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Wednesday, 18 October 2017


TV Mtetwa, the right-hand man to King Mswati III the absolute monarch of Swaziland, and a fierce opponent of progression in the kingdom has died aged 93.

Mtetwa who was known as the ‘traditional prime minister’ had more power than the actual PM. He advocated for girls as young as fifteen to be forced into marriages, thereby supporting paedophilia (sex with children).

He threatened opponents of King Mswati that they would burn, if they did not do as they were told. He relentlessly worked to limit free speech and criticism of the King.

TV Mtetwa – real name Timothy Velabo – was Acting Governor of the Ludzidzini Royal Residence. This meant when he spoke he was considered to be speaking for the King. The power in Swaziland rests with King Mswati and his mother. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King choses the Prime Minister, top ministers and judges. Critics of the King are labelled terrorists by the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Although a constitution was passed in 2005 giving the appearance that Swaziland had many traits of a modern state, in reality tradition and culture takes precedence over laws. Mtetwa was the ultimate authority on traditional law and custom in the kingdom. 

Mtetwa was quick to pint this out in 2012 when he said it was acceptable for girls aged 15 to take part in traditional marriage known as kwendzisa if their parents agreed and the child wanted to. 

Mtetwa said this knowing that in 2012 the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act had been passed in Swaziland which made it illegal to engage in sexual relationships with girls under the age of 18.

The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) said at the time most of these so-called marriages were forced on the girl and sometimes it happened after she had been raped or fallen pregnant.  SWAGAA, in a media statement, said, ‘What is most disturbing is the fact that most of these “marriages” are forced, with the young girls having little or no say in being married to much older men. 

‘The situation is often forced because the family wants to receive payment and if sexual relations have occurred (usually forced upon the girl), the family wants to save face. We have seen tragic stories in the newspaper recently involving these types of marriages, from girls being forced to marry after being raped, to getting pregnant and dropping out of school, to attempting suicide.’

It added, ‘What these young girls are enduring in the name of “traditional marriage” is a human rights violation. Swaziland has signed the Human Rights Declaration and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Children’s Protection and Welfare Act of 2012 received assent from King Mswati III to protect the lives and dignity of all children in Swaziland.

‘Protecting young Swazi girls from traditional marriages that they don’t want is a matter of principle. It is not a complicated legal issue; it is simply a matter of upholding human rights and Swazi law.’

One of Mtetwa’s duties was to travel the length and breadth of Swaziland threatening dire consequences to people who dared to defy the King’s wishes. For example, in 2014 he told the King’s subjects in kaLuhleko they ‘will burn’ if they continued to criticise the King’s appointment of a local chief.

In April 2014, the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported Mtetwa and a delegation from the King visited kaLuhleko where it said ‘Bhekwako Dlamini had been mobilising the people to snub meetings called by the newly appointed Chief Zulwelihle Maseko, ‘who was blessed by Their Majesties last June’.

The newspaper reported, ‘His Majesty roared through Ludzidzini Governor Timothy Velabo Mtetwa commonly known as TV.

‘“It has gotten to the attention of His Majesty the King and the Queen Mother that there is something irregular happening here and that is why we are here today,” he said to deafening silence.

‘“There is a bad habit that has come to the attention of the authorities that there are some people who still choose to defy the chief and do not recognise a man who has been appointed by the King. Where have you ever heard of that? This is the person who has been chosen to take over from Mfanwenkhosi Maseko and I have been sent by His Majesty to order that there be complete silence in this place,” said the tough talking Mtetwa.’

The Observer reported Mthethwa warned that people who did not adhere to the directive issued by the King ‘will burn’.

Mtetwa was against free speech. Many times he pronounced that King Mswati’s word was final – on every topic. For example, in 2015, King Mswati introduced a football tournament that failed to attract enough supporters and made a huge financial loss. 

Controversy surrounded the E9 million (about US$900,000) sponsorship of the Ingwenyama Cup tournament by the government parastatal Sincephetelo Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (SMVAF). SMVAF exists to compensate victims of road accidents.

A range of critics said the amount of sponsorship was too much to spend in a kingdom that was battling with poverty and a drought. Seven in ten of the King’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.

Mtetwa announced that ‘members of parliament, [cabinet] ministers and whoever’ must be silent on the matter.

The Observer on Saturday (21 November 2015) reported Mtetwa said people must stop discussing the topic, ‘because the lion has already roared on the matter’. The newspaper reported Mtetwa, ‘emphasised that it was wrong for people to publicly talk about what the King has already pronounced and set in motion’.

The newspaper added, ‘Mtetwa said since time immemorial it had been a traditional norm that no one speaks after the King had spoken.’

