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Friday, 31 December 2010

WIKILEAKS: SWAZI GADDAFI GAFFE

Swaziland’s top foreign affairs civil servant has criticised the leadership style of Col Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, the man King Mswati III wants to help save his kingdom’s ailing economy.

Clifford Mamba, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, suggested Gaddafi’s style was chaotic and autocratic.

Mamba’s comments are contained in a diplomatic cable, marked ‘secret’, written in April 2009 by Maurice Parker, the then US Ambassador to Swaziland, and published on the Wikileaks website.

Mamba is said to have criticised Gaddafi’s time as Chair of the African Union (AU). Mamba reportedly said Gaddafi had ‘put the AU secretariat into chaos, by-passing all protocol and the institutional framework’ during his time in charge. Gaddafi was Chair of the AU for one year until January 2010.

Mamba also criticised Gaddafi’s call for the creation of a ‘United States of Africa’. He said, ‘Moving one country in one direction is hard enough, much less moving 48 countries.’

Mamba was also less than flattering when he received a diplomatic note saying that Gadaffi had given himself a new title, ‘King of Culture’. He is said to have reacted with ‘amusement’ at the news.

Mamba’s comments about Gaddafi won’t please King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, who has been sucking up to Libya for years, trying to get business and economic aid for Swaziland.

Relations between Gaddafi and the king were previously said to be warm. In 2009 Gaddafi sent the king six camels as a token of friendship.

Both King Mswati and Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, have visited Libya in attempts to drum up business and aid from Gadaffi. Dlamini was in Libya as recently as last month (November 2010).

But, the Libyan leader’s money does not come without strings attached. A West African diplomat who refused to have his name or that of his country published told the Independent newspaper in the UK, ‘We made a deal with Libya whereby we would support and vote for all resolutions proposed by Mr Gaddafi at [AU] summits in exchange for his help.’

How much Gadaffi’s support has cost Swaziland is not known. When his year as AU Chair was up, Gaddafi tried without success to have his term extended, but could not get the support of enough African nations. It would be interesting to know what position Swaziland took to help Gadaffi get his way.

To read the Wikileaks cable in full, click here.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

‘SWAZI OBSERVER’ PLOTS FOR KING

I smell a rat at the Swazi Observer.


For the past two weeks Thulani Thwala, the newspaper’s editor, has attacked Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, on his personal character (for being involved in a corrupt deal that stole government land from the people for his own personal benefit) and his competence in handling the economy of the kingdom.


Yesterday (29 December 2010), he called on Dlamini, along with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Finance Minister to quit.


At the same time as condemning Barnabas Dlamini, Thwala praised Themba (AT) Dlamini, the man King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, replaced as Prime Minister in 2008, after what in Swaziland passes for a ‘parliamentary election’.


The king replaced Themba with Barnabas, even though this was against the constitution of Swaziland.


Thwala’s praise of Themba Dlamini had a few tongues wagging in Swaziland. The reason is this: after he left office as Prime Minister the king made Themba Dlamini Managing Director of Tibiyo, the conglomerate that runs the Swazi Observer on behalf of the king.


So we have Thwala praising his boss and saying that the boss made a better PM than the present post holder.


Did Themba Dlamini instruct Thwala to praise his work as PM and put it into people’s minds that he would be an ideal replacement for Barnabas, or was this just a bit of freelance brown-nosing by Thwala?


We can be sure of one thing: the attack in the Swazi Observer and its companion Weekend Observer on Barnabas Dlamini and his government has been sustained and I expect will continue in the days and weeks ahead.


King Mswati appointed Barnabas Dlamini and the king owns Observer newspapers, so it is inconceivable that Thwala would make this attack if he didn’t have the support of Themba Dlamini (his boss) and the king.


Thwala, his journalists and paid commentators, make it clear in their criticisms that Barnabas and his minister are to blame for the current crisis in Swaziland and that King Mswati has nothing to do with it.


This isn’t true, of course. King Mswati chooses the PM and the cabinet and sets the tone of government and parliamentary business. He also bleeds his subjects dry to pay for his 13 palaces and lavish lifestyle: he is to blame for the dire plight the Swazi people face today.


So, Barnabas is being targeted as the cause of the problem. And the solution? Get rid of Barnabas and replace him with a ‘competent’ new PM. Step forward Themba Dlamini.


And in one single move King Mswati thinks he has solved his problem. With Barnabas gone, the king, his new PM and his state-controlled media can tell the Swazi people that the crisis is over. The Big Bad Barnabas is no more and we can all rest safely in our beds.


Or at least the ruling elite can rest safely.


There is only one problem: Themba is no more able to solve the problem of Swaziland than Barnabas. It will take more than a swap of personalities at the top of government to do that. It can only be achieved by complete root-and-branch change of Swaziland and that is something the king and his hangers-on do not want to see.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

SWAZILAND COALITION AT YEAR’S END

The following is the End of Year Statement for 2010 from Bishop Meshak Mabuza,Chair of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations


There is a song by the great American soul singer Solomon Burke that has the chorus;

None of us are free,

None of us are free,

When one of us is chained,

None of us are free,

None of us are free.


