Saturday, June 29, 2013


News that Swaziland’s army has taken delivery of another arms shipment has sparked fears that King Mswati is acting as an intermediary for a rogue state that cannot directly buy arms due to embargoes.

The Swazi Army took delivery of an arms shipment on Thursday (27 June 2013), including firearms and other military hardware.

Local media reported a cargo plane delivered the shipment under conditions of great secrecy. 

The shipment has aroused the suspicion of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), a prodemocracy organisation banned in the kingdom.

Swaziland already has more than a million rounds of ammunition and weapons to fire them and there is little reason for King Mswati, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, to buy more.

In a statement SSN said, ‘[A]t the moment our network is not excluding the possibility that the country is being used as an intermediary by rouge states who cannot directly buy arms due to unilateral arms embargoes. 

‘For the last decade Swaziland has had the dubious record of having one of the highest defence budgets. What made this record further ridiculous was the fact that the country has never been invaded in its entire history and boasts excellent relations with its neighbours, with whom it has signed security pacts disallowing either neighbouring country to be used by a third party as a base for military aggression against the country.

‘It is not easy to therefore conclude that all arms purchased by the country are intended for internal use against dissenters. The special weapons purchased by the Swazi army of late raise eyebrows. Sources within the defence force indicate that some of the shipments include unusual equipment such as anti-aircraft rocket launchers, which can never be used to quell local civil unrest even by the most wasteful army.

‘The answer to this intriguing choice of weaponry can be found in a 2011 Wikileaks cable which indicates that the United Kingdom government once blocked a similar arms shipment worth over $60 million. An arms broker trading under the name Unionlet had applied for a license to import the arms into Swaziland. According to the cable the reason for blocking the shipments was that the UK government had “end user concerns”. 

‘Whether king Mswati has become a middle-man for arms dealers or he is hell-bent on staying in power by waging war on his own subjects leads to one conclusion: that is the world has to restrict the amount and type of arms that the country can purchase.

‘Taiwan, The European Union and the United States in particular are countries which hand out aid to king Mswati’s government. Together they have enough leverage to demand responsible use of available resources from king Mswati. They should use that leverage. It is an insult to these countries for this despot to purchase arms for killing the very population that friendly states help to keep alive.’

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Children at the Malkerns Juvenile Industrial School were systematically assaulted for more than five hours by correctional service officers.

Some of the children were forced to strip naked for beatings by the officers who used belts, sneakers, open hands and feet to assault them all over their bodies.

The Swazi News newspaper reported that 15 officers were involved and more than two thirds of the 430 pupils at the school were assaulted from 8.30 am until after 2.00 pm, during a day last week. 

One child interviewed by the newspaper said, ‘They were using belts, open hands and an All-Star (sneaker). We were ordered to strip naked before being assaulted all over the body, indiscriminately.’

The attack was also described by another as being worse than police torture known as ‘lishubhu’.

Another said, ‘Besi bulawa (we were being murdered).’

When asked why they were assaulted, one pupil responded, ‘Watsi lomunye thishela basi faka luvalo (one of the teachers told us that they were instilling fear).’
The pupils said they did not report the matter to the police because they feared being victimised.

Pupils at the school include juvenile offenders and children who live near nearby.

Correctional Services Commissioner Mzuthini Ntshangase told the newspaper, ‘Thina besicala ukube thusa (It was the first time we used corporal punishment).’ He said the officers only used a stick to deliver corporal punishment.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini told parliament that files are being kept on people in the kingdom who criticise the government and they will be used to ensure they never get positions of influence.

Dlamini said the files contained information on all Swazis who speak negatively about the country and its leaders.

Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and the prime minister and cabinet ministers are appointed by the king. All political parties are banned from taking part in parliamentary elections.

Dlamini said the files would be visited when it came to consideration for political positions either when people stand for election or when political appointments were made, the Times of Swaziland reported him saying. 

He said, ‘We are aware that certain individuals do this [speak negatively about Swaziland and its leaders] and let me assure senators that we are not taking anything they say lightly nor ignore it. Some of these persons will one day run for elections and want to come to Parliament, but these files will be brought into the picture too.’

He also said the files continued to pile up and there would come a time when government would start acting on the cases.

The revelation comes as no shock to political opponents of the undemocratic regime in Swaziland. A campaign to boycott the national election due in September is gaining ground in Swaziland. Opponents say the parliament has no powers and is just a rubber stamp for King Mswati.

Monday, June 24, 2013


King Mswati III of Swaziland has ordered election registration in the kingdom to be extended by a week as the number of people signing up has failed to reach targets.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (ECB) announced that with two days of registration still to go only 344,679 of an estimated 600,000 potential voters had signed up. This represents only 57.45 percent of the eligible population. At the last election in 2008, 88 percent of eligible voters registered to vote.

The ECB has been trying to talk up the figures saying there had been a rush to register over the final two days of registration which ended on Sunday (23 June 2013).

