News from and about Swaziland, compiled by Global Aktion, Denmark (www.globalaktion.dk) in collaboration with Swazi Media Commentary (www.swazimedia.blogspot.com), and sent to all with an interest in Swaziland - free of charge.
Cops fail to stop SWALIMO 15 branches launch
Times Sunday print edition, 19 June 2022
“We are growing”.
This was the message sent yesterday by between 500 to 600 members of the Swaziland Liberation Movement (SWALIMO), who attended the launch of 15 branches under Hhohho.
The event was held at Entsabeni Lodge where the members gathered. The members travelled from various parts of the country to launch the event.
According to the Deputy Secretary General (DSG) of SWALIMO, the event was meant for launching Hhohho District. He emphasised that the district had 15 branches which were launched.
According to Primrose Lukhele, who is the Hhohho commander, there were about 300 leaders in the 13 branches. Yesterday, she introduced the top leaders of the various branches. She said the branches were; Hhukwini, Lobamba, Maphalaleni, Madlangempisi, Mayiwane, Mbabane East, Mbabane West, Mhlangatane, Motshane, Ndzingeni, Nkaba, Siphocosini, Pigg’s Peak, Timpisini and Ntfonjeni.
Representatives from all over the country also attended with some travelling as far as Nhlangano.
Thantaza Silolo, who is the Spokesperson for SWALIMO expressed concern that many of their members were not able to make it to the venue. He said this was because police officers had mounted roadblocks around the country at strategic places.
Silolo said it appeared the police officers were targeting people who had worn the blue colours of SWALIMO. He said he was also forced to turn back at Motshane and ended up using a different route to Pigg’s Peak. He further also revealed that there the police officers continued to patrol the route leading to the lodge where the event was held, forcing some of the members to fear approaching.
Noteworthy, police officers were strategically positioned near the lodge. This also included senior police officers who also later spoke to senior officials of SWALIMO.
Meanwhile, the SWALIMO Presidents Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane also addressed the members who went ecstatic after he did so via online.
Pay bogogo E2000 each per month- EFF Swaziland
By Eugene Dube, Swati Newsweek, 20 June, 2022
MBABANE - Economic Freedom Fighters of Swaziland, Deputy President, Mthokozisi Tokyo Kunene, says King Mswati III’s government should increase the elderly grant from E500 to E2000 per month.
This comes after this publication revealed yesterday that elderly people in the country have still not received their grants. They get E500 per month. After three months they get E1, 500.
"The government should increase the elderly grants. Each should be given E2 000 each monthly now. We deny that there is no money in Swaziland this regime is attached to luxury. The bought nicklaces, cars which is a proof that money is there. So this regime should give our elders the money," he said.
Kunene said in the first place elderly grants should be distributed to the elderly on a monthly basis like all working people who get paid on a 30 day cycle in the country, he condemned the illogical concept of giving the elderly these farce of grants after three months."
He added that EFF cannot expect anything much from a government formed by one man and his family.
"This regime cannot pay our elderly after 100 days. How can they survive in such terrible economic conditions. Truly they can barely survive. This regime is like a dead dog," he said.
Kunene said the government delivered a budget speech and the elderly were allocated their funds. It is shocking that while the elderly are not paid but this government employing new soldiers instead of paying the elderly."
He narrated that autocratic rulers worldwide uses fear as a tool of oppression thus their main goal is to enlarge their armies some even parades nuclear warheads, so even this Dlamini dynasty is not an exception as they have fallen out of favour from the people themselves, they opt for military rule, which will continue what hunger started.
"As the EFF we envision a government that will priotise the welfare of citizens, in an EFF led government social grants will be paid on a monthly basis," he said.
Detained and heavily assaulted by Mswati’s soldiers for wearing freedom fighter Amos Mbedzi’s t-shirt.
By Nokwanda Mamba, Swaziland News, 18 June, 2022
LONHLUPHEKO: Chris Dlamini, the Deputy Secretary General of the Swaziland Massacre Victims Association (SWAVISA) was on Friday detained and heavily assaulted by King Mswati’s soldiers for merely wearing Amos Mbedzi’s t-shirt.
Amos Mbedzi is the freedom fighter and member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) who was linked to a military wing of the People’s United Democratic Movement(PUDEMO), he died recently after spending fifteen (15) years in eSwatini prison.
Speaking to this Swaziland News on Saturday, the SWAVISA Deputy Secretary General said he was on his way to a Multi-Stakeholder activity at Siteki when he was detained by the police at a road block at Lonhlupheko merely for wearing the late freedom fighter Amos Mbedzi's t-shirt.
“My only crime was wearing SWAVISA regalia and Amos Mbedzi's t-shirt.I was identified by the police at a roadblock who then handed me over to eight (8) soldiers who then tortured and assaulted me for about two(2)hours at a nearby shack.Fortunately,I managed to escape into a bus that was passing by,”he said.
