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Friday, 26 May 2023

Swaziland Newsletter No. 778 – 26 May 2023


Swaziland Newsletter No. 778 – 26 May 2023

News from and about Swaziland, compiled by Global Aktion, Denmark ( in collaboration with Swazi Media Commentary (, and sent to all with an interest in Swaziland - free of charge.


Army shows readiness to fight terrorists

Africa Press, 20 May 2023


This year’s Army Day was like no other.

This year, the army showed the public how to ‘smoke out’ terrorists from their hideouts. A scenario of soldiers advancing towards a terrorist hideout was displayed, almost like a movie scene. It started with the soldiers dropping off a helicopter using a rope. As they dropped quickly, they then advance towards structures where the terrorists appeared to be hiding in the enactment. A shooting ensued and despite exchange of gunfire, the soldiers advanced quickly, until eventually they defeated the terrorists, much to the applause of the members of the public, who had gathered to watch the spectacular display by the military personnel.

Yesterday was the first Army Day commemoration in which there was a passout of recruits since the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest commemoration included a display of military artillery and air demonstrations like never seen before. His Majesty the King and the Indlovukazi graced the event and the special guest was former Botswana Head of State Ian Khama. This year’s commemoration gave the nation a glimpse of what the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) is all about.

It was also a show of anti-terrorism drills that included a display by bomb disposal squad, an air show that included helicopters and an aeroplane. Anti-terrorism drills are aimed at counteracting the activities of terrorists. As part of their display, soldiers also demonstrated skills in full combat in which they enacted a shootout in progress. They gave members of the public a preview of what happens during a war scenario. This was displayed by the light infantry section and it was referred to as a section attack. In other countries around the world, there is usually a show of firepower whenever there is an anticipation of an onslaught, almost as if to warn a would-be enemy of the danger that lay ahead if they ever thought of attacking.

Fire power display has been seen in countries such as the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China, Russia and Ukraine.

Since June 29, 2021, Eswatini has experienced terrorist activities, according to the government. The activities left many of the country’s structures burnt. Several structures including schools and other government buildings were burnt in what some of the government officials referred to as terrorist activities. This escalated to deadly violence that targeted members of the security forces, which resulted in the death of police, Correctional Services and army personnel.

The killings were claimed by two underground groups; the Swaziland International Solidarity Forces and the Sikhali Senkhululeko YemaSwati.

The activities of these two groups lead to many emaSwati living in fear of being killed or having their homes burnt. During the unrest, members of the security forces, especially police officers had to exercise extreme caution when attending to scenes of crimes, particularly at night. Meanwhile, the army went on parade its own anti-riot squad, almost similar to the Royal Eswatini Police Service’s (REPS) Operations Support Services Unit (OSSU) that is usually used to disperse crowds during riots.

In what was viewed as the first ever seen in public by the UEDF, a display by the military personnel of a riot unit was witnessed. The unit was dressed in full army gear, carrying batons, fibre glass shields and also helmets. The unit is able to disperse a violent crowd within minutes according to some of the military personnel. The army’s riot unit also displayed its skills as they chanted while walking near Their Majesties. Riot units usually operate to control civilians. Though usually, it is the police that handles civilians, recently due to unrest, soldiers were also roped in to assist the police as crowds became violent. The change in this year’s activity was evident in the manner in which even the Army Commander General Moses Mashikilisana Fakudze introduced the day.

When introducing the newly-trained soldiers to His Majesty the King, Fakudze said ‘they are ready’. He said during the training, they were instilled with loyalty, discipline, self-less service and courage. “Baphekiwe Silo Sikhulu,” said Fakudze, meaning they were ready for service. Also, this year, there were more recruits who passed out in comparison to previous years. This year, over 800 are said to have passed out while previously, the number was lower than this.

See also

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s senior soldiers grace Eswatini Army’s 50th Anniversary.


E-visa scandal: over 100 immigration officials transferred

By Thokozani Mazibuko, eSwatini News, 20 May 2023


MBABANE: Internal investigations over corruption in the issuance of over 2 000 e-visas to foreign nationals have resulted in the removal of over 100 immigration officers at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Eswatini News has learnt.

Impeccable sources revealed to this publication that these removals, through re-deployment, were instituted during the ongoing internal investigation over the illegal issuance of over 2 000 e-Visas to 2 000 foreign nationals by the ministry. Further, the sources revealed that the ministry, a few months into the internal investigation, then issued transfers to the over 100 immigration officials. The sources further said some of the immigration officials were transferred to other ministries while others were re-deployed internally, but in positions far away from the processing of e-visas. “We have new faces everywhere but the ministry has said it does not mean that the re-deployed personnel are all implicated in the e-visa scandal,” said a top official within the ministry, who, however, preferred to remain anonymous.

The e-visas were issued to a multitude of foreign nationals from a number of countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Somalia, India, Nigeria, Egypt, Congo and Cameroon. These foreign nationals were all destined for Eswatini; in fact more of them are reportedly still making their way to the kingdom. It has been reliably gathered that the foreign nationals are still being turned back at the KMIII International Airport at Sikhuphe.

