Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Here is the Swaziland national budget for the years 2012 – 2015. Some of this information has been covered by the media in Swaziland, but as in previous years it is the information they choose not to tell us – or are too afraid to tell us - that is most interesting.

I have already written about King Mswati’s take from the budget, but also revealed in this document is the fact that the budget for the King’s Office (head 52) will rise from E70,692 in the financial year just ending to more than E5 million in the coming year. No information on the need for this increase is given, except that it is all for ‘CTA vehicle charges’.

Also noticeable is the rise in ‘head 60’Central Transfers – the amount set aside for ‘contingencies’, that is payments that do not fall under any other budget heading. The sum put aside here rises from E476 million in the year just ended to E1.68 billion in 2012/13.

The amount set aside for defence (i.e. internal security) spending rises to E610.79 million from E522.57 million (head 08). Spending on police rises from E546.2 million to E635 million (head 05).A further E7 million has been set aside for state security equipment and a further E1.25 million for training the Royal Guards in the coming year.

See also


Swaziland Budget 2012


Swaziland MPs are threatening to take the Minister of Finance to court because he cut their salaries by 10 percent in a bid to control public spending.

They say they were the only group to have the cut and it was done without their permission.

The Swazi Government had hoped to cut all public service salaries by 10 percent to save E240 million from the annual budget, but it failed to do this. Public service unions threatened civil unrest if the cuts went ahead. Only an estimated E6 million per year – mostly from salaries of parliamentarians – has been saved so far by wage cuts.

Earlier this week news leaked out that King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, had not taken a cut in income himself, even though he had been urging his subjects to make sacrifices.

Yesterday (28 February 2012), during a portfolio committee budget performance debate, MPs demanded that Majozi Sithole, the Finance Minister, reinstate their pay and give them back money that had been deducted in recent months. They said the policy of salary cuts had failed and they did not see why they should be the only ones to suffer.

MPs claim that Sithole had no legal right to cut their salaries and if he did not reinstate the money they would challenge him in court.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Musa Ndlangamandla, the sacked editor in chief of the Swazi Observer newspaper, has fled to South Africa after police and security officers raided his former office and took away his computer and documents.

Ndlangamandla, a former praise singer to King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, says he fears he will be arrested on a charge of terrorism.

Ndlangamandla was sacked in January 2012 from the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati. He had been involved in a power struggle with Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, which he lost.

For more than a decade Ndlangamandla had been a trusted aide to King Mswati, travelling all over the world at the King’s side, writing his speeches and praising him to the hilt in the Observer newspapers. Ndlangamandla made it clear in his newspapers that they would never publish anything critical of the King.

Since his sacking, Ndlangamandla has tried to reinvent himself as a champion of democracy, claiming that he was a force in the struggle for freedom in the kingdom where all political parties are banned and the King himself handpicks the government.

Now, Ndlangamandla, in an interview with the AFP news agency, says he has fled from Swaziland to South Africa. ‘I am now on the police wanted list on trumped up charges under the Suppression of Terrorism Act,’ AFP reported him saying.

‘Yes, I am scared, looking at the history of people who die in police custody,’ he said.

‘However if it means I should die for trying to help fellow Swazis realise a better future and self-determination, so be it,’ he added.

Ndlangamandla said police visited the Swazi Observer office and confiscated his computer and documents.

A Swazi police spokesperson confirmed the raid had taken place and that Ndlangamandla was under investigation, but declined to say why.

See also




Monday, February 27, 2012


King Mswati III of Swaziland has once again refused to make any sacrifice to help get his Kingdom out of the economic mire.

Even though members of the government he handpicks have been forced to take 10 percent salary cuts and he wants all public servants, including teachers and hospital workers, to take a similar reduction, he is not prepared to take any cut himself.

Instead, we can reveal that unreported details from the kingdom’s national budget show King Mswati and his royal family will continue to receive E210 million a year from the Swazi taxpayer for their own use. This is the same amount they got in the financial year 2011/12 just ending, but is an increase of 23 percent over 2010/11 and a whopping 63 percent compared with what he took from his subjects in 2009/10.

Earlier this month (February 2012), the King’s Finance Minister Majozi Sithole in his budget speech praised politicians and royal committees ‘who have shown leadership’ by accepting a 10 percent cut in their salaries, saving government around E6 million in 2011/12. What he didn’t say was that King Mswati himself showed no leadership by taking a cut himself.

Sithole also praised ‘their Majesties for the solid support, keen interest, and dedication to the welfare of the nation they have displayed over the past year’. But, it is difficult to see this dedication in practice.

Sithole made no reference to the amount the King would receive from his subjects this year. And, even though the detail of the King’s budget has been available to the media in Swaziland for two weeks none have reported it (nor are they likely to).

While King Mswati refuses to cut his slice of the pie, Sithole gave candid statistics about the plight of King Mswati’s subjects.

‘Over 60 percent of the population lives in poverty. Nearly 66 percent don’t have a bank account. A quarter of all adults is estimated to have HIV and average life expectancy at birth is the lowest in the world. Over half of all youth are unemployed and a quarter of children who start primary school drop out before the end of Grade Seven,’ he said.