The newspaper said, ‘He warned all critics to guard against being seen to be going against pronouncements made by the King.’

Mtetwa died on Monday (16 October 2017) in a hospital in South Africa after a long illness.

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Tuesday, 17 October 2017


A veteran journalist in Swaziland has slammed the organisation of the upcoming municipal elections in the kingdom, suggesting voting will be rigged.
Ackel Zwane, writing his weekly column for the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III the absolute monarch in Swaziland, pointed to ‘rampant corruption’.

Zwane wrote on Friday (13 October 2017), the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) which runs the election had disregarded the Swazi Constitution that requires it to set up appropriate rules and monitor elections in Swaziland. 

‘Since their commissioning the EBC has done nothing but  recite certain clauses about the voting process instead of creating institutions that will protect citizens from all forms of rigging and make elections truly meaningful and not just a scramble for unearned positions of power.’

Zwane said there was persistent infighting at the EBC and ‘the consequences are devastating’.
The elections are due to take place on 28 October 2017.

On 4 October 2017, the Swazi parliament was told there was confusion about whether the EBC or the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development was running the election.

Zwane said voter registration had been corrupted. ‘The first and most abhorring loophole is the control and monitoring of the voters’ roll. In this case prospective candidates drive scores of nonurban persons to the registration centres and the system cannot detect whether those people indeed come from the various wards. 

‘For instance in Ward 5 in Manzini voters would be coming from Sicewlini, Makholweni, Nkhundleni, Ticantfwini, Mphembekati, Mntfwanenkhosi, Mpholi, Magwaza, Mkhulamini, Mbekelweni and Ludzeludze yet the ward is only to produce a candidate from Murray Camps and Sikhunyana constituencies. 

‘Show me any system to verify in the voters’ roll if all those registered indeed come from the designated wards.’

He added, ‘This tradition also translates into the national election whereby people are taken from wherever to register and vote for particular candidates that offer them goodies at the end, if not outright vote purchasing. 

‘These registered votes are often rewarded with endless rounds of cold beers, roast chicken (chicken dust) and tripe in exchange for the candidate to earn sitting allowances, attend breakfast meetings and officiating in such auspicious events as distribution of new litter collection bins for the duration of the political term.’

On 20 September 2017, the Swazi Observer reported the inspection of the voters’ roll had been extended because of doubts that they were accurate. It was claimed some people had been wrongly registered as voters in some towns and cities.

In October there were complaints that in most cases photographs of voters did not appear on rolls alongside names as expected.

Zwane said voter education was poor and candidates and voters alike did not understand what they were expected to do and corruption was rife. He said many councillors did not live in the areas they represented.

‘We are aware of rampant corruption resulting from lack of policing municipality management systems,’ he added.

‘This culture has resulted in both rent and rates payers being marginalised and their interests neglected as those voted into office have no interest of the urban dweller or of urban life whatsoever. If any watchdog organisation could invest its energies in finding out how much property councillors have on Swazi Nation Land as opposed to urban property the results would be shocking. 

‘Most of the councillors have their homes in Lwandle, Ticantfwini, kashali, kaKhoza, Mpolonjeni, Mvutjini, Mantjolo, Esitibeni, Nkoyoyo  with only titimela for rent in Ngwane Park, Skom or Msunduza, the urban area.’

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Monday, 16 October 2017


King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland, has declared a small teacher-training college will become a university, repeating a promise previously made and broken in 2013. 

He told the Ngwane Teachers’ College graduation ceremony in Shiselweni on Thursday (12 October 2017) it would be declared a university in 2018 to coincide with Swaziland’s 50th anniversary of independence from Great Britain.

The decision appears to have been made on the spur of the moment without consultation with the Ministry of Education and Training.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported, ‘His Majesty pointed out that every year he visited the college, the students and staff told him of their wish that the institution be elevated to university status.

‘“Every time we come here we get the same request that the institution be elevated to a university.

‘“I heard you again today when rendering your entertainment stating that the institution is ready for such an elevation.

‘“While one group was performing and touched on this issue I asked Dr Mahlalela how far the process to elevate the institution and he told me it was very advanced and it would be concluded soon hence I declare that in 2018 this institution will no longer be a college but a university,” his Majesty declared.’

He added, ‘In 2018 the country will be celebrating the jubilee hence it is important that the progress made on the ground reflects that we have been independent for 50 years.

‘“Those that are involved in the negotiations and planning process of this must therefore speed track it,” His Majesty said.’

The King and others did not report that a similar promise had been made to Ngwane Teachers’ College in 2013. It was announced it would become a university in 2014.