So it is for Swaziland. When some of us are chained by poverty, illness, discrimination and suffering all of us are.


For too long have we, as a Swazi Nation, sat silently and pretended that other people’s troubles were not ours. For too long have we been quiet as we have seen people, families and communities denied their rightful dignity, thinking “well at least it is not us”.


Well my brothers and sisters I am here to tell you that it is us. Our colleagues in the unions say “An injury to one is an injury to all”. These are not just slogans, they are reality. When we allow bad things to happen to others through fear, all that we do is to delay the time that the very same bad things happen to us. When we say nothing, when we do nothing what we really say is that what is happening is right. But how can we do something? How do we stand up for what is right? We start by knowing what is wrong and why. Our Lord said “as much as you do it to the least of these you do it to me” But in this country we seem to have a lot more Christians than actual Christianity.


Democracy


The Coalition has always argued that the Tinkhundla system was not democratic, the elite within the system are of the view that Swaziland is not ready for multi-party and so Tinkhundla is what is best for the Swazi People. Of course, this is nonsense - the Tinkhundla system is best for them, the Swazi elite, not us the people. It was put together to ensure that there could be no possible way of challenging those that are in power now. There is no way to stop them denying the poor its rightful share of our national riches.


We, the people, can not choose the government, and therefore the government is not accountable to us. Tinkhundla is not really a system at all. It has no coherent political philosophy, it has no expressed values or goals. All that Tinkhundla has been designed for is to keep those who really choose the government (the labadzala) rich and contented. In the process they abuse those of us who get in the way. And when they abuse one of us - they abuse all of us.


But this is all theory, what does it mean to you and me?


Greed


It means that we cannot know if we can feed our families because the land we live on is at the whim of those who rule us and their petty disputes. It means that we cannot go to work and get a fair day’s wage. It means that when the lowly paid are scraping around for their next meal, while their bosses are going to the doctors with gout from overeating.


Look at what has happened this year. The report on the 40/40 celebrations shows that the organisers spent three times the budget - mainly in payments to themselves and their friends. Look at the Circular No 1 that gives our politicians undeserved and unaffordable pay increases in the same time that they are asking for seven thousand of the lowly paid to become unemployed. Look at how they allocate themselves one million Emalangeni discounts on land - how many jobs does that equate to? For those on the grade of a lowly office cleaner who earns E2000 per month that is five hundred jobs that could have been saved, and five thousand lives spared starvation, desperation and humiliation. But what can those five thousand citizens do to express their dissatisfaction? Nothing - because only one of those ministers was elected - the rest were appointed. Those Ministers should be ashamed of themselves. Do they know shame? Do they know modesty? Do they know any humility? Their greed means that people we know will starve. It means that we will all be shamed when honest workers and their families go hungry while ministers and their cronies live in luxury.


Land Rights


We all know of the saying that when two elephants fight it is the grass that gets hurt. Never was that as true as for the people of KaShigali. The feuding that is going on between the descendants of King Sobhuza II is destroying the very fabric of the community there. It goes to show how far our culture has declined in the twenty eight years since His Majesty’s demise. How have we gone from “A chief is a chief because of his people” to sending in bulldozers to destroy the homes and the crops of ordinary decent Swazi families because of infighting amongst the labadzala? These evictions have little to do with Swazi culture but much to do with the egotistical abuse of power. How can so many families’ rights to food, shelter, community and a decent burial in their homelands be so callously ignored? Only when our culture means less to those who rule us than their own self importance. They do not protect our Swazi culture, they defend their power to rule, and in doing so treat ordinary Swazi citizens with less respect than they treat their cattle. Our Culture is our heritage, it is what binds us together as Swazis, it is not right for these people to destroy our families and communities and then call it Swazi Culture. Swazi Culture is not Dlamini Culture - there used to be a big difference, is it still there now?


Human Rights


We stand beside our brothers and sisters whose pain was so openly and tragically expressed at our people’s parliament this month. We will not let their stories be forgotten or their suffering ignored. If civil society is about one thing only it is about calling those in power to account. The courts are an important way to stand up for our rights but they are not the only ones. We must recognise that we have to stand up for ourselves each and every day as well; we must retain our dignity in our homesteads, our families, our clans and our communities. As a Coalition we will continue to campaign for the ability for the people to claim their rights and human dignity in spite of being dispossessed, disenfranchised and downtrodden.