Later Sithole, revealed that Swaziland was so broke and poverty and hunger so widespread that he would have to seek a E264 million (US$37.8 million) loan for a food security project to grow more maize. In a typical year as many as one third of the Swazi population rely on international food aid to avoid malnutrition.

King Mswati’s selfishness will come as no surprise to observers. He has never done a salaried day’s work in his life, yet, according to Forbes, he has a personal fortune estimated at US$200 million. He also personally controls a trust fund set up by his father King Sobhuza II that is estimated to be worth US$10 billion.

He also ‘holds in trust for the nation’ the profits of Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, an investment fund with extensive shares in a number of businesses, industries, property developments and tourism facilities in Swaziland. This money is supposed to be used for the benefit of the people but the vast majority is actually used for the King’s own personal use.

See also




Swaziland police stopped a political rally of the African United Democratic Party (AUDP) from taking place at the weekend.

About 80 officers massed to prevent about 12 AUDP supporters from meeting at Mhlaleni on Saturday (25 February 2012).

A standoff between police and AUDP supporters took place in the morning, but as soon as the AUDP started singing the South African national anthem and struggle song, ‘Nkosi Sikelela’i Africa’, police moved in to break up the rally and took away the protestors.

Police forced the rally to disperse and confiscated a banner belonging to the political party. All political parties are banned in Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Marches and rallies are banned without the permission of King Mswati’s authorities.

The rally had been arranged to call for the registration of political parties ahead of the Swazi national elections in 2013.

The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported that Sibusiso Dlamini, the AUDP Secretary General, confronted the police saying they were acting unconstitutionally and that the protestors had the right to freedom of assembly.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Cash amounting to nearly E1.1 million (US$143,000) has gone unaccounted for at Swaziland’s embassy in Kuwait, putting the spotlight back on Phesheya Dlamini, who was recalled as ambassador in 2010.

The Acting Swaziland Auditor General Phestecia Nxumalo, in a report found that E434,000 of ‘petty cash’ and E654, 000 in the ambassador’s travel allowances could not be accounted for. The ‘petty cash’ went missing over a three-month period in 2009. The report was for the year ended 31 March 2011.

The A-G’s report was revealed by the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper. It said the A-G found receipts for the expenditure were not available and this was illegal.

The newspaper did not reveal that in 2010 Dlamini was recalled from Kuwait to Swaziland amid accusations of his implication in a corruption scandal. He reportedly stayed at the top-class Ezulwini Sun, in one of the kingdom’s main tourist spots. According to the Swazi News at the time, he ran up a bill close to E100,000 (about US$10,000) .

Lutfo Dlamini, then Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, was also implicated in the corruption scandal.

At the time the Swaziland Solidarity Network reported that both men had been accused of stealing money from the Kuwaiti Royal Family intended for King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The Swaziland Police were called in, but no official announcement of what they did was given. It is known that police were sent to pick Lutfo Dlamini up from his parent’s home and escort him to a meeting with Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini.

What happened next is clouded in secrecy. It seems King Maswati ordered both men to be sacked from their jobs, but they were later reinstated, allegedly on the instructions of King Mswati’s mother, causing a rift in the royal household.

Phesheya Dlamini returned to Kuwait. Lutfo Dlamini has since been moved from the Foreign Ministry to Labour and Social Affairs.

See also



Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Swazi Observer

22 February 2012



UNIVERSITY of Swaziland Journalism and Mass Communication lecturer and long-time announcer at the country’s national radio station Nomvula Motsa is dead.

Motsa, according to her elder brother Lunga died on Monday night while admitted at the Mbabane Government Hospital, where she had spent a considerable amount of time.

“Yes, it is true that Nomvula has passed away. She died on Monday night while admitted at Ward 18 at the Mbabane Government Hospital. I am currently here at home getting things organised in preparation for her funeral. I cannot give you much information on her death as I am currently busy with the issue,” he said.

The late popular ex-radio announcer was said to have lost her speech and struggled to breathe by the time she succumbed to death. She had been brought to hospital by her employer, the University of Swaziland.

Motsa was a radio personality of repute during the 80s and early 90s, where her command of the English language and her refined musical tastes made her a household name. She pioneered many programmes for the station but will be mostly remembered for her smooth jazz programme ‘Steamboat Jazz’ which she hosted for over a decade.

She left the station in the 90s to further her studies in the United States of America and upon return, joined the journalism faculty at the University of Swaziland. She met her death while still lecturing at the institute; although she still had a yearning to advance further her education.

This became evident during the 2010 graduation ceremony at the university, where she had to be restrained by security as she tried to force her way to His Majesty the King, saying she wanted to relay a message to him.

In later interviews, she stated that she merely wanted to request that the King assist her to go back to school even though she already held a Masters Degree in Communications.

She joined the University as a part-time lecturer in 2004 and was engaged fulltime the following year while the journalism and mass communication programme was at Diploma level. She was among the lecturers who prepared the programme for the Degree programme which was started in 2010.

