Saturday, October 16, 2010


Does any of this report on human rights sound familiar?

‘The government limited citizens’ right to change their government and form political parties. There were a few reports of security forces abusing prisoners and at least one investigation and prosecution related to prisoner abuse.

‘The government limited freedoms of speech, religion, and movement for certain groups.

‘Some police and members of the security forces reportedly abused detainees during the year. ..... The government stated that it investigated all allegations of abuse and punished some of the offenders; however, in most cases the government did not make public either the findings of its investigations or any punishments it imposed.

‘The constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press. In practice the government sometimes did not respect these rights, and journalists and publishers practiced self-censorship.’

It could easily be a report on human rights abuses in Swaziland, such as the one published annually by the US State Department.

But it isn’t a report on Swaziland ... it’s about Kuwait.

The Swazi Observer and its companion Weekend Observer, both newspapers in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, have been full of praise for Kuwait this week. The King has been on a trip to Kuwait to try to get someone (anyone) to invest in Swaziland.

The Weekend Observer today (16 October 2010) hails the visionary leadership of His Majesty King Mswati III’ for the effort he put into the Kuwait trip.

The newspaper also reported, ‘The King’s visit was described as a runaway success by Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Jabulile Mashwama, who said the Swazi delegation was able to meet various business people, shared notes and made arrangements for further communication on areas that could boost investment and trade between the two countries.’

But nowhere in any Swazi media (or any in Kuwait for that matter) are any concrete details given of just what King Mswati actually achieved on this trip. Where are the trade deals or the signed agreements for development aid? Nowhere: because they don’t exist. All they have is a vague decision to have ‘further communication’.

King Mswati has been touring the Middle East for many years now and nothing substantial has ever come from it. Swaziland’s economy remains in freefall and there are serious doubts that the Swazi Government will be able to pay its bills or the wages of civil servants and other workers.

The Observer hailed the visit to Kuwait as another example of how Swaziland is heading to achieve ‘First World’ status by 2022. Fantasy, of course. Hardly any ‘first world’ nation is interested in investing in Swaziland – that’s why the king cosies up with nations with poor human rights records: he hopes their leaders will recognise birds of a feather.

No comments: