Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Students in Swaziland are planning to march to and then occupy the gates at the office of the Minister of Labour and Social Security today (31 January 2012) in a protest over the closure of their university.

They intend to stay at the office of Lutfo Dlamini, the minister, indefinitely until the government pays the money to allow the university to open and also pays students their allowances.

The University of Swaziland (UNISWA) announced last week it could not open as planned for the second semester because the government had not given it money to operate. UNISWA says it needs E22 million (US$2.8 m) each month to pay administration costs and salaries.

The government cannot pay because it is nearly broke and is struggling to meet its bills, including salaries for public servants.

It also owes some university students their allowances for the semester that ended at Christmas. Students fear allowances will not be paid for this coming semester.

Yesterday, police fired teargas at students injuring several as they protested. Police arrested at least four demonstrators after students vowed to occupy the labour ministry and clashed with peers at William Pitcher College who refused to join their protest, the AFP news agency reported.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Trade unions are gearing up to advance their fight against the Swaziland regime and the greed of the politicians who voted themselves payoffs and perks worth millions of US dollars.

Protestors want the Finance Circular No 1 2010 that authorised the payments scrapped.

Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is broke and the government is struggling to pay its bills, including wages of public servants. Seven in 10 of the 1 million population live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day.

It is extremely difficult to get current figures on the pay scales of Swaziland’s politicians, but in April 2011 the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported salaries as follows:

The PM’s basic salary is E635 296 per year and his allowances amount to E275 648.

The deputy prime minister is paid a E581 772 per year and his allowances stand at E254 524 per year.

Cabinet ministers are paid a basic salary of E508 237 per year while their allowances stand at E562 534 per year.

To refresh memories, here is a digest of what the politicians voted for themselves in Circular No 1.

Constituency allowance:
The prime minister and his deputy despite not having a known constituency, are paid 12.5% of their basic salary as constituency allowance. Others who are paid at the same rate are ministers, presiding officers, MPs, Senators, Regional Administrators (RAs).

Entertainment allowance:
Prime minister, his deputy, ministers, RAs’, presiding officers, MPs including Senators and Tindvuna TetiNkhundla are paid entertainment allowance at a scale of 7.5% of their basic pay.

Housing benefit:
Prime minister, his deputy, minister, presiding officers and RAs are entitled to a housing loan of up to E1.5 million at a maximum of 8% interest for up to 10 years to be arranged by government. MPs and the rest are entitled to a E650 000 loan at a maximum of 8% interest payable over five years.

Tax reimbursement:
The intention of this allowance is to assist cabinet members with the payment of tax on their benefits. These allowances are paid to compensate for legitimate expenditure in the nature of their duties. The prime minister and his team get a 10% reimbursement of basic pay annually. No other politician enjoys this benefit other than themselves.

The circular gives the prime minister and his deputy the privilege of having their water, electricity and municipal rates paid for by government for official residence and one private home ministers and RAs only enjoy water, electricity and municipal rates paid for by government. Presiding officers and deputy presiding officers only get an allowance of 5% of their basic pay in turn.

The prime minister and deputy prime minister are provided with official vehicles. They are also to receive an annual capital allowance of E120 000 to enable them purchase equivalent vehicles for their private use. The capital allowance shall be equal to that of cabinet ministers.

On leaving office or dissolution, whichever comes first, they will get a cash payment equivalent to the value of their benchmark vehicles less the capital allowance over the period. Further the PM is entitled to a requisition of government truck up to 12 times a year for the transportation of bulk goods within Swaziland. Meanwhile ministers are paid E120 000 annually as capital allowance and a further E74 063 as maintenance allowance.

Funeral assistance:

PM is covered for E80 000 whilst given E30 000 as assistance allowance in case of his spouse’s demise
DPM funeral costs are covered for E70 00 and would get E20 000 assistance for spouse
Minister is covered for E60 000 and E12 000 funeral assistance for spouse
Presiding officers are covered for E40 000 and no mention for spouse
Deputy minister, RA, deputy presiding officer are covered for E30 000
MPs are covered for E20 000.

Benefits for ex-PM and their spouses:
Ex-PM who is not under formal employment gets E10 000 monthly
Ex-PM spouse whose husbands died gets E5 000 monthly
Ex-PM would get E80 000 funeral assistance and their spouses covered at E30 000.

As well as these allowances that are already in force, There are plans to offer payoffs worth E60 million (US$7.55 million) when the present parliament ends next year (2013).

Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, will personally get E1.6 million; his deputy, Themba Masuku, who already claims to be a millionaire, is expected to receive E1.4 million. Each cabinet minister will receive E1.2 million, while Senate President, Gelane Zwane and Speaker, Prince Guduza stand to pocket E1.1 million each. The four regional administrators will also take home E1.1 million each. The deputy senate president and speaker will each get E495 000. Each of Swaziland’s MPs will get E435 000.