Her brother Stan was a one time Director at the Swaziland Broadcasting Services, but that was long after she had left.

Government spokesperson Percy Simelane, another former director of the national radio station, who worked with the late Nomvula Motsa for a number of years was dumbfounded when called for comment over the news of her death.

“That is news to me, I had not heard about it. When did it happen,” he enquired.

He declined to comment because Motsa was no longer with government, but acknowledged that she had worked for the station for a very long time.

“It would be better that you call the University for comment,” Simelane said.

His colleague at the institution, Dr Maxwell Mthembu also expressed shock when called, saying he had not heard of the sad news. He also declined to comment saying the university management could be in the right position to comment.

Efforts to reach the Acting Registrar Ambrose Gama proved futile as he did not pick up his phone after being called on several occasions. Acting Director of the station Bheki Gama also declined to comment, saying he could be in a position to do so after receiving the news from Motsa’s family members. Motsa’s voice can still be heard on the station’s English Channel, where she welcomes listeners daily when the stations open at 5a.m.

Her family stated that details of her funerals would be released later after the family had met and decided the right date. Motsa leaves behind only members of his family as she had no children of her own.

Monday, February 20, 2012


The Swazi Observer – the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III – is encouraging a witch hunt against a schoolteacher who allegedly forced a pupil to rip up a photograph of the King.

The schoolteacher – who the Observer names – is accused in its report of committing ‘high treason’.

Last week the Observer reported that a 17-year-old pupil from Siteki was fined E400 after he admitted ripping up a photo of the King at his school. He told the court that a teacher had forced him to do it. In a report last week and again today (20 February 2012), the newspaper names the teacher involved, but on neither occasion has it given him the chance to answer the allegations.

Today, the Observer, for no obvious reason connected to news worthiness, quotes ‘businessman’ Justice Nxumalo calling for serious action to be taken against the teacher.

The Observer said, ‘He [Nxumalo] said the incident was tantamount to high treason and should be probed.’

Nxumalo went on to say the ripping of the photo was unSwazi and unheard of in the local context. He added that to avoid a repeat of the matter, it should not be left to die a natural death without being probed.

The Observer quotes no other person apart from Nxumalo calling for action, thereby making it no more than a piece of editorialising dressed up as a news story. It’s about time the newspaper looked again at the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) code of ethics and read the articles about accuracy, truthfulness and bias.

See also


Friday, February 17, 2012


The International Monetary Fund has warned that Swaziland's fiscal crisis has reached a critical point and there is a high risk that the kingdom will be unable to pay its civil servants' wages for the next few months, the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa reports.

The newspaper quotes an IMF report saying that Swaziland’s gross domestic product (GDP) will contract by 2% during 2012 and, if the country does not change its "unsustainable" fiscal policy, its debt-to-GDP ratio could reach more than 80% by 2016.

The IMF sounded the alarm that the macroeconomic outlook for 2012 was "bleak". It urged the government to take "upfront" action such as cutting jobs and reducing the cumbersome public wage bill to protect the lilangeni, which is pegged to the rand and already overvalued by as much as 33% and at risk, the fund said.

Consumer price inflation rocketed from 6.5% in November last year to 7.8% in December, a trend the IMF expected to continue into 2012, forcing an uncomfortable acceleration in the prices of food and fuel that would be most acutely felt by the poorest members of society.

The IMF warned: "Swaziland's fiscal crisis has reached a critical stage. Budget financing has dried up, domestic arrears continue to mount and the risk of not being able to pay civil servants' wages over the next few months is high."

To read the full report from the Mail and Guardian, click here.



17 February 2012


Economic justice and democracy are interdependent, says new Swazi campaign

“At the centre of poverty is the question of power,” Musa Andile Nsibande of the Swaziland Economic Justice Network (SEJUN) tells Africa Contact. “When we tell people to stand up for their rights, there is a possibility that the balance of power will shift towards the masses, paving way for a full democratisation process.”

To this end, the recently formed SEJUN launched a new campaign, Eradicate Poverty and Hunger, last Saturday [February 11.] in Lavumisa. The campaign takes a rights-based approach to economic justice in emphasizing the right to adequate food in a country where two-thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day – many on food aid from the UN, the need for agrarian reform in a country where the absolute monarch in effect controls all land, and the necessity of empowering ordinary people in order to achieve the campaign goals.

The event was attended by an audience of around 400, as well as a range of organisations including the Coordinating Assembly of NGO’s, the Swaziland Ex-Miners Association, the Swaziland National Union of Students and the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, of which SEJUN is a campaign wing.

“The event was a success,” says Musa Andile Nsibande. “The messages were well received by the target audience and there is a good possibility that the campaign could achieve the changes envisaged.”

Several of the speakers at the campaign launch used the 2008 court victory of the Swaziland Ex-Miners Association against the Swazi government, for its failure to adhere to Swaziland’s constitution’s promise of universal free primary school education, as an example of the potential power of Swaziland’s poor. “The success of the ex-miners has invigorated the marginalized’s search for justice,” says Nsibande.

