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Monday, 29 February 2016

YOUTH WANT DEMOCRACY IN SWAZILAND

International youth organization calls for democracy in Swaziland
Kenworthy News Media, 28 February 28 2016 

The International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) passed a resolution at its 31st world congress that called for a process that would unban political parties, remove repressive legislation and introduce multi-party democracy in Swaziland, writes Kenworthy News Media.

The resolution, passed on Saturday (27 February 2016), also called for an end to the systematic harassment, intimidation and incarceration of political activists and the unconditional release of political prisoners and return of exiles, as well as for the isolation of Swaziland until these demands are met.

The IUSY is an international youth organisation with UN ECOSOC consultative status. It has 134 member organisations in over 80 countries, including the youth league of banned pro-democracy party PUDEMO, the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO).

A positive step
SWAYOCO President Bheki Dlamini, who attended the IUSY congress in Tirana, Albania, and was elected into the IUSY Presidium as Vice President, saw the resolution and his election as a positive step forward for the struggle for freedom and democracy in Swaziland.


“This shows that our struggle is a just struggle. My election must inspire the youth of Swaziland to stand up for democracy, and I shall use every space to champion the cause of the Swazi people and all oppressed people in the world”, he said.

“The resolution calls for the isolation of the regime and pressure must therefore continue to mount. The USA started with the withdrawal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act in regard to Swaziland. The next step is that the EU that must ensure that Swaziland is not given preferential trade with the EU until Swaziland respects human rights and allows political freedoms”.

Future leaders
Several former IUSY leaders have gone on to hold office in their respective countries, including former IUSY Secretary General Per Hækkerup, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Denmark in the sixties; former IUSY President Fikile Mbalula, who is the current Minister of Sport and Recreation in South Africa; and former President Jacinda Ardern, who is an MP and member of the Shadow Cabinet in New Zealand.

Friday, 26 February 2016

SWAZI KING STRENGTHENS PM’S POWER

Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III has granted his Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini unlimited power to intervene in the business of any government department.

The move comes after the President of the Swazi Senate Gelane Zwane, questioned the power of the Prime Minister.

Neither Dlamini nor Zwane were elected to office; both were directly appointed by the King.

In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections. Elections which take place every five years (the last was in 2013) are only for 55 of the 65-member House of Assembly. The other ten members are appointed by King Mswati III. No members of the 30-strong Swaziland Senate are elected; 20 are appointed by the King and 10 are selected by the House of Assembly. 

The King appoints all government ministers and the kingdom’s top judges.

News of the change was tabled in the Swazi Parliament on Monday (22 February 2016) although the legal notice had been signed by the King in November 2015.

The Times of Swaziland reported that the King had revoked the Assignment of Responsibilities to Ministers Notice 2009 which had been in force since the current ministries were set up. 

The new legal notice N0.189 of 2015 was signed by the King on 10 November 2015 at Lozitha Palace. It confirms S70 of the Swaziland Constitution which states, ‘The King may, after consultation with the Prime Minister, assign to the Prime Minister or any other Minister responsibility for the conduct of any business of the Government including the administration of any department of Government.’

The Times reported on Wednesday (24 February 2016), ‘When asked by this reporter why he had waited so long to table the Legal Notice or working instrument, the PM said it had always been his intention to table it in Parliament and that is why his office had even bounded it to make it presentable to the legislators. 

 ‘“However, with the sudden turn of events when my responsibilities have been questioned by the Senate President, Gelane Zwane, I also felt it was proper to inform the legislators as early as possible,” said Dlamini.’

This was a reference to an on-going dispute between the Prime Minister and the Senate President about the powers of the PM. In a speech at the opening of the Swazi Parliament on 12 February 2016 Zwane warned the PM about taking powers that were not his and said he was only ‘chairman of cabinet and leader of government business in parliament’.

SWAZI UNIONS STRIKE FOR MORE PAY

Swazi unions demand pay rise
Kenworthy News Media
26 February 2016 
 
1.500 Swazi workers marched in Swaziland’s capital Mbabane on Thursday (25 February 2016), as part of a two-day strike action, where they delivered a petition to Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini demanding increased salaries for public sector workers, writes Kenworthy News Media.

