Friday, July 31, 2015


The documentary, Swaziland: Africa’s last Absolute Monarchy, which reports on human rights abuses in the kingdom is to be aired on national Danish television channel DR2 on Sunday 2 August 2015 at 11 pm, local time.

It was written and directed by Tom Heinemann and Produced by Borgen & Heinemann (2015).

The documentary, part of the series A Heart That Never Dies features Bheki Dlamini. 

A summary of the documentary released by the programme makers says, ‘Bheki Dlamini is a young, political activist from the tiny African country, Swaziland. He spent almost four years in imprisonment for something that he didn’t do. Shortly after his release he had to flee his country.’

This was because he wore a t-shirt demanding democracy and political reforms – which is considered an act of terrorism in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The programme makers say Bheki is just one out of many others that are harassed, tortured and jailed, including editors, lawyers and political opponents of the King’s regime.

Swaziland – Africa’s last absolute monarchy premièred in May 2015 in Copenhagen. It has been submitted to several film festivals, including the Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival and Movies That Matter.

Bheki Dlamini is the President of the Swaziland Youth Congress, the youth wing of PUDEMO. He currently lives in exile at a secret location in South Africa. The Swazi police’s torture of him by way of “severe beatings and suffocation torture” was mentioned in Amnesty International’s 2011 Annual Report.

Tom Heinemann has won the Danish Outstanding Investigative Journalist of the year award twice, and has been runner up for Journalist of the year in Denmark three times. In 2007 he won the Prix Italia in the current affairs selection.

See also



King Mswati III of Swaziland has so little faith in the new international airport that has his name that he does not use it. 

Instead, he travels in his private jet from Matsapha, the airport that closed to make way for the King Mswati III International Airport (KM111) that was built in a wilderness about 70 km from any major town.

Matsapha remains open from 08.00 to 17.00 Monday to Friday to service the King’s needs and also to be available for any emergencies.

The Airport closed to commercial airlines in September 2014, when KM111 became operational.

The information is contained in a report from the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA). 

According to the Observer on Sunday, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati the airport also accommodates the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) Air Wing, but, ‘in most cases now services royal movement as Their Majesties and members of the royal family use it as seen during their departures and arrivals’.

The newspaper also reported, ‘The only planes that frequently use the airport are local ones, which according to information gathered, are those from the Flight Academy based at the airport, the army and those from Simunye, Big-Bend, Ngonini and Usuthu forests. 

Meanwhile, KM111 (formerly known as Sikhuphe) only has three commercial flights a day leaving the airport, taking a maximum of 150 passengers a day to Johannesburg, South Africa.

The airport, considered a white elephant and vanity project for King Mswati who rules as an absolute monarch cost an estimated E2.5 billion (US$250 million) to build.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015


The US Embassy in Swaziland said King Mswati III was ‘not intellectually well developed’ and ‘is not a reader’. It also called him ‘imbalanced’. 
The comments about the Swazi King came from Earl Irvine in February 2010, when he was the US Ambassador to Swaziland.

In a confidential cable to Washington released by Wikileaks, Irvine said King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, had a ‘lack of wisdom’.

Quoting an informant, Irvine wrote the king was ‘not a reader, and would not review documents left for him. [The informant] called the king ‘not intellectually well-developed,’ and contrasted his poor educational background with his father Sobhuza II, who was educated at Lovedale College in South Africa alongside future leaders of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC). 

Irvine wrote, ‘Essentially a bastard outsider to the royal family, King Mswati III was plucked from relative obscurity when members of the royal family could not come to an agreement on a successor to King Sobhuza II. 

‘After Mswati III was selected to be the next king, a posthumous marriage of Sobhuza II to Ntombi [the Queen Mother] was quickly arranged, according to our interlocutor.’

Irvine wrote, ‘Unlike in his early years, the king now identifies and pushes specific projects, and will look to replace ministers or employees who are unable to provide progress on those projects.’

Irvine quoted his informant calling King Mswati ‘imbalanced’. He gave an anecdote to illustrate this. ‘The king, [the informant] said, invited about 40 officials and advisors to a basement in one of his palaces, where they all sat on the floor to attend to him. King Mswati III turned up the heater, which warmed the floor first, until the temperature in the room reached about 40 degrees Celsius, and told inconsequential stories to those gathered while they sweated, merely to show them he was in power.’

Irvine also reported that the king’s mother had a sexual affair with Lutfo Dlamini, Swaziland’s former Foreign Minister. 

And the Queen Mother Ntombi’s ‘associations with men’ had undermined the power she had to influence King Mswati’s decision-making.

