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Friday 19 April 2024

Swaziland Newsletter No. 823 – 19 April 2024

 

Swaziland Newsletter No. 823 – 19 April 2024

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.

Unprecedented leak reveals suspicious money flows through Africa's last absolute monarchy

Media release, The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 16 April 2024 

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is proud to bring you our latest investigation: Swazi Secrets

The tiny southern African kingdom of Eswatini — once known as Swaziland — has evolved against a constant backdrop: the monarchy.

While most of the population of 1.2 million faces grinding poverty, King Mswati III and members of his expansive family flaunt their wealth, from flashy bespoke watches to fleets of luxury cars.

Now, an unprecedented leak from inside the Eswatini Financial Intelligence Unit reveals how the king’s broken promises and his inner circle have enabled suspicious money to flow through the landlocked country and beyond.

Swazi Secrets is based on more than 890,000 leaked internal records from the EFIU shared with ICIJ by the nonprofit Distributed Denial of Secrets. ICIJ coordinated a team of 38 journalists across 11 countries to explore the documents, which include bank records, police investigation reports, court affidavits and transcripts, and confidential exchanges between government agencies in the region.

The investigation highlights 
the extraordinary role of Mswati III and some of his key allies in supporting a new bank in a years-long tussle with the regulator, the Central Bank of Eswatini. 

It also exposes how a “special economic zone” — touted as a way to repair the country’s tattered economy — became a ghost town home to two 
phantom gold refineries channeling millions of dollars to Dubai.

“When we talk of the Swazi economy we can say the king himself is the economy, because Swaziland is emblematic of a country where the entire economy is actually captured by royal interests,” said one human rights activist, who asked not be named for fear of retribution.

READ: How international gold dealers exploited a tiny African kingdom’s economic dream

READ: The central bank in a tiny African country tried to block a suspicious banking venture. Then the king’s allies intervened.

ABOUT: About the Swazi Secrets investigation

FAQS: Answers to questions about the leak, ICIJ’s reporting, and more

Stay tuned for more Swazi Secrets stories from ICIJ and our partners in the coming days and weeks. 

See also

International team of investigative journalists exposes Eswatini Finance Minister Neal Rijikernberg on shady establishment of Farmers Bank, an alleged conduit for multi-billion money-laundering

https://swazilandnews.co.za/fundza.php?nguyiphi=6382

 

‘eSwatini not creating enough jobs’

By Nomfanelo Maziya, eSwatini Observer, 14 April 2024

SOURCE 

Business Eswatini (BE) Vice President Industrial Relations and Social Policy Committee Andrew Le Roux has highlighted concerned over an economy struggling to attract investment and generate employment opportunities.

This was during the first edition of ‘A Business to Government Engagement’ at Emafini Country Lodge yesterday.

"The harsh reality is that Eswatini is not creating any jobs, and we have not been doing so for quite some time,” said Le Roux.

He emphasised the critical role investment plays in job creation, particularly foreign direct investment (FDI).

However, Eswatini seems to be failing to attract this vital source of capital according to the VP.

Le Roux pointed to several factors hindering FDI in Eswatini.

One major concern is the perceived inefficiency of the court system.

“Our most recent competitive index ranking tells a worrying story," he said. "It highlights catastrophic inefficiencies in our courts, which discourages investors seeking a stable and predictable legal environment,” he said.

To read more of this report, click here

http://new.observer.org.sz/details.php?id=22321

 

280,000 emaSwati face hunger crisis

By Sifiso Sibandze, Times of eSwatini, 16 April 2024

SOURCE 

MBABANE: Over 280 000 emaSwati, who are already food insecure, will continue languishing in hunger as the dryer and hotter-than-usual El Nino-induced weather sharply dented maize harvest prospects across Eswatini’s main maize growing regions.

