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Thursday, 31 October 2013

NO TOP PARLIAMENTARIANS WERE ELECTED



None of the major office holders in King Mswati III’s new parliament in Swaziland was elected by the people.


Zwane, who last week was appointed to the Senate by the king, was elected Senate president unopposed. This will be the third term that Zwane has served as Senate President.

Ngomuyayona Gamedze was also elected unopposed as Deputy President. Gamedze too was appointed to Senate by the king. It will also be Gamedze’s third term in the position.

All senior positions in the Swaziland Parliament have now been filled following the national election in September 2013. None of them were elected by the people.

The Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the President and Deputy President of Senate were all appointed to Parliament by the king, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

In addition this week King Mswati appointed six members of his own family to the Senate and earlier this month he appointed a further six to the House of Assembly.

All political parties were banned from contesting the election in September. The people were only allowed to contest 55 of the 65 seats in the House of Assembly. King Mswati appointed the other 10. The king appointed 20 of the 30-strong Senate House. The other 10 were elected by members of the House of Assembly. None were elected by the people.

Following the election on 20 September two independent international organisations that monitored the poll separately called for the Swaziland Constitution to be rewritten.

The African Union mission reported the Swaziland Constitution guaranteed ‘fundamental rights and freedoms including the rights to freedom of association’, but in practice, ‘rights with regard to political assembly and association are not fully enjoyed’.  

The AU urged Swaziland to review the Constitution, especially in the areas of ‘freedoms of conscience, expression, peaceful assembly, association and movement as well as international principles for free and fair elections and participation in electoral process.’

Separately, the Commonwealth Observer Mission said the constitution needed to be rewritten so that King Mswati’s powers were reduced. It also said political parties should be allowed.  


See also

AU WANTS REVIEW OF SWAZI CONSTITUTION


KING APPOINTS SIX OF HIS FAMILY TO SENATE

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

AU WANTS REVIEW OF SWAZI CONSTITUTION

The African Union (AU) mission that observed Swaziland’s national elections has called for fundamental changes in the kingdom to ensure people have freedom of speech and of assembly.

In a preliminary report on the election just released, the AU said the Swaziland Constitution guaranteed ‘fundamental rights and freedoms including the rights to freedom of association’, but in practice, ‘rights with regard to political assembly and association are not fully enjoyed’.

The AU said this was because political parties were not allowed to contest elections in Swaziland. The most recent took place on 20 September 2013.

The AU’s comments follow those of the Commonwealth Observer Mission that also observed the election. In its report on the election, the Commonwealth called for Swaziland’s Constitution to be rewritten to reduce the powers of King Mswati III, who rules as an absolute monarch.

The AU urged Swaziland to review the Constitution, especially in the areas of ‘freedoms of conscience, expression, peaceful assembly, association and movement as well as international principles for free and fair elections and participation in electoral process.’

The AU called on Swaziland to implement the African Commission’s Resolution
on Swaziland in 2012 that called on the Government, ‘to respect, protect and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly.’

The AU also said women constituted more than 50 percent of the population of Swaziland and called on the kingdom to take measures and develop mechanisms to achieve increased representation of women and physically challenged persons in elective public positions in accordance with the Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

See also

POLL OBSERVERS: REWRITE CONSTITUTION

KING APPOINTS 6 OF HIS FAMILY TO SENATE

King Mswati III of Swaziland has appointed six members of his family to the kingdom’s senate. 

This is in addition to the two princes, a princess and three members of his own Dlamini clan he appointed to the House of Assembly earlier this month (October 2013). 

King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, chooses 20 of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate. The other 10 are elected by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people.

The king also appoints 10 members of the 65-strong House of Assembly. The others are selected by the people. Political parties are banned from taking part in the election.

The appointment of his family to the Senate and the House strengthen the king’s control over what happens in the Swaziland Parliament. It is widely acknowledged outside of Swaziland that the parliament has no real powers and will not do anything that displeases the king.

In addition to appointing six of his own family to the Senate, King Mswati also appointed four chiefs and one acting chief. In Swaziland chiefs are the personal representatives of the king in their local areas. They are seen as the eyes and ears of the king and often delegate his powers to themselves.

King Mswati also reappointed his staunch supporter Barnabas Dlamini to a third term in office as prime minister. Dlamini, a member of the king’s clan, was not elected to parliament.