The march was part of a six-month-long demand by Swazi trade union federation TUCOSWA for the government to release a salary review report that highlights working conditions of public sector workers across the country. The salary review report is supposed to be released every 5 years, to ensure that the level of salaries keeps up with inflation, but no report has been released since 2004.

The lengthy report was finally released on Wednesday by local firm LCC Capital Consulting after the government had initially said it contained “confidential” information and was not for public consumption. According to local newspaper Times of Swaziland, the report proposed a salary increase for civil servants of between 18 and 40 percent.

Big spender, but not on workers
According to the movehub.com website, the average salary in Swaziland is US$4,827 compared to $19,215 in neighbouring South Africa, $7,591 in neighbouring Mozambique, $37,029 in the United Kingdom and $72,328 in Norway.


Two thirds of the population of Swaziland survives on less than a dollar a day, and an ongoing drought in the country has further destroyed the livelihood of many Swazis.

At the same time the Swazi government has recently spent an estimated US$250 million on a new international airport and plans to buy new cars for visiting heads of state and government when Swaziland hosts the Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting next year.
Swaziland’s government and Prime Minister, as well as part of parliament and the entire senate, is handpicked by the country’s absolute monarch King Mswati III.

Sympathy for cops and warders
Thursday’s march was peaceful, unlike many previous union and other marches in Swaziland, where police often used force to intimidate or disperse demonstrators.


Perhaps this was because Swaziland’s 5000-strong police force ought to receive a US$3 million salary rise, according to the report.

TUCOSWA Deputy Secretary Mduduzi Gina said he was sympathetic towards the plight of police officers and warders, and that the government ought to consider their welfare, along with that of Swazi civil servants in general.

Broad support
The marching civil servants were supported by a number of other organisations, including the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), an umbrella organisation of all progressive democratic forces in Swaziland.


“Thousands of workers are marching. SUDF supports these public sector workers as they push for better salaries”, said SUDF coordinator Wandile Dludlu, who himself took part in the march.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

ANOTHER POLICE ATTACK ON STUDENTS

Swazi security police attacked students at the University of Swaziland campus by driving an armoured troop carrier at speed into a crowd, injuring one so badly her back might be broken.

The assault was the latest violent attack on students by police and security forces dating back a number of years.

The latest happened on Monday night (22 February 2016) at the Kwaluseni campus of the university, known as UNISWA.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported, ‘a Royal Swaziland Police (RSP) Operational Services Unit (OSSU) casspir drove at high speed into a group of about 2,000 students, who, when they realised that the vehicle was not stopping, ran in all directions. 

‘Ayanda Mkhwanazi, (22), a second year B-Ed-Science student, was run over by the RSP vehicle and is fighting for her life at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital.’

The newspaper added, ‘Mkhwanazi is said to have suffered severe injuries, including a broken spinal cord, fractured ribs and further injuries to the body, face and legs.’

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, named the student as 23-year-old Andile Mkhabela. It reported, “The official police version of events was to the effect that Mkhabela tried to climb on the body of the casspir and fell, thus injuring herself.

‘This was said by Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba yesterday afternoon.

‘He denied that the casspir could have been used as a weapon by the police and when he was asked if the officers were qualified to rush a person to the hospital instead of waiting for paramedics considering that Mkhabela had spinal injuries, Mamba said they were trained in first aid and acted due to the emergency of the situation.’

The Swaziland National Union of Students (NSUS), in a statement posted on Facebook, named the student as Ayanda Mkhabela. The statement said newspapers had distorted the truth to make the incident look like an accident. 

SNUS said, ‘Truth of the matter is approximately 1,000 protesting students at Kwaluseni UNISWA were targeted by the police casspir which sped to disperse them and as their desire hit our very own desperate Ayanda Mkhabela. Upon knocking her down, as expected the casspir switched off lights and she was taken away, fortunately to hospital.’

Students at the university have been protesting and boycotting classes to protest about delays in registration. The university has been closed until further notice.

Police and security forces in Swaziland routinely violently attack students when they engage in protest.

In November 2013, police raided dormitories and dragged students from their rooms. Later they beat up the students at local police stations. Students had wanted the start of examinations postponed. Armed police stood guard outside examination halls as the UNISWA Administration attempted to hold the exams.