This has raised risks for higher food-price inflation. According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, about 238 500 people are faced with acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 [Crisis] and above) between June and September 2023. The number of food insecure people is said to have increased to nearly 283 000 between October 2023 and March 2024, moderately higher than projections in the corresponding period of 2022/23. The anticipated year‑on‑year increase in acute food insecurity is underpinned by the reduced maize harvest and high food prices, while a slow economic recovery from the pandemic, causing income losses, is further constraining households’ economic access to food.

With the projected acute decline in grain harvests in Eswatini and other main grain-producing countries in southern Africa, the price of white and yellow maize is expected to soar further to record levels, exacerbating the persisting cost of living crisis. According to the Director of Agriculture, Nelson Mavuso, inadequate rains in some of the country’s key producing areas – Mahlangatsha, Sitsatsaweni, Sigombeni, Ntfonjeni, Dlangeni, Sigangeni will result in a decline in the harvest, affecting the food security position of Eswatini. “The drought from the El Nino weather pattern has withered leaves, wilted cobs and raised the spectre of hunger for thousands of farmers and emaSwati, especially the vulnerable groups, the elderly and those with disabilities,” Mavuso said.

To read more of this report, click here

http://www.times.co.sz/news/144712-280%C2%A0000-emaswati-face-hunger-crisis.html

 

The luxury life of King Mswati III: eSwatini monarch arrives in SA in ‘flying palace’

King Mswati III is thought to live a life of opulence, with assets worth millions

By Itumeleng Mafisa, The Citizen (South Africa), 16 April 2024

SOURCE 

Swazi King boards a plane before a visit to South Africa Picture: Screengrab from video


The Swaziland People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) said it was shocked that eSwatini’s King Mswati III decided to use a luxury plane to come for a working visit to South Africa.

According to SPLM president Vusi Shongwe, King Mswati III used what they described as a “palace in the air” to visit his neighbouring country.

King Mswati III, who landed in the country on Sunday, met President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday to discuss matters related to the diaspora, including concerns about the former president of Botswana Ian Khama.

Civic groups in eSwatini have been raising concerns about the plight of the people of eSwatini under one of Africa’s last remaining absolute monarchies. There had also been reports of human rights abuses under the current government.

King Mswati’s mode of transport to South Africa, the Airbus 340-300 aircraft, was bought in 2018 from Taiwan by the king as a 50th birthday gift to himself. It cost of R2.6 billion.

“It was customised from a commercial aircraft into an ultra luxurious flying palace,” Shongwe said.

According to Shongwe, the plane features a living area, meeting/dining area, a private bedroom and bathroom amenities for the king, among other features.

“Concerns have been raised on the cost effectiveness of using this large aircraft with huge flying cost implications for a less than an hour-long trip to the Republic for his meeting with President Ramaphosa,” Shongwe said.

He said technical analysis of the flight and the fuel needed calculated that flying the plane for an hour would be more than R350 000.

Apart from his plane, Shongwe said the king lives a life of opulence with assets worth millions. This includes cars, property, jewellery and artwork.

He said the king receives at least at least R1bn annually from national treasury.

“This man does not pay tax and he is not liable for any taxation from the government. Out of a national budget he gets R1bn from the government to him,” he said.

Shongwe said the king had several palaces across eSwatini, the most opulent one being the Lozitha palace which house houses the kings banquet hall – which has gold decorations and expensive chandeliers.

He also had at least 20 Mercedes Maybach SUVs delivered to him. The king also boasts a watch collection with some of the most expensive watches in the world. This includes a Jacob & Co Billionaire Ashoka watch with 302 emerald-cut baguette diamonds set in 18k white gold. The king also has a range of Rolexes.

“The cars were for his wives and family members, there were other cars that he bought like Merc Klassen -VIP sprinters and V classes. These were custom made,” he said.

In 2019, King Mswati III made headlines when a video showed the arrival of the Rolls-Royce cars as gifts for his 13 wives.

 

Pigg’s Peak Govt Hospital crisis

By Sibongile Sukati, eSwatini Observer, 18 April 2024

SOURCE 

While things are falling apart at the Pigg’s Peak Government Hospital, the ministry of health is elusive with answers on what is happening at the medical facility.