Read more:

Swaziland: uprising in the slip-stream of North Africa


The Swaziland Government is to throw good money after bad in order to complete King Msawti III’s vanity project - Sikhuphe international airport.

In the national budget announced yesterday (16 February 2102), E2.3 billion (US$296 million) was set aside to complete on-going capital projects, including the airport which is being built in the Swazi wilderness on the express instructions of King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The money for capital projects is twice the E1.1 billion set aside this coming year for the whole health budget in Swaziland.

The completion of Sikhuphe airport and roads leading to it were announced as priorities for the government in the coming financial year, by Majozi Sithole, the Swazi Finance Minister.

The building of Sikhuphe has been controversial because there is no obvious need for it. Swaziland already has an underused airport at Matsapha and no needs-analysis was ever completed to demonstrate why another airport should be built.

Most of the impetus for the building of the airport has come from King Mswati, who is keen to show that the kingdom he rules is on its way to becoming a ‘first world’ nation.

Estimates for the total cost of Sikhuphe – including the airport itself, roads that need to be built to reach it, and other expenditure associated with it, have reached US$1 billion.

Swaziland is broke and the International Monetary Fund has in the past criticised the building of Sikhuphe as a waste of valuable resources that could be better used on development in the kingdom.

Seven in ten people in Swaziland live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day and the kingdom has the highest AIDS rate in the world. In yesterday’s budget Sithole also announced he would be asking permission to seek a E264 million (US$37.8 million) loan for a food security project to grow more maize. In a typical year as many as one third of the Swazi population receive international food aid.

The airport was supposed to have been completed and opened in 2009, but it is far from ready. So far, no airline has confirmed it will use the airport when it eventually opens.

See also





A Parliamentary committee has accused the Swaziland Government of acting unconstitutionally by raising loans to get the money to pay public service salaries.

A report from the Finance Committee accuses the government of acting illegally when it put up its stake in the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) and the cellphone company MTN, as collateral for loans in November 2011.

A great deal of secrecy surrounds the details of how much the government took as loans and from whom.

At the time it was speculated that the loans were worth E1.4 billion (US$180 million), enough to meet four months’ worth of public service salaries.

The Swazi Government refused to reveal the names of those giving the loans, or any details of their terms, claiming commercial confidentiality.

Now, a report from the Swazi Finance Committee tabled this week fills in some background to the deal, but the identity of what the committee calls the ‘entity’ making the loan remains secret.

Marwick Khumalo, chair of the Finance Committee, said the government had set out on a ‘wild hunt for funds’ to pay salaries.

According to the report, Minister of Finance Majozi Sithole informed the committee that in November 2011 it proved difficult for government to pay civil servants salaries.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, quotes from the Finance Committee report. It states, ‘In order to pay these salaries [government] had to clinch a deal with an entity and also had to put down shares in SPTC and MTN as collateral and the repayments are to be done over a period of six months.’

The Finance Committee reported that in October 2011 salaries were paid using money received from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Swaziland Revenue Authority and in December it was through collections and from Swaziland’s financial reserves.

The report says that in January 2012 salaries were paid from SACU receipts and according to Majozi Sithole, the Finance Minister, initially, government had to raise E500 million from parastatals that receive subventions from government.

‘He also stated that the payment of salaries for February would be a challenge,’ the report stated.

Khumalo, the Finance Committee chair, said the committee noted that the acquisition of loans to pay for salaries was done outside the provisions of the Constitution’s Section 204 (2).

‘The minister argued that they were given legal advice by their lawyers in the ministry that what they were doing was in order, using the Treasury Bills and Government Stocks Amendment Act 2010 as the basis for their actions,’ the committee report stated.

Khumalo disagreed and said that piece of legislation dealt exclusively with the sale of treasury bills and government stocks and made no provision for the acquisition of loans and or using government shares as collateral.

See also




Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Swazi Diaspora Platform

Press Release

February 11, 2012


In light of the changing dynamics in Swaziland socio-political and economic landscape and the resultant shifting of balance of power within the democratic forces, the Executive Committee (EC) of the Swazi Diaspora Platform (SDP) met for a strategic session on 4 – 5 February 2012, in Johannesburg South Africa to discuss and reflect, on amongst others the:

· Socio-economic and political crises in Swaziland

· SDP Annual programme of Action

· SDP Mass mobilization

· Fundraising for the SDP

The session was addressed by several speakers and facilitators some of whom were drawn from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). The experience in international solidarity work and Swazi solidarity in particular of these speakers and facilitators, was not only valuable in drawing lessons from other countries but also in contrasting the forms and methods of struggle that are suitable to the concrete conditions of Swaziland. The EC also had a presentation from a leader of the Zimbabwean Diaspora who was able to shape the strategic approach of our organization. The SDP EC therefore noted that:

· The Swaziland government, as recent as King Mswati 111’s State of the Nation Address on February 4, 2012, is still committed to maintaining the status quo against logic, reason and international opinion.

· The Swaziland government has announced that elections will be held in 2013 under the Tinkhundla system and political parties will neither be permitted to campaign nor participate. This effectively means that the system seeks to renew its illegitimate hold onto power.

