Friday, July 29, 2016


Desperately poor people in Swaziland have been camping outside one of King Mswati III’s offices over many months to ‘beg’ the King for work, according to local media.

They said they would rather die than return to poverty, the Times of Swaziland reported on Friday (29 July 2016).

The newspaper, the only independent daily in the kingdom where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported, ‘Many months have gone by as the group of unemployed citizens from different parts of the country camped daily outside the King’s Office at Nkhanini, hoping to be called in.’

In Swaziland nearly seven in ten of the 1.3 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 per day.

The Times reported, ‘However, on numerous occasions, the undeterred group would be told that there were currently no vacancies but would continue to sit and hope for a different answer.’

The newspaper reported the jobseekers spoke ‘on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation’. 

They said they ‘would rather die outside the gates of Nkhanini than to return to poverty’.

The Times reported, ‘They said they were sending a plea to Their Majesties to find it befitting to issue a Royal Command for them to be given jobs as they were currently ravaged by poverty.’

It added, ‘They said they were determined to go to Their Majesties to beg for the jobs.’

They had heard rumours that there were vacancies for jobs such as cleaning staff, groundsmen and other general duties, which did not require special skills in order to carry out.

It is difficult to get accurate figures on unemployment in Swaziland, but the CIA World Fact Book put the rate at 40 percent in 2014.

While poverty continues to grip Swaziland it was revealed by an international news agency this week that King Mswati’s annual budget had been increased to US$69.8 million in the current financial year. The Anadolu Agency quoted official figures from the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland’s estimates for the years from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019 report. It said the royal budget was US$55.3 million in the last financial year, but this year it has been increased by US$13.9 million.

King Mswati has a reputation outside of Swaziland as a lavish spender. He has at least 13 palaces, a fleet of top-of-the-range- Mercedes and BMW cars. He is about to take delivery of a 375-seater private jet worth about US$14 million paid for by his Government.

In 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. 

See also




Thursday, July 28, 2016


Swaziland’s King Mswati III’s royal budget has been increased to US$69.8 million in the current financial year, an international news agency has reported.

The Anadolu Agency quoted official figures from the “Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland’s estimates for the years from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019” report. It said the royal budget was US$55.3 million in the last financial year, but this year it has been increased by US$13.9 million.

The budget also has an extra US$6.7 million allocation for the king’s private jet.

Details of King Mswati’s budget are not made public in the kingdom he rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. King Mswati is regularly criticised outside of Swaziland for his lavish spending. At present 300,000 of his 1.3 million subjects need financial aid to stop from starving during the present drought that has hit southern Africa.

Anadolu reported that in addition to the US$69.8 million, the budget for construction of link roads to royal palaces has been increased by US$6.4 million. It was US$2 million in the last budget.

The royal houses budget was also increased by US$10 million to reach US$17 million, the agency reported.

Royal emolument and civil list, which includes salaries for the King, the Queen Mother and others in the royal service, were allocated US$25.8 million in the current financial year.

Since the budget was announced in February 2016, a further US$14 million will be spent on a 375-seater private jet for the King.

Meanwhile, Swaziland is suffering the worst drought in memory. As of the end of May 2016, UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – estimated 300,320 people in total in Swaziland were affected by drought of which 189,000 were children. It estimated that 165,000 children affected were by drought in the two most affected regions of Lubombo and Shiselweni.

A total of 200,897 people were food insecure, of which 90,404 were children. Of these, 8,460 children aged six to 59 months were affected by ‘severe and moderate acute malnutrition’.

Meanwhile, the Swazi Government has released only E22 million (US$1.5 million) of the E305 million earmarked for drought relief in this year’s national budget. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on 11 July 2016 that the Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini announced this to the House of Assembly.

The newspaper reported he ‘failed to explain the reasons behind government’s failure to purchase and distribute food to the affected communities’. 

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), a pro-democracy organization, strongly criticized the increase in the royal budget.

‘It's sad that the country's social expenditure always takes a back seat to satisfy the king’s greed. It’s a painful act that shows that if he had his own way he would keep all the country's money to himself,’ Anadolu quoted a spokesperson for SSN saying.

King Mswati 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.

In 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 subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.
Anadolu reported the royal budget was not allowed to be debated by the local parliament or scrutinized by the Public Accounts Committee. In fact, it is a normal government practice to not include any details about the royal budget in the budget speech, it said.

While the King’s budget soared, grants for the elderly was reduced by $488,000 from $12.3 million to $11.8 million, according to budget documents.

See also




Wednesday, July 27, 2016


One of Swaziland’s few independent newspapers the Times Sunday has made a concerted attack on ‘Asians’ in the kingdom, declaring them to be cheats and scoundrals.

It follows the decision of the Swazi House of Assembly to set up a committee to investigate illegal immigration into Swaziland and for the banning of entry permits to people from Asia.
The newspaper is breaking its own code of ethical conduct in reporting.

One of the anti-Asian cheerleaders is Innocent Maphalala, the editor of the Times Sunday. Writing in his own newspaper on Sunday (24 July 2016), he said there was an ‘influx’ of immigrants from Pakistan and India, but gave no statistics to support his comment.

I do not want to repeat much of Maphalala column as it would only spread his racist comments to a wider audience. However, he attacked Asian businesses as being cheats and he complained that shops were closed on Friday mornings, a time during the week when Muslims go to prayer.

Despite his fierce attacks he did not interview one Asian person for comment.

Maphalala’s comments break Article 6 of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) Code of Conduct which says journalists must not ‘originate material which encourages discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, colour, creed, gender or sexual orientation’. He quoted nobody either in favour or against his proposition that Asians were cheats and is therefore responsible for originating the material.

Although it is important for SNAJ to have a code of conduct about racist reporting, unfortunately Article 6 lacks details and is not that useful for journalists who are trying to do the right thing.

This kind of racism is not confined to Swaziland. Journalists in other parts of the world have to confront racists and racist attitudes every day and have created their own codes of conduct. 

One that is more detailed than that of SNAJ is from the National Union of Journalists in the UK. 

Here is an extract from its guidelines that journalists in Swaziland might like to take note of.

Guidelines ratified by the National Union of Journalists (UK and Ireland) for all its members to follow when dealing with race relations subjects.
The NUJ believes that its members cannot avoid a measure of responsibility in fighting the evil of racism as expressed through the mass media. 

The NUJ reaffirms its total opposition to censorship but equally reaffirms its belief that press freedom must be conditioned by responsibility and an acknowledgement by all media workers of the need not to allow press freedom to be abused to slander a section of the community or to promote the evil of racism. 

The NUJ believes the methods and lies of the racists should be publicly and vigorously exposed. 

The NUJ believes that newspapers and magazines should not originate material which encourages discrimination on grounds of race or colour, as expressed in the NUJ's rule book and code of conduct. 

The NUJ believes that editors should ensure that coverage of race stories should be placed in a balanced context. 

Race reporting

Only mention someone’s race if it is strictly relevant. 

Do not sensationalise race relations issues.

Immigrant is often used as a term of abuse. Do not use it unless the person really is an immigrant. 

Be wary of disinformation. Just because a source is traditional does not mean it is accurate. 

When interviewing representatives of racist organisations or reporting meetings or statements or claims, journalists should carefully check all reports for accuracy and seek rebutting or opposing comments. The anti-social nature of such views should be exposed. 

Do not allow the letters column or 'phone-in' programmes to be used to spread racial hatred in whatever guise.

See also