The belief that many Swazi people have of themselves as friendly and peaceful people took a battering on Wednesday (5 October 2016) at a parliamentary select committee hearing on Asians.
The kingdom’s only two daily newspapers gave vivid accounts of xenophobia, ignorance and hatred.
The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, posed the question, ‘Is Swaziland home to 200,000 Asians?’
It should have known the answer was, No, since that number would account for around one in six of the entire population.
The Observer reported that speakers at the committee claimed, ‘In no time, foreigners would take over control of the economic and political life of Swaziland.’
They said that Asians aimed to ‘occupy the country’. They said the Asians wanted to convert people to become Muslims.
The Observer reported, ‘To make their alleged take-over of the country very easy, the Asian people flooding the country are now reportedly marrying Swazi wives.’
The newspaper said the committee had been formed to, ‘probe the influx of foreign nationals into the country, in particular those of Asian origin.’
The newspaper added, ‘The parliamentary committee, which is chaired by Zombodze Emuva MP Titus Thwala, was elected after a motion that raised, among other things, concern that Asians were flooding the country amid suspicions of corruption.’
The Swazi Ministry of Home Affairs has suspended issuing entry permits to Swaziland for Asian nationals.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported, ‘The general concern by the speakers was that the Asians had one mission, which was to take over the country and convert all Swazi nationals to the Muslim religion.’
The newspapers took no opportunity to qualify the claims with facts or context and presented the statements as if they were true.
Muslims in Swaziland often feel under attack. In September 2016 it was reported that undercover police regularly attended prayer meetings as mosques, because Muslims were perceived as people who wanted to perpetuate violence.
In July 2016, the editor of the Times Sunday made a concerted attack on ‘Asians’ in the kingdom, declaring them to be cheats and scoundrels.
Following Swaziland’s decision to ban all Asian people from entering the kingdom a group of 12 Asians were evicted from their home at Mgazini and banished from the area simply because they are Asian.
They had rented a homestead from a local resident, but were later ordered out of the area by the area’s chief’s representative Indvuna Xolani Vilakati. The Indvuna or headman reportedly did not meet with the Asians, ‘but only heard of their presence in the area’.
ASIANS EVICTED FROM HOME
ALL ASIANS BANNED FROM SWAZILAND