Communications Officer Mlandvo Dlamini, when engaged by this publication, was quick to state that there was nothing sinister about the re-deployments and transfers which affected solely the Immigration Department. “Yes, most of the home affairs staff has been re-deployed into other posts and I must point it out that staff rotation is part of the ministry’s housekeeping measures. However, staff rotation has for a long time proved to be a deterrent to corruption practices within the civil service,” clarified Dlamini.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is yet to complete its internal investigations into the e-visa scandal and heads are expected to roll. The communications officer revealed that soon the ministry would compile a report on the findings of the internal investigations and would be announced through the media in the coming weeks.  “The internal investigations are at the final stages, we will, in due course divulge details,” Dlamini pointed out. The effected staff rotations and re-deployments, according to well-placed sources, paved a way for the internal investigation in the illegal issuance of over 2000 visas to foreign nationals and Simelane said that no one had been charged yet.


UNESWA Vice Chancellor Justice Tfwala bans protests, students’ meetings within the University

By Colani Khulekani Maseko, Swaziland News, 20 May 2023


MBABANE: Professor Justice Thwala, the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) Vice Chancellor has written a memorandum informing students about the suspension of student body meetings and protests within the Luyengo, Mbabane and Kwaluseni campuses respectively.

“In the exercise of the power vested in the Vice Chancellor of the University under Section 4(5) of the statuses of the University of Eswatini, and having noted the disruption of classes and the normal operations of the University as recently as today, 19 May 2023 at the Mbabane Campus, meeting and toyi-toying are hereby prohibited with immediate effect,” reads the memo in part.

The registrar of the higher learning institution Dr. Selebona Simelane did not respond at the time of compiling this report. 

Reached for comment, Samnkelo Zestar Ndzimandze the Campaign Officer of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) said the Vice Chancellor decision to suspend student body meetings is an insult to students which must attended with urgency.

“This is an insult to students. The Union condemns such a communique from the Vice Chancellor, we have to treat this a matter of urgency. Students are also stakeholders in that institution, it is therefore their right to hold meetings and deliberate on issues affecting them,” said the Students Union's Campaign Officer.

The decision to suspended student body meetings at the higher learning institution, comes after students held a joint meeting on Monday, and resolved not to return to class until their grievances were resolved including the pending allowances issue among others.


Education is undervalued by government in eSwatini

By Mfanasibili Sihlongonyane, Independent News, (eSwatini), 22 May 2023


The Education in the Kingdom of Eswatini has been in shambles following the cycle of protests from tertiary institutions of higher learning.

The state of education has been in question in the country for quite some time because of the education system that is presenting the narrative of uncertainty due to the disruptions of education. Over the past weeks, the University of Eswatini closed with immediate effect following the protest partaken by the members of the Association of Lecturers, Academic and Administrative Personnel (ALAAP) as well as the National Workers Union in Swaziland Higher Institutions (NAWUSHI) due to award performance (notching). The strike was prompted by lecturers who were and still demanding salary increment. The ongoing strike at UNESWA has greatly affected education in the sense the campus announced the closure of the school plainly saying that education is put on hold. It is alleged that employees are adamant that the campus will remain closed until their demands are taken into consideration.

During an interview, the President of SNUS, Gabi Ndukuya says Education is undervalued by the government of Eswatini. ‘’our education does not have that value in terms of quality because the government is failing to maintain the institutions themselves’’ she stated pressing on the issue that education should be one of the pillars that should be valued and prioritized in any country including Eswatini. According to Ndukuya she has just learnt that the education budget is combined with all the funds that caters the institutions, workers and learners and that is where the bigger problem starts.

The President of the Ngwane National Liberation Congress, Sibongile Mazibuko expressed her views about the current state of education in the country, she stressed out that the Kingdom of Eswatini is not a poor country but except the main thing affecting the education in the country is the lack of political will by the present government. “The resolution to the matters of the country at hand is to have a sit-down meeting and discuss strategies on how the country can best be run” she said. The President of the NNLC further highlighted that a government that is in competition for the attention of the citizens is more likely to best deliver their services to the country and that has to be a democratic government.  

“We are concerned about the education that is negatively affected,” said Bheki Gama who is the Principal Secretory of the Ministry of Education. A couple of weeks ago the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology experienced a drastic strike where lecturers of the institution were protesting following the suspension of the lecturers who are said to have been unjustly punished. The strike that was started by the lecturers inspired the students of the institution to follow suit. The students had a list of demands they claimed the institution was overlooking. The situation escalated to a level where scholars of the institution demanded a resignation letter from the director of the school. This speaks volume that the education in the country is a mockery itself. During an interview with one of the students that was active in the strike, they were resolute to their decision that there shall be no operations within the institution until they are heard. This is the same line used by the employees at UNESWA, which is quite alarming that education is being used as bait to get their demands attended to.

 Sakhile Aw’viwa Nxumalo who is the president for the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) expressed his concerns during a protest prompted by lecturers at University of Eswatini that it is high time the university reopens since this strike is costing the future of the learners. He said this in the view that education in the country is not taken seriously because of how the current situation looks like with classes on hold. Nxumalo was concerned about the education in the country and the steps towards bettering the issue in question which is presenting itself with so many uncertainties.

The prioritization of the education system is gradually becoming a thing of the past in the Kingdom of Eswatini because of the series of events that have been happening in institutions of higher learning which has placed education in question. As mentioned by the SNUS President, the government of Eswatini has proven how much of a last priority education is . The duration of the strikes in various universities have placed the interest of the management or rather those in place for the resolution of the demands made on the microscope. The education system in the Kingdom of Eswatini has been failed in so many occasions and the current state is just evidence itself.  


See also

Quality education remains a dream


Frustrated PGCE students march to cabinet

By Andile Dlamini, eSwatini Observer, 24 May 2023


About 70 Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students who are in their final year at the University of Eswatini yesterday marched to Cabinet where they made an impassionate plea for scholarship.

On a breezy day, the students spent over five hours camped outside the Cabinet offices, patiently waiting for the Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister’s office, Bertram Stewart, to request that their scholarship be reinstated. With the deadline for registration being on Friday, the students boarded public transport to Mbabane before marching to Cabinet offices, after noting that time was against them.

They revealed that from the group of 70, only four had registered yet this was their final year.          

They arrived at the Cabinet offices as early as 9am and said they were willing to stay until Friday if that is what it called for.

To prove their point, the students came prepared to spend the rest of the week camped at Cabinet as they carried blankets, which they sat on after being denied entry into Cabinet and told that the principal secretary was in a meeting.  

The students said getting to Mbabane was a struggle as they did not even have money to afford paying for the transport.

According to the students, the UNESWA management told them that available vehicles had not been filled up and as such, they could not be helped.

They acknowledged that when doing their third year of the undergraduate programme in Humanities in 2021, they were informed that government would no longer sponsor their programme as there was an influx of teachers in the country.

However, they said they had tried to engage all parties involved, including the ministry of labour and social security to allow the scholarship to run until they completed their programme to no avail.

One of the students, Hlompho Zwane, said they were now under pressure because the registration deadline was on Friday and they were stranded as they do not have the funding.
“All along we had followed due processes, by writing to the ministry. We do acknowledge that coming here is not the proper procedure but we are desperate and the issue is time sensitive,” Zwane said.

“The registration closes on Friday and if by then we do not have a positive answer we will be forced to go home. At least then we can go home with the satisfaction that we tried our best and failed,” said the student.  

He said in total there were 70 PGCE students, who had been attending lectures but only four of those were registered.

“Even those who are registered only managed to pay 20 per cent of the registration fee. We have been attending classes and not been able to access other learning materials as they are uploaded onto the university’s learning system, Moodle.

You cannot access that platform if you have not registered. So if we cannot register by Friday, we will be forced to pack our bags and go back home,” the exasperated Zwane continued. He further raised the issue of being informed of the decision to cut their scholarship while they were in the middle of the programme.

“We were only informed of the decision when we were in our third year of study. For our course of study, it helps to do the certificate so that at least you can do teaching but without it you will be forced to sit at home.”

He also explained that they opted for the programme because their points allowed them to be admitted into it.



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Friday, 19 May 2023

Swaziland Newsletter No. 777 – 19 May 2023


Swaziland Newsletter No. 777 – 19 May 2023

News from and about Swaziland, compiled by Global Aktion, Denmark ( in collaboration with Swazi Media Commentary (, and sent to all with an interest in Swaziland - free of charge.


Critics targeted ahead of eSwatini elections

By Sambulo Dlamini, CAJ News, 15 May 2023


MBABANE: THE reopening of traffic violation charges against an opposition politician is dismissed as a ploy by the King Mswati III regime to frustrate critics ahead of elections in Eswatini.

Charges have been resuscitated against Mxolisi Ngcamphalala, Deputy General Secretary of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS).

He is also the Deputy Secretary General of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT).

Ngcamphalala’s charges border around allegations of jaywalking, which is defined as crossing or walking in the street or road unlawfully or without regard for approaching traffic.

He was first charged in January 2019, while walking towards a meeting of his union. He was charged together with another CPS leader, the now late Njabulo Dlamini, who at the time was the CPS International Secretary.

They were on their way to a SNAT meeting, which was expected to resolve the question of a nationwide uprising against the King Mswati III regime.

CPS noted the resuscitation of the traffic charge takes place in the context of renewed attacks against the trade union movement.

SNAT President, Mbongwa Dlamini, is one of the prime targets of the regime for his trade union work, according to the party.

“The CPS stands by its Deputy General Secretary, as well as the SNAT President,” Thabo Kunene, CPS General Secretary stated.

“The regime has attacked the SNAT leadership intending to suppress and crush the union,” he added.

Kunene reiterated that authorities were desperate to hold undemocratic elections, hence had sought to attack the CPS and the working-class movement by arresting the movement’s leaders.

The main targets in this instance are teachers and transport workers, Dlamini alleged.

The House of Assembly elections are set for September 29. Voter registration is ongoing until June 14.

Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, is an absolute monarchy, the only such system existing in Africa.

All executive, legislative and judicial powers rest with the monarchy.

In 1973, five years after independence, King Sobhuza II suspended the constitution and banned all political parties.

The kingdom has faced its worst protests since 2021.

State security are accused of killing and assaulting demonstrators.

CPS remains defiant.

“The CPS calls for unity among workers – and the working class at large – for the total overthrow of the tinkhundla autocracy,” Dlamini said.


eSwatini opposition leader urges activists to register and vote for democracy MPs

News on Africa, 13 May 2023


The President of the Swaziland Liberation Movement (SWALIMO), Mduduzi ‘Magawugawu’ Simelane, has called on all democracy activists to register and vote for pro-democracy Members of Parliament (MPs) in the upcoming 2023 national elections. Simelane said SWALIMO intended to participate in the elections and challenge the Tinkhundla system of governance, which he described as oppressive and undemocratic.

Simelane made these remarks during a live interview on the Swaziland Democratic News Facebook page on Sunday evening, where he discussed the current political situation in the Kingdom of Eswatini. He said SWALIMO aimed to occupy every space and cover every corner of the country with its message of liberation and democracy.