See also

KING APPOINTS HIS FAMILY TO PARLIAMENT
‘PM IS INCOMPETENT, UNTRUSTWORTHY, VAIN’

Monday, 28 October 2013

‘PM INCOMPETENT, UNTRUSTWORTHY, VAIN’

As expected Barnabas Dlamini has been reappointed Prime Minister of Swaziland by King Mswati III.

Dlamini was not elected to the Swazi Parliament. Instead, King Mswati, who rules as an absolute monarch, appointed him to the House of Assembly, so in-turn, he could reappoint him Prime Minister. Dlamini had been PM for the whole of the five-year Parliament that ended last month (September 2013). He had also been PM for seven and a half years until 2003.

Dlamini is a controversial figure, recognised internationally as an enemy of freedom and seen even inside Swaziland as incompetent, untrustworthy and vain.

His incompetence can been seen all over Swaziland, where seven in ten people live in the grip of abject poverty, earning less than US$2 a day. Three in ten people are so malnourished they are moving from hunger to starvation and the kingdom has the worst record for the number people with HIV in the whole world. On top of that, TB and measles are at epidemic proportions in Swaziland.

But, instead of putting forward policies to help the Swazi people, Dlamini spent much of his time in office feathering his own nest. A blatant land-scam, where he and government colleagues bought for themselves land belonging to the Swazi people, only failed to go to court because King Mswati personally ordered it should not.  
 
Dlamini also has personal share-holding in companies, including Swazi Empowerment (Pty) Limited (SEL), which in turn has shares in the MTN cellphone company. This means he has a personal vested interest in many business decisions his government takes.

Dlamini is untrustworthy. The most blatant example was in April 2011 when he called a press conference and lied to the media that he had secured a ‘letter of comfort’ from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This letter would demonstrate to world finance organisations, such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank, that Swaziland’s economy was sound and the kingdom could be trusted with loans. The news was greeted as a triumph and published all over the world. But, the letter did not exist. It was a fabrication.

Instead, one year later in April 2012 the IMF announced it was withdrawing support from Dlamini’s government and its ‘fiscal adjustment roadmap’ plan to save the economy. The IMF said, ‘Government has yet to propose a credible reform programme that could be supported by a new IMF Staff-Monitored Programme.’

Dlamini was also exposed as a fraud in October 2010 when he allowed his government to alter an official report for the United Nations that stated that Swaziland was behind in its efforts to meet Millennium Goals on alleviating poverty.  The doctored report was changed   so instead of saying the Swaziland Government was ‘not likely’ to meet the target of ‘eradication of extreme poverty and hunger’ it read that it could ‘potentially’ meet the target.

As well as being incompetent and untrustworthy, Dlamini is also vain. In October 2010 he accepted a ‘World Citizen Award’. Even though before the award ceremony took place the world’s media exposed the organisers as conmen and the award as fake,  Dlamini nonetheless flew first-class with an entourage from Swaziland to the Bahamas, to accept the award. Even when he was told to his face that he had been conned, he refused to acknowledge it, humiliating both himself and Swaziland on the world stage.

The Swazi people recognised Dlamini was not worthy to lead the kingdom. In October 2012 the Swazi House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in him and his government. According to the constitution, King Mswati was obliged to sack him. But the king defied the constitution and Dlamini remained in office.

The House vote of no-confidence was not isolated. In August 2012 the Sibaya, a rather quaint excuse for democracy in Swaziland where ordinary people gather at a cattle byre to air their views on matters of importance to them, told Dlamini and his government to quit. The people said they were corrupt and destroying the kingdom.

King Mswati claims Sibaya is the supreme policy-making body in the land because it demonstrates the peoples’ will. But, again, he ignored the voice of the people and stuck by Dlamini.

See also

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSER SET TO BE PM

PUDEMO BACKS CRITICAL ELECTION REPORT

The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), the best known of Swaziland’s banned pro-democracy groups, has welcomed a report from a Commonwealth mission calling for the kingdom to democratise.

The Commonwealth Observer Mission observed the national election held in Swaziland in September and said they were not entirely credible.

In a report, the group called for the constitution to be reviewed and for the influence in political affairs of King Mswati III, who rules as an absolute monarch, to be reduced.