In August 2012, two students were shot in the head at close range with rubber bullets, during a dispute about the number of scholarships awarded by the government. Reports from the Centre for Human Rights and Development, Swaziland, said several other students were injured by police batons and kicks.

In February 2012, police fired teargas at students from Swaziland College of Technology (SCOT) who boycotted classes after the Swazi Government did not pay them their allowances.

In November 2011, armed police attacked students at the recently-opened private Limkokwing University. The Swazi Observer said Limkokwing students reported that police ‘attacked them unprovoked as they were not armed’.

The newspaper added, ‘During a visit to the institution about 10 armed officers were found standing guard by the gate’. The Observer said police fired as they tried to disperse the students. 

In January 2010, Swaziland Police reportedly fired bullets at protesting university students, injuring two of them. They denied it and said they ‘only’ fired teargas. Students from UNISWA had attempted to march through the kingdom’s capital, Mbabane, to call for an increase in their allowances.

See also

STUDENTS UNDER SIEGE BY ARMED POLICE
POLICE FLEE ROOMS AS POLICE ATTACK
BOYCOTTING STUDENTS CLOSE UNIVERSITY
POLICE SHOOT TWO STUDENTS IN HEAD
ARMED POLICE STOP STUDENTS PROTEST
SWAZILAND STUDENT UNREST SPREADS
STUDENTS UNDER FIRE FROM POLICE
SWAZI STUDENTS BEATEN TO PULP
SWAZILAND POLICE ‘SHOOT STUDENTS’
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2010/01/swazi-land-police-shoot-students.html

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A PICTURE OF POWER IN SWAZILAND



This is the picture that demonstrates the true power of King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland.


It shows the President of the Swazi Senate Gelane Zwane on her knees before the King. According to the caption of the picture which first appeared in the Times of Swaziland newspaper, King Mswati ‘gives instructions’ to her ahead of the opening of Parliament in 2013.

In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections. Elections which take place every five years (the last was in 2013) are only for 55 of the 65-member House of Assembly. The other ten members are appointed by King Mswati III. No members of the 30-strong Swaziland Senate are elected; 20 are appointed by the King and 10 are selected by the House of Assembly. 

The people do not elect a government.  The Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers are appointed by the King. Only a man with the surname Dlamini can, by tradition, be appointed as Prime Minister. The king is a Dlamini.  


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

‘NO RULE OF LAW WITH ABSOLUTE KING’

King Mswati III’s absolute monarchy in Swaziland ‘ultimately is incompatible with a society based on the rule of law’, a report into the kingdom’s judicial crisis has concluded.

Swaziland’s Constitution must be amended to bring it in line ‘with regional and universal international law and standards, in particular on the separation of powers and respect for judicial independence,’ the report called Justice Locked Out: Swaziland’s Rule of Law Crisis said.

It was published by the International Commission of Jurists on 18 February 2016.

An international mission investigated Swaziland following the attempted arrest and the impeachment of former Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and the arrest of the Minister of Justice Sibusiso Shongwe, two High Court judges Mpendulo Simelane and Jacobus Annandale and High Court Registrar Fikile Nhlabatsi in April 2015. 

The report stated the judicial crisis was ‘part of a worrying trend of repeated interference by the Executive and of the Judiciary’s inability to defend its independence, exacerbated by apparent strife within the ruling authorities of Swaziland.  

‘Swaziland’s Constitution, while providing for judicial independence in principle, does not contain the necessary safeguards to guarantee it. Overall, the legislative and regulatory framework falls short of international law and standards, including African regional standards.’

It added, ‘The mission found that some members of the Judiciary have exercised their mandate with a lack of integrity and professionalism. In particular, former Chief Justice Ramodibedi failed to protect and defend the institutional independence of the Judiciary, and played a reprehensible role in undermining both the institutional independence of the Judiciary and that of individual judges in Swaziland. 

‘He also presided over, or was involved in the case allocation of, legal proceedings in which he had a personal interest or in which he acted at the apparent behest of members of the Executive, further undermining the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary.  

‘Based upon its independent research, including its consultations with various stakeholders, the fact-finding mission determined that this latest crisis has served to expose already existing divisions within and between the Judiciary and the Executive.  The consequence has been an abuse of the justice system to settle political scores, further damaging the independence of the Judiciary in the process.  

