Friday, August 31, 2018

Polling Station Riot and Fresh Accusations of Vote-Rigging Reported at Swaziland Election

More accusations of vote-rigging and illegal practice during the first round of Swaziland’s election are emerging with calls for some votes to be re-run.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has come under attack for ignoring complaints.
One newspaper in Swaziland (recently renamed Eswatini by the kingdom’s absolute ruler King Mswati III) reported ‘riots’ at one polling station.

There are claims that at the Ezikhotheni chiefdom in the Shiselweni 1 constituency candidates brought strangers to vote. EBC polling officials were notified but did nothing about it, the Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (30 August 2018).

The outgoing member of parliament for the area Michael Sigodvo Nxumalo, who was standing for election again but lost, told the Observer unknown people in the community being were ‘smuggled’ into the polling centre.

‘EBC officials did not listen to our concerns. we did not want the counting of the votes to proceed without first knowing if all those that voted were from Ezikhotheni.’

The Observer added, ‘Nxumalo claimed that certain vehicles brought textile workers to vote when they were known to be from other areas.’

The Observer also reported (30 August 2018) that after ‘riots at the Mshingishingini polling station due to the lack of electricity, election nominees have called for fresh elections to be conducted’.

Candidates have protested that rules ‘stipulated by the EBC rule book state that a riot had the power to disturb an election, thus distort the eventual election results,’ it added.

The Observer said the riot lasted an hour and was caused ‘by people who wanted to vote illegally after voting had concluded’.

An unnamed source told the Observer, ‘The rioting individuals are the people who entered the polling station after 19.00 hours as they took advantage that there was no electricity at the voting centre. They broke down the polling station gate and forced themselves in and were added as though they had queued, The EBC officers could not stop the crowd.’

Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba confirmed the riots at the Mshingishingini polling station, the Observer added.

Candidates at Mvembili claimed the winner of the constituency executive (Bucopho) election was an imposter. They said Martin Magagula was not from the Northern Hhohho area but Dvokolwako, and therefore he stole the election victory. They want him stripped of his victory.

Meanwhile, Ayanda Shiba, aged 22, was fined E1,000 by the Siteki magistrate after he admitted trying to vote twice using two different voting cards at Good Shepherd polling station, at Makhewu in Siteki.

There have been a number of claims of vote-rigging and malpractice emerging in the days following the election.

Most presiding officers at polling stations did not know how to seal ballot boxes properly, the Coordinating Assembly of NGOs (CANGO) said in a report on the conduct of the election.

At Kwaluseni about 16 candidates and their agents walked out of the counting in protest at cheating and called for the election in the constituency to be cancelled.

EBC Commissioner Ncumbi Maziya said many complaints had been received from across the kingdom, including Ezulwini, Lobamba Lomdzala, Kwaluseni and Mpolonjeni in the Lubombo region.

Swaziland’s elections are recognised outside the kingdom to be undemocratic. Political parties are banned from taking part and the King appoints the Prime Minister and government ministers.

See also

Fears Grow of Vote-Rigging and Malpractice in Swaziland Election. Ballot Boxes Not Properly Sealed

Independent Election Observers in Swaziland Barred From Some Polling Stations, Told to Sign Secrecy Forms

First Round of Swaziland Election Marred by Inefficiency and Fear of Vote-Rigging

Chaos and Violence Reported Across Swaziland as Voters go to the Polls

Organised Certainty, Why elections in Swaziland are not democratic

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Police in Swaziland Attack Nurses With Taser During Peaceful Protest Over Pay

Police in Swaziland attacked nurses with tasers during a peaceful demonstration against pay in the kingdom’s capital.

The attack was unprovoked, according to the Times of Swaziland newspaper.

It came days after police shot live ammunition into a crowd of schoolteachers who were also demonstrating about salaries.

It happened on Wednesday (29 August 2018) when hundreds of trade unionists led by the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) marched through Mbabane. They were going to the Ministries of Public Service and Health to deliver petitions.

The Times reported ‘tensions reached beyond boiling point’ when there was a dispute between police and union leaders about the route they were allowed to follow.