See also




Stiffkitten blog

25 January 2012


Maxwell Dlamini nominated for Irish human rights award

President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), Maxwell Dlamini, has been nominated for the 2012 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. The award is presented by Front Line, an Irish-based human rights organisation founded by former director of the Irish Section of Amnesty International, Mary Lawlor, and is given to “human rights defenders who, through non-violent work, are courageously making an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.”

Maxwell Dlamini was detained, tortured and forced to sign a confession by members of Swaziland’s police and security forces during the so-called April 12 Swazi Uprising, a peaceful protest inspired by the Arab Spring that was brutally clamped down upon by Swazi police and security forces. He is currently on trial for allegedly having been in possession of explosives and remanded and the infamous Manzini Remand Centre. Several representatives of Swaziland’s democratic movement have called the allegations against Maxwell Dlamini absurd, and an international campaign has demanded his unconditional release.

Maxwell is a threat to the undemocratic Swazi regime precisely because “he is a strong and a brave young leader who stands up and defends human rights,” says Dumezweni Dlamini from the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, a partner organisation of Maxwell’s SNUS. “This is why he has been put behind bars.”

“But there cannot be a better recipient [of the award] than this rare gem of a new generation of activists for the liberation of Swaziland,” says Wandile Dludlu from the Swaziland United Democratic Front. “Maxwell has been at the service of the youth in an oppressive dangerous political environment and has led the students in several campaigns of peaceful protests against unjust government policy. We are proud to be associated with SNUS, who has been producing leaders of a special pedigree like Maxwell. They have made an indelible mark in the history of our struggle for democracy, human rights and good governance.”

The Front Line Defenders Award is presented annually. The winner and his or her organisation is awarded with a cash prize of €15,000. Last years award, presented by former Irish Prime Minister Mary Robinson, was given to the Joint Mobile Group of the Russian Federation “for their outstanding work investigating torture, killings and disappearances in Chechnya.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Trade unions in Swaziland are ready for a series of rolling strikes to force the government of the cash-strapped kingdom to stop paying cash bonuses worth millions of dollars to the Prime Minister, ministers, senators, MPs and senior civil servants.

Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, will personally get E1.6 million; his deputy, Themba Masuku, who already claims to be a millionaire, is expected to receive E1.4 million. Each cabinet minister will receive E1.2 million, while Senate President, Gelane Zwane and Speaker, Prince Guduza stand to pocket E1.1 million each. The four regional administrators will also take home E1.1 million each. The deputy senate president and speaker will each get E495 000. Each of Swaziland’s MPs will get E435 000.

The total sum of the payoffs is in the region of E60 million (US$7.55 million). They will get the money next year (2013) when the present parliament comes to an end.

These payouts are contained in an order known as Financial Circular No 1 2010. Also contained in the circular are a raft of perks that the parliamentarians are already receiving each month, including housing, entertainment and travel allowances.

In Swaziland seven in ten people live in abject poverty earning less than US$2 a day. The kingdom has run out of cash and has struggled in recent months to pay salaries of public servants. It has left many of its regular bills unpaid and has failed to get the support of the International Monetary Fund to get loans from the international financial community.

All the major trade unions in Swaziland, including the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL), have told the Prime Minister they want Circular No 1 scrapped.

In a letter to the PM they say they will embark on a series of protest actions to force the government’s hand.

The trade unions also want democratic changes in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, including the unbanning of political parties and the release of political prisoners. They also want proposed cuts in public service jobs to be halted.

Anger is growing in Swaziland against the government, handpicked by King Mswati. In 2011 there were a series of strikes and protests, which were put down by police and troops loyal to King Mswati.

See also



Tuesday, January 24, 2012


If you still refuse to believe that King Mswati III is an absolute monarch, read on.

Parliamentarians in Swaziland are in a fix because it is not clearly understood what it is that King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has instructed them to do.

The problem is this: for more than a year the Swazi Government has been trying to implement what it calls a Fiscal Adjustment Roadmap (FAR). It came up with the FAR when it became clear that the kingdom had run out of money and was on the way to going broke. It wanted to get a loan from the African Development Bank, but before it could get this it needed the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF said the government had to cut public expenditure and raise more money in taxes. The FAR was the government’s blueprint to do this.

So far so good, the government thought. But it drove straight into a problem when it decided that to cut public expenditure it would demand pay cuts from public servants and retrenchments (maybe as many as 7,000 jobs would go) or a combination of both.

The government set its stall on a cut of 10 pecent in public service pay, which the unions rejected outright. This led to stalemate.

Discussions continued between the Swaziland government, headed by Barnabas Dlamini (who was personally appointed by the King) and the IMF, on the best way forward. Talks also took place with the unions, but no agreement could be reached.