‘Overall, the events that triggered the international fact-finding mission are both a reflection of a systemic crisis and potentially a contributing factor to its deepening further. In light of its findings, this report includes the fact-finding mission’s recommendations for reform to the Crown, Executive and Legislature, the Judiciary, the legal profession, the international community and civil society, which it considers will strengthen the rule of law, respect for human rights and access to justice and effective remedies in the Kingdom of Swaziland.’

See also

JURISTS: DEEP FLAWS IN LEGAL SYSTEM
SWAZI JUDICIAL CRISIS: KING’S WORD IS LAW
SWAZI JUDICIAL CRISIS: FULL CHARGES
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2015/04/swazi-judicial-crisis-full-charges.html

Friday, 19 February 2016

SWAZI KING’S DROUGHT BLUNDER

Only weeks after Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III told his subjects the drought in his kingdom was over, his government has declared a national emergency.

King Mswati had said the drought was over when his regiments took part in the Incwala ceremony. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported on 1 January 2016 that the King had ‘pronounced an end to the drought situation’.

It reported, ‘The King said the drought situation changed as soon as the water party (bemanti) was commissioned to fetch water in the Indian Ocean in Mozambique.

‘“When the water party was commissioned (kuphuma kwesigubhu), the heavens responded and we saw rain coming down and things changed. From there onwards we saw a difference as rain began to fall and the valleys became green. We have our irrigation system coming straight from God. We do not need drip irrigation because God has always shown that He has powers to bring us rain. We use drip irrigation just for the sake of it, otherwise God is the one who provides us with irrigation water,” the King said.’

The newspaper added, ‘As he pronounced an end to the drought situation, the King predicted a bumper harvest and urged all Swazis to go and work hard in their fields. 

‘“God will bring down the rains to water your fields. The country’s main focus should be on food security and we are confident we will achieve this. Time has come for us to have plenty food and stop running to our neighbours to ask for food donations,” he said.’

But King Mswati’s complacency has led to a devastating delay in taking action. Swaziland is now at crisis point.

The European Union in Swaziland reported on Thursday (18 February 2016), ‘The drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon has severely affected Swaziland resulting in the loss of more than 40,000 herd of cattle with more than 300,000 people in the country (about 25 percent of the population) facing severe food shortages.’

Barnabas Dlamini, the Prime Minister of Swaziland who was personally appointed to his post by the King, officially declared a national emergency on Thursday. He said over the next two months the Swazi Government would need E248 million (US$16 million). In total, government would need about E2 billion to address the situation over five years, the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported. 

The Prime Minister did not say where the money would come from. Only last week (18 February 2016) King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, ordered the government he hand-picked to slash budgets as the kingdom faced a financial crisis following a reduction in receipts from the Southern African Customs Union.

Swaziland, where political parties are not allowed to contest elections and groups campaigning for democracy are banned as ‘terrorist’ organisations, is to seek financial aid from overseas – mostly from multi-party democracies.

EU Ambassador to Swaziland Nicola Bellomo said the kingdom immediately would seek E143 million from the ‘donor community’.

He said the EU would support the government's efforts to mitigate the impact of the drought situation.

See also

WILL SWAZI KING CUT HIS SPENDING?
GOD WILL BRING DOWN THE RAINS

Thursday, 18 February 2016

KING DEFYING SCHOOL HEADS FACE ARREST

School principals in Swaziland will be arrested if they continue to defy an order from King Mswati III, the kingdom’s absolute monarch, and charge parents top-up fees for their children’s education.

The Swazi Education and Training Minister Phineas Magagula made this promise on Monday (15 February 2016) after the Kingdom’s High Court confirmed the King’s edict that no school should charge parents top-up fees.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported that Magagula said by charging top-up fees the principals were ‘failing to comply with His Majesty King Mswati III’s order that such should not be paid and that no child should be deprived of education’.

Schools have been in disarray since February 2014 when the King pronounced on top-up fees in his speech opening the Swaziland Parliament, even though the government he hand-picked did not have a plan to deal with the financial shortfall this would create. 

In Swaziland the King’s word is a proclamation. Once he speaks nobody is allowed to question him.

It is this mind-set that has sent schools across the impoverished kingdom into chaos.