· Swazis continue to be at the mercy of charity for their well-being especially women, children and the elderly.

· The Swaziland government has no concrete actions to address the economic stagnation in the kingdom. Moreover, it continues to suffer from intellectual snubbing as demonstrated by the calibre of people it promotes and appoints to positions of power.

· The democratic forces in Swaziland continue to show a renewed level of unity and commitment as ably demonstrated by the formation of Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and the running battles at the University of Swaziland where students continue to grind the government into a state of permanent crisis.

· The enormous abuse of women by uncultured sections of our society who still exhibit backward levels of thinking, untransformed by the equally backward system of governance.

As the SDP EC therefore we resolved to adopt a Program of Action which seeks to compliment the already existing programs of the mass democratic movement as well as scale up our own efforts of uniting Swazis in the Diaspora towards democratic transformation in Swaziland. To reach these goals we have resolved to:

· Draft and adopt a Plan Of Action (POA) for the year 2012 to ensure that the SDP becomes a visible and active voice in contributing towards the democratization of Swaziland.

· The SDP will partner and synergize programs of actions with democratic forces and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) whose interest is in human rights, inside Swaziland as well all solidarity organizations outside the Kingdom, especially those in neighboring South Africa.

· The SDP will commence projects that will empower Swazis to be self-reliant as opposed to relying on charity for their livelihood. The POA is geared towards mass political education and mass mobilization.

· The SDP noted that dates like April 12 are historic in the struggle for democracy in Swaziland and we therefore we will participate in events planned for the day.

· The SDP will establish SDP chapters where ever it is humanly possible and to ensure that all Swazis in the Diaspora make a contribution towards change in the country.

· The SDP will also scale up its fundraising machinery so that our organization has the financial resources needed to carry out our programs.

Mass Mobilisation

· The meeting resolved that more work has to be put into mass political education and mobilization in 2012.

· Alternative methods of communication need to be engaged to get the messages to as many Swazis as possible in light of the fact that government controls radio [which most Swazis rely on for information], TV and some of the print media.

· Planned periodic demonstrations must be held at key events and institutions such as the Swazi Embassy) to elevate awareness and increase pressure for Swaziland to democratize.

· Engage South African and international media to keep the attention on Swaziland constant and exert pressure on government.

The SDP is a teething organization that is alive to the fact that like many human rights activists and organisations, we may face challenges which are both political and organizational but it is the commitment of seeing our people free that fires everyone of us into action. We can no longer lament and stand on the sidelines as our only country is ravaged by unscrupulous self-serving politicians whose only mandate is to serve royal interest and not that of Swazis. We will also not allow our story to be told only through the experiences of South African internationalists who have raised high the banner of the Swazi struggle.

Swaziland Diaspora Platform


Twitter: @swazidiaspora


Student unrest is spreading across Swaziland.

Yesterday (14 February 2012), the Swaziland College of Technology (SCOT) was closed indefinitely, following class boycotts by students.

Meanwhile, boycotts of classes are ongoing at the University of Swaziland.

Both sets of students are angry with the Swazi Government for not paying them their due allowances. Swaziland is on the brink of financial meltdown and the government is finding it increasingly difficult to pay its bills.

Armed police fired teargas on students at SCOT where about 120 third-year students are demanding about E7 000 each which they said was supposed to have been part of their allowances while they were on attachment with different companies during the last academic year.

SCOT principal Casper Dube decided to close the college indefinitely.

Local media report that about 50 officers and four police Casper vehicles were parked at the entrance of the college. Close to 50 other officers were found stationed inside SCOT carrying guns and batons.


A Swaziland schoolboy has been fined E400 for tearing up a photo of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The boy, aged 17, from near the town of Siteki, said he did it because he had been instructed to do so by his teacher.

He appeared before the Swazi National Court yesterday (14 February 2012).

The boy told the court his teacher had been angry because there was no food at the school and ordered the boy to tear up the photo.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mwsati, reported the boy telling the court, ‘I was afraid he would beat me so I ended up doing as instructed.’

The court was told that the school did not have food popularly referred to as Zondle and this angered the teacher. It turned out that the following day it was the same story and the teacher asked the pupil why the photos of the King were still on the wall.

‘I then tore the photos because I was afraid of the teacher,’ he said. The court wanted to know why he did not tell the police he was ordered by his teacher to tear the photo, but he said he was afraid.

The court president Makhuluma Ndwandwe warned him that it was a serious offence to tear the photo of the King and ordered that he be sent to jail where he could be corrected.

The newspaper reported that the boy was fined E400 as an alternative, which his parents paid and he was released.

See also


Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Earlier this week the Swazi media were crowing because King Mswati III had been chosen among the top 100 'hottest' (ie sexiest) leaders in the world.

I’d bet they won’t be telling their readers that King Mswati has also made it to the top five worst leaders in Africa in this poll for Forbes.

