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Sunday, 30 September 2018

Government Group Calls For Investigation Into Violence During Swaziland Election

Swaziland’s Commission on Human Rights and Public Administration Integrity (CHRPAI) has called for an investigation into the violence that occurred during the recent election.

CHRPAI Commissioner Sabelo Masuku urged the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to investigate the causes of violence and take necessary action. 

He was delivering a report on the conduct of the election. He said it was important to maintain peace and order during such an important national event.

CHRPAI is a group that comes under the kingdom’s Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
 
There were numerous media reports of violence at polling centres on election day (21 September 2018) in Swaziland (recently renamed Eswatini by absolute monarch King Mswati III). The APA news agency reported outbursts of violence started as early as noontime which intensified in the evening with the counting of votes.

APA reported, ‘In some areas protesters who were not satisfied with certain procedures blocked vehicles transporting ballot papers to counting stations, resulting to delays in starting the counting process.

‘The bone of contention varied from last-minute change of counting centres to suspicions of malpractice by some candidates or their campaigning agents.’

APA reported at Manzini North, Manzini South, Sigwe and Ekupheleni centres the police had to request for backup from the Operational Services Support Unit (OSSU) after vehicles from the EBC were forced to turn back to polling stations for safety after roads leading to counting centres were blocked with stones and tree trunks by protesting crowds. 

At Malindza in the Lubombo region, an intoxicated member of the army drove over a male voter and further crashed onto two cars that were parked within the polling station premises, APA reported. 
Police fired gunshots in the air and grenades and rubber bullets as voters at Sigwe protested against completed ballot papers being taken away from a polling centre, the Observer on Saturday reported.

The Eswatini Elections Support Network which operates under the auspices of the Coordinating Assembly of NGOs (CANGO) in a report on the conduct of the election said the election was ‘relatively peaceful’.

However, it added, ‘The environment outside the polling station was peaceful except for Ndzingeni during counting and Hillside polling stations where violence was experienced throughout the day and hence, OSSU was called in to retain order.

‘In Hillside, police kept vigilance throughout the day to maintain peace and order.

‘In Ndzingeni polling stations, voters were dispersed using teargas during counting as voters threatened to enter the polling station where counting was taking place.’

In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in the election. People are only allowed to elect 59 members of the House of Assembly; another 10 are appointed by the King. None of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people.

King Mswati chooses the Prime Minister and Cabinet members. He also chooses top civil servants and judges.


See also

Violence, corruption, vote-buying reported in Swaziland election. Journalists barred from entering counting centres
Swaziland Police Fire Gunshots, Set Off Grenades and Rubber Bullets as Voters Protest During Election
Swaziland (Eswatini) Election 2018: Links to Information and Analysis From Swazi Media Commentary
Organised Certainty, Why elections in Swaziland are not democratic
https://www.scribd.com/document/384752084/Organised-Certainty-Why-Elections-in-Swaziland-Are-Not-Democratic

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Swaziland Former Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini Dies. Known as Serial Abuser of Human Rights

Swaziland’s former Prime Minister and serial human rights abuser Barnabas Dlamini has died aged 76.

Dlamini was appointed Prime Minister four times by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

He held office for seven-and-a-half years until 2003. He was reappointed in 2008 and was in office until the national elections of September 2018. He died at the Mkhiwa Clinic, a private hospital in Manzini, after a long illness.

Political parties are banned from taking part in elections in Swaziland (recently renamed Eswatini by King Mswati). The King appoints the Prime Minister and government ministers. 

When introducing Dlamini as the new PM in 2008, King Mwsati told him publicly to attack prodemocracy campaigners and all who supported them. 

Dlamini set about his task with zeal. He immediately banned four organisations, branding them terrorists. 

His Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini told Swazis affiliated with the political formations to resign with immediate effect or feel the full force of the law. Under the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA), enacted in 2008, the same year Dlamini resumed power, members and supporters faced up to 25 years in jail. 

Under the draconian provisions of the STA, which is still in force, anyone who disagreed with the ruling elite faced being branded a terrorist supporter. This happened at a time when the call for democracy in Swaziland was being heard loudly both inside the kingdom and in the international community. 