He said SWALIMO wanted to win at least 40 parliamentary seats in 2023 and replace the current MPs who supported the Tinkhundla system. He said SWALIMO would vet its potential candidates and ensure that they were committed to the principles and ideals of social justice, equality, human rights, and dignity for all.

Simelane also said SWALIMO wanted to take over the local councils and municipalities and use them as platforms to mobilize and organize the masses for democratic change. He said SWALIMO wanted to have mayors and councillors who were members of the movement and who would not hinder its activities and protests.

Simelane said SWALIMO was not satisfied with the status quo and did not want the 2023 elections to be conducted under the Tinkhundla system. He said SWALIMO was pushing for a constitutional reform that would allow for a multiparty democracy, a separation of powers, an independent judiciary, a free media, and a respect for human rights.

He said SWALIMO was also lobbying the international community to support its cause and put pressure on the Eswatini government to implement democratic reforms. He said he had recently visited Europe and met with various officials and organizations, including the All Party Human Rights Group in London, to raise awareness about the situation in Eswatini.

He said SWALIMO was also working with other pro-democracy forces in Eswatini, such as political parties, trade unions, civil society groups, students, and religious leaders, to form a united front against the Tinkhundla system. He said SWALIMO was open to dialogue and cooperation with anyone who shared its vision of a democratic Eswatini.

He urged all Eswatini citizens who wanted democracy to join SWALIMO and support its struggle. He said SWALIMO was a non-profit organization that relied on donations from its members and supporters. He said SWALIMO had branches across the country and welcomed anyone who wanted to be part of the movement. 

See also

Two-year imprisonment for telling people not to vote


Press freedom in Africa: eSwatini ranks low in index

By Waqas Arain BNN Network, 13 May 2023


The Press Freedom Crisis in eSwatini: In the 2023 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders, eSwatini and Zimbabwe are ranked 111th and 126th respectively, indicating a serious problem with press freedom in these countries. This has significant implications for the free flow of information and the ability of journalists to report on important issues without fear of reprisal.

The Challenges of Press Freedom in eSwatini: eSwatini, a small landlocked country in southern Africa, is ruled by an absolute monarchy, which has a long history of suppressing dissent and limiting press freedom. The country’s media landscape is dominated by state-owned media, which are subject to government control and censorship. Private media outlets also face restrictions on their reporting, and journalists are often subject to harassment and intimidation from the authorities.

As a result, the country’s press freedom ranking has consistently been low in the World Press Freedom Index, and the situation does not appear to be improving. The government has been accused of using restrictive laws and regulations to silence critical voices, and journalists who report on sensitive issues such as corruption or human rights abuses are often targeted for harassment and intimidation.


eSwatini wants legal cannabis but locals say that’s bad for business

By Cebelihle Mbuyisa, Semafor, 14 May 2023


MBABANE: Plans to legalize the lucrative cannabis trade in the southern African Kingdom of Eswatini by overhauling a 100-year-old colonial drug law are being slammed by activists and farmers.

The critics say a new bill, which proposes legalizing the substance for medicinal and research purposes, will undermine a trade which for decades has provided a meaningful income for many — from grandmothers to young men — in a small economy with few employment prospects.

Eswatini, which is landlocked by South Africa and Mozambique, has a population of around 1.2 million people and, according to the World Bank, an unemployment rate of 24%. It has few industries beyond agriculture, textiles and sugar-processing.

The new bill, first tabled in parliament by the health ministry in 2020, will amend sections of a law passed in 1922 by the British who ruled the kingdom, then Swaziland, as a colony from 1903 to 1968.

But critics say the bill, if passed, will undermine small traders and likely only benefit the country’s elite.

Eswatini Cannabis Association (ECA) chair Saladin Magagula told Semafor Africa the bill’s focus is solely on creating a powerful new regulator called the Medicines Regulatory Authority. There’s particular concern that the MRA will be able to “import, export and trade in, by wholesale, cannabis and cannabis products.”

“They cannot be both the referee and the player at the same time,” Magagula said. “You cannot as an authority give yourself an export and import license while also issuing the same to people.”

Many cannabis farmers in Eswatini’s northwestern Hhohho region, who sell their crop locally and in South Africa, are opposed to legislation — despite police harassment and arrests under the current system. “Lomtsetfo (the law) might make things worse because the rich companies will become our competition,” a farmer who asked not to be named told Semafor Africa.

Eswatini cannabis, commonly referred to as “Swazi Gold”, is expensive and highly sought after in global markets due to its apparent potency. Two documentaries on Eswatini cannabis have a combined total of over 19 million views on YouTube. The crop’s reputation means farmers in the Hhohho region sell their harvest at a premium price to dealers and individuals in neighboring South Africa.

To read more of this report, click here


King Charles Coronation: Mswati spent over R50million in accommodation and allowances, UK Swazi diasporas welcomed him with a protest

MBABANE: King Mswati and his delegation that include Cabinet Ministers, his children, security personnel and other members of the royal family allegedly spent over R50million in allowances, travel costs and accommodation at the United Kingdom’s Savoy Hotel.

Eswatini, the tiny Kingdom situated in Southern Africa ruled by the extravagant absolute Monarch has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line, political parties are banned from participating in elections and human rights defenders are arrested or killed for demanding democracy.

When asked by this Swaziland News to clarify how much Mswati spent on the whole trip, King’s Spokesperson Percy Simelane said finances for international trips were handled by Government hence he was not sure of the amount.

“We don't handle finances and hotel bookings for the King’s travel internationally but Government. We wouldn’t be sure,” said the King’s Spokesperson.