These are the reasons why he’s down there with the worst of them:

Sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch presides over a country which has one of the world’s highest HIV prevalence rates: ver 35 percent of adults. Its average life expectancy is the lowest in the world at 33 years; nearly 70 percent of the country’s citizens live on less than $1 a day and 40 percent are unemployed. But for all the suffering of the Swazi people, King Mswati has barely shown concern or interest. He lives lavishly, using his kingdom’s treasury to fund his expensive tastes in German automobiles, first-class leisure trips around the world and women. But his gross mismanagement of his country’s finances is now having dire economic consequences. Swaziland is going through a severe fiscal crisis. The kingdom’s economy is collapsing and pensions have been stopped. In June last year, the King begged for a financial bailout from South Africa, and the country is at a dead end, so badly that it recently announced its withdrawal from the 2013 Africans Nations Cup, citing lack of finances as the principal reason.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini who was at the centre of controversy last year (2011) when it was revealed he bought Swazi nation land for himself at a price massively below its true value, has a personal fortune of E12 million (US$1.56 million) it has been revealed.

Among his assets are E392,000 worth of shares in Swazi Empowerment (Pty) Limited (SEL), a company that in turn has a 19 per cent shareholding with MTN Swaziland, the monopoly mobile phone operator in the kingdom.

Dlamini is the man in charge of the government-controlled parastatal, Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) and is therefore a key decision maker in the affairs of Swaziland’s national posts and telecommunication. But now we know that Dlamini also personally holds shares in SEL which in turn has a major shareholding in MTN, Swaziland and the only competitor for SPTC.

This raises questions about Dlamini’s impartiality when making decisions about SPTC.

In September 2011, when reporters first got wind of Dlamini’s possible share holdings in SEL, Musa Holphe, of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Organisations, wrote, ‘Since SEL’s main, if not its only, investment is MTN Swaziland it is important to understand that the value of the SEL shares will be slashed if anything happens that affects MTN’s profitability.

‘This government has been at the centre of many decisions that affect the ability of SPTC to properly compete with MTN.

‘Each government decision seems designed to hamper SPTC and enable MTN to continue its monopoly and unfairly increase the wealth of its shareholders which as we now know includes the private wealth of the prime minister.

‘It is shocking to see how much money is generated by MTN and that, in spite of the grinding poverty of the majority of us; vast riches are still secretly flowing into the pockets of the elite.’

MTN was also in the news last year when US Ambassador to Swaziland Earl Irvine accused King Mswati of interfering in the sale of shares of MTN – so he could buy them himself at a cheaper rate.

Irvine wrote in a confidential cable leaked to Wikileaks that the King also caused the ousting of Tebogo Mogapi, the MTN chief executive officer in Swaziland because he opposed the Swaziland Government’s ‘efforts to use the MTN network for surveillance on political dissidents’.

Dlamini was illegally appointed Prime Minister in 2008 by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Details of Dlamini’s fortune are contained in a statement of assets and liabilities that was submitted by the Prime Minister to the Swazi Integrity Commission last week, leaked to the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper.

It reports Dlamini’s assets include buildings, furniture, equipment, motor vehicles, livestock, cash at banks, insurance policies, shares in private companies, listed shares and unit trusts.

Meanwhile, seven in ten of Swaziland’s one million population live in abject poverty, earning less than US2 per day.

Dlamini’s wealth maybe huge compared to the average Swazi person, but it is as nothing compared to King Mswati. He was estimated by Forbes in 2009 to have a personal net fortune of US$200 million.

See also




Saturday, February 11, 2012


The Swazi Government has sacked 1,200 school teachers due to a financial crisis in the kingdom, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) said yesterday (10 February 2012)

AFP news agency reported that last year Swaziland employed 3,000 teachers on one-year renewable contracts, with the promise of permanent jobs eventually.

Now, 1,200 of the contracts have been dropped Muzi Mahlanga, secretary general of the Swaziland National Union of Teachers told AFP.

‘We met government and informed it of the appalling situation and gave them up to next week Wednesday to employ all the teachers currently left in the lurch,’ he said.

‘Otherwise we will engage in a mass action that will ground the operations of schools,’ he said.

SNAT has been at the forefront of protests against King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, who keeps up a jet-set lifestyle while seven in ten of his subjects live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day.

The Swazi Government also has not made its payments for children who receive free primary education, or to its support for school going AIDS orphans.

Friday, February 10, 2012



9 February 2012


Musa is also out!

Musa Ngubeni finally left the Manzini Remand Centre at 10:20 a.m this morning [9. February 2012] and headed for his parental home at Mankhayane,” Dumezweni Dlamini of the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice told the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign.

Musa Ngubeni, a law graduate from the University of Swaziland and former student leader, was detained, allegedly tortured, and charged with being in possession of explosives together with student leader Maxwell Dlamini during the April 12 Swazi Uprising last year – one of the largest protests ever against Swaziland’s absolute monarchy crushed by police and security forces.

”He is grateful to all those supported them whilst inside prison and the pressure exerted from Europe for their release. He said that there is no doubt that had it been not because of the campaign internationally for their release such an amount [€5000 bail money] wouldn’t have been collected. Musa further requested the democracy loving people of the world to continue fund raising for the case as they are still left with the legal fees for the attorney, which they are to pay.”