PUDEMO in a statement said, ‘It has validated our position and critique to say we can`t talk of credibility, fairness and democracy for a process which does not allow for political parties, separation of powers, freedom of the media, gender equity and democracy as a modern standard.’

PUDEMO was among a number of groups and individuals that boycotted the election held on 20 September 2013 under a political system known as ‘Tinkhundla’.

Politcal parties were banned from taking part and the people were only permitted to select 55 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly. King Mswati appointed the remaining 10. None of the 30 members of the Senate House are elected by the people. The House of Assembly elects 10 and the other 20 are appointed by the king.

PUDEMO said, ‘We are happy that our arguments and position on the elections has been vindicated and shall stand the test of time as long as the elections are held under the undemocratic, discredited and condemned Tinkhundla system of governance.’

See also

POLL OBSERVERS: ‘REWRITE CONSTITUTION’

Friday, 25 October 2013

POLL OBSERVERS: ‘REWRITE CONSTITUTION’

Commonwealth observers have called for Swaziland’s Constitution to be rewritten after they concluded the kingdom’s national election in September 2013 was not entirely credible.

The call came in the official report of the Commonwealth Observer Mission just circulated.

The report says members of parliament ‘continue to have severely limited powers’ and political parties are banned.

The Commonwealth observers said there was ‘considerable room for improving the democratic system’.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

They called for King Mswati’s powers to be reduced. ‘The presence of the monarch in everyday political life inevitably associates the institution of monarchy with politics, a situation that runs counter to the development that the re-establishment of the Parliament and the devolution of executive authority into the hands of elected officials.’

The report said the Constitution needed to be revisited with an open debate on what changes were necessary.

It added, ‘This should ideally be carried out through a fully inclusive, consultative process with all Swazi political organisations and civil society (if needed, with the help of constitutional experts.’

It said, ‘The aim is to ensure that Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal.’

See also

SWAZI ELECTION ‘WILL BE A FRAUD’

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSER SET TO BE P.M.

Swaziland’s King Mswati III is expected to reappoint Barnabas Dlamani, as his Prime Minister, despite his appalling civil rights record.

The king has summoned his subjects to the Cattle Byre at Ludzidzini for ‘sibaya’, a people’s parliament which he claims is the supreme policy making body in Swaziland.

At the meeting on Monday (28 October 2013), King Mswati is expected to announce his choice of PM.

The king rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and he chooses the PM and the government, as well as the majority of members of the Senate.

Dlamini, was outgoing PM of the Swazi parliament that ended on 20 September. Dlamini did not stand for election to parliament this time and has never been elected to public office.

Dlamini has a poor human rights record going back more than a decade, but he is known to be close to King Mswati. In October 2012, the House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in Dlamini and his government and according to the Swaziland Constitution the king was obliged (he had no discretion in the matter) to sack the PM and government.

King Mswati did not do so and instead put pressure on the House of Assembly to reverse its vote.

If appointed, this will be the fourth time Dlamini has been PM of Swaziland. His record shows him as a hard man with little regard for human rights. He supports the king in his desire to stop all dissent and brand oppositions as ‘terrorists’.

When introducing Dlamini as the PM in 2008, King Mwsati told him publicly to get the terrorists and all who supported them. Dlamini set about his task with zeal. He banned four prodemocracy organisations.
His Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini told Swazis affiliated with the political formations to resign with immediate effect or feel the full force of the law. Under the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA), enacted the same year Dlamini came to power, members and supporters of these groups could face up to 25 years in jail.

Under the draconian provisions of the STA, anyone who disagrees with the ruling elite faces being branded a terrorist supporter.

The Attorney General stressed that the government was after supporters of the banned organisations. Supporting an organisation, he said, ‘includes associating with such banned formations or aiding materialistic through provision of commodities such as food and weapons.’

This happened at a time when the call for democracy in Swaziland was being heard loudly both inside the kingdom and in the international community.

Since 2008, the Dlamini-led Government has clamped down on dissent. In 2011, Amnesty International reported the ill-treatment, house searches and surveillance of communications and meetings of civil society and political activists. Armed police conducted raids and prolonged searches in the homes of dozens of high profile human rights defenders, trade unionists and political activists while investigating a spate of petrol bombings. Some of the searches, particularly of political activists, were done without search warrants.