The facility is plagued by broken equipment and rotting food as the cold-room is malfunctioning, raising fears of contamination resulting in food poisoning, and patients forced to sleep without hospital bedding as the laundry machine is faulty.

This comes as the ministry of health on Monday commemorated World Health Day where Minister, Mduduzi Matsebula, said they had noted a gap in creating an enabling environment for individuals to take positive health decisions and that meant addressing things that were beyond the individual’s power yet directly had an impact on the health of that particular person.

The minister said this included access to clean water, clean air, environmental issues, proper infrastructure and the availability of healthy food.

However, concerned staff members have raised red flags, drawing attention to the perilous situation they are faced with.  

They said things had got worse from the drugs shortage crisis and were now actually frightening.      

They listed a number of faults with the hospital’s major equipment, which includes a non-functional cold room, a broken industrial washing machine and medical waste littered all over the hospital as it has not been burnt.

This is because according to the members of staff the hospital is without fuel, which is used to get the incinerator fired up and burn the medical waste, which also includes used syringes.

As a result, the buckets of used syringes (sharp containers) are stacked in a corner next to the other medical waste that had not been disposed of.

The last two drums of fuel, according to the staff members, were delivered on March 19 and last for about a week.

“The incinerator was delivered to the hospital around December last year and was commissioned on January 15,” said the source.

“However, since there has been no fuel, the hospital has not been able to get rid of the waste,” said another member of staff member.

On the issue of the non-functioning cold room, the employees reported that the compressor was not functional and as a result they were forced to keep the food in a non-operational fridge.

They said as a result food items such as dairy products were not being kept under cold temperatures and that these included dairy products and vegetables.

“We are afraid that this will lead to food contamination which will result in food poisoning,” complained the staff members who said they were concerned about their welfare as much as that of the patients. 

To read more of this report, click here

http://new.observer.org.sz/details.php?id=22340

 

Global MPs committee vows to continue monitoring pro-democracy MPs case

By Eugene Dube, Swati Newsweek, 15 April, 2024

SOURCE 

MBABANE: Inter-Parliamentary (IPU) committee pledged to continue monitoring the case of two imprisoned Swazi pro-democracy MPS Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube.

The organization's statement reads thus, “Reaffirms its belief that, over and above ongoing and new efforts to strengthen democracy in Eswatini, a mission by the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which would include meetings with all the relevant authorities, a meeting with the two members of parliament and their lawyers, along with meetings with relevant third parties, would offer a useful opportunity to discuss the issues that have emerged in the case at hand and to examine possible solutions; is pleased to learn that the Eswatini delegation informed the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, at the hearing held during the 148th IPU Assembly, that such a mission would still be welcome; and requests the Secretary General to continue to engage with the current parliamentary authorities of Eswatini to dispatch the mission as soon as possible; Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the complainant and any third party likely to be in a position to supply relevant information; Requests the Committee to continue examining the case and to report back to it in due course,” the IPU said in a statement.

See also

eSwatini MP Mduduzi Gawzela Simelane applauds International Parliamentary Union(IPU) decision that declared arrest of pro-democracy MPs on politically motivated terrorism charges unlawful.

https://swazilandnews.co.za/fundza.php?nguyiphi=6366

 

Lions decor on gate seen as disrespect to King

By Sabelo Ndzinisa, eSwatini News, 13 April 2024

SOURCE 

NGINAMADVOLO: An adult man of Nginamadvolo in the Hhohho region has voluntarily removed pictures of two lions on the gate leading to his homestead after he was accused by some residents of showing disrespect to the King.

For two years now, the pictures of the two lions formed part of the décor for the man’s gate but it seems this has not been sitting well with some residents. In their view, the man’s decision to display the pictures of the two lions outside his homestead’s gate was an act of disrespect towards not just the country’s culture but the King himself.
In the Eswatini culture and customs, a lion is associated with the King while an elephant is aligned with the Queen Mother.