Irvine called the cable he wrote to Washington ‘Witchcraft and More: A Portrait of Influences on King Mswati III’.

In the cable Irvine said, ‘traditional leaders, superstition, and members of the royal family’ were the major influences on the king. His ministers, however, ‘remain his servants’.

Irvine wrote, ‘The king’s wives’ opinions matter to the king, especially his third wife, LaMbikisa, who has an advanced degree and is the only wife to whom the king proposed.’

Irvine goes on, ‘King Mswati III believes in muti (traditional medicine used to cast spells or curses), and attempts to use muti to attack the king are taken seriously’.

He wrote, ‘In 1989 Prince Mfana Sibili was accused of high treason when he allegedly used muti to try to take away the king’s powers. When a foreign judge, brought in to hear the case, dismissed it after hearing the charges, a traditional court was installed to convict the prince.’ 

He said that ‘muti people’ hold great sway within the royal family, and that the king must eat and drink whatever they give him during traditional ceremonies, particularly when in seclusion. ‘If they are unhappy with the direction the king is taking the country, then the king has cause to worry.’ 

Irvine went on ‘Although Queen Mother Ntombi is considered by many observers to be a powerful figure within the royal family, [name of informant] indicated that her authority has been undermined by her “associations with men,” including the then Foreign Minister Lutfo Dlamini.

Irvine wrote, ‘Mswati III uses the investment company African Alliance to move his money around internationally.’

The informant indicated that ‘the king has become more decisive during his years in office, especially where his interests are at issue, and he views ministers and officials who tell him he cannot do something as cowards’.

Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini is the king’s loyal ‘hangman,’ Irvine wrote, an assertion that suggests that the king placed absolute trust in Barnabas. 

‘Instead of looking to influence the king, the Prime Minister acts as the king's steadfast servant, a relationship that dates back to a suicide attempt by Barnabas in 1990 or 1991. 

‘According to [informants] in an unsuccessful attempt kept secret from the public, Barnabas tried to commit suicide after his involvement in a corruption scandal during his tenure as Minister of Finance became known. 

‘As part of making amends to the king, Barnabas reportedly prostrated himself before the king, giving himself over as the king’s servant.’

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


The budget for Swaziland’s King Mswati III and his family has increased by 25 percent and now makes up five percent of the overall national budget for Swaziland.

These figures that are never debated in the Swazi Parliament or in the kingdom’s mainstream media have been published by the Nation magazine, a small circulation monthly publication.

The magazine reported that for the year 2015/16, ‘every budget of the royal household, except for the subvention to the King’s Office, reflects a generous increase.’

The Nation report has been uploaded to the Internet.
The Nation reported, ‘The overall budget for King Mswati and the royal household took a significant increase of about 25 percent from E630 million [US$63 million] to E792 million. This reflects a staggering E162 million increase and accounts for just about five percent of the overall national budget. This has been the trend for some years.

‘Government increased the Royal Emoluments and Civil List by 21.9 percent from E279 million last year to E340 million. This reflect an increase E61 million. 

‘The Swazi National Treasury, a royal unit responsible for national courts and advisory committees such as Liqoqo, the idle Border Restoration Committee and others, has its budget handsomely increased by E77 million from E200 million. This is a 38.9 percent increase.

‘Government further increased budget for construction of State houses by E13 million from E131 million to E144 million. This is an increase of about 10 percent. The state houses are mainly palaces for the royal household. This budget has become a common feature in the national budget.

‘The budget for link roads to royal residence has been increased by E5 million from E25 million last year to E30 million this year. This reflects a 20 percent increase. The status of the project has never been publicly disclosed. This is another budget that has become a common feature in the national budget. 

‘Government cut down subvention to the King’s Office by E3.4 million from E5 million to E1.6 million. This is a decrease of about 68 percent. A budget of E252 million has been made for the link road to KMIII Airport and to Hlane. 

‘At the opening of the KMIII airport last year (2014), government blew over E5 million on a bash for the royal project.’

The Nation magazine is edited by Bheki Makhubu, who along with writer and journalist Thulani Maseko, were released from jail on 30 June 2015 after serving 15 months for contempt of court after writing and publishing articles critical of the Swazi judiciary.

The magazine has a long-standing reputation for covering stories about people in power in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati, who is an absolute monarch.

The Nation reported, ‘The budget for the royal household is not debated in parliament. Not because there is any law against it but simple because it is considered unSwazi and a taboo for commoners to discuss anything pertaining to the esteemed family. 

‘Parliament is also in the dark as to how the funds are used as audited reports are only for the eyes of the king.’

The magazine said Parliament just approves what the government, which is handpicked by the King, has budgeted.