ECB Chair Chief Gija Dlamini also told media in Swaziland that the figures were inaccurate because some people who registered have yet to appear on the ECB computer. He also said some Swazi people who wanted to register were presently outside the kingdom

Chief Gija has once again denied that the ECB had targeted to register 600,000 people. He told the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, ‘It would have been a miracle to have 600,000 of the populace within the given times but it is only fair for EBC to use it as a measure to attempt to register a high number. However we are pleased with the current figures of the people who have registered and we are hopeful that before the deadline we would have reached 400,000.’

He added there were no threats to the elections even if the 600,000 was not reached.  ‘There is nothing wrong even if the figures do not reach half of the estimated population,’ he said.

Chief Gija told a press conference that the deadline for registration had been extended to 30 June 2013 in order to avoid possible stampedes and overcrowding at the registration centre. 

He told the media, We have been sent by the King to announce the extension of the registration process.’ 

The ECB has yet to address the real reasons for the low turnout. King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, and those who support him, believe the Swazi people support his undemocratic political system, known as tinkhundla, but the evidence of the voting suggests this might not be the case.

The election due in September has always been recognised as bogus by the international community. Now, more than ever, people within the kingdom might be coming to the same conclusion. All political parties are banned from taking part in the election due in September and the parliament that is selected is seen as a rubber stamp for the king.

The election is for 55 members of the 65-seat House of Assembly. The king appoints the other 10 members. No members of the 30-strong Swazi Senate are elected by the people: 20 senators are appointed by the king and the other 10 are selected by members of the House of Assembly.

A campaign organised by prodemocracy groups to boycott the election has been gathering momentum over the past few months.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013


PUDEMO’s Mario Masuku urges Denmark to pressurize Swazi regime
Kenworthy News Media, June 22, 2013

During an official visit to Denmark this week, President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) in Swaziland, Mario Masuku, met with the speaker of the Danish parliament and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mogens Lykketoft, and several other Danish MP’s, whom he urged to increase the pressure on Swaziland’s undemocratic regime, Writes Kenworthy News Media.

Mogens Lykketoft referred to PUDEMO as the “leading democratic movement in Swaziland” in a press release, where he also spoke of “possibilities of stronger pressure coming from especially South Africa and the EU regarding freedom of speech and organisation, and a process that would allow the poverty stricken country a democratic constitution.”

“I was very pleased to be able to meet Mogens Lykketoft and the other Danish MP’s, and have discussions with several political parties in Denmark,” Masuku told me. “Swaziland is famous for all the wrong things. For having the highest aids-prevalence in the world, for nearly 70% of the population having to live on under 1$ a day, and for being the country in the world that spends most on the military per capita, even though we have no external enemies.”

The support for absolute monarch King Mswati III’s repressive and undemocratic regime is dwindling, said Mario Masuku, who pointed to the campaign for boycotting elections led by PUDEMO as one of the ways to reveal the lack of support for Swaziland’s absolute monarchy amongst the population.

“The national elections in Swaziland are not free and fair,” Mario Masuku said. “We have therefore decided not to participate in them, but to instead educate civic society and individuals on what democratic and non-democratic elections are and on the fundamental rights of the population.”

The registering process for Swaziland’s general elections in September are underway and there is immense pressure on those eligible to vote to register. People have been offered bribes to register twice according to the Elections and Boundaries Commission, cabinet ministers and the sole mobile phone company in Swaziland, MTN,  which has Swaziland’s absolute monarch as a major shareholder, is giving presents to those who register, and many people who fail to register are threatened with eviction by their local chief.

Nevertheless, only half of the electorate are expected to register and even less to actually come out and vote on election day. Only half of the population eligible to vote did so at the last election in 2008, and the proportion of the population who vote in elections has been falling steadily since independence.

Instead of the present undemocratic and corrupt Tinkundla election system, where absolute monarch king Mswati III chooses the cabinet and Prime Minister, as well as a large proportion of the Senate, and has full control over Swaziland’s coffers and armed forces, PUDEMO are fighting for a truly democratic society for Swaziland, says Mario Masuku.

“PUDEMO envisages a united country that has a transparent, accountable, culturally vibrant and economically sustainable government, and a country where all political parties work together with civil society for a prosperous and free democratic Swaziland”, Masuku said.
“We believe that our liberation will be done by ourselves. But in order to pressurize the present undemocratic regime into a democratising process, PUDEMO and the democratic movement in Swaziland need the support of the European Union,” he insisted.

“The EU has a role to play in insuring that all partnership agreements between Swaziland and the EU are respected, such as the Cotonou agreement. And we are also calling on the EU to observe the elections now, not in September, because pressure is being put on people now, the rights of the people are being violated now”.

Asked what he believed the time-frame is for the democratisation of Swaziland, Masuku said he was cautiously optimistic. “I believe we will see the breakthrough in our lifetime. I and PUDEMO have laid a brick in the building of a multistory structure. Others will continue, we are all in there together.”