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Thursday, 27 September 2012

ACTIVIST STUDENT DENIED SCHOLARSHIP



Maxwell Dlamini, president of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), has been denied his university scholarship by the government because of his political activity, he said.

Dlamini was called to the scholarship selection board today (27 September 2012), where he hoped to be allowed to continue his law studies at the University of Swaziland, but he said he was denied for being a ‘progressive’.

Writing on Facebook, Dlamini, said he was questioned about his activities in SNUS and ‘why I cause all the noise in the tertiary institutions [and] why I want to overthrow the government.’  

He added, ‘In the end they denied me scholarship for being a member of a progressives and causing noise in the institutions.’

Dlamini and fellow student leader Musa Ngubeni were arrested on charges of possessing explosives in April 2011 and spent some months in jail before being released on bail following an international outcry.  

Their court case is ongoing.

In March 2012 it was reportedthat new rules for students were being drafted to allow ‘at its discretion’, the Scholarship Selection Board to terminate a scholarship ‘when a student is a member, supports or furthers the activities of a banned entity’. In Swaziland all political parties are banned, as are a number of pro-democracy organisations, including the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) and the Swaziland Solidarity Network.

See also

INDEFINITE BAIL FOR STUDENT ACTIVISTS
 
STUDENT LEADER ESCAPES ARREST
 
POLICE TORTURE STUDENT LEADER

Read more:

ANGRY SWAZI CHIEF BANS PLOUGHING



A Chief in Swaziland has banned his subjects from ploughing their fields because some of them defied his order to build a hut for one of his wives.

Chief Dambuza Lukhele of Ngobelweni in the Shiselweni region made the decision because he said his subjects had disrespected him by not following his instructions.

Chief Dambuza Lukhele, who is a former Minister of Agriculture in the Swazi Government, had ordered residents to construct a hut and a cattle byre in a homestead occupied by his junior wife.

But, some of the chief’s subjects would not participate in the project saying they should not be expected to work at Chief Dambuza’s new home.

In a meeting convened by the chief he attacked the residents for disrespecting him and straying from what he called the fundamental values of the Swazi way of life, which were based on respect for the elders and communal projects.

In Swaziland, chiefs are appointed by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, to be his eyes and ears in rural areas. They can wield enormous power over their subjects, allocating homes, scholarships for education, and in areas where there are food shortages they decide who gets aid contributed by foreign agencies.

The Times ofSwaziland newspaper reported that ploughing had been suspended in Ngobelweni, even though there had been rains and local people were ready to work the fields. Residents confirmed they had been stopped from working by the chief until construction at his wife’s home was completed.

Dambuza Lukhele is not the only chief in Swaziland leaning on his subjects. The newly-appointed Chief Sicunusa Dlamini of Mgazini has banned women in the area from wearing trousers. A woman who breaks the law is fined a chicken or E25 (the equivalent of three days’ pay for more than 70 percent of the Swazi population). The community police have been tasked with ensuring that everyone in the area complies with the order, according to the Swazi News.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

SAVE AMOS MBEDZI CAMPAIGN FORMED



The Save Amos Mbedzi campaign has been formed.

It will be officially launched on 27 September 2012. Organisers are asking people to show their support by:

1. Downloading the campaign’s profile picture and making it your profile picture

2. Posting the link of the page on your Timeline or any group that you may be in.

3. Sharing the link on your Timeline or anywhere else

4. Inviting your friends to like the page

5. In any other possible way you can

6. Visiting: www.ssnonline.net

7. Visiting: www.pudemo.org

To reach the Save Amos Mbedzi Facebook page click here

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

FURY AT AMOS MBEDZI SENTENCE



Amos Mbedzi was spared the death penalty by Swaziland High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala because he had not intended to kill his two companions with a bomb.

Mbedzi, aged 48, was instead sentenced to a total of 85 years in jail on two counts of murder, unlawful possession of explosives, sedition, and illegal entry into Swaziland. The sentences will run concurrently and he will serve 25 years of this time, backdated to the time of his arrest on 20 September 2008.

Maphalala in his judgement said the Swazi constitution allowed for the death penalty in cases of murder but the court had discretion on whether to impose it.