Then King Mswati stepped in. He is reported to have declared in a speech that the government should not unilaterally implement the 10 percent pay cut. In Swaziland King Mswati’s word is law, so the government wants to abide by it. The trouble is that although the unions say the King made the statement, the government says he didn’t.

Now, the whole emphasise of the debate on public spending cuts has changed. No longer is there negotiation between government and unions about the best way forward. The only question on the table is what did King Mswati actually say? When that is decided the matter is at an end.

So forget the year-long discussions with the IMF; forget the government’s FAR; forget the loan that might be forthcoming from the African Development Bank. All that matters is what King Mswati said (or didn’t say).

Nobody should be the least surprised by this. The Swaziland parliament has no real powers. The King appoints the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The King appoints 20 of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate – members of the House of Assembly appoint the other 10. Of the 65 members of the House of Assembly itself, 55 members are elected by the people (but political parties are banned) and the remaining 10 are appointed by the King.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Musa Ndlangamandla, who last week was sacked as editor-in-chief of King Mswati’s Swazi Observer newspaper group, has said he would ‘rather eat grass’ than work for the King again.

Ndlangamandla was giving his version of the events running up to his sacking.

He said over the past year he had been in a battle with Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini which he lost. And that cost him his job.

Ndlangamandla was also a speechwriter and praise singer for King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, until he was fired last year (2011).

Ndlangamandla had been editor of the Observer for 12 years and was a staunch supporter of King Mswati and was in effect the King’s propagandist. He wrote in the Observer that the ‘collective stand’ of the newspaper was ‘that the integrity of Swaziland as a democratic State and His Majesty King Mswati III as the legitimate leader of the Swazi nation, must never be compromised in any way.’

During Ndlangamandla’s time in control many stories about King Mswati were censored.

These included the calculation from Forbes that King Mswati has a personal wealth of about US$200 million; that in 2011 the King received a huge increase in his budget while all public spending elsewhere in the kingdom was slashed to the bone; and a sex scandal involving the King’s 12th wife and a cabinet minister. All these reports appeared in media outside of Swaziland.

The Observer also failed to report criticisms the King was receiving in the international arena for his attack on freedoms in Swaziland and his lavish personal spending; while as many as 60 percent of his subjects had to rely on international food aid to avoid starvation during the past five years.

Now he has been sacked, Ndlangamandla is saying that Barnabas Dlamini, the man the King personally appointed Prime Minister, was the key mover in his dismissal.

He wrote on Facebook (19 January 2012) that the Prime Minister turned against him after the Observer reported allegations that he had bought nation land for himself at a fraction of its true price. ‘We pushed the land theft scandal by Barnabas and cabinet colleagues whilst I was still a speech writer for the king and whilst I was still travelling with the king and not after.

‘That’s when Barnabas hatched the lie that I was mastermind behind April 12 uprising. This was after he and some in cabinet had had several meetings asking the king to fire me as speech writer and traveller on his trips and as Chief Editor at Observer.’

Ndlangamandla said he also gave space in the newspaper to a number of pro-democracy advocates, including Mario Masuku, Mandla Hlatshwayo, Lucky Lukhele, Bongani Masuku, Sibongile Mazibuko, Vincent Ncongwane and Jan Sithole.

He wrote ‘I knew that this would get me in trouble with the King, the PM and other powerfuls. But we had to do it because that was the right thing to do.’

Ndlangamandla concluded, ‘I will never work for this regime again even if I may be asked to. I’d rather eat grass.’

Ndlangamandla has received praise and criticism in equal measure since his sacking. Writers on social media pointed out that he was in effect the King’s placeman and is not a genuine supporter of democracy in Swaziland.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network, a very vocal opponent of King Mswati, however, in a statement praised Ndlangamandla. It said, ‘Ndlangamandla openly declared his misgivings with the government and the system of governance. He went as far as attempting to liberalise the newspaper, inviting progressive groups to contribute to his “Asikhulumisane (let us talk)” column.’

See also







Friday, January 20, 2012


King Mswati III of Swaziland is to fly in the face of international opposition and continue his ban on political parties at the national elections next year (2013).

Political parties have been banned since 1973 when Mswati’s father, King Sobhuza II, tore up the Swazi constitution and ruled by decree.

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

This week, Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in the Swaziland Government, handpicked by King Mswati, confirmed that there would be no changes to the way the national elections would be run. This means parties are banned and only candidates standing as individuals can compete for election.

This flies in the face of international opinion. At the last election in 2008, the European Union refused to send a delegation to monitor the fairness of the election. It said at the time that it was clear that Swaziland was not a democracy

The Pan-African Parliament, which did monitor the election, reported, ‘The non-participation of political parties makes these elections extraordinary from any others but we hope with time things will change.’

