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Sunday, 31 October 2010


A report from France 24television.


21 October 2010

Swaziland, an absolute monarchy in Africa

In Swaziland, King Mswati III not only chooses his prime minister and government but also has the pick of the nation when it comes to finding a bride. This country located in south-eastern Africa was built on tradition and culture, and currently there is no place for democracy. However groups fighting for freedom are gaining momentum, but their work is slow and dangerous.

Every year, King Mswati III of Swaziland brings together all the virgins from his kingdom. During the vibrant and elaborate ceremony, the monarch can at any time chose a new wife from among the participants.

Behind the picture perfect traditional African image, Swaziland is a monarchy to be reckoned with. The king alone appoints the prime minister, and rules by decree. Political parties are forbidden and human rights regularly violated. FRANCE 24 went behind the scenes to meet the opposition.

To see the report, which is in the English language, click here or below.

Saturday, 30 October 2010


Here’s a bit of light entertainment for you. In July 2010 Swaziland’s Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Ndumiso Mamba was found hiding under the bed of Inkosikati LaDube, King Mswati III’s 12th wife.

The news of the adulterous affair (note to lawyer: are we still calling it an ‘alleged’ affair?) went round the world, but the media in Swaziland were prohibited from reporting about it.

The manner in which Mamba was captured has caused hilarity around the world as evidenced by this clip from the popular BBC Television comedy news quiz show, Have I Got A Bit More News For You.

By coincidence, the item also demonstrates the freedom the British have to criticise their own Royal Family.

Friday, 29 October 2010


There are none so blind as he who will not see, is the best way to describe Rick Kelsey who reported on Swaziland for London’s LBC radio.

Kelsey visited Swaziland and wrote and presented a feature about rural life in the kingdom.

But somehow he managed not to see the seven in ten people who are so abjectly poor that they earn less than one US dollar a day. Nor did he meet any of the 300,000 people who would go hungry without the food donated by overseas’ aid organisation.

Unlike Michael Skolnik, who wrote and produced the documentary Without The King, Kelsey didn’t meet any of the Swazi rural folk who are struggling against state violence and organising politically to get democracy in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

And unlike the UK Government, he gave no warning about the dangers of terrorism and police violence to tourists visiting Swaziland.

Instead, he interviewed a number of people who want to make a quick buck out of tourists and emphasised what he called the ‘beautiful scenery and very happy, relaxed people’.

Kelsey was in Swaziland on assignment for LBC to make a feature called Destination of the Week for the radio programme the Travel Show. LBC had announced it would be broadcast on 17 October 2010. Then it was postponed for a week, but I'm told never aired.

LBC has been silent to my requests for information about the intended broadcast date. Meanwhile, however, the radio station has put the feature on its website as a podcast.

If you absolutely must - click here to hear it. Or click below.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Another media freedom organisation has condemned Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, for his latest attack on journalists.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) joins the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in attacking Dlamini.

RWB voiced its ‘outrage at the fact that he accused Swaziland’s newspaper columnists of trying to tarnish the country’s image at the behest of foreign interests and suggested that newspapers should be required by law to obtain the government’s permission before publishing any column’.

In a letter to Dlamini, RWB secretary-general Jean-François Julliard, said, ‘Conspiracy theory is an old refrain in the simplistic rhetoric of governments with little inclination to respect basic freedoms. Putting more obstacles in the path of journalists will only have a negative effect. Adopting such a law would bring shame on Swaziland and tarnish its image much more than any critical newspaper column.’

Julliard added, ‘We urge you to promote press freedom and free speech and to abandon any plans for a repressive media law. By putting an end to the current harassment of the media and relaxing the climate for journalists, you will help Swaziland advance resolutely towards modernity.’

In a statement RWB said, ‘In a recent address to parliament, the prime minister said he would like to see it adopt a press law that would force columnists to obtain prior permission from the authorities before any column appeared.

Julliard said in his letter to Dlamini, ‘By making government approval a condition for the publication of newspaper articles, you would stifle all freedom of expression and strip journalism of its very essence.’

Earlier this month (October 2010), Swaziland was ranked 155th out of 178 countries in the RWB annual world press freedom index.