Immediately, the Dlamini-led Government clamped down on dissent. In 2011, Amnesty International reported the ill-treatment, house searches and surveillance of communications and meetings of civil society and political activists. Armed police conducted raids and prolonged searches in the homes of dozens of high profile human rights defenders, trade unionists and political activists while investigating a spate of petrol bombings. Some of the searches, particularly of political activists, were done without search warrants.

Amnesty reported that authorities continued to use the STA to detain and charge political activists. The STA was also used as a basis for search warrants and other measures to intimidate human rights defenders, trade unionists and media workers.

In 2010, Dlamini publicly threatened to use torture against dissidents and foreigners who campaigned for democracy in his kingdom. He said the use of ‘bastinado’, the flogging of the bare soles of the feet, was his preferred method.

Dlamini told the Times of Swaziland newspaper he wanted ‘to punish dissidents and foreigners who come to the country and disturb the peace’.

But Dlamini’s abuse of human rights did not start with his appointment in 2008. He was a former PM and held office for seven and a half years until 2003. While in office he gained a reputation as someone who ignored the rule of law. 

In 2003, he refused to recognise two court judgements that challenged the King’s right to rule by decree. This led to the resignation of all six judges in the Appeal Court. The court had ruled that the King had no constitutional mandate to override parliament by issuing his own decrees.

In a report running for more than 50,000 words, Amnesty International looked back to the years 2002 and 2003 and identified activities of Dlamini that ‘included the repeated ignoring of court rulings, interference in court proceedings, intimidating judicial officers, manipulating terms and conditions of employment to undermine the independence of the judiciary, the effective replacement of the Judicial Services Commission with an unaccountable and secretive body (officially known as the Special Committee on Justice but popularly called the Thursday Committee), and the harassment of individuals whose rights had been upheld by the courts.’  

In recent years he was at loggerheads with members of the House of Assembly and Senate for his dictatorial attitude.

The US State Department in a review of human rights in Swaziland in 2017 stated that in August, ‘the prime minister’s office forced a member of parliament (MP) to withdraw a statement made in the House of Assembly expressing his displeasure that the public had no role in the method used in appointing the country’s prime minister. The Prime Minister’s Office stated that the MP’s criticism constituted an attack on the constitution and the King. The MP was obliged to apologize and to donate cattle to the King as a token of contrition.’

The Swazi people did not want Dlamini to lead the kingdom. In October 2012 the Swazi House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in him and his government. According to the constitution, King Mswati was obliged to sack him. But the King defied the constitution and Dlamini remained in office.

The House vote of no-confidence was not isolated. In August 2012 the Sibaya (where ordinary people gather at a cattle byre to air their views on matters of importance to them) told Dlamini and his government to quit. The people said they were corrupt and destroying the kingdom.

King Mswati claims Sibaya is the supreme policy-making body in the land because it demonstrates the peoples’ will. But, again, he ignored the voice of the people and stuck by Dlamini.


Richard Rooney


 Barnabas Dlamini, who has died, aged 76
                     

One of his last public appearances was on 4 September 2018, his last day in office as PM



He had a long hstory as a human rights abuser
                                     



He published his autobiography in early 2018

                                               



See also 

‘PM INCOMPETENT, UNTRUSTWORTHY, VAIN’
SWAZI PM IN ANOTHER NEPOTISM ROW
ILLEGAL SWAZILAND PM CRACKS DOWN
TRUE LIFE OF SWAZI PRIME MINISTER
https://swazimedia.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/true-life-of-swazi-prime-minister.html

Swaziland Photojournalist Assaulted, Camera Taken While Covering Protest March By Schoolteachers

A Swaziland journalist was assaulted by marchers as he took photographs at a teachers’ protest.

Mduduzi Mngomezulu, a photojournalist with the Swazi Observer, ‘was manhandled and assaulted by the teachers,’ the newspaper reported on Friday (28 September 2018).

It said, ‘He was assaulted with open hands and fists and he sustained injuries on the face and body.’ They took his camera but later it was recovered.

It happened near the United States Embassy in Mbabane while teachers marched to deliver a petition seeking support in their campaign for higher salaries.

Mngomezulu was rescued by executive members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT). 