Information in our possession suggests that the King travelled with over fifty (50) members of his delegation and some members of the King’s delegation were accommodated in rooms that costs more than fifteen thousands Rands (R15,000.00) per-night.

An online investigation conducted by this publication on the prices at Savoy Hotel uncovered that currently, ordinary rooms cost at least R15,804.00 per-night.

But the King, his wife LaMbikiza, children and others booked Very Important Person (VIP) rooms, standard VIP rooms cost around R30,000.00 per-night.

The King left the country on Thursday morning to attend the coronation of King Charles III, he was among the invited Very Important Persons (VIP)guests from Commonwealth countries.

Members of the King’s delegation are expected to pocket over one hundred thousand Rands(R100,000.00) each as traveling allowances and this amount to over R5million, their accommodation and other additional Hotel bills will cost the financially struggling taxpayers least over R1million per-night.

Other monies will cater for the King’s allowance and his private jet traveling costs.

Meanwhile, eSwatini diasporas based in the United Kingdom (UK) and led by the President of the Swaziland Liberation Movement (SWALIMO) Mduduzi ‘Magawugawu’ Simelane welcomed Mswati with a protest.

The protest was in demand for democracy in eSwatini and justice for the dozens of civilians who were allegedly killed by Mswati’s regime including human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko.

The protesters were singing a song titled “Who is the murderer?, the King of Swaziland”.

Magawugawu is among the three (3) eSwatini Members of Parliament (MPs) who were charged with terrorism for demanding democracy inside Parliament, he was subsequently forced into exile while the two other incarcerated MPs Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube were denied bail by Mswati’s courts.

Speaking to this Swaziland News on Sunday, SWALIMO President Mduduzi Magawugawu Simelane who was among the organizers of the protest in the United Kingdom (UK) thanked Swazi Lives Matter,    Global Afrika Congress, The Republicans, SWALIMO and all the sympathizers of the struggle for democracy in eSwatini.

“This coronation afforded us two days of aggressive advocacy and activism. We thank the mentioned big organisations for embracing and consolidating our program alongside theirs. It took two days as on the first night our people held a strong picket at SAVOY Hotel where Mswati was housed and the second day was on the main day. The message has been sent wide and far and we urge our fellow democracy loving people to keep up the fight,” said the SWALIMO President when speaking to this publication on Sunday afternoon.

Reached for comments, Mandla Hlatswako, the Chairman of Letfu Sonkhe Institute for Strategic Thinking and Development said the costs of the King’s United Kingdom (UK)trip could have purchased the much-needed drugs in hospitals.

The senior member of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) said it was surprising to see the King traveling to a country where the Monarchy surrendered Executive powers to the people through Parliament and further submitted itself to be at the service of the people.

“For the King to go and witness a democracy in operation, it must be indictment upon him if you look at how he is ruling his own country, where he wants us as the society to not just be his subject but, to be his servants. The kind of expenditure that is involved in the King going to spend the time that he spent, just that one visit is all that we need to buy the drugs that will run Mbabane hospital possibly, for more than a month,” said the Letfu Sonkhe Chairman.


Lack of health legislation in eSwatini leading to high mortality rates from chronic kidney disease

By Waqas Arain, BNN Network, 13 May 2023



Recent reports compiled during World Kidney Day in March have shed light on the devastating impact of chronic kidney disease in Eswatini. According to the reports, 200 people have died within the past 12 months due to this disease. The majority of these patients were on dialysis, but struggled to afford the high cost of reaching facilities where the treatment is available. The lack of health legislation in the country has made it difficult for patients to access affordable healthcare, resulting in a dire situation.

One of the main challenges faced by those suffering from chronic kidney disease in Eswatini is the cost of treatment. Many patients cannot afford to travel to other countries for kidney transplants, such as South Africa, where treatment is available. Even those who can afford it often struggle to find donors since the law in the neighbouring country does not allow the donation of organs to foreigners. This has resulted in a critical shortage of available kidneys for transplant, further exacerbating the crisis.

It is important to note that chronic kidney disease is a serious and life-threatening condition that requires immediate attention. Patients suffering from this disease require timely and appropriate care to ensure that they have the best possible chance of survival. Unfortunately, the lack of health legislation in Eswatini has made it difficult for patients to access the necessary care and treatment, resulting in unnecessary deaths.

In order to address this crisis, there is an urgent need for increased funding and investment in healthcare infrastructure and legislation. The government must work to improve access to affordable healthcare for all citizens, especially those suffering from chronic kidney disease. Additionally, there is a need to increase public awareness and education about the importance of early detection and treatment of chronic kidney disease.

The high cost of treatment is one of the main challenges faced by patients suffering from chronic kidney disease in Eswatini. Many patients are unable to afford the cost of travelling to other countries for kidney transplants and struggle to find donors. The lack of health legislation in neighbouring countries, such as South Africa, further exacerbates the crisis by preventing the donation of organs to foreigners. This has resulted in a critical shortage of available kidneys for transplant, leaving patients with few options for treatment.

To address the crisis of chronic kidney disease in Eswatini, there is an urgent need for increased funding and investment in healthcare infrastructure and legislation. The government must work to improve access to affordable healthcare for all citizens, especially those suffering from chronic kidney disease. Additionally, public awareness and education about the importance of early detection and treatment of chronic kidney disease must be increased.


