively’ on Salgaocar’s ability to continue its operations.

He said its current liabilities amounted to approximately E42 million. He added more than 700 people could lose their jobs but this did not include the employees of ancillary service providers.

Liquidator and accountant Paul Lubenga Mulindwa has been appointed Judicial Manager of Salgaocar.

See also

PRIVATE FIRM GAVE KING HIS JET
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2012/04/private-firm-gave-king-his-jet.html

Thursday, 9 October 2014

STUDENTS TOLD: NAME STRIKE LEADERS

Striking students in Swaziland have been told they cannot resume studies unless they give their university the names of strike leaders.
 
The Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU) made the demand following a dispute in the Faculty of Health Sciences. 

Students are being forced to reapply to study and as part of that application they are asked to complete questionnaires which include three questions: How did the student body resolve to boycott classes in the absence of a student representative council? Who was responsible for calling all students out of their classrooms to join the strike? Do you know who were in the forefront of the strike action / the leaders? Name them.

All students were also asked to answer this question: ‘You participated in a class boycott between the period 3 September and 10 September 2014 and destroyed University property in the process. State and show cause why you as an individual should not be held accountable for the damage you caused to the University property.’

The students went on strike in a dispute over allowances, poor learning conditions in the institution, insufficient books in the library and lack of laboratory equipment for science experiments. They boycotted classes for a week in early September 2014 and the Faculty of Health Sciences has been closed since.

Students who are being assisted by the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) are considering taking the matter to court to force the reopening of the faculty.

Monday, 6 October 2014

HUMAN RIGHTS TURMOIL IN SWAZILAND

An editor and a human rights journalist were jailed in Swaziland for two years after writing and publishing articles in a tiny-circulation magazine critical of the kingdom’s judiciary. The case of Bheki Makhubu and Thulani Maseko is the most serious attack on freedom in the kingdom in living memory. The case caused outrage across the world and the two men have been nominated for an international Human Rights Defenders Award. 

Elsewhere, the media in Swaziland where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, continue to be fiercely controlled. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King was forced into making a humiliating apology after it wrote about his latest (believed to be the 15th) bride. Elsewhere, Minister of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Dumisani Ndlangamandla, reminded the King’s subjects that broadcast media existed primarily to serve the interests of the state.

These are just two of the stories from Swaziland from the past three months published by Swazi media Commentary and brought together in this latest edition of Swaziland: Striving for Freedom, Volume 15. It is available free-of-charge on scribd dot com.

This publication documents many of the struggles for freedom presently taking place in Swaziland; including a legal crisis as lawyers take on the judges; industrial disputes for better pay and working conditions. Hundreds of women workers at a textile factory were exposed to poisonous fumes and some were denied medical treatment because they were too poor to pay. Young girls were flogged because they did not attend a ceremony at which they were expected to dance half-naked in front of the King.

Swazi Media Commentary has no physical base and is completely independent of any political faction and receives no income from any individual or organisation. People who contribute ideas or write for it do so as volunteers and receive no payment.
 
Swazi Media Commentary is published online – updated most days – bringing information, comment and analysis in support of democracy in the kingdom.


‘QUEEN MOTHER MARRIED A CORPSE’

Swaziland’s Queen Mother Ntfombi Tfwala only married King Mswati III’s father King Sobhuza II after he had died, raising doubts as to the legitimacy of the present King’s right to be monarch.

A new article in the National Geographic magazine says Tfwala had to marry the corpse of King Sobhuza II in attempt to ease King Mswati’s path to the throne.

Jonathan W. Rosen writes in the magazine, ‘When Sobhuza died in 1982, his most senior wife, Queen Dzeliwe, assumed the regency, though in a break with tradition the Liqoqo [the most important group of traditionalist leaders in Swaziland] soon had her dismissed, feeling threatened by a probe into corruption and a series of attempted reforms that had been initiated by Dzeliwe’s prime minister. In her place the Liqoqo appointed Queen Ntfombi Tfwala, the mother of one of Sobhuza’s younger sons, the 15-year-old Prince Makhosetive, who was summoned from boarding school in England and introduced as Swaziland’s king-in-waiting. In April 1986, upon reaching his 18th birthday, Makhosetive was crowned King Mswati III [three years earlier than expected].’