According to reports within Swaziland most schools have been forced to suspend activities including participation in sports and music competitions. It is estimated these extra-mural activities have halved when compared to recent years.

The Swazi Observer reported some head teachers had resorted to selling sweets on behalf of their schools to raise additional funds.

In 2015, the newspaper reported, ‘Swaziland Principals Association (SWAPA) President Mduduzi Bhembe confirmed the sad situation and lamented the fact that the growth of the country’s education system was taking a nosedive. 

‘He said as principals of schools they decried the collapse of the education system and called for government to bring an alternative to the scrapped top-up fees that were paid by parents to assist boost the schools’ coffers.’

Government introduced free primary education in 2009, starting from Grade One and in 2015 the programme was rolled out in Grade Seven, which is the last grade at primary school level. More than 240,000 pupils are enrolled in the primary education system. According to the 2012 annual education census, 95 percent of appropriate age and eligible children are able to access primary education.

Principals complained that the money paid by government was too meagre to run the schools and a majority of them opted for top-up fees to make up for the shortage. 

There are further problems ahead for Swazi schools as the kingdom only has about half the number of secondary schools than primary schools and existing secondary schools are not able to absorb all the expected primary school leavers.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

SWAZI KING SPENDS AS HE PLEASES

There is no oversight on how Swazilands King Mswati III, his fourteen wives and vast royal family spend public money, a United States report concluded.

The US makes annual reviews of the ‘fiscal transparency’ of governments that receive its financial assistance to ensure that American taxpayers’ money is used appropriately.

In its review of Swaziland published in June 2015 the US Department of State concluded the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati, who is an absolute monarch, did not meet acceptable standards.

The report stated, ‘Expenditures to support the royal family, military, police, and correctional services are included in the budget, but are not subject to the same oversight as the rest of the budget.’

It added, ‘Revenues and expenditures related to natural resources are not included in the budget.’

The report concluded, ‘Fiscal transparency in Swaziland would be improved by including all expenditures and revenues in the budget; subjecting the entire budget to audit and oversight; consistently applying legal procedures in the awarding of natural resource extraction contracts and licenses; and making basic information on natural resource awards publicly available.’

The truth about of the King’s spending has been consistently hidden from the Swazi people, his budget is never debated in parliament, and audits of the budget are only presented to the King himself and the Royal Board of Trustees chaired by the minister of finance.

Media in Swaziland have access to the full budget estimates which contain information about the King’s budget but do not publish it. State media in the kingdom are heavily censored and the private media censors itself when reporting about the King.


The source of much of King Mswati’s income remains secret. In 2009, Forbes magazine estimated that the King himself had a personal net fortune worth US$200 million. Forbes also said King Mswati was the beneficiary of two funds created by his father Sobhuza II in trust for the Swazi nation. During his reign, he has absolute discretion over use of the income. The trust has been estimated to be worth US$10 billion.  

In August 2014 the Sunday Times newspaper in South Africa reported King Mswati personally received millions of dollars from international companies such as phone giant MTN; sugar conglomerates Illovo and Remgro; Sun International hotels and beverages firm SAB Millerto.

It reported that MTN, which has a monopoly of the cell phone business in Swaziland, paid dividends directly to the King. He holds 10 percent of the shares in MTN in Swaziland and is referred to by the company as an ‘esteemed shareholder’. It said MTN had paid R114 million (US$11.4 million) to the King over the past five years.

The newspaper also reported that the King was receiving income from Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, which paid dividends in 2013 of R218.1 million. The newspaper reported ‘several sources’ who said it was ‘an open secret’ that although money generated by Tibiyo was meant to be used for the benefit of the nation, Tibiyo in fact channelled money directly to the Royal Family.

Meanwhile, seven in ten of Swaziland’s tiny 1.4 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 a day; three in ten are so hungry they are medically diagnosed as malnourished and the kingdom has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world.

Despite the poverty of the kingdom, King Mswati continues to live a lavish lifestyle. He has 13 palaces, fleets of top-of-the-range Mercedes and BMW cars, at least one Rolls Royce and a private jet.

See also

KING DIVERTS WEALTH FROM HIS SUBJECTS
KING MSWATI SPENDS AND SPENDS
http://swazimedia.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/king-mswati-spends-and-spends.html