Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Swaziland’s army is one of the most corrupt in the world, according to a report published by a Swazi newspaper.

There was no oversight of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) as the army is known, according to rankings made by the government defence, a division of Transparency International, according to the Times of Swaziland.

The Times reported, ‘There is no formal provision for effective and independent legislative scrutiny of defence policy. While the Constitution provides for a Parliament and freedom of speech to parliamentarians, the legislature is neither independent nor constitutionally in charge of defence scrutiny.’

The Times added the report, ‘further highlighted that the country did not have an identifiable and effective parliamentary defence and security committee (or similar organisation) to exercise oversight.’

The Times which is the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom also reported, ‘Swaziland is an absolute monarchy where the King has final authority over all branches of government. 
Although parliament includes both appointed and elected members and a prime minister, international observers have concluded that the September 2013 parliamentary elections did not meet international standards - it can, therefore, not be considered independent. US State Department reporting notes authorities have failed at times to maintain effective control over the security forces.
‘There is nonetheless a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for the Ministry of Defence that reviews the budgets and performance reports of the ministry.’

The King is in effect the head of the USDF.

The USDF is responsible for external security but also has domestic security responsibilities, including protecting members of the royal family. According to numerous annual reports on human rights in Swaziland published by the United States State Department the USDF, along with police and correctional officers ‘were susceptible to political pressure and corruption’.

AS recently as April 2017 corruption in army recruitment in Swaziland was exposed with at least 40 recruits expelled during basic training.

Among allegations circulating in newspapers in the kingdom was that top army officers were bribed. Families were reported to have sold livestock and other belongings to get their men in uniform.

The Swazi News reported that corrupt practices had been known about for several years, but this was the first time that recruits had been expelled.

The Times of Swaziland reported that about 40 recruits were shown the exit door from the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) Infantry School in Mbuluzi. It said recruits had failed to prove that they used the legal route to be recruited into the military.

The Swazi Observer reported the army said action was taken following complaints from throughout Swaziland ‘about abnormalities which happened during the recruitment exercises’. 

In February 2017, during the recruitment drive it was reported that several men who tried to cheat during exercises were tortured by army personnel. The Army was recruiting 495 additional soldiers from across the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

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