Musa Ngubeni assured everyone following his and Maxwell Dlamini’s case that the allegations against them were false. They had never seen nor laid their hands on the blasting materials and detonators that the police claimed to have found in their possession, he insisted. “They saw it for the first time when the police showed it to them and it was never inside any of their belongings or bags,” says Dumezweni Dlamini.

After having been released after having spent nearly ten months in prison, Musa Ngubeni and Maxwell Dlamini now have to adhere to inflexible bail conditions. Amongst other things Musa has to report four times a week to the Mbabane Regional Police Station, which is a 200 km round trip, even though he could easily have reported at the nearest police station in stead, which is within walking distance of his home.

See also


Thursday, February 9, 2012



8 February 2012


Help us help ourselves, say Swaziland’s young single mothers

Women in Swaziland are heavily discriminated against, both by law and by custom. According to the former, women in effect have the status of minors and cannot get a bank loan without the consent of their husbands. According to the latter, women can be fined for wearing trousers by traditional authorities, nearly half of Swazi men believe it is okay to beat a woman, and two thirds of young women have experienced sexual violence of some sort.

But young single mothers are even worse off than the average women in Swaziland. Teenage mothers account for over a third of all pregnancies in Swaziland, but they receive little or no help from the government, their families or communities. On the contrary, when they are found to be pregnant they are often expelled from school and ostracised and stigmatised by their neighbours, communities and families.

Swaziland Single Mothers’ Organisation (SWASMO), the only organisation to work specifically with young single mothers, was formed in 2009 in an attempt to help and mobilise young single mothers in Swaziland.

The initial idea was to form self-help to promote self-reliance, mutual support, mobilisation and education to try and improve the position and consciousness of single mothers. But mobilising the young single mothers and raising funds has proven harder than anticipated.

“Most young single mothers have a fatalistic view of themselves and society and do not believe that life can be any different or better than it is presently,” says SWASMO’s founder and project coordinator, Beatrice Bitchong. “And even amongst other women, there is resentment towards the young single mothers.”

As for fundraising, Maternity Worldwide, a Danish organisation that works with health care, financial security and protection for women and children in Africa, had contacted SWASMO in 2011 to discuss plans for supporting a self-help project financially.

“But after an appraisal in November 2011 that saw representatives of the Danish organization visit SWASMO in Swaziland, several gaps were identified,” says Beatrice Bitchong. “We need to be clear on the target group, as it was found that the existing self help groups are made in majority of elder women who still have a strong stigma against young women. And we need to establish a well-defined organizational structure. Focusing on closing these gaps was found to be a prerequisite for effective self-help projects output by SWASMO.”

But Beatrice also has the solution to these challenges. “Having young single mothers as our main target group and working to establish a well defined organizational structure is what we will be focusing on in the future. I have surrounded myself with some committed young women and we are trying to build a structure that has a clear focus on young single mothers and transforming SWASMO into a membership organisation. We will be coming up with ideas for a strategic plan and project in the near future.”

As for funding, the organisation, that has until now mainly had to rely on money from its volunteer workers, is planning a few small fundraising events, ad is considering introducing membership fees.

But as Swaziland is a poor country where two thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day, and where the government has trouble even paying its civil servants, Beatrice Bitchong is aware that she must also look elsewhere for funding. “We are interested in other donors who can help us strengthen the organizational capacity of SWASMO and help Swaziland’s young single mothers. They need it more than most,” she says.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


University of Swaziland students report on the delayed opening this semester of their university. This video appeared on their Facebook ‘newspaper’ UNISWA Today.


The editor of Swaziland’s only independent comment magazine is before the High Court because he published an article that ‘questioned the wisdom’ of King Mswati III.

This was revealed by the Swazi Attorney-General Majahenkhaba Dlamini on day two of the trial for contempt of court of Bheki Makhubu, editor of the Nation magazine.

Dlamini told the court yesterday (7 February 2012) that articles published in November 2009 and February 2010 impeached the wisdom of the King in his choices in appointing judges and the Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi.

‘The ordinary reader could not help but insinuate that there was an impeachment of the King’s wisdom in his appointment of the judge concerned,’ local media report Dlamini saying.

King Mswati is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and freedom of speech in his kingdom is generally curtailed. All news broadcast on radio and television is state-controlled and one of the two groups producing daily and weekend newspapers in the kingdom is in effect owned by the King.

Makhubu’s monthly magazine, the Nation, is the only source of journalism within Swaziland that consistently advocates for freedom in Swaziland and against the regime dominated by King Mswati.

In the High Court, Attorney-General Dlamini said Makhubu’s articles ridiculed the Chief Justice in his capacity as judge. He alleged that this amounted to personal abuse and was therefore a contempt of court.

‘There is freedom of expression [in Swaziland] but we’re saying there are limitations,’ Dlamini told the court.

Judgment was reserved for 29 February 2012.

See also


Tuesday, February 7, 2012


The editor of Swaziland’s only independent comment magazine is in the Swazi High Court charged with scandalising the judiciary.