The Observer reported, ‘Mngomezulu has already opened a case with the police. The newspaper will be taking the matter up firstly with the US Embassy where it will enquire if it encouraged assisting hooligans as a known supporter of press freedom.’

It added it would also take up the matter with the kingdom’s Editors Forum, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and the SNAT executive.

Swaziland was recently renamed Eswatini by absolute monarch King Mswati III.

See also

Swaziland Teachers Want U.S. to Tell Absolute Monarch to Stop Wasting Public Money on Himself
https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2018/09/swaziland-teachers-want-us-to-tell.html 

Two More Human Rights Groups Condemn Swaziland Police Attack on Journalist
https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2018/09/two-more-human-rights-groups-condemn.html

Friday, 28 September 2018

Swaziland Teachers Want U.S. to Tell Absolute Monarch to Stop Wasting Public Money on Himself

Schoolteachers in Swaziland want the United States to tell the kingdom’s absolute monarch King Mswati III to ‘stop wasting public resources’ on expensive overseas’ trips and use the money to pay salary increases to civil servants.
 
The request was made in a petition delivered to the US Embassy in Swaziland on Thursday (27 September 2018).

Teachers marched through Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland, (the kingdom recently renamed Eswatini by King Mswati) to deliver the petition. They had been blocked from taking part in a three-day strike this week by the Industrial Court.

Teachers and other civil servants want pay increases of 6.55 percent to meet changes in the cost of living. The Swazi Government says it is broke and has offered zero percent.

In what is believed to be an unprecedented move, members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) asked a foreign government to intervene in a pay dispute. In a two-page letter addressed to the US Ambassador in Swaziland Lisa Peterson it said SNAT saw the United States as ‘defender number one of human rights and fundamental freedoms’. 

Protestors were attacked by police and security forces with guns, teargas and stun grenades during recent protests over pay and one teacher was shot and wounded at a SNAT mass meeting on 24 August 2018. 

In its letter SNAT said, ‘The Right to Freedom of Association and Assembly has been infringed upon by the state security organs.’

The letter asked the US Embassy to press the Swazi Government to pay the cost of living adjustment. 

It also asked it to, ‘Engage members of the Royal Family, particularly the King, to stop wasting public resources with the huge and unnecessary delegations that normally accompany him abroad. [The King is presently at the United Nations General Assembly in New York].  The money that caters for their allowances can be used to pay civil servants, including teachers. The King may as well sell his private jet to fund teachers’ salaries.’

Teachers had their planned strike postponed until 23 November 2018 by the Industrial Court. SNAT said teachers would attend school but planned a series of events that would disrupt teaching.

King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as one of the world’s last absolute monarchs wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit beaded with diamonds weighing 6 kg, at his 50th birthday party in April. Days earlier he took delivery of his second private jet, a A340 Airbus, that after VIP upgrades reportedly cost US$30 million. He received E15 million (US$1.2 million) in cheques, a gold dining room suite and a gold lounge suite among his birthday gifts.

Seven in ten of Swaziland’s 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The King has 13 palaces. He also owns fleets of top-of-the range Mercedes and BMW cars. His family regularly travel the world on shopping trips spending millions of dollars each time.

The SNAT letter to the US Ambassador  


See also

Swaziland Court Forces Teachers to Postpone Strike, Bans Public Servants’ Action
Swaziland Police Shoot, Wound Teacher During Protest Over Pay, Tensions High on Eve of National Election
Police Turn Swaziland City Into ‘Warzone’ as National Strike Enters Second Day
Widespread Condemnation of Swaziland Police Brutal Attacks on Workers
Vicious Attack by Swaziland Police on Defenceless Workers Captured on Video
https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2018/09/vicious-attack-by-swaziland-police-on.html

Thursday, 27 September 2018

No Food For Hospital Patients As Broke Swaziland Government Leaves Supplier Bills Unpaid

The public hospital in Swaziland’s capital city Mbabane has run out of food for patients because the government has not paid its bills to suppliers.
 
It is the latest in the long line of cases of the kingdom’s health services grinding to a halt because of government mismanagement of the economy.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Wednesday (26 September 2018) that patients only had apples and juice at Mbabane Government Hospital. It said bills to food suppliers had not been paid. It was unclear how much money was owed.

