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Saturday, 31 December 2011


The end of the beginning? 2011, a year in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland by Richard Rooney is a new book published today (31 December 2011) and available free-of-charge online. You can read on screen or download it to your computer to print out. Click the link below.

Here is an extract from the Introduction to the book.

Tuesday April 12 2011 may yet go down in history as a watershed in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland. To borrow the words of Winston Churchill, it might not have been the day that the struggle for freedom in Swaziland ended in victory for the people. It might not even have been the beginning of the end. But it was, perhaps, the end of the beginning. After this day things would never be quite the same again in Swaziland.

It was on April 12 that Swaziland saw its biggest demonstration in living memory. It was to be the start of three days of protests across the tiny kingdom in southern Africa. Ordinary Swazis were fed up with the regime of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. They’d had enough of being denied their basic human and civil rights and were ready to fight for their freedom. They wanted an end to the corruption of the King and the governments he appoints. They wanted the freedom to meet, to demonstrate, to form political parties and to choose their own government – all things denied to them by the King.

A group of people, unaffiliated with any of the existing political parties or lobby groups, created a Facebook site and called it the April 12 Swazi Uprising. April 12 was the day in 1973 that King Sobhuza II, the father of the present King, tore up the country’s constitution and began to rule by decree. Despite the signing into law of a new constitution in 2006, people in the kingdom still live under the yoke of that decree.

The April 12 group caught attention in Swaziland and across the globe. It called for an uprising to start on April 12 2011 and soon prodemocracy activists, trade unionists, journalists and progressives from all over the world were watching the kingdom.

Swaziland had seen many street protests before, but this one was to be different. This was meant to be the beginning of the end.

This one was also to be the first to be played out on the Internet. Members of the April 12 group claimed they were a real on-the-ground organisation with at least three full time organisers. Perhaps they were, but mostly their battle was fought in cyberspace using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and blogsites.

The Uprising was brutally put down by police, but the struggle for democracy in Swaziland continues. This book looks at what happened in 2011. It is compiled from the pages of Swazi Media Commentary, the blog that contains information and comment on the fight for human rights in Swaziland.

As well as the events of April 12, the book covers in much detail the massive meltdown of the Swazi economy, caused by the governments handpicked over the years by King Mswati; and also caused in no small part by the greed and corruption of the King himself and his close supporters.

The economic meltdown has sensitised many people in Swaziland to the need for root and branch political reform in the kingdom.

This book starts with a section on the April 12 Uprising which is followed by the account of the economy. There then follows separate chapters looking at events in each month of 2011. These events include many protests, including the Global Week of Action held in September. They also highlight the numerous violations of rights suffered by the poor, by children, by women and by sexual minorities, among others, in the kingdom.

2011. a Year in the Struggle for Freedom in Swaziland - Rooney

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


New book, Unheard Voices: Media Freedom and Censorship in Swaziland by Richard Rooney, FREE – available online here. Read online or download to your computer to print it out.

Unheard Voices, Media Freedom and Censorship in Swaziland - Richard Rooney

Thursday, 22 December 2011


The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only ‘independent’ daily newspaper, is self-censoring again.

It runs a report today (22 December 2011) that a royal aide has been fined five cattle and banned from royal households for ‘handling a certain matter’ without first consulting traditional prime minister TV Mtetwa first.

The Times doesn’t name the female aide, nor does it say what she is alleged to have done.

But the newspaper says, ‘The Times Investigations Department’ (whatever that is) ‘has been reliably informed that the aide was summoned to Ludzidzini royal residence three times before the beginning of the Little Incwala’.

It says, ‘The case was eventually concluded on Friday, November 18, 2011 when the aide was told of the fine and the ban.’

So the Times leaves its readers in a fog. But some Swazis are asking, could this be the same story that the truly-independent Swazi Mirror ran about Inkhosikati laDube, the 12th wife of King Mswati III, who was last month (November 2011) chucked out of the royal palace by Mtetwa and his henchmen?

The Mirror reported that laDube sent an aide to the Ministry of Home Affairs to change her name to Nonthando Moosa.

LaDube came to international media attention (but the news was censored in Swaziland) in August 2010 when she was discovered in a sexual affair with Ndumiso Mamba, the then Justice Minister.

Meanwhile, the Times report unwittingly gives an insight into what it’s really like for women in Swaziland. They have no standing on their own and are the subjects of their male relatives.

The Times reports the female royal aide was told she had to attend at police headquarters.

The newspaper quotes her saying, ‘When I got there he told me that he had been sent by TV Mtetwa to take me to Ludzidzini. When we got there I found Mtetwa and Bheki Dlamini who told me the reason I had been summoned. They asked for my relatives and I told them my brother was Chief Mvimbi. I was told to come with him the following day.’

She said on the next day her brother told Mtetwa and Dlamini that she was now a married person and therefore her matter had to be tackled by her husband.

The aide said, ‘We were then told to come on the following day again, with my husband this time. Indeed, I came with my husband, brother and other relatives. That was when Mtetwa told us of the fine and that I was not to be seen within royal households anymore. This was done without affording any of us a chance to give our side of the story.’

See also



Wednesday, 21 December 2011


The following bank account has been set up to receive contributions towards the E100,000 bail for Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni, the Swaziland Solidarity network has announced.

Bank: First National Bank [FNB]

NAME: M. Mkhwanazi & Associates

Account number: 62057572507

Branch Code: 280164



See also