Some residents in the area are said to have taken up the matter with some umphakatsi members to whom they voiced out their displeasure about the impression the man’s gate was giving in as far as culture was concerned. It must be revealed, however , that the two lion pictures have been outside the gate for about two years now allegedly without anybody complaining, as attested by the home owner  when speaking to the Eswatini News this week.

He did not hide his disappointment at the manner in which this issue is being handled, pointing out that the pictures of the lions have been in existence for a long time. “I am very surprised that there are people who have issues with the pictures of the lions on my gate because if my memory serves me well, they have been there for about two years.
“Why have an issue now? It really beats  me, but I have to respect that people will always have their opinions on things and you cannot control that,” he said.

To read more of this report, click here

http://www.times.co.sz/news/144676-lions-decor-on-gate-seen-as-disrespect-to-king.html

 

SWAZI MEDIA COMMENTARY

Find us:

Blog: https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/142383985790674

X (formerly Twitter): https://twitter.com  @Swazimedia

 

Friday 12 April 2024

Swaziland Newsletter No. 822 – 12 April 2024

 

Swaziland Newsletter No. 822 – 12 April 2024

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.

 

Poverty continues to linger in eSwatini

By Queen Magagula, eSwatini Observer, 6 April 2024

SOURCE 


Eswatini continues to experience high and persistent poverty levels despite the progress it has made over the years.

This was revealed by the World Bank report released on Monday. The report highlighted that Eswatini was a small country with an economy that shared borderlines with South Africa and Mozambique.

Poverty, according to the report, persisted partly because of the lack of quality jobs.

Unemployment in Eswatini was reportedly among the highest in the (SADC) region for over a decade and a large part of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the report, although it was noted that there has been a moderate decline from 63 per cent in 2010 to 58.9 per cent in 2017.

“It is even higher among young people aged between 15 and 24 years, at 59.1 per cent as of 2021. Quality problems in education mean that young people lack the right skills to participate in the labour market. This undermines Eswatini’s potential to benefit from its large and young population,” reads the report.

On a positive note, the report highlighted that poverty calculated using the lower-middle-income country poverty line was projected to decline from 52.1 per cent in 2024 to 51.4 per cent in 2025.

The World Bank Report added that while the projected economic recovery should have a positive impact on households, this improvement would be constrained by the lower agricultural production and structural challenges facing the poor, including low job creation and low access to services.

In addition, the report stated that inequality in consumption per capita and access to public services remained high and Eswatini was among the most unequal countries in the world, with a Gini index of 54.6 in 2016. Disparities in access to basic public services across income groups and geographic locations persist, although access is being expanded.

Factors beyond the control of individuals, including early education, parental education, place of birth and place of residence explained 38.5 per cent of consumption inequality in 2017,” the report states.

The report said Eswatini’s economic prospects for 2024 were favourable partly because of higher Southern African Customs Union (SACU) revenues.

To read more of this report, click here

http://new.observer.org.sz/details.php?id=22282

 

Swaziland People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) condemns King Mswati’s soldiers for threatening those who are calling for democracy

By Colani Khulekani Maseko, Swaziland News, 7 April 2024

SOURCE 

NOKWANE: Lioness Sibande, the Secretary General (SG) of the Swaziland People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has released a statement on behalf of the political organization, condemning King Mswati’s army for threatening and/or inciting violence against human rights defenders and political activists.

The threats were issued during the Army Day Celebration at the Nokwane Army Headquarters on Friday and the event was graced by among others, former South African President Jacob Zuma and Ex-Botswana President Lieutenant General Ian Khama.