Relatives and friends of some of the patients have taken in food for them. There are 500 beds at the hospital.

The newspaper reported Dr Simon Zwane, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Health, said there was ‘no food for the patients because the ministry had not paid the catering company that provides food for the hospital’.

The public health service across Swaziland (recently renamed Eswatini by absolute monarch King Mswati III) is collapsing because the government has not paid suppliers. 

On 14 September 2018 it was reported at least six children in Swaziland had died from diarrhoea and many more were sick because the government was broke and could not pay for vaccines. It would cost US$6 for the vaccine to immunise a child.

Medicines of all sorts have run out in public hospitals and health clinics across Swaziland. Nurses have been protesting to draw attention to the crisis.

In July 2018 it was reported that Swazipharm, Swaziland’s largest distributor of pharmaceutical products and medical equipment to the healthcare system in the kingdom, could not buy new stocks because the Ministry of Health had not paid its bill. Swazipharm Sales and Marketing Manager Cindy Stankoczi confirmed it had cut the supply of drugs to local health institutions.

Long before Swazipharm’s announcement medicines, including  vaccines against polio and tuberculosis had run out in many government hospitals and clinics because drug suppliers had not been paid. In June 2017, Senator Prince Kekela told parliament that at least five people had died as a result of the drug shortages. About US$18 million was reportedly owed to drug companies in May 2017.

In June 2018 it was revealed there were only 12 working public ambulances in the whole of Swaziland to serve 1.1 million people because the government failed to maintain them. It had bought no new ambulances since 2013.

In his budget speech in March 2018 Finance Minister Martin Dlamini said Government owed E3.1bn (US$230 million) in total to its suppliers for goods and services.

In June 2018  it was reported that children collapsed with hunger in their school because the government had not paid for food for them. The kingdom had previously been warned to expect children to starve because the government had not paid its suppliers for the food that is distributed free of charge at schools. The shortage was reported to be widespread across the kingdom.

Meanwhile, King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as one of the world’s last absolute monarchs wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit beaded with diamonds weighing 6 kg, at his 50th birthday party in April. Days earlier he took delivery of his second private jet, a A340 Airbus, that after VIP upgrades reportedly cost US$30 million. He received E15 million (US$1.2 million) in cheques, a gold dining room suite and a gold lounge suite among his birthday gifts.

Seven in ten of Swaziland’s 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The King has 13 palaces. He also owns fleets of top-of-the range Mercedes and BMW cars. His family regularly travel the world on shopping trips spending millions of dollars each time.

See also

Six Children Die in Swaziland in Diarrhoea Outbreak. Vaccines Short Since Government Has Not Paid Suppliers
Swaziland Nurses Picket, Drugs Run Out, Lives Put at Risk as Government Fails to Pay Suppliers
Medicine Shortage: Five Die
Swazi King Parties While Children Die
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2014/08/swazi-king-parties-while-children-die.html

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

People Offer Bribes to Members of Swaziland’s House of Assembly For Seat on Kingdom’s Senate

Credible evidence is emerging that people are offering bribes to members of the House of Assembly to be given a seat on the Swaziland Senate.

Swaziland is an absolute monarchy and none of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people. Twenty are appointed by King Mswati III (who recently renamed the kingdom Eswatini) and the rest are elected by the House of Assembly.

Following the election of the House of Assembly on Friday (21 September 2018) people have approached the new members with bribes, the Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday.

It said offers of bribes in ‘the region of E10,000’ (US$700) were made to one member of parliament for his vote. It was refused, the newspaper added.

The Times reported one anonymous MP saying, ‘I have already met a few people who have expressed their wish to be voted into Senate.’

It added, ‘Unconfirmed allegations have been to the effect that Senate seats could go as high as E60,000 paid to each MP.’

The Times reported another new MP said ‘he had received the calls to meet certain individuals, they were sceptical in case it could be a trap’.

The report is not the first suggesting bribes are offered for Senate seats. In the run-up to the election Ncumbi Maziya, a Commissioner at the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), told a workshop for election candidates that members of parliament charged E60,000 for their vote.
 
The, Swazi Observer newspaper reported in August 2018, ‘He said parliamentarians are the most corrupt people. He said he has since gathered that parliamentarians are swindling money from people who want to make it into Senate. 

It added, ‘Maziya said he learnt that people are made to fork out money amounting to E60,000 if they want to get a vote to be elected into Senate. “If you have no money you won’t make it into Senate,” Maziya stated.’

Corruption is believed to be widespread in Swaziland. In December 2017, Swaziland’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) issued a report suggesting that 79 percent of 3,090 people interviewed in a survey believed that corruption within government was ‘rife’.

The survey suggested that corruption was perceived to take place mostly in rural councils. The perceived major causes of corruption were poverty (58 percent), unemployment (54 percent) and greed (41 percent). The survey was conducted by the Swazi Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs through the ACC.

In June 2017, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) reported the kingdom, was riddled with corruption in both private and public places.

It said, ‘The results of grand corruption are there for all to see in the ever increasing wealth of high-level civil servants and officers of state.’ 

It added, ‘For a long time the police, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade as well as the Department of Customs and Excise have often been implicated in corrupt practices.’

It gave many examples including the case of the government propaganda organisation Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Service (SBIS) where E1.6 million was paid to service providers for the maintenance of a machine that was neither broken nor in use.  The officer who authorised the bogus job cards has since been promoted and transferred to another government department. 

The report called The effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies in Southern Africa stated, ‘This type of behaviour is common albeit covert and therefore difficult to monitor as goods and services are undersupplied or rerouted for personal use. The results of grand corruption are there for all to see in the ever increasing wealth of high-level civil servants and officers of state.’

See also

Swaziland Election Officer Reveals MPs Sell Their Votes When Electing Kingdom’s Senators
Swaziland ‘Riddled With Corruption’
https://swazimedia.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/swaziland-riddled-with-corruption.html

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Swaziland Election Observer Groups Say Vote Was ‘Peaceful’ But Fall Short Of ‘Free And Fair’

None of the three official observer groups reporting so far on the Swaziland election have concluded it was ‘free and fair’.

People went to the polls on Friday (21 September 2018) in the kingdom recently renamed Eswatini by the absolute monarch King Mswati. Political parties are banned from taking part in the election and the people are only allowed to elect 59 members of the House of Assembly; the King appoints a further 10. None of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people.

The King chooses the Prime Minister and government ministers as well as top public servants and judges.

In its election report the African Union (AU) called on Swaziland to end the ban on political parties.

AU mission head James Michel, the former Seychelles president, said, ‘The mission encourages the eSwatini authorities to consider reviewing the 1973 decree on the ban on political parties and allow them to freely participate in the election.’ 

In a statement ahead of the visit the AU said, ‘The overall objective of AU election observation missions is to promote democracy, strengthen democratic institutions and build public confidence in electoral processes in Africa.’

The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Election Observation Mission in its report said the election had been successful, ‘in line with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Eswatini, and the guiding Legal Framework’. Unlike the AU, it did not consider whether Swaziland was a democracy.

At the launch of its report on Sunday one of the SADC observer team, Harris Putani, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Malawi Electoral Commission, said SADC was not present in Swaziland to change the kingdom’s governance but only to observe elections.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported on Monday, ‘He said their guidelines expected them to confine to each country’s national laws. Putani said each country has its own mandate that national observers are bound to align with.’

The Eswatini Elections Support Network which operates under the auspices of the Coordinating Assembly of NGOs (CANGO) made no comment about the election being ‘free and fair’. It had felt obliged to issue a clarification after its report on the first round of the election in August which had stated elections, ‘were undertaken in an atmosphere that is free and fair’.

It later issued a statement that said its report, ‘was not giving an overall assessment of the elections. What was essentially being stated was that on the day of elections most of the election processes allowed the voters to cast their votes in an environment that was not intimidating as well as facilitated the secrecy of the vote.’

All three of the observer groups reporting on the final round of the election (the secondary election) said it had been ‘peaceful’. But, CANGO said in its report, the election was ‘relatively peaceful’.

However, it added, ‘The environment outside the polling station was peaceful except for Ndzingeni during counting and Hillside polling stations where violence was experienced throughout the day and hence, OSSU [the Operational Support Service Unit or ‘riot police’] was called in to retain order. 
‘In Hillside, police kept vigilance throughout the day to maintain peace and order.