King Mswati III of Swaziland, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has been on the RWB list of ‘Predators of press freedom,’ for several years.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


The Swaziland newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III has accused the king’s police force of ‘brutality’.

The Swazi Observer reported the police shot a suspect six times even though he was handcuffed.

Ndumiso Ngandla Simelane may lose a leg as a result of the atrocity.

The Observer reported, ‘police brutality was at play when a 34-year old handcuffed housebreaking suspect was shot six times’.

The Observer says that Simelane was trying to escape from ‘a trigger-happy police officer’ when he was shot because he feared being tortured by them.

In an interview with the newspaper Simelane said ‘police officers locked him in an office (handcuffed) and displayed “tools” they use (torture) when they want to extract the truth from a stubborn suspect.

‘“It was just after 11am when the police officers came at my workshop and handcuffed me. They also ransacked my business where they took some items such as cell phones that were brought for repairs by my clients. I tried to reason with them that I was not aware of the offence they claimed I was linked to. They never wanted to listen and kept on telling me that I was on their wanted list.”

He told the Observer that the police said he should be ready to cooperate if he still wanted to see the next day.

The newspaper reported, ‘He said he was shown, among other things, a gigantic plastic bag, a rope as well as a tube which the police said were “tools” to be used in making him cooperate.'

Simelane said he was then left in one of the offices at the police post where one of the officers told him they were going out for lunch.

‘“This was the last straw. As they left me alone in the office I managed to sneak out still handcuffed. I could not bear the thought of being tortured. I felt the safest option was to flee,” said Simelane.

‘Simelane said having been warned what would happen to him; he decided to come out of the building where he had been left handcuffed.

‘“I decided to come out of the building and it was while I was outside the gate when the two police officers were alerted by other women seated at the verandah. They apprehended me just by the gate. I heard the sound of the gun and fell to the ground,” said Simelane.

‘“Still with my hands handcuffed on the back, I picked myself from the ground and pleaded for their mercy. It was not given as one of them pulled out his revolver and started shooting. I was shot six times as you can see,” he added, pointing to the gunshot wounds on both legs.

‘He said he was then rushed to the Hlatikulu Government Hospital. He said given the serious injuries he sustained as a result of the bullets, chances were that he may be crippled for the rest of his life.’

This is not the first case where police in Swaziland have been trigger happy. To read more click here.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Swaziland’s state-controlled television channel Swazi TV has revamped its website.

But, rather like its controller, the Swazi Government, it promises much and delivers very little.

Swazi TV’s public relations people promised we could ‘now watch the top local news of the day’ on the Internet outside of the kingdom.

As we know Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister of Swaziland, and his Government have been making a lot of noise recently about how they want to ensure that Swaziland gets ‘better’ coverage in the international media.

By ‘better’ they mean coverage that gives only their point of view and allows them to lie both to the ordinary people in Swaziland and to the international community.

So, I thought, Swazi TV on the Internet would be a propaganda coup for King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

If, like me, you clicked on hoping to see up-to-date news from Swaziland (as promised), you would have disappointed (but, frankly, not really surprised) to see that all the site had to offer was one two-minute and one five-minute extract from two bulletins. Only one had a date on it – 12 September 2010.

They didn’t bother to tell us when the other was broadcast, but I’d reckon it was also sometime in September or early October.

So not much to watch, but the signs were there that this is going to be the voice of the ruling regime. The main story on the first bulletin was about the appointment of Rev David Matse as the new Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister. He replaced Ndumiso Mamba, who Swazi TV News told us, had resigned following ‘unspecified rumours he was being investigated for’.

Of course he didn’t. He was sacked for having affair with King Mswati’s 12th wife, wife Nothando Dube (also known as Inkosikati LaDube), but that’s news the Swazi people are not allowed to be told.

As it stands, Swazi TV online is nothing more than a flea bite to the progressive community that is beginning to dominate the international news coverage of events in Swaziland. Dlamini can huff and puff all he likes but he is losing the battle for truth and Swazi TV Online isn’t going to alter that any time soon.

Click below to watch the first Swazi TV Online news broadcast – it runs for a little over two minutes.