The Times of Swaziland reported at the time that College’s Principal Amos Mahlalela and University of Swaziland (UNISWA) Vice-Chancellor Professor Cisco Magagula made the announcement at that year’s graduation ceremony.

The college is small and in 2013 Magagula said it had graduated 3,764 since the college was formed. This was in 1983.
This year, 292 students graduated; all with diplomas. At present it has 52 lecturers and only two hold Ph.D doctoral degrees. According to the official website of the Swaziland Government from 1989 to date the college offers a three-year Primary Teachers Diploma (PTD) programme. About 90 percent of the students in the college are sponsored by the government.

This is not the first announcement the King has made regarding the creation of a university. In August 2016, he declared a ‘university of transformation’ serving the whole Southern African Development Community would be established in Swaziland within a year. It did not happen.
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Saturday, 14 October 2017


Women’s rights campaigners in Swaziland appear to have won a small victory on the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill (SODV).

A report to the Swazi House of Assembly recommended scrapping four clauses in the Bill that dealt with incest, unlawful stalking, abduction and flashing.

In the Bill, stalking was defined as loitering near, contacting a person in anyway; including but not limited to telephone, mail, fax email or through use of technology. Any intimidating, harassing or threatening act against a person whether or not involving violence or a threat of violence was also defined as stalking. 

The clause that defined flashing as the exposure of or display of genital organs and female breasts among others was said to seriously undermine the Swazi tradition of dressing (imvunulo) and other practices. Each year thousands of bare-breasted women dance in front of King Mswati III at the Reed Dance.

The clause on incest, described as an act of sexual penetration or attempts with a person’s offspring or sibling, parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece was said to be too broad-ranging. The committee report said there were already laws that covered these offences.

An outcry developed on the streets and in the pages of the kingdom’s only two daily newspapers when it was said that the clauses went against traditional Swazi culture.

In an editorial comment, the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, said, ‘If MPs go ahead with this, they ought to be aware that they are just about to officially brand Swazi culture as a tool to suppress women and girls in this country. This is not an image we wish for ourselves when the world is pushing aggressively for gender equality and the protection for women and girls.’

Within a week the clauses were reinstated. The future of the SODV Bill is unclear since parliamentary procedure might mean it cannot be discussed again until next year. The SODV Bill in one form or another has been going through parliament since 2009.

The controversy has once again highlighted the abuses that women and girls suffer under Swazi traditional law and custom.

In 2013, a 317-page document called The Indigenous Law and Custom of the Kingdom of Swaziland (2013) was presented to King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. It said that under Swazi Law and Custom a husband can legally rape his wife or his lover. 

Under Chapter 7, which addresses offences (emacala) in Swaziland, rape is said to be committed only if the woman forced is not the man’s wife or lover.

In 2015, a report from a US organisation ABCNewspoint stated that Swaziland had the fourth highest rate of rape in the world. It said there were 77.5 registered cases of rape among 100,000 people.

Rape and sexual abuse of children is common in Swaziland. In 2008, Unicef reported that one in three girls in Swaziland were sexually abused, usually by a family member and often by their own fathers - 75 percent of the perpetrators of sexual violence were known to the victim.

Many men in Swaziland believed was all right to rape children if their own wives were not giving them enough sex. In 2009, men who were interviewed during the making of the State of the Swaziland Population report said they ‘“salivate” over children wearing skimpy dress codes because they are sexually starved in their homes.’

In 2009, a study of Swazi cultural practices, funded by the United Nations Population Fund, found, ‘In Swazi culture, decision making has traditionally been a male prerogative. Family planning decisions, therefore, lie with the man.

‘Women report that they have been subjected to continuous child birth by their husbands or in-laws against their will.’

Another cultural factor is a preference (which is sometimes made into a demand by in-laws) for a woman to bear a boy child. Unwanted pregnancies result as the birth of a girl child is immediately followed by an effort to have a male heir who by traditional law is of the only sex that can lead a family into its next generation.

So strong are these beliefs, coupled with an antipathy toward condom use, that AIDS prevention efforts directed at women haven’t made much headway, according to the report.

In the study, Swazi men strongly defended the practice of kungena, whereby a widow becomes the wife of the deceased man’s brother; a practice that health groups say spreads HIV. Swazi men also defended polygamy as a cultural necessity.

But men also lamented cultural practices they said could stop the spread of HIV, like kuhlawula, whereby men or boys who impregnate unmarried women are fined five cows by their community elders, are no longer enforced.