In 2003, the Commonwealth Expert Team (CET) which observed that year’s election, concluded, ‘We do not regard the credibility of these National elections as an issue: no elections can be credible when they are for a Parliament which does not have power and when political parties are banned’.

After the 2008 election the CET repeated its view that Swazi elections were not credible and called for Swaziland’s constitution to be rewritten to unban political parties and ‘ensure that Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal’.

Since the 2008 election there have been many mass protests in Swaziland calling for the unbanning of political parties and other reforms.

These calls have been supported by international organisations. Among them is the International Commission of Jurists which says people in Swaziland have a fundamental right to form political parties.

At present the Swaziland Parliament has few powers. Of the 65 members of the House of Assembly, 10 are chosen by King Mswati and 55 are elected as individuals by the people. In the senate King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people.

See also







Thursday, January 19, 2012


Peter Kenworthy

Stiffkitten blog

18 January 2012


Swazi student leader’s trial begins with prosecution witness lies

The trial of Swazi student leader and political prisoner, Maxwell Dlamini, finally started last week after having been postponed and delayed since last April, where Maxwell Dlamini was apprehended by police and allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession to being in possession of explosives.

At the trial, Maxwell Dlamini and his co-accused, Musa Ngubeni, pleaded not guilty to the charges of contravening Swaziland’s Explosives Act 4 of 1961. Several representatives of Swaziland’s democratic movement have referred to the charges as ludicrous and the long delay of the trial as a deliberate act by Swaziland’s absolute monarchy to discourage any opposition to its undemocratic and brutal rule.

According to Wandile Dludlu of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, an umbrella movement of democratic forces in Swaziland, over 60 activists attended the court session in a show of support for Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni.

“But the state is playing dirty delaying tactics because they don’t have credible witnesses,” said Dludlu, “The only state witness, superintendent Clement Sihlongonyane [who arrested Maxwell and Musa in April 2011], has already told blatant lies during a gruelling cross examination on the first day.”

According to the Times of Swaziland, Sihlongyane had claimed that Dlamini and Ngubeni led them to the explosives hidden in a forest voluntarily and that “bomb experts confirmed that the red, black and grey cables which were hidden in a white shoe box were indeed explosives.”

“Sihlongyane later complained to court of not being well,” Wandile Dludlu said. “But on the second day of the trial, after the magistrate granted him relief to go to hospital, he came outside court to joke with his colleagues when Maxwell’s mother confronted him about the morality of his behaviour. He ran amok with all sorts of insults right in front of everybody.”

The case is set to continue on the15th and 16th of February, the further delay being due to the alleged illness of superintendent Sihlongonyane.


Musa Ndlangamandla, who was sacked this week from his job as editor-in-chief of the Swazi Observer newspaper group (the paper in effect owned by King Mswati III) has responded to my blogpost of yesterday (18 January 2012).

Here is what he wrote:

Prof. Rooney I need not justify my actions or stance to you or anyone for that matter and I am not seeking sympathy nor am I claiming to be a hero. I am independent and do not belong to any group. Some of what you want Sean to show [this is a refernce to comments left on a Facebook site] you can easily be found in my banned columns 'Asikhulume' or ' This Ink Stings' or 'The Pen That Stings' which are archived in the swaziobserver website and can be googled. However, I don't see what any of us stands to benefit from this ' yo-yo' exchange. I have many disagreements with how you portrayed me in your blog but I am not about to justify my actions. One thing though, I know what I stand I took even before I was fired first from speech writing, then a year later from being Chief Editor. Even before I started giving space to the voice of Mario Masuku, Mandla Hlatshwayo, Lucky Lukhele, Bongani Masuku, Sibongile Mazibuko, Vincent Ncongwane, Jan Sithole and others.....I knew that this would get me in trouble with the king, the PM and other powerfuls. But we had to do it because that was the right thing to do. We pushed the land theft Scandal by Barnabas and cabinet colleagues whilst I was still a speech writer for the king and whilst I was still travelling with the king and not after. Thats when barnabas hatched the lie that I was mastermind behind April 12 uprising. This was after he and some in cabinet had had several meetings asking the king to fire me as speech writer and traveler on his trips and as Chief Editor at Observer. Im sorry for such a long post but I thought I should share a glimpse of what happened leading to this. No I am not a hero and yes I will never work for this regime again even if I may be asked to. Id rather eat grass.


Trade unionists in Swaziland stood their ground and refused to allow police to break up their legitimate meeting.

Police wanted the gathering in Lubombo stopped because they had not been informed of the agenda.

The meeting organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) was to discuss the Swazi Government’s plan to introduce value added tax (VAT) into the kingdom.

A report from Swaziland says that more than 10 police officers arrived before the meeting started at a local school. The police forced their way into the room after organisers refused their demand to call off the meeting.