Amnesty reported that authorities continued to use the STA to detain and charge political activists. The STA was also used as a basis for search warrants and other measures to intimidate human rights defenders, trade unionists and media workers.

In 2010, Dlamini publicly threatened to use torture against dissidents and foreigners who campaigned for democracy in his kingdom. He said the use of ‘bastinado’, the flogging of the bare soles of the feet, was his preferred method.

Dlamini told the Times of Swaziland newspaper he wanted, ‘to punish dissidents and foreigners who come to the country and disturb the peace’.

But, Dlamini’s abuse of human rights did not start with his appointment in 2008. He was a former PM and held office for seven and a half years until 2003. While in office he gained a deserved reputation as someone who ignored the rule of law.

In 2003, he refused to recognise two court judgements that challenged the king’s right to rule by decree. This led to the resignation of all six judges in the Appeal Court. The court had ruled that the king had no constitutional mandate to override parliament by issuing his own decrees.

In a report running for more than 50,000 words, Amnesty International  looked back to the years 2002 and 2003 and identified activities of Dlamini that, ‘included the repeated ignoring of court rulings, interference in court proceedings, intimidating judicial officers, manipulating terms and conditions of employment to undermine the independence of the judiciary, the effective replacement of the Judicial Services Commission with an unaccountable and secretive body (officially known as the Special Committee on Justice but popularly called the Thursday Committee), and the harassment of individuals whose rights had been upheld by the courts.’

See also

SWAZILAND PM IS A BOGUS DOCTOR

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

KING’S MAN UNOPPOSED AS SPEAKER

The King’s preferred candidate Themba Msibi was elected unopposed as Speaker of the Swaziland House of Assembly after all other candidates withdrew from the race.

The House of Assembly was ready to elect a Speaker but it was adjourned for three days to allow Msibi time to get his nomination papers entered.

The adjournment was forced by Clerk of Parliament Ndvuna Dlamini last Thursday (17 October 2013). He said a candidate that he did not name had not had time to submit his nomination.

The adjournment caused confusion in the Swazi Parliament because the kingdom’s Constitution suggests the election of Speaker had to take place at the first sitting of Parliament following a national election.

Once news that King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, wanted Msibi in place, other candidates withdrew.

Among those withdrawing was Prince Guduza, the Speaker of the last Parliament. He was widely thought of as the first choice of Parliamentarians and until the King’s intervention, was expected to be elected. He withdrew hours before the election took place on Monday.

Former minister and dissident journalist Mfomfo Nkhambule and Mangcongco MP Patrick ‘Pha’ Motsa, the only other candidates, had withdrawn on Friday.

King Mswati III had a week earlier appointed Msibi to the House of Assembly. Msibi did not stand as a candidate in the national election held on 20 September 2013. The king appoints 10 members of the House.

The intervention of King Mswati is not being reported in local media, but the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported, ‘Complete gloom enveloped the House of Assembly when Themba Msibi was pronounced Speaker unopposed yesterday.’

In an editorial comment, the Times said, ‘Parliament’s credibility, status and integrity have been shaken by the preceding chaos over the election of the Speaker and the nation desperately needs the reassurance that we have actually chosen the best people for the job – and that they will do the best for the nation.’

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the king, ran a story recalling Msibi’s past life.  Msibi had at one time complained that there were ‘too many foreigners’ in Swaziland. The newspaper also reported that Msibi was once photographed by journalists with his trousers down in a car with a woman who was not his wife. Msibi later apologised to King Mswati for embarrassment caused.

See also

‘KING’S MAN’ STANDS FOR SPEAKER JOB
CONFUSION AS SPEAKER NOT ELECTED
DISSIDENT STANDS AS HOUSE SPEAKER

SWAZI KING SAYS MEN LIVED ON THE MOON

King Mswati III of Swaziland has told his subjects that men have lived on the moon.

He said he wanted Swazi people to be like them and also visit the moon.

The Observer on Saturday, a newspaper in effect owned by the king, reported that he told an audience of admirers that he had recently visited Houston, Texas.

The Observer reported, ‘The challenge by the Ingwenyama [the king] which obviously mesmerised the audience was premised by the fact that a lot of American citizens, especially those living in Houston, Texas have visited the moon and he said he found this unique.