Tengetile Khumalo, the Army Spokesperson had not responded to our questions at the time of compiling this report.
The Swaziland Massacre Victims Association (SWAVISA) is an organisation that was formed by emaSwati who were affected or injured during the June 29 massacre last year after King Mswati unleashed his forces to shoot and kill dozens of civilians merely for demanding democratic reforms.
On another, eSwatini citizens are assaulted, tortured and killed merely for wearing t-shirts belonging to the banned political organization.
Sipho Jele, a member of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) was allegedly killed by the police merely for wearing a PUDEMO t-shirt.
Food crisis: some head teachers release pupils earlier
By Nhlanganiso Mkhonta, Times of eSwatini, 21 June 2022
MBABANE – Some head teachers have resorted to releasing pupils earlier than the usual time due to the ongoing food crisis in schools.
Many schools have made it known that they do not have food under the schools’ feeding scheme, known as Zondle. Most claimed they last received food supplies in the last academic year. Others schools claimed that they were now surviving on sour porridge. The head teachers in the schools, more especially in primary schools, complained that government had taken too long to deliver food to the schools. The head teachers said they reported the issue to the Ministry of Education and Training. Some of the head teachers said they submitted their enrolment in March, so as to give government an idea as to how much food they would need, but none had been delivered since. The head teachers said they were surviving on food from last year.
Busisiwe Msibi, Chibidze Primary School Head teacher, said they last had food for the pupils some weeks ago. She said in her school, there was only mealie-meal, which could not be eaten alone. She said even if they decided to cook sour porridge, it would require sugar. Msibi said the situation was dire, such that pupils were often ill as they came to school on empty stomachs. She said sometimes, as teachers, they had to provide food for some pupils who were taking medication. She said some pupils were from less privileged homes, such that they would come to school and tell her that they only had fermented mealie-meal drink (emahewu) at home.
Msibi said the situation would get worse if the proposed rationing of food in schools would be effected. She said already, the food they were receiving was not enough. Mkhondvo Primary School Head teacher Gladys Mkhonta said in her school, they last had food last Thursday. She said yesterday marked the second day without food. Mkhonta said this brought challenges to the pupils, more especially those who had no money to buy snacks around the school. She said currently, she had no idea as to where the next meal for the learners would come from. She said the only hope was government.
Mkhonta said they had not yet decided to release the pupils earlier than usual but it was inevitable should they notice that the pupils were not coping with the situation. She said they were looking up to government to deliver food to the school. Cyprian Simelane, Ngozi Primary School Head teacher said so far, the school was sustaining the pupils with sour porridge. He said the school only had mealie-meal but no beans, so it would not be possible to cook a full meal except the sour porridge. Simelane added that even for that sour porridge, the school sometimes asked the parents to provide sugar. Nsalitje Primary School Head teacher David Mkhweli said currently his school was left with only one bag of rice and beans. He said the situation was not looking good at all, because there was no certainty as to when government would provide food to the schools.
Muziwethu Simelane, Kwaluseni Primary School Head teacher, said in his school, they were also surviving on sour porridge. He said there were beans as well hence they opted for the sour porridge. He said sometimes he would urge parents to assist by giving the pupils some sugar to mitigate the situation. Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Education and Training Bhekithemba Gama, said they were advising the head teachers to liaise with their regional education officers (REO), who may assist them on how to mitigate the situation until government delivered food to their respective schools. He added that for the teachers to take such decisions as releasing pupils earlier, they would need to consult with the REOs or inspectors.
Thousands languishing at home as attacks in Eswatini lead to safety concerns
By Karabo Ngoepe, Independent online (South Africa), 21 June 2022
Johannesburg - Thousands of Emaswati who work for Inyatsi Construction have been left in limbo following attacks at the company’s operations.
After an arson attack last week, the company suspended its operations Monday, resulting in over 2 300 workers being sent home. They would not be earning a salary until the company resumes operations.
According to sources in the kingdom, the company is reeling from arson attacks and damage to infrastructure, allegedly at the hands of Pro-Democracy movements.
In a statement released by the company, it indicated it had taken a proactive stance to tighten security in response to the escalating and recurring targeted attacks that have resulted in the destruction of machinery and equipment at three of its sites over the last year.
According to the company, the attacks have caused damage of over R65 million.
“These malicious attacks have created an unsafe working environment for our dedicated teams, and we have decided to reconfigure and heighten our security protocols. During this period, our direct employees will have to be on unpaid leave whilst ongoing projects valued at over R 700 million in the current financial year have to be temporarily suspended,” the company said.
“We can no longer defer enhancing our security and safety measures in the face of sustained attacks perpetrated by terrorists still at large.”