According to a report in the Times of Swaziland there was shoving and pushing between the police and the trade unionists, but the police backed down after the organisers refused to be intimidated.

A police spokesperson told the newspaper that organisers should have been informed about the meeting.

This is not the first time that Swaziland police have intervened in legally-held meetings. In November 2011 they stopped a prayer meeting ‘for the problems that engulfed the country’ at the Lutheran church in Mbabane.

Also in 2011, armed police invaded the High Court to stop lawyers meeting to discuss their on-going campaign to get Michael Ramodibedi, the Swaziland Chief Justice removed from office.

Police stopped trade unionists and lawyers from delivering a petition to Minister of Labour and Social Security and the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Police brutally put down a meeting of civil society groups held at the Swaziland National Association of Teachers Centre to prepare for a mass protest in March.

See also



Wednesday, January 18, 2012


We should not think that Musa Ndlangamandla, who has been sacked as editor-in-chief of King Mswati’s newspapers, was a supporter of democracy in Swaziland.

Since news of his sacking broke yesterday (18 January 2012), unconfirmed reports have stated that Ndlangamandla was sacked from the Swazi Observer (where he had been editor for 12 years) because he published interviews with ‘pro-democracy’ activists.

This had led some people to believe that he was a fearless journalist determined to use the Observer newspapers in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Ndlangamandla wasn’t a journalist; he was a propagandist for King Mswati – pure and simple.

And don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what Ndlangamandla wrote in the Observer on 1 March 2010.

‘But our collective stand as a newspaper is that the integrity of Swaziland as a democratic State and His Majesty King Mswati III as the legitimate leader of the Swazi nation, must never be compromised in any way.’

You couldn’t get clearer than that: Ndlangamandla is King Mswati’s mouthpiece.

And, Ndlangamandla had his fingers in others of King Mswati’s pies. He was a regular speechwriter for the King and travelled the world – at the Swazi taxpayers’ expense – with him to write acres of fawning articles in the Observer praising the King to the sky.

So what went wrong for Ndlangamandla? The answer is a little clouded, but one thing seems certain, he lost a struggle with Barnabas Dlamini to be King Mswati’s most obsequious toady. The Observer, along with the private press in Swaziland, published articles calling for Dlamini to resign and exposing his shady business deals. Ndlangamandla hoped this would put paid to Dlamini’s influence with the King.

But the King needed Dlamini more than he needed Ndlangamandla.

King Mswati appointed Dlamini Prime Minister in contravention of the Swazi Constitution in 2005. Dlamini was never elected to parliament, but nonetheless the King chose him to do his will in government.

And, from the King’s point of view Dlamini did this rather well – using state terror against all opposition, however minor.

Dlamini has played a major role in keeping Mswati in the luxury he has been accustomed to, including giving the King and his Royal Family large increases in their budgets last year (2011) while all government departments had theirs slashed.

Ndlangamandla couldn’t offer the King anything like that. All he could give were fine words – and there is no shortage of people in Swaziland prepared to give the King those, if they get favours in return.

So when Ndlangamandla thought he could take on Dlamini, he discovered how little value he was to the King – and he got the boot.

The lesson for Ndlangamandla and all the other hangers-on of the King: the King doesn’t give a damn about you. Once he has wrung you dry and he has no further need for you, he throws you on the scrapheap.

See also








Musa Ndlangamandla, the editor-in-chief of the Swazi Observer newspaper group, has been sacked.

An unconfirmed report states that he was fired from the newspapers, in effect owned by King Mswati III, because he had published interviews recently with members of the pro-democracy movement in Swaziland.

King Mswati is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and political parties are banned in the kingdom.

Ndlangamandla has not confirmed the reasons behind his sacking, but the AFP news agency reported yesterday (17 January 2012) that he ‘stirred controversy in his Asikhulume (Let’s Talk) column where he interviewed pro-democracy activists about the path that Swaziland should take.

‘But his biggest fall from grace was his newspaper's stories claiming that Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, a hardline royalist, had appropriated state land illegally,’ AFP claims.

‘An official probe was set up by parliament, but before the investigation was finalised the king intervened and ordered all parties to drop the matter.

‘Ndlangamandla was subsequently sidelined from covering the king's foreign trips and snubbed at all royal functions,’ AFP reports.

Ndlangamandla has made no official comment about his sacking. It is believed that he has been waiting to receive a final pay-off from the newspaper before he talks openly about it.

He has however confirmed on his Facebook site that he is ready for new challenges.

In July 2011, Ndlangamandla wrote on Facebook that Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, had accused him of being behind the April 12 Uprising plot to replace the King.

Ndlangamandla said Dlamini convinced King Mswati that he was a ‘security risk’.

Ndlangamandla said the King believed this to be true and Ndlangamandla was blacklisted and not allowed anywhere near the King.