"The accompanying narrator emphasized that these drills were specifically design to address future potential demonstrations. Unfortunately, this evoked painful memories for many Swazis, reminiscent of a tragic incident that occurred on October 20, 2022. On that day, teargas was deployed by armed members inside a bus carrying innocent, unarmed government employees and Swazi citizens enroute to a peaceful and authorized march organized by the National Public Service Union ( NAPSAWU). In an unprovoked and barbaric act, gunshots were fired at the workers as they desperately tried to escape the suffocating gas fumes within the bus”, reads the statement in part released by the Secretary General (SG) of Swaziland People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

 

eSwatini’s democratic reform process in jeopardy

Peter Fabricius, Institute for Security Studies, 5 April 2024

SOURCE 

Fifteen months after the murder of political activist Thulani Maseko, the political reform movement he ably led also seems to have died.

If it were purely a matter of motive, there would be little doubt who should be held responsible for killing human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko – Eswatini’s leading political activist – on 21 January last year.

Maseko was shot dead through a window of his home near Mbabane in front of his wife, Tanele, and two young sons.

Since then Eswatini’s opposition and the country’s democratic reform momentum both seem to have collapsed, leaving King Mswati III high and dry and apparently unassailable – an island of absolute monarchy in a regional sea of supposed democracies.

At the time of Maseko’s murder – most call it an assassination – Eswatini was still officially on the agenda of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The latter had persuaded the king to embark on a course of democratic reform in response to the surge of deadly violence that shook the country in June 2021.

Eswatini was still officially on SADC's agenda for democratic reform

Maseko then chaired the Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF), which brought together all the main political and civil society pro-democracy groups under a rare common umbrella, articulating the demands for a real and inclusive national democratic dialogue.

But it became clear after his death that he was holding the MSF together largely by the force of his intellect and personality because, since then, it has essentially disintegrated. One of the principal divisive forces was Mswati’s decision to call parliamentary elections on 29 September last year. Though Swazi elections are essentially meaningless as members of Parliament exercise no real power, some members of the democratic opposition still opted to support them. Most chose to boycott, believing elections should be postponed until after a legitimate reform process had been conducted.

The divisions over the election fractured the opposition to Mswati’s autocratic rule.

To read more of this report, click here

https://issafrica.org/iss-today/eswatini-s-democratic-reform-process-in-jeopardy

 

Limkokwing University Director Princess Tfobile and her Musa Sibandze lawyers failed to secure court order seeking to ‘kickout’ striking Lecturers

By Bongiwe Dlamini, Swaziland News, 8 April 2024

SOURCE 

MBABANE: Princess Tfobile Gumedze, the Director of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) and her Musa Sibandze Attorneys failed to secure a court order, seeking to ‘kickout’ striking Lecturers.

The Limkokwing lawyers had ran to court demanding that, the Lecturers must not be allowed to protest inside the University premises.

“Interdicting the members of the 1st Respondent from demonstrating inside the Applicant’s premises and disrupt the on-going examinations”, reads the Notice of Motion filed by Limkokwing lawyer Banele Gamedze of Musa Sibandze Attorneys.

But Acting Industrial Court Judge Banele Ngcamphalala refused to grant the order expelling the Lecturers inside the University premises, instead she ordered that, both parties must agree on the time and the legal strike must continue to take place inside the premises of the University.

“The parties have agreed that the members of the 1st Respondent will sing between 08:00am and also between 12:15pm to 13:45pm. The parties have further agreed that the members of the 1st Respondent will assemble in front of House 2 and march towards the gate and march towards the administration block. The designated area is the emergency point next to the multi-purpose hall”, reads the court order in part issued on Friday.

The strike continues even this week, the Lecturers are demanding among others, Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), the end of employment on short term contracts and victimization of employees who express themselves against injustice by the Management.

 

Govt confirms pink eye outbreak

By Phephile Motau, eSwatini Observer, 11 April 2024

SOURCE 

Parents have been advised to keep their children at home and to isolate those who show ‘pink eye’ symptoms following an outbreak of conjunctivitis.

The advisory was issued by the ministry of health following reports of outbreaks in the Manzini and Lubombo regions where affected pupils were sent home.     

The pupils were from St Michael’s High, Mambane Secondary, Siteki Nazarene and Mnyafula Primary.