‘“These Americans have something that we don’t have. I was told when I visited that place that some of their citizens have travelled to the moon and stayed there for about six to eight months.

‘“This is seriously fascinating and surely I would like to see Swazis visiting the moon one day,” said the King to a loud salute of Bayethe [Hail to the King] as the audience appreciated his sentiments,’ the newspaper reported.

Monday, 21 October 2013

‘ONLY 1 IN 4 FEEL FREE TO SPEAK OPENLY’

Fewer than one in four people in Swaziland say they are completely free to say what they think, new research has shown.
 
That puts Swaziland 29th out of 34 African countries surveyed.

The report, released in Nairobi by Afrobarometer, says in the countries where people feel least free, only about one in four feel they have unrestricted opportunities to speak their minds. Bottom of the log are Sudan (19 percent), Togo (21 percent), Cote d'Ivoire (21 percent), Zimbabwe (22 percent) and Swaziland (24 percent).

The Afrobarometer report was written by Professor Winnie Mitullah, director of the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Nairobi, and Paul Kamau, senior research fellow at the same institute.

In a news release issued with the report, Afrobarometer said, ‘Where people feel that they are free to say what they want, they also report that their leaders are more trustworthy and less corrupt than do their peers, the survey shows.

‘Freedom of expression is also consistently linked to better ratings of government performance, especially with respect to government effectiveness in fighting corruption, but also in other sectors such as maintaining roads and managing the economy.’

Researchers interviewed more than 51,000 people in 34 countries for the survey.

The report revealed that in Swaziland 51 percent of people surveyed supported the statement, ‘Media should have freedom to publish.’  A total of 47 percent supported the statement, ‘Government should control the media.’

Saturday, 19 October 2013

‘KING’S MAN’ STANDS FOR SPEAKER JOB



Following speculation that King Mswati III had interfered in the election of Speaker of the House of Assembly in Swaziland, his supposed preferred candidate Themba Msibi has announced he will run for the office.

Swaziland’s Parliament was thrown into confusion on Thursday (17 October 2013) when Ndvuna Dlamini, the Clerk to Parliament, adjourned the election for House Speaker without a vote being taken.

This led to an accusation by pro-democracy campaigners, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), that this was done to allow Themba Msibi to become House Speaker, even though he was not standing. 

The next day Msibi announced he would run for the office. Meanwhile, two other candidates, the well-known dissident writer Mfomfo Nkhambule Patrick ‘Pha’ Motsa said they would withdraw from the contest. 

This leaves the election as a straight run off between the outgoing Speaker Prince Guduza and Msibi.

The SSN reported Guduza had been the parliamentarians’ first choice, but King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, objected. 

In a statement, SSN said, ‘He [the king] has also issued his famous threat that should Msibi not be elected as Speaker, he will not open parliament next year. He has done this in the past when Marwick Khumalo was elected Speaker.’

See also

CONFUSION AS SPEAKER NOT ELECTED

DISSIDENT STANDS AS HOUSE SPEAKER

Friday, 18 October 2013

CONFUSION AS SPEAKER NOT ELECTED

Swaziland’s House of Assembly failed to elect a Speaker on Thursday (17 October 2013) amid allegations that King Mswati III’s preferred choice was not to be selected.

Clerk to Parliament Ndvuna Dlamini adjourned the House before a vote could take place.

The House had met for the first time since the national election last month and first order of business was to swear in the new members of parliament. This went without a problem, but the House fell into disarray when it was asked to elect a Speaker of the House, before moving on to elect 10 members of the Senate House.

According to local media reports Ndvuna Dlamini told the House that not all the paperwork relating to the election of senators had been completed and this would delay the election, meaning that both could not be completed in one day. Clerk Dlamini said this would be unprocedural and after some confusion he adjourned the House.

Later, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), a South African based group campaigning for  democratic reform in Swaziland, where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, issued a statement saying the postponement of the election of Speaker had been had been made to appease the king.

SSN said most of the new members of parliament wanted the former Speaker of Parliament, Prince Guduza to be re-elected, but the king was opposed to their choice, ‘as he has a personal vendetta against his half-brother, stemming from their own family squabbles’.

The king’s preferred candidate for the position is a former senator and minister, Themba Msibi, SSN said.