Previously, Ndlangamandla had been a key member of the King’s team, accompanying the monarch on overseas’ trips and filling the Observer with acres of coverage favourable to him.

Ndlangamandla also wrote speeches for King Mswati and made it clear that the Observer believed the king was ‘the legitimate leader of the Swazi nation [and], must never be compromised in any way.’

See also





Saturday, January 14, 2012


Mario Masuku, the President of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), is rumoured to be about to quit – in part because he is fed up with the criticisms he is getting from his comrades.

The Southern Africa Report (SAR) journal, which supports the call for democracy in Swaziland, this week (12 January 2012) reported, ‘Masuku’s pending departure, still under discussion and a closely guarded secret, is apparently due to a combination of failing health and criticism over his overcautious leadership amid mounting demands for a consistent opposition voice in Swaziland as Mswati's administration implodes.’

SAR goes on to report the friction between PUDEMO and the recently-formed Communist Party of Swaziland.

SAR says the progressive movement, ‘is at sixes and sevens over what to do about the left, particularly as a range of centrist formations, among them Swaziland’s churches, attempt to up their influence in the pro-democracy movement ahead of talks with the Mswati government.’

SAR goes on, ‘Anyone who regularly checks [Swaziland Solidarity Network’s] web forum will be familiar with the frequent storms of libellous acrimony, accusation and character assassination centred on these individuals and their supporters, often coming from other PUDEMO members.

‘One consequence of this is consistent lack of clarity and purpose by the movement and a palpable dearth of PUDEMO-led mass action inside Swaziland in galvanising opposition to the Mswati regime. Instead, most of the pro-democracy pressure Mswati faces tends to be sporadic and reactive, rather than dependably proactive, allowing the regime to prolong its hold on power.’

To read the full SAR report, click here.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Soldiers in Swaziland have held a ‘clandestine meeting’ to discuss their grievances over pay and conditions.

It is reported at the end of the meeting they sang songs calling for the overthrow of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The Southern Africa Report (SAR) journal this week (11 January 2012) reports the meeting took place over the Christmas – New Year period at Matsapha barracks.

SAR says soldiers, ‘held a clandestine meeting to air their mounting grievances over pay and conditions. Anger had been running high among soldiers over the creaming off by senior officers of funds from the Hlalawati army savings and cooperative society. The practice apparently directly benefits those members of the royal family among the military top brass.’

SAR adds, ‘The soldiers complained too about being forced to stump up R650 for uniforms out of their wages under a new tendering agreement overseen by Mswati. There are also food shortages at Matsapha barracks due to savings cuts imposed by the royal-owned enterprise that supplies food to the army. The rebellious soldiers ended their meeting with songs calling for Mswati’s overthrow.’

To read the full SAR report, click here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Africa Contact, the Denmark-based NGO, is calling for a boycott of Coca-Cola products because of its links with King Mswati III of Swaziland and the way it helps to prop up the King’s regime which denies Swazi people their basic democratic rights. The company also exploits Swazi sugar cane workers and has a large control over Swaziland’s economy.

Africa Contact asks people to write a protest letter to Coca-Cola Denmark's Public Affairs & Communications Director in Denmark, Michael Bonde Nielsen (who is, also Public Affairs Director at the independent liberal, free market think tank, CEPOS). Click here for an online letter (in Danish) that you can add your name to.

Below is an article Africa Contact published yesterday (11 January 2011) in Danish. It has been ‘translated’ to English using Google (it’s far from perfect English, but you will get the point).

An English article from Africa Contact's website that more or less makes the same points as the Danish article, can be found here.

Coca-Cola controls Swaziland, boycott the company says Africa Contact

"Boycott Coca-Cola and tell them why! - It's the only way to stop the company's real support for dictatorships and the exploitation of poor workers," says the Danish solidarity organization Africa Contact.

Coca-Cola is one of the world's best known brands and biggest companies. More than one billion cans or bottles of Coca-Cola drink a day for everything from downtown New York to small villages in Africa. That the company while exploiting countries and populations in developing countries desperate situation to further enrich themselves are less known.

With over 70,000 employees Coca-Cola is one of the largest employers in Africa, a continent where many poor people spend money on unhealthy Cola instead of subsistence.

Coca-Cola's headquarters in Africa lies in the small absolute monarchy, Swaziland. Here the company manufactures its cola extract the entire production in Africa, parts of Asia and New Zealand and Australia.

Swaziland is a country where the king has the final say in all decisions where the country's nascent democracy movement brutally suppressed, where over two thirds of the population survives on less than a dollar a day, many on food aid from the UN, and where life expectancy is under 40 years because of an AIDS epidemic that is out of control.

Simultaneously live country's royal family and King Mswati III and a small elite in the wild luxury, while the country is heading towards an economic collapse, where one has not even afford to pay public service salaries and pensions for the elderly.