Several Swazi customs were once in place to ensure that young people stayed chaste until marriages. At the time, marriages were usually arranged between families as forms of alliances. Until the traditional ceremony was completed, young people were not allowed to have sex. 

One taboo was the people did not engage in sex outside their age groups. Boys were subject to ridicule by their contemporaries if they were known to sleep with older women.

Now, Sugar Daddies and Sugar Mamas are common. It is not even sexual attraction that draws the youngest of the partners to such relationships, but the lure of money.

In previous Swazi generations, girls’ sexual debuts were delayed through such customs as umcwasho, when all the nations’ girls of certain ages were forbidden to engage in sex for designated periods. 

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Friday, 13 October 2017


The Swaziland Government is being sued for E2.5 million (US$185,000) after a child was maimed by a teacher who was dishing out corporal punishment.

It comes after a series of cases of excessive and illegal beatings have been reported in the kingdom.

Former Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Training Pat Muir told a workshop that the parents of the child in Northern Hhohho was suing the Ministry of Education and Training. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Wednesday (11 October 2017) he said, ‘Today, I am reminded of a parent in Northern Hhohho who is currently suing government under the ministry of education and training about E2.5 million. This is because the teacher punished and maimed a child.’

The newspaper said, ‘He added that the Ministry of Education and Training has a number of cases in all regions of the country where teachers have been accused of assaulting pupils under the banner of corporal punishment. 

Muir was speaking at a workshop on ‘positive discipline’ designed to sensitise ministry officials on alternatives to corporal punishment which was banned in Swaziland schools in 2015.

He did not give details of the cases but there are a number on public record. As recently as September 2017 it was reported that an 11-year-old boy from Ekuphakameni Community Primary School in the outskirts of Hlatikhulu lost an eye when a cane his schoolteacher was using to illegally beat other pupils broke and splintered. 

In 2011, a 10-year-old girl at kaLanga Nazarene Primary school was blinded for life in her left eye after a splinter from a teacher’s stick flew and struck it during punishment. She was injured when her teacher was hitting another pupil, with a stick which broke.  

Another pupil in Swaziland was thrashed so hard that he later collapsed unconscious and had to be rushed to a clinic. Six pupils at Mafucula High school were thrashed with 20 strokes of a ‘small log’ because they were singing in class. It was reported that the boy who became unconscious was not one of those misbehaving, but he was flogged nonetheless. 

In September 2015, the Times of Swaziland reported a 17-year-old school pupil died after allegedly being beaten at school. The pupil reportedly had a seizure.

In March 2015, a primary school teacher at the Florence Christian Academy was charged with causing grievous bodily harm after allegedly giving 200 strokes of the cane to a 12-year-old pupil on her buttocks and all over her body.

In 2011, it was reported girls at Mpofu High School were being flogged by teachers on their bare flesh and if they resisted they were chained down so the beating could continue. They were said to have been given up to 40 strokes at a time. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported at the time the children said ‘that when they are beaten, they are made to strip naked on the lower body so that the teachers can beat them on bare flesh’.

One girl told the newspaper, ‘The teachers make us lie on a bench whereby if you are a girl you lift your skirt so that they can beat you on bare flesh, if you resist you are chained to the bench.’

Muir told the workshop which was hosted by the Save the Children Swaziland at the Pigg’s Peak Hotel the ministry was working towards eradicating all violence at schools, as well as addressing the negative impact that corporal punishment had on children, who started to hate school. 

He said, ‘As a ministry, we have noted that corporal punishment acts as a barrier that keeps children away from school, and our job is to remove that problem in order to achieve the targeted 100 per cent child education goal. Currently, we are training educational officers on positive disciple, unfortunately we still have many of our officers who are not well versed about positive discipline because they are strong believers in the proverbial saying, “spare the rod spoil the child”, but during teacher preparation in teaching college, the ministry of education and training never taught a teacher how to beat children.’

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Thursday, 12 October 2017


A gold mine in Swaziland opened by King Mswati III promising more than 400 jobs has been closed after allegations of poor management.

The Lufafa Gold Mine (now known as Lomati) at Hhelehhele in the Hhohho region was in February 2016 reported to have more than two million tonnes of ore which could contain about 15,000 kilograms of gold. It had an estimated value of more than E4 billion (US$263 million). Twenty-five percent of this would be held by King Mswati ‘in trust’ for the Swazi nation. Lufafa Managing Director Mihla Dlamini said at the time there was enough gold to be dug for a period of 35 years.
Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Jabulile Mashwama said on Monday (9 October 2017) the mine had been shut down after concerns were raised by different stakeholders about the running and administration of the company. 

The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday this was revealed by the Minister during the ministry’s first quarter portfolio committee debate. The newspaper added, ‘The minister said there had been an enquiry into the running of the mine after which it was resolved that it had been closed down while the company tries to put its house in order. 

‘“Following a number of negative reports about the mine, the ministry took it upon itself to visit the mine and look into its running, upon arrival we realised there was a lot wrong and we had an enquiry look into it,” she said. 

‘The minister said the findings from the enquiry showed that there was a lot wrong hence the decision to shut down the mine so that the company could put their house in order.

‘“We have been informed by the company that they have changed management for the effective running of the mine and further resolve the problems which were identified during the enquiry,” she said.’

The mine reportedly will reopen before the end of October 2017.

When the King officially opened the mine in February 2016, he said it would bring 400 jobs at the mine and in the community. The Observer on Saturday newspaper reported (27 February 2016), ‘The King said he so wishes that the gold mine would perform well in order to bring more opportunities since he has seen for himself that the directors have demonstrated a good working leadership.’

The mine was shrouded in secrecy. At the opening ceremony journalists were prevented from taking pictures by security forces and Minister of Natural Resources, Jabulile Mashwama. The Nation magazine on its Facebook page said this created, ‘suspicion about the extraction of the mineral in the country’.

The Nation reported, ‘Sources told The Nation that the directors of [the mining company] did not want pictures of the mine to be published “for security reasons”.  Journalists were only allowed to photograph the event at the entrance of the mine, where a tent was pitched for King Mswati to meet the local community, and at the reception held at Pigg’s Peak.’

Before the opening, in June 2015, the Observer on Saturday reported its journalists were barred from entering the Lufafa premises.

The newspaper reported at the time, ‘The reason for barring the Observer on Saturday team could not be established as security personnel from For Him Security Services only declared that the authorities had instructed them not to allow anyone inside the premises. Even efforts to get the security to speak to the authorities and inform them it was the Observer on Saturday team that wanted an audience with them to ascertain how much ground the company had covered concerning the opening of the mine, but the very same answer was forwarded to the team that the authorities at the mine still did not want the team to enter the premises.’

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Wednesday, 11 October 2017


King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, has been named the third wealthiest King in Africa by an international business website.  

Business Insider reported that he has a net worth of US$200 million. In a short report, it said, ‘King Mswati III has often been criticized for his lavish lifestyle, with many local and international media outlets accusing him of living an extravagant life, while his people languish in poverty.’

The wealth of the King who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has been the subject of speculation outside of Swaziland for years. He rules over a population of about 1.3 million people and seven in ten of them live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.

In 2014 Forbes magazine reported the King had a personal fortune of US$50 million, but this did not include the estimated US$140 million he holds through the conglomerate Tibiyo TakaNgwane, that he supposedly ‘holds in trust’ for the Swazi nation.

King Mswati owns 13 palaces, a private jet airplane, fleets of Mercedes and BMW cars and at least one Rolls Royce, while the majority of his subjects rely on some form of food aid to avoid hunger. At least 40 percent of the working population is unemployed.

Forbes, in an analysis of the richest monarchs in Africa reported that the King was ‘more well known for his relationships with women (he had at least 15 wives at the last count), and for his flamboyant parties’.

Forbes reported, ‘The King is one of Africa’s wealthiest royals. His personal net worth is at least $50 million, based on the annual $50 million salary that he is paid out of government coffers. 

‘He also controls Tibiyo TakaNgwane, an investment holding company that owns stakes in sugar refining giants Ubombo Sugar and Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC), dairy company Parmalat Swaziland, spirits manufacturer Swaziland Beverages and hotel chain Swazi Spa Holdings. The company has assets worth over $140 million, but he holds it in trust for the people of Swaziland.’

This was not the first time Forbes reported on the King. In 2012, Forbes named King Mswati as one of the top five worse rulers in Africa. 

It added, ‘He lives lavishly, using his kingdom’s treasury to fund his expensive tastes in German automobiles, first-class leisure trips around the world and women. But his gross mismanagement of his country’s finances is now having dire economic consequences. Swaziland is going through a severe fiscal crisis. 

‘The kingdom’s economy is collapsing and pensions have been stopped. In June last year, the King begged for a financial bailout from South Africa.’

In 2009, Forbes named King Mswati among the top 15 wealthiest royals in the whole world

In February 2011 the Mail & Guardian newspaper in South Africa reported King Mswati also had US$10 billion that was put in trust in King Mswati’s name for the people of Swaziland by his father, King Sobhuza II.

In 2015, a report from the United States government  concluded there was no oversight in the kingdom on how the King, his 15 wives and vast Royal Family spent public money.

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