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Friday, 12 May 2023

Swaziland Newsletter No. 776 – 12 May 2023


Swaziland Newsletter No. 776 – 12 May 2023

News from and about Swaziland, compiled by Global Aktion, Denmark ( in collaboration with Swazi Media Commentary (, and sent to all with an interest in Swaziland - free of charge.


eSwatini to hold parliamentary elections in September

By Agence France Presse, May 5, 2023


The last absolute monarchy in Africa where political parties are banned and lawmakers are sidelined by the king -- will hold parliamentary elections on September 29, the election authorities said Friday.

The vote is unlikely to change the political scenery in the southern African nation of 1.2 million people that has been ruled by King Mswati III since 1986. The king wields absolute power.

Voter registration will start next week, and a preliminary round of voting to select candidates is scheduled for August, said the head of Eswatini's Elections and Boundaries Commission, Prince Mhlabuhlangene Dlamini.

"Finally, secondary elections (will take place) on the 29th of September. That will mark the end of the election process," he told a press conference in Lobamba, the legislative capital.

Elections in the country take place in a convoluted system that ensures Mswati faces no meaningful dissent.

The vote comes two years after dozens of people were killed as police violently quashed demonstrations calling for democratic reforms.

Winners in the 59 constituency ballots will take seats in parliament's lower house, along with 10 lawmakers that the king appoints directly.

Mswati can veto any legislation, appoints the prime minister and cabinet, and is constitutionally above the law.

He also selects 20 of the 30 senators in the upper house. The rest are elected by the lower house.

Candidates cannot be affiliated to any political group under the constitution which emphasises "individual merit" as the basis for selecting members of parliament and public officials.

Mswati has been widely criticised for his lifestyle, reputedly lavishing his 15 wives with millions of dollars a year while nearly 60 percent of the population live on less than $1.90 a day.

See also

Political parties react to election dates announcement


Peaceful Workers Day celebration: TUCOSWA Secretary General Mduduzi Gina says police were advised to stay-away from Mayaluka Stadium to avoid provocation

By Wendy Magagula, Swaziland News, 6 May 2023


MBABANE: Mduduzi Gina,the Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland(TUCOSWA) says the peaceful Workers Day celebration that was witnessed at Mayaluka Stadium on Monday came as a result of vigorous efforts by the federation and other key stakeholders.

Speaking to this Swaziland News current affairs program on Thursday, the TUCOSWA Secretary General said they held meetings before the May Day,even the police were engaged to avoid coming closer to the workers.

“We advised the police to avoid coming to the Stadium to prevent confrontations with the workers because whenever the people see them, they remember the ongoing atrocities that are committed by the police against the people,” said the TUCOSWA Secretary General.

Gina said the federation was in the process of formulating policies that will create a legal framework that seeks to reflect the true identity of the organization and what it stands for.

The Secretary General said the framework will determine ‘friends’ and partners of the federation and its position on other political and economic issues among others issues.


eSwatini Supreme Court hears LGBTQ rights case. Advocacy group hopes to legally register

By Daniel Itai, Washington Blade (United States), 9 May 2023


Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities, an LGBTQ and intersex rights group, is hopeful the country’s Registrar of Companies will allow it to register after the Supreme Court heard its case on May 5.

The Registrar of Companies in 2019 first denied Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities’s request on grounds the organization advocates for LGBTQ and intersex rights that are illegal. 

Consensual same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under common law, which criminalizes sodomy. The law, however, has never been enforced, but Emaswati who identify as LGBTQ or intersex still face discrimination.

Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities in 2020 approached the Supreme Court with the case. The Supreme Court dismissed it in 2022, but Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities appealed the ruling.

Closing arguments in the case took place on May 5.

“There is no law in Eswatini that prohibits the LGBTI+ community from identifying. Nothing is criminal about that. Don’t we have in this country an association of ex-prisoners? Isn’t the Registrar not scared that the ex-prisoners association includes rapists and murderers who will share ideas but is afraid of the LGBTI+ community? How is that association legal and ESGM is not? Homosexuality was not outlawed by the constitution and therefore the refusal to register ESGM is clearly a rights infringement,” said Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities in a statement.  

The Supreme Court has not said when it will issue its ruling.

Eswatini’s government has not forbidden Pride celebrations or obstructed their planning, even though it continues to oppose LGBTQ and intersex rights.

Rock of Hope, an LGBTQ and intersex rights organization, in 2018 organized Eswatini’s first Pride event.

The country is the continent’s last absolute monarchy, which has been under King Mswati III’s rule since 1986 when he was 18. Eswatini is deeply rooted in traditional and customary practices, which are mostly patriarchal, that do not include the LGBTQ and intersex community.

According to Gerbrandt van Heerden, an African researcher, historical evidence in many instances dispels the notion that LGBTQ and intersex people, as well as non-traditional gender expressions and identities, are alien to African culture.

“Whether it is the elite pushing the gay rights are un-African narrative out of pure ignorance, or whether power-hungry politicians dance to the tune of the people they govern in order to remain popular with the electorate, there is no question that categorizing same-sex attraction as a foreign concept and a form of neo-colonialism serves as a major obstacle to LGBTI rights on the continent,” said van Heerden.

Van Heerden also noted that in order for there to be less stigmatization of LGBTQ and intersex people, there should be more awareness of the LGBTQ and intersex community.

“Debunking the idea that LGBTI people are un-African is another powerful tool to further LGBTI rights on the continent. It all boils down to education,” said van Heerden. “Studies have shown that tolerance for gay people is highest among educated Africans. LGBTI people are among the most vilified groups on the continent today, but simply paging through the history.” 

Although the government and many Emaswati only see LGBTQ and intersex rights organizations as advocacy groups, they play a pivotal role in ensuring the community’s health. 

Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities and Rock of Hope have been working to ensure LGBTQ and intersex Emaswati receive access to health care without discrimination.

The Rock of Hope last month on Rainbow Health Day provided free medical care to the country’s LGBTQ and intersex community. This care included COVID-19 vaccinations, HIV testing and counseling, psycho social support, TB and STI screenings, free condoms and lubricant distribution, among other things.


Time for eSwatini footballers union

Straight Talk with Ashmond Nzima, Times of eSwatini, 9 May 2023


Are soccer players not humans after all? 

They do suffer from nervous breakdowns, throwing up before games, and missing penalties on the biggest occasions. It might sound simple to say that soccer players are professionals who are paid hefty salaries. However, it is always easier said than done because pressure gets to everyone. Even the best of the best have had nerves get to them at some point in their careers. The pressure of being a soccer player is huge. The attention from the media, coupled with the money paid by clubs demand greater performances and high expectations from a fan base that is ready to jeer you for any small mistake, which can make life impossible for a player.

As the paragraphs above suggest, today’s topic is an issue that does not receive any attention or mention at all. I’m talking about the lack of a players’ union or association in Eswatini football. Referees and coaches have long organised themselves and formed their own associations or unions. The formation has helped them have a voice within the football echelons of power. Sometime back, certain former players tried to form a union or association, but before it materialised, they vanished into thin air; to this day, nothing has been heard from them.

The union or association allows players to stand together to protect their rights from explosive clubs bosses. It can use its combined strength to force club owners to provide better working conditions.

Its formation can assist in many ways, including but not limited to influencing and/or demanding club owners or bosses insure them for eventualities like death, injuries, and so on. In the past, we have witnessed players’ careers coming to an untimely end due to curable injuries, but a lack of insurance to cover such injuries has crippled a player. Furthermore, other players lost their lives on the field, and in the end, there was no compensation to their immediate families because there was a lack of such policies to cover the same. More than that, union or association representation is important for players because it will protect current and future generations. Currently, at the highest level of football power, players are unrepresented and have no voice. The only way things may change is for players to organise themselves by forming a players’ union.

Furthermore, such a union or association will assist in the abuse meted out to players by their clubs. It is disappointing to hear a club announce that they have signed a player for a specific amount of money with certain benefits accruing, which normally include signing on fees and salaries. Within a month or so, the parties are at each other’s throats, with the player alleging non-fulfillment of the contractual obligation by the club or employer. These are some of the issues the players’ union will be expected to address. Today, players who are generating huge sums of money for their clubs struggle to pay for basic necessities, not to mention taking care of themselves.

We are all aware that a contract is mutual; either party can terminate for good reason. It hurts to see a player being frustrated by his employer or club, under the assumption that he has a running contract. While at the same time, the club is fully aware that it has breached the terms and conditions of the said contract. Club bosses in the country owe players thousands, if not millions, of Emalangeni in compensation for signing on fees, unlawful termination of contracts, and unpaid salaries. That is why it is common to hear that players at certain clubs are on strike or refusing to train in protest of unpaid salaries.

In many quarters, the failure of clubs to adhere to labour laws has been attributed, in part, to the armed forces proximity to state resources. They are accused of poaching players by promising employment and, in the process, fail to pay a transfer fee. They further argue that if such a transfer fee were to be fairly paid, such money may be channeled to the team’s operational needs, including player welfare. This is an old issue that has been ongoing for many years. Even as I write this article, the Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) has formed a committee to look into it and make recommendations. Therefore, I’m not about to express my opinion, whether in favour or not.

Furthermore, the said armed forces have been accused by their own players of failing to comply with the terms and conditions of their contractual obligations towards them. These are the issues the union or association, if it existed, would urgently address. The union or association will be expected to assist in engaging the club bosses and, where possible, the Eswatini Football Association (EFA), and leverage the playing field. This is more so because, irrespective of the club’s promise of employment to a player, the club is not absolved of honouring the player’s contract by remunerating him for the services rendered. The union has a commanding voice in protecting players’ interests and welfare, as we have seen in other jurisdictions, with clubs being heavily sanctioned by FIFA and having been approached by the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPRO).

Lastly, it may be argued that the EFA Players Status Committee is in existence to address these issues. But as the word status suggests, this committee is primarily concerned with the free movement of players from one club to another. Secondly, being in a grouping is advantageous, as it gives the players bargaining power when confronting the EFA and PLE Board of Governors or Executive. The formation of a labour union or association is permissible under the Kingdom of Eswatini laws.


Unpacking the state of the media in eSwatini

By Bheki Makhubu, eSwatini News, 6 May 2023


For us here in Eswatini, the uprising of June 2021 put the nail in the coffin of the traditional media. The influence of online media, which quickly sprang up during that time, as the vehicle that perpetuated the civil unrest cannot be underestimated.

Government’s bid to control the flow of information on online platforms during this most difficult time for Eswatini, by shutting down the internet on several occasions did not help because, by doing so, this had the unintended consequence of affecting commercial transactions, even across our borders, and threatened the broader economy. It was bad.

I am one of those journalists who have suffered at the hands of government excesses in its bid to suppress freedom of expression. I spent 15 months in prison for exercising this right between March 2014 and June 2015. The government has never acknowledged the wrong that was done to me and my co-accused, the late Thulani Maseko, despite the Director of Public Prosecutions conceding that our prosecution was wrong and the Supreme Court making a legal finding to that effect too.