The collaboration between Coca-Cola and the regime in Swaziland is especially for the multinational company's advantage. Coca-Cola contributes to approximately 40% of Swaziland Gross domestic product, giving the company a great influence to the country's regime - if not toe the regime, one can simply threaten to move elsewhere. In addition, you get access to its good infrastructure, cheap labor, favorable tax conditions, and sugarcane.

Swaziland's population, and especially sugar cane workers (according to Human Rights Watch doing the most dangerous farm work of all) who harvest the sugar cane along with water is the main ingredient in Coca-Cola, have not identified many benefits of working with Coca-Cola. King creaming off while the workers who harvest the sugarcane worker in miserable and almost feudal relationship with a very small salary.

In the villages in Vuvulane, Swaziland "sugar belt" working majority as casuals for a few hundred dollars a month - not even enough to secure food, medicine and schooling for workers' families. It also handles the subcontractors, such as Coca-Cola uses, almost works as serfs.

"Sugar Companies confiscate our kitchen gardens and close to our water supply in order to punish us," said cane workers in Vuvulane region Africa Contact. "Moreover, they ensure that we get caught and arrested when we fish in the local lake. They must use the water itself. "

The democracy movement in Swaziland has therefore appealed to the Coca-Cola to break off relations with King Mswati III's regime, without success.

Africa Contact calls for you, in solidarity with the people of Swaziland, is helping to put pressure on Coca-Cola in our part of the world by boycotting Coca-Cola, as well as any contacts Coca-Cola's Danish department communications director, Michael Bonde Nielsen (mbondenielsen@coca-cola.com), to tell the company about the basis of your decision.


One of a series of videos called Does HIV Look Like Me? featuring people from Swaziland sharing their experiences. Recently uploaded to YouTube.


King Mswati III of Swaziland has done a deal with the President of Equatorial Guinea to import crude oil into his kingdom.

The oil will be refined into consumer products such as petrol, kerosene, asphalt and chemical reagents.

But, Swaziland has no oil refineries and no history of any heavy industrial development. So, the crude oil will be transported from Swaziland to South Africa where it will be refined and the processed products will be sent back to Swaziland.

The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent newspaper, today (12 January 2012) reports that the King has been entertaining the President of Equatorial Guinea Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in Swaziland this week. He has been trying to impress upon the President that his kingdom is a place worth investing in.

Thembinkosi Mamba, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy, told the newspaper the Swazi Government had plans to build its own refinery so that, in future, the crude oil would be brought directly to Swaziland for refinement and separation, thereby, cutting down on costs.

According to the Times the oil deal is ‘separate from all the other bilateral agreements which will be signed this afternoon’.

Although the Times doesn’t say this, it looks like this deal is something special the King has dreamt up. In the past, as with the notorious US$5 billion power plant deal that turned out to be a con-trick, the King has bypassed his parliament and made deals on his own imitative.

Clearly, Swaziland has no need to import the crude oil and doesn’t have the capacity – nor can it develop the capacity in the foreseeable future – to process the oil once it receives it. Considering the dire state of the economy, Mamba’s claim that Swaziland will be able to build its own refinery is a fantasy.

The deal is pointless - why doesn’t Equatorial Guinea just send the crude oil to South Africa for refinement, bypassing Swaziland altogether?

The deal is also too costly. Mamba told the Times, ‘There are costs involved in the acquisition of the oil, like the cost of transporting it to South Africa where it will be refined, and the charges that we will have to pay for refining it in that country.’

Looks like King Mswati is about to enter a bad deal that will cost his subjects a great deal of money, rather than save them some.

So what’s going on? Obiang’s regime has been labelled one of the world’s most corrupt by international rights groups. Transparency International has ranked Equatorial Guinea 168th out of 178 countries for its efforts in tackling corruption.

Only last month (December 2011), the UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell told his parliament that oil wealth was being stolen from Equatorial Guinea ‘for the corrupt and personal use of an unaccountable and self-serving elite’.

The US Justice Department said in October 2011 it was looking to seize assets worth more than US$70 million from Obiang’s son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, including a US$30 million home in Malibu.

In September 2011 the president’s son visited Swaziland. While he stayed at the five-star Royal Villas Resort (where the president has been staying this week) he had his bag stolen – containing US$2.5 million in bank notes. We still don’t know why he came to Swaziland with so much cash in his case, but it is hard to believe it was for legitimate reasons.

Now, three months later his father is in town and a needless oil deal is signed with the King.

See also



Tuesday, January 3, 2012


A report about the relationship between Coca-Cola and King Mswati III of Swaziland has been published in the media across the world during the past 24 hours. It is based on a statement from the Swaziland Democracy Campaign calling for the drinks firm to sever its ties with the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa.

