Soldiers from Swaziland / eSwatini who are receiving military training in Russia want to go home because they are ill-treated and suffer racism.
Also, they say, the Swazi Government is slow in sending them their allowances and this makes it difficult for them to live.
The on Monday (10 December 2018) the soldiers from the Army, officially known as the Eswatini Umbutfo Defence Force (UEDF), were threatening to leave Russia and return to Swaziland. It reported the soldiers were ‘ill-treated in Russia because of the colour of their skin. Russia is one of the countries in the world that records high cases associated with racism.’
It added, ‘According to sources closer to the matter the Swazi government is not making things better for them. Amongst other things, it is said that their allowances take a significant time to be deposited into their accounts.’
It quoted an unnamed source saying, ‘Imagine living in a foreign country without money, with no relatives to help you. Russia is not just a country next door of which you can just take a bus home.’
The number of Swazi soldiers in Russia was not disclosed for security reasons.
The Observer reported soldiers were afraid to voice their concerns because they feared they would be sacked.
The source said, ‘The last time one newspaper reported such information, those who communicated with the newspaper were brought back home and were also fired.’
UEDF Communications and Information Officer Lieutenant Officer Tengetile Khumalo denied the claim.
The Observer reported on Wednesday a ‘concerned UEDF member’ said, ‘It is a pity that our grievances are “censored” by those in senior positions in the army. Last year alone, two soldiers returned to Eswatini but they are afraid to talk about it in fear of losing their jobs.’
It quoted Khumalo confirming three soldiers returned without completing the course in Russia, ‘because of their personal problems’. Khumalo added soldiers faced no ill-treatment and hardship.
In 2010, a contract was signed between the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Swaziland Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation providing Swazi military personnel to be educated in Russia on a number of military disciplines that include medicine, artillery and engineering.
Why so much military training?