The Kingdom of Eswatini has had violent protests since 2021 when Pro-Democracy Forces/Movements called for the removal of King Mswati III. Arson attacks have become a regular occurrence with houses of those working in government, mainly the police, targeted, and so are individuals perceived to be linked to the king.
Many Emaswati have allegedly had their contact details and addresses posted on social media platforms and news articles by a journalist who is part of the Pro-Democracy Movement, calling for “national braais” at the identified places.
The arson attacks generally followed the posts, and the journalist would allegedly boldly indicate that the Pro-Democracy Forces/Movements were behind them and would not stop. Instead, they would be intensifying their fight.
Protests have been a regular feature in Eswatini. Picture: Swazi News
The owners of Inyatsi Construction are perceived to be linked to King Mswati. As a result of that narrative, the company has been at the centre of some of the arson attacks. At least three sources in Eswatini have told the Sunday Independent that those responsible for the attacks believed they were inflicting pain and frustration on King Mswati, who they believe has been delaying the country's proposed dialogue.
“There is this misconception that the company has ties with the King, which is not true. They believe the company is making its money through government contracts assisted by the King but look at the situation now. The ordinary people are now suffering," said a source speaking anonymously.
The country has an unemployment rate of 23.4 percent, ranking 11th out of 94 countries globally and fourth in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The country has a poverty rate of 52% and GDP growth of -3.3%.
“The company currently has 18 projects in the country, including roads, water projects, maintenance, township developments and agricultural development projects,” said the source.
The publication has established that the site that was attacked at the Sigombeni was part of the Eswatini Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (ESWADE), which the European Union funds. According to ESWADE, the EU, through its National Development Plan (2021-2027), set aside €14.545 million (R278.37 million) to achieve increased Water Storage Capacity; Enhanced Production Capacity for Smallholders and Strengthened Institutional Capacity.
It is still unknown what the impact of the attack on the site would be on the project and if the EU would still fund it. However, the company indicated that it would be negligent for them to continue with the 18 projects as if it were business as usual.
“These 18 projects include roads, water projects, maintenance, township developments and agricultural development projects which all directly impact communities, including vulnerable groups. Although Inyatsi Construction is a clear target of these attacks, the company itself is not the real victim. The incalculable and far-reaching consequences of these attacks have been sadly borne by the communities, sub-contractors and employees who rely on the company," read the statement.
“As Inyatsi Construction, we value our human resources, and their safety is of utmost importance. As we reconfigure our operations to heighten safety and security protocols in the wake of sustained attacks, we have seen it prudent to suspend operations temporarily for security reasons,” read the statement.
By Thokozani Mamba, Times of eSwatini, 23 June 2022
SITEKI – People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) Lubombo Branch Treasurer Tenele Mashwama was yesterday arrested in a joint operation of the party.
They were arrested together with six other members by police officers from the Lomahasha and Siteki Police Stations. Tenele and Manqoba Kunene were arrested yesterday in the wee hours at around 5am, while Light Mkhabela and Manqoba Nyoni were apprehended at their respective homes on Tuesday morning. This latest incident comes against the backdrop of another matter whereby PUDEMO Head of International Relations Siboniso Mkhabela had his two cellphones and clothing items in a bag, together with a notebook, confiscated by the police during a roadblock manned at Lukhula area on Friday. Mkhabela was on his way to the Multi-Stakeholders Forum (MSF) prayer service which was held at Good Shepherd Mission Church when he was stopped by the police, who were in a joint operation with the army. On Monday, the Siteki Police Station released his bag with his clothing items.
It was further established that the police further arrested three others who were later released at the Simunye Magistrate Court. The quartet of Tenele, Nyoni, Light and Manqoba were charged jointly for contravening the Public Order Act of 2017 and Traffic Act of 2007. They are all expected to appear at the Simunye Magistrate Court today. The quartet are represented by the Siphofaneni based Lawyer Maxwell Nkhambule. Nkhambule confirmed the matter and stated that the four were expected to appear in court today. Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confirmed the matter. “We have four who have been charged by the police,” she said.
Worth mentioning is that it has been gathered that the police were still looking for others who were on the list, used to arrest the four PUDEMO members. Narrating the circumstances leading to the arrest of the quartet, PUDEMO Head of International Relations, Mkhabela stated that on Monday after the police released his bag with clothing items, they left Siteki Town but were followed by a Toyota van without number plates and it overtook them at Lonhlupheko.
Mkhabela said while approaching Maphiveni T-junction, a soldier flagged them down to stop but some of the occupants of the vehicle they were travelling in advised that they should not stop but sped-off. He said they drove to a homestead around Maphiveni area and fled in different directions towards the Black Mbuluzi River, leaving behind some of their items inside the car. “We lost each other but reunited after about six hours of being in the bushes. We found that soldiers had been deployed around the homesteads at Maphiveni and roadblocks were manned at Nduma and Lomahasha. Some of our members went to the car and found some of the clothing items,” he said. Mkhabela said two phones belonging to Tenele were missing. He added that there was a police car that was parked close to his home.