Rosen continues, ‘Although treated today as blasphemy, it’s an open secret inside Swaziland that Ntfombi, who continues to hold the powerful post of queen mother, was never married to Sobhuza during his reign. She was a teenage maid in the house of one of his favorite wives, and was banished from the royal household when she became pregnant in 1967—a scenario recounted by Swazi elders to the civil liberties watchdog Freedom House and corroborated to me by multiple sources inside and outside of Swaziland. Sixteen years later, seeking to replace Queen Dzeliwe with a successor they could control, the Liqoqo found Ntfombi in a working-class Manzini neighborhood. In a highly usual ceremony, they staged a marriage between Ntfombi and Sobhuza’s corpse and installed her as a ruling figurehead until Mswati’s coronation.

‘Today, the consequences of this bizarre sequence of events are many. Never intended to be king, Mswati was not properly prepared for the role of monarch, says Mandla Hlatshwayo, who dealt routinely with Mswati as the president of Swaziland’s chamber of commerce and is now a prominent critic-in-exile. Unlike Sobhuza, who was groomed for the position from birth, Mswati was raised with “no expectation that he could be anything,” Hlatshwayo tells me via telephone from South Africa. Despite being sent by the royal family to a boarding school in England, Hlatshwayo says, he never developed crucial skills of diplomacy or proper respect for Swazi traditions.

‘Owing his position to others, moreover, Mswati assumed the kingship with the understanding he would need to please his many senior princes—a situation critics say has facilitated high-level corruption, stretched the palace budget, and resulted in cabinets filled to an unprecedented level with members of the royal family. This concentration of royal power, says Sipho Gumedze, a Manzini-based human rights lawyer, has also diminished the influence of local chiefs, who live among the masses and are therefore better positioned to advocate for the needs of average Swazis.’

Rosen’s account is not the first time that the circumstances of King Mswati’s rise to power have been publicly discussed. In Swaziland, where the King rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, his subjects are encouraged to believe the King was chosen by God.

However, the truth is more mundane. One biography of King Mswati reports, ‘Observers saw the early coronation as an attempt on the part of the Liqoqo to legitimate the usurpation of Dzeliwe and consolidate their gains in power.’ King Mswati acted quickly however to disband the Liqoqo and call for parliamentary elections.

In May 1986 King Mswati dismissed the Liqoqo, the traditional advisory council to regents, which had assumed greater powers than were customary. In July 1986 he dismissed and charged with treason Prime Minister Prince Bhekimpi and several government officials for their role in the ejection of Queen Regent Dzeliwe, though he eventually pardoned those who were convicted.

Another biography of King Mswati says, ‘King Mswati’s first two years of rule were characterized by a continuing struggle to gain control of the government and consolidate his rule.

‘Immediately following his coronation, Mswati disbanded the Liqoqo and revised his cabinet appointments. In October 1986 Prime Minister Bhekimpi Dlamini was dismissed and for the first time a nonroyal, Sotsha Dlamini, was chosen for the post.

‘Prince Bhekimpi and 11 other important Swazi figures were arrested in June 1987. [Prince] Mfanasibili, [Prince] Bhekimpi, and eight others were convicted of high treason. Eight of those convicted, however, were eventually pardoned.’

In 2011, court papers relating to the treason trial that was held in secret come to light after 23 years. The papers that had been deliberately removed from Swaziland after the trial in 1987 were unearthed in Namibia. 

They have not been released to the public and might contain details about the plotting that surrounded King Mswati’s rise to power. The papers might also remind the King’s subjects that he is really only where he is today because of political intrigue.


See also

HOW A SWAZI KING IS MADE
PLOTS, INTRIGUE AND THE SWAZI KING
SCHOOLBOOK REVEALS ROYAL FAMILY RIFT

KING’S EDITOR ATTACKS CHIEF JUSTICE

The editor of a Swaziland newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III has written an attack on the kingdom’s Chief Justice after he issued a directive relating to the Swazi Royal Family. 

This comes after two journalists were jailed for two years for writing and publishing articles also critical of CJ Michael Ramodibedi.

Alec Lushaba, editor of the Observer on Saturday, wrote in the newspaper, ‘I am aware that in recent times, when the media has commented on issues that touch upon the judiciary, it has attracted all sorts of reactions including prosecution.

‘Let me state here and now that neither jail nor persecution from the court will silence us in performing our duties as responsible citizens. The day we would be indifferent to the decisions or actions of the judiciary we would be all dead. As citizens we are affected or impacted positively or negatively by what they do or don’t do.

‘I am a born and bred Swazi and proud of it. I offer no apologies for being one.’