St Michael’s pupils were sent back home on Tuesday morning after some cases were identified on Monday. The pupils were advised to seek medical attention.

Chairperson of the Public Health Emergency Management Core Team, Dr Masitsela Mhlanga, said anyone could get pink eye, but family members and close friends of someone with infectious conjunctivitis were at increased risk.

Dr Mhlanga said it was, therefore, advisable to isolate patients with pink eye so as not to spread the infection within the family

“Children with pink eye should be kept out of school to prevent the disease from spreading to other pupils,” said Dr Mhlanga, adding that it was best to limit contact with infected persons until the symptoms go away.

He further advised that infected persons could return to school or work when the itching, pain, and tearing stopped.

Pink eye is defined as an inflammation of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and eyeball.

This membrane is called the conjunctiva.

To read more of this report, click here

http://new.observer.org.sz/details.php?id=22314

 

SWAZI MEDIA COMMENTARY

Find us:

Blog: https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/142383985790674

X (formerly Twitter): https://twitter.com  @Swazimedia

 

Friday 5 April 2024

Swaziland Newsletter No. 821 – 5 April 2024

 

Swaziland Newsletter No. 821 – 5 April 2024

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.

 

eSwatini authorities target activist’s widow

By Nomathamsanqa Masiko-Mpaka, Human Rights Watch, 28 March 2024

SOURCE 

On March 27, immigration officials at the Ngwenya Border post between South Africa and Eswatini stopped  Tanele Maseko, widow of murdered human rights lawyer and opposition activist Thulani Maseko, along with her two young children and her helper while they were trying to enter Eswatini.

Immigration officials flagged Tanele’s passport as belonging to a wanted person and confiscated it along with her mobile phone. Officials then called the police, who interrogated Tanele for about four hours before releasing her pending an appearance at the Mbabane police headquarters on March 28.  

But after Tanele arrived at the headquarters Thursday, police delayed her further interrogation until April 2, after her lawyers challenged how many officials could interview her without a lawyer present. The police are now seeking legal advice about interviewing her without her lawyers. Throughout all this, however, officials have yet to provide the reason why Tanele has been labeled a wanted person to begin with.

A vigil decrying the assassination of Eswatini Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko in Nakuru Town, Kenya, January 30, 2023. © 2023 James Wakibia/SOPA Images via AP Photo


Since Thulani Maseko was brutally killed  in his home in front of Tanele and their children on January 21, 2023, the government of Eswatini has been unrelenting in what appears to be a harassment campaign against Tanele to dissuade her from pursuing justice and accountability for her husband’s murder and continuing his legacy of promoting rights and democracy in Eswatini.

Some media have published reports that Eswatini state forces are targeting and monitoring Tanele and her life may be in danger. On December 29, 2023, the government released a statement in which it made untrue and defamatory remarks against her.

Regional human rights networks have condemned Tanele’s detention and targeting and are calling for an independent and transparent investigation into Thulani Maseko’s killing. The government of Eswatini should ensure transparency and accountability for the Maseko family instead of harassing and intimidating Maseko’s widow for seeking answers to her husband’s death.

Authorities should stop retaliating against Tanele for raising awareness about the situation in which her husband was killed. It has been 14 months since Maseko’s murder and authorities need to demonstrate greater commitment towards apprehending his killers and ensuring justice.

 

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee urges Senators to pass sanctions Resolution 174 as eSwatini intensifies crackdown on human rights defenders, detains assassinated human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko’s widow

By Zweli Martin Dlamini, Swaziland News, 29 March, 2024

SOURCE 

MBABANE: The United States (U.S) Senate Foreign Relations Committee has once again, lobbied or urged Senators to pass the sanctions oriented Resolution 174 as eSwatini regime intensifies crackdown on political activists and human rights defenders including the recent harassment of Tanele Maseko, the wife to assassinated human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko.

The human rights lawyer was the Chairperson of the pro-democracy MultiStakeholder Forum (MSF), he was assassinated while writing letters to human rights organizations and regional bodies like the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitating a dialogue as part of peaceful means to resolve the eSwatini political crisis.