‘In Ndzingeni polling stations, voters were dispersed using teargas during counting as voters threatened to enter the polling station where counting was taking place.’

There were numerous credible reports of violence published in Swaziland newspapers in the two days following the election.

There had also in the days ahead of the election been violent attacks by the police on public sector workers who were engaged in peaceful and legal protest in support of pay increases and other matters.

The reports of violence in the newspapers included police firing gunshots in the air and grenades and rubber bullets as voters at Sigwe protested against completed ballot papers being taken away from a polling centre.
 
Police from the OSSU fired bullets into the air and teargas at a large crowd at Mayiwane. Men described as ‘mostly half-naked and heavily intoxicated’ blocked traffic at Mayiwane for three hours by burning car tyres in the middle of the road, the Sunday Observer reported. A building was also vandalised.

APA news agency reported outbursts of violence started as early as noontime on election day and intensified in the evening when the counting of votes was about to resume. At Manzini North, Manzini South, and Ekupheleni polling centres the police had to request for backup from the OSSU after vehicles from the Elections an Boundaries Commission (EBC) were forced to turn back to polling stations for safety after roads leading to counting centres were blocked with stones and tree trunks by protesting crowds.

At Malindza in the Lubombo region, an intoxicated member of the army drove over a male voter and further crashed onto two cars that were parked within the polling station premises, APA reported
Police were called to Manzini South after a row broke out over alleged corruption and buying of votes. 

See also

Swaziland Police Fire Gunshots, Set Off Grenades and Rubber Bullets as Voters Protest During Election
Violence, corruption, vote-buying reported in Swaziland election. Journalists barred from entering counting centres
https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2018/09/violence-corruption-vote-buying.html 

Swaziland (Eswatini) Election 2018: Links to Information and Analysis From Swazi Media Commentary
Organised Certainty, Why elections in Swaziland are not democratic
https://www.scribd.com/document/384752084/Organised-Certainty-Why-Elections-in-Swaziland-Are-Not-Democratic

Monday, 24 September 2018

Swaziland Court Forces Teachers To Postpone Strike, Bans Public Servants’ Action

The Swaziland Industrial Court has forced teachers to postpone a strike planned to start on Tuesday and banned outright one by public service workers.

The rulings came days after police violently attacked legal protests by workers.

The court case was deemed so important to the state where King Mswati III rules as absolute monarch that Swaziland’s Attorney-General Sifiso Khumalo presented it himself. Government Press Secretary Percy Simelane was also in attendance.

On Sunday (23 September 2018) the Industrial Court heard two separate submissions; one from the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) and the other from the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU). Both unions are seeking pay increases, they have asked for 7.85 percent cost of living adjustments and the government which says it is broke has offered zero percent.

Judge Dumsani Mazibuko ruled that the three-day SNAT strike which was due to start on Tuesday (25 September 2018) was legal but should be postponed until 23 November 2018 until a new government was in place. Swaziland voters went to the polls on Friday and the kingdom (recently renamed Eswatini by King Mswati III) is waiting for him choose a new Prime Minister and government. Political parties are banned from taking part in the election and the choice of government rests with the King.

The judge said the NAPSAWU strike which was started last week and was due to continue could not go ahead because the union had not given sufficient notice under the kingdom’s Industrial Relations Act. Previously, of the 3,635 civil servants who participated in a strike ballot, 3,593 voted in favour.

In the week before the court case trade unionists organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) staged three days of strikes and protests in Mbabane, Manzini, Nhlangano and Siteki. 

On the first day they were met with violence. Videos and photographs of brutal police attacks were uploaded on social media throughout the day. 

On the second day police turned the city of Manzini into a ‘battlefield’ and ‘warzone’ as they fired stun grenades, teargas, teasers and rubber bullets at protestors. 

Police also attacked teachers at their union headquarters in Manzini and ordered them out of the premises before assaulting them, according to local media reports. 

The Times of Swaziland reported, ‘The protesting workers were stuck at SNAT Centre as the armed police surrounded the building and threw stun grenades, while firing tear gas canisters at anyone leaving the venue.’