He went on to criticise the Chief Justice for issuing a ‘Practice Directive’. It read, ‘Henceforth the estates of members of the Royal family, princes, princesses and chiefs duly appointed by His Majesty the King and iNgwenyama shall be distributed after consultation with the King’s Office. By copy hereof the attention of the King’s Office is hereby drawn to this Practice Directive.’

Lushaba commented, ‘In fact, the Chief Justice has no business in operational or legislative matters. His is to uphold the Constitution and offer interpretation of the law.’

He added, ‘What the Chief Justice has done is tantamount to a decree. By writing and directing the office of the Master of the High Court what to do with estates of princes, princesses and chiefs was now usurping powers he does not enjoy, which are both legislative and Executive. He has no business on such.’

The criticism of CJ Ramodibedi comes two months after Bheki Makhubu, the editor of the Nation magazine, and writer and human rights journalist Thulani Maseko, were jailed for two years after they wrote and published articles critical of Ramodibedi.

Sentencing the pair in July 2014 High Court Judge Mpendulo Simelane said, ‘the Constitution does not grant an absolute right of freedom of expression’.

In his judgment, Judge Simelane said by writing and publishing the articles, ‘The Accused persons scandalized, insulted and brought to disrepute the dignity and authority of the Chief Justice.’

See also

JOURNALISTS JAILED TO DETER OTHERS
US BACKS CONVICTED SWAZI JOURNALISTS
JUDGE RESTRICTS PRESS FREEDOM
SUPPORT FOR CONVICTED JOURNALISTS
WHAT CONVICTED JOURNALISTS WROTE
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2014/07/convicted-journalists-what-they-wrote.html

Sunday, 5 October 2014

AMBASSADOR’S UN ROLE OVER-STATED

Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini misled the media when he said that the kingdom’s Ambassador to the United Nations was now ‘the vice-president’ for the UN General Assembly.

The Observer on Saturday, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported Dlamini saying the election of Zweli Mnisi proved Swaziland had been placed in the world map by holding such a high position.

But this is far from the truth. Rather than being elected ‘the’ vice-president’ of the UN General Assembly, Mnisi is one of 21 vice-presidents.

According to UN rules the vice-presidents are chosen from across the world so that six are representatives from African states; five from Asian states; one from an Eastern European state; three from Latin American States; two from Western European or other states with five representatives from the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Far from demonstrating that Swaziland is held in any particular high esteem, it shows that he got the seat because it was Swaziland’s turn.

According to the United Nations Handbook, vice-presidents sit on the UN General Assembly committees which deal with ‘procedural and organizational issues’ of the assembly.

KING AND ARMY HAVE OWN AIRPORT

Swaziland’s King Mswati III will continue to use the Matsapha Airport for his private jet, even though his subjects have been forced to use a newly-opened airport in a wilderness 70 km away.

Matsapha, which is close to both the kingdom’s capital Mbabane and the main commercial city, Manzini, has been closed to commercial aircraft and passengers wanting to fly out of Swaziland must use the King Mswati III Airport, formerly known as Sikhuphe.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported Swaziland Airlink General Manager Teddy Mavuso saying that Matsapha would be closed to commercial aircraft and would be used by the King and the Swazi Army.

This was said on Tuesday (30 September 2014) when the first commercial flight took off. It was made by Swaziland Airlink, a company controlled by the Swazi Government. It is the only airline that uses the new airport that was opened in March 2014. 

The airport has cost at least E3 billion (US$300 million) so far to build and is widely regarded outside of Swaziland as a vanity project for the king. Most of the money to build it came from the Swazi taxpayer, even though seven in ten of King Mswati’s subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.

No independent study on the need for Sikhuphe Airport was ever undertaken and the main impetus behind its construction has been King Mswati. He believes the airport will lend credibility to his dream to make Swaziland a ‘First World’ nation by 2022. 

After the official opening of the airport on 7 March 2014, Solomon Dube, Director of the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA), told local media Swazi Airlink had specifically asked not to operate from the airport for now.

An independent report predicted the airline could go out of business because it would not attract passengers. The airport itself needs an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 passengers a year to break even. Matsapha reportedly had 70,000 passengers a year.

The Observer reported that on the first day of operations the second shuttle bus of the day from Manzini to the airport carried only one passenger.

See also

AIRLINK FORCED TO USE KING’S AIRPORT
AIRPORT MOVE WILL ‘BANKRUPT AIRLINK’
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2014/03/airport-move-will-bankrupt-airlink.html