SSN said, ‘The clerk to parliament was ordered by the king's henchmen to flee the parliament building in order to ensure that the election process did not occur that afternoon [Thursday].

‘After he had fled, the parliamentarians were told that the elections had been postponed till Monday due to the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of the parliament clerk.

‘Mswati has since summoned his ten appointed members of parliament to his palace where he issued orders that they use the next four days to bribe, intimidate and blackmail the members of parliament to vote for his preferred candidate, Themba Msibi. He has also issued his famous threat that should Msibi not be elected as Speaker, he will not open parliament next year. He has done this in the past when Marwick Khumalo was elected Speaker.’

See also

DISSIDENT STANDS AS HOUSE SPEAKER

SWAZILAND ‘HAS 1,302 PEOPLE IN SLAVERY’

There are an estimated 1,302 people living in slavery in Swaziland, according to a report just published.

But, its authors think this number could be a ‘gross underestimate’ because it only refers to known cases.

The report called the Global Slavery Index 2013 and published by the Walk Free Foundation states, ‘Modern slavery includes slavery, slavery-like practices (such as debt bondage, forced marriage, and sale or exploitation of children), human trafficking and forced labour.’

Swaziland ranks at number 126 among 162 countries in the world for slavery. The report estimates there are 29.8 million people in modern slavery across the world.

Looking at the global situation, the report states some victims are captured or kidnapped before being sold or kept for exploitation, whether through ‘marriage’, unpaid labour, or as domestic workers.

‘Others are tricked and lured into situations they cannot escape, with false promises of a good job or an education.’

The report states, ‘The chains of modern slavery are not always physical – sometimes escalating debts, intimidation, deception, isolation, fear or even a “marriage” that is forced on a young woman or girl without her consent can be used to hold a person against their will without the need for locks or chains.

‘Modern slavery is poorly understood, so it remains hidden within houses, communities and worksites.’

It adds, ‘Modern slavery involves an extreme abuse of power, which is not always immediately apparent but requires understanding the people and the relationships involved.’

Thursday, 17 October 2013

CALL TO CUT ALL FUNDING OF THE KING

King Mswati III of Swaziland and his family have been likened to an ‘organised crime syndicate’ for the way they take money from the Swazi people.

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) has launched a campaign to cut all financing of the king.

Announcing its Red October Campaign, the CPS said the money spent by King Mswati, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, should be diverted for reconstruction and development of Swaziland.

Kenneth Kunene, CPS General Secretary, called for ‘an end to decades of systemic abuse and neglect of the Swazi people’.

Launching a campaign called ‘Not another cent for Mswati’ Kunene said, ‘Mswati must not receive another cent from the state or from the funds he is supposed to be “holding in trust for the Swazi nation” – the euphemistic term that is a smokescreen to hide Mswati’s corrupt seizure of national wealth.

Mswati’s predecessor, Sobhuza II, created the funds in the 1970s to sustain the absolute monarchy into the future.

‘There is no accountability concerning these funds, no parliamentary oversight of them, and none of them figure in the national budget or in any official information on state resources.

‘The largest such fund, Tibiyo Taka Ngwane is an investment fund with shares in companies, industry, real estate, and tourism. It has 50 percent ownership of Ubombo Sugar Limited, the Swazi branch of the Illovo Sugar Group. It also has shares in Nedbank Swaziland, Swazispa Holdings Ltd., the Swaziland Development and Finance Group, the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corp., and Bhunu Mall.

Kunene estimated the value of Tibiyo at US$2 billion.

He added, ‘The second source of Mswati’s illicit income is Tisuka Taka Ngwane, which is a residential and commercial property developer.

  
‘Both funds account for some 50 percent of the Swazi economy.’

Kunene said, ‘That poverty and disease are such blights on the lives of the Swazi people is directly and incontrovertibly linked to Mswati’s sources of income.

‘We think it is high time that everything held in trust for the Swazi nation is now handed over to the people. Mswati has done a bad job at holding it in trust for us. The country needs its wealth back, and the CPS is calling on people to demand what is theirs.’

The Red October Campaign also demands that the R400 million (US$40 million) given to the royal family each year from the state budget be immediately cancelled.