I wrote about Coca-Coal and Swaziland on this blog on 21 January 201. That posting contains more detail about what Coca-Cola gets up in to than the SDC report - so for those interested I have reproduced it here.


Coca-Cola is to work to promote Swaziland, a kingdom with one of the world’s worst human rights records.

Coca-Cola presently contributes about 40 percent of the kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) through the concentration plant it has in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

This helps to prop up a regime that consistently uses torture against dissidents and alleged criminals. In September 2010, Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, said he wanted people (especially foreigners) who criticised him and his government to be tortured using foot whipping.

Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority (SIPA) has said that it will work with Coca-Cola to market the kingdom internationally.

Phiwayinkhosi Ginindza, SIPA Chief Executive, said a country market study done with Coca-Cola was almost complete.

Ginindza told the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned and edited by King Mswati, they had identified Taiwan, the Middle East, and Europe as some possible targets.

Swaziland supplies the Coca-Cola concentrate (the sugary syrup the drink is made from) to most of Africa, big parts of Asia and all of Australia and New Zealand from its industrial plant in Matsapha.

Swaziland has been mortgaged to Coca-Cola, ever since it allowed the company to use it in its fight against workers’ interests in other countries. In 2009, Coca-Cola closed its concentrate supply plant in Nigeria, citing an ‘unfriendly manufacturing environment’ in that country.

It had made ‘little profits because of the high manufacturing costs’.

Coca-Cola is said to be so large in Swaziland that it accounts for 40 percent of the kingdom’s GDP, but it is said to be exempt from paying full taxes.

Coca-Cola also has an impact on the international standing of Swaziland’s economy. The money generated by Coca-Cola is what largely accounts for the kingdom being classified as a ‘lower-middle income developing country’ (and therefore not eligible for certain types of international aid), even though seven in ten of Swaziland’s one-million population live in abject poverty, earning less than one US dollar a day.

This dominance of the Swaziland economy by Coca-Cola represents a breathtaking piece of economic mismanagement by King Mswati and the governments he appoints. It in effect allows Coca-Cola to determine the economic (and other policies) of the kingdom. Coca-Cola can blackmail Swaziland at any moment it likes. If it doesn’t get its way it simply has to threaten to take its business elsewhere and Swaziland’s already depressed economy sinks into the mire.

Of course, it could use this power for positive effects. It could demand political reforms in the kingdom that has one of the worst human rights records in the world. It could insist that political parties be unbanned and that the Swaziland Constitution be honoured.

Alas, Coca-Cola won’t do any of that: it likes things the way they are. Coca-Cola is in Swaziland in such a big way precisely because it is a dictatorship. This allows wages to be kept low, unemployment high and workers rights to be oppressed.

It also means that Coca-Cola can work directly with King Mswati and the King can ensure that the company gets all it wants. It is no secret that the King keeps a slice of the income from Coca-Cola ‘in trust for the nation’, which we all know means, ‘for himself’.

King Mswati is said to be so close personally to Coca-Cola that he visits the company’s global headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, US, each year.

Ginindza, of SIPA, told the Observer, ‘We decided to use Coca-Cola as they have shown so much love for the continent [Africa] and they care for it. Over the past 20 years Africa has developed a relationship with them.’

But does Coca-Cola really ‘love’ Africa? In October 2010, Bloomberg Business Week reported that Coca-Cola’s sales in the US and other countries had stagnated and it will rely on some of the poorest nations (including in Africa) to generate the 7 to 9 percent earnings growth it has promised investors.

Consumption of Coke is also low in India and China, relative to the US, Europe, and Latin America, but those countries present less of an opportunity for the company than Africa, where Coke is the dominant brand and a middle class is just emerging.

Tara Lohan at foodchange.org reports that Coca-Cola has been in Africa since 1929, but has not reached total domination yet.

Lohan says, ‘The reason for this is that while there are many countries in Africa with growing middle classes, it’s also a continent with extreme poverty, scarce or unclean water sources, hunger, political instability, and war. Coke intends to spend $12 billion in the next ten years there and what do Africans get in return? A product that will use vast amounts of water, create more waste, and offer people no nutritional value.

Lohan adds, ‘Having recently been briefed on Coke’s sordid history in Michael Blanding’s new book The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink, I have to say I’m extremely wary of the company’s advances. Blanding's book details Coke's history of anti-union activity in Central and South America, allegations of its fraternization with paramilitaries who murdered bottling plant workers, the effects of marketing to kids in schools, and the wake of environmental catastrophes the company left behind in places like India where Coke has drained and polluted drinking water.

Lohan says, ‘If that's what Coke has in store for Africa, then it looks like the continent is getting the raw end of the deal.’

So there you have it. King Mswati allows Swaziland to be taken for a ride, for his own personal gain.