In a separate incident on 24 August 2018 police fired gunshots at teachers, wounding one.
 
See also

Police Turn Swaziland City Into ‘Warzone’ as National Strike Enters Second Day
Widespread Condemnation of Swaziland Police Brutal Attacks on Workers
Vicious Attack by Swaziland Police on Defenceless Workers Captured on Video
 
Swaziland Police Fire Gunshots During Textiles Dispute, Third Attack on Workers in a Week
https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2018/09/swaziland-police-fire-gunshots-during.html

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Violence, corruption, vote-buying reported in Swaziland election. Journalists barred from entering counting centres

Violence and allegations of corruption and malpractice in Swaziland’s election have been reported from across the kingdom.

There were chaotic scenes in polling centres on Friday (21 September 2018), the APA news agency reported . Outbursts of violence started as early as noontime and intensified in the evening when the counting of votes was about to resume.

APA reported, ‘In some areas protesters who were not satisfied with certain procedures blocked vehicles transporting ballot papers to counting stations, resulting to delays in starting the counting process.

‘The bone of contention varied from last-minute change of counting centres to suspicions of malpractice by some candidates or their campaigning agents.’

APA reported at Manzini North, Manzini South, Sigwe and Ekupheleni centres the police had to request for backup from the Operational Services Support Unit (OSSU) after vehicles from the Elections an Boundaries Commission (EBC) were forced to turn back to polling stations for safety after roads leading to counting centres were blocked with stones and tree trunks by protesting crowds.

At Malindza in the Lubombo region, an intoxicated member of the army drove over a male voter and further crashed onto two cars that were parked within the polling station premises, APA reported.

Police fired gunshots in the air and grenades and rubber bullets as voters at Sigwe protested against completed ballot papers being taken away from a polling centre.

Social media platforms have been awash with accounts of vote buying and bribery, naming names and making detailed allegations. Mainstream media which are heavily censored have been more discreet following the vote in Swaziland (recently renamed Eswatini by absolute monarch King Mswati III.)

The Observer on Saturday reported police were called to the Manzini South constituency where one of the candidates for the House of Assembly ‘was accused of literally buying votes’ at the Divine Ministries auditorium, near St Michaels School.

It did not name the candidate. It reported one of the candidates had been tipped off that voters were being given E100 each to vote. In Swaziland seven in ten people are so poor they have incomes less than E30 a day. The newspaper reported that voters who had taken the money fled when police ‘stormed the auditorium’.

Agents for candidates were also reported to be giving away E20 notes at both Nkhanini and Sitjeni polling stations in Lobamba.

Gospel artist Mduduzi Simelane, the leader of Emagawugawu gospel group, won the election at Siphofaneni Inkhundla, but only after allegations of vote rigging at the so-called special election held on Tuesday for members of state forces and people who would be working at the election, according to the Swaziland News Facebook page.

The police riot squad was called to Makholweni polling station in Manzini North after a defeated candidate alleged a witchdoctor was present and was using muti (‘magic potions’) to influence people to vote for a particular candidate. He was also said to have illegally voted himself, the Observer on Saturday reported.

Some journalists were reportedly barred from entering voting counting centres and told they must sign a declaration of secrecy form, the News on Africa website reported.

It reported the declaration would prevent them from publishing or disclosing information gathered during the vote counting process.

It reported that according to state-controlled radio, Mhlume polling station was one of the polling stations involved. EBC Chairperson Chief Gija Dlamini confirmed the restriction.

News on Africa reported, ‘He explained that this was done to protect things that can happen during the counting of votes, things that are not supposed to be publicized. When asked to make an example of those things, Chief Gija made an example of a crying candidate or a conflict between two candidates which is something that a journalist can find to be newsworthy and report about it.’

The Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) reported that police closed bars, entertainment events and church services during the afternoon of election day in the Kwaluseni constituency of the Manzini region where earlier in the week police had twice violently attacked workers demonstrating for pay increases. SUDF said police were trying to force people to go and vote.

 


The front page of the Swazi News, 22 September 2018
See also

Swaziland Police Fire Gunshots, Set Off Grenades and Rubber Bullets as Voters Protest During Election
https://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2018/09/swaziland-police-fire-gunshots-set-off.html