It said some nurses ‘claimed that police manhandled and used tasers on them during their march to the two ministries’. 

One nurse identified a police officer who she said had attacked her with a taser. The attack was reported to Mbabane Police Deputy Station Commander Amos Dlamini.

A taser is a weapon that gives someone an electric shock and makes them unable to move for a short time.

Public service workers are in dispute with the government of Swaziland, recently renamed Eswatini by the kingdom’s absolute monarch King Mswati III. They have been offered zero percent increase in their annual cost of living allowances.

On Friday teachers were attacked by police who fired live ammunition at them. One man was wounded.

See also

Swaziland Teacher Who Stopped Police Chief Shooting Into Unarmed Crowd Appears in Court

Swaziland Police Shoot, Wound Teacher During Protest Over Pay, Tensions High on Eve of National Election

Swaziland Teacher Who Stopped Police Chief Shooting Into Unarmed Crowd Appears in Court

Musa Maxwell Zondinkhundla Myeni, the schoolteacher in Swaziland who came to international attention after he wrestled a gun-wielding police chief to the ground to stop him firing at teachers during a protest over salaries, appeared in court on six charges.

One teacher was shot and wounded by police on Friday (24 August 2018) as members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) tried to enter their union building in Manzini.

The Magistrates’ Court in Manzini, the main commercial city in Swaziland (recently renamed Eswatini by the Kingdom’s absolute monarch King Mswati III), was packed with supporters on Tuesday (28 August 2018). In what might be a first they uploaded pictures and videos of their protest to the Internet from inside the court room. 

Myeni, aged 35, a teacher at Matsanjeni Primary School, faced six charges including public violence, common assault and blocking the road. He was remanded on bail of E7,000 (US$485) to reappear in Manzini Magistrates’ Court on 12 September 2018.

Photographs of Myeni disarming Station Commander Raphael ‘Sikheshekheshe’ Maseko of Manzini police appeared in newspapers in Swaziland and on Internet and social media sites across the world. The Observer on Saturday and the Swazi News in Swaziland also published photographs of police officers pointing guns at teachers. 

Willie ‘Mawillies’ Dlamini, a teacher at Salesian High School was shot and wounded in the arm after police fired into the crowd. 

Njabulo Dlamini, a branch leader of SNAT, told the Peoples Dispatch, an online news site, ‘In most instances, the police first fire teargas to disperse protesters. But this time things were different. The police did not even give a warning. They started firing the live bullet at teachers.’

The Observer on Saturday newspaper in Swaziland reported the next day, ‘Several gunshots were heard and bullets aimed directly at the teachers flew in all directions while stones directed at the police officers also flew the opposite direction.’

It said teachers ran for safety and some pelted the police officers with stones.

The Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported that the Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU), which it called ‘the police’s semi-military wing’, arrived to back up the police. 

Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati as an absolute monarch. Political parties are banned and people advocating for democracy are routinely arrested and charged under sedition and anti-terrorism laws. Police break up protest meetings using teargas, water cannon, rubber bullets and sometimes live ammunition.

Following the shooting the People’s United Democratic Party (PUDEMO) the best known of the banned political parties, released a statement. ‘PUDEMO calls upon the immediate arrest of all the police officers who were involved in the discharging of live ammunitions against the teachers of Swaziland. We particularly call upon the immediate arrest and prosecution of one Mr. Sikheshekheshe Maseko, who is said to be Manzini Station Commander, who was at the forefront of this murderous attack on the unarmed members of SNAT.’

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) called the arrest of Myeni, who is also a local official of SNAT, a political move. Myeni had been arrested at his home on Sunday by six heavily armed members of the Royal Lukhozi arm of the police. It said Lukhozi was ‘known for its torture of prisoners who often end up dead. Their greater focus is often on human rights activists, unionists, youth and student activists and members of political parties.’

Swazi News front page the day after the incident 

Protestors inside the magistrates court 

See also

Swazi Police Now ‘A Private Militia’

Swaziland ‘Becoming Military State’