In an X (formerly Twitter) and in reaction to a story exclusively published by this Swaziland News in the early hours on Thursday regarding the detention of the late human rights lawyer’s widow including her children, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee noted the ongoing human rights violations in eSwatini.

“This week’s detention & ongoing harassment of Tanele Maseko, following the murder of her husband Thulani last year, is another reminder of the tactics the #Eswatini regime uses against democracy & rights defenders. The Senate must pass S.Res.174”, reads the tweet in part, published on Friday morning.

But the harassment of the widow also attracted the attention of the international human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch.

In an online report published later on Thursday, Human Rights Watch demanded answers why the widow was labeled a wanted person and harassed at the Oshoek Boarder.

“Immigration officials flagged Tanele’s passport as belonging to a wanted person and confiscated it along with her mobile phone. Officials then called the police, who interrogated Tanele for about four hours before releasing her pending an appearance at the Mbabane police headquarters on March 28. But after Tanele arrived at the headquarters Thursday, police delayed her further interrogation until April 2, after her lawyers challenged how many officials could interview her without a lawyer present. The police are now seeking legal advice about interviewing her without her lawyers. Throughout all this, however, officials have yet to provide the reason why Tanele has been labeled a wanted person to begin with”, reads an online report published by Human Rights Watch later on Thursday.

Minor children of the late human rights lawyer spent hours without food at the Boarder and exposed to extremely cold temperatures as police took turns to harass their mother after grabbing her passport and cellphones to ensure that, she doesn’t call anyone.

The widow was then ‘dragged’ to the Regional Police Headquarters where the harassment continued later on Thursday afternoon.

A questionnaire was sent to the Senior Superintendent Phindile Vilakati, the eSwatini Police Spokesperson, however, she had not responded at the time of compiling this report.

To read more of this report, click here

https://swazilandnews.co.za/fundza.php?nguyiphi=6279

See also

Eswatini: Authorities must stop harassment and intimidation of Tanele Maseko

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2024/03/eswatini-authorities-must-stop-harassment-and-intimidation-of-tanele-maseko/

Why assassinated human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko’s widow is being harassed by the police in the name of an investigation.

https://swazilandnews.co.za/fundza.php?nguyiphi=6302

King Mswati’s police officers release detained widow to assassinated human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, Human Rights Defenders condemn harassment

https://swazilandnews.co.za/fundza.php?nguyiphi=6274

Thulani’s widow flagged, taken to police station

http://www.times.co.sz/news/144532-thulani%E2%80%99s-widow-flagged%2C-taken-to-police-station.html

 

ECPA concerned with workers migrating

Nhlanganiso Mkhonta, Times of eSwatini, 3 April 2024

SOURCE 

MBABANE: The Eswatini Credit Providers Association (ECPA) has raised concerns about reports of individuals misrepresenting facts to lending institutions and borrowing money with no intention of repaying the loans and then leave for overseas jobs.  

In an interview with this publication, ECPA Chairperson Thulani Dlamini said this act was not only morally wrong, but also constitutes a criminal offence. He said it has theft, misrepresentation, and fraud elements. “Individuals who engage in such deceitful behaviour risk facing severe consequences,” said Dlamini. ECPA is an association that was formed in 2018, and is made up of voluntary members of licensed credit providers such as;
• Amandla Financial Services
• First Finance Company
• Letshego Financial Services (Eswatini)
• Select Limited.

This comes after the association had noted a trend from some civil servants, particularly among teachers and nurses, who are leaving for overseas job opportunities, who approach lending institutions, and borrow money associated with their relocation costs with no intention of repaying the loans. The chairperson mentioned that while they acknowledged the aspirations of emaSwati seeking overseas job opportunities, they emphasised the importance of ethical conduct and financial responsibility in the borrowing process. Dlamini said they acknowledged the growing trend of emaSwati migrating for overseas job opportunities. He said this undoubtedly presented individuals with prospects for personal and professional growth.  

