Thursday, March 31, 2016


There have been 4,556 cases of ‘severe corporal punishment’ of children in Swaziland’s schools over the past four years, an international news organisation reported.

Star Africa quoted Zanele Thabede from youth group Super Buddies, who leads a team looking into youth and child issues, who in an interview said the number of whippings dated from 2012.

Star Africa reported Thabede saying, ‘Corporal punishment by teachers and principals is legal and routinely practiced and there is a growing trend of incarcerating of children and youth in the Malkerns Industrial School for Rehabilitation because of “unruly” behaviour.’

There is confusion in Swaziland as to whether corporal punishment has been banned in schools. It is believed that a directive was issued to schools in 2012 not to use corporal punishment but few teachers appear to know it had been made.
The Times of Swaziland reported in October 2015 that Phineas Magagula, Minister of Education and Training, warned that teachers who beat pupils should be reported to the ministry so that they could be disciplined.
Swaziland has a long history of atrocities committed by teachers against their pupils in the name of ‘discipline’. Although there were rules about how corporal punishment could be administered, these were largely ignored.
As recently as September 2015, the Times reported a 17-year-old school pupil died after allegedly being beaten at school. The pupil reportedly had a seizure.
In March 2015, a primary school teacher at the Florence Christian Academy was charged with causing grievous bodily harm after allegedly giving 200 strokes of the cane to a 12-year-old pupil on her buttocks and all over her body.
In February 2015, the headteacher of Mayiwane High School Anderson Mkhonta reportedly admitted giving 15 strokes to a form 1 pupil for not wearing a neck tie properly.
In April 2015, parents reportedly complained to the Ndlalane Primary School after a teacher beat pupils for not following his instruction and shaving their hair. 
In October 2014, 20 pupils were thrashed before they sat an examination because they had been absent from school studying for the exam the previous day.
In October 2015, the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III and the voice of the traditionalists in Swaziland published an article against the abolition of corporal punishment. 
Observer journalist Fanyana Mabuza wrote that if corporal punishment was abolished, ‘[T]he future could be bleak, especially for the children who for their own good need a bit of spanking to bring them to order.’
The article in the Observer, a newspaper that believes Swaziland will be a ‘First World’ nation by 2022 added, ‘We just do not see the future clearly without the cane in our schools.’
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016


King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, is to get a 9 percent increase for his spending from the taxpayer, while elderly pensions are frozen because there is not enough money to pay for increases.

The news about King Mswati’s budget increase has not been reported in Swaziland, where media routinely censor news about the King.

King Mswati’s ‘Civil List’, the money given to him to run the Royal household, will increase by E30m (US$1.9m) in the coming financial year to E370m (US$24m).

The King also receives income from a variety of businesses in the kingdom. For example, he holds 25 percent of all mineral wealth ‘in trust for the Swazi nation.’ In reality he uses this money to fund his lavish lifestyle, which includes 13 palaces, a private jet, fleets of Mercedes and BMW cars and at least one Rolls Royce.

Earlier this month (March 2016), it was revealed the King’s share of the just-reopened Lufafa Gold Mine at Hhelehhele in the Hhohho region of Swaziland could be worth up to US$149 million. 

Meanwhile, seven in ten of his 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.

The increase in the King’s budget was contained in the annual budget estimates in February 2016. Although the Swazi media covered aspects of the budget, the news about the King was not published.

Meanwhile, the same budget pegged the elderly grant (pensions), which are for people aged 60 and over, at E240 per month. A total of E170,765,454 (about US$11m) was paid in elderly grants in the 2015 – 2016 financial year. This was about half the E340 million that the King received as ‘Civil List’ to fund the Royal household.

The budget also revealed that about US$9 million would be spent on a private jet for the King. Also US$12 million will reportedly be spent on décor at the Royal Terminal Building at King Mswati III (KMIII) Airport.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016


As the Swaziland Government goes cap-in-hand to the international community to seek money to stop people starving as a result of drought, news has emerged that US$12 million is to be spent on decorating the Royal Terminal Building at King Mswati III (KMIII) Airport.

KMIII, formerly known as Sikhuphe, is an airport built in the wilderness in Swaziland. It has been widely criticised outside the kingdom where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch as a vanity project for the King.

Despite efforts by the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority and others to disguise the fact, the airport has not attracted the international flights the airport’s supporters promised. The airport officially opened in March 2014 but flights did not start until the following October. The only route served is with OR Tambo in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is a flying time of less than an hour. Fewer than 100 passengers a day on average fly from the airport.

The cost of building the airport is unknown, but estimates widely reported by the media suggest it could have been as much as US$250 - 300 million. It took at least 10 years to build and was opened at least four years behind schedule.

In October 2013 a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said the airport was widely perceived as a ‘vanity project’ because of its scale and opulence compared with the size and nature of the market it sought to serve.

On 21 March 2016 The Star Africa news site reported that more than US$12 million would be spent on ‘the interior decorations’ at the terminal.

It reported, ‘The money for the project termed VVPI Royal Terminal, according to government estimates, will be sourced locally for the procurement of ground handling equipment.’

It added, ‘Solomon Dube, Director of the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) says the airport is a commercial airlines facility and therefore needs to accommodate important guests who require detailed welcoming protocol separately.’

At present 70 percent of King Mswati’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, with incomes less than US$2 a day. Swaziland also has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. In 2003, the International Monetary Fund said the airport should not be built because it would divert funds away from much needed projects to fight poverty in Swaziland.

There is no obvious need for the new airport which is being built in the Swazi wilderness 80 kilometres east of the Swazi capital Mbabane. Major airports already exist less than an hour’s flying time away in South Africa with connecting routes to Swaziland.

There has never been a needs analysis undertaken on the airport, and Swaziland’s airport at Matsapha which closed to make way for KMIII only carried about 70,000 passengers a year.

Today, Swaziland is in the grip of a drought crisis. In February 2016, the Swazi Government announced it did not have enough money to give drought relief. It asked for immediate emergency donations amounting to US$16 million. Since then it has been revealed that the Swazi Government intends to spend at least US$9 million on a private jet plane for the King.

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