Corruption


Our Prime Minister has talked a lot about corruption but what has been done? Last year he told us that people would be convicted in January 2010 but nothing happened. He has made exactly the same promises for January 2011. Why should we believe him when the Anti Corruption Commission is not even investigating the story that a government minister had over E30 Million in his or her bank account? The only people that they will convict are the little ones at the bottom who use a government car at the weekend. Not the big ones who are stuffing their pockets with money from government contracts. The PM, and everyone else, knows that the truly corrupt are too powerful to be prosecuted.


Public Choices


Our Finance Minister has also talked about corruption as being at the heart of the current economic crisis and, of course, to some extent it is. But the real problem is the silly, extravagant and selfish spending priorities of the government. How much money is being spent on major vanity projects that will not raise any income? In an agricultural society why are we not having more LUSIP projects and less airports and science parks? We have plans to open mines and railroads but no plans to use the income to invest in our future. We have security forces spending more than any other department apart from health. What for? Who are we defending ourselves against? Costa Rica in Central America has not had a standing army for the last forty years. They have ploughed the money saved into development with the result that it is in the top fifty countries in the world - it has gone from poverty to first world status. We could do well to learn its lessons.


Unity


To my sisters and brothers in the Democratic Movement I have one simple message to put to you. What we have in common is so much more than what separates us. We are all clear about our vision for a properly democratic and accountable Swaziland that respects the rights of all. So let us not allow the differences of approach to the goal hinder us getting there. We are all trying to climb the same mountain - it will be easier if we do it as a team. Nelson Mandela gave us the vision of continuous mountains to climb and he is right. But we have to climb this first one together. After that we may have to go our separate ways. But only when we have reached the first summit.


To all of our friends and supporters we thank you for the constant encouragement you have given us throughout the year and look forward to working with you all in 2011 to achieve a peaceful and prosperous Swaziland.


First World Status


If Swaziland really wants to develop first world status it needs to think radically about the options it faces and the choices it makes in the next five years. If we want things to be different we must do different things. Promote proper democracy, empower women, abolish the army, democratise land rights, engage with business and the unions, respect human rights, obey our own laws, develop pluralism, listen to dissent and most of all have a system of power that enables the best and the brightest to flourish ahead of the loyal and the lazy. Less of the ‘unique democracy’ less of the ‘business unusual’ and a bit more humble recognition that the way out of poverty and to avoid strife in Swaziland is the same as everywhere else. Work hard. Trust the people. Free the people. Only we, the Swazis can help our country to prosper as a nation for all of us and not just some of us.


Bishop Meshak Mabuza+

Chair SCCCO

SWAZI KING’S PAPER TELLS PM TO QUIT

The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, has told Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s Prime Minister, his deputy and the Finance Minister to all resign.


‘[The] PM has allowed himself to be party to the collapse of our economy and there is no better punishment than to ask him to leave,’ Thulani Thwala, the editor of the Observer says.


Thwala, writing in his own newspaper today (29 December 2010), also calls for Majozi Sithole, the Finance Minister, and Themba Masuku, the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), to quit.


Thwala writes, ‘Reality is; we are in trouble as a country and definitely 2011 will be such a mountain to climb for many of us. In a nutshell, we are dead walking. Who is to blame for the situation we find ourselves in as a country? Look no further than the PM, DPM and Finance Minister Majozi Sithole.’


He goes on, ‘Here are three thoroughly educated Swazi men who are letting everyone including the King down. With their education combined, we should not be swimming in financial troubles.’


He goes on, ‘Now, the reason I picked on the three is simple; the current PM has been finance minister before, the longest serving one at that. The current DPM was once finance minister, a good one, if you like. And we have Majozi who has been in the finance office for over 11 years now.’


Writing on Sithole, Thwala says, ‘He has allowed people to plunder state funds without raising a finger,’


He goes on, ‘I ask; how did Majozi (an economist by profession or birth) fail to spot that our financial standing was collapsing in the 11 years he has been minister?


‘In normal countries, Majozi should have been asked to leave. He has allowed people to plunder state funds without raising a finger. Allowed lunatics (by his own admission) to keep government’s safe keys.


Thwala writes, ‘I know Majozi would argue that he has been issuing warnings in his recycled budget speeches and people ignored to listen. To me that is not good enough. His cabinet colleagues have been flying non-stop (business class or first class) to an extent that some are now personally known to pilots of the international flights.


‘I can’t find a single record where Majozi attempted to barricade some of his colleagues from attending the many useless international conferences. It would not surprise me to learn that some ministers attended swimming and cooking workshops overseas.’


He writes, ‘It would help if Majozi resigned. I strongly feel someone like Dumsani Masilela would make a good finance minister.’


Writing on Masuku, Thwala says,‘The DPM will also have to go, simple because of his status as an accomplice, an educated one at that, to the heartless strangling of the economy.’


Thwala also accuses Dlamini, who was illegally appointed Prime Minister of Swaziland by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, and cabinet colleagues of greed and feathering their own nests by buying government land for themselves at vastly discounted prices.


To read Thwala’s full denunciation, click here.