He said however, it was also worth mentioning that, the departure of skilled individuals could, in the long run, potentially hinder the development of key industries in the country. He said, therefore, it was essential for the country and institutions to collaborate with government and government Agencies and stakeholders to implement strategies that encourage skills retention and support the growth of local businesses. Dlamni added that ultimately, while overseas job opportunities offer emaSwati the chance to improve their livelihoods, it was crucial to strike a balance between facilitating such opportunities and safeguarding the interests of the local economy and workforce.

To read more of this report, click here

http://www.times.co.sz/business/144538-ecpa-concerned-with-workers-migrating.html

 

COVID-19: The elderly taking responsibility for their health

World Health Organization, 3 April 2024

SOURCE 

The Kingdom of Eswatini, like the rest of the world, was immensely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing different waves each affecting an increasing number of people. Between March and December 2020, the country experienced three waves. The reported cases were 6,633 in the first wave increasing to 10,313 cases in the second wave and 45,971 cases in the third wave. Deaths on the other hand also increased from 126 to 524 and 1,212 deaths in the second and third wave respectively in the same reporting period with the case fatality rate being recorded at 2.6% in the third wave. Eighty-two percent of the reported deaths were from people with diagnosed comorbidities with 10% being elderly. Based on this data, the most at risk of dying were the population with comorbidities and the elderly. 

The country is registering more reports of people living with comorbidities (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity) among the elderly population in general which means that targeting the elderly with the COVID-19 vaccine will also spread the benefit to most people with comorbidities. As such, with this data and other evidence, the need to prioritize the elderly with the vaccines cannot be overemphasized. 

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) Eswatini, within its normative role of providing technical guidance to the Ministry of Health, shared the recommendation on prioritization of the most at-risk population. Furthermore, the guidance was clear on ensuring that countries should prioritize 20% of their populations among which were healthcare workers who formed the front line;  the elderly ( 60 years and older), and those with comorbidities who were deemed most vulnerable to severe illness and death from the virus. Further to this, technical assistance was provided in crafting the National Deployment and Vaccine Roll Out Plan (NDVP)  to clearly stipulate these prioritized population groups and further ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is implemented in line with the NDVP.   

In March 2021, Eswatini introduced the COVID-19 Vaccine - AstraZeneca initially prioritizing the elderly, healthcare workers, and those with comorbidities in compliance with the recommendation from the World Health Organization. As the rollout progressed, other population groups were targeted starting with the next older age group among the population aged 59 years and below. Despite that, the focus on the initial priority groups of the elderly and those with comorbidities remained unchanged. By December 2022, the vaccine uptake had slowed down with national coverage increasing from 25.7% to a mere 35.5% between December 2021 and December 2022. In December 2022, the coverage among the elderly population was highest (71.5%) compared to the younger age groups (12 to 29 years) who were not a prioritized population group where the coverage was about 34%.  Whilst the national vaccine coverage at the national level is at a low of  36% and falls short of the national target of 70%, among the elderly population, the coverage was comparatively the highest. Prioritization of the high-risk population is one of the positive actions that has helped in increasing vaccine uptake of the vaccine among the most at-risk elderly population. 

Anna Mdluli, a 75-year-old, attributes her motivation to getting vaccinated from the Ministry of Health (MoH) and WHO’s tireless campaigns that mostly encouraged the elderly to prioritize vaccination since they were more vulnerable compared to the younger demographic. 

“I was afraid. My friends died and I was so touched I could not go to the funeral because I was asking myself, does it mean all elderly people will die - especially if I am exposed? I was among the first people to get vaccinated. I went to Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital (RFM) to get the first dose of the vaccine. I later got the second dose from King Sobhuza II Clinic and took the booster dose of the vaccine as scheduled.”

To read more of this report, click here

https://www.afro.who.int/countries/eswatini/news/covid-19-heroes-elderly-taking-responsibility-their-health

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