One can only surmise that government’s reaction to our misfortune was informed by a belief that independent media Eswatini will not be tolerated, regardless of the facts. Put differently, the message is that facts do not vindicate the truth. To underscore this point, let me quote Judge Mpendulo Simelane when he sentenced Thulani and I to two years in prison on July 17 2014. He said: Some journalists have this misconception that just because they have the power of the pen and paper they can say or write anything under the disguise of freedom of expression. This is a fallacy.”

Please note that Mr Maseko was a lawyer who dedicated his life to human rights and it was I the journalist. The judge, therefore, took time off to single out the media on free speech rights in order to send a message to all of us that such freedoms are, indeed, a fallacy. That’s how I understand this quotation. Why am I telling you this? I bring it up because I want to highlight the fact that the rise of digital news dissemination Eswatini also brought its fair share of problems, when you look at the other side of the coin. 

Bills Affecting The Media 

The government of Eswatini had already been working on legislation to control the exchange of information online, and particularly social media platforms when the uprising began in June 2021. At the time, I wrote a few articles, published in The Times of Eswatini, where I pointed out the threat of such laws as the Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill of 2020 and the Data Protection Bill of 2020 posed to information dissemination and freedom of expression. I also pointed out the unintended dangers these proposed laws posed to society. 

In sum, in the form these Bills were presented they threatened to criminalise all forms of digital expression in a country which wants to be seen by the world as tolerant of diverse views, even if there are no political parties participating in the governance of the country. However, during the uprising of 2021, the major online publications that cropped up to push for change, I must say, also relied heavily on disinformation and downright lies to get an edge over what one could refer to as the mainstream media. 

For instance, in the early days of July 2021, it was widely reported that King Mswati had fled the country and had gone into exile as the civil unrest gained momentum. In other words, the world was told that a coup had succeeded Eswatini hardly a week after the unrest had begun. When some of us tried to point out that this was not true, the blowback was vicious from those driving this disinformation campaign together with their followers. There were many more stories to come that were just not factually correct told by those who were pushing the change agenda. 

What this tells us is that the attacks on the media have come from all fronts in this country. I dare to even say that equal to the government, so are those who seek political change Eswatini just as hostile towards the media and journalists. During that period when the uprising was gaining momentum, in my capacity as a journalist, I was invited to a radio talk show in South Africa to give my views on the political unrest here. During that interview, where I was part of a panel that included representatives from some of this country’s political groups, I made what I honestly thought was an innocuous, but very obvious comment. I said PUDEMO had hijacked this struggle for change and had made it theirs. 

The response from those supporting the violence and calls for change were furious, after The Times picked up on the interview and published what I had said in their Sunday edition. I was lynched on social media, particularly Facebook. So much so that, one day, I received a call from a very senior police officer at Police Headquarters who told me that they had become aware that my life was in danger. He told me that they had actually dispatched a team to watch me for protection. It was a very scary time. 

When the storm blew over, my comments began to die down, I approached Thulani, who was a PUDEMO man, to ask him what the farce was all about? He laughed at me and said “Badzinwa kutsi uyasimaka”. A loose translation of this would be that I was tripping the mass democratic movement in their quest for change with my comments. I never could make sense of Thulani’s comments because that was never my intention, but had said what I considered an obvious truth to an audience outside Eswatini. Is it, therefore, for government to take action and curtail freedom of expression when political agendas are pushed with distorted information and downright lies? My answer is simple; No! 

One of the lessons that have come out of the Eswatini experience is that freedom of expression underscores one of the most important rights mankind has in its quest towards realising the values of self-determination. To curtail it, to punish those who use this basic human right, defeats the very purpose of mankind’s existence. The lesson that comes out of our experience is that freedom of expression, in its full spectrum, has this incredible ability to self-correct society, so that the untruths told by those who seek to deceive the masses, be it government or those fighting for freedom will eventually be called out by the very people they seek to capture when the facts are brought to bear. 

That is why I strongly disagree with the use of other means, whether through legislation or brute force to curtail freedom of expression. Societies grow because, as has been said before, in the free market of exchange of ideas and information, people are empowered with the necessary tools to make their own choices and come to the right conclusions about their circumstances. Nobody should have a monopoly on information; not government and not those who seek to bring about political change in society. The people are entitled to make their choices, empowered with the full information available out there.

 To read more of this article, click here


Deputy Prime Minister (DPM)Themba Masuku who was allegedly involved in killing of civilians, avoids press conferences amid looming US sanctions

By Wendy Magagula, Swaziland News, 9 May 2023


MBABANE: Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Senator Themba Masuku, who was among the politicians who allegedly unleashed security forces to shoot and kill innocent civilians, is now avoiding to hold press conferences and issue human rights violations orders amid reports of looming targeted sanctions by United States (US).

Senator Christopher Coons tabled Resolution 174 in the US Parliament, the resolution amplifies calls for democracy in eSwatini and demands action against those violating human rights.

DPM Themba Masuku did not respond when asked by this Swaziland News why he is now avoiding press conferences, which was something he used to call almost every week.

Speaking to this Swaziland News on Tuesday evening, human rights lawyer Sibusiso Nhlabatsi said some politicians fully understand what it means to be sanctioned by the United States.

“They fully understand what this means, once you are sanctioned by the US, even European countries will sanction you because these are allies,” said the human rights lawyer.


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