He said, ‘Taking into account all the circumstances of this case, I am persuaded that this is not a proper case in which I should impose a death penalty.  In particular the evidence proves that the direct intention of the accused was not to kill the deceased but to bomb the bridge.’

In sentencing he refused to accept Mbedzi’s mitigation that he is married with three minor children to support and that his children stand to suffer for any punishment imposed by the court.

Instead, he accepted the prosecution’s case that the crimes were very serious. He said, ‘Their seriousness outweighs the personal circumstances of the accused’. 

Mbedzi was described by the AFP news agency as a part of the Umbane People's Liberation Army, ‘a secret militant group linked to the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), which sought to undermine elections that year [2008] until Swaziland allowed a multi-party vote’.

He had been convicted of attempting to bomb a bridge near the Lozitha royal residence in September 2008. King Mswati III had been expected to use the bridge later in the day. Maphalala said Mbedzi, a South African, ‘was engaged in violent revolution to overthrow the State’.

The sentence has caused outrage among pro-democracy groups, who see Mbedzi as a victim of King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) called Mbedzi’s sentence, ‘an open expression and declaration by the royal regime of its unwillingness to accommodate diverging views on the country’s political direction and future’.

The Communist Party of Swaziland called the attempt to blow up the bridge, ‘a brave and principled act of struggle against the illegal Mswati regime’

The Swaziland Solidarity Network said of the sentence, ‘This is a clear declaration of war to the forces of democracy in Swaziland. When people are left with no option to protect their human rights, they are bound to explore all possible means to realise them.’

Monday, 17 September 2012

AMOS MBEDZI GETS 85 YEARS JAIL TIME



Amos Mbedzi, who was convicted of five charges including sedition and murder, has been sentenced to 85 years and six months in prison by the High Court in Swaziland today (17 September 2012).

Mbedzi was arrested following an attempt to blow up a bridge near the Lozitha royal residence in September 2008. Two people with him died from injuries caused when the bomb exploded prematurely.

Judge Bheki Maphalala sentenced Mbedzi to 25 years jail for the murder of MJ Dlamini; another 25 years for the murder of Jack Govender; 20 years for attempted murder; 15 years for sedition and six month for making an unlawful entry into Swaziland.

See also

AMOS MBEDZI FULL JUDGEMENT

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

STATE TV AIRS CRITICAL REPORT ON KING



Two journalists at the state-censored Swazi TV were suspended from work for allowing an unauthorised item about King Mswati III to appear in a news bulletin.

It concerned the traditional Umhlamga Reed Dance that took place last week. A news report about the event sourced from Channel France International (CFI) did not give the king enough respect, according to Swazi TV bosses. The report mentioned the fact that sometimes the king uses the Reed Dance to find himself a wife from the tens of thousands of semi-naked women and girls, some as young as nine years old, who dance in front of him.

The media in Swaziland, where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, are highly censored when reporting the king and his large royal family – he has at least 13 wives, but the exact number is not officially known as this is considered information Swazi people are not allowed to know. Media reports in Swaziland of the Reed Dance generally concentrate on the large number (often exaggerated) of ‘maidens’ who dance for the king and how privileged and excited they are to be taking  part in the event.

The CFI report that aired on Swazi TV said the king used the Reed Dance to find a wife and said that the Reed Dance was not only about culture. This year’s dance was controversial because the ‘maidens’ were required to sing songs against political parties which are banned in Swaziland.

The CFI report on the Reed Dance was similar to many circulating in the international media that drew attention to the abject poverty of the king’s subject and his own personal wealth, estimated by Forbes to be about US$200 million. They also talked about human rights abuses in the kingdom.

Vusi Gamedze, the acting Assistant News Editor of Swazi TV and an Avid editor Ernest Mabaso, were suspended from work for 14 days after being accused of ‘gross negligence’, for allowing the CFI report to air, but the Times of Swaziland newspaper reported today (11 September 2012) the ban had been lifted prematurely and the pair were back at work. 

This is not the first time there has been controversy in Swaziland over broadcast reports from foreign stations. In March 2011 the BBC World Service programme Focus on Africa that airs daily on state-controlled SBIS radio was taken off for several days after it ran an item that included interviews with people critical of King Mswati.


