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Monday, 26 June 2017


Swaziland is riddled with corruption in both private and public places, according to a new report. Public officials take bribes to avoid regulations and the law, it states.

‘The results of grand corruption are there for all to see in the ever increasing wealth of high-level civil servants and officers of state,’ the report from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) states.

It adds, ‘For a long time the police, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade as well as the Department of Customs and Excise have often been implicated in corrupt practices.’

It gives many examples including the case of the government propaganda organisation Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Service (SBIS) where E 1.6 million (US$120,000) was paid to service providers for the maintenance of a machine that was neither broken nor in use.  The officer who authorised the bogus job cards has since been promoted and transferred to another government department. 

The report called The effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies in Southern Africa states, ‘This type of behaviour is common albeit covert and therefore difficult to monitor as goods and services are undersupplied or rerouted for personal use. The results of grand corruption are there for all to see in the ever increasing wealth of high-level civil servants and officers of state.’

It adds, ‘It has been suggested that Swaziland has no less than 31 millionaires who are junior government officials. In 2005, the then minister of finance Majozi Sithole estimated that corruption was costing the Swazi economy approximately E40 million a month.’

The report authored by Maxine Langwenya states, ‘Poor people who suffer as a result of corruption took the minister’s statement as confirmation of the extent to which the country was being driven to bankruptcy through corrupt activities. The corrupt public officials thought the minister was exaggerating the extent of corruption while academics were sceptical of the statement as the minister did not provide a basis for his assertion. 

‘The minister’s statement was significant in so far as it highlighted the fact that the economy of the country was being undermined by corrupt activities.’

The report states, ‘In the past, ministers have been found by a parliamentary select committee to have acted in a manner that is tantamount to theft of state property. The ministers had allocated themselves and subsequently “bought” land belonging to the state at ridiculously low prices without competing with other would-be buyers. The land was given to the ministers at below market value.’

The matter was never pursued by the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The report goes on, ‘In 2015 Judge Mpendulo Simelane stated that he had been approached by the former Minister of Justice Sibusiso Shongwe and told that judges could and should make money from cases over which they presided. The then Minister of Justice is then said to have asked the Judge to preside in a case of wealthy business people who were suing the Swaziland Revenue Authority for goods they had imported. The then Minister is said to have told the Judge that the business people were willing to pay about E2 million for help in winning the case. 

‘Shongwe suggested that Simelane should preside in the case and explained how the E2 million would be shared between the parties. Simelane and Shongwe were subsequently arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission and charged with corruption but charges were subsequently dropped against Simelane. Simelane remains on suspension while Shongwe is presently out on bail. This case illustrates how the Swazi justice system was abused to settle political scores and make it complicit with the actions of corrupt public officials.’

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Friday, 23 June 2017


More than 200 children in Swaziland were treated for food poisoning after allegedly being served contaminated meat at school.

It came as schools throughout the kingdom struggle to feed children because the Swazi Government has not paid monies owed.

The emergency happened at Mphundle High, the Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (20 June 2017).

The newspaper reported, ‘Over half of the total number of pupils at the school is said to have complained of severe stomach pains, diarrhoea and vomiting.’

It added, ‘Some of these allegedly vomited in the middle of lessons, throwing a serious wave of panic among the teachers.’

Paramedics were called to the school and pupils needing urgent medical attention were taken to nearby health clinics where some were later transferred to hospitals.

The newspaper said pupils ate beef and rice during their lunch break the previous day, ‘a meal which is suspected to have been the cause of their illness’. All children have reportedly recovered.

Deputy Regional Education Officer Dzabulase Mthupha confirmed the incident. 

The outbreak of food poisoning came after for the second term running children across Swaziland have been sent home early from classes because there is no food for them. This is because the Swazi Government has failed to deliver food, known locally as zondle, to poverty-stricken areas of the kingdom. 

The Ministry of Education and Training delivers about four 50kgs of rice and six to 10 to 50kgs of mealie-meal, depending on the size of the school and beans in each school to last a month.
The situation has not changed since the start of the February 2017 school term.

According to the World Food Program about 350,000 Swazi people from a population of 1.3 million need assistance with food following the drought. Chronic malnutrition is a main concern in Swaziland: stunting affects 26 percent of children aged under five years.

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Thursday, 22 June 2017


A chief in Swaziland has threatened too banish all single mothers from the area he rules over.

This was to ease the burden to the community of children born out of wedlock, local media reported.

The Observer on Saturday (17 June 2017) said Chief Somtsewu Motsa of Lushishikishini called a meeting of all ‘single mothers, pastors and those known to have impregnated girls without marrying them’.

The newspaper reported, ‘Reliable sources said the traditional authorities were threatening to evict anyone to be seen to defy the chief’s order.’

It added, ‘The traditional leadership is said to have issued the order for all single mothers and pastors to attend without fail the meeting and failure to do so meant eviction from Lushikishini.’

The newspaper could not get a comment from the chief.

Chiefs in Swaziland are the representative of King Mswati III who rules the kingdom as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Swazi chiefs have enormous power and it is through chieftaincies that the King maintains control of his people and chiefs do his bidding at a local level. People know not to get on the wrong side of the chief because their livelihood depends on his goodwill. In some parts of Swaziland the chiefs are given the power to decide who gets food that has been donated by international agencies. The chiefs quite literally have power of life and death in such cases with about a third of the population of Swaziland receiving food aid each year. 
Chiefs can and do take revenge on their subjects who disobey them. There is a catalogue of cases in Swaziland. For example, Chief Dambuza Lukhele of Ngobelweni in the Shiselweni region banned his subjects from ploughing their fields because some of them defied his order to build a hut for one of his wives.
Nhlonipho Nkamane Mkhatswa, chief of Lwandle in Manzini, the main commercial city in Swaziland, reportedly stripped a woman of her clothing in the middle of a street in full view of the public because she was wearing trousers.
In November 2013, the newly-appointed Chief Ndlovula of Motshane threatened to evict nearly 1,000 of his subjects from grazing land if they did not pay him a E5,000 (about US$500 at the time) fine, the equivalent of more than six months income for many.
Chiefs are given stipends by the national treasury, but not salaries, and community members pay their allegiance to chiefs by weeding and harvesting their fields, and constructing the traditional mud and thatch huts usually found at chiefs’ homesteads.
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