Bheki Makhubu is answering charges of contempt of court over two articles he published in the Nation magazine in November 2009 and February 2010.

In the articles Makhubu praised Judge Thomas Masuku for coming up with a dissenting Judgment from two Supreme Court judges in cases relating to evictions from land controlled by King Mswati III.

Masuku was subsequently sacked as a judge because it was deemed in his judgement he insulted King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Makhubu is also alleged to have insulted the Swazi Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi, the man who sacked Masuku.

Makhubu also called upon newly appointed judges to uphold the Constitution.

In the High Court yesterday (6 February 2012), Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini said the articles scandalised the courts.

Makhubu denied contempt of court. According to local media reports, he said the theme of the November 2009 article was the role of the Judiciary in enforcing and protecting the Constitution. He said it was inspired by the appointment of new judges of the High and Industrial Courts.

Makhubu criticised the Judiciary for having ‘stayed away’ from the constitutional process the country was going through. He also said members of the public would be looking up to the new judges to help them understand what it meant to live in a constitutional state.

Advocate Gilbert Marcus, on Makhubu’s behalf, said the article read in its entirety supported the principles of Constitutionalism and the rule of law. He also said it underscored the importance of the Judiciary in upholding the Constitution.

He further submitted that Makhubu’s article stressed the potential of the Constitution and the Judiciary to have a direct impact on the lives of the people.

Attorney-General Dlamini said the articles had, ‘sinister imputations and that is not good.’

He said that contempt ought to be punished so that courts could function without interference.

The case continues today (7 February 2012).


King Mswati III of Swaziland is being hypocritical when he expresses disappointment at individuals who continue to plunder state resources for personal benefit.

That’s because he is the biggest plunderer of state resources and he has bled his subjects dry for his own personal gain.

In his speech at the opening of parliament on Friday (3 February 2012) he said, ‘As we move forward in rebuilding this country amidst all these challenges, one must express serious disappointment at some individuals who continue to plunder state resources for personal benefit.

‘We have seen these individuals divert national funds intended for important projects for their own benefit.

‘We can no longer allow these people to place their personal interest above that of the country.’

But King Mswati is the man who more than any other puts his personal interest above those of the people of Swaziland.

King Mswati has never done a salaried day’s work in his life, yet, according to Forbes, he has a personal fortune estimated at US$200 million. He also personally controls a trust fund set up by his father King Sobhuza II that is estimated to be worth US$10 billion.

He also ‘holds in trust for the nation’ the profits of Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, an investment fund with extensive shares in a number of businesses, industries, property developments and tourism facilities in Swaziland. This money is supposed to be used for the benefit of the people but the vast majority is actually used for the King’s own personal use.

When Swaziland’s annual budget was passed last year (2011), King Mswati and his family took an increase of 23 percent over the previous year.

This was at the same time that most government departments had their budgets cut by 20 percent. It turned out that these cuts had to be even deeper as Swaziland tottered further toward bankruptcy over the past 12 months, but the King has made no sacrifice.

Much of the King’s wealth is kept secret from his subjects and the wider world, but it is obvious that he has been taking vast amounts of Swaziland’s wealth as his own.

Swaziland is a tiny kingdom, with a population of about 1 million people, seven in ten of whom live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day. Even so, King Mswati believes he is entitled to bleed his subjects dry and spend the national wealth funding his own lavish lifestyle.

It is unbelievable to an outsider just how greedy the King is. He has had 13 palaces built (one for each of his wives); in the past few years he bought a fleet of 20 top-of-the range Mercedes cars and another fleet of BMW sedans.

He travels abroad in great luxury – and hires a private jet at the cost of US$3.5 million a year.

His wives go each year on worldwide shopping sprees, spending millions of dollars.

Each and every cent that goes to pay for these is plundered from the Swazi people.

In his speech to parliament, King Mswati III said, ‘It is time serious action was taken against such selfish people [the corrupt] and it should be action that truly serves as a very effective deterrent if this country is to make any progress economically from this day forth.’

How right he is: it is time serious action was taken against King Mswati to make sure he returns his loot to its rightful owners. And, action must be taken to ensure he never gets the chance to steal from the people again.

See also




Sunday, February 5, 2012


A woman protester was shot at close range by Swazi police as she was walking from them.

Local media report that it is not known if she was hit by live ammunition or a rubber bullet.

Rose Fakudze was part of a protest march in Siteki, Swaziland, called by vendors and transport operators over plans by the town hall to move the local bus rank.

Fakudze was shot from a distance of less than 2 metres which badly injured her hand. The shot finger bled profusely and she did not receive any first aid until she collapsed.

A court order had been obtained from the magistrate court to stop the march but this angered the vendors as the town board has agreed that it would go ahead.

The vendors and transport operators demanded to continue with the march, but riot police were called and they moved in.

The incident proved outrage among local residents who marched on the regional police headquarters demanding to know why police had shot a defenceless woman who was walking away from them.

Fakudze was rushed to the Good Shepherd Hospital while the residents waited outside the police station demanding that the police officer responsible for the shooting come out to face them, something that he did not do.