See also


CULTURAL REED DANCE TURNS POLITICAL

‘CORRUPTION LEADS TO STARVATION’



Stiffkitten blog
September 9, 2012


Reports: Swazis starve because of corrupt, undemocratic and inefficient regime

The Swazi government is largely to blame for the economic recession and subsequent increasing amount of Swazis who have to skip meals due to the financial mismanagement of the Swazi government, according to recent reports from the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the Institute for Security Studies.

The reports list low growth levels, government wastefulness and corruption, and lack of democracy and accountability as some of the main reasons for the economic downturn that has led to as increasing amount of starving Swazis.

According to the new Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum, Swaziland is one of the least competitive countries in the world – ranked 135th out of the 144 measured. The main reasons for this, says the report, are inefficient government bureaucracy and corruption.

The Global Competitiveness Report more specifically names wasteful government spending, lack of savings and budgetary balance, lack of government transparency, and health related issues such as tuberculosis, Aids and a low life expectancy as areas where Swaziland rank poorly compared to the other 143 countries in the survey.

The Swazi government’s claims that it is suffering due to the Global Economic Crisis is contested by another recent report, the United Nations Rapid Assessment of the Fiscal Crisis in Swaziland. Instead, the report claims that “weak governance and especially the lack of sound public financial management” are “key factors behind these developments.” “Even prior to the fiscal crisis,” says the report, “Swaziland was among the least growing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The effect of the economic downturn, says the report, is amongst other things lack of food in one out of four of the surveyed households. “Some households were eating less than three meals a day, skipping for the entire day.” 63 per cent of the population live in poverty, 29 per cent in food poverty, says the report, making “Swaziland akin to a low income country.”

Finally, the Institute for Security Studies’ Situation Report on Swaziland says that the present Swazi Tinkundla election system, that amongst other things outlaws political parties and lets the king select the cabinet and many of the parliamentarians, “reproduces the prevailing political status quo in Swaziland” and results “in a parliament which does not have power.”

Swaziland is one of only three African countries that do not have multiparty constitutions.

The report also quotes a democratic movement that sees the “tinkhundla system as being the bedrock of the Swazi system of autocratic governance devoid of accountability; as a tool for entrenching economic mismanagement and corruption, poverty and inequalities.”

Thursday, 6 September 2012

ARMED POLICE INVADE FREEDOM SUMMIT



Heavily-armed police in Swaziland have invaded the venue for a ‘people’s summit’ due to take place today (6 September 2012) as part of week-long pro-democracy activities in the kingdom.
   
The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) reported ‘a large number of heavily armed and hostile police’ invaded the Bosco Skills Centre, Manzini, where the summit was due to start today.

Delegates from inside and outside Swaziland were gathering to discuss a number of issues around human rights in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Among the topics for discussion was the call for the creation of a People's Government and the writing of a ‘People's Charter’ that would clearly spell out the demands of the people of Swaziland.

The SDC reported earlier today that Mphandlana Shongwe, vice-president of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, one of the summit’s sponsors, had been ordered to go to Manzini regional police headquarters.

In a statement it said, ‘The police are said to be threatening the activists that have gathered, stating that they have been informed that PUDEMO [People’s United Democratic Movement] and SWAYOCO [the youth wing of PUDEMO] have called a meeting and such meeting cannot be allowed to continue because the said two organisations have been banned and proscribed under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, 2008.’

Later, the SDC reported police had allowed summit to proceed. ‘However, there still remains a large menacing contingent of the heavily armed police at the venue. Activists are bravely proceeding to Bosco Skills Centre despite the intimidation and harassment from the police,’ it said.


See also

POLICE TRICK, AMBUSH, BEAT STUDENTS

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

SEDITION CASE SENTENCE POSTPONED



Sentencing in the case of Amos Mbedzi, which was due today after he was convicted of charges including sedition and murder, following an attempt to blow up a bridge near the Lozitha royal residence in September 2008 has, been postponed to 17 September 2012. Judge Bheki Maphalala said he needed more time before coming up with a sentence, having heard submissions from both prosecuting and defence counsel.


See also

AMOS MBEDZI FULL JUDGEMENT