“The death of Mpostoli and Sigubhu sparked the intensifying fight for democracy and that police allegedly shot one pupil. As Lomahasha residents, we will use peaceful means of protesting and don’t believe that the burning of tyres warranted the state to deploy soldiers at Lomahasha,” he said. Mkhabela further said if it called for seeking the help of the international community, he was ready to do so. Meanwhile, recently, police officers from Lomahasha Police Station fired four gunshots to stop a Nkalashane High School pupil from fleeing at his home.
Broadcasting Bill: King has power to freeze all broadcasts
– The Eswatini Broadcasting Bill, 2019 gives His Majesty the King, powers to take over all broadcasting stations or any particular broadcasting station in Eswatini.
Article 69 (1) reads, “Where there is in force a proclamation of a state of public emergency or threatened public emergency under the Constitution, the King may make an order authorizing any officer or any authority to (a) take over all broadcasting stations or any particular broadcasting station in Eswatini; and, (b) control and direct all broadcasting services from the broadcasting stations or broadcasting station to which the provisions of paragraph (a) related for as long as the King considers it expedient; and in so doing may require the exclusive services of the persons employed in, working maintaining or crying on, the same.”
Subsection 2 of the bill continues to highlight that when an officer or an authority is authorized to take over a broadcasting station in terms of subsection (1), the person owning or controlling the broadcasting station shall give up possession to the King or the officer or authority, and the person employed in, working or maintaining the broadcasting station, or carrying on a broadcasting service from the broadcasting station shall, if the King in terms of that subsection requires their exclusive series, diligently and faithfully obey, during the period the broadcasting station is in possession of the officer or authority all such orders and other directions as the officer or authority may give in connection with the working or maintenance of the broadcasting station.
Subsection 3 then reads, “Reasonable compensation shall be paid to a person who suffers loss or damage through the exercise of the powers conferred by this section from monies appropriated for that purpose by Parliament in such amount as may be agreed between that person and the Minister.”
Then subsection 4 of the same article states that that if a dispute arises as to the amount of compensation payable in terms of subsection (3), any person claiming to be entitled to compensation may refer such dispute to a court of law.
The article further stipulates in section 5, “In determining the amount of any compensation including costs or expenses payable under this section, the court or other person dealing with the matter, shall have regard to the fact that the take-over has been necessitated by a state of public emergency.”
Subsection 6 reads, “This section shall, with the necessary modifications, apply in relation to diffusion services, the premise apparatus, equipment and wires required in connection with those devices, apparatus, equipment and wires required in connection with those services, apparatus, equipment and wires and the persons employed in working, maintaining or operating the same.”
Clause 70 (1), then indicates that where there is in force a proclamation of a state of public emergency or threatened public emergency under the Constitution, the Minister may, at any time by notice, require the Commission to direct the licensees specified in the notice to publish, at such times as may be specified in the notice, such announcement relating to the public emergency as is specified in the notice, with or without visual images of any picture, scene or object mentioned in the announcement.
According to subsection 2, where the licensee published any announcement under subsection (1), the licensee may announce that the publication is pursuant to a directive by the Minister. Then subsection 3 of the same clause highlights that the Minister may, at any time by notice, require the Commission to direct any licensee specified in the notice to refrain from including in the programmes included in their licensed series, any matter or classes of matter specified in the notice.
Subsection 4 further reads, “Where the Commission (a) gives a licensee a direction in accordance with a notice under subsection (3); or (b) in consequence of the revocation by the Minister of a notice referred to in subsection (3); or (c) in consequence of an expiry of a notice, the licensee in question may publish an announcement stating the giving or revocation of the direction, or of the expiration of the notice.
For complaints relating to public broadcasting or broadcasting services, Article 71 stipulates that where a person has made a complaint to the Corporation or to a broadcasting service, acted contrary to the Code of Conduct and, the person has not received a response within fourteen (14) days after making the complaint, or the person has received a response within that period but considers that response to be inadequate, that person may lodge a complaint with the commission about the matter.
Meanwhile, recently, the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) hosted the Eswatini Broadcasting Bill 2019 Workshop for the House of Senate at the Hilton Garden Hotel. Present during the one-day workshop was ICT Minister Princess Sikhanyiso, Senate President Lindiwe Dlamini, senators, the ministry officials and stakeholders.
The bill advances the establishment of the Eswatini Broadcasting Corporation, a national broadcaster, by amalgamating the operations and resources of Eswatini Television Authority (ETVA) and the Eswatini Broadcasting and Information Services (EBIS).
SWAZI MEDIA COMMENTARY