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Thursday, 29 March 2012


Chiefs in Swaziland have the legal right to evict their subjects if they defy their authority, the kingdom’s High Court ruled.

Swazi High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala dismissed a man’s application to stop Ezulwini Chief Sifiso Khumalo from evicting him, local media report.

Sandile Hadebe from Ezulwini had been evicted by the chief after he had expelled his deceased elder brother’s widow and her two children from her marital home. Hadebe refused to allow them back, even after the chief had issued such a ruling, and also failed to pay two cows as a fine.

This led to the chief evicting him from his area for defiance, but Hadebe challenged the decision at the High Court, saying he had a clear right to live at his homestead.

Judge Maphalala ruled that in Swaziland the king made the decisions about how nation land was used and in this case Hadebe had no rights.

King Mswati III is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The judge also said that the king ruled through chiefs and therefore Chief Sifiso Khumalo acted on behalf of the king when he evicted Hadebe.

Judge Maphalala said the Swazi Constitution played no part in this case. ‘In terms of Swazi Law and Custom, Khumalo has a right to evict him from the chiefdom for defying his authority,’ he added.


Activists across Swaziland are calling for the occupation of a teacher training college after 148 students were reportedly expelled for taking part in a protest march.

Facebook sites in the kingdom are buzzing with calls for action after the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) reported that Ngwane teachers’ college expelled the students for taking part in a national protest against the Swazi Government’s scholarship policy on Monday (26 March 2012).

The SSN reported, ‘On Monday afternoon the principal of Ngwane teachers' college convened a disciplinary meeting which promptly resolved to fire 148 students who are suspected to have participated in a protest march organised by the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS).’

The SSN added that the majority of the students were first year students.

Posts on a variety of Facebook sites, including the SNUS and the April 12 Uprising, are calling for action to be taken against the college.

The SSN itself said, ‘All Swazi students should occupy Ngwane Teachers’ College until the affected students are allowed back.’

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Wednesday, 28 March 2012


The Swazi Observer today (28 March 2012) carries an abject apology to King Mswati III relating to an article that was said to have ‘brought the institution of the Monarchy into disrepute’.

It’s no surprise the Observer kowtowed to the King – he in effect owns the newspaper.

The Observer ‘unreservedly’ apologises to the ‘Monarchy and the Royal Family for any embarrassment that the article may have caused’.

The paper goes on to restate that it remains ‘committed to its mission statement which is to protect the institution of the Monarchy in particular His Majesty King Mswati III and the Queen Mother and to promote the image and the interests of the Kingdom of Swaziland without prejudice to the people of Swaziland’.

The article was an obituary for Inkhosikati LaMasuku and included information about the love life of King Sobhuza II, King Mswati’s father.

Here’s the article in full – judge for yourself whether apologies were in order.

The Observer published a second article on the same topic the following day (17 March 2012). To read that click here.

Swazi Observer

16 March 2012

Songbird that moved King’s heart sings no more

SO much has been said about the circumstances around the romantic life of Inkhosikati LaMasuku and King Sobhuza II but very little has been recorded except for what was gathered by anthropologist Hilda Kuper, who told the story of the king as she saw it.

Her contemporaries may have invaluable information about her but in celebrating her well travelled journey of accomplishment in her roles as parent and wife to one of the world’s greatest statesmen we can only just look back and relive her earlier days through the very little that we can put together.

Journalist-cum-gospel artist Thabile Mdluli (nee Masuku) had a stint with the Inkhosikati, who expressed her wish to have her past documented in a book. She told Thabile that she would have loved it if the story was told or written by a woman.

It was then that I also jumped at the prospects of teaming up especially because of my close relations with the Masuku tribesmen. Of particular interest on my part was to somehow balance the gender perspectives in the writing.

It was through these informal encounters that we got the opportunity to learn slightly more about the Inkhosikati’s romantic life with the king.

We learnt of her early and humble yet strict and conservative Christian beginning, what with the family’s strong adherence to the doctrines of the South Africa General Mission (SAGM). It was at Swazi National High School where Pauline Fikelephi Masuku was part of a choir of graduating students that she first caught the king’s attention with her striking beauty, ‘tall, graceful, honey coloured, radiantly lovely’.

Princess Pholile, a daughter to King Sobhuza, was her classmate and he told his daughter to bring her to him. Kuper says “she came reluctantly and afraid”.

He spoke to her and found her as intelligent as she was beautiful. She responded to his kindness and unaggressive charm; she told him of her family and her own ambitions.’

That marked the start of a protracted romantic journey that involved love letters the king sent her via his daughter Pholile.

Because she had told him about her wishes to become a nurse, the king did not disturb this wish but continued to woo her in the fashion commoners do.

Fikelephi was very much in love especially because of the king’s gestures but back home there was this religious thing where traditional customs were loathed as ungodly. At the heart of these customs was polygamy, something that did not go down well with her. It was for this reason that she was helped by her parents to escape to South Africa, where she finally pursued her nursing in Durban and Johannesburg.

King Sobhuza was not to give up easily; he continued flooding her with those love letters and melodious messages. This again brought her closer to him because she had fallen in love with him.

Back in the land, King Sobhuza was driving from Lobamba to Lozitha when a buck came galloping past and this was rather strange given the scarcity of such game around the area so he consulted a sangoma, Guvela Mkhabela who unpacked the riddle – that the girl he was in love with was returning to him.

This is according to legend and was also captured by Kuper, who said ultimately Fikelephi was taken to Nkhaba to be initiated as a wife to the king, the Inkhosikati. At Nkhaba, under Prince Mnisi, she was exposed to her rivals and that is where she had a torrid time as she was being hated by some of the other women. “For a girl brought up in a strict Protestant mission atmosphere, it was undoubtedly an ordeal and though many of the queens, more especially laMatsebula, were patient and understanding, instructing her in the ways of tradition, a few showed their jealously in barbed taunts and spiteful tricks. Sobhuza appreciated her difficulties and decided to move her temporarily to a place of her own.”

She was taken to Hlane and for the first time recovered her happiness and freedom. That was the begging of yet another chapter in her life that saw the foundation of her family.

Brief Obituary

Fikelephi, Pauline Masuku was born on 11 October, 1927 in the Makhwane area, Ekupheleni. She was the second born of Elias Masuku and Linah Sihlongonyane of Siphocosini.
Her parents were members of the Evangelical SA General Mission (SAGM) church.
They were farmers, rooted in the Protestant faith, and not accustomed to certain African traditional customs and beliefs. She attended primary school at Makhwane and Mbabane Central. She completed her secondary education at Swazi National High in Matsapha.

His Majesty King Sobhuza II attended a musical concert at the school, where she sang in the old girls’ choir, comprised of graduate students. It was at this event where the king first noticed her. At their initial meeting, she expressed her goals of pursuing a career in nursing.
The king respected her wishes at the time. Nonetheless his interest in her remained and Princess Pholile became the main intermediary in the courtship which ensued. During the five years of evading the king, she enrolled in a nursing course at King Edward Hospital in Durban and Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg. Eventually though, the king’s wishes were realised.

In 1949, Mfundza Sukati was instructed to take her to the royal homestead of Enkhaba under Prince Mnisi, where she officially became inkosikati. After this she was moved to Lobamba before she settled at her new residence, named Hlane. This was the first western-styled residence amongst the royal residences. On 4th May, 1950 LaMasuku gave birth to her first son. The King named the child Prince Phikanebenkhosi. Following this, she gave birth to three daughters, Princesses Dlal’sile (1956), Msindvose (1960) and Nqobile (1962).
In light of the distance to Hlane, the King acquired a farm in the Masundvwini area and relocated her there in 1953. The King renamed this farm as Etjeni Royal Residence. This was the childhood residence of his Majesty King Mswati III, along with several other members of the royal family.

In the early seventies LaMasuku was instrumental in the establishment of Phocweni Primary School at Masundvwini, Dlal’sile Primary School at Hlane. She was the first member of the royal family to be baptised in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and thus paved the way for many Swazis to join this Christian denomination.

LaMasuku experienced health problems in her later adult life. Following a long ailment, she passed away at Manzini Clinic on 10 March 2012. Hilda Kuper described her as “an intelligent, industrious, artistic and imaginative craftswoman, who kept herself busy in his absence, crocheting, sewing, embroidering, doing beautiful beadwork and cultivating a vegetable garden”.

She will be dearly remembered by her loved ones and many of those whose lives she touched.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012


The Times of Swaziland censored itself when it reported Wikileaks was asking people in the kingdom to leak documents to its website.

The Times, the only independent daily newspaper in Swaziland, reported yesterday (26 March 2012) that Wikileaks asked people to send it documents relating to the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a banned organisation in Swaziland where King Mwsati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The Times said Wikileaks, which ‘publishes and comments on leaked documents alleging government and corporate misconduct,’ had specifically asked for ‘Intelligence memos from the Ministry of Defence or Police about the pro-democracy organisation, PUDEMO.’

But, what it did not report was that Wikileaks had a higher priority from Swaziland than PUDEMO on its wanted-information list: ‘Expense accounts of King Mswati, the Queen Mother and the King's wives.’

This is not the first time the Times Group has misled its readers about what people outside the kingdom are saying about the king. In March 2011, its companion newspaper the Times Sunday reported on foreign media coverage of a mass protest in the kingdom that called on the Swazi Government - handpicked by King Mswati – to resign.

The newspaper failed to report that a many international news media specifically laid the blame for Swaziland’s troubles at the feet of the king.

King Mswati, the international media reported, has 13 wives, each with a palace of her own and that his lavish lifestyle runs to fleets of Mercedes and BMW cars, as well as high class international travel. All this while seven in ten of his subjects barely exist, earning less than US$2 a day.

In 2007, the Times’ publisher was forced to make a fulsome public apology to the king after the king threatened to close down the newspapers. This was after the Times Sunday reproduced material from an article by the Afrol news agency quoting an International Monetary Fund report saying, ‘Swaziland is increasingly paralysed by poor governance, corruption and the private spending of authoritarian King Mswati III and his large royal family.’

In the past Wikileaks has published a number of cables from the US Embassy in Swaziland that have been critical of King Mswati, including one from the then Ambassador Earl Irvine stating that the king is ‘not intellectually well developed’, ‘is not a reader’, is ‘imbalanced’ and has a ‘lack of wisdom’.

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