Swaziland – like most of the world – is in the grip of a coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. As usual in the kingdom ruled by absolute monarch King Mswati III, those close to power have received preferential treatment.
After a stop-start vaccination programme Swaziland (renamed eSwatini by the King) was left with only 32,000 doses to treat 1.1 million people. First to get their jabs were the Royal Family. The Acting Prime Minister, the Minister of Health and other Cabinet ministers were next in line. Health workers, and people with pre-existing serious health conditions, had to wait.
Finally, people aged 60 or over were told they could be vaccinated, but by this time there were few doses available and the so-called roll-out of vaccinations descended into chaos.
These were the main highlights in the first three months of 2021 as contained in Swaziland: Striving for Freedom, volume 41, a compilation of reports posted from January to March 2021 on the Swazi Media Commentary website.
The report is available on scribd dot com.
During this time it was also confirmed that Swaziland was not a free country. In its annual report on human rights in the kingdom, Freedom House scored Swaziland 19 out of 100 points. This was the same score it gave for 2020.
Separately, the latest annual report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) said restrictions on freedom of assembly and association gripped Swaziland.
A United Nations group investigating Swaziland was told there had been a ‘drastic deterioration’ in human rights. Human Rights Watch said since the 1973 Royal Decree, ‘political parties are banned, the judiciary is severely compromised, and repressive laws have been used to target independent organizations and harass civil society activists’.
Elsewhere, Save The Children reported nearly 60,000 people in Swaziland faced starvation or death unless immediate action was taken. They were among more than 347,000 people in the kingdom who faced acute food shortage and needed urgent humanitarian assistance. This included about 180,000 children.
Swazi Media Commentary is published online, updated most weekdays. It is operated entirely by volunteers and receives no financial backing (or support in kind) from any organisation. It is devoted to providing information and commentary in support of human rights in Swaziland.
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