‘Mswati and his family are no different than an organized crime syndicate,’ said Kunene. ‘And the way you deal with organized crime is to cut off its access to ready cash. That way it will shrivel up and die. And that’s what we want to see happen with the Mswati regime.’

The CPS said the campaign would focus on ‘making people in Swaziland aware of the vast drain on the country’s finances in order to sustain the Mswati autocracy’.

It will lobby businesses in South Africa and other countries that have operations in Swaziland to refuse to pay any revenue or ‘bribes’ to Mswati.

Kunene said, ‘The CPS will also expose the links between Mswati’s wealth and the degradation and impoverishment of the people of Swaziland. It will point out what the money Mswati gets each month could do if directed to social, health and education needs – all vastly underfunded – and how a strategy to provide free ARVs and TB treatment for all could be funded from Mswati’s ill-gotten millions.’

See also

‘TIMES’ BLOWS COVER ON KING’S WEALTH

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

DISSIDENT STANDS AS HOUSE SPEAKER

Mfomfo Nkhambule, the dissident who was threatened with torture by state authorities if he continued to write newspaper articles criticising King Mswati III, is running to be elected Speaker of the Swaziland House of Assembly.
 
Nkhambule attracted international attention in 2008 and 2009 for outspoken articles he wrote each week in the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper.

Nkhambule specialised in criticising Swazi Royalty and the traditionalists who support King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Nkhambule , who had formerly been Health and Social Welfare Minister in the king’s government, was hauled in by Swaziland’s state police and threatened with torture if he continued to criticise the king. He was later dropped from his traditional regiment, threatened with banishment from his homeland, and his family was threatened because he refused to be silenced.

In January 2009, he told the Times he was taken in by state police. ‘They questioned me over the articles I have been writing. I was also warned that the articles were now taking a subversive slant and cautioned me that I was now skating on thin ice.’ 

The Times reported, ‘He said they impressed upon him that the articles were no longer just a column but were starting to hit on the authorities and could incite people to revolt against the head of state and this was beginning to pose a security threat.’

Nkhambule said the officers informed him that as much as the country had a new constitution, there were still laws that could be used against him, which were enacted before independence and they had very serious consequences.’

In April 2009, the Times dropped his column without notice.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Swaziland chapter reported at the time that the Times’ Managing Editor Martin Dlamini denied he was under any pressure from state authorities. Dlamini said Nkhambule’s column had simply been affected by the routine changes the newspaper was making with regards to content. 

Nkhambule told MISA that he personally took his article to the Times for publication but was told of the ban without reasons being given. 

‘I then received information from other quarters that authorities have ordered the Times to stop publishing my articles. Whatever threat they received might have been very serious as they simply told me that my articles will no longer be published with no reasons being given,’ he said. 

The ban on Nkhambule came in the same week that the Times was forced to make an abject apology to King Mswati after publishing an essentially correct report that he had purchased up to 20 armoured cars for the use of himself and his wives.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

CLERK THREATENS MPs WITH POLICE

The Clerk to the Swaziland Parliament Ndvuna Dlamini threatened to call police after newly-elected MPs challenged him on his understanding of standing orders.

The MPs have to elect a Speaker of the House of Assembly and had sought guidance on the correct procedures to do this.

But when the MPs questioned the Clerk’s interpretation and asked him to show the exact standing order that dealt with the issue Dlamini turned on them.

‘If there is an MP who does not respect me I will call the police to come pick him up,’ the Times of Swaziland newspaper reported Dlamini saying.

At no point did the new MPs become rowdy or disrespectful, according to the Times. The Clerk decided not to answer further questions.

Parliament is due to resume soon following the election of 55 new MPs on 20 September 2013.

There is confusion in the kingdom as to whether Swaziland has a Prime Minister. Barnabas Dlamini, PM until the election, had his term in office extended by King Mswati III until 4 October. Dlamini was appointed as and MP to the House of Assembly by the King (he did not stand at the election) last week and is widely tipped in Swazi media to be reappointed Prime Minister.

MPs questioned on Monday (14 October 2013) whether Barnabas Dlamini was still PM, even though the deadline for the extension of his term in office had expired.

The Times reported that Barnabas Dlamini was at the House of Assembly to meet the new MPs. He had at least eight state security officers protecting him, leading to speculation